Here comes the Sun… again

By Phil Plait | February 27, 2008 6:00 pm

For some reason, people want to blame the Sun for global warming.

This, despite there being no evidence for it, and plenty of evidence against it.

The latest round was brought to my attention from DarkSyde, a science blogger at DailyKos. In an article he put up last night, he notes that an online mag called Daily Tech has a blogger who is claiming that last year was cooler than average… which contradicts a study by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies that shows that last year was among the hottest on record.

Which one is right? Duh. NASA. The Daily Tech columnist evidently confused a below-average January temperature for an entire year’s worth.

Oops.

He also quotes anecdotal data about places having cooler than normal weather. While he acknowledges this is only anecdotal data (though it’s his biggest paragraph in the story), he forgets that scientists have been saying for years now that global warming does not mean every place on Earth gets hotter. Some places get colder, much colder. The weather patterns changes, and arctic air can be brought down to areas on the planet that don’t usually get them.

Ironically, a few years ago global-warming deniers tried to frame the debate by changing the phrase "global warming" to "climate change", because it sounds less threatening. It’s ironic because it probably is a better term: the climate is changing. It’s getting hotter in some places, colder in others. Wetter in some places, drier in others. In some ways I wish it were as a simple as things warming up. It’s not.

We depend critically on huge areas of this planet being stable and capable of supporting crops. Ask a Kansas farmer what happens when it doesn’t snow all winter, or a citrus grower in California what happens when it gets unusually cold.

The Daily Tech article is very misleading — even plain old wrong — and that hurts the rational discourse on this topic… especially when garbage hounds like Matt Drudge pick up on it, as he did on his website today.

The comments on the Daily Tech article are full of errors, too: several people are saying it’s the Sun causing this climate change. That is utter baloney.

Let me make that clearer: BALONEY. I wrote about this extensively in my upcoming book, so I talked to quite a few solar astronomers about this very topic. In general the solar output varies very little over the course of a year, less than 1%. Over the whole sunspot cycle, though, it’s a little more complicated. The sunspots darken the Sun by about 1%, but they are surrounded by regions called faculae, which are actually brighter in the visible and ultraviolet. So when the Sun is its spottiest, it’s actually brighter than average by about 0.1%.

At most, this would raise the temperature of the Earth on average by 0.2 degrees Celsius (and it’s generally less), and we are measuring increases much larger than that (not to mention the trending just keeps going up, and doesn’t rise and fall with the sunspot cycle). People have also tried to tie global warming to sunspots by invoking cosmic rays; when sunspots are at a minimum the Sun’s magnetic field is weakest, and it lets subatomic particles from outer space into the solar system. This can seed clouds (so it’s claimed) and cool the Earth. Maybe, kinda, sorta. The evidence for this is incredibly weak, and it’s not taken very seriously yet.

People who try to tie global warming to the Sun are in for a losing fight, it seems, though in many cases this just makes them scream all the louder. But they have very very spotty (har har) evidence, and what they do have does not come close to explaining the rise in temperature we see on Earth.

Comments (165)

Links to this Post

  1. The Bellows » PSA | February 29, 2008
  2. Solar Cycle and global warming? | Moonage Spacedream | August 28, 2009
  1. JakcC

    It is so sad to imagine the world we are leaving our children and their children – because of a number of clowns that can’t draw a significant conclusion from reasonably adequate data.

    The Solar Warming thing is sooooo easy to dismiss too.

    The very first thing I say to people who say this kind of mis-informed drivel is “Of course, it IS easy to see, being as the Earth is so much closer to the Sun in the Summer than in the winter…” and wait for them to acknowledge that “fact”

    Then, I strike with the REAL facts.

    And no – it hasn’t worked yet.

    JC

  2. Brown

    Gee, maybe we ought to send a probe to land on the sun and investigate the solar cycle. Some might say that the probe will burn up, but we’ve got that problem licked: we land at night.

    Okay, that’s an old joke, but sad to say it seems to be about the intellectual level of some folks who are deficient in the scientific knowledge department but are fully loaded in the opinion department.

  3. Chip

    Aside:
    I wonder if these solar climate change believers would be the same people who also believe that nuclear power plants somehow convert radioactivity directly into electricity rather than heat water to drive turbines that then generate electricity. I actually overheard someone once ask: why don’t they just draw more electrical power from the radiation so they won’t have any “new-que-lar” waist? :(

  4. That picture had me in stitches.

  5. While I do not believe the Sun is causing the current spate of global warming, one question I have persists: how constant is the Sun’s output over centuries? Over longer time scales like that, is its luminosity changing? As far as I know the models say stars should remain more-or-less constant in temperature and therefore luminosity until they evolve off the Main Sequence, but just how constant IS “more-or-less constant”? And do we have any way to measure this information – we’ve only been directly measuring the solar output for less than a century, what indirect markers are there?

  6. Oh, my. Another global warming thread. I’d better jump in early or run the risk of being 87 posts down.

    I think most of the solar warming advocates misunderstand that the solar output is increasing over time spans of tens or hundreds of millennia, not years. The atmosphere used to be much richer in CO2 a million years ago when the sun was cooler. Over that period, most of it has been removed and sequestered, allowing the temperature to remain more-or-less constant. The problem is, we’re running out of CO2 (taking the really long view).

    – Jack

  7. Phil, I think you got your climate hackles up a little prematurely. January *was* the coldest month in a number of years.

    My impression wasn’t that this “disproved” global warming but more concern that solar activity is down and we might be approaching a Maunder Minimum which would make global warming irrelevant. Are you saying that the Maunder Minimum had nothing to do with the Little Ice Age?

  8. Anthony

    Well, in a certain sense the sun is responsible for global warming — certainly, without it, the earth would get pretty cold pretty quick. However, trying to blame changes in solar activity for global warming is not so credible.

  9. alex

    dear mr plait:
    have you read the article?? have you read the link of the article??? daylykos is a respectable political blog (i read it sometimes) but is a political blog, not a science one!!!
    daily tech said that from january 2007 till january 2008 the temperatures went down. january 2008 was the coldest month in 15 years. the link cites 4 sources for his words (that i think you know) HadCrut, UAH (Alabama U.), RSS (santa rosa CA.) and GISS (Dr.Hansen). GISS (Dr.Hansen) said 2007 was the SECOND warmest year after 2005 (and of course 1998 -the warmest of the last years) but even him says that no only january was the coldest in years, but that from january to january the temperatures went down…
    of course a month, a year are not a trend (may be just “noise”), not even that from 1998 to 2007 the temperatures are in a “plateau”. i understand perfectly well. and i think daily tech says something similar..
    he raises also the possibility that the sun could be responsible of the warming.
    i have just finish the book “The Long summer” wrote by Brian Fagan. in it, he told the changes of climate along the human history. medieval europe for example had a warm period who contributed to his expansion. at the same time there were a so severe drought in the land of the mayas that caused the ruin of its principla cities. then europe got a “little ice” and so on. and before they have suvs!!!
    so, what is the problem??? do you want 100% unanimity of opinion as in cuba??? if you think he is wrong (may be) please write him and post your mail in your blog. i thing your post if very disproportionate angry.
    if the polical blogs from the right do use it… well you are in a democracy!! germany and france have government from the right and accept the a.g.w. india and china have the left governning… and well you know how they are doing!!! the global warming is a scientific problem NOT A POLITICAL ONE, and if someone use it politiclly shame on him!!
    of course is your blog, but i appreciate you and i don’t like that the venom who is destilled in junkscience. tamino, eli rabbet or icecap (i read them all!!) has a place in this blog.
    sorry again for my awfull english

  10. For the curious, here’s a graph of the sunspot cycles for the past 400 years.
    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Sunspot_Numbers_png

    The Maunder Minimum, was an era with virtually no sunspots, is thought to be connected with the Little Ice Age. Right now, we’re in the “Modern Maximum.” We’re also near the minimum of the 11-year solar cycle. So, folks, check your facts before making claims like “we might be approaching a Maunder Minimum.” Space Weather is a serious area of research; it is not “any claim goes”.

    I’d also like to point out that using a single month, or even a single year’s data to say anything about climate trends shows a profound ignorance of statistics.

  11. Kevin Conod

    >My impression wasn’t that this “disproved” global warming but more >concern that solar activity is down and we might be approaching a >Maunder Minimum which would make global warming irrelevant. Are you >saying that the Maunder Minimum had nothing to do with the Little Ice >Age?

    Except that we’ve likely already passed solar minimum so the fact that January was cold (it certainly wasn’t here in NJ!) doesn’t correlate.

    There not single shred of evidence that the bottom is dropping out of solar activity. The only chance we’ll see an Ice Age is if you go out and rent the DVD. (rim shot please!)

  12. Nemo

    Why do they do it? Because, if it’s the Sun, then it’s not us; if it’s not us, then we don’t have to do anything… we don’t bear the responsibility, and it’s beyond our power to fix it. Of course this is rubbish on so many levels — even if it weren’t anthropogenic, that wouldn’t mean that we couldn’t do anything about it.

    But I find it encouraging that even the deniers have mostly given up on “global warming’s not happenning”, and have had to fall back on “global warming’s not anthropogenic”.

  13. I can’t find the link, but I do remember reading (on a science blog) that we are emerging very slowly from the latest solar minimum.

    Yes, one cold month does not disprove global warming. But people need to keep that in mind when they claim one drought, one hot summer or one bad hurricane season is a result of global warming – a claim we hear constantly. The reality of global warming is revealed by very long term trends spanning decades. The year-to-year variation is normal.

  14. Steve

    “Ironically, a few years ago global-warming deniers tried to frame the debate by changing the phrase “global warming” to “climate change”, because it sounds less threatening. It’s ironic because it probably is a better term: the climate is changing. It’s getting hotter in some places, colder in others. Wetter in some places, drier in others. In some ways I wish it were as a simple as things warming up. It’s not.”

    Do you have any evidence that this was in fact a move by global warming deniers? I’ve heard the claim made by deniers that the term was invented by global warming theorists in order to reframe the debate to cover up the fact that there was little evidence for actual warming.

    A more likely third theory is that the expression is, as you said, the most accurate description of what is happening with the climate, that it was invented by an impartial party and its use has been misinterpreted by both sides.

    Sure, it sounds ironic that the denialists came up with an accurate expression, but if you don’t have evidence that the expression was invented by denialists, then your statement was a gratuitous slur, unbecoming of a scientist.

  15. dan

    My astronomy teacher spouts this kind of garbage to my entire class quite often.
    He’s a total global warming denier and it hurts my brain when he brings it up.
    “Pretty cold out! Makes you doubt global warming huh?” Yeah… we also live at 7000 feet…

  16. Folks, please read what I wrote, and read the DailyKos article as well before you comment here.

    I am not denying that January 2007 was colder than average. What happened was that the DailyTech article author said that the whole year was cooler than average, not just January. Then the commenters in that article started blaming the Sun for GW.

    As for the Maunder Minimum, there is no conclusive evidence the Little Ice Age was entirely due to that; there was cooling before the Maunder Minimum as well. However, there are theories tying them together such that the MM amplified a pre-existing condition, making those years that much colder (though only in Western Europe and the US; the rest of the world had relatively normal weather). The connection is subtle and would take too long to explain here, but I have it out in detail in the book… if you can wait until October. :-)

  17. David

    In your new book did you address Rhodes Fairbridge’s work?

  18. Steve: Please read this article from Minnesota Public radio. It says: "In fact, a 2002 memo encouraged Republicans to go with climate change because it ‘sounds a more controllable and less emotional challenge,’ whereas global warming sounds like it has ‘catastrophic connotations.’"

    In fact, the issue is a bit more confused than that these days, as the article goes on to note, which basically mirrors what I said.

  19. Ron

    Well so far the leading post hurled “denialists”, or it’s shorter root “denier” five times. Come on folks we can do better! Lest anyone not want to subtly link anybody not 100% on board with current global warming thought with people who deny the Holocaust well just lump the in with creationists, an old favorite. If you don’t want to go that low just accuse or imply that they are in the pocket of that nefarious entity “big business”. After all, all climatologists and related scientists agree 100%, yes?
    It’s sad that people are so afraid of any contradictory evidence that they must resort to attacking those who questions the evidence, even a little. This debate has become less about science and more about shrill suppression of any dissenting thought, however mild.

  20. I am the author of the referenced column. To correct a few misconceptions, the data used to generate the source graphs was *not* a single month for the HadCRUT, UAH, or RSS datasets, which were generated.

    Only the GISS data was graphed Jan only for 2007 to 2008. The reason this was done as GISS doesn’t provide monthly data in vertical format, and the plotting program used would not otherwise accept it.

    Furthermore, the story was not intended as any “disproof” of GW. As stated in the article text, it merely illustrates that GHG-based forcing is at present being overshadowed by another, more powerful factor…a factor which *may* be related to an amplification of solar insolation, an ENSO phase change, or something else entirely.

    Finally, to those who said the sun is emerging from its present state of low activity– that statement appears to be premature. Solar Cycle 24 has not yet begun; a C-23 sunspot was spotted by SIDC just yesterday.

  21. bad Jim

    Hmm. I distinctly recall reading something, somewhere, which asserted that “global warming” sounded too comfortable (especially during the winter) and the “climate change” was more accurate. Most recent commentary agrees that “climate change” is preferred by the deniers.

    I recently advised my neighbor, a staunch environmental activist, that “junk science” is a term typically used by interested parties to dismiss scientific opinions that conflict with their goals. (A local toll road agency used it to describe a report by staff scientists of the California Coastal Commission that running a highway through a state park might be harmful.) Unfortunately, real scientists sometimes use “junk science” with respect to, um, junk science, so its use isn’t an entirely reliable indicator.

    (By the way, the commission stopped the toll road. Yay!)

  22. Reed

    Your notation on the graph *is* comparing one month, January between two years. Jan 07 Happens to be particularly hot, and Jan 08 is particularly cold.

    The average for that period doesn’t look nearly as exciting, compared to the averages for the preceding years. The variation one of the largest year-year variations shown, but not vastly so. To claim that data shows anything more than “climate is variable on month to year timescales” seems like a big stretch.

  23. I was wondering if someone was going to talk about the use of the word “denier” and relate it to the Holocaust.

    Look– if someone denies that GW exists, they are a denier. It’s fine term, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the Holocaust. In my mind, saying it’s done on purpose to equate GW deniers with anti-Semites is a ridiculous assertion, and serves only as a distraction to the item at hand.

  24. shane

    Until the sun moves on to its next stage of life over the next few billion years does it get dimmer, brighter or stay pretty much constant? The question only occurred to me as I was reading BA’s post and is slightly off-topic.

