Wall Street Journal: neutrinos show climate change isn't real

By Phil Plait | October 6, 2011 2:43 pm

OpEds — editorials expressing opinions in newspapers — are sometimes a source of wry amusement. Especially when they tackle subjects where politics impact science, like evolution, or the Big Bang.

Or climate change.

Enter the OpEd page of the Wall Street Journal, with one of the most head-asplodey antiscience climate change denial pieces I have seen in a while — and I’ve seen a few. The article, written by Robert Bryce of the far-right think tank Manhattan Institute, is almost a textbook case in logical fallacy. He outlays five "truths" about climate change in an attempt to smear the reality of it.

I won’t even bother going into the first four points, where he doesn’t actually deal with science and makes points that aren’t all that salient to the issue, because it’s his last point that really needs to be seen to believe anyone could possibly make it:

The science is not settled, not by a long shot. Last month, scientists at CERN, the prestigious high-energy physics lab in Switzerland, reported that neutrinos might—repeat, might—travel faster than the speed of light. If serious scientists can question Einstein’s theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Seriously? I mean, seriously?

It’s hard to know where to even start with a statement so ridiculous as this. For one, there is always room for questioning science. But that questioning must be done by science, using a scientific basis, and above all else be done above board and honestly. But that’s not how much of the climate science denial has been done. From witch hunts to the climategate manufactrovery, much of the attack on climate science has not been on the science itself, but on the people trying to study it. And when many of those attacks have at least a veneer of science, it’s found they are not showing us all the data, or are inconclusive but still getting spun as conclusive by climate change deniers. And if you point that out, the political attacks begin again (read the comments in that last link).

Second, the neutrino story has nothing to do with climate change at all. It’s a total 100% non sequitur, a don’t-look-behind-the-curtain tactic. Just because one aspect of science can be questioned — and I’m not even saying that, which I’ll get to in a sec — doesn’t mean anything about another field of science. Bryce might as well question the idea that gravity is holding us to the Earth’s surface.

After all, gravity is just a theory.

And he’s wrong anyway: even if the neutrino story turns out to be true, it doesn’t prove Einstein was wrong. At worst, Einstein’s formulation of relativity would turn out to be incomplete, just as Newton’s was before him. Not wrong, just needs a bit of tweaking to cover circumstances unknown when the idea was first thought of. Relativity was a pretty big tweak to Newtonian mechanics, but it didn’t prove Newton wrong. Claims like that show a profound lack of understanding of how science works.

And finally, of course there is lots of room for arguing over how the Earth’s environment works. It’s a complex system with a host of factors affecting how it works. But that’s beside the point: we know the average global temperatures are increasing. The hockey stick diagram has been vindicated again and again, after being attacked many times by real science and otherwise. It’s always held up. Yes, the Earth is a difficult-to-understand system, but we’ve gotten pretty good at hearing what it’s telling us:

The temperatures are going up. Arctic sea ice is decreasing. Glaciers are retreating. Sea levels are rising, sea surface temperatures are increasing, snow cover is decreasing, average humidity rates are rising.

But hearing is one thing. Listening is another.

Someone like Bryce can try to sow confusion — and reading the comments on that OpEd, that tactic appears to work with lots of people — but the bottom line is that global warming is real, the climate is changing, and human influence is almost certainly the cause.

The only thing faster than neutrinos, I think, is the speed at which deniers will jump on any idea, no matter how tenuous, to increase doubt.


Related posts:

Climate change: the evidence
New study clinches it: the Earth is warming up
Case closed: climategate was manufactured
NASA talks global warming

Comments (130)

  1. Chris

    Some processes propagate faster than the speed of light, but cannot carry information. Since climate deniers don’t carry any information, they can travel at faster than the speed of light.

  2. @Chris,

    Interesting theory. Think we could test it by taking a few anti-science folks, putting them into a supercollider and smashing them together at massive speeds? Or would that only be useful for entertainment purposes? (i.e. Selling high-speed camera footage of the crashes on DVD and Blu-Ray. Buy the box set today!)

  3. Dave

    Lies / gossip always travel faster than the truth / facts.

    That’s okay – the tortoise still won.

  4. Gravee

    Well played, Chris

  5. Are they TRYING to come off like absolute and total idiots? Because they sure seem to be succeeding in spades!

  6. Jim

    The only thing keeping that quote from being a “textbook” fallacy is that it hasn’t been published in any English Composition textbooks yet! Some cry fallacy, others cry being Republican.

  7. Sadly, this doesn’t prove that everything the WSJ publishes is wrong, does it? I suppose it does by their logic…

  8. MarkW

    I thought the WSJ was a home for journalists, not polemicists. I was wrong. So is the WSJ.

  9. Kirk Aplin

    @MarkW – remember, WSJ sold out to Murdoch too.

  10. kirk

    It’s like this; my house catches on fire from a huge pile of gasoline soaked rags in the garage (that’s CO2 absorbing and radiating EM in the infrared) while a burrito in the microwave explodes (aerosols and clouds block EM in the infrared) and the cat knocks over a glass of red wine on the kitchen counter (cosmic rays, sun spots, elliptical orbit, faster than light neutrinos, Miss Angola wins the Miss Universe title, etc.). All three things lead to “housekeeping changes” but as they say on Sesame Street all of these things are not the same.

  11. Wolfgang

    Ah, a beauty – and a new application of the Chewbacca defense (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewbacca_defense).

  12. Mike

    The Wall Street Journal has two lives – a good news section and a bonkers opinion section. For a long time, they NY Times kept their opinion behind a paywall and made the news free, while the WSJ made the opinion free and charged for the news. Interesting strategy.

    But yeah, I’m always impressed with the exuberance of the “science was wrong once, therefore science MUST be wrong about [whatever I’m on about.]” Even conceding, for the sake of argument, that the science isn’t 100% behind climate change because of the possibility of vast overhauls in the fundamental concepts of physics, does it then follow that we shouldn’t base our policy on the best impressions of science? It’s like saying that because of CERN, we should therefore stop building anything that transmits data with the electromagnetic spectrum, because there’s a potential faster way and we should wait it out, even if that means turning off the power plants..

    Actually, it’s slightly worse than that.

  13. Chris Winter

    Incredible! By that fracked-up logic, Jayson Blair made up stories at The New York Times in 2003, therefore The Wall Street Journal never prints a reliable story.

    Background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jayson_Blair

    “Jayson Blair (born March 23, 1976) is an American reporter formerly with The New York Times. He resigned from the newspaper in May 2003 in the wake of the discovery of plagiarism and fabrication in his stories. Since 2007 he has worked as a life coach in the field of mental health.”

  14. Chris Winter

    Chris wrote: “Some processes propagate faster than the speed of light, but cannot carry information. Since climate deniers don’t carry any information, they can travel at faster than the speed of light.”

    Heh. Reminds me of those stories in Analog based on the discovery that letters delivered by the USPS arrived sooner from starting points farther away.

  15. BJN

    I think that more than profound lack of science understanding, there’s a profound greed that underlies such inane propaganda.

  16. Grimoire

    So free-market, semi-libertarian think tanks are now “far right”? Seriously? A quick googling of them shows a wide variety of positions, some of them on different sides coming from different individuals within the MI. They have some views that are generally considered right wing, but they have some which are not. In fact, one site found their contradictory stances to be perfectly representative of the often fractious opposing opinions within conservative circles.

    Maybe we need to stop with these simplistic, broad labels in a scientific forum, yes?

    Or would that only be useful for entertainment purposes?

    Only if you feel murdering people instead of educating them is entertaining.

  17. Derek

    @Grimoire, 16 –

    You wrote:

    “In fact, one site found their contradictory stances to be perfectly representative of the often fractious opposing opinions within conservative circles.”

    If your point was to demonstrate how Phil was wrong in calling them right-wing…um, you failed.

  18. TonyM

    Politicians and Science are like water and boiling oil: The two should NEVER be put together. It’s only stupid and dangerous to try.

  19. Jake

    There is no proof humans are causing relevant climate change, in fact, much evidence supporting the “AGW” claim has been found to be exaggerated and falsified. If it wasn’t for skeptical criticism we’d never know we were lied to, and the many follow human caused climate change like it is a religion. There are many problems with the theory as well as the approach that so called scientists and followers consider it absolute and disregard any valid skepticism, that is direct violation of the scientific method. True there has been a rise in CO2 levels, but CO2 levels have been rising for thousands of years, and have been 10x higher while comfortably supporting life as we know it. And this obsession that about human’s CO2 contribution is what is laughable, humans contribute far more to the the greenhouse effect with other gasses, like methane and water vapor, removing 100% of our CO2 emissions would not even dent human’s 0.14% total contribution to the global greenhouse effect. Plus, we are only one country, and other rock bodied planets in our solar system have fluctuating temperatures matching our own! You see, these are just a few examples. So, no, no one has proven any global warming is cause by humans, in fact it is even difficult to prove humans even have any contribution to it at all. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be aware of our impact on the environment, but this has been highly politicized and publicized as absolute truth, and those who dare to question it with valid arguments are demonized, ridiculed, and ignored. This is just wrong and downright scary.

  20. @ 16 / Grimoire:

    Yes, not all of the members of the Manhattan Institute think tank are far-right.

    Just like not all the members of the Republican Party are far-fight.

    But funny, isn’t it, where all the people who ARE far-right tend to hang out….

  21. #1: Chris this theory seems to stand up to empirical evidence…. if climate deniers can travel faster than the speed of light, they can indeed go back in time to a point where their ignorance about science and distrust of academia (i.e., people who can read and write) actually makes perfect sense.

    I see a Nobel prize in your future….

  22. brett

    Phil backs Dr Manns’ hockey stick reconstruction? and Yamal etc in support? LOL

  23. Robin

    @ Chris (#1): Your post is easily the post of the year. In fact, it is so good, that it’s joined the ranks of quotes from The Tick, Emily Dickenson, Eddie Izzard, the Dalai Lama, Thomas Jefferson, and other greats in my collection of great quotes. If you ever find yourself in Arizona, the beer will be on me. I know one thing for sure: Einstein and his pals had to have exchanged similar bits of reasoning to make themselves giggle.

  24. Renee Marie Jones

    It all makes sense from a religious point of view. Fundamentalist Christians base their certainty on the infallibility of the bible. They know that are right because they know that no error can occur in the book … consequently, they believe that any error, no matter how small, demolishes the entirety of any body of knowledge. Fundamentalists have told me thie with a straight face: (1) if anything might be wrong, then nothing can be known. (2) Christianity is the only way to know anything because it is the only thing that no part of which can be wrong.

