Breath-taking climate denial nonsense, this time aimed at NASA

By Phil Plait | April 13, 2012 12:16 pm

I’ve been getting lots of email and other notes about a group of 49 people — including some ex-astronauts — who have written a public letter to NASA complaining about the space agency’s stance that global warming exists and is caused by humans.

You can guess how I feel about it. But to be clear: it’s more denialist spin, nonsense, and noise. You can read the original leter here, and then I strongly suggest reading Shawn Otto’s devastating deconstruction of it. You can also read the response to this letter by NASA’s Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalatim if you’d like.

I’ll note that it doesn’t matter that former astronauts signed this propaganda letter — I’ve written about Apollo 17’s Harrison Schmitt and his climate change denialism before — but I note it does matter that of the 49 signatories on that letter, not one is an actual working climate scientist. That should give you pause. I’ll also note that 49 former NASA employees is a tiny, tiny fraction of the total. It’s not hard to find statistical outliers in a group that big. I knew a creationist who worked for NASA!

But really, my very favorite thing about this is the group behind the letter: a non-profit called Plants Need CO2, which, if you can believe it, actively advocates that more carbon dioxide is good for us.

Yes, once you’re done comically rubbing your eyes with your fists you can read that again. They think more CO2 is a good thing. The sheer gall of this idea is almost beyond imagining; it reminds me very strongly of the tobacco industry’s propaganda saying that smoking is good for you.

As for why this argument is weapons-grade nonsense, watch this Climate Crock video and see just how ridiculous it is:

It’s fascinating to see the denial noise machine move from trying to (misleadingly) sow doubt on the cause of global warming to actually advocating proactively for more carbon dioxide. It’s literally breath-takingly ludicrous.

As I’ve said before, here are the facts about carbon dioxide global warming:

The Earth is warming up. The rate of warming has increased in the past century or so. This corresponds to the time of the Industrial Revolution, when we started dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases warm the planet (hence the name) — if they didn’t we’d have an average temperature below the freezing point of water. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which is dumped into the atmosphere by humans to the tune of 30 billion tons per year, 100 times the amount from volcanoes. And finally, approximately 97% of climatologists who actually study climate agree that global warming is real, and caused by humans.

All the spin by the noise machine is just that. Spin. And remember, U.S. elections are coming up in November. The amount of nonsense in the media from global warming denialists will only increase during this time. How you vote will have an actual, physical impact on the future of not just your town, your state, and your country. It will impact the entire planet. Your vote counts. Make it a good one.


Related Posts:

New study clinches it: The Earth is warming up
2011: The 9th hottest year on record
While temperatures rise, denialists reach lower
New independent climate study confirms global warming is real
Case closed: “Climategate” was manufactured

Comments (172)

  1. ragnar

    Phil, how much CO2 do plants need? How much is too much?

  2. Matt

    Plants don’t need CO2, they need electrolytes. It’s what they crave.

  3. Drew

    This “plants need CO2″ argument would be remotely plausible if we weren’t simultaneously destroying old growth forests for things like wood, paper, and cattle pastures; AND dumping massive amounts of previously earthbound carbon compounds into the atmosphere. I wish I knew what the impact of transferring 100% of the ancillary wood harvesting market (i.e. paper) to a more efficient model, say, hemp plants (or some equally useful plant) would be on the continued deforestation of the planet.

  4. James

    I would think it would depend on the plant…

  5. Ozonator aka Robert Rhodes

    49ers of the New Dark Ages are gold digging by retreat mining of basic science and bad acting. This is plan “B” as extremist Republicans and Christians were unable to get an EIB-EssoKoch textbook approved in Texas (Perryanalstan) or Louisiana (Jindalstan). “The Limbaugh Peace Initiative: Amnesty for the Duped Warmers … February 15, 2010 … Rush … I am … total credibility … Do not read anything written by any “scientist” who tells you there is man-made … global warming” (the old, ugly and evil Rush “looting” Limbaugh whistlesucker perfuming the stink at rushlimbaugh.com).

  6. Gumboz1953

    How much is too much? Something between what we have now, and Venus.

  7. haversham

    That’s a bad question ragnar. It’s just vague enough to be irrelevant, as different plants would prosper differently under different conditions more than likely.

  8. amphiox

    Well, actually, I think more CO2 in the atmosphere actually could be good for us, increasing the bioproductivity of the earth, and the amount of life it can sustain.

    But it would also require moving the orbit of the planet out by about 15%, and the problem is surviving the transition.

  9. Trent1492

    I find it more fitting to call these clowns fake skeptics.

  10. wootie

    Ultimately I think you really only need to think of this in terms of one important theory – evolution.

    Plants evolved to thrive best under what have been traditional, historical environmental conditions for their areas.

    When you start messing with their environmental conditions…make it too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, whatever, you decrease their ability to thrive by the simple fact that they are no longer optimally suited for their environment.

    Over the course of geologic time, naturally, plants can adapt as a species, spawn new species, migrate their range, etc. This can already be seen in many areas of the world – as it can with animals. The speed of our current climate change is unprecedented in the historical record, however, and is therefore likely to have a much more disruptive effect than past climate changes.

  11. Phil – great article! Perhaps you can organize all your sources in one spot so they’re easy to navigate and refer to. Might be better than listing them all out in each post. I just started using TheRationalDebate.com to organize my sources. Thanks for all your work!

  12. Dan I

    Classic smoke and mirrors. Scientist covers a WIDE range of expertise. But you’ll NEVER see the deniers identify the discipline, because they KNOW that saying “Physicst criticizes…” will cause a few people to wonder “Well what does climate change have to do with physics.” Of course, the climate change denialists are the same people who try to say that the Big Bang theory is part of evolution science.

  13. CB

    “Well what does climate change have to do with physics.”

    I’d say quite a bit in some respects. E.g. it’s the physics of CO2’s absorption spectrum that makes it a greenhouse gas.

    Of course a physicists saying the climatologists don’t understand the climate is as silly as a climatologist saying the physicists built the Large Hadron Collider wrong. Which of course is why it’s “49 former members of NASA” and not “49 former members of NASA who are not climatologists”.

  14. Blargh

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: “Ugh, Greenman”.
    While he’s on the side of science when it comes to climate change, he’s also a promoter of pseudoscience – he uncritically posts anti-nuclear stuff on his blog that, when it comes to radiation, is every bit as crazy and science-contrarian as the wackiest of climate change denialism.

  15. Forty nine climate scientists now on board to design the next generation of manned rockets for NASA. Surprisingly, astronauts not lining up for its maiden voyage.

  16. Kid Cool

    I read that one of the ways we know that global warming is huamn caused is because of the isotopes of the CO2 in the atomosphere corresponds to CO2 that is 65m+ years old. Can anyone find a link to a scientific paper about that?

    Also, I have tried to get deniers to produce scientific papers to back up thier denial and usually it degenerates into me asking for real science and they calling me a closed minded liberal.

    I did get one good laugh at a deniers expnese when they provided a link show climate change is a hoax and I asked what scientific journal “Nazi Origins of Apocolyptic Global Warming” was from.

  17. Jim Adams

    Nicely written, Phil. Thanks.

  18. My question is why aren’t we concentrating on the real science that matters, to wit: How do we BEST control the problem of global warming. This best must be the most reliable, cost effective, and politically neutral means. Instead of trying to convince third-world countries and emerging cultures to reduce releasing of CO2, instead of trying to convince first-world countries to reduce energy use, instead of presuming we can change behavior through taxes (of any form)… why aren’t we just investigating the use orbital parasols? We could simultaneously reduce the global warming problems AND eliminate the horrid desert conditions around the equator with some simple aluminised-mylar in orbit. Oh, because that won’t cost enough… that’s why.

  19. MartinM

    …of the 49 signatories on that letter, not one is an actual working climate scientist.

    Indeed, the vast majority aren’t scientists at all. If they actually had a case, they wouldn’t feel the need to pad their numbers with administrators, astronauts and technicians.

  20. Animals need O2. Its obvious that both plants and animals were doing much better back in the Carboniferous, when levels of both CO2 and O2 were much higher. Heck we had bugs as big as barbecue grills. And sure there were huge fires all over the place (where do you think we got all that coal?), but we can always apply fire retardants (its much harder to fire retards like the denialists at NASA). So I say lets up the levels of both gases- after all there’s plenty of hot air already coming from these idiots. Besides, we ALL know that: The Stupid It Burns!

  21. Gus Snarp

    The astronauts signing on to this make me really sad. Especially the Apollo astronauts, and especially Charlie Duke, who I have a soft spot for because his commentary on the From the Earth to the Moon series was really great. The Apollo astronauts were men of unbridled courage. They are heroes, and always will be. They are all very intelligent. But they are not climate scientists, and while no one can be expected to be apolitical, I find it terrible that they have signed their names to a letter like this that clearly trades on their authority and cache as Apollo astronauts, in spite of the fallacious nature of the claims.

  22. Chris

    Water is good for people.
    Floods are water.
    Therefore floods are good for people
    QED

    Same kind of twisted logic makes people think CO2 is good. When only focus on one aspect instead of the big picture you really can make anything seem good. Anyway while CO2 is plant food, their growth is limited by the available nitrogen and phosphorous in the soil. So while you’ll gain some growth up front, it eventually levels off and not much more effect is seen. There have been several studies on this. Not to mention when the planet heats up yes plant growth will increase in the spring and fall, but it doesn’t help if it’s cooked during the summer.

  23. They are obviously talking out of their astronauts….

  24. MartinM

    Instead of trying to convince third-world countries and emerging cultures to reduce releasing of CO2, instead of trying to convince first-world countries to reduce energy use, instead of presuming we can change behavior through taxes (of any form)… why aren’t we just investigating the use orbital parasols?

    Yes, let’s fix our prodding of a chaotic system with potentially unpredictable consequences by prodding it even more. Brilliant.

  25. Ron1

    I used to think that astronauts were gods.

  26. Wzrd1

    I must disagree, CO2 is not plant food, it’s plant air for respiration during photosynthesis. But, if the gentleman wishes to call it plant food, how about we see if he’d be willing to perform the following experiment: Put him and some plants into a sealed chamber, with 95% “plant food”.
    Of course, he omits that CO2 is toxic to humans in significant concentrations. So, he’s advocating asphyxiation as a good thing, as it’s “plant food”. Indeed, let’s do the experiment at night and see how both he and the plants do.

    Chris, I was going to do that one! But, you beat me to it and did it quite well. :)

  27. MadScientist

    The “carbon dioxide fertilizer” experiments go back to 1920 and probably even earlier. One of the conclusions back then was that increased CO2 in the leaf or root system can be beneficial to some plants in controlled environments. An example of such a controlled environment would be a tulip hothouse in Holland in the middle of winter. The CO2 levels used in the air are high enough that all shallow marine ecosystems would be devastated if atmospheric concentrations were that high. High CO2 concentrations: great for tulip growers in a cold climate, may be of value in confined hydroculture setups for some high-value crops, but not so good for everything out in the open air.

    @Marc Brooks#20: The orbital parasols were dreamed up and investigated before 1990 and everyone who knows anything about it agrees that they won’t work. All “geoengineering” solutions proposed so far are unworkable due to the scales involved and the resources needed to implement any scheme. I was rather annoyed, and made no secret of it, when Paul Crutzen proposed the “sulfate aerosol solution” – after all he should have known it was unworkable, but I guess his aim was to write a shocking article and get people to think about the scale of the problem rather than to propose a serious solution.

  28. Gus Snarp

    @Wzrd1 – Actually, CO2 is not “plant air for respiration during photosynthesis” either. Photosynthesis and respiration are two separate processes, and plants do both. Just like people, plants need oxygen to burn sugars for fuel. It just happens that they built these sugars from CO2 in the air through photosynthesis. Plants therefore require both Co2 and O2, and produce both as well. So really, it’s actually more accurate to say that CO2 is plant food than it is to say it is plant air for respiration. Neither has anything to do with the fact that while more CO2 may be good for some plants under some conditions, the benefits to plant life are hardly needed and will not outweigh the risks of climate change. A plant that has access to lots of new CO2 won’t care when it can’t get enough water due to drought, or when it is being wiped out by invasive species that can suddenly move farther north into its territory.

  29. Wzrd1

    @29, MadScientist, absolutely correct. In an ocean or deep lake, the carbonic acid levels go through the roof in a high CO2 atmosphere. Very ungood for the ecosystem, but I imagine that those organizations funding these efforts also hate fish and fishing industries.

    As for sulfate aerosol solutions, there IS a workable way to have it work. Trigger a supervolcano. Of course, the ash would also help mask the atmosphere. Crop failures would be rampant, but being dead from starvation seems to be the goal of these fine people.

  30. Artor

    Jess Tauber @22 You win the internet!

    I read on Wikidedia that CO2 comprises .039% of the atmosphere. I’d assume that .04% would be a catastrophic change. I read about CO2 production in tons, but I have no idea how that relates to the percent of composition. Popular news articles never go into the statistical detail, I assume because they think it would bore their readers.

  31. MartinM

    Artor: pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 concentration was about 280 ppm, so the current 390 ppm is indeed a substantial increase.

