January 03, 2010
Last Interglacial Had Higher Seas

If the current interglacial is going to naturally cause sea levels to rise 6.6 meters (21.6 feet) would you favor unnatural measures to stop it? Or would you prefer to lose south Florida as long as the cause isn't humans? In the last interglacial a lot more ice melted. At least that's the claim of a recent paper in Nature.

We find a 95% probability that global sea level peaked at least 6.6 m higher than today during the last interglacial; it is likely (67% probability) to have exceeded 8.0 m but is unlikely (33% probability) to have exceeded 9.4 m. When global sea level was close to its current level (≥-10 m), the millennial average rate of global sea level rise is very likely to have exceeded 5.6 m kyr-1 but is unlikely to have exceeded 9.2 m kyr-1.

A few readers might be trying to decide whether this latest paper supports whatever position they hold on catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (add the acronym CAGW to your memory banks if it is not already there) so they'll know whether to praise or scoff at this report. To those readers I say: give it a break.

So would you want to stop natural melting?

I'm curious to know whether interglacials ever reach a long stage where the ice melting and freezing balances for thousands of years? Or is it pretty much the case of net melting for thousands of years until net freezing begins? Anyone know?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 January 03 11:59 PM  Climate Trends

odograph said at January 4, 2010 5:28 AM:

You could say the question is not a moral one, but just cost-benefit. The odd thing is that with CAGW put back in, as many people will oppose the cost-benefit analysis as will support it, each on "moral" grounds. We are not an incredibly bright species.

Bruce said at January 4, 2010 8:34 AM:

Nature is just a shill for CAGW these days.

They have helped erase the Roman Optimum and Medievil Warm Period from the current propaganda. Those periods were at least 2C warmer than today.

There was no catastrophe. In fact it was extremely beneficial to humans and agriculture.


I personally am a lot more worried that the 30 year cycle of warming/cooling seen since the LIA has switched to cooling and we will see more crop failures and more dead people because government take predictions from the MET seriously - instead of firing them and hiring someone who can actually predict the weather.

Bruce said at January 4, 2010 10:22 AM:

"Key West has the distinction of being the Western Hemisphere’s longest sea level record. It dates back to 1846, and although it has several multi-year gaps, it shows a long-term trend of rising sea level of about +2 mm per year."

"However these very preliminary data paint a general picture for Florida and that is sea level has been rising steadily for at least 160 years, and will most likely continue to do so into the future."


In fact, Florida is moving west-northwest 5x faster than it is "sinking".

"The general effects of continental drift can be seen in the changing latitude and longitude (Key West and indeed much of Florida is moving west-northwest at a rate of about 10.4 mm/yr."

CAGW? I think not.

Tater Salad said at January 4, 2010 10:25 AM:


The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. The "Cloward-Piven Strategy" seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse



Bruce said at January 4, 2010 10:26 AM:

By the way, the real key to florida living on the waterfront are stilt homes.

I think they can handle 2mm/year if they can handle the storm surge from a hurricane.


NAadmin said at January 4, 2010 10:49 PM:


that's a tough question. It probably has something to do with the following: the earth's climate is normally in a sort of "stasis" but it is not a static stasis, if that makes any sense.(but whether it reaches complete stagnatoin for several thousand years I don'tknow).

question:if some melting at the poles leads to several different feedback mechanisms which ALL further accelerate melting,why doesn't it just continue?

well, slowly, very slowly over time, it does, to a limited degree and that is why there are cycles (which tend to be correlated with co2, http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/historical-trends-in-carbon-dioxide-concentrations-and-temperature-on-a-geological-and-recent-time-scale which gets complicated http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11659-climate-myths-ice-cores-show-co2-increases-lag-behind-temperature-rises-disproving-the-link-to-global-warming.html but its worth noting

now enter in some rapid fire climate forcing. say mankind pops enormous amounts of GHC into the atmosphere. all of a sudden essentialy stable but slowly fluctuating cycles (to oversimplify) have an external force thrown in (mass extinction events in the past may be tied to such things, say an enormous meteor darkening the sky, or some crazy solar flareup, whatever...) then the general stasis -- which is otherwise very VERY slowly changing so from an ecological and biological standpoint essentially stable -- will change. It is very likely to change far more than we might anticipate from these over presumptive models, because in part perhaps of what you point out, the capability for slow change without real input, with the suddent addition of enormous input.

