More debunking of the ex-NASA 49 climate change deniers

By Phil Plait | April 26, 2012 6:34 am

Remember that embarrassingly bad letter written by 49 ex-NASA employees saying that global warming is a fraud and that NASA shouldn’t support it?

Over at Scholars and Rogues, Brian Angliss tears it apart for the sham that it is. It’s a pretty good review that destroys the claims made in the letter and has plenty of links to back up the debunking.

I find a lot of the climate change deny-o-sphere pretty baffling. A lot of the claims are trivially wrong, a lot more are cherry-picked and can be seen to be wrong when presented in the correct context, and others are just spin and rhetoric ("carbon dioxide is plant food!") that is facile at best and outright nonsense at worst. Of course, many of them touted this letter by the ex-NASA 49 as more proof that climate change is wrong. Amazing.

So as usual, let me make this clear:

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.

Got it?

OK, I know reality-based folks do. But keep that paragraph handy when confronted by the deniers. It may not change their minds, but people are listening to them, and we need to keep making sure the facts — the real, true, provable facts — are out there.


Related Posts:

Breath-taking climate denial nonsense, this time aimed at NASA
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 (145)

  1. Lars

    Cue someone writing “Cue the denialist noise machine in 3… 2… 1…” in 3… 2…

    Damn, I just beat myself to it, didn’t I? Oh well, it had to be done anyway.

  2. A lot of the claims are trivially wrong, a lot more are cherry-picked and can be seen to be wrong when presented in the correct context, and others are just spin and rhetoric that is facile at best and outright nonsense at worst.

    Funny how this sums up creationists, anti-vax pro-disease nutters, 9/11 troofers, birthers, etc. Is there a rash of some sort of mental illness going around?

    I am reminded of a quote by someone else:

    “Why do professional propagandists for creationism have to lie for their doctrine?” – Calilasseia

  3. Peptron

    I always thought that CO2 was much closer to being plant air than plant food. Fecal matter is plant food.

    Besides, I’ll admit that I’m partial to humans. If there is something Super Mario Bross taught me, it’s that if there is a war against humans and plants, humans have to stand up and fight.

  4. chief

    I couldn’t believe the radio station here in Ottawa was using the NASA letter as proof of global warming not being real. Of course not checking facts… like how many of the signers are working the field of climatic research specific to CO2 and warming trends.

    Humans are a strange breed. Get 1000 people to say the same thing and the 1001th person who disagrees gets all the media attention. It’s like our brains thrive on conspiracy theories. Maybe we should have done this the other way around. Say everything is peachy and have one “scientist” say everyone is wrong.

    So the warmest March in memory doesn’t help change peoples minds.

  5. Lars

    Funny how this sums up creationists, anti-vax pro-disease nutters, 9/11 troofers, birthers, etc. Is there a rash of some sort of mental illness going around?

    Or just a strategy becoming more popular as people see that it actually works?

  6. Chris

    Hey Phil, the NASA logo somehow got turned upside down. You might want to fix that.

  7. Lars

    Hey Phil, the NASA logo somehow got turned upside down. You might want to fix that.

    Umm. You serious?

    (Whispering: “I think it’s intentional”.)

  8. reknaw

    @Phil:
    What is the statistical significance of the “global warming” effect? Around 4 sigmas (0.74±0.18 °C over the period 1906–2005, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming) you said? And that doesn’t even include the systematics…

    If I had a penny for every time a 3 or 4 sigmas (and sometimes even 6 sigmas) bump appeared and subsequently disappeared in particle physics, now I would be a billionaire.

    My conclusion is this: Global warming probably exists, but until it is proven beyond any reasonable doubt (like it is done in real sciences), please stop the polemics and the philippics.

    Cheers

  9. Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Yeah, and the alt text that mentions the logo being on its head.

  10. Sceptic

    I would get really worried if the climate did not change and instead stuck to a fixed … value.

  11. JohnK

    One of your recent blog postings promoted SpaceFest IV. Four of the signers of the NASA document (Charlie Duke, Ed Gibson, Walt Cunningham and Al Worden) will be there too.

    Why don’t you and all of the other scientists protest these folks and not show up at all? That would make a real statement.

  12. Gary

    Phil says: “And finally, approximately 97% of climatologists who actually study climate agree that global warming is real, and caused by humans.”

    The Wikipedia article HE CITES says: “In 2007, Harris Interactive surveyed 489 randomly selected members of either the American Meteorological Society or the American Geophysical Union for the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) at George Mason University. The survey found 97% agreed that global temperatures have increased during the past 100 years; 84% say they personally believe human-induced warming is occurring…”

    Talk about misrepresentation.
    1. Those surveyed aren’t “climatologists.”
    2. 97% agreed with the data on warming.
    3. 84% thought it was human caused.

    At least get your facts straight when your argument appeals to authority.

  13. Lars

    At least get your facts straight when your argument appeals to authority.

    The Wikipedia article actually also says:

    97–98% of the most published climate researchers say humans are causing global warming.[106] In another study 97.4% of publishing climatologists and just under 90% of earth scientists, broadly construed, say that significant man made global warming is occurring. Of those who didn’t, most were unsure.[107]

    At least get your facts straight when you accuse others of not getting their facts straight.

  14. Steve

    Here in Lubbock, TX, we’re scrambling to find water sources (our main source dried up), we’re on water rationing in many ways, and we keep setting records for heat… just yesterday we were at 105*! Yet many of my neighbors refuse to believe in GW, ‘cuz they ‘know’ it’s a conspiracy by the greenies and the Democrats!

    Lord help us, the idiots are in charge of the train, and it’s out of control!

  15. Theron

    @Steve — Yep, tens of thousands of scientists just want to destroy capitalism and take your SUV away. Plus — hippies!

    Or something. The deniers make me nuts.

  16. Dan

    Anthropogenic carbon dioxide is not 100 times that produced by volcanoes. It’s 135 times as much.

    “Marty and Tolstikhin [1998] give a preferred estimate of 0.26 gigaton per year for the present-day global volcanic CO2 emission rate and a range for plausible estimates of 0.18–0.44 gigaton per year (see the online supplement). Their study—an evaluation of CO2 emissions from divergent plate (spreading center), intraplate (plume), and convergent plate (arc) volcanism—is the most comprehensive and probably the most cited of the global estimate studies, and its broad range of plausible estimates reflects a realistic assessment of uncertainties. …

    “The projected 2010 anthropogenic CO2 emission rate of 35 gigatons per year is 135 times greater than the 0.26-gigaton-per-year preferred estimate for volcanoes.”

    Source: http://www.agu.org/pubs/pdf/2011EO240001.pdf

  17. Mark Schaffer

    Theron,
    Don’t let them drive you nuts as you can’t fix stupid anyway.

  18. David K

    @chief #4 — “So the warmest March in memory doesn’t help change peoples minds.”

    Anyone who would believe that global warming is occurring because of one unusually warm month would go back over to the denialists as soon as we have an unusually cold month. The case for global warming is based on overall statistical trends, not single points of data.

  19. Ryan the Biologist

    @Gary-

    I believe Phil is referring to the review published in PNAS of 1372 climate researchers, and not the International Journal of Public Opinion Research’s study of 489 American researchers. In the PNAS literature review, it was found that ~97% of published papers agreed with anthropogenic climate change, and that “the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.”

    The IJPOR study you are quoting from involves a smaller number of scientists, only from the United States, and includes many scientists that are not climatologists. I would think that makes the study less representative than the PNAS review.

  20. Okay, serious question: How has the number of scientists / climatologists who agree that AGW is real changed over time? I accept that it is 97% of them now – that’s not an issue. But how – and when – did that start to increase towards that 97% number? Where did it start when Dr. Hansen talked about it in the 80’s, and how has it changed over time? Phil, or anyone, have some info on that? Thanks in advance.

  21. @Dave (#20),

    Rather hard to know what their opinion on the matter was since very few peole were really asking the question. I know that denialists like to trot out the 1970s “Ice Age Scare” canard, which get’s addressed on this site quite soundly:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/ice-age-predictions-in-1970s-intermediate.htm

    I think that says that those folks who were studying the science at the time had the same views as most do today. However, the calcualtion ability of the day, as well as the confounding sulfur particulates clouded the issue.

    And there are some other references to look at as well in that write up.

  22. ThePowerOfNow

    If a climatologist says “We don’t know if it’s getting warmer.” It would mean we don’t really need a whole lot of climatologists out there. Thier overall funding would get reduced. In thier job, fear is proportional to funding. Have you noticed very few reports include discussions with Meteorologists? Meteorologists are less biased on the global warming issue. There job is safe because they report on the weather for people all over the country. More than 50% of Meteorologists say we do not know if global warming is real. You won’t see that in any major scientific papers or magazines.
    There is also a very powerful political reason to claim global warming is real. Global warming means more government control of business. The global warming debate gets you what you want politically if you are liberal. Thats why some people push very hard the notion that it’s proven.
    Pick a dozen weather experts (Meteorologists). Some will say it is not getting warmer, some will say we don’t know if its getting warmer, and some will say it is warmer. Scientifically speaking, it is still a guess. You can’t say that to a global warming supporter though. For many supporters it’s a political argument not a scientific one.

    Also, this article claims the ex-NASA 49 letter calls global warming a fraud. They did not say that. They said it is far from proven, not a fraud.

    One last comment. The phrase “reality-based folks” to describe those who believe it is proven implies that those who deny it are denying reality. In other words they are crazy. They are not crazy. They see the political motivation behind it.

  23. dmbeaster

    @reknaw: “Global warming probably exists, but until it is proven beyond any reasonable doubt (like it is done in real sciences), please stop the polemics and the philippics.”

    Uh, since when does science remain in suspension until proven beyond a reasonable doubt? And the reason for the polemics is due to the rabid deniers who perpetrate all sorts of lies. If the skeptics presented actual analysis instead of outright frauds to support themselves, then polemics would be unnecessary. We could just have reasoned debate. And if anything, it is the deniers who have perpetrated the polemics. My favorite is the claim that global warming is allegedly a hoax promoted by scientists seeking ever greater funding (when it is clear that the big money will flow to those few willing to deny global warming, but even then, why resort to this lie in the first place?).

    There a famous examples of highly esteemed scientists refusing to believe new scientific ideas, and going to their graves in denial of what we now accept as scientific truth. Einstein and quantum mechanics; many of Einstein’s contemporaries and relativity; Kelvin and geologic time; many geologists and plate tectonics. But at least they didnt rely on frauds to promote their contrarian views. And science did not hold itself in suspension because a few refused to accept the new ideas until proven beyond a reasonable doubt, despite the growing and convincing evidence.

  24. @ Larian #21: Thanks for that, and I know about the “Global Cooling” canard. I was just wondering when climatologists went from “X”% in the 70’s to “97% today” and if there is any percentage(s) available for the intervening years (say, 90% in 2000 or 80% in 1995, etc.). Just as a way to say, “The consensus is going TOWARDS global warming, not ‘Yeah, well everyone believed the Earth was flat at one time too.” It’s a way to combat it to say that the scientists are moving towards (or, I should probably say, have already reached) that conclusion, if that makes sense.

  25. OtherRob

    Flying a flag upside is usually considered to be a distress signal or warning of danger. I assume that Phil placed the NASA logo upside-down in the same spirit.

  26. CrazyIvan

    what about the “global cooling” scare in the 70’s?also the malenkov cycles seem to indicate that we are headed to a major cooling period,is it possible that AGW is actually stalling an ice age?i’m not denying,i’m just sayin’.

  27. jupiterisbig

    I just found a Time book on the earth from 1974 that says the biosphere has been warming largely because of our CO2 emissions … Not an ice age in sight …

  28. dinosaur

    Too funny. Globull warming is the only accepted science where the Effect predates the Cause. No wonder no one believes it.

  29. Cairnos

    @2 “Funny how this sums up creationists, anti-vax pro-disease nutters, 9/11 troofers, birthers, etc. Is there a rash of some sort of mental illness going around?”

    Yes, and it’s been increasing in recent decades, you know why? Vaccinations!! (….performed by evolutionists like that commie kenyan Obama who was behind 9/11)

    Did I miss anything?

  30. Timothy from Boulder

    Phil,

    Add to your list of “scientists” with no expertise Leslie Taylor, who yesterday wrote a letter to the editor of the Boulder Daily Camera. Her musings? That the proliferation of microwave wireless devices and associated infrastructure are the greatest and most pressing threat to climate change.

    Her error-filled warning is a sad testament to scientific illiteracy and the public’s perverse fascination and obsession with having to find *something* to complain about.

    http://www.dailycamera.com/letters/ci_20460799/leslie-taylor-microwave-tehnologies-are-cooking-planet

  31. 26. CrazyIvan Says:
    April 26th, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    what about the “global cooling” scare in the 70′s?

    (…rolls eyes…)

    Would it really kill you to read the damn comments? There’s only 25 of them and they are written in plain English.

  32. Ottawa Mike

    The paragraph you came up doesn’t really say a whole lot. There is not enough information to bring to a public policy discussion. You don’t address the quantitative extent that humans are causing warming (e.g. vs natural causes), what the effects (good and bad) would be of that warming and what public policies could be implemented such that the cost of the policies would be worth the benefit gained by reducing the human component of the warming (i.e. a cost/benefit analysis).

    And I think it would also be beneficial to get an accurate insight into the natural variability of the climate into the future. For example, if we were headed for an extended period of global cooling due to greatly reduced solar activity then we might want a warming effect since we have plenty of evidence that cooling would be very harmful to mankind.

  33. Steve Metzler

    Earth to Ottawa Mike: “Did you even bother to read the article by Brian Angliss that the BA linked to in the 2nd para of this post?” (and by virtue of that, the relevant links to articles that thoroughly put all your ‘talking points’ above to bed?)

    No? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Thanks for playing, though.

  34. Dan

    When was the last time any of the climate computer models predicted record cooling months or periods, as we have had in different parts of the world over the past decade? It seems to me that there are probably hundred more cause and affects that play a role in climate change than what the computer models are take into account.

    Forgive my ignorance, doesn’t the sun play a role in the temperature. The only reason the earth gets hot is because of the sun (besides the heat in the core, which doesn’t seem to affect the climate). When there are clouds in the sky it gets cooler because the sun rays doesn’t get to earth. Since we fail at least %50 of the time to predict when and where the next storm would be in the next 10 days, I wonder how we are confident to predict the earth’s temperature over the next century!

    I love science, but the I have a suspicion that the GW crowd have an agenda just like some of the AGW crowd. I’m still not decided and I have failed to find any convincing article that shows that, one, the earth is getting significantly warmer (a 1 degree increase over 100 years is not really warming!), two, humans are the cause of it, three, we are headed for disaster if don’t drastically change our way of life and starve millions in the process, and four, anything can be done about it.

  35. Steve Morrison

    @27: I recently re-read an Asimov essay from 1959 about the possibility that our CO2 emissions will cause global warming! (The essay is “No More Ice Ages?” and can be found in his collection Fact and Fancy).

  36. CrazyIvan

    ccedrick,i read every comment before mine & nobody has addressed the substance of it.

