Saturday, January 30, 2010

Update on Training

My goal race is on April 25--a Boston qualifier at Waterloo, Ontario. Less than 12 weeks to go, which means 10 weeks of really hard training. I'm doing 5 runs a week, totalling 50K for now; 2 swims; 1 ice bath; lots of stretching. Some aches and pains, but so far so good for injuries. This week is the second week of miserable cold--Al Gore weather.

When I run with a group on Sunday--my long run, as it is most people's--I am conscious of staying slow--heart rate in the low 120s, the low part of "medium" range, a pace of 6 1/2 minutes or slower. (My goal race pace is 5.2 minutes). Steady pace about 6 minutes (Thursday and Friday), tempo pace about 5.5 (Tuesday and Wednesday). I end up well at the back of the Sunday group--I think most of them just don't believe in going that slowly, regardless of their goal pace. I have it in mind to maintain at least three quite distinct paces in training. (Hills are different, and eventually I will do some actual speed drills with something more like sprinting). Similarly I'm thinking seriously about doing walk breaks for at least the first half of the big race--10 mins running, 1 min walking. Yes, you can feel a bit ridiculous, but there is lots of evidence that this is the best way to maximize the benefit of your training when you are a weekend warrior.

Always learning, and I enjoy Runner's World magazine. There are lots of inspirational messages. This month, in an article on Kara Goucher, her psychologist says of training: "This isn't a linear process. There are challenges. There is adversity. There are setbacks. But over time you learn to handle the adversity."

Glaciers and 2035--the Peer Review Process

The claim that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 was never anything but contemptible nonsense--deliberately circulated by one individual trying to get a career and grants as a hero of climate change, and constantly repeated by many bright and well-educated people. The claim really took off when it was thrown into the basket of stuff called the IPCC report. In the words of an old cartoon about a prof handing a paper back to a student: "This is excellent work--a judicious mixture of truth, half-truth, and outright lies."

In some ways this is worse than Creationism--a real war on science.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Peer Review and The Climate People

One of the trump cards of the warmists or alarmists is that they have been able to say "it's all peer reviewed science," in a way that seems to silence all dissent. But what does "peer-reviewed" actually mean to the leaders of the movement?

Here are some CRU e-mails, as commented upon by John P. Costella.


October 9, 1997: email 0876437553
We now encounter one of the most insidious red herrings in the climate debate: how many thousands of scientists “endorsed” the views of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
With just months until the Kyoto Climate Conference, we find the germ of this idea fertilizing in an email from Joe Alcamo, Director of the Center for Environmental Systems Research in Germany, to Mike Hulme and Rob Swart:

Sounds like you guys have been busy doing good things for the cause.
I would like to weigh in on two important questions—
Distribution for Endorsements—
I am very strongly in favor of as wide and rapid a distribution as possible for endorsements. I think the only thing that counts is numbers. The media is going to say “1000 scientists signed” or “1500 signed”. No one is going to check if it is 600 with PhDs versus 2000 without. They will mention the prominent ones, but that is a different story.
Conclusion—Forget the screening, forget asking them about their last publication (most will ignore you).Get those names!

This statement alone shows how ridiculous the “endorsement” process was from the very beginning. Signing a petition in support of an opinion—regardless of whether the signer has a PhD or not—is as scientifically meaningless as if these same people had voted Albert Einstein’s hairstyle as the most interesting in the history of science. It is nonsense, pure and simple.
Alcamo continues:

Timing—I feel strongly that the week of 24 November is too late.
1. We wanted to announce the Statement in the period when there was a sag in related news, but in the week before Kyoto we should expect that we will have to crowd out many other articles about climate.
2. If the Statement comes out just a few days before Kyoto I am afraid that the delegates who we want to influence will not have any time to pay attention to it. We should give them a few weeks to hear about it.
3. If Greenpeace is having an event the week before, we should have it a week before them so that they and other Non-Governmental Organizations can further
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spread the word about the Statement. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be so bad to release the Statement in the same week, but on a different day. The media might enjoy hearing the message from two very different directions.
Conclusion I suggest the week of 10 November, or the week of 17 November at the latest.