    Another point. Christians have a fixed text. It has been studied for centuries. There is nothing that has not been read and discussed. So, in order to continue to extract “information” from the text, Christians become experts at taking tiny, trivial phrases, and spinning them into new volumes of prose, all presumed infallibly derived from the tiny starting piece. This is what sermons are. Start with six words, derive half and hour of “facts” from it. So … moving from “neutrinos faster than light” to “no global warming” is child’s play for them.

  25. DigitalAxis

    Fact: Our current understanding of science might be wrong.
    Fact: Our current understanding of science comes from scientists.
    Therefore: Scientists might be wrong.
    Fact: We hate being wrong. (particularly when the consequence would be massive lifestyle changes for no reason)
    Therefore: We hate science.
    Therefore: We hate scientists.

    Tada!

    Noting all the holes in that line of inference is left as an excersize for the easily troll-bated.

  26. itzac

    Points 1, 2, and 3 in the WSJ article are all red herrings. It’s rather impressive, actually.

    To paraphrase:
    1) Environmentalists have thus far failed to effect meaningful change and, presumably, should therefore give up.

    2 and 3 amount to: We all want to consume even more energy, therefore we should.

    4) Energy efficiency is good.

    I’m not really even sure what his point is in all of this.

  27. Mister Kojak

    C’mon, Phil. We all know that if a scientist is wrong about any detail, all of his work is worthless. And, therefore, global warming does not exist and Jesus created the Earth 6,000 years ago. This is basic logic!

  28. DigitalAxis

    @22 brett:

    I think it’s more like, Phil trusts the work of actual climate scientists who say Dr. Mann’s hockey stick is genuine.

  29. PhilBansen

    This is why I cancelled a long time subscription to the WSJ. When the ownership changed so did the objectivity of the of once was a very informative paper. Just makes me sick.

  30. Gonçalo Aguiar

    His second argument is completely out of phase with reality.

    “2) Regardless of whether it’s getting hotter or colder—or both—we are going to need to produce a lot more energy in order to remain productive and comfortable. ”

    Someone once said: “If there is a person that believes in infinite growth in a physical finite planet, is weither mad or an economists.”

    Well… coming from Wall Street, I’d say this guy is both.

  31. Chief

    Since no one as responded to #19, I’ll add a note.

    Everyone can argue the pros and cons of the global warming but at the heart of the issue is when all the plus and minuses of the warming and cooling trends are gathered we are showing a gradual increase of the global temperature. I know a lot of people are looking at the picture and saying well it wasn’t as warm this year(s) as I remember several years ago, therefore it cannot be warming up like they are saying. The overall global warming, ie atmosphere, earth and ocean are acting in different ways to the increase of greenhouse gases. And give different year to year yields of increase and decrease based on the inherent abilities to absorb the increases of greenhouse gases that can make it seem like nothing is happening this year. The major worry is that each biosystem can only absorb the increase up to a point and then the apparent delay of global warming will suddenly reach a tipping point and all “hell will break loose”. The global community of scientists who are recording the various “tells” of the increases, are trying to inform us to pull back before this tipping point is reached.

    BTW… Even if it is a sham, wouldn’t it be a good idea to invest in the cleaner energy future for the sake of our kids and pocketbooks (ie get off the oil teat).

    Stop listening to an “expert” who hasn’t spent the last 20 years working in the field and earning an advanced degree in the field they are presenting the information about. (Remember, those in office, their major is in the business of disinformation and bending the truth so to keep their lobbies happy).

  32. Brian Too

    Since the WSJ has made errors in the past (a completely unsupported assertion I make here, for your reading pleasure), everything they say is in doubt and nothing the WSJ does can be trusted!

    Therefore the OpEd piece Phil takes to task can be dismissed out of hand.

    Quid pro quo. Isn’t life easy this way?

  33. @Jake #19
    Unsuccessful Troll is Unsuccessful.

    You just posted a complete copypasta of every trope in the book. That must settle it, then, right? Oh, wait, you pasted this:
    “CO2 levels have been rising for thousands of years, and have been 10x higher while comfortably supporting life as we know it”

    So 300 million years ago, when CO2 was last ~3500ppmv the earth was “…comfortably supporting life as we know it”?

    Do enlighten us.

  34. Dutch Railroader

    @Jake-19

    No, CO2 has not been rising for thousands of years. For the last nearly 1 Myr, it has never topped 290 ppm. Since then has risen 40% to 400 pm – 25% of this has been in the last 50 years. There is zero question that the rise in CO2 is anthropogenic. There is zero question that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. I find it amazing the lengths people go to to deny the climatological impact of this…

  35. Old Geezer

    It really comes down to this: The people who are speaking in the WSJ and the people they are speaking to are utterly, fabulously wealthy. They want to remain utterly, fabulously wealthy. They seriously believe that people who only make a million dollars a year are poor. They don’t want to be poor. They realize we are talking about things that will happen after they are dead. Therefore, they do not want to spend any of their utter, fabulous wealth on something they can’t touch, feel and put into a safety deposit box while they are still alive. Your grandchildren? Screw them.

  36. Terry Cooney

    Measurable data is undeniable if consistently measured. Let’s assume it is. What is consistently lost in the ‘argument’ is to what extent the measurable increase in average global temperature is caused by our existence on the planet. No one can claim to measure that accurately, period. We are woefully unable to model the weather to any detailed extent, so our ability to come up with ‘solutions’ to the problem is limited by this lack of modeling capability, because we cannot measure unintended consequences. When we can show that we can predict and cure even CLOSED systems (such as the digestive tract, for example), then we can talk about affecting GLOBAL systems of exponentially higher complexity.

  37. That’s … fairly impressive.

  38. Shalev

    “Since no one as responded to #19, I’ll add a note.”

    Nobody responded to the standard checklist of non-arguments that can be debunked with a thirty-second Google search, because it’s “Not Even Wrong”. :)

    “Fundamentalists have told me thie with a straight face: (1) if anything might be wrong, then nothing can be known. (2) Christianity is the only way to know anything because it is the only thing that no part of which can be wrong.”

    What blazing ignorance… Very, very scary stuff, that. Is there a good word for the opposite of critical thinking?

  39. brett

    Digitalaxis @28 – you must state the situation more clearly. Phil trusts some scientists who support Dr Manns’ hockey stick and chooses not to trust other scientists who find problems with it.

  40. Steve

    It’s easy to denigrate those who don’t kneel to the church of climate change. But it’s harder to come up with a solution that doesn’t tax the crap out of productive businesses or cause an economic crash and massive population die-off. Because to get the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to a level that would effect real change, the US and other countries would have to return to the energy consumption of the late 1800s. Since that has zero chance of happening, what is proposed to alleviate climate change? Wind and solar. Which is proven (scientifically, and through rigorous engineering) that these technologies cannot achieve the power capacity or distribution of coal or gas fired plants. That leaves nuclear as the only option left. Thorium fueled nuclear plants are proven technology with abundant fuel that is not politically tied up in totalitarian nations. What is preventing the construction and operation of these plants? Our wonderful federal government regulations. The same government pushing wind and solar and bad loans to insolvent companies. You start to get cynical when you realize that the better engineered solution loses out to a political one. And then you stop caring.

  41. tmac57

    Using Bryce’s logic, then any time a scientific finding, at any time in history, turned out to be wrong,then that calls into question all of science,and anything that science has taught us or produced.Therefore,this comment cannot exist because computers are impossible.

  42. “Neutrino”

    “Who’s there”

    “Knock, knock.”

    Just thought I’d post a dumb joke too. If the WSJ can do it so can I.

  43. Daniel J. Andrews

    Second, the neutrino story has nothing to do with climate change at all. It’s a total 100% non sequitur, a don’t-look-behind-the-curtain tactic. Just because one aspect of science can be questioned

    Boil that WSJ argument down and it becomes the standard, Science has been wrong before, therefore it is wrong this time–this is the same meme we get from antivax, HIV deniers and other antiscience agendas. Nothing new here.

    Steve…there are already solutions. Numerous economic institutes have crunched the numbers and they don’t come up with mass crashes. At most, over 20 years we’re looking at being 4 to 6 months behind where we would be if we continued business as usual. No, the US and others don’t have to return to the energy consumption of the late 1800s (don’t buy into that denier meme either).

    Wind and solar have not been proven scientifically to fail in providing the power capacity–other countries are starting to do shift over. Besides, even if we only shift 20, 30 or 50% to solar wind, that is still a good difference (and creates jobs). Or we can all sit back and watch other countries like China do what we say can’t be done. Then do we buy our alternate energy technology and equipment from them, or do we try and play catch-up, or do we continue to work on these technologies ourselves and make ourselves world leaders?

    Nuclear may be necessary still, especially for larger countries, but it is not even close to being the only option left. There are a staggering number of good ideas for generating energy, many of them already being used in other countries.

    Dr. Alley’s book, Earth: The Operators’ Manual, examines pretty much every issue you raise (with lots of footnotes and weblinks to very reputable sources–can’t remember now if the economic cost will be 1% of the GDP or 0.1%…probably the former). He is, btw, a registered Republican, has worked extensively with the oil industry, praises what they’ve allowed us to accomplish, and holds to much of the Repub political philosophy and yet he still says we can reduce CO2, wean ourselves off oil gradually, and do it while creating jobs, strengthening the economy and making ourselves world leaders in energy technology.

    The book is the companion to the tv series. I haven’t seen it, but I imagine it will contain much of the same info. Here’s a blurb about it, and I see some parts are on youtube too.

    pbs.org/programs/earth-the-operators-manual/

  44. bad Jim

    I heard that a CEO of a poorly managed company once objected “That can’t be true! It would mean I was wrong.” It’s not an unusual sentiment, actually; it’s like a child saying “It’s not my fault. It was an accident.”

    This leads to a certain amount of cognitive dissonance: driving an SUV and running air conditioning lead to global warming and threatens human civilization. I like my ride and my cool home, and it can’t be my fault, therefore global warming is nonexistent or not caused by human activity.

    It’s not exactly logical, but most people don’t subject their beliefs to analysis. They prefer to believe things that make them feel good.

  45. @Renee Marie Jones,

    My experience comes from Orthodox Jews instead of Fundamentalist Christians, but it’s basically the same. I’d only add one more wrinkle: The very religious tend to think of humanity as declining. That is, people were wiser in the past than they are today (and more pious and whatever other good attributes you can come up with).