  37. RedNyte

    OK i have a serious question here, I am not denying or accepting global warming but instead of arguing about it, what is it going to take to fix it? Having politicians coming up with some new tax that the average Joe cannot not afford and buying some hybrid that again an average Joe cannot afford fix the problem. I for one have become sick of the argument if it is real or not but looking for a solution that everyone can afford. Yes this is an economic issue now…

  38. Regner Trampedach

    Cairnos @ 29: You left out both Elvis and Bigfoot – that’s not fair.
    Cheers, Regner

  39. Jeff

    @22: Meteorology is not climatology.

    Weather is not climate.

    Meteorology says what the weather this week will look like.

    Climatology says what the climate in the next years will look like.

    Meteorologist are often portrayed as “not knowing” if climate change is man’s fault because, like most scientist, they do not claim to “know” things that aren’t in their field of study, or outside of their training and expertise. And to be fair, a climatologist would not be a good source for your weekend forecast.

    As a metaphor, you would not ask a proctologist for a root canal, even though dentist and proctologist are both doctors, and, well, both deal with cavities.

  40. Don

    No Dan, the sun is not the cause. The sun has been shining for billions of years, so it is a known variable. When you account for that variable, it’s still getting warmer. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, meaning it traps heat that would otherwise radiate back out into space. And you say that 1 degree isn’t so bad. We’re not talking the difference between an 80 and an 81 degree day. We’re talking average global temperature. Scientists have found that when the earth previously went into and out of ice ages, it took 5000 years for the temperature to change just 4 to 7 degrees. Over the past 100 years, it’s changed almost a full degree, that’s 10 times as fast. So the concern is not that it’s changing but the rate of change, which is accelerating.

  41. Jeff

    @37: Its a very good question. There have been a few good ideas as to how to handle this but unfortunately there are a few speed bumps as well:

    1. Asking the government to do anything is what conservative people hate; for fear of bureaucratic nonsense. So they will argue that the market should decide it, and that’s asking people who are either ignorant (and I mean that in the nicest way) of the facts to WANT to make a change, or asking people with vested interests (ie the problematic energy companies) to provide a change.
    2. Even if we started today, some change is inevitable do to what has already been released. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try
    3. It will take a very long time till we can ever truly be off of oil. IMO we’ll probably run out of it before we stop using it completely.
    4. The idea of carbon taxes (which was started by republicans like Regan and Bush Sr. to begin with) is often misconstrued as something that people will have to pay, when in reality it focuses on business emissions. Businesses will be asked to clean up their act, or “trade” emissions with cleaner companies. From this you should expect more energy efficient products (like hybrid cars) and in turn they should be cheaper. But the fiscal conservative would argue that taxes make businesses leave America- so that presents another road block in this being a team effort.

    Finally, until the public sees that the science is clear cut, it’ll be business as usual. And right now our controversy-hungry media continues to pay lip-service to denialist claims that have been debunked for years. So you can’t really move onto politics till everyone is on board with the science.

  42. Jeff

    Also, people keep claiming climatologist are the ones who are gonna make bank with this- but grant money is not pocket money, nor is it just handed out (submitting for a grant is a more daunting task than taking the SATs 3 times over). Scientist do not get paid handsomely for getting an article published, and in fact would find more success for providing fact based evidence that dissents from the crowd. When most scientists are doing research they are looking at evidence and forming opinions, not going in with opinions and looking for evidence that supports it. I’m not sure if you’ve ever read a rebuttal to a peer reviewed article, but generally ones peers are quick to jump at the opportunity to prove the other wrong rather than pat them on the back. It can be quite comical at how intellectually cruel they can be to one another. Plus, if there turned out to be no human caused global warming after all, its not like the “profession” of being a climatologist would disappear. They’d continue to study and research exactly as they are now- exactly as any scientist not doing research into a “flavor of the moth” field is doing right now, still writing 25+page grant requests, and doing hours of research, number crunching, and graphing in hopes of finding something new.
    So please, don’t believe the hype when it comes to the argument that scientists are in this for the money.

  43. reknaw

    @23 dmbeaster:
    You took my comment out of context. And in any case, as I said 3~4 sigmas is not proving beyond reasonable doubt, so I suspect you probably don’t even understand what a “sigma” is and why it is important in establishing a “theory” or “fact”.

    To sum it up, “proving a theory” requires at least 6 sigmas (this is the way physics has worked in the last 400 years, whether you like it or not), while the global warming effect is established at only 4 sigmas. You do the math…

  44. Lars

    @43: Did you just redefine climatology as particle physics?

  45. reknaw

    @44: No, read carefully dude. I am just trying to apply the same standards as in physics where these standards have (obviously) worked remarkably well so far, and in much much tougher problems.

    Or do you think that we should dumb everything down just because some people can’t keep up?

  46. Nigel Depledge

    Steve (14) said:

    just yesterday we were at 105*! . . .

    Is that Kelvin or Celsius?

    One would be really cold, the other really hot.

    Lord help us, the idiots are in charge of the train, and it’s out of control!

    Erm, isn’t this better than the idiots being in control of the train?

  47. Nigel Depledge

    The Power of Now (22) said:

    If a climatologist says “We don’t know if it’s getting warmer.” It would mean we don’t really need a whole lot of climatologists out there.

    Why?

    Why would it suddenly stop being worth learning about our global climate?

    Thier overall funding would get reduced.

    Only if that conclusion were justifiable. Taking the converse, what makes you think the funding agencies randomly hand out money without looking into the data and claims in grant applications?

    Also, how is the climatologists’ funding related to the reality of how our climate behaves? How does the climate know that climatologists need more funding (or whatever)?

    In thier job, fear is proportional to funding.

    Citation needed.

    Have you noticed very few reports include discussions with Meteorologists?

    No. Should I have?

    Meteorologists are less [knowledgeable] on the global warming issue.

    Fixed that for you.

    There job is safe because they report on the weather for people all over the country.

    So?

    More than 50% of Meteorologists say we do not know if global warming is real. You won’t see that in any major scientific papers or magazines.

    This is telling, for several reasons.

    First, citation needed on that “more than 50%” figure. Also, how much more than 50%? 50.1%? 99%? Or what?

    Second, what is the relevance of the opinion of people who don’t study global climate about the state of the global climate?

    Third, the fact that you don’t see this claim in “major scientific papers” indicates that it doesn’t stand up to critical scrutiny.

    Did you have a point?

    There is also a very powerful political reason to claim global warming is real.

    Eh? As opposed to the immensely powerful commercial reason to claim it is not.

    Global warming means more government control of business.

    Why?

    What makes you think that the one inevitably follows from the other?

    The global warming debate gets you what you want politically if you are liberal.

    If this is true, take a look around you – it ain’t working.

    OTOH, what if AGW really is real? You’d see the scientists saying exactly what they’re saying now, and you’d see fossil-fuel shills saying exactly what they’re saying now. Your claim does not supply any information about how to decide between “AGW is real” and “AGW is a liberal conspiracy”.

    Thats why some people push very hard the notion that it’s proven.

    Or maybe it’s because they are honestly convinced that it is real? Did you even think of that?

    Pick a dozen weather experts (Meteorologists). Some will say it is not getting warmer, some will say we don’t know if its getting warmer, and some will say it is warmer.

    So what?

    Scientifically speaking, it is still a guess.

    Maybe so, but what if you ask the people who study the long-term, global climate trends (as opposed to people who study short-term, small-scale swings)? They will almost all tell you the warming trend is real.

    You can’t say that to a global warming supporter though. For many supporters it’s a political argument not a scientific one.

    You claim this, but to demonstrate it you would need to demonstrate (1) that climatologists are politically motivated, and (2) that all climate science, from all of the experts around the world, is wrong.

    You have done neither.

    Also, this article claims the ex-NASA 49 letter calls global warming a fraud. They did not say that. They said it is far from proven, not a fraud.

    So, they implied it, rather than stating it explicitly. That’s just semantics.

    This doesn’t change the NASA lead scientist’s reply – if they have an issue with climate science, the correct forum in which to debate that is the primary climatology literature. The fact that this is not happening is a strong indicator that the objections are false, flawed or mendacious.

    One last comment. The phrase “reality-based folks” to describe those who believe it is proven implies that those who deny it are denying reality.

    Yes. You are. What of it?

    In other words they are crazy. They are not crazy. They see the political motivation behind it.

    Erm . . . riiiiight. So what’s the difference between being “crazy” (your word) and imagining a political motivation where none has been shown to exist?

  48. Nigel Depledge

    Reknaw (8) said:

    Global warming probably exists, but until it is proven beyond any reasonable doubt (like it is done in real sciences), please stop the polemics and the philippics.

    AGW is proven beyond reasonable doubt.

  49. Nigel Depledge

    Crazy Ivan (26) said:

    what about the “global cooling” scare in the 70′s?

    Exactly.

    What about it?

  50. Nigel Depledge

    Cairnos (29) said:

    Did I miss anything?

    Moon hoax; UFOs; Area 51; Fluoridation; Chemtrails.

    Apart from that, no.

  51. brett

    Nice to see the Arctic sea ice anomoly touching the 30yr average ;-)

  52. Nigel Depledge

    Dan (34) said:

    When was the last time any of the climate computer models predicted record cooling months or periods, as we have had in different parts of the world over the past decade?

    Citation needed re “record cooling”.

    Are you aware that there is a difference between short-term noise and long-term trends?

    It seems to me that there are probably hundred [sic] more cause and affects [sic] that play a role in climate change than what the computer models are take [sic] into account.

    Have you looked?

    Forgive my ignorance,

    Why should we? The data are available in the scientific literature.

    doesn’t the sun play a role in the temperature. The only reason the earth gets hot is because of the sun (besides the heat in the core, which doesn’t seem to affect the climate).

    Yes, because the heat in the core never reaches the surface. Except when it does.

    The pertinent aspect of insolation (which, duh, is in all the models) is the difference between the sunlight hitting the Earth and the energy re-radiated into space.

    When insolation and radiation are in equilibrium, temps are (on average) stable.

    When one or the other changes, temps will (on average) change.

    Guess what? Both have been measured. Radiation is the one that has vbeen changing.

    When there are clouds in the sky it gets cooler because the sun [sic] rays doesn’t [sic] get to earth.

    Yes. This is in all the models too.

    Since we fail at least %50 [sic] of the time to predict when and where the next storm would be in the next 10 days, I wonder how we are confident to predict the earth’s temperature over the next century!

    Because there is a difference between short-term, local events and long-term, global trends.

    I love science,

    Really? You don’t actually seem to know what it is.

    but the I have a suspicion that the GW crowd have an agenda just like some of the AGW crowd.

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here.

    GW = global warming.
    AGW = anthropogenic global warming.

    If the climate scientists have an agenda, it is simply “stop calling my professionalism into question”. The obvious agenda of the deniers is that fossil fuel industries look set to lose a substantial proportion of their profits. And those profits are so large that the science grants awarded to climatologists wouldn’t even look like small change by comparison. What’s $100,000, for example, next to $10,000,000,000? This is the kind of ball-park figures that are relevant.

    I’m still not decided and I have failed to find any convincing article that shows that, one, the earth is getting significantly warmer (a 1 degree increase over 100 years is not really warming!),

    First off, why should your opinion on the subject matter?

    Second, the minimum prediction is 2 °C by 2100, and very few climatologists believe this is likely (what is much more likely is about 4 °C).

    Third, what are your credentials that allow you to judge the global impact of a 1-°C rise in global average temperature? Or does your assessment comprise saying “that doesn’t sound like much”?

    Fourth, how hard have you looked to find a thorough assessment of the science? Have you, for example, read any articles published by the actual scientists who are doing the work to understand Earth’s climate?

    two, humans are the cause of it,

    Why is this hard to grasp?

    Human activities cause substantial emission of a variety of greenhouse gasses, including – but not limited to – CO2 and methane. Our activities also emit greenhouse gasses that do not occur naturally.

    three, we are headed for disaster if don’t drastically change our way of life and starve millions in the process,

    This sounds like pure hyperbole. “Disaster” is a subjective term. What do you mean by using it here? Exactly?

    Changes to our way of life need not be drastic, but the sooner we transition to a low-carbon energy infrastructure, the better.

    Finally, there is no reason to expect “millions” to starve as a result of reducing our GHG emissions, but we can be fairly sure that the food supply for billions will be in jeopardy if we do nothing.

    and four, anything can be done about it.

    There are dozens of schemes and projects that address GHG emissions. What makes you think that none of them has any chance of success?

  53. Nigel Depledge

    RedNyte (37) said:

    OK i have a serious question here, I am not denying or accepting global warming but instead of arguing about it, what is it going to take to fix it? Having politicians coming up with some new tax that the average Joe cannot not afford and buying some hybrid that again an average Joe cannot afford fix the problem. I for one have become sick of the argument if it is real or not but looking for a solution that everyone can afford. Yes this is an economic issue now…

    There are dozens of schemes that address this issue in various ways. Many are at various stages of pilot scale testing.

    Alternative sources of electrical power are mostly more expensive (currently) than fossil fuels, but lots of people are looking at ways to make them more cost-effective. Meanwhile, the price of finite fossil fuels is only likely to rise as we deplete the sources that are easiest to tap.

    In the UK, we have had a large tax on vehicle fuels (petrol and diesel) for a long time (IIRC, about 80% of the price at the pump is tax). As a result, the market is gradually shifting towards vehicles that deliver better fuel economy. A typical family car in the UK with a medium-sized diesel engine will easily deliver 50 – 60 mpg, and some are far bettre than this. A corresponding petrol engine would give only about 40 – 45 mpg for the same-size car. Hybrid drive cars are only about 10% – 20% more expensive than their petrol-driven counterparts, and have better fuel economy and a modest tax incentive. All-electric cars are on the market, but this is a niche, because electric cars cannot yet deliver the range of a petrol- or diesel- powered car.

    The transition from fossil fuels to alternatives has started, and it is an area that is ripe with new opportunities. But no single option will provide the whole solution, in the same way that we currently use a combination of coal, oil, gas, hydro and nuclear for power generation.

    As for the reason that so little has been done to date, especially in the US – look at the very article at the top of the thread. A lot of very rich people have a vested interest in the science being wrong. Just like the tobacco industry 40 – 50 years ago.

  54. Nigel Depledge

    Jeff (42) said:

    exactly as any scientist not doing research into a “flavor of the moth” field is doing right now,

    Hey, moth flavour is a serious field of gastronomic research!

  55. ND

    ” Forgive my ignorance,

    Why should we? The data are available in the scientific literature.”

    Love it!

  56. Daniel J. Andrews

    Devastating responses, Nigel. That saves me from doing it (and doing a far poorer job too). Hats off to you.

  57. reknaw

    @48 Nigel: Apparently you have reading comprehension problems, so I’m re-posting what I originally said below.

    The main conclusion however is this:
    1) In order to accept any observation as “real” and beyond any reasonable doubt, you need at least 6 sigmas of confidence (the value used in physics).
    2) The statistical significance of global warming is 4 sigmas (and that’s without the systematics…).
    3) Therefore, global warming is NOT proven beyond any reasonable doubt.

