Is Environmentalism Anti-Science?

By Keith Kloor | May 24, 2012 1:01 pm

That’s the title of a new post I have up at Discover magazine’s website. I’m specifically drilling down into the widespread anti-GMO activism/sentiment within the green movement. As I write at Discover:

The big story on this front of late has been the planned act of vandalism on the government-funded Rothamsted research station in the UK. Scientists there are testing an insect-resistant strain of genetically modified wheat that is objectionable to an anti-GMO group called Take the Flour Back. The attack on the experimental wheat plot is slated for May 27. The group explains that it intends destroy the plot because “this open air trial poses a real, serious and imminent contamination threat to the local environment and the UK wheat industry.”

And as I also noted, this planned act of destruction is part of a larger trend in anti-GMO activism–what is euphemistically called “field liberation.” Have a read and weigh in over there. I’m sure there will be some interesting exchanges in the comment thread.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: environmentalism, GMOs
MORE ABOUT: environmentalism, GMOs
  • DCollis

    Kloor’s ‘logic’ is as persuasive as “environmentalists object to nuclear bombs, nuclear bombs are a result of science, there environmentalists are anti-science!”

    The repeated attempts to tie GMO agriculture with climate change science is similarly ridiculous. It conflates two very different issues:1. ‘Is the planet heating up due to human activity?’ is a matter of science. The science is unequivocal: yes. 2. ‘Should GMO crops be allowed wherever any corporation or research group wants to plant them?’ is a matter of science, economics, politics, societal impacts, morality, etc.

    The *public* overwhelmingly reject GMO agriculture. It seems the GMO supporters don’t like democracy, much the same as the pro-nuke team.

    The lazy smear that objection to GMO crops is “anti-science” demonstrates a failure of thinking on the part of those who use it. Similarly, the false assumption that only people labelled “environmentalists” oppose GMO crops.

    The pro-GMO gang have very poor arguments when just a little critical-thinking is applied to their rhetoric.

  • Anteros

    Keith -I think your  title was needlessly provocative and pointlessly broad. Your article is about GM, not the whole environmental movement and its attitude towards science!

    Other than that, I found it interesting. Perhaps what stood out most for me was that your chosen commentators were hopelessly partisan. They were all ‘in the mix’ and unable to provide any useful insight into the relationship between science and environmentalism in regard to GM crops.

    FWIW I found the environmentalists desperately unconvincing – clearly clutching at overused straws and avoiding the heart of the question.

    I think a better (and more edifying) approach would be to be honest and say we don’t like the idea of ‘transgenic’ crops. It feels wrong and is offensive to our world view. I would also argue that this isn’t and anti-science view but one informed by something other than (and more important than) science. Also I’d suggest that, at the clear risk of sounding anti-science, we live in an age where scientism is rife and where scientists rank at least as highly as the high priests of old. 

    I think it is this tyranny of the ‘scientific’ world-view that forces people who have beliefs that are incommensurable with scientific experiments to feel that they have to find ‘sciency’ reasons to back up their arguments (or expressions of belief)

    They have my sympathy, even if by and large I don’t agree with them on GM.

  • Anteros

    P.S Is it necessarily anti-science to be anti the degree to which ‘Scientists have shown’ is equal to ‘God has shown’?

  • Mary

    Well, there go your dinner party invitations. Personally, that’s part of the reason I do piss off foodies–but not everyone wants that outcome. (Especially beware of the raw milk.)

    I am completely unwelcome in local and internet community enviro groups because of my stand on GMOs. I’ve tried. I think people who misuse science and enjoy conspiracy theory are not good allies anyway. But the conversations are 180 degrees different on the topic of evidence and conspiracy between climate and plant science. I know–I’ve been in these discussions.

  • steven mosher

    The repeated attempts to tie GMO agriculture with climate change science is similarly ridiculous. It conflates two very different issues:1. “˜Is the planet heating up due to human activity?’ is a matter of science. The science is unequivocal: yes. 2. “˜Should GMO crops be allowed wherever any corporation or research group wants to plant them?’ is a matter of science, economics, politics, societal impacts, morality, etc.

    If AGW were confined to merely statements about warming and causes, as some of us argue, this paragraph would make sense. But it’s not. It too is a question of economics ( carbon tax anyone)
    politics (who pays what), societal impacts ( winners and losers ) and morality.. what do I owe my children versus what do I owe Hansens spawn.

  • bluegrue

    There are two aspects that raise concern about  GMOs to me. The first is that GMOs are targeted to get large market shares of their respective crop, thus greatly diminishing the genetic variability of commercial crop. Instead of putting our eggs into hundreds of baskets that a pest takes out this genetic variation of the crop we put them into 5 or less. The other is that IIRC Monsanto has already sued farmers over crop that had been contaminated by Monsanto crop from neighboring fields. This does not bode well for the future.The worst of all, Keith, is that the group “Take the Flour Back” that you chose to quotemine as being anti-science is arguing against GMOs for the  most part from the ECONOMIC reasons against GMOs (market concentration, suicide crops disabling farmers to grow their own crops from last years harvest, etc.) http://taketheflourback.org/what-is-food-sovereignty/But I guess, I should shut up, stop worrying and just admit that I’m anti-science.

  • huxley

    It’s a mistake to assume that environmentalists are pro-science because they support climate orthodoxy. or anti-science because they oppose GMO.The common ground between both positions is the Precautionary Principle. That doesn’t go away just because scientists say that PP is valid with respect to climate but not valid with respect to GMO.As Anteros notes, there is something creepy about GMO. I’m all for improved crop yields, but we are headed down a slippery slope with genetic modification that will only get trickier with time.I suspect many GMO opponents aren’t against the latest GM wheat strain so much as the whole GMO approach.

  • Mary

    @steven mosher–perhaps you don’t notice the irony of the difference in your questions. Those are not the same thing. Not even close.What (I think) Keith is saying is this question:Do I rely on quality and consensus scientific evidence to draw conclusions about ____ topic? If the answer is “yes” on climate, “no” on plant science, then you have a problem with science some of the time.You are free to move the goalposts as you do in your question 2. But admit that those are not questions about the science.

  • Keith Kloor

    Steve (5)

    On twitter and in the comment thread at the Discover site, others are similarly taking issue with my climate/GMO comparison.

    I thought my point was pretty clear, but I elaborated on one aspect of it in my comment at Discover.

  • Anteros

    Mary @8

    Surely there are other reasons than ‘having a problem with science’ for having different answers to your question on different topics?

    If you think transgenic crops are immoral [I don’t BTW] then you will feel scientific evidence about their safety is neither here nor there. It doesn’t mean you are anti-science or ‘have a problem with science’. It just means science hasn’t much to say to you.

  • Mary

    @Anteros: I hear the same thing about stem cells. A project I was on was prevented from working on stem cells because of a philosophy of the immorality of that. They made plenty of claims about how we didn’t need to do embryonic because we had adult stem cells. But that’s not science. That’s moving goal posts for your philosophy. But their resulting actions are anti-science: no research.

    If you interfere with publicly funded science based on your philosophy–and not based on the science–I think it is anti-science.

  • Anteros

    Mary –

    I agree with you. But people can ‘be against’, ‘vote against’ ‘make choices against’ things without interfering with them. The number of activists versus the number of people who just don’t like the idea of what they feel are ‘frankenfoods’ is astronomical.

    Are they all anti-science?

  • Mary

    I don’t know all of them, Anteros. I mostly run into the ones who want to stop the research, stop the funding, and make calls and donations in the service of that. People who lie about the work and the facts contribute too, by misleading others who may not understand. I would say those active folks are anti-science.

    The people who are working to prevent the use of GMO technology by others are anti-science. Choosing not to buy it not science–that’s philosophy.

  • Anteros

    Mary –

    I’m pretty much in agreement with you.

    I suppose the important but grey area is the bit in the middle – where did all the people who ‘feel’ that trans-genetic organisms are somehow dangerous and ‘wrong’ get their ideas from? Who did they listen to?

    It seems to me that those crying ‘danger!’ always have the trump cards [which in the very long term isn’t the worst thing I can think of, even if I disagree with them]. 

    Isn’t the long term a brighter prospect? When GMOs have had decades of proving safe, reliable, pesticide reducing and yield-increasing, in places where there isn’t such antagonism?

  • Nullius in Verba

    There’s a difference between anti-science and anti-application-of-science. Saying we don’t like GMO because we don’t like the feel of it is politics, not anti-science. Saying we don’t like GMO because it’s more dangerous is untrue, according to science. Saying we oppose the attempt to test whether it’s dangerous or not, because we’ve already made our minds up, is anti-science. It’s opposed to finding things out by the only method that works, and substituting our prejudgments in its place. You can say you don’t care about the science and not be anti-science, that’s just politics. But when you start opposing finding things out, which is what science aims to do, that’s opposition to science itself.

    Science says nothing at all about whether we should use GMOs. It tells us how to do it, what the consequences are, whether it is safe. But if you decide not to do it because you think it’s immoral, science has nothing to say about that. Science is about what is, not what ought to be.

    I agree with the point that opposition to GMO is not identical to environmentalism. But it’s not uncommon in environmentalists, either.

  • Mary

    Anteros: Sure, the long term is brighter, because I find that in general science and tech progresses despite resistance (with occasional regressions such as vaccination).

    And in fact I think that affects the current dynamic. Seems to me that anti-science is about to lose this battle: consumer + environmental benefits are about to break through. So far it has been farmer benefits, and that’s hard to make people understand. When the demonstrated consumer/enviro features start to be the conversation, rather than the fear–the middle is going to be affected by that. Anti-science folks are like cornered animals right now due to that, and have to lash out even at academic/beneficial projects. 

    Brazil has developed a virus-resistant bean that will benefit small-holder farmers. Disease-resistant banana, nutritionally improved cassava–those are going to be public or non-profit projects benefiting developing world populations. It’s gonna be really hard to argue against those.

  • Mary

    I have a serious question for everyone: what is the definition of anti-science to you? My definition is pretty much in #13.Just went to see if RJP answered that for me on his Rothamsted post, but I am adrift, apparently. This is not snark–I really want to know what that looks like to others.

  • Mary

    (I am apparently anti-learning-curve and cannot remember to do paragraph spacing on a recurring basis….)

  • Gaythia Weis

    It seems to me that the problems with GMO’s start with the way in which the public was generally introduced to them (by Monsanto).  Commercialization of GMO technologies got off to a very bad start with
    some of their actions.  Monsanto did assure people that their
    “Round-Up Ready”  modifications would not spread into the native plant
    (weed) population, and of course it has.  And now, given that failure,
    Dow wants to follow that with a 2,4, D version.  There is no wonder that
    the public is skeptical and a few extremists are trying to capitalize
    on that skepticism. The problem with the reporting here, and many places elsewhere, is this yes/no battle with the forces of anti-science mindset.  Very little information is being provided to the public in ways that would help build greater understanding.  I don’t think that this is one of Keith’s better pieces of work.Rothamsted has an excellent website and is making good faith efforts to reach out to reasonable protesters.  http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/Content.php?Section=AphidWheat&Page=Protest  It is perhaps unfortunate that their trial was not first, but it wasn’t.  I can’t speak to whether or not their criteria are adequate (a 20 meter setback apparently: http://www.gm-inspectorate.gov.uk/deliberateRelease/documents/Wheat_RD_11-R8-01-01_INSP-01_2012.pdf)I do know however, the extent to which lettuce and spinach growers in the Salinas Valley of California went to to obliterate any growth anywhere near their fields after they had samonella problems.  If Rothamsted went to similar over the top efforts, IMHO the extreme isolation would, as a side effect, aid in controlling a few isolated vandals.Then, science educators and journalists need to work on the difficult task of educating the public as to various agricultural and environmental tradeoffs, including those in existing systems about which we generally give little thought.Making it seem as if GMO supporters think anyone who raises questions regarding this technology is “anti-science” is highly counterproductive.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Thinking about science is hard. It is not beyond the capacity of most people, but few want to take the time and spend the effort to actually do it. It is much easier to take cues from trusted sources and react easily to tags such as Frankenfoods.

    If we want a better public we might arrange things so they have time to think and encouragement to do so. Instead the Messengers barrage their 15 minutes of free time a day with messages intended to circumvent the thought processes we later accuse them of not possessing. 

    But then, I guess the Messengers are busy too.

  • Jeffn

    #17 I think “anti-science” is a political construct in the modern west.

    I don’t think anti- GMO folks oppose science, you have to dig deeper. Some oppose corporations, some are just ignorant, some are just frustrated that their malthusian fantasies keep getting postponed by progress.

    AGW skeptics are not anti-science either- they’re just well aware of how some like to use pseudo-science for political ends.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Mary, I’m puzzled by your question in #17. After thinking about it over dinner (much to the frustration of my wife), I cannot think of anyone who is anti-science. I know lots of people who are against the implications/effects/carrying forward of carefully stovepiped fields. As far as I can tell, all of them started with the effects, etc., and worked backwards to the science, not the other way around. And again, as far as I can tell, none of them reject science in toto–they just have a… thing… about one section–sometimes two.

  • huxley

    Jeffn & Tom Fuller: Well said. Even the anti-vaccine folks would not say they are anti-science.

  • Mary

    Sure, folks say they are not “anti-science”. But what does that mean? They say that after they’ve been called that.

    I’ve battled the anti-vaxxers. They refuse to acknowledge the data and the consensus. I’ve even asked: Where would data have to come from (source, type) for you to believe it doesn’t cause autism? No answer. 