    The proof of this? The bible. Put your skepticism aside for the moment and pretend that you accept the entire bible as the literal word of God. Biblical figures like Abraham and Moses regularly conversed with God. And God talked back to them. Thus, they must be better than we are.

    In addition, there are stories about more recent ancestors. Rabbi/Priest/Father/Whatever So-And-So once memorized the entire written law and was able to discern God’s plan from the angle of one of the letters. He was that wise! Nobody today could perform such a feat, thus we must abide by his decisions on what the laws must be. All stories are assumed to be true so long as they reinforce the belief that our ancestors were better than us.

    Once you have that mindset, science seems backwards. You have someone like Isaac Newton who came up with some laws. Ok, fine. But then this upstart Einstein comes along and overturns Newton’s laws. Yes, it is more nuanced than that, but they see it as the later generation overturning the laws of the older generation. This doesn’t gel with their older-generation-was-wiser mindset and so they conclude that science must be all wrong.

  46. brett

    as for ‘climategate manufactroversy’ here is a link to Dr Richard Muller a scientist who understands and respects scientific process and transparency http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BQpciw8suk
    No Dr Muller is not a ‘denier’ nor a fundamentalist christian, not in the pay of big oil, not a far right republican, not an anti-evolutionist, hasnt worked for big tobacco..lets see what else is part of the litany.. ah yes .. he is not anti-science (being a renowned physicist). He accepts the basis for AGW but does not accept poor science and scientific practice and does not cover for it(the video is short only 4mins long and is part of a longer lecture) watch it and see how someone who is an independant, critical thinker (dare I say sceptical thinker) analyses and assesses scientific controversy

  47. Monkey

    Brilliant last line, Phil. Spot on.

    My family dabbles in the conspiracy movement, everything from chemtrails to flouride death to vaccine/autism to obama/secret society and the birther movement and … and I can attest that as soon as new unverified claim makes it to one of the news sites, it is immediately tossed in my face “well, what do you think about X? I have researched this and I think I know a little more than you ….you see….the government……”.

    By “research” they mean “I watched it on Fox, googled it and now am an expert”.

    To quote The Hip (hat tip to my fellow canadians!) “…its a good life if you dont weaken”. The fight (the defence?) against anti-reality cant weaken…the enemy is too fast.

  48. Messier Tidy Upper

    Well said, BA. Seems to me, there’s about as little substance to The Wall Street Journal‘s “arguments” there as there is mass to an individual neutrino! ;-)

    Let’s see how their 5 “truths” (so they claim) break down :

    1) “The carbon taxers/limiters have lost .. The result? [Of climate conferences] Nothing, aside from promises by various countries to get serious—really serious—about carbon emissions sometime soon.”

    The Aussie govt (mine) is going to be imposing a carbon tax soon. Other nations incl. Europe are doing things too -as Igtaher are some individual US States.

    Besides, even if we assume that’s largely true, what does it tell us? Not that there’s no problem in reality, only that political stupidity has prevented us (so far toa large extent) from doing anything tomitigate teh problem.

    2)“Regardless of whether it’s getting hotter or colder —or both— we are going to need to produce a lot more energy in order to remain productive and comfortable.”

    Firstly, it’s definitely getting hotter onaverage. Secondly, maybe not. perhaps instead we can improve our energy efficiency and find smarter ways of doing things that involve using lessenergy instead. Thirdly, that energy needn’t -indeed given Peak Oil cannot – be continually coming from the fossil fuel reserves our planet spent billions of years building up but we’ve raced through in a mere century or two.

    Oh & again, that’s irrelevant to whether Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating (HIRGO) actually exists or not. It does and pretending otherwise isn’t going to make it disappear.

    3)“The carbon-dioxide issue is not about the United States anymore.”

    It never was. The problem is global. Blaming other nations isn’t helpful and won’t stop HIRGO being a real problem taht affects all natiosn incl. the US either.

    4) “We have to get better — and we are — at turning energy into useful power.”

    Er, is this even an argument vaguely related to the topic? Does that actually imply HIRGO isn’t real or serious somehow? I don’t think so!

    Also, doesn’t it kinda contradict there very first two points about nobody doing nothing & we need more, Mmmore, Mawr, energy pronto? :roll:

    5) “The science is not settled, not by a long shot.

    Bzzztt. Sorry, that assertion is just plain wrong. Ask 97 out of 100 climatologists and they’ll inform you otherwise.

  49. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Arghh! Dang-nabbed typos & italics fail. Sorry. :-(

    @19. Jake :

    There is no proof humans are causing relevant climate change, ..

    See :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/evidence-for-global-warming.htm

    &

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9SGw75pVas&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=37

    & this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9ob9WdbXx0

    by Sir David Attenborough.

    Yes, there is proof that we *are* causing the current problem of Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating.

  50. Naked Bunny with a Whip

    @brett: So…Muller has an opinion. Okay. That hardly stops “climategate” from being a ludicrously overblown fake controversy over cherry picked, irrelevant emails.

    Maybe he didn’t notice all that. He was probably busy working out how best to cook — whoops, I mean, correct — his numbers after they ended up agreeing with the hockey stick consensus, much to his chagrin.

  51. DLC

    I am reminded of a line I saw a defense attorney take once. It was basically: “the lab had a typo on the DNA report so they must be wrong on the DNA analysis. ” His client was found guilty by the jury, and is serving life without parole. This guy is like that lawyer, arguing that it won’t happen because some scientist somewhere was wrong about something.

  52. Part Deux @ 19. Jake :

    .. in fact, much evidence supporting the “AGW” claim has been found to be exaggerated and falsified.

    No it hasn’t. Can you prove it has been? Can you back up your words with any evidence? I don’t think so.

    Take a look at the evidence linked above in comment # 49 – what about that can you say is exxaggerated or has been falsified?

    As for the so-called “climategate” affair take a look at this :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nnVQ2fROOg

    and this :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz8Ve6KE-Us&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=7

    and this :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WvasALL-hw&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=33

    which is the third in a three-part series on the whole pathetic saga.

    .. If it wasn’t for skeptical criticism we’d never know we were lied to, and the many follow human caused climate change like it is a religion.

    Well, some people have been spreading misinformation and political propaganda but it isn’t the climatologists. They haven’t been lying. The likes of Lord Monckton on the Climate Contrarian side to use one notorious example, OTOH.. :-o

    (Click on my name for a scientists rational debunking of one Monckton presentation or spend a tiny bit of time fact-checking before you post.)

    Whether or not they’re religious or there’s a religious dimension or parrallel is another topic entirely and one that isn’t overly relevant. The scientific observational evidence is clear, HIRGO is real and is happening, if anything faster than the IPCC predicted.

    How people react to that reality – whether they respond in a quasi-religious way, whether they face the stark truth without doing that, whether they stick their heads in the sand ostrich-like, whether they fatalistically shrug their shoulders and give up or whether they try to educate others and work to get some serious counter-measures in place is up to us – individually, collectively and globally.

    There are many problems with the theory as well as the approach ..

    O really? There are? Your scientific qualifications and evidence backing that extraordinary claim up is .. what precisely?

    that so called scientists and followers consider it absolute and disregard any valid skepticism, that is direct violation of the scientific method.

    Untrue, Jake. Citations needed.

    Valid skepticism like *what* for instance – examples please?

  53. Messier Tidy Upper

    Final part of my response to #19 Jake :

    True there has been a rise in CO2 levels, but CO2 levels have been rising for thousands of years, and have been 10x higher while comfortably supporting life as we know it.

    Did you know our Sun was once much cooler? That our world had high carbon dioxide levels when it was in a “Snowball Earth” phase with the whole plaet covered in ice allowing Co2 to build up and that that Co2 then brought an end the Snowball earth phase?

    See this youtube clip :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duxG4lyeSlc&feature=related

    epecially around the 2 minute 20 seconds to about the 5 minute mark.

    And this obsession that about human’s CO2 contribution is what is laughable, humans contribute far more to the the greenhouse effect with other gasses, like methane and water vapor, removing 100% of our CO2 emissions would not even dent human’s 0.14% total contribution to the global greenhouse effect.

    Please, watch this clip :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAtD9aZYXAs&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=43

    and learn, Jake.

    Water vapour plays a very different – important but different role – role in our climate to carbon dioxide.

    Plus, we are only one country, and other rock bodied planets in our solar system have fluctuating temperatures matching our own!

    Nope. Wrong. No other rocky planet in our solar system has the exact same temperature range or atmospheric composition as own. Pluto comes closest to matching Earth’s atmosphere of mostly nitrogen although Plutonian temperatures are radically different! Mars has somewhat similar if much more extreme and cold temperatures but a very different atmospheric composition and climate.

    Yes, planetary climates fluctuate, seasonally and temporally. Venus may once have supported oceans and life. It doesn’t now. Ditto Mars. The relevance of this to this HIRGO debate is, kinda, minimal since very different factors are in play.

    Oh & no, suggestions that Mars or other planets might be warming does NOT suggest the Sun is behind Global Overheating and isn’t consistent since Ouranos for instance is cooling.

    See :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSXgiml5UwM&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=46

    for a great clip debunking that particular climate canard.

    As for your “we are only one country”, um .. what? Earth has hundreds of countries. I suspect we live in different ones, me being an Aussie & all.

    You see, these are just a few examples. So, no, no one has proven any global warming is cause by humans, in fact it is even difficult to prove humans even have any contribution to it at all. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be aware of our impact on the environment, but this has been highly politicized and publicized as absolute truth, and those who dare to question it with valid arguments are demonized, ridiculed, and ignored. This is just wrong and downright scary.

    Yes, you got one thing correct – the politicisation and demonisation and ridicule against some of the people involved in this issue is wrong and scary.

    Climatologists getting death threats for doing their jobs? yeah, that’s scary and wrong.

    Republicans denying the problem exists because they fear a possible solution and economic consequences ditto.

  54. katwagner

    Just got done reading the October issue of National Geographic. The piece on global warming 53 million years ago during the Eocene is waaaaaaay past scary. No ice. None. Where the water temperature is near zero now, it was in the 70s. One of the scientists said that because of politics, many of their predictions trend toward moderation – the real thing could be so much worse than we can imagine, like temperatures over 100 degrees for months on end.

    You all have to read it.

  55. TonyM

    Shalev: “What blazing ignorance… Very, very scary stuff, that. Is there a good word for the opposite of critical thinking?”

    Why yes there is! It’s called Invincible Ignorance.