the problem here is that most of the effect of this input is not necessarily going into "heating" the earth in a linear way (which is why measurements of temperatures for any one year or short period of years is essentialy meaningless) but is starting to change subsets of what constitue our basic earth stasis. the poles are an excellent example of this, for instance... as are the oceans, which take up to decades to heat..

think of it also like a dos response curve, which are almost never linear. as atmospheric concentrations increase, the pressure upon the curent stasis increases, and thus the pressure to feed upon itself amplifies. the first hundred or so years of AGHG might not have meant that much (but we don't know) but each additional level means increasingly more. much of this has been added in the last several decades. and much of that effect will not even be observable for decades -- were are observing sort of a lag snapshot of time, as it were, and we are "debating' this issue (to the extent it is not simply being propagandized in America today) as if we are looking at the current results of what we have done so far. we arent even close to that.

we are also starting to see signs at the very same time of some accelerating processes, which will completely alter what would have happened naturally, dwarf what will have happened naturally, and happen at what is in essence instaneously, from a geologic perspective, from what might have happened naturally.

So the fact that we may predict "x" rise and millenia back the earth saw "x" or even "y" rise does not meant that this "x" predition today reflects "natural occurrences," but rather that the "x' is really speculation, and likely underestimated. the main reason for this assertion as well as the ones in the last paragraph, are the basic physics of the issue, and the fact that the climate forcing we are creatin is from a geologic perspective not only extraordinarly quick, which will put exorbitant and increasing pressure upon the system, but large.

that last idea is somewhat subjective,and indeed a large part of our learning will come as we observe (seeing, of course, the results of effects decades after we have instituted the actual cause) but reasoned analysis of the physics involved, previous levels from ice cores, the little bit of data that we can see so far, and the sheer percentages of change involved, very strongly suggest that the IPCC is wildly off, and is looking at this far too linearly.

NAadmin said at January 4, 2010 10:58 PM:

The point of this article may be unpopular (climate gate is essentially irrelevant, and the washington post is promoting wildly misleading and misinformed editorial garbage under some mistaken notion of "balance"), but it is fairly valid, and the endnote at bottom gives a decent summation of what externally forced changes in the otherwise slowly vacillating stasis likely mean. From that endnote:

What is also important to recognize is that while ultimately the planet will likely reach a new stasis (which does not mean that the weather therein is stable, by the way), there is absolutely no scientific reason to asssume that what we would like that new stasis to be, or what we would like the degree of change that will incur en route to it (namely, minimal), is what it will be. Nor that what it will be, is not what we would consider horrific for us, our descendants, and a majority of the species on earth. That is, the planet does not care. Science acts as it acts, not because we “want it” to in a certain way; or because, outside of the new and quite profound atmospheric forcing input that we are thrusting upon it, we have come to expect it to in a certain way. Massive and rapid change is neither bad nor good in an abstract philosophical sense. But it is almost assuredly bad to otherwise relatively stable biological and ecological conditions, including most other species and that of our own, having evolved and now built a world around — and, notably in the case of climate change, on — the present general state of conditions.
th said at January 6, 2010 2:57 PM:

NAadmin, thanks very much for this, "as atmospheric concentrations increase, the pressure upon the curent stasis increases, and thus the pressure to feed upon itself amplifies." In other words, CO2 becomes a force all to itself, not just some insignificant nonsense about ice melting and more dark ground and shingles getting hotter until we burn up. You sir, have exposed the belly of the beast of CO2, it can become alive and get us, that is what I want to see, are you from Venus?

Bruce said at January 6, 2010 3:41 PM:

"But it is almost assuredly bad ... "

I live in a relatively mild coastal climate. The temperatures go from around just below freezing to 90F each year. I can adapt to those temperature changes quite easily.