    Where do you get your conclusions from then? I really don’t understand. What is the basis for your decisions?

  • Michael Larkin

    Coupla points:

    1. I’m not anti-science, but definitely anti-pseudoscience. And therein lies the rub: one man’s science is another’s pseudoscience. That’s true even amongst practising scientists: it applies in climatology, AIDS research, LENR research, cosmology, and more.

    2. I haven’t studied the GMO issue and so don’t have a particular view. Where is there on the Web a site that looks at the issue dispassionately? Or is it as polarised as the AGW debate?

  • intrepid_wanders

    The only problem I can see in this equation is that the GMO is a solution to a problem, Whereas cAGW is a problem (…in some circles…) where solar, windmills and taxes (…permits in some circles…) are the solution.  Sooo…GMO = Solution to (regional) food scarcitySolar/Wind/Taxes= Solution to global warming While eating nothing but the flies you catch by a Sahara pool of water will gain you Suzuki’s precautionary principle favor, the seasonal variation of fly density has got to weigh in.  It is amazingly ignorant of Suzuki, being a genetics specialist, not being able to cite a “Regnum Animale” “Regnum Vegetabile” RNA interaction that created a sort of “Swamp Thing”,  Histamine reactions are still a very poorly understood syndrome.No, GMO skeptics have the weakest arguments. Next would be the BPA hormone disruptor then the “calcium disruption of raptor ovum” by DDT.My favorite “state of union” is from Emilio:”I have another question for you: Can science be anti-environment?”Emilio, science primary goal is to be “anti-environment” or against nature.  Science protects one from the elements (heat/cold/wet/dry).  Science protects one from the biological pathogens.  Humans have pursued science since the last ice age more than 10,000ya.  Agriculture is science and anti-environmental.  End result, humans are by nature, anti-environment.Prof. John Wood may nod approvingly, but this line of reason pales to the delima of calling out your neighbor’s yard when yours is full of weeds.

  • huxley

    Mary: The anti-vaccine people have their authorities and their studies they tout plus their anecdotal data. One can argue that much of the AV movement’s power was derived from an article in The Lancet, one of the most esteemed medical journals on the planet.(And the same journal that presented a rushed, non-peer reviewed article on the hundreds of thousands of casualties in the Iraq War just in time for the 2004 presidential election. No one else was able to verify The Lancet’s numbers, but they were nonetheless parroted endlessly by anti-Bush critics.)

  • huxley

    -As humans we are wired to think by association and emotion. It is only with much training that we manage some semblance of reason, and even with the best of us that is a never-ending struggle.

  • Tom Scharf

    I think a lot of the differences lie in simple fear, some warranted and some not so much.  The second part of the equation being how much confidence one has in the ability to recover from mistakes.

    Environmentalists tend to fear, dare I say, everything.  Fear of radiation,   fear of genetic engineering,  fear of carbon,  fear of immoral corporations, fear of the future, etc.  The fear is based on a worldview that the environment is extremely fragile and even minor alterations can unleash an unstoppable unexpected chain reaction that will lead to a lot of pain and suffering.  There view of the environment is essentially:

    Don’t.f***.with.it.  It.might.bite.

    There is also low confidence in our ability to detect a problem “in time” and to take action to adapt to, or reverse, a problem that has not been previously predicted.

    It’s a very conservative (not the political definition) view.  Take no action that may have undesirable consequences.  And definitely get control of the cowboys out there and make sure they don’t mess things up.

    The other side of the coin are the cowboys who are gung ho, full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes, let’s go to the moon.  They view the earth as stable “enough” and the human influences to be minute in the grand scheme.  They have not so much confidence in the fact that they will never make a mistake, but confidence that they can and will recover from their inevitable mistakes.  You get to the answer a lot faster by taking risks, then you do plodding along scared of making a mistake.  There will be some casualties, but that is the price of progress.

    It is not a coincidence that the opposing sides tend to come from job environments that reflect their views.  Environmentalists from a tenure lifetime job world of academia and stable public sector jobs, and the opposing side private sector from a “I might get laid off every single day” and I survive on my merits alone.  Private sector people, particularly small business and entrepreneurs, are simply much more comfortable with risk.

    I believe there are risks with GMO and global warming.  I also “feel” that these risks have been overstated, and that if and when they do actually materialize, we can and will adapt successfully.                             

  • Paul Noel

    I am and always will be a geek with the concept that something I or others do can make life very wonderful. I love high technology and am thrilled by it. This having been said, I am a scientist of the first order and I look at the total logistical cost analysis as part of my work.

    The analysis of some issues such as GMO debate comes up this way. No technology is either good or bad.

    Technology is merely a tool of an amplifier of the people who use it. In farming the issues of GMO come down to (1) it is a violation of longstanding common law property rights as we have known them since antiquity. (2) it is a violation of some serious scientific safety issues for the long term survival of mankind.

    Beginning with the property rights issues, seeds have always been the property of the farmer. He could reproduce his crops at will.  The new system claims they are not his property.  Even patent seeds prior to this time were always able to be reproduced and replanted.  Suddenly now you lease seed and are merely a share cropper (read slave by alternative means).  If this were not bad enough the genes are owned and do not stop being property even if they fly in pollen in the wind. This allows the owner of the gene to steal the crops and crop seed rights of any farmer who gets his crops contaminated by this pollen.  By the law of the sea, any abandoned property is rightfully open for claim.  By this standard which also governs air travel and such as well as air pollution, if your pollen passes freely in the air onto my land it becomes my property free and clear!  You surely can see the violations now.

    The violation of the safety and long term survival of the human race is much more serious. This analysis is due to several things. Roundup Resistant genes have by their use caused massive contamination of ground water with Roundup and its generic compounds.   This contamination will last for decades if not centuries.

    In addition these have caused the absence of weeds (their goal) and the attendant result is a massive increase in soil erosion. This has very bad prospects for survival of mankind. It also does massive damage to rivers and oceans.   Genetically engineered transgenic crops would best be characterized as invasive species. These are threatening the environment seriously and also pose great threats to mankind in the future. Conceptually the whole idea of these crops is that it is logically good to improve your efficiency to 100% of use of land, light, water and nutrient. The problem is that this results in a sterile soil and causes massive damage.  It actually prevents soil regeneration.   Nature it seems does not have the same view of efficiency we have.  The natural system relies on what we see as inefficiency as its means of efficient survival.  This last fact is probably the greatest problem with the GMO crops etc.

    I could go on and on. GMO has great potential for mankind.Its application however, is showing great damage and this while seldom as directly addressed or as correctly addressed as I have done, is the focus of the anger against GMO.

  • Matt B

    Hey KK, I made a comment over at Discover about how Suzuki’s invocation of the Precautionary Principle for GMO’s is incompatible with his support for solar panels (as their manufacturing has toxic by-products & who can be assurred that they are not a greater world danger than the benefit we get from solar panels?)………anyways that comment has been disappeared over there, are they that tough on moderation? I will admit that in the comment I called Suzuki’s viewpoint “simplistic”, that might have pissed someone off…….

  • Anteros

    Mary -In response to your question, I think there are a number of people who you might consider ‘anti-science’ who actually are not anti, they just have a much lower valuation of the evidence of science.In your particular field this will appear to be so irrational as to warrant the term ‘anti’-science, but it may be that they just have a vastly different way of judging what is important. The value they give to a (comprehensive, double-blind) study that finds no evidence at all for vaccination causing autism may be very low. It’s difficult, for me to defend such extremes but I do have a certain amount of sympathy for those that say scientific experiments are not the only way we accumulate knowledge and understanding. My guess is that you would say that anybody who places something other than science at the top of there list of sources for decision-making is anti-science. I disagree – some may simply value things higher than science. There doesn’t necessarily have to be an ‘anti’ in this, even though there may be for some people.If you say that people who don’t think science is the best thing since sliced bread (and the only thing we should rely on) are anti-science, then maybe they are – and maybe I’d partially agree with them, though I don’t feel at all anti-science myself.

  • Anteros

    AH!!!

    Damn prehistoric formatting..

  • Keith Kloor

    Folks,

    I’m aware that some of you have posted comments at Discover which were held up in moderation for a long period. Don’t read anything into it. My own comment over there had to be fished out of their spam filter. I think they just have to check the thread more often for comment flow.

  • Keith Kloor

    Those of you still having formatting issues, can you please tell me what browser you use? Either email me offline or leave a comment. I’ll try to get this addressed once and for all next week.

  • harrywr2

    #32 “Prehistoric Formatting”

    It would be okay if it was ‘prehistoric’…it wouldn’t be stripping out line feeds because that’s how we formatted in prehistoric times.

    The problem is that it is being clever…and trying to figure out paragraphs and line feeds and substituting HTML.

    I’m pretty sure it’s trying to avoid the ‘unclosed’ HTML problem poorly.

    Manually inserting line feeds in the editing window rather then the WYSIWYG window appears to work.

  • steven mosher

    mary, anti science is pretty clear to me. It would be a position that held that science does not give us a useful representation of reality. it would be the inverse of scientism. On one extreme would be the position that science studies what is and anything outside of science is ephemeral. On the other extreme would be the opposite, perhaps mysticism.
    In between these two extremes people appeal to science when it suits them. In between these two extremes people reject a particular scientific finding when it suits them. Typically when a science finding tends to conflict ( in there mind) with a value they hold.

    Anti science in my mind is rejecting science per se

  • Anteros

    Keith –

    Firefox.

    After much spoon-feeding, I have learned to format my comments after writing them. However, as they look formatted even when they’re not, I often forget.

    See above comment 31. When I pressed ‘submit’ I was seeing a beautifully paragraphed, balanced composition (to match the content) but forgot that it needed extra work, otherwise it would appear as an incoherent mass..

  • Mary

    I am also using Firefox on PC. v12.0 if it matters. And here’s a shot of what I see when I’m doing this. There will be a return here–>.

    Looks that way when typing (http://screencast.com/t/vuFuiJYC7rZq ). But now have to go into the code thing to actually force that. (what it looks like: http://screencast.com/t/de1pCdCc )

  • Anteros

    @36 +1

    Mary –

    I think it is easy to underestimate the power of feeling, imagination and especially language. I have a friend who won’t eat any unwashed fruit because of the resonance of the phrase ‘pesticide residue’. No amount of reading scientific studies showing safety is ever going to equal this influence.

    It reminds me that many people sub vocally add ‘toxic’ when they hear the word chemical. Again, not very rational but human beings vary enormously in the  degree to which certain things influence them.

    I read an study estimating that organic fruit has ~1000 times as much
    pesticide in it as is allowed by law as a residue on conventional fruit.
    This is quite persuasive to me, but to many people the simple idea
    of a man-made (‘chemical’!) pesticide is profoundly different from
    something naturally occurring. Once more, this doesn’t sound rational
    but it is a value judgement that I can understand – it has moral and philosophical underpinnings.

    Something else – as Mosher notes, we have a tendency to grab all and any evidence to support our world views, which explains why some people appear very inconsistent in how much credence they give to science.

  • Steve Mennie

    I’m not anti-science but I would say I’m anti-hubris. I think people are rightfully suspicious of the attitude that every new thing is good and should be rolled out immediately. We tend to fall in love with the benefits of a new technology, ignoring denying or downplaying the possible negative ‘side effects’ with a religious faith that another technological ‘fix’ will always come along to clean up the mess….just sayin’.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard
  • Anteros

    Willard –

    You’re baffling me with brevity. Is there a clue in your link to simplify the manual formatting dilemma?

    Can it be turned off?

  • BBD

    WRT Comment editor (Keith ): FF 12.0 (I’m fairly sure the problem started with 11.x though…)

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Anteros,

    I guess the WISIWYG editor outputs his XHTML code in a way that is not well liked by contemporary browsers, i.e. Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. So I would check under the hood to see, but Keith already has his guru.

    Here’s what I personally do:

    I click on the blue brackets to have HTML code.

    I copy the code for a paragraph (p and /p with their brackets). I hit enter-enter. I paste. Now I have two paragraphs.

    If I want to enter a long comment, I paste these two paragraphs, then repeat. For blockquotes, I use the HTML code for blockquotes.

    I believe that you need two line breaks between every paragraph.

    Another deadline for me. Good luck.

  • BBD

    willard – this thing is an html4 editor I think, so not sure I understand your link either. I don’t think <br/> is required; <br> works fine. 

    Anteros – I can’t find a fix other than hitting Enter twice after </p> in html view. Let’s hope it finally gets fixed.

  • Anteros

    Tom Scharf @29

    I agree with your analysis, particularly with the fundamental world view of ‘fragility’ underpinning environmentalism. Think how common is the bizarre phrase fragile ecosystem.

    I would add the there is a correlation between green and urban. The majority of those in rural/farming communities see the ebb and flow of life, transience and perpetual change. Also, there is little hint of the environmentalists guilt at interfering in nature – we’ve been growing, modifying, changing, and culling nature for 10,000 years. So we’re not frightened of nature – nor do we feel guilty for manipulating it for our own benefit.

  • Matt B

    OK, if the definition of anti-science is a person who 100% rejects the hypothesis/experiment/anaylze/replicate approach to answering ANY question, then I’m good with that….but that circle will be a pretty small one………..so how does one describe people that selectively use the scientific process when it suits them & ignores it when they don’t like what that approach delivers?

    “Denier” always was a clumsy term, since barely anyone denies the scientific approach 100% of the time. “Partisan” has a ring of freedom fighter to it that really doesn’t apply here. “Bigot” is actually fairly accurate but too much baggage in that term (just like denier).