Alcamo demonstrates that this is a carefully crafted piece of political and ideological activism, not related to the scientific process at all. Indeed, the optimization of the timing—allowing just enough time for delegates to absorb the message, but not enough time for the scientists signing on to this petition to actually examine or criticize its contents—will return with a vengeance below.
November 12, 1997: email 0879365369
Richard Tol to Mike Hulme and Timothy Mitchell:

I am always worried about this sort of thing. Even if you have 1000 signatures, and appear to have a strong backup, how many of those asked did not sign?

Tol is absolutely correct: just as suppressing research results that do not support climate change inevitably biases the published record, so too does suppressing the number of scientists who declined to sign the petition.
Many similar lessons of history are related to undergraduate students of statistics every year the world over, which earn enormous laughter in the lecture theater, but are less humorous in real life: estimating war-time damage to planes by examining only those that return; completely wrong predictions of elections, due to conservative voters being less likely to respond to pollsters; and so on. That any faith at all was placed on climate petitions of this sort is almost unbelievable.
Tol continues:

I think that the text of the Statement conveys the message that it is a scientific defense for the European Union’s position. There is not any.

Indeed, as we have seen in the intervening years, it was used to justify far more.
November 25, 1997: email 0880476729
Tom Wigley roundly criticises the eleven scientists seeking endorsement of their Statement.

Dear Eleven,
I was very disturbed by your recent letter, and your attempt to get others to endorse it. Not only do I disagree with the content of this letter, but I also believe that you have severely distorted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “view” when you say that “the latest IPCC assessment makes a convincing economic case for immediate control of emissions.” …
This is a complex issue, and your misrepresentation of it does you a dis-service. To someone like me, who knows the science, it is apparent that you are presenting a personal view, not an informed, balanced scientific assessment. What is
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unfortunate is that this will not be apparent to the vast majority of scientists you have contacted. In issues like this, scientists have an added responsibility to keep their personal views separate from the science, and to make it clear to others when they diverge from the objectivity they (hopefully) adhere to in their scientific research. I think you have failed to do this.
Your approach of trying to gain scientific credibility for your personal views by asking people to endorse your letter is reprehensible. No scientist who wishes to maintain respect in the community should ever endorse any statement unless they have examined the issue fully themselves. You are asking people to prostitute themselves by doing just this! I fear that some will endorse your letter, in the mistaken belief that you are making a balanced and knowledgeable assessment of the science—when, in fact, you are presenting a flawed view that neither accords with the IPCC nor with the bulk of the scientific and economic literature on the subject.

When scientists color the science with their own personal views or make categorical statements without presenting the evidence for such statements, they have a clear responsibility to state that that is what they are doing. You have failed to do so. Indeed, what you are doing is, in my view, a form of dishonesty more subtle but no less egregious than the statements made by the greenhouse skeptics …. I find this extremely disturbing.

I couldn’t express it any better myself.


This provides some background to all the new revelations that the famous IPCC report often relied on pamphlets by the WWF. Sometimes these pamphlets refer to work which itself is peer-reviewed, but often they do not. In at least one case (Himalayan glaciers), a date at which the glaciers will be gone was reported (and then reported ad infinitum) and it turns out to be absolutely wrong. In other cases (extreme weather events) there was a statement based on an early draft of a paper (besides the purely economic reasons why the "cost" of extreme weather events has increased, there is a climate-driven increase in the events themselves and their severity) that was later corrected, and the IPCC has never acknowledged the correction. In still others, there is at best a distortion or mis-reading of evidence (parts of the Amazon forest which have suffered first five years of drought, then extensive logging, have experienced up to 40% destruction (the high end); it is a stretch to say that some combination of dire threats supposedly posed by climate change will cause 40% destruction of the entire Amazon rain forest).

Great fun. As usual, I must credit Anthony Watts, who on some of these stories is crediting Richard North and Donna Laframboise.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hansen's numbers

James Hansen of NASA has been relatively free of criticism related to the CRU. I believe he is not even mentioned in the e-mails, and he has rushed to assure everyone that he has a set of temperature data that confirms global warming and is independent of all the ... not fraud, but unpleasantness.