The epedimiological data suggests cold kills about 10x as many people as hot does.

To suggest that people cannot adjust to a gradual 2 or 3F upward rise in the temperature is bunk.
To suggest we haven't done it in the last 2000 years is bunk.
To suggest someone who grew up in northern Canada or Europe cannot adjust to living in Florida or California is bunk.

Quit embarassing yourself with such silly arguments.

Bruce said at January 6, 2010 3:52 PM:

"we are also starting to see signs at the very same time of some accelerating processes"

Yeah. Its cold in Europe. People are dying. Its cold in the Easter USA.

Record breaking cold and snow. Winter as not seen in 30-40 years.

Bruce said at January 6, 2010 11:28 PM:

Excess Winter Mortality:

USA 2008: 108,500

"For every degree the temperature drops below 18C, deaths in the UK go up by nearly 1.5%"


Cold kills. Warmth is life.

Pundit Now said at January 7, 2010 10:03 AM:


"Cold kills. Warmth is life." - Yeah, and heat is Hell!
Cold doesn't kill anyone who can PAY their energy bills!!!

We need to build nuclear plants. Fast and thorium reactors generate 30 TIMES more energy per unit of fuel, while producing 30 TIMES less waste per gigawat and the waste lasts 100 TIMES less than the current nuclear waste (current nuclear waste is NOT waste, it's pure fuel). Nuclear energy saves lives. This is the only sustainable and dense enough energy source - immediately available fuel supplies will last us at least 10000 years, a bit more expensive fuel production (available today) will last us until the sun explodes.

Here are the hard facts about GW :
(1) Each year we put 25 to 30 GTones of CO2 in the atmosphere,
(2) Each year the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere grows by 15 to 23 GTones

Obviously, the natural carbon sinks cannot absorb the man made CO2.
So there will be change, what change, we can only guess. Either way, advanced nuclear
technology is the ONLY SAFE answer. It can solve either problem - cooling or heating. We can remove our excessive push on nature and see what happens next. No need to guess.

BTW, in LA, the temps are in the 70s F (20s C).

Bruce said at January 7, 2010 1:08 PM:

"Cold doesn't kill anyone who can PAY their energy bills!!!"

Not true.

"Heart attacks and strokes rise as temperatures fall. This is because when confronted with the cold, the blood vessels in the skin contract to conserve heat by preventing blood from flowing to the surface. The composition of the blood also changes."

"Going outside and feeling cold at the bus stop will not cause you a cold - but the low temperatures conspire to make people more susceptible to any viruses that might be circulating on the bus. Cold air affects the way in which the respiratory tract protects us from disease, producing a thicker, sluggish mucus that is less effective at clearing out unwanted intruders like viruses."


"Each year the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere grows by 15 to 23 GTones"

Yet, the ratio of manmade CO2 to naturally occuring CO2 has stayed the same since the 1850s.

" recent study from the University of Bristol (UK) by Wolfgang Knorr suggests that the airborne fraction of man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) has not increased during the past 150 years."


So the question is: Does CO2 cause warming, or does naturally occuring warming cause CO2?

I suspect it is the 2nd answer. Its like a cold or warm coke. The warm one holds less CO2 than the cold one.

Pundit Now said at January 7, 2010 8:42 PM:

"Yet, the ratio of manmade CO2 to naturally occuring CO2 has stayed the same since the 1850s."

How do you distinguish "manmade" CO2 from "naturally occurring" CO2? There is no way to tell. I sighted two hard facts. There are a lot of papers on both sides which "suggest" things, but "suggestions" aren't facts. I do not claim that the increase of CO2 is due only to our emissions, I do not claim that CO2 causes warming or cooling or whatever. Looking at the numbers, it's fair to say that what accumulates in the atmosphere matches quite well what we release. So we can influence that process both ways. My point of view is this: Better safe than sorry. The climate history of the earth knows too many swings to think otherwise.

Yes, cold is dangerous if you have no energy to warm up, to maintain a healthy life style, etc. In fact, there are many places on the earth where heat causes even more problems. That's why I proposed a solution for both cold and hot conditions.