  32. Regner Trampedach

    Marc Brooks @ 20: Who puts these mylar parasols up in space and control them? Are those that contribute to that, the only countries that can continue pumping CO2 into the atmosphere? How do we regulate emissions so that their effect can be balanced by the mylar? What happens when the parasols run out of fuel to keep them in position and we suddenly are exposed to full sunshine and yet more CO2? What if politicians decide after 20 years that they don’t want to send up fresh parasols to replace the ones running out of fuel?
    MartinM @ 26: …or lets keep cleaning up the mess on the kitchen floor instead of just turning off the faucet at the sink…
    It will also be a lot more expensive to mitigate the droughts, wild fires, crop loss, floods, spreading tropical diseases.
    And we have to kick the oil habit rather soon anyway, as we simply run out.
    And of course: “What if it is all a hoax and we create a better world for nothing?”
    Cheers, Regner

  33. MartinM

    Apart from anything else, even if we could use mylar parasols to cancel out the net change in TOA flux due to GHG emissions, we’d still be altering the spatial distribution of that flux, which could itself have consequences.

  34. Steve Metzler

    That is one powerful, articulate, and cohesive piece by Shawn Lawrence Otto that the BA linked to. In fact, it’s one of the best I’ve read in a good while. But the Noise Machine™ won’t read it. I’m surprised we haven’t been invaded by the useful idiots already.

  35. Trebuchet

    Wow. 36 replies and no denialists yet. We do, however, have a spambot at #12.

  36. kat wagner

    You might have seen all the dead trees in the forests of the Northern Rockies. The pine borer is not being killed by sustained, cold temperatures. The borer burrows under the bark of pine trees and girdles the trunks, killing the trees. You might remember news- and sportspeople talking about this during the last Winter Olympics in Canada. So all those red and dead trees in our temperate forests? Blame it on global warming and it’s all our fault.

  37. Miles Archer

    I am a former NASA employee. I was a programmer there as a summer job when I was in college.

    Nice to know that makes me a climate expert.

  38. kat wagner

    Bad Bob, my tree grower horticulturist husband sez: trees need CO2. They make food during the daytime when sunlight is available, you know, photosynthesis. Trees grow at night – when cell division occurs. The roots take up oxygen any time they’re taking up water and other nutrients.

  39. Kryptik

    Marc Brooks @ 20: Sometimes, the best solutions are the most politically inconvenient, and sometimes the most politically convenient are the worst solutions.

    Like others have said, many ‘cheaper’ solutions have been shown through study to be inefficient or just outright ineffective. But people advocate them simply because they’re ‘cheaper’, to which I say ‘penny wise, pound foolish’. So much is put upon the upfront costs, and the outrages on that.

    But, I forget, it’s really all just a giant massive global conspiracy by Al Gore and Climate Pimps wanting to spend as much money as possible, right?

  40. anon

    I was about to tweet and facebook and aarp this post when I realized Phil Plait is not a working climatologist nor is he any kind of climatologist, and since he just told me that people that are not climatologists should shut their pie hole, I realized perhaps he should listen to his own advice.

    I was about to digg and reddit and myspace this post when I realized that the basics of science are the basics of science and that Physicists and Engineers are entirely qualified to understand the methods and techniques and mathematics of scientific papers far outside their fields.

    I was going to linkin and stumbleupon and repron this post when I realized that 49 scientists, engineers, and astronauts, with many phds and literally hundreds of years of experience at NASA and in government understand the politics and careerism at NASA and make them very well qualified in discussing how that works at NASA.

    In other words Phil, by your own argument, you are only qualified to tell us about Hubble and astronomy education, and having nothing worthwhile to say about NASA, Climate Science, Physics (outside of Astronomy), feminism, evolution, or politics.

    Can’t have it Phil, Not Yours.

    By your silly denialism arguments.

    QED.

  41. VinceRN

    While I mostly agree with you on this, the claim that it is all beyond doubt disturbs me. Science always has doubt, science is doubt. There are factors in climate change that we don’t understand, there are probably things we think we understand that we really don’t. And we certainly don’t understand the consequences very well at all.

    I do not deny that it is occurring, that would be absurd. Moving CO2 from the Earth’s crust to the atmospherre couldn’t not have an effect.

    What bothers me is that so many otherwise rational, skeptical people believe wholeheartedly that this is a part of science where skepticism does not belong. So many believe that any climate change science that come out is instant Gospel and can not be questioned.

    I do not agree with the folks that wrote this paper, but I do think that doubt and skepticism is important in all science. I believe that if you remove doubt and skepticism from this you are no longer doing science, you are doing politics.

  42. MartinM

    …he just told me that people that are not climatologists should shut their pie hole…

    No, he didn’t.

  43. Chris

    @43 anon
    In other words Phil, by your own argument, you are only qualified to tell us about Hubble and astronomy education, and having nothing worthwhile to say about NASA, Climate Science, Physics (outside of Astronomy), feminism, evolution, or politics.

    The difference here is that Phil is reporting what the experts have said, he is not claiming to be an expert. If he were to start giving hypothesis on his version of how climate science or evolution works then your argument would be valid. This is what the deniers in the NASA letter do. They simply offer hypothesis without any empirical evidence. And when they do, it is not peer reviewed by others scientists. When it gets rejected or refuted they claim conspiracy.

    Anthony Watts had a hypothesis that the location of the weather stations and the urban heat island effect led to artificial warming in cities. He never went and actually analyzed the data. But a scientist said maybe there was some validity to the hypothesis and tested it out. And it showed that there was no effect. This is how science works. Testing hypothesis, not just offering them.

    Phil is not offering any untested hypotheses, he is only reporting the evidence as shown through the scientific method.

  44. tmac57

    VinceRN- You are making a straw man argument when you say “I believe that if you remove doubt and skepticism from this you are no longer doing science, you are doing politics.”
    That is not in any way what critics of AGW denialists are saying. In fact some skeptics of AGW have been taken seriously,and their objections have been addressed,and serious climate scientists readily admit that there are factors in climate change that they do not fully understand.However,that is not the same thing as saying that they don’t have a good grasp on what is happening with climate trends.Those trends are quite obvious at this stage,and the science on the details are being fleshed out on a daily basis.And as far as ‘scientific doubt’ about climate change goes, just remember,that those doubts and error bars go in BOTH directions,and it would be a fools game to try to bet the future of our planet on those doubts ONLY being in the direction of a better outcome…it can also be much worse my friend.

  45. Infinite123Lifer

    Jebus. What a read.

    Earth to Earthlings: “I tried to help you out, keep it up, just keep it up . . . Ok that’s it I am counting to three . . . One . . .T . . .”

  46. anon

    @46 Chris,

    “The difference here is that Phil is reporting what the experts have said, he is not claiming to be an expert. ”

    This is not what Phil is doing, and if Phil perceives it this way, he is wrong to.

    This argument leads to the conclusion that Phil reporting is no more qualified than that of the Bridge Tournament Games Reporter. And that we should give Phil’s writings re Climate Science no more respect than that of the Bridge Reporter explaining Climate Science.

    And if so, then Phil should never publish a graph from a climate paper and interpret it without qualifying for us that he is totally incapable of understanding it or the methods.

    But of course we know that is foolish, that Phil’s Ph.D in Physics, in Astronomy gives him a huge experience in understanding the science and mathematics and techniques of Climate Science and that Phil is legions more qualified to discuss this stuff than the police blotter reporter.

    And so too, are the Physicists and Engineers and Chemists on that list of 49 scientists.

    WAS RICHARD FEYNMAN a Rocket Scientist? Was he an Aerospace Engineer? Was he a materials science expert?

    Then I assume Phil will tell us that Richard Feynman had no place on the Rogers Commission, and that Feynman’s quick off the cuff cold water rubber o ring experiment means nothing compared to all the testimony from the actual experts at NASA and Thiokol.

  47. MartinM

    Sigh.

    Anon, I’m sure everything you’re saying is very relevant to the arguments made by the Phil in your head. Unfortunately, all the real Phil said was that the 49 authors’ total lack of any experience whatsoever in climate science should give you pause. That’s it.

  48. @Trebuchet #38 – I’m not a spambot. I think it’s a good idea to organize your sources so that you can refer to them easily when making arguments and when debating others. I would bet that Phil already does this somehow, just not in a way that we have access to. Given that Phil has referred to certain links a number of times in past posts like this one, I thought it would helpful to suggest that he organize them in some way so that he can refer to all of them using one link. I happen to use TheRationalDebate for this purpose, but of course Phil or anyone else can use whatever method they like.

    I also agree – surprising that a denialist didn’t jump into the fray sooner…

  49. gameshowhost

    @VinceRN — Are you kidding? Doesn’t it bother you that AGW “skeptics” don’t acknowledge when their own stuff is revealed as either inapplicable or as pseudoscience, over and over again?

  50. MGrogan

    AGW models (they are not theories in any meaningful sense) are poor science in two ways:
    1) they can not explain past episodes of climate change
    2) they have not produced accurate predictions
    The Earth’s climate may in fact be warming, but the “science” supporting AGW models is abysmal and appears to be driven more by money and politics than any other factor. The name calling and “science is settled” arguments coming from AGW supporters only underscores how weak the “science” is.

  51. Kim

    I would just like to draw more attention at Ron1 #27 with a very original pun. :-( I, too, used to think that astronauts were gods…

  52. VinceRN

    @gameshowhost – I am skeptical about global warming. That does not mean I think it is wrong, it means I always question everything. Denial is not skepticism, denial is denial. Denial is not about critical thinking, it is not open-minded. As a skeptic I try to be skeptical about everything. That doesn’t mean everything is wrong, it means everything is questioned.

    The people that wrote that letter are not being skeptical, they are pursueing an agenda, they have a position that they do not question. That isn’t skepticism. It also isn’t skepticism when people on the AGW side of the arguement think that way.

    Usual when I hear someone call themselves a global warming skeptic, I look for their political agenda, and it’s easy to find. They are rarely skeptics at all.

    All I’m saying is if we are skeptics let’s always be skeptical about everything. Without skepticism there is no science.

  53. Left_Wing_Fox

    How much CO2 is right for plants?

    How much baking soda is right for baked goods?

    What’s that? It depends on how much acid, the level of rise, the quantity of baked good or the consistency of the final product? Stop hedging! Give me an amount! One teaspoon? A cup? God you bakers are all the same with your wishy washy answers. I say an entire box will give you the best muffins. Stop waffling!

  54. Chris

    @53 MGrogan
    2) they have not produced accurate predictions
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/04/evaluating-a-1981-temperature-projection/

    Skepticism is healthy for science. But after mom says that there is no monster under the bed a hundred times, even the child accepts that the monster doesn’t exist.

  55. MGrogan – AGW refers to Anthropogenic global warming. That first words means ‘stuff done by us’. There is no obligation to explain past warming events, because those weren’t caused by us. Also, we know what caused other warming and cooling events. [http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/climate-change-deniers-vs-the-consensus/]

    For point 2, I refer you to Chris.

  56. JK

    I live near JSC. A local joke goes like this,

    What’s the difference between God and an astronaut?

    God never thinks he’s an astronaut.

  57. Ross

    Someone who is not a climate scientist is telling me I should listen to him because those other scientists are not climate scientists?

  58. anon

    @60 Ross, you have captured it perfectly.

    In what other fields would we claim that Ph.D physicists, chemists, engineers, with a deep history of an instituion, and a deep experiences with lab work and computer modeling are not qualified to understand a field outside their own, and/or critique that field?

    Appeal to authority is a fallacy if the authority is not an expert. And of course it’s also a fallacy if you exclude others who are perfectly qualified to comment.

  59. Doctor Harrison Schmitt earned his insanity:

    On Luna, he scratched his visor in a freak accident. He flipped up his visor and fried his brain with the unfiltered light of Sol on the Moon so that he could do his job. Doctor Harrison Schmitt took 1 for the team.

    ¿How many people are willing to fry their brains in the line of duty?

  60. Slim

    @Ross, no, Phil is not telling you to listen to him, he’s saying listen to actual climate scientists. He’s pointing out that the 49 former NASA employees aren’t climate scientists, and that should make you look elsewhere for information. Phil is not giving you the information directly, he is directing you towards the experts, which those signing this letter are not.

  61. Slim

    @61 anon, would you consult an excellent neurosurgeon about your cardiac condition? How about asking a pilot about quantum mechanics? Why ask an astronaut about geophysics? They are free to comment, but that’s not what they are doing. Instead they are asking experts to be silent. If these former employees want to comment, they can publish anything they want. They are telling the experts to shut up.

  62. Ragutis

    Ross, anon, allow me to put it simply for you: It’s generally a good idea to give greater consideration to the consensus of those with expertise in the field.

    If 97 of 100 mechanics told you that your brakes were failing would you head out on a cross-country road trip anyway, because a priest, a rabbi , and an imam walked into a bar said not to worry about it?

  63. Hrune

    @60
    No, someone who isn’t a climate scientists is telling you that you should listen to climate scientists and not other guys who are not climate scientists.

    @61
    Appeal to authority is e.g. this:
    “Ph.D physicists, chemists, engineers, with a deep history of an instituion, and a deep experiences with lab work and computer modeling”

    If you reject appealing to authority, you wouldn’t give a beep about all that, you’d care about the scientific work they did to support their opinion. Which is none. Science is something you do, you could start as a physicist and beat up climatologist in his field BY PERFORMING ACTUAL, PROPER, NOT EASILY
    REFUTABLE RESEARCH. go ahead

  64. anon

    Do they work for Just Brakes? (google just brakes scam)

    And when I mention my girlfriend Mona Lisa Vito tell me the car is fine, do they insist I not listen to her because she’s a cosmetologist?

  65. Spence_UK

    That’s right!

    And amongst those who criticise homeopathy, not one of them is an actively working homeopathist.

    Oh. Hang on.

  66. Steve D

    NASA’s astronaut screening somehow managed to pass Lisa Nowak, the nutjob who drove across the country in a diaper to attack her love rival. So an astronaut’s comments on a subject he or she isn’t trained in are worth precisely as much as any other random person’s. There are enough astronauts who have lent their prestige to crap like ESP and searching for Noah’s Ark not to give them special credence as a group.