    It’s easily applied to the anti-science and anti-Global Warming lemmings, Tea Baggers, Fox ‘News’, and apparently to the Wall Street Journal. I’m pretty sure this is just the short list, too, and it’s stapled to the advance copy of our epitaph for the earth and our role in it as a species: ‘We were too damned greedy to stop.’

  56. Buzz Parsec

    BA, you owe me for a new monitor. This one has disgusting slime all over it from when my head literally exploded when I read the title of this article in the “Recent Posts” column.

  57. Josh

    This illustrates quite well the difference between science and politics (or journalism for that matter). A scientist is always looking for ways to prove him-/herself wrong. A politicion is always looking for ways to prove him-/herself right.

  58. Buzz Parsec

    Jake@19, Wonderful Poe. Absolutely amazing! I count 25 factually incorrect statements in your comment. There are 3 in the first sentence alone. Did I miss any?

  59. VPK

    You think the WSJ is bad, read Forbes! The Big Money is in denial and funding a campaign to keep their profits flowing,,,shame!

  60. Gunnar

    Jake@19, even if all the points you made in your post were true (which they are demonstrably not), the fact remains that the argument Phil referred to in that WSJ article was an incredibly stupid one!

  61. Gunnar

    Old Geezer#35, I fear that you are absolutely right about many of the most influential AGW deniers being fabulously wealthy and avaricious people who can’t bear the thought that their fabulous wealth might be diminished even in the slightest by any serious and effective steps to ameliorate global warming while they are still alive, and who couldn’t care less about any consequences, no matter how catastrophic, that might result from failure to to do so, just as long they are safely in their graves when the disasters occur.

  62. MarcusBailius

    And neutrinos don’t go faster than light anyway…
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/degrees-of-freedom/2011/10/02/superluminal-neutrinos-would-wimp-out-en-route/
    …So the OpEd piece makes rather less sense than Chewie’s roar.

  63. Gunnar

    One of the most unfortunate and even tragic potential consequences of many American political leaders’ obstinate denial of AGW and refusal to initiate or support actions to ameliorate it or encourage efforts to wean us off of and develop alternatives to fossil fuels and improve energy efficiency, and the deplorable prevalence of anti-science attitudes, is that the USA could lose its once impressive scientific and technilogical leadership and become an impoverished, economic and scientific backwater compared to China, India and Europe.

    I also fear that there are significant numbers of right wing conservatives who can’t bear the thought of President Obama’s administration getting credit for doing anything good, and who would oppose any good ideas and solutions coming from him precisely because (and especially if) they know they are good.

  64. Satan Claws
  65. flip

    #36, Terry Cooney

    So basically what you’re saying is that unless we know every single answer to every single problem, we shouldn’t even bother trying? Do we need to stop paying for cancer cure experiments then?

  66. AstroProf

    Hi, Phil,

    I have two small disagreements with your article. Your main point, obviously, is fantastic; what I am addressing is a first or second order perturbation. When you talk about new science tweaking old science, it sounds like you are promoting an incrementalist view of scientific progress, which we’ve known is wrong since at least Thomas Kuhn’s _Structure of Scientific Revolutions_ (1962). It’s still in kids’ textbooks, and we’re never going to get it out if we scientists keep using it. To say “it [relativity] didn’t prove Newton wrong” is I think misleading. While it is fair to say that one can still use Newton’s *law* of universal gravitation to make accurate *enough* predictions, as long as you don’t need *too* precise numbers, Newton’s *theory* of gravity (i.e. what he thought was going on), was absolutely proven wrong by Einstein (well, more by Eddington, et al., but let’s stick with Einstein for now). It depends, of course, on what we mean by “wrong”. I can follow a recipe for baking a cake and believe that when I turn on the oven, fairies come out and magically transform the batter into a tasty pastry. You might argue that chemistry and thermodynamics do a better job of explaining that transformation, but I’m not wrong, because I get a yummy baked good, every time. That’s the sense in which Newton was not wrong. I think most sensible people would argue that my fairy theory is wrong. We still use Newton’s equation (sometimes), but our understanding of what that equation *means* and *why* it works is *completely* different from what Newton thought was going on. So I am not clear on what we gain by trying to claim that Newton was not wrong. It’s too sweeping a statement. As long as when we say “not wrong” we mean “we can use his equations under certain circumstances when we don’t need too much precision to make predictions that are within the uncertainty of our measurements”, then okay, sure, let’s say he was not wrong. But I think most people when they say whether someone is wrong or not, they mean something more holistic along the lines of “his mental model of what was going on corresponded well to reality”. So to say Einstein didn’t prove him wrong muddies the waters, I think, by implying that Newton’s mental image of what gravity was doing is accurate, which it isn’t.

    Respectfully yours,

    Don

    PS. Haven’t seen you in while! I haven’t been able to make it many AAS meeting these days. I’m going to AAPT much more often.

  67. flip

    #44, Bad Jim

    Actually I think it has less to do with “it can’t be me” and more to do with “I can’t see any effect”. Most of the comments about global warming not happening eventually see to come down to, “but it’s raining/snowing/whatever near me, therefore nothing’s happening”. In other words, unless C02 becomes multi-coloured and causes so much smog no one can walk about easily, people will continue to think there’s no effect. I can’t see it happening, therefore it isn’t. We like the tangible, us humans.

    It’s also the “oh, it won’t happen to me” fallacy, where we ignore safety because we assume that everything will be alright.

  68. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 34. Dutch Railroader :

    No, CO2 has not been rising for thousands of years. For the last nearly 1 Myr, it has never topped 290 ppm. Since then has risen 40% to 400 pm – 25% of this has been in the last 50 years. There is zero question that the rise in CO2 is anthropogenic. There is zero question that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. I find it amazing the lengths people go to to deny the climatological impact of this.

    Well said & seconded by me. :-)

    @26. itzac : Seconding that comment too – you beat me to it. Wow, you’re concise! ;-)

    (And, um, I’m not.)

    @54. katwagner :

    Just got done reading the October issue of National Geographic. The piece on global warming 53 million years ago during the Eocene is waaaaaaay past scary. No ice. None. Where the water temperature is near zero now, it was in the 70s. One of the scientists said that because of politics, many of their predictions trend toward moderation – the real thing could be so much worse than we can imagine, like temperatures over 100 degrees for months on end.

    Are we talking Celcius or Fahrenheit Degrees there? I’m guessing the latter, surely, but would appreciate clarification! :-o

  69. Messier Tidy Upper

    @54. katwagner (again) : The piece on global warming 53 million years ago during the Eocene is waaaaaaay past scary.

    Have you read what Jim Hansen wrote about that and other climates in his ‘Storms of My Grandchildren’ book :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storms_of_My_Grandchildren

    Plus also the mentions of previous climates found in this book :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Degrees:_Our_Future_on_a_Hotter_Planet

    By Mark Lynas which I’d strongly recommend as interesting – if rather worrying reading?

    @ 33. Kinzua Kid :

    @Jake #19 :Unsuccessful Troll is Unsuccessful. You just posted a complete copypasta of every trope in the book. That must settle it, then, right? Oh, wait, you pasted this:
    “CO2 levels have been rising for thousands of years, and have been 10x higher while comfortably supporting life as we know it”
    So 300 million years ago, when CO2 was last ~3500ppmv the earth was “…comfortably supporting life as we know it”? Do enlighten us.

    Well, in fairness, whilst it wasn’t quite “life as we know it” our Earth was supporting an abundance of life 300 million years ago being the last million years or so of the Carboniferous era.

    See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carboniferous

    Of course, conditions were very different then with the continents in a radically different arrangement and our Sun quite a bit cooler than it is today.

    *****

    Our Sun’s brightness is gradually increasing by about 10 % every billion years.
    – McNab, David & Younger, James, ‘The Planets’, BBC Worldwide,1999. & “The Planets” final episode – ‘Destiny’ , BBC TV, screened circa 1995-2005. (?)

  70. Jojo mo

    There always someone still think the earth is plane flat while the moon is god home. It’s a waste of time argue with such mental…It make us even stupid by taking it serious other than sole entertain purpose.

  71. kai

    In europe, the discussion about whether global warming is real or not, has ended long ago. I find it very dangerous, that the politics could not convince the people yet to believe the truth. Without the majority of people supporting the idea of actually changing their habit of wasting energy, trying to reduce the co2 output and finding other ways to produce energy, the goverment will do most likely not enaugh.

    greetings from germany

  72. Grimoire

    Derek said: I your point was to demonstrate how Phil was wrong in calling them right-wing…um, you failed.

    If your point was to demonstrate you can read…um, you failed.

    I said *far* right. Put it in quotes and everything. FAR right. Not just right. Far right. See it now? Far? Far. I’ll type it again. Far. Got it? Now go and do your sums before nap time.

  73. roger

    Wait, wait, wait … you aren’t reading that sentence correctly. It is not questioning the particulars of the science but the level of certainty in the science. He is not drawing any connection between the science of relativity and the science of climate change. (That would be absurd.) The author is actually making a much more general statement about judgement and belief than your interpretation of it.

    And in fact no scientist would find any problem with his real meaning.

    It is a straightforward statement of how the level of belief can be updated by new information. A simple example will illustrate:

    Ann told me that Bob would be home. Ann also told me that Charles would be home. Ann’s statements have been 98% accurate in the past therefore I estimated the probability that Bob would be home as 98%. I went to Bob’s house and he was not home. Based my experience, I update my level of belief. I now estimate the probability that Charles will be home as 80%.

    or more specifically to the issue at hand:

    Science told me that nothing travels faster than light. Science also told me that temperature will almost certainly rise over the next century. Based on my past experience with the accuracy of scientific assertions, I estimated the probability of both assertions at 98%. It is reported that neutrinos may be able to travel faster than light. This causes me to reduce my estimate of the accuracy of scientific assertions from 98% to 90%. I now estimate the probability that temperature will almost certainly rise over the next century as 90%.

    You state, “Just because one aspect of science can be questioned … doesn’t mean anything about another field of science.” is, in fact, not true and scientists use this principle all the time. It’s the same principle that causes a jury to place less trust in the testimony of a witness if the witness can be shown to have made mis-statements on completely different topics.

    Personally I accept the conclusions of IPPC AR4 but I believe that the other side has some valid criticisms and it is unhelpful to the debate to misunderstand their positions.

  74. Georg

    “” If serious scientists can question Einstein’s theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth’s atmosphere.””