Bruce said at January 7, 2010 11:11 PM:

"How do you distinguish "manmade" CO2 from "naturally occurring" CO2? There is no way to tell."

Yes there is. Different isotopes of Carbon. Natural CO2 has more unstable C-14 which is slighly radioactive. Fossil fuels are so old they have no C-14 (it has a short half-life). If man made CO2 was becoming a larger ratio of all CO2 then there would be less C-14 to measure.

"In fact, there are many places on the earth where heat causes even more problems."

Realy? Any epedimiological studies to back you up? I posted mine.

Bob Badour said at January 8, 2010 6:09 AM:
If man made CO2 was becoming a larger ratio of all CO2 then there would be less C-14 to measure.

After spiking due to nuclear bomb tests in the 50's and 60's, the C-14 ratio has been dropping since the mid-1960's. With a radioactive half-life in the thousands of years, the excess C-14 was reduced by a factor of 4 in just 30 years.

Bruce said at January 8, 2010 8:38 AM:

Bob, the blue line is the natural level (see 1955). The red line is still above the natural level. Wikipedia is "owned" by AGW fanatic William Connoly.

I'll go by a more recent peer reviewed study:



"Most of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity does not remain in the atmosphere, but is instead absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. In fact, only about 45 percent of emitted carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere."

"To assess whether the airborne fraction is indeed increasing, Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol reanalyzed available atmospheric carbon dioxide and emissions data since 1850 and considers the uncertainties in the data.

In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades."

Bob Badour said at January 8, 2010 12:25 PM:

Bruce, I repeat:

"With a radioactive half-life in the thousands of years, the excess C-14 was reduced by a factor of 4 in just 30 years."

That's 30 years instead of 11,400 years as one would expect to happen by radioactive decay. Since there is no reason to think the C-14 would somehow leave the atmosphere much more rapidly than C-12 does, the obvious conclusion is someone or something added a lot of C-12.

That is, after all, how one alters a ratio: by decreasing one side or by increasing the other.

The idea that some AGW conspirator forged a graphic explaining the calibrations necessary for radiocarbon dating in a post-nuclear world is ludicrous. It would require exactly the kind of foresight and broad perspective not yet demonstrated by any AGW alarmist.

Bruce said at January 8, 2010 12:37 PM:

Bob, the other conclusion (IMHO the correct one) is that CO2 does not stay in the atmosphere very long.

"In a paper recently published in the international peer-reviewed journal Energy & Fuels, Dr. Robert H. Essenhigh (2009), Professor of Energy Conversion at The Ohio State University, addresses the residence time (RT) of anthropogenic CO2 in the air. He finds that the RT for bulk atmospheric CO2, the molecule 12CO2, is ~5 years, in good agreement with other cited sources (Segalstad, 1998), while the RT for the trace molecule 14CO2 is ~16 years. Both of these residence times are much shorter than what is claimed by the IPCC."


You see Bob, the CO2 in the atmosphere gets dissolved in the oceans or used by plants.

The graph you show in fact PROVES CO2 leaves the atmosphere rather quickly.

Bob Badour said at January 8, 2010 1:43 PM:

That's a much better answer than blaming an AGW conspiracy.

If CO2 leaves the atmosphere so quickly, why do we have so much of it in our air?

Do we have evidence of increased radioactivity of our oceans and our plants since the mid-1960's ?

Bruce said at January 8, 2010 3:03 PM:

"If CO2 leaves the atmosphere so quickly, why do we have so much of it in our air?"

In historial ice core data CO2 lags warming. If the oceans warm up a little, they can hold a little less CO2.


"Do we have evidence of increased radioactivity of our oceans and our plants since the mid-1960's ?"

Good question. But not easy to find an answer. The whole C14,C13,C12 thing is quite complicated.

th said at January 8, 2010 5:06 PM:

"How do you distinguish "manmade" CO2 from "naturally occurring" CO2? There is no way to tell."

another anthropogenic groupthink wreck.

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