The Deniers' Last Stand

By Chris Mooney | May 19, 2009 10:53 am

The Post has an interesting profile today of remaining global warming deniers in Congress. It says there are only 10 who are really vocal, all of them Republicans–at least according to an “informal survey” the paper has taken.

I bet the number is much higher, although I agree that not all GW deniers are very outspoken. Among the “vocal” ones identified by the Post are John Boehner (Ohio), Joe Barton (Texas), Steven Scalise (Louisiana), Dana Rohrabacher (California), James Inhofe (Oklahoma), and John Shimkus (Illinois).

All–with the exception of Scalise–are people we have had merry fun with in the past on this blog.

The Post piece is interesting, but it doesn’t lay out what I believe is likely to be the ultimate fate, political and otherwise, of these deniers. So if you’ll permit some conjecture….

Especially if we can get Al Franken seated in the Senate some time soon, a global warming bill could very well become law this year. The skeptics in Congress will continue to say many dumb things throughout this process, and George Will will probably write a few dumb columns–but they won’t have the political power to stop it.

Once a law passes, meanwhile, there will be no reason any longer even to discuss whether global warming is real and human caused. The decision will have been made at the level of policy. Many folks will take their denial to the grave, of course. But with Congress having decided the matter, and a new set of greenhouse gas regulations instituted, denial will cease to serve any political purpose–and this, of course, was long its lifeblood, its raison d’etre.

Deprived of that animating energy, I suspect climate change denial will then finally take its place in the annals of politically irrelevant crankery, alongside ozone depletion denial, smoking-disease denial, asbestos-mesothelioma denial, and so on.

Perhaps someone ought to build a museum–a monument to human tenacity in the face of the truth–and memorialize them all there.

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Comments (128)

  1. Chris,
    If we look at the example of the National Environmental Policy Act or the Endangered Species Act, we have clear examples of policy that has been enacted and which face almost daily some kind of attack. When I wake up, I feed the cat, feed the chickens, then sit down to a cup of hot coffee and the AM news. Clicking channel – rather than channel + dropped me into C-SPAN where I managed to see Democratic Congressman Jim Costa (CA-20) railing at the Endangered Species Act and falsely blaming the lack of water in California on Environmentalists putting fish in front of people. That facts are that the farmers in part of his district will receive no water because there is not enough water… the pumps that supply the water have not been shut down at all.

    My point: politicians will lie about the effects of policy and seek to change it if they think that they can garner more votes or more contributions… they prefer the latter. No policy is ever so settled that someone will not try to take it apart and the villains are not all Republicans.

  2. Chris,
    From inside the federal world – I agree with Wes. Even IF we get a climate bill, and IF it works as stated, and IF other countries go along, and IF . . . well, then we will be ahead of where we are, but not really by that much. And the deniers will still attack, file lawsuits, and pay the fines instead of playing the game – as they have done for decades.

    My real worry is not about the deniers, but about the citizenry. If we get a climate bill this term, I worry that many Americans will conclude that we have “arrived at a solution” and they will turn their attention to other matters – like high gas prices, depressed economies and the like. If the public takes the pressure off, the politicians will take the pressure off, and we’ll backslide.

  3. Erasmussimo

    I’m not as optimistic about the demise of global warming denial. Yes, the evidence just keeps mounting that AGW is real and serious, and yes, we’ll recognize this in legislation. But look at how many people still maintain that we could have won in Vietnam, that Nixon was railroaded, that the government was in on 9/11, that Saddam was linked to al-Qaeda, that Saddam had WMD, and so forth. People just close their minds and nothing will change them. You’re right that they’ll become politically irrelevant, though. Perhaps that’s all that matters.

  4. Damian

    Legislation passed due to overblown hysteria rarely, if ever, works out well. Wes brings up the Endangered Species Act, and the fact that it’s constantly under attack. In truth, it should be. The ESA grants WAY too much power to the federal government regarding what private land owners can do on their own land. Even more importantly, it doesn’t work. The ESA has no legitimate success stories. While I am happy to see environmental concerns addressed, I am worried that any legislation passed now will go too far in trying to stop perceived threats while, in practice, doing very little to correct real problems.

  5. Hmm. Take another science issue that had significant opposition, both party-based and religion-based (as does climate change), evolution.

    Once sputnik was launched in 1957 and science curricula were improved, among other things, to include evolution once again in science curricula. Or, rather, in national model science curricula. It wasn’t until 1969 that state laws against teaching evolution were ruled unconstitutional. But that was the end of it, right?

    Aside from having to go back to court to get it decided that teaching young earth creationism in public school science classes in addition to evolution was also unconstitutional (1980s), that states could indeed require that evolution be taught in public school science classes (later 80s), that teachers could not refuse to teach evolution in public school science classes (1990s).

    And the victory was complete back in 1957 (or 1969), right? Well, aside from state and national Republican party platforms opposed to the teaching of evolution, or supporting teaching young earth creationism, and the state and local school districts being required to follow suit.

    40 years after the laws changed, and 50 years after the shock of concern for our science education, it is still difficult to get science taught in science classes. And the forces to prevent teaching biology properly have added opposition to teaching earth sciences properly as well (Kansas 1999 was the first large scale well-covered example).

  6. Scott

    I hope you realize the parallels between your views of these “denialists” and the Republican’s calling people unpatriotic in the lead up to the wars. But ram through your global warming legislation like they rammed through their patriot act. No need for any discussion. It’s to protect us after all…. Then in 50 years, if temperatures have only raised by .5C, you or your kids can claim victory. Just like the conservatives will claim victory when no terrorist attacks have occurred.

    I’m actually not up in arms totally about the legislation itself. It wouldn’t be the first (potential) unneeded and not thought out piece of legislation ever passed. If they’ll actually focus on green energy, that could be boon in the future regardless of the threat of global warming. The sun provides us with more energy than we’ll ever need if we can harness it. I’m more upset at the smug attitude taken in your post here and similar attitudes in the liberal community.

    The science is not completely decided. Those error estimates in the IPCC reports not only on what’s occurred in the past, but on present and future changes are documented uncertainties. There are all based on further uncertainties in (only a faction of what goes into it here):

    1. piecing together widely disparate past climate proxies thet may or may not be valid to use for this purpose
    2. the forcing of various gasses in our atmosphere and what changes will occur at different levels, and what those changes will do to our weather and how that will change our climate
    3. the effects it will have on various ecological systems and our social systems.

    If everything was decided, would the IPCC reports have changed so much over the last 20 years? Do you think we just learned more to make those changes, but we know everything now? I just don’t think we know enough to really be basing policies on it now. Especially considering it’s something that we have little hope of proving one way or the other regardless of whether legislation is passed or if temperatures increase a lot, a little, or decrease. Guess I just refuse to see the obvious truth…..

  7. RS

    It doesn’t really matter if it is manmade or not – that is a distraction from the most important point of all – can we do something about it ?

  8. WJV

    @ Scott: Global Average temperature has already risen by0.75 degrees C since ~1850 [see Discover Magazine interview with Stephen Scheider, Stanford U].

    Raising another 0.5 degrees in fifty more years is all but a foregone conclusion even if ppm of CO2 remains at 385 ppm

  9. james wheaton

    Scott – in case you haven’t noticed, any changes in the assessments have gone in the WRONG direction!! The climate science community have if anything been too conservative. You are denialist just like so many others. You completely fail to grasp the level of understanding that the science has accomplished.

    As for the strength or weakness of the denialist camp – I believe it is plenty strong enough to hamstring the country’s efforts to properly address this coming catastrophy. Chris – I sure hope you are right.

  10. Erasmussimo

    Scott, I’d like to congratulate you on offering a cogent criticism of global warming policy problems. So many of the deniers are nutcases that it’s a real pleasure to read reasonable arguments from that side of the divide.

    And you are absolutely right that there remain significant uncertainties in the state of the science, uncertainties large enough to give us pause for thought. But let me make two counterpoints:

    1. Scientists have been quite honest about declaring the uncertainties. When the National Academy of Sciences first reported on global warming way back in the 1970s, their conclusion was that we simply didn’t have enough information to draw any useful conclusions. When Mr. Hansen rang the alarm bells in the early 90s, most scientists dismissed his predictions as unsupported by the available data. The earliest IPCC reports were full of hedging and were quite conservative in their predictions. With each new report, the degree of hedging has diminished and the predictions have become less conservative. And the current state of those predictions is that, without change, we will suffer damages easily amounting to trillions of dollars by the end of this century. I think that’s clear enough to act on.

    2. We cannot afford, in any policy decision, to refuse to take action because of uncertainty. The Bush Administration made the point (wrongly, in their case), that they refused to allow uncertainty about Iraqi WMD to be resolved by a mushroom cloud. While they proved to be horribly wrong in that case, the principle is sound: we cannot permit lack of knowledge to prejudice our decision-making. One way or another, we still have to live on this planet and we must consciously decide whether to take action or to refuse to take action. Yes, we should gather as much information as we can, and it’s always handy to wait while more information comes in, but we still have to live with the consequences of our action or lack of action. The key phrase here is “best available information”. While the best available information is still not highly reliable, in my judgement, it’s reliable enough to justify action at the level contemplated in the original bill in question.

    If you judge otherwise, if you judge that the available information is not reliable enough to justify action at that level, I can respect that as an honest difference of opinion. It’s just something that every citizen must decide upon independently. My beef is with the people who fudge the science because they don’t like its conclusions.

  11. james wheaton

    Anyone seen the latest from Smokey Joe? Here it is:

    http://thinkprogress.org/2009/05/19/barton-carbon-god/

    This is a powerful man speaking with jaw dropping stupidity and ignorance. Others think it’s more like graft, with his ties to big oil. I just don’t know. I just can’t believe this guy is in office; he makes a mockery of our legislative branch.

    Chris – Barton’s statements should be broadcast from all corners of the country. He is easy pickings. I hope he keeps it up. Maybe you are right and the deniers will dig their own grave…..

  12. MadScientist

    @Wes Rolley: Gaah .. water supply. I always have arguments about that; people have absolutely weird (not founded in reality) ideas about why there’s not enough water. Some cases have me screaming hysterically because the claims are so stupid. One of my favorites is in Australia – historically one of the river systems had been overexploited about 100 years ago. From around 90 years ago major public works were put in place to ensure a better supply – but the supply was always deficient. Yet over the 90 years people seem to be expecting more water to magically come out of the system. Similar things go on with the destruction of fish populations – idiots blame the drop in fish stocks on whales and seals, not on their own destructive practices.

  13. Aaron W

    What proof is there that the earth warming isn’t naturual? The earth has actually cooled for the past 7-9 years. Research peer reviewed papers have come out contrary to the man made hypothesis. Are the scientists wrong?

  14. pat

    Please. What a bunch of nonsense. The latest warming trend, a 37 year cycle has ended. A cooling trend commences. Of the .7 temperature rise in the last 160 years, and only 3 countries kept any temperature records in 1850, .4C have been wiped out since 2007. The entire centuries run up has been erased in 2 years. A warmer world would be a better world. But it will not happen. The SST profile trends cooler, not warmer.

  15. fred g

    The cap-and-trade bill will be passed as global warming “science” collapses. It is becoming clear that solar influences, not CO2 levels drive climate change. It also looks like the solar influences may be pointing towards a cooling period of considerable magnitude over the next several decades. Co2 levels will rise despite the impoverishment of the country caused by cap-and-trade. And the climate will cool, probably significantly, proving the irrelevance of CO2 in determining climate.

    When people realize “global warming” was a scam they will not be happy. The deniers will fan the flames of their resentment. I can’t wait for the fun to start.

  16. Erasmussimo

    Aaron W. writes: “Research peer reviewed papers have come out contrary to the man made hypothesis. Are the scientists wrong?”

    Could you cite the papers to which you refer? There are hundreds of papers published on this broad topic every year. The vast majority of them are supportive of the basic AGW hypothesis. But if you’d like an explanation of some that seem to say otherwise, please tell me about them.

    pat, I suggest that you learn by heart this simple lesson: “Climate is not weather.” The events of a year, or two years, or a decade are not significant to climate analysis. You’re no different than the guy who says, “The stock market is up today! The recession is over!” The stock market goes up, the stock market goes down, but it’s the long-term trend that we’re looking for — at least 3 months of general rise in the stock market to be sure. Climate considerations stretch out over even longer periods — usually 30 years is considered to be the minimum. So don’t hold your breath waiting for tomorrow morning’s weather report — it doesn’t really matter that much to the AGW hypothesis.