    I don’t know how to make this any simpler…

    By the way, just to mention my credentials: PhD in theoretical physics/cosmology, now working as postdoc in a major university in the EU. I have ~8 years of experience in data analysis and statistics. How about you?

    Original post:
    —————
    @Phil:
    What is the statistical significance of the “global warming” effect? Around 4 sigmas (0.74±0.18 °C over the period 1906–2005, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming) you said? And that doesn’t even include the systematics…

    If I had a penny for every time a 3 or 4 sigmas (and sometimes even 6 sigmas) bump appeared and subsequently disappeared in particle physics, now I would be a billionaire.

    My conclusion is this: Global warming probably exists, but until it is proven beyond any reasonable doubt (like it is done in real sciences), please stop the polemics and the philippics.

  58. reknaw

    > Devastating responses, Nigel

    @56 Daniel:
    No, not really. Not even close dude…

  59. Messier Tidy Upper

    @22. ThePowerOfNow :

    If a climatologist says “We don’t know if it’s getting warmer.” It would mean we don’t really need a whole lot of climatologists out there. Thier overall funding would get reduced.

    Actually it seems to me more like the reverse is true.

    That is, if we don’t know whether or not our planetary climate is getting warmer then there’s all the more need to be finding out and putting money and effort into finding out.

    @26. CrazyIvan :

    what about the “global cooling” scare in the 70′s?

    What “cooling scare” – the one that a very few in the media pushed based on a very small number of scientific papers with even then a majority of climatologists believing the world was more likely heating up instead?

    Back in the 1970’s people had some different ideas on all sorts of things. We’ve moved on since then. Back then we didn’t know what Gamma Ray Bursts were and whether or not they were located in our Milky Way or were extragalactic, we hadn’t seen Neptune or Ouranos up close and suspected Triton might have liquid oceans and that Neptune may not have rings (& only 2 Neptunian moons were known) and we had no idea that the expansion of our universe was accelerating. Science advances y’see? What’s relevant is what the majority of scientific experts on the global climate know now.

    What they knew in the past is historically interesting but not much more than that.

    We have gained more information and a better understanding since and the evidence keeps stacking up in favour of the theory of Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating. (HIRGO)

    … also the malenkov cycles seem to indicate that we are headed to a major cooling period,is it possible that AGW is actually stalling an ice age?i’m not denying,i’m just sayin’.

    Malenkov? Who was Malenkov? Did you perhaps mean the Serbian scientist Milutin Milankovitch who along with, if memory serves, James Croll came up with the theory of orbital cycles being responsible for the ice ages?

    In a word, no.

    No we’re not heading for another ice age because the amount of extra heat trapped in our oceanic and atmospheric circulation system is far more than enough to offset any cooling trend from the Milankovitch cycles and possible temporary decreease in solar activity.

    The interesting point here I think is that natural factors such as the Milankovitch cycles and solar activity are trending down or stable – but yet we’ve just had the hottest decade in the record and global average tempeartures keep rising.

    Finally, there is a timescale factor to consider as well, Milankovitch cylcles work over very long periods of time – millennia whereas we’re seeing dramatic climate changes taking place over decades. Indicating again that it isn’t Milankovitch cycles that are responsible here.

    @10. Sceptic :

    I would get really worried if the climate did not change and instead stuck to a fixed … value.

    Why?

    Why should Earth’s climate be variable and unstable rather than stable?

    Especially in terms of very geologically and astronomically short periods of time?

    Earth’s climate was very stable for many aeons during the Mesozoic. That climate is also probably one that suits Humanity very poorly. So too was the stable for many millennia climate during earth’s Snowball phase.

    Humanity has evolved and developed our civilisations during a period of stable, mild, suitable climate. If that changes, it seems to me we have cause for concern.

  60. @37. RedNyte :

    OK i have a serious question here, I am not denying or accepting global warming but instead of arguing about it, what is it going to take to fix it?

    A whole lot of things starting with a recognition that we do inded have aproblem here that must be tackled.

    Or we could choose to do nothing but that choice has some very severe and nasty consequences.

    There are a whole range of possible solutions from geoengineering – terraforming our own world – through to the Kyoto protocol which, yeah, isn’t really working now.

    James Hansen, NASA’s top climatologist has a good suggestion withhis fee and divident plan.

    My own nation of Australia under Prime Minister Julia Gillard has just last year introduced a “carbon tax” that will transition into an Emission Trading Scheme despite immense and continuing criticism and opposition to this which partially caused the overthrow of no less than former prime minister Kevin Rudd and former Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull.

    SF author Kim Stanley Robinson in his “Science in the Capital Series has suggested a range of possible methods. (Click on my name for wiki-link – warning some spoilers in the links from that one.)

    British journalist Monbiot has written a whole book – at least I think it was him – going into considerable detail on what he thinks is the best way to go about this.

    There are plenty of suggestions but we need to start by accepting reality rather than sticking our heads in the sand and pretending this issue will just go away.

    Note that whatever we do will NOT be enough now to entirely “fix” it sadly. Because of thermal inertia – the amountof energy and co2 already locked into the planetary system we are committed to some degree of Global Overheating and the question really is how can we slow the speed of itand reduce the severity of it rather than ever being able to totally “fix” it from here.

    Good question to ask and I wish we would move on to it though. :-)

  61. Messier Tidy Upper

    Continued @ 37. RedNyte :

    Personally, I think we’ll see a range of solutions being applied and we’ll have to rely on the same science, industry and technology that got us into this mess to some large extent for getting us out of it again.

    We’ll almost certainly need to use nuclear power for instance as one stop-gap among other things perhaps with far better and safer reactors. We may well also have to engage in “Terraforming” projects upon our own planet.

    The later we leave it before acting, the more costly, risky and drastic the measures we’ll have to take will be. :-(

    Correction :

    James Hansen, NASA’s top climatologist has a good suggestion with his fee-and-dividend plan.

    Is what I meant to write there.

    Read :

    ‘Storms of my Grandchildren’, James Hansen, chapter 9 “An Honest effective Path” pages 209 to 211, Bloomsbury publishing, 2009.

    For details on that. In his book (ibid) Jim Hansen also frequently refers to the old Lovins bya guuy with name plan which, sadly has not come to pass which was more optiimistic, hippy-ish and – obviously – proposed much earlier.

    Fee-and-dividend was Hansens’ better alternative to the “cap’n’trade” (ETS /carbon markets and indulgences ) alternatives which seem to have been the politicians choices.

    But here we’re straying off science and into economics, politics and culture and I’m no economist. Or, thankfully, politician. ;-)

    I’d recommend Hansen’s book as a good source of info and reference on this topic and worth reading (&amp re-reading) generally btw. :-)

  62. @35. Steve Morrison :

    @27: I recently re-read an Asimov essay from 1959 about the possibility that our CO2 emissions will cause global warming! (The essay is “No More Ice Ages?” and can be found in his collection Fact and Fancy).

    See also if youhaven’t already Isaac Asmov on Youtube in the pre-Youtube era – 1989 :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEPhf0SHQEk

    Plus from even further back :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz1g55H6XgA

    in 1977. :-)

    Then there’s Carl Sagan here :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ5u-l9Je0s

    From back in 1990 long before a certain erstwhile Vice President was on the scene. :-)

    PS. Click on my name for David Attenborough’s youtube piece on this topic briefly, effectively and clearly showing why we know Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating is, indeed, human induced. One of my faves on this issue. :-)

  63. Dietrich

    @57 reknaw,
    Are you seriously equating particle physics with climate science?

    6 sigma is a reasonable standard when you’re looking for a new particle in the standard model, but why would such a standard apply when deciding whether AGW is real and we should start making changes to address the problem?

    You write that the statistical significance of global warming is 4 sigma. I’m not sure where you get that figure (I didn’t see it in the link you provided); I’m not even sure what specifically you’re referring to. But doesn’t 4 sigma imply a 99.99% confidence? That’s not good enough to take action?

    I must be missing something here; of course, I don’t have a PhD.

  64. Steve Metzler

    @reknaw (#57):

    If I had a penny for every time a 3 or 4 sigmas (and sometimes even 6 sigmas) bump appeared and subsequently disappeared in particle physics, now I would be a billionaire.

    This is, in fact, mainly what the OP is about: expertise in one particular area of physics does not automatically confer expertise in another area. As science matures, and tackles different and more pressing/topical problems through the years, so scientists themselves have had to become specialists in ever more narrow fields.

    Yes, the S/N ratio is rather small when it comes to discerning climate trends, so climatology is of necessity heavy on statistics. But as a result of hundreds, if not thousands, of papers in the primary literature… we’re pretty darn sure that mankind has (largely) contributed on the order of .8 or .9 deg C to global average tropospheric temps since the beginning of the industrial revolution. That’s a staggering amount in such a short period of time. Don’t you feel that is a cause for concern?

    You know, they say there is no thing as a free lunch. Yet somehow there are those that want us to believe that mankind’s collective pouring of 30 billion tonnes of CO2, a known greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere every year will bring no ill effects. Good luck with that, and your 6 sigma.

  65. To fix the problem all we have to do is use all that excess CO2 in the atmosphere to build a giant graphene shield covering the entire earth. Earth gets cooler. And maintaining it will create near zero unemployment everywhere. We can use the same (but opacified) to cool off Venus so it can be terraformed (though we might have to wait a bit longer). Graphene is gas tight, so we might also be able to use it to hold atmospheres on smaller bodies, though holes and tears need to be fixed, and anything riding over it pumped back. Might want to put in airlocks for space travelers.The major drawback is figuring out how to proof it against Mega Maid.

  66. Messier Tidy Upper

    Three more clips in case anyone’s still reading and interested in learning / seeing more on this :

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

    for a further debunking of the imminent ice age myth.

    Plus see :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq8_l6s89uY

    and also :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0HGFSUx2a8

    for the “isn’t it natural” climate cycles canard. Both those youtube series by Greenman3610 and Potholer54 are, in my view excellent informative and entertaining resources on the whole HIRGO topic. Even if the authors aren’t always correct on some other issues.

  67. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 62. MTU :

    In his book (ibid) Jim Hansen also frequently refers to the old Lovins bya guuy with name plan which, sadly has not come to pass which was more optiimistic, hippy-ish and – obviously – proposed much earlier.

    D’oh. Talk about unfortunate typos. Mea culpa. Too tired to type properly last night. :-(

    Make that instead :

    In his ‘Storms of my grandchildren’ book Jim Hansen also frequently refers to the old Lovins plan by a guy named Armory B.Lovins (pages 21-22 plus more) which was a highly optimistic scenario envisioning us moving to soft technologies and renewables and was proposed back in the mid 1970’s. Sadly, Lovins plan and scenario has not come to pass.

  68. @1. Lars :

    Cue someone writing “Cue the denialist noise machine in 3… 2… 1…” in 3… 2… Damn, I just beat myself to it, didn’t I? Oh well, it had to be done anyway.

    Oh well, no need to beat yourself up over it! You couldn’t have gotten in any quicker than first post! ;-)

    Could be speaking too soon but the number of climate contrarians posting on these threads seems to be declining lately and we don’t seem to have had too many here this time. :-)

    Famous last words?

    @28. dinosaur :

    Too funny. Globull warming is the only accepted science where the Effect predates the Cause. No wonder no one believes it.

    Ohh-kaaay. :roll:

    That, dinosaur (Poe?) is just incorrect on both counts.

    Many people do accept the scientific reality of HIRGO – starting with the BA and most of the regular commenters here. Plus 97% of y’know those people who actually know what they are talking about the climatologists as mentioned in the Opening Post here.

    Also the myth that cause precedes effect? I presume you’re meaning the “The Temp leads Carbon” canard which has long since been debunked. (One debunking on youtube linked to my name here.)

    Basically what happened in the past to climate isn’t exactlywhat’s happened here today. Previously the temperature rise came first this time around it doesn’t. Temperatures are lagging this time – which means given we’re still pouring more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere we’re bound to get more planetary overheating as the decades go on.

  69. Mike G

    What is the statistical significance of the “global warming” effect? Around 4 sigmas (0.74±0.18 °C over the period 1906–2005, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming) you said? And that doesn’t even include the systematics…

    Huh? The 0.74+/-18 value is given as the 95% confidence interval (corresponding roughly to 2 sigma for normal distribution) which is customary in most branches of science. That value DOES take into account the non-normality of the system and accounts for factors such as autocorrelation, so I’m not sure what you mean by “that doesn’t even include the sytematics.”

    I said 3~4 sigmas is not proving beyond reasonable doubt, so I suspect you probably don’t even understand what a “sigma” is and why it is important in establishing a “theory” or “fact”.

    Ignoring the misconception that a theory can ever be elevated to the status of fact…
    3 sigma= 99.7% confidence interval
    4 sigma= 99.99% confidence interval

    I think most people would consider 99.7% confidence beyond a reasonable doubt. If particle physics truly does subscribe to 6-sigma then it’s the exception to the rule, as the 95% CI (2 sigma) is the accepted standard for determining whether a result is significant or not in almost every other branch of science.

    Even if, as you claim, there is reasonable doubt about the rate of the observed warming trend, that completely ignores the physical basis for the concern about warming. We are confident beyond a reasonable doubt that anthropogenic warming exists not because of the observed trend, but because we know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that we’ve significantly increased atmospheric concentrations of it, and that the balance of radiation at the surface and top of the atmosphere has changed over the portion of the spectrum absorbed and re-emitted by CO2. Even if we couldn’t measure the warming trend to even the 2 sigma CI that would be cause for reasonable doubt about our ability to measure the rate of warming, not the theoretical understanding that CO2 should be causing warming.

  70. reknaw

    @64 Dietrich
    >I must be missing something here; of course, I don’t have a PhD.
    Yes, you are missing a lot actually. See my comments just below.

    > I’m not sure where you get that figure (I didn’t see it in the link you provided);

    Sigh… I will quote it below so that you can see it.
    Quoting from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming#Observed_temperature_changes
    “The Earth’s average surface temperature, expressed as a linear trend, rose by 0.74±0.18 °C over the period 1906–2005.”

    Is the “0.74±0.18 °C” clear enough now???? That’s a 4 sigma deviation from 0 (the “expected” value), because if 0.18 °C is 1 sigma, therefore 0.74/0.18=4.1 is the approximate 4 sigma deviation from 0 that I mentioned.

    >6 sigma is a reasonable standard when you’re looking for a new particle in the standard model.

    No, 6 sigmas is the standard used in physics in total today, even in astrophysics and cosmology. Since climate science is in fact physics as the atmosphere is actually a gas (described by physics), all the climate simulations use physics and the end result is a measurement of temperature which is a thermodynamical quantity (again physics), I would expect the same standards to apply. I think this is a very reasonable and just demand.

    @65 Steve
    >This is, in fact, mainly what the OP is about: expertise in one particular area of physics does not automatically confer expertise in another area.