McIntyre, with his usual thoroughness, is now going through NASA e-mails. McIntyre noted that the way numbers were calculated changed in the year 2000. Staff inside responded as if this was a four-alarm fire. Hansen took charge and:

1. Made sure McIntyre was not given credit for the discovery that he actually made
2. Changed all pre-2000 numbers, instead of post-2000 ones, while denying that he had done that.
3. Let everyone see that 1934 was now the hottest year, and then claimed falsely that this had always been in his reports.

The massive changes in NASA data were made with no real transparency for users of the data--any more than their original creation was transparent. Hansen acts like he's got something to hide, and this seems to indicate that even official 20th century temperature data is suspect.

Good old IPCC

"Despite recent events the IPCC process is still very rigorous and scientific."

bwahahahahaha

Why has the total cost of disastrous weather events gone up in recent years? As far as anyone knows, not because of a change in the frequency or severity of the events, but because of an increase in property values.

No indication here of, er, climate change.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A.N. Wilson and Jesus

This book was a bit of a stretch for me, but I do have an interest in "the historical Jesus," the history of the Christian churches, etc.

Wilson seems to be convinced that Jesus, according to all the evidence we had, had no thought of founding a church, or even necessarily offering a teaching to Gentiles. He may not have thought of himself as "the Messiah." He clearly wished to bring a kind of reform to Judaism, and it was clearly along the lines of "don't think that by living righteously, i.e. according to the rules, you are doing all that is needed to please God. What is needed is a kind of brutal truth about oneself, an intense emotional commitment--which may be just as likely from a suddenly reformed sinner as from a righteous person. This kind of thing will always anger at least some of the conventionally righteous people, and inspire some of the idealistic young.

Wilson doubts that the Pharisees were monolithically opposed to Jesus, and he suggests that all the indications to the effect that the Pharisees or other official Jews insisted on giving Jesus up to the Romans, while the Romans themselves were less zealous about persecuting him, are later additions designed to help make peace between Gentile Christians and the Roman Empire. Wilson does a nice job of conveying a world in which Jerusalem was a splendid city, with a splendid temple (destroyed a few decades after Jesus' death--in deliberately reaching out to Gentiles, the church-builders were trying to build on a winner rather than a loser). There were various Jewish sects, many not that different from what is known as the early, strictly Jewish Jesus-sect. (The disciples were members of various groups, some of them practically terrorists). There were certainly many healers and prophets, and even the Gospels include accounts of people other than Jesus who come back from the dead--not all of them brought back by Jesus himself. The notion that Jesus, and only Jesus, can bring you back from the dead if you repent your sins, and that a new church (with new Pharisee-like rules) is the best mechanism to achieve this result for a lot of people, all seems to be added later.

As Wilson says, the notion that the unrighteous have as much chance of salvation as the righteous, so long as they have the appropriate experience at a crucial moment, is in opposition to almost any system of ethics--any belief that virtue is desirable for itself, or is noble. In the Jesus view (Publican vs. Pharisee, prodigal son, etc.), virtue is only desirable if it achieves the same result that vicious people might achieve by a more direct emotional path. Perhaps being in the habit of repenting your sins helps prepare you for death, and the big repentance that really counts; but then again, maybe not.

The stories of the birth of Jesus are almost certainly later additions, designed to show that his spectacular adulthood and death were hardly anticipated, even by close observers, at the time of his humble--even squalid or humiliating--birth. The death stories seem to have more details that sound like they come from eye witnesses. Jesus tells the disciples they are all going to Jerusalem, that there is a man who has a donkey for Jesus to ride on, and that another man will offer a room--in a Jerusalem that is already crowded for Passover--for a Passover meal. Had Jesus made all these arrangements? Did he expect to be executed, and then expect that the world would end about five minutes later?

Paul may have concealed the extent to which he was a persecuting Pharisee, who struggled with Jesus' radical teaching, then turned it against the Pharisees in particular. He as much as anyone invented the notion of a Gentile Christian church, with specific rituals including the Eucharist (which Wilson says Jesus did not found).

Yet another e-mail to Yglesias

You are one of the better bloggers, and I admire you for your ability to question the orthodoxies of your friends. I'm all the more surprised that you apply really no skepticism to global warming. It would take only a modicum of skepticism to go from "the science is settled" to "the science is interesting, promising, and important, but unsettled."