  25. Der

    Some times you lash out needlessly, Phil. Drudge was an internet revolutionary, and you bloggers all owe him a debt.

  26. Der

    Look– if someone denies that GW exists, they are a denier. It’s fine term, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the Holocaust. In my mind, saying it’s done on purpose to equate GW deniers with anti-Semites is a ridiculous assertion, and serves only as a distraction to the item at hand.

    Absolute crap! Then use the word “skeptic” instead of one that carries so much baggage. Certain words have certain effects, and to ignore this is complete ideological blindness.

    Politics DESTROYS your skepticism, Phil, as it does with many other skeptics. It’s really pathetic to see. You’re so good on science topics but the moment anything politically charged comes along, you’re as shallow as any local newscast.

    But I know my words will never get through. It’s as impossible to puncture an ideology as it is a religion. Anyone who dares oppose the gospel is just an idiot or a fool or whatever the insult du jour is this week for the ideologically impure.

    BTW, I am *NOT* a GW skeptic. I have heard fellow GW supporters talk about using the word “denier” in a deliberate manner. I find this BS with words to be more harmful to our side than anything else.

  27. zeb

    Of course the Sun is making Earth warm! Without it, we’d all be quite chilly…

  28. BenB

    All

    The discussion that if it was called GW or CC is easily answered. It was ALWAYS called CC, just go to the UN site, you will see that since 1992 the IPCC have been producing reports on climate change.

    Global warming is one aspect and the one that the media found to be an excellent sound bite (nice and scary). The IPCC (guess what the “CC” bit stands for) has always been about the bigger picture.

    Ben

  29. Andy C

    > Then use the word “skeptic” instead of one that carries so much baggage.

    Der, it is not appropriate to use the word ‘skeptic’ rather than ‘denier’ for a very simple reason; AGW deniers are not skeptics, they are deniers. A skeptic is someone who demands credible evidence to accept a hypothesis, not someone who will simply denies a proposition irrespective of the amount of evidence presented to them; a denier.

    I object to people calling AGW deniers, skeptics, because it is flat out wrong to do so, and adds baggage to the term ‘skepticism’ that it does not deserve. It’s almost as bad as ‘just a theory’.

  30. Jeffersonian

    I prefer the term “climate change” and do not use the term “global warming”. The latter is a misnomer, is undescriptive, and seems to cause doubt to those that think “warming” is tested by sticking your hand out the window. Every summer, I hear people say “damn, global warming” and then those same people react with skepticism come January. “Global climate shift” is even better. It’s all in the terms for the little reality bites/word bites public conciousness.

    Nothing wrong with the word “denier”. It’s a word; it can be used for what it defines. It carries no connotations other than its definition. (This is the same reason people hear “immaculate conception” and jump to the conclusion it has something to do with virgin birth.)

  31. Regner Trampedach

    Great post, Phil!
    That picture, of course, also shows the real reason for climate change:
    There is a large dark asteroid at the L2 Sun-Earth Lagrange point,
    gravitationally lensing the Sun-light onto us. We just need another US
    missile-shield test to knock it out of the “sky”…
    On another note: The idea about cloud-seeding by ionizing particles
    from the Sun, I believe is quite established, although not quantitatively
    yet. What has also been established is that it is a quasi-periodic signal
    with and amplitude of about 6% of the background exponential rise of
    the global warming. It is actually included in the last IPCC report.
    What deniers of anthropogenic climate change argues, is that all the
    change can be explained by that Solar effect – which is rubbish. I am
    sad to say that I am a citizen of the country (Denmark) that has
    spawned the most fervent researchers in that camp :-/ Many other
    researchers (Danes among them) have shown just how flawed and
    wrong that research is, e.g.:
    http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/DamonLaut2004.pdf
    and
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v448/n7149/full/448008a.html

    Cheers, Regner

  32. Gareth

    I was just pointed at this page:

    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/GlobWarmTest/A3b.html

    This claims that solar activity IS responsible for global warming. As a failed scientist, when confronted with plausible sounding arguments on both sides, how does one know which side to believe?

  33. Jon W.

    Can someone explain to me what it is they’re getting so worked up about over here: http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/02/27/a-look-at-temperature-anomalies-for-all-4-global-metrics/

    They seem to think they’ve uncovered a conspiracy to defraud the public by biasing satellite data, but all I see is a four graphs with a positive mean slope (which would not support their claims.)

    Bad Astronomer? They’re deep into some kind of data delving here, but I definitely don’t see how they see anything but a January that looks a whole lot like many of those previous Januaries. Heck, its not even the lowest January on the chart, so I fail to see how it wipes out a century of anything.

  34. Nick

    Ironically, a few years ago global-warming deniers tried to frame the debate by changing the phrase “global warming” to “climate change”, because it sounds less threatening. It’s ironic because it probably is a better term: the climate is changing. It’s getting hotter in some places, colder in others. Wetter in some places, drier in others. In some ways I wish it were as a simple as things warming up. It’s not.

    ————

    Actually its the alarmists who changed to “climate change”. Then any bit of climate or weather can be tagged with ‘bad humans’.

    Nick

  35. Andy C

    Given that the topic has come up a few times in the comments, I thought I’d add to the terminology discussion. Climate change and global warming are both entirely valid, and non-contradictory terms within climate science. ‘Climate change’ is used to describe the changes that can be expected around the globe for a given level of ‘global warming’ (which is a statement describing the increasing trend in mean global temperature, no more, no less).

  36. NOYB

    LIBERAL RUBBISH!!! No sun, no weather, no climate.

  37. Hannu Siivonen

    ACtually, I’m very surprised that no global-warming denier has blamed Earth’s core heat yet. But I guess it pays of not to show all the cards at once. Well, volcanoes had their share of guilt, so I guess we’re getting there.

    For me, not being an expert on the solar activity, it’s nice hear the truth about it. I had my doubts about that, since increasing activity in decades, doesn’t really sound like our sun.

    But even I knew that cloud stuff was made up. Aren’t clouds exactly what greenhouse effect is all about. It’s water vapor that reflects sunlight back to Earth. It just happend, that it’s the only visible form of it.

    Global-warming deniers make even creationists sound scientific :-)

  38. Chad

    As a environmental scientist specializing in soils the only fact in the man made global warming theory(as a force factor) is that we do not have enough research and non-contradictory research facts and observations to come anywhere near a conclusion.
    As a scientist who has studied soil as a sink from everything from gases to radiation our knowledge to the many thousands of factors that lead to climate is very elementary. We always want to sound like we know what we are talking about but there is much more we don’t understand than what we do to such a degree there is no true scientifically tested theory about climate change either way. There is one proven fact of climate change. The climate changes over time and will change over time it is our job just like every other living creature on this planet to adapt to the best of our ability.

  39. Chad

    And to the alarmist the CC or GW is going to kill us all and we have to do something about it. If we, humans, are the force factor towards CC then there is realistically absolutely nothing we can do about it. I don’t want to sound like a hopeless person because whatever happens humans will be OK. Not all humans but overall we will survive. But those who want to force others to be “environmental” don’t really see reality. If it is us forcing the climate changes oh you just wait. Unless you want to KILL the BILLIONS of people in the 3rd world who are good people for the most part like you and I that only want the best for their family. The billions of fellow humans are going to come aboard the industrial train in the next generation or two and us in the more developed nations are going to say no no you have to impliment expensive and inefficient ways to produce energy. Not going to happen. So if you do believe in human induced CC and the only negative effects it will have on the environment enjoy life now because there is nothing short of genocide or some super advancements in creating energy that will stop it. Those are the facts, not the theories.

  40. TierOneGirl

    Here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory…

  41. Aside from temperature fluctuations, the other problem with “climate change” is that we get more extreme weather. That means more severe droughts, more intense rainstorms. There is some debate with hurricanes, however. While the 2005 season was record setting, the last two years have been relatively quiet. One recent study suggested that global warming may increase wind shear, which tends to keep hurricanes from forming.
    That said, it should be noted that while we may have gotten easy here, China was hammered last summer by a series of severe tropical cyclones (aka, hurricanes).

  42. Andy C

    >…the only fact in the man made global warming theory… is
    > that we do not have enough research and non-contradictory
    > research facts and observations to come anywhere near a
    > conclusion.

    > There is one proven fact of climate change. The climate changes over
    > time and will change over time

    Chad, whilst acknowledging up front that I am not involved in climate research, I am still bemused by the above statements. It is my understanding that it is a fact that increases in atmospheric CO2 can be attributed almost entirely to humans through measurement of carbon isotope ratios in biomass, the oceans, and the atmosphere. It is also my understanding that increases in atmospheric CO2 content contribute to the greenhouse effect is a fact, and that therefore human CO2 contributions increase global temperatures follows from these two facts alone.

  43. Dennis

    I know this is just anecdotal, but, as a letter carrier in Canada I have noticed the temperature extremes in winter and in summer the last eight years have been…well…extreme. Our coldest days have been colder and our hottest days warmer. I think if more people really had to interact more with the weather instead of spending most of their time in climate controlled buildings and cars they would be less likely to question the science on climate change.

    The argument of the blogger mentioned also seemed to be the old “there is no global warming but if there is it’s the sun’s fault.” So which is it? If you accept that there is a warming regardless of the cause wouldn’t it make more sense to devise a way to deal with it?

  44. I am the author of the article on Daily Kos which criticized the Daily Tech post. Coupe of things:

    1) Daily Tech is a superbly run site literally brimming with outstanding articles and comments.

    2) I’ve been in touch with the author Michael Asher, and while the details of his emails to me are confidential, it’s my belief that he’s open to constructive criticism and, furthermore, has a thought provoking point to make about the January temperature data.

    In my personal view he might have chosen a better way to present that point. Perhaps in the near future he will find time and opportunity to clarify it or add to it. And if I can contribute meaningfully to that end I will.

    Thanks for the link Phil!

  45. Daffy

    Chad, could you please point out one “fact” in your post? Opinions are NOT facts; even if you are a conservative.

  46. @Chad,

    Now who is the alarmist?

    Saying that conversion will lead to global depression is just so much junk economics.
    We can pay for it with just a fraction of our economic growth.
    It only requires political will to do it and we will rise to the challenge.
    We are a resourceful lot after all.
    (And some people will get rich in the process, for them the challenge will be an opportunity.)
    Cleaning up our act will also drastically improve public health, a big money saver.

    Sure climate change has happened before.
    But we are not wild animals. In the past whole civilisations have fallen because of climate changes. Lots and lots of our infrastructure is dependent on a stable, and predictable, climate.
    Luckily our civilisation is flexible, imaginative, and has lots of recourses.
    We will be able to overcome this thing. We will adapt.

    If we act.

  47. I’m genuinely surprised to hear that the move from “global warming” to “climate change” was instigated by deniers. I always assumed that it was simply a more accurate term, and it’s the term I prefer to use because it avoids confusing people. Phil, not that I don’t trust you, but I am curious to know how you got to that conclusion.

  48. Todd

    I haven’t read through every comment, but, um, the Sun kinda IS responsible for global warming. I mean, it warms the globe. Otherwise, we’d be a cold, lifeless lump of rock hurtling through space…kinda like Pluto, but bigger…and a planet.

  49. zandperl writes:

    [[While I do not believe the Sun is causing the current spate of global warming, one question I have persists: how constant is the Sun’s output over centuries? Over longer time scales like that, is its luminosity changing? ]]

    We have proxies like the sunspot number that have been observed for 400 years or so, and paleoclimatologists are at work trying to find other proxies to extend it back further.

    Here are estimates of the solar constant for the past 400 years from NASA’s Judith Lean:

    http://members.aol.com/bpl1960/LeanTSI.html

  50. Mike

    Im a denier. :-) but i have reasons.

    I deny that humanity has had a drastic effect.

    I accept Global Warming is occuring and will occur weather *pun intended* we want it to or not.

    I Deny That global warming / climate change can be Combatted

    As a Anti-Alarmist and Anti-moron I feel that its a bunch of hype over a natural cycle. Earth has been through Ice Ages, Hot cycles, Mediocre cycles, asteroid impacts and god knows what else. Sheesh get over it.

    Im no scientist i wont pretent to be one but everything ive read says Global Warming AKA Climate change has happened many times. Its being used as a political tool to scare people.

    Humanities Impact while noticable is not the main cause. with or without us Global Warming will occur. Dont sacrafic Progress and submit to fear.

    Thank you from a Denier of Humanity being the main cause.

    To Humanity and Progress. Reach for the stars. And lets get off this planet before it kills us all.

  51. Shane writes:

    [[Until the sun moves on to its next stage of life over the next few billion years does it get dimmer, brighter or stay pretty much constant? The question only occurred to me as I was reading BA’s post and is slightly off-topic.]]

    The Sun is slowly (very slowly!) getting brighter. An approximation for the value of the solar constant with time is:

    S = S0 / (1 – 0.38 t / 4.55)

    where S is the solar constant, S0 the constant now, and t is time past in billions of years. From Judith Lean’s TSI data, I get a mean value for S0 of 1366.1 watts per square meter for 1951-2000.

    Note that the Sun starts out 62% as bright as now 4.55 billion years ago. This brings up the “Faint Young Sun paradox” — the Sun was a lot cooler, and if you use Earth’s present albedo and orbital distance and greenhouse effect, the Earth should have been frozen over back then. But we have geological evidence of running water very early. The usual conclusion is that the atmospheric composition and pressure was different then, with a much stronger greenhouse effect.

  52. Oops. I should have said t was “time, measured from the present.” Then for t = -4.55 Ga you get S = S0 / (1.38) or 72% of the present value, not 62%. Sorry for the carelessness.

  53. Todd posts:

    [[I haven’t read through every comment, but, um, the Sun kinda IS responsible for global warming. I mean, it warms the globe. Otherwise, we’d be a cold, lifeless lump of rock hurtling through space…kinda like Pluto, but bigger…and a planet.]]

    I think there are two different meanings of “warming” in place here. Yes, the Sun warms the Earth. Without it the mean global annual surface temperature would be closer to 30 K than the present 288 K. But “global warming” usually refers to the increase in mean temperature of the last 150 years, which only started really going fast in the past 30 years or so. In that sense, it isn’t variations in sunlight that are driving the global warming; it’s (primarily) the steady increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by burning fossil fuels.

  54. Mike writes:

    [[As a Anti-Alarmist and Anti-moron I feel that its a bunch of hype over a natural cycle. Earth has been through Ice Ages, Hot cycles, Mediocre cycles, asteroid impacts and god knows what else. Sheesh get over it. ]]

    The present global warming is not a natural cycle of any kind. It doesn’t match solar cycles or Earth orbital cycles or any other known kind of climate cycle. And please don’t say it matches some cycle no one has discovered yet. Scientists have been looking for such cycles for over a century now and we seem to have all the major ones.

