Posted by: ericgrimsrud | June 9, 2012

Welcome !!

My name is Eric Grimsrud and welcome to my website and blog!   Its purpose  is to carry on discussions of  the most important issue of our times – which is, whether you know it yet or not,  CLIMATE CHANGE.  I am a retired scientist who did a lot of teaching and research in this area and also recently became a grandparent – five times in the last four years!  Therefore,  upon my retirement from full time employment, I become even more interested in the subject of climate change and the possible effects these changes might have on future generations.  As a result, I have written a book on the subject called Thoughts of a Scientist, Citizen, and Grandpa on Climate Change, the second edition (released in May of 2012) of which is described on this website.

Also on ericgrimsrud.org a “science basics” tap provides the scientific basics of climate change from which I hope the general public will learn still more.  If you have any questions or comments concerning this short course or the contents of my blog, I will be pleased to address them via my email address, ericgrimsrud@gmail.com.


Responses

  1. I am one of those most lucky students who had the chance to take your class. Thank you for the updates and the chance to talk about this enormous problem and consequences of non-action.

  2. I don’t meet your criteria for scientific innocence. I got a BS in Physics at Berkeley in 1969, and spent my professional career as a computer architect, where I found it invaluable to understand a lot of phenomena that my staff engineers didn’t. You iterate your message about what heats the earth on every set of ppt slides – which incidentally, was extremely well organized. I feel just as strongly, maybe more so, that “Correlation is not Causation”. It frequently is a place to start, but it may be a wild goose chase, too. There was an article on “Big Data” in Wired magazine some years ago that announced that it would not be necessary to understand causation in the future, that correlation was enough. This struck me as first-class idiocy, and I told them so in a letter that they never published. I recognize that they have to sell magazines, but I hope no one believed them.
    Which gets directly to one major problem that I have. There is a well-established, highly-reproducible theory about why CO2 heats the gas that it is in. It is pretty basic physics. The atmosphere has been heating. The problem is that the numbers don’t match up, not even vaguely so since 1998. Numbers vary all over the place, some people have even reported negative feedbacks. To get from theory to a particular number, you have to use the right fudge factor, a process I don’t respect much. The IPCC models use a wide variety of feedback factors, with a corresponding wide variety of temperature projections.
    Even then, separating causes from effects is entirely nontrivial. You don’t have to look very hard at the graphs of temperature and CO2 content from ice cores to see both eras when CO2 led temperature and others when temperature led CO2. There is also a well-known process in which heating of a liquid reduces the solubility of dissolved gases, and it would appear to be on display. Knowing which is cause and which is effect seems not real obvious, at least, not to me. Or, if both are effects and a yet-unknown cause is really responsible, ala the Svensmark theory, which also seems entirely possible.
    Your early slides talked about paleoclimates, and seemed pretty reasonable. I feel more comfortable integrating over a few million years. What I don’t feel at all comfortable with are shorter term events, like the ENSO and AMO variations, or volcanic eruptions. Neither you nor I will live remotely long enough to even begin to integrate over a long enough period. What caused the Medieval Warm Period, or the Little Ice Age? It must have been variation in albedo, but why? Now that Argo is in place, maybe we will have some answers, in say, a thousand years, or so. At least, ocean heat content can be in the equation whereas in the past it was just ignored. (Consider for a moment how crazy that was.)
    I should also say that the history of science is replete with theories which have been experimentally falsified, even though they had large followings in the scientific community. Feynman explains rather bluntly in a YouTube from his days at Cornell the irrelevance of that, and there are few things that I find less compelling than a “consensus among experts”. The only thing that counts is the ability of a scientific theory to predict the outcome of an experiment or observation. Max Planck once wryly commented, “Science advances, one funeral at a time”.
    I am particularly hardened to the argument that “we must act now”. That argument has been used for millennia by all manner of charlatan, particularly priests and politicians. I really find it unworthy of a scientist. If acting is cheap and harmless, it is perhaps understandable. But, in this case, it is neither. I would argue that we need to understand much more, instead. Plowing our money into making society richer and better able to deal with consequences is much more to my liking, and I much prefer to spend money on understanding the world than on fixing it first. That way lies folly.

  3. Tom,

    Sure, patience is normally a virtue, but in this case, displaying more of it is probably not. Sure, we will always learn more in the future, but that statement has been and always will be true. We have studied this issue for over a century and know a great deal about it. In the study of all complex physical systems there comes a time when action is warranted before predicted undesired outcomes occur. That time is now well passed in the case of the AGW problem. The confusing factor here is the thermal inertia of the oceans – which delays the effects from the causes by a few decades.