    How about “dilettante”? I think this Merriam-Webster definition nails it: A person who claims an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge. Sounds about right……….

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I think Asimov had a couple of chapter titles in one of his Foundation books. The sequential names were ‘The Answer That Satisfied’ and ‘The Answer That Was True.’ I think people will research a topic and look at relevant science if it’s written up clearly and they have time. Many of them will keep reading until they have formulated an answer that fits into their world view, broadly shaped by previous learning. This is admirable and should be encouraged.But nowadays every exposition of information should be accompanied by a ‘Do You Want to Know More?’ button, or hyperlinks to more information. And if they also had a button saying ‘Click Here to See Why Some Disagree With This’ it wouldn’t hurt.It appears that some on this thread are ready to criticize people for not being extremely well-versed in areas of science and yet simultaneously are desirous that only one side of the scientific discussion gets aired.

  • huxley

    Firefox 12. I’ve seen this problem as far back as FF 3.

    My work-around: I use two Shift-Returns between paragraphs. I then switch to HTML and add two Returns before each <br><br> in the source code view.

    These added returns shouldn’t have any affect in real HTML code but because the programmers are being clever,  somehow they do.

  • huxley

    Matt B @ 48: “Dilettante” doesn’t work that well  either.

    * It’s hard to miss the implied slur.

    * Are these anti-GMO protesters dilettantes when they oppose GMO but non-dilettantes when they oppose fossil fuels with regard to climate change?

  • huxley

    I think “anti-science” is a political construct in the modern west.
    — Jeffn @ 21

    Agreed. I’d go farther and call it a term of abuse for minority positions that can range from outright crankishness to legitimate criticism.

    The 9-11 Truthers can wheel out a fair number of people with advanced degrees in science and engineering. Are these people “anti-science”?

  • Mary

    I still don’t see the problem with the phrase “anti-science”. It conveys exactly what I want it to: that there are people who are actively engaged in harassment of scientists and interference/damage to their work or funding, or affect the education of others (in the case of creationists in schools, or the public in other forums) based on ideological grounds.

    But ok–give me alternatives, I’m willing to consider other phrases. I also want to know what they are for anti-capitalist, anti-abortion, anti-vaccination, anti-stem cell, anti-evolution, anti-environment, anti-whatever. Because every single use of the prefix could be argued that it doesn’t convey the full scope of the issue on the other side–by those on the other side. Shall we just ban the prefix? Or are there any legitimate examples of it that you have seen used?

    Show me what Keith’s headline should have read.

  • Matt B

    @ 51 Huxley, I’m not sure what the “slur” is. I mean, call someone a bigot or denier, there’s baggage with those terms. But “dilettante” a slur? I have trouble seeing that; if by “slur” you mean non-complementary, then yeah that’s the idea, but I don’t know of any “slurry” connotations with “dilettante”…..unless because it’s French it’s bad news, merde alors!
     

    Regarding whether the anti-GMO crowd is dilettante on one day and non-dilettante the next when protesting fossil fuels, that’s not the idea. The idea is, if you pick & choose science when it suits you (e.g. there are sound scientific reasons to oppose the burning of fossil fuels) but ignore scientific data that has not shown any issue with the safety of GMO foods, then you’re a science dilettante, period.
     

  • huxley

    Mary: @ 53: But the anti-GMO folks aren’t opposed to all science, all scientists and all their work, just a very narrow slice.

    I don’t think Keith’s headline should be changed because it’s a question. Keith is struck by the apparent contradiction that anti-GMO protesters accept orthodox science on climate change but not when it comes to climate change. KK seeks an understanding of this paradox.

  • huxley

    @ 56: …but not when it comes to GMO….

  • Mary

    All the buzz in my twitter feed right now is this comment by Adam Rutherford who adds excellent historical perspective to this discussion:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/25/greens-science-gm-food?commentpage=2#comment-16306006

  • Matt B

    @ 53 Mary – how about “Do Environmentalists Cherry-Pick Science?” Err on second thought that’s likely to piss some people off……..how about “Do Environmentalists Selectively Follow the Scientific Method?”

    Now, just to make something clear, OF COURSE tobacco companies/fossil fuels/GMO producers/solar panel manufacturers SELECTIVELY FOLLOW the scientific method when promoting their industry/products; most people expect them to do so & so take any of their pronouncements with an appropriate grain of salt. The question on the table is, should we lump the environmental movement in with these guys? Most people do not want to, because the hope is that environmentalists have a higher calling than money-grubbing industrialists and thus should enjoy a higher level of credibility from the public. But, is the environmental community living up to those standards, and if not why should they be held in any higher respect than their opposing industry shills? 

  • Anteros

    Mary @57

    An interesting link, but I’m afraid I gave up on the article itself (trying to say how Greens are scientifically literate) with this statement –

      “Our planet is dying thanks to global warming”

    WTF!

  • Menth

    1.Enviromentalists are human. 2.Human emotion leads reason, not the other way around. As Jonathan Haidt puts it, the mind is composed of a rider and an elephant. The elephant is our emotional, morally intuitive self and the rider is our reason. More often than not the elephant is in control.
    Of course it’s very difficult to find anybody who would describe themselves as being against the scientific method they’re just selective in their digestion of what it discovers because emotion comes first, reason second. When the mind wants to believe something it asks “Can I believe this?” and actively seeks out information to validate the position. When overwhelmed by information that runs counter to what one wants to believe the mind asks “Must I believe this?” and will seek any information that undermines accordingly.

    Everybody is ‘anti-science’ at some point and some are more so than others in the sense that we all become selective with what believe. Is environmentalism particularly prone to this? I would argue yes because the movement is heavily rooted in intuitive moral foundations of sanctity and purity. The real danger in my eyes is the righteous intent to not only believe in bullshit but to actively disrupt the scientific process and destroy property and research. I sincerely hope that the police are present to defend the wheat trial from mob rule. This is insanity.

    Imagine if Morano et al. were advocating going down to West 112th street and smashing the computers at GISS.

  • BBD

    Imagine if Morano et al. were advocating going down to West 112th street and smashing the computers at GISS.

    Isn’t that what they are attempting by indirect means?

  • Menth

    I don’t know. Do you mean advocating to revoke the use of public funds for climate research? I’m sure there are people who hold that position but even then that would at least be done through democratic channels. The idea that these people not only want to do this but feel they can give advanced notice that they’re going to do it and get away with it is madness.

  • BBD

    Menth

    Do you mean advocating to revoke the use of public funds for climate research?

    No, I meant the ‘models are crap’ meme allied to the ‘climate science is broken’ meme.

    done through democratic channels:-)

    What can I say?

  • Steven Sullivan

    Are Simplistic, Tendentious Headlines Good Journalism?

  • huxley

     I have trouble seeing that; if by “slur” you mean non-complementary, then yeah that’s the idea…

    Matt @ 54: Yes, that’s my point and clearly that’s your intention. To my mind it’s propaganda to demean and dismiss your opponents right out of the box with a negative identity tag.

    It can be effective politics but it’s a mixed message when one is claiming the mantle of reason.

  • huxley

    Are Simplistic, Tendentious Headlines Good Journalism?

    Steven Sullivan @ 64: Good one!

    I get KK’s article at best as an attempt to understand the anti-GMO protesters. “Anti-science” is not the key to that understanding, however, as many commenters have pointed out.

    Is the goal here to understand the protesters or find a strong negative label to hang on them and bash them with?

  • huxley

    In the past few weeks Keith seems to be looking for away out from the current tribal warfare and limited choices of the climate debate. That’s a noble undertaking. I’m all for it.

    One way to do that is to avoid negative, insulting labels for one’s opponents. Like “anti-science,” “denier,” “denialist,” “alarmist,” “hysterical,” etc. Of course, it’s not quite as satisfying and and, one may feel, not as effective.

    The latter is true. Negative labels work in politics. So the question is do we want to handle the climate debate (and other debates) in a calm, rational way to understand each other and, perhaps, find solutions or do we want to handle the debate with anything-goes political warfare and settle things at the ballot box?

    Maybe because it’s an election year, but my impression is that we are in a cold civil war and we are not going to settle things rationally. Maybe we never do, but it’s especially difficult now.

    So I find it interesting that Keith seems to be working to reduce hostilities, as it were, and find solutions rather than one side crushing the other in political war.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Hux, Keith Kloor’s way out is to try and set off a civil war on one side so the other can pick up the pieces left standing.  The “middle way” is simply a way of splitting his opposition.   Fortunately he is very obvious about it and only succeeds in giving a little bit of ammunition to the rejectionists.

  • huxley

    Eli: Another way to wage war is negative mind reading.I don’t know for sure what Keith is up to, which is why I qualify my thoughts with “Keith seems…”Keith seems to be trying to find a non-dogmatic place in the center that avoids the irrationality of the extreme ends of the debate. He has his blind spots, as we all do, which he is, by definition, blind to.He gets points in my book for providing one of the few places on the web where genuine discussion occurs between the various sides of the climate debate.Since you reject Keith and the “rejectionists,” would it be fair to characterize you as a “rejectionist”?

  • huxley

    I reject this editing software!

  • stan

    ‘Anti-science’ isn’t meant to be used in an intellectually descriptive manner.  Like ‘denier’ or ‘racist’, it’s just an ugly label that gets tossed around in an effort to marginalize a political opponent.  Keith’s effort here is an example of what happens when you try to apply fairness in a looking glass world.  The problem is Humpty Dumpty has no interest in fairness, truth or accuracy.  He refuses to play by any rules.  It is a commendable impulse to try to force environmentalists to face their own hypocrisy.  They shouldn’t use ugly labels that aren’t accurate and when they do (as is the case with ‘anti-science’ used in the climate wars), it is appropriate to call them on it.  But better to avoid the use of the offending term than to double down and use it again.Science is better understood as a process than as some supposed consensus of knowledge.  As we have seen repeatedly in the climate wars, the supporters of the supposed consensus are the ones who violate the procedures which are the stuff of science.  I suppose if one insists on using a term like ‘anti-science’ despite its tendency to mislead more often than enlighten, it would be best to use it to describe behavior that interferes or perverts the scientific process:  perversion of peer review, refusal to share data or methods, slandering of fellow scientists, fraud,  misrepresentation, etc.

  • Keith Kloor

    Every so often Eli (68) is unintentionally revealing of a larger dynamic.

    Eli has been a consistent critic of this blog–in comments here, elsewhere, and at his site. I welcome all criticism of myself and don’t edit or delete such comments (he is on moderation because of his special brand of personal nastiness. He should welcome that, because being on moderation has forced him to temper his language).

    Eli is also a partisan. So any criticism of his side–or of the people waging the fight on behalf of his side–is viewed through a political prism. He views such criticism as ammunition for his opponents.

    Many people who view these debates through a political prism share his view. That goes for the strict loyalists of Anthony Watts (who hates this blog, too, for its criticism of him) et al, who also take great umbrage when I am critical of him.

    Where Eli is wrong is about my success in getting people to pay attention to this blog and my posts/essays elsewhere. I know that people are paying attention because the campaign waged against me behind the scenes remains just as fierce today as it did a year ago, and the year before that. If they didn’t think I was effective or having success, they wouldn’t bother. 

  • Mary

    Seems to me that much of the push-back on “anti-science” comes from those who don’t want to be called that. Ok, that makes sense. I’m sure it stings to think that someone else things of you that way. But sometimes stings get under your skin for a reason. And sometimes that’s the effect you want in a conversation.

    And I’ve been watching the discussion of this unfold, and noting some of the places where “anti-science” has been used. Adam Rutherford’s legendary comment says:

    “This leads me to think that they are demonstrably anti-science, rather than addressing the issues in a disinterested way.”

    Mark at Denialism blog says:
    Environmentalism and anti-science, how GMOs prove any ideological extremity leads to anti-science

    What do these folks have in common? An understanding of the science at issue.

    The extensive parsing of anti-science is other people’s right, of course. But if this word fits the need for people who understand the science, I’m not sure you are allowed to proscribe the use of it.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Keith, at some point it would be a service to your readers to chronicle the campaign. 

    You are not the only one keeping quiet about it.

  • Keith Kloor

    Mary,

    The Take the Flour Back’s campaign–which includes their avowed destruction of scientific research–has provided an incredible opportunity for larger discussion (and awareness) of these issues. Adam’s comment really is quite something, as are a number of other related commentaries that I will be highlighting and returning to early next week. One of the things I will specifically be focusing on is what constitutes “anti-science”–if anything at all.

  • Keith Kloor

    Tom,

    It is not a service to me–professionally speaking-to chronicle that. Also, this experience is not unique to me. To some extent, many journalists writing on controversial issues experience similar campaigns.

  • huxley

    Seems to me that much of the push-back on “anti-science” comes from those who don’t want to be called that.

    Mary @ 73: Seems to me you are eager to use “anti-science” for axe-grinding.

    Yet you are unable to demonstrate that these protesters oppose all or most science, which is what that label means.

    Why not call them anti-GM? Or pro-whatever-it-is they are for? Why are you so keen to brand them as “anti-science”?

    Reading the “Take the Flour Back” website, I see that they offer a blend of leftist politics, localism, environmentalism, and technology skepticism.

    “Anti-science” misses the mark considerably. If one needs a quick descriptive label, they are basically a Green splinter group.

    If one wants to understand their worldview and what their position on science is — that’s a longer discussion.

  • Anteros

    Mary –

    I’d go even further than Huxley on this with regards to the Flour-worship people. I think it is actually bizarre to think of them as anti-science.