  67. Wilson

    Given, as you say, 97% of scientist agree with AGW, why do you think the great unwashed are not convinced? Why, in this field only, the 97% are ignored, nay, ridiculed.

    Could it be they don’t see that taxing or (stealing, confiscating under penalty of jail) hundreds of $billions (which we don’t have) as a futile excercise in governments trying to meddle with the earth’s climate? When they can’t even balance a budget?

    Could it be that a supposed science article, that ends with an entreaty to vote for a partisan political party, just might give the game away?

  68. Mark

    Phil says:

    I’ve been getting lots of email and other notes about a group of 49 people — including some ex-astronauts — who have written a public letter to NASA complaining about the space agency’s stance that global warming exists and is caused by humans.

    But that’s not quite right Phil; NASA takes no ‘stance’ on the issue one way or the other.

    From NASA’s response to the non-climate-scientists:

    As an agency, NASA does not draw conclusions and issue ‘claims’ about research findings.

    So there.

    Of interest, on the other hand, might be NASA GISS chief climate scientist James Hansen’s “private” conclusions and claims, which you can read about in his book: Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity.

  69. MartinM

    That’s right!

    And amongst those who criticise homeopathy, not one of them is an actively working homeopathist.

    Oh. Hang on.

    That’s a terrible analogy. ‘Homeopathy’ isn’t a field of science. Its proponents claim that it’s a medical treatment, and as such those claims are amenable to testing through the standard methods of medical science. To the extent that its proponents drag in other fields of science in support of their claims – quantum mechanics is, as always, very popular – those claims are better addressed by someone with experience in those fields than by someone without.

  70. James Evans

    @#70

    Did you ever think, Wilson, that budgets can become horribly unbalanced when private industry refuses to internalize cataclysmic costs that remain externalized and the financial responsibility of tax-paying citizens and their governments?

    Just one simple example… All over the globe, underground coal mine fires will rage for centuries, releasing pollutants, and, in some cases, wiping out entire towns like Centralia, Pennsylvania. Most will never be contained, and if they are, no mining company will be held responsible for the outrageous bill. More often than not, it’s left to government budgets to cover the costs.

    But coal is cheap, right? And that damn federal government is just an evil mind-control taxation force when it seeks remuneration for environmental disasters, or tries to prevent them through preemptive cost control/cap and trade policies, right?

  71. MartinM

    Given, as you say, 97% of scientist agree with AGW, why do you think the great unwashed are not convinced?

    I’m sure the existence of a massive propoganda campaign on the other side has nothing to do with it. I mean, it’s not like that’s ever happened before on important environmental or social issues.

  72. Steve Metzler

    @Wilson (#70):

    Could it be they don’t see that taxing or (stealing, confiscating under penalty of jail) hundreds of $billions (which we don’t have) as a futile excercise in governments trying to meddle with the earth’s climate?

    No one who acknowledges the dangers of AGW is trying to “meddle with the earth’s climate”. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: we’re trying to get industry to stop *polluting* the atmosphere. It is the burning of fossil fuels that is meddling with the earth’s climate.

  73. Spence_UK

    #72

    All analogies are limited, but this one is better than you make it out to be.

    Yes, medical scientists are not homeopaths but because of their experience in medical treatments they are well positioned to assess the validity of homeopathy.

    Likewise, physicists and geologists are well positioned to assess the field of climate science, and many skilled and competent physicists and geologists DO question some of the extreme advocacy within climate science. And, by no coincidence, some astronauts are highly qualified in subjects such as physics and geology.

    So, the analogy is not perfect (no analogy is) but in this way, it holds very well.

  74. Steve Metzler

    @Spence_UK (#76):

    While a physicist might well have a handle on some aspects of climatology, what you are alleging most certainly does not apply to geologists. Climatology relies on some pretty heavy physics and statistics, fields your typical geologist wouldn’t tend to be well grounded in.

    Not to mention that a lot of geologists are working in the applied areas of petroleum/gas geology. No possible conflict of interest there, huh?

    By the way, the reason there is extreme advocacy of climate science among critical thinkers is that we can see the writing on the wall. Thousands of papers in the primary literature all point in one direction: mankind is having severe effects on the temperature and climate due to emission of greenhouse gasses, and the rate of increase of these emissions is unprecedented in all of history.

    So you can be cute with your analogies all you like (it might work with the uninformed), but it’s not going to convince people who are well versed in their science. And, finally, climatology stands up quite a bit better than homeopathy (heh) when the litmus test of reality is applied, so your analogy has about zero relevance.

  75. Spence_UK

    @Metzler

    ROFLMAO

    Better kick all of those geologists out of the IPCC, then.

    I’ve met plenty of geologists a lot smarter than you are, dude. Don’t dismiss a whole area of study just on your own petty prejudices. And please don’t confuse your opinion for “reality”. There may be some overlap but the two are not interchangeable.

    Actually, I’ve noticed a theme here. Person A of group X claims something. Advocates here don’t agree but can’t actually critique their claims. So they point out there exist crazy people in group X, therefore we can’t trust person A (or even critically appraise their views, apparently).

    This is the same line of thinking as:

    There exist crazy atheists, therefore I can dismiss the opinions of any atheist who disagrees with me.

    There exist crazy scientists, therefore I can dismiss the opinions of any scientist who disagrees with me.

    There exist crazy astronauts, therefore I can dismiss the opinions of any astronaut who disagrees with me.

    Can anyone spot the logical fallacy here? (Hint: association) What a wonderful way to groupthink, and so many people here embrace it so willingly. I guess it has worked for the religious for many years, so why wouldn’t it work for here as well.

  76. Steve Metzler

    I’ve met plenty of geologists a lot smarter than you are, dude.

    And how exactly do you pretend to know how ‘smart’ some random stranger on the net is? Does it even matter? I’m still ROTFL at your attempt to equate homeopathy with climatology. And likening science with religion/groupthink isn’t going to cut it too well here either.

    So Spence, are you a paid shill, or just another useful idiot?

  77. Gordon S

    @Matt (#2) Brawndo has all the electrolytes that we need! :p

  78. Spence_UK

    And how exactly do you pretend to know how ‘smart’ some random stranger on the net is?

    From the logical fallacy already documented above.

    And I didn’t compare homeopathy to climatology. Another logical fallacy on your part there. I merely pointed out that criticism of one field from a related field was valid, i.e. the argument presented here that criticisms from outside the field should be ignored is not a position that has any merit.

    Your misrepresentation of my argument tells me you are either (1) dishonest or (2) less intelligent than a number of geologists I know. I generously assume the latter, rather than the former.

  79. DEATH TO ALL SOCKPUPPETS, AND THEIR SOCKPUPPETS!

  80. Peter Eldergill

    @81 Jess

    ?????

  81. 2crudedudes

    What I don’t understand is how anyone that has a remote hint of what science is about can be so “sure” that climate science is settled. Physics, one of the most rigorous and precise sciences, will never tell you something for “sure”. They’re always models and approximations. To be absolutely convinced of something less rigorous is completely unscientific.

  82. Joseph G.

    @ 70 Wilson: Given, as you say, 97% of scientist agree with AGW, why do you think the great unwashed are not convinced? Why, in this field only, the 97% are ignored, nay, ridiculed.

    Could it be they don’t see that taxing or (stealing, confiscating under penalty of jail) hundreds of $billions (which we don’t have) as a futile excercise in governments trying to meddle with the earth’s climate? When they can’t even balance a budget?

    Could it be that a supposed science article, that ends with an entreaty to vote for a partisan political party, just might give the game away?

    What you have there is an argument from adverse consequences. In other words, if what these people say is true, bad things will happen (either climate change or taxation), therefore, science must be wrong. Reality doesn’t work that way. Actions have the same consequences whether we accept or deny them.
    Not only that, but scientists are not demanding we “confiscate” anything. They’re writing about what the evidence shows is happening. What we actually do about it is a separate issue, and while some scientists may have an opinion on the actual policy changes warranted, those are personal opinions that don’t lie within their fields of research. So you’re essentially condemning scientists because of what other people might do because of their conclusions. This makes no more sense than condemning doctors because you don’t like “Obamacare”.

  83. joebob

    Have I, anon, been banned?

    Two of my comments never made it in? If I was banned, why? I didn’t spam, threaten, use profanity, libel, or anything?

    Why should I have been banned?

    Well, thank the physicists and engineers behind TOR, I wonder if a climate scientist could understand how TOR works?

  84. Gunnar

    @2crudedudes:

    What I don’t understand is how anyone that has a remote hint of what science is about can be so “sure” that climate science is settled. Physics, one of the most rigorous and precise sciences, will never tell you something for “sure”. They’re always models and approximations. To be absolutely convinced of something less rigorous is completely unscientific..”

    As has been said before, the only way to be absolutely certain that serious, undesirable consequences will result from failure to take effective action to address and ameliorate AGW, is to do nothing at all until the catastrophe is already upon us. This would be insane! Especially since many of the proposed remedies are excellent ideas that have great potential future benefits, whether or not AGW is really as problematic as feared by many. This cannot be over-emphasized!

    So why do so many seem to be fighting such things as improving fuel efficiency, reducing waste, weaning ourselves from such heavy dependance on fossil fuels and learning how to develop and more extensively use renewable energy sources? This really seems insane to me!

  85. Infinite123Lifer

    I am voting for apples. No, wait, I am voting for apples. No no no, that’s not it I am looking to vote for oarnges!! Are there any oarnges to vote for? Oarnge trees don’t grow in orchards yet you say? Does anybody really think it matters which apples sprout? Granted, I don’t like apples and I don’t necessarily like apples either, I ll give you that. One person cannot . . . whoa there me, one person CAN change the world. I am of the belief that what I do today effects the planet more than my vote ever could. Not that voting is bad, everything just tastes like rotten apples to my buds, unfortunate or ill informed palate I suppose.

    While everybody is ROFL @ eachother people all over the world and their croney friends and family are exploiting the Life out of the future. And iam struggling to understand what I CAN do about it.

    I suppose sitting around waiting to inherit the Earth won’t help, since I don’t eat, drink or breath poisen, and with the added bonus that nobody will ever give me anything. I will have to fight for what I believe in, just like everyone in history before me. Now I must just outthink my opponents.

  86. Spence_UK

    In other words, if what these people say is true, bad things will happen (either climate change or taxation), therefore, science must be wrong.

    Anyone making this claim would clearly be wrong.

    The vast majority of sceptics that I’ve seen are not making that claim, though.

  87. Spence_UK

    As has been said before, the only way to be absolutely certain that serious, undesirable consequences will result from failure to take effective action to address and ameliorate AGW, is to do nothing at all until the catastrophe is already upon us.

    Who else used this line of reasoning? Pascal’s wager. Rev. Thomas Malthus. This hand-waving argument has been debunked centuries ago.

  88. Infinite123Lifer

    Climate science is not completely settled, the 3 percenters still hold sway I suppose, for science or for ignorance or for a price or because they are right, I really don’t care. Nuclear bombs, deforestation, war, famine, drought, exploitation, extinction, eradication, toxins, waste and greed are settled however. But please, keep on pilfering the good people who scream, beg and cry for change with your lectures about “what science is” or “who can do what”. Nobody knows everything, its an almost worldwide consensus of measurably known quantities. Is it not?

    Except for you VinceRN. Keep reminding us in the face of the truth to be skeptical, it really is the only way to the truth. But then how will you ever know the truth when you see it? I know you’ve answered that question before, I believe the answer was: depends on the nature of the truth and infinite skepticism in order to seek a greater understanding . . . Kinda puts mankind in a bind, never being 100% sure of anything and perhaps that is the only way out of our bind. Science begets Philosophy.

    Maybe I don’t belong in this discussion but its our planet or at least it should be.

    (I wouldn’t have mispelled Citrus trees)

  89. TheBlackCat
    As has been said before, the only way to be absolutely certain that serious, undesirable consequences will result from failure to take effective action to address and ameliorate AGW, is to do nothing at all until the catastrophe is already upon us.

    Who else used this line of reasoning? Pascal’s wager. Rev. Thomas Malthus. This hand-waving argument has been debunked centuries ago.

    No, he didn’t, not even close. Pascal’s wager only applies when you have no evidence whatsoever in either direction. This is not Pascal’s wager because we have evidence.

    In this case we have a massive amount of evidence all pointing in one direction. It isn’t 100% certain, but nothing ever is.

    This is not Pascal’s wager, it is standard risk assessment, used countless times around the world every day in cases where it is not certain that there will be a problem, but there is evidence that can give some idea how likely the problem is.

  90. TheBlackCat

    What I don’t understand is how anyone that has a remote hint of what science is about can be so “sure” that climate science is settled. Physics, one of the most rigorous and precise sciences, will never tell you something for “sure”. They’re always models and approximations. To be absolutely convinced of something less rigorous is completely unscientific.

    Ask a physcist whether atoms exist and I suspect he or she will tell you the science on that is pretty much settled. Maybe not 100%, there may be a .000000001% chance that they don’t (actually probably far smaller), but for all practical purposes you can treat it as though it is effectively settled.

  91. TheBlackCat

    I was about to digg and reddit and myspace this post when I realized that the basics of science are the basics of science and that Physicists and Engineers are entirely qualified to understand the methods and techniques and mathematics of scientific papers far outside their fields.

    You apparently are not an engineer. The engineering code of ethics that all professional engineers are supposed to follow forbids them from using their position as an engineer to make pronouncements outside of their field of expertise. They can hold personal opinions, but they are not supposed to use their position or education as an engineer to give public weight to those opinions. But who cares about ethics, right?

