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On Was 2014 Really the Warmest Year?

"Trench warfare" is an apt analogy, and your comment makes a good case for the importance of highlighting the warmest year. However, none of this changes the weakness of the support for that claim in this case, which as I noted in another comment could actually promote skepticism about the other assertions that have been made.

January 23, 2015    View Comment    

On Was 2014 Really the Warmest Year?

Joris,

Thanks for that perspective, which if included in the original press release--as far as most media outlets apparently read--would have at least put it on a sounder footing. But it still seems a pretty weak reed to support what's been done with it. After all, this isn't a poll, looking for the strongest candidate for an election. The ranking still implies a 62% chance that 2014 wasn't the warmest year.

Perhaps this reflects the difference between how engineers and scientists look at such things. In my world, you wouldn't invest in a project if it only had a 38% chance of making an attractive return, or consider a process safe if it only had a 38% chance of not failing catastrophically.

January 23, 2015    View Comment    

On Was 2014 Really the Warmest Year?

I agree that this is a long-term problem, which is precisely why I have always been concerned by attempts to juice up headlines and projections, because it feeds into skepticism and ultimately undermines efforts to develop politically sustainable policies. We something more like our 40-year bipartisan approach to the Cold War than our approach to taxes or other policies that flip every time the White House or Congress changes hands.  

January 22, 2015    View Comment    

On Was 2014 Really the Warmest Year?

No question we are running an uncontrolled experiment on a massive scale.

January 22, 2015    View Comment    

On Was 2014 Really the Warmest Year?

Bob,

I understand why it might seem like nitpicking, but I also think it makes a difference if temps haven't gone up since '05, vs. the perception that we are setting new records nearly every year. As for BE, putting the uncertainty caveats up front gives me more confidence in the integrity of their process, compared to a process where one has to wonder if a political appointee chose the final wording--something that was also a problem in the previous administration, as I recall. Maybe I'm just too close to DC?

January 22, 2015    View Comment    

On Was 2014 Really the Warmest Year?

Hops,

That would explain a press release from many other parts of the government, but NASA and NOAA?

January 22, 2015    View Comment    

On Was 2014 Really the Warmest Year?

Rick,

Thanks for asking (some of) the right questions, as usual. The IPCC admits that it can't come up with a precise estimate of the climate sensitivity (temperature response to a doubling of CO2 concentration) as explained in the Fifth Assessment Report, which states, “No best estimate for equilibrium climate sensitivity can now be given because of a lack of agreement on values across assessed lines of evidence and studies.” This is a pretty crucial parameter, on the basis of which some mighty expensive policies have been proposed, and we apparently can't nail it down beyond a range of 1°-2.5°C, yet.
.

January 22, 2015    View Comment    

On Was 2014 Really the Warmest Year?

Bill,

This is the essence of my beef. If it was only a 38% chance of 2014 being the warmest year, why the headline of the press release?

January 22, 2015    View Comment    

On Was 2014 Really the Warmest Year?

For the record and for the benefit of anyone else tempted to write this kind of predictable comment:

1. No one paid me to write this post.

2. I am not a climate change denier, which should have been evident from my inclusion of the Berkeley Earth graph and links. 

3. If responding appropriately to climate change depends on scaring  the public with exaggerations like "warmest year" when it's not at all clear that was the case, then we are indeed cooked. 

 

 

 

January 22, 2015    View Comment    

On How the Oil Price Slump Helps Renewable Energy

The US Energy Information Administration has an app on their site that looks at one aspect of this, comparing nominal and real oil and motor fuel prices over time. Unfortunately it only reaches back to 1976 for fuels and 1968 for oil. On this basis real gasoline prices are still above their level for the mid-1980s to 2003, and so presumably well above the pre-1973 levels, based on real oil prices of around $20/bbl then. See:

http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/realprices/

January 21, 2015    View Comment    

On How the Oil Price Slump Helps Renewable Energy

Such a vision makes at least engineering sense. However, getting from here to there looks extremely challenging; it's not the future we'll end up with on present trends.

January 21, 2015    View Comment    

On How the Oil Price Slump Helps Renewable Energy

A last thought: steam-methane reforming is the source of over 90% of all H2 today, and it can be done at virtually any scale. Electrolysis, unless done directly with renewable electricity, should only be an interim measure.

And I thought that electrolysis efficiency figure seemed very low. 70% is apparently more typical, with some upside possible: http://www.electrochemsci.org/papers/vol7/7043314.pdf

January 21, 2015    View Comment