  17. Ian Middleton

    Chris,

    I hope for your sake that this bill does not pass into law. I’t will achieve the one thing Osama Bin laden could only dream about and that is the total economic collapse of the USA.
    Never in the history of mankind has a subject been studied in such depth and with the limits of scientific technology as global warming. Please point me to one, just one scientific research paper that conclusively proves that CO2 causes catastrophic temperature rise and that it will be detremental to this planet.
    The passing of this bill will not do anything to “save” the planet , it is designed for government control and tax collecting. Make no mistake about it.
    The trouble is we have idiots in power here in Australia that are trying their best to pass similar ledgislation.
    The evidence is that the globe is cooling, and fast. Chris, if i were you I would take a good look and see what is happening in your backyard.
    You’ve had 2 of the coldest winters in decades and 65% of your corn crop has yet to planted. You guys are facing food shortages. I think your government would be better occupied addressing this immidiate problem than spending all their energy trying to pass a bill based on shonky science.

  18. Fat Pat

    Chris, the only ‘denialism’ going on is you and your fellow AGW zealots. CO2 isn’t a pollutant. The ‘science’ isn’t settled. The ‘debate’ isn’t over, because frankly it never happened. If you think the counter argument to AGW will simply dissappear…..i mean is that your wish?….that sound arguments & counter indicative data be summarily dismissed because it isn’t part of a ‘consensus’. Science doesn’t actually work by ‘consensus’. I hate to break it to you but the non-alarmist counter argument to AGW is gathering steam….it’s hardly going away. Your ridiculous house of cards is crumbling.

  19. Roger H

    For a bunch or supposedly educated people I guess they just conveniently forget about one important part of the Science involved while discussing AGW or any type of Global Warming brought on or abetted by CO2 – The Math.
    No matter how many parts per million(ppm) CO2 increases it cannot physically change in any significant way it’s contribution to global warming or climate change. Water vapor makes up 96% of all Greenhouse Gases and is 16 times more efficient at trapping heat than CO2. Simply put, Water Vapor is 38 times more abundant in the atmosphere than CO2 and is another 16 times more efficient as a heat trapper, therefore by doing simple math – 38 x 16 = 608 – we can easily determine that as long as that nasty old Dihydrogen Monoxide is being produced, eliminating all of the CO2 would at best only lower Earth’s temperatue by 1/608th of a degree 0r .00164 of a degree.

  20. MadScientist

    @Aaron W:

    “The earth has actually cooled for the past 7-9 years. ”

    Gee, I wonder where you get your data. Also it makes no sense to pick short periods in which temperatures decline and say “the earth is cooling, not warming”. If you compare the temperatures in your 7-9 years of ‘cooling’ with temperatures averaged over many years from early last century, temperatures are still up. You can only say “cooler” or “warmer” based on the broadest available data set, not from subsets that suit your preconceived notions. You can say “cooling” or “warming” relative to a particular year and that would have some legitimate uses, but you can’t declare an ice age is coming because there was a slight cooling for a few years.

  21. Orson


    Once a law passes, meanwhile, there will be no reason any longer even to discuss whether global warming is real and human caused.

    Except that it, like Kyoto, will be ineffective. Once seen as ineffective, the engines of vested interests in alarm will gear up again, and hysterical alarmists will bee wailing an gnashing their teeth – oh! and a public indifferent to AGW-alarmism will have elected a different Congress, until the hysterics get lucky again….(precede, ad nauseum) Philip H’s fears are silly. james wheaton proves the pint

    History WILL repeat.

    Erasmussimo writes:
    I’m not as optimistic about the demise of global warming denial. Yes, the evidence just keeps mounting that AGW is real and serious, and yes, we’ll recognize this in legislation.

    Hmmm. ”…the evidence keeps mounting…?” I’ve tried hard to find Believers who can explain this to me (and – yes – win a debate with a critic)….STILL waiting.
    Perhaps Chris Mooney will volunteer to explain the errors of my ways… ; )
    Maybe it’s indistinguishable from therapeutic touch: ya just gotta Believe!

    Erasmussimo queries Aaron W.

    There are three camps in the climate realist side. While I am not among those who agree with Arron’s claim, I have been looking deeper into Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasufo’s reasons – he of the International Arctic Research Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK, whose building was not too long ago renamed in his honer. He thinks such warming as we have seen, even in the Arctic (against conventional intution) is probably natural.

    I’ve had a deeper, longer look at his heresy, finding his perspective rational and, indeed, eye-opening. I’m reconsidering my perpsective.
    FIND his home page via this UAF personnel page
    http://www.iarc.uaf.edu/people/indiv/iarc_all_staff.php?photo=sakasofu

  22. John Costello

    Yhe earth has warmed by .75 degrees since 1850, which means that it has 1.25 degees to go before it gets back to what it was before the Little Ice Age, or during the Roman Warm Period. Those evil romans and vikings filling the air with CO2 from their range rovers!

    The Vostok Ice Cores show that CO2 rises 800 to 1000 years after a warming period. In 1010 AD it was 2 degeres warmer than now, which explains the mostly non-anthropogenic rise in CO2.

    Unfortunately global warming did come to an end in 1998, and we do seem to be entering a new Da;lton (or worse, Maunder) minimum for solar output, so you’d better pray that we do start warming up again, or the world stands to lose the Canadian wheat belt (think famine! Plague!) and with Obama doing his best to skyrocket energy prices, you will all freeze in the dark. Yes, I know that to the human extinctionist wing of the environmental movement that’s a good thing…

  23. Richard S Courtney

    In response to ‘@Aaron W’ having said:
    “The earth has actually cooled for the past 7-9 years. ”

    ‘MadScientist’ replied:
    “Gee, I wonder where you get your data. Also it makes no sense to pick short periods in which temperatures decline and say “the earth is cooling, not warming”. If you compare the temperatures in your 7-9 years of ‘cooling’ with temperatures averaged over many years from early last century, temperatures are still up.”

    Clearly, ‘MadScientist’ is very mad. The four assessments of mean global temperature are RSS, UAH, HadCRUT3 and GISS. They each (even the dubious GISS) show
    “The earth has actually cooled for the past 7-9 years. ”

    Anybody, including ‘Mad Scientist’, can get the information from each source by googleing for ‘x global temperature’ but inserting RSS, UAH, HadCRUT3 and GISS for x. However, to save that bother, Tom Quirk collates the data into a single graph at
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/19/comparing-the-four-global-temperature-data-sets/

    As for,
    “If you compare the temperatures in your 7-9 years of ‘cooling’ with temperatures averaged over many years from early last century, temperatures are still up.”
    Well, of course they are “up”. The Earth has been warming from the Little Ice Age (LIA) for ~300 years, and all temperatures at the end of that rise must be “up”. (The thermal inertia of the oceans prevents global temperature falling so rapidly as too negate centuries of warming in a few years.)

    There’s no evidence for man-made global warming; none, not any of any kind.

    The existence of global warming (GW) is not evidence of anthropogenic (i.e. man-made) global warming (AGW) because warming of the Earth doesn’t prove human’s warmed it. At issue is whether humans are – or are not – affecting changes to the Earth’s temperature that have always happened naturally.

    The AGW-hypothesis says increased greenhouse gases – notably carbon dioxide – in the air raise global temperature, and anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are increasing the carbon dioxide in the air to overwhelm the natural climate system.

    But empirical evidence says the hypothesis is wrong.

    1.
    The anthropogenic emissions and global temperature do not correlate.

    2.
    Change to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration follows change to global temperature at all time scales.

    3.
    Recent rise in global temperature has not been induced by rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.
    Global temperature fell slightly from 1940 to 1970, rose to 1998, and has fallen since. That’s 40 years of cooling and 28 years of warming. Global temperature is now similar to that of 1990. But atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has increased at a near constant rate and by more than 30% since 1940. It has increased by 8% since 1990.

    4.
    Rise in global temperature has not been induced by anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide.
    Over 80% of the anthropogenic emissions have been since 1940 and the emissions have been increasing at a compound rate. But since 1940 there have been 40 years of cooling with only 28 years of warming. There’s been no statistically significant warming since 1995, and global temperature has fallen since the high it had 10 years ago.

    5.
    The pattern of atmospheric warming predicted by the AGW hypothesis is absent.
    The AGW hypothesis predicts most warming of the air at altitude in the tropics (other causes of warming would provide different patterns of warming in the atmosphere: see pages 5 to 7 of the item at
    http://climaterealists.com/attachments/ftp/Heansen-Obama_letter_comments.pdf).
    Measurements from weather balloons and from satellites both show cooling at altitude in the tropics.

    So, the normal rules of science say the AGW-hypothesis is completely refuted.
    Nothing the hypothesis predicts is observed, and the opposite of some of its predictions are observed.

    But proclamation of the AGW hypothesis as fact does provide an excuse for taxation such as ‘Cap & Trade’.

    Richard

  24. SLC

    I really think that Mr. Mooney should write a thread on the subject of global cooling which seems to be the new meme of the deniers. I have noticed this meme appearing on several blogs, and I think that a detailed refutation is in order.

  25. Mark

    This is funny!! How can anyone have faith in the religion of global warming when the models have been incorrect 78% of the time? I guess it is akin to the Taliban talking people into blowing themselves up in a crowded market place because they are going to get 72 virgins? When the poor 12 year old boy does it, he does it on faith and theory…… I bet the Taliban might even have a paper diagram “model” that shows the hot 72 virgins…. Wow global warming believers are naive!!!!

  26. Revyloution

    A museum dedicated to failed deniers. That would be worth seeing.

    Where do you start? Giordono Bruno? Hypatia?

    If not a real physical museum, perhaps a nice website? It just needs a catchy name.

  27. Richard S Courtney

    SLC:

    The “deniers” are those who deny the facts that
    (a)
    climate has always changed and it always will
    (the first recorded report of this fact was in the Bronze Age when – according to the Bible in Genesis 31 – Joseph told it to Pharoah),
    and
    (b)
    global climate is in a cooling phase
    (this fact is shown by all the data sets, and I explained above how you can check this for your self by accessing each of the four main data sources).

    The previous warming period began ~1970 and coincided with a phase change of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The present cooling phase began ~2000 and coincided with a reversal of of the PDO phase.

    Nobody can know if the present global cooling will continue or will change to global warming. That will depend on whether the recovery from the Little Ice Age (LIA) has ceased or not. If the recovery from the LIA has not ceased then global temperature could again start to rise and could reach the levels it had in the Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods.

    However, there are climate change deniers who think that climate does not change and, therefore, the global warming from ~1970 to 1998 must have been caused by humans. Of course, their denial is insane, but their delusion is having the unfortunate effect of influencing politicians to introduce measures such as ‘Cap & Trade’.

    ‘Cap & Trade’ is a call for corruption: it is the only trading system known that pays both the buyer and the seller to lie. The mafia became powerful in the US as a result of prohibition. ‘Cap & Trade’ is certain to ensure an increase to all organised crime.

    Richard

  28. Phred

    Odd that you reference GW not AGW in your blog. Why has the A been dropped. Does it seem a little silly to continue to state that man is causing all the climate problems? Your statement is a clever change from anthropogenic denial to just denial of change. Clever but not unnoticed. Unless someone is living in a sensory deprivation tank, that is. I doubt that anyone will deny that climate has changed, is changing, and will change here on Earth and every other planet in the universe, manned or unmanned.

    To state that once climate legislation has been passed through Congress will settle everything and the need for any discussion as to whether there is even any change at all speaks volumes as to your desire to see real science prevail.

    “Scientists” who believe as you are most likely against the admission of DNA evidence and the reopening of murder cases so the wrongly accused won’t just rot because the case is “settled.”

  29. MadScientist

    @Richard: How do you explain that CO2 increase follows temperature? Where is the excess CO2 coming from?

    The “cooling” from around the end of WW2 has been explained, but people like to dredge it up as ‘proof’ somehow that human activity does not affect climate.

    Going through your long list of irrelevant claims:

    1. No correlation between warming and CO2: the year to year variation in temperatures is much larger than the effect expected of the increase in CO2; you cannot predict temperatures based on CO2 alone, but increased CO2 does increase the overall temperature. Don’t confuse the failure of climate models as proof that increased CO2 does not cause warming; no matter how wrong the models are, CO2 still causes warming and that basic fact does not change simply because no one can model exactly what the temperatures will be. There is a correlation, you just choose to ignore it.

    2. Global CO2 lags global temperature: true in past ages when humans did not make such extensive use of fossil fuels, but how can you claim that to be true these days? The evidence shows that contemporary rising temperatures do correlate with increasing CO2; we are not seeing your imaginary “co2 following temperatures”. But do tell us what your predictions for atmospheric CO2 concentrations are based on the global temperatures; if you can make such predictions based on your claims, you will instantly expose those fraudulent AGW modelers.