  92. TheBlackCat

    In what other fields would we claim that Ph.D physicists, chemists, engineers, with a deep history of an instituion, and a deep experiences with lab work and computer modeling are not qualified to understand a field outside their own, and/or critique that field?

    Uh, all of them. Pretty much anyone in any field of science cringes when a physicist starts trying to talk to them about their field. Physicists have a reptuation for thinking they can overturn an entire field of science they know nothing about in 5 minutes, and pushing their idea relentlessly no matter how many times it is demonstrated to be wrong. Many vocal young-Earth creationist are engineers who think their engineering knowledge makes them qualified to overturn the vast majority of science.

  93. 2crudedudes

    @86 Gunnar

    “As has been said before, the only way to be absolutely certain that serious, undesirable consequences will result from failure to take effective action to address and ameliorate AGW, is to do nothing at all until the catastrophe is already upon us. This would be insane! Especially since many of the proposed remedies are excellent ideas that have great potential future benefits, whether or not AGW is really as problematic as feared by many. This cannot be over-emphasized!

    So why do so many seem to be fighting such things as improving fuel efficiency, reducing waste, weaning ourselves from such heavy dependance on fossil fuels and learning how to develop and more extensively use renewable energy sources? This really seems insane to me!”

    The problem with this argument is that you’re still assuming that you’re right. It is very similar to “the only way to know hell doesn’t exist is to die and not go to it. But that’s a big risk to take! So I’m going to believe in hell just in case”. It’s not so much that you’re wrong, as much as you shouldn’t be so sure that you’re right.

    While I don’t disagree that taking care of the environment is a good thing and nobody should be against it, I don’t agree that it’s okay to lie (mislead, etc) to people simply because it’s for the greater good. “Good” is, as always, subjective. We cannot ever be sure that our actions won’t have unintended consequences.

    As scientists, we’re no different than other people. We don’t get a free pass on arguments. We can’t appeal to our authority to “prove” we’re right. We’re human. We make mistakes. We still have the burden of proof. As far as the research goes, yes, it appears that we’re having a detrimental impact on the environment, and we should probably do something about it. But to call the science “settled” is silly.

    I’m not saying global warming ISN’T caused by humans. I’m just saying we shouldn’t be so ready to discard other ideas (and by other ideas I don’t mean denialist, corporate-backed BS either).

    The world is not black and white. Neither is science.

    @92 TheBlackCat

    Ask a physcist whether atoms exist and I suspect he or she will tell you the science on that is pretty much settled. Maybe not 100%, there may be a .000000001% chance that they don’t (actually probably far smaller), but for all practical purposes you can treat it as though it is effectively settled.

    I wasn’t able to ask him personally, but here is Mr. Feynman’s answer to a similar inquiry:

    “We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified–how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You can think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don’t know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know.”

    “Many vocal young-Earth creationist are engineers….”

    Engineers are not scientists, just like racecar drivers are not engineers.

    To wrap up this post I’ll say this:
    More discussion is needed on this topic, not less. This, however, doesn’t mean ALL opinions are equal. The current scientific consensus trumps the denialist propaganda, but “lesser of two evils” isn’t what science is about.

    One final quote from Feynman:

    “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”

  94. flip

    @43 Anon

    I was about to digg and reddit and myspace this post when I realized that the basics of science are the basics of science and that Physicists and Engineers are entirely qualified to understand the methods and techniques and mathematics of scientific papers far outside their fields.

    In which a contradiction is found… if you can’t see it, you’re not looking hard enough.

    (Actually, Chris @46 did a better job of refuting you and more accurately too)

    @44 VinceRN

    What bothers me is that so many otherwise rational, skeptical people believe wholeheartedly that this is a part of science where skepticism does not belong. So many believe that any climate change science that come out is instant Gospel and can not be questioned.

    You’ve been here long enough to know better than to post a strawman like that.

    @53 MGrogan

    1. They’re not supposed to explain past episodes of climate change. AGW models are designed specifically to look at *current* trends.

    2. You’re right: temperatures collected are showing that the models are way too conservative in their estimates.

    The only people who go on about “science being settled” are the AGW denialists.

    @60 Ross

    Someone who is not a climate scientist is -suggesting that I should be cautious when reviewing opinions, including his own- because those other scientists are not climate scientists?

    FIFY. Phil is suggesting one avoid opinion and look directly at the data instead. That’s opinion from climate scientists, non-climate-but-other scientists, lay people, etc. As usual, the anti-AGW people ignore provision of their own data which contradicts the science and instead expect everyone to say “well, that guy’s an astronaut, we all must listen”. Unless the astronaut ponies up some data, why should we pay attention? (Hmm, this sounds familiar. Respectful Insolence recently posted on Donald Trump talking about vaccines. Exactly the same premise applies with that as it does here) In fact, if the data stands up, it won’t matter if it comes from the nuttiest person on the planet or the most authoritative. It’s the *science* that counts, not the *scientist*. … There’s a reason why that rarely (if ever) happens: people outside of their expertise rarely have the relevant understanding necessary to create good data in that outside field.

    @61 Anon

    See above comment to Ross.

    @70 Wilson

    It could be that the average person spends more time paying attention to the political discussion than the actual scientific one and not realising they’re not one and the same.

  95. Gunnar

    Amen, BlackCat! Thank you for rebutting Spence_UK better than I could!

    And besides that, Malthus has not been proven wrong!

    He correctly showed that it is mathematically impossible for continuous growth of any kind to be sustained for very long. An annual growth in consumption of fossil fuels of only 5%, for example, (7% has been typical since we first started drilling for petroleum) would mean that every 14 years or so we use as much as was used in all of previous history. Any mathematically literate person would have no trouble figuring out that even if the earth were composed of 100% petroleum, we would run completely out at that rate in a very tiny fraction of the time that humans have already been on the earth.

  96. Gunnar

    @2crudedudes

    Of course we must always leave reasonable room for doubt and be ready to modify our position, if new and more complete evidence warrants it–but only reasonable room for doubt. There is already a very small reasonable room for doubt about the reality of AGW, and, believe it or not, that room is still shrinking. How small does the room for doubt have to get before we take action on it?

  97. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 99. Gunnar : Yes, exactly.

    What is all the observed evidence telling us ad what are the very likely consequences of continuing the same way we have been?

    Is it worth the risk? Is there enough and good enough evidence to show we should ignore the
    98 out of 100 climate experts who are telling us we have a serious issue with Human INduced rapid Gobal Overheating? (HIRGO.)

    Would any of us really ignore the recommendations of 98 out of 100 medical doctors or consider it reasonable to do so?

    The sheer gall of this idea is almost beyond imagining; it reminds me very strongly of the tobacco industry’s propaganda saying that smoking is good for you.

    But, but, but smoking cures kippers doesn’t it? ;-)

    Being serious now, it makes me sad to see people who deserve and have earnt a lot of respect like Harrison Schmitt who landed on our Moon with Apollo 17 say such pitifully wrong and destructive things. :-(

    Schmitt and the other astronauts in that letter will always have my respect for their spaceflight accomplishments and the courage, skill and abilities they displayed in doing what they did. However, it does NOT make them qualified climatologists or mean that I or anyone else should be listening to them and not the majority of the people who have spent their lives studying, resarching and struggling to understand the Earth’s climate situation.

    Harrison Schmitt is an expert on our Moon – and I am prepared to take what he says on that very seriously. Our Moon has no atmosphere.* ;-)

    Schmitt isn’t a climatologist – none of those on that letter were – and if he wants me to give his opinion extra weight on that, if the others do, then they’ll need to give me more and better reasons than they have hitherto provided.

    @16. Blargh Says:

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: “Ugh, Greenman”. While he’s on the side of science when it comes to climate change, he’s also a promoter of pseudoscience – he uncritically posts anti-nuclear stuff on his blog that, when it comes to radiation, is every bit as crazy and science-contrarian as the wackiest of climate change denialism.

    Well, Greenman3610’s youtube series is informative,entertaining and a fave of mine. I know what you are saying but a person being flawed in some respects doesnt make everything he’s done bad and / or not worth listening to – eg. Harrison Schmitt on climate change vs Harrison Schmitt on Lunar exploration and geology. I’d say call him out where he gets it wrong whilst you support and enjoy his work where he gets it right – in both cases.

    ———————

    * Well, okay, it does have a *very* thin and tenous wisp of an atmosphere but virtually none at all practically speaking. Indeed, Pluto has more “air” than our Moon boasts!

  98. @18 there’s a good overview of how we know that the CO2 rise of the last 200 years is due to human activity at http://www.radix.net/~bobg/ — the co2rise article by Jan Schloerer. It is well sourced to the scientific literature for you to follow up in more detail. The basic argument, which I’ll give here without the cites, is that the source of CO2 to the atmosphere is fully depleted in 14C, so must be from an old reservoir (longer than the decay time of 14C to essentially 0). It is also partly depleted in 13 C, so must be from an organically-derived reservoir. The second eliminates volcanoes (as does the fact that humans emit about 100 times as much CO2 as volcanoes). The first eliminates the ocean, soil, and biosphere — all of which have nonzero 14C because of their recent (less than 60 thousand years) contact with the atmosphere. Fossil fuels and limestone (by way of its use in cement production) meet both requirements. As does a check of the magnitude of their use vs. the magnitude of the atmospheric rise.

  99. Messier Tidy Upper

    @62. Walabio :

    Doctor Harrison Schmitt earned his insanity : On Luna, he scratched his visor in a freak accident. He flipped up his visor and fried his brain with the unfiltered light of Sol on the Moon so that he could do his job.

    Ok, first, source and reference please? I don’t recall reading about that incident & I’m a pretty big fan of the whole Apollo program – of course I could’ve just missed it I guess. I’m curious what that freak accident was though, now.

    Second, wouldn’t that mean frying your eyes not your brain? Going blind or risking blindness is hardly likely to help you do your job! :-o

    Thirdly, much as I disagree with Harrison Schmitt and fell certain he is horribly wrong on this HIRGO issue; I do NOT consider him to be insane.

    Sane people do say stoopid things on occassion although I guess we could quibble about what is sanity anyhow and how far one diverges from it before one is considered insane. I’m not exactly neurotypical myself! ;-)

    Doctor Harrison Schmitt took 1 for the team. ¿How many people are willing to fry their brains in the line of duty?

    Psi-cops in Babylon-5? ;-)

    Being serious, I think a lot of people are indeed willing to risk their lives – and by extension their sanity – in the line of duty. Military and emergency personnel, cops, some scientists, and, oh yes, astronauts pushing the envelope too!

  100. What I call the ‘chariots of the gods’ argument seems still to be going strong. It’s the one where you replaces ‘we have evidence for X’ with ‘could it be that X’, and pretends that it’s the first that you’ve done.

    ‘could it be’ that the 49 actually know climate science well? _could be_. Start showing evidence that they actually _do_. Say by providing a list of the peer-reviewed scientific papers on the topic. You don’t have to be a climate scientist to recognize that, say, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is not a peer-reviewed scientific source.

    As Phil, and I over at my blog, have observed, science is never in the position of saying that there is no further possible question to be raised. Hence the excitement about the possibly faster than light neutrinos. Science deals with degrees of confidence, levels of evidence, not _proof_.

    On the other hand, some things are exceedingly unlikely to be overturned. The earth is round and rotates. There is a greenhouse effect (known long before we knew how it worked), CO2, H2O, CH4, etc., are greenhouse gases. CO2 has risen over the past two centuries. The rise is due to human activity.

    The ‘but science is never settled’ arguments then turn to the same ‘could it be’ argument. Since it _could_ be that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas after all, they then assume that CO2 _is not_ a greenhouse gas. Sorry. If you claim to be interested in the science, you’re stuck with what there’s scientific evidence in favor of. That is the statements I’ve listed. (among many others, of course)

  101. joebob

    TheBlackCat, et. al.,

    I would carry this conversation further, but apparently Phil Plait has banned me.

    Why? I do not know.

    I didn’t spam, libel, link to porn, defame, or even raise my voice.

    Perhaps he’s not just a Bad Astronomer, but a bad webmaster, or perhaps it’s discovermagazine that is the bad webmaster.

    Enjoy your day,

    anon

    P.S. Support TOR

  102. joebob

    TheBlackCat, et. al.,

    I would carry this conversation further, but apparently Phil Plait has banned me.

    Why? I do not know.

    I didn’t spam, libel, link to porn, defame, or even raise my voice.

    Perhaps he’s not just a Bad Astronomer, but a bad webmaster, or perhaps it’s discovermagazine that is the bad webmaster.

    Enjoy your day,

    anon

    P.S. Support TOR

  103. joebob (105 et al.) … or perhaps there’s no conspiracy or need for accusations and insults at all. Perhaps I have an automatic spam filter that’s been catching your (and hundreds of others’ daily) comments, and then I have to moderate them by hand which takes a lot of time.

  104. Jason

    Well largely a crap article. It didn’t shed any new information, didn’t do anything to decide a winner, didn’t go into detail of the scientific data out there debunking global warming — it added nothing to the debate. Those that believe in global warming will point to this article and say “See?”. Those who don’t or who are least still skeptical will point at it and say “See? More propoganda. The tree huggers still have no data.”

    One data point I would like discussed is why we can only seem to measure how much CO2 we’ve released, and not how much is actually in the atmosphere. About 5 years ago, the U.S. launched a satellite specifically to measure the CO2 in the atmosphere and guess what it found? There’s not as much CO2 in the atmosphere as the fear mongers predicted, and there’s no explanation why this is so.