    If you go by the Milankovic cycles (in Earth’s orbital eccentricity, axial tilt, and axial precession) that govern ice ages, and do the matrix math which governs them, the Earth should now be COOLING, not warming. We passed the peak of the interglacial 6,000 years ago and should be on course for another ice age in 20-50,000 years. The current warming is not natural.

  55. Quiet_Desperation

    Oh noes! I missed a politically charged thread! ;-)

    That diagram looks like something Dr. Evil would dream up. All it needs is some sharks. With lasers.

  56. Todd

    @Barton Paul Levenson

    Quite aware of the two meanings. I was attempting to be humorous/satiric.

  57. Pat

    CO2’s been going up quite a while now. It’ll be a catastrophe economically no matter what we do, so the choice would be between mitigating risk and ignoring risk. Big organisms are more vulnerable in times of change. The United States is a big organism. We’ve seen a small catastrophe in New Orleans, and what resulted. Now imagine that with no fall back. It’s not that everybody is going to die or anything – more like small, inland, self-sufficient or subsistence agrarian societies will fare best, while large, interdependant and coastal societies will fare worst.

    No panicky “Water World” or “Day After Tomorrow.” Just eventual societal collapse as successive hardships outstrip our reserves and capability, compounded by instability putting pressure on our security. It comes down to survival of the family or individual, and at that point Americans throw the country to the wind. We are all looters waiting for a sign. If we mitigate risk, we still have some economic upheaval; but its upheaval that we can survive relatively intact.

  58. former dt reader

    I used to read Daily Tech quite regularly, but Michael Asher’s pitiful parroting of known hacks and plagiarisms of others made it impossible for me to continue reading the site. He has a habit of paraphrasing others without giving any credit, and he has often times written posts to make it seem as though he was the original author when in reality he just rehashes the work done by others. Asher’s MO is to take one small nugget of data that does not fit into his naive understanding of GW and magnify its importance greatly. I.e. he’s a hack, and not worthy of further discussion and attention from real scientists.

  59. Gary

    Phil, for a ‘skeptic’ you have a pretty closed mind on this. The uncertainties about feedbacks, the relative magnitude/influence of most of the variables affecting temperature, and the accuracy/consistency of the measurements over sufficiently long-enough time periods make attribution of the ’cause’ of global warming premature. Yeah, there are some detailed attempts at explanation, but the conclusions are far from certain. Even with the huge volume of science done in the last 30 years, there’s much that still is poorly understood – including subtle influences of the sun that are perhaps (probably?) amplified by the feedbacks. My skeptical antennae start to quiver when I hear dismissive tones such as in this post. They may rouse the rabble (on either side of the argument), but why such strident language? Makes me think of the kid on the ball field who believes he can win the debate by yelling louder.

    As for ‘global warming’, you’re right that it’s a nearly meaningless term. However, ‘climate change’ should be a neutral one and not a pejorative appropriated by the politically-motived. Regional changes are by far more important than a single global number.

  60. John Varsik

    I just want to point out that it’s normal for sunspots from the
    old and new spot cycles to overlap. The overlap period
    lasts about a year. See the “butterfly diagram” here:
    http://sidc.oma.be/html/papi22c.html. When a new cycle
    starts, its spots appear at high latitude It’s also normal
    for sunspot numbers to be very low for months at a time
    at sunspot minimum, which is where we are now..
    There’s nothing to indicate that the new sunspot cycle will
    be at all unusual.

  61. Chris

    I think it’s wrong to call them ‘global warming deniers’. I’d call them ‘climate contrarians’. It’s a more neutral term, sorta. Sadly, I must confess I used to be one of them, a ‘climate contrarian’. I have now looked at the evidence and accept that the climate overall is warming and that humans are responsible for this era of climate change. I have a tendency to extend my skepticism to the point of contrariness, just for the sake of it. It’s a bad habit and has kept me from realizing how much we’ve Bad word deleted this planet up. Until now.

    I try to keep a scientific outlook. If I’m wrong, I eventually admit it and move on. The problem I had was with the term ‘scientific consensus’ was that it seemed to smack of argument from authority. I used to argue with Creationists and they love ‘argument from authority’ (‘Respect my authoratay’). If 1000 preachers agreed that God exists, doesn’t mean they are right, but being more learned (theoretically, or is it theocratically?) their consensus holds a little more weight than if a 1000 children agreed that God exists. Now If 1000 scientists who specialize in studying the Earth’s climate and geology agree that global warming is real, they may not be right, but they hold more weight than a 1000 conservative talk show hosts would.

    Now if Rush Limbaugh decides to go drill some Greenland ice cores and measure the gas ratios or or Glenn Beck decides to study ancient tree rings to build up a picture of past climates, let me know.

  62. Robert

    I think a little clarification might be necessary: If GW is occuring, is it possible to stop it, mitigate it, or what harm will it actually cause. And is it part of a natural cycle or (doubtful) “human” caused. Remember, Greenland was actually green at one time! The next question is whether or not it’s a good idea to destroy the world economy and plunge 6 billion people into poverty over a “theory” from a computer model based on flawed data…

    Just over 35 years ago, scientists were “convinced” we were heading into an Ice Age. So which is it?

    Robert

  63. Pat

    Robert:
    Two billion or more of those are already in poverty.

    Where do you get, by the way, the claim of everyone in poverty due to reformation of greenhouse gas emissions? You have made a claim; I have an obligation as a skeptic to question it and request your data. And your computer model, presuming you have one.

  64. Celtic_Evolution

    @Robert –

    I think that your extremist point of view over your pre-supposed “consequesnces” of “doing something about GW” is pretty alarming.

    First of all, in response to your question of whether or not we can stop or in any way mitigate GW… well DUH… yeah… there’s lots we can and in fact already do. And whatever the mitigating effect, how could you think it’s not the right thing to do?

    And to your next point… what facts do you have that back up, in any way, your statement that any proposed solution would “destroy the world’s economy and plunge 6 billion people into poverty”. That’s a pretty strong statement… can you back that up? I’m not sure you can.

    Next… which computer model with flawed data are you referring to in which we would make such a drastic change as to destroy the worlds economy?… I’m not aware of that particular computer model…

    And lastly, well… perhaps it might occur to you that what we know NOW about Climate Change has somewhat improved over what we knew 35 years ago…

  65. Todd

    Celtic_Evolution said:

    “what we know NOW about Climate Change has somewhat improved over what we knew 35 years ago”

    Wait, wait, wait, wait…science and knowledge progress and change based on new information and improved technology instead of remaining stagnant?

  66. Celtic_Evolution

    @Todd

    sarcasm again… right? Can’t see if your “satire switch” is in the “on” position. :)

  67. Todd

    @Celtic_Evolution

    Yep. Perhaps I should start using and in my posts, eh?

  68. TheBlackCat

    Just over 35 years ago, scientists were “convinced” we were heading into an Ice Age. So which is it?

    This myth is so annoying. The “Ice Age” thing was some very tentative data from a small number of scientists that were predicting an ice age would occur sometime in the next few tens of thousands of years or so. It was overhyped by the press, as is common. The current global warming threat is the overwhelming, worldwide scientific consensus backed by nearly every scientist in the world whose research is even remotely related to the climate, not the mention the vast and (by all empirical counts so far) nearly unanimous conclusion of the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Trying to say the two situations are equivalent is frankly absurd.

  69. Robert writes:

    [[I think a little clarification might be necessary: If GW is occuring, is it possible to stop it, mitigate it, or what harm will it actually cause.]]

    We can’t stop it at this point, but we can make it less severe and lessen the damage. The harm will come from the fact that our agriculture and economy are all based on the unusually stable climate we’ve enjoyed for the past 10,000 years or so. Global warming will mean more droughts in continental interiors, more violent weather along coastlines, and rising sea levels. If we do nothing, millions of deaths and trillions of dollars worth of property damage are inevitable.

    [[ And is it part of a natural cycle or (doubtful) “human” caused.]]

    The latter.

    [[Remember, Greenland was actually green at one time!]]

    True. 120,000 years ago it had no ice cap.

    [[ The next question is whether or not it’s a good idea to destroy the world economy and plunge 6 billion people into poverty over a “theory” from a computer model based on flawed data…]]

    It’s not a good idea to destroy the world economy, surely, but what makes you think mitigating global warming would destroy the world economy? Basically all we have to do is switch to sources of energy other than fossil fuels, and try to preserve the remaining forests.

    [[Just over 35 years ago, scientists were “convinced” we were heading into an Ice Age. So which is it?]]

    Some scientists c. 1975 thought we might be heading into an ice age, but there was never a consensus behind “global cooling” the way there is now behind global warming. To that extent, “they said we were headed for global cooling!” is a myth, an urban legend. Here’s more on the subject:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94

  70. TheBlackCat

    We can’t stop it at this point, but we can make it less severe and lessen the damage. The harm will come from the fact that our agriculture and economy are all based on the unusually stable climate we’ve enjoyed for the past 10,000 years or so. Global warming will mean more droughts in continental interiors, more violent weather along coastlines, and rising sea levels. If we do nothing, millions of deaths and trillions of dollars worth of property damage are inevitable.

    To take this a step further, even if global warming isn’t happening (which it almost certainly is), it is inevitable that it will happen if we keep pumping greenhouses gasses into the atmosphere. We are pumping huge amounts of a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. A large part of this gas is not being taken up by the various sinks that are present and many of those sinks that are taking part of it up can only store a finite amount and will eventually be saturated. There are no known feedbacks that are large enough and fast enough to counter its effects, and people have been looking hard for them. We have a problem now, a problem that will only increase. But even if we didn’t the problem is still inevitable, is not possible to fully reverse even if we totally stopped producing greenhouse gasses right now, and reducing our production of greenhouse gases will mitigate the impact.

    Basically all we have to do is switch to sources of energy other than fossil fuels, and try to preserve the remaining forests.

    Just reducing our fossil fuel dependence by requiring increased fuel economy in vehicles, decreased energy use in our appliances and lights, and switching as much of our energy production as possible to alternative energy sources will make a big impact. The first two will actually save consumers money, but have been vigorously resisted by fossil fuel and automotive companies. The third might as well but I don’t know for sure.

  71. Chad

    “The next question is whether or not it’s a good idea to destroy the world economy and plunge 6 billion people into poverty over a “theory” from a computer model based on flawed data…”

    You are right. I have seen literally hundreds of climate computer models and not once have I seen an accurate one. Now that is not fair to those who make them, they are usually very good scientists but it is inherent in climate computer models. The models are only as good as the data put in and the amount of real world factors that can affect the model.

    To those non-scientists understand Models are research tools to better understand models not the real world factors (data) placed into the models.

    And when it comes to climate scientists like myself we are in our infancy.

  72. TallDave

    confused a below-average January temperature for an entire year’s worth.

    Temperatures are a continuous measure: the next month inherits its starting temperature from the preceding month.

    So it wasn’t that January suddenly got colder. The anomaly gradually decreased over the latter half of 2007. If you look at the monthly graph, this is pretty obvious.

    which contradicts a study by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies that shows that last year was among the hottest on record.

    There is no contradiction; those are two totally different comparisons. One is comparing a year to other years, one is comparing the temperature now to the temperature a year ago.

  73. TheBlackCat

    To those non-scientists understand Models are research tools to better understand models not the real world factors (data) placed into the models.

    I take it you are not a modeler? That is the sort of cynical thing I hear from experimenters who do not do much, if any, modeling themselves and look down on it because of that. On the other hand it is something I never hear from people who actually do modeling (because it isn’t true, and anyone who does modeling knows that).

  74. Jimmie

    Here is a link that shows what might be the start of the new solar cycle.

    http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMT1J3MDAF_index_0.html

    I’ve been trying to hunt down a piece that I recently read, that states this upcoming cycle “24” might rival the solar maximum that caused auroras to be seem as far south as Mexico in 1958.

  75. Celtic_Evolution

    @Chad –

    I’m not sure how your explanation that perhaps we don’t have the perfect all-encompasing climate model validates Robert’s statement.

    The problem with his statement is that he makes a claim that by doing something to possibly stem or reverse role we are playing in GW we will plunge the world into poverty and destroy the world’s economy. It’s an absurd statement based on no facts.

    And I’m frankly I’m a little surprised that a climate scientist such as yourself would find the abundance of data available on the subject of climate change inconclusive or “flawed”. I think that goes against the current thinking amongst the large percentage of the climate science community… or am I wrong in that statement?

  76. Chad

    BlackCat- sorry I was dumbing it down.
    I was referring to GCM’s. Yes, in the modeling world that covers many scientific disciplines, there are good and some very good models out there. But when it comes GCM’s you cannot make a reliable model when we do not know the factors going into the system that we are trying to model. At that point models are used more for making better more accurate models.
    I don’t mean disrespect to those researching models but we can’t look to them as predicting the future entirely.
    Please refer me to a GCM that you think predicts the future of man-kind and takes into account all the factors and we can use to base our future decisions on. I would like to see it. thanks

  77. Ryan

    Man, people get so pissed off about this stuff. I don’t see why we cant just behave as if man made climate change is real, it makes sense for a number of non-climate change reasons anyway. And it will NOT plunge us into a catastrophic recession, at least any more of one than Oil prices quadrupling, which they have since 1998. It makes so much sense that even with ZERO evidence for man made climate change, I would still be all for being as proactive as possible to eliminate or severely reduce our use of fossil fuels.

  78. Hannu Siivonen

    “Phil, for a ’skeptic’ you have a pretty closed mind on this.”

    I think he does exactly what a sceptic should. Decides his opinions, based on scientific observations (there’s gotta be something wrong in the grammar, that just can’t be right :-)

    Being a sceptic doesn’t mean one have to deny everything. Then again, just about every conspiracy theorist call them selves sceptics, so perhaps I am wrong :-)

  79. wotthe7734

    [snark]

    January here (Phila, PA) seems to have been more or less “average” (except that we had almost no snow, which is fine by me). Therefore, global warming didn’t exist here in January…………..

    @Der: OK, Drudge was in internet pioneer, but that doesn’t make anything he says true. He’s still a crank. :-P

    [/snark]

  80. wotthe7734

    Oops, I meant an internet pioneer. BA, can we please have a preview feature?

  81. Utakata

    “Climate change” as opposed to “global warming.” “Climate contrarians” as opposed to “climate deniers.” These “fancy euphanisms” to sex up unpopular and incorrect dispositions has a better word for them as well; it’s called “double speak.” And this thread is full of them as “climate contrarians,” scrambling in their alarmist fashion, grasping at straws (and splitting hairs) over what to most of is pretty obvious: 6 billion plus people are warming our planet, and have been for quite some time. And most of science community have accepted this. And incase your wondering; yes, I am “climate contrarian skeptic.”