    3. Once again you select small periods which you believe prove your own claims rather than looking at the bigger picture and you throw in the incorrect implications that “temperature is not a simple equation based on CO2 concentration and therefore CO2 does not cause warming”.

    4. You’re only restating what you’ve got in #3

    5. “AGW theory” (whatever that means to you – the phrase means nothing to me) does not predict any patterns in atmospheric temperatures; any patterns would be predicted by models and I would assume such predictions are wrong until proven otherwise. As I have said, failure of climate models has nothing to do with the fact that increased CO2 increases temperatures.

    I don’t know what “normal rules of science” you are invoking to claim that AGW is refuted; you never stated them or any support for your bizarre claims.

    Over 100 years ago a number of scientists conducted independent experiments and arrived at the same conclusion: increased CO2 can cause an increase in air temperatures. That basic claim has never been refuted because there is absolutely no evidence to contradict it. The only contentious figure is exactly how much of an increase CO2 will cause, and if you look at the IPCC section on climate modeling you can see how contentious that figure is. However, the actual temperature and CO2 record is not disputed and basic physics indicates that we have a case of causation and not mere correlation – the precision on the figure is just not terribly good at the moment and climate models confuse issues by giving the wrong results (i.e. they don’t even match the factual historical record).

  30. Tom Rowan

    The only ones in denial of factual reality are AGW cultists like Chris Mooney.

    How about some cold hard facts Chris:

    Global tempuratures have been in decline for nearly a decade. In fact, global temps are cooling at twice the rates the AGW cultists claimed they would warm. This is a matter of fact and can be checked by anyone actually interested in the truth.

    The icecaps are cooling as are the oceans. Again, anyone interested in the truth can glean this information for themselves.

    These easily looked up recorded facts should put to rest the ongoing lie that: “The planet is warming and humans are causing it.”

    The planet is not warming. How can humans be responsible for something that is not happening?

    If Crap & Tax becomes law, taxpayers will remember propagandists like Chris Mooney and the lies he pushed….well after the facts spoke the truth.

  31. Erasmussimo

    Well, well, well, it seems that the deniers are out in force today. Rather than respond to each one individually, I’d like to offer some general points.

    First and most important is a simple, basic lesson that deniers just can’t seem to get through their skulls: climate is not weather. I have repeated this point scores if not hundreds of times to deniers, and they just keep coming back with the claim that temperatures have been cooling for, OMG, all of ten years! The standard analogy I use is the economy. If the stock market goes up for a few days, that does not mean that the recession is over and all is well. If the stock market goes down for a few days, that does not mean that we’re at the beginning of a New Depression. You have to look at the long-term trend before you get anything meaningful. So it is with climate. You can actually calculate how long a period is meaningful in climatology, and it comes out to at least 30 years. Hence, founding your case on the last ten years of temperatures is like making long-term investment decisions based on the last ten days of the stock market.

    The other point I’ll make to the deniers is the fact that basic physics clearly demonstrates that increasing CO2 should lead to increasing temperatures. In science, you place the greatest weight on the basic laws of physics, and proceed from there. Yes, it’s a complicated situation and yes, there are a zillion other factors to consider. There are also a zillion factors affecting the way that cars move around, but Newton’s laws apply to those cars just as surely as they do to the motions of the planets. Sure, there are cars speeding up and slowing down, cars bumping around, cars turning one way and the other, but the basic rule that force equals mass times acceleration is still the starting point for any analysis of car motion. In the same way, there are a zillion factors affecting climate, but the basic laws of heat transfer — including the greenhouse effect — are still the starting point of any discussion.

    Lastly, I’d like to challenge the deniers here regarding their intellectual integrity. A fundamental rule of scientific thinking is to expunge your personal preferences from your logical processes. That is, you must always ask yourself, “What answer would I prefer?” and then you must subject your preferred answer to the harshest possible criticisms. You can be certain that I do not like the answers I’m getting. I don’t like the idea of crimping our economy by imposing constraints on activities that emit CO2. I don’t like the implications for me personally — I have already had to go through a lot more work because of this mess. But I am willing to look reality squarely in the eye and accept the most unpleasant of truths when the logic is there.

    Climate change deniers make the mistake of allowing their personal preferences to interfere with their logic. They don’t like the thought of hurting the economy — a noble preference, that — but then they allow that preference to affect their judgement of the facts. More important, I think, is tribalism. Conservatives have made the blunder of identifying themselves in opposition to liberals. If liberals like it, conservatives think they have to hate it. So it is with all forms of environmentalism. Since liberals embrace environmentalism, conservatives feel that they must oppose it at every turn. This tribalism ultimately hurts conservatism, because there are in fact some points on which the liberals happen to be right, and one of those points is AGW. You deniers are welcome to continue shouting into the wind, but you have already lost the scientific argument and the body politic is moving on to the next step: what should we do about it? In the end, you’ll find yourselves in the same position as people who argue that we could have won in Vietnam, or that we shouldn’t have cancelled the American SST project — you’ll be ignored. The Internet gives you the opportunity to shout loudly, and when you cluster together and combine your shouts, you hear a mighty roar, but you’re the only ones paying attention to your braying. The rest of the world has pretty well made up its mind. By arguing a lost cause, all you accomplish is to remove yourselves from the really important discussion about what should be done about it. This is where you have some solid ground on which to fight, but you’re still fighting on the ground where you’re weakest.

  32. Marco Polo

    When it comes to science, it may be good to comprehend the basics of the topic at hand.

    For a clear scientific explanation of how the planet is warmed by the sun, see:

    http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7i.html

    For a deeper, but still only a college freshman level understanding of the atmosphere, see the entire chapter 7 here:

    http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/contents.html

    For explanations of the many facets of global warming, see:

    http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/science/

    For a scientific debunking of a large number of Global Warming Denying arguments, see:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/

  33. Tom Rowan

    Lot of doupleplusgoodspeak Erasmussimo. You cannot argue or state the facts, so you simply change the subject. Dude, it is the AGW cultists telling us the planet is warming at a faster rate due to CO2. The simple historical facts show this to be, in fact, a lie.

    You have chosen to stand with and defend frauds pushing a perverted science. There is the truth and then there is hackneyed attempts to prevaricate around the truth.

    You are failing at both.

  34. interglacial john

    i hate to break the news to the warmers, but we are in a period known to geologists as “interglacial”. you see, when the SUN emits higher levels of eme (see “sunspot activity”) it gets warmer, kind of like when the thermostat in your house is adjusted upwards. if you are truly curious (as i am) about this subject then it would behoove you to study how the atmosphere of other planets in our “solar system” react to changes in solar activity. amazingly the ice caps of various planets are matching the loss and gain of our own planets ice caps. how can this be if co2 is the driving force behind “global warming” or “climate change”? it cannot be. i would love to give each and every one of the warmers a tutorial on the earth’s climate history but sadly they are not interested in science, only in character assassination. i am sure i will be next.

  35. Phred

    So Erasmussimo is there anything other than the readings from thermometers that you would like to have disregarded as proof of natural global climate change?

    So what do you deny? That climate changes without man’s involvement?

    Would you like to shift Al Gore’s CO2 graph to the left of the temp graph about 800 years where they should be?

  36. Mark

    Tom Rowan comes, urging us to look up the “facts” ourselves, so I did. First “fact”: “Global tempuratures have been in decline for nearly a decade. ” Look at the GISS data:
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A4.lrg.gif

    Since 2000, both land and sea temperatures have risen.

    “This is a matter of fact and can be checked by anyone actually interested in the truth. ”

    I am interested in the truth and checked the data. The data do not support your claim.

    “The icecaps are cooling as are the oceans. Again, anyone interested in the truth can glean this information for themselves. ”

    The link to the graph reports that ocean temperatures are rising. Again, the data do not support your claim.

  37. Dave

    While I personally don’t believe that the increase in CO2 has had, nor will have, any marked influence on global temperatures (gasp! heresy I know), I do agree that CO2 “can” cause an increase in air temperature. The operative word there being can (hence the quotes :). The mechanism and source can be debated as long as you like – and should be as far as I’m concerned, I’ve learned quite a bit from the rants of every side (mostly about human interaction rather than science, but a lot of science too). Ultimately, the point has always been to what degree can an increase in CO2 affect global temperatures (none being at one end and Al Gore at the other). Of all of the arguments I have read, those addressing climate sensitivity to CO2 seem to be the most coherent and actually seem to answer that question. One concise representation is from Christopher Monckton:
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/central_question_on_sensitivity.pdf
    Agree or disagree as you like, but the fundamental arguments as to why there will be catastrophic consequences of CO2 increase seem to be refuted here (as in many other analysis of the same nature).

    I also wonder how soon it will be that any disregarding the indication that we are heading into a rather cold phase will be labelled “denier” without thought. How many years can you get away with saying it’s weather not climate or anything less than 30 years is not a trend. It is possible the oceans will stay in their cold cycle for 30 years and the sun at a low solar activity level for quite some time. I hope the cold cycle will be less than 15 and the sun will start its upward trend soon, otherwise the proposed legislation and food shortages might make life a little more miserable than it can already be.

  38. Mark

    interglacial John, Earth and Mars are the only planets with ice caps. Mars’ warming is due to wobbles in its orbit, analogous to Earth’s Milankovitch cycles, not sunspot activity.

  39. HarryL

    AGW worshipers remind me of the lunatics who believe that the 43 million yr old fossil displayed yesterday is the missing link in Darwins evolutionary theory!!

    Just as Darwins theory will never stand up against the real creator of man,GOD,so will the THEORY(and thats all it is)of AGW be exposed as pure fiction.

  40. Richard S Courtney

    MadScientist:

    I am responding to your questions and your silly responses to my accurate statement of facts that you clearly find to be inconvenient truths.

    You ask me:
    “How do you explain that CO2 increase follows temperature?”.

    I did not say that. I said,
    “Change to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration follows change to global temperature at all time scales.”
    And I do not need to “explain” what I said because it is a fact.

    And the importance of the fact is that it demonstrates changes to carbon dioxide do not cause changes to mean global temperature because AN EFFECT CANNOT OCCUR BEFORE ITS CAUSE HAS HAPPENED.

    The Vostock ice cores show that at the longest time scales
    (a) each initiation of a rise in carbon dioxide concentration occurs about 800 years after the initiation of a rise in temperature,
    and
    (b) each initiation of a fall in carbon dioxide concentration occurs about 800 years after the initiation of a rise in temperature.

    At shortest time scales CO2 follows temperature by months. The first of several studies which show this was by Kuo, Lindberg & Thomson (Nature 1990). Kuo et al. found 8 months but subsequent studies indicate that the length of the response depends on latitude and is between 6 and 9 months.

    Your next question to me displays even greater ignorance of the subject by asking;
    “Where is the excess CO2 coming from?”

    What “excess CO2”?

    According to NASA’s estimates of the flows of carbon between the parts of the carbon cycle, the annual flow of carbon into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels is less than 0.02% of the carbon flowing around the carbon cycle.

    It is not obvious that so small an addition to the carbon cycle is certain to disrupt the system because no other activity in nature is so constant that it only varies by less than +/- 0.02% per year.

    Little of the carbon and CO2 in the Earth/ocean/atmosphere system is in the air. And throughout each year the CO2 in the air increases and reduces as natural processes emit CO2 to the air and sequester CO2 from the air.

    The rapid changes to atmospheric CO2 concentration during each year show the system very rapidly adjusts to seasonal changes an order of magnitude greater than the annual anthropogenic emission. The anthropogenic CO2 emission is to the air, but the rapid changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration do not suggest that the system is near to saturation that would prevent sequestration of the anthropogenic emission from the air.

    The annual increase of the anthropogenic emissions is about 0.1 GtC/year. The natural fluctuation of the excess consumption is at least 12 GtC in 4 months. This is more than 100 times the yearly increase of human production, which strongly suggests that the dynamics of the rapid natural sequestration processes can easily cope with the human production of CO2.

    The carbon in the air is less than 2% of the carbon flowing between parts of the carbon cycle. And the recent increase to the carbon in the atmosphere is less than a third of that less than 2%.

    Having demonstrated your complete ignorance of the climate cycle with your silly questions, you continue by making daft assertions.

    You assert that:
    “you cannot predict temperatures based on CO2 alone, but increased CO2 does increase the overall temperature.”

    Your assertion cannot be known to be true and is denied by the observations I cited.

    An increase to atmospheric CO2 could be expected to increase back-radiation to the Earth’s surface with resulting additional heat input to the surface. But that does not mean there must be an “increase the overall temperature” because the additional heat input to the surface also causes other effects (e.g. increased evapouration and cloud cover) which remove heat from the surface. The net result of the warming and cooling effects may be a higher or a lower surface temperature (e,g, any additional warming of the warmest parts of the tropical ocean induces evapouration and cloud effects which cause the tropical ocean temperature to fall: strange, but true).