    In the Palatinate, we call such statements “Von Arschbacken auf Kuchenbacken”.
    (From asscheeks to pie baking)
    Not really translatable :=(

  75. Mark O'Leary

    Sorry Phil. Your opening sentence is wrong. That’s not what an OpEd is. The EDITORIALS are “editorials expressing opinions in newspapers “–the official views of the paper. An OpEd is a contrasting view, usually written by someone knowledgeable in the relevant field, who does not work for the paper. It is OPPOSITE the editorial page, both philosophically and literally, in that OpEds are typically printed on the page that faces the editorial page.

    Since your first sentence is factually incorrect, your entire blog post is null and void. You should probably consider giving back your degree.

  76. Ken W.

    One very fine point: The term “op-ed” isn’t short for “opinions and editorials.” That would be redundant — newspaper editorials are by definition the officially expressed opinions of that newspaper. It’s actually short for “opposite editorial,” a newsroom term for the columns, letters, cartoons or other content on the page facing the editorial page (http://bit.ly/n3Morv). An op-ed piece is an opinion piece, but does not represent the expressed opinion of the publisher.

  77. Strength of Lenin

    Can’t we all just be a little less touchy! I doubt calling someone “ridiculous” or a “denier” is necessary. Neither side of this debate has completely clean records here. When people stand up and call climate change “settled science” they are just inviting these kinds of arguments. There is never such a thing as settled science…..period…..but what there is is actionable science. Climate change is clearly actionable, that is all.

  78. SLC

    The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has been the bastion of insanity for a long time, even before it was purchased by NewsCorp. And, apparently, it’s gotten worse since that purchase. Nothing that appears on that page should be taken seriously by anyone with half a brain.

  79. Peter

    I still wonder why people doubt climate change. Climate change will happen regardless of whether we pump in more CO2 into the atmosphere or not.

    Only difference in this temperature saga is that CO2 is the door of the oven. More Co2= closed oven door heat escapes slower. The real problem is our continuous pumping of additional heat into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, trapping of radiant heat within our buildings and infrastructure.

    The real problem from our continuous CO2 creation is ocean and atmospheric acidification as well as the constant depletion of atmospheric oxygen. Think about that before you go whining to your politicians about climate change and the need to stop any environmental control bills. Your kids are gonna starve to death, die of thirst and have no air to breathe.
    If you don’t get what i mean, simple chemistry
    Coal C+O2 = CO2 or for natural gas CH4+2 O2=CO2 +2 H2O, oil is similar to nat gas. Less oxygen.
    CO2+H2O=H2CO3(Carbonic acid) – kills crops, fish, poisons water supply(eventually)

  80. John F

    DLC @ 51

    Well what else was that poor lawyer supposed to do? He can’t get up there and tell the Jury, well, gee my client is guilty fry him…

    But then again in certain cases the lawyer should take a deep breath and say, “If I make this argument there’s a chance that someone really really stupid on the jury is going to buy it- ” on the other hand I’m going to insult the intelligence of every non-moron and if I don’t find the moron I need – the non-morons are going to dislike my client even more than they did before I opened my mouth- perhaps I should just direct their attention to how woeful my client’s childhood was…”

    Of course the author is supposedly telling what he believes to be true whereas the lawyer is advocating on his client’s behalf… hmmmm

  81. SLC

    Re AstroProf @ #61

    As a matter of fact, most calculations in celestial mechanics use Newton’s laws of motion (or the Hamiltonian formulation thereof) with relativistic effects treated by perturbation theory. In most cases, the relativistic corrections are very small (albeit not unimportant), except near the event horizon of a black hole. As a for instance, the relativistic correction to the precession rate of the orbit of the planet Mercury amounts to 43 seconds of arc per century, certainly a rather small number.

    However, the interpretation of gravitational effects has changed since Newton’s time, going from action at a distance to classical field theory in the last half of the 19th century to geometry in the 20th century. However, as a practical matter, these interpretations in no way affect most celestial mechanical computations.

  82. vel

    and again we see that willful ignorance and greed are the only things important to the far right. It’s a shame that they are such filthy hypocrites, since if they actually didn’t use the science they lie about so much, they’d be mute immediately and dead soon.

  83. A “far-right think tank”… is that sort of like “business ethics” or “jumbo shrimp” or “rap music”?

    I’ve tried to picture what it would be like inside a think tank. You descend a ladder into the chamber, which is filled with an oxygen-rich, semiconducting fluid. One of the technicians tells you to relax. As the liquid enters your lungs, you struggle and gasp, but then, you find it’s breathable, like that stuff Ed Harris used in “The Abyss”. As the fluid enters your bloodstream and reaches your brain, you black out. Suddenly you find yourself in an all-white, sterile, empty room, where an attractive young lady appears and asks for your username and password. Once you provide these, she responds, “Admission granted.” The white room gives way to a vast chamber, where thousands of other users are already logged in, discussing the important issues of the day.

  84. Al

    I’m with Dick Cheney’s 1% doctrine on this: If there’s a 1% chance that anthropogenic climate change is real, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It’s not about our analysis … It’s about our response.

  85. After all, gravity is just a theory.

    Just like my entry in the 2009 “Stick Science Cartoon Contest”:

    http://www.flascience.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/04.jpg

  86. Jess Tauber

    300 million years ago there were giant cockroaches and high CO2 levels. Today we have denialists and high CO2 levels. Happy days are here again!

    50 million years ago weren’t so terrible- you could sit in your pool near the north pole and sip tropical drinks, and watch all the little horses go by on the shore.

  87. DigitalAxis

    @46 brett:

    I have to admit that doesn’t look like any science I would do, but what I’m missing there are the facts about what Mann actually DID. Dr. Muller seems to imply (mostly by omission) that they just said “oh, the temperature is going up, so let’s ignore the data and make it go up”.

    Was there some REASON they didn’t believe it, while they believed the previous data… say, the temperature indicator came from trees frozen in dense permafrost, and there aren’t any trees from less than X years ago suitably frozen in permafrost? (maybe the ice melted too fast and released gasses while being transported back to the lab?) Or, someone started logging that forest such that there are no 50+ year old hardwoods from modern times? Their recent data points were only from trees affected by Dutch Elm disease?

    Where did the data at the end come from? If it was completely fabricated, that’s definitely a bad thing. If that data comes from, say, archival National Weather Service data (sampled at a higher rate, hence the need to smooth the data?), that might not be so bad.

    The Youtube video certainly looks wrong. The end of the dataset doesn’t match the published dataset, and Dr. Mann says he “hid the decline” that we can clearly see. But the video doesn’t explain WHY the decline had to be hidden, or what it was hidden with. The reasons might be totally legitimate. Dr. Muller might mainly be complaining about Mann silently combining two very different temperature datasets in the same plot, sloppily. There are probably other ways to measure temperatures, so maybe he’s going to go after one of them. And after all, there are plenty of reasons besides Mann’s hockey stick that we think HIRGO is real.

    In the end, I’m not a climatologist, so I’m left to basically trust the experts who should and do know more about the topic than I do, and 97% of them say HIRGO is real.

  88. adam

    I love how Phil thinks he can lambast someone he disagrees with, but then constantly mischaracterizes and misrepresents alternate viewpoints and he and his viewers consider himself to be above reproach:

    1. Manhattan Institute is “far-right”? Seriously, Phil? Do you have anything to back that up? Or did you just read a couple headlines or a hit-piece on mediamatters and were on your way? Perhaps all conservatism you disagree with is to be considered “far-right” now?

    2. Robert Bryce suggests that because foundational science is still questionable, perhaps other, newer science is also questionable. You purposely misconstrue this to mean he’s equating them, as though the relationship is A = not B, questioning Einstein means no climate change. This is not even close to what Bryce is suggesting, and you know it. (or, if you truly don’t, I suggest a refresher in modal logic).

    3. You imply that Bryce has also suggested that gravity is just a theory. And you accuse Bryce of improper non-sequitur? Wow.

    4. Bryce never says Einstein is wrong, or even would be, if it turns out neutrinos travel faster than light. He suggests exactly what you do, that it would cause us to question Einstein’s theory as it currently exists, and force scientists to make some revisions, some “tweaking,” as you put it.

    5. “human influence is almost certainly the cause.” Ah, this exactly, “almost certainly.” And 2 months ago you would have laughed at the idea that neutrinos travel faster than light.

    Seriously, Phil. Is it any wonder that climate change deniers still exist? For an educated skeptic and scientist, your intellectual honesty is kind of pathetic.

  89. Bob_In_Wales

    I shouldn’t, but ad hominens are such fun – the Wall Street Journal? Isn’t that a newspaper written for people who lend money to people who cannot afford to pay it back?

  90. caerbannog

    Jake said,

    True there has been a rise in CO2 levels, but CO2 levels …. have been 10x higher while comfortably supporting life as we know it.

    Here’s another reason why this argument is completely idiotic.

    Go back to the mid-Cretaceous (i.e. “Saurian Sauna”), with CO2 levels much higher than they are now. Life did flourish then. But could humans?

    Consider this — during that time, sea-surface temperatures in the tropics reached 100F. That means atmospheric dew-points getting to the neighborhood of 100F.

    Think about that: 100 degrees at 100 percent humidity, which translates to a heat-index of something like 195F. Virtually every human being exposed to that environment for more than a few hours would die of heat stroke — virtually every one!

    If the Earth’s climate were to be transformed to a climate that Jake considers OK, large regions of the Earth where billions of people now live would be completely uninhabitable by humans.

  91. Me

    This sycophantic corporate meat puppet apologist has sunk to a new low of idiocy and ludicrousness. Let’s apply his “logic” to something else. By his “logic,” the fact that there is room among economists to argue over the value of the TARP program means there is room among bankers to argue about whether or not banks should make a profit or be legally classed as NPOs. The fact that there is room to argue over whose fault the subprime mortgage meltdown was means there is room to argue over which corporate CEOs should be hung.

  92. Dallas

    Wow, I had to go through 87 comments until someone finally said what adam said in 88. Adam, I completely agree. Phil, Adam is right, you’re being dishonest and using a strawman arguments against Bryce. I agree that Bryce’s argument is rather ignorant, the science seems to be pretty clearly to favor anthropogenic global warming. But Phil, that’s all you needed to say. Instead you went over board. Bryce was simply not saying that because we can question Einstein, global warming is wrong. All he said was that if we can question Einstein, we can surely question climate change. And that’s right, we can and should question everything. That seems to be the motto of the skeptical movement, yes? It’s also just plain rational. A good point you could have made instead is that we shouldn’t question things in an irrational manner, like is often done by climate-deniers. I would say bravo to adam, but really I’m just disappointed that someone else didn’t say it before hand. Instead the commenters here used it as an opportunity to agree with each about how dumb climate-deniers are (for the most part at least). Yes, climate deniers are often illogical, but we shouldn’t be illogical ourselves in claiming so of the other side.