  82. Andy C

    >Please refer me to a GCM that you think predicts the future of man-kind

    Chad, without wishing to make a statement as sweeping as “this model predicts the future of mankind”, I do think it would be inappropriate to overlook the success of, for example, Jim Hansen’s 1988 GCM (the ‘most likely’ scenario B in particular), which has predicted forcings to within about 5% of observations.

    To suggest that this model takes all factors into account would obviously be inappropriate, but the fact that it has been so successful in predicting the observations over the last couple of decades surely gives it some credibility.

    I’m curious to hear your views on that.

  83. Chad

    @Celtic_Evolution

    The problem I have is prospective. The general public has a prospective that the “scientific consensus” is based on a founded theory and not just scientific opinion which is not always based on science and usually is not based on science at all. Rather their scientific opinion is more influenced by things that influence all of us, personal benefit. The great thing about theorys is that to be viable they have to predict the future. It is too soon to see if it can but most climate theory so far have been proven wrong. This is because we do not have a strong enough understanding of the climate to make viable theories yet, but we are on the right path.
    If the current GW theory is correct then there is nothing realistically that we can do. We are at just the beginning of the global industrial era. Wye are only going to pump out more greenhouse gases in the next century. The first world nations can clean up there act but not the third world nations which is 2/3 of the worlds population. We don’t spend our money on being environmentally friendly rather we spend our billions on ringtones. We don’t know the meaning of the world “sacrifice”
    If the GW theory is proven correct then results of increase greenhouse gases will come true and we will have to adapt as we always have thoughtout history of mankind. Some local climates will be more favorable to mankind and some will be more unfavorable.
    My scientific opinion is that we will be fine.

  84. alex

    i know that i’m not the blog owner, but after the post (7:26 a.m) from DarkSyde of Daylykos defending and clarifying what Dayly Tech wrote, the rest of commments here are superfluous…
    i also saw a post from Michael Asher (27/2/08 p.32 p.m.) of Dayly Tech explanning his views.
    both posts were left without a comment from mr plait… which i think is very very strange (and uncorteous!!!)
    and after reading what DarkSyde wrote i have the feeling that mr. plait “es más papista que el papa” (is more popist than the pope).

  85. Geophysicist

    Dear Mr Plait, I will confess up front that I sit firmly in the camp of the skeptics when it comes to the claims made about global warming. As a geophysicist I am well aware that climate is in a constant state of flux, and that alarmist positions such as that Sydney will be uninhabitable by 2050 need to be countered with common sense.

    Where I take issue to your otherwise excellent post, is that you blame “Deniers” for shifting the vocabulary from “Global Warming” To “Climate Change”. In Australia, it is the believers that have made this shift, and it scares me for the following reason. “Global Warming” is a testable hypothesis, If the globe warms -pass, if not, fail. With “Climate Change” on the other hand, any variation in climate can be blamed on the theory. It would truly be bizarre if the climate did not change at all, as this is not how it has ever behaved historically. So we have a situation in which if the globe warms or cools, or gets wetter, or dryer as a whole or in parts, all of this can be claimed to be as a result of “Climate Change” Suddenly the hypothesis becomes unfalsifiable. If it is unfalsifiable, it is simply not science anymore.

    I shall remain a skeptic, my position is testable, and may yet prove to be right or wrong. But science must remain science, and I fear that global warming as understood by the media and the common man is slipping further and further away from the realm of testable science.

  86. Brant D

    crtl+f: “stratospheric cooling” not found

    An increase in the sun’s output would cause stratospheric warming. An increase in the greenhouse effect would cause stratospheric cooling. Observations show significant stratospheric cooling over the past several decades. It is one of the strongest observed evidences that the sun is not causing global warming. Why is this not *ever* discussed in these topics? Why do the AGW contrarians and deniers repeatedly ignore this very fundamental fact? Why do they always resort to muddy ambiguous topics like GCM output details and warming trends on other planets?

    It seems to me the contrarians don’t have a leg to stand on, so they revert to using ignorance and ambiguity as a shield. It’s kind of a corruption of the “God of the gaps” fallacy.

  87. MercuryBlue

    I just linked this to my roommate after she mentioned four weather stations around the world registering a decrease in the world’s temperature. I don’t think she’s bothering to read it. Face, meet wall.

    (It’s not like she, or anyone, even has to accept that the present global warming is human-caused. Even if what we’ve been doing to the atmosphere for the past hundred-odd years isn’t causing global warming, it’s sure as hell not doing anything beneficial, and we’d be well advised to stop doing it.)

  88. flynjack

    Whew…what a read to get to this point! I have one question, since the models are less than perfect because not all factors are known, is it concievable that even small changes in solar output could have significant effects on earths climate? And are there any oceanographers in the group who would comment on the absorption of C02 by warming oceans?

    One thought…since we are clearly contributing to C02 levels by burning fossil fuels how about restoring and bolstering the use of nuclear power. What say the “enviormentalist” in the thread.

  89. Brant,

    Stratospheric temperatures are dominated by ozone; this is the primary molecule absorbing heat at that level. As you know, stratospheric ozone is decreasing. This effect is thought to account for much of the stratospheric cooling, particularly at the poles.

    It doesn’t, however, seem to account for all the tropical cooling, for which anthropogenic GHGs indeed seem the best fit for the data. Adiabatic cooling due to upwelling is another possible explanation.

    Also, remember not to not fall into the ‘false dilemma’ trap. None of these scenarios are mutually exclusive. If anything is incontrovertible, it is that all the above play some part. We just don’t yet know the actual magnitudes.

  90. Steve

    Phil – thanks for the link about history of the term … it’s good to be clear that while the term “climate change” has been around for a long time, it was only recently that climate change skeptics began to use it to spin the debate.

  91. JC

    The cause of the Maunder Minimum is obvious. Back in those days, hundreds of years ago, people were much more dependent on sunlight for day to day operations. So when there was less sun, there was a correlated drop in getting out and around. People drove their SUVs all that much less, and the CO2 levels dropped to historic lows, leaving the atmosphere no choice but to chilly the dilly.

    People who say CO2 is responsible for everything remind me of creationists.

  92. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Chad

    “The problem I have is prospective. The general public has a prospective that the “scientific consensus” is based on a founded theory and not just scientific opinion which is not always based on science and usually is not based on science at all.”

    Did you mean “perspective”? I’m not really trying to be snarky… just want to be clear I understand your point, as a climate scientist. That having been said, I really don’t think the analysis of the wealth of available data that leads most climatologists to support Global Warming is a matter of “perspective”… it’s a matter of actually analyzing the data to come up with what is a fairly commonly accepted analysis.

    “The great thing about theorys is that to be viable they have to predict the future. It is too soon to see if it can but most climate theory so far have been proven wrong.”

    Wow. I mean wow… I think that statement is just plain wrong. I think you’ll have to provide some examples of these “most climate theories so far that have been proven wrong”. If your own argument is true that “we do not have a strong enough understanding of the climate to make viable theories yet”, then how can any of these theories have been already *proven* wrong?? Examples, please. In fact, there are any number of studies and models that have been done, including Jim Hansen’s GCM, which Andy C referenced above… and so far that has shown a pretty reliable predictor, albeit in a short amount of time, meteorologically speaking.

    “If the current GW theory is correct then there is nothing realistically that we can do.”

    I respectfully, but whole-heartedly, disagree with that sentiment, and I think it’s lazy and irresponsible. We are contributing to the increase of CO2 in our atmosphere… we know we are doing it and we know that it is a practice that will cause an increase in global temperature and we know why this will happen. To continue to do so by shrugging our shoulders and just saying “eh… the problem is too big for THIS to be the sole reason, and I doubt stopping will make much difference anyhow, so let somebody else deal with it, I have money to make” is both irresponsible and frankly insidious.

    “The first world nations can clean up there act but not the third world nations which is 2/3 of the worlds population. ”

    Really? Why not? I’d be willing to bet they would if the aid they depended on from the “first world nations” depended on it. Again, that’s a lazy response.

    “We don’t spend our money on being environmentally friendly rather we spend our billions on ringtones. We don’t know the meaning of the world “sacrifice””

    Well, maybe that has a ring of truth, but it’s hardly relevent to this conversation, and CERTAINLY not a reason to just throw our hands up and give up.

    “If the GW theory is proven correct then results of increase greenhouse gases will come true and we will have to adapt as we always have thoughtout history of mankind. Some local climates will be more favorable to mankind and some will be more unfavorable.
    My scientific opinion is that we will be fine.”

    Now *that* is just plain arrogant. And I know I’m repeating myself… but awfully lazy to boot.

  93. Blind Avocado

    So I suppose you believe that global warming is caused by man made CO2 despite there being no evidence for it, and plenty of evidence against it. Not much of a skeptic are you?

  94. Andy C

    > People who say CO2 is responsible for everything remind me of creationists.

    JC, at what point did Creationists come up with a coherent theory, backed by evidence?

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the recent rise in CO2 can be attributed almost entirely to human activities (Carbon 13 / Carbon 12 ratios as noted in a previous post), therefore, increasing atmospheric CO2 caused by the burning of fossil fuels will result in a rise in temperature.

    So, these accepted, observable facts provide clear evidence that at least part of the warming is due to humans. Could there be other (significant) contributing factors? There could be, but the failure of alternative explanations to model anything close to the observed level of warming to date would seem to indicate that there aren’t. The models that do reflect reality are those that incorporate anthropogenic forcing factors (eg the Hansen GCM previously noted).

    Talking about past, natural warming events is completely pointless when the natural explanations (e.g. solar output, orbital parameter variations) for those past warming events are not present today. If you want to propose a natural explanation, then present the evidence that fits current observations, don’t just point to past events and say “Look! It happened then, so it can’t possibly be happening for a different reason now!”

  95. NASA have reported global warming on mars in 2007 and 2006.

    Given Exxon and GM have no franchise on mars, something common to earth and mars seems the cause of global warming.

  96. Chad writes:

    [[And when it comes to climate scientists like myself we are in our infancy.]]

    Wow! And I was impressed with Michael Grost entering college at age ten!

  97. Chad writes:

    [[But when it comes GCM’s you cannot make a reliable model when we do not know the factors going into the system that we are trying to model. ]]

    Huh??? Who says we don’t know the factors we are trying to model? How can you even write a model without knowing the factors going into it? What are you talking about?

    The factors controlling the climate are sunlight, gravity (for pressure and lapse rates), and the composition and motion of Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and land. Any GCM now being used takes into account several dozen such factors at the very least, if not hundreds. We can’t model the climate exactly, but we can certainly model it well enough to predict that it will get warmer if you add more greenhouse gases.

  98. Chad writes:

    [[If the current GW theory is correct then there is nothing realistically that we can do.]]

    Chad, you claim to be a “climate scientist.” I can’t imagine any real climate scientist in 2008 writing a sentence like the one above. If the current GW theory is correct???

    What university or private entity do you work for? What papers have you published in peer-reviewed journals?

  99. JC writes:

    [[The cause of the Maunder Minimum is obvious. Back in those days, hundreds of years ago, people were much more dependent on sunlight for day to day operations. So when there was less sun, there was a correlated drop in getting out and around. People drove their SUVs all that much less, and the CO2 levels dropped to historic lows, leaving the atmosphere no choice but to chilly the dilly.
    People who say CO2 is responsible for everything remind me of creationists.
    ]]

    Straw man argument. Nobody says “CO2 is responsible for everything.” CO2 is largely responsible for the present global warming. Two different statements.

  100. Blind Avocado writes:

    [[So I suppose you believe that global warming is caused by man made CO2 despite there being no evidence for it, and plenty of evidence against it. Not much of a skeptic are you?]]

    There is very good evidence

    A) that CO2 is a greenhouse gas
    B) that CO2 has increased substantially since the industrial revolution began
    C) that most of the increase is from burning fossil fuels
    D) that the Earth’s mean global annual surface temperature is rising

    Which of these points do you dispute, and why?

    Jameson writes:

    [[NASA have reported global warming on mars in 2007 and 2006.

    Given Exxon and GM have no franchise on mars, something common to earth and mars seems the cause of global warming.]]

    Don’t jump to conclusions. There are many things that affect a planet’s temperature, and they are often different for each planet. Mars is warming because it has planet-wide dust storms, and the planet has a slightly different albedo after the dust settles. Earth is warming because we’re pumping greenhouse gases into the air, and to a lesser extent, because we’re cutting down forests.

    If increased sunlight were warming the planets, you would expect all the planets to warm, and all by the same relative fraction. But while Mars, Triton and Pluto are warming, Uranus is cooling, Venus may be cooling, and the temperatures of the other planets seemed to be unchanged. It’s not physically possible to do that by increasing sunlight.

  101. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Blind Avocado

    “So I suppose you believe that global warming is caused by man made CO2 despite there being no evidence for it, and plenty of evidence against it. Not much of a skeptic are you?”

    Where did I say that GW was caused by CO2? CO2 is one contributor, as are other pollutants we are pumping into the air, and it’s something we can do something about. I am using CO2 as an example because it was brought up earlier in this thread. Many scientisit, including the aforementioned Jim Hansen, believe that although CO2 is a contributor, OTHER pollutants we pump into the air are actually the larger culprits. So whether it’s CO2 or some other pollutant(s), it is OUR actions that are increasing, to whatever degree, the greenhouse effect. And if we can do something about it, why would we not? The only argument I’ve heard is that doing so would “plunge the world into poverty”. Feh. Prove it.

    @ James

    Classic example of taking a small piece of information on a much larger topic and twisting it to make a totally unrelated point. The BA already discussed this topic pretty well here… http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2007/04/29/is-global-warming-solar-induced/

    I suggest you read it before making any more comments about Mars warming and Earth warming being linked.

  102. DAV

    (*sigh*) This post is probably in vain.

    As for the use of “denier,” all you need to do is look at the posts above to see that it is a politically charged word. I find it hard to believe that you don’t know that, Phil. I’m sorry, but you are beginning to sound more and more shrill.

    As for “climate change” I find it ironic that the “denier” blogs which you have called them in the past were all chortling over its use by AGW enthusiasts years ago. The term conveniently makes the whole issue completely untestable. Temperature goes up – See? We Were Right! Temperature goes down — See? We Were Right! No change — See? Our Efforts and Warnings to Combat Climate Change Worked! No matter what happens — We Were Right! It’s the best position for the religion and astrology devotees. Now I ask you, Phil: Why would the GW “deniers” want to make it easier for the non-“deniers” by giving them a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose out?