    I’m not saying Global warming isn’t happening or that humans aren’t accelerating it. I’m saying we don’t have enough data one way or the next. In the meantime, I’m all for developing responsible climate and pollution policies, but I’m not in favor of making a firm conclusion, because there’s just not enough data. We’ve been measuring the planet (accurately) for maybe the last 40 years for a planet that’s been around for 5 BILLION years. That’s like having a 100 Megapixel picture and trying to extrapolating what the picture is based on measuring a single pixel.

  105. Spence_UK

    No, he didn’t, not even close. Pascal’s wager only applies when you have no evidence whatsoever in either direction. This is not Pascal’s wager because we have evidence.

    No, we have no evidence of what global climate will be like in 2100 if we continue emitting GHGs at the present rate. We have unvalidated models of staggering complex nonlinear systems, and the NASA guys who are the subject of this post know models of these type of systems are simply not reliable. And they are most certainly not evidence.

    That’s the point of disagreement between you and the NASA people listed above. But it’s okay, we are doing the experiment anyway.

    I will grant you this: there is a difference between Pascal’s wager, just not the one you cite. If we do the experiment, and continue to emit, we will eventually find out who was right and who was wrong. That could not happen under Pascal’s wager. (We don’t find out if we cut GHGs by the way, since both of us agree there would be no issue under those conditions). But I do not think the political will exists to seriously cut emissions, so we will see the experiment. And I am confident that “my” models stochastic models of natural variability are a better match to the real world than “your” deterministic models of climate change. So, we will see who is right and who is wrong. That is, after all, how science works.

    Amen, BlackCat! Thank you for rebutting Spence_UK better than I could!

    Well, I agree that BlackCat has done better than you could Gunnar, BlackCat was close but wrong (which I explain above), whereas you are just plain wrong. Malthus hasn’t been proven wrong? Oh dear.

    Ah yes, just like those who claim the rapture is imminent, when it does not occur they insist that they are still correct, but the schedule has moved to the right. I see you use the same rationale. The irony of your use of the word “Amen” is not lost on me here, either.

    Of course, any credible prediction must have a time frame, and continually moving that time frame to the right allows a stopped clock to be right twice a day. That does not prove the clock is working.

  106. JoeBob

    Phil, if I understand you correctly,

    You believe I tarred you with a broad brush by labeling your behavior with a negative label that you sincerely feel you don’t deserve to be associated with, that you sincerely believe your behavior should show is the opposite of that.

    Gosh, Phil, imagine that.

    Anyway, since my primary IP is STILL blocked, and I can only post through TOR, and I didn’t spam or defame or flame then from what I can see:

    A) You’re still banning people and/or
    A’) Possibly lying about that and/or
    B) A pretty terrible webmaster and/or
    C) Should consider fixing your spam filters and/or
    D) Should consider which is the worse problem for people interested enough in what you have to write that they comment at your blog, 1) False positives as spam that then have their IP banned, or 2) False negatives as spam and/or
    E) Should consider moderating even less than you have to by installing a system allowing your readers to moderate for you by flagging/voting/identifying/…/hiding comments

    In the meantime, you might consider apologizing to many scientists, physicists, engineers, … citizens who disagree with you regarding global warming especially since, as many of your supporters here agree, you are not expert in global warming at all, their crime is they disagree with your choice of experts and the priority and degrees of faith they have in the experts you rely on.

    Anyway, have a nice day,

    anon

    P.S. Support TOR.

  107. Wilson

    The relative strength of a scientific theorum is in it’s power to predict.

    In a chatotic system such as climate, correlations can be found and modeled. But, correlations are not necessarily causes. As the models fail to predict an observed outcome, they will be revised and jigged and re-submitted, until they too fail the acid test of accurate prediction.

    Quantum theory can be tested and used practically in many ways.

    Unfortunately there does not seem to be one successful model that accounts for all the variability observed over, and which can reliably be used to predict average teperatures 50 years hence.

    We know some of the media hyped predictions have already failed, namely ,warming seems to have moderated in the last ten years, the Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2035, polar bears are disappearing, and the repeated statement, made 10 years ago, that “we have just 5 years to save the planet” all serve to make the public at large leery, especially when it comes to investing hundreds of $billions, when more mundane issues like war, slavery, government corruption, not to mention millions of starving children, would be priorities for others.

  108. Satan Claws

    This reminds me of the affair around the 1931 book-manifesto titled “100 authors against Einstein” (read the title again, it’s “100 authors” not “100 scientists”). You can read more about it e.g. on the Wikipedia article “Criticism of relativity theory”, which includes Albert Einstein’s reply popularized by Stephen Hawking: “If I were wrong, then one would have been enough!”

  109. James Evans

    @109:

    Wilson, you are making rambling, nearly incomprehensible, yet hyperbole-ridden comments that leave readers here scratching their heads in the effort to figure out what you mean. Do you have an actual point to make or question to ask regarding this topic that you could express clearly and concisely for the rest of us? It would be appreciated.

    So far, all I can glean is that you believe the media and/or government budgets should cause us more concern than AGW. If that is indeed your point, then, sorry, you have no point.

    The last part of your last comment is a pretty good example of why you are difficult to understand.

    We know some of the media hyped predictions have already failed, namely ,warming seems to have moderated in the last ten years, the Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2035…

    Huh? Warming has NOT moderated in the last ten years, seemingly or otherwise. Are you saying the media got it wrong by incorrectly stating there would be a decade of moderation? Or are you saying that reported predictions agreed with reality, but you do not? No one can understand this muddled statement, Wilson. And is it 2036 already? Wow, time flies, because just yesterday I could have sworn it was only 2012 and we had a quarter century or so before we could confirm any glacier predictions for 2035 one way or the other. Do you have a time machine? Crystal ball?

    when more mundane issues like war, slavery, government corruption, not to mention millions of starving children, would be priorities for others.

    Most of the issues you mention (war, starvation, etc.) will be intensified by AGW given human history/nature and the predicted scarcity of resources. If they are priorities now, then their urgency will only increase as the effects of climate change increase, so ignoring AGW or troubling over the media and/or unbalanced budgets instead will get those concerned about these issues nowhere fast.

    So, again, I’m sure everyone here is sincerely interested in what you have to say, but so far unable to comprehend what that might be. Please get to the point succinctly. Thank you.

  110. Blargh

    @ Jason

    One data point I would like discussed is why we can only seem to measure how much CO2 we’ve released, and not how much is actually in the atmosphere. About 5 years ago, the U.S. launched a satellite specifically to measure the CO2 in the atmosphere and guess what it found? There’s not as much CO2 in the atmosphere as the fear mongers predicted, and there’s no explanation why this is so.

    {{citation needed}}

    We’ve been measuring the planet (accurately) for maybe the last 40 years for a planet that’s been around for 5 BILLION years.

    That’s an old canard. We can still measure temperature, CO2, rainfall etc ranging back hundreds of thousands of years through the use of climate proxies – the accuracy of which we can use all the fancy modern extremely accurate tech to validate.

  111. Gunnar

    @Spence_UK

    What, precisely, do you think I am wrong about?

    That improving energy efficiency and reducing waste is a good thing, regardless of what is true about AGW?

    That weaning ourselves from over-dependence on our rapidly shrinking stock of remaining fossils fuels is a good idea?

    That switching as much as possible to renewable energy resources would have long term benefits regardless of what is true about AGW?

    The mathematical impossibility of perpetually sustained growth rates?

    Yes, the experiment is still continuing, and is, so far, showing that the climatalogical changes are, if anything, proceeding more rapidly than predicted by the models a few decades ago. How long must this continue before you are willing to concede that the 98% of climate scientists who confirm the reality of AGW might know what they are talking about?

    The more I read of your posts, the more I begin to suspect that you are either a shill for the fossil fuel industry, or being duped by them, and that you are the one who has a real problem accepting reality! Your credibility only decreases with every post you write!

  112. James Evans

    @Jason (I give up on trying to get comment #’s right):

    I’m fairly certain NASA’s CO2 observatory crashed during launch and never made it to orbit, so what satellite(s) are you referencing?

    I think I even remember climate change deniers claiming NASA purposefully sabotaged the launch so we couldn’t learn true atmospheric CO2 levels, which, I guess, means they also sabotaged the failed Mars Pathfinder mission to prevent us from seeing little green men. And every other unfortunately all-too-frequent failed launch.

  113. Gunnar

    Or, Spence, are you merely taking the attitude that Yes, AGW is real, but there is nothing we can do about it, or that mankind is collectively too stupid, selfish or lazy to do anything about it even they could agree on what, if anything could be done, so we might must as well resign ourselves to do nothing and prepare to live as best we can with the consequences, whatever they may turn out to be?

  114. Mark Schaffer

    Spence_UK,
    Please post links to your CV and background. Otherwise how will we know whether to bow to your superior expertise on this subject?

  115. @ Messier Tidy Upper:

    @62. Walabio :

    Doctor Harrison Schmitt earned his insanity : On Luna, he scratched his visor in a freak accident. He flipped up his visor and fried his brain with the unfiltered light of Sol on the Moon so that he could do his job.

    Ok, first, source and reference please? I don’t recall reading about that incident & I’m a pretty big fan of the whole Apollo program – of course I could’ve just missed it I guess. I’m curious what that freak accident was though, now.

    The Apollo Lunar Surface Journal:

    http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a17/A17HHS-Flown-Suit.html

    I would rather imagine mine heroes having been injured in the line of duty than selling out to Oil/Coal-Companies.

  116. Lance

    I would believe you more if you insulted people less. As it is, as long as you behave like a liberal version of Bill O’Reilly (another loudmouth who thinks that truth is derived from insults), your words are worthless and add absolutely nothing to the discourse. You are not a uniter; you are a divider. You do not convince; you just generate controversy to raise page-views. It is because of people like you that I equate climate-panic with “okay, how much more grant money do you want to force from my pocket? How much money do you want to transfer from me to dictator-run equatorial countries in the form of carbon credits? Just when are you planning on running for elected office anyway? Or is appointment better, because you can’t be voted out?”

    I don’t vote liberal because of people like you. I don’t vote conservative because of people like Limbaugh. I equate the two because you are both meddlesome threats to human freedom, you both use the mechanisms of religion (yours implicit, his explicit) with yourselves as high priests, and you both assume the mantle of absolute, must-not-be-questioned truth. You both seek to silence your opponents, you both resort to ad-hominem attacks, you both require a “them” before there can be an “us”.

    You are the same, and should feel shame that you lack the eloquence or integrity to get your point across without resorting to Limbaugh-grade tactics.

    Let the politically-correct non-CO2-generating torches and recyclable pitchforks be deployed! Go ahead, make assumptions about my religious views, my gender preferences, what car I drive, where I live! Better yet, let’s see if this even gets posted.

  117. joebob/anon wrote:

    P.S. Support TOR

    Meh, most of TOR’s exit nodes are well known. If Dr. Plait wanted to ban you, it would probably be relatively easy, e,g; “proxy.org/tor.shtml” .

    A) You’re still banning people and/or
    A’) Possibly lying about that and/or
    B) A pretty terrible webmaster and/or
    C) Should consider fixing your spam filters and/or
    D) Should consider which is the worse problem for people interested enough in what you have to write that they comment at your blog, 1) False positives as spam that then have their IP banned, or 2) False negatives as spam and/or
    E) Should consider moderating even less than you have to by installing a system allowing your readers to moderate for you by flagging/voting/identifying/…/hiding comments

    Impressive list, but perhaps he is busy with his family, you know, doing family type things. Sundays are big family days in the US. Perhaps, he would rather not go through the same ole arguments, that have been repeatedly shown as the horse puckey that they are? I don’t know, and neither do you.

    There are thousands of reasons that he didn’t respond to the specious arguments that you present.

  118. Quote fail! After the first response, should be added: “And, then you write”.

  119. ES

    @Jason,

    The US satellite intended to directly measure CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere – Orbiting Carbon Observatory – was indeed launched more or less around then (Feb. 2009 actually). However the fairing failed to separate and it pounded into the South Pacific. A carbon copy of the satellite is under construction, but may be delayed due to uncertainty about the launch vehicle (the Taurus XL rocket suffered a 2nd fairing sep failure on its next launch and put the Glory satellite into the ocean as well :-( ).

    So whoever told you about its measurements was fibbing just a little …

  120. John

    Strangely, Phil isn’t an actual working climate scientist. Phil has no real understanding of physics, but probably has a good understanding of optics. So, Phil believes one group, but not the other. Is that because one group has good hats, and the other doesn’t have good hats? (looking for criteria, here)

    Wait, belief without proof or belief in a philosophical model is, wait, don’t tell me . . . religion!

    Good job, Phil! Love your new religion, based in belief or a philosophical model, but not in fact!!!

    Are there ways that people get revelations? Inquiring minds must know!!

  121. Spence_UK

    What, precisely, do you think I am wrong about?

    I explained quite clearly in my last post. You said Malthus was right. I LOLd loudly.

    Oh and #117, I haven’t said anything on that topic on this thread. You should know my views on the science by now, we’ve bumped into each other on previous threads where discussing my views on science was actually on topic. It’s funny that others are talking about risk assessments (which I endorse strongly) but you work in strange absolutes which carry no nuance.

    Please post links to your CV and background.

    Oh wow, here’s someone who doesn’t understand a thing I’ve written. My main point is that non-homeopaths can make valid criticism of homeopathy (indeed in fact such a situation can be preferable) and this applies to any field of science (closely related fields are well poised to provide external critique and review of any scientific field). A point which seems rather lost on Phil, and you I guess. What qualifications do you think I need to make such a simple observation? Or do you think that non-homeopaths should NOT be allowed to criticise homeopaths because they are not experts?