    My main arguments (see just a few lines above) didn’t even use physics. Did I mention the 1st law of thermodynamics or maybe the Navier-Stokes equations? No, instead I relied in my expertise in statistics and the logical demand that the same standards apply across all parts of physics whether it is particle physics or cosmology or climate science (yes it is part of physics as it describes a physical system=the Earth’s atmosphere). As I said before, I just expect the same standards to apply across the board and nothing more.

    >Don’t you feel that is a cause for concern?
    >Good luck with that, and your 6 sigma.

    Sigh and sigh again… The funny thing is that we are on the same side here, so I can now imagine how hard and frustrating it would be to convince people who actually disagree…

    I will therefore state it a clearly as I can: I do believe that the increase in average temperature is most likely real, but I just ask for a higher standard of accuracy before branding everybody else who disagrees (like Phil usually does) a “denier” etc. This was the point of the polemics and philippics I mentioned in my original post (#8).

    I’m afraid I cannot make this more clear. I mean no disrespect with the following, but if I may offer some friendly advice (I really mean it in the best possible sense :D ), please try to educate yourselves a bit more (basic physics/statistics/math) before jumping into a very complicated topic like this. Again, I mean no disrespect.

  71. Mike G

    When was the last time any of the climate computer models predicted record cooling months or periods, as we have had in different parts of the world over the past decade?

    Given that they aren’t intended to have that sort of temporal or spatial resolution, probably never. They’re used to project long-term (i.e. multi-year) trends on regional or larger scales. Your insinuation that they’re failures due to their inability to do something they weren’t intended to do and which is beyond what is necessary for the job that were designed for is akin to saying that satellite imagery must be hopelessly flawed because you’ve never seen a cat in a satellite image and you know cats exist.

    It seems to me that there are probably hundred more cause and affects that play a role in climate change than what the computer models are take into account.

    What are these mysterious unknown factors and why would you assume they’re missing? Occam’s razor tells us that that’s unlikely. We have several known variables that explain the trend fairly well. Why would we assume several additional unknowns when there is no evidence they’re necessary?

    Also, if these factors do have the dominant effect that you seem to imply then they should be that much more obvious. Why have we missed them up until now?

    Since we fail at least %50 of the time to predict when and where the next storm would be in the next 10 days, I wonder how we are confident to predict the earth’s temperature over the next century!

    Yes, and casinos can’t predict the next roll of a pair of dice better than 17 percent accuracy either, but they still manage to come out as winners in the long run. They know exactly what the long-term odds of a given bet are. That’s the magic of probability.

    Weather is a chaotic system which makes it difficult to predict. It can be compared to a single roll of the dice. Climate is the statistical description of weather over many years. It’s the probability of a given weather event occurring and can be compared to the casino’s odds.

    You’ve probably heard the term “storm of the century” before. The media likes to use the term to sensationalize just about any big storm these days, but the literal meaning is that a storm of that magnitude has a 1 in 100 chance of occurring any given year. Those odds are climatology. A climatological projection might say for example that the odds of such a storm will be shifted so that they’re 10% more common, making them 1-in-90 year events. They do not attempt to tell you what day or even what year those events will occur on.

    I have failed to find any convincing article that shows that, one, the earth is getting significantly warmer (a 1 degree increase over 100 years is not really warming!)…

    1 degree per century is significant warming, both in the statistical sense and in the context of geological history. As someone else pointed out, the difference between an ice age and modern temps is only a few degrees per millenium.

    It’s important to note too that the <1 degree is a global average. Parts of the globe are warming slower, but parts, particularly in the high latitudes, are warming much faster- on the order of 3-5 degrees per century.

  72. Mike G

    If a climatologist says “We don’t know if it’s getting warmer.” It would mean we don’t really need a whole lot of climatologists out there. Thier overall funding would get reduced. In thier job, fear is proportional to funding.

    It’s the job of scientists to attempt to find the answers to unknown or uncertain questions. Saying “we don’t know” is EXACTLY how you secure funding. Finding those answers is how you make a name for yourself. Funding agencies don’t fund investigations into things we already know and you don’t win Nobel Prizes for answering questions someone else already answered.

    See the merit-review criteria from NSF’s grant proposal guide NSF’s grant proposal guide: “How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields?… To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts? How well conceived and organized is the
    proposed activity?… How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning?”

    When you sit on a review panel you evaluate how well a proposal answers these questions. There isn’t anywhere on your score card for “Does this scare people? Will it create more jobs for scientists?” The reviewers are also peers of the potential grantee, usually active researchers in your same sub-discipline or one closely related. If you try bullsh!tting on a proposal, the reviewers won’t be duped- they’re experts too. Furthermore, they’re your academic competitors and are competing for the same pool of resources. It’s against their interest to drain the funding pool by funding crappy proposals. They will look for any excuse to reject proposals, including incorrect margins (no exaggeration).

    Also, just to be clear, scientists’ salaries generally aren’t funded by grants. They’re funded by teaching. Most funding agencies or academic institutions (often both) set limits on the amount of your salary that can be paid by grants- typically the equivalent of 2 months of your teaching salary. It can easily take longer than that just to prepare a proposal. Most of the money from grants goes to paying other people’s salaries and overhead, meaning it goes straight to the home institution. As an example, my most recent grant proposal has the following breakdown- 38% to the university, 28% other people’s salaries, 23% supplies and travel (the study is local and doesn’t require much equipment, so this is cheap), 11% my salary.

  73. Daniel J. Andrews

    @reknaw 58

    1) In order to accept any observation as “real” and beyond any reasonable doubt, you need at least 6 sigmas of confidence (the value used in physics).
    2) The statistical significance of global warming is 4 sigmas (and that’s without the systematics…).
    3) Therefore, global warming is NOT proven beyond any reasonable doubt

    Based on that criteria I wonder just how much we know is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. E.g. smoking and cancer link, increase in acid rain, theory of evolution, or a good chunk of any ecological/biological bit of knowledge.

    You are taking a single piece of evidence that is just one piece of a large jigsaw puzzle, and claiming it doesn’t match the criteria used in another field while simultaneously completely ignoring (or being completely ignorant of) the many lines of independent evidence that also point to a warming globe. Get rid of the temp records if you like–they’re just one piece of the evidence–and we’d still have to conclude things were warming

    I’m sorry but you are a good example of how expertise in one discipline doesn’t translate to expertise in another discipline. You obviously have the capability to remedy your lack of knowledge regarding climate science so why haven’t you done so?

  74. what about the “global cooling” scare in the 70′s?
    (…)
    ccedrick,i read every comment before mine & nobody has addressed the substance of it.

    Why lie?
    Your original comment was No. 26

    Your PRATT was addressed in comment 21 in plain English.
    Behold:

    “Larian LeQuella Says:
    April 26th, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    @Dave (#20),

    Rather hard to know what their opinion on the matter was since very few peole were really asking the question. I know that denialists like to trot out the 1970s “Ice Age Scare” canard, which get’s addressed on this site quite soundly:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/ice-age-predictions-in-1970s-intermediate.htm

    Not that hard really.
    All you have to do is read the comments.
    Oh, and that htttp thingy is called a “link”. You go to that link and you can read stuff.
    Try it.
    It’s free.

    “What about da 70’s?” is a PRATT. A very old PRATT.
    You can google it yourself. It’s been done to death. It impresses no one but the gullible.

    In the 70s, They said there’d be an Ice Age
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XB3S0fnOr0M

  75. Daniel J. Andrews

    Incidentally, what makes you think that climate scientists around the world and statisticians working in the field are all ignoring your point about the sigmas? Did they all simultaneously decide to ignore this, or do you think that they have considered it, answered it, and moved on. In order for your point to be right, an awful lot of experts around the world need to be wrong.

    Of course, if you and your sources are right then you’ll need to come up with something to explain why all this extra CO2 isn’t causing warming as that violates a few physical laws.

  76. reknaw

    @ Daniel:
    > I’m sorry but you are a good example of how expertise in one discipline doesn’t translate to expertise in another discipline.
    > claiming it doesn’t match the criteria used in another field

    You apparently cannot understand that climate science is not a different field but it’s just physics. Why is that so hard to understand?

    Now, the thing is that theoretical and experimental physics have produced the most accurate theories in the history of man kind (The Standard Model + General Relativity) which describe (almost) everything from ~10^-15 m (size of proton) to 10^26 m (size of visible universe). One of the main reasons for this (from the experimental point of view) is the ability to sort out what is a real observation (there’s a 50% chance for either heads or tails in a fair coin) and what is just a statistical fluke (getting tails 4 times in a row -> tails 100%, heads 0%). This is done by applying stringent criteria like the 6 sigma acceptance ratio I mentioned.

    Also, please read my earlier post @70. If you don’t understand my point after reading it, then I am really sorry for you :(

    As the saying goes: it takes two to tango, so perhaps it’s also my fault for failing to communicate properly and explain my ideas to you guys. I’m tired of explaining 1+1, so take care and goodbye…

  77. TheBlackCat

    @ reknaw:

    You apparently cannot understand that climate science is not a different field but it’s just physics. Why is that so hard to understand?

    By your logic (“it is part of physics as it describes a physical system”), every branch of science is just physics, because all branches of science ultimately deal with physical systems. Some physicists like to think that, but in practice it isn’t true, and physicsts have an absolutely terrible track record when they try to start lecturing other branches of science on how to do their own work.

    I am sure you don’t apply the standard consistently. Your body is a physical system, yet medicines don’t require a 6-sigma significance to get approval. Did you check that your house (a physical system) was built according to 6-sigma tolerences? What about your car? I assume you must totally reject all of biology (animals and plants are physical systems), where 95% confidence is the standard.

    If you insist that climatology requires 6-sigma because it is a physical system, then you are a hypocrite, since you don’t apply similar standards to pretty much any other physical system.

  78. Tim

    Here is a nice summary of the situation:

    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html

    Killing every human being on the planet would have virtually no effect of the green house gas production. It never was about the carbon, it’s about control. It’s a beautiful way to stick one’s nose in the business of other supposedly sovereign countries and suppress the economy overall.

    If we actually wanted to cut down the green house gas emissions (assuming it is needed), the only meaningful way would be to stop destroying forests and plants as well as ocean life, and to restore those to their previous state. Our ecological footprint is not the 0.28% greenhouse gas we contribute, it’s the destruction of the planet’s ecosystems… but there is no money to be made on fixing that.

  79. amphiox

    This sigma thing reknaw is beating on is ridiculous. It is pretty much an established fact that the degree of certainty acceptable varies between scientific disciplines – and this is a practical consequence of the nature of the data and the sophistication of the instruments used for measurement. 6 sigmas is pretty much restricted to areas of physics where experimental conditions can be very tightly controlled and significant deviations are very small.

    In medicine, 2 sigmas is plenty, for example. If I waited for 6 sigma certainty before determining a course of action, all my patients would be dead.

    (And in the messy realm of actual practice, if the situation is sufficiently urgent, one sigma is enough.)

    And quite frankly, I think medicine is a far more valid analogy for climate change than particle physics.

  80. Messier Tidy Upper

    @71. reknaw :

    Seems to me that you are focusing on the very tiniest 0.0001% ages of doubts which given what is at stake and what we can see from the observational evidence and how well that is matching up with the climatologists predictions and models is NOT being reasonable.

    Meanwhile :

    http://news.discovery.com/videos/earth-glacier-comparisions.html

    our glaciers are vanishing at a geologically superfast rate. So is the A

  81. #71. reknaw :

    A quote here that in think deserves to be kept in mind :

    “There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.”

    Source is linked to my name – from a letter* published in the journal Science Science 7th May 2010.

    There is more than enough observational evidence – from melting glaciers to shifting biological floral and faunal population distributions and shrinking Arctic sea ice which, let’s not forget transforms a surface that used to reflect 80% of solar radiation hitting it into one that absorbs 80% of the light hitting it instead – and the basic physics and calculations are clear enough to say that, yes, HIRGO is real. Deal with it. As even “Climate skeptic” Patrick Michaels has said.

    +++++

    * Signatories are :

    P. H. Gleick, R. M. Adams, R. M. Amasino, E. Anders, D. J. Anderson, W. W. Anderson, L. E. Anselin, M. K. Arroyo, B. Asfaw, F. J. Ayala, A. Bax, A. J. Bebbington, G. Bell, M. V. L. Bennett, J. L. Bennetzen, M. R. Berenbaum, O. B. Berlin, P. J. Bjorkman, E. Blackburn, J. E. Blamont, M. R. Botchan, J. S. Boyer, E. A. Boyle, D. Branton, S. P. Briggs, W. R. Briggs, W. J. Brill, R. J. Britten, W. S. Broecker, J. H. Brown, P. O. Brown, A. T. Brunger, J. Cairns Jr., D. E. Canfield, S. R. Carpenter, J. C. Carrington, A. R. Cashmore, J. C. Castilla, A. Cazenave, F. S. Chapin III, A. J. Ciechanover, D. E. Clapham, W. C. Clark, R. N. Clayton, M. D. Coe, E. M. Conwell, E. B. Cowling, R. M Cowling, C. S. Cox, R. B. Croteau, D. M. Crothers, P. J. Crutzen, G. C. Daily, G. B. Dalrymple, J. L. Dangl, S. A. Darst, D. R. Davies, M. B. Davis, P. V. de Camilli, C. Dean, R. S. Defries, J. Deisenhofer, D. P. Delmer, E. F. Delong, D. J. Derosier, T. O. Diener, R. Dirzo, J. E. Dixon, M. J. Donoghue, R. F. Doolittle, T. Dunne, P. R. Ehrlich, S. N. Eisenstadt, T. Eisner, K. A. Emanuel, S. W. Englander, W. G. Ernst, P. G. Falkowski, G. Feher, J. A. Ferejohn, A. Fersht, E. H. Fischer, R. Fischer, K. V. Flannery, J. Frank, P. A. Frey, I. Fridovich, C. Frieden, D. J. Futuyma, W. R. Gardner, C. J. R. Garrett, W. Gilbert, R. B. Goldberg, W. H. Goodenough, C. S. Goodman, M. Goodman, P. Greengard, S. Hake, G. Hammel, S. Hanson, S. C. Harrison, S. R. Hart, D. L. Hartl, R. Haselkorn, K. Hawkes, J. M. Hayes, B. Hille, T. Hökfelt, J. S. House, M. Hout, D. M. Hunten, I. A. Izquierdo, A. T. Jagendorf, D. H. Janzen, R. Jeanloz, C. S. Jencks, W. A. Jury, H. R. Kaback, T. Kailath, P. Kay, S. A. Kay, D. Kennedy, A. Kerr, R. C. Kessler, G. S. Khush, S. W. Kieffer, P. V. Kirch, K. Kirk, M. G. Kivelson, J. P. Klinman, A. Klug, L. Knopoff, H. Kornberg, J. E. Kutzbach, J. C. Lagarias, K. Lambeck, A. Landy, C. H. Langmuir, B. A. Larkins, X. T. Le Pichon, R. E. Lenski, E. B. Leopold, S. A. Levin, M. Levitt, G. E. Likens, J. Lippincott-Schwartz, L. Lorand, C. O. Lovejoy, M. Lynch, A. L. Mabogunje, T. F. Malone, S. Manabe, J. Marcus, D. S. Massey, J. C. McWilliams, E. Medina, H. J. Melosh, D. J. Meltzer, C. D. Michener, E. L. Miles, H. A. Mooney, P. B. Moore, F. M. M. Morel, E. S. Mosley-Thompson, B. Moss, W. H. Munk, N. Myers, G. B. Nair, J. Nathans, E. W. Nester, R. A. Nicoll, R. P. Novick, J. F. O’Connell, P. E. Olsen, N. D. Opdyke, G. F. Oster, E. Ostrom, N. R. Pace, R. T. Paine, R. D. Palmiter, J. Pedlosky, G. A. Petsko, G. H. Pettengill, S. G. Philander, D. R. Piperno, T. D. Pollard, P. B. Price Jr., P. A. Reichard, B. F. Reskin, R. E. Ricklefs, R. L. Rivest, J. D. Roberts, A. K. Romney, M. G. Rossmann, D. W. Russell, W. J. Rutter, J. A. Sabloff, R. Z. Sagdeev, M. D. Sahlins, A. Salmond, J. R. Sanes, R. Schekman, J. Schellnhuber, D. W. Schindler, J. Schmitt, S. H. Schneider, V. L. Schramm, R. R. Sederoff, C. J. Shatz, F. Sherman, R. L. Sidman, K. Sieh, E. L. Simons, B. H. Singer, M. F. Singer, B. Skyrms, N. H. Sleep, B. D. Smith, S. H. Snyder, R. R. Sokal, C. S. Spencer, T. A. Steitz, K. B. Strier, T. C. Südhof, S. S. Taylor, J. Terborgh, D. H. Thomas, L. G. Thompson, R. T. Tjian, M. G. Turner, S. Uyeda, J. W. Valentine, J. S. Valentine, J. L. van Etten, K. E. van Holde, M. Vaughan, S. Verba, P. H. von Hippel, D. B. Wake, A. Walker, J. E. Walker, E. B. Watson, P. J. Watson, D. Weigel, S. R. Wessler, M. J. West-Eberhard, T. D. White, W. J. Wilson, R. V. Wolfenden, J. A. Wood, G. M. Woodwell, H. E. Wright Jr., C. Wu, C. Wunsch and M. L. Zoback.