    Notice that there is still a lot of confusion between GW and AGW. Just because there is GW doesn’t mean that the actions of Man are any significant cause. There is no denying that there are problems with recent (last 100 year) temperature records and some of the questionable “adjustments” made to it. All the same, though, there is plenty of other evidence for GW. But I really want to know: What is the evidence for AGW? The supposed best evidence has been the Hockey Stick (used by the IPCC) and, lately, the “Thompson” graph presented by Al Gore. Do you really need to have the problems with those two things explained again?

    Now the question becomes: If the evidence for AGW is so compelling, why don’t the AGW people present it instead of trotting out the flawed pieces?

    Here’s my challenge, Phil: list your compelling reasons for believing that GW=AGW. If you can’t, are you man enough to admit that your belief is baseless and differs from a fundamentalists’ only in topic? If I’m wrong in stating that you believe GW=AGW please correct me.

  103. DAV

    In my previous post I mentioned that there were problems with the Hockey Stick and Gore’s presentation of the Thompson’s graph. The problems with the Hockey Stick are well known so I don’t think I have to document them further. According to this (http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2598), Thompson claims that Gore’s graph is in error yet he was on the Science Advisory committee for AIT. Yes, it’s anecdotal. The link is just convenient for now. I can provide links to Thompson’s paper and show how the AIT presentation of Thompson’s paper was manufactured.

    One can’t help wonder that the current press blitz isn’t just conforming to Stephen Schneider’s statements on scientific responsibility in “Discover” magazine, Oct 1989:

    To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest.”

    In case you don’t know, Schneider was perhaps the most media-exposed Greenhouse expert in the late 80’s and early 90s.

    So I really want to know: What is the evidence that’s so compelling that the epithet “denier” can be applied to any and all who say “What?!” To paraphrase an old hamburger joint advert: “Where’s the science?”

  104. TheBlackCat

    @DAV:

    I have a better idea: why don’t you tell us what evidence would convince you that we are right? What sort of evidence would convince you that global warming is real? What sort of evidence would you consider sufficient to label them “deniers”?

    People have already given lots of reasons why the term “denier” is appropriate and lots of evidence that has convinced them that global warming is real. You have not addressed any of those comments, so I can only assume you do not find that convincing (I’ll also assume you aren’t using sock puppets). Rather then have us waste a few hundreds more posts listing more evidence we find convincing, you should tell us what we need to do to convince you. I think that is a much more efficient way of proceeding, since we really have not clue whatsoever what sort of arguments we have to make or evidence we have to prevent to convince you. All we know is that the arguments and evidence so far has not done it, but that is really not very helpful because there is a lot more evidence and many more arguments that could be presented.

  105. cls

    Your rebuttal distorts what the Daily Tech said. It cited four sources. One source did show the temperature average for January only. But the Hadley Center data also used for the article showed it for the entire year. Pretending this article was about one set of data when it clearly mentions four sets, and then ignoring the sets that repudiate your position, is not entirely honest.

  106. DAV writes:

    [[What is the evidence for AGW? The supposed best evidence has been the Hockey Stick (used by the IPCC) and, lately, the “Thompson” graph presented by Al Gore. Do you really need to have the problems with those two things explained again?]]

    That you think those are the “best evidence” for AGW strongly suggests you’re getting all your information from denier web sites and right-wing publications and talk radio.

    I’d recommend learning a bit about atmospheric radiation, so you understand the physical principles involved. A good place to start is with John T. Houghton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres” (3rd ed. 2002). Grant W. Petty’s “A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation” (2006) is also very useful. If the math is a problem, try Spencer Weart’s “The Discovery of Global Warming” (2003), or S. George Philander’s “Is the Temperature Rising?” (1998).

    And try reading the IPCC AR4 report. The whole thing. They not only go over the extensive evidence for AGW, they give references in the peer-reviewed literature.

  107. PD

    If the term ‘GW denier’ is acceptable, then ‘God denier’ and ‘psychic denier’ should also be acceptable.

  108. DAV

    TBC: “People have already given lots of reasons why the term “denier” is appropriate and lots of evidence that has convinced them that global warming is real. … you should tell us what we need to do to convince you. ”

    Yet, for whatever reason, they really can’t seem to just simply list it. Why is that? Claiming that it exists but not being able to state it is, well, strange. Now, if for some reason, I’ve missed the post(s) that list(s) the reasons for believing AGW, please point it/them out.

    Try it in a slightly different context. Someone says: “There is a God” and the skeptic asks: “How do you know?” and the Believer says: “There’s plenty of evidence all around. Preacher John just mentioned some of it last Sunday. What would it take to convince you?” Sound familiar? You hold the belief and are being asked why and yet you evade the question by asking what it would take to convince me? How very strange.

    In any case, your post isn’t very responsive. I would think it obvious what’s needed: evidence of AGW that can’t be explained away as non-AGW and doesn’t have inherent flaws. To help out, what’s unacceptable : the results of bad math (particularly in statistics), use of questionably altered data, press releases and studies where the data have been conveniently “lost” or improperly archived. Just a short list, mind you.

    “I’ll also assume you aren’t using sock puppets” Umm, gee thanks for the backhanded ad hominem compliment. I, in turn, will assume you are not a child molester. BTW: that your attempt to deflect my question is an old rhetorical trick isn’t lost on me.

  109. DAV

    Barton Paul Levenson: “That you think those are the “best evidence” for AGW strongly suggests you’re getting all your information from denier web sites and right-wing publications and talk radio.”

    Sorry, but Al Gore got a Nobel for his great presentation. Why was it so great if it wasn’t the best?

    “And try reading the IPCC AR4 report. The whole thing. They not only go over the extensive evidence for AGW, they give references in the peer-reviewed literature”

    That’s hilarious, Barton! In a previous post, way back when, I posted a link to the reviewer comments and answers for IPCC WG1 for AR4. Did you see it? If so, did you read them? Have you actually read AR4? Do you even understand its purpose and truly understand the mission of the IPCC? If you do, you would know that AR4 wasn’t intended to be (and is not) a scientific exposition. Did you know that the ClimateAudit blog that I linked above is run by one of the IPCC AR4 reviewers?

    Here’s the link again: http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Comments/wg1-commentFrameset.html Lot’s to read, huh?

    So I request, please list the convincing evidence for AGW. That means convincing to YOU. IOW: Why do YOU believe it? Listing books and papers is nice but, strangely, you appear to be at a loss to summarize them. Should I take that as evidence that your belief is based mostly on faith instead of what you claim is the evidence? Perhaps it is YOU who is relying more on the opinions of others?

  110. Andy C

    > Yet, for whatever reason, they really can’t seem to just simply list
    > it. Why is that? Claiming that it exists but not being able to state it
    > is, well, strange.

    Dav, can I assume then that you simply didn’t notice, for example, my posts referring to the Hansen GCM

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/hansens-1988-projections/

    and how carbon 13 / carbon 12 ratios tell us that increases in atmospheric CO2 can be linked to humans?

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/

    (it was this bit of evidence about carbon isotope ratios that tipped the scales for me with respect to how much humans were responsible for global warming)

    Furthermore, your statement that the hockey stick graphs are flawed is quite simply wrong.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=11

    The hockey stick graph (which is not the only reason for accepting AGW), have in fact now become a ‘hockey team’, with multiple independent replication.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=114

    In fact, the link above actually discusses the issue “What if the Mann et al hockey stick was wrong?” (which, as noted above, it isn’t).

    And before the usual complaints of “all that evidence is from one source”, the articles provided link to the peer reviewed literature. You’ll find realclimate is an excellent entry point to the wider literature, as well as being very informative in its own right.

    The remaining evidence is copious, and I’m not going to list every bit I know here, you can explore the site for yourself, that’s what I did when I got fed up with listening to ill/uninformed opinions on the subject (from both sides), and wanted to know what the experts thought. Global warming is real (and you do appear to accept that much), and humans are a major factor.

    So, there you are, a short list of evidence for AGW, and access to a vast literature of evidence upon further reading. I hope that will go some way towards changing your mind.

  111. Celtic_Evolution

    @ DAV –

    Umm… you mean you want Barton to list the convincing evidence AGAIN? Seems repetitive since he gave you no fewer than 4 sources for it in his prior post. You of course attacked his reference to the IPCC AR4 report, ignoring completely the other source materials he referenced, and then ask him to provide evidence he’s already offerred you.

    And as for your comparison of GW to “There is a God”… that’a a slick, if completely irrelevant, comparison, and of course you know your audience here all too well… so I’ll say, “nice try”l… but you should also know your audience here knows well enough that unless you base your belief in God on scientific findings and measurable, observed data (such as GW), then your comparison is completely useless and meaningless.

  112. Celtic_Evolution

    @ DAV –

    so let me re-direct back to you in a different way, because I’m at a loss to understand what you’re fighting against. So understanding that this veers somewhat off of the whole “Is GW real and is it really completely anthropomorphic” question discussed in this post, I’m trying to understand why so many argue so strongly against something that seems so common sense… so answer me some simple questions:

    1. Do you believe, based on the data, that humans, by whatever means, release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere?

    2. Do you believe that those emissions have a measurably negative impact on the atmosphere? (And please don’t give me your own definition of “measurably”… I don’t care about degrees… just answer the question).

    3. If one and two are “yes” answers, does humanity not have an obligation to stop such behavior, regardless of whether or not we can “prove” that it will totally reverse global warming?

    4. If not, why not?

  113. TheBlackCat

    Yet, for whatever reason, they really can’t seem to just simply list it. Why is that? Claiming that it exists but not being able to state it is, well, strange. Now, if for some reason, I’ve missed the post(s) that list(s) the reasons for believing AGW, please point it/them out.

    It has been stated, at length. We have been discussing this topic for a while now. There is lots of evidence right here. All you have to do is read. Demanding that we do your work for you and combine all the arguments we made is kind of lazy.

    Try it in a slightly different context. Someone says: “There is a God” and the skeptic asks: “How do you know?” and the Believer says: “There’s plenty of evidence all around. Preacher John just mentioned some of it last Sunday. What would it take to convince you?” Sound familiar? You hold the belief and are being asked why and yet you evade the question by asking what it would take to convince me? How very strange.

    No, but if I went to a blog or forum that had a long discussion on the subject then demanded that everyone combine the arguments into a list for me instead of just reading the material already present then I would not be surprised if I was met with annoyance by the people there. They would tell me to read what they have already written. If I wanted to expand upon what was written or comment on it I would hope that would be accepted, I know it is here. But it is not at all reasonable to demand that people repeat themselves for me.

    In any case, your post isn’t very responsive. I would think it obvious what’s needed: evidence of AGW that can’t be explained away as non-AGW and doesn’t have inherent flaws.

    Denialist are denialists because they can explain away any contradictory evidence. There is no such thing as scientific data that does not have inherent flaws or limitations. What you do is look at the data overall and try to find the conclusion that best matches that data. That, I think, was the point Barton was trying to make. You are operating on a flawed understanding of how science works. There is rarely, if ever, a “smoking gun” in science. There is the balance of the evidence. There are always excuses, denialists are experts at finding it. We have already listed a bunch of pieces of evidence that strongly support AGW, just read the comments to see them. But denialists will always find excuses for all of them. But these excuses are often contradictory and don’t explain the whole range of data seen, they can explain away one bit of data but that explanation is useless for others. That is what denialists do, it is how denialism works. But it is not how science works. Science looks for the best explanation that fits the data we have, and is able to predict data we don’t. AGW does both. AGW denialism, and denialism in general, doesn’t make testable predictions and doesn’t have a consistent explanation for the data we do see.

    To help out, what’s unacceptable : the results of bad math (particularly in statistics), use of questionably altered data, press releases and studies where the data have been conveniently “lost” or improperly archived. Just a short list, mind you.

    Just read the comments, none of them that I have seen fit into any of these categories.

  114. DAV

    Celtic_evolution: “you mean you want Barton to list the convincing evidence AGAIN? Seems repetitive since he gave you no fewer than 4 sources for it in his prior post”

    Sorry, but he listed where I can find what he thinks is evidence but apparently he wants me to deduce what it was. He doesn’t seem to be able to actually state it. That is an indication he himself really doesn’t understand the material he wants me to read so why should I place any value on it?

    —-

    “You of course attacked his reference to the IPCC AR4 report, ignoring completely the other source materials he referenced”

    His reference to AR4 as his source of convincing evidence is more indication that he is clueless. What I hoped I did was show that I have far more awareness of the content of AR4 than he claims to have.

    In any case, his just listings without any summary means that I would have to 1) guess which parts of those works to address; 2) that in turns allows him to deny those are the actual points he has in mind; 3) any rebuttal would be lost on those (likely most here) who haven’t read those works; and 4) no answer lends tacit implication that his list has shut me up. All of those things are great rhetorical tricks but I’m fairly sure that Barton is trying to be honest given his previous postings.

    “unless you base your belief in God on scientific findings and measurable, observed data (such as GW), ”

    My point is that, believing in such things but only because others claim that there is scientific basis makes that belief no different than if it had no basis at all. It is acquired and reinforced by the same mechanisms. So, you are quite incorrect. My analogy is very apropos

    Back in a recent blog war, Phil made a comment about ClimateAudit and he more or less admitted that 1) he didn’t spend enough time to try to follow what was being said there and 2) his opinion was based on opinions of others and his feelings. Considering his association with Randi and what Randi purports to stand for, I find Phil’s vehemence to be excessive: he appears to be attacking others for coming to opposite conclusions by similar methods he himself employs. Ironic.

    The only difference between what I see here and the Randi/Sylvia affair is that Sylvia actually agreed on CNN to be tested.

    —-

    In any case, why beat around the bush — or is it that you really don’t know why there is GW (which I’ve never claimed otherwise BTW) and why you think it’s man-made vs. a natural occurrence? I’m far more interested in the AGW question.

    I’m not the one making the claims. The ball’s in your court. My only claim is that if there’s any evidence at all, it’s of questionable validity. It should be simple enough but, so far, all I’ve gotten are reasons why the evidence shouldn’t be listed. Verrrry Interesting. It’s as if you are convinced but can’t somehow put your finger on the why.

    If you don’t see the similarities between your claims along with your lack of justifications and those of paranormal events, religions, etc. then I don’t know what to say that would be construed as kind.

  115. Celtic_Evolution

    @ DAV

    “In any case, his just listings without any summary means that I would have to 1) guess which parts of those works to address; 2) that in turns allows him to deny those are the actual points he has in mind; 3) any rebuttal would be lost on those (likely most here) who haven’t read those works; and 4) no answer lends tacit implication that his list has shut me up. All of those things are great rhetorical tricks but I’m fairly sure that Barton is trying to be honest given his previous postings.”