  122. flip

    @108 Spence_UK

    No, we have no evidence of what global climate will be like in 2100 if we continue emitting GHGs at the present rate. We have unvalidated models of staggering complex nonlinear systems, and the NASA guys who are the subject of this post know models of these type of systems are simply not reliable. And they are most certainly not evidence.

    What I’d like to know and people never say when talking about not liking models… how does science expect to make predictions without using some sort of predictive device, ie. models? What would you propose scientists do instead?

    @109 JoeBob

    Did it ever occur to you that Phil is not the webmaster for this site, but just one of many bloggers who submit content but don’t control the blog platform/code? Discover Magazine is the one you should be complaining to if you don’t like how their comments system works.

    I’ve been a long time reader/commenter here and have had my posts go into moderation too. There’s no conspiracy outside of one in your own head. Phil has mildly told people not to break his one rule (don’t be a dick), but outside of that I can’t recall him ever banning anyone. Your posts appeared, so you can’t scream censorship.

    In the meantime, you might consider apologizing to many scientists, physicists, engineers, … citizens who disagree with you regarding global warming especially since, as many of your supporters here agree, you are not expert in global warming at all, their crime is they disagree with your choice of experts and the priority and degrees of faith they have in the experts you rely on.

    Sigh, yet more handwaving without providing the data to back themselves up with. Yawn.

    Typical creationist tactic: attempt to poke holes in the science as if not showing your own is proof of your idea being right.

  123. Gunnar

    Spence, I still don’t agree that Malthus was proven wrong. He was certainly right about the fact that population cannot continue to grow exponentially at any constant rate for very long without catastrophic results. Either the death rate must soon rise to match the birth rate, due to starvation, war and/or disease because the population reaches or exceeds the local or even earth’s carrying capacity, or the birth rate must decline to match the death rate, or a combination of the two. This is a matter of simple, irrefutable and irrevocable arithmetic and has undeniably been a significant factor in the rise and fall of a number of communities and civilizations in the history of humankind (the Easter Islanders, and quite probably the Mayan civilization, for examples).

    This Malthusian principle is an important driver of biological evolution, as Charles Darwin recognized, and which was one of the final puzzle pieces that he needed to complete his theory of natural selection that we now know as biological evolution.

    A combination of the “green revolution” which has resulted in remarkable increases of agricultural productivity, and slowly declining birthrates worldwide may yet just possibly prevent a worldwide Malthusian catastrophe. But this does not cast even the slightest doubt on the fact that if even present population growth rates were to continue, instead of coninuing their present, slow decline, no conceivable advances in agricultural productivity or resource management will make it possible to prevent widespread, heartbreaking impoverishment and large increases in death rates and human misery due to starvation, disease and/or war.

    World population is now approaching 7 billion. A continuing growth rate of only 1.5% would double that population every 47 years, and result in a population of more than 22 billion by the end of the century. Yes, I realize that current projections predict that population growth rate will continue to decrease and that the population might eventually stabilize somewhat short of that–possibly at twice the earth’s present population or thereabouts, but that is still pretty huge. I think it is doubtful that even the earth’s present population is sustainable if everyone aspired to and attained the standard of living and consumption rates enjoyed by North Americans and Europeans–AGW or no AGW. Don’t you agree?

  124. Steve Metzler

    @Spence_UK (#121);

    Oh wow, here’s someone who doesn’t understand a thing I’ve written. My main point is that non-homeopaths can make valid criticism of homeopathy (indeed in fact such a situation can be preferable) and this applies to any field of science (closely related fields are well poised to provide external critique and review of any scientific field).

    There you go again with this homeopathy nonsense. Homeopathy is *not science-based*, alright? A 10-year old could debunk it. OTOH, there are quite a few papers in the peer reviewed primary literature that demonstrate a correlation between excess greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, and climate change.

    So your attempt to equate pseudo-science (homeopathy) with actual science (climatology) is ludicrous, no matter how many times you try to rationalise it. Oh, but wait… I must be guilty of some logical fallacy there. When it comes down to it, all you have is rhetoric, and it’s ringing pretty hollow on this thread.

  125. TheBlackCat

    @ 2crudedudes:

    I can post Feynman quotes too, you know:

    “In this age of specialization men who thoroughly know one field are often incompetent to discuss another. ”

    “Anyway, I have to argue about flying saucers on the beach with people, you know. And I was interested in this: they keep arguing that it is possible. And that’s true. It is possible. They do not appreciate that the problem is not to demonstrate whether it’s possible or not but whether it’s going on or not.”

    “It is not unscientific to make a guess, although many people who are not in science think it is. Some years ago I had a conversation with a layman about flying saucers — because I am scientific I know all about flying saucers! I said “I don’t think there are flying saucers”. So my antagonist said, “Is it impossible that there are flying saucers? Can you prove that it’s impossible?” “No”, I said, “I can’t prove it’s impossible. It’s just very unlikely”. At that he said, “You are very unscientific. If you can’t prove it impossible then how can you say that it’s unlikely?” But that is the way that is scientific. It is scientific only to say what is more likely and what less likely, and not to be proving all the time the possible and impossible. To define what I mean, I might have said to him, “Listen, I mean that from my knowledge of the world that I see around me, I think that it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence.” It is just more likely. That is all. “

  126. Nigel Depledge

    Marc Brooks (20) said:

    My question is why aren’t we concentrating on the real science that matters, to wit: How do we BEST control the problem of global warming.

    Easy – there’s no political will to do so. In the US, at least. Several European countries are having a go at reducing GHG emissions, in a variety of ways (for example, the UK has gone for wind turbines in a big way).

    This best must be the most reliable, cost effective, and politically neutral means.

    Since it means either reducing our dependence on fossil fuels or geoengineering on unprecedented scales, no solution can be politically neutral.

    Instead of trying to convince third-world countries and emerging cultures to reduce releasing of CO2, instead of trying to convince first-world countries to reduce energy use, instead of presuming we can change behavior through taxes (of any form)… why aren’t we just investigating the use orbital parasols?

    Erm . . . because they are immensely costly, and most countries who might benefit don’t have much of a space programme, so the cost might end up being borne largely by countries that do have space programmes. Etc.

    We could simultaneously reduce the global warming problems AND eliminate the horrid desert conditions around the equator with some simple aluminised-mylar in orbit.

    They’re not deserts because of the heat. They are deserts because of the dry air (and hence lack of rainfall).

    Also, what would be the advantage of stopping desert conditions in (say) the Sahara or Kalahari?

    Oh, because that won’t cost enough… that’s why.

    Eh?

  127. TheBlackCat

    Well largely a crap article. It didn’t shed any new information, didn’t do anything to decide a winner, didn’t go into detail of the scientific data out there debunking global warming — it added nothing to the debate. Those that believe in global warming will point to this article and say “See?”. Those who don’t or who are least still skeptical will point at it and say “See? More propoganda. The tree huggers still have no data.”

    Let me see if I understand this correctly. A handful of denialists post a letter that contains no new arguments, no new information, no new data, no new ideas, just the same old tired denialist talking points that have been debunked easily tens of thousands of times before. The other side dismisses it because it adds nothing new to the discussion. Yet you blame the “tree huggers” for not providing any new data?

    How do you expect us to have more data when this is a response to the denialists lack of data? If you are tired of seeing the same thing over and over, maybe you should be asking your own side to show more data rather than just sending yet another letter with that just says the same thing again for the several dozenth time.

    One data point I would like discussed is why we can only seem to measure how much CO2 we’ve released, and not how much is actually in the atmosphere.

    We can measure how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere. There are a bunch of CO2 monitoring stations around the world that are constantly recording CO2 levels. I don’t know how you got the idea we can’t measure it, we have been doing so for decades.

    About 5 years ago, the U.S. launched a satellite specifically to measure the CO2 in the atmosphere and guess what it found? There’s not as much CO2 in the atmosphere as the fear mongers predicted, and there’s no explanation why this is so.

    We know how much CO2 is in the atmosphere and how much it has increased because we have been recording it.

    We’ve been measuring the planet (accurately) for maybe the last 40 years for a planet that’s been around for 5 BILLION years. That’s like having a 100 Megapixel picture and trying to extrapolating what the picture is based on measuring a single pixel.

    We have pretty accurate measurements going back tens or even hundreds of thousands of years at a good time resolution, and back hundreds of millions at lower time resolution (but still enough to spot rapid warming events like the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum).

  128. TheBlackCat

    No, we have no evidence of what global climate will be like in 2100 if we continue emitting GHGs at the present rate. We have unvalidated models of staggering complex nonlinear systems, and the NASA guys who are the subject of this post know models of these type of systems are simply not reliable. And they are most certainly not evidence.

    First, yes it is evidence, by definition. Whether it is good evidence is another question, but it is definitely evidence. Pascal’s wager only applies when there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

    Second, the models have been very accurate at predicting what has happened so far. If anything they have underestimated the trends we have seen. And many of the effects are not that ambiguous. The exact values may be, but the overall effects are not.

    Third, that is not the only evidence we have. We can see what happened in past warming trends and past CO2 spikes to see how the biosphere reacts. We can also see what changes are already happening.

    And I am confident that “my” models stochastic models of natural variability are a better match to the real world than “your” deterministic models of climate change. So, we will see who is right and who is wrong. That is, after all, how science works.

    I eagerly await your publications in the peer-reviewed literature. But so far many denialists have tried to make stochastic climate models and failed miserably. They only work in the narrow time windows they are tuned for, unlike physical models which work in many different situations and have proven successful as predicting the warming trends so far (within the error margins they specified, denialists love to cut out the error margins).

  129. Nigel Depledge

    Gunnar (123) said:

    I think it is doubtful that even the earth’s present population is sustainable if everyone aspired to and attained the standard of living and consumption rates enjoyed by North Americans and Europeans–AGW or no AGW. Don’t you agree?

    There was a report in New Scientist about 12 years ago that looked at environmental footprint, i.e. the amount of land area required to sustain various types of lifestyle. This measure combines things like agriculture, mining of raw materials, production of power, disposal of waste, and several other factors to arrive at a single figure for a person’s environmental impact.

    If the entire popoulation of the world in 2000 lived the same lifestyle (and had the same amenities) as citizens of the USA (on average), it would take (if memory serves) 5 Earths to support that lifestyle. Europe averaged (I think) 3.5 Earths. IIRC, only India and a handful of African nations came out below 1.

  130. Gunnar

    Correction to my last post: A continuing rate of 1.5% population growth worldwide would result in a population of about 26 billion by the end of the century–not 22 billion.

  131. Spence_UK

    @flip

    What I’d like to know and people never say when talking about not liking models

    What? Where did I say I didn’t like models? I write mathematical models for a living, which would make not liking models a little bit peculiar.

    You will note I used the term “unvalidated models”. This is a subset of the population of models, and a property of this subset is that they are not suitable for drawing predictions. Validation has a very specific meaning in the modelling world, and if you do not write models for a living, you may not be familiar with it. Check out Professor Judith Curry’s blog at the moment if you want to learn about verification and validation of models, there is an interesting discussion ongoing.

  132. Gunnar

    @Nigel Depledge:

    “If the entire popoulation of the world in 2000 lived the same lifestyle (and had the same amenities) as citizens of the USA (on average), it would take (if memory serves) 5 Earths to support that lifestyle. Europe averaged (I think) 3.5 Earths. IIRC, only India and a handful of African nations came out below 1.”

    Yes, that was my understanding as well. Thanks for confirming that! :)

    In the case of India, though, do they still come out below 1? I think their prosperity and standard of living have improved somewhat since 2000.

  133. Spence_UK

    Gunnar,

    I see now why you are confused. You do not know what Malthus actually said.

    Your observation that there must be a limit to the number of people is just another way of saying we can’t have infinite people. Well, duh. But that isn’t unique to exponential growth. Arithmetic population growth is also unbounded, so it is impossible to have arithmetic growth forever. In fact, even logarithmic population growth is unbounded, since it is not asymptotic. So from that perspective, obviously, logarithmic population growth cannot be sustained infinitely. But that has no practical bearing on management of population on earth today because we are nowhere near infinity.

    But that wasn’t Malthus’ point. What Malthus specifically argued was that resources would grow arithmetically and population exponentially *from that point in time* resulting in resources being stretched and a massive die off in short order. (Incidentally, and it was a sign of the times that Malthus’ lived, his primary concern was the shocking rate at which *poor people* were breeding, at it is specifically this he sought to curtail).

    But of course availability of resources are also a function of the population, which Malthus missed, so we did see exponential growth of resources as well as population. So Malthus was wrong. Simple as. And no, moving the schedule to the right (which we have seen with population nuts and I am sure we will see the same with climate) to “save” the prediction still counts as a failed prediction.

    Also, Malthus’ reference to resources were not so much to do with fossil fuels (which seems to be your bugbear), that is more along the lines of William Stanley Jevons. He was actually right about the timing of peak production of coal in the UK, but his prediction of consequences could not have been more wrong.

  134. TheBlackCat

    In a chatotic system such as climate, correlations can be found and modeled. But, correlations are not necessarily causes. As the models fail to predict an observed outcome, they will be revised and jigged and re-submitted, until they too fail the acid test of accurate prediction.

    It might be worth checking how the climate models actually work before saying something so completely at odds with reality. Climate models are not statistical models, and they don’t use correlations. Wait, let me rephrase that, climate models by climatologists are not statistical models, denialists like to use statistical models even though they don’t work.

    The climate models used by climatologists are physical models, using the physical properties of the system and the inputs and outputs of the system. There is very little room for tweaking in these models, since the properties of the models are constrained by the rules of physics and the measured values.