    You ask me:
    “Global CO2 lags global temperature: true in past ages when humans did not make such extensive use of fossil fuels, but how can you claim that to be true these days?”

    I answered this above. The scientific literature on this matter is clear and undisputed.

    And your sarcasm and ignorance are clear when you say to me;
    “But do tell us what your predictions for atmospheric CO2 concentrations are based on the global temperatures; if you can make such predictions based on your claims, you will instantly expose those fraudulent AGW modelers.”

    You are entitled to your opinion of the modellers. I am only willing to comment on their models.

    No model’s predictions should be trusted unless the model has demonstrated forecasting skill. But climate models have not existed for 20, 50 or 100 years, so they cannot have demonstrated forecasting skill.

    Simply, the climate models’ predictions of the future have the same demonstrated reliability as the casting of chicken bones to predict the future.

    As for my “my predictions for atmospheric CO2 concentration”, I have provided six of them in peer reviewed literature.

    The fundamental issue to be determined is the cause(s) of recent rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. At present the available data can not resolve that issue.

    Some (e.g. IPCC) have a particular view that is based on the assumption that the carbon cycle behaves like a simple plumbing system with fixed inputs, outputs and flows. This assumption enables ‘carbon budgets’ of the kind used by the IPCC. But I and others do not agree that ‘plumbing model’ because it fails to match the anthropogenic emissions to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.

    Simply, the IPCC ‘plumbing model’ is known to be invalid because it fails to match the anthropogenic emissions to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration unless unjustifiable smoothing of the data is applied to force a fit.

    One of our 2005 papers
    (Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005))
    demonstrates that the anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide can be fitted to the observed rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration (without use of any ‘fiddle factor’ such as the 5-year smoothing used by the IPCC) if it is assumed that the system is constantly seeking equilibrium. Using that assumption, our paper showed that any one of several possible causes may each be responsible for the observed rise.

    Please note that each of the six models in our paper matches the anthropogenic emissions to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration without use of any adjustment to the data and, therefore, they are all superior to the IPCC model that requires unjustifiable adjustment of the data. Three of these six models assume the rise is entirely natural and the other three assume the rise has an anthrogenic cause.

    I wonder if you have played Cluedo. In that game the task is to determine which of the possible suspects is the one ‘who-done-it’. Data that fits more than one suspect does not prove ‘who-done-it’. Data that only fits one suspect proves that suspect is the right one.
    The cause of the recent rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is similar:
    Several possible causes – both anthropogenic causes and natural causes – each fit the available data so any one of those causes could be responsible for the recent rise.

    So, if one of the six models of our paper is adopted then there is a 5:1 probability that the choice is wrong. And other models are probably also possible.

    And the six models each give a different indication of future atmospheric CO2 concentration for the same future anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide.

    Clearly, in this circumstance, I am not willing to say with certainty what is the cause of the cause of recent rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, and I am not willing to say what atmospheric CO2 concentration will be in the future.

    I could continue but there is little point because your failure to understand the difference between my points 2 an 3 demonstrates the degree of your comprehension. I have provided the above responses to show others the merit in your words.

    Richard

  41. Mark

    Richard, could you please clarify something you said in your post (#41). You said that you were able to fit the observed rise in CO2 concentrations “if it is assumed that the system is constantly seeking equilibrium.” It is my understanding that all natural systems seek equilibrium. In chemistry, it is known as Le Chatelier’s principle. Modeling a system as a set of sources and sinks will (usually) allow it to come to equilibrium, so I am wondering how your approach is different.

    Also, you state, “I am not willing to say with certainty what is the cause of the cause of recent rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration” What do you make of the well-established decline in C-14/C-12 and C-13/C-12 carbon isotope ratios in atmospheric CO2? I ask this sincerely.

  42. Guido

    To Tom and Richard congrats on your knowledge of the geologic history of the glacial period over the past 500,000 years as conveyed in the Vostok ice core data. The data shows temperature increases prior to rising CO2 levels. As plant and animal life come back to the planet at the end of a glacial stage CO2 levels increase. CO2 levels decrease as life dies during glacial stages. CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere is not the temperature driving force Erasmussimo and others like him want those unfamiliar with the ice core data to believe. Those who believe CO2 increases in Earth’s atmosphere drives Earth’s temperatures up and down are determined not to acknowledge the ice core geologic data. The true “deniers” are those who choose to politicize and polarize those seeking to resolve this scientific question of our day. These “deniers” decide to refute the data that does not support their preconceived incorrect hypothesis’ and choose instead to insult those who seek the truth.

  43. Dave

    @Richard – I wish you didn’t feel it was necessary to respond to MadScientist in the same manner he addressed you. Your points are well made, yet tarnished a bit by the “displays ignorance” and “failure to understand” (even though a part of me agrees with every comment). I have always been amazed that man-made CO2 can be thought to be a driving factor in gloabal warming when the effect of water vapor >> CO2 >> anthropogenic CO2. I would have thought the argument would end there, but sadly that is not the case. Further showing that the margin of error on the terrestial temperature readings is enough to discount any stated temperature increase and the oceans are a much greater driver of temp than the atmosphere will ever be will get you nowhere. I’m hoping that before the next ice age arrives we can show that the math is wrong for CO2 ever having a climate sensitivity that is anywhere near what we should be concerned with.

  44. Tom Rowan

    Mark #37 States that he is incapable of finding the factual historical record.

    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/Temp_Blend.jpg

    He then says the data do not match my claim.

    I will be blunt. You are a liar Mark. But the entire hoax of AGW is based on a lie. The truth is only a minor inconvenience to a cultist like you.

    But your lies do not alter the truth. The atmosphere has been cooling for nearly ten years. The oceans have been cooling for five years. The icecaps are cooling.

    You can repeat your lies endlessly and they still do not change the facts.

  45. Jon

    But the entire hoax of AGW is based on a lie.

    Tom Rowan–

    It must be difficult for you to see all of these scientific organizations “lying.” Worldwide conspiracy on such an unbelievable scale!!

  46. interglacial john

    really mark, how many years have you devoted to this topic. i have been a serious student of the earth’s climate for over 20 years. i majored in climatology and geology. planetary wobbles do not effect ice caps to the degree we have seen here and elsewhere. this auto-dismissal of the solar system’s climate control (see “THE SUN”) is proof you are not being intellectually honest, again i could spend days enlightening you in regards to what the driving forces are in climate but you are not interested in the truth. sad.

  47. Erasmussimo

    We have seen lots of the usual denier nonsense, but Richard S. Courtney offers a completely different class of comments, so I’d like to address his observations in detail.

    First, I’d like to point out a profound logical flaw in your thinking. You start with the observation that, historically, increases in CO2 have followed increases in temperature:

    “The Vostock ice cores show that at the longest time scales
    (a) each initiation of a rise in carbon dioxide concentration occurs about 800 years after the initiation of a rise in temperature,
    and
    (b) each initiation of a fall in carbon dioxide concentration occurs about 800 years after the initiation of a rise in temperature.”

    But you also claim:

    “And the importance of the fact is that it demonstrates changes to carbon dioxide do not cause changes to mean global temperature because AN EFFECT CANNOT OCCUR BEFORE ITS CAUSE HAS HAPPENED.”

    The logical blunder here is the failure to recognize that some phenomena exhibit feedback loops, in which each component is BOTH the effect of another component AND a causal factor in that component. Positive feedback loops are well know from many areas of science and technology, and to overlook this elementary fact is a blunder of the first magnitude. The blunder is heightened by the fact that the causal relationship from CO2 to temperature was scientifically established a century ago and is now part of sophomore physics coursework, whereas the causal relationship you cite (temperature leading to increased CO2) is more recent in discovery, more complex in mechanism, and still subject to much uncertainty. You concentrate on the less knowable while overlooking the more knowable.

    Your discussion of the carbon cycle is confused. You concentrate your attention on the first derivative of CO2 emissions from anthropogenic and natural sources. This is not a physically significant number because the effects of CO2 are distributed over decades. Let me remind you of the basic fact that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have increased from roughly 280 ppm before the Industrial Revolution to 380 ppm now. You seem to be arguing that this increase could be due to natural factors. Yet you offer no explanation or mechanism for how such increases could occur naturally. There are, of course, the positive feedback factors to consider, such as the release of hydrated methane from the ocean floor and permafrost melting — but to dismiss the importance of anthropogenic CO2 increase because of the natural positive feedback mechanisms it triggers is dishonest. Perhaps a more precise statement of your meaning will clear up some of the apparent illogic in your observations on this point.

    Lastly, you seem quite confused about the behavior of physical systems when you write: “any additional warming of the warmest parts of the tropical ocean induces evapouration and cloud effects which cause the tropical ocean temperature to fall: strange, but true”

    Only the most contrived physical systems can behave in such a fashion. The most common form of response to a perturbation in a system is negative feedback on the range between 0 and -1.0. That is, the response to a perturbation is less than the magnitude of the perturbation but smaller in magnitude. Much rarer is positive feedback in which the response to the perturbation is larger than the perturbation itself and in the same direction. Positive feedbacks always have upper limits. But the situation you posit, negative feedback greater in absolute magnitude than -1.0 exists.

    Normal negative feedback yields a “damped” response curve, in which the system relaxes monotonically toward a new equilibrium curve. Positive feedback yields an initially exponential growth curve that quickly reverts to a new equilibrium based on factors other than the initial perturbation. But what you posit yields an oscillatory exponential growth curve that is extremely rare in the natural world. In other words, you build your case on a fantastic assumption.

  48. Erasmussimo

    Interglacial john writes: “you see, when the SUN emits higher levels of eme (see “sunspot activity”) it gets warmer, kind of like when the thermostat in your house is adjusted upwards.”

    Are you asserting that the rise in global temperatures over the last 200 years are due to increases in insolation?

  49. Orson

    24. SLC Says:
    May 20th, 2009 at 7:35 am

    I really think that Mr. Mooney should write a thread on the subject of global cooling which seems to be the new meme of the deniers. I have noticed this meme appearing on several blogs, and I think that a detailed refutation is in order.

    FAT CHANCE of THAT without invoking collectivist “consensus” anti-scientific declamations and heralding the marvels of computer model projections anyone can test by looking outside for several days!

  50. JeffM

    Mr. Courtney,

    I am not a scientist, but I added some pieces of information to my bucket of global warming knowledge from reading your response to MadScientist’s comment (although I cringed at the combative tone).

    I read somewhere on a science blog that the we can roughly estimate the temperature change that results from adding/deleting an amount of CO2 into/from the atmosphere. The procedure is simple, so simple that I wonder if it is valid, even for making rough estimations. The procedure was given as:

    1. 125 ppm atmospheric CO2 increase raises temperature by 1 degree C (1C).
    2. 14,138 mmt CO2 emissions increases atmospheric CO2 concentration by 1 ppm.
    3. Therefore, 14,138 mmt X 125 ppm = 1,767,250 million metric tons will raise temperature by 1C.

    For estimating purposes, is this in the ballpark? If so, this is how I envision using this simple procedure:

    The Federal government has recently stated the national goal of reducing CO2 emissions to no more than 83% of 2005 emissions. Total U.S. CO2 emissions in 2005 was 6,032 mmt. What was not stated was how much of a temperature reduction this could achieve if the goal was met.

    Applying the procedure: 6,032 mmt for CY2005 X 83% = 4,403 mmt reduction goal. Then dividing 4,403 mmt by 1,767,250 mmt/1C gives 0.002 degrees C. temperature reduction by achieving the goal.

    Can this be correct? This indicates that attainment of our national CO2 emissions goal will result in an atmospheric temperature decrease of essentially zero. Is there a better method for estimating this temperature reduction?

  51. Jon

    Orson: …collectivist “consensus” anti-scientific declamations…

    Apparently Isaac Newton was an “anti-science collectivist” as well.

  52. Richard S Courtney

    Mark:

    I am replying to your questions at post #41. I will not be answering Erassmussimo because his errors and misunderstandings are so many and so great that it would require a book to correct them. Instead, I suggest that he obtain and read primers on the carbon cycle and climatology.

    You ask me:
    “Modeling a system as a set of sources and sinks will (usually) allow it to come to equilibrium, so I am wondering how your approach is different.”

    The proper answer is for me to refer you to our paper (that I referenced) so you can dispute it in detail. However, I provide the following brief response.

    The carbon cycle contains many variables most of which are not adequately quantified. The IPCC reports provide simplified descriptions of the carbon cycle. In our paper, Rörsch et al. (2005), we considered the most important processes in the carbon cycle to be those that I list below. Several of these processes are rate dependant and several of them interact. Unfortunately, the rate constants are not known for most of them.