    The action of putting a gene from one species into another isn’t itself science – it’s just an activity carried out by human beings, like something similar with stem cells, or embryos….. or foetuses…..or other people.

    The people who hope to ‘decontaminate’ an area of GM crops aren’t anti what you think of as a value-free experiment. They think of the existence of the GMOs as wrong. It is unconnected with science. They are no different from people who think trialling shampoos by forcing the ingredients into the eyes of captive rabbits is wrong. ‘Science’ doesn’t come into it.

    Nor ‘anti-science’

    The GMO protesters have a moral and philosophical objection to something, not the process used by non-objectors to explore that something.

  • Keith Kloor

    Good comments on the “anti-science” debate. Keep them coming!

  • MarkB

    So how does it feel to be Lonborg’d? If you keep this up, someone will write a book ‘debunking’ and denouncing you.

  • kdk33

    Seems to me you are eager to use “anti-science” for axe-grinding.

    Does the term have any other use.  I would require at least one countering example.

  • huxley

    Back in the seventies there was an unlikely bestseller titled “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” In it the author, Robert Pirsig, a technical writer with a genius IQ and a background in philosophy, starts by pondering two of his companions on a motorcycle trip, who are of that liberal artistic temperament  that disdains science and technology. They are not “anti-science” per se but they find science and the rational thinking that goes with it to be a drag.

    Pirsig is a man committed to reason and he is fascinated by their attitudes. But rather than dismissing the couple as “anti-science” or shallow, he attempts to understand deep down what bothers his friends and why.  Much of the book is his exploration of the differences between what Pirsig calls the “Romantic” vs “Classical” approaches. For Pirsig this split goes all the way back to the Greeks.

    I recommend his book as a great read but also as a model of understanding the worldviews of people different from oneself.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Keith, it is because the phenomenon is not limited to you that I think it should be reported. And I know it is not limited to the climate controversy. But I’m aware of multiple incidents of harassment of employers, publishers, investors and potential donors based on insufficient climate purity, and have experienced it myself.

    As near as I can tell, the reason it is not a story is that people don’t want to give the harassers the satisfaction of acknowledging its existence. Which doesn’t seem like a sufficient reason.

    Fortunately, most of the harassment has had no effect in the cases I’ve heard of, nor in my own. But I think it’s a story.

  • steven mosher

    ya keith you keep crossing that thin green line.There are two camps. Any attempt to explicitly clarify or challenge the lines between the camps, any attempt to carve out a middle ground or suggest that there is a middle ground will be met with ultimate sanctions: silencing banishment or re education

  • Matt B

    @ 82 Huxley, I agree, Zen is a great book. As you say it does a great job examining different worldviews & the author demonstrates value (and quality!) from many different perspectives.

    However, when it comes to the technical/scientific issues of motorcycle maintenance, the protagonist doesn’t bother consulting his friends for their “Romantic” viewpoint, for he rightly sees their opinions (in these narrow technical cases) as wasting his time, and at times potentially dangerous. He is perfectly at ease not listening to their opinions on technical issues that they neither take the time nor effort to understand.

  • huxley

    Keith: I’d be curious too. I comment with a pseudonym because I live in an ultra-blue area and work in a mostly blue industry. I’ve had enough experiences being shunned and ostracized by my “open-minded” liberal friends and colleagues that there is no way I’ll go public on the internet as a conservative.Heartland went over the line with the Unabomber billboard, but I understood the anger that led to that action. The targeted harassment of Heartland donors and directors ought to chill the heart of any upholders of freedom of speech, but that doesn’t seem to bother today’s liberals and climate change orthodox.So yes, I’ll defend the “Take The Flour Back” greens from the “anti-science” charge, even though I have no sympathy for their movement, because I see it as yet another dishonest effort to shut inconvenient people up.

  • huxley

    Repost — Keith: I’d be curious too.

    I comment with a pseudonym because I live in an ultra-blue area and work in a mostly blue industry. I’ve had enough experiences being shunned and ostracized by my “open-minded” liberal friends and colleagues that there is no way I’ll go public on the internet as a conservative.

    Heartland went over the line with the Unabomber billboard, but I understood the anger that led to that action. The targeted harassment of Heartland donors and directors ought to chill the heart of any upholders of freedom of speech, but that doesn’t seem to bother today’s liberals and climate change orthodox.

    So yes, I’ll defend the “Take The Flour Back” greens from the “anti-science” charge, even though I have no sympathy for their movement, because I see it as yet another dishonest effort to shut inconvenient people up.

  • huxley

    [Pirsig] is perfectly at ease not listening to their opinions on technical issues that they neither take the time nor effort to understand.

    Matt B @ 86: Glad you liked “Zen”!

    However, a fair number of climate skeptics may not have degrees in climate science but they are otherwise scientists, engineers, or informed laymen who have a commitment to reason and have taken some time and effort to understand the issues.

    Where do they stand in your scheme of things?

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Let us count the posts

    Is Environmentalism Anti-Science? – mentioning how any environmentalist who opposes GMOs is anti science (with Scientopia duplicate

    Have you Had Enough Spin Yet? – how John Callender has turned against Greg Laden, Joe Romm (he never heard of Eli, that’s ok)

    Eco Jerks – how reusing bags or asking others to do so makes one a jerk

    When Will Greens Move on to the Next Cause? – Keith discusses the last headline-grabbing green cause and the dismay by some environmentalists that it has now gotten elbowed off center stage by global warming. In my post, I suggest that the climate cause may soon suffer the safe fate. Have a read and tell me what you think.

    What is the Meaning of Sustainable Development? – how the WWF gets it all wrong.

    Eli sense a developing pattern here

  • kdk33

    @Tom #83,

    Yesbutfreedom.  Yesitmatters..

  • Matt B

    @ 88 Huxley:

    Here are 4 questions for scientific trained climate skeptics:

    Does CO2 re-radiate longwave radiation?

    Does the re-radiation of longwave radiation (as seen in isolation) add to the Earth’s heat budget?

    Is atmospheric CO2 increasing?

    Have humans had a significant role in the increased CO2 content?

    In my opinion, say no to any of these & you lose your science card. Once you get much past these questions, however, things start to get dicier.

  • kdk33

    Matt,

    Your question 2 is poorly posed.  By budget, do you man balance?  And if so, exactly where do you draw the box? 

  • Nullius in Verba

    #90,

    Good questions!

    I have a few for you.

    1. Is the essence of a greenhouse gas that it is transparent to visible light and opaque to infrared?

    2. Is liquid water transparent to visible light and opaque to infrared?

    3. If sunlight shines on a shallow pond, does the light pass through the water, get absorbed at the bottom, and then radiate as infrared?

    4. Is the upwelling infrared immediately absorbed by the water and re-radiated in all directions, including down?

    5. Assuming liquid water absorbs virtually all infrared radiation within less than a millimetre (it is 20,000 times denser than water vapour in the air), would each additional millimetre thickness constitute an entire new ‘greenhouse’ stacked on top the previous one, with each absorbing radiation from the layer below and radiating part of it back?

    6. Does this not imply that a pool of water should exhibit an absolutely massive greenhouse effect?

    7. Calculate the temperature difference that should arise between the top and bottom of a 1 m deep pool, using the usual greenhouse effect physics of back-radiation.

    8. Explain why this temperature difference is not observed, why the atmosphere works differently, and how to correctly calculate the warming effect in the atmosphere.

    9. Comment on why climate science claims the greenhouse effect is a result of backradiation, when we have this simple and familiar example where there is masses of backradiation and no greenhouse warming.

    7, 8, and 9 are a bit harder than the others, but if you’ve understood the greenhouse physics well enough to be able to come to your own judgement on the science, and not simply take somebody’s word for it, they should be within your scope. Can you do it without anyone else’s help?

    Note, this is just a bit of fun. There is of course a greenhouse effect, and most sceptics agree that there is. (The issue is actually over the feedbacks that supposedly multiply the CO2 effect by 3 and related matters, not the radiative physics of CO2.) As you say, once we get past the basics things get a bit dicier.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    2. Is liquid water transparent to visible light and opaque to infrared?Depends on how dirty it is and what is in there but thanks for the lead, turns out that Eli thinks none of the reference in this link is really using pure enough water.  A long time ago, the bunny was able to use an excimer laser to really polish water down to a nub, and that makes a difference.  For the IR look here to start.In short, even to start the Gish Gallop you have to know something.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    3. If sunlight shines on a shallow pond, does the light pass through the
    water, get absorbed at the bottom, and then radiate as infrared?

    Some, go down to the bottom of the pond and look up. A lot of the light gets absorbed on the way down

  • BBD

    NIV

    I have to admit I’ve learned to enjoy this one.

    I’ll have another go :-)

    I think we need a bottom (!)

    The problem for me is the depth of the pond.

    We all know that water is more opaque to SW than the atmosphere.

    So to keep the analogy valid, we need to think of a very shallow puddle, not a pond.

    The pond has depth, convection and thermal inertia the puddle can only dream about as its bottom warms up (!), and it warms up, and rapidly evaporates on a sunny day.

  • Tom Scharf

    <cr> and <lf> do not work for me in iOS / Safari or Chrome. I must hit the <> button ans search for the</p> tags and manually enter two returns for formatting to work. 

  • Mary

    I’m listening. I still don’t agree that I don’t get to use my term to mean exactly what I said I mean. But I’m trying to understand why others don’t think it’s suitable.

    Part of it is probably also that what you don’t see here is the full weight of evidence I have from previous encounters (IRL and on teh tubz). Many of these engagements have proven that they are opposed to the plant science at issue–and even unrelated parts of plant science because they don’t understand it and condemn it all. No matter how many times you explain to them that what they really hate is a business model, they still want to stop genetic tinkering–and they’ll do that in a baby + bathwater way to get at the GMO piece. Find the Nepali hybrids story. A complete head-shaker.

    And the claims that they don’t think of it as science are wrong. They try to use science when it suits them–crappy studies, cherry-picked data, ridiculous armchair agronomy–so they think it supports them, when it just doesn’t.

    But I did decide tonight in a comment elsewhere that no matter what others think of this, the label was useful in the short social media week or so we had to get the word out. As I said there:

    Actually,
    I think it worked pretty well. The geeks have mobilized to that
    reality, and it has turned away people from voting for a UK politician
    who gave support to this vandalism.

    It’s also making some of them defend their “I’m not anti-science” stance and they need to be challenged on that.

    It also unearthed new allies. Same thing happened when Greenpeace
    killed the nitrogen-efficient wheat. The assault on the research at
    CSIRO brought a bunch of climate science allies out into the open
    because they saw it for what it was–an assault on the science that was
    underway.

    It may have actually backfired on them in some ways. Now scientists
    are going to get out to public meetings so that the zealots will not be
    the only voices heard.

  • Menth

    @MaryI’m tending to lean your way and realize that as much as ‘anti-science’ can be bandied about as a rhetorical device and slur, perhaps the shaming induces a harder press upon opponents to adhere to rules of logic and evidence. Especially if you agree on other subjects. 
    I realize I am probably a broken record but I again invite others to check out Jon Haidt’s work and as a starting point this talk in particular: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/event/201587

    In short: if you want to understand why certain people selectively digest evidence, follow the sacredness.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Mary, I think as long as you are very careful in its application the term may be useful to some extent. Perhaps I am cautious because I am frequently called a denier, which really upsets me. 

    I have no doubt that there are people who are ‘anti-science.’ I have very little doubt that if the term takes hold it will be used without much in the way of discrimination and just become another epithet.

  • Mary

    Here’s an example I forgot to add about them using science when it suits them. Perfectly fisked in the comments by Matt Cooper (and I lend air support):

    Why protests against the GM foods field trials is pro-science

  • Menth

    I should add that as incentive to BBD et al. to watch, Haidt favorably references Hansen. I am not trying to trick anyone into watching something I will necessarily think will make them agree with me. 

  • huxley

    Mary: I’m not sure whom you are addressing….

    If me, you still aren’t responding to my concern that to call someone “anti-science” ought to mean that person is opposed to science just about all of the time.

    For instance, I make no bones that I am anti-communist. I’m not just opposed to communism in Cuba; I am anti-communist. Maybe I’d stretch it for some monastic order but otherwise anytime, anywhere I’m against communism. You are right on the money to call me anti-communist.

    But the Flour people aren’t against Galileo, Einstein, and Jonas Salk. Not even Watson and Crick so far as I can tell. They are against genetic modification of crops to the benefit of large corporations and to the detriment of small farmers plus the risks of monoculture. I wouldn’t say that they have thought this out very well, but they are not anti-science.

  • huxley

    Mary: To note that people cherry-pick science or make poor scientific arguments does not help your claim that they are anti-science.

    In fact it shows that they are pro-science — they respect science highly enough to try to play by science rules. They are just crappy at it.

  • huxley

    Matt B: I’m a lukewarmer. I agree with your questions so far, but so what? Are you going to keep raising the bar so that eventually I have to buy into the consensus or be relegated to the ranks of your dilettantes?

    Do you accept that uncertainty remains as to other factors beyond anthropogenic carbon emissions, including some unknown, affecting climate?

  • huxley

    Let us count the posts.

    Eli Rabett @ 89: KK regularly gets up my nose when he takes after skeptics and Republicans. I think he is much more on your side than mine and he’s rather blind about his biases.

    The difference is that I’m looking for what I consider a fairer shake and you are looking for 100% fealty.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #94,

    Thanks for the links. They’re interesting, although it would have been sufficient to just say “yes”.

    Don’t know why you call it a Gish Gallop – it’s just the same argument we kept being given.

    go down to the bottom of the pond and look up

    Does a swimming pool count?

    A lot of the light gets absorbed on the way down

    Can’t say I’ve noticed it.

    #96,

    I have to admit I’ve learned to enjoy this one.

    Good! This process is supposed to be fun!

    But didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s an important exam technique to make sure you are answering the question that was actually asked?

    We all know that water is more opaque to SW than the atmosphere.

    We do?

    23% of the incoming sunlight is reflected by the atmosphere, and 20% of it absorbed (Kiehl-Trenberth diagram.). Eli’s absorption spectra shows an absorption coefficient around 0.001-0.0001 per centimetre, which would be 0.1-0.01 per metre. If those are natural logs, that’s between 1% and 10% absorbed, and if base 10 (as is commonly used for data on liquids) between 2% and 21%. (I can’t be bothered to dig in and figure out what convention is being used here. Eli will know.) For sunlight coming straight down onto a smooth water surface, about 2% is reflected, and you have to get incidence angle from the vertical up to 60 degrees before you get 10% reflected. So I’d have said a metre of water is a more than reasonable analogue for the absorption/reflection of the atmosphere.

    And if we compared it to the atmosphere of Venus…

    The analogy was really supposed to be with the explanation of the greenhouse effect so frequently given to the general public, that leads so many of them to think they understand the physics of the effect, and that sceptics must therefore be scientific dunces. I think Matt B asked his questions with that in mind, and so I’m hoping that this response is educational and useful to him. Yes, there are scientifically educated sceptics. It’s a more complicated question than most people would suppose, after having watched Al Gore explain it. And your response illustrates how the tendency to nit-pick arguments with conclusions one doesn’t like is universal. Which is good, of course! Eli’s and your counter-queries will keep me on my toes.

    It might, too, help you understand the motivations of sceptics raising endless objections on seeing the usual greenhouse explanation, if you think back to how you felt; how you reacted. You’re not stupid or uneducated. You’re not deliberately trying to throw up misinformation, are you? You’re not being paid to oppose me by GreenPeace, or doing it because the conclusion is politically intolerable to you.

    No, you’re doing it because you genuinely think I’ve got it wrong, and that at the least my explanation isn’t sufficient – it’s over-simplified or leaves important details out or something like that. Most sceptics are like that. It’s not an unreasonable position, or “anti-science”. You never have to lose your science card for asking awkward questions.

  • BBD

    “BBD: We all know that water is more opaque to SW than the atmosphere.

    NIV: We do?”

    Yes, we do. The surface layer of a 1m deep pond absorbs most of the DSW and warms rapidly, evaporating and radiating as it does so. That’s why the bottom of a 1m pond doesn’t boil.

    It’s a terrible analogy. The atmosphere is not a pond. Not even close. Making the pond a puddle is the best we can do. The bottom heats up, the water heats up…

    Actually the best we can do is junk the analogy lest people are accidentally confused and misled. You wouldn’t want to do that, I’m sure.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #108,

    So you would predict that if you stood at the edge of a 3 m deep swimming pool with a white tile bottom, and looked straight down, that most of the light would be absorbed in the top few centimetres, most of the rest in the few centimetres after that, and after the 6 m round trip it ought to be looking pretty black?

  • Nullius in Verba

    #108,

    Just to help you out, here’s what a swimming pool with a white tile bottom looks like. (I’m fairly sure it’s tile – you can see the tile cracks down the middle of the blue lane markers.) I don’t think it’s 3 m there, and the surface is not still unfortunately, but if we guess a metre and a half and consider that we’re looking at it on the slant, that’s probably a 4 m round trip. Or am I just confused?

  • BBD

    I think you are conflating the visible spectrum with higher-energy DSW.

    The reason the bottom of your lovely pool is cool is that most of the energy from DSW is absorbed by the surface layer. Which is warm.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #111,

    What, you mean like… ultraviolet??Isn’t that, like, mostly absorbed at the top of the atmosphere by the ozone layer?

  • BBD

    You are wriggling now :-)

  • BBD

    I got a suntan this week.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #113,

    How else am I supposed to interpret “higher-energy DSW”? Higher than what?

  • BBD

    NIV

    Which part of the EM spectrum heats water most? You can tell me. Then we can go back to why the surface layer of the pool is warm and the bottom is cool.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #114,

    How very nice for you. So you did mean ultraviolet. So what percentage of the energy of sunlight at the surface do you think is in the ultraviolet? Most of it?

  • BBD

    # 117?
    You are trying to direct the conversation again, which means you are being evasive, which means # 117.

    Thanks!

  • BBD

    Eh. I mean # 116.

  • kdk33

    N iV’s analogy is  very instructive.  If I may…It illustrates that backradiation is an insufficient description of Earth’s “greenhouse” effect.  It is insufficient because a compressible atmosphere is also required (hence the thought experiment in incompressible water).  The underlying confusion is that the atmosphere is not dominatd by radiative heat transfer; it is convecting, and convection in a compressible fluid is different than convection in a non-compressible one.An a related note, that perhpas NiV could help me with:  why is it called the adiabatic lapse rate.  (let’s use dry because it is simpler).  It is clearly adiabatic, but the DALR cannot be derivd under only an adiabatic assumptions.  Adiabatic is incomplete; more is required.  Why is it not properly called the isentropic lapse rate.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #116,

    “Which part of the EM spectrum heats water most?”

    The maximum in Eli’s graph is in the far ultraviolet, at around 30 nm, but that’s considerably beyond the end of the spectrum for sunlight.

    In the case of sunlight, it’s naturally the part where most of the energy is – which is the visible – assuming all the energy is absorbed.

  • kdk33

    N iV’s analogy is  very instructive.  If I may”¦

    It illustrates that backradiation is an insufficient description of Earth’s “greenhouse” effect.  It is insufficient because a compressible atmosphere is also required (hence the thought experiment in incompressible water).  The underlying confusion is that the atmosphere is not dominatd by radiative heat transfer; it is convecting, and convection in a compressible fluid is different than convection in a non-compressible one.

    An a related note, that perhpas NiV could help me with:  why is it called the adiabatic lapse rate?  (let’s use dry because it is simpler).  It is clearly adiabatic, but the DALR cannot be derived under only an adiabatic assumption.  Adiabatic is incomplete; more is required.  Why is it not properly called the isentropic lapse rate?

  • BBD

    kdk33

    Gosh. Is that why people talk about a radiative-convective atmosphere?

    Knock me down with a feather.

  • kdk33

    BBD,

    if you have something constructive to say, please do.  Otherwise, please go away as I would lke to have a genuine conversation for a few moments.  Perhaps you could go play at Willard’s house for a while.  Or maybe you could make an attempt at trying to understand.

    Pretty please.

    with sugar on top.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #120,

    Adiabatic means without transfer of heat in or out – a large enough packet of air, surrounded by air at roughly the same temperature, has little heat transfer across the boundaries. The air-water system treated collectively around the dew point does not act as a perfect gas. It’s a bit approximate, I agree.

    Isentropic would mean reversible, which means slow, quasi-static changes. That’s how it’s calculated, but it’s still only an approximation.

    I expect the reason is historic, though. It started with the calculation of the pure adiabatic rate, for which the terminology stuck, and it proved convenient later on to wrap the effect of condensation in to the same number.

  • kdk33

    Yes, I understand the meaning of adiabatic.  Also, the moist adiabatic lapse rate is a bit more complicated and, for simplicity, I am thinking only of the dry adiabatic lapse rate – the DALR.  The lapse rate is defined assuming 2 thinngs 1) adiabatic (no heat transfer) and 2) reversible (the expansion/contraction is always against a differential force).  These two – adiabatic and reversible – equal isentropic.  You can check my math in any thermodynamics text.  Or more simply go to the Wiki entry for the DALR and then go to the Wiki entry for isentropic compression.  The math is relatively easy to follow.I suspect the reason is this:  in a convecting atmosphere the compression/expansion of an air parcel must be reversible (or at least I cannot imagine how it could be otherwise).  Since it can never be irreversible, nobody ever considers the distinction.  Nevertheless, the physics is improper.  Reversible processes are well known and, in general, one must draw the distinction.Or perhaps I am wrong, but someone will have to explain it to me.

  • kdk33

    Yes, I understand the meaning of adiabatic.  Also, the moist adiabatic lapse rate is a bit more complicated and, for simplicity, I am thinking only of the dry adiabatic lapse rate ““ the DALR. 

    The lapse rate is defined assuming 2 thinngs 1) adiabatic (no heat transfer) and 2) reversible (the expansion/contraction is always against a differential force).  These two ““ adiabatic and reversible ““ equal isentropic. 

    You can check my math in any thermodynamics text.  Or more simply go to the Wiki entry for the DALR and then go to the Wiki entry for isentropic compression.  The math is relatively easy to follow.

    I suspect the reason is this:  in a convecting atmosphere the compression/expansion of an air parcel must be reversible (or at least I cannot imagine how it could be otherwise).  Since it can never be irreversible, nobody ever considers the distinction. 

    Nevertheless, the physics is improper.  Reversible processes are well known and, in general, one must draw the distinction.

    Or perhaps I am wrong, but someone will have to explain it to me. (Which will allow BBD to gloat which should be incentive for others to try).

  • kdk33

    Ooops, the next to last paragraph should read thusly (and I hate this editor)
    Nevertheless, the physics is improper.  Irreversible processes are well known and, in general, one must draw the distinction.
     

  • BBD

    kdk33 – I was having a constructive conversation with NIV until you arrived and derailed it. Presumably in an attempt to save NIV the awkwardness of continuing into the abyss.

    NIV

    Which parts of the EM spectrum heat water?

  • Matt B

    @ 105 Huxley, 

    Are you going to keep raising the bar so that eventually I have to buy
    into the consensus or be relegated to the ranks of your dilettantes?

    Hell no! I have no interest in raising the bar at all! I believe it is the irresponsible raising of the bar (the bar being what we can definitely state the science & data says about the climate past & present) that initiated the current tastes great/less filling level of discourse on this issue. 

    Do you accept that uncertainty remains as to other factors beyond
    anthropogenic carbon emissions, including some unknown, affecting
    climate?

    Couldn’t agree more! There is a lot of educated guessing about the climate past & present, but they remain just that, educated guesses. That doesn’t mean we should stop the guessing and subsequent verifications, else how do we progress? But it’s the conflation of hypotheses and theory (initiated by people who should know better & trumpeted by media with no clue what the difference is) that is poorly explained and understood. Add to that the lack of historical data, the ridiculously complex system being investigated and the passions that many loud voices bring to the discussion; is it any wonder we find ourselves in post-tower Babel?  

  • kdk33

    BBD please do cotinue your constructive conversation with NiV – he is perfectly capable of doing both. 

    I am just asking that you stay out of mine – for a while at least.  A memorial weekend cease-fire, as it were.

    Pretty please.

  • BBD

    kdk33

    You popped up in the middle of my exchange with NIV. How can I be interrupting you? Stop being tiresome.

  • Nullius in Verba

    The process can’t be isentropic, or it wouldn’t happen spontaneously. The entire process is driven by an external source of entropy – the differential heating between equator and poles, day and night, etc. – and results in a slightly more rapid radiation of heat to space, through colder latitudes having been warmed.

    The constraint from the physics being cited in discussions of lapse rate is the relative thermal isolation of parcels of air – slowness of diffusion across the boundaries and relative transparency to radiation. It’s not so obvious why it would have to be reversible. (Or at least, I can’t see why.)

    Bulk motions of air lead to turbulence, shear, viscosity, etc. which are frictional – more of the work turning to heat without changes in volume. That these are small is usually a separate consideration, in my experience.

    I’m not sure that helps.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    First of all, those absorption curves were for pure water, which was carefully stated.  Pure water exists in labs.  There actually is a book about the absorption of light in sea water.  Now Nullus might prefer his airily waving of arms but there is a book and there are web sources which are easily found.  On one of them one gets this handy guide for visible light

    73% reaches 1 cm44% reaches 1 m22% reaches 10 m0.05% reaches 100m and0.0062% reaches 200 m.surprisingly the last is a bit above the level needed to support photosynthesis, which is why you can find plants down to 200 m.  After that it gets very interesting for life (see hot vents)Turbulent mixing distributes both the VIS/UV/NIR and any thermal emission through this 200 m layer.  Another important thing to keep in mind is that the range for IR light in sea water is small compared to the range for turbulent mixing.  The situation in the atmosphere where the penetration depth of the light is long compared to scales for convection does not obtain. Much of the rest of Nullus’ output is simply too painful to parse, but just as a note, the ozone UV cutoff is about 306 nm, which means the UV between 400 and 300 nm gets through.

  • kdk33

    No.  The process is most assuredly isentropic.  At least in the idealization that results in the DALR. 

    I’m having a bit of a crises I need to deal with at the moment.  But, if you check back, I will show you the math – this evening or perhaps tomorrow.

  • kdk33

    BBD.  I wonder about your mental stabitliy. 

    I commented at #120.  It was a general comment.  The word “BBD” appears nowhere in it.  Then you piped up with your idiotic #123 – once again demonstrating your superficial understanding – that was directed at me..

    Lookit, I just want to every once in a while have a discussion that doesn’t involve you.Please.

  • BBD

    kdk33

    Why does informing you that I actually understand your point about the  radiative *convective* atmosphere make me ‘idiotic’? Stop trying to play the martyr here. It’s artificial, tactical and tedious. And I have no doubt that others, including KK, are not fooled.

  • BBD

    kdk33

    I’ve got a comment in moderation that clarifies my objection to the underpinning of NIV’s argument. But once again, I’ve fallen for the pond trap :-) I really must learn to focus on the magician’s *other* hand.

  • kdk33

    BBD, 

    Because you clearly do not understand.  please read the part that comes after “and”  the part about compressible versus incompressible.  And comments that demonstrate your inability to understand that are followed by things like “blow me down with a feater” are going to earn the label “idiotic”.

    Now, why don’t you go ahead and tell us all about how convection is different in compressible versus incompressible fluids.  And how this manifests itself in the environmental lapse rate.

    Or better yet, why don’t you try to learn something today.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “First of all, those absorption curves were for pure water, which was carefully stated.  Pure water exists in labs.”

    I don’t know what argument you think you’re arguing against, but it isn’t the one I was making. You seem to be diving deep into minor and not very relevant technicalities, and missing the point. The series of questions was more in the nature of a rough-and-ready thought experiment, for which an intuitive appreciation of the properties of water is sufficient. It’s not hard to parse – it is after all modelled on the same lecture that climate science has been giving to the general public for several decades now – the only reason you find it difficult is that you’re struggling to see what is wrong with it.

    Yes, it’s true water is not perfectly transparent to sunlight. Neither is air, and nor is greenhouse glass. But nobody has ever complained about Al Gore treating them as if they were, because it’s self-evidently a good enough approximation to understand the argument. The basis of the classic explanation of the greenhouse effect is that a material lets sunlight in doesn’t let infrared out, ‘trapping’ heat. Liquid water has this property, to a massive extent, (and it certainly emits backradiation,) and therefore by the conventional reasoning ought to exhibit a massive greenhouse warming. It doesn’t, because the conventional explanation is wrong, as this simple counterexample illustrates. That doesn’t mean the greenhouse effect itself is wrong, just that the explanation for it is something different.

    The problem with the argument is not that the water will absorb sunlight at the top. You can idealise the properties of water, or filter the incoming sunlight, or even simply warm a pan of water on the stove. The argument, and the problem with it, come out the same, because it’s nothing to do with the incoming sunlight. The problem is that the pure radiative argument assumes that radiation is the only mechanism for heat transfer, and this is simply not true in any convective medium. Convection short-circuits the radiative resistance to heat loss 100%.

    The heat at the bottom of the pool is radiatively trapped there, the bottom is exposed to backradiation from the water above it, but you can never get any excess of heat build up as a result because the moment it does it convects away. It does so in the atmosphere too – the difference being that air is compressible and so convection only works down to the adiabatic limit. The temperature at the surface is (roughly) determined by the effective radiative temperature to balance incoming energy plus the average altitude of emission to space times the lapse rate – not by the amount of backradiation. It’s true that radiation from the atmosphere upwards implies that there will also be radiation downwards, but it’s only the radiation upwards that matters.

    T_surf = T_eff + z*LR

    In a pond, z is small and LR is close to zero. If LR was negative (as in the stratosphere), then more greenhouse gases would lead to cooling, because the heat would escape to space more efficiently from a higher, warmer altitude. You can’t explain that with trapped heat and backradiation.

    What’s more, this has been standard theory in climate science since the 1960s or before. This isn’t even climate scepticism! The backradiation argument is simply a common misunderstanding, long debunked. But the debate has now become so polarised that any questioning of the received dogma triggers associations with every other argument that has been offered against AGW, and now its defenders will reflexively defend even an obvious misunderstanding of their own side’s science because defending the dogma is what their tribe does. It’s a laugh every time I bring it up.

  • BBD

    kdk33

    please read the part that comes after “and”  the part about compressible versus incompressible.

    Doesn’t the density of water decrease as it warms and increase as it cools?

  • kdk33

    Now, to prove that the DALR is adiabatic.

    We start with dT/dp(S) – my notation for the derivative of temperature w.r.t pressure at constant entropy (T is temperautre, p is pressure and S is entropy, V is volume, rho is density, R is the gas constant). 

    From calculus we know that dT/dp(S)*dp/dS(T)*dS/dT(p)=-1, which can be rearranged to dT/dp(S) = -dS/dp(T)*dT/dS(p) – [eqn 1]. 

    We know that the constant pressure heat capacity is Cp = T*dS/dT(p), and we can rearrange to find that dT/dS(p) = T/Cp [eqn. 2].

    We know the following maxwell relationship:  dp/dS(T) = -dT/dV(p), so we also know that dS/dp(T) = -dV/dT(p).  The gas law is pV=RT, so -dV/dT(P) = -R/p [eqn 3]

    substituting eqn 2 and 3 into equation 1 we find that dT/dP(S) = (R*T) / (P*Cp) = V/Cp [eqn 4].

    Now the pressure gradient is given by dP/dz = rho*g = (1/V)*g.  and multiplying this to equation 4 we find:  dP/dz = g/Cp, which is the DALR.

    QED

  • kdk33

    #141:  Are you serious?

  • Nullius in Verba

    #141,

    Yes it does (ignoring the bit about fresh water between 0-4 C). Compressibility is the change in density with pressure, not temperature though. A (theoretical) fluid that changed density with temperature but not at all with pressure would be convective but have zero adiabatic lapse rate.

    Strictly speaking, water isn’t perfectly incompressible, either. The adiabatic lapse rate in water is not quite zero, it’s actually about 0.1 C/km, compared to 6.5 C/km in air. 5 km of air at 6.5 C/km gives 32.5 C of greenhouse warming. 0.001 km of water at 0.1 C/km gives 0.0001 C of greenhouse warming. In practice that would be lost in the noise, and undetectable anyway, so zero is a pretty good approximation, for thought-experiment purposes.

    But that’s the right sort of thinking.

  • BBD

    NIV

    With the pond, we have the surface. With the atmosphere, we have a variable altitude of effective radiation.

    How does this affect the analogy?

  • BBD

    kdk33

    I might be wrong, but did you once say something to me about cut and paste?

  • kdk33

    oops.  #142 is to prove the DALR is isentropic.  (maybe that’s how the mistake came about).

  • kdk33

    I did, and I do not like your cuttin’ and pastin’.  Do you have a point?

  • BBD

    Yes. You are inconsistent in your demonstration of knowledge. Either you are

    – a fast learner

    – cuttin’&pastin’

    – more than one person

    I doubt the latter, so remain sceptical.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #145,

    Variable in what sense?

  • kdk33

    BBD, the problem lies in your understnading, not anyone’s demonstration.  Your insults are unnecessary, and I asked you, politely to please leave off for today.  You are genuinely sad.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #142,

    I don’t follow why this shows it’s isentropic.

    #149,

    If it had been pasted there wouldn’t be typos in it. Give it a break. You should be having enough fun thinking about ponds.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Seems that the Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate is adiabatic:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapse_rate#Types_of_lapse_rates

  • BBD

    NIV @ 151

    It rises as the troposphere warms and radiative cooling is diminished. Obviously the surface of the pond doesn’t behave in the same way. How does this affect the analogy?

    I’m listening, by the way, not arguing.

  • kdk33

    Yes, Willard.  Very good.  It is adiabatic.  And also reversible (the part people forget).  And those two mean it is isentropic.  You can look this up – google it or find a decent thermo text.

    NiV.  I start with dP/dT(s) which is the isentropic relationship between temperature and pressure.  I show that this is equal to dT/dz=- g/Cp, which is the lapse rate (assume dp/dz – rho*g, which should be incontroversial).  It is really rather simple. 

    And perfectly correct.

  • kdk33

    And yes Willard.  Wiki is wrong here too.  But if you go to the Wiki entry for isentropic compression and review the math there, you can see that I am right.

  • BBD

    NIV

    It would be churlish of me not to thank you for making me think about this.

    Now back to bile and sniping :-)

  • Nullius in Verba

    #154,

    Still not entirely sure I understand what you mean, but I think you’re trying to say there’s a lot going on in the atmosphere to affect temperature besides the 1D greenhouse effect. Variation in heating by latitude, horizontal convective heat flow, humidity, clouds, inversions,… The Earth’s atmosphere is not identical to a small pond – no argument.

    We always have to start with the simplest version that works, and then build up the complications.

    The lack of bile and sniping was impressing me, and it would be churlish of me not to thank you. But don’t worry, I wasn’t expecting it to last!

  • BBD

    NIV

    Sorry for not being clear. It’s just the basics: a warmer troposphere raises the altitude of the emitting layer. The increase in altitude cools the emitting layer and reduces its ability to radiate, so energy begins to accumulate in the troposphere.

    Obviously the surface of a warming pond does *not* gain altitude and become less efficient at radiating energy out of the pond.

    So there appears to be a fundamental difference in the way in which energy leaves the atmosphere and the way it leaves a pond when each is warmed.

    I’m interested in how this affects the analogy, as it seems to be a fundamental difference.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #159,

    Oh, right. I see what you mean. The emission height is a function of temperature – for that and all sorts of other reasons – and this therefore acts as a feedback. For any given set of external parameters, there will be an equilibrium temperature/emission height at which the system-with-feedback will balance, and we only consider how the mechanism works at that equilibrium state. It’s quite true that the issue of feedbacks complicates the situation when things can change, and I wouldn’t rely on a pond analogy in trying to understand that.

    The example is purely to show that backradiation doesn’t necessarily imply warming, and that a zero lapse rate gives zero warming. It says nothing at all about what happens if the lapse rate or the emission height changes, or even what determines them.

  • BBD

    It seems that the analogy is weak, and in fact tells us very little at all. It does, however, provide a means by which to imply that the standard position is wrong, or misrepresented by *scientists* or something between the two. It also allows you to repeatedly claim that back radiation isn’t causing warming or words to that effect. I have suggested upthread that this (bad) analogy is a tactic in promoting your contrarian views and this is apparently indeed the case. My interest is to see that this is recognised by others here, so that they cannot be confused and misled.

  • kdk33

    How pathetic.

    Funnily, NiV’s analogy, while informative, does little if anything to advance the contrarian viewpoint.  It just clarifies the physics. 

    OTOH, BBD continues to be a fine example of why skepticism is very much warranted.

  • BBD

    Spoken like the contrarian you are.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #161,

    An analogy that matched in every detail would not be an analogy, it would be the thing itself. Analogies illuminate certain aspects, and not others, but the ones they don’t help with don’t invalidate the ones where they do. I already figured out that your aim was to find any imperfection so that you could reject the entire discussion wholesale. But I don’t need to worry, I’m sure it’s recognised by others here too.

    The irony is that on this point at least I’m not being contrarian. This is the model developed by people like Manabe, Wetherald, and Strickler in the 1950s that revived scientific credibility of the CO2-driven greenhouse effect, after it got demolished in the early 1900s. I first read of it in Soden and Held 2000 after it had been recommended to Steve McIntyre by one of the consensus IPCC bods as the best available summary of the science, and where I had been highly sceptical even of the mechanism of the greenhouse effect previously, this explanation persuaded me that there was indeed an effect. I was pleased to have learnt something, and annoyed at all the years wasted by people giving me bogus, incorrect explanations.

    So while there are other aspects on which climate scientists have yet to convince me; regarding the greenhouse effect itself I am thoroughly convinced it is real, on the basis of the physics described in the technical literature. You ought to be pleased! But of course, you’re not.

    The problem seems to be that positions in the debate are based on authority and have become stereotyped. People don’t look at your physics; they look at who you’re disagreeing with, and figure out from that which side you’re on, and thereby whether you’re right or wrong. And then it’s just a matter of figuring out how you cheated.

    And while it’s true that it does show several interesting things about the debate and the people in it from my point of view – I’d be satisfied if people just took on board the physics and rejected the more ‘sociological’ implications. We would at least then all be arguing about the actual physics.

    That said, I wouldn’t want you to stop arguing with me about it. When you quietly try to pick holes in my arguments as you have been doing for the past few comments, it helps me pick up any possible misunderstandings or ambiguities about the way I express things, find ways to extend or clarify the concepts, investigate unexpected implications I hadn’t thought of that might cast doubt on it, and generally both test and improve it. What does not kill hypotheses makes them stronger. I welcome the sceptic; I seek him out.

    And these recent comments/criticisms of yours have been particularly useful, as they’re on a technical level rather than a rhetorical one. I’m sure we’ll soon be back to the ‘bile and sniping’, but personally I think that these technical criticisms of yours highlighting the limits of the thought experiment are far more effective at establishing your credibility, and far more likely to succeed.

    Anyway, since we’re getting along so well, here’s a fun piece for you by a famous name. I’d be interested in your thoughts on the method of calculation used…

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1967ApJ…149..731S

  • BBD

    NIV

    Are you maintaining that you don’t use the pond analogy as I detail above? I notice you make no reference to # 162. 

    Now we’ve established that energy radiates differently from a warming pond and a warming planetary atmosphere, the analogy is demonstrably invalid. Especially as the increasing altitude of effective emission is a positive feedback. Mind you, we knew the analogy was a trick from the outset, didn’t we? And it’s a rather good one, I have to admit.

    But what’s important is what you are doing here. This from your # 93 sums it up:

    9. Comment on why climate science claims the greenhouse effect is a result of backradiation, when we have this simple and familiar example
    where there is masses of backradiation and no greenhouse warming.

    Smear the science. Imply that back radiation is a non-issue. Imply that convection will offset CO2 forcing. You may think others haven’t noticed, but I bet they have. I certainly did. Instantly, the first time you tried this out on me.