    And these models have been accurate within their stated error margins at predicting the observed values, except in a few cases where things are more extreme than the models predicted.

    Unfortunately there does not seem to be one successful model that accounts for all the variability observed over, and which can reliably be used to predict average teperatures 50 years hence.

    Obviously, no model was running 50 years ago. But over the 30 or so years since the first models were run they have been very accurate at predicting what was observed.

    We know some of the media hyped predictions have already failed, namely ,warming seems to have moderated in the last ten years,

    *sigh* No, it hasn’t.

    the Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2035,

    Last time I checked we can’t prove this one way or another yet.

    polar bears are disappearing,

    Which is true as far as anyone can tell.

    the repeated statement, made 10 years ago, that “we have just 5 years to save the planet”

    Not that far off (except nobody claimed the world would actually end) , it seems we are past the point where we can stop the warming, most work now is on trying to minimize the damage.

    when more mundane issues like war, slavery, government corruption, not to mention millions of starving children, would be priorities for others.

    You say that as though things like war and starving children are not issues with AGW.

  135. Spence_UK

    @Metzler

    Homeopathy is *not science-based*, alright?

    Oh dear, I’m ROFLMAO again. Now we have someone on high declaring some ideas as being “science based” and some ideas “not science based”. Seriously, that is one messed up view of science.

    Ideas are ideas. They are neither science based nor are they “not science based”. ANY idea which is testable (which includes both homeopathy and climate change) can be assessed BY THE SCIENTIFIC PROCESS.

    Because science isn’t a label for ideas, it is a process by which ideas are assessed. It would be a great start to get that bit right.

  136. Spence_UK

    I eagerly await your publications in the peer-reviewed literature.

    I’ve already linked you to them in the past, BlackCat. Not my publications (any more than we are referring to your publications) but the publications that support my position.

    Let me know when you’ve submitted publications refuting them.

  137. TheBlackCat

    Ideas are ideas. They are neither science based nor are they “not science based”. ANY idea which is testable (which includes both homeopathy and climate change) can be assessed BY THE SCIENTIFIC PROCESS.

    The key problem is that people need to assess ideas within their range of expertise. The reason that so many people can dismiss homeopathy is that anyone who passed middle school science has the necessary expertise to address many of the arguments presented by homeopaths. However, the extent and nature of their assessment depends on their level of expertise. For example I wouldn’t trust a climatologist to assess the thermodynamic stability of water microclusters (one proposed mechanism of homeopathy), while I would trust a chemist.

    The difference with climatology is that your average engineer or astrophysicist does not have the necessary expertise to asses climate change. The subject is much more complex and the arguments put forward regarding it much more difficult to understand.

  138. Nigel Depledge

    Wilson (110) said:

    In a chatotic system such as climate, correlations can be found and modeled. But, correlations are not necessarily causes. As the models fail to predict an observed outcome, they will be revised and jigged and re-submitted, until they too fail the acid test of accurate prediction.

    Perhaps so, but what you fail to note is that any chaotic system is sensitive to “initial” conditions (that’s pretty much the definition of a chaotic system).

    Various climate models (and there are hundreds) apply different assumptions for certain interactions and slightly different degrees of coupling between variables and slightly different starting points. Most published predictions are actually averages of many runs of a model using different assumptions and different values for the initial variables.

    All credible climate models agree on three broad points:

    1. GW is real.
    2. Human activity is a major factor contributing to GW.
    3. GW will be bad for us people (with different authors defining “bad” in different ways).

    Quantum theory can be tested and used practically in many ways.

    Yes. So?

    Unfortunately there does not seem to be one successful model that accounts for all the variability observed over, and which can reliably be used to predict average teperatures 50 years hence.

    What does this even mean? Are you expecting us to exactly predict global average temps 50 years hence?

    We know some of the media hyped predictions have already failed, namely ,warming seems to have moderated in the last ten years,

    Citation needed.

    the Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2035,

    This shows you are not paying attention.

    The media hype over this one was because the IPCC cocked it up. What heppened was a climate scientist mentioned in an interview that it was his opinion that Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035 (he later changed his mind). He did not publish this as a prediction, neither did he claim it was based on science – it was just his opinion at the time. New Scientist published the interview, including that comment about the glaciers. GreenPeace then took that claim and published it in one of their pamphlets. An IPCC report then cited the claim in that pamphlet as if it were a solid piece of science. So, the media hype over this claim was to the IPCC’s embarassment (and deservedly so) – there was little or no hype in the media over the original claim.

    polar bears are disappearing,

    Yes, but what makes you think this is not true?

    Just because it is still possible to find polar bears does not mean their numbers are not declining.

    and the repeated statement, made 10 years ago, that “we have just 5 years to save the planet”

    Citation needed.

    In fact, the time for action over AGW was about 15 years ago. This is a case where deferring action makes for a bigger problem.

    all serve to make the public at large leery, especially when it comes to investing hundreds of $billions, when more mundane issues like war, slavery, government corruption, not to mention millions of starving children, would be priorities for others.

    It need not take “hundreds of $billions”. Indeed, many pilot-scale projects of the order of a few millions of euros or dollars are under way in various parts of the world. And the sooner we start to transition to whatever array of technologies will reduce our GHG emissions, the more gradual we can make that transition.

  139. Spence_UK

    The difference with climatology is that your average engineer or astrophysicist does not have the necessary expertise to asses climate change.

    Complete drivel.

    A good scientist would take little time to get up to speed on a topic that interests them. And yes, that includes the thermodynamic stability of water microclusters. Yes, they won’t instantly understand it, but there is nothing magic about it, it would just take a bit of time and research to assess the work done, how reliable the work is, what the results mean etc. etc.

    When someone insists it’s too complex for competent scientists to understand, given a reasonable amount of time and study, then I smell the unmistakable stench of BS. There is nothing magic about climate scientists that sets them apart from other scientific fields.

    There are many areas engineers and astrophysicists are very much competent to understand. And when they review the areas of climate science that is relevant to their own area of expertise, and see it is of poor quality, and then someone comes along and insists the rest of it is too difficult for them to understand, you should then realise why they then fall about the place laughing at you.

    ETA: I like your “asses climate change”. I didn’t notice it until after I posted the copy pasta quote. Very apt.

  140. Nigel Depledge

    Spence_UK (135) said:

    Oh dear, I’m ROFLMAO again. Now we have someone on high declaring some ideas as being “science based” and some ideas “not science based”. Seriously, that is one messed up view of science.

    Ideas are ideas. They are neither science based nor are they “not science based”. ANY idea which is testable (which includes both homeopathy and climate change) can be assessed BY THE SCIENTIFIC PROCESS.

    Because science isn’t a label for ideas, it is a process by which ideas are assessed. It would be a great start to get that bit right.

    What utter rubbish.

    Why do you insist on so aggressively waving your ignorance in others’ faces?

    Some ideas are based on a combination of facts and sound reasoning (IOW, Science). This is, I suspect, what Steve Metzler meant when he referred to “science based” ideas.

    Other ideas, including homeopathy, are based on fantasy and / or wishful thinking.

    It does not take anyone “on high” to make this distinction clear, it really is very simple to understand. Well, I would have thought so until I read your comment, anyhow. Apparently the concept is beyond you.

    None of which changes the fact that it takes next to no expertise in anything to recognise that homeopathy is a crock, while understanding the Earth’s climate takes a great deal of time and study.

  141. Spence_UK

    Incidentally BlackCat, in terms of your “thermodynamic stability of water microclusters”, it should be obvious that this claim fails several immediate litmus tests. One of the biggest problems with the idea of water having memory is that it somehow forgets all the other things it has been in contact with. A good scientist would immediately observe that “thermodynamic stability of water microclusters” does not address this fundamental problem with the theory in any way shape or form, without any need to delve into chemistry. Furthermore, you would have to provide evidence that this has a measurable physiological effect – burden of proof.

    On top of that, if homeopathy did work, it would have an effect in double-blind trials beyond placebo. It doesn’t.

    So even in that case, without extensive research, it can be seen to be entirely dubious from the empirical evidence we already have to hand. No deep chemistry or physics required. Conclusion: example fail.

  142. TheBlackCat

    A good scientist would take little time to get up to speed on a topic that interests them. And yes, that includes the thermodynamic stability of water microclusters. Yes, they won’t instantly understand it, but there is nothing magic about it, it would just take a bit of time and research to assess the work done, how reliable the work is, what the results mean etc. etc.

    I guess my 6 years of PhD was wasted, I could have learned everything I needed to know about my field in just a little bit of time. Thanks for letting my know.

    If this was true there would be no need for different branches of science, any scientist would be an expert in any other branch. The whole reason that we need different branches is because it isn’t easy to become an expert in a field, it takes many years or work and study.

  143. Spence_UK

    Depledge

    Other ideas, including homeopathy, are based on fantasy and / or wishful thinking.

    Better tell that to BlackCat, then. Apparently BlackCat thinks there is an interesting line of research in the “thermodynamic stability of water microclusters”. Tell me, does that classify as “science-based” or “not science-based”? What % of the idea must already be known to science for it to count? 10%? 30%? 50%?

    Glad to see you joining Metzler in not really understanding what science is, though. I haven’t laughed this much in ages.

  144. Spence_UK

    If this was true there would be no need for different branches of science, any scientist would be an expert in any other branch.

    *facepalm*

    Do you not understand the difference between assessing the quality of scientific analysis versus active research.

    Oh dear. How ridiculous.

  145. Nigel Depledge

    Spence_UK (139) said:

    Complete drivel.

    How so?

    A good scientist would take little time to get up to speed on a topic that interests them.

    No.

    Just no.

    Clearly you have not the slightest clue about how modern science works and what scientists do.

    When I wrote up my PhD thesis, I had to cite all relevant papers in the literature. This amounted at the time to about 250 papers. I did not need to be familiar with the content of all of them, but I neeed to understand the general gist of them all. At one point, I was behind in my literature reading, and had a concentrated stint of catching up. In about a month of concentrated effort I caught up with about 100 scientific papers. And that was in a field in which I was actively working.

    That field was a subsection of biochemistry concerning the biosynthesis of steroids. At the end of 5 years, I was in no way an expert on the biosynthesis of steroids. That would have taken another 5 or 10 years of work in that specific field.

    When I started my first postdoc, I was not working on steroid biosynthesis, but on the enzyme dUTPase. I had to start again from scratch. In my first year in that field, I became passingly familiar with the field by reading about 150 papers (well, to be fair, I mostly read only the introductions and conclusions because these were the most important sections of those papers). After 3 years in that field, I was in no way an expert on dUTPase. It was still biochemistry, but different.

    And so on.

    I imagine it is pretty much the same in climatology.

    When a subject is complex and subtle, as Earth’s climate is, and the amount published is large, it can take a decade or more to become sufficiently familiar with the state of the science to make a competent judgement of any new contributions in that field.

    And yes, that includes the thermodynamic stability of water microclusters. Yes, they won’t instantly understand it, but there is nothing magic about it, it would just take a bit of time and research to assess the work done, how reliable the work is, what the results mean etc. etc.

    But the harder part is not assessing an individual piece of work, but truly understanding it within the context of the field as a whole.

    When someone insists it’s too complex for competent scientists to understand, given a reasonable amount of time and study, then I smell the unmistakable stench of BS. There is nothing magic about climate scientists that sets them apart from other scientific fields.

    Please stop waving your ignorance around like this. It’s truly embarassing.

    It is true that there is nothing magic about climate science, but it is equally true that you have not the slightest idea what you are on about. It might take only a year to become passingly familiar with the state of a field of science, but it takes substantially longer to develop a deep understanding of that field.

    There are many areas engineers and astrophysicists are very much competent to understand.

    In a superficial sense, perhaps. But in terms of fully understanding the complexity and subtlety of climate science, not so much.

    And when they review the areas of climate science that is relevant to their own area of expertise, and see it is of poor quality, and then someone comes along and insists the rest of it is too difficult for them to understand, you should then realise why they then fall about the place laughing at you.

    So, what exactly is your area of expertise?

    And where does it impinge on climate science?

    And where does it not impinge on climate science?

    And what has convinced you that the climate science that impinges on your area of expertise is poor?

    And why do you think it is that the world’s climate scientists have not noticed this “poor-quality” work?

    And what makes you think that typing ROFL and other such abbreviations constitutes an argument?

  146. TheBlackCat

    Incidentally BlackCat, in terms of your “thermodynamic stability of water microclusters”, it should be obvious that this claim fails several immediate litmus tests. One of the biggest problems with the idea of water having memory is that it somehow forgets all the other things it has been in contact with.

    Way to completely miss the point. My point was that while the fundamental claims of homeopathy, like water having memory, can be addressed by anyone, there are particular claims that someone would need some level of expertise to address. Anyone can show that homeopathy is nonsense even if they can’t address some of the details because the fundamental principles are nonsense. That is not the case with AGW, where the fundamental principles are much more complex and easily misunderstood (as many denialists in this very thread have demonstrated).

  147. TheBlackCat

    *facepalm*

    Do you not understand the difference between assessing the quality of scientific analysis versus active research.

    Oh dear. How ridiculous.

    It would seem to me the one who doesn’t understand is you. If there was such a big difference, why do they send articles out for peer review to people in the same field, rather than to random other fields? If your argument is right it should be no trouble for someone from one field to do peer review in another.

  148. Nigel Depledge

    Spence_UK (143) said:

    Glad to see you joining Metzler in not really understanding what science is, though. I haven’t laughed this much in ages.

    I am an actual scientist, as is The Black Cat.

    He (IIRC) and I have both worked in science for some time and have seen how it really operates.