    I agree with Astroprof too, saying Newton wasn’t proven wrong is a little silly, and the example he provides is very compelling. This is an issue of philosophy of science, as he mentioned, this was something Kuhn worked on, and thus whether you can or should say someone like Newton was proven wrong is actually still debated a bit, but the idea Astroprof presents is agreed upon, that the reasons Newton gave for gravity have been tossed out. Predictive power simply has no relevance here. It’s about theory, not whether you can get ‘reasonable’ calculations at ‘reasonable’ speeds… that doesn’t explain anything.

  93. Dan Pangburn

    A simple equation based on the physical phenomena involved, with inputs of only sunspot number and ppmv CO2, calculates the average global temperatures (agt) since 1895 with 88.4% accuracy (87.9% if CO2 is assumed to have no influence). The equation, links to the source data, an eye-opening graph of the results and how they are derived are in the pdfs at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true (see especially the pdfs made public on 4/10/10, 3/10/11 and 9/24/11). As shown in the 9/24/11 pdf, the equation accurately predicted the temperature trends for the last 20 years.

    The future average global temperature trend that this equation calculates is down. The huge effective thermal capacitance of the oceans (about 100 times everything else) will cause the decline to be only about 0.13°C per decade. The decline may be as much as 0.22°C per decade if the sun goes really quiet.

    This trend is corroborated by the growing separation between the rising CO2 and not-rising agt. From 2001 through September, 2011 the atmospheric CO2 increased by 23.7% of the total increase from 1800 to 2001 while the average global temperature has not increased. The 23.7% CO2 increase is the significant measurement, not the comparatively brief time period.

  94. brett

    digital axis @87- the charge Muller basically makes is one of misrepresentation. He is quite emphatic that this should not occur in science. By extension it points to the ‘divergence’ problem with dendro based climatic reconstructions and how/if we can trust the earlier reconstructions (basically issues of certainty). It points to the fact that studies that claim to support each other ( in this case Jones, Mann and Briffa) do not actually do so without manipulation. It is quite damning of the ethical status of these particular scientists (why hes says he now has a list of people whose papers he will not read). He questions peer review processes that allow this to occur It goes on but i posted the video bascically to highlight how ethical scientists view such pea and thimble manoevering. Those who say that ‘climategate’ did not raise serious issues about the culture that seems to permeate parts of climate science are simply in denial. Again Muller is an AGW advocate but is brave enough to denounce scientific misrepresentation (in this case by scientists themselves) because he knows that it is not only wrong to do so but reflects poorly on all science generally.

  95. brett

    Dallas @93 very good points clearly raised

  96. ZZMike

    “… it’s his last point that really needs to be seen to believe anyone could possibly make it:…”

    Try to read the words. He says “the science is not settled”. The science about the speed of light has suddenly become unsettled. The only connection between the two is whether or not “the science is settled”.

    “When a scientist tells you ‘the science is settled’ in regard to any subject, he’s ceased to be a scientist, and he’s become an evangelist for one cult or another.”

    AGW is perhaps the biggest, most harmful hoax ever foisted off on the public.

  97. Chris

    For the denialists I recommend reading
    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/10/06/338286/charts-evidence-human-fingerprint-on-recent-climate-change/

    Also good for the realists to have some info to refer to.

  98. Adrian

    Please, please, please stop using the “denial” word, unless you really have evidence. You don’t help the argument by labelling people who have valid concerns with such a loaded terms. Argue against the argument NOT the person.

    I’ve read your FAQ, but it can’t be applied to this article. His only “denial” is a hypotheical – even if it is a negative and exposes his assumptions/biases.

    “Furthermore, even if we accept that carbon dioxide is bad,”.

    The main gist of this article is to question what is being done about the problem. i.e. are the solutions valid and those acting upon the problem sincere. I know he is cherry picking, but that does make the concerns any less valid if they are true.

    I have to say Dr. Wigley’s argument (if it is correctly reported?) that coal is better than gas because it raises albedo (black carbon) is new to me, and probably wrong?, but the IPCC use a similar argument (aerosols) for the hiatus in warming between WWII and the 1970s.

    Britain was only able to “meet” its co2 reduction targets because it switched its power consumption from coal to gas (less co2 emission per KWh). It is going to find it much more difficult now there are few coal power stations left to close. :-)

  99. Sean McCorkle

    AstroProf @66
    While it is fair to say that one can still use Newton’s *law* of universal gravitation to make accurate *enough* predictions, as long as you don’t need *too* precise numbers, Newton’s *theory* of gravity (i.e. what he thought was going on), was absolutely proven wrong by Einstein (well, more by Eddington, et al., but let’s stick with Einstein for now). It depends, of course, on what we mean by “wrong”.

    I’m going to weigh in on this on the side of our host, Phil. For me the issue is not what we mean by “wrong”, but what we mean by “prove”. Prove is a very strong word.

    As the formulae of Special Relativistic kinematics quickly approach Newtonian behavior when v/c becomes small, so do the calculations of General Relativity as the masses involved become smaller, no? I believe there are very few cases in our everyday lives where a GR calculation will make a prediction that is even distinguishable at all from a Newtonian prediction. GR predictions start diverging from Netwonian and performing more accurately in places such as near the Sun (perihelion precession of Mercury) or neutron stars (binary pulsars). Other experimental validations of GR deal with concepts outside of what Newton addressed (gravitational redshift, frame dragging etc) so thats not really disproving him.

    Also, I may be very wrong about this, but I’m not aware of Newton making predictions of interaction of light with gravity—am I ignorant of any of his work along those lines? If so I apologize. If not, then the 1919 eclipse results don’t disprove Newton in any way that I can see.

    I think the strongest that can be said is that relativistic predictions perform better over a larger range of speeds, masses, energy densities, etc., but agree well with that of Newton in our typical Earth like environment (and much of the Solar System). I think its much better to think of Relativity performing more accurately over a larger range of conditions—as an extension of kinematics to regimes not considered by Newton. If one qualifies Newton to speeds well below c and to not-so-extreme gravitational fields, he checks out perfectly. Thats hardly wrong.

    We still use Newton’s equation (sometimes), but our understanding of what that equation *means* and *why* it works is *completely* different from what Newton thought was going on.

    That our understanding has changed doesn’t have any bearing on proof in this case. Classical mechanics has other examples of “new thinking” or “new understanding” (such as the Principle of Least Action) which are completely consistent with Newtonian mechanics—they’re just other ways of looking at the physics. Proof (or falsification) boils down to making predictions, and then testing them. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how its understood, just how well the predictions check out.

  100. Infinite123Lifer

    I read about 300 words all over the place including the original article.
    I don’t know if anybody has pointed this out but if ignorance is bliss . . .
    DENIAL stands for Dont Even No Its A Lie.

  101. Rich

    You people have gone off the rail. Now the opinion writer was NOT comparing the science per se, he was comparing the relative humility of the scientists . If REAL scientists studying HARD science with the ability for DIRECT measurement in CONTROLLED experiment can be HUMBLE enough to re-test their results, be open minded enough for the possibility that there could be more to the theoretical side as well then Scientists by COMMITTEE studying by CURVE FITTING and extrapolating with computer generated MODELS on a highly complex, difficult to measure, not even sure what the metric is, or the baseline with NO CONTROLS might show just a smidgen of humility with regard to the conclusions that they can draw.

    Some of you have been more elegant and civil in your responses – I’ll send this anyway to see whether it stirs up any dust.

  102. Gunnar

    Al@84,
    Like you, I agree with Cheney’s assessment of the situation. The potential consequences of AGW, if it is real, and we make no attempt to ameliorate it, are so serious that even if there really were only a 1% probability that it is real, it is imperative that we find an effective way to deal with it. Especially since (despite AGW sceptics’ arguments to the contrary) there are tremendous potential benefits and economic opportunities to be derived from improving energy efficiency, reducing needless waste of natural resources and weaning ourselves from dependence on fossil fuels, even if AGW really were bogus.

    If the USA does not agressively lead the efforts to develop and patent these new, energy-saving technologies and viable alternatives to fossil fuels, it will sooner than later find itself in the position of having to import them from other countries that do, to its great economic detriment. This is already beginning to occur.

    It is so incredibly short-sighted of right wing conservatives to fail to realize this, that it almost makes me want to puke!

  103. Infinite123Lifer

    The Earth on fire is a little harsh. I mean it looks like Jupiter took Ganymede set it on fire and stuck in a giant monolith and then just str8 zippoed the Earth. Tough graphics for tough tough tough tough times.

  104. Infinite123Lifer

    “makes me want to puke!”(103)

    I just usually end up puking. I don’t ever “want” to puke.

  105. Gunnar

    @Infinite123Lifer

    I just usually end up puking. I don’t ever “want” to puke.

    Lol! Good point! I should have said “almost makes me feel like puking.” I don’t really ever want to puke either!

  106. Mike G

    the charge Muller basically makes is one [by] misrepresentation

    There, I fixed that for you.

    Why is it that Muller, who claims to be so disgusted by scientific misrepresentation, beats up a strawman regarding the divergence problem? The divergence problem only affects one subset of one type of proxy for part of it’s period of coverage. Corals, lake and ocean sediments, ice cores, speliothems, etc. are all unaffected by the problem and it’s the agreement between those proxies and with dendrochronologies outside of high northern latitudes that allows us to say that the divergence problem is isolated. However, Muller leads his audience to believe that the divergence problem affects all proxies (or at the very least those used by Mann and Jones) and that Briffa’s work was published in a vacuum where no other proxies validated his pre-1961 reconstruction. He asserts that it was just assumed to be so- “Is this unreliable? No. How do we know? Well, we don’t know… This justification would not have survived peer review in any journal that I’m willing to publish in.”

    It’s also puzzling why he would claim that the post-1961 data came out following a refusal for the data under FOIA and the hacking (which he asserts without evidence was NOT hacking, but a leak by a member of “the team”) when the data had already been publicly available online since at least 2000. He says “Now we have the data. Now it’s been released. [showing a graph of Briffa’s data] That’s the data as any Berkeley scientist would have published it.” Now to me, there’s a strong implication in that statement that Briffa didn’t publish the data like that- that it was hidden (which he explicitly states later). That, despite the fact that he did publish the data which was truncated in the WMO graph- not just once, but in multiple papers which specifically address the divergence problem and online for anyone to download.