    This lack of knowledge requires a circular argument to permit the carbon cycle to be modeled “as a set of sources and sinks”. Simply, unknowns are assumed to be constants and any imbalance at the end of the accounting exercise is assumed to be an effect of the anthropogenic emission. The resulting imbalance is assumed to be accumulation of the anthropogenic emission, but it is much more likely to be unaccounted variations in the “sources and sinks”.

    Our method used attribution studies as a method to discern mechanisms that are not capable of being the cause of the observed rise of atmospheric CO2 concentration during the twentieth century.

    In an attribution study the system is assumed to be behaving in response to suggested mechanism(s) that is modeled, and the behaviour of the model is compared to the empirical data. If the model cannot emulate the empirical data then there is reason to suppose that the suggested mechanism is not the cause (or at least not the sole cause) of the changes recorded in the empirical data.

    It is important to note that attribution studies can only be used to reject hypothesis that a mechanism is a cause for an observed effect. Ability to attribute a suggested cause to an effect is not evidence that the suggested cause is the real cause in part or in whole.

    Our paper considered three models of the carbon cycle. Each model assumed that a single mechanism is responsible for the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration that has happened in the recent past (i.e. since 1958 when measurements began). The model was then compared to the empirical data to determine if the modeled mechanism could be rejected as a sole cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    We called our models the A Model, the P Model and the M Model.

    The A Model is Ahlbeck’s much respected model that is based on a postulated linear relationship of the sink flow and the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Simply, it assumes that the carbon cycle is dominated by absorbtion processes.

    The P Model is a power equation of the type often used in process engineering and it stems from the assumptions that several different processes determine the flow into the sinks. It assumes that the carbon cycle is dominated by the rate(s) of interactions between processes

    The M Model is derived from biology, or rather biochemistry, because we were mindful that the absorption of CO2 takes place at least partly in the biosphere. The theory behind enzyme kinetics says the surface of an enzyme is continuously in equilibrium with its substrate and that a part of the substrate at the enzyme surface (its active site) will be digested to a product. This line of thought is certainly not restricted to enzymology. It leads for example in economics to the formulation of the law of diminishing returns. And many systems show the behavior in which an available active interface is the limiting factor for processing (even military theory uses the concept of ‘engagement area’ in battles).

    We fitted each model to the empirical data and obtained a perfect fit in each case. This was achieved for each model when it was assumed that (a) the anthropogenic emission was dominated by natural variation and (b) the natural variation was dominated by the anthropogenic emission.

    Failure to obtain a fit with a model would have been a reason to reject the modeled mechanism as a possible cause of the variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration as recorded at Mauna Loa. But, I repeat, we easily obtained a perfect fit in each case.

    This demonstrated that there is no data that only fits either an anthropogenic or a natural cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    Hence, the only factual statements that can be made on the true cause are

    (a) the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration may have an anthropogenic cause, or a natural cause, or some combination of anthropogenic and natural causes,

    but

    (b) there is no evidence that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has a mostly anthropogenic cause or a mostly natural cause.

    Additionally, you ask about the isotope data. I refer you to Roy Spencer’s work which demonstrates that the isotope data cannot resolve the issue of whether the cause of the recent rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is mostly natural or mostly anthropogenic.

    Richard

    Mechanisms of the carbon cycle

    Short-term processes

    1. Consumption of CO2 by photosynthesis that takes place in green plants on land. CO2 from the air and water from the soil are coupled to form carbohydrates. Oxygen is liberated. This process takes place mostly in spring and summer. A rough distinction can be made:
    1a. The formation of leaves that are short lived (less than a year).
    1b. The formation of tree branches and trunks, that are long lived (decades).

    2. Production of CO2 by the metabolism of animals, and by the decomposition of vegetable matter by micro-organisms including those in the intestines of animals, whereby oxygen is consumed and water and CO2 (and some carbon monoxide and methane that will eventually be oxidised to CO2) are liberated. Again distinctions can be made:
    2a. The decomposition of leaves, that takes place in autumn and continues well into the next winter, spring and summer.
    2b. The decomposition of branches, trunks, etc. that typically has a delay of some decades after their formation.
    2c. The metabolism of animals that goes on throughout the year.

    3. Consumption of CO2 by absorption in cold ocean waters. Part of this is consumed by marine vegetation through photosynthesis.

    4. Production of CO2 by desorption from warm ocean waters. Part of this may be the result of decomposition of organic debris.

    5. Circulation of ocean waters from warm to cold zones, and vice versa, thus promoting processes 3 and 4.

    Longer-term process

    6. Formation of peat from dead leaves and branches (eventually leading to lignite and coal).

    7. Erosion of silicate rocks, whereby carbonates are formed and silica is liberated.

    8. Precipitation of calcium carbonate in the ocean, that sinks to the bottom, together with formation of corals and shells.

    Natural processes that add CO2 to the system:

    9. Production of CO2 from volcanoes (by eruption and gas leakage).

    10. Natural forest fires, coal seam fires and peat fires.

    Anthropogenic processes that add CO2 to the system:

    11. Production of CO2 by burning of vegetation (“biomass”).

    12. Production of CO2 by burning of fossil fuels (and by lime kilns).

  53. Richard S Courtney

    JeffM:

    You ask me:
    “Can this be correct? This indicates that attainment of our national CO2 emissions goal will result in an atmospheric temperature decrease of essentially zero. Is there a better method for estimating this temperature reduction?”

    I answer that your conclusion is correct in that attainment of the goal would have negligible effect on global temperature. And your estimate is as good as any other.

    But I wonder why you think the effect on global temperature is important. The purpose of the goal is to justify increased taxation, and it does that.

    Richard

  54. Erasmussimo

    JeffM, your basic approach is sound, but there are a number of problems with it:

    First and most important, the relationship between CO2 and temperature is not linear. There are so many feedback factors to consider that it’s difficult to reduce it to a simple linear equation as you have. I’m not knocking the idea of quick-and-dirty calculations, and I think that your basic approach has utility. Let’s just remember that we can’t stretch this too far.

    Second, I think your numbers are off. Total global CO2 emissions in 2005 were about 6 GT. You use the same number for US emissions alone. We’re seeing overall CO2 concentrations increasing by about 1.5 ppm/year, which implies that 4 GT yields a 1% increase in CO2 concentrations (your number is 14 GT). The key number that I don’t have off the top of my head is the percentage of the US contribution to the overall total. I’ll take a wild guess and put it at 20% of the world total, or a bit more than 1 GT/year. Thus, we need about 500 GT to get a 1º C increase in temperature.

    Third, remember that you’re comparing an ANNUAL change with a NET change. When we do the calculation with the numbers I suggest, we get an annual change of about 0.2 GT/year, which translates to 0.0004 ºC increase per year. Note that this number is smaller than the number you calculated. However, it is cumulative. Over ten years, it adds up to 0.004º C, and so on.

    That’s still not much. But there are additional considerations. The real task is to get the whole world lined up on this. If the USA is the only country to reduce carbon emissions, the net effect will truly be insignificant. But if we can get other countries to agree to reduce carbon emissions, then we get a big multiplier for our efforts — by my estimate, roughly a factor of five. So now we’re talking about heading off temperature increases of 0.002ºC per year, or 0.02º per decade.

    That’s still not very good. We’d have to cut back on CO2 emissions even further to start having a significant effect.

    Now THIS is an argument that can be made against policy responses to climate change. The argument has substance, although at the moment the numbers are still quite uncertain. While the idiot deniers are wasting their time and credibility trying to argue against the science, they’re missing out on the arguments that might actually have some traction.

  55. Erasmussimo

    Richard S. Courtney, I think you gave away your game with these two statements:

    “I will not be answering Erassmussimo because his errors and misunderstandings are so many and so great that it would require a book to correct them. Instead, I suggest that he obtain and read primers on the carbon cycle and climatology.”

    I think you’re blowing smoke here, Richard. I have provided detailed criticisms that, I think, hit the heart of your claims, and I think that you refuse to respond to them because you don’t have any good response. If you really did have a good response, you should be able to articulate it. It’s obvious from your lengthy posts that you are willing to prepare lengthy responses. If I’m really so terribly wrong, it should be a trivial matter for you to dismiss my objections in a few words. But again, I think that you’re posturing because you have no answer to my criticisms.

    Your second giveaway was this statement: “But I wonder why you think the effect on global temperature is important. The purpose of the goal is to justify increased taxation, and it does that.”

    Whoa! All of a sudden you’re talking politics, not science. In this, you reveal that your intention here is political, not scientific. I suggest that your scientific claims are really conclusions derived from your political preferences, not from any scientific reasoning. In that, you’ve got it backwards. The science should provide the starting point for political discussion. Your political beliefs should not influence your scientific analysis.

    Note that I have been apolitical in my analysis. I thoroughly rebut the nonsensical claims of the global warming deniers, but I just as readily support the cost-benefit analysis mused upon by JeffM. He’s got a point that actually has merit, and I don’t attack his point merely because it suggests that legislation to combat CO2 emissions is pointless. I follow the science where-ever it leads. I recommend a similar attitude to you.

  56. Richard S Courtney

    Erasmussimo:

    You say to me:

    “Your political beliefs should not influence your scientific analysis.”

    They don’t!

    And it always takes many more words to explain why a statement is wrong than are in the statement. I repeat, your errors posted here are too many and too great for me to provide rebuttal of them, and I recommend that you get and read some primers on the carbon cycle and climatology.

    Richard

  57. Jon

    You see, the secret goals of scientists are to increase taxation and grow the government.

    They can’t help but spout that talking point. It’s like Movement Conservatism Tourette’s Syndrome.

  58. Erasmussimo

    Richard, I’d now like to ask a few questions about your lengthy post #53. You write:

    ” This was achieved for each model when it was assumed that (a) the anthropogenic emission was dominated by natural variation and (b) the natural variation was dominated by the anthropogenic emission.”

    So you’re assuming that each one dominates the other. This suggests to me that your definition of “dominate” is truly peculiar. Perhaps you could provide your definition of “dominate”?

    Next, you write, “We fitted each model to the empirical data and obtained a perfect fit in each case”
    If so, then I don’t know what kind of fit you carried out, because every fitting system I have ever used generates a “goodness of fit” value that can be zero only under mathematically pure conditions. Real-world data ALWAYS has some random error in it and any fit to real-world data always generates a non-zero “goodness of fit” value that can be expressed in a variety of ways, depending upon the statistical methodology you use. The most common method is to transform the data to a linear fit and then express the fit in sample standard deviations. But to suggest that you obtained a perfect fit is simply not credible.

    Next, you get into some logical difficulties with this statement: “(b) there is no evidence that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has a mostly anthropogenic cause or a mostly natural cause.”

    I can accept the statement as plausible, but I believe that it is equally true that:

    There is no evidence that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is NOT mostly due to an anthropogenic cause.

    In other words, as I understand your methodology, you end up solidly establishing next to nothing.

  59. Erasmussimo

    OK, Richard, you can’t offer a rebuttal to my criticisms. Fair enough. However, your suggestion that I am in need of basic education on the subject doesn’t comport with the fact that I’ve read the IPCC reports, and, more importantly, I think I have a firm grasp of at least 70% of the material in those reports. I don’t claim to have a solid grip on all the material — there’s an enormous amount of material to grasp. But I suggest we avoid a pissing match over who’s smarter. Let’s just discuss the actual issues, shall we? I’m willing to do so — are you?

  60. tehdude

    Yeah when we enter the most radical cooling phase in 100 years from this solar cycle, people will totally believe environmentalists, just like they should with:

    1) Overpopulation

    2) DDT

    3) Genetics

    4) Basic chemistry…

  61. Mark C

    Chris,

    You and your alarmists buddies are the only ones in denial here. Since when does public policy determine science? Trust me when I say the climate realists like myself aren’t going anywhere. Even if you get your AGW legislation, realists like myself, will be here to point every inconsistency and ill effect caused by your stone-age thinking. So it is wishful thinking on your part that realists will fade away. In reality the facts will cause our numbers to swell. Face facts Chris–your precious climate models are all fatally flawed and inept–garbage in and garbage out!

  62. MadScientist

    @Erasmussimo: don’t worry about it. Courtney is a professional AGW denier:

    http://www.globalwarmingheartland.com/expert.cfm?expertId=135

    That would explain why he likes to throw up facts which have little relevance to AGW and then come to the bizarre conclusion “therefore it does not exist”. According to the website he’s an expert. I wouldn’t put much credibility in that claim though; the same website also makes this claim:

    “Lord Christopher Monckton, a global warming expert and former senior policy advisor to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher …”

    Apparently anyone can be an expert. I remember an article of Monckton’s printed a year or two ago and it was rather funny because most of his “facts” were demonstrably false – for example, the claim that there are fewer meteorological stations around the world than there were several decades ago. To be fair, I’ll also scream at anyone who dares call Nicholas Stern a “global warming expert”.