    Hogwash… it’s not Barton or anyone esle’s job to hold a classroom session here for you. Barton states the evidence and summarizes it more than adequately enough for the purposes of this blog discussion thread… and then he posts the links to the sources for the material so that YOU can get more detail yourself. The only reason you assume “he listed where I can find what he thinks is evidence” is becuase you didn’t bother to look it up yourself to find out if it IS evidence. Do some work DAV, and stop asking us to do it for you. We’ve done the work… it’s your turn.

    “My point is that, believing in such things but only because others claim that there is scientific basis makes that belief no different than if it had no basis at all. It is acquired and reinforced by the same mechanisms. So, you are quite incorrect. My analogy is very apropos”

    No. Wrong. Fail. YOU make the assumption that we here believe it only because others claim there is a scientific basis. WE actually have done the research, and have come to our conclusions based on that research and evidence. There’s no arm-twisting or brainwashing necessary. The only one here who seems unwilling to LOOK at the evidence is you. We’ve given you hours of good reading material. I suggest you get to it. As for your comparison, AGAIN I say FAIL. Your premise compares belief in God, and then YOU state that it is acquired the same way accepting Global Warming is. YOU made that claim, and it is entirely false. One has no origin in any scientific method and one does. Therefor your comparison is baseless. Period.

    And you still didn’t answer my simple questions.

  116. DAV

    TBC: “It has been stated, at length. We have been discussing this topic for a while now. There is lots of evidence right here. All you have to do is read. Demanding that we do your work for you and combine all the arguments we made is kind of lazy.”

    Then you can stop now. I’m not the one making the claims. It’s quite reasonable to request the claimant to present the pro-arguments. I’ve presumed those here are intellectually honest. I’m not surprised to hear the reasons for reluctance instead. Kind of expected it really. Randi gets loads of chortles over the runaways from his tests and even more over those who give all sorts of reasons for not taking it. For here those who truly are intellectually honest, play the devil’s advocate but Beware for your Mortal Soul.

    If you don’t want to be bothered, well, then don’t bother. There’s no need to clutter things with statements of why you shouldn’t be bothered — unless of course you are just attempting to drown me out. The intellectually insecure will find that comforting.

    —-

    My offer still stands: list what you think are the compelling reasons why GW=AGW. Of course, if you’re afraid its not all that good, don’t worry — I will understand.

  117. Celtic_Evolution

    @ DAV

    “I’m not the one making the claims. The ball’s in your court. My only claim is that if there’s any evidence at all, it’s of questionable validity.”

    Really? You saying it’s of questionable validity doesn’t MAKE it questionable. Once again… the “evidence” you’re speaking of has been replicated independantly and peer-reviewed multiple times… PLEASE… I beg you, do some more research because it is clear you are terribly mis-informed on the subject, or are getting your information from too few, obviously biased sources.

    “It should be simple enough but, so far, all I’ve gotten are reasons why the evidence shouldn’t be listed. Verrrry Interesting.”

    Huh? Where have you gotten “reasons why the evidence shouldn’t be listed?” Can you point out anywhere on this site where that has been stated?

    “It’s as if you are convinced but can’t somehow put your finger on the why.”

    This is getting very tiring. DAV, we have, several times now, given you many, many links to the source information the directly puts our finger on the “why”. Either you don’t want to read it or you’re just covering your ears and singing “la la la I can’t hear you la la la la la”… I’m not sure which.

  118. DAV

    “Hogwash… it’s not Barton or anyone esle’s job to hold a classroom session here for you. Barton states the evidence and summarizes it more than adequately enough for the purposes of this blog discussion thread”

    Suit yourself. I see it as a clear evasion of a reasonable request. As I said to TBC, if your mind is so made up that you know longer wish to entertain the question, then fine, but don’t kid yourself that you’re being intellectually honest — you’re just saying it’s not all that important an issue to you — which really makes me wonder why you’re hanging out in an old thread and bothering to post anything at all.

  119. Brant D

    Michael Asher:

    Ozone if one of two components that control stratospheric temperature. Ozone absorption of UV is the primary source of heating. Greenhouse gases are the primary source of cooling, via radiating longwave into space. If the greenhouse gas concentration increases, there is more LW emission, and thus the stratosphere cools. Not only has the stratosphere in the ozone layer cooled, but so has the mesosphere above the ozone layer. I agree that the majority of the cooling above the Antarctic is caused by ozone depletion, but that explanation does not work for all observations.

  120. DAV

    “This is getting very tiring. DAV, we have, several times now, given you many, many links to the source information the directly puts our finger on the “why”.

    OK, then if that’s true, you should be able to just list the above posts that have attempted to answer my question. So far, I’ve seen Barton’s but I still don’t think that a good answer. In any case, that’s ONE. MANY implies MORE THAN ONE. Can you give say ONE MORE?

    “you’re just covering your ears and singing “la la la I can’t hear you la la la la la”… ”

    And making a lot of large, silly, non-responsive posts isn’t?

    (*sigh*) I guess I shouldn’t have expected more from acolytes and the choir.

  121. Celtic_Evolution

    @ DAV

    “Suit yourself. I see it as a clear evasion of a reasonable request.”

    You are really just being plainly stubborn at this point… I don’t know how much clearer to make this… what is at ALL unreasonable in sparing the readers here hundreds of pages of climate data and simply providing YOU with the link to look at it yourself? That’s why the information is THERE! If you ask me a question, and that question has already been answered somewhere else… what’s the difference between me pointing you to a link for the answer and me just regurgitating the same thing. It’s a waste of time and energy when the link to the answer is sufficient if you just take the time to go to it.

    “As I said to TBC, if your mind is so made up that you know longer wish to entertain the question, then fine, but don’t kid yourself that you’re being intellectually honest — you’re just saying it’s not all that important an issue to you — which really makes me wonder why you’re hanging out in an old thread and bothering to post anything at all.”

    OK… so now you’re going to invent an incorrect supposition and then post a snarky remark based on your own specious supposition? Interesting behavior. Argue with me on things I’ve actually said. Don’t make them up and then claim a right to make crappy responses to your own inventions.

    As has been stated here already, from a scientific standpoint, our minds are NEVER made up. The very point of science is to continually try to prove the assumptions we have based on the available data wrong. You’re the only one saying we’ve made up our minds. Should the data, once it’s been replicated and peer reviewed, contradict what we have up to this point, we will certainly look forward to giving it its full due.

  122. DAV

    Celtic_evolution: “Huh? Where have you gotten “reasons why the evidence shouldn’t be listed?” Can you point out anywhere on this site where that has been stated?”

    OK, how about Celtic_Evolution on 29 Feb 2008 at 2:02 pm: “Hogwash… it’s not Barton or anyone esle’s job to hold a classroom session here for you”

    Maybe that was just a strange use of English with which I am unfamiliar?

  123. Celtic_Evolution

    @ DAV

    “OK, then if that’s true, you should be able to just list the above posts that have attempted to answer my question. So far, I’ve seen Barton’s but I still don’t think that a good answer. In any case, that’s ONE. MANY implies MORE THAN ONE. Can you give say ONE MORE?”

    Sure… I don’t even have to go any further than this thread.

    http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2008/02/27/here-comes-the-sun-again/#comment-158856

    If I do a 5 mintue search of this site, I can find no fewer than 5 discussions all of which link to dozens of sources for more data… and that’s just on this site.

  124. Celtic_Evolution

    @ DAV

    “OK, how about Celtic_Evolution on 29 Feb 2008 at 2:02 pm: “Hogwash… it’s not Barton or anyone esle’s job to hold a classroom session here for you”

    Maybe that was just a strange use of English with which I am unfamiliar?”

    Perhaps it is a failure of your grasp of the English language… as your original complaint was that we gave you reasons the evidence shouldn’t be LISTED. We LISTED it quite clearly, and linked you to the research. What we did not do is regurgitate it and summarize it for you in a way that was satisfactory to meet your unknown criteria.

  125. DAV writes:

    [[He doesn’t seem to be able to actually state it. That is an indication he himself really doesn’t understand the material he wants me to read so why should I place any value on it? … His reference to AR4 as his source of convincing evidence is more indication that he is clueless.]]

    Kitten, I haven’t been clueless in this field for a long time. I got into it originally, in the 1970s, before I had even heard of global warming, because I was interested in habitable planet astronomy. I have written, I would estimate, several hundred radiative-convective models of planetary atmospheres, mostly of Earth, but also of Mars and Venus. (If I can get the absorption cross-sections, I want to try Titan some time.) Can you, without looking it up, even write down the equation of radiative transfer? I’ll make it easy for you — you can ignore scattering.

    Here’s a basic explanation of how the greenhouse effect works:

    http://members.aol.com/bpl1960/Greenhouse101.html

    If you can get through this, you’ll understand why increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in a planet’s atmosphere will increase the surface temperature, all else being equal. For evidence that it’s happening, we’re doing it, and it’s a serious problem, check Weart’s book, and Philander’s.

  126. DAV

    Celtic_evolution: “Perhaps it is a failure of your grasp of the English language… as your original complaint was that we gave you reasons the evidence shouldn’t be LISTED. We LISTED it quite clearly, and linked you to the research”

    Perhaps I should apologize. I missed your short list. My fault. I see it now. Heck! It’s precisely what I asked for. Rats! We have wasted much time because of that. I am truly sorry. No wonder your subsequent posts were as such.

    If you can forgive me, I will now try to answer.

    1. Do you believe, based on the data, that humans, by whatever means, release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere?

    I actually asked what YOU believe but I’ll let that go for now.

    Yes. That includes water BTW.

    2. Do you believe that those emissions have a measurably negative impact on the atmosphere? (And please don’t give me your own definition of “measurably”… I don’t care about degrees… just answer the question).

    No but I’m not exactly sure why you don’t want me to give what I think “measurable” means. We can’t have much of a conversation if we can’t understand what is being said.

    For instance, I don’t think it possible to separate man-made CO2 from naturally occurring CO2 other than by estimate which causes a lot of problems.

    3. If one and two are “yes” answers, does humanity not have an obligation to stop such behavior, regardless of whether or not we can “prove” that it will totally reverse global warming?

    No.

    4. If not, why not?

    Because it presupposes that man is really having a significant effect on the climate. IOW: it’s assuming that GW is synonymous with AGW. That was the question put forth. Your third question is a form of “begging the question” fallacy.

    The one thing that is certain is that we really don’t have a good notion yet how our climate works. It’s hard then to see how anyone could be so certain that what’s happening now is man-made. It’s right up there with attributing crop failures to deity displeasure (which of course would be our fault).

    It’s one thing to take action on an imminent danger but it’s quite another to take drastic action in the face of an imaginary one.

    Can I use degrees now?

  127. DAV

    Barton,

    It’s nice to hear that you understand the physics behind GHC but I’m not convinced you really understand our current atmosphere enough to truly claim you can model it.

    If you understand it so well:

    1) why is CO2 getting all the attention but water vapor is not? Why is there not a big push to reduce water vapor emissions?

    2) what is the negative feedback that prevents any increase CO2 from running away?

    3a)Has CO2 ever lagged temperature increases in the past?
    3b)If it has, what caused it and why isn’t the same thing occurring now?

    4) Te = (F / ?)^0.25. What is the physical reason for the 4th root?

    5) Can you provide any evidence that the current models have anything other than perfect hindsight and can be shown to accurately predict more than a short time into the future?

    Not a complete list of questions but lets start there.

    “I got into it originally, in the 1970s, before I had even heard of global warming”

    Back then it was Global Cooling IIRC with scares of a possible Ice Age cometh. Remember the quote from Schneider above? Want to guess who was vocal about GC way back when?

    One last question: If the climatologists got it wrong only 40 years ago, what remarkable breakthroughs were made that they can now attribute a temperature rise that’s way down in the noise level to mankind?

  128. Andy C

    > For instance, I don’t think it possible to separate man-made
    > CO2 from naturally occurring CO2 other than by estimate
    > which causes a lot of problems.

    Dav, I’ve posted on this numerous times in this thread, including a reference in my last post. Carbon isotope ratios tell us how to separate man-made and naturally occurring CO2. Plants, which ultimately become the source of our fossil fuels have high deposits of Carbon 12, and thus a lower Carbon 13 / Carbon 12 ratio, so when we burn fossil fuels, the CO2 going into the atmosphere causes the atmospheric Carbon 13 / Carbon 12 ratio to drop. We can then compare the changes in this ratio with the same ratio in biomass and ocean deposits, and determine how much of the CO2 increase is due to humans; the conclusion is almost all of it.

  129. Blind Avocado writes:

    [Don’t jump to conclusions. There are many things that affect a planet’s temperature, and they are often different for each planet. Mars is warming because it has planet-wide dust storms, and the planet has a slightly different albedo after the dust settles. Earth is warming because we’re pumping greenhouse gases into the air, and to a lesser extent, because we’re cutting down forests.]

    I have not jumped to any conclusions. If the science of CO2 caused global warming has been PROVED as is frequently stated, and there is no debate amongst professionals, why is the government still spending $2 billion a year trying to prove it.

    Overpopulation, increasing life style and affluence, and radio wave transmissions are the cause of global warming. The Vostok ice cores and Al Gore’s little movie clearly demonstrates that warming ocures BEFORE CO2 concentration increases, and is then caused to increase.

  130. DAV

    Andy L: “Dav, I’ve posted on this numerous times in this thread, including a reference in my last post. Carbon isotope ratios tell us how to separate man-made and naturally occurring CO2″

    Hmm… interesting. Can you point me to any papers? Is this the only research that indicates it? I can look myself of course but since you are aware of it, you can save me a great deal of time.

    Thanks

  131. Brant D

    DAV: “If the climatologists got it wrong only 40 years ago, what remarkable breakthroughs were made that they can now attribute a temperature rise that’s way down in the noise level to mankind?”

    I have to jump in here because this is just plain ignorant. Over the past three decades, the number of datasets has exploded, ranging from proxy data from all over the world to satellite measurements. These datasets have been investigated many times from many independent research teams all over the world. Also, computing power has increased greatly recently, allowing far more detailed numerical investigation and simulation than was logistically possible in the 1970s. Even assuming they got it “wrong” in the 1970s, modern climate science was in its infancy back then, only beginning to obtain the tools needed to understand and detect climate change.

  132. Andy C

    > Can you point me to any papers?

    DAV, there are a couple of research papers referenced at the bottom of the article I referenced in a prior post

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/

    (you’re going to need subscriptions for the journals though)

    Or alternatively, it is discussed quite extensively in IPCC TAR, section 3:

    http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/095.htm

    which also looks at other reasons we know that CO2 increase is anthropogenic.