    Based on this presentation I’m forced to assume that Muller includes himself in his list of dishonest scientists whose papers he will no longer read.

  107. Sean McCorkle

    Rich @ 102
    If REAL scientists studying HARD science with the ability for DIRECT measurement in CONTROLLED experiment can be HUMBLE enough to re-test their results, be open minded enough for the possibility that there could be more to the theoretical side as well then Scientists by COMMITTEE studying by CURVE FITTING and extrapolating with computer generated MODELS on a highly complex, difficult to measure, not even sure what the metric is, or the baseline with NO CONTROLS might show just a smidgen of humility with regard to the conclusions that they can draw.

    If you’re talking about the recent OPERA results, the experimenters are quite right in being cautious about making claims of superluminal neutrinos: a single measurement is flying in the face of a century of evidence to the contrary, that c is an asymptotic, limiting parameter of spacetime.

    Quite the opposite for CO2-induced global warming, which is based on physics thats been established for at least a century: radiative transfer, spectroscopy, thermodynamics, etc., and a great deal of supporting evidence. All the physics we know supports the case for AGW.

    There are multiple lines of measurements that provide evidence for global warming; a couple of centuries of temperature records, more recent satellite temperature observations, glacier & icecap reduction, even biological evidence such as longer growing seasons, northward migrations of many species. There are also natural proxy “records” to infer temperatures before the days of records. If you don’t trust tree-rings, there are measurements of trapped gas in glaciers, borehole heat, and stalagmite growth that all yield similar “hockey sticks” temperature profiles.

    An increase in CO2 will case more trapping of re-radiated IR from the Earth. Thats just physics. That the atmospheric fraction of CO2 is increasing and is man made is a relatively easy case to make based on CO2 measurements from Mauna Loa and historic records of mined fossil fuels. Furthermore, the observed warming (previous paragraph) is roughly about what is expected from the observed increase in CO2, and the CO2 and temperature time profiles correlate very well.

    No computer models are needed to make the case. And none of this is flying in the face of or is countering any established physics results.

    Lastly, its a mistake to think of experimental physicists (so-called “hard scientists”) as being better scientists than climate scientists. Thats just arrogance.

  108. Mike G

    A simple equation based on the physical phenomena involved, with inputs of only sunspot number and ppmv CO2, calculates the average global temperatures (agt) since 1895 with 88.4% accuracy (87.9% if CO2 is assumed to have no influence).

    That’s one hell of an R2! Most scientists would kill to get such a high value, even for simple systems, which immediately throws up a red flag. Such a high R2 also implies that global temperature is extremely sensitive to sunspot cycles, which raises the question of why the cycles aren’t immediately obvious in the temperature record and why the greatest temperature increase would occur over a period with no secular trend in sunspot number.

    So, precisely what physical mechanism are you proposing by which sunspot number drives global temperature and how are you constraining the values of that effect in your equation?

    Based on your grasp of trend analysis demonstrated by the claim that global temperature hasn’t increased since 2001 I have to admit that I didn’t waste more than a few seconds trying to decipher what you actually did in your equation. However, without even checking for methodological errors, there’s physical evidence that strongly suggests your result is unrealistic. For one, if the warming observed is due to the sun rather than an enhanced greenhouse effect it’s hard to explain why nights are warming faster than days. There also has to be an additional explanation for why CO2 isn’t warming the world given the measured changes in outgoing and downwelling LW in the spectrum absorbed by CO2 (i.e. direct evidence that CO2 is changing the energy balance of the planet).

  109. Sean McCorkle

    Mike G@109
    There also has to be an additional explanation for why CO2 isn’t warming the world given the measured changes in outgoing and downwelling LW in the spectrum absorbed by CO2 (i.e. direct evidence that CO2 is changing the energy balance of the planet).

    Well put! This point can’t be made strongly enough, that if one is to argue that something else, not CO2, is causing the observed warming, one has to first come up with a mechanism which negates or counteracts the expected IR trapping of CO2—which all the physic we know tells us does occur—and replace it with the new mechanism in such a way that the good temporal correlation between temperature and CO2 is explained. Occam’s Razor favors the more simple CO2 increase (unless there’s a great deal of evidence for the more complicated mechanism).

  110. adam

    @ 93. Dallas:

    Thanks. I posted because I read all the comments hoping someone would say it, but no one did. It was just 80-odd posts of mockery and willful misunderstanding.

    Guys, you want to foster a more open, honest and productive debate on global warming? You do want that, right? Then stop. This. Right here. Stop.

    Phil, that goes for you too.

  111. brett

    Mike @107 Muller is upset by the fact that this ‘one subset of one type of proxy…’ was presented as is there was no divergence problem (with this data) and then misrepresented by dropping the post 1960’s dendro data and splicing on a temperature record ( it is irrelevant whether this agrees with other proxy types or not, the proceedure is deceitful). Note that graphically there is no change in colour or use of dotted lines etc to denote the spliced on temperature data from the earlier dendro data.He then asks how much trust can be placed in the earlier data from the 3 series presented in light of this.He then asks how much trust you would place in scientists that would do this (he places little now) Muller is not sceptical of AGW (quite the opposite) but of poor scientific process, unquestioning acceptance, poor review process followed by obfuscation. He argues for transparent scientific process not any old process that supports your viewpoint. It is an issue of integrity and not hard to understand. If you think proceedures like this enhance the standing of climate science (and science generally) with the public you are mistaken.Quite a few scientists have spoken out over this issue

  112. Joseph G

    @#83 Toby:

    A “far-right think tank”… is that sort of like “business ethics” or “jumbo shrimp” or “rap music”?

    I’ve tried to picture what it would be like inside a think tank. You descend a ladder into the chamber, which is filled with an oxygen-rich, semiconducting fluid. One of the technicians tells you to relax. As the liquid enters your lungs, you struggle and gasp, but then, you find it’s breathable, like that stuff Ed Harris used in “The Abyss”. As the fluid enters your bloodstream and reaches your brain, you black out. Suddenly you find yourself in an all-white, sterile, empty room, where an attractive young lady appears and asks for your username and password. Once you provide these, she responds, “Admission granted.” The white room gives way to a vast chamber, where thousands of other users are already logged in, discussing the important issues of the day.

    I want to live in your brain :)

  113. Joseph G

    @97 ZZMike:

    Try to read the words. He says “the science is not settled”. The science about the speed of light has suddenly become unsettled. The only connection between the two is whether or not “the science is settled”.

    “When a scientist tells you ‘the science is settled’ in regard to any subject, he’s ceased to be a scientist, and he’s become an evangelist for one cult or another.”

    Technically, technically you are correct about science never being settled. But at some point, when you’ve got hundreds of thousands of datapoints all pointing to the same conclusion, and no alternative hypothesis to explain what you’re seeing, then you’ve got a pretty safe bet that you’re looking at a very close approximation of reality. Of course, people like simple answers, so when they ask, you don’t say “Well, we’re 99.9999981% sure, plus or minus a few trillionths of a percentage point. Sooooooooooo we may be wrong.”
    No, you say “Yes, it’s settled. For all intents and purposes, with far more certainty than we’ve ever mustered, by the standard of any sane and rational human being, it’s settled. Now, can we finally take our thumbs out of our butts and start figuring out what to do about it?”
    The science may never be “settled”, but it’s damned well settled enough that idiot pundits with no scientific expertise have no chance in hell of “unsettling it” further.

    AGW is perhaps the biggest, most harmful hoax ever foisted off on the public.

    Foisted by who, exactly? A conspiracy of evil liberal scientists? Please explain.

  114. wayne

    It amazes me how the politically charged left can’t see past their own noses…

    What this guy meant was not whether there was enough scientific evidence to prove or disprove climate change but that there is in fact a shoot to kill mentality that has swung so far left that it isn’t even a viable option to question Climate Change or any of the supposed sciences without getting shot in the head politically!

    Simply put Climate Change has left the realm of science long ago and has had serious damage done to its validity though the falsification of data.

    Unfortunately if in fact we end up being in real danger do to what we might have done to this planet you lefties just might have done us in by politically assassinating anyone that might question the validity of the science itself!

    The problem with Climate Change is that there is solid evidence that shows that this planet has gone through many extreme changes over such very short periods of time that it make anything that has happened over the last few hundred years look like nothing more than slightly noises data…

    Believe it or not there are many conservatives that are very concerned about what and how we might be effecting this planet….

    Its awfully hard to get by the fact that our presence on this planet can be seen from orbit…

    So why don’t you try some calm scientific discourse and debate the issuses instead of slinging mud everywhere you go and falsifing data???

    Just a thought…

  115. AstroProf

    Hi,

    This is a response to Sean, #100. This is offered in the spirit of friendly scientific debate. :-) I’m not sure how to do quoting format in this forum, so I am going to try HTML tags and see if they work.

    I’m going to weigh in on this on the side of our host, Phil. For me the issue is not what we mean by “wrong”, but what we mean by “prove”. Prove is a very strong word.

    I agree with the last sentence. I should have written “disprove” instead of “proven wrong”. But I do think it’s critical what we mean by wrong. It *seems* to me that you think “wrong” means “can’t use, ever”. That’s not what I mean. If I have two theories that make indistinguishable predictions, I can’t tell which of them is wrong. If I want to find out which is wrong, I need to take data in a regime where I can distinguish between them. When I go to that regime, Newton’s gravity fails the test, and is therefore wrong. That doesn’t mean you can never use it, but you really should use it with the understanding that it’s only an approximation. I agree with #81, the underlying understanding of “action at a distance” has been supplanted by a field theory approach. #81 points out that this doesn’t affect celestial mechanical calculations, which is in complete agreement with what I said. I would point out though, that to make GPS work, you can’t use Newtonian gravity. That’s hardly “near a black hole”. If you have precise enough measurements here and now, you can tell the difference between Newton and Einstein, and Newton is wrong. You can only get away with using Newton if your error bars are big enough that you can’t tell the difference. Just because you can’t tell the difference doesn’t mean Newton isn’t wrong.

    I believe there are very few cases in our everyday lives where a GR calculation will make a prediction that is even distinguishable at all from a Newtonian prediction.

    Depends on whether GPS is a part of your everyday life or not.

    Also, I may be very wrong about this, but I’m not aware of Newton making predictions of interaction of light with gravity—am I ignorant of any of his work along those lines? If so I apologize. If not, then the 1919 eclipse results don’t disprove Newton in any way that I can see.

    If you try to predict the deflection of starlight with Newtonian gravity, you get about half the deflection observed by Eddington, which is consistent with GR. See Eddington’s original data. There’s a recreation of it here: http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/0_0_0/fair_tests_04
    I used to have a link to the original data, but I can’t find it at the moment.

    I think its much better to think of Relativity performing more accurately over a larger range of conditions—as an extension of kinematics to regimes not considered by Newton. If one qualifies Newton to speeds well below c and to not-so-extreme gravitational fields, he checks out perfectly. Thats hardly wrong.

    There’s no such thing as “checking out perfectly”. There is always uncertainty. And let me stress again, my point is not whether you can use Newton’s Law of Gravitation to make reasonably precise calculations. Of course you can, depending on your required precision. The very fact that I need to say “depending on your required precision” means that it’s fundamentally wrong.

    That our understanding has changed doesn’t have any bearing on proof in this case.

    I absolutely and utterly disagree. Since my entire point was about Newton’s *understanding* of what was going on, the fact that our understanding has changed *is* the proof in this case (although I would prefer to avoid the word “proof”).

    At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how its understood, just how well the predictions check out.

    So you’re okay with my believing that there are fairies in my oven, as long as the cake turns out tasty.

    Yours,

    Don

  116. Infrared

    Using a logical fallacy to disprove global warming, clever.

  117. Dan Pangburn

    Mike G & Sean McCorkle,

    “That’s one hell of an R2.” Thank you for noticing. The methodology, equation, and links to all of the source data are provided so that anyone can check it. Please respond to any of the pdfs at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true if you find any error.

    “…aren’t immediately obvious in the temperature record…” The planet is about 71% covered by oceans. The effective thermal capacitance of the oceans is about 30 times everything else. This huge thermal capacitance results in very slow changes to true average global temperature and reveals that reported temperature oscillations of a year or two are impossibly rapid and an artifact of the measurement. This is discussed further on page 3 of the pdf made public 9/24/11.

    “…what physical mechanism are you proposing by which sunspot number drives global temperature…” It is not just sunspot numbers as others have looked at and found lacking but the time-integral of sunspot numbers appropriately reduced by the time-integral of radiation from the planet. No one else has done this. As widely reported, sunspot numbers alone do not correlate. However, the time-integral of sunspot numbers appropriately reduced by energy radiated from the planet is another matter as shown in the graph on page 14 of the pdf made public 4/10/10 at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true.

    Two different mechanisms have been offered to explain what is observed. I favor that more sunspots are accompanied by more magnetic shielding from galactic cosmic rays which results in fewer low-level clouds and thus higher average cloud altitude, lower average cloud temperature, less radiation from the planet and thus higher average global temperature. Svensmark discovered that more sunspots correlated with fewer low-level clouds. The CERN CLOUD experiment, as discussed at http://calderup.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/cern-experiment-confirms-cosmic-ray-action/, demonstrated that cosmic rays cause cloud nucleation. The pdf made public 6/21/11 shows that a change in average cloud altitude of only 73 meters would cause a change in average global temperature of 0.3°C.

    The other mechanism that has been proposed is that sunspots influence the latitude of the jet stream. I have no insight on this. Stephan Wilde discusses it a bit at http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/dan-pangburn-cloud-altitude-change-causes-global-temperature-change/

    “…claim that global temperature hasn’t increased since 2001…” There are five agencies that report temperature anomalies. I graph them all and average them to avoid bias. The average shows that average global temperature has been flat for a decade. They are graphed through August, 2011 in the pdf made public 9/22/11 at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true. Links to them are provided in the pdf made public 3/10/11.

    “…didn’t waste more than a few seconds…” Your loss. I consider the rest of your comments as being ‘mired in the minutia’.

    “…why CO2 isn’t warming the world…” Not understanding why something isn’t happening is not evidence that it is.

    I wonder how much wider the separation between the rising CO2 and not-rising temperature will need to get for you to realize that you have been deceived.

  118. hmmm, i wrote about all this on my blog, the Hazard Hot Sheet, in two posts on September 30th (see “Blinded by Non-Science” and the followup, “Theory vs. Practice”). Coincidentally, i even mention, in the second post, how Dr. Plait and i have been independently talking about gravity being “just a theory” for years. i guess i anticipated the WSJ and their boneheaded misinterpretations by almost a week!

  119. BA’s follow up piece to this is linked to my name – or cut’n’paste :

    Followup on the WSJ climate denial OpEd

    into the search box – published here October 7th, 2011 11:30 AM.

  120. Sean McCorkle

    Astroprof @117

    Good points, all.

    This is where I’m coming from: in the historic progression from the Ptolemaic solar system to Copernicus to Kepler to Newton’s Universal Gravity, I argue we can now rule out, disprove, or falsify the various geocentric models with parallax and doppler shift measurements showing the annual periodic motion of the Earth w.r.t. background stars. We can rule out Copernicus’ circular (plus a few epicycle) model on the bases of poor numeric performance. However, Kepler hit the jackpot. To this day, most ephemeris software still use his laws for detailed calculations, I think. Newton’s ideas superseded Kepler because they provide a fundamentally deeper understanding to answer the various questions unanswered by Kepler’s purely phenomenological ideas. In addition to that, Newtons UG predicted a host of other phenomenal not previously addressed (hyperbolic and parabolic orbits, center of mass at foci, etc). However, I argue that Newton did not actually disprove Kepler. In fact, part of his argument was to show that UG yielded Keplers’ laws. To justify, in part, his theory, he had to demonstrate that it actually supported the previous model! Thats hardly disproving it.

    I was taught special relativity in a similar vein, that for small v/c, one gets back all the Newtonian and Galilean behavior, thus demonstrating that SR was supported by a few centuries of observational confirmations of Newton. Its hard for me to reconcile that kind of support as ‘disproof’. To be sure, Einstein himself played up the differences (of course, that was the whole point) as you do in the comments, but I think its not wrong to think of the new theory as adding refinements, “corrections” or perturbations as #81 pointed out (of course, the value of the new theory is to add whole new way of thinking, and most importantly, to give more predictions and more universal understandings).

    At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how its understood, just how well the predictions check out.
    So you’re okay with my believing that there are fairies in my oven, as long as the cake turns out tasty.

    No, at least I would not accept that as a theory myself; tastiness is a subjective measurement and we use Occam’s razor to rule out the ever-potentially-present fairy arguments (which have no predictive power. For example, I could counter-predict bad-tasting cake and search around for a snobby gourmet to claim bad taste as an outcome).

    However, I am okay (but not happy) with things like “the actual slit the electron goes through cannot be known without destroying the interference pattern” and absolutely nebulous, poorly defined concepts of “wavefunction collapse when the measurement is made”, because every quantum calculation which has been tested that Im aware of has checked out to extreme precision. These are aspects of QM theory where it is often stated: there is no understanding here. Shut up and calculate. And QM a damn good theory; its been tested a hell of a lot more than GR.

    That our understanding has changed doesn’t have any bearing on proof in this case.
    I absolutely and utterly disagree. Since my entire point was about Newton’s *understanding* of what was going on, the fact that our understanding has changed *is* the proof in this case (although I would prefer to avoid the word “proof”).

    This I do have to take exception with. As beautiful and seductive a theory as General Relativity is—and it is absolutely beautiful and one of the most wonderful achievements of humankind— all we can really assert about it is (1) its beauty & simplicity and (2) its contingent of testable phenomena and how well it performs in those tests. At no point can we argue that GR understanding is the real underlying reality. (2) is where the rubber meets the road. There’s a big difference between a new theoretical understanding that leads to new and more testable phenomena, verses a new, simpler theory that makes no new testable predictions. GR is superior to Newton’s UG because of (2) – a host of observed phenomena. Maybe we like it better because of (1) (at least I do), but (2) makes it the current winner. Thats different from something like Hamiltonian or Lagrangian formulations of mechanics— while they provide new understandings, as nice and useful as they are, we couldn’t really argue that the laws of nature were more Hamiltonian mechanics than classical.

    Regarding GPS and gravitational redshift, the system relies on GR corrections for the timing difference between the Earth’s surface and the GPS satellites high in orbit, no? On the ground, the most a person could reasonably expect to see is a few nanoseconds/day difference between mountaintops and sea level. I’m not aware of a hand-held unit that is capable of displaying that small of a time difference (unless you wait around and integrate for years). Thats what I mean by outside our normal experience— while the GPS system uses GR corrections, it is difficult for us to personally tell if the redshift is even there, without using a couple of very fancy atomic clocks.

  121. AstroProf

    Greetings, Sean McCorkle #123,

    You make good points, but let me ask you this: consider the accelerating rate of the expansion of the universe. If you make a hubble diagram of type 1a supernovae, it’s only out at relatively high redshift that the acceleration becomes detectable. Hence the Nobel Prize this year. By your argument, we should not say that the constant rate of expansion model has been disproven, because it still matches the available data at small redshift. Is that right?

    And as far as time delays between mountains and sea level, you should check out http://leapsecond.com/great2005/

    Yours,

    Don

  122. Sean McCorkle

    Astroprof@124

    Thats a pretty good example. I read that as a logical “composition argument” in the sense that the whole is not the same as the sum of the parts; the theory can be globally wrong even though parts of it may work, and the similarity to GR vs Newton is apparent.

    This is a fun topic for me, but I don’t want to continue belaboring my points ad-infinitum. Thanks for a thought-provoking back-and-forth on this.

  123. SDC

    ‘This Neutrino thing throws all of science in doubt. Screw you overcautious lefty ninnies, I’m going to jump out this 22nd story window. Gravity is a lie!’

  124. This is an example of Bad Skepticism from the bad Astronomer- he has completely mis-represented Bryce’s arguments, which are primarily about policy, not science:
    http://skepteco.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/bad-skeptics-and-the-relativity-deniers/

  125. Jenny Hanniver

    #88 adam writes:
    “Seriously, Phil. Is it any wonder that climate change deniers still exist? For an educated skeptic and scientist, your intellectual honesty is kind of pathetic.”
    This coming from someone so skeptical they can’t even provide solid proof that they are a scientist, even after claiming to be one. Adam we are still waiting for you to fulfill your duties as a skeptic. Where is the concrete evidence that you are a scientist? Or do we have to just take your word for it?
    And after your support for Lonny Eachus’ ignorance of basic climatology why should we even bother to accept any of your peevish opinions?

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