    • I don’t think that we are in a position that everything we know confirms that increased concentrations of CO2 are heating the planet in a way that is predicted by proven theory, and I am trying to get a little more evidence before committing. A good deal of evidence we have exactly refutes the CO2 theory. That theory is, in all likelihood, wrong. When advocates have dared to make predictions based on it, they are usually very wrong. I doubt seriously that we know yet what is right.

      The issue is not that the science is clear, and advocates are trying to overcome a PR problem. The issue is that the science is far from clear. There are many advocates of action now, who do not understand the science at all. Bill McKibben put another notch in his gun this week by Twittering Imhofe that “this is what global warming looks like”, when in fact, that was what a dumpster fire looks like. For every half-baked idiot on the skeptic side, there seems to be at least one on the other side. The Movement needs to go away and find something else to do. They were unleashed before the science was understood.

      The reason that there is a PR problem is that the electorate is figuring out that the science is not at all clear, and they are getting a push for action when none is indicated. They feel like they were being had, and for good reason. What worries me is that there may come a time when science really needs them to act, and that will have been foreclosed by such as is going on now.

      [ Tom, the future time you worry about is already here. EPG]

      • Tom,
        Many people, including me, have spent countless hours over many years, trying to give a fair hearing to arguments presented by climate skeptics for why global warming is either not real or not a serious problem. The list of failures of such arguments is depressingly long, though some helped to improve the science. In the meantime, mainstream climate science has made progress. Thousands of papers have been scrutinized and peer-reviewed. At least 97% of all scientist competent in the area are in agreement. And the effects of man-made global warming are showing up in the lives of real people.

        The skeptics have had more than their fair share of hearings. Fact is, with regard to the science, the result is clear. The verdict has been proclaimed. The game is over! The skeptics are moving into the history books.

        Someone will surely look at your arguments and someone probably already has. But I will not; I will not waste my time on one more doomed analysis; I don’t give a sht any longer.

        The fight on climate change is no longer in the science arena; it is now a political fight. Also here, the game is in reality over. With the observations of real climate changes being observed, public opinion will shift massively. We don’t know exactly when or how fast, but we know it will. People or organizations who spread doubts about the science, or the reality of man-made climate change, will either be ignored or met with increasing hostility. Not for reasons of science, but because people will suffer; they will feel deceived; they will conclude that the skeptics and the “deniers” have caused tremendous damage, and they WILL be mad.

        Best wishes. Jan Sunner

  4. Uncle Eric, hope you are well. So enjoy your point of view and knowledge as well as your use of language. I will say the same of some or your responders.
    You are absolutely right that many of us have an inkling of the effects current human activity/habits have on the environment, yet are paralyzed by our desire to keep the staus quo and hope it all turns out alright. I don’t know the effects my daily life and consumption has on the environment of today or tomorrow. Something I do know is this: nothin’ for nothin’. It applies to EVERYTHING. We collectively like the the ease of fast food, but at the cost of our physical health. How many hours are spent facebooking or emailing distant friends at the social expense of those two feet away from us? I currently run for my own health and enjoyment while I forsake the experience of watching the kids’ sports.
    As regards relatively cheap fossil fuel, the price we truly pay is not measured solely by the price at the pump or the monthly utility bill. Tally and distribute the monetary and human cost attributable to propping-up despots to keep the dericks producing.
    I, for one, sleep easy knowing that by living, I am using, and therefore taking. Hopefully I give back an equal, if not same, share. In the end, though, I know the price (or know there is a hidden cost.).
    To wrap up… Back at school, Gore’s book was all the rage. Great discussion-starter. One thing I couldn’t get over was my belief that the earth, Mother Nature, DOESN’T CARE! If we kill ourselves off, it will carry on, albeit with seven-legged frogs. So I don’t feel too sorry for it. And if our time comes to an end… Well the Lord giveth and [you know the rest].

    Say hi to the family for me!

  5. I, for one am certainly glad that you are still in the good fight. The Republicans are not even mentioning the subject during the debates. I thought a note was sent by me earlier but it disappeared so am forced to repeat myself. New operating systems so confusion reigns. Are you still east of Spokane?

  6. Eric, I hope this reaches you. Just wanted to wish you Happy Holidays. I am in Sweden with my wife Iwona and my 95-year-old mother for Christmas and will be in Poland for New Years. I have much respect for your fight and have noted some glorious verbal artillery on your blog regarding recent developments. But, this is a Greeting Card after all, and with warm memories from MSU, I hope that all is well with you and your family. Please say Hi to Kathy. Jan


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