  133. DAV posts:

    [[1) why is CO2 getting all the attention but water vapor is not? Why is there not a big push to reduce water vapor emissions?]]

    Because the average molecule of water vapor only stays in the air nine days. We could double water vapor tomorrow and nearly all the excess would be gone, rained out, in less than a month.

    An average molecule of carbon dioxide, on the other hand, stays in the atmosphere 200 years.

    [[2) what is the negative feedback that prevents any increase CO2 from running away? ]]

    Mostly the fourth-power increase in infrared power output with temperature (the Stefan-Boltzmann law).

    [[3a)Has CO2 ever lagged temperature increases in the past?]]

    Yes. Whenever a natural deglaciation starts, the temperature usually leads the CO2.

    [[3b)If it has, what caused it]]

    Small variations in the distribution of sunlight due to cycles in the Earth’s orbital eccentricity, axial tilt and precession cause a slight increase in the Earth’s mean global annual temperature. The oceans, warming, release a bit of CO2. These two effects feed back on each other, raising the temperature further. It doesn’t run away because it’s a converging series, not a diverging one.

    [[ and why isn’t the same thing occurring now?]]

    Because it usually takes about 800 years. We know the new CO2 in the atmosphere now is due to burning fossil fuels because of its radioisotope signature — carbon from the Carboniferous, for instance, has no carbon-14 left; it has all decayed away to nitrogen-14.

    [[4) Te = (F / σ)^0.25. What is the physical reason for the 4th root?]]

    It’s the inverse of the Stefan-Boltzmann law. The output of radiant energy from a physical body varies as the fourth power of the temperature.

    [[5) Can you provide any evidence that the current models have anything other than perfect hindsight and can be shown to accurately predict more than a short time into the future?]]

    Sure. They predicted, quantitatively, the magnitude and duration of the cooling after Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991. They predicted that the stratosphere would cool as the troposphere warmed, that the warming would be greater at night than during the day, that it would be amplified toward the poles, and that Antarctica would warm only very slowly and might even cool briefly.

    [[***“I got into it originally, in the 1970s, before I had even heard of global warming”***
    Back then it was Global Cooling IIRC with scares of a possible Ice Age cometh. Remember the quote from Schneider above? Want to guess who was vocal about GC way back when?
    ]]

    Newsweek. A few scientists predicted that global cooling might be coming, and the media ran wild with it. There was even a novel and movie, Ice.

    There was not, however, a consensus among climatologists behind global cooling the way there is now about global warming. Here’s more information on the subject:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94

  134. DAV

    Barton,

    I want to comment on all of your answers but it’s getting too large so I’ll concentrate on the following:

    [[3a)Has CO2 ever lagged temperature increases in the past?]]

    Yes. Whenever a natural deglaciation starts, the temperature usually leads the CO2.

    You didn’t provide any reference for this but I found an AAAS paper. The CO2 lagged the antarctic by 800 (+/-200 years) but led the NA deglaciation.

    How do you explain the discrepancy?
    Why isn’t that a contraindication the CO2 forcing hypothesis?

    BTW: the paper didn’t say “natural” — even in the abstract — but there wasn’t much tech around then so I’ll let you have it.

    [[3b)If it has, what caused it]]

    Small variations in the distribution of sunlight due to cycles in the Earth’s orbital eccentricity, axial tilt and precession cause a slight increase in the Earth’s mean global annual temperature.

    Are those variables in the current models?
    Are there any other variables?
    How do the models separate overlapping effects?

    Speaking of models , this is from chapter one of AR4:

    The strong emphasis placed on the realism of the simulated base state provided a rationale for introducing “flux adjustments,/b>” or “flux corrections” (Manabe and Stouffer, 1988; Sausen et al., 1988) in early simulations. These were essentially empirical corrections that could not be justified on physical principles

    Doesn’t this “tweaking” raise your eyebrows just a little?
    Doesn’t it also imply that there are still many unknowns in the actual equations?

    [[5) Can you provide any evidence that the current models have anything other than perfect hindsight and can be shown to accurately predict more than a short time into the future?]]

    Sure. They predicted, quantitatively, the magnitude and duration of the cooling after Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991…

    And no chance they weren’t flux corrected or subject to any other corrections pre-prediction? Can you cite the actual predictions so we don’t have to take your word for it?

    Newsweek. A few scientists predicted that global cooling might be coming, and the media ran wild with it. There was even a novel and movie, Ice. There was not, however, a consensus among climatologists behind global cooling the way there is now about global warming. Here’s more information on the subject:

    Just a few? In the mid-1970s, due to the political debate raging about whether the global climate was changing, the United States National Defense University addressed this issue (Climate Change to the Year 2000 (NDU 1978)) jointly conducted by the Department of Defense and other agencies, aided by experts. The heart of the study was a survey of experts. It provided a chart of annual mean temperature, 0-800 N. latitude that showed temperature rising from 1870 to early 1940 then dropping sharply up to 1970. The conclusion: while a slight increase in temperature might occur, uncertainty was so high that the “next twenty years will be similar to that of the past” and the effects of any change would be negligible. The report was discussed in The Global 2000 Report to the President (Carter) and at the World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1979.

    The AGW people are fond of the word consensus. Can you show me the voting record that leads you to using it? Is there annual voting? When does it occur? How many scientists are needed for a consensus? How does consensus fit into the Scientific Method? Is it possible that every scientist except one could agree and the lone dissenter be the only one who is correct? Why would you say “a few scientists” for those quoted in the G2K Report and the WCC 79? Why weren’t they sufficient to constitute a consensus? Were they right?

    In today’s “consensus” how many are “for” and how many “against”?

  135. DAV

    Andy C, thanks. I have the IPCC TAR. I’ll need to reread it. Something to do today :) I wonder why this wasn’t one of Gore’s key points instead of the Thompson creation. Too esoteric, perhaps?

    I take the RC site with a grain of salt. RC is run by those who still insist that MBH98 wasn’t flawed which makes me wonder about the rest. They don’t seem to acknowledge the existence of CA (where the investigations are deeper and is run by an IPCC AR4 reviewer) yet strangely they sometimes respond to postings at CA. The “other” opinion links are easier to snipe. Deltoid is listed under that category although Deltoid usually agrees with RC. Gives me the impression of lipservice impartiality. Maybe others means “not us.” I also have seen dissenting comments disappear. One way to get a consensus I suppose. :)

  136. Mr. Plait,

    I am deeply disappointed that, after having been informed of the error in the above article, you have chosen to not correct it. To reiterate, the Dailytech column did not “confuse a month for a year’s” worth of data. The source data used for our graphs is freely available at:

    http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcrut3/diagnostics/global/nh+sh/monthly
    ftp://ftp.ssmi.com/msu/monthly_time_series/rss_monthly_msu_amsu_channel_tlt_anomalies_land_and_ocean_v03_1.txt
    http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/public/msu/t2lt/tltglhmam_5.2
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

    For instance, looking at the UAH data (stripping out all but the global
    mean), one sees the data we used, along with 12 months of anomaly decline:

    2007 1 0.594
    2007 2 0.450
    2007 3 0.403
    2007 4 0.244
    2007 5 0.199
    2007 6 0.203
    2007 7 0.255
    2007 8 0.286
    2007 9 0.201
    2007 10 0.231
    2007 11 0.209
    2007 12 0.114
    2008 1 -0.044

    The GISS data only (of all the four sources) was graphed monthly, due to a limitation in the plotting program.

    Questioning the analysis or comments which follow this data is well within your right. But bald-faced misstatement of indisputable fact is another thing entirely, and beneath any serious journalist.

    Again, I urge you to do the right thing here, and correct your article, or issue a retraction.

  137. DAV

    Brant D:

    I have to jump in here because this is just plain ignorant.

    Ignorant is it? Stupid question, too, no doubt.

    Over the past three decades, the number of datasets has exploded, ranging from proxy data from all over the world to satellite measurements. These datasets have been investigated many times from many independent research teams all over the world.

    I can make a lot of claims too — but then I’m ignorant. You say many but I’d like to know: How many is many? What were the datasets used? Can you name five of them that are truly independent and aren’t just “adjusted” versions of the same one?

    Strangely, the paleoclimatologists aren’t really an independent group — and they don’t constitute a very large group either. How many climatologists in general do you think there are? Are they collaborating together? If so, why would you still consider them independent? Just a gut feel?

    Even assuming they got it “wrong” in the 1970s, modern climate science was in its infancy back then, only beginning to obtain the tools needed to understand and detect climate change.”

    Yet it was the GC scare that gave the impetus to publicly fund climatology beyond its infancy. Today, it’s not a small industry in terms of funding. Maybe climatologists really have learned from the past.

    BTW: the tools for detecting climate change aren’t much different than they were 100 years ago. Maybe you could provide a short list of new ones? Ill help you out: Satellites,…? Any new tool would have a relatively short track record. Very hard to get accurate trends from a timeline that only goes back a few decades.

    Would you like to see some of the gyrations being done to the base thermometer record? The U.S. is the gold standard in weather stations. Go to http://www.surfacestations.org which is auditing all of them.

  138. You write “Ironically, a few years ago global-warming deniers tried to frame the debate by changing the phrase “global warming” to “climate change”, because it sounds less threatening.”

    I see. So you believe it was AGW deniers who named the IPCC?

    You also write “For some reason, people want to blame the Sun for global warming.

    This, despite there being no evidence for it, and plenty of evidence against it.”

    No evidence at all?

    http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/5200event.htm

    I think you are dangerously approaching intellectual dishonesty here. There’s a great deal more undertainty than you let on.

  139. DAV

    Michael Asher: “I am deeply disappointed ….”

    Mike, in all fairness, Phil probably doesn’t read here very often. This is a pretty old thread. GW/AGW is one of his blindspots when it comes to being skeptical. I don’t think his integrity is slipping.

    Have you sent him an e-mail?

  140. Andy C

    Charles, the article you link to is talking about an event 5,200 years ago. When Phil is talking about a lack of evidence for solar variability being responsible, he is talking about current events, and in no way suggesting that he thinks solar variability has never impacted climate in the past. The trends between recent solar variability and recent warming don’t hold together (unless you are selective about which years you choose).

  141. DAV

    Andy C, apparently he also didn’t look at the data either. Here (http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/02/19/january-2008-4-sources-say-globally-cooler-in-the-past-12-months/) are the graphs from Anthony Watts’ website that M. Asher was citing. The graphs themselves can be had by plotting the linked data (links found on the bottom of the plots).

    Yes, it’s true Hansen claims 2007 was the hottest year on record but compare his data (GISS) to the other three. Note that Hansen’s has a more or less consistent positive slope that isn’t in the others. Of course, they ain’t NASA. Compare it to the UAH plot — oh, wait! — that’s that damnable denier John Christy again! — How the heck did he ever get his degree? But gosh! The RSS plot is very similar to Christy’s.

    Anyway, all four showed that it was JAN 2007 that was the oddity in the previous year and all four showed a respectable drop from JAN 07 to JAN 08.

  142. Andy C

    > Yes, it’s true Hansen claims 2007 was the hottest year on record but
    > compare his data (GISS) to the other three. Note that Hansen’s has a
    > more or less consistent positive slope that isn’t in the others.

    DAV, are you seriously doing a direct visual comparison between those charts? Look at the time axis on Hansen’s data; it’s starts before 1900, HadCRUT starts in 1988, UAH and RSS cover about 4 years, hence why the trend looks somewhat different to the much shorter time frames in the other charts. When you consider the longer term picture (i.e. Hansen’s 100+ year data), it is clear that Jan 2007 was not an oddity, but rather consistent with the ever increasing trend (the fact that, on its own, it was the highest is not evidence for global warming [in the same way that Jan 2008 in no way disproves global warming], but the fact that 2007 is consistent with the increasing trend adds further confirmation to the existing evidence).

  143. DAV

    Oops! Also meant to include the link to Anthony’s update with identical scaling. Here: http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/02/27/a-look-at-temperature-anomalies-for-all-4-global-metrics/

    Also, scroll down to the histograms and read the discussion.

    Enjoy!

  144. DAV

    Andy, yeah I was a bit hasty (someday I’ll learn! :) ) Go to the second link. The plots there are on the same time scale. The GISS values do track higher however there were comments from both Atmoz and Christy suggesting different processing. Christy’s comment was actually made at ClimateAudit. Atmoz made the adjustments ( http://atmoz.org/blog/2008/02/27/4-global-temperature-anomalies-say-the-same-thing/ ) and replotted. The majority of the difference are not as large. It’s not clear, though, if the same adjustments were made to both the line plot and the histogram but probably were. I’ll have to look at it again.

    Someone also plotted the difference between the satellite (UAH, RSS) and the surface measurements (GISS, HadCRU). I’ve lost the link. It’s buried in the comments. I’ll try to find it again. The satellite and surface measurements do appear to be converging.

  145. DAV

    Andy C: “it is clear that Jan 2007 was not an oddity, but rather consistent with the ever increasing trend … adds further confirmation to the existing evidence”

    Andy, you may be interested in looking at this. It’s a preliminary plot of the decadal trends of all four datasets. Here’s a composite.

    It’s too early to make any meaningful comment as yet. I am not saying (or ever have said) that GW isn’t happening — after all there was that Little Ice Age and things are clearly warmer now. I am questioning the methods used to establish the rate and the conclusions being drawn in re AGW.

    Trend lines can be altered simply by choosing different endpoints. The trend line plot I’ve linked has differing endpoints; the most obvious is the 2001-2008 line. The most commonly used is a 30-year trend line. I don’t know if this is just convention or if it has a purpose.

    Games have been played in the past. One of the most glaring is the plaque at the Badwater station which not only uses a 70+ year baseline but the station itself was positioned in a place guaranteed to be warmer than the surrounding terrain as if someone was trying for a world temp record. BTW: 30-year trend lines would show a different picture.

    Here’s a 30-year plot of the RSS data (at RSS). The IPCC’s 2007 report said: “Six additional years of observations since the TAR … show that temperatures are continuing to warm near the surface of the planet.” The graph I linked is satellite data but obviously the IPCC is using a different baseline.

    Given the variability in the record, I think it’s very difficult to say that the record proves AGW or to even say that such a conclusion is reasonable. If, indeed, the trend since 2001 is downward then I think it obvious that any CO2 contribution is swamped by far more powerful factors — the equivalent of spitting into the ocean.

  146. TheBlackCat

    Wow, that composite plot has to be one of the worst I have ever seen (not the worst, but up there). They smooth over some of the obvious fluctuations in the data yet take into account others. Particularly they use the notorious 1998 high that denialists love to use. Also for some reason they seem to arbitrarily pick 1991 or 1992 for a jump when the increase there is considerably smaller than increases earlier in the plot that are ignored. The only reason there is that downward trend at the end is that they picked the highest point of one year as the beginning of the trend. There doesn’t appear to be any consistency or pattern whatsoever to the starting and ending points of the trendlines, nor their length. In fact they seem specifically chosen to exaggerate the 1998 high and make it look like there is a recent cooling trend. Is this really the sort of data you find convincing? Just look at that last segment, does their trendline look at all like what is actually happening? It is complete and total garbage without any usefulness whatsoever. I don’t meant to be rude, but I can find no other way to describe it.

  147. DAV

    TBC, as usual, you completely have ignored what I have said to puff your own image of self-importance. You apparently despise “deniers” but have no compunction against using the rhetorical tricks attributed to them. Shame on you.

    In case you aren’t aware, 1998 was an El Nino year. It’s hardly an extraneous outlier. Also, in case you aren’t aware (and it appears you aren’t from your statement), the trend is regression line so it’s irrelevant what the starting value is. What’s important is what has been included.

    If you think that plot is garbage, then why isn’t this one or this as well? The former also includes the El Nino 1998. Both regress the entire dataset which is only valid if the residuals are normally distributed. Who gets to decide what data are important and what are irrelevant outliers? You?

    If you’ve crested a hill and started down the other side, how long would it take you to realize it? Would you continue to claim you are still climbing simply because you are now higher than where you started regardless of recent trend?

    I would be very interested in knowing what you think the proper baseline is and why it wouldn’t also be construed as cherry-picking. In fact, I challenge you to take the data and produce what you think is the “correct” methodology; show it to us and explain why you think it’s the best. I’m sure you will forgive me if I don’t hold my breath in the meantime though.

  148. TheBlackCat

    In case you aren’t aware, 1998 was an El Nino year. It’s hardly an extraneous outlier.

    El nino is, by definition, an unusual event. To see that it is an outlier all you have to do is look at how it compares to the rest of the data.

    Also, in case you aren’t aware (and it appears you aren’t from your statement), the trend is regression line so it’s irrelevant what the starting value is. What’s important is what has been included.

    You have obviously not hear of optional starting and stopping. With regression lines it is quite possible to pick the region over which you measure the regression in order to get the plot you want. If you pick a starting area with some anomalously high values and an ending area with some anomalously low values (which you can see is the case just looking at the data) then you will get a regression that slopes down. If you have a valid reason for them to pick those particular starting and stopping values, then I will reconsider my stance. I, however, can see none other than to get a certain outcome. Arbitrary selection of what range over which you wish to analyze the data is a classic method by which to fudge results to get the conclusion you want. That is a standard warning sign.

    If you think that plot is garbage, then why isn’t this one or this as well? The former also includes the El Nino 1998. Both regress the entire dataset which is only valid if the residuals are normally distributed.

    The first link is to this page, the second is totally illegible. I can draw no conclusions about the second plot because I cannot read it.

    Who gets to decide what data are important and what are irrelevant outliers? You?

    Including an outlier is of course important. That is not what they did in that plot. The selected several periods (approximately, they are not listed so I have to eyeball it): 1979-1993, 1993-1997, 1997-1999, 1999-2002, 2002-2007. So we have: 14 years, 4 years, 2 years, 3 years, 5 years. Why? Why these particular time period? Why did they choose to select the period around one spike, then separate out the low value then followed, then another that goes from a spike to a couple of low values? I am supposed to believe it is just a coincidence the last line includes the peak but not the slope or low area immediately before? Why have a 15 year period followed by a bunch of period of 5 years or less? The issue isn’t me deciding what is an anomaly, the issue is them picking what periods to do their analysis over and selecting those periods in such a way that they include anomalies in what appears to be an intentional manner.

    If you’ve crested a hill and started down the other side, how long would it take you to realize it? Would you continue to claim you are still climbing simply because you are now higher than where you started regardless of recent trend?

    I don’t know, but I do know that a a couple of low winters does not a trend make. I can also see lots of small ups and downs over 4 or 5 year periods in that plot, so I know that 5 years is not enough.

    Unfortunately analyzing time-series data is not my area of expertise. I do know a few standard techniques for manipulating statistics, however, and this is one of them.

  149. TheBlackCat

    TBC, as usual, you completely have ignored what I have said to puff your own image of self-importance.

    What did I ignore?

    You apparently despise “deniers” but have no compunction against using the rhetorical tricks attributed to them. Shame on you.

    Which rhetorical trick of theirs did I use?

  150. DAV

    TBC: “What did I ignore?”

    At the very least, theses:

    If, indeed, the trend since 2001 is downward <

    and

    Trend lines can be altered simply by choosing different endpoints. The trend line plot I’ve linked has differing endpoints; the most obvious is the 2001-2008 line.

    TBC: “Which rhetorical trick of theirs did I use?”

    How about cherry-picking by ignoring what was said?

    TBC: “Unfortunately analyzing time-series data is not my area of expertise. ”

    Yes, obviously, which makes your self-assuredness (“complete and total garbage without any usefulness whatsoever”) all that more jackass-like.

    Despite your rudeness I will answer some of your points in my next post. It will take some time. try to be patient.

  151. TheBlackCat

    Trend lines can be altered simply by choosing different endpoints. The trend line plot I’ve linked has differing endpoints; the most obvious is the 2001-2008 line.

    Fair enough. I’m not sure how I missed that but I did.

  152. DAV

    For TheBlackCat and anyone else who cares. I suggest all of this be read. Please understand that whole books have been written on this subject so what is here can only at best be cursory.

    One of the biggest problems in data analysis is noise elimination. Very often high frequency changes are the result of noise. To eliminate them, some form of low pass filtering is employed. A moving average is one example. To anyone familiar with electronics, a parallel capacitor works in a similar fashion.

    One of the most severe filtering methods is a linear regression. All frequency components are removed and only the “DC” signal is retained. Despite this, a linear regression is highly desirable because it is one of the simplest mathematical models and offers more robustness than most higher order polynomial forms.

    But like anything else, a linear regression can be an abuse. The primary problem is determining if the data really support a straight line and have a non-zero DC component.

    One test is a statistical test of fitness such as Pearson’s “r”, the so-called correlation coefficient. Except for the extreme values (-1 and +1), it is difficult to interpret except that values close to either extreme can be considered significant.

    Because of the interpretation difficulty, another test used is the Normal Q-Q plot, which is a plot of the residuals (actual differences from the model). It’s purpose is to visually depict how close the residual values are to being normally distributed. A regression is not valid unless the residuals are normally distributed regardless of the r2 value.

    So what would one do if a regression of all data isn’t valid or if one is interested in other components beside the pure DC component? One method (outside of using a different regression type) is to use shorter line segments placed (hopefully) where the slopes are more or less linear. The problem here is deciding which frequencies to allow and which to discard but this is not much different than the decision to totally discard ALL non-DC components by regressing the complete dataset.

    The endpoints selected in a segmented regression should correspond to changes in slope in the component of interest. Selecting which is a judgement call.

    One of the trickiest areas in analysis is what to do with seeming outliers. It’s a problem as tough as distinguishing between flowers and weeds. Outliers can be caused by measurement error or they might be real.

    The first problem is identifying them. One method is a boxplot of the residuals and a rejection all values lying outside of the “whiskers.” Most judgement calls of outliers are usually unconscious application of boxplots. The second and most important problem is what to do about them. Often, the best approach is to NOT ignore them — especially when they can’t be explained away.

    In summary, the important things in a regression are: 1) what was included (and what was not); 2) knowing if the regression is valid: straight line QQnorm plot and high r2; and 3) identifying the purpose. How it’s done depends upon what is being sought. The only incorrect method is one that doesn’t accomplish the goal.

    So, what if the question is, “OK sure there have been past increases but is that continuing?” The first step is to see if recent trends support the idea. If not, the answer is then obvious. But one thing is clear: you can’t answer the question if you insist on using points on both sides of a major zero derivative. Any insistence effectively is demanding that the question not be answered.

    There are other types of regression. An important one is auto-regression but going there would require too much more space. This post is too long as it is.

    BTW and FWIW: the plots that I have linked in previous posts aren’t mine.

    If you don’t know what a Normal Q-Q or box plots are I suggest the many explanations which can be found around the net. Wikipedia has some good explanations.

  153. Phil Plait:

    Your statement, “In general the solar output varies very little over the course of a year, less than 1%”, does not negate the fact that solar energy INPUT to Earth has been observed to change by a much larger fraction in a shorter time period.

    [Remember, INPUT to Earth <<1% of solar OUTPUT.]

    Thus, Richard Carrington observed blinding white light from a monstrous solar eruption at 11:18 am on Thursday morning, September 1, 1859. Following that event, “the entire Earth was engulfed in a gigantic cloud of seething gas, and a blood-red aurora erupted across the planet from the poles to the tropics.” [See “The Sun Kings: The unexpected tragedy of Richard Carrington and the tale of how modern astronomy began” by Stuart Clark

    http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8370.html

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  154. DAV writes:

    [[You didn’t provide any reference for this but I found an AAAS paper. The CO2 lagged the antarctic by 800 (+/-200 years) but led the NA deglaciation.
    How do you explain the discrepancy?
    Why isn’t that a contraindication the CO2 forcing hypothesis?
    ]]

    Why would it be? We know from radiation physics that putting more CO2 in the air, all else being equal, will warm the ground. In a natural deglaciation the tiny warming from small orbital changes is amplified by the CO2 thereby released. It’s a feedback.

    And the present warming is not a natural deglaciation. CO2 is leading temperature, and we know the CO2 is not from natural sources because of its radioisotope signature. Want the numbers?

    [[***Small variations in the distribution of sunlight due to cycles in the Earth’s orbital eccentricity, axial tilt and precession cause a slight increase in the Earth’s mean global annual temperature. ***

    Are those variables in the current models?
    Are there any other variables?
    ]]

    No, they’re not in current models. The variations due to Milankovic cycles take tens of thousands of years to be noticeable. Modern global climate models cover a few hundred years at most. In some kind of Earth history simulation you might put in code to cover Milankovic cycles, but there would be no reason to do so in a GCM.

  155. DAV writes:

    [[If, indeed, the trend since 2001 is downward]]

    The trend of seven years?

    Let me define “climate” for you:

    Climate is the average weather over a large region, or the entire world, over a period of thirty years or more.

    In any case, the trend in the past few years is up, not down:

    http://members.aol.com/bpl1960/Ball.html

  156. Oliver K. Manual,

    No doubt there have been anomalous momentary brightenings and dimmings of the sun. But what counts is the average over a long enough time to make a difference. I find that the average solar constant for 1859 was 1365.3 watts per square meter (Lean 2000). The average for 1951-2000 was 1366.1 w m^-2. Not much of a difference there.

    See

    Lean, Judith 2000. “Evolution of the Sun’s Spectral Irradiance Since the Maunder Minimum.” Geophysical Research Letters, 27, 2425-2428.

  157. Barton Paul Levenson,

    Thank you for the comment.

    If the Sun were a ball of hydrogen, heated by H-fusion in the solar core (the standard solar model), then your statement would be valid.

    In fact, Nobel Laureate W. A. Fowler noted several years ago that the Sun is so massive that its annual energy output would drop by a negligible fraction over many years if H-fusion completely stopped in the solar core.

    Such an object would not exhibit cycles of sunspots nor squirt out massive eruptions of energy like that Richard Carrington observed at 11:18 am on Thursday morning, September 1, 1859.

    Although hydrogen covers the solar surface (like the red peel on an apple), many measurements since 1960 suggest that our Sun is the unstable remains of a supernova that exploded 5 billion years ago, ejected the material that now orbits it as planets, comets, moons and asteroids, and then re-formed on this unstable energy source:

    http://www.omatumr.com/Photographs/Suns_core.htm

    Within the past couple of weeks, NASA reported that such objects are explosively violent on very short time scales.

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Powerful_Explosions_Suggest_Neutron_Star_Missing_Link_999.html
    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  158. DAV

    BPL: Why would it be? We know from radiation physics that putting more CO2 in the air, all else being equal, will warm the ground. In a natural deglaciation the tiny warming from small orbital changes is amplified by the CO2 thereby released. It’s a feedback

    Suggest you read something from a climatologist. This is from R. Spencer, research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville: http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm?aid=828

    And our evidence against a “sensitive” climate system does not end there. In another study (conditionally accepted for publication in the Journal of Climate) we show that previously published evidence for a sensitive climate system is partly due to a misinterpretation of our observations of climate variability. For example, when low cloud cover is observed to decrease with warming, this has been interpreted as the clouds responding to the warming in such a way that then amplifies it. This is called “positive feedback,” which translates into high climate sensitivity.

    But what if the decrease in low clouds were the cause, rather than the effect, of the warming?

    Let me define “climate” for you: Climate is the average weather over a large region, or the entire world, over a period of thirty years or more. In any case, the trend in the past few years is up, not down …

    As I asked TheBlackCat, when would entertain the notion that you’ve crested a hill and started down the other side? Would you wait to hit bottom.

    About the only thing that might cause global warming hysteria to end will be a prolonged period of cooling…or at least, very little warming. We have now had at least six years without warming, …

    Of course, that’s not a trend.

  159. DAV

    bpl: No doubt there have been anomalous momentary brightenings and dimmings of the sun. But what counts is the average over a long enough time to make a difference.

    There are oscillations that appear to be tied to the sunspot cycle.

    http://www.john-daly.com/theodor/DecadalEnso.htm
    http://www.john-daly.com/sun-enso/revisit.htm

    And weather is cyclic:

    In the 1890’s there was global cooling, but then in the twenties there was obvious warming with 1934 being the hottest year in the twentieth century. Cooling again from the 40’s through the mid-70’s followed by warming in the latter part of the 20th century.

    1922: http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/050/mwr-050-11-0589a.pdf
    1933: http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/061/mwr-061-09-0251.pdf

    If the blog will let me, here’s more:
    http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/03/16/you-ask-i-provide-november-2nd-1922-arctic-ocean-getting-warm-seals-vanish-and-icebergs-melt/

  160. RachelM

    So NASA’s always right, huh?

    “It turns out that none of our models were totally correct,” says Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA’s lead representative on the panel. “The sun is behaving in an unexpected and very interesting way.”

    http://www.redorbit.com/news/space/1697053/new_solar_cycle_prediction/

    Dude, the sun warms the earth. Go outside on a sunny day to test this theory. When the earth gets hotter and cooler, solar phenomena should be the first place to look, according to Occam’s razor.

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