  63. Chuck

    @ Richard, thanks for taking your time i will definitely take time to read some of your references.

    @ Erasmussimo, perhaps you would have a better response the “actual issues” if you could bring yourself above the personal attacks.

  64. Aaron W.

    For the AGdubyas, why has antarctica’s sea ice extent increased over the past 20 years? When was the glacial peak for Mt. Cook in New Zealand? I’ll help you it was 7500 years ago. Why have the sea levels stopped rising? How much have they risen in the past 100 years? I’ll help you with that one too, its 8 inches. Why are some glaciers retreating and some are advancing? How much CO2 is produced by the ocean? Why have the oceans cooled for past 5 years? When was the last time a continental heat record was broken? I’ll help you with this one too, it was 1974 and the continent was Antarctica. Please give me the answers to these questions. Is the US data a reliable source for temperature records?

  65. John Marshall

    Madscientist:-
    There is a lag in CO2 change with temperature and evidence for this comes from the ice cores. There is a lag of about 800 years so the current rise in CO2 levels is due to the Medieval Warm Period. Our input is only 3% of the total annual CO2 budget, these figures from the US Dept of Energy, so we can ignore our burning of fossil fuels as insignificant. There has been cooling for the last 9-10 years even the Hadley Center data shows this and they are keen on AGW. Arctic ice is thicker than expected from the Alfred Wegener Institute data taken at the same time as the failed Catlin Expedition so another nail in the coffin of the alarmist theories and their failed models!

  66. Richard S Courtney

    Erasmussimo:

    I am answering your questions concerning what I wrote about one of our 2005 papers. I stand by my other points concerning your writings here as I explain at the end of this message.

    You ask:
    “So you’re assuming that each one dominates the other. This suggests to me that your definition of “dominate” is truly peculiar. Perhaps you could provide your definition of “dominate”?”

    Of course I can provide a “definition”, but I am surprised that it was not clear. And you make a strange suggestion that my definition is “peculiar”.

    I said,
    “Our paper considered three models of the carbon cycle. Each model assumed that a single mechanism is responsible for the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration that has happened in the recent past (i.e. since 1958 when measurements began). The model was then compared to the empirical data to determine if the modeled mechanism could be rejected as a sole cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.”

    Obviously, if “a single mechanism is responsible for the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration” then that mechanism must be overwhelming all other effects. And if it is overhelming them then it must be controlling them, governing them, providing guiding influence over them, and ruling them by superior power.

    The online dictionary defines “dominate” as follows.

    dom•i•nate

    v. dom•i•nat•ed, dom•i•nat•ing, dom•i•nates
    v.tr.
    1. To control, govern, or rule by superior authority or power: Successful leaders dominate events rather than react to them.
    2. To exert a supreme, guiding influence on or over: Ambition dominated their lives.
    3. To enjoy a commanding, controlling position in: a drug company that dominates the tranquilizer market.
    4. To overlook from a height: a view from the cliffside chalet that dominates the valley.
    v.intr.
    1. To have or exert strong authority or mastery.
    2. To be situated in or occupy a position that is more elevated or decidedly superior to others.

    So, I fail to understand your assertion saying to me,
    “This suggests to me that your definition of “dominate” is truly peculiar.”

    Then you say of our work:
    “The most common method is to transform the data to a linear fit and then express the fit in sample standard deviations. But to suggest that you obtained a perfect fit is simply not credible.”

    A linear fit is a gross approximation for varying parameters and, therefore, it is always wrong.

    We fitted to the data for each individual year within the known and stated error of the years. In each case the model only required input of the raw input data for each year with no adjustment to the data or the model. Please note that we used no ‘fiddle-factors’ such as the 5-year averaging the IPCC uses to get its method to obtain a fit.

    Simply, our obtaining of a fit was “perfect” in that each year matched and there were no out-liers.

    And you conclude by saying to me:
    “In other words, as I understand your methodology, you end up solidly establishing next to nothing.”

    Rubbish!

    I wrote:
    “Hence, the only factual statements that can be made on the true cause are
    (a) the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration may have an anthropogenic cause, or a natural cause, or some combination of anthropogenic and natural causes,
    but
    (b) there is no evidence that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has a mostly anthropogenic cause or a mostly natural cause. ”

    Those findings are not “next to nothing” when assertions of an entirely anthropogenic cause for the rise are inducing political and economic actions in many nations and internationally.

    Indeed, the findings demonstrate that the political and economic actions are based on mere assertion that is probably wrong.

    The above demonstrates why I am not willing to waste my time correcting all your other errors in your postings above. It would take a book to address them all. Please read some primers on the carbon cycle and climatology.

    Richard

  67. Tom

    “WJV Says:
    @ Scott: Global Average temperature has already risen by0.75 degrees C since ~1850 [see Discover Magazine interview with Stephen Scheider, Stanford U].”

    Hey idiot, when did the last mini ice age end? 1850. If it didn’t warm up some we would still be in it. You people are such fools it blows my mind, cold temps kill people, warm temps mean more food, more comfort more of everything good. If temps rose 5 degrees in a short time maybe you could spew but otherwise you need to take up another false belief maybe religion.

  68. rum

    so we go into a new minimum…we are freezing to death…does the science tell us we better start adding co2 to the atmosphere. do we look at all the data, all the statistics and conclude that if we add co2 we will negate the freezing? no, we would conclude that it is such a two bit player that no matter how much we add it will make no significant difference… madscientist: weather station #’s:

    Amazing as this sounds, weather stations used to monitor near surface temperature for the global climate record are disappearing worldwide at and alarming rate. There are two things going on here: 1) Stations are actually being closed down, particularly in Canada and in Russia in the early 1990’s. 2) Some stations while open, have disappeared off the reporting radar for global temperature metrics such as GISS.

    Watch the video here prepared by our http://www.surfacestations.org super volunteer and unofficial historian John W. Goetz. It outlines how the worldwide network has grown since the 1890’s, and then dwindled in modern times.

    done

    If you wish to play the video at full resolution in Windows Media Player, here is a link to the WMV file.

    The USA remains the world leader not only in the number of weather stations but also in the quality of the network. Given what problems I’ve found thus far in the USHCN network in the USA, this does not bode well for the quality of GHCN stations in the rest of the world.

    John recently did a writeup on this on Climate Audit called: Historical Station Distribution

    In response to that, Steve McIntyre recently found that a number of stations that went missing from the NASA GISTEMP dataset are still actually in operation, and producing data, are not being updated into the GISTEMP dataset for some reason. Irregardless of the reason, the problem of dwindling data for the ROW as demonstrated by the video above is real.

    What is strange though is that some obviously easy to locate data, (link to data) such as Bern, Switzerland, where the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are located, are missing from NASA GISTEMP. Nearby stations such as Zurich, Switzerland are included in the GISTEMP database.

    Other stations, such as Crater Lake, OR, are removed from the GISS source code released last year, with a citation saying they are excluded (but exist online in GISTEMP), but no reason is given. yet other stations like this terrible rooftop station cum heat anomaly (and closed by NWS for that reason) in Baltimore, MD are included.

    I find this odd since GISS has been working hard to include and apply as many station corrections as possible. Why would they include Crater Lake in the online database, but not in the Model E Global Circulation Model code they run and released last year?

    It begs the question: what could be the explanation for such randomness in whether or not stations are used? Why are some stations with known current data excluded from the NASA GISS online database and climate modeling?

  69. realist

    A denier named Copernicus proved the flat earth consensus was wrong.

    A denier named Feynman proved the consensus that particles could not be visualized was wrong.

    Manmade global warming deniers are proving the AGW consensus wrong.

    Science will always trump concensus. Long live the deniers.

  70. Erasmussimo

    I’ll start off by noting that we continue to see the classic “climate is not weather” mistake being repeated yet again:

    “There has been cooling for the last 9-10 years even the Hadley Center data shows this and they are keen on AGW.”

    AGW deniers will NEVER understand this point!

    I’ll also briefly respond to Aaron’s numerous questions: they are based on incorrect statements. For example, the total mass of ice in Antarctica is decreasing. We’re seeing lots of mass loss in West Antarctica and less mass increase in East Antarctica. The net result is mass loss. Similarly, while it is true that “some glaciers retreating and some are advancing”, it is also true that MOST glaciers are retreating and FEW glaciers are advancing.

    But now let me turn to Richard S. Courtney, who answers a few of my objections. He offers a definition of “dominate” and expresses his bafflement at my objection to his statements. Let me make the point more clearly. You earlier wrote, Richard, that:

    ” This was achieved for each model when it was assumed that (a) the anthropogenic emission was dominated by natural variation and (b) the natural variation was dominated by the anthropogenic emission.”

    So you provide some definitions of “dominate”. Let’s use the first definition in your list:

    “To control, govern, or rule by superior authority or power”

    Applying this definition to your statement, the result is that you claim that natural variation ‘rules by superior authority’ anthropogenic emission and anthropogenic emission ‘rules by superior authority’ natural variation. This is absurd — you can’t have two factors that are superior to each other. What you were clumsily trying to say, I suspect, is that each influences the other, but influence and domination are completely different matters. This sloppy language connotes sloppy thinking.

    Next, you get yourself into deep doo-doo with your comments on statistical analysis. For example:

    “A linear fit is a gross approximation for varying parameters and, therefore, it is always wrong.”

    This is a another example of mushy wording revealing mushy thinking. A cogent statement would have been:

    “A linear fit is a poor approximation to a multivariate problem.”

    But you screwed it up on three points:
    a. “gross approximation”. That phrase is fine for non-mathematical use, but not when we’re talking about statistics.
    b. “varying parameters”. Well, doh! Are you suggesting that we try linear fits on constants? You’re just slinging around terminology.
    c. “always wrong”. That’s simplistic boolean thinking, totally inappropriate to statistical analysis. Statisticians fit complex data to lines all the time, knowing full well that the data is multivariate. Even though such techniques are acknowledged to have weaknesses, they can still provide useful insight into complex systems. Sometimes multivariate data fit lines very nicely because, in a narrow range of circumstances, most of the variability is provided by a single variable. The way to assess this is to calculate the goodness of fit. A competent analyst doesn’t spout nonsense about “perfect fits” or “always wrong” — he’d be talking about goodness of fit.

    You conclude with another pissy comment that I’m so dumb that you’d need to write entire books to address my objections. Maybe so. However, I’m quite capable of demonstrating your mistakes in less than book-length comments.

  71. tapped out

    Remember the old saying – if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with BS. The AGW cultists throw reams of invented statistics at you, but the whole issue boils down to this. The best we can expect to achieve from the cap and trade bill is a few one hundredths of a degree in reduction of temperature – at the cost of trillions of dollars. How do you think your 401(k)s will look after blowing all that money down a rat hole? Which group of companies are you going to invest your money in? Green companies don’t make money – they siphon money from taxpayers. As soon as their substantial subsidies run out, they will all fold up.

  72. Tom Rowan

    To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    AGW’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
    Signifying nothing.”

    The planet is cooling, the cultist are lying.

  73. tapped out

    Just one of the IPCC(AR4) predictions that are not looking so hot right now:
    A temperature increase of .2C is predicted for the current decade – where is it? Temps have been going down for the last ten years – and Co2 going up. The UN IPCC specifically predicted a .2C increase to be happening now – don’t see it. If the UN climate models can’t get a simple thing like this right, why should I trust them on anything?

  74. interglacial john

    Erasmussimo – interesting you would compare today’s temperatures with those of 200 years ago. this is yet another example of intellectual dishonesty. as any informed student of the earth’s cliamte history could tell you, 200 years ago we were in the grips of “the little ice age”. so if you choose this as your “control” you are being dishonest, nice try.

  75. rum

    eras, While the Antarctic Peninsula area has warmed in recent years and ice near it diminished during the Southern Hemisphere summer, the interior of Antarctica has been colder and ice elsewhere has been more extensive and longer lasting, which explains the increase in total extent. This dichotomy was shown in this World Climate Report blog posted recently with a similar tale told in this paper by Ohio State Researcher David Bromwich, who agreed “It’s hard to see a global warming signal from the mainland of Antarctica right now”.

  76. Richard S Courtney

    Erasmussimo:

    Your obfuscations are tedious. You asked me what definition of a word I used and I showed that I had used the dictionary definition. But you again quible at it. And your quible demonstrates that you did not read what I wrote concerning the nature of atribution studies.