  82. Some more climate change & Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating news that may hopefullybe of interest to folks here :

    See :

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/04/27/3488816.htm

    Excerpt :

    Climate change speeding up water cycle

    Oceanographer Dr Susan Wijffels of the CSIRO and colleagues report their findings today in the journal Science. “The models predict a 4 to 5 per cent amplification of the global water cycle per degree of warming, instead of 8 per cent,” says Wijffels.
    “It’s a significant underestimation. That’s a cause for concern.”

    See :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krBeW5LWs3M&feature=related

    For another feedback that could already be getting out of control – Russian permafrost releasing methane and accelerating global overheating.

    Plus see :

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17843648

    to accompany the earlier link visually showing how Earth’s glaciers are in serious trouble.

    Finally, click my name here for a linked story on how Antartican ice shelves are in hot water. :-(

  83. Steve Metzler

    @reknaw:

    I am not a physicist, I am not even a scientist. But I can almost guaratee that I am a whole lot better read up on the subject of climatology than you are. Some remedial reading on your part wouldn’t go amiss. It’s perhaps the most important topic of our time, and the beginning of a concerted global action to curtail AGW is long overdue. Uninformed dissembling from the likes of yourself is not helping.

  84. mikel

    Could Reknaw be trolling? Look at what you get when you spell his nym backward.

  85. Tim

    The point is that all the alarmist predictions for the effects of alleged warming have not happened.

    People who believe in global warming are constantly making predictions about disastrous consequences and they keep failing to happen.

    It was Earth Day recently, its worth remembering some of the predictions made by eminent scientists at the inaugural Earth day in 1970.

    “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” – George Wald, Harvard Biologist speaking on Earth Day 1970.

    Its now 2012, I’ve just checked, and based on the view from my window civilization is still very much here and going strong.

    “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” – Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist speaking on Earth Day 1970.

    In 1970 the Earth’s population was roughly 3.5 billion, today its 6 billion. In 1970 37% of the population in the developing world was malnourished, today its only 16%.

    Regardless of whether or not there is global warming and whether or not human activity affects the climate. Its a consistent source of embarrassment for the Environmentalist movement that they keep making these alarmist catastrophic predictions and every time the date of said catastrophe is reached, the catastrophe has failed to materialise.

    Any objective observer would agree that if you keep making doom laden predictions and they keep not happening then you start to look less credible.

    Eventually a point comes when you cross from ‘less credible’ into Harold Camping and the Environmental movement is probably only a few decades away from that transition.

  86. Tim

    99.9% of all scientists were also sure that earth was flat, and they were right. Most of them had never spent any time investigating the issue, but who cares, they were in agreement. Yep, the most respected scientists of the time were on the payroll and repeated blindly what they were told. Today things have changed. It’s not like all your fundings can be cut for disagreeing with the party line, is it?

    And if that wasn’t enough, the said scientists weren’t even asked, it was decided that they “agree” based on excerpts from their publications… It’s unlikely most scientists in the “consensus” are even aware that are included in it.

    We can go back and forth on who said what and argue on the relative authorities and numbers of publications and such, but let’s address the elephant in the room, shall we?

    0.28% of the greenhouse gases are man made. That’s a fact and it’s not even challenged. DO explain the basis for the belief that those 0.28% of the greenhouse gases affect global warming climate change any more than any other 0.28% of the same gases, AND why you believe they are more significant than naturally occurring variations in the remaining 99.72%. Also explain why the 99.72% not directly produced by man are of no importance, and especially, tell me all about how carbon credits are a logical and effective method of reducing significantly greenhouse gases.

    Earth is flat and the sun goes around it. Anyone dare say anything else is a quack and “not-a-scientist”. Gotcha. Let me know how those carbon taxes are working out for you.

  87. @ ^ Tim :

    99.9% of all scientists were also sure that earth was flat, and they were right.

    LOL. They were? Your own grammar fail amuses me – even though my own grammar tends to be atrocious. ;-)

    Actually, Tim, what you stated there is an urban legend and false. Aside from the fact that science was very rudimentary at those pre-Magellanic times, it was belived by most of the European “natural philosphers” as they were called then that the Earth was round. Based on Greek and Eyptian scholars such as Eratosthenes who used the sun’s shadows and eclipses and whether or not you could see Canopus the second brightest star in the night sky among other things to work that out.

    (Nb. Click on my name for wiki-link on how Eratosthene’s calculated Earth’s circumference – possibly to within 2% of its true value – back in the second century BC.)

    What Columbus famously argued wasn’t that our world wasn’t flat but rather that it’s diameter was much smaller than previously thought -and he was wrong. Luckily for him America (to be precise West Indies and South Am) got in the way even though Columbus till his dying day confused it with China! ;-)

    And if that wasn’t enough, the said scientists weren’t even asked, it was decided that they “agree” based on excerpts from their publications… It’s unlikely most scientists in the “consensus” are even aware that are included in it.

    Really?! Why so? Do you think these qualified human experts who’ve spent decades of their lives working in this heated field are all really stupid or something? :roll:

    You do know a large number of climatologists get hate mail and death threats on a pretty much daily basis right?

  88. Part II – continued at #89. Tim :

    We can go back and forth on who said what and argue on the relative authorities and numbers of publications and such, but let’s address the elephant in the room, shall we?
    0.28% of the greenhouse gases are man made. That’s a fact and it’s not even challenged. DO explain the basis for the belief that those 0.28% of the greenhouse gases affect global warming climate change any more than any other 0.28% of the same gases, …

    Because they’re extra and not part of the usual cycle. Climatologist Stephen Schneider has used the anaology (on the Aussie TV show Insight SBS channel – “Meet the skeptics”episode, screened some years ago now) of a bathtub with water pouring in from the tap at a constant rate and also leaving down the drain at a constant rate. That’s the natural situation with Co2 being emitted and absorbed steadily in equilibrium. Huamn co2 emission is like turning the tap on much higher so that more water ( ie. carbon dioxide) is coming in than is leaving so the water level – rising. In the analogy you get a wet bathroom floor as the tub overflows, in reality you get excess carbon dioxide causing a lot of far nastier effects and feedbacks than just a bit of wet floor. Do you see how that works now?

    AND why you believe they are more significant than naturally occurring variations in the remaining 99.72%.

    Because carbon dioxide triggers and drives a lot of other feedbacks. Now there’s a lot of material freely available for you online, in print and available on video and DVD about this topic and you’re welcome to – and I strongly urge you to read and study some of the stuff from scientific as opposed to political sources yourself. I’m not aclimatologist althoyugh I have spent many years following and arguing about this issue and learning slowly and sometimes painfully myself. (Ex-climate contrarian speaking here.) But let me try to explain quickly.

    Water vapour is something that works quickly and inresponse to other things. Rain falls out of the sky and doesn;t stcik around in the atmosphere the way carbon dioxide does. Most of the atmosphere is nitrogen and that seems stable and doesn’t do all that much climate wise. Oxygen levels have varied historically in part explaining why the carboniferous was so verdantand supported much bigger dragonflies and other creatures but today is pretty stable and unchanging. carbon dixide OTOH, is more variable and does play a huge role indriving our planetary climate and has done for aeons. When it is too high, we’re in trouble – mass extinction type trouble. Because of those feedbacks such as albedo and methane release fromclathrates – check out the Palaeocene Thermal events and so on. That’s also why Earth isn’t a frozen snowball today because levels of Co2 where strong enough to overcome even the albedo (light reflectivity vs absorbency) effect form a palnet entirely frozen over and covered in ice.

    See the Isn’t it natural?” clip by Potholer54 lnke dearlier, oh what the heck, linked to my name here now for you too. ;-)

    Really, seriously, please do.

  89. TheBlackCat

    Killing every human being on the planet would have virtually no effect of the green house gas production.

    *sigh* It isn’t the greenhouse gas production that is the concern, it is the greenhouse gas increase. All the natural process that put carbon into the atmosphere (sources) are offset by processes that take it out again (sinks), so the overall amount of carbon in the atmosphere stays roughly level over the time scales we are looking at (decades to a couple centuries).

    Warming occurs when the amount of carbon entering the atmosphere is larger than the amount leaving the atmosphere. That is what humans are doing now, putting more CO2 into the atmosphere that the natural sinks can deal with. This means that, rather than staying mostly stable, CO2 levels in the atmosphere are now increasing rapidly.

    It never was about the carbon, it’s about control. It’s a beautiful way to stick one’s nose in the business of other supposedly sovereign countries and suppress the economy overall.

    Right, practically the entire scientific community just woke up one day 40 years ago and decided to launch a decades-long plan to suppress the global economy. I am sure the Illuminati and Reptloids were involved, too, somehow.

    If we actually wanted to cut down the green house gas emissions (assuming it is needed), the only meaningful way would be to stop destroying forests and plants as well as ocean life, and to restore those to their previous state. Our ecological footprint is not the 0.28% greenhouse gas we contribute, it’s the destruction of the planet’s ecosystems… but there is no money to be made on fixing that.

    Except that all of the plans put forward by the scientific community do involve this as a key component. It has been studied extensively and was an important component of the IPCC reports, for instance.

    Of course there is no way you could have known that, in order to know such a thing you would need to listen to what the scientists are actually saying rather than just guess what you think they would be saying.

    People who believe in global warming are constantly making predictions about disastrous consequences and they keep failing to happen.

    Actually, the predictions generally agreed-upon by the scientific community about global warming have been either very accurate or actually underestimated the problems we have been seeing.

    Of course you can find a few fringe people who made much worse predictions, just like you fringe people making much smaller predictions. But the overall consensus has been very close to what we have seen or slightly underestimated the changes.

    99.9% of all scientists were also sure that earth was flat, and they were right. Most of them had never spent any time investigating the issue, but who cares, they were in agreement.

    People figured out the world was round about over 2200 years ago, easily 1500 years before modern science was developed.

    And if that wasn’t enough, the said scientists weren’t even asked, it was decided that they “agree” based on excerpts from their publications… It’s unlikely most scientists in the “consensus” are even aware that are included in it.

    No, that isn’t even remotely similar to what happened. They looked for scientists that had already signed statements in favor or against climate change, then ranked them by their publication record.

  90. Continued – Part III – again @89. Tim :

    Also explain why the 99.72% not directly produced by man are of no importance, …

    Oh they’re important alright. They’re why the Earth’s average temperature isn’t below freezing today.* The natural greenhouse effect is a very good thing. But you can always have too much of a good thing. Well almost always! (Cracks another beer, denies any connection with my expanding waistline!) ;-)

    But remember the anaology that Stephen Schneider gave us earlier in my comment #91 (April 30th, 2012 at 1:55 am ) about the bathtub? There’s a balance in nature where equal amounts are produced and absorbed and if we artifically alter that balance (& we have), there are consequences – and we’re seeing those consequences in the observed evidence such as Arctic sea ice area and volume shrinking.

    Carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas which has known physics of interacting with incoming energy – has holding been steady at levels of around 280 parts per million (ppm) for a long time – an astronomically long or at least longish time. Millions of years. Today, since the Industrial revolution, they are at roughly 395 ppm and rising, spiking, in a geological, biological eyeblink. That ain’t good. A little manure is good for your garden helps your plants grow but if you dump a truckload of manure on your plant all at once you can smother it, crush and kill it in manure.

    Now you seem to be making much of the smallness of the percentage of C02 versus all the nitrogen and oxygen and other gases comprising our atmosphere. But consider a snakebite – imagine a deadly cobra bites a persons ankle and that person quickly dies all from just a few tiny drops of poison. Or for a more pleasant example – how much alcohol by percent is in your beer or wine or even brandy – not very much and yet more than enough to affect your state of sobriety or otherwise. (I’ll drink to that! ;-) )

    So, no, you don’t need much of substance X sometimes in some circumstances to have pretty significant effects. Carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is like that. A little of it has a big impact.

    Climatologists who, y’know, have passed a lot of exams, studied and calculated lots of tough maths for lots of years to become qualified and get things published in proper scientific journals, they’re kinda aware of what levels are likely to do what. That’s why they’re experts and worth listening to. Do feel free to go ask them – politely please. I’d suggest you start at the Realclimate site which is run by climataologist linked to my name for this comment.

    … and especially, tell me all about how carbon credits are a logical and effective method of reducing significantly greenhouse gases.

    Now that’s a fair comment and I tend to think they may well NOT be. Carbon credits – which Jim Hansen has dubbed carbon indulgences may well not be the right, effective answer to the problem we’ve created with Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating. (HIRGO) The science is clear, the potential solutions are far less so. In my view, natch.

    However, we do have to do *something* to avoid – or now at least minimise – a situation where gargantuan amounts of property are destroyed, where whole ecosystems collapse and, oh yeah, an incalculable amount of human suffering, misery and casualties occur.

    Got a better alternative? Then, please share it and work to see it happens!