  • kdk33

    Especially as the increasing altitude of effective emission is a positive feedback.

    Wow.  I’m pretty sure others are noticing.  Please continue.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #165,

    The analogy is demonstrably inexact. However, the differences are irrelevant to the point being made. And I’m not smearing the science, I’m supporting it – on a one-off basis. :-)

    Backradiation is a non-issue. Convection offsets only that portion steeper than the adiabatic limit, and thus the adiabatic limit (and emission altitude) controls the magnitude of the effect in a convective atmosphere. If you calculate the surface temperature according to your favoured explanation, the average surface temperature on Earth comes out at 67 C! Very obviously falsified by observation.

    The water pond is simply a more extreme and more familiar example of physics that was already known to apply to the atmosphere. You’ve got shortwave getting through and longwave unable to escape, you’ve got backradiation, and you have no warming because the lapse rate is zero and it is the lapse rate that controls greenhouse warming. If the lapse rate was negative you would have greenhouse cooling – and lo and behold, in the stratosphere where lapse rate is negative, adding more CO2 causes cooling. Surprise!

    Climate science has the correct mechanism buried in the technical literature, and uses the wrong mechanism in the public debate. It’s not some deliberate deception so far as I can tell; it appears to be a combination of history, simple misunderstanding, and the stubborn refusal to listen to other points of view. And now it has become part of the political dogma.

    I think it is absolutely fascinating!

  • BBD

    NIV

    “The analogy is demonstrably inexact.”

    Thanks you. But I fear you have again dodged the main point :-) Please see # 166 and #162.

    Might I suggest that a test of your good faith in this matter would be that you leave off using such a flawed and misleading analogy?

    If you agree that this is nothing more than semantics, then why keep stirring the pot? Everybody else except L Weinstein agrees with SoD et al. that your insistence on the non-relevance of BR is *at best* confusing and at worst, wrong.

    So leave it. No more of this:

    9. Comment on why climate science claims the greenhouse effect is a result of backradiation, when we have this simple and familiar example where there is masses of backradiation and no greenhouse warming.

    BR is part of the process. Stating that it’s not relevant is misleading.

    What would happen to surface T if back radiation is reduced?

  • kdk33

    BBD,

    Your notion that the increase in the characteristic emissions altitude (CAE) is a positive feedback is wrong.  It is THE effect.  It is the increase in CAE coupled with  the lapse rate that causes warming. 

    If you spiked the pond with some greenhouse-gas-like contaminate, and then increased the concentration of that contaminate the CAE in the pond would in fact increase – in a sense. 

    The lesson that NiV is teaching is that back radiation alone will not cause warming, it just drives convection.  Since the water in the pond is incompressible, there is no lapse rate and convection keeps the pond isothermal – it cancels the back radiation.  Further increases in greenhouse contaminate will just increase convection. 

    The CAE will have increased, in a sense, because the optical density of the water is greater.  But the CAE concept isn’t very useful in the pond analogy because the temperature is everywhere the same.  It is isothermal becaue convection cancels out the effect of back radiation.

    In an atmosphere of a compressible fluid, convection does not keep the temperature everywhere the same.  Instead, it returns the temperature to the lapse rate.  Now, when the optical density of the atmosphere increases – due to, say, an increase in CO2, then the CAE increases.  The increase in CAE, multiplied by the lapse rate gives the surface warming.  If there were no lapse rate there would be no warming.

    NiV’s analogy illustrates the interplay of the various heat transfer mechanisms in the atmosphere.  The increase in CAE is not a positive feedback; it is the effect.

    A positive feedback would be something like this:  the increase in surface temperature increases the water vapor pressure at the surface hence incrases the concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere.  Water is a greenhouse gas so this amplifies the effect of the original increase in CO2 concentration.

    Your continual complaining bout NiV’s analogy is really just a reuirement that we stick to the scripture and not “confuse” the congregation. It derives from s superficial understanding and is an example of dogma.  Something, we have discussed recently.

    Your claim that the increase in CAE is a positive feedback is just silly.

  • BBD

    kdk33

    Your notion that the increase in the characteristic emissions altitude (CAE) is a positive feedback is wrong.

    NIV # 161The emission height is a function of temperature ““ for that and all sorts of other reasons ““ and this therefore acts as a feedback

    Sort it out with NIV.

    I have to admit it sounds like a positive feedback to me: warming troposphere = increased effective emission height = decreased radiative efficiency = warming troposphere = warming surface.

    Crudely expressed I’m sure, but it still sounds like a positive feedback.

    My point is that I don’t especially care. If you can show that a warming atmosphere (=troposphere = pond) becomes less efficient in radiating to space and a warming pond *does not* then we’re done.

    And you can show this. Just have. The discussion then moves on to where it always really was: tactics and motive. Please see # 162; #166.

  • BBD

    kdk33

    If you spiked the pond with some greenhouse-gas-like contaminate, and then increased the concentration of that contaminate the CAE in the pond would in fact increase – in a sense. 

    1/. The pond is a perfect greenhouse. This is the very point of NIV’s analogy. That you say this suggests an alarming lack of understanding.

    2/. The surface of the pond is equivalent to the tropopause/TOA/height of effective emission. But the surface of a pond cannot *rise* into the air, cool down and so become a less efficient emitter of IR, thus ultimately increasing the temperature of the bottom of the pond. That you suggest it can is amusing, nonsensical and betrays an alarming lack of understanding. 

    NIV doesn’t need help. He knows his onions. And he certainly doesn’t need ‘help’ like this.

  • kdk33

    The topic of the post:  is environemntalism anti-science.  Science is not concerned with tactics and motive. 

  • kdk33

    BBD,You (#171) are wrong on both counts. 

  • kdk33

    But please do continue.  Readers are watching.

  • kdk33

    The problem when arguing with you, BBD, is that it takes a while to understand just how technically incompentent you really are.  Then, once you figure out that you are confused about the very basics, you’ve been sucked into the game.  This very much reminds me of the PDF conversation.It behooves me to not fall into the BBD trap again.

  • BBD

    kdk33

    BBD,You (#171) are wrong on both counts.

    No, I’m not. And if I were, why don’t you show it? :-)

    You’ve just made a colossal prat out of yourself.

  • BBD

    And what about this?

    [kdk33:] Your notion that the increase in the characteristic emissions altitude (CAE) is a positive feedback is wrong.

    [NIV:] The emission height is a function of temperature ““ for that and all sorts of other reasons ““ and this therefore acts as a feedback

    [kdk33:] Your claim that the increase in CAE is a positive feedback is just silly.

    Nothing to add?

    :-)

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    #168, back radiation is irrelevant in the pool because the absorption is so high that the radiation is absorbed in a distance which is short compared to conduction and any kind of mixing.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #168,

    “Might I suggest that a test of your good faith in this matter would be that you leave off using such a flawed and misleading analogy?”

    But it’s not flawed and misleading. Might I suggest as a test of your good faith in this matter that you leave off claiming flaws where there are none? :-)

    “Everybody else except L Weinstein agrees with SoD et al. that your insistence on the non-relevance of BR is *at best* confusing and at worst, wrong.”

    It’s only confusing because it conflicts with the incorrect backradiation argument. Stop using the flawed backradiation argument and the confusion disappears.

    And given that it is part of official climate science, and all the models secretly depend on it, if you can actually prove it wrong I will be extremely pleased, because that would demolish AGW and a large chunk of climate science! Please, please, do that. Climate sceptics will sing your praises for decades.

    “BR is part of the process.”

    Of course it’s part of the process. It just doesn’t affect the temperature or the greenhouse warming. Lapse rate and emission altitude determine the greenhouse warming.

    “What would happen to surface T if back radiation is reduced?”

    It depends how you reduce it. If you maintain the same altitude of emission to space, lapse rate, net energy input, and the fluid continues to convect, then nothing would happen to T. If you start with a pond full of water, the bottom receiving backradiation from the water above, and you remove the water, the backradiation reduces, but the temperature stays the same. If you replace the glass panels of a greenhouse with an IR-transparent material like polythene, the backradiation reduces, but the temperature stays the same.

    It’s like asking what happens to the temperature of a pot of boiling water if you take the lid off. Assuming it’s not enough to stop it boiling, the temperature will remain at 100 C. The heat radiated back by the lid is part of the process, but it doesn’t control the temperature of the water.

    Boiling occurs at a threshold temperature, while convection occurs at a threshold temperature gradient, but other than that the situations are analogous. Once the gradient exceeds the adiabatic lapse rate, convection caries any excess heat away, like steam carries excess heat from a boiling pot.

    #169, #170,

    It depends where you draw the boundaries. I was being generous, since I understood the point, although it’s not the conventional way of looking at it.

    The effect of temperature on emission height is technically a positive feedback, although it is not usually treated as one in the conventional discussion. Climate scientists generally draw the lines around it to include it as part of the core function that feedback is being applied to. What they do is to start with an initial vertical temperature profile, calculate the resulting absorption/emission spectrum and hence radiative heat flow, make corresponding adjustments to the temperature, check for any sections exceeding the adiabatic lapse rate and flatten them out (simulating convection), and then use the result as the starting point for the next iteration when you do it all again. The profile converges on a line with the adiabatic lapse rate as gradient but with the offset (i.e. the emission altitude) determined by the balance of temperature and transparency. This calculation is treated as a black box, and includes the effects of expansion/compression.

    It does have an effect. The coefficient of expansion for air is about 0.0037 /C, which means a column of gas uniformly heated 1 C will change volume by 0.37%, which at an average emission altitude of 5 km is just under 20 m. At 6.5 C/km that’s 0.13 C, so it magnifies changes by about 15%.

    (And there are plenty of other similar effects the calculation takes into account, like pressure broadening.)

    This effect is included as part of the calculation of the 1 C/2xCO2 sensitivity ‘holding other things equal’ – it’s how the emission altitude is determined. Then lapse rate feedback and water vapour feedback and cloud albedo feedback and so on are added on top. Emissivity’s dependence on temperature is not a feedback as climate scientists would define it, but it would be a feedback in the engineering sense if you just considered the direct Beer’s law effect of adding more CO2 on opacity as the core function, which given the way my analogy works is not unreasonable. Nevertheless, it’s not a problem for the analogy any more than the fact that ponds don’t have clouds.

    #171,

    “But the surface of a pond cannot *rise* into the air, cool down and so become a less efficient emitter of IR, thus ultimately increasing the temperature of the bottom of the pond.”

    Actually, in the sense you would have to apply it for this to make sense, it would. What you’re talking about here is a comparison of with and without greenhouse warming, which for the pond would be with and without water. If you pour the water in to the empty pond, the surface rises.

    Also, your association of rising with cooling is implicitly dependent on the adiabatic lapse rate. If you filled a pond with water and magically forbade convection and conduction, the top of the pond would immediately cool by radiation, and this heat would not be fully replenished from below. The top layer at temperature T would emit X units of radiated power up and X units down, but only receive X units up from the layer below which is initially at the same temperature. The top layer would cool rapidly, and the flow from it down to the second layer would reduce. This would reduce the temperature of the second layer, and so on in cascade to the bottom of the pond. Meanwhile, heat at the bottom is building up, and excess upwards radiation being passed layer to layer upwards. The two meet, at which point the cooling of the upper layers stops, now having a sufficient supply from below. The emitted power at steady state varies linearly with depth, and the temperature with the fourth root of depth. The surface is at the effective radiative temperature (the initial temperature of the bottom without water), and the bottom is at over 1000 C.

    The effect does not depend on the expansion of the fluid with temperature, either in the atmosphere or in the pond. It’s simply the consequence of balancing heat flows in a semi-opaque medium where radiation is the only means of heat transfer.

  • BBD

    # 180

    Actually, in the sense you would have to apply it for this to make sense, it would. What you’re talking about here is a comparison of with
    and without greenhouse warming, which for the pond would be with and without water. If you pour the water in to the empty pond, the surface
    rises.

    Oh I see. For the analogy not to be junk, we must imagine well-mixed GHGs to be like water filling an empty pond…

    :-)

    Right.

    All that remains is for you to stop using a singularly poor analogy to misrepresent science and confuse people, as you do here:

    9. Comment on why climate science claims the greenhouse effect is a result of backradiation, when we have this simple and familiar example [a pond] where there is masses of backradiation and no greenhouse warming.

    If back radiation is reduced, lots of things would change because BR is part of a complex of processes that do not operate independently. So this is impossible:

    If you maintain the same altitude of emission to space, lapse rate, net energy input, and the fluid continues to convect, then nothing would happen to T.

    One of the several things that would change is that surface T would fall if the atmospheric fraction of non-condensing GHGs is reduced.

    Of course it’s part of the process. It [BR] just doesn’t affect the temperature or the greenhouse warming. Lapse rate and emission altitude determine the greenhouse warming.

    It’s part of the energetic flux to the surface. You can’t just blithely claim that it ‘doesn’t affect temperature’. Of course it does – in conjunction with LR and emission altitude.

  • BBD

    Perhaps we’d do better if we just forget about the pond and concentrate on whether you can argue that BR ‘just doesn’t affect the temperature or greenhouse warming’.

    That, after all, is what you are really trying to get into people’s minds, so let’s strip away the camouflage and focus on the payload.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #181,

    If you like. Take the link I gave you at the bottom of #164, and locate where backradiation occurs in the calculation done in the paper. Then show how the output changes if you adjust the value for backradiation assumed.

  • BBD

    Instead of setting homework, perhaps you could address the problem directly:

    How can you argue that back radiation ‘just doesn’t affect temperature or global warming’ when it is an integral part of the way energy moves through the atmosphere?

    Is the problem just the word ‘back’? If we said ‘RF from GHGs’ and avoided a directional term, would that remove your objection?

  • Nullius in Verba

    #183,

    “How can you argue that back radiation “˜just doesn’t affect temperature or global warming’ when it is an integral part of the way energy moves through the atmosphere?”

    The same way that I would argue the pot lid doesn’t affect the temperature of a pot of boiling water, even though it is an integral part of the way heat escapes from the system. Both boiling and convection are non-linear, limiting effects. They act like a thermostat. And while other factors affect the way heat flows around the system, it’s the thermostat that controls the temperature.

    “Is the problem just the word “˜back’? If we said “˜RF from GHGs’ and avoided a directional term, would that remove your objection?”

    No.

    The problem is it ignores convection. Convection dissipates any potential build-up of heat near the surface, right up to the adiabatic limit. And when it gets to the adiabatic limit, convection stops. The point at which it stops controls the temperature. Move one way and convection starts up, cooling the surface. Move the other way and convection stops, dropping the efficiency of heat transport massively, causing surface heat to build up again. The two effects hold it on the edge.

  • BBD

    So why does theory (not hypothesis) state that increasing the fraction of non-condensing GHGs increases the tropospheric and surface temperature? You seem to imply that this cannot happen because of convection. There has to be more to it than that, unless you are arguing that the entire field has it wrong and you have it right about AGW. You aren’t arguing that, are you?

  • Nullius in Verba

    #185,

    No, definitely not. Increasing GHGs raises the average altitude of emission to space, since the atmosphere is more opaque to IR and you can ‘see’ less far into it.

    Take a look at Soden and Held. You want the discussion on pages 446-447, just above/below figure 1. They say:

    “The effective temperature of emission occurs in the mid-troposphere, about 5 km above the surface on average. We refer to this height as Ze. As pictured in Figure 1, one can think of the average infrared photon escaping to space as originating near this mid-tropospheric level. Most photons emitted from lower in the atmosphere, including most of those emitted from the surface, are absorbed by infrared-active gases or clouds and are unable to escape directly to space. The surface temperature is then simply Ts = Te + Gamma*Ze, where Gamma is the lapse rate. From this simple perspective, it is the changes in Ze, as well as in the absorbed solar flux and possibly in Gamma, that we need to predict when we perturb the climate. As infrared absorbers increase in concentration, Ze increases, and Ts increases proportionally if Gamma and S remain unchanged. The increase in opacity due to a doubling of CO2 causes Ze to rise by ~150 meters. This results in a reduction in the effective temperature of the emission across the tropopause by ~(6.5K/km) (150 m) ~ 1 K, which converts to 4W/m^2 using the Stefan-Boltzmann law.”

    You see? Perfectly standard climate science.

  • BBD

    We’ll have to move on to HS00 tomorrow – I’m too tired to read it again now (although IIRC they do tentatively *confim* the strong WV feedback you are sceptical about).

    Looking back: doesn’t your argument require convection to be very efficient at transporting energy upward? IIRC the general view (per KT97 and Trenberth etal. 2009) is that convection plays a relatively small part in balancing the surface energy budget. IR being far more significant. If convection does not serve to regulate surface T (as determined by DLR+DSW) then it’s not convection offsetting the warming effect of DLR in check. Can’t be. It must be mainly a radiative process.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #187,

    It’s like the pot of water. With the pot lid on, the water boils vigorously because that’s the only way heat can get out fast enough. With the pot lid off, it settles down to a gentle simmer. Now, not much heat escapes by means of the bubbles, much more radiates directly. But the temperature is still 100 C either way.

    On Earth, the pot is only just simmering. On Venus, violent, cyclostrophic winds tear through the long, hot nights. What do you suppose drives them, in the dark?

    Talk to you again tomorrow, hopefully.

  • BBD

    NIV

    I dug out KT97 and Trenberth et al. (2009), which calculate the value for ‘thermals’ as 24W/m2 and 17W/m2 respectively. Clearly convection is a relatively minor player in the removal of energy from the climate system. Also it has been downrated by the more recent study.

    So can we say that it offsets DLR and will do so as DLR rises? Total DLR is given as 333W/m2 in T09; total OLR as 396W/m2, a difference of 63W/m2 outbound: almost 4x the value for convection (from T09).I’m concerned by the multiplication of analogies :-) First the pond; now pots with lids, boiling water and the fixed limit thereof… I would prefer to explore the small role of convection relative to OLR and the implications of this on the claim that convection offsets DLR without recourse to boiling water…

  • BBD

    This from SoD (my emphasis):

    These values alone should be enough to tell us that something significant is happening to the longwave radiation. Where is it going? It is being absorbed and re-radiated. Some upwards ““ so it continues on its journey to the top of the atmosphere and out into space ““ and some back downwards to the earth’s surface. This downwards component adds to the shortwave radiation from the sun and helps to increase the surface temperature.

    Comments are open on that SoD thread, so we could – perhaps should – migrate there. Shall we off?

  • BBD

    On Venus, violent, cyclostrophic winds tear through the long, hot nights. What do you suppose drives them, in the dark?

    Hot surface warmed by DLR.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #187,

    So what did you think of the passage from Soden and Held?

  • BBD

    What did you think of the passage from SoD?

  • Nullius in Verba

    #193,

    I think you don’t understand what it means.

    So what did you think of the passage from Soden and Held?

  • BBD

    I think SH use the expression ‘simplified’ at least twice in conjunction with that figure. I also think that there is *not one single example* in the mainstream literature of a paper claiming that DLR “˜just doesn’t affect temperature or global warming’. I think you are misrepresenting SH.

  • BBD

    The *standard position* expressed by SoD is that:

    These values alone should be enough to tell us that something significant is happening to the longwave radiation. Where is it going? It is being absorbed and re-radiated. Some upwards ““ so it continues on its journey to the top of the atmosphere and out into space ““ and some back downwards to the earth’s surface. This downwards component adds to the shortwave radiation from the sun and helps to increase the surface temperature.

    Contrarians in blog comments aside (Frank seems to be another one) I can’t find *anybody* who agrees that DLR “˜just doesn’t affect temperature or global warming’.

    Why do you think this is?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Comments are open on that SoD thread, so we could ““ perhaps should ““ migrate there. Shall we off 

    BBD,

    I’ll always be the first in line to buy you a pint, but in this case, my answer is unreservedly “YES” :)

  • Nullius in Verba

    #196,

    Because surface temperature is effective radiative temperature plus lapse rate time average altitude of emission to space. Effective radiative temperature depends only on the heat absorbed by the whole system – internal transfers cancel. Lapse rate depends only on gravity and the specific heat of air – physical constants having nothing to do with how much radiation there is. The altitude of emission to space depends only on the upward radiation. Backradiation is not emitted to space.

    The quantity does not depend on any term that is affected by backradiation. And if there were any question of whether it were backradiation or lapse rate that controlled temperature, we only have to consider test cases where the medium is transparent to shortwave and opaque to longwave, and hence emits backradiation, but where the lapse rate is either zero or negative. If it was really backradiation driving the surface temperature up, then the backradiation would do so here too. If the lapse rate is in control, then the warming will be zero in one case and will result in cooling in the other. In the first case the warming is zero, in the second there is indeed cooling when you add more GHGs.

    We have used each hypothesis to make predictions that differ, and then observed what actually happens. And just as predicted by the formula that has no terms dependent on backradiation, the presence of backradiation has made no difference. Lapse rate wins! QED.

    And of course that will make no difference whatsoever to you because the idea that any climate scientists could have made a mistake is inconceivable.

    Well, I guess we’re at an impasse. I’ve explained the problem, I’ve explained the solution, I’ve described the mechanism in detail, I’ve given examples and counter-examples and test cases, I’ve cited two papers that use exactly the method I’ve described, based on a formula none of whose terms are affected by backradiation.

    I’ve even quoted the formula directly from Soden and Held, which apparently constitutes “misrepresentation”. In what way a direct quote could possibly misrepresent what they say is not specified, but of course it must do, because that’s the only possible way left of avoiding the unacceptable conclusion.

    It feels like having the opposite of Papal Infallibility. Thanks for an amusing discussion. I’ve enjoyed it so much I’ll be sure to re-use this one again.

  • BBD

    The altitude of emission to space depends only on the upward radiation. Backradiation is not emitted to space.

    The temperature of the surface is affected by DLR. Increased DLR = increased surface T = increased OLR etc. 

    The quantity does not depend on any term that is affected by backradiation.

    DLR affects surface temperature. Etc.

    Internal transfers cancel.

    So you keep saying. But that doesn’t mean DLR isn’t a factor controlling surface temperature.

    The standard position is that DLR affects surface temperature. When you have got your ideas published in a reputable journal, you will be able to make remarks like this:

    And of course that will make no difference whatsoever to you because the idea that any climate scientists could have made a mistake is inconceivable.

    Until you do, it’s just talk. It’s up to you, if you want to be taken seriously.

  • BBD

    Apologies to Marlowe :-)

    I’m happy to leave it there NIV, as we are in a sort of semantic deadlock. Like others before me. Anyway, at least it stayed civil for a good run. Thank you for a stimulating discussion.

    Progress comes in many forms ;-)

  • kdk33

    BBD’s claim that increasing the CEA is a positive feedback is still wrong.

    BBD’s comment on raising the top of the pond is too silly to warrant a responseBBD’s comment about a perfect greenhouse is meaningless

    NiV correctly notes in 198 that the lapse rate depends only on g and Cp.  But it is hard to know what he meant in #179 where he seems to imply that the lapse rate is a function of density

    NiV’s claim the backradiation is meaningless is confusing and amusing.  I think he knows this.  If you draw the box at the CEA and the ground then the problem can be solved ignoring backradiation.  But increases in CEA are accompanied by backradiation (at least when considering increases in GHG), so these are coupled.  Furthermore, AFAICT everyone solves the CEA by integrating from the ground up – not top down.  So everyone is focused on backradiation.

    There is a certain class of folk who basically understand the physics, but have never thought of the problem this way, that NiV should enjoy torturing – and who will eventually get what he is talking about.  Torturing BBD is just painful to watch.  NiV knew this going in, which begs the question…

    I feel like suddenly like Willard.  Strange.

  • BBD

    I think NIV knows that the backradiation claim he makes is deeply misleading. I have repeatedly pointed out that it is done for tactical reasons eg, from his original deployment of the whole bag of tricks at # 93

    9. Comment on why climate science claims the greenhouse effect is a result of backradiation, when we have this simple and familiar example where there is masses of backradiation and no greenhouse warming.

    If you were as clever as you supposed yourself to be, you would understand what is going on. 

    You repeatedly end up looking like a prat in your desperate attempts at point-scoring. When will you learn?

  • Nullius in Verba

    #201,

    “But it is hard to know what he meant in #179 where he seems to imply that the lapse rate is a function of density”

    Emission altitude is a function of density. If you dropped the temperature to absolute zero so the atmosphere froze, the emission altitude would be a few metres.

    “NiV’s claim the backradiation is meaningless is confusing and amusing.  I think he knows this.”

    I think it confuses, but I don’t think it’s the explanation that is confusing, but the conflict with preconceptions.

    I regard the situation as I would if refrigeration engineers were to say that the inside of your freezer is at -40 C because the walls and door are so well insulated. And if you add more insulation, the temperature inside the freezer would drop.

    There is no doubt that insulated walls are important in the operation of a freezer, and they do affect the detailed flow of heat. But the insulated walls do not explain the cold, nor do they explain or control the precise value. If you add extra insulation, the temperature will remain at -40 C because that’s how the thermostat is set.

    Professional refrigeration engineers make a big deal of how dumb I am for not understanding refrigeration is based on good insulation, and I do find it amusing to offer examples like an unplugged freezer which is well-insulated but not cold, to watch their heads explode trying to reconcile this with their beliefs. It’s amazing the odd theories they can come up with to explain why unplugging the freezer renders any analogies invalid. And as a strategy for supporting my position that refrigeration engineers who don’t know how a refrigerator really works have no call to be insinuating that I’m scientifically ignorant, it is a truly powerful demonstration. But it’s not a trick in the sense I think BBD means it. I really do think that refrigerators and freezers don’t work by insulation, and that the greenhouse effect doesn’t work by backradiation.

    But there’ll be no persuading BBD of that, so I’m not going to waste time trying. It is fun to watch, though.

  • kdk33

    Emission altitude is a function of density.

    Fair enough.  I suppose one could split this out as a feedback, but I think that is unusual.

    But there’ll be no persuading BBD

    The peculiar part is that he thinks you are “misleading” – “deeply misleading” to be specific.  I can’t figure out in what sense he thinks your explanation misleads.  To know I think one would need to understand exactly what part of his AGW belief would be threatened if he were to accepted your way of explaining the greehouse effect.

    Quite peculiar, even for BBD.

  • BBD

    #191

    Thought you’d totally ignore the request that we take this to SoD. Next time, I’m going to make it an absolute condition because it’s the last thing you would want me to do.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #205,

    I wouldn’t want to inflict you on anyone, least of all someone like SoD.

    I’ve happily debated with SoD often enough in the past. It doesn’t bother me.

  • BBD

    I know you’ve debated him. I’ve read the exchanges. That’s why I’d like to see you over there. Expert moderation being just what’s required to stop people taking wheels out of watch movements.

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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