There is lots of relevant material in the CRU e-mails. Here's one I just came across recently, in a report by John P. Costella:

September 3, 2003: email 1062592331
[Costella says] Ed Cook writes to Keith Briffa, describing his experiences with Ray Bradley at a conference in Norway:
After the meeting in Norway, … hearing Bradley’s follow-up talk on how everybody but him has fucked up in reconstructing past Northern Hemisphere temperatures over the past 1000 years (this is a bit of an overstatement on my part, I must admit, but his air of papal infallibility is really quite nauseating at times), I have come up with an idea that I want you to be involved in.
[Costella] Cook describes his idea of publishing a paper, with a large author list—possibly including Bradley, Phil Jones, and Mike Mann—but notes the problems with the idea:
I am afraid that Mike Mann and Phil Jones are too personally invested in things now (i.e. the 2003Geophysical Research Letters paper that is probably the worst paper Phil has ever been involved in—Bradley hates it as well), but I am willing to offer to include them if they can contribute without just defending their past work—this is the key to having anyone involved. Be honest. Lay it all out on the table and don’t start by assuming that any reconstruction is better than any other.
[Costella] This is testament to the parlous state of this field: that an established member of this group is reduced to suggesting that a paper be written in which past mistakes are no longer covered up.
[Costella] Cook’s suggestions end with comments that are only half-humorous:
7) Publish, retire, and don’t leave a forwarding address
Without trying to prejudice this work, but also because of what I almost think I know to be the case, the results of this study will show that we can probably say a fair bit about … temperature variability within a century (at least as far as we believe the temperature proxy estimates), but that we honestly know fuck-all about what the … variability was like on timescales greater than a century with any certainty (i.e. we know with certainty that we know fuck-all).
[Costella] Cook’s “calling a spade a spade” immediately endears him to my heart, and gives us confidence that he is expressing his genuine opinion. And while that opinion agrees completely with my own assessment of this field of science, it is astounding to hear it so explicitly (and colorfully), directly from the mouth of one intimately involved in this case:
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temperature variations within a century can probably be reliably estimated, but we can conclude absolutely nothing about temperature variations over longer time-scales.


Why would Ed Cook (Senior Scholar, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) say this, in an e-mail to close colleagues, unless it were true?

I presume you regard Anthony Watts' site as an encampment of the ignorant enemy, but allowing for the hobby-horses, there is a lot of interesting and fun stuff there.

Here's a discussion of how even the twentieth-century temperature data, as usually presented, is highly questionable. This is the data that is supposed to be bedrock for the warming theory--necessarily more certain than the proxy data from before 1850, etc. Surely we have Ph.Ds who can at least get this right. Yet they have probably not gotten it right--they are determined to prove a pre-existing conclusion, instead of arriving at a conclusion by investigation.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

One IPCC statement down

There is at least one statement on the alleged coming climate crisis that the IPCC is going to have to retract:

A central claim was the world's glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035.

In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research.


The statement got into the IPCC report by passing all the usual vetting procedures in that world.

Professor Murari Lal, who oversaw the chapter on glaciers in the IPCC report, said he would recommend that the claim about glaciers be dropped: "If Hasnain says officially that he never asserted this, or that it is a wrong presumption, than I will recommend that the assertion about Himalayan glaciers be removed from future IPCC assessments."


So this is the correction, restoring IPCC to scrupulous scientific standards: ask the guy who gave you bogus information if he takes it back; if he does [apparently, regardless of what experts on glaciers say] then and only then will it be removed. Keep going back to the same corrupt sources--a mere handful of people, including, it turns out, someone who churned out a brochure for the WWF using the bogus claim.

Is Murari Lal, somehow responsible for a chapter on glaciers, an expert on glaciers? Er, no.

Some scientists have questioned how the IPCC could have allowed such a mistake into print. Perhaps the most likely reason was lack of expertise. Lal himself admits he knows little about glaciers. "I am not an expert on glaciers.and I have not visited the region so I have to rely on credible published research. The comments in the WWF report were made by a respected Indian scientist and it was reasonable to assume he knew what he was talking about," he said.

Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, has previously dismissed criticism of the Himalayas claim as "voodoo science".

Last week the IPCC refused to comment so it has yet to explain how someone who admits to little expertise on glaciers was overseeing such a report. Perhaps its one consolation is that the blunder was spotted by climate scientists who quickly made it public.


When you question the IPCC you're told: but they're real scientists, peer reviewed blah blah. Of course they're telling the truth as they know it, based on research; how could you question that? But this is one clear case where they sententiously repeated what is a piece of shoddy journalism at best. The individuals who ensured it saw the light of day were second- and third-rate popularizers of science at best, propagandists for a certain point of view at worst. And it got into the IPCC report:

When finally published, the IPCC report did give its source as the WWF study but went further, suggesting the likelihood of the glaciers melting was "very high". The IPCC defines this as having a probability of greater than 90%.

The report read: "Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate."

However, glaciologists find such figures inherently ludicrous, pointing out that most Himalayan glaciers are hundreds of feet thick and could not melt fast enough to vanish by 2035 unless there was a huge global temperature rise. The maximum rate of decline in thickness seen in glaciers at the moment is 2-3 feet a year and most are far lower.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Eisenhower and the War

I just finished Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe, and enjoyed it more than I expected. Somewhat contrary to this reputation among intellectuals, he was a very bright individual, but he also worked hard at presenting an appearance that smoothed over differences, and was reassuring to ordinary people. Nothing scary, a big grin.

What surprised me:

1. Repeated suggestions that the Brits were very hesitant to put so much reliance on an invasion of Normandy. They had tried before, at Dieppe (with Churchill pushing for it, partly to assuage Stalin), and it was a fiasco. They had more memories than the Americans did of the trenches of World War I. Partly because of those memories, and partly because of ideas he had even before WW I, Churchill favoured putting more emphasis on some kind of invasion of Europe from the Mediterranean. Also there was the old issue of "keeping Russia out" of the Balkans and the Med, which had transformed into "keeping the Soviets out." In a way it didn't matter if it was through Turkey/Greece (Gallipolli), Yugoslavia, Italy, or what. This didn't mean abandoning the Normandy endeavour, but it did mean that as soon as there seemed to be some hope in Italy, Churchill seemed to go back on some of the agreements about Normandy and say: let's keep troops and tanks in Italy. Ike and his boss Marshall were absolutely convinced that their best chance lay with turning all of Britain into a huge military base/staging area, so that massive numbers of troops and supplies could be deployed over a period of months or years. To try to supply a comparable force via the Atlantic and the Med (fighting over mountain ranges to get to the German homeland) would be a nightmare--and it would be far easier for Germany than for the U.S. and Britain to fight in southern Europe. Interesting stuff, and there were obviously real debates--the command was so integrated that some Brits took the "Ike" position, and some Yanks probably took the "Churchill" position.

2. This raises, at least tangentially, the question whether Ike was too soft on the Soviets, or too determined to keep them as allies, or too unwilling to seize opportunities to prevent them from benefitting from the defeat of Nazi Germany. The Marshall/Ike view was presumably that the Soviets had performed an extraordinary service in grinding down the Germans and their allies on the Eastern front, and they were likely to come in handy fighting Japan. (The atomic bombs, I guess, made any Soviet contribution in the Pacific rather incidental). This in turn raises the question of Yalta: Churchill himself, as I recall, sketched on a napkin what the Soviets would get, and he never really questioned any of those deals; was he actually somewhat less gung ho about giving Stalin what he wanted than Roosevelt was?

3. Strategic bombing. The only debate Ike really goes into is that the strategic bombing generals wanted to keep control of their bombers, and go on long distance missions far into France and Germany. Ike wanted to use them to destroy German communication lines close to the beaches in France, so as to support Overlord. Eventually there was agreement that the closer they were to Overlord, the more sense it made to focus on Normandy. I borrowed the David Irving book on "the Generals" from the library (before Irving became a famous Holocaust denier). He says the strategic bombing guys were convinced that the main goal was destroying the German air force; they were unfortunately finding that more difficult than they had expected, and they had to keep working on that by means of long distance bombing runs. Some of the "Ike" people said the German air force wouldn't really be destroyed until there were dogfights associated with Overlord--this drove the strategic guys nuts. They responded that bombing railroads wouldn't really work either--the Germans would find a way to supply their troops in France, etc. My understanding is that the Germans were woefully lacking in both supply and air support from D-Day onward.