    I wonder why you think you have a right to demand that I answer your errors when you demonstrate that you do not bother to read my answers.

    Another quible in your post is that I used common language and not techno-speak. I remind that I wrote:
    “The proper answer is for me to refer you to our paper (that I referenced) so you can dispute it in detail. However, I provide the following brief response.”.

    I have repeatedly suggested that you read some basic texts on the carbon cycle and climatology. Your behaviour is causing me to think that your ignorance of these subjects is deliberate.

    Read and learn. Then, when you understand the basics, debate. Until then I have better things to do than reply to your many mistaken assertions (although I am grateful to you for the laughs they give me).

    Richard

  77. Erasmussimo

    InterglacialJohn, I used the 200 year date because it was at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when humans first started to release CO2 in significant quantities. If you aren’t happy with that date, we can use the last century. So I repeat my question with the new date:

    “Are you asserting that the rise in global temperatures over the last 100 years are due to increases in insolation?”

    Rum, I disagree with your assertion that the Antarctic as a whole is cooling. The evidence I have seen indicates overall mass loss of ice. You mention a statement by David Bromwich; I searched for it and discovered that it is an isolated quote from a AAAS lecture. Without knowing the rest of the lecture, it’s impossible to tell if that statement wasn’t taken out of context. I did some more searching on David Bromwich and I did find this list of his publications:

    http://polarmet.mps.ohio-state.edu/Bromwich/Publication.html

    which listed two papers that might be relevant here:

    Monaghan, A. J., D. H. Bromwich, W. Chapman, and J. C. Comiso, 2007: New Antarctic temperature analysis suggests recent warming due to weaker SAM forcing. J. Geophys. Res., submitted June 2007.

    and

    Monaghan, A. J., D. H. Bromwich, R. L. Fogt, S.-H. Wang, P. A. Mayewski, D. A. Dixon, A. A. Ekaykin, M. Frezzotti, I. D. Goodwin, E. Isaksson, S. D. Kaspari, V. I. Morgan, H. Oerter, T. D. van Ommen, C. J. van der Veen, and J. Wen, 2006: Insignificant change in Antarctic snowfall since the International Geophysical Year. Science, 313, 827-831.

    So I don’t think that you have a good source there. By contrast, here’s a very recent source:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/science/earth/22climate.html

    A particularly interesting quote from that story:

    ““There is very convincing evidence in this work of warming over West Antarctica,” said Andrew Monaghan, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who was not involved with the research.”

    You will note that Mr. Monaghan is the lead author of the two papers I cited above.

    Finally, Richard, I reiterate my willingness to discuss the issues with you anytime you deign to do so. While I disagree with you on many points, and I believe that you misunderstand many issues, I do not consider you to be unworthy of debate.

  78. tapped out

    One last point. If one good, cold winter reverses the percentages of Americans believing/not believing in AGW – what percentage do you think will believe in it after two really cold winters in a row? And what are the odds of another cold winter this year – with a negative PDO and near negative AMO? Do you think the average person will believe the computer models or their own lying eyes? A lot of snow can fall between now and Copenhagen. It is not the half a degree average drop in temp anomaly that people notice – it is the more frequent freeze-your-a** cold snaps that convince people that AGW is a computer fantasy.

  79. HarryL

    AGW is a hoax and has become the political agenda for the Democratic
    Party and their environmental extremist supporters. There is no convincing
    evidence for it. The originator of the AGW myth is the United
    Nations. They have undiluted power to deceive the public. They are lawless,
    corrupt, anti–God, and an utter fraud. They are using the delusion
    that man’s use of fossil fuels causes global warming in order to frighten
    people into allowing them to rule the world, because any group that
    controls carbon, controls the world. AGW is a hoax, religion, junk science,
    and is worthless in its predictions of future global temperatures. It is
    as scientific as astrology!Edward F. Blick, Ph.D.

    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/GlobalWarmingMyth.pdf

  80. Mark

    @Tom Rowan:

    The link you provided shows a graph that has a “blend” of temperature measurements indicating a downward trend. Nowhere on the web page could I find a description of how they did the “blend.” What is ICECAP hiding?

    The link I provided is from data sets whose analysis methods are available for anyone to see. It’s all out in the open, unlike your link. All you can do is resort to name calling.

    @Richard S Courtney:

    Thank you for the description of your work. Unrelated to your work, Roy Spencer’s work on isotopes is unconvincing.

  81. Erasmussimo

    tapped out, that’s a decent point you make. Yes, if we get a continuing string of cold weather, then there’s a chance that people will have their doubts. Let’s remember, though, that it’s not just winter that affects people’s judgements — spring, fall, and summer count, too. If we have drier weather, if we have hotter weather, then that will influence people in the other direction.

    However, as scientists, our commitment is to deeper truths, not momentary fads. If we see a long-term cooling trend, then we’ll dump the AGW hypothesis. We have to take ALL the data into account, not just this month’s, this year’s, or even this decade’s.

  82. Nuke

    I remember when science was falsifiable. Case in point – Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity.

    When Einstein published this paper over a century ago, people didn’t just read it and accept it because it included some nice formulas and and explanations. The theory had to be tested and tested over and over again.

    NASA is still running experiments to test Special Relativity. Yet it’s still a theory. One good test can invalidate it. That’s all it takes to invalidate a theory or hypothesis, one good test. Yes, the test itself must hold up to scrutiny and the result must be repeatable, but it still only takes one experiment to disprove a theory. Conversely, a theory or hypothesis must pass all tests to be considered valid.

    A good theory or hypothesis must be testable. It should be able to predict a future outcome. This is how experiments test a theory or hypothesis, by checking the predicted result of an experiment with the actual results.

    So when the greenhouse warming signature is not present in the atmosphere, what does that say about the greenhouse gas hypothesis of AGW?

  83. Erasmussimo

    Nuke, the warming signature to which you refer is problematical in that it is not a direct or necessary result of the AGW hypothesis. Some scientists have argued that the AGW hypothesis requires such a warming signature; others disagree. Moreover, there are some questions as to the interpretation of the data involved. Thus, while the warming signature issue is an interesting point of contention, I do not consider it to be decisive one way or the other to the AGW hypothesis.

  84. rum

    eras, try this.”In reality the Wilkins Ice Shelf and all the former shelves that collapsed are small and most near the Antarctic peninsula, which sticks well out from Antarctica into the currents and winds of the South Atlantic and lies in a tectonically active region with surface and subsurface active volcanic activity. The vast continent has actually cooled since 1979.

    “In fact, the ice is returning to Antarctica so quickly that the extent of Antarctic polar ice is running an amazing 60 percent ahead of last year when it set a new record. The ice extent is already approaching its second highest level since satellite measurements began in 1979, even though we are just a few days into the Antarctic winter, and there will be six more months of expanding ice until the ice reaches its seasonal peak.

    “Wilkins, like all the other ice masses that temporarily broke up, will refreeze soon. The Antarctic ice is very likely going to exceed last year’s record. Yet the world is left with the false impression that Antarctica’s ice sheet is starting to disappear.”

    Joseph D’Aleo

  85. rum

    eras, you cited a study that was done by eric steig. i am sure you know who he is. let me remind others…..the “other guy”, who somehow got published the famous hockey stick graph..(along with m mann). without this garbage we wouldn’t even be talking about this stuff today. they wouldn’t release their data sets? real science or flat out lies and misleadings…so here he is tackling one of the biggest problems for the alarmists and…OMG..it is now warming in the antarctic! i guess his collegues had some issues with the way he guessed…”In the new study, scientists took into account satellite measurements to interpolate temperatures in the vast areas between the sparse weather stations.” (from your article). the sooner we get rid of guys like hansen, mann and steig maybe we can get back to the scientific method and actual science.looking for honest answers, rum

  86. Erasmussimo

    rum, your quotation is interesting but it doesn’t mean anything to me because it does not appear to refer to a published scientific paper. It’s an opinion, nothing more. I prefer to found arguments on evidence that is somehow verifiable. The NYT article I referenced provides links to its sources, and there are plenty more of those if you need them. So I have to dismiss your quote as without foundation.

    Your comment #88 is nothing more than ad hominem argumentation. If you don’t like the work of Mr. Steig, attack the work — not the man.

  87. Guido

    @eras, you’ve kept this ball in play for a couple of days now so I tip my hat to you…very entertaining . Despite all the fast balls you’ve missed, I’m still hopeful you’ll get a hit. Now I want to throw you a curve ball and a slider. Your fearful leader Al Bore declared long ago the scientific debate on this man made CO2 topic was over. Scientists had reached a consensus and man was/is overheating the planet. How does over 30,000 scientists declaring AGW a farce constitute a consensus in favor of AGW? Based on the past decade of observed cooling trend data contradicting all IPCC 1998-99 temperature forecast models , is now, therefore , the appropriate time for Waxman/Malarkey to cram through this Crap&Tax legislation in the name of saving the planet from the impending overheating catastrophe? PALEEEZE, we all know this climate legislation has nothing to do with CO2 science or global climate catastrophe- it is a power and money grab by a ruling political body with a socialist agenda using fear and fake science to achieve its goals!!!!!!

  88. Erasmussimo

    Guido, first I’d like to say that I really don’t care what Mr. Gore says because he’s not a scientist. I rely on scientists, not politicians, for my scientific information.

    You refer to the Oregon petition (the 30,000 scientists). This was a scam that has long since been dismissed. Basically, some people sent out a lot of letters and emails asking people “If you’re a scientist and you don’t accept AGW, then sign our petition” Sure enough, lots of people responded. Unfortunately, there were no controls whatsoever and no verification system. Some of the names on the list are cartoon characters. I think somebody slipped in the names of some Hollywood actresses several times, and somebody else got the front four for a national football team. I myself went through a small sample, trying to identify names. Out of one hundred names in my random sample, I could identify only about 40, and of those, there was only one person whom I could identify any scientific credentials for: a fellow who published a paper on butterflies in the Amazon basin around 1970. I did find some guys working on the Alaska pipeline, and somebody who is a chiropractor in Anchorage, Alaska.

  89. Guido

    yeah, hey erass, you may be right, I heard ACORN had something to do with collecting all those signatures. But what about those IPCC foreast models and the observed cooling the past 10 years? Certainly hasn’t changed any minds in the Waxman/Malarkey camp.

  90. Chase Visa

    Erasmussimo wrote:

    “The other point I’ll make to the deniers is the fact that basic physics clearly demonstrates that increasing CO2 should lead to increasing temperatures. In science, you place the greatest weight on the basic laws of physics, and proceed from there.”

    “Basic physics” tells us heavier-than-air flight is impossible. “Basic physics” says to wear the white cotton

    The climate isn’t simply about “basic physics”. It’s about astronomy, meteorology, chemistry, and botany. It’s about sunspots, precipitation, cloud cover, Henry’s Law, and changes in the earth’s biomass. It’s about a chaotic system ruled by a practically infinite number of variables.

    So ultimately we must put our trust in actual data, not “basic physics”. And the data indicate that CO2 does not now and never has driven global temperatures.

  91. Erasmussimo

    Actually, Guido, you’re incorrect in implying that we have seen planetary cooling over the past ten years. I’m sure that my claim surprises you, so let me explain it.

    Let’s consider the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It goes up and down, just like temperatures go up and down. Let’s consider how it looked during calendar year 2008. It fell during that year. However, there were lots of fluctuations. Sometimes it went up for a little while, before falling even more. Let’s suppose that it’s July 2008 and the Dow has been, in general, falling for the last seven months, and in fact has fallen quite a bit since January 2008. Suppose, however, that for the last seven days it has shown a small but steady rise. You declare that the economy has been improving for the last seven days. I claim that the economy is going down. You point to the Dow for the last seven days. I point to the Dow for the last seven months. Which of us is right?

    I would admit that you are correct that the Dow has been rising for the last seven days — that’s obvious. But the jump from the Dow to the economy has a lot of assumptions built into it, assumptions that aren’t right. The economy moves more slowly than the Dow. The Dow can jiggle up and down even when the economy is moving steadily downwards.

    In the same way, the measured temperatures can jiggle up or down on the short term, but you have to consider ALL the data to understand where the climate is going. And when we look at ALL the data for the last 100 years, we see a steady rise in temperature.

    Here’s another way of putting it: if the temperature continued to fall for another 20 years, then I’d dump the AGW hypothesis like a hot potato. Hell, if it fell for another 10 years, I’d have serious doubts about it. But would you change your mind if the temperature readings began rising next year and continued to do so for 10 or 20 years?