    TBC and I have a far, far better understanding of how science operates in day to day terms than do you. By extension, therefore, so does Steve Metzler.

    When you start telling scientists that they don’t understand what science is, it’s time to go back on the meds.

  149. Nigel Depledge

    @ TBC (147 etc.) –
    I am starting to suspect that Spence_UK has never even read a scientific paper, and therefore assumes that things like methods and results are expounded in the same kind of detail, and at the same kind of level, as an undergraduate text book.

    @ Spence_UK –
    Commonly, to save space, scientific papers are written for an audience of people who are already familiar with the current state of the field, and with the principal techniques employed, both in data acquisition and in data analysis. Therefore, if anyone thinks they can make a genuine assessment of the quality of the work reported in a paper without that general background knowledge to the specific field in question, they are either mistaken or telling porkies.

    Of course, a few papers have reported work of such poor quality that many scientists have spotted the low quality, even those not familiar with the field. But such cases are rare, and reflect badly on the journal that published that paper.

  150. ND

    Nigel Depledge Says: “Since it means either reducing our dependence on fossil fuels or geoengineering on unprecedented scales, no solution can be politically neutral.”

    I’ve never seen it summed up like this in a single sentence.

  151. mike burkhart

    If think this is stupid ,I saw on a tabloid show that some people think breathing radon gas is good for them and spend hours in mines breathing it. Now radon gas, witch is produced by the decay of radium, is highly raidoactive and causes cancer . About Tenenisse (I just read about it in the old enteries) you would think that state would have learned after the Scopes trail in the 20s but it looks like they didn’t and now are going have another big battle over a misinterption of the Bible and evolution that will bring more embarsment to Tenennisse . I think we do need to come up with a replacement to fossil fuels ( I’m sick of the gas prices) but I think it will take awile to invente something , it woun’t happen overnight.

  152. ND

    “139. Spence_UK Says:
    April 16th, 2012 at 6:53 am
    @Metzler
    Homeopathy is *not science-based*, alright?

    Oh dear, I’m ROFLMAO again. Now we have someone on high declaring some ideas as being “science based” and some ideas “not science based”. Seriously, that is one messed up view of science.
    Ideas are ideas. They are neither science based nor are they “not science based”. ANY idea which is testable (which includes both homeopathy and climate change) can be assessed BY THE SCIENTIFIC PROCESS.”
    —————————————-

    This strikes me as sophistry (or just plain confusion). The point was that the assertions of homeopathy was not deduced by the scientific process. Thus homeopathy is not a science based idea. You’re sliding from an idea/theory/model with strong scientific evidence to any idea that can be scientifically tested. Theory of Relativity is a science based idea. Homeopathy is not a science based idea.

  153. Aaron

    1. So what greenhouse gas has the greatest effect on earths temps? 2.What % of greenhouse gasses are natural? 3.what % is man made? What % of greenhouse gas would the US cut from planet earth if it stopped all greenhouse production tommorrow and went 100% green?

    Climate has been recorded globaly in a way that it can be truly studied for 30-40 years. Looking through dirt samples, tree rings and all that good stuff is nice and has proven that earths avg temps do go up and down over time, but cant be used as a hard fact temperature… the margine for error is just to great.

    I have a hard time believing anyone knows what the temps are going to be in 20+ years when the temps can hardly be forecasted out 24 hours.

    -Aaron
    meteorologist

  154. ND

    Aaron:

    “1. So what greenhouse gas has the greatest effect on earths temps? 2.What % of greenhouse gasses are natural? 3.what % is man made?”

    Look ‘em up!

    meteorologist != climatologist

  155. Gunnar

    Maybe I am misunderstanding Spence_UK, but what I find so perplexing about him is his seeming opposition to the very possibility that AGW might be a legitimate concern, regardless of what qualified climatologists have to say about it, and his seeming determination to ridicule any proposed measures or actions to ameliorate its effects–even measures that would make very good sense, even if AGW was complete bunk! I utterly fail to see anything rational about his stance, as I understand it to be! It often seems to me that his main goal is to do his damnedest to obfuscate the issue however he can.

  156. Mark Schaffer

    What is depressing is how something calling itself “Spence_UK” has successfully wasted the time of intelligent and creative people who could be working on solutions to our climate crisis. Gunnar,
    It would be interesting to unmask the person or bot behind “Spence_UK”…

    Aaron,
    Try going to these two sites:
    http://www.realclimate.org

    and:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com

  157. flip

    @124 John

    So, Phil believes one group, but not the other. Is that because one group has good hats, and the other doesn’t have good hats? (looking for criteria, here)

    Phil *trusts* one group who is actively studying the subject in question and understands the data in question, but trusts less in the other group who actively study *other subjects*. Trust is used because without studying the science in depth himself (ie. becoming a climatologist) he needs to rely on the scientific process which is used in other fields and those who study it.

    Sheesh, what’s so hard to understand?

    Wait, belief without proof or belief in a philosophical model is, wait, don’t tell me . . . religion!

    Sigh… yet another unoriginal comment.

    @135 Spence_UK

    My statement was a general one and does not need to be nitpicked on semantics. Whether you ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ models, my point was:

    Many people attack models as a way to imply that overall AGW isn’t happening, because models are useless and/or irrelevant (since they’re not about ‘real’ record keeping, but estimates instead or because they’ve not been 100% accurate). My question isn’t just to you, but to those people who use that tactic too… how else do we go about making predictions in this case without using models, and/or what would you suggest instead of such models?

    If I have time I will look at Curry’s blog; thanks for the suggested reading.

    @148 Spence_UK

    To drive the others’ points home: I’ve been reading this blog for about 8 years now, along with other astronomy blogs and books. I guess that must mean I’ve got a BA in science now?

    Sheesh, I do my best to keep up with the scientists who do post here… but no matter how much I read and learn in order to keep up, that doesn’t make me qualified or learned enough to discuss the implications of the latest research. Especially when I have a day job and can only spend limited amounts of time reading up on astronomy.

    I am an average person with only high school science to my education. Despite my attempts to learn stuff now, that in no way means I am now competent enough to understand and assess peer-reviewed publications. If it were, I could simply ignore going to the doctor and treat myself; and is actually one of the reasons why people get suckered into bad science/CAM/cons. Sure, if I had decades to spend reading all the literature, I might actually be capable of conversing with actual scientists… but that doesn’t make me any more of an expert than the self-proclaimed gurus in health who don’t have a licence to treat.

    (I see this is better argued by Nigel @153)

  158. TheBlackCat

    @ Aaron:

    1. So what greenhouse gas has the greatest effect on earths temps? 2.What % of greenhouse gasses are natural? 3.what % is man made? What % of greenhouse gas would the US cut from planet earth if it stopped all greenhouse production tommorrow and went 100% green?

    You are making a common mistake. The problem isn’t the total amount of greenhouse gasses released, because most of the greenhouse gasses that are released are offset by an equal amount being absorbed. The amount of greenhouse gas being emitted and absorbed has been more or less constant for a long time now.

    A problem only arises when greenhouse gas emission outpaces greenhouse gas absorption. This leads to an increase in overall greenhouse gas levels. So the question is not how much of the greenhouse gas emissions are humans responsible for, but how much of the greenhouse gas increase are humans responsible for.

    The answer to that is “much more than 100%”. This is possible because a significant portion of the human emissions are absorbed, but not all. This means that some of the human contribution to the climate has been masked, because some of our emissions are being absorbed. However, the processes that absorb the CO2 have a finite capacity, and they appear to be filling up, meaning that CO2 levels will increase even faster (and actually are already speeding up).

    This is also an issue with methane, and other GHGs like CFCs do not occur naturally to any significant degree. The only other major greenhouse gas, water vapor, has too short of a residence time, so it only serves to amplify other climactic changes, it cannot change on its own.

    Climate has been recorded globaly in a way that it can be truly studied for 30-40 years. Looking through dirt samples, tree rings and all that good stuff is nice and has proven that earths avg temps do go up and down over time, but cant be used as a hard fact temperature… the margine for error is just to great.

    Oh really? So, let me ask you, what, exactly, is the margin of error, and what margin of error would you consider acceptable?

    I have a hard time believing anyone knows what the temps are going to be in 20+ years when the temps can hardly be forecasted out 24 hours.

    Good thing no one claims that they know the exact temperature in 20+ years. What they claim to be able to predict is the average global temperature over multi-year time scales, which is considerably easier. I can make predictions like that, too: the average northen hemisphere temperature is going to be higher in the months June 2012 through August 2012 than in the months November 2012 through February 2013.

  159. TheBlackCat

    @ Gunnar: welcome to the world of denialism.

  160. Gunnar

    Thanks, TBC (I guess). It’s a perplexing phenomenon isn’t it? I used to visit and post comments on the Flat Earth Society website, and it really seems to me that many of the diehard climate denialists posting here are every bit as intractable in their stance as some of the diehard flat-earthers.

    Thanks so much to you, Nigel, MTU, Steve Metzler and others for your efforts to bring rationality to the discussion! And, of course, thanks to Phil Plait for this blog!

  161. reidh

    If you call Doubting You and anyone as PC as you, denial, you are Lying to yourself. Because, you have absolutely NO PROOF that the Climate is in any kind of TREND or its cause.

  162. Gunnar

    Reidh, you know what? That’s exactly the attitude taken by some of the Flat-earthers I have interacted with. They actually claim the same thing with regard to the claim that the earth is round. If you really believe that there is no persuasive evidence for AGW, you either have just not been paying attention, or you have tightly closed your eyes and ears to it.

    As for proof, few if any things can be proven with absolute certainty outside of pure mathematics. If you always wait for absolute proof of anything before taking action, you will probably never get or do anything right.

    Besides, even if there were no truth to AGW, what is wrong with persuading people to try the proposed remedies that would have significant economic and environmental benefits, even if AGW were not really a legitimate concern?

  163. Nigel Depledge

    Reidh (165) said:

    If you call Doubting You and anyone as PC as you, denial, you are Lying to yourself.

    Aside from your rather weird use of initial capitals . . .

    25 – 30 years ago, you would have had a point. Back in the 1980s, the AGW conclusion was not firm, and there was reasonable cause to doubt it.

    Since then, a whole lot of data have been accumulated, all of which confirms that (1) GW is happening, (2) human activities are a substantial part of the cause, and (3) that it is worth our while doing something to prevent it or reduce its impact.

    It is no longer reasonable to doubt that AGW is a real phenomenon. The preponderance of evidence indicates that AGW is real, and this evidence base is now substantial enough that the scientists who actually study this stuff have moved on to answering other questions.

    Because, you have absolutely NO PROOF that the Climate is in any kind of TREND or its cause.

    Maybe not absolute proof, but then you cannot absolutely prove to me that the sun will rise tomorrow, so what use is there in trying to get absolute proof of any empirical phenomenon?

    What matters is that the data we have indicate that Earth’s climate is in a period of unprecedentedly-rapid warming. People have sought natural causes (volcanic activity, solar activity, etc.) but no natural cause is sufficient to account for either (1) the change in atmospheric levels of GHGs or (2) the rate of warming over the last 50 years or so. Other data support the same conclusions (for example, isotope ratios in the additional atmospheric CO2 indicate that it is largely fossil in origin).

    If you want better proof than this, how do you ever make a decision about anything?

  164. Wilson

    Aside from your weird use of logic :)

    That GW is happening at an “unprecedented” rate depends on which series of data points you select from Earth’s temperature chart. During Earth’s long history, you can find periods of both warming and cooling.

    You admit that “25-30 years ago” your case wasn’t proven. The data obtained in this period just happens to coincide with an unprecedented advance in measurement capability and study, known to us as the space age.

    Had these tools beeen available during other warming or cooling periods during earth’s history we no doubt would have had dire forecasts of catastrophic climate change both from cooling and warming.

    Truth is that without the space age measurement data, (which is the only truly “unprecedented” factor here) the average person would not be aware of any trend, outside the normal variability of weather.

    And would not see “proven” evidence of “catastrophic” warming as he enjoys another warm or cool day.

    Over human history and between glacial periods, plants, animals and humans have slowly but surely migrated back and forth between warmer and cooler parts of the earth, more recently towards the north as the glaciers retreated. In that way they have found climate balance, and will continue to do so.

    As for so called sea level rise, new technology, concurrent with the space age, is allowing humans to build new cities, farms etc on reclaimed land. The oil rich middle east for example, and the Dutch, while the Koreans are building a new city for some 3 million people on reclaimed land in only 15 years!

    The same technology used to find a potential problem, is the same technology that can be used to solve a problem.

    It’s called civilisation, or human development. Adaptability is what has led to our latest and greatest achievements.

    No need for alarm, panic, or articicial crises costing hundreds of $billions to curtail man’s means of adaptability.

    Unless of course you are a communist/socialist/liberal type who wants sees the end of this great free enterprise period in human history (along with Karl Marx)

  165. Sigh — DDT is bad, the population bomb will kill us all, we’re running out of oil soon, sunshine will kill you, the world is cooling – no wait – warming – no wait – “changing,” etc., etc. So long as the minions of the Academo-Infotainment industry need “attention” to survive, we will have a series of “crises.” After all, who pays attention to those blokes when they just report facts ?

  166. Cal

    “We know some of the media hyped predictions have already failed, namely ,warming seems to have moderated in the last ten years”

    No, Wilson, it has not. The last decade has been the warmest yet. If you mean the RATE OF INCREASE hasn’t been as extreme as predicted, that would be because the last solar cycle was one of unusually low activity. Think about it. The sun’s output was usually low, yet we got the warmest decade on record ANYWAY. That should give you some idea of how bad it would be if solar activity hadn’t declined for a few years.

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