Bigger question: did none of these folks admit, even to themselves, that they were deliberately destroying entire German cities not for reasons directly related to tactical gains in war, but for the truly strategic purpose of terrorizing the surviving civilians in enemy territory, and convincing them not only to abandon the bad regimes we were destroying, but to love liberal democracy? Did the thought that they were doing this not really emerge until they escalated the bombing, which may have been more in 1945 than in 1944? Did they really escalate primarily because they could, and then they realized the result it was having, and came up with the strategic rationale? In any case, I think it is clear now that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a continuation of strategic bombing, not a radical departure, even though Ike presents it in the latter light.

4. The U.S. mounted this huge, unprecedented operation; forged a true integrated alliance, including an integrated command, with the Brits, Canadians, Poles and French, and then, to a great extent, went home. Surely only the U.S. could and would have done all this, and even the U.S. is unlikely to do it again. It's funny, but understandable, that they alternate between some kind of isolationism, and some kind of belief that they have the fire power to shape the entire world.

5. It's a cliche, but it still interests me: what did Hitler and Tojo think about the United States? How could they have imagined that they could win a world war against this new superpower?

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Logic of "We Cause Environmental Problems"

Matthew Yglesias links, with strong approval, to a piece in the NY Times.

Many people in Bangladesh have fled their rural homes to live in miserable, overcrowded conditions in the city. The immediate cause of their move was usually flooding, either from a cyclone or river erosion. Nowhere is there an actual estimate of how many people are involved, how many have actually lost land and homes, etc. But of course everything is somehow linked to global warming.

Natural calamities have plagued humanity for generations. But with the prospect of worsening climate conditions over the next few decades, experts on migration say tens of millions more people in the developing world could be on the move because of disasters.


Taken literally, this seems to mean that the calamaties so far in Bangladesh are just the kind of thing that has always happened to human beings. As Machiavelli says in the Prince: people traditionally think that floods result from fortune and God, but he knows (and following him, modern people know) that it is possible to build dams and dikes. Subsistence living, punctuated by drought, floods, and famines, has been the norm for much of human existence. The article does not actually say global warming has caused any new problems yet.

What is different now? Yglesias spells it out more than the Times:

The historical and archeological records are full of examples of wrenching changes forced by past instances of climate change. But those fluctuations have always taken place on a much longer, slower time frame than the current era of climate change induced by human industrial activity.


Cyclones used to take longer than they do now? Floods? Droughts? I doubt it. All logic and skepticism seem to be gone. Bad things are happening; they are going to get worse because of global warming; they will be the direct result of preventable human actions; realistic action is possible to prevent all this. Except for the first, obvious statement, this is all extremely doubtful. Perhaps a case could be made that river erosion has resulted from rising temperatures, but neither the Times nor Yglesias goes to the trouble of even trying to show that.

Friday, January 1, 2010

No rise in fraction of CO2 in the atmosphere

Everyone seems to agree that even if man-made CO2 increases, at least a substantial proportion of it is absorbed "by the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems." It is only the proportion that stays in the atmosphere that is likely to affect weather or climate.

So, granted that man-made CO2 has gone up dramatically since about 1850, what has happened to it? This study indicates that there has been no increase in the fraction of CO2 in the atmosphere since 1860. So: there probably is an increase in the total of man-made CO2, and in the total in the atmosphere; but the ration remains: "In fact, only about 45 percent of emitted carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere."

This doesn't necessarily mean that man-made CO2 has had no effect on the climate--only that the earth's ability to absorb CO2 so far remains unimpaired, and this may argue against anything like a crisis or a disaster.

Note that I mis-stated this study in an earlier post. The commentary there also said:

(Note: It is not that the total atmospheric burden of CO2 has not been increasing over time, but that of the total CO2 released into the atmosphere each year by human activities, about 45% remains in the atmosphere while the other 55% is taken up by various natural processes—and these percentages have not changed during the past 150 years)