  92. conradg

    Interesting discussion. I’m what seems to be that rarest of birds, a full-fledged progressive liberal who is very skeptical of the AGW hypothesis. I’m not going to declare by fiat what the truth is, but I must say, having followed this debate since the 1970s, and having for a long time assumed that AGW was a serious threat, I have gradually, especially over the last ten years, come to see that it’s highly overblown, badly politicized, and primarily an exercise in propaganda, not science.

    The natural warming of the earth following the end of the little ice age in about 1950 could easily account for all the warmng we have seen. There certainly could be some warming due to increased C02 levels, but the notion that CO2 levels have the capacity to induce huge and threatening changes to climate seem unsupported. The total CO2 warming even theoretically possible is 1.5 C, and if that is responsible for warming since 1850, we have only a little more to go. Nothing at all catastrophic. If this warming is not due to CO2, but is mostly natural rebounding, we certainly have nothing to fear from human activities on this count. The idea that bizarre forcings will come into play to drive these temperatures to extreme highs is simple religious end-times hysteria, not science.

    As I’ve said, I’m a liberal, I support virtually everything Obama is doing, but on this one issue I have to strongly disagree. Cap and Trade is a terrible idea based on a false premise. THere is no need to rush this into policy, until there really is some certainty of the AGW hypothesis, especially in that so much of it is under serious scientific criticism, not just from conservatives and religious fanatics, but from those doing real science. The most rational expectation, even given that AGW is occurring, is a rather mild warming that will result in rather mild world-wide costs – nothing compared to the loss in economic productivity and wealth, particularly in third world nations, that would occur if we really did try to severely limit carbon usage. I am a huge supporter of both alternative energy proposals, conservations, gas taxes, oil import tarrifs, etc. But cap and trade is absurd, unnecessary and economically destructive. More people will die from putting these kinds of carbon caps in place that would ever die from AGW. More people will be impoverished as a result as well.

    I am of the firm opinion that the left is making a terrible mistake in embracing AGW as a near-religious belief system, and staking the name of Science to this mere hypothesis, when that is all it is, not a proven or highly supported theory. We are making a mistake similar to what conservatives did with the war in Iraq. We are claiming it is a slam-dunk when it is anything but. We are operating on faulty intelligence when a broad and lively skepticism ought to be our attitude, not unquestioning belief and embrace of something that happens to fit a particular agenda of ours. It’s true that some “deniers” are right for the wrong reasons, but even broken clocks are right twice a day. In this case, the conservatives happen to be right to be highly skeptical of the AGW hypothesis, and of any serious government efforts to cap or decrease carbon outputs for their own sake, as if this can be done in any serious way without devastating economic impact.

    I’m not opposed to government action. I’m all in favor of the most socialized form of single-payer health care we can create, for exmaple. And if I thought AGW was for real, was genuine, proven science, I’d be all on board regardless of the costs. But is simply fails the test of scientific certainty. I think it has become so badly politiced that most skeptics in the scientific community won’t even raise their voices, out of fear of being stigmatized. This is not how science is supposed to act. Science is supposed to be skeptical. The whole scientific process involves taking hypotheses like AGW apart with the most scathing attacks on every aspect of its theory. So the idea that attacking AGW as “denialism” is a total misunderstanding of the scientific process. Science is not politics, and it is only corrupted by politics when it is expected to affirm the policies politicians want, rather than merely get at the truth, even the truth many people don’t want to hear. Right now political forces have made it very costly to raise one’s voice against AGW. That’s a political victory, not a scientific one, and it’s only short-term. If in a decade the latest cooling trends have continued, and we have enacted hugely costly cap and trade policies, there will be hell to pay, just as there was for the conservatives who supported the invasion of Iraq. I don’t want to see that happen. I want Obama to succeed, rather than be known as the guy who bought into this scam. Because I’m afraid that is how it will be perceived for decades to come. It could devastate the entire left and the entire environmental movement, and any trust people have in science as being politically impartial and accurate. The smug and dismissive attitudes seen here are no different than those of conservatives during the run up to the war in Iraq. Take a look at yourselves, and ask yourself is that how you really want to be remembered.

  93. Brian G Valentine

    Funny how all the people who (evidently) use their authentic names on this response column are skeptics, isn’t it.

    Think that says anything about global warmers? – Namely, they are too damned cowardly to append their real names to what they write.

    This happens over and over again, let’s face it, global warmers are just plain old ashamed of themselves and they feel compelled to chime in with the sheep and agrree to something they don’t have the faintest clue how to decide the validity of for themselves.

    “Man-Made Climate Change” is the biggest farce to come along in a hundred years, the author of this column is too stupid to know that from a hole in the ground.

    Ragging on Morano doesn’t make it any more true, dude.

  94. baldrad

    Roger H.,

    As regards dihydrogen monoxide, we simply MUST rid our lakes and rivers of it!!!

    Take just such a petition to any “green” convention, and they’ll ALL sign it.

    And they (the Greens will tar and feather the “deniers”…

  95. Erasmussimo

    First, Conrad, I’d like to express my admiration for you to take a stand in opposition to your tribe. A liberal who rejects AGW is clearly running against their tribal pressures, and that’s always admirable. Let me address your points.

    First, I want to jump all over the idea of “rebound” in temperature. That’s absurd. Climate doesn’t have springs; it doesn’t bounce. If it’s cold for a thousand years, that does not imply that it will be warm in the next thousand years. If anything, it suggests that it will continue to be cold. So the fact of warming is most certainly NOT due to “rebound”. There are definitely causes for it.

    Next, you’re absolutely right that CO2 greenhouse effects should amount to no more than a few degrees C, depending upon how much CO2 we inject into the atmosphere. However, the gorilla in the room is feedback, of which there are many forms, both positive and negative. A few of the feedback forms are obvious. For example, when ice and snow melt, the earth or water that is exposed absorbs more heat, and that constitutes a positive feedback. Fortunately, the magnitude of that feedback is low except in polar regions. There are two other sources of positive feedback that are not well understood but are potentially huge: released of hydrated methane from the ocean floor, and melting of permafrost in northern latitudes. Both of these feedbacks are known to be real, and both appear to have the potential to yield very large increases in temperatures. We don’t have a solid grip on either phenomenon just yet but we certainly can’t afford to ignore them.

    There are also negative feedbacks, of course. The most important of these appears to be increased cloud formation from higher humidity levels. But so far, when we tote up our best estimates of the effects of the various feedbacks, the positive feedbacks outweigh the negative feedbacks, implying that our CO2 emissions will trigger larger releases that will ultimately yield higher temperatures than we could expect from the CO2 alone.

    Also, I think you have been misled about the state of scientific opinion on the AGW hypothesis. There are two good ways to evaluate that. The first is to read the scientific literature. It bristles with disagreements; if there are lots of papers arguing against AGW, then you can safely conclude that the matter remains controversial. However, if you peruse the literature, you will find very little dissent on the basic AGW hypothesis; there appears to be broad agreement with that. There’s still plenty of lively debate on a great many issues, especially on the details of the various mechanisms at work. But the overall picture is very clear: the scientific community as a whole has accepted the AGW hypothesis.

    The other good way to assess the opinion of the scientific community is to check with the National Academy of Sciences. This institution was created by an act of Congress nearly 150 years ago, and given the specific task of advising the government on scientific and technical problems as they relate to public policy. Thus, in terms of government, the NAS is to science as the Supreme Court is to law — with some important differences. While the NAS, like the Supreme Court, is composed of the elite of their profession, the NAS has hundreds of members where the Supreme Court has just nine. The NAS takes as long as it wants to decide a question, whereas the Supreme Court has to decide each case in less than nine months. The Supreme Court decides issues on a 5 to 4 vote, but the NAS doesn’t vote — they argue it out until they come up with a report that a supermajority of the scientists agrees with.

    Oh, and one other difference: the Supreme Court has made some monumental blunders in its history, but the NAS has NEVER been wrong. Not once. There is not a single case in which the NAS issued a report that they later corrected. If they don’t know, they say that they don’t know. This is exactly what happened back in 1975 when the NAS was asked to write a report on climate change. Their report said that global warming was a theoretical possibility but that the available evidence was insufficient to draw any conclusions from.

    Now, however, the NAS is quite clear that AGW is real, that it is caused by human activities, and that it poses a significant threat to our well-being. You can find their stuff on it here:

    http://dels.nas.edu/dels/rpt_briefs/climate_change_2008_final.pdf

    And there’s plenty more where that came from!

    So no, don’t trust the politicians. But if you must rely on somebody else’s judgement, I think you would do best to rely on the judgement of the NAS rather than some Internet websites.

  96. I don’t trust politicians. But I trust scientists with agendas even less. And scientists who use use a discredited “hockey stick” built from random numbers? Those guys aren’t scientists any more..

    I can read. I can understand. I even majored in Geology, thank God, so that I know how little we know compared to what we cannot comprehend in the slightest… Some theories in science are pretty straightforward and easily reproducible but SOME theories are hideously complex, confusing, involving time-scales of many decades, areas the size of continents and entire oceans all supported by a foundation of some of the most poorly understood science – unknowable numbers and unknown interactions of gases, clouds, solar variations, moisture in the air and CHAOS theory!!!

    Sadly, it’s scientists who will lose the most when the chaos finally settles and people realize they’ve been duped…

  97. interglacial john

    Erasmussimo – what warming? please do not try and trot out any of the usual suspects the warmers have concocted to convince the public otherwise. there has been no warming.this is really quite simple, you have ice ages and interglacial periods. we cannot stop either. ask yourself who melted the mile thick sheet of ice that used to exist where i now sit in my office. i was trained in climatology and can tell you without having to cut and paste anything that a reflective ball of ice will, when left to its own internal devices, continue to cool. so again, what mechanism melted the continental glaciers that have repeatedly covered large areas of this planet? (hint – the most obvious answer is usually the correct answer.)it was not an orbital wobble, not co2, not my suv. you cannot deny the sun’s effect on climate, the sun’s output is not a constant. blaming a trace gas, a small player in the greenhouse gas game, is very misguided indeed. it is time for real science and common sense to make a comeback. honestly i have better things to do than go over the same issues over and over again with someone who refuses to see the light (the sun). hey – there has been warming since last night, oh yeah, it’s that burning ball of gas you keep denying. happy warming erasmussimo!

  98. conradg

    Erasmussimo,

    Thanks for making the effort to respond to these issues. I don’t pretend to have a full grasp on them, but I do find most of these arguments to be uncertain. It’s tempting to argue from the authority of various groups of scientists, but one must also examine the evidence itself to see how convincing it really, is, and if the certainty being proclaimed by some is warranted.

    Regarding the issue of a :”ebound” in temps from 1850 onward, the concept is not absurd. In fact, the whole AGW notion of capping carbon emissions is based on it. Clearly, chaotic systems like climate tend towards equilibrium states. When something affects that equilibrium, it moves to a new state. We may not know what caused the world climate to cool during the “little ice age” of 1650-1850, but we can presume some cause was involved, perhaps something to do with solar radiation, the Maunder and Dalton minimums, etc. In doesn’t matter what it was, the presumption is that this cause was temporary, and when it ended, the climate began to nature return to its previous equilibrium, meaning towards a warmer climate than was evident during this period. This is what I refer to as “rebound”. This is not an absurd notion, and to call it that brings into question your judgment, particularly in that the whole idea of capping carbon emission to halt AGW is that there is an equilibrium that climate will return to if carbon returns to pre-industrial levels. Otherwise, what woud be the point? That cooling would also be called a “rebound” from the AGW warm period. So if rebounds are absurd, so is the remedy for AGW.

    Now, we can’t be sure what was going on during the little ice age to cause temperatures to fall. What we do know is that temperatures began rising from about 1850 on, long before any AGW effects could have been involved. In fact, most of the warming since then occurred before AGW effects are presumed to have been involved. The actual warming presumed to be the result of AGW has occurred only since approximately 1970, during a thirty year period ending at around 2000, with temperature rises of only about .35 C. This is not a terribly significant temperature rise in the overall scheme of things, and not unprecedented. It’s very hard to say that it’s actually the result of AGW, and not something that we would be experiencing anyway, in the absence of rising C)2 levels. Certainly it seems related to the PDO cycles, which recently ended, and which may signal a cooling phase that may already have begun.

    It’s also true that we have decent reasons to think this rise may be due to CO2 emissions. It’s certainly well within the science, and you are correct that most scientists will agree that this is the case, that AGW is a real effect. But you seriously overstate this scientific consensus when you argue that it includes the notion of significant positive feedbacks which would lead to serious and dangerous temperature increases for the planet. The scientific consensus on AGW, as Hansen himself says, is about .15 C. per decade. That would be at most 1.5 C rise over the next century. That’s where the consensus ends. There is a great deal of disagreement about the significance of feebacks. In fact, many scientists simