A case study of the tactics of climate change denial, in which I am the target

By Phil Plait | February 2, 2012 7:00 am

Over the years I have pointed out the fallacious arguments of climate change deniers when they attack legitimate climatologists like James Hansen and Michael Mann. This is, of course, like kicking at a bee hive, and whenever I do the comments section of my posts fill with lots of angry buzzing.

But now, for what I think is the first time, I find myself the target of an attack. And I have to admit, I welcome it: it’s a textbook case of denialist sleight of hand, of distraction, distortion, error, and misdirection.

Stick around for all of this. It’ll be… interesting.


Our story so far

OK, first, here’s the scoop: a few days ago, I wrote a blog post taking apart two intellectually bankrupt climate change denial articles, one in the Wall Street Journal, and the other in the UK’s Daily Mail. Both were claiming that global warming appears to have stopped in the past few years, a claim which is trivially easy to show wrong. In fact, I linked to two articles doing just that: one at Skeptical Science, and another I myself wrote. Finding actual scientists destroying that claim is not hard at all; those two links have many more links therein.

In my post about the WSJ and DM, I included a graph. It pretty clearly shows temperatures rising from 1973 to the present. And this is where the fun begins.

That’s the plot. It’s from a recent, independent study done at Berkeley, and represents actual, measured, data. Just to be clear, those points are from weather stations across the globe, and the method used to collect and analyze those measurements is described by the Berkeley team themselves (PDF). With me so far?

Apparently, William Briggs is not with me. He takes very vigorous exception to the graph in an article he wrote which he titled "Bad Astronomer Does Bad Statistics: That Wall Street Journal Editorial." I encourage you to read it, so that you can assure yourself I am not misrepresenting his arguments in any way.

I found out about this article when I saw a tweet by Dr. Briggs himself. My first thought was: Uh oh. I sure hope I didn’t make a math mistake somewhere in my WSJ post! I better read Briggs’ article and see… So I read it.

My next thought after reading his arguments was then: Ho-hum. So?


The mismeasure of an argument

Basically, Briggs accuses me of not understanding statistics, of not including error bars, of misrepresenting that points in that plot, of not displaying the plot correctly, and so on ad nauseum. His biggest claim: that those points aren’t measurements at all, but estimates.

Here’s the thing: he’s wrong. Those point are in fact measurements, though they are not raw measurements right off the thermometers. They have been processed, averaged, in a scientifically rigorous way to make sure that the statistics derived from them are in fact solid. The Berkeley team describes in detail how that was done (PDF), and does actually call them estimates, but not because they are just guessing, or using some arcane computer model. They are technically estimates, in the sense that any measurement is an estimate, but they are really, really good ones. Greg Laden tears this use of words apart, as well as pretty much everything else Briggs wrote.

Oddly, Briggs then goes on to call them "predictions" for some reason, and that they came from "models", which is just weird. It’s as if he’s trying to use a word choice that raises doubt about the measurements. But again he’s wrong. They really are measurements, not model predictions. At Open Mind, Brigg’s word choice once again is ripped apart. [Note: Briggs has left a comment there, further verifying the fact that his use of words is incorrect.]


This reminds me of one of my favorite skeptic jokes. Question: How many legs does a dog have if you call its tail a leg?

Answer: Four. It doesn’t matter what you call a tail, it’s not a leg.


There are many other places where Briggs makes mistakes that render his arguments null; for example, the error bars (what statisticians usually call "uncertainty") are in fact made available by the Berkeley team, and are small compared to the long-term rise in temperature. For another, Briggs says I should’ve shown the plot going farther into the past, because 1973 was actually a low point. However, that’s completely wrong: it’s actually a high point! As Deep Climate points out here, this actually makes the warming trend lower. So in true contrarian fashion, Briggs is contrary even to himself. It’s bizarre.

So really, there goes Briggs’ argument. His main point is wrong, so we’re done, right?

Well, no. There’s more fun to be had here.


Beside the point

If you read Briggs’ article, you certainly get the impression that because the graph I use is statistically meaningless (so he incorrectly claims), then my whole argument about global warming is wrong.

And this is where I found myself greatly amused, though in a schadenfreude sort of way.

Think of it this way: if my argument hinged on that graph, and I removed it, my argument would have no foundation, correct? It would change the tenor of the entire blog post.

Go look at my article. If you remove that graph from it, what changes? Nothing. My main point — that the WSJ and DM articles are wrong, that we have lots of evidence the Earth is warming up, that 9 of the 10 hottest years on record occurred since the year 2000, that the DM article specifically uses scientific studies and presents them as if they say the exact opposite of what they actually say — still stands.

So even if that graph is wrong and misrepresents what I’m saying — which it does not — it doesn’t matter. In fact, I used that graph as an illustration, to show how we’re warming up. I never intended it to be the basis for the argument I was making, just a way of further showing it. If you read the actual words I wrote, including the links to many, many articles backing up my position, you’ll see that Briggs has not refuted a single actual point I made.

So even if he’s right about that graph, it doesn’t matter. And he’s not right.

But notice what he’s done. He’s taken what is clearly a minor point and blown it up as if it’s my main point. He’s used shady words (predictions, models) to cast aspersions, and to make someone (me!) look bad. Then, by "refuting" this minor issue he can then poison the well, strongly implying that all my arguments are wrong. That’s kind of a big no-no when trying to argue a point.

But it packages well. Watts Up With That, another denialist blog, has run with Briggs’ claims about me as well. He also makes the false claim that warming has stalled, and so on. Note WUWT also says the signers of the WSJ OpEd are "16 scientists", which isn’t true: not all are scientists, and only four have actually published climate science research. And don’t forget about the article the WSJ refused to print talking about the reality of global warming, signed by 255 actual scientists.

Oops.


Denialism’s dark mirror

I will admit the irony of this attack amuses me greatly; Briggs accuses me of many things he himself is doing. That is standard fare from antiscience group: creationists, global warming deniers, and alt-medders, for example, all seem to project their own tactics on the scientists with whom they disagree. Don’t like real medicine? Accuse scientists of being in the pocket of Big Pharma (and forget about the millions being made by quacks on useless "remedies"). Don’t believe in evolution? Accuse scientists of being too dogmatic. Don’t think global warming is real? Accuse scientists of misrepresenting the data.

My favorite irony is that a lot of these global warming denialists take money from fossil fuel interests, but then routinely say to "follow the money", as if it’s the climatologists who are raking in the big bucks from shady think tanks with undisclosed bankrollers. While Briggs points out he gets no money from them, he asks where my money comes from. Think on this, Dr. Briggs; how much money would I make if I suddenly turned coat and said global warming wasn’t real? I’ll guarantee you it would be a lot more than I make now, probably with a couple of zeroes added to the end. So that argument falls a wee bit flat here.

Like all the others.

Of course, given the comments I’ve seen on my blog, on Briggs’ blog, on Watts Up With That, or in any other blog discussing global warming, I know how this will go. You can bring up the major pieces of evidence supporting reality again and again, but the denialists will ignore them and go after phantoms instead. Because if they do acknowledge the actual evidence, they lose.

Comments (270)

  1. Cathy

    Although it’s only anecdotal and thus not a valid observation from a scientific standpoint… the other day my boss complained that we skipped winter here and went straight from fall to spring. It was 70F at two in the afternoon yesterday.

  2. Just for the record, the WSJ did publish an op-ed from some climate scientists as a rebuttal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204740904577193270727472662.html

    It wasn’t the huge one presented in Science Magazine, but it’s something at least.

  3. Pepijn

    Now Phil, be honest, was it really the dog’s *tail* that was being called a leg in the original version of that joke?

  4. Nick Nolte

    Great article! I think its funny that you turn oin certain news channels and they talk about scientists who believe in climate change are doing it for the money yet the talking heads are the ones with ridiculous amounts of money. Ive met a few scientists and none of them make anywhere near the amount of money someone like Glen Beck makes.

  5. I am really scared to see what our summer is going to be like. It was 74 here yesterday. So being February and having warm temps like this it shows that global warming has stopped. /sarcasm.

  6. Pat Durrell

    Bad Astronomer. Good Statistics. Nicely done, Phil.

  7. Jon D

    Keep fighting the good fight, Mr. Plait. Time will bear you out.

  8. Messier Tidy Upper

    The now traditional memo to climate contrarians – please check the following sites and playlists :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=029130BFDC78FA33

    &

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=potholer54+climate+change&oq=Potholer54&aq=4&aqi=g10&aql=&gs_sm=c&gs_upl=59826l61963l0l63227l10l9l0l0l0l0l484l2199l2-2.2.2l6l0

    before posting any tired old climate canards that have already been repeatedly debunked.

    Pleaes really do check these.

    It may very well save you from looking very silly. :-)

  9. thetentman
  10. You can show denialists reality, but you can’t get them to see it.

    It’s funny how alike so many of them are….
    (Darn, forgot you can’t put pictures in anymore…. Here is a link instead: http://media.fakeposters.com/results/2011/09/19/51a2mgozpt.jpg )

  11. Chris

    Really Phil? Using facts and logic to back up your arguments. Is this what science has come to?

  12. Steve Metzler

    Way to go, Phil! Had to be done. I can’t wait to see what spin the denialists will try to put on this one. Briggs has been caught outright lying, and all of his supporters and the WUWT crowd piled in behind him without first doing the slightest bit of due diligence to verify if his accusations were in any way valid.

    Anything that a denialist says against AGW must be true, because in their mind the whole AGW issue is just another conspiracy theory… albeit possibly the biggest one ever :-)

  13. Gary

    Think on this, Dr. Briggs; how much money would I make if I suddenly turned coat and said global warming wasn’t real? I’ll guarantee you it would be a lot more than I make now, probably with a couple of zeroes added to the end. So that argument falls a wee bit flat here.

    Bold assertion. How about you test it?

  14. (To follow the BA blog tradition)

    Cue the climate contrarians quoting and carrying the same stale climate crocks in 3..2..1 ..

    *****

    PS. Drinking game anyone? Linked to my name is a the Skeptical Science ‘Global Warming & Climate Change Myths’ Liszt. Shall we take a swig of booze for every argument appearing there (or even, say, just the top ten most popular there?) appearing in the comments from this point on? ;-)

  15. I find it interesting that Dr Briggs managed to defend his thesis for his doctorate, yet cannot refute your article, which you defended in three sentences and expanded the point only to drive the point home.
    That you showed a statistician’s lies about the statistics is ironic, his choice of wording, IS amusing.

  16. Science gave us pesticides.
    Oh look at the pretty pictures and colorful graphs!
    Climate Change was our turn at a false war and it made fear mongering neocons out of all of us. The Bush family laughs as we condemn our own flesh and blood to the greenhouse gas ovens with childish glee.

  17. Josh

    We did skip winter here in Tampa Bay, Florida. Grand total of less than 7 total days having below 60 degree highs. Last winter there was most of January below 50 for the highs. So this year is definitely warmer than last, on average. I’m not saying it has anything to do with global warming, though. Two years ago it was another warm winter here, though not quite as warm as this one.

  18. Phil, nicely done. Briggs and his sock puppets and/or supporters have been pushing the “variation” issue in comments on my site, and I’ve been getting private screechy emails claiming that the continuous (but inter-annually variable) upward trend of global temperature since we replaced whales with coal is a random walk.

  19. Luis Dias

    Those point are in fact measurements, though they are not raw measurements right off the thermometers

    Translation: “These are not estimates! These are estimates of Raw data!”

    You couldn’t make this up. This issue is clearly well above Phil’s head. Nevermind that the BEST data does show the last ten years to be stalling, as it is clearly evident from the following graph (forget the rethoric of it, focus on the graphs themselves): http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/10/30/article-2055191-0E974B4300000578-6_634x639.jpg.

    If you want a good blog (not this overhyped nonsensical verbiage of patronizing alarmism here) about models, global temperatures and the likes, go see Lucia’s Blackboard blog (google it, you lazy people ;) ), and watch carefully all sorts of ways to look at the same data, different data, etc.,etc. and learn a lot about this stuff.

    You won’t learn anything from third party based hearsay “opinions” (who gets his facts from propaganda sites who win hundreds of thousands of dollars from environmentalist groups) from this astronomer.

    So even if that graph is wrong and misrepresents what I’m saying — which it does not — it doesn’t matter. In fact, I used that graph as an illustration, to show how we’re warming up.

    Translation: “I know the truth and if the evidence I present is nonsensical, it doesn’t matter, coz I know the truth and everyone who disagrees with it is a denier”.

    Hey, big shot. If you take the stand that evidence-based reasoning is important, and you try to present a graph as evidence of your reasoning, you surely will shoot yourself in the foot if you are drawing bad reasoning from it.

    Again, you couldn’t make this up. Thing is, I did have good respect for Phil before he started stating nonsensical things about the climate. It’s not even about his stance over the climate. There are people who are more alarmist than him that I respect and read them carefully (for instance, BEST founder mr Muller is, if you hear him speak, a lot more pessimistic than many people around here, but at least he doesn’t shoot himself in the foot the embarrassing way mr Plait seems to be fond of doing).

  20. Trio of other things the climate contrarians really should check and think about :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/10/26/climate-change-the-evidence/

    &

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/

    &

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

    The last being a great short clear demonstration by Sir David Attenborough showing why we know that, yes, Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating is, indeed, human induced. ;-)

    There is so much great information and resources out there. :-)

    Shame there’s also so much rubbish and misinformation out there still as well. :-(

  21. Luis Dias

    Bold assertion. How about you test it?

    Doesn’t matter. It’s just one of those metaphysical truths that these people have brainwashed themselves into believing. If you are even skeptical of it, you are a denier, stupid and 99% probably a republican. Perhaps texan. Or from Alaska.

  22. And don’t forget about the article the WSJ refused to print talking about the reality of global warming, signed by 255 actual scientists.

    Ah those were bad scientists. They disagreed with the WSJ’s editorial policy and we’ve been told by WUWT, scientists who don’t have three different opinions of global warming united only by the idea that it can’t possibly be driven by humans and any suggestion that it is part of a UN-led communist plot to destroy America, are automatically disqualified from having a legitimate opinion…

  23. @ ^ Luis Dias : You want to prove your extraordinary claim that climatologists – 98% of them are wrong – then you show us some extraordinary evidence!

    To cite Sagan’s Law.

    That’s all I ask. Convince me please. Show us all something new that refutes HIRGO.

    I’m NOT saying you’re stupid or a denier or calling you names or speculating on who you vote for like that’s relevant to anything, science~wise. I’d love to find out that HIRGO is wrong. I’m not sure any of us would want reality in this regard to be, well, what it clearly is according to 98 percent of qualified climate experts.

    (If 98 out of 100 medical doctors tell you X is a problem, are you really goanna ignore them?)

    Just show us overwhelming evidence and logic that proves your case – and almost certainly helps you to a Nobel prize and undying fame, wealth and esteem.

  24. Kryptik

    It’s frustrating though, even when you see the rare support in mass media, because it always ends up couched in the same kind of false balance, ‘both sides same thing’ dreck that acts like both sides are equally at fault. You can worry about the realism of solutions on a resource or economic scale, yeah…but you’re still essentially saying that one side declaring there is a problem that needs to be fixed and one side denying there is any problem at all are equally guilty and need to come together in the middle.

    And it’s the same with so many other scientifically ‘controversial’ subjects and their coverage, and it’s frustrating and stupid. How do you debate on the best way to solve a problem when one side denies there’s any problem at all and calls anyone who labels it a problem hysteric and probably a thief?

  25. Of course, given the comments I’ve seen on my blog, on Briggs’ blog, on Watts Up With That, or in any other blog discussing global warming, I know how this will go.

    Sadly, you can say that about pretty much any internet site with a comments feature. Lovely way to get truly depressed about the state of education in the world.

  26. Keep on fighting the good fight, Phil.

  27. Ponteaus

    “Think on this, Dr. Briggs; how much money would I make if I suddenly turned coat and said global warming wasn’t real? I’ll guarantee you it would be a lot more than I make now, probably with a couple of zeroes added to the end. So that argument falls a wee bit flat here.”

    I must confess myself disappointed, Phil, that you would resort to this sort of baseless claim. Or did you actually get courted by an oil company, in which case you absolutely must post the screen cap of their offer!!

    But seriously, don’t sink to their tactics. You do a wonderful job presenting solid science in a fun and approachable manner. Please don’t stray from that.

  28. MartinM

    It’s worth noting that Briggs’ claim that the temperature record is horribly uncertain flatly contradicts the WSJ article’s claim, which was that the temperature record shows that the Earth hasn’t warmed as much as climate models projected, or indeed at all in recent years. Briggs, being the good sceptic that he is, takes the WSJ scientists to task over their false statements, and lauds Phil for getting it right on that poi…oh, he didn’t? He actually misrepresented what the WSJ article actually said to make it seem like it agreed with his claim? How strange.

    It’s almost as if he isn’t really a sceptic at all.

  29. rob

    science turns on the light and the denialist cockroaches scatter.

  30. Gary Ansorge

    Reactionaries to the right of me,,,emotive whack jobs to the left. Is it any wonder I want to escape this insanity and just leave this planet behind? I just got off a Care2 site, reading a really good article on this very subject of rationality,,,and the lefty whack jobs came out in full force.

    Psychiatrists will usually freely admit that “normal” has nothing to do with “sane”. I have no idea how most would describe MY sanity, but I think I’m way closer to sane than most of those I’ve known,,,but no matter how hard I try, I seem unable to drag the far corners of humanity into reasonable discourse. Which is why I so love that Phil,,,keeps trying,,,

    One thing to remember about old folk like me(69 this year and the jokes may begin,,,now) is that we’re a lot closer to death than most of the rest of you. That COULD result in an really bad attitude, as in “I’m soon to die. Screw the rest of the world, you idiots,,,”

    Unfortunately, I actually LIKE humans, for all their disparate beliefs and random acts of stupidity.
    Sometimes, a few manage to accomplish near impossibilities(or, as we engineers like to say, “The difficult we do immediately. The Impossible takes a little bit longer,,,”).

    Thanks Phil for all that you do.

    Gary 7

    PS. For the really hard core SciFi types out there, this from the latest attempt at both educating and entertaining people about living in space colonies,,,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNPhnJFpG3Y

  31. Nic

    I was about to say ‘Why bother? These guys won’t ever listen to a rational argument’.
    But of course the point is the rational arguments MUST be out there with references, links etc, for those who are willing to follow a cogent and intelligent discussion rather than just blindly dismissing what does not agree with their personal agenda.

  32. I find Phil’s contibutions to the CAGW debate demeaning.

    There’s too much shouting and he’s too prone to go for a fight. Superlatives abound, so people aren’t just wrong, they are described as intellectually bankrupt etc etc.

    Somehow everybody that disagrees with Phil on the topic, manages the amazing feat of being wrong in every aspect. It turns almost into a compliment. As they say, not even the astrologer can be always wrong.

    I do not understand for example what would be wrong in saying that right now we’re in the midst of a period where most short-term effects are acting in the cooling direction, dampening global warming. Therefore the WSJ-16 aren’t wrong in speaking of a “lack of global warming for well over 10 years now”. They are stating what is actualy happening, even if its significance in terms of climate is dubious.

    The considerate answer should therefore have been “Yes but”, not an impossible demonstration that there is not a shred of evidence for any of their statements.

    Perhaps one day we’ll see a BA post on AGW that is sane, serious and sensible. For the time being, the appetite for diatribe means the noise is just too high. It is for example impossible to discuss the speed and risk of AGW, and we’re always back to talk about its existence. And always in terms of “look pa those evil skeptics are completely wrong”. Yawn.

    ps Somebody else has written those words before me, and can’t remember Phil or anybody else claiming that showed any “intellectual bankruptcy”. That same site also freely admits that global warming paused in the past (1973-1980 for example). Again why would the same fact be ok when it appears somewhere, and “misinformation” when it appears somewhere else? If the issue is the interpretation, Phil and co. should focus on the interpretation, instead of trying to refute facts that are, indeed, facts.

    pps as others have noticed, the evidence for the demeaning is in Phil’s mentioning of “how much money would I make if I suddenly turned coat and said global warming wasn’t real”. Yes there are scientists on the pay of Big Oil, or Big Pharma, or Big Wind, or Big Whatever else. But the idea that they represent anything more than a tiny part of the climate discourse is naive in the extreme. Leave to homeopaths to invent stories about skeptics being on the pay of hidden, evil Corporations.

  33. Michael

    I once read a book called Skeptics and True Believers by Chet Raymo. While he is generally talking about religion, he does bring up an interesting point: debate involves two kinds of people: Skeptics and True Believers. Skeptics argue from logic and facts and True Believers argue from rhetoric and emotion. It sounds like these climate change deniers would fall into the classification of True Believers. As such, arguing with them is generally pointless because they won’t acknowledge logic and facts if it doesn’t suit their world view.

    I applaud your attempt at educating the public. Given all the misinformation out there, we need it. I love your articles. Keep up the great work.

  34. SkyGazer

    “I’ll guarantee you it would be a lot more than I make now”
    I was so sad to read this. The dissapointment you made any money at all.
    Were are your credentials now?
    You should be poor!! Who could believe you now?

    But OT: you can fillet what you want, they will never hesitate to stoop lower.
    Hear any clicks yet on your phone when the other side hangs up…?

  35. gss_000

    “I do not understand for example what would be wrong in saying that right now we’re in the midst of a period where most short-term effects are acting in the cooling direction, dampening global warming. ”

    *sigh* The problem, which people point out time and time again, is that when you try to pick a short interval, the error of the trend is so high the error bars make the calculations meaningless. You have Zero certainty the calculation is correct. When you get to the point by adding years where you have certainty in the trend there is a clear warming trend from all data sets that fits well with models.

    You can say La Nina made last year cooler than 2010, but that’s it. You’re still talking weather. You can’t say anything about a trend. If you seriously want to talk about climate, than no parsing like you just tried cuts it.

  36. Parhelion

    Thanks for fighting the good fight in a very swampy field, Dr. Plait.

    Even while skimming this post and these responses, I already noticed one comment trying to use an argument from tone against you, one same team fallacy, one false employment of a rule-of-thumb — the golden mean — as a given, and one…what is that comment trying to do? It’s meant to be argument by innuendo, I guess. And all this before I started checking off incorrect premises and bad logic in what should be the science.

    Ugh. I wish I had your patience.

  37. This_Guy

    @#19

    “You couldn’t make this up. ”

    Pot: Kettle

    Do you even read what you type? You ignored every last bit of evidence and spouted rhetoric the entire post. Just wow.

  38. Holms

    @0 BA:
    “Think on this, Dr. Briggs; how much money would I make if I suddenly turned coat and said global warming wasn’t real? I’ll guarantee you it would be a lot more than I make now, probably with a couple of zeroes added to the end. So that argument falls a wee bit flat here. “
    I too will join in with the criticism of this statement. How exactly do we ‘know’ this? If you stop supporting AGW, where exactly does the sudden influx of money come from? Please don’t make unbackable claims.

    @1 Cathy:
    Meanwhile Australia is experiencing one of the coolest and wettest summers in memory; only a single heat wave in January and a cool December. Reading any significance into your observation – or mine for that matter – is attractive, but it is a pitfall.

    @10 mememine69:
    …Wha?

    @11 Josh:
    Same as #1.

    @15 Kryptik:
    Rare support for the AGW message? I take it you have never watched the BBC (British edition that is; I hear it gets neutered before reaching USA).

    @16 kuhnigget:
    You should see the average youtube comment threat… yikes.

  39. Bob Adams

    Mr. Plait, this is my first time commenting on your blog, though I read it regularly. I want to point out that, right or wrong, your approach in this little debate with Mr. Briggs is by far the best, for one glaring reason. You do not resort to condescension, you do not come off as arrogant. You add a couple of small quips, which could be left out, but at the end of the day, you present your argument, you debunk his, and you do it all without being a colossal a–hat. Resorting to personal sleights, as Mr. Briggs has done repeatedly, does nothing to strengthen an argument. Thank you for that.

  40. re 35. gss_000: “the error of the trend is so high the error bars make the calculations meaningless”

    Yes. But my point was about the swashbuckling tone of Phil’s answer. What prevents him from ever stating the obvious, as you just did, with a decidedly NOT holier-than-thou attitude?

  41. Renee

    There are two very common threads in Mr Briggs analysis. First, the extrapolation of grand conclusions from isolated words or sentences. He sees the word “estimate” and that means “model” and that means “guess” and that means “wrong.” Second, there is the assumption that “if I find any error, then the whole of the work is not to be trusted.”

    Both are typical of fundamentalist biblical analysis. Preachers often take a single sentence from the Bible and weave an entire half-hour sermon from it. In addition, fundamentalists typically explain that the reason that they *know* they are right is the perfection of the Bible. Their knowledge is absolute and, if they can show any flaw in the opposition, than *your* knowledge is *not* absolute, and can therefore be discounted. It all stands or falls together, as a unit.

    In talking to fundamentalists, I find it very common that they focus on single words, or single phrases, extrapolate to find an error (in *their* extrapolation!), then conclude that this proves that a completely unrelated thing is wrong. It is very hard to have a constructive conversation with someone who performs analysis in that way.

  42. Kryptik

    @37 Holmes:

    Yankee here, so…yeah, we don’t get that.

  43. Dear fellow Socialist One-World Conspiratator,

    Well done, my minion. There will be a little something extra in your already massive paycheck this week.

    -Sincerely, George SOROS!

    P.S. Cut your regular readers in on a piece of that action, won’t you?

  44. Tony Mach

    It is despicable that climate scientists are criticized like that. Clearly you Phil know more that those scoundrels making those baseless attacks against science. Your vitae speaks volumes. Criticizing you is just so unscientific. I mean, need I say more? Glad that you are on top of it!

  45. Andrew

    All you need to know about “climate scientists” is that they are not scientists. Real scientists follow the Scientific Method. Climate “scientists” keep their data and algorithms SECRET, because they are fraudulent. Like Yamal, Upside Down Tijlander, strip-bark tree rings, short-centered PCA, etc. etc.

    There is no actual scientific evidence for the claim that Earth’s air temperature is “unprecedented” – outside natural variation of the last several thousand years, or that the Earth’s climate exhibits positive feedback to temperature changes. Which is why the computer models “climate scientists” call evidence have failed every empirical test, and why Michael Mann and his Hockey Team created the blatantly dishonest Hockey Stick, and why it was hailed as so important by the anti-science, anti-human cretins who promote CAGW.

    As more and more of the general public learn about the dishonesty and deceit of “climate scientists”, the more they oppose the draconian leftist policies that are promoted as the “solution”.

    H.L. Mencken figured out the catastrophe mongers long ago: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

    “Bad Astronomer” is a perfect example of the intellectually dishonest promoters of CAGW, and an obvious adherent of Abbe Hoffman’s leftist dictum: “We have got to stop science and scientific progress. . . Complicated facts and issues – ignore them. Facts separate people. The enemy has facts and science. You can’t fall into their trap by using the same language. It’s not what moves people to action.”

    Real facts and real science are found at the websites where the Scientific Method is honored and followed. ClimateAudit, Climate, Etc, and WattsUpWithThat. All sites run by published, peer-reviewed (not “pal-reviewed”) scientists who publish their data, their computer codes, and everything else needed for ANYONE to replicate their work. Unlike the corrupt frauds of the IPCC and the Hockey Team.

  46. Lavocat

    Wise advice: never debate with an idiot unless you wish to be mistaken for one.

    Logic does not work with idiots, so don’t bother engaging them with it.

  47. Tony Mach

    I mean, here we have Phil Plait, who proved the moon-hoaxers wrong! And clearly the moon-hoaxers were more intelligent than the climate deniers. And Phil on the other hand has more knowledge on the climate than on the moon landing. Plus he surely puts his money where his mouth is. Once he settled his opinion, he will stick to it, no matter what, you can count on that. He will prove the climate deniers wrong, better count on that. This is going to be quite a spectacle.

  48. Selfactual

    Hmmmm….since when did ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY become SCIENTIFIC??? Here’s a link to the Climate Change Denier Deniers….bundle up…looks like we’re going to be cooling down….http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2093264/Forget-global-warming–Cycle-25-need-worry-NASA-scientists-right-Thames-freezing-again.html>

  49. SkyGazer

    I like climate change btw. We had in the last ten years 5 winters with snow! Something that normally only happened once in a 50 years here on Menorca.
    This weekend temps will plumet to minus 3 celcius with a steady cold “Tramuntana”, a nothern wind coming from the Alps. We´ll be expecting rain, snow, hail and icy roads.
    Which is fun since nobody knows how to drive in this wheater. With a bit of luck the police will close our village once again. Hylarious for us who came from the north of Europe.
    Anyways. We´ll see.
    And maybe Phil can explain how it comes that we get more snow due to global warming. I get sick and tired explaining that it has something to do with differences in temperature and that not every place on earth warms the same and that that gives more extreme temperature differences etc.
    Please write it also in spanish (saves me to translate everything, maybe the whole site in spanish would be a good idea. 452 million more potential readers for your blog.). And to be frank. There are not many good spanish astronomy blogs.

  50. Chris

    I find it funny that there is not one person who replied here that can explain why there hasn’t been warming for 16 years (1997-2012) according to satellite data (RSS). And yes, the deep ocean warming hypothesis does not count. All I read are excuses, denials, and whistling pass the graveyard. What will you guys say when it reaches 20 years?

  51. Tony Mach

    And what strikes me as surreal is the use of the word “model” and “prediction” what is clearly the measurement of the global average temperature.

    Just imagine this: We want to measure the average height of all trees in the world. But we can’t measure all trees, so we take a representative sample – lets say 0.01% of all trees in the world – and measure their height. From this sample we calculate the average height of all trees in the world. Clearly this number is the actual average height of all trees in the world. Calling our procedure a “model” for the calculation of the average height and the number a “prediction” of the actual average height is just plain stupid. Or as Phil says:

    Again he’s wrong. They really are measurements, not model predictions.

    To stay in this example, add to this the fact that we need to adjust the measured height of certain measurement samples, because we know that the sample height is too small or to larger compared to the actual height (let’s say we can access only certain trees for exact measurement, but see larger or smaller trees nearby) and different groups come up with different adjustments (and weight the individual samples differently), this makes Briggs argument totally void.

  52. It seems to me that while we ought to continue promoting good science, science practice and science literacy, and while we’ve got to put information resources out there, I think we’ve got to stop wasting time arguing with these deniers. We don’t gain anything from it because, as much as they give the impression that they care about evidence, we know it’s ideological and we’re not going to change their minds. So why do we bother shoving evidence in their faces as though they’re going to listen?

    Even when a national newspaper is pushing pseudoscience rather than some deluded blogger, report it to the appropriate complaints committees, but don’t get bogged down in arguments about assessment of evidence, because they don’t care about evidence.

    If we want to start getting somewhere on this issue, we’ve got to meet at an uncomfortable middle-ground that goes against our stringent principles and just think practically, inviting them to think practically too.

    “So, I see you have a problem with the idea that humans are causing climate change. OK, let’s forget that. We still know beyond doubt that the planet is warming, whatever the cause, and that’s a problem. So do you think that, together, we should invest in technologies and infrastructures that might offset the devastating effects of ever-increasing temperatures, as well as in green fuel sources for their other benefits (economic/pollution etc.)?”

    If they say no to that, then it’s a dead end. We’re screwed, and we’re never going to get their help or change their minds. The obvious argument against this approach is that, in between the well-educated and deluded are the undecided, and they could be influenced by either ‘us’ or ‘them’, so we’ve got to keep up the fight. I think there is perhaps a place for that, but I haven’t yet seen enough of the practical approach I’ve outlined, and I think we would get a lot further with it in a much shorter time.

    As scientifically-minded people, we often value truth above all else. But sometimes we have to recognise that we need to temporarily abandon our repetitive straining for truth in order to adopt a more pragmatic, perhaps even more manipulative, approach to simply get what we want and what the planet needs.

  53. Astronomypete

    Have you thought about suing him for libel here, in the UK. I hear it’s quite easy.

  54. Larry Tompson

    ‘Criticizing Phil is just so unscientific.’ Ha, that is some funny stuff Tony, I agree with you Tony, Phil has made an idiot out of himself on this one.

    Phil USED to do some great work but its all gone cold, ice cold, he could do with some warming up.

  55. Greg James

    The problem I have with the graph (and only the graph) is that the red line is not a good indicator of whether the temperatures have levelled off. Extrapolate: even if temperatures *have* levelled off and continue to do so forever, the slope of the red line will always be positive.

    The counter-argument to the graph should be a different statistical treatment; my descriptive statistical knowledge is not good enough to know what would be appropriate.

  56. Maurizio Morabito sez:

    As they say, not even the astrologer can be always wrong.

    Whoever “they” are, they are mistaken. Astrologers can, and are wrong all the time, for the simple reason that they claim personal events in your life are ruled by the motions and positions of planets, et al. This is flat-out unsupported by any evidence, and contradicted by reason.

    That their silliness might occasionally coincide with reality is pure happenstance.

  57. The Captain

    I can’t stress this or say it enough… GW deniers are using all the same tactics and arguments as evolution deniers! In some arguments I’ve read you can actually just remove the words “temperature” and replace it with “fossil” and it’a the exact same thing. And both of these ridiculous attacks on science stem from the defense of a religious belief (one that an invisible man “poofed” the earth out of existence, the other that an invisible hand must never be wrong).

  58. Luis Dias

    @ ^ Luis Dias : You want to prove your extraordinary claim that climatologists – 98% of them are wrong – then you show us some extraordinary evidence!

    I do not fundamentally disagree with the scientific statements that those scientists agreed to “vote”. The globe is warming, CO2 seems to be one important cause, and humans seem to be spreading it.

    Of course, you don’t care about the subtle nature of any of this. To any ignorant of this issue, they only see two positions to take: either you are one of “us”, believe in the “scientific settled science” with a 100%, meaning that the world is going to burn (just like the usual graphic that Plait uses in this blog), and that we need to send our economy to smithereens to avoid it, or you are one of “them” if you dare to profess sufficient skepticism in one, two or enough of all of these bold claims.

    This is how to destroy conversation. This is how to make people behave and think childishly, this is how, to borrow a geek terminology, Sith lords think and do. But you don’t care, and this is blindingly obvious for the kind of language used around here. Truth does not matter. What matters is that there are dumb people in the world and we’re gonna get them.

  59. Luis Dias

    There are two very common threads in Mr Briggs analysis. First, the extrapolation of grand conclusions from isolated words or sentences. He sees the word “estimate” and that means “model” and that means “guess” and that means “wrong.” Second, there is the assumption that “if I find any error, then the whole of the work is not to be trusted.”

    It’s called “rigor”, something that apparently you have no appreciation for.

  60. Samsoneffect

    Selfactual, #48:

    Just to point this out, that’s the EXACT same article that Phil spent two blog posts slashing to ribbons, and he explained in detail why it’s Not Even Wrong.

  61. MNP

    But of course the worst part of this is that Briggs side is “winning.”

  62. Jeremy Smith

    Phil et. al.:

    I asked this question of Phil on G+ after his last AGW post, but I’ll ask it a different way here, and I’d love an answer from anyone who both uses the term “denialist” and considers themselves a skeptic:

    On this issue, where is the margin of reasonable discussion? At one end we have people who question every bit of temperature data because it snowed yesterday, and on the other end we have people who support the immediate implementation of every one of Pachauri’s policy suggestions. Everyone is somewhere on that continuum, I think. So at what point does someone become a denialist? What is someone “allowed” to question before they’re branded with that moniker? There must be a margin at which reasonable people who are not poisoned by a particular bias can disagree?

    Is the line clearly drawn at policy? If so, how do you reconcile that with the fact that different rates of change demand different policy choices? Is it drawn at the IPCC report? Is all peer reviewed literature that attributes danger to AGW assumed to be true?

    I don’t consider myself either an “alarmist” or a “denialist.” I oppose certain suggested policies w/r/t AGW, I’m skeptical of particular ways in which climate sensitivity has been computed, and I think certain types of harm predictions are being overplayed. That, at least to me, seems like a reasonable position to have given the uncertainty involved in those areas. But it has become extremely hard to have reasonable discussions about anything.

  63. Luis Dias

    I can’t stress this or say it enough… GW deniers are using all the same tactics and arguments as evolution deniers!

    Funny. Sometimes I also think that GW alarmists are using all the same tactics and arguments as a mixture of Neo-Con preemptive scare politics with Homeopathic and Astrological scientific defenses (like for instance saying that only specialists in the field may ever “review” the field itself).

    Fortunately, I do not bound my thoughts on over-generalizations like these, lest I become dumb.

  64. Rich

    @ #45 Andrew, that makes the 72d time I have seen that statement, in nearly exact form, polluting comments threads around the world. The first paragraph is libelously wrong, and it gets worse from there. Do you have anything at all, like evidence, to bring to this discussion?

  65. The Captain

    “Fortunately, I do not bound my thoughts on over-generalizations like these, lest I become dumb.”

    And just like all the Anti-evoltioners I’ve read or spoken to, GW deniers believe themselves to be the smartest people in any room and defiantly smarter than those they are speaking with. And they especially believe they are smarter than the people that study a subject for a living on a daily basis. I have yet to meet an antievolutionist or GW denier that was in any way humble or acknowledged their own limitations on a subject. Both are just exactly the same type of people!

  66. Luis Dias

    And just like all the Anti-evoltioners I’ve read or spoken to, GW deniers believe themselves to be the smartest people in any room and defiantly smarter than those they are speaking with.

    Are you saying you don’t think you outsmart me? Pot, meet this guy…

  67. MartinM

    Deniers are so funny. First Selfactual posts a link to a Daily Mail article that’s going to show us all the erro…oh, wait. It’s the same Daily Mail article Phil tore apart in the post that started all this. And not to be outdone, Chris insists nobody can explain the last decade’s climate trends…er, just as long as he’s allowed to ignore the explanation he’s already been given, that is.

    And you wonder why nobody takes you seriously.

  68. The Captain

    “Are you saying you don’t think you outsmart me? Pot, meet this guy…”

    No not one bit. “Smarts” has nothing to do with it. Even a dumb person can point out someone else’s arrogance.

  69. Ann

    My problem with the global warming debate, ( and you can see it prominently displayed in Phil’s posts and the subsequent comments) , is that it is so narrowly focused on that one point ( is the earth warming and should we care) that it allows for a certain ‘plausible deniability’ on the part of some people who want to answer that question with a no. At least plausible in some peoples minds. Underneath it all, what the debate is really about is policy directions and choices. As in, should we keep on burning fossil fuels and dumping CO2 into the air with reckless abandon? I would say no. And I would say no for many reasons only one of which is the possibility (probability) that the 255 scientists are right.
    Fossil fuels are finite. They are already having to undertake greater risks to reach oil reserves. Episodes like the Horizon oil rig explosion and spill in the Gulf of Mexico are going to be more likely, not less. The more the supply dwindles, the greater the risk and competition and price. And it is still a finite resource and one day it will run out. (And that includes Canada’s shales reserves). We do not have the option of not developing alternative sources of energy, because one day , that will be all we have. Why wait? The argument for delay is what? Energy efficient cars extend the supply, simply because you use less fuel to do the same amount of driving. So the argument against that is what? The affects of copious amounts of CO2 in the air are not limited to global warming. There are harmful health affects for humans and greater acidity levels in the oceans. This is not conjecture or speculative in any way. Marine biologists are unsure whether marine life will be able to survive in an ocean with substantially increased acid levels. So the direction these scientists are urging us to take is a good direction irrespective of whether you think global warming is real or not. One final question, suppose you are wrong. If the scientists are wrong about this, all we do is clean up the air, protect our health and the health of the oceans we depend on, and start in earnest to develope energy sources that we must at some point develope anyway. Hopefully, sources that are clean, sustainable, and not subject to price fluctuations or political winds or turmoil. If you are wrong, and we follow your do nothing, no worries approach, what are the possible consequences. And when such consequences are a possibility can you afford to be wrong. If they are wrong, we are not harmed. If you are wrong, we surely are.

  70. SLC

    The interesting thing about the graph from the Berkeley study is that the leader of that study, physics Prof. Richard Muller, was a climate change skeptic before he undertook it. The results of that study caused him to change his mind and admit that the climate scientists like Michael Mann, James Hansen, and Phil Jones were right after all (take that Mr. Andrew at #45, pimp for the Koch brothers). As a personal note, the first course in physics I took as an undergraduate at Berkeley was taught by one of the team members, physics Prof. Art Rosenfeld.

    The response of the 3 dollar bill Anthony Watts is most instructive. Before the study began, Watts stated that he had great respect for Prof. Muller and that he would accept any result that was arrived at. After Prof. Muller testified before a Congressional committee that the study verified the claim of global warming and supported the work of climate scientists like Prof. Mann, Watts changed his tune, bad mouthed the study and accused Prof. Muller of being a sellout. Rather interesting considering that the study was partially funded by the aforementioned Koch brothers. Thus, anyone who cites the Wattsupwiththat web site run by Watts is automatically discredited.

  71. Paul from VA

    @ 50 Chris, please read the SkS post entitled “Going up the down escalator” and the animated gif version of the graphic Phil used, which clearly shows why the climte is clearly warming and why claims about “now it’s cooling/stopped” are, not to put to fine a point on it, a load of malarky. The long term trend is blatantly positive in spite of the fact there are many short term periods showing “cooling.”

    SkS Post
    Image by itself

  72. Pascale

    I enjoy that you commented on alt-medders/climate denialists/creationists projecting their own bad ethics onto legitimate scientists… We tend to see our own faults in others because, heck if *I* skew my data and ignore facts, then I must assume everyone else is just as shady! Their behaviour belies their own moral bankruptcy.

  73. Luis Dias

    The interesting thing about the graph from the Berkeley study is that the leader of that study, physics Prof. Richard Muller, was a climate change skeptic before he undertook it. The results of that study caused him to change his mind and admit that the climate scientists like Michael Mann, James Hansen, and Phil Jones were right after all

    Pure bollocks. Prof. Richard Muller has never been a GW skeptic, nor is he demanded to be one, nor did he “acknowledged” that Michael Mann, James Hansen or Phil Jones “were right”. This is just another myth created by really bad journalism. He merely leadered a group that took over the herculean task of getting thousands of temperature measurements all over the globe and make tons of statistical work, weighting, slicing, dicing, etc., etc. (all the good stuff required) and ended up with a temperature series that pretty much confirms the other temperature datasets’ conclusions (HadCrut, GISS, etc.). It’s not perfect, but it’s there.

    I assure you that his opinion on Mann and some other colleagues of him are really filled with nasty adjectives.

    Watts is irrelevant in this discussion, with the lone exception of Urban Heat Island, where BEST claimed that UHI effects were negative instead of positive, which raised a lot of eyebrows and is surely a sign that their study is clearly still a work in progress. Watts was furious with his results and clings on to his own opinion. Well, ain’t opinionated humans interesting to see.

  74. For another, Briggs says I should’ve shown the plot going farther into the past, because 1973 was actually a low point. However, that’s completely wrong: it’s actually a high point!

    Not really. Look at the trend from 1940s to 1970s. The early 1970s are the period when a young James Hansen was modelling a future Ice Age, because that was the trendy enviro-scare at the time.

    How do you convince an alarmist he’s already rich? Give him a penny today, and two pennies tomorrow.

  75. Luis Dias

    And not to be outdone, Chris insists nobody can explain the last decade’s climate trends…er, just as long as he’s allowed to ignore the explanation he’s already been given, that is.

    Ok, but talk is cheap. Ad Hoc explanations are all too common in climate science. The same people who arrogantly claimed we were not gonna have any more snowy winters in the UK (for instance) flip flopped like a politician would in the winters of 2008/2009, when severe snowstorms and really cold temperatures impacted the northern hemisphere, and arrogantly proclaimed that this was also very well explained by climate science (the winds this, the sun that, etc., etc. it’s so logical, innit?), and those who deny this link are scumbags worth of no attention, etc.

    Had these winters never come, that’s because of GW. Harsh winters came, that’s because of GW. People like to quote Sagan over here, well I prefer Hitchens. And Hitchens had this to say about a theory like this: arguments that explain everything, explain nothing. And there’s just too much of this in Climatology.

  76. “Why wait? The argument for delay is what? Energy efficient cars extend the supply, simply because you use less fuel to do the same amount of driving. So the argument against that is what? The affects of copious amounts of CO2 in the air are not limited to global warming. ”

    No. The argument against it is this:

    “…either you are one of “us”, believe in the “scientific settled science” with a 100%, meaning that the world is going to burn (just like the usual graphic that Plait uses in this blog), and that we need to send our economy to smithereens…”

    Because the cost of cleaning up your own mess will destroy the economy of the entire world apparently.

    it’s funny how the right wing loves to spout “personal responsibility” until it applies to them. Then it’s not that they don’t want to be responsible. It’s just too darn expensive.

  77. Dave H

    @ Maurizio Morabito

    On the:

    > lack of global warming for well over 10 years now

    the reason this isn’t true is that you cannot look at the data and determine a significant trend. That is **not** the same as saying there is no trend. If you draw a flat trend through that data and don’t find it fits with significance, the best you can say is that that model is likely not an accurate representation of any underlying behaviour, and that you need to account for more data or use a different analytical technique. And funnily enough when you account for enough data to actually discern a significant trend it’s up, same as always. The window of inspection is too small to make a determination, and it is chosen precisely *because* you cannot make a determination, in order to cover up the obvious underlying trend.

    To put it another way: making your hypothesis and your null hypothesis the same thing is cheating.

  78. Ken

    One need not read Phil’s remarks, or anyone elses’…IF they can read & understand Berkeley’s description of their data, which, curiously, Phil presented too: http://berkeleyearth.org/pdf/berkeley-earth-averaging-process.pdf

    Compare what Berkeley says of their data with what Briggs says of that same data…and there’s really no difference. Phil’s story sure reads well…until or unless you actually review the source material.

    BERKELY SAYS: “We used spatially and temporally diverse data exhibiting varying levels of quality and constructed a
    global index series that yields an estimate of the mean surface temperature of the Earth.”

    Varied data of varied quality used to develop an estimate of mean surface temperature – that’s what Briggs said. A “mean” is not and cannot, ever, be a “measurement” as Plait claims. This is much more than semantics.

    BERKELY SAYS: “the results that we obtained were very close to those obtained by NOAA using the same data and their full set of homogenization procedures. Our results did differ, particularly in recent years, from the analyses reported by the other two groups (NASA GISS and HadCRU). In the older periods (1860 to 1940), our statistical methods allow us to significantly reduce both the statistical and spatial uncertainties in the result, and they allow us to suggest meaningful results back to 1800.”

    NOTE Berkeley says of its estimate that it is the result of “statistical methods” – in other words, the figures presented are NOT ‘actual measurements’ as asserted by Phil. Further, the figures Berkeley presents do contain “statistical uncertainties” and NOT ‘measurement uncertainties.’

    So, given that Berkeley’s data is the result of a “statistical model” – per Berkeley – and NOT measurements as Phil blatantly wrongly asserts, how big are those uncertainties?

    Berkeley doesn’t know: “The assessment of bias / structural uncertainties may ultimately increase our total uncertainty, though such effects will not be quantified here.” That’s the first sentence of the last paragraph (which continues on page 33 of Berkeley’s explanatory document Phil quoted, but obviously has not read).

    And that’s Briggs point – the data presented has significant uncertainties that need to be recognized. Elsewhere in Berkeley’s explanatory document (and several pages address statistical uncertainties in the modeling approaches used & compared) it is noted that the uncertainties may approach 0.5 degree (0.47 & 0.48 are mentioned, variously).

    Thus, there is sufficient reason to tentatively conclude that the data Berkeley analyzed & presented does NOT have a statistically significant trend for the last decade or so. Absent any info to reach a conclusion one way or other, we cannot exclude the possibility the trend presented is statistically insignificant!

    Thus, when Phil says his argument would not be altered by the presentation of that graph, he is VERY WRONG – as he presented it he may well have presented something that in actuality is rebutting his points.

    But, all that aside, IF any of the readers here cares to read Berkeley’s explanation for how they calculated the numbers used in the graph Phil presented, it is very apparent that what Phil says those numbers are very, profoundly fundamentally, different from what Berkeley says they are. Briggs, in contrast, describes Berkeley’s data consistent with Berkeley’s description—same basic message, just different words.

  79. Extremely well spoken sir.

  80. Dave H

    @ Luis Dias

    > This is how to destroy conversation.

    Yup, you’re certainly demonstrating that quite well.

    @Ann

    The trouble with taking the “we should do it anyway” line is that:

    a) It is conceding intellectual ground for no reason or return.

    b) It shifts the “argument” to much less solid waters, where economics and politics reign.

    Without a shared scientific underpinning, cost of action vs inaction cannot be agreed, so you are doomed to an endless mess of argumental tail-chasing.

    For me, yes we should do it anyway, but we can’t make any headway on there until mouthpieces like the WSJ stop lying about the science, which they did.

  81. Gaebolga

    Luis Dias wrote:

    I assure you that his opinion on Mann and some other colleagues of him are really filled with nasty adjectives.

    Well, then, that settles it.

    Would this be what you call “rigor”?

  82. CB

    The same people who arrogantly claimed we were not gonna have any more snowy winters in the UK (for instance) flip flopped like a politician would in the winters of 2008/2009, when severe snowstorms and really cold temperatures impacted the northern hemisphere, and arrogantly proclaimed that this was also very well explained by climate science (the winds this, the sun that, etc., etc. it’s so logical, innit?), and those who deny this link are scumbags worth of no attention, etc.

    That’s because those people believed the scientific consensus that AGW is occurring but didn’t actually understand the ramifications. Then they got the straight dope from the actual scientists — who had already well understood that extremes of both hot and cold were probable consequences of adding more heat to the climate — and so corrected themselves after realizing the “no snowy winters” thing was not a good prediction in the first place.

    I mean yes, most people who believe the science but aren’t scientists don’t really know what they’re talking about. Critiquing them instead of the actual science seems completely irrelevant. But for what it’s worth, having one opinion and then learning that it was based on faulty reasoning and thus correcting it is a reasonable and rational approach to life that I wish more people would take. I don’t think we should criticize people for it.

    Kinda like anytime someone accuses a politician of “flip-flopping” I usually take that as a compliment for the politician, and an indictment of the accuser’s way of thinking (changing your mind is a sign of weakness, ergo never change your mind no matter what new facts appear).

    Had these winters never come, that’s because of GW. Harsh winters came, that’s because of GW. People like to quote Sagan over here, well I prefer Hitchens. And Hitchens had this to say about a theory like this: arguments that explain everything, explain nothing. And there’s just too much of this in Climatology.

    You could say the same thing about the theory of evolution. Or, for that matter, probability.

    Gee it turns out that in a large and complex system with chaotic (mathematical sense) elements, there are a large number of outcomes that are nevertheless compatible with the theory.

  83. chief

    Reading through all this and have come to think that a lot of the thinking behind a warming earth involves a global sudden change in temperature from one year to the next.

    Earth is a very complex organism with many weather layers both in the atmosphere and the hydrosphere. A increase in the temperature as is being measured over the decades will not show itself evenly throughout the environment. One area will experience more moisture where others will be drier. (there is only so much evaporation world wide so it has to balance out). As well, I expect that the weather patterns will be changing due to variations in the global shifts due to increased hot/cold spots having an impact on the moisture and wind patterns that deliver the weather we see on the ground. We need to remember that this is a issue for generations so we are in for the long term.

    BTW. Is it such a bad thing to start down the path of better environment practices regardless.

  84. Kryptik

    @#73 CB, “Flip Flopping” is an annoying obsession with the media, but it’s hard to call it a net bad OR a net good. It depends on why the flip. To put it in the terms of the subject at hand, there’s Mueller who flipped his stance after actually doing the due diligence and looking at the data to determine his previous stance was wrong. That’s a case where ‘flip flopping’ was a good thing. Then you have the folks who, like last winter and this past October, saw cold temperatures and snow and determined Global Warming/Climate Change must’ve been a lie because if it was warming, there wouldn’t be such cold or snowy weather. Those who flipped on that kind of specious reasoning (and sadly, I’ve know a good handful who did and never came back) are examples of “flip flopping” as a bad thing.

    Sadly, most politicians seem to be in the latter camp, both in general terms and in the specific case of Climate Politics. :/

  85. @75 – Kryptik.

    Actually politicians don’t flip-flop because they came to a new conclusion about the evidence of the topic. They flip-flop to get more votes regardless of the evidence in regard to the actual topic.

  86. ^Luis Diaz: “Ok, but talk is cheap.”

    Interesting. That’s all I’ve seen you bring to this discussion so far. You’ve been called out and asked for evidence, but all you bring is more rhetoric. Got anything substantial to offer, or just more ranting and raving?

  87. Kryptik

    @#76 CafeenMan: *sigh* Yes, that too. Point being, most never change their mind because of an actual principled shift in belief or understanding of a subject.

  88. noen

    “Question: How many legs does a dog have if you call its tail a leg?
    Answer: Four. It doesn’t matter what you call a tail, it’s not a leg.”

    FALSE. Actually, it would have five but the meaning of “leg” would then change to “furry appendage” or something. The word “leg” refers to an animal’s limbs. That is it’s referent but by changing the referent you change the sense.

    The world divides up the way we divide it up. There is no single authoritative or correct way to describe things. People found this out with taxonomy. There are competing taxonomic systems but there simply does not exist one and only one correct taxonomy.

    and Pluto is not a planet.

  89. Paul from VA

    One other way one can tell the difference between a denialist and a skeptic is that a true skeptic can be made to answer the question: what would it take to prove my view wrong. As a skeptic, I have a ready answer to what would refute mainstream climate science to my satisfaction:

    A decade of global temperatures colder than the previous decade. You can’t find it anywhere in the past 30+ years of temperature data. If one occurs in the next few decades without major volcanic activity or drop in CO2 emmissions, then I’ll fully accept the scientific evidence on global warming was flawed and mistaken.

    For those who find fault with the mainstream science, what would it take to prove to you that the climate is warming due to human influences? If you don’t have an answer to this question, you haven’t studied the subject enough to make an informed commentary.

  90. DAV

    @ Ann,
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/02/02/a-case-study-of-the-tactics-of-climate-change-denial-in-which-i-am-the-target/#comment-475547

    The affects of copious amounts of CO2 in the air are not limited to global warming. There are harmful health affects for humans and greater acidity levels in the oceans. This is not conjecture or speculative in any way. Marine biologists are unsure whether marine life will be able to survive in an ocean with substantially increased acid levels.

    A thoughtful post but you have inadvertently highlighted an example of one of the biggest problems in the debate (excuse me, I mean the dialog between morons and non-morons :) ).

    Seawater is basic. It has a pH level near that of water containing some baking soda. The oceans really ARE becoming more acidic in that adding CO2 makes it less basic which is far different than it being acidic. A fairer description is that seawater becomes more neutral with added CO2. A lot of the CO2 in the atmosphere came from the oceans. It seems unlikely that returning it would harm anything.

    The problem, of course, is the use of terms like acidic which carry scary connotation without any attempt to explain their real meanings to allay the scare.

    One could say much about how such terms are being bandied in this fashion and speculate on why or even speculate on why name calling is used in place of cogent argument since these actions cast an aura of weakness on the arguments. One would think the strongest points would be used instead of the weakest. Perhaps another time.

  91. I think that part of the problem is that there’s a (mistaken) impression, among denialists, that accepting the reality of climate change (CC) means buying in to the agenda of leading CC supporters. Al Gore, for example, has an agenda: he would like to corner the market on “carbon credits” and make more money in the process. Others stand to benefit from alternative energy, such as the failed solar panel makers who received funding from the US Government.

    It’s one thing to make money through innovation, but when government regulations distort the market – or create an artificial market – it sours the whole process of weaning ourselves off fossil fuels, I think. It needs to be politically-neutral and above-board – which it currently isn’t.

  92. Kirk

    @#67 Ann. You are totally right! This is the real point. This problem needs to be solved. Either it needs to be solved very urgently or just urgently. The GW debate simply defines the urgency with which we need to act.

  93. Selfactual

    Yeah I have an answer for you Paul….I don’t see you entertaining any data that’s contrary to your belief…you have always believed in global warming and you always will…I however started off believing as you do but entertained alternative viewpoints and shifted my paradigm…try and find National Geographic’s Naked Science program entitled “Big Freeze.” It is not sold here in the states (intentional?), rather after seeing it on NG I had to order a Korean version. Flatly shows that variability is inherent and a current snapshot in time is NOT indicative necessarily of a long-term trend…dare you to get a copy and see for yourself…

  94. Paul from VA

    @82 Selfactual, you failed to answer my question. What evidence would it take for you to accept that we’re causing global warming? I outlined future results which would disprove global warming to my satisfaction. You simply said you don’t and won’t believe it because of some video you saw.

    I’ll add more pieces of objective evidence that I would accept to refute the mainstream science: stratospheric warming. Increase in arctic ice volume over a ten year period.

    So, selfactual, again what objective evidence would it take for you to accept that the Earth is warming and humans have caused it?

  95. cedric

    @78 so i can honestly say i drive a jaguar since my honda could fall under the same arbitrary set of things with wheels? Cool.

  96. Gaebolga

    Paul from VA wrote:

    So, selfactual, again what would objective evidence would it take you to accept that the Earth is warming and humans have caused it?

    Perhaps another Korean video?

  97. ^noen, you are incorrect sir. Language does indeed have fluidity, but it relies on common understandings to function. It’s not THAT fluid. Calling a tail a leg does not, in fact, make it a leg. That kind of change of definition would require a lot of time and effort to make so that when you referred to the legs of a dog, people other than yourself would realize you were also referring to the tail.

  98. Selfactual

    No…some OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE that is not a computer model or a few years of temperature measurement…whether in a Korean video or data in your hands~….hint: the ice cores as reported by the research team in the video have already handed me all the objective evidence that I need to know that y0u cannot say with any CERTAINTY that global warming is occurring as a long-term trend or that is is anthropogenic…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5g_JDVSGxQ

  99. MadScientist

    Briggs’ obsession with error bars is hilarious. The error estimates are important and they are shown elsewhere, but he’s just got to whine about how they’re not in every single graph. I wonder what his own graphs are like. It seems strange that Briggs would accuse others of not knowing their statistics; I look at his comments and think “what a damned fool”.

  100. Gary Ansorge

    50. Chris

    I’m making up a list of the people who say AGW isn’t real,,,in 20 or 30 years,,,I’m gonna sue them for misdirection and bald faced lying,,,(of course, I may need to grow gills to do it)

    Gary 7

  101. noen

    Luis Dias said — “Fortunately, I do not bound my thoughts on over-generalizations like these, lest I become dumb.”

    That is true. You prefer ad hominem.

  102. SLC

    Re Luis Dias @# #69

    Mr. Dias is seriously in error and has fallen for the big lie and the smear campaign now being spread by the climate change denialists that Prof. Muller was not a climate change skeptic prior to his Koch brothers partially funded study. Is Mr. Dias seriously trying to tell us that the Koch brothers would have funded a study conducted by someone who supported the consensus? ROTFLMAO. Here’s an excerpt from Prof. Muller

    “When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find,” Muller wrote in a Friday Wall Street Journal op-ed. “Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections. Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate.”

    Note the bolded portion; doesn’t sound like the good professor is bad mouthing Mann et al.

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/10/climate-change-deniers-abandon-befuddled-warmist-physicist-who-came-around-on-global-warming.php

  103. Paul from VA

    @86. Selfactual. Nothing is certain. I’m not 100% certain global warming will occur. I gave you three ways in which I would be willing to admit it isn’t occurring. You’ve just said UNCERTAINTY UNCERTAINTY LALALALALLALA.

    However, unless you are capable of being uncertain about your own beliefs, then you are not a skeptic, but a True Believer.

    FYI, I’m watching your video…. and fyi the scientist in the film is Dr. Richard Alley, who indicates that his research strongly supports the view that mad-made CO2 will lead to dangerous warming and the ice cores support, rather than weaken this view.

  104. hudasx

    This is what Briggs is saying: No matter how many values were used to get the average global surface temperature per year, that average is an estimate of the true global average, or the value you’ll get if you were to measure the entire globe for an entire year — a value that only God knows. That is why he asked for error bars, which gives you an idea how uncertain each estimate is. The belief (or prediction) that the true annual temperature is at the center of each error bar is a statistical model, one that we take for granted (because stat teachers seldom bother making that point).

    If you look at the Berkeley graph with the error bars, you’ll see that bars of some values at the start of the graph overlap with some of those at the end. This indicates that the average of those years are possibly equal, thus weakening claims of warming. Any nitpicker can also point out that even if this trend line slopes upward in a neat straight line, God’s trend line made out of all possible measurements may not be as steep or even straight.

    If instead of averaging by year the values are averaged every five years, the graph will indicate a clear rising trend. Not that it will shut nitpickers up — no graph of current values will ever tell you what the values will be in the future.

  105. Larry Geiger

    Bring on the warming! Bring on the CO2. Bigger, better veggies! Bigger, stronger trees (to make more TP!). Lots and lots of warm, humid air to breathe. Bigger, better hurricanes to fill up the lakes and rivers!. Lots more land to grow crops on in Greenland and Siberia and Alaska and…! Lots and lots of cheap, poorly built, obnoxious ocean front condos falling into the ocean! More fresh water in the oceans! Florida like weather in Canada. Bring. It. On!

  106. SLC

    Re Luis Dias @ #103

    See the attached link, particularly the comments of Mr. Michael Heath and his links that demonstrate that Prof. Muller was, indeed, a climate change skeptic. Note that Mr. Heath is extremely critical of Prof. Muller, even now that he has joined the consensus.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/01/13/ex-gay-leader-admits-there-are-no-ex-gays/

  107. noen

    98. Gord McLeod Says:
    “^noen, you are incorrect sir. Language does indeed have fluidity, but it relies on common understandings to function. It’s not THAT fluid. Calling a tail a leg does not, in fact, make it a leg. That kind of change of definition would require a lot of time and effort to make so that when you referred to the legs of a dog, people other than yourself would realize you were also referring to the tail.”

    You mean like how Medieval translations of the original descriptions of the crucifixion translated their word as “hand” when in fact 1st century Greeks had no unique identifier for what we call hand but instead referred to “hand and forearm”? (Which is why they got the details of the crucifixion wrong.)

    Language is that fluid. Just like species are that fluid. Individual words *have* no meaning independent from their sense. Believing that words stand in some kind of absolute relation to things is just silly. They are more like pegs on a wall on which everyone hangs their intended meaning. That is why most words have multiple or even contradictory meanings given to them. Use *determines* meaning which is why if people chose to use “leg” to refer to “furry appendage” then that is what it will mean. Or…. if we change the use of “planet” then some referents, like Pluto, will cease being them.

  108. gussie

    The learned Dr. Plait fails to consider all available data – namely, the groundhog saw his shadow, which is unequivocal proof: global warming has paused.

    P.s. kidding

  109. Thank you for uplifting the use of the term “Denier” to describe these anti-climate-science Neanderthals, Phil. If they succeed in driving governmental climate science policy, that other use of the term to describe those who dismiss the reality of the WWII Holocaust will pale in comparison to the mortality we will experience on our little ball hosting our growing billions.

    And thank you for taking the public hits. To continue the boxing metaphor, I’ll quote Muhammed Ali: “A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.” Thanks for your work to keep the light shining!

  110. Ales

    Isn’t it funny how anti global warming community attacks in the winter? ;)

  111. artbot

    It must be endlessly tiring to constantly debunk these idiots, but I’d like to play devil’s advocate for a minute. What exactly do these people want to accomplish by denying global warming? Are they all on the payroll of big oil, etc., or is it a personal thing? I mean, what do they hope to gain by claiming they are “right?”

    I can understand there are corporate interests that want to sweep it all under the rug, but is every single (public) denier on their payrolls? It seems unlikely. Then I have to ask, Why would they support such an idea? Why do they feel so offended that some people see global warming as a threat to our health and existence? How does the confirmation of gw affect them personally? Or do they basically admit that there *is* warming, but that it’s a natural cycle of the earth and can be ignored? I don’t get it.

  112. ^Noen, yes, but what you’re describing is closer to labeling than language. Eventually labeling will become a change in language. If I decide right here and now that my iPad should be called a blue tennis ball, does that make my iPad a blue tennis ball? No. I’ve labeled it as such. “Blue tennis ball” now carries that meaning for me. But it doesn’t carry that meaning for anyone else.
    If I want it to carry that meaning for other people as well, if I want to make a change to the language, I’m going to have a really difficult battle on my hands. If I succeed, it’ll take a long long time.
    By making that decision to change the label of an object, I have NOT automatically changed the linguistic definition. That’s all I’m saying. :)

  113. Chris Winter

    @Andrew, #43:

    THANK YOU !!!

    Since yesterday, all of Siberia’s permafrost stopped emitting methane… And the Arctic icecap expanded back to its 1979 extent and thickness. It was like a scene from The Day After Tomorrow!

    Rich, #64: Don’t be dissing Andrew, now! He’ll save every one of us!

    Uh, Andrew… If I could just ask one little thing… Would you deny the fact that it’s impossible for material objects to exceed the speed of light? Thanks ever so much!

  114. El

    I see a lot of ad hominems by AGW believers, but not a lot of science. Expel all AGW scammers from academia.

  115. Kermit

    Artbot@112: “I have to ask, Why would they support such an idea? ”

    A handful, the PhDs mostly, and perhaps some bloggers, are hired guns. But most are, I think, are fighting to protect their gestalt. For the True Believer mindset, the nature of the world is a social construct, and the “liberal” scientists threaten that. Reality, for them, is what is agreed upon – global warming can be denied in the same way we can change a political boundary. If enough people agree that the boundary is here and not there, then it is so. AGW is the same, if only they can wear us down or frighten us into giving up, then they will have “won”. The concept that there is a real world which doesn’t care what we decide is incomprehensible to them. The correct beliefs are their tribal markers.

  116. brett

    I notice Mr Briggs has responded to Phil’s little rant. Briggs proves once again that this astronomer seems to be the drummer in catastrophic global warmings little garage band . Ken at 78 seems to be the only person here who can read and comprehend…well stated. Live long and prosper gents–cheers brett

  117. PeteC

    My US friends, forgive me for this, but while all people tend to do it, you guys in particular have a tendancy to “package” issues together. It sometimes seems that you can’t believe in a balanced budget or spending cuts if you don’t believe in stronger border controls and more handgun ownership, or you can’t believe in a strong military unless you are also a Baptist/Evangelical fundamentalist Christian and are anti-abortion and for teaching “Intelligent [cough] Design”. Your Republicans are very good at this, but your Democrats do tend to do it too.

    I think half the opposition the AGW is based on not wanting to follow the already-proposed solutions. AGW and Carbon Credits, reduced energy useage, being cold in winter, eating only wholemeal and yoghurt and so on seem to be being packaged together. Personally I think this is a mistake.

    There are multiple possible ways to work on the AGW problem, but solutions that start with “We’ll keep our private jets, but you lot of commoners – sorry, patriotic citizens – need to start living like it’s the late Middle Ages” are never going to work. Energy efficiency is one thing, but convincing people to give up cars, computers, microwave meals, being warm in winter and having cooling in summer is going to be phenomenally hard to do.

    So while it may or may not be the best solution, suggestions like “We’ll build a load of brand-new design, extra-safe fission reactors to make our power generation relatively carbon neutral, then switch our cars over to hydrogen, which we can create with the excess power from the reactors and when burned is also carbon neutral, thus dropping the vast majority of our CO2 production and incidentally saving the petrochemicals for plastics and pharmaceuticals rather than just burning it, so people can keep on living their lives, can browse the web without guilt and can fill uup their car at the fuel station and drive around just like they do now” are suggestions that should be considered along with the ones that only suggest more expensive power from badly working solar panels mixed in with increased privation. Suggestions that can then be combined with long-term plans – like “We’ll also triple funding into fusion research and plan to replace those reactors in thirty years time” then you could potentially put together a really good alternative option that would be a lot easier to sell to people.

  118. brett

    I mean drummer in the sense of “what does one call someone who hangs around musicians”…. “a drummer”

  119. Brian Too

    @62. Jeremy Smith,

    I cannot address the whole of your question since it ultimately requires the scientific method. That is, you go where the data takes you. Of course we have here insistent characterizations of what the data is or should be, what it means, how reliably the data sets can be projected or statistically processed, and so forth.

    One thing I think has been a weakness in some AGW adherents, is jumping directly from a conclusion of “this is happening”, to “we therefore must do X”, even if X is very loosely defined. I have adjusted my thinking in recent years on this matter. Setting/influencing public policy is very difficult and loaded with pitfalls. Even good intentions can lead one astray.

    Frankly I’m coming to the conclusion that policy directions need to be set by the politicians, even knowing their weaknesses. Eventually they will come to the right balance and they have the toolset to motivate entire populations. Which is what will be needed in order to implement.

    @69. Ann,

    A good, though lengthy, exposition on the Precautionary Principle. I believe this approach has value because it tends to defuse entrenched positions on the data.

  120. Adrock

    Are you doing this on purpose Phil? What is going on here? It is certainly not my place to tell you what to post but this is becoming ridiculous and quite frankly ruining what has become a wonderful blog, a place for learning. Confirming that AGW is gospel and branding everyone who has even the slightest question idiots is insulting and patronising. A lot of the comments on here are implying that skeptics of HIRGO must be creationists when this is clearly not the case. This is madness. 95% of people does not constitute a consensus, humans have been and will be again wrong regardless of what they believe to be true. It’s an incredibly arrogant stance. The sooner you can present your argument without a “holier than thou” attitude the better. I hate to use the example but a lie detector test is 96% accurate which admittedly is very high but on a popular talk show that uses it, 4 out of every 100 guests are being royally shafted.

    (Que “alarmists” with the pitchforks.)

  121. Jeremy Smith

    @artbot #43, in response to your questions: “What exactly do these people want to accomplish by denying global warming?”

    I’m not sure if I fit your mold of a denier (please see my comment above for my position) but it’s a very reasonable question to ask why people are bothering to argue in forums like these. I can only answer for myself and those I’ve talked to personally who have roughly the same position.

    The unequivocal _certainty_ on the part of CAGW big names *stinks*. It stinks of dogma, and of fear of disagreement. I had the opportunity to hear Al Gore’s famous powerpoint in person several years ago, and my deep, gut reaction is that I was listening to a modern day version of Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” He used really slimy rhetorical techniques, glossed over major points of uncertainty, presented graphs which used visual tricks I’d never accept, and essentially insulted my intelligence. A big picture of Katrina? Really? (I voted for him!) And this was not in front of an audience of complete layman; it was in front of some of the smartest folks I know. I was surprised to see the same kind of tricks being pulled everywhere. Even the “Science” response to the WSJ letter uses rhetorical tricks to muddy the waters between the facts almost all climatologist believe and predictions which are more uncertain.

    Moreover, although I’m not a physical scientist by profession, I understood how difficult it would be to prove any of these theories experimentally. So I dug a little deeper and found that there was a quite a bit of uncertainty at the margins, as I would expect. But woe to the person who wanted to talk about possible negative feedbacks, policies other than emission control, the weakness of a particular model, or even ask for an explanation of a particular prediction.

    On the one hand I can understand that people who are involved with this issue are strongly motivated, and the fear and anger I observe is mostly just understandable frustration at those who really were trying to muddle the truth. But I’m also not cool with the climate-science community doing the same thing.

  122. Steve

    As Mr Gump would say, ‘stupid is as stupid does’… and warming deniers are really acting stupid!

  123. Luis Dias

    CB wrote:

    That’s because those people believed the scientific consensus that AGW is occurring but didn’t actually understand the ramifications. Then they got the straight dope from the actual scientists — who had already well understood that extremes of both hot and cold were probable consequences of adding more heat to the climate — and so corrected themselves after realizing the “no snowy winters” thing was not a good prediction in the first place.

    “Well understood”? Please. Let’s not confuse wild speculations based on modelling exercises into “understanding”. Understanding actually takes time to observe consequences upon the climate, and to check if whether the models have been okay or not.

    For one, I do agree with you, it should have been blatantly clear from the outset that the climate is well more complex than what was being narrated at the time. But can’t we say the same today? Who is Phil Plait anyway, but a “bad astronomer”? Clearly he is not a climatologist. So he is probably (more like definitely) speaking nonsense about the climate, and in ten years we should look back and someone like you will say “well Phil wasn’t exactly a climatologist…”. Ok then, so why call others “deniers”, when it’s evident that this stuff also goes way above Plait’s intelect?

    You could say the same thing about the theory of evolution. Or, for that matter, probability.

    I’ll ignore the “probability” tackle you made here, for it’s its own can of worms. For the sake of brevity, let’s talk about evolution. Yes, evolution has its own “problems”. Many stories that biologists come up with as explanations for some kinds of developments are almost like just-so stories and many of them smell of tautological reasoning. People like PZ Myers, the late Gould, etc., were and are very critical of these issues within evolution research (and others). Now does this disprove the general theory that we are evolved apes whose grand grand mother was an eukaryote? No.

    The main difference between Evolution and GW is that when scientists try to use Evolution theory to try to “guess” future evolutions of mankind, or any other species into, say, a hundred years into the future, they’ll be termed as crooked childish idiots. The variables and the unknowns are so large that they would never get away with that kind of “modelling”. Evolutionists, unlike climatologists, do not pretend they can predict the future. And they will also not tell us that we should spend trillions because of said prediction outcomes.

  124. Luis Dias

    @Gord McLeod

    That’s all I’ve seen you bring to this discussion so far. You’ve been called out and asked for evidence

    Where? Making stuff up already?

  125. Luis Dias

    @SLC

    See the attached link, particularly the comments of Mr. Michael Heath and his links that demonstrate that Prof. Muller was, indeed, a climate change skeptic. Note that Mr. Heath is extremely critical of Prof. Muller, even now that he has joined the consensus.

    Muller was anything but a skeptic. His widely viewed snippet of a video hammering down on prof. Michael Mann is just a snippet. If you actually viewed the entirety of the video, then you would see that mr Heath is either a pathetic liar or a lazy ignorant dork.

    This is the famous video showing Mann’s shameful “tricks”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BQpciw8suk

    And here’s the entirety of the video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbR0EPWgkEI

    … and now tell me again that mr. Muller was a “skeptic”. He clearly is not and never was. What he was, for a moment, was truthful. He saw a peer behaving in the nastiest way (academically) possible and he called him on it. For this reason, he was labeled as a skeptic, a denier, an oil shill, etc. But that’s just how stuff works in these debates. If in a single moment, someone makes a slightly divergent claim from the status quo, he is immediately chastised “to the other side” and further ignored.

    This is how a certain catastrophist groupthink mindset growed in the internet, constantly walling itself from any skepticism, criticism and deviation from the main narrative.

  126. Jeremy Smith

    @ Brian Too Thanks for answering my question. I understand your points.

    I guess I’m less optimistic about politicians being responsible for the decision making when we draw a line in the sand and say “this is the science, period.” even though that’s what the politicians want (arguably, this is why the IPCC exists). It’s not nearly as adaptive as it needs to be to solve problems this large. We need players in between who can quantify or at least clarify (I loathe to say economists, but maybe…technocrats) the risk associated with various policy solutions, and understand enough about the science involved to adapt policy to new data as it comes in rather than through years of political bickering. But those people also ought to be able to discuss freely the unknowns with scientists, politicians and the public without fear of repercussions.

  127. tmac57

    To all of the people here who are skeptical of AGW,and who think that they can support that position with facts,I invite you all to the Skeptical Science blog to try your hand at debating against some really tough and informed people.But be warned,they do not suffer fools lightly,and do not tolerate ad hominem attacks,but I guarantee that you will learn something (that is if you are capable of it).I suspect that most deniers will be too cowardly to take them on,but if you see yourself as open minded,and solely interested in the facts and science,then check them out.

  128. Luis Dias

    Jesus Christ, why would any skeptic go masochistic enough to suffer that propagandish piece of crap site like Skeptical Science?

    Funnily enough, in terms of scientific affinity, I much prefer Skeptical Science to WUWT, but the sheer arrogance, the sheer simplistic and shallow arguments presented, lack of proportion in most issues and the pretense veneer of authority makes me puke.

    Of course, without mention that it won a million dollars (or was it 500 hundred thousand?) prize from an environmental group. This has been the case of some other blogs (RealClimate also won an award for its propaganda). The irony is that these sites accuse the deniers of gaining dollars out of their lies. Hey, just look at Phil Plait in this very same blog post! And yet, I’ve yet to see any kind of this depravaty happening even in the most deniest of sites (like WUWT for instance).

  129. sHx

    Don’t let these heretics get under your skin, Phil. It would be wise to ignore them.

    There is solid incontrovertible evidence for Human-Induced Rapid Global Overheating and it is also a fact that if we don’t do anything about it we are gonna burn for our sins.

    Your time and solid skepticism is better spent on debunking creationists, moon-hoaxers and astrologer chicks. Though I sometimes think bunking the latter might be preferable.

    Go make James Randi proud.

    Cheers, mate.

    PS. The otter (formerly ‘the squirrel’) singing “La la la! I can’t hear you!” What happened to it? That picture has come to represent the unique Phil Plait brand of skepticism. Don’t give up on it yet.

  130. Jeff

    Keep up the good fight Phil. Although I have to say this is partially your fault. If you didn’t do such a stellar job destroying the claims of the moon-landing deniers, they wouldn’t of had the free time to start absorbing so much extra misinformation to become climate change deniers.

  131. Messier Tidy Upper

    Over the years I have pointed out the fallacious arguments of climate change deniers when they attack legitimate climatologists like James Hansen and Michael Mann. This is, of course, like kicking at a bee hive, and whenever I do the comments section of my posts fill with lots of angry buzzing.

    Nice analogy – except usually its the beekeeper not the bees whose making the smoke! ;-)

    But now, for what I think is the first time, I find myself the target of an attack.

    I’m actually rather surprised its taken this long for that to happen given that you’ve been writing well on this topic for years.

    @32. Luis Dias :

    Jesus Christ, why would any skeptic go masochistic enough to suffer that propagandish piece of c–p site like Skeptical Science? … the sheer arrogance, the sheer simplistic and shallow arguments presented [ on Skeptical Science - ed], lack of proportion in most issues and the pretense veneer of authority makes me puke.

    Why exactly do you consider it a “propaganda piece of C—p” and what convincing evidence do you have that says Skeptical Science is wrong, Luis? Which arguments exactly there are you saying a shallow and simplistic and how would “deeper” / “more complex” factors later the situation and make it different in your view. Examples please.

    What can you point to specifically that would indicate Skeptical Science is spinning or misleading those who view it as a reliable source of information?

  132. papertiger

    Phil doesn’t actually have any evidence of skeptics being paid for, and yet he asserts it as fact as surely as Michael Mann asserts his tree rings are thermometers.

    This is the part that gets me though.
    ” Think on this, Dr. Briggs; how much money would I make if I suddenly turned coat and said global warming wasn’t real? I’ll guarantee you it would be a lot more than I make now…”

    That sounds a lot like a confession that Phil gets paid, whatever the amount happens to be, to push the global warming line.

    Word of advice. Eight years of experience talking, you don’t get paid a dime for telling the truth.

  133. Dukehrt

    @32. Luis Dias : Of course, without mention that it won a million dollars (or was it 500 hundred thousand?) prize from an environmental group. This has been the case of some other blogs (RealClimate also won an award for its propaganda).

    By the way the prize money for the Euraka prize was 10,000.00 but don’t let the truth get in the way.
    Real Climate is propaganda, ha real climate scientists discussing their field or WTF or is that WUWT website run by a meteorologist hosting articles (are they ever peer reviewed?) that are debunked by real scientists every time. To be a true skeptic look at the facts not opinions.
    And Phil love your site and keep those awesome astronomy photos coming.

  134. papertiger

    Messier asks “What can you point to specifically that would indicate Skeptical Science is spinning or misleading those who view it as a reliable source of information?”

    If you will allow Luis, let me take this one. Just the other day I was conversing about the Medieval Warm Period, and I occasioned to visit Skepticalscience blogs take on the topic. The link below for reference, so you can check for yourself if what I am about to say is true.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/was-there-a-medieval-warm-period.html

    There is a map purported to be the temperature anomaly of the world during the MWP. Notice the dark red grid box on the west coast of South America, Chile, surrounded by deep blue grid boxes on three sides.

    You ever see that sort of thing happen with one of GISS’s maps? Hell no. If there’s one hot little grid box sitting isolated next to the Arctic, somehow magically that spot is expanded to fill in the entire Arctic area to make it one giant piping hot ice field.
    So maybe something else is going on down in South America? Maybe Mann has some concrete proxies in those dark blue grids? Best to take a look at the source material find out what’s going on there.
    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/articles/MannetalScience09.pdf
    In the source material, next to the map featured by Skepticalscience, there is another map showing the actual placement and character of (are they trees, ice cores, sediment proxies… how much weight is given to the study… ect) the proxies used to generate the other map.

    Look closely. There are only two studies from South America, one of which is the ice core study directly under the blazing hot red grid box. What in the world is used to justify the surrounding deep blue grid boxes which Michael Mann and Skeptical Science both portray as cold offsetting the single hot anomaly?
    Nothing. Not one damn study. Mann and crew just decided that hot reading from the glacier ice core (the actual evidence) didn’t fit the story they wanted to tell, so dreamed up a bunch of unrealistic cold boxes to balance the actual evidence out.

  135. Dr_cy_coe

    Released yesterday: Ice Mass Loss on Greenland, 2003-2011
    http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA13955

  136. Shaun Elmsley

    #40. Maurizio Morabito (omnologos) Said:
    “Yes. But my point was about the swashbuckling tone of Phil’s answer. What prevents him from ever stating the obvious, as you just did, with a decidedly NOT holier-than-thou attitude?”

    This from a guy that has titles like this for the articles he writes:

    “Epidemiology And The Rise Of AGW’s Ugly (Fascist) Head”

    Maurizio is a concern troll methinks.

  137. Jess Tauber

    Either Nature or Culture (or some combination of both) has provided us with populations that have a broad range of cognitive orders, differentially giving more or less weight to this or that processing subunit in the brain. For denialists aversion, disgust, and fear of the unfamiliar, the inconvenient, and the unconventional come first motivationally. Then they scramble to fill in the causal blanks. For the extreme cases no amount of education or negotiation is going to get through here, at most it may cause such most such folks to change tracks, still leading to the same conclusions.

    Unfortunately for the rest of us such people are available in large numbers for exploitation by far more cynical and selfishly motivated types flush with cash and power, and the soothing word. Everything tends to average out over the long haul, but at the moment polarization seems to be increasing to a climax. Time coming for the big quake?

  138. Pwned.
    Nicely done, Phil!

    I also think it’s classic how WUWT takes a nonexistant argument against a post about shoddy reporting… And tries to make it look like something novel and important. I mean, as Phil said, even if Briggs were right about the graph, it’d still be about as newsworthy as a fart in a hurricane.

  139. Messier Tidy Upper

    @124. Adrock – February 2nd, 2012 at 6:50 pm :

    Are you doing this on purpose Phil? What is going on here? It is certainly not my place to tell you what to post but this is becoming ridiculous and quite frankly ruining what has become a wonderful blog, a place for learning. Confirming that AGW is gospel and branding everyone who has even the slightest question idiots is insulting and patronising.

    Where exactly is the BA actually saying that Adrock?

    Methinks you are reading too much into this. What the BA is doing is pointing out specific errors and evidence and telling y’all what tehscience is actually saying and where the evidence is actually pointing. Disagree? Fine – please provide evidence of why. Preferably evidence of why that hasn’t been debunked a hundred and one times already.

    A lot of the comments on here are implying that skeptics of HIRGO must be creationists when this is clearly not the case. This is madness.

    Madness is astriomg word. Why do you use it there? Climate Contrarianism may lack the supernatural elemt of creationism but there are noticeable similarioties such as the consistent repition of falsehoods, the refusal to accept what the evidence is actually sayingand assertion of the opposite eg. claiming the world hasn’t warmed when it has and like creationism, Climate Contrarianism seems as much targeted at the political and public spheres as the scientific one.

    95% of people does not constitute a consensus, …

    I could be mistaken but I do believe 95% of people agreeing on something *would* actually constitute a consensus. Your evidence to the contrary is ..?

    .. humans have been and will be again wrong regardless of what they believe to be true.

    Yes? So?

    Are you considering the possibility that you are wrong here also and the possible consequences if you are?

    It’s an incredibly arrogant stance. The sooner you can present your argument without a “holier than thou” attitude the better.

    Okay. I try not to be holier tahn thouor anything like that. I’m a fallible human – so is everybody from Al Gore through to Jim Hansen, Mike Mann through to Richard Lindzen, Ian Plimer & Rush Limbaugh. I’ll grant you that.

    But what is the scientific evidence from multiple lines and areas telling us? Going on the best evidence we have now what conclusions make the most sense?

    I hate to use the example but a lie detector test is 96% accurate which admittedly is very high but on a popular talk show that uses it, 4 out of every 100 guests are being royally shafted.

    Whilst 96 out of 100 are not.

    If 96 out of 100 medical doctors said you had a problem wouldn’t you accept the overwhelming probability that they were correct?

  140. SLC

    Re Luis Dias @ #129

    Let me see if I’ve got this straight. According to Mr. Dias, Prof. Muller was not a skeptic of global warming, he was a skeptic of Prof. Michael Mann. Considering that Prof. Mann is one of the leading climate scientists in the world, this is disingenuous at best. It is quite obvious that Mr. Dias is unable to distinguish between a skeptic and a denier. Prof. Muller was a self described scientific skeptic of global warming prior to his study. Anthony Watts was, is, and always will be a global warming denier. Like evolution denier Kurt Wise, there is no evidence, no matter how overwhelming, no matter how all-embracing, no matter how devastatingly convincing that would ever convince Mr. Watts that global warming is a reality as his opinions on the subject have nothing to do with science.

  141. SLC

    Re papertiger @ #136

    I doubt that Dr. Plait earns buck one from the supporters of climate change. There is no doubt, however, that the likes of Pat Michaels, Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer, et al via their connections with the Heartland Institute and the George Marshall Institute profit substantially from the donations of the likes of the Koch brothers. By the way, IMHO, if General Marshall were alive today, he would be denouncing the use of his name by a far right wing organization like the George Marshall Institute.

  142. Luis Dias

    Why exactly do you consider it a “propaganda piece of C—p” and what convincing evidence do you have that says Skeptical Science is wrong, Luis?

    They are propaganda because they take a “typical skeptical argument”, and then make the all-too-famous “rebuttal” or “debunking” or whatever the term of your choice, maximize every single argument in favor of their own narrative and just won’t disclose any caveats, any sense of proportion. If you cannot see its propagandish nature, then you are just too deep in it.

    Let me see if I’ve got this straight. According to Mr. Dias, Prof. Muller was not a skeptic of global warming, he was a skeptic of Prof. Michael Mann. Considering that Prof. Mann is one of the leading climate scientists in the world

    Oh god no, thank the heavens he is no such thing! He’s merely well known for the worst and worst of climate change science. His paleoclimatic studies are atrocious and an insult to scientific standards.

    …. Considering that Prof. Mann is one of the leading climate scientists in the world, this is disingenuous at best. It is quite obvious that Mr. Dias is unable to distinguish between a skeptic and a denier.

    Mr Muller is not “skeptical” towards the idea that global warming is real, caused by human beings, and that it is a very worrying problem. This is what passes around here as being “skeptical of GW”, fyi. Michael Mann is irrelevant to serious business, except to say that he’s there with the spotlight and with the connections, hurting climate science since his debut in 98.

    Prof. Muller was a self described scientific skeptic of global warming prior to his study.

    People constantly demand me evindence of what I say, but you guys have no problem stating the most obvious lies without any reference at all. Go read his books. Go listen to his lectures. To declare Muller as a “skeptic” after doing so would reveal that a lobotomy was performed to the speaker. Of course, you have done no such thing and just parrot what you’ve seen elsewhere from propaganda sites.

    Read SkepticalScience, RealClimate, etc.,etc. is not a problem. Nor is reading WUWT. The problem is believing what they say without fact checking them. Which you do in spades.

    I doubt that Dr. Plait earns buck one from the supporters of climate change

    In related news, both Skeptical Science and Real Climate have won money awards for their propaganda.

  143. Elizabeth

    Dear Mr. Plait:

    Since you are so sure that the science is settled you will surely be able to research and answer my questions about climate change throughout the Holocene. Here is a handy reference and graph of Holocene temperatures:

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

    Here are my questions:

    How does your theory explain the ice age?

    How does your theory explain the rapid warming at the end of the ice age?

    How does your theory explain the fact that it was 2-9 degrees warmer than present 6-8 thousand years ago?

    Why do you suppose the archeologists and anthropologists of yesteryear coined the term ‘Climate Optimum for this period, if warming is bad (I am sure they would know better now)?

    How was this warm episode caused by ‘anthropogenic CO2′ and ‘who’ was producing it – since you discredit all other explanations for climate change?

    Why didn’t the warming trend of 8,000 years ago accelerate and become out of control as predicted by current CO2 driven models of climate change? Why did it stop instead?

    Why has it been cooling off for the last 6,000 years?

    If greenhouse gases are the dominant driver of climate change, why has warming stalled for the last decade while anthropogenic CO2 levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise?

    Sincerely,

    Elizabeth Anderson

  144. noen

    Shorter Luis Dias — If you can’t dismiss the argument, dismiss the person.

  145. bbmcrae

    Elizabeth’s questions ring of a cut and paste from a denier site. I’m sure the answers she gets won’t do anything to change her mind.

  146. noen

    Elizabeth said:
    “How does your theory explain the ice age?”

    Which theory? Ice ages are generally the result of the Earth’s wobble about it’s axis which is clearly labeled on the wiki page you link to. Did you bother to read it?

    “How does your theory explain the rapid warming at the end of the ice age?”

    Which one? Which theory?

    “How does your theory explain the fact that it was 2-9 degrees warmer than present 6-8 thousand years ago?”

    From your link:

    In terms of the global average, temperatures were probably colder than present day (depending on estimates of latitude dependence and seasonality in response patterns). While temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were warmer than average during the summers, the tropics and areas of the Southern Hemisphere were colder than average which comprised an average global temperature still overall lower than present day temperatures.

    “Why do you suppose the archeologists and anthropologists of yesteryear coined the term ‘Climate Optimum for this period, if warming is bad (I am sure they would know better now)?”

    Because it’s not all about your comfort.

    “How was this warm episode caused by ‘anthropogenic CO2′ and ‘who’ was producing it – since you discredit all other explanations for climate change?”

    It wasn’t and no one ever claimed it was. It was most likely caused by the sudden and massive release of greenhouse gases. Which only confirms climate theory.

    “Why didn’t the warming trend of 8,000 years ago accelerate and become out of control as predicted by current CO2 driven models of climate change? Why did it stop instead?

    No one I’m aware of is predicting an out of control greenhouse effect though it is a possibility.

    “Why has it been cooling off for the last 6,000 years?”

    It hasn’t been. It’s getting warmer especially since the industrial revolution and is due to humans burning fossil fuels.

    “If greenhouse gases are the dominant driver of climate change, why has warming stalled for the last decade while anthropogenic CO2 levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise?”

    Did you even bother to read this article? Why should someone bother to respond to someone who has not even taken the time to read the article they are complaining about?

    Maybe you can answer a question for me. How it is possible that CO2 is NOT a greenhouse gas?

  147. Elizabeth

    to 148 bbmcrae concerning my comment 143

    I formulated these questions myself. I first read about the Climate Optimum in Discover magazine several years ago. I am a Geologist by training. Geologists do their science by formulating multiple hypothesis and then testing the predictions of their hypotheses against observations of phenomenon in the Geological record. Physicists call this retrodiction.

    I am merely applying this methodology to the current theory of greenhouse gas theories of climate change. If the questions I have posed cannot be answered rigorously using the current theory, then it fails the test of retrodiction.

    Again I respectfully request that the author provide such a scientifically rigorous response.

    Elizabeth Anderson

  148. Elizabeth

    Dear Neon (comment 150):

    Of course CO2 is a greenhouse gas. That is not the question. The question is this – can CO2 variability affect climate and to what degree? To put the question in context we must remember that H2O is also a greenhouse gas. While CO2 concentrations are currently approx. 400 ppm, water vapour concentrations in the atmosphere are more like 1-4%, roughly 1,000 times more concentrated. Therefore, the vast bulk of the greenhouse gas effect is mediated by H2o and clouds. Furthermore, H2O and CO2 may have a negative feedback loop such that if CO2 increases start to increase temp., water vapor increases, cloudiness increases, planetary albedo inreases, albedo cools planet, temperature is modulated.

    Current climate models that predict CO2 controlled global warming are unable to model clouds. This is one of their biggest failings.

  149. noen

    Elizabeth said:
    “I first read about the Climate Optimum in Discover magazine several years ago. I am a Geologist by training. “

    What does that mean?

    “I am merely applying this methodology to the current theory of greenhouse gas theories of climate change.”

    Climate models are based on the physics of CO2 which are directly predicted by quantum dynamics. No amount of geology will change the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. So I repeat my question:

    Since CO2 is a greenhouse gas and….
    Since humans have dumped billions of tons of CO2 into the environment.
    How is it possible that doing so would have no environmental effect?

    “Again I respectfully request that the author provide such a scientifically rigorous response.”

    Why?

  150. ND

    Elizabeth,

    This isn’t Phil’s theory, you need to ask your questions to the real climate scientists. Climate change has been studied for decades and I’m sure there are answers to your very basic questions. Why don’t you look them up yourself?

    Your questions are disingenuous because they’re meant to insinuate there are fundamental and serious issues with climate change. You think climate scientists have not taken H2O into account? You need to show that all those years of climate studies have not taken H2O into account correctly. Please show us.

  151. noen

    Elizabeth said:
    “Of course CO2 is a greenhouse gas. That is not the question. The question is this – can CO2 variability affect climate and to what degree?”

    How could it not? Since you are taking the counter position that CO2 does not affect climate you have to explain how that is possible given what we know about the physics of CO2.

    “To put the question in context we must remember that H2O is also a greenhouse gas. While CO2 concentrations are currently approx. 400 ppm, water vapour concentrations in the atmosphere are more like 1-4%, roughly 1,000 times more concentrated. “

    Since you have a degree of some kind how about you read up on what climatologists actually say? All this question does is betray your complete ignorance of the science behind the issue.

    “Current climate change models that predict global warming are unable to model clouds. This is one of their biggest failings.”

    How many times does this have to be debunked? The information is out there and widely available. How about you do your homework?

  152. noen

    “Elizabeth’s questions ring of a cut and paste from a denier site.”

    I agree. This:

    I first read about the Climate Optimum in Discover magazine several years ago.

    is somewhat odd in light of this:

    “I am a Geologist by training.”

    Really? You’re a geologist and the first you heard about the Holocene was in Discover Magazine?

  153. Luis Dias

    Shorter Luis Dias — If you can’t dismiss the argument, dismiss the person.

    Shorter noen: there is no shorter noen.

  154. Elizabeth

    Dear neon:

    It was in Discover that I first heard the term “Climate Optimum” coined by anthropologists and archeologists, along with their description of the fact that this ‘balmy’ period was very conducive to the development of early civilization.. Geologists have been less concerned with the impact of climate change on human culture, as this is very recent in our view.

    Being a geologist I certainly talk to scientists. I am merely pointing out that Geologists have a particular way of testing theories that involves ‘backtesting’. The theory that CO2 is the principle driver of climate change – natural or otherwise – fails when it is backtested over time periods ranging from decades to eons. Many Geologists who initially accepted this theory have abandoned it. Climatologists can’t do much backtesting because their data is of very limited extent.

    The Geological community is rapidly concluding that the sun, clouds and cosmic rays are the main drivers of climate change – period. An excellent layman’s treatment of this subject is provided in the book ‘The Chilling Stars’ by science writer Nigel Calder.

    At this year’s annual Geological Association of Canada meeting one of the organizers (Charlie Jefferson, Geological Survey of Canada) tried to organize a debate on competing theories of climate change, which is becoming an increasingly hot topic in our field. NOBODY came to defend the notion of CO2 controlled climate change. There is no evidence for it in to geological record.

    So yes I was asking leading questions, the point being that the current orthodoxy of CO2 controlled climate change fails when backtested against real climate change in the past, over all scales of investigation ranging from decades to millenia to eons.

    That the IPCC chose to exclude a chapter on Solar Forcing from it’s last report may speak more to the politics of the matter than to the science. It is hard to write a scary Executive Summary that will make the IPCC Masters Of The Universe when there are errant views allowed.

    Sincerely,

    Elizabeth

  155. ND

    “The theory that CO2 is the principle driver of climate change – natural or otherwise – fails when it is backtested over time periods ranging from decades to eons. ”

    But were there civilizations eons ago, spewing CO2 from underground (ie not part of the carbon cycle)? If CO2 is a greenhouse gas along with other gases in the atmosphere, human action must be taken account.

    I could be wrong, but based on my understanding, climatologists are not saying CO2 has always been the only GH gas that impacted climate change, through the geological ages. Only recently has a branch of the great ape family developed industrial civilization and started releasing carbon which was trapped underground, into the natural carbon cycle. And it’s not a non-negligible amount either.

  156. Miles Archer

    I don’t know why people are still arguing this. There are far more important things to argue about – like what the public policy should be. There’s room for real debate there.

  157. Elizabeth

    Dear ND:

    Thank you for not calling me names.

    Check out this Wikipedia link which has a nice graph of CO2 variations through the Phanerozoic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth%27s_atmosphere

    It is the third graph down on the right hand side. The present time is on the left hand side. Notice how CO2 concentrations have generally been much higher, experienced a collapse during the Carboniferous Period, when the great coal deposits were formed, rebounded and then collapsed again to the current very low levels (in geological terms).

    I would like to respond to you question using this diagram. No, the amounts of CO2 being released are not negligible. Over the last century they may have doubled, say from 200 pm to 400 ppm (not quite there yet). But they are also not high in relation to concentrations that have occurred in the geological past. But 200-300 million years ago they were 2-5 times higher. Before the Carboniferous Period they were nearly an order of magnitude higher. You don’t even want to know how much higher they were in the Preacambrian before our atmosphere was scrubbed clean of CO2 by primitive life. But even then CO2 wasn’t a very good greenhouse gas because even then there was way more water, which is the most important greenhouse gas. And water has a different effect than CO2. What distinguishes Earth from Venus in terms of the greenhouse effect has less to do with Earth’s’ low concentrations of CO2 than it’s high concentrations of H2O.

    Yes CO2 levels are rising but they are rising from low levels in relation to Earth’s history. And looking to the geological past we find that climate changes rhythmically in relation to sunspot cycles, Milankovich cycles, cosmic ray influx, etc. But we can’t find evidence of it changing as a result of CO2 variations. We do find evidence of CO2 varying as a result of climate change. The famous graphs in Al Gores movie where he plotted the covariation of CO2 and climate are a case in point. Gore couldn’t plot the two curves on the same graph because people would have noticed that rise in CO2 followed rise in temperature rather than the other was around.

    Cheers,

    Elizabeth

  158. Chris Winter

    A quibble. ND, you meant to write, “And it’s not a negligible amount either.”

  159. Chris Winter

    Elizabeth Anderson (#147) asked a number of questions, including: “How does your theory explain the ice age?”

    If I were in a snarky mood, I might retort, “which ice age?”

    But I’m not in a snarky mood (despite the snark-inducing qualities of many comments here) so I’ll make the point in a straightforward way.

    We who worry about climate change and what it may bring are not much concerned about prehistoric climate. The reason is that we understand the current cause of climate change is different than anything that drove climate change in the distant past. Also we have actual measurements of the variables involved for most of the planet from about 1950 onward.

    If you want to dispute Dr. Plait’s position, please do three things.

    1. Do some actual reading about climate science beforehand. There are good sources for lay people all over the Web.

    2. Confine your questions and arguments to what took place since the year 1900.

    3. Don’t build your questions on false assumptions, or I’m liable to ask, “How do you explain the fact that your husband is still slapping you around every night?” You get my drift.

    For example, you asked, “Why has it been cooling off for the last 6,000 years?”

    It hasn’t. Most especially, since about 1950 the planet has been steadily warming at a rate never seen in prehistory.

    It’s not germane to current conditions, but in your reading you might include Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum by Dr. William Ruddiman. In the book he makes a good case that the world’s temperatures began to rise about 8,000 years ago. The cause? CO2 and methane due to human activities.

  160. Chris Winter

    Miles Archer wrote: “I don’t know why people are still arguing this. There are far more important things to argue about – like what the public policy should be. There’s room for real debate there.”

    Quite right. Unfortunately, people with objections like those Luis Dias and Elizabeth Anderson raise (though their objections are not identical) are in the aggregate an impediment to getting on with that policy discussion.

  161. noen

    Elizabeth said:
    “The Geological community is rapidly concluding that the sun, clouds and cosmic rays are the main drivers of climate change – period.”

    I’m pretty sure that the sun is the primary *driver* of all life and all climates on Earth but it does not follow from the fact that the sun warms the earth that humans cannot affect our climate. Remember, the proponents of global warming do NOT claim that solar forcing or clouds or water vapor play no role in shaping our climate. What they say is that the warming that we now observe can only be accounted for by human activity.

    “Geologists have been less concerned with the impact of climate change on human culture, as this is very recent in our view.”

    I don’t see why they would since geologists are not anthropologists. Why do you assume that you have any expertise at all in fields outside of your degree?

    “An excellent layman’s treatment of this subject is provided in the book ‘The Chilling Stars’ by science writer Nigel Calder.”

    Which has been throughly debunked. Nigel is not a scientist and took part in ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ fraud. Cosmic rays do NOT create clouds.

    “NOBODY came to defend the notion of CO2 controlled climate change. There is no evidence for it in to geological record.”

    1) The fact that some geologists did not defend it does not disprove global warming.
    2) There is ample evidence today that human activity is affecting our climate.

    “the current orthodoxy of CO2 controlled climate change fails when backtested against real climate change in the past”

    No it doesn’t. You have yet to explain to me (1) how CO2 could NOT be a greenhouse gas and (2) if it is, how is it possible that it has no effect on climate?

    “That the IPCC chose to exclude a chapter on Solar Forcing from it’s last report may speak more to the politics of the matter than to the science. It is hard to write a scary Executive Summary that will make the IPCC Masters Of The Universe when there are errant views allowed.”

    So your explanation is that there is a grand conspiracy to silence opposing views? You’re beginning to sound like Alex Jones. The fact that the IPCC chose to exclude your pet theory does not show that your pet theory is true. It is more likely that the reason it was excluded was because they did not believe it is a valid theory.

    Resorting to conspiracy theories is the last refuge of the intellectual scoundrel.

  162. sHx

    @Messier Tidy Upper
    #143
    “Madness is astriomg word. Why do you use it there? Climate Contrarianism may lack the supernatural elemt of creationism but there are noticeable similarioties such as the consistent repition of falsehoods, the refusal to accept what the evidence is actually sayingand assertion of the opposite eg. claiming the world hasn’t warmed when it has and like creationism, Climate Contrarianism seems as much targeted at the political and public spheres as the scientific one.”

    Couple years back, after a flipped over and became a full-on CAGW heretic, I decided to make a list of the similarities between climate change movement and organised religion. I can’t remember the exact list and/or where I posted it, but here is Take Two:

    Judgement Day = Looming climate catastrophe

    The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse = war, famine death, pestilence identical to the ones in Bible)

    The Original Sin = the industrial revolution

    personal sins = carbon footprints

    redemption = stop emitting CO2

    indulgences = pollution permits

    high priests = climate scientists

    sacred texts = IPCC reports

    annual pilgrimages = Cop conferences

    the crusaders = climate change movement

    There were a few more uncanny similarities like that that escape my memory at the moment.

    I found out a couple of days ago Micheal Crichton had also drawn a few similarities between the climate change movement and organised religion, though I can’t find the text.

    One of the things that woke me up from my own climate change stupor (until then I had more or less did what Phil Plait and his otter do: close my ears and sing la la la) was how CAGW activists were acting increasingly like religious zealots. That offended my atheist sensibilities.

    When the then Aussie Primer Minister, Kevin Rudd, who at the time was very popular with me, opened up a barrage of abuse at ‘deniers’ and ‘flat-earthers’ in mid-2009, and declared that climate change was ‘the greatest moral challenge of our time’, I finally decided to look at this issue in more detail for myself. I might not be a climate scientist nor even a scientist, but then again neither was Kevin Rudd.

    It was impossible for me not to be alarmed… at the parlous case for for Apocalypse 2100. Did they really expect me to believe from this little evidence, most of which is “trust me I am a climate scientist” or “this is too complex for your puny mind” kind of evidence?

    What about the torrents of abuse I experienced, each time I wanted to ask a question in pre-CAGW cult blogs during my discovery period? Even a truly ignorant but honest question on my part (e.g. geo-engineering as a solution) was dismissed usually because I was either a shill for big oil, a sock-puppet, or concern troll or a gullible soul that has been duped by evil deniers and so on and so on. Even asking a question was heresy!

    The True Believers (of the CAGW cult, that is) had gone well-beyond discussing questions like “is there a god!” and had begun debating among themselves, page after page, questions like how many angels could dance on a kilowatt of wind generated electricity.

    I don’t have to be a priest neither do I have to have a degree in theology to figure out for myself whether there is a god. I can examine and accept/dismiss the evidence for that for myself.

    And I don’t have to be a climate scientist, nor do I have to have a science degree, in order to accept/dismiss the evidence for a climate doomsday.

    Let me re-iterate what I said in previous thread: the CAGW movement has all the hallmarks of a doomsday cult. I don’t like being coerced, especially by an act of government, to take part in their crazy crusade.

  163. Elizabeth

    Dear Chris Winter:

    The original article above was supposed to be about personal attacks on the writer by ‘climate deniers’.

    Based on your statement reproduced below, I would say he got that backwards:

    3. Don’t build your questions on false assumptions, or I’m liable to ask, “How do you explain the fact that your husband is still slapping you around every night?” You get my drift.

    Ah, the old ad hominem attack – don’t attack the argument – attack the speaker. You caveman you – I thought this sort of misogyny had disappeared.

    Apart from your rudeness, your insistence on confining the debate to a post 1900 tine period requires that something has changed since then – What would that be? the nature of the carbon cycle? The nature of the greenhouse effect vis a vis H2O? the laws of physics?

  164. Elizabeth

    Dear Neon:

    Cosmic rays are in fact required to nucleate clouds (no other means of doing so has ever been experimentally verified).

    The CERN CLOUD experiment is ongoing so I do not know where you get the idea that it is discredited.

    Here is my source

    http://cloud.web.cern.ch/cloud/Instrument/Chamber.html

    Here is a good discussion of the ongoing work

    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/46953

    What is your source for claiming that Svendsmark’s work has been disproved?

  165. MikeB

    50. Chris

    A number of people are perplexed by the apparent “lack of warming” in the last decade which is understandable. While 9 of the 10 hottest years have been in the last decade, the temperature was not rising from the beginning to the end. So the decade is still the warmest on record, but if you only consider this small timescale, one may think global warming has paused. Unfortunately, this would be wrong.

    One reason it looks like things have cooled is due to La Nina. During La Nina, upwelling cool water in the eastern Pacific approaches the surface. In this scenario, a vast amount of energy is “spent” warming the oceans. As opposed to El Nino years when warm water stretches across the Pacific Ocean thereby warming the atmosphere.

    There was a very interesting article written by Foster and Rahmstorf that tried to remove the known natural causes of temperature changes to climate. Some details can be found at SkS at http://www.skepticalscience.com/foster-and-rahmstorf-measure-global-warming-signal.html.

    If you look at the charts provided, you will notice that when natural forcing/variability is removed, you can still find an increasing trend remaining. Seeing as the known natural forcings have been accounted for, the only reasonable explanation left is AGW. And this is a fairly steady constant increase.

    So, far the last decade, due to other items related to weather phenomena, it may appear that there has been less warming. But when we account for these phenomena, we are left with the ever present AGW signal. One concern being raised by James Hansen and others right now is that when some of these forcings change, i.e. the next El Nino, we should expect that year will be the hotest year on record with a big jump in temperature. Think 1998, but much worse. And just like after 1998, the following decade will be the hotest on record. Yikes!

    Some folks have argued that the evidence is not “incontrovertible” and they require more proof, i.e. 100% confident. Fine. Do you have life insurance? Why? There is very low likelihood most people in first world countries are going to die before 70. So why buy life insurance when you are young? Answer: because it could happen. You don’t wait until you are 100% certain you are about to die.

    So, should we do something about global warming? Yes! Why? Because all of the evidence we have (levels of CO2 in atmosphere, melting ice sheets and glaciers, migrating animal and plant species, etc) strongly indicates we are headed for trouble and the most reasonable and responsible answer is to try to fix things before they do get worse, let alone potentially much worse. Groups have already published reports indicating the longer we wait, the more expensive it will become to fix. And if people are concerned about big government, waiting will just cause and even greater need for larger government intervention. So there are scientific, moral, economic, and political reasons to address global warming NOW!

  166. SLC

    Re noen @ #148

    Actually, IMHO, Mr. Dias is really a sockpuppet for Marc Morano, noted flack for the Heartland Institute and former aide to whackjob Senator James Inhofe.

  167. SLC

    Re sHx @ #166

    I am afraid that Mr. sHx has it ass backwards. It’s the climate change deniers like Anthony Watts who most closely resemble religious fundamentalist evolution deniers. That’s because, as I stated in comment #144, there is no evidence, no matter how overwhelming, no matter how all-embracing, no matter how devastatingly convincing that would ever convince Mr. Watts that global warming is a reality as his opinions on the subject have nothing to do with science. In that regard, he most closely resembles Kurt Wise, except that, unlike Dr. Wise, he is totally ignorant of the science that he rejects.

  168. noen

    Elizabeth said:
    “your insistence on confining the debate to a post 1900 tine period requires that something has changed since then – What would that be?”

    The industrial revolution.

    “your insistence on confining the debate to a post 1900 tine period requires that something has changed since then – What would that be?”

    You still have not explained how CO2 is not a greenhouse gas and that given it is how dumping large amounts could have no effect. I know that you say it is a GH gas but that is inconsistent with your other claims. If CO2 is a GH gas and it’s behavior is determined by it’s physical properties then large amounts of it should have an effect on the climate.

    What role do you believe that CO2 does play? None? Why? How do you explain the rise in global temps corresponding with CO2 emissions by human activity?

    Since you admit that CO2 is a GH gas at what concentration do you believe it would begin to effect the climate? Please cite relevant research that supports your assertions.

  169. papertiger

    Re SCL @#145

    You only have a feeling about Pat Michaels, Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer, that they profit from the Heartland Institute and the George Marshall Institute.
    Feelings are not evidence.

    OTOH, I have an admission of guilt, directly from Phil Plait.
    He says, “how much money would I make if I suddenly turned coat and said global warming wasn’t real? I’ll guarantee you it would be a lot more than I make now…”
    So Phil makes money now for not turning coat and admitting that global warming is a hoax, despite all the evidence swirling around him.

    A confession is evidence. Phil Plait is one of those Merchants of Despair; profiting from Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Cult of Antihumanism.

    The only question is how much (or little) it took for Phil to sell you out.

  170. SLC

    Re papertiger @ #171

    Gee, another sockpuppet for Marc Morano.

  171. ?

    @#171 not even a hack TV cop would try to call that a confession.

  172. sHx

    @SLC

    #169

    “That’s because, as I stated in comment #144, there is no evidence, no matter how overwhelming, no matter how all-embracing, no matter how devastatingly convincing that would ever convince Mr. Watts that global warming is a reality as his opinions on the subject have nothing to do with science.”

    Well, you can learn what Anthony Watts thinks about the subject by reading what Anthony Watts says, not by reading what others say Anthony Watts thinks.

    Anthony Watts has never denied that ‘global warming is a reality’. His main beef has always been with the magnitude of the current warming (Urban Heat Island issues, station quality, etc), the credibility of future projections, and, of course, the policy prescriptions.

    Every month, on the dot, he reports the values from the satellite observations, which don’t have the problems he is concerned about, and the satellite record clearly shows global warming for the last 30 years. Anthony Watts regularly state these views. Don’t ask me to go dig one out for you, you ought to start reading his superb blog more regularly.

    If anything, had Anthony Watts actually denied that ‘global warming is a reality’, his credibility would be torn to shreds first and foremost by his CAGW skeptic audience. Quite frankly, I don’t know a single climate change skeptic who denies that ‘global warming is a reality’. You’ve been terribly misled if you think there are many.

    My fav climate skeptic blog is Bishop Hill. And here is a very ordinary de-bunking, a run of the mill kind of destruction of a CAGW argument that one can regularly see in BH comment pages. This comment, which i read a couple of hours ago, is about a quasi-scientific publication by a British parliamentary committee:

    Lots of nonsense, propaganda and outright lies in that report, plus unreferenced assertions and weasel words.

    For example: “It is also likely that the sea ice has become thinner.” Likely? It either has or it hasn’t – state the facts. Note, no reference given for this weasel-worded assertion.

    “Although ocean measurements are limited…it seems that ocean heat content has continued to rise over the past decade.” It seems that? More weasel words. It either has or it hasn’t – the ‘limited’ ocean measurements indicate that it HASN’T, so what they are saying is that it seems that it must be rising even though we haven’t measurements to back the claim. Nor can they make a reference (references could be made, but they would contradict the assertion!)

    What about this classic: “Further evidence is provided by century-scale GCM climate projections which suggest energy has moved from the surface and upper ocean to the deep ocean over the past decade.” Evidence, note – GCM climate projections, which are simply projections of our own prejudices, are EVIDENCE. These embodiments of our prejudices ‘suggest’ things even when there is no data to support them, for the paragraph continues “However, there are too few measurements from the deep ocean to confirm these results, or to be sure which physical mechanisms are important.”

    OK, so we haven’t any measurements that confirm these assertions, and we haven’t a clue what physical mechanisms are involved AND YET we have ‘evidence’ of what is ‘likely’ going on that ‘seems’ to confirm our prejudices.

    This is religious fanaticism of the worst kind. Let’s not worry about the facts, what matters is the power of our beliefs. We can believe anything is ‘likely’ or ‘seems to be so’ when we ignore those stubborn facts. After all, the embodiment of our beliefs in models provides evidence far better than real data ever could.

    So, let’s scratch the surface, and what do we find? I note that the co-author Dr Jonathan Wentworth (who should be ashamed of himself for this drivel) who works for our Parliament sits on the Public and Policy Committee of the British Ecological Society, which has an advocacy role, and Dr Wentworth is involved in the ‘fellowships’ that the BES sponsor at our parliament. Is it acceptable that briefing notes for our legislature from within the Houses of Parliament themselves should be prepared by someone working for advocacy groups, and people funded as interns by advocacy groups?

    The BES lobbies parliament for all sorts of Climate Change legislation, including the Climate Change Act, where it stated “The BES commends the Government’s leadership in bringing forward the world’s first national legally binding targets aimed to mitigate climate change…the BES suggests that the proposed statutory target for reducing CO2 emissions in the UK should be increased to at least 70% for 2050.”

    Thanks to the BES we have ruinous legislation, and they have their ‘plants’ working on official Houses of parliament advice to our policymakers. Could it be any worse?
    Feb 3, 2012 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth
    [italics added by me for clarity]

    I can provide a link the relevant thread but I don’t want this comment held for moderation because of the link. It is in “Note it: POST” thread which is still current.

    The CAGW skeptic community is much, much more intelligent, informed and scientific than you give them credit for.

  173. papertiger


    Re papertiger @ #171
    Gee, another sockpuppet for Marc Morano.

    Is that it?

    Withering rebuke.

    Me I got to ask myself, “Why would Phil come out, and admit it this late in the game?”
    The answer is so obvious.
    Because it is against his nature. It galls him. It eats at him like an insect with sharp mandibles digging in a side he can’t reach.
    His whole being is wrapped up in pointing at phonies pretending to be scientists.
    This time he can’t, because if he does he’ll lose his paycheck.

    That’s a heavy load. You have to put it down every once in a while.
    Conscious can’t take that stress for long.

  174. Archie Steel

    Wow, I can see from some the comments here that Dr. Plait has hit a raw nerve – quite a lot of shrill deniers here tonight! Of course, when one has no scientific evidence on his side – or, as Professional Muddler Briggs’ case, scientific literacy – all, one can do is repeat the same lies over and over, cycling through them, never reaching any closer to the truth.

    The goal of people like Briggs and his cohorts here aren’t to have a debate about the science, their aggressive and/or hypersensitive attitudes and clear reluctance to provide any credible evidence or sources (the Daily Mail is *not* a science journal…) makes that clear; rather, it is to intimidate, create confusion, and make it seem as if there are serious doubts about the science. When Microsoft used to do this, we called it FUD. I think it’s high time we bring that word back, as it describes the same kind of tactic, and probably involves the same amount of astroturfing and shilling.

    So to all the sowers of FUD here, Luis, Elizabeth, papertiger: you’re wasting your time. We know the science. We know what the WSJ, the Daily Mail, and professional think tankers are up to. Maybe you don’t, but that’s *your* problem, not ours. Your efforts are doomed to failure, as science isn’t about opinion or politics. It’s about facts, and those facts aren’t on your side.

    You lost the debate the moment you chose to enter it.

    Keep your chin up, Phil. The Climate Change Denial machine may try to hit you with all it’s got, but you’ve got a lot of friends at reddit.com…

  175. SLC

    I find it amazing that Dr. Plait allows clowns like papertiger to comment on his blog and direct personal insults at him.

  176. papertiger

    Yeah, but he does.

    Not cloistered away from the public like the other CAGW sites you visit.

    I’d lay that at guilty conscious’ door step also.

  177. SLC

    Re sHx @ #175

    Andrew Montford, aka Bishop Hill is yet another individual with no qualifications to pontificate on the subject of climate science. His shtick, like the other climate change deniers who have commented on this blog consists of name calling and character assassination.

    My position on climate change issues is very simple. Despite having a PhD in elementary particle physics, I am unqualified to discuss the issue. However, like Un. of Maryland physics professor Bob Park, I yield to the experts in the field who regularly publish in the peer reviewed literature. If the deniers have something to offer besides character assassination and arguments that have been refuted multiple times, the place to present their findings is the peer reviewed literature, not blog posts and blog comments. Thus far, their contributions are sparse to say the least.

  178. noen

    Papertiger said:
    “You only have a feeling about Pat Michaels, Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer, that they profit from the Heartland Institute and the George Marshall Institute.”

    FACTSHEET: George C. Marshall Institute, GMI
    (found at exxonsecrets dot org, google is your friend)

    KEY DEEDS
    14 December, 2005
    Published the book “Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming,” edited by Patrick J. Michaels and containing essays by global warming skeptics Sallie L. Baliunas, Robert C. Balling Jr., Randall S. Cerveny, John Christy, Robert E. Davis, Oliver W. Frauenfeld, Ross McKitrick, Patrick J. Michaels, Eric S. Posmentier, Willie Soon.
    Source: George Marshall Institute, “Shattered Consensus” , Dec 2005

    FUNDING
    George C. Marshall Institute has received $840,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.

    PEOPLE
    Patrick J. Michaels
    Author
    Source: Marshall Institute Webpage (2006)

    Richard Lindzen
    Author
    Source: Marshall Institute Website (2006)

  179. SLC

    Re papertiger @ #178

    I strongly recommend that Dr. Plait give Marc Morano sockpuppet and piece of filth Mr. papertiger the heave ho. There is no reason to put up with personal insults directed at him, in addition to which, he has yet to present a reasoned argument in favor of his position and thus adds nothing to the discussion.

  180. papertiger

    Wow look at all of the Michael Mann school of debate graduates.

  181. noen

    Papertiger said:
    “OTOH, I have an admission of guilt, directly from Phil Plait.
    He says, “how much money would I make if I suddenly turned coat and said global warming wasn’t real? I’ll guarantee you it would be a lot more than I make now…”
    So Phil makes money now for not turning coat and admitting that global warming is a hoax, despite all the evidence swirling around him.”

    FALSE.

    Premise 1. Phil makes money now with employer A
    Premise 2. Phil could make more money with employer B
    Conclusion: Phil is being paid by A not to work for B

    The argument is invalid, the conclusion does not follow from the premises. Your claim that Phil Plait is being paid for “not turning coat and admitting that global warming is a hoax” is irrational and must therefore be rejected.

  182. Elizabeth

    Dear neon:

    The industrial revolution began at the end of the 1800′s.

    Perhaps you could refer to my comment numbered 161 for my thought’s on the power of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. CO2 is greenhouse gas but it is a a minor one compared to that queen of greenhouse gases – H2O.

    CO2 concentrations were as high as 8000 ppm in the Phanerozoic – more than an order of magnitude greater than at present – and are poorly to uncorrelated to Phanerozoic climate change. I cannot tell you how much higher than that CO2 concentrations would have increase to become more important as a greenhouse gas than water. But at our current levels, 400 ppm, we are not at all close to finding out.

    Here is a link to Jan Veizer’s website with several references as requested:
    http://www.earth.uottawa.ca/details.php?lang=eng&id=63

    It is premature to make definitive conclusions about the role of CO2 in climate change because the science is literally in it’s infancy.

    BTW neon, what are your qualifications in this debate? Do you have a scientific background? You seem very devoted to advocacy websites – many of these are run by non-scientists. You know, the ones that proclaim the TRUTH and know what is REAL, but never reference anything other than other advocacy websites. And around we go!

    In the meantime, science marches on out of the limelight.

  183. papertiger

    Re Neon @ #180

    Does Exxonsecrets dot org allow rebuttal? Looks to me like more of those Michael Mann debate graduates.

    If they did allow rebuttal I’d say, “Wow, thousands of dollars. Are we talking about financing research or the grand prize on an episode of ‘Wheel of Fortune’? ”

    Solyndra, for example of the other hand, cost the country (that is you, me, and everybody) hundreds of billions of dollars.

    Here’s a little thought experiment for you. Might help you visualize. Put billions of something in you left hand, and thousands of the same thing in your right. OK. Now which way are you going to lean?

  184. noen

    papertiger siad:
    “Wow, thousands of dollars. Are we talking about financing research or the grand prize on an episode of ‘Wheel of Fortune’? ”

    Total Grants to George C. Marshall Institute
    Total $ Granted: $ 7,178,803
    For Years: 2006 — 1985
    # Grants: 105

    Funders:
    The Carthage Foundation
    Sarah Scaife Foundation
    Earhart Foundation
    The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.
    John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.

    —-

    Evidence the institute distorted facts in pursuit of its ideological agenda:

    In a 2009 essay, former Marshall Institute Executive Director Matthew B. Crawford, wrote that after he commenced with the group in September 2001

    “…certain perversities became apparent as I settled into the job. It sometimes required me to reason backward, from desired conclusion to suitable premise. The organization had taken certain positions, and there were some facts it was more fond of than others. As its figurehead, I was making arguments I didn’t fully buy myself. Further, my boss seemed intent on retraining me according to a certain cognitive style — that of the corporate world, from which he had recently come. This style demanded that I project an image of rationality but not indulge too much in actual reasoning.”

    Matthew B. Crawford, “The Case for Working With Your Hands”, New York Times, May 21, 2009.

    “Put billions of something in you left hand, and thousands of the same thing in your right. OK. Now which way are you going to lean?”

    That some people are corrupt does not mean that everyone is corrupt. Some people value their personal and professional integrity above financial considerations.

    Just because some people are whores doesn’t mean everyone is. Even if *your* only experience is with the former.

  185. Daniel J. Andrews

    Heh. Well done, Phil. I had overlooked that even if you remove your graph, nothing changes in your argument. Critical thinking fail for me (and more so for Briggs).

    I first saw Briggs’ argument on Greg Laden’s blog and figured Tamino would soon rip Briggs as well. As I pointed out on Greg’s blog, Brigg’s assumes his statistical argument is the correct one and that everyone else who has studied this is wrong, including the Berkley skeptic team, one of whom has done theoretical work on time series.

  186. tmac57

    papertiger said “Solyndra, for example of the other hand, cost the country (that is you, me, and everybody) hundreds of billions of dollars.”
    I believe that you are off by a factor of some magnitude here. Not that I approve of government waste,but please correct your statement to comport with the actual facts.

  187. Archie Steel

    In the meantime, we can browse through Briggs’ book: “So, You Think You’re Psychic?”

    http://books.google.ca/books?id=T2nmUlFw-PIC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

    It is a fascinating read, a cynical book in which the author lures people who think they might have psychic power to buy the book and make Briggs some money, never telling them that psychic abilities do or don’t exist, but instead promising them tests that will allow them to provide evidence of one’s psychic ability, if it’s there.

    So fine is the line the author walks it feels as if the book was written by a lawyer. Rather than come out and say what skeptics already know, i.e. that parapsychology is bunk, he says the reputation of honest parapsychologists have been sullied by cheaters, and that his book will help serious practitioners separate the fakes from the genuine article…except, as we know, there is no genuine article.

    There’s little difference between Briggs and a snake oil salesman who know his product is placebo, but continues to sell it to the believers because, hey, it’s *their* fault if they’re that credulous!

  188. Archie Steel

    Elizabeth said: ” To put the question in context we must remember that H2O is also a greenhouse gas. While CO2 concentrations are currently approx. 400 ppm, water vapour concentrations in the atmosphere are more like 1-4%, roughly 1,000 times more concentrated. Therefore, the vast bulk of the greenhouse gas effect is mediated by H2o and clouds. Furthermore, H2O and CO2 may have a negative feedback loop such that if CO2 increases start to increase temp., water vapor increases, cloudiness increases, planetary albedo inreases, albedo cools planet, temperature is modulated.”

    It seems you are confused. Is Water Vapor a greenhouse gas or not? If it is, then why do you claim that an increase in Water Vapor leads to cooling?

    The error you make is to equate Water Vapor with clouds (WV is not the same as clouds, clouds are *condensed* WV), and then you assume that clouds automatically provide a negative feedback. The reality, of course, is that high clouds cause warming, and low clouds cause cooling. Overall, the net effect of clouds seems to be positive. Certainly, Venus’ thick clouds do not prevent it from being extremely hot due to its own greenhouse effect (which fortunately can’t reach this stage here on Earth).

    Your argument that CO2 was much higher before is also a red herring. Yes, CO2 was very high in that distant past, however the sun did not radiate as much energy as it does today, and the world was a *very* different place, with no ice caps and a single supercontinent. It was a “hothouse” world, a different planet altogether.

  189. papertiger

    Re tmac57 @# 190

    Was it just half a billion then? That makes it better. Whew. For a minute I thought we were being really ripped off.

    Re noen @# 188 Seven million dollars over twenty years. Wow! That’s a lot of money. I’m getting the vapors thinking about it. Excuse me. Have to find a bag to breathe into.

  190. noen

    Papertiger lives up to his name and said:
    “Wow! That’s a lot of money. I’m getting the vapors thinking about it. Excuse me. Have to find a bag to breathe into.”

    Moving the goal post fallacy. You started off claiming that there was no evidence linking several individuals with Exxon and other oil interests. I gave you valid evidence and then you proceeded to move the goal posts and claim that it wasn’t much money. Abandoning your former position and adopting a new one. This is a well known fallacious debating tactic and demonstrates a lack of personal integrity on your part. Which probably explains why you think everyone has as low personal standards as you do.

  191. Messier Tidy Upper

    @30. Gary Ansorge :

    PS. For the really hard core SciFi types out there, this from the latest attempt at both educating and entertaining people about living in space colonies,,,

    Thanks for that – great clip, looks interesting, just hope they show it in Oz on free-to-air TV so I get to watch it. :-)

    Would love to see the BA review that ‘L5 – The Argo and The Colony’ show when it comes out too. (Hint, hint.) ;-)

    @160. Miles Archer :

    I don’t know why people are still arguing this. There are far more important things to argue about – like what the public policy should be. There’s room for real debate there.

    Agreed. The science is overwelmingly clear that HIRGO is real. The big question which we should have long sinc emoved onto debate is what do we do about it?

    What policies and actions and science and industries are we best off developing in response.

    Sadly, the longer this silly argument over whether its happening or not drags on the hrder its going to be to mitigitage and adpat to and the harsher and more problematic the measures we will have to take will become. :-(

    @184. papertiger – February 3rd, 2012 at 5:13 pm :

    Wow look at all of the Michael Mann school of debate graduates.

    Really? Who? Where?

    I didn’t know Mike Mann ran a debating school, care to point me to his link for that? ;-)

    I’m sure its graduates would be better than those of the Marc Morano machine!

  192. Messier Tidy Upper

    @58. Luis Dias :

    @ [21.] Luis Dias : You want to prove your extraordinary claim that climatologists – 98% of them are wrong – then you show us some extraordinary evidence!
    I do not fundamentally disagree with the scientific statements that those scientists agreed to “vote”. The globe is warming, CO2 seems to be one important cause, and humans seem to be spreading it.

    Okay, well you could’ve fooled me. Why then did you write @ #21:

    It’s just one of those metaphysical truths that these people have brainwashed themselves into believing. If you are even skeptical of it, you are a denier, stupid and 99% probably a republican. Perhaps texan. Or from Alaska.

    As if HIRGO is matter of “brainwashing” and as if I’ve been throwing ad hominems everywhere which I haven’t been. Or as if Phil has been throwing out ad homs which he hasn’t been either.

    Of course, you don’t care about the subtle nature of any of this. To any ignorant of this issue, they only see two positions to take: either you are one of “us”, believe in the “scientific settled science” with a 100%, meaning that the world is going to burn (just like the usual graphic that Plait uses in this blog), and that we need to send our economy to smithereens to avoid it, or you are one of “them” if you dare to profess sufficient skepticism in one, two or enough of all of these bold claims.

    Huh? I’m quite aware of various subtlties & nuances thankyou very much. :roll:

    Nor am I advocating “smashing our economy to smithereens” either.

    What am I saying is the scientific evidence shows HIRGO is reality and we have to find some reasonable ways of dealing with it – and, yes, claiming otherwise is misguided at best, disastrous wilful ignorance at worst.

    This is how to destroy conversation. This is how to make people behave and think childishly, this is how, to borrow a geek terminology, Sith lords think and do. But you don’t care, and this is blindingly obvious for the kind of language used around here. Truth does not matter. What matters is that there are dumb people in the world and we’re gonna get them.

    Strawman fallacy combined with the fallacy of casting aspersions on others motives there.

    What’s more “childish” – the BA posting threads like this one carefully explaining how he’s correct and what his thinking is or Climate Contrarian commenters sticking their heads in the sand, spouting conspiracy theories about climatologists doing it all for the grant money -like that’s so huge or for environmentalists as though they’re the wealthiest group on the planet and pointing at Al Gore like he has any real relevance here?

  193. Messier Tidy Upper

    @116. El :

    I see a lot of ad hominems by AGW believers, but not a lot of science. Expel all AGW scammers from academia.

    Ironic comment there which itself has no science in it whatsoever and mainly casts an ad hominem slur without any supporting evidence or rational justification. Plus calls for punishment that seems aimed at preventing the climatologists from putting their case.

    @ 16. mememine69 :

    Science gave us pesticides.

    Along with fertilisers, computers, mobile phones, microwave ovens, the A-bomb & H-bomb, medical cures that actually work, rockets to the Moon, spaceprobes to the planets plus some comets and asteroids, the International Space Station, the discoveries of the outer planets and exoplanets, television, radio and so so incredibly much more too. The relevance of which here is, well, what exactly, mememine69?

    Oh look at the pretty pictures and colorful graphs!

    Um, yeah, they are kinda nice aren’t they? [Looks at themagain.] Notice how they also seem to show what the Bad Astronomer and Skeptical Science site say they do, don’t they mememine69?

    Climate Change was our turn at a false war and it made fear mongering neocons out of all of us. The Bush family laughs as we condemn our own flesh and blood to the greenhouse gas ovens with childish glee.

    What the blazes? You might want to either stop or start taking drugs here mememine69 – whichever applies. Because what you wrote there makes absolutely no sense at all and seems like its coming from another planet or even dimension.

    @173. papertiger :

    So Phil makes money now for not turning coat and admitting that global warming is a hoax, despite all the evidence swirling around him. [Emphasis added -ed.]

    What evidence exactly? Show us this evidence if you have it.

    A confession is evidence. Phil Plait is one of those Merchants of Despair; profiting from Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Cult of Antihumanism.

    Wow. And I just thought he was a really great science blogger who occassionally posted on politics and the Global Overheating issue. Cult of antihumanism eh? :roll:

  194. Messier Tidy Upper

    @166. sHx :

    Couple years back, after a flipped over and became a full-on CAGW heretic, I decided to make a list of the similarities between climate change movement and organised religion. I can’t remember the exact list and/or where I posted it, but here is Take Two: Judgement Day = Looming climate catastrophe

    But how good is the parallel there really?

    There’s no supernatural event involved just the consequences of crabon dioxidoe & other GHGs catching up with us over time. Its not a set date & there’s no Heaven or Rapture imagined as a rescue for the “faithful.” Only a shared hell for everyone if things are at teh wost end of the scenarios.

    Religion generally looks forward to “Judgement Day” as the final revelatory proof of religion X and the end of human history whereas the anti-HIRGO folks generally see this as the forseeable scientific results of past pollution and are not looking forward to it in the same way.

    The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse = war, famine death, pestilence identical to the ones in Bible)

    Identical to four long standing permanent threats to human life and happiness too. War, famine, pestilence – yeah they’re in the Bible and are used by religion – but they’re also an unfortunate and widely dreaded part of global life todayand throughout history.

    The Original Sin = the industrial revolution

    Who says the Industrial revolution was “sinful” as such? Who is advocating we revert back to a pre-industrial society? Are any of the climatologists telling us about HIRGO arguing that for real?

    Whether or not one considers the industrial revolution was or wasn’t “sinful” or “virtuous” and “noble” doesn’t change the reality of the fact that HIRGO is real as the science shows. I, for one, think we’re going to have to rely on science and technology to get us out of the problem it has indirectly and unwittingly caused us here.

    personal sins = carbon footprints

    I suppose you can call that analogous to “sin” if you really want to. Another way of putting it would be that by reducing our “carbon footprint” we’re taking responsibilityand trying to do what admittedly very little we can do as individuals to help fight the problem among other things.

  195. papertiger

    Re Messier @ # 195

    Glad you asked.

    Email 1335 “cc: Phil Jones
    , Keith Briffa , Heinz Wanner date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 10:26:33 -0500 from: “Michael E. Mann” subject: Re: Workshop: Participants/ 1. Circular to: Christoph Kull

    Christoph,

    Can I please have an explanation of what happened here???? You sent out a list yesterday of partipipants that we had all agreed upon. Today, you sent out emails to a DIFFERENT list, inviting an additional participant (Zorita) who we SPECIFICALLY DISCUSSED and decided (as I understood it) would not be invited because of personality conflict issues. At the very least, this needed further discussion, not unilateral overruling without notice.

    I’d like an explanation of what happened here. I do not believe that this event will be constructive and amicable with Zorita’s participation. If the recommendaitons of the organizers are not going to be followed, I am unsure I can participate in or endorse this event. If Zorita is in, I am out!

    Mike

    That’s how Mike “debates” scientific questions. The rest of us call it tucking your tail, running for the hills, ducking out the back.

  196. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ papertiger : Wow. :roll:

    Thanks but you’ll need to come up with something *much* better than that.

    One email about one climatologist who is unhappy about one individual at one conference – perhaps with good reason, perhaps not.

    Somehow I don’t think that’s enough to outweighs the whole mountain of evidence from multiple lines of research and fields of science showing that Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating is reality.

    FYI. A personality clash between Mike Mann and another individual who I’ve never heard of is NOT relevant to the science of HIRGO and whetehr its valid or not. What’s required is physical science-based evidence that refutes the known physics and facts regarding the effects of Greenhouse gases (GHGs) on our planets atmosphere.

  197. Messier Tidy Upper

    @Continued @ 166. sHx :

    redemption = stop emitting CO2

    Or failing that at least bury or dispose of it in a way that doesn’t add it to our atmosphere in excessive amounts.

    Note here that its not a “spiritual” rdemption so much as a scientific one where its understood that carbon dioxide and other GHGs in our atmosphere have consequences and the less of them we add, the less severe those consequences. Even if we ceased all Co2 polution now, the thermal inertia would mean we’re still going tobe warming the planet for a considerable time to come.

    indulgences = pollution permits

    I agree those are probably a bad idea because they shuffle around responsibility for GHG emissions whilst nallowing action to be delayed or avoided.

    FWIW, Jim Hansen, I gather thinks that way too amongst others.

    high priests = climate scientists

    Climatologists are NOT priests. (Well none that I know of are.) Scientists work to different standards, have different mindsets and goals.

    Unlike priests climatologists are happy to admit when they get things wrong and to revise and update their texts so they match reality as it becomes better understood. The climatologists don’t seek worship or converts but a better understanding of how and why climate works as it does. Climate scientists have no special regalia or uniforms, no ritual prayers and seek to inform via reason NOT faith.

  198. papertiger

    Re Noen @ #194

    You started off claiming that there was no evidence linking several individuals with Exxon and other oil interests.

    No that’s not quite right. I started out by laughing at you.
    I spared you the indignity of sharing the laughter.

    Here’s the real howler. Way back up there Plait links to one of his own posts where he says, “Scientists have filed a Freedom of Information request to find out who is bankrolling the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a denialist ‘think tank’ with ‘shadowy funders’.

    It’s hard to tell who is the biggest moron. “Scientists” who think FOIA applies to privately funded foundations, or Phil Plait who thinks this was an effective, noteworthy tactic.

  199. sHx

    @SLC
    #181

    Pray tell,

    What are the limits of climate scientists’ expertise? Formulating policy options and political campaigning, do these fall within climate scientists’ area of expertise as well?

    In which climate science peer-reviewed literature has the term ‘climate change denier’ been defined?

    And why do you still insist on using the expression ‘denier’ when it was explained to you clearly and distinctly that no one in the CAGW-skeptic community in fact denies climate change or global warming?

    Why would a PhD in anything resort to such emotional, dehumanising, and totally inaccurate terms? Is there a thrill, a ‘kick’, for the agent using such rhetorical tricks?

    Pray tell.

  200. Anonymous

    Meteorology and Statistics FAIL – Stick to astronomy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ds0wYpc1eM&feature=related

  201. FInal part @ # @ 166. sHx :

    sacred texts = IPCC reports

    In what way are the IPCC reports held to be sacred as if they were issued by aid of some divine force?

    If information in the IPCC reports arefound tobe inerror are these errors not correcte dand are the IPCC reports not revised and updated periodically in the same way the Bible for instance is not?

    annual pilgrimages = Cop conferences

    Pilgrimmage suggests a religious duty to go which i don’t really see happening. Kyoto is a sacred Shinto site I gather but not so much a place that climatologists will pray towards! ;-)

    the crusaders = climate change movement

    Perhaps for some fighting the Climate Change threat has become a “crusade.” I don’t think it is for everyone or is always the case but I guess I can concede that one.

    There were a few more uncanny similarities like that that escape my memory at the moment. I found out a couple of days ago Micheal Crichton had also drawn a few similarities between the climate change movement and organised religion, though I can’t find the text.

    Are you, maybe, referring to his SF novel ‘State of Fear’ – wikipage linked to my name here?

    If so, note that the science in that novel has been widely critiscised and that Crichton himself is a non-climatologist with some decidedly kooky ideas – to quote from his wiki-page, one link away from the source linked to my name :

    At Harvard he [Michael Crichton - ed.] developed the belief that all diseases, including heart attacks, are direct effects of a patient’s state of mind. He later wrote: “We cause our diseases. We are directly responsible for any illness that happens to us.”[16] Eventually he came to believe in auras, astral projection, and clairvoyance.
    - Michael Crichton-wikipedia page, 2012 Feb. 4th

    So you may want to reconsider taking his word as gospel when it comes to valid science although I’d agree he’s a great writer!

    One of the things that woke me up from my own climate change stupor (until then I had more or less did what Phil Plait and his otter do: close my ears and sing la la la) was how CAGW activists were acting increasingly like religious zealots. That offended my atheist sensibilities.

    Can you provide any specific examples of “CAGW actibvist behavinglike religious zealots, please?

    When the then Aussie Primer Minister, Kevin Rudd, who at the time was very popular with me, opened up a barrage of abuse at ‘deniers’ and ‘flat-earthers’ in mid-2009, and declared that climate change was ‘the greatest moral challenge of our time’, I finally decided to look at this issue in more detail for myself. I might not be a climate scientist nor even a scientist, but then again neither was Kevin Rudd. It was impossible for me not to be alarmed… at the parlous case for for Apocalypse 2100. Did they really expect me to believe from this little evidence, most of which is “trust me I am a climate scientist” or “this is too complex for your puny mind” kind of evidence?

    I don’t think that’s a fair characterisationof the evidence. Rudd was certainly not the greatest PM and his rhetorical over-reach was unfortunate – not least politically for himself! ;-)

  202. D’oh! Okay, now its the final part # @ 166. sHx (Where does editing time go? Sigh.) :

    It was impossible for me not to be alarmed… at the parlous case for for Apocalypse 2100

    So, what was particularly un-impressive about that case. Which things struck you as being “parlous” and why, please?

    What about the torrents of abuse I experienced, each time I wanted to ask a question in pre-CAGW cult blogs during my discovery period? Even a truly ignorant but honest question on my part (e.g. geo-engineering as a solution) was dismissed usually because I was either a shill for big oil, a sock-puppet, or concern troll or a gullible soul that has been duped by evil deniers and so on and so on. Even asking a question was heresy!

    Are you really saying *no one* provided you with calm politely delivered rational evidence as I am endeavouring to do? No one answered your questions in a civilised form? Everyone responded with rude invective and dismissiveness? Really? I find that hard to believe and, if true, quite saddening.

    People certainly can go Over-The-Top in attacking others and those attacks can be painful and actively turn people off the arguments being made. :-(

    It is well worth everyone remembering that other commenters are human beings who deserve a certain amount of respect and courtesy. I think the BA’s Don’t be a jerk rule is a very good one and I try to set a good example and behave politely, considerately and reasonably. I admit I may not always succeed in this but I do try.

    Although there are equally trolls and idiots like ‘mememine69′ for instance who can quickly annoy and wear down the patience and tempers of those arguing for the climatological consensus and who give more reasonable “climate skeptics” a bad name. :-(

    After people have heard a given climate canard that has been debunked a hundred and one times already it is easy to comprehend why the 102nd mention of it may result in them snapping and responding with a bit more frustrated anger than may be that 102nd askers due.

    The True Believers (of the CAGW cult, that is) had gone well-beyond discussing questions like “is there a god!” and had begun debating among themselves, page after page, questions like how many angels could dance on a kilowatt of wind generated electricity.

    Well kilowatts of energy are a bit more scientific than angels. Just a bit. ;-)

    I don’t have to be a priest neither do I have to have a degree in theology to figure out for myself whether there is a god. I can examine and accept/dismiss the evidence for that for myself. And I don’t have to be a climate scientist, nor do I have to have a science degree, in order to accept/dismiss the evidence for a climate doomsday.

    Maybe so but don’t you think the climatologists who ‘ve studied this issue for many years and decades just might have some idea what they’re talking about and might be worth listening to? Don’t you think the evidence they provide – and make freely available to everyone so people can check for themselves – is based on something valid?

    Let me re-iterate what I said in previous thread: the CAGW movement has all the hallmarks of a doomsday cult. I don’t like being coerced, especially by an act of government, to take part in their crazy crusade.

    Fair enough.

    However, that’s certainly not how I see things.

    I don’t see climatologists as a cult or leading any sort of crusade so much as making reasonable extrapolations of climate trends based on observed and calcluated scientific evidence and saying : “Hey folks, we have a problem here which we need to act on or we’ll be in trouble.”

    We have governments getting in the way and ignoring that science even rejecting it outright on ideological grounds and I’m not sure which government you think is coercing you or how.

  203. @Elizabeth: I know others have replied to this post, but I may as well take a shot as well.

    Since you [Dr. Plait] are so sure that the science is settled you will surely be able to research and answer my questions about climate change throughout the Holocene.

    That doesn’t follow. It’s not like Phil is presenting some new, dubious information, and it’s not his role to address every question asked.

    Here’s an analogy: I’m quite sure that the scientific consensus about, say, the efficacy of the MMR vaccine is correct. Many, many studies have been done on the subject by highly qualified scientists. I can’t personally prove to you that my trust in this consensus is well-founded. I could post some links, but nothing you couldn’t find yourself. I’m not an epidemiologist, virologist, etc, so I can’t personally speak to the details of your inquiry, but that doesn’t mean my opinion is invalid. Given the weight of evidence, hypothetically, if you were questioning me on that topic, the burden of proof (in this case that the MMR vaccine is effective and safe) would be on you. And even if I WERE an expert on the subject, I wouldn’t necessarily feel inclined to spend the time addressing questions that you can easily answer with Google.

    Here is a handy reference and graph of Holocene temperatures:
    [link erased]
    Here are my questions:
    How does your theory explain the ice age?

    Phil’s theory? I assume you’re referring to anthropogenic climate change? It’s not as if Phil just came up with this out of nowhere yesterday afternoon. And which of many ice ages? If you mean to ask how climate change happens in the absence of humans, that’s another well-worn question. Many forcings influence the climate. Past ice ages don’t invalidate anything.

    How does your theory explain the rapid warming at the end of the ice age?

    “Rapid” and “warming” are both relative. I’ll note that the warming we’re seeing now is both faster and greater in magnitude than the climate changes we see in the recent geological record.

    How does your theory explain the fact that it was 2-9 degrees warmer than present 6-8 thousand years ago?

    I’m not seeing anything about that in what you linked to (or anywhere else).

    Why do you suppose the archeologists and anthropologists of yesteryear coined the term ‘Climate Optimum for this period, if warming is bad (I am sure they would know better now)?

    Oh for Spag’s sake! If I get tested for hepatitis and the doctor says my test came back “positive,” does that mean she’s delighted that I have liver disease?

    How was this warm episode caused by ‘anthropogenic CO2′ and ‘who’ was producing it – since you discredit all other explanations for climate change?

    Another straw man. No one’s “discrediting all other explanations for climate change” in the past, just RIGHT NOW. In fact, we have a pretty darn good idea of what’s causing warming right now, because, among other things, it’s happening right in front of us. In the present. Are you really trying to assert that 97% of climatologists are unaware of past climate change?

    Why didn’t the warming trend of 8,000 years ago accelerate and become out of control as predicted by current CO2 driven models of climate change? Why did it stop instead?

    Again, who said anything about going out of control? Also, since the forcings back then were different, the effects on different parts of the globe were also different, which also affects the feedbacks.
    For instance, if in a prehistoric period of warming (in the sense of average global temperature), a certain area may have remained covered with glaciers, while another region may have warmed more. The glacier-covered area may cover large deposits of peat and permafrost which did not melt and therefore did not release a bunch of methane (a feedback). That’s just an example, but it’s important, because current warming seems to affect polar regions disproportionately because of the nature of radiative heat transfer and the greenhouse effect. A past warming episode in earth’s history may have involved, say, orbital changes that didn’t affect polar regions disproportionately.

    Why has it been cooling off for the last 6,000 years?

    What?

    If greenhouse gases are the dominant driver of climate change, why has warming stalled for the last decade while anthropogenic CO2 levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise?

    Another PRATT (Point Refuted A Thousand Times).

    @sHx:

    Let me re-iterate what I said in previous thread: the CAGW movement has all the hallmarks of a doomsday cult. I don’t like being coerced, especially by an act of government, to take part in their crazy crusade.

    And you have all the hallmarks of a troll. Perhaps you aren’t one, but hey, you have the hallmarks
    Seriously, you actually describe a religion rather than a cult. Which is nitpicking, I know, but I had to do it. The fact remains that you’ve completely departed the debate at hand and resorted to making similes instead. Which is fine, and works great for political rhetoric or matters of opinion, but isn’t all that convincing in this particular case.

  204. sHx

    @Messier Tidy Upper

    Mate, that was a heroic effort. (If I knew how to make one of those toothy smileys this would be the time to do it.) I mean a really heroic effort.

    Thank you for the comprehensive response.

    I am tempted to write an extensive response, a fisking, perhaps, but I am a lousy typist and my grammar sucks.

    It is time like these that I wish we had this conversation over a beer. It would be so much quicker and so much more entertaining. I really admire your honesty and straightforwardness.

    Here is a guy whom I’ll never suspect of any duplicity in a debate and whose rhetoric and sophistry I can recognise from a mile away even before he breaks into a guilty smile.

    And, of course, you’d get to hear my great accent.

    You know I quite like you (we have history, people!) Hell! If you were a woman I would have married you. (insert toothy smile here)

    Anyway, this thread is about to die and it is time to move on to freshers pastures.

    Drop by Bishop Hill sometimes. If they give you trouble there, call out my name. I’ll come get you.

    Best wishes and fisk you around. :)

  205. sHx

    @JosephG
    #205
    “And you have all the hallmarks of a troll.”

    Yeah! That’s what I am!

  206. @ sHx: Yeah! That’s what I am!
    Well, my point was that you aren’t, but that any smartass like me can claim that you have the hallmarks of one.

    But if you want to go ahead and accept the troll mantle, be my guest :)

  207. SLC

    Just for the information of those readers who may not be familiar with the antecedents of the Heartland Institute, with which Michaels, and Singer, are associated, it should be pointed out that this less then august organization was originally founded with heavy funding from the tobacco companies for the purpose of promulgating propaganda against the scientific finding of the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. As this sort of denialism have become less tenable over the decades, and thus less lucrative, they have solicited the support of the energy companies, particularly the Koch brothers, and now promulgate propaganda disputing the scientific consensus on AGW.

    Incidentally, Un. of Virginia physics professor Fred Singer is a world class denier. In addition to denying AGW, he also denies that cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer (although, to be fair, more recently he has moved the goal posts and only denies that secondary cigarette smoke is a health hazard). He also denies that CFCs are a cause of ozone depletion. By the way, Prof. Richard Lindzen also denies a link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

    I would also call to the attention of the readers here that we have neglected to mention another font of denialism which even exceeds that of the George Marshall Institute and the Heartland Institute, namely the Discovery Institute in Seattle. The list of scientific propositions that the denizens of this collection of whackjobs reject is mind boggling. In addition to AGW, cigarette smoking/lung cancer, and CFCs/ozone depletion, they also deny HIV/AIDS, evolution, and big bang cosmology (e.g. Jonathan Wells is a YEC).

  208. ND

    “162. Chris Winter Says:
    A quibble. ND, you meant to write, “And it’s not a negligible amount either.””

    Yes, that’s what I meant. We’re putting out more CO2 than volcanoes. That’s not a negligible amount.

    Elizabeth,

    You’re referencing Nigel Calder, who claimed volcanoes produce more CO2 per year than human activity? This guy is not credible and I’m not sure if you should be referencing him.

    There is one fundamental issue when I as a non-scientist have to deal with: why should I listen to you, a geologist when there are other scientists who are devoted to studying the climate full time. You talk about consensus among geologists regarding cause of climate change but how many geologists are researching climate change?

    I’m not convinced that you have a full grasp of climate change. I don’t either, but again, which scientists should I listen to?

    “Perhaps you could refer to my comment numbered 161 for my thought’s on the power of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. CO2 is greenhouse gas but it is a a minor one compared to that queen of greenhouse gases – H2O.”
    Yes but H2O is part of the water cycle. You’re deliberately ignoring human activity in your calculus where CO2 from underground is constantly being pumped into the atmosphere. Your comment is simply hand-waving and dismissive of the contribution of change in CO2 to climate change. There are many scientists who see the human contribution of CO2 and they’ve made case for it through years of research.

    “It is premature to make definitive conclusions about the role of CO2 in climate change because the science is literally in it’s infancy.”
    No, research on this has been going on for several decades now!

  209. P.T. Langford

    Joseph G, your arguments are thin, your rebuttals lack facts and you answer questions with questions, staying silent would do your argument more good than continuing your ranting.

  210. Archie Steel

    sHx: “And why do you still insist on using the expression ‘denier’ when it was explained to you clearly and distinctly that no one in the CAGW-skeptic community in fact denies climate change or global warming?”

    First, CAGW is not a real term. It was invented by deniers to make those who understand the science appear like emotionally-driver alarmists. Use of the term *immediately* identifies you as a political opponent of the science.

    Second, it is false to claim that no one in the “skeptic” community (a misuse of the word, as the true skeptics are the scientists and the people who evaluate their work as well as the evidence before forming a rational opinion) denies climate change or global warming. There are in fact quite a few people who deny the fact that it’s been warming, *including* Briggs, the subject of this article.

    In fact, the latest attempts by the WSJ and the Daily Mail at saying “there hasn’t been any warming for XX years” and “it’s starting to cool” are *perfect* examples of people who are denying the current warming trend.

    But first and foremost, you deserve the epithet “denier” because the evidence supporting the existence of the warming trend also supports the theory that humans are chiefly responsible. You deny evidence, therefore you are a denier. Get use to the term, because it’ll follow you around for as long as you refuse to accept the validity of AGW theory based on the empirical evidence supporting it.

  211. Phil Wright

    phil plait knows as much about climatology as he knows about ufo research:ie very little!

  212. noen

    There is no such thing as UFO research. It is not a scientific field but is instead a cesspool of con artists, conspiracy theorists, assorted grifters and their victims.

    Kinda like the GOP.

  213. Mike G

    How does your theory explain the ice age?

    How does your theory explain the rapid warming at the end of the ice age?

    Try here: http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/climatechange

    How does your theory explain the fact that it was 2-9 degrees warmer than present 6-8 thousand years ago?

    According to the very article you linked it, it wasn’t. On average it was cooler.

    Why do you suppose the archeologists and anthropologists of yesteryear coined the term ‘Climate Optimum for this period, if warming is bad (I am sure they would know better now)?

    Because the unusually stable period of climate was optimal for the development of agriculture and settlements.

    How was this warm episode caused by ‘anthropogenic CO2′ and ‘who’ was producing it – since you discredit all other explanations for climate change?

    No one ever claimed that the HCO was caused by anthropogenic CO2 or tried to discredit all other explanations of climate change. These are straw men. There are lots of known natural factors such as changes in the earth’s orbit or tilt of its axis, massive volcanism, etc. that can and have produced climate change in the past, though none are occurring now at a rate sufficient to explain the current warming. The fact that natural forces can cause climate change does not rule out CO2 as a factor that can also cause warming, nor does saying that CO2 is the dominant driver mean that other factors aren’t at play.

    Why has it been cooling off for the last 6,000 years?

    Did you read the wikipedia article you linked to? Again, the explanation is found right there- “This climatic event was probably a result of predictable changes in the Earth’s orbit (Milankovitch cycles) and a continuation of changes that caused the end of the last glacial period.”

    Also, pay attention to the last few centuries of the graph there- definitely not cooling.

    If greenhouse gases are the dominant driver of climate change, why has warming stalled for the last decade while anthropogenic CO2 levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise?

    Well, first of all there is no evidence that warming has stalled. The trend from the last 10 years is not significantly different from the previous 3 decades.

    Second, CO2 is currently the dominant driver in the trend. It is not the dominant factor in year to year variation. Given the magnitude of interannual variability due to factors such as ENSO, vulcanism, and sunspot cycles, the relatively small underlying trend can be obscured on short enough time scales. Surely as someone with scientific training, the idea of a trend obscured by noise is not new to you.

    But they are also not high in relation to concentrations that have occurred in the geological past. But 200-300 million years ago they were 2-5 times higher. Before the Carboniferous Period they were nearly an order of magnitude higher. You don’t even want to know how much higher they were in the Preacambrian before our atmosphere was scrubbed clean of CO2 by primitive life.

    Care to tell us what the climate was like during those periods? Any how many agricultural civilizations were there then that depended on a stable, predictable climate?

    How about the Paleocen-Eocene Thermal Maximum?

    But even then CO2 wasn’t a very good greenhouse gas because even then there was way more water, which is the most important greenhouse gas. And water has a different effect than CO2.

    While H2O is a more abundant greenhouse gas, it also precipitates out of the air when you try to add more of it. The only way to get more of it into the air is to increase the temperature first. It can be a feedback, but it is not a primary forcing. CO2 on the other hand can be a primary forcing because there’s no process that maintains it at equilibrium on short timescales. The fact that we can increase the CO2 greenhouse effect while we can’t increase the H2O greenhouse effect is what makes CO2 important.

    Cosmic rays are in fact required to nucleate clouds (no other means of doing so has ever been experimentally verified).

    Uh, no. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_condensation_nuclei

    You really should watch Richard Alley’s address at the American Geophysical Union meeting, explaining the geological evidence for CO2 as a driver for Earth’s climate. http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.shtml He addresses several of your recycled talking points specifically and sort of refutes your assertion that geologists won’t defend the CO2 hypothesis.

  214. SLC

    Re noen @ #216

    At one time, there actually was a serious effort to investigate UFOs that was funded by the air force. When I was a graduate student a million years ago, I met the principal investigator, J. Allen Hynek who was a professor of astronomy at Northwestern, Un. and former president of the American Astronomical Society, and had a brief discussion with him (this was before he turned into a whackjob with beliefs in alien abductions). At that time, it was his conclusion that nearly all the sightings were perfectly explainable by natural causes. However, there was one incident that he considered merited more investigation (I had heard about this incident on the Long John Nebel radio program). He recited an interview he had had with a New Mexico State Highway Patrolman who claimed to have actually seen what appeared to be a space ship of some kind land. In addition, there appeared to be some indentations on the ground where the incident allegedly occurred that did not appear to be from natural causes. Because the individual in question seemed to go out of his way to avoid publicity and refuse interviews in the media, he considered the man to be credible. That is to say that his behavior did not point to a con artist or grifter. And no, this incident did not take place anywhere near Roswell.

  215. Dave L

    phil wright said:

    “phil plait knows as much about climatology as he knows about ufo research:ie very little!”

    So we should assume that credentials matter a lot to you in this debate? Which means that you must be pretty impressed by the 98% of actual climate specialists who accept the reality of AGW?

  216. SLC

    Re neon @ #216

    Now that I think of it, the air force also funded a previous study on UFOs back in the 1940s by physicist Donald Menzel.

  217. Sean McCorkle

    Elizabeth,

    The case that global warming is due to increasing amounts of atmospheric CO2 can be made on the basis of some very strong physics and data that has been collected during the last century. The case rests on the principle of conservation of energy, and our knowledge of the physics of thermal radiation and molecular spectra, all of which are well understood and have been well verified over the last century (or more).

    The Earth is in radiative energy balance with the Sun. It receives energy from the Sun, which causes it to heat up. Hot bodies radiate, and in the case of the Earth, primarily in the infrared. The more it heats up, the more it radiates. A number of gases present in that atmosphere will absorb some of that outgoing radiation at various wavelenghs, effectly reducing the IR output of the Earth, so the Earth’s temperature will increase until the solar input and earth output radiation terms are in balance. While the heat distribution within the Earth’s atmosphere and ocean is very complicated, out in space and well above the atmosphere the energy budget is purely radiative.

    The Sun’s radiative output has been measured, since 1978, from space and found to be constant to within 0.15%. Even that small variation is cyclical with a period of 11 years; it doesn’t show any secular increase.
    http://www.pmodwrc.ch/pmod.php?topic=tsi/composite/SolarConstant
    Yet, the Earth’s temperature climbed over that period.

    The increase must be due a change of the input-output balance at the Earth. The observed increase does correspond roughly to that expected from IR trapping expected from molecular physics based on the the measured increase in CO2 since 1958
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keeling_Curve
    And, as expected, the temperature is correlated to the CO2 measurements over time:
    http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~emamajek/coolplots.html#CO2

    There are other aspects of the Sun-Earth radiation balance equation: variations in the albedo of Earth, or variations in other greenhouse gases for example. While H2O is, as you correctly point out, a stronger greenhouse gas, the water absorption lines do not substantially block the CO2 lines. The net IR capture is a combination—a sum—of that from CO2 as well as water and other greenouse gases. Furthermore, the water vapor concentration varies on short timescales; it comes and goes, whereas CO2 has been rising, slow and steady. Most importantly, whatever water does over time, it does not substantially block or negate the CO2′s effects. And from molecular physics, we KNOW that more CO2 will trap IR more radiation, and we know that the CO2 is increasing. If you want to argue that the temperature increase is due to an increase in water, then that would be even MORE heating over and above what we already know we will get from the CO2.

    So if you want to argue that increased heating is not due to CO2, but is instead due to something else, you must (1) first pose a plausible physical mechanism for removing the effects of CO2 IR trapping which we know will occur, and then (2) pose an alternative mechanism for the observed heating. Both of those must then withstand scrutiny and testing. For example, if you want to argue that cosmic ray variations have led to a decrease in the Earth’s albedo and thus more absorption of sunlight, you must explain how that occurs, and in particular how to get the increase. So far, the observations of cosmic ray flux appear to be cyclical and don’t show any sign of a secular increase or decrease
    (http://www.realclimate.org/images/cr2011.jpg)
    which argues that the cosmic-ray cloud formation can be ruled out as a cause of warming at this point.

    At the end of the day, the secular temperature increase can be explained by the CO2 buildup. A number of other proposed mechanisms either fail to explain the secular increase or don’t explain what would counteract the expected heating from CO2. AGW wins on the basis of Occam’s Razor.

    Simply arguing that we’ve observed larger “natural” variations in the past doesn’t cut it. The geologic record provides some data, such as gas concentrations and isotopic temperature estimators from ice cores, etc.but we are missing a lot of other measurements such as the solar output, ocean heat, geographictemperature distributions, etc. Explaining prehistoric global climate variations is a lot more difficult.

    Regardless, I can still nevertheless claim with a great deal of certainty that any heat increases in the Earth’s biosphere were caused by changes in the energy budget. Unless you can provide a plausible geologic or other source for that energy, it must have been due to changes in radiative balance. What those changes might have been exactly is difficult to say without more information. It could have been changes in solar output, cloud or ice cover changes in albedo for example.

    That the CO2 concentrations follow the temperature increases in the various records doesn’t disprove global warming; its been argued, quite plausibly, the CO2 buildup was part of biologic feedback cycles, that is, some intial warming (caused by Milankovic cylces or something) caused an increase in greenhouse gases (maybe methane or CO2 released from frozen deposits), which in turn, increase the heat by IR trapping, etc.

    Without more detailed data from those times, its difficult to rule things out. Thats in contrast to the last 100-50 years where we have a lot more measurements which help us rule out many possible alternative mechanisms such as solar variation, cosmic rays, etc.

  218. Chris Winter

    Elizabeth Anderson replied to my

    3. Don’t build your questions on false assumptions, or I’m liable to ask, “How do you explain the fact that your husband is still slapping you around every night?” You get my drift.

    With: “Ah, the old ad hominem attack – don’t attack the argument – attack the speaker. You caveman you – I thought this sort of misogyny had disappeared.”

    Obviously you don’t get my drift. I don’t believe your husband slaps you around every night. (I wouldn’t even venture to guess whether or not you have a husband. Nor does it matter here.)

    I was merely attempting to contrast one bogus assumption with another, and by doing that give you some idea how we feel about having to explain over and over again why so many assumptions posted here are bogus. (And by the way, asking the “Are you still beating your wife” question in one form or another has become a standard shorthand way of saying someone’s assumption is baseless.)

    “Apart from your rudeness, your insistence on confining the debate to a post 1900 tine period requires that something has changed since then – What would that be? the nature of the carbon cycle? The nature of the greenhouse effect vis a vis H2O? the laws of physics?”

    The carbon cycle hasn’t changed. It still operates far too slowly to sequester the large volumes of fossil carbon that are entering the atmosphere. What has changed is the number of devices burning that fossil carbon (coal, oil, natural gas) and spewing CO2. That number has expanded with human population to a degree that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising 10,000 times faster than nature could push it — due to our activities.

    It could be said that in this one respect we have become a force of nature ourselves. That’s why I worry.

  219. Sean McCorkle

    (apologies – meant to link directly to the temperature-CO2 plot above)
    http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~emamajek/images/co2.jpg

  220. Chris Winter

    Joseph G wrote (#207): “Another PRATT (Point Refuted A Thousand Times).”

    That’s great. I’m going to use that. But I think I’ll make it PRATTL (Point Refuted A Thousand Times Lately) so it can be used in place of the word “prattle.”

  221. Chris Winter

    @Archie Steel: I breezed past your #191 the first time, and got the impression that your mention of “So, You Think You’re Psychic?” was a cut at Mr. Briggs. Then I came back and realized it’s a real book. Published by means of lulu.com. Available through Amazon.com for about $25. (No customer reviews.)

    Here’s the citation, for reference:

    SO, YOU THINK YOU’RE PSYCHIC?
    William M. Briggs
    LuLu.com, September 2006
    978-1-84728-477-8

    Perhaps our shrewd statistician, William M. Briggs, could benefit from reading this book by (co-author) William L. Briggs, which Amazon also carries:

    USING AND UNDERSTANDING MATHEMATICS: A Quantitative Reasoning Approach (5th Edition) [Hardcover]
    Jeffrey O. Bennett (Author), William Briggs (Author)
    New York: Addison Wesley (January 31, 2010)
    978-0-321-65279-9

  222. 213. Langford Says: Joseph G, your arguments are thin, your rebuttals lack facts and you answer questions with questions, staying silent would do your argument more good than continuing your ranting.

    Well shoot, I’m sure your reasoned, well-cited commentary will blow my thin arguments right out of the water! Hmm….
    That’s odd, I can’t seem to find anything. So you actually didn’t post anything except that? In that case, I’m flattered. I was all geared up for a fight, but apparently I’m just a thorn in the side of those without an argument. Which is exactly where I like to be.

    @224 Chris Winter: Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for it. I first read the term (PRATT) at rationalwiki.org. If you haven’t been there, be warned: it’s addictive. It’s a lot like a snarky version of wikipedia, that is, they aren’t obsessive sticklers for “NPOV” :)

    215. Phil Wright Says: phil plait knows as much about climatology as he knows about ufo research:ie very little!
    Actually, I would guess that Phil knows pretty much everything there is to know about UFO research. Much as I know pretty much everything there is to know about turning a spork into a pea catapult.

  223. @221 Sean McCorkle: Wonderful post. You do a great job of going back to first principles, which I think is important for defusing the various Gish Gallops that seem to surround this issue. At the end of the day, the earth is heating up, the sun isn’t, and there’s only one reason for the change that’s supported by many, many lines of evidence.

  224. Daniel J. Andrews

    I was going to post some rebuttal regarding Elizabeth’s misconceptions, but Sean (221) has done a much better job than I could have done. Thanks Sean…you said a lot of what I was going to say but much better. And you’ve saved me the time so I can do something else instead (like watch another lecture from Dr. Archer’s climate course). I just want to emphasize,

    So if you want to argue that increased heating is not due to CO2, but is instead due to something else, you must (1) first pose a plausible physical mechanism for removing the effects of CO2 IR trapping which we know will occur, and then (2) pose an alternative mechanism for the observed heating. Both of those must then withstand scrutiny and testing.

    , especially the first part regardless of whether you think it is warming or not warming or just staying the same–you have to explain why all that extra CO2 is NOT doing anything. As Dr. Alley said, “It’s physics. We just can’t get away from that”. (Google his AGU lecture on CO2 being the biggest control knob. He deals with some of Elizabeth’s wrong assertions in that entertaining informative lecture).

  225. noen

    SLC said:
    “At one time, there actually was a serious effort to investigate UFOs that was funded by the air force.”

    Sure but there is no such field of study now and if a scientist were to announce he was going to his career would be over. There simply is zero evidence that it is a real phenomenon. One of the problems that single craft sightings fail to explain is “where is the rest of the fleet”? We know that FTL travel is impossible so any alien species would have to come here in large self contained colonies. Where are they?

  226. DAV

    @225 Chris Winter

    How do you know he hasn’t read it? Here’s one I know he has though:

    Probability Theory: The Logic of Science
    by E. T. Jaynes
    Cambridge University Press
    ISBN 0 521 59271 2

    Who knows? Maybe you can get something out if yourself?

    @191, Archie Steel

    Rather than come out and say what skeptics already know, i.e. that parapsychology is bunk

    Sometimes, the best way to teach an idea is to let the student come to his/her own conclusions through personal investigation. That’s what lab work is supposed to be about. Back in the old days, Phil used to encourage that himself. My impression is: not so much anymore. It’s a far better approach than “Trust me, I have a PhD” and other forms of authority reliance.

    I really have to wonder what is being taught nowadays.

  227. Gunnar

    One thing I am learning from Phil Plait’s threads about the potential damage that can be caused by anti-vaxxers and AGW denialists is that there are apparently a few very vocal scientists (or would-be scientists) who like to think that their undoubted expertise in their own field of science qualifies them as credible experts in other scientific fields on which they wish to comment. Phil Plait is obviously not one of those, as he bases his attempts to raise awareness about the potential problems posed by global warming, not on his own expertise as an astronomer, but on the published work of those scientists who have actually dedicated their lives to climatological research. It is disappointing to me that there are still scientists, even some who are deservedly respected on their own fields, who seemingly fail to realize that when it comes to scientific specialties other than their own, they are not necessarily any better informed (and can even be less well-informed) than than many intelligent and well-read laymen. I would hope that such scientists are very much in the minority!

    As for me, as much as I hate the implications and potential dangers posed by AGW, I will continue to place more credence in what actual climatologists have to say about the subject than on anyone, scientist or otherwise, who disputes their findings without presenting some very compelling counter-evidence. So far, everyone of these threads on this issue, when I have followed and read the links provided, have only strengthened my impression that even some of the “deniers” claiming to be scientists are guilty of reiterating arguments that have been resoundingly refuted and debunked many, many times!

    The often repeated comparision of rejecting the opinion of 98% of oncologists that something causes cancer in favor of the 2% who disagree is very apt, I think.

    By far the stupidest claim by deniers is that these 97-98% of climatoligists who support the reality of global warming are all liars or incompetents!

  228. Gunnar

    The only way to prove with 100% certainty that failure to ameliorate AGW will be catastrophic is to refuse to do anything about it until the catastrophe actually occurs. This would be insane–especially when so many of the proposed remedies would be undeniably beneficial and have potentially great economic benefits (except for those corporations that are stubbornly committed to putting all their eggs in the fossil fuels energy basket), even if AGW really were nothing to worry about. So why do so many “denialists” seem to be so stubbornly opposed to even well-thought out and potentially beneficial programs and policies that would encourage and accelerate weaning ourselves from dependence on fossil fuels and wasteful exploitation of non-renewable resources?

  229. SLC

    Re neon @ #229

    I completely agree with Mr. neon that UFO studies are an exercise in futility. The two studies funded by the air force were mainly in response to pressure from politicians who in turn were feeling pressure from constituents.

    There was an interesting internet debate between the late Carl Sagan and the late Ernst Mayr that took place sometime in the 1990s on the question as to the ubiquity of intelligent life in the universe. Sagan took the position that such life might be quite common; Mayr took the position that such life would be quite rare. Obviously, it’s a little hard to extrapolate from a sample of 1, considering the fact that the evolution of humans on this planet was contingent on the asteroid collision that wiped out the dinosaurs.

  230. Chris Winter

    Regarding my suggestion that William M. Briggs read the book William L. Briggs co-authored, DAV wrote: “How do you know he hasn’t read it?”

    I don’t know, but given the apparent lack of rigor in WMB’s postings, he probably hasn’t.

    “Here’s one I know he has though:”

    Probability Theory: The Logic of Science
    by E. T. Jaynes
    Cambridge University Press
    ISBN 0 521 59271 2

    “Who knows? Maybe you can get something out if yourself?”

    I probably could. You notice I haven’t criticized WMB’s statistics work myself? That’s because I have no particular expertise in that area. But I trust those who have criticized his work.

    “Sometimes, the best way to teach an idea is to let the student come to his/her own conclusions through personal investigation. That’s what lab work is supposed to be about. Back in the old days, Phil used to encourage that himself. My impression is: not so much anymore. It’s a far better approach than “Trust me, I have a PhD” and other forms of authority reliance.”

    That is extremely true. But after umpteen iterations of pointing to where dubious visitors here can do that personal investigation (since they seem to need the pointers) and being told those are propaganda sites, Phil can be forgiven if he sometimes says the equivalent of “I’m right, you’re wrong. Deal with it.”

  231. Chris Winter

    Gunnar wrote (#232): “The only way to prove with 100% certainty that failure to ameliorate AGW will be catastrophic is to refuse to do anything about it until the catastrophe actually occurs. This would be insane–especially when so many of the proposed remedies would be undeniably beneficial and have potentially great economic benefits (except for those corporations that are stubbornly committed to putting all their eggs in the fossil fuels energy basket), even if AGW really were nothing to worry about.”

    Exactly. This is why I find the argument that the projected harm has not occurred yet so annoying. I want to say, “Of course it hasn’t occurred yet. It’s in the future, you fool!”

    “So why do so many “denialists” seem to be so stubbornly opposed to even well-thought out and potentially beneficial programs and policies that would encourage and accelerate weaning ourselves from dependence on fossil fuels and wasteful exploitation of non-renewable resources?”

    What a question! You might as well ask, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” Oh, wait — someone (Thomas Frank) already has. He concluded (as best I understand it) that it was a mixture of short-sightedness, political ideology, and fear of the future.

    I think back to something Jacob Bronowski wrote (paraphrased): “We are not afraid of the future because of the [atomic] bomb. We are afraid of the bomb because we have no faith in the future.”

  232. This is another fine article. The denial of human-caused climate change is currently the subject of several abnormal psychology studies being performed within some colleges and universities (such as the University of Colorado, Boulder).

    The denial of human-caused climate change is very much like religious fanaticism, both of which are perpetuated and defended by greed.

  233. DAV

    @234. Chris Winter

    given the apparent lack of rigor in WMB’s postings, he probably hasn’t [read the book]

    Oddly though he recommends it.

    You notice I haven’t criticized WMB’s statistics work myself? That’s because I have no particular expertise in that area. But I trust those who have criticized his work.

    “Lack of rigor” isn’t criticism? OK.

    But after umpteen iterations of pointing to where dubious visitors here can do that personal investigation …

    Not just visitors it seems. There’s a lot of parroting of the opinion of others here which ultimately is what “placing trust in those who have” implies. Some of the more vociferous should at least recognize this and humbly admit they don’t really know.

    When I said “personal research,” I didn’t mean run an opinion poll. I meant go get the data and try processing it yourself. You may find in the process that sometimes even the underlying data get misrepresented or portrayed oddly. It’s not as hard as you might think.

    To do that you will need some tools. One of them is statistics. It comes in handy even when reading papers as many nowadays have strong statistical elements. The book I cited above would be a good start. It originally was written for physicists. Briggs teaches statistics at Cornell. He runs a web site where the main topic is statistics. His biggest beefs are egregious application and overstatement of certainty. Many of his posts are howto’s. He’s just started running one on time series (again). It also could be a good start.

    Of course, you could just simply continue to rely on others and never really know if your trust has been misplaced.

  234. Gunnar

    Chris Winter @#235 said:

    “He concluded (as best I understand it) that it was a mixture of short-sightedness, political ideology, and fear of the future.”

    I’m sure that is correct. The Republican Party used to be my party of choice (it has produced some great leaders, the most notable of which is Abraham Lincoln), but now it seems to be dominated by extremely wealthy, anti-science ideologues whose primary motivation seems to be insuring the retention and augmentation of their already considerable wealth, influence and power. It is becoming ever more obvious to me that they can’t stand the idea of the Obama administration succeeding at accomplishing its goals–especially the most worthwhile goals goals that have the most potential to make a positive difference, and that they are dedicated to sabotaging anything that would make Obama look good in the eyes of the electorate. I think the American populace is being becoming increasingly aware of and disgusted by that fact. By this kind of attitude, they will ultimately hurt their own party far more than they will hurt their opponents (I hope)!

  235. Will

    Oh my… Attacked? Really? This has nothing to do with climate change Phil, and everything to do with data analysis.

    You fit a line to the mean of a set of time series measurements. There are good reasons to not do this. Why didn’t you just use the raw measurements? Did you try incorporating those error bars in to your analysis, or are you saying they don’t mean anything?

    You are too certain of your conclusion. End of story.

  236. @ 231. Gunnar :

    As for me, as much as I hate the implications and potential dangers posed by AGW, I will continue to place more credence in what actual climatologists have to say about the subject than on anyone, scientist or otherwise, who disputes their findings without presenting some very compelling counter-evidence. So far, everyone of these threads on this issue, when I have followed and read the links provided, have only strengthened my impression that even some of the “deniers” claiming to be scientists are guilty of reiterating arguments that have been resoundingly refuted and debunked many, many times! … [Snip] … By far the stupidest claim by deniers is that these 97-98% of climatoligists who support the reality of global warming are all liars or incompetents!

    ^ This! Well said and seconded by me. :-)

    Also @ your #232 :

    The only way to prove with 100% certainty that failure to ameliorate AGW will be catastrophic is to refuse to do anything about it until the catastrophe actually occurs. This would be insane ..

    Indeed. It’s like driving a car at breakneck speed towards a seemingly solid wall – you can speculate that the wall just might possibly, perhaps, be a hologram or mirage or something and not be there at all but the odds are very strongly against that speculation and you really *don’t* want to confirm that wall is real by slamming into it full speed. :-o

    @208. sHx : Umm, thanks, I guess. I’d have liked to see your thoughts on what I actually wrote and I hope its made you think again on this issue but I’m glad you appreciate my contribution here. :-)

    BTW. One book that I’d strongly recommend reading as a calm, rational, fact based discussion of this topic is Poles Apart : beyond the shouting, who’s right about climate change?’ by Gareth Morgan & John McCrystal which goe sthrough allteh argumenst and evdience – or at leats most of them in a readable, well-presented, non-politicial way taking evidence from both sides and trtyying to be as objective as possible.

  237. @224. Chris Winter :

    Joseph G wrote (#207): “Another PRATT (Point Refuted A Thousand Times).” That’s great. I’m going to use that. But I think I’ll make it PRATTL (Point Refuted A Thousand Times Lately) so it can be used in place of the word “prattle.”

    Good ones – I love both those acronyms & may well adopt them myself too! :-)

    @222. Chris Winter :

    .. by the way, asking the “Are you still beating your wife” question in one form or another has become a standard shorthand way of saying someone’s assumption is baseless.

    Hmm, I always thought it was shorthand for asking an impossibly unfair prejudiced question designed to cast someone in a terrible light however they answered. ;-)

    @ 207. Joseph G :

    Oh for Spag’s sake! If I get tested for hepatitis and the doctor says my test came back “positive,” does that mean she’s delighted that I have liver disease?

    I literally laughed aloud at that. Well chuckled anyhow. :-)

    . Are you really trying to assert that 97% of climatologists are unaware of past climate change?

    ^ This! Exactly. So many climate contraraians seem to have such riduiculously low views of climatologsts that’s its hard to understand how they can possibly be serious about thinking the climate scientists could be so stupid.

    Climatologists unaware of past climatic change – really?!

    Climatologists overlooking the possible role of our Sun on Earth’s climate – really?

    Climatologists making a basic science mistakes so obvious and simple that a high school graduate could point it out to them – and be the first to do so? Really!? :roll:

    Great comment & seconded by me – ditto #221. Sean McCorkle’s comment. :-)

  238. Steven Sullivan

    Shame on you, ‘Elizabeth’ for only telling part of the story.

    One symposium (among many) at one annual meeting of the GAC does not a ‘growing ‘movement’ towards AGW denialism among Geologists make. Indeed, a former president of the GAC went to the trouble of specifically discrediting that symposium as a blot on the GAC’s record:

    http://friendsofginandtonic.org/files/6596cc9c861ea46f637a70ee9db1fc47-426.html

    The fact that more knowledgable scientists did not participate in it, or that some who did walked out (http://desmogblog.com/canadian-geologists-embarrass-themselves-climate#comment-718913), is telling in ways that perhaps you haven’t considered.

    Furthermore, the GAC itself has ‘endorsed’ the AGW consensus (http://desmogblog.com/canadian-geologists-embarrass-themselves-climate#comment-718956) and other professional Geological associations have too. Among them are: The American Geophysical Union, The Geological Society of America, and The Geological Society (London). Not to mention the National Academy of Science (USA) and the Royal Society of London, which of course are not specifically Geological.

    So from whence comes this claim of yours that Geologists are in any significant number turning away from the mainstream of climate science views on AGW? Evidence please. You are a scientist after all…right?

    (Btw I’m capitalizing ‘Geologist’ as a joke. It’s not standard practice, suggesting to me that perhaps you’re not exactly in the thick of it, are you?)

  239. Gunnar

    Thanks Chris Winter and MTU for your kind comments!

    MTU, I especially like your “car speeding towards a solid wall” analogy. It looks like to me that some of the worst of the “deniers” (or if you prefer, “contrarians”) not only oppose applying the brakes, but are, in effect, advocating mashing down the gas pedal and accelerating at maximum acceleration towards that “wall” that they refuse to believe exists. Or maybe they hope to smash the wall itself to smithereens instead of the car or themselves and think that maximizing their velocity is the best or even the only way to do it.

  240. @241 MTU: I literally laughed aloud at that. Well chuckled anyhow.
    Thanks! I aim to entertain :D

    Exactly. So many climate contraraians seem to have such riduiculously low views of climatologsts that’s its hard to understand how they can possibly be serious about thinking the climate scientists could be so stupid.
    Climatologists unaware of past climatic change – really?!
    Climatologists overlooking the possible role of our Sun on Earth’s climate – really?
    Climatologists making a basic science mistakes so obvious and simple that a high school graduate could point it out to them – and be the first to do so? Really!?

    Even if you give them the benefit of the doubt on a single paper (hey, everyone makes mistakes occasionally, we’re all human), they seem to think that ALL climatologists are incompetent ALL the time.
    Heck, sometimes I wonder if the denialists are aware how many climatologists there are out there? Maybe they think the whole field is Michael Mann and Al Gore? :-P

  241. ND

    Elizabeth, do you work in the petroleum industry?

  242. tmac57

    I am noticing more and more on debates about the warming trend ,that AGW ‘skeptics’ are claiming that:
    1.No one is saying that the earth isn’t warming.It’s just a matter of how much.
    and
    2.No one is saying that Co2 doesn’t cause warming.It’s just a matter of how much.
    So, is it fair to refer to those who claim the earth is cooling,and that Co2 does not cause warming,as deniers? Yes.
    But it is also fair to say that some of the so called AGW ‘skeptics’ are apparently in denial about there being AGW deniers.

  243. Steven Sullivan

    The contradictions within and between AGW ” skeptics’ ” positions are legion. They’re an incoherent bunch.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/contradictions.php

  244. Chris Winter

    DAV wrote (#237): “Lack of rigor” isn’t criticism? OK.

    Sure it is. It just isn’t detailed criticism.

    When I said “personal research,” I didn’t mean run an opinion poll. I meant go get the data and try processing it yourself. You may find in the process that sometimes even the underlying data get misrepresented or portrayed oddly. It’s not as hard as you might think.

    So you regard the substantive testimony of all the Web sites that report the existence and seriousness of AGW as a problem, together with the published work of all the climate scientists on which they base those reports, as opinion?

    “Briggs teaches statistics at Cornell.”

    Really? How come the only Briggs I could find on the faculty when searching the Cornell University Web site is a William B. Briggs, adjunct professor at the law school?

    “Of course, you could just simply continue to rely on others and never really know if your trust has been misplaced.”

    How much investigative work do I need to reproduce? How much have you?

    Let’s cut to the chase here. I cannot replicate the expertise I would need to guarantee the correctness of advice in every area of my life: medicine, aviation safety, automobile quality, travel to foreign countries, etc. etc. Like everyone, at some point I have to trust the experts until they prove untrustworthy. There are certain heuristics I rely on to help me decide which experts are a priori untrustworthy. These tell me to discount William M. Briggs.

  245. DAV

    Chris Winter

    How much investigative work do I need to reproduce? How much have you?

    A lot more than you from the sound of it.

    Let’s cut to the chase here. I cannot replicate the expertise I would need to guarantee the correctness of advice in every area of my life: medicine, aviation safety, automobile quality, travel to foreign countries, etc. etc. Like everyone, at some point I have to trust the experts until they prove untrustworthy.

    However ultimately then you are admitting to merely repeating or paraphrasing the words of others and adamantly claiming they must be right when in fact you just think they are. I’ve heard that’s what goes on here and came to see for myself. Things certainly have changed.

    The Royal Society of London’s motto is Nullius in verba but don’t try this at home folks — they’re what you would call Experts.

    There are certain heuristics I rely on to help me decide which experts are a priori untrustworthy.

    That’s nice. Hopefully it’s not the result of yet another opinion poll.

    Have a nice day now, y’hear?

  246. adelady

    Elizabeth@186 February 3rd, 2012 at 5:31 pm
    “It is premature to make definitive conclusions about the role of CO2 in climate change because the science is literally in it’s infancy.”

    Well, that’s a bit rich coming from a geologist. Arrhenius used physics knowledge, paper and ink to calculate the impact of increasing the atmospheric concentration of CO2 in 1896. And he was pretty well on the money.

    Geologists finally got their heads around tectonic plates 50 years later. But that’s no surprise really. Using absolutely unequivocal physics makes the problem Arrhenius addressed a matter of mathematical accuracy and thoroughness. Pretty straightforward conceptually – but quite onerous to do without the modern advantages of computing power. The only issues arising are those of timing (for transient and equilibrium effects) and of matters unrelated to physics – like human choices of technology and its uses.

    Geologists faced exactly the reverse problem. Seeing the results and consequences of processes and trying to work out what those processes might have been. And then seeing how those processes continue and thereby tying geology, seismology, vulcanology into a neat, coherent package.

    Both streams of science have benefited from the great advances of knowledge and skill of the last couple of centuries. Claiming that one or the other is “superior” or “immature” is a bit year 9, really.

  247. dhogaza

    Elizabeth@186 February 3rd, 2012 at 5:31 pm
    “It is premature to make definitive conclusions about the role of CO2 in climate change because the science is literally in it’s infancy.”

    Well, that’s a bit rich coming from a geologist…

    Yeah, given that Tyndell and Lyell were contemporaries, I guess one could say that geology is in its infancy.

    And in some respects, that’s true. Traditionally, trained geologists have very little exposure to physics, much less physics such as radiative transfer theory. They are, in Rutherford’s words, stamp collectors, and for much of the history of geology, it’s true. Plate tectonics, the most important theoretical underpinning of our understanding of the dynamics of the geology of the earth, was only developed in the 1960s (after our understanding of how CO2 warms the earth).

    In Elizabeth’s case, the lack of exposure to physics shows.

  248. Chris Winter

    Well, it’s been an interesting exchange between DAV and myself. I hope everyone looking on here noticed that he (almost certainly he rather than she) — the self-described disciple of rigorous investigation — ducked my question about William M. Briggs teaching at Cornell University.

    And so it goes…

  249. DAV

    Chris Winter. You needed something to save face with didn’t you? Plus you needed some way to provide a distraction from the heart of the discussion, no? Consider it a parting gesture.

    As for the answer why get it from me? Still have that need to take somebody’s word when it would be just as easy to ask Briggs directly? You are remarkably lazy but I guess about par for here. But of course, trying to get information as directly as possible is out of the question, eh? It might put a pin in your comfortable bubble and we certainly can’t have that.

    Think of it as a student exercise. You need the practice.

    Veni; Vidi; Discedo

  250. @255 DAV: Ah, condescension. It’s so very easy on the intertubes. It sure sounds wonderful to say “Don’t take anyone’s word for it – do the research yourself!” That’s also what woo-meisters say right before they steer you to websites hawking expensive snake-oil, along with “information THEY don’t want you to know.”
    Chris is right; for the average person, the ability to evaluate the qualifications of an expert to talk on a given subject is a more valuable skill then learning bits of various disciplines and trying to reproduce everyone’s work. ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’, as they say.

  251. DAV

    @256 Joseph G

    That was going to be my last post but OK.

    ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’

    Very true. But it is a reminder against assuming what you think you know is everything there is to know. The only way to guard against that is to continue acquiring more — not avoid doing so. Perhaps I am misunderstanding your usage here?

    It is also true that practicalities may require relying on others but it should never be assumed you have received the final word on anything. When having only expert opinion available it is always best to keep in mind that is knowledge acquired secondhand and thus should be regarded as possible hearsay no matter how valuable, correct or compelling it may seem. After all, how can you know it is truly correct and wasn’t distorted in the telling or caveats left unmentioned or maybe you’ve just plain misinterpreted what you heard or a gazillion other things? It happens.

    One should get as much firsthand knowledge as possible as it is likely the most reliable. If you find yourself repeating “expert” opinion it should always carry the caveat that it is secondhand and possibly unreliable (e.g., “I heard this and think it correct but I don’t really know”). Apparently, you are already aware that some of what is out there is unreliable. Third and fourth hand are even less reliable. Press releases for example sometimes don’t match the topic paper or give a unique spin to it. It never hurts to say “Oh yeah? Let’s check that out.” If you can come up with a better test than merely asking someone else so much the better. In fact, far better. Trying to duplicate the work when possible is even better still.

    When smugly proclaiming what was learned secondhand is Truth is the time to remember ‘A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing’.

    As for Chris, He stopped checking on the very first thing he believed supported what he undoubtedly considers a clever riposte which he tried to apply. I probably should have let it go but I am finding those tactics more and more irritating.

  252. Chris Winter

    DAV comes back with: Chris Winter. You needed something to save face with didn’t you? Plus you needed some way to provide a distraction from the heart of the discussion, no? Consider it a parting gesture.”

    What is the heart of the discussion? It is the credibility of the man you’re defending, no? If I may say so you’re not doing a very good job of defense.

    As for the answer why get it from me? Still have that need to take somebody’s word when it would be just as easy to ask Briggs directly?

    So, instead of taking your word, I should take Briggs’s word for it? But I will grant that on this point he might well give a straightforward and honest answer. I do know the complete answer now; but I got it from another source. (See below.)

    You are remarkably lazy but I guess about par for here. But of course, trying to get information as directly as possible is out of the question, eh? It might put a pin in your comfortable bubble and we certainly can’t have that.”

    Think of it as a student exercise. You need the practice.

    OK, here’s the answer: William M. Briggs did teach at Cornell. He “from 2003-2007 was assistant professor of statistics at Weill Medical College of Cornell University; and has been adjunct assistant professor of statistical science at Cornell University.” My source for that is his biographical sketch at the Heartland Institute’s ICC-6 site:

    http://climateconference.heartland.org/william-m-briggs/

    My research also disclosed that he

    * has an article in Free Republic titled “The Love of Money Leads To Socialism.”
    * signed the Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change
    * is among the signers of a letter thanking Roger E. Ailes for his work at Fox News

    All this and a presenter at a Heartland Institute conference too. You know those heuristics I mentioned? They’re flashing red for W. M. Briggs now.

    (H/t for the above information to Chombe’s comment on Open Mind. His comment is found here:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/william-m-briggs-numerologist-to-the-stars/ )

  253. Chris Winter

    Now here’s something interesting about William M. Briggs (if somewhat off-topic):

    He seems to have done a credible takedown of a study purporting to show the efficacy of Dahn Yoga.

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=1691
    Jan 19 2010
    Dahn-Yoga Touted “Peer-Reviewed Study” Stinks
    Published by Briggs at 11:19 am on 19 January 2010

    Also, he has a five-part series on the Dahn Yoga movement, which looks very like a cult. (This series, from 2009, is apparently available only on the Wayback Machine. Google his name along with “Dahn Yoga” and go to the Squidoo article by a former Dahn instructor. The original URL for Briggs’s five-parter is in there.)

  254. DAV

    Chris Winter,

    What is the heart of the discussion?

    See post 257

    So, instead of taking your word, I should take Briggs’s word for it?

    Oh my, yes! It’s the more direct approach. Anything other than that is poorer. You still don’t see that? You don’t have to accept what he says but it should be the starting point. An added bonus is you can get clarification of what he is saying without going through the filter of another.

    It is the credibility of the man you’re defending, no?

    Wasn’t defending him. It was part of a BTW on learning statistics and mentioning his blog a nice start mostly because he (kinda) uses English and you have a chance to question. You have to admit that he’s a bit of an expert on the subject. That seems your thing. Far better than getting your statistics education from those who give every indication of never having gone past Stat 101 which they didn’t seem to comprehend. At least one of the places you mention has repeatedly shown the proprietor to be one of those but you need to discover which on your own. Unlike science, math is provable and not open to interpretation.

    As I said, his biggest beefs are egregious application of statistics and overconfidence both of which are rife in the soft sciences. He admits that some of it is the result of bad and sloppy teaching by statisticians.

    And speaking of statistics, one thing I learned many years ago is that applying a straight line to obviously cyclical data is often a fool’s errand. If done at all, it requires extreme care and even then the results are questionable. Simple as it may seem it’s an immensely hard problem. Yet we see it happening again and again. Why is a good question.

  255. Mike G

    It never hurts to say “Oh yeah? Let’s check that out.” If you can come up with a better test than merely asking someone else so much the better. In fact, far better. Trying to duplicate the work when possible is even better still.

    And when you can’t duplicate the work you could assume that it’s because your layman’s knowledge is incomplete and then ask an expert why your answer is different…. Or you could take the all-too-common approach of assuming that there’s nothing wrong with your understanding and that your inability to reproduce the result of an expert is because everything they say is a lie. It’s a subtle difference.

  256. DAV

    I find the excuses for not trying to be enlightening. I get the impression that those who insist on authority reliance seriously doubt their abilities to understand yet many times they are the most vociferous in declaring possession of True Knowledge. I wonder why.

  257. Very true. But it is a reminder against assuming what you think you know is everything there is to know. The only way to guard against that is to continue acquiring more — not avoid doing so. Perhaps I am misunderstanding your usage here?

    That’s true. I think what I was getting at (forgive me, I’m keeping odd hours and it was “late”) was that sometimes we have a tendency to get a bit of information and feel that this makes us just as informed as someone who’s been studying a subject for years. And I’m certainly guilty of this – I’m the classic trivia-hoarder and it’s easy to jump into discussions I’m not that prepared for.
    It’s my opinion that a lot of contrarian types will go find an argument that seems counter to the mainstream and is supported by some impressive-looking calculations, and then assume that they’re fully armed for a battle of wits :)
    Anyway, it’s always good to try and learn more, but there are so many kinds of pseudoscience out there (astrology, whatever category moon-hoax-conspiracy-theories fall into, “quantum healing” woo and other kinds of “alt-med” for examples that I’ve seen on this very blog) that I don’t see how any person can possibly become familiar enough with all those fields to make expert judgements. Which is why I found myself agreeing with Mike about having personal heuristics that help you decide who’s the more credible expert on a subject.

    It is also true that practicalities may require relying on others but it should never be assumed you have received the final word on anything.
    Fair enough.

    When having only expert opinion available it is always best to keep in mind that is knowledge acquired secondhand and thus should be regarded as possible hearsay no matter how valuable, correct or compelling it may seem. After all, how can you know it is truly correct and wasn’t distorted in the telling or caveats left unmentioned or maybe you’ve just plain misinterpreted what you heard or a gazillion other things? It happens.
    True. Um… What were we arguing about again? :)

    One should get as much firsthand knowledge as possible as it is likely the most reliable. If you find yourself repeating “expert” opinion it should always carry the caveat that it is secondhand and possibly unreliable (e.g., “I heard this and think it correct but I don’t really know”). Apparently, you are already aware that some of what is out there is unreliable. Third and fourth hand are even less reliable. Press releases for example sometimes don’t match the topic paper or give a unique spin to it. It never hurts to say “Oh yeah? Let’s check that out.” If you can come up with a better test than merely asking someone else so much the better. In fact, far better. Trying to duplicate the work when possible is even better still.

    Definitely. My big concern is that it’s possible to mess up and not be knowledgeable enough to know that you’ve messed up. Particularly when dealing with such math-heavy subjects as global climate (or even statistics for a single set of temperature data).

    When smugly proclaiming what was learned secondhand is Truth is the time to remember ‘A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing’.
    Yeah.

    As for Chris, He stopped checking on the very first thing he believed supported what he undoubtedly considers a clever riposte which he tried to apply. I probably should have let it go but I am finding those tactics more and more irritating.

    I think a lot of us are a little cynical and short on patience due to the repetitive nature of a lot of these threads. So often, someone comes in and says some variant on: “Yeah, sheeple, go ahead and parrot your so-called ‘experts’! Meanwhile us free-thinking, un-brainwashed people are going to continue to tell the truth about 9-11/the moon hoax/area 51/vaccines/ufos/etc. But you go right on believing your infallible shepherds and keep not questioning authority!”
    So yeah, we can be kind of quick on the draw at times.

  258. @Chris Winter: My research also disclosed that he
    * has an article in Free Republic titled “The Love of Money Leads To Socialism.”
    * signed the Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change
    * is among the signers of a letter thanking Roger E. Ailes for his work at Fox News
    All this and a presenter at a Heartland Institute conference too. You know those heuristics I mentioned? They’re flashing red for W. M. Briggs now.

    Nice catch! Ok, my BS detector has officially pegged the needle as well, at this point.

  259. @DAV: As I said, his biggest beefs are egregious application of statistics and overconfidence both of which are rife in the soft sciences.

    I dunno, when I think “Soft Sciences”, I think of stuff that can be subject to a lot of subjective, personal interpretation, stuff like medicine, history, psychology, sociology. Human stuff.
    Science based on electronic measurements and very large sample sizes seems pretty “hard” to me.

    I find the excuses for not trying to be enlightening. I get the impression that those who insist on authority reliance seriously doubt their abilities to understand yet many times they are the most vociferous in declaring possession of True Knowledge. I wonder why.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but personally, I’m probably the last person you’d expect to rely on authority, and I suspect a lot of others here are the same. Like I mentioned before, though, we’re accustomed to folks who question a scientific authority without any good information, counter-authority, reasoning or even basic rationale behind them. I think one difference is that UFOs and astrology haven’t become economic and political issues that people are spending a lot of money to shape policy on. But then, that’s just one more reason for us to be cynical.

  260. Karolien

    Observation: Dr. Briggs didn’t leave any comments. Or is he AKA Luis Dias or another denialist commenting?
    I read an article about how facts don’t make a difference in one’s opinion. The gut feeling and out of control emotions are more important, especially for non-scientists. So I think the question is: “Can we afford to be wrong? Can we go back to the situation about 100 years ago very easy if we’re wrong?” I know the answer is NO! A simple risk assessment shows that even with a low chance of global warming being real, say 5%, we should do everything in our power to minimize the effects because the effects are so devastating. If in retrospective global warming would be shown to be incorrect, we can alleviate the measures. No harm done. If we do nothing, while all evidence seems to be pointing at warming, we can’t go back and non-reversible damage is done.
    Do we want to kick and ridicule each other because we want to win and be right or do we want to live and exist in harmony as a species on this beautiful pale blue dot called Earth?

  261. DAV

    @266. Karolien:

    is he AKA Luis Dias”

    That’s funny. He and Luis don’t see eye to eye on many issues.

    A simple risk assessment shows that even with a low chance of global warming being real, say 5%, …

    Ever notice that no one ever really checks the validity of risk assessments with the possible exception of insurers? How would you go about validating that simple assessment?

    Germany appears to be already regretting actions taken. So much for “No harm done.”

    @265. Joseph G
    I’m probably the last person you’d expect to rely on authority, and I suspect a lot of others here are the same.

    Then “My big concern is that it’s possible to mess up and not be knowledgeable enough to know that you’ve messed up” only applies to someone else? You’ll have to forgive me if it sounds little like burying one’s head in the sand. But that’s how Imprimaturs protect. What makes you so certain that being here hasn’t done that?

    Since you are one to go check alternatives: Here’s an alternative climate model written up in Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics. You may still be able get it. It was available online until 20 December 2011. I don’t know what the deal is now. Paywall most likely.

    It’s a purely mathematical model which so far seems superior to the GISS models (and — Oh My! — it has a CO2 component) and the ever-so-linear IPCC extrapolation. As with any model it’s easy to fit training data. It’s how it performs against unseen data that demonstrates reliability. This has been pointed out to Gavin in re the GISS model but he has yet failed to answer how that model is validated as it (1) gets revised on a regular basis which means there are sets of predictions and (2) so far (with its older predictions) it has a pretty dismal record.

    There’s a page set up at WUWT to check the model’s predictions. There have also been some guest posts by the author, Nicola Scafetta, at WUWT with some simplified descriptions. Heaven forbid you should go there and be seduced by the Dark Side. Of course, that’s only applies to those sheeple.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364682611003385

    Also in pdf booklet form:
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/astronomical_harmonics.pdf

    Scarfetta at WUWT:

    wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/09/scaffeta-on-his-latest-paper-harmonic-climate-model-versus-the-ipcc-general-circulation-climate-models/

    wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/scafettas-solar-lunar-cycle-forecast-vs-global-temperature/

    I’ve removed the leading parts. Seems links send a post to Purgatory — sometimes forever. Interestingly, the http in the first and second links reappear on their own but not in the WUWT ones. Maybe it’s that Imprimatur thing? Wow!

    Thing I like about Briggs’s blog is that people — like this climate modeler named Gavin — pop in occasionally. Makes for interesting dialog.

  262. D G Nortier

    As a matter of fact how much money are the guys insisting on the thread of global warming actually making, especially since one reader insisted on the amount of money he/she will make if global warming indeed is a fake? Secondly if measurements is indeed pretty good estimates then science indeed is relative and a real farce…

  263. Daniel J. Andrews

    I used to work for government, also taught at university. Then I started doing work for a consulting group to a resource extraction company. My salary doubled. Plus when I’m doing field work I’m paid 10 to 12 hours a day every single day I’m away from home even if I’m not actually working, and when I’m away from home for 2 months at a time a couple of times a year, I could just work four months and take the rest of the year off. These companies who become our clients have very deep pockets, and there are a number of people with us who make more money in one year than I could hope to make in 10 working for the government–which comes to what the highest paid chair of the department prof would make in about 5 years (assuming the university actually pays someone more to be chair).

    I point that out to demonstrate that university, government scientists are not the ones making the money. It is the people who work for resource extraction industries who make the money. Phil is right when he says “follow the money” when it comes to those who are denying that the globe is warming–it certainly won’t lead you to the scientists who work in academia or in the government. It’ll take you right to those with financial ties to some of the resource extraction industries who claim it isn’t warming (or it is cooling, or we can’t know for sure, or it is warming but it won’t be bad, the usual spaghetti on the wall stuff). Incidentally, this is all well documented in various source watch sites which use oil companies own reports found in the public record.

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