    But please understand that the science is clear and HIRGO is the reality, not something we can pretend just isn’t happening.
    —————————

    * “Without our atmosphere the Earth’s average temperature would be minus eighteen degrees Celsius.” (Very approximately zero degrees Fahrenheit – ed.)
    – Dr Alan Longstaff, ‘Astronomy Now’ magazine July 2007.

  91. Gunnar

    I think it is very telling that people like Tim who demonstrably know very little about actual science and the history of science are the most likely to disdain scientists and dismiss the findings of science whenever they conflict with what they would rather believe.

  92. Gunnar

    I think it is very telling that people like Tim who demonstrably know very little about actual science and the history of science are often the most likely to disdain scientists and dismiss the findings of science whenever they conflict with what they would rather believe. It often seems that some of them actually consider ignorance of math and science and how they work and have benefitted mankind to be a virtue. I have often noticed that certain media personalities readily and cheerfully admit to being poorly versed in science and math, almost as if they are boasting of the fact.

    I honestly feel that in this scientific and technological age, the profound ignorance of basic science demonstrated by some of our most prominent politicians ought to disqualify them from holding any public office, let alone having oversight over any government agencies having anything to do with scientific and technological issues

  93. TheBlackCat

    I honestly feel that the profound ignorance of basic science demonstrated by some of our most prominent politicians ought to disqualify them from holding any public office, let alone having oversight over any government agencies having anything to do with scientific and technological issues

    I would say the two are equivalent, since every government agency has to deal with scientific issues in one way or another.

  94. Mantra: “Homo sapiens is not a rational system.” [repeat]

    Most people feel genuinely more comfortable if their heads are kept empty. Witness the popularity of vacuous TV shows that insert nothing between the ears. It’s easier to believe simplistic rubbish than to challenge the apparent foundations of our world of experience; easier still to believe nothing at all, pretty much of the time.

    Didn’t someone say, “dumb is happy”? Maybe a dumb misquote. But feel free to quote my mantra!

  95. Nigel Depledge

    Reknaw (57) said:

    @48 Nigel: Apparently you have reading comprehension problems, so I’m re-posting what I originally said below.

    Not necessary, since all; this stuff is irrelevant.

    What is relevant is your statement that was qualified : “if GW were proven beyond reasonable doubt” (my paraphrase).

    Obviously, where we differ is in what constitutes reasonable doubt.

    The main conclusion however is this:
    1) In order to accept any observation as “real” and beyond any reasonable doubt, you need at least 6 sigmas of confidence (the value used in physics).

    You have failed to show (or even attempt to show) why you consider a six-sigma statistical significance to be relevant to climatology.

    With sufficiently noisy systems, it may be imnpossible to acquire enough data to get a six-sigma signal. Does that mean the climate cannot change? No, of course it doesn’t. Does it mean we should wait until we do have the level of significance you propose? No, of course, not, because the projected impact of AGW is so much more immediately relevant to human existence than the issue of what the mass of the top-quark is.

    2) The statistical significance of global warming is 4 sigmas (and that’s without the systematics…).

    Even assuming you are correct here (citation needed), what is the implication of this? What is the context of your assessment (i.e. how reasonable is it to expect significancve beyond the 4-sigma level)?

    3) Therefore, global warming is NOT proven beyond any reasonable doubt.

    Not so. What constitutes reasonable doubt in your area of expertise is not necessarily transferable to other fields of endeavour. I am a biochemist, and biological systems display substantial intrinsic variability. Not quite an analogy for the climate, but probably more pertinent than your example of physics. Any biochemical result that shows even 3-sigma confidence will often be accepted as a very good result. Partly, it depends on the nature of the system under investigation, and partly it depends on the context. For example, is there any contradictory evidence known? If so, is it possible that your result is in error, or more likely that the extant data are wrong? And so on.

    I don’t know how to make this any simpler…

    By at least addressing why you believe six-sigma certainty to be relevant.

    By the way, just to mention my credentials: PhD in theoretical physics/cosmology, now working as postdoc in a major university in the EU. I have ~8 years of experience in data analysis and statistics. How about you?

    PhD in biochemistry, currently working in the biopharmaceuticals sector, with about 15 years’ experience of data analysis.

    I think the key pioint is that neither of us is better placed to make an assessment of the climatology data than climatologists. Since nearly all of them they publicly state that AGW is proven beyond reasonable doubt, I accept their conclusion. Why do you consider yourself better able to assess the data thna the actual experts who work with it day in, day out?

  96. TheBlackCat

    @ Nigel Depledge: I think Reknaw decided to cut and run (see the end of post 77).

  97. Nigel Depledge

    Aarg!

    Just noticed typos in my preceding post, and machine won’t load it to edit.

    So where I said:

    Not necessary, since all; this stuff is irrelevant.

    I meant, of course, “Not necessary, since all this stuff is irrelevant”.

    And where I said:

    Since nearly all of them they publicly state . . .

    I meant, of course, “Since nearly all of them publicly state . . . “

  98. Gunnar

    @TBC:

    I would say the two are equivalent, since every government agency has to deal with scientific issues in one way or another.

    A very valid point, of course, but some government agencies have have a much more direct connection to scientific research and technology than others. :)

  99. Tim

    Typical statistical scam. You show pick a nice little time frame that gives you a nice peak (starting about 100 years before the industrial revolution, btw, but let’s not get bothered with details). And it looks convincing… until you realize that the correct time scale for planetary climate changes is in millions of years. Here is what the big picture looks like:

    The last 65 million years: http://joannenova.com.au/2010/02/the-big-picture-65-million-years-of-temperature-swings/

    But, yeah, pick the last 1000 years, cheat a little by a century or two (what’s a couple hundred years between friends?) and there is your evidence. It’s all scientific if it’s published, right?

  100. Nigel Depledge

    @ TBC (98) –
    I suspect you are right. It’d be typically trollish behaviour.

  101. TheBlackCat

    @ Tim:

    Typical statistical scam. You show pick a nice little time frame that gives you a nice peak (starting about 100 years before the industrial revolution, btw, but let’s not get bothered with details). And it looks convincing… until you realize that the correct time scale for planetary climate changes is in millions of years. Here is what the big picture looks like

    Uh, yeah, that’s the whole point. Normally, climate change happens over very long time scales, thousands or even millions of years. Yet right now it is changing over mere decades, 2-5 orders of magnitude faster than normal. This appears to be unprecedented. And considering the relatively slow climate changes in the past were typically associated with major extinction events, it makes the current change all the more alarming.

    As for the past being warmer, yes it was, in times when life was dominated by giant reptiles and/or overgrown insects. These were periods fairly unsuited to mammalian life. Our whole civilization is built on top of fairly consistent climactic conditions that have dominated for the last ~10,000 years, conditions with temperatures well-suited for humans, our livestock, and the grasses that both humans and livestock depend on (all grains are types of grasses).

  102. Tim

    [quote]Because they’re extra and not part of the usual cycle. Climatologist Stephen Schneider has used the anaology (on the Aussie TV show Insight SBS channel – “Meet the skeptics”episode, screened some years ago now) of a bathtub with water pouring in from the tap at a constant rate and also leaving down the drain at a constant rate. That’s the natural situation with Co2 being emitted and absorbed steadily in equilibrium. Huamn co2 emission is like turning the tap on much higher so that more water ( ie. carbon dioxide) is coming in than is leaving so the water level – rising. In the analogy you get a wet bathroom floor as the tub overflows, in reality you get excess carbon dioxide causing a lot of far nastier effects and feedbacks than just a bit of wet floor. Do you see how that works now?[/quote]

    @Messier Tidy Upper

    Very cute. But our planet doesn’t work like your bath tub. Sometimes it goes overboard, and other times, the tub is almost empty AND THAT IS *NORMAL*. It’s not convenient because we kind of like to be able to live on this planet, and some of the *NORMAL* states of our planet do not permit life to exist.

    You act as if our planet was designed specifically to support life and that its climate would be “normal” only as long as it makes life possible. That’s simply not the case. There IS a normal balance, and that normal balance includes periods of warming lasting tens of thousands of years and periods of glaciation lasting millions of years. During the ice ages, CO2 concentration drops and when it gets warmer, CO2 concentration increases. That *IS* normal, and without *any* human intervention, we would still be in the middle of an interglacial period, before going back to the next ice age in a few thousand years.

    There is this idea that the natural state of this planet would permit life and that humans are somehow responsible for messing up that perfect natural state. Strangely reminiscent from the good ol’ garden of heaven parable, isn’t it?

    We have screwed up a number of things on this planet, but climate isn’t one of them.

    The idea that mankind’s 0.28% CO2 contribution is throwing off the “natural” climate of the planet, and thus endangering our ability to survive on it, is boneheaded. It might in some slight way affect the rate of climate change, but there is no telling the actual effect on the metric which we are actually interested in (whether or not our planet can support life).

    Ecologically, I am far more concerned about the destruction of marine life (which covers most of the Earth and is considerably more relevant in terms of survival of the human race).

    There we are, destroying life in the oceans, contaminating our soils, polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink, destroying species by the thousands, cutting down our forests, ignoring our main energy resources in favor of unsustainable – but profitable – fossil fuels… and what’s the supposedly “scientific” thing to do?

    Reduce our greenhouse gases contribution by 0.04% by 2020 (17% reduction of our current 0.28% contribution) and establish progressively a form of international martial law to enforce CO2 quotas.

    Yeah, that’s really what we need to improve our life conditions and the survival of our race on this planet!

    What do they take us for? How stupid are we supposed to be, exactly?

    First, have a look at this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phanerozoic_Carbon_Dioxide.png

    And some issues with the measurement techniques used in some of the claims: CO2 in ice core

    Second, CO2 is not the main greenhouse gas. The main greenhouse gas is water vapor in terms of effect, and by a very large margin. CO2 is the main *dry* greenhouse gas.

    The climate is changing. Just like it has for the last several millions of years. And it used to be a lot warmer than it is now. And a lot colder too. Lots of things have happened in the last few hundred million years.

    But looking at it on a span of a few hundred years, let alone a few decades is patently absurd. “2005 and 2010 were the warmest years on record.” Is that a joke? Are you going to start looking at individual years?

    One interesting tidbit of information… do you know how we evaluate the temperatures of the last few million years? Carbon dioxide trapped in the ice core (including many periods with much higher concentrations in CO2 than current concentrations). CO2 is not just a cause of warmer climate, it is also a consequence of it. And it is incidentally a positive factor of growth for living organisms.

    The overall temperature on Earth is most likely determined by the distance to the Sun (which remember is the source of heat). Our orbit around the Sun is not perfectly regular and neither is solar activity, and over the span of a few hundred thousand years, we get closer or further away from it, which probably accounts for our past ice ages and interglacial periods like the one we just entered. Yup, our last ice age ended fairly recently (or at least we think so) and now, we should be due for a few thousand years of global warming, as is normal in an interglacial period. One warm year or 10 means nothing. If it keeps getting warmer in 50,000 years, let me know, we may have a problem.

  103. Steve Metzler

    Well, Tim. Those very same ice cores you mention tell us that over the past 800,000 years or so, CO2 stabilises at about 280ppm between glaciation periods, and decreases to about 180ppm during the glaciation periods. Then all of a sudden, along comes the industrial revolution, and we’ve increased the inter-glacial atmospheric CO2 from 280ppm to 390+ppm in only ~250 years, when the ice cores show that the very same process – when it occurs *naturally* – normally takes ~5000 years. So how do you explain that? Freakin’ *magic* it must be!

    You can’t have it both ways. A lot of your statements are self-contradicting. Oh… and I think you probably hit about 20 PRATTs (Point Refuted A Thousand Times) there in your last post. Gish would be proud of you.

  104. @91. MTU (me) :

    When it (carbon dioxide) is too high, we’re in trouble – mass extinction type trouble. Because of those feedbacks such as albedo and methane release from clathrates – check out the Palaeocene Thermal events and so on.

    That was referring to the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) which are prominently and interestingly discussed in James Hansen’s Storms of my Grandchildren book and wiki-linked to my name here. From that wikipedia page note that :

    Global temperatures rose by about 6 °C (11 °F) over a period of approximately 20,000 years.

    Twenty thousand years = rapid climate change in the geological record and caused mass extinctions.

    Now we’re doubling and then some (where will the Co2 levels stop?) and headed for a rise of 6 degrees again but this time in the span of a mere century or so.

    Yeah, you might want to think about that.

    Remember that the climate system has a lot of inertia – once it is moving in a certain direction it is very hard to change that direction and once you reach certain points – such as losing eough Arctic sea ice – it becomes virtually impossible to reverse the change in any timespan relevant to humans.

    There is a lot more planetary overheating that we are already committed to and the longer we delay before taking serious action the worse and more severe its going to get.

    Yes, the Earth has survived extreme hothouse and icehouse climates before but Humanity and our civilisations haven’t.

    By failing to act to mitigate HIRGO and reduce its severity we are making global conditions harder and more difficult to endure and setting in motion a series of changes that could be catastrophic for the entire Human population and make the lives future generations – even our own later years – pretty horrible.

    Much more horrible, indeed, than paying a bit more for power or using alternatives such as solar for that and driving fuel efficent cars and other suchlike things that we’re going to have to end up doing anyhow because of peak oil and other economic and socio-politicial factors anyhow.

  105. @105. Tim :

    (NB. If you want to quote things here then using the > & < type brackets with the word blockquote and then /blockquote inside them is one way that works. I also like to use italics [same deal but with [i] & [/i] instead] for quoting people's comments in the thread and non-italics for quotes taken from sources outside the thread but then that's me.)

    @Messier Tidy Upper – Very cute. But our planet doesn’t work like your bath tub.

    Oh gee, really? I thought our complex world with all its diverse ecosystems and astronomical and geological complexeities was *exactly* the same as Stephen Schneider’s bathtub – NOT! :roll:

    That was an analogy used to explain and simplify things to make it easier for you to understand.

    Sometimes it goes overboard, and other times, the tub is almost empty AND THAT IS *NORMAL*.

    Define normal?

    Normal in relation to what?

    In the whole of Human history and most of homosapiens prehistory our climate has been relatively stable and carbon dioxide levels have been around 280 ppm. Now over the last few centuries and especially the past few decades that has changed. So that isn’t then “normal” and the overheating and rapidly shifting climate ain’t a good thing. For us and our future as well as other ecosystems that are already stressed and in some cases in terrible trouble because of us as it is without having climate change added to their woes.

    That *IS* normal, and without *any* human intervention, we would still be in the middle of an interglacial period, before going back to the next ice age in a few thousand years.

    There’s actually an argument I’ve read that humans have already forestalled and altered the climate balance by deforestation and that we’re living in a new “Anthropocene” period of geological history.

    Yes, we were living in an interglacial period but there *has* been human intervention and it is enough to prevent us returning to ice age conditions for the foreseeable future. Although if we could theoretically change that by causing a “nuclear winter” scenario via WW III as various scientists such as Carl Sagan postulated during the 1970’s – but that’s a separate issue and potential problem and not relevant here.

    We have screwed up a number of things on this planet, but climate isn’t one of them.

    Yes it is – and 97 or 98 percent of climate scientists will agree with me on that.

    The idea that mankind’s 0.28% CO2 contribution is throwing off the “natural” climate of the planet, and thus endangering our ability to survive on it, is boneheaded.

    That statement there is boneheaded. :roll:

    You haven’t looked at RealClimate or checked out any of the videos or other sources you’ve got available and been pointed to have you? Or read widely in the relevant scientific literature on this have you, Tim?

    Ecologically, I am far more concerned about the destruction of marine life (which covers most of the Earth and is considerably more relevant in terms of survival of the human race).

    Not heard of ocean acidification or coral bleaching caused by HIRGO then? Do you think the climatologists are really ignoring theocean and not taking it into account?

    Hint : They’re scientists NOT idiots. They *are* taking oceans and the feedbacks and from and to the oceans into account. See for instance the links I added in comment #84 – and I have even linked that comment to my name here to save you the trouble of scrolling up for that.

    and what’s the supposedly “scientific” thing to do?
    Reduce our greenhouse gases contribution by 0.04% by 2020 (17% reduction of our current 0.28% contribution) and establish progressively a form of international martial law to enforce CO2 quotas.

    Strawman. Who is arguing for international martial law exactly? Where ddi youget taht idea from and how many actual climate scientists can you quote in support of it? I’m guessing none.

    Also, you are confusing the reality of the science with the potential solutions to the HIRGO problem science is telling us we have. You cannot disprove the science by saying you disgaree with one hyperbolic solution that you (or whoever) has dreamt up for it.

    How stupid are we supposed to be, exactly?

    Funnily enough, that’s just what I’d like to ask you – how stupid do you think I and the others here and all the climate scientists are?

    Second, CO2 is not the main greenhouse gas. The main greenhouse gas is water vapor in terms of effect, and by a very large margin. CO2 is the main *dry* greenhouse gas.

    Carbon dioxide drives climate more because water vapour is a feedback not a trigger. Didn’t we cover this ground earlier?

  106. Messier Tidy Upper

    @

    CO2 is not the main greenhouse gas. The main greenhouse gas is water vapor in terms of effect, and by a very large margin. CO2 is the main *dry* greenhouse gas.

    See :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAtD9aZYXAs&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=55&feature=plpp_video

    (Note especially the quote at the 6 minute 50 seconds mark.)

    &

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-greenhouse-gas.htm

    for debunkings of that.

    In summary : Water vapour is a feedback not a forcing.

    The climate is changing. Just like it has for the last several millions of years. And it used to be a lot warmer than it is now. And a lot colder too. Lots of things have happened in the last few hundred million years.

    Oh for pity’s sake! For the third time please do look at this clip :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq8_l6s89uY

    by Potholer54 okay! I’m frankly starting to really lose patience with you and suspect your honesty here because you keep repeating this canard which ive debubnked laready lotsof times in just this thread.

    Yeah, climate changes naturally and has been very diferent in the distant past. Climatologists have worked out the factors involved in that and in what’s happening now and this ain’t a natural change. HIRGO is different and worse. Because its going to affect us badly. Because and it

  107. Messier Tidy Upper

    Part III again @105. Tim – slowing his Gish Gallop to a gentle trot :

    One interesting tidbit of information… do you know how we evaluate the temperatures of the last few million years? Carbon dioxide trapped in the ice core (including many periods with much higher concentrations in CO2 than current concentrations). CO2 is not just a cause of warmer climate, it is also a consequence of it.

    Yes, that’s right. You think this helps your case how exactly?

    You are confirming here that carbon dioxide = hotter climate and so when humans add a whole lot of extra carbon dioxide (& other GHG’s) to the air you’d expect that to do ..what?

    And it is incidentally a positive factor of growth for living organisms.

    Did I link this one :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g093lhtpEFo&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=40&feature=plpp_video

    already? You going to go through the whole of that crocks list Tim? :roll:

    Yes, plants benefit from a little Co2 – just as they also benefit from a bit of manure.
    Enough manure in the right place and right proportions is good – but having too much manure in places you don’t want it – stinks! ;-)

    The overall temperature on Earth is most likely determined by the distance to the Sun (which remember is the source of heat). Our orbit around the Sun is not perfectly regular and neither is solar activity, and over the span of a few hundred thousand years, we get closer or further away from it, which probably accounts for our past ice ages and interglacial periods like the one we just entered. Yup, our last ice age ended fairly recently (or at least we think so) and now, we should be due for a few thousand years of global warming, as is normal in an interglacial period.

    Milankovitch (orbital) cycles are stable.

    Solar activity is stable.

    Carbon dioxide levels are rising abruptly and far above anything seen in millennia.

    Earth’s climate is observably getting hotter with Arctic sea ice shrinking dramatically and glaciers retreating globally.

    You’re going to look at those facts Tim and really conclude that the current Global Overheating is caused by the Milankovitch cycles and solar activity contradicting what you stated earlier about the connection between higher Co2 and a hotter climate? Yeesh. :roll:

    One warm year or 10 means nothing. If it keeps getting warmer in 50,000 years, let me know, we may have a problem.

    We’ve had three decades growing hotter ever since the 1970’s – and this trend is continuing. How about that? Not “one year or ten” a whole lot more and a consistent trend. We won’t be around in 50,000 years – but we’ll live for many decades (most of us probably, I hope!) and see more and more consequences of this climate trend and our children and their children will have to face an escalating and potnetially extremely destructive problem with HIRGO. To shrug it off as something for the very distant future is,well, the BA won’t let me say what I think of attitude here. :-(

    @102. Tim :

    Typical statistical scam. You show pick a nice little time frame that gives you a nice peak (starting about 100 years before the industrial revolution, btw, but let’s not get bothered with details). And it looks convincing… until you realize that the correct time scale for planetary climate changes is in millions of years. Here is what the big picture looks like: (snip-ed.)But, yeah, pick the last 1000 years, cheat a little by a century or two (what’s a couple hundred years between friends?) and there is your evidence. It’s all scientific if it’s published, right?

    Wow. A climate contrarian is really going to accuse the climatologists of cherry-picking the data to mislead such as seen this :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrxE3uwHECs

    pertinant example? Really?

    The big picture depends on what yourperspective is and where you are comingfrom and what you want to focus on.

    In the whole of human history HIRGO is a huge deal. Now in the perspective of the entire history of the planet from the Hadean era to the day our future red giant Sun engulfs it, maybe its just a blip, just one more mass extinction event like the dinosuar killing KT boundary event, the Permian mass extinction and the PETM mentioned in comment # 107. I’m sure that’ll console all those affected by it – not.

    Another good article here :

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/climate-change-isnt-a-plot-its-science-20120427-1xpjp.html

    Note from there :

    Given the knowledge that the 40 per cent increase in CO2 over pre-industrial levels is due to burning fossil fuels, and the knowledge that CO2 is a heat-trapping greenhouse gas that holds warmth in the atmosphere, the basic science of climate change really isn’t as complicated as the vested interests would like you to think.

  108. Nigel Depledge

    @MTU (many, many posts) –

    Congratulations, I think you win this thread.

  109. Tim

    There are dynamics beyond full understanding going on regarding this earth. Magnetic pole changes, impacts, solar cycles, ocean/carbon dioxide interactions, etc. Methane, another mild greenhouse gas is created in huge volumes by termites. One of the biggest producers of CO2 are the subterranean coal fires burning unchecked; even those started naturally by lightning.

    Oh, if I was in need of money for research I would say I would study global warming just to get on the government money teat. Most of the scientist you quote are just well educated whores selling out for the next handful of research money.

    When politics and money drive a cause, the cause is bastardized beyond recognition. Case in point, the vilification of Zimmerman where mob think want to warp anything and everything to get “their way,” “their version of the truth;” no matter how perverted of a stance they must take.

    The carney plays crooked games in the midway; some scientists do the same thing in a ivy covered building. Both prey on the unknowing.

    More eruptions… http://geology.about.com/cs/basics_hazard/f/faq6bigeruption.htm
    http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/1436-volcanoes-biggest-history.html
    http://dsc.discovery.com/earth/slideshows/top-10-volcanoes/

    Again, humans are but a foot note in the planet’s history, late arriving and soon to depart, the globe will continue to change without us, just as it did before us.

  110. Steve Metzler

    I think Tim is a bot. This is definitely a one-way conversation we are (not) having. Ramble away, Tim. It’s no use responding to you any longer because it’s obvious that you are not interested in a single thing anyone else has to say!

    You know you can’t respond to any of the scientific points you’re being called out on, so you just keep throwing more bullsh#t at the wall in the hope that some of it will stick.

  111. TheBlackCat

    @ Tim: Why is the concept of CO2 increase so difficult to understand?

    It is simple arithmetic: If A-B=0, then A-B+C=C. You want to pretend A (natural sources) and C (human sources) are all that exist, totally ignoring B (natural sinks), turning the equation in just A+C. But that equation doesn’t tell us anything useful about the climate, because it ignores a major contribution to the system, a contribution larger than A.

    Of coures the equation isn’t quite that simple, since B gets larger when you include C, but it reveals the basic flaw in your analysis, you are ignoring a huge part of the system. Of course you already know this, you are just intentionally ignoring it.

    And believe me, no one goes into science for the money, there isn’t much. The only scientists making lots of money on AGW are the denialists working for the fossil-fuel industry.

    The funny thing is, the absolute worst way to get funding is to say that an issue is settled. There is little or no money available for questions that have already been answered. So if climatologists were really in it for the money, they would not say the science is settled, they would say that is a huge open question and they need more money to find out the answer.

    Speaking of volcanoes, the biggest volcanic eruption in Earth’s history was the Siberian traps eruption. It may have been responsible for the worst mass exctintion in Earth’s history. It lasted for millions of years. However, despite all of this, the amount of CO2 it released each year was tiny compared to that released by humans, probably at least an order of magnitude smaller.

    Again, humans are but a foot note in the planet’s history, late arriving and soon to depart, the globe will continue to change without us, just as it did before us.

    I would prefer humans stay around as long as possible, but that is just me. You apparently couldn’t care less what happens to our species.

  112. Tim

    What predictions of the effects of supposed anthropogenic climate change have come true?

    How catastrophic or damaging have those effects been to humans?

  113. Gunnar

    Tim, as has already been pointed out several times in this thread alone and backed up by numerous citations of credible scientific studies (which you, apparently, still refuse to read), the predictions of anthropogenic climate change made a couple or three decades ago by climate scientists have proved to be, if anything, overly conservative and under-estimated the rate of change. No one claims world-wide catastrophe has already occurred as a result of the changes that have so far occurred. But, given that these changes have occurred and their potential for damage appears to be growing, does it make any sense to refuse to listen to what the climatologists have to say and refuse to take any remedial action until the damage is severe and unmistakeable, as so many climate contrarians like yourself appear to be doing? This is especially stupid when so many of the suggested remedies make very good sense, even if AGW were complete bunk! Unless you are a shill for the immensely wealthy fossil fuel industry or one of their major stockholders, why would you insist on taking such an apparently stupid stance?

  114. Gunnar

    This whole debate often reminds me of what Issac Asimov said, which I will paraphrase here. Too often, those who say something like all the best available evidence, so far, indicates that 2 + 2 = 4 will have a smaller or less dedicated following than charlatans who insist, regardless of evidence, that 2 + 2 = 3, and you’d better believe it or else!

    Climate contrarians also remind me, sometimes, of the smokers who were so alarmed by what they read about the health hazards of smoking, that they gave up the habit of reading.

  115. Messier Tidy Upper

    @111. Nigel Depledge : Thanks! :-)

    @113. Steve Metzler :

    I think Tim is a bot. This is definitely a one-way conversation we are (not) having. Ramble away, Tim. It’s no use responding to you any longer because it’s obvious that you are not interested in a single thing anyone else has to say! You know you can’t respond to any of the scientific points you’re being called out on, so you just keep throwing more bullsh#t at the wall in the hope that some of it will stick.

    Yep. Sure looks that way doesn’t it.

    @115. Tim :

    What predictions of the effects of supposed anthropogenic climate change have come true?

    Arctic sea ice has been disappearing even faster than predicted by the climatologists indicating that if anything the problem is being under-estimated.

    There’s been an increase in extreme weather events – severe storms, longer droughts and heatwaves, worse bushfires, and plenty, plenty more.

    The temperature has kept on rising – 2010 was the hottest year on record in the hottest decade on record and 2011 was the hottest La Nina year ever.

    You’ve been pointed to so many sources of information on this – have you looked at even one of them? Even one? :-(

    How catastrophic or damaging have those effects been to humans?

    Fatal in many cases. Life wrecking in many more.

    Recall that bit about the increased number of extreme storms, fires droughts and floods. Yes, you cannot ascribe any single individual storm or extreme weather event to Global Overheating – but we can say there are a lot more of those happening than there used to be – too many for it to be mere chance. :-(

  116. TheBlackCat

    @ Tim: to add to what others have said, ocean level rise has also followed (or exceeded) predicted trends, we are seeing widespread changes in the range or annual cycles of hundreds, if not thousands, of species as predicted, glacier changes follow predicted trends, temperature changes in different atmospheric layers follow predicted trends, temperature changes with latitude follow predicted trends. The list goes on and on.

    And why is it at all relevant whether the predictions were catostrophic or not? Pretty much only ones talking about catostrophic short-term changes were the denialists trying to make a straw-man and the media trying to sell stories. The scientific consensus was and still is that the major problems are still a couple decades a way. However, the timeline has moved up, with the problems appearing to be coming faster than people previously expected.

    Remember, as you said, climate change normally operates on scales of thousands or millions of years. Yet now you seem to be complaining that society hasn’t collapsed in a few decades, even though that wasn’t what the scientific consensus even claimed.

    You appear to be trying to set up a strawman. :If society hasn’t collapsed by this point, then the scientific community was wrong”, even though that was never the claim. Either that, or “if society hasn’t collapsed by this point, then there is nothing to worry about”, which is very short-sighted, since even with human intervention climate change happens over a period of decades, and you were the one talking about the long time scales of climate change.

  117. Nigel Depledge

    Tim (112) said:

    There are dynamics beyond full understanding going on regarding this earth.

    What?

    What kind of utter bilge is this?

    Have you any shred of justification for this outrageous claim?

  118. Nigel Depledge

    Tim (112) said:

    Magnetic pole changes, impacts, solar cycles, ocean/carbon dioxide interactions, etc.

    Most of these phenomena are pretty well-understood, and while the impact that some of them have on climate might not be known to evrey last decimal place, sensible and justifiable assumptions about their effects can indeed be made and incorporated into the models.

    Or do you know something that you have not shared about these phenomena?

    Perhaps you should at least attempt to justify your claim, yeah?

    Methane, another mild greenhouse gas

    Actually, weight for weight, I think methane is the second most potent GHG known. Do you have any reason to call it “mild”?

    is created in huge volumes by termites.

    What volumes?

    And, more importantly, how does the volume of CH4 produced by termites compare with the amount released by human activities (e.g. the anaerobic decomposition of vegetation in reservoirs)?

    One of the biggest producers of CO2 are the subterranean coal fires burning unchecked; even those started naturally by lightning.

    How big are these underground coal fires as producers of CO2? And how does this compare with, for example, cement production, or with electricity generation?

    Without such comparisons, your claims are meaningless.

  119. Nigel Depledge

    Tim (112) said:

    Oh, if I was in need of money for research I would say I would study global warming just to get on the government money teat. Most of the scientist you quote are just well educated whores selling out for the next handful of research money.

    This paragraph proves you are talking out of your fundament.

    Competition for government research grants is fierce and intense. A grant application is not merely a one-page summary along the lines of “oh, I have this idea about X, I’d like to spend some money looking into it”. A great deal of hard work goes into not only the text of the application itself, but also into obtaining data to support the notion that the proposed line of research is likely to bear fruit.

    With this comment, you are maligning and insulting scientists everywhere.

  120. TheBlackCat

    Magnetic pole changes, impacts, solar cycles, ocean/carbon dioxide interactions, etc.

    Most of these phenomena are pretty well-understood, and while the impact that some of them have on climate might not be known to evrey last decimal place, sensible and justifiable assumptions about their effects can indeed be made and incorporated into the models.

    They are also orders of magnitude slower than the warming we have been seeing over the last century (except for impacts, of which we haven’t had any large enough to cause long-term climate change in tens of millions of years).

    is created in huge volumes by termites.

    What volumes?

    Termites are responsible for about 20 million metric tons of methane per year. By comparison, humans are responsible for about 320 million metric tons of methane per year, or about 16 times as much. Natural sources combined only produce about half of what humans produce each year. Human livestock alone produces 4 times as much methane as termites.

    How big are these underground coal fires as producers of CO2? And how does this compare with, for example, cement production, or with electricity generation?

    I did some reading, and they are responsible for a few percent of fossil-fuel related CO2 emissions, so not only are they not “One of the biggest producers of CO2″, they are not even the biggest producer of fossil-fuel related CO2 (which Tim insists is a small part of the total CO2 emissions).

    Also, they are not a separate CO2 source as Tim suggests, since they are already included in anthropogenic fossil-fuel related CO2 emission totals.

    Also, although some are completely natural, they are primarily the result of human activity. Most of the “natural” fires occur in coal that has been exposed due to human mining. There are exceptions, such as the “burning mountain” in Australia, but the vast majority today seem to be the result of human activity.

  121. Tim

    Saying that CO2 would build up is one thing. saying it is the cause of changing temperatures is entirely another.

    if the science was so sound, wouldn’t every year be the new hottest year on record, as opposed to having a couple of extremely cold years thrown into the mix?

    and if the IPCC’s predictions were so sound, why is it that they refuse to share anything but the end results of their models as opposed to the methodology used? the very nature of the word ‘science’ implies peer review and the ability to replicate the same results if the experiment is replicated faithfully. to not share your methodology means what they are doing is not actually science. to expect your findings (which are directly tied to the amount of funding you expect to receive) to be accepted as gospel is the tactics of a charlatan, not a scientist.

  122. Steve Metzler

    @Tim (#124) *astoundingly* asks:

    if the science was so sound, wouldn’t every year be the new hottest year on record, as opposed to having a couple of extremely cold years thrown into the mix?

    Two very good reasons:

    1. Ever heard of ENSO (i.e. El Nino and La Nina)? No? Didn’t think so.
    2. Weather (short term random fluctuations in the temperature) as opposed to climate (long term trends on the order of 30 years caused by forcings such as… excess greenhouse gases. Tada!).

    Please go do some basic reading on how climate works before throwing out stupid questions. You are just wasting people’s time here otherwise.

    And also… you have a big misconception there by alluding to recent years being “extremely cold”. 9 out of the last 10 years have been the hottest years *on record*!

    Tim, you are like the king of throwing up straw men. It seems like you haven’t read anything about AGW except what can be found on climate change denial sites.

  123. TheBlackCat

    and if the IPCC’s predictions were so sound, why is it that they refuse to share anything but the end results of their models as opposed to the methodology used?

    You apparently don’t actually have any idea what the IPCC even is. There are no original models in the IPCC, it relies entirely on the results of models published in the scientific literature. It provides citations to the articles it draw from, and the methodology is all available in the original articles, and in most, if not all, cases the source code for the models is also freely available online.

    This is the absolutely most basic information. The fact that you don’t know this proves you have done absolutely no research whatsoever on the subject. What is more, rather than just admit you don’t know, instead you have to make up totally bogus accusations.

    the very nature of the word ‘science’ implies peer review and the ability to replicate the same results if the experiment is replicated faithfully. to not share your methodology means what they are doing is not actually science. to expect your findings (which are directly tied to the amount of funding you expect to receive) to be accepted as gospel is the tactics of a charlatan, not a scientist.

    Let me get this straight: You don’t actually have any clue what the IPCC is, what it contains, what its goals were, what the models are, where the models were described, what has been revealed about the models, or where to even find this information.

    Instead, you just make up out of thin air what you think the writers would have done, get it completely wrong in every way, then dismiss everyone in the field as a “charlatan” based solely on your imaginary version of the events?

    Actually, Tim may very well have the track record for getting the most basic facts wrong of any troll or denialist I have yet seen on this blog. Pretty much every basic piece of information, every piece of data, Tim has used in any of his arguments has been simply wrong. Many denialists do a good job of drawing wrong conclusions from at least somewhat right data, but Tim has the envious distinction of having approximately a 0% accuracy rate even on basic data, not to mention conclusions.

  124. Gunnar

    0%! That’s a perfect score! Right? ;)

    I would have said “unenviable distinction” rather than “envious distincion” though.

    He could not have damaged the credibility of the denialist position more if that had been his deliberate intent, which makes me wonder if he might have been sneakily trying to do precisely that with his rants.

  125. TheBlackCat

    @ Gunnar: Considering past history with denialists, although it is is possible Tim is a poe, I see no reason to conclude that he is, and personally think it is very unlikely.

  126. Gunnar

    @TBC: I haven’t seen someone called a “poe” before. Out of curiosity, what exactly do you mean by that? Is this a name referring to someone attempting a parody of an irrational religious or fundamentalist position that, according to Poe’s Law, is virtually indistinguishable from a sincere expression of said position? Whatever your answer is to that, thanks for adding to my vocabulary! :)

    At any rate, I do agree that it is unlikely that Tim’s stance is really an intentional parody intended to further expose the weakness of the denialist position, but whether inadvertently or not, he has done us a service by accomplishing precisely that. Thus, I still can’t help wondering just a little bit whether that may have been his actual intention. :)

  127. TheBlackCat

    @ Gunnar: Yes, that is the original definition, but it has been expanded to other, similar situations where someone’s position is so bizarre, contrary to reality, and poorly-argued that there is a question whether the person is being serious.

    Besides religious fundamentalism it also is often used in the context of all types of denialism, where fervently-held beliefs make the person immune to reason and blind to the flaws in their own arguments.

  128. Dan

    Gee I seem to remember scientists showing cigarettes don’t cause cancer and are in fact good for you.

    But how about an environmental boondoggle: The government scientists saying MTBE would reduce air pollution and be good for everyone. It was ignored that it was in fact a poison and serious environment pollutant making water wells unfit. Eventually the government scientist caved, and the environmental groups and government scientist whores have no memory of the crimes they perpetrated on the public in the name of the environment.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTBE_controversy
    http://pushback.com/issues/environment/smog-check-testimony/
    http://www.pushback.com/Wattenburg/articles/eco-fraud.html
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1443119/posts

  129. Steve Metzler

    Dan (#131):

    Congratulations, Dan. You just highlighted the fact that the scientific consensus on an issue can change over time, when new evidence comes to light that demonstrates that the current theory is either erroneous or incomplete. Science: it works!

    And the fact that a small handful of scientists can be ‘bought’ by vested interests, or blinded by their own ideology… that’s supposed to demonstrate that all scientists are not to be trusted, right? Or does that only apply to scientists working in an area where their findings are inconvenient to/incompatible with your own ideology?

  130. Steve Metzler

    (sorry, wanted to add the following to my previous post, but the comment system won’t let me [that seems to be happening a lot lately, BA]).

    Shorter Dan: somewhere, sometime, a scientist was wrong about something. Therefore, AGW is a fraud.

  131. Dan

    We do not fully understand the several (that we can infer so far) mass extinctions which are believed to have occurred. There are many other dynamics not fully understood but I have already supported my position and refuted yours.

    Until you now prove we as humans, fully understand every dynamic on Earth, you will need to rethink your position. Or I will make your task more simple, just fully explain the dynamics of the known mass extinctions in detail in a manner accepted by all.

  132. TheBlackCat

    Gee I seem to remember scientists showing cigarettes don’t cause cancer and are in fact good for you.

    This is actually a really good example, but not for the reason you think. You see, the scientific consensus was very strongly in support of the idea that cigarettes cause cancer. However, the tobacco industry was going to lose massive amounts of money if this became accepted by the public.

    So what they did was hire some PR groups and a very small number of scientists to manufacture the illusion of a controversy on the issue. This technique was wildly successful, delaying action on cigarettes for decades.

    The fossil fuel industry saw how successful this technique was. Not only did they copy the methods, they actually hired the the same PR groups, and many of the same scientists, to wage their own misinformation campaign.

    You heard me right, the same groups you are complaining about regarding cigarettes are the ones currently responsible for the AGW denialsim campaign. And you are on their side, the side of the people who delayed action on tobacco, arsenic, mercury, asbestos, the ozone hole, and numerous other issues where the scientific evidence jepordized commercial interests. By denying AGW, you are just buying into the same misinformation tactics by the same groups and many of the same individual people.

  133. TheBlackCat

    We do not fully understand the several (that we can infer so far) mass extinctions which are believed to have occurred.

    How is that at all relevant? Knowing about what caused specific mass extinctions hundreds of millions of years in the past, most of which probably had nothing directly to do with climate change, has nothing to do with knowing what is causing current warming were we can directly measure what is going on in real time. In fact there is no proof that any of them were due even indirectly to climate change, at least as a primary contributor.

    Also, there hasn’t been “several” mass extinctions, there has been 5 massive ones (called “the big 5″), at least a few other large ones, and a bunch more smaller ones. You obviously don’t even know the first thing about mass extinctions since you haven’t heard of the big 5.

    but I have already supported my position and refuted yours.

    No, you simply ignored every single response you received. You never even bothered addressing anyone else’s position, not to mention refute it. Unless you are using sockpuppets, that is.

    Until you now prove we as humans, fully understand every dynamic on Earth, you will need to rethink your position.

    We don’t fully understand every dynamic in the human body, but that doesn’t stop us from using medicine. We don’t understand every dynamic in the atom, but that doesn’t stop us from using chemistry. We don’t understand every dynamic in electric conduction, but that doesn’t stop us from using computers. We don’t understand every dynamic in material science, yet that doesn’t prevent you from walking on the floor. We don’t understand every dynamic of anything, so by your logic we can’t do anything, period.

  134. Steve Metzler

    Dan (#134):

    We do not fully understand the several (that we can infer so far) mass extinctions which are believed to have occurred. There are many other dynamics not fully understood but I have already supported my position and refuted yours.

    Sorry? How have you refuted anything (and what exactly do you purport to have refuted?) with your pigeon droppings back there in post #131?

    Until you now prove we as humans, fully understand every dynamic on Earth, you will need to rethink your position. Or I will make your task more simple, just fully explain the dynamics of the known mass extinctions in detail in a manner accepted by all.

    Because we all know that science must explain everything 100% (which it can by definition never do) before we can take action on an important environmental issue! What a ludicrous statement, and so full of hubris. Tell me this: aside from the asteroid event that most likely wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million YA (and we can’t even be 100% certain about that) which was a singular episode… could you please provide a citation for evidence of a CO2 increase by ~100ppm in the very short period of 250 years, which mankind has induced since the beginning of the industrial revolution?

  135. Gunnar

    @TBC:

    “@ Gunnar: Yes, that is the original definition, but it has been expanded to other, similar situations where someone’s position is so bizarre, contrary to reality, and poorly-argued that there is a question whether the person is being serious.

    Besides religious fundamentalism it also is often used in the context of all types of denialism, where fervently-held beliefs make the person immune to reason and blind to the flaws in their own arguments.”

    Thanks so much for that explanation, TBC. :) What you said, especially in the second paragraph, certainly describes Tim and some of the other climate contrarians who have posted here to a T!

  136. Gunnar

    @Dan: So, Dan, are you aguing that since we do not know all the dynamics of climate and climate change with absolute 100% certainty, we should make no attempt whatsoever to encourage minimizing needless waste or pollution, or improving energy efficiency, or finding and developing viable alternatives to our rapidly depleting stocks of fossil fuels, all of which might not only help slow down AGW (if it is real) and minimize its potential adverse effects, but would be good ideas, and eventually even necessary, even if AGW really were a hoax?

    Are you really serious, or are you just another poe (a new word that I have added to my vocabulary, thanks to TBC–see our discussions about it above)?

  137. Let’s see what the big Climate “Sceptic” “Think” Tanks have to bring to the table. Oh, yes.

    “Heartland Institute compares belief in global warming to mass murder”
    Click my name to read more.

    After that, you may want to google “Guilt by association”. After that, if you still want more to read, feel free to look up “Propaganda” in Wikipedia.

  138. Steve Metzler

    Lars (#140):

    I know it was OT, but I’m so glad you posted that link to Heartland’s latest travesty. This might just finish them off quicker than the next El Nino :-) What a way to shoot yourself in the foot!

  139. Matt B.

    @16 Dan,

    Actually, anthropogenic carbon dioxide is zero times that produced by volcanoes. CO2 doesn’t make people. (You see, the morpheme “-gen-” indicates “making”, not “made by”.)

    @52 Nigel and 116 Gunnar,

    Global warming doesn’t make people either. However,

    @46 Nigel,

    Lord help us, the idiots are in charge of the train, and it’s out of control!

    Erm, isn’t this better than the idiots being in control of the train?

    Best comment out of 142.

  140. Dan

    Could someone comment on this:

    http://worldnews.msn…ate-change?lite

    “‘Gaia’ scientist James Lovelock: I was ‘alarmist’ about climate change.

    James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his “Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being “alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too….”

  141. Pat

    Argument #…: Climatologists exaggerate global warming so they can get more funding and save their jobs.

    The argument above is used above by many ‘deniers’ or whatever but goes nowhere since that logic can be applied to any other research field. It can be applied to the biologists who research cancer, the engineers who research new technologies, even sociologists who research population growth. Corruption is possible in all fields but in scientific fields it can barely stand and is not an excuse to reject the whole thing.

  142. Pat

    Argument #…: Climatologists exaggerate global warming so they can get more funding and save their jobs.

    The argument above is used above by many ‘deniers’ or whatever but goes nowhere since that logic can be applied to any other research field. It can be applied to the biologists who research cancer, the engineers who research new technologies, even sociologists who research population growth. Corruption is possible in all fields but in scientific fields it can barely stand and is certainly not an excuse to reject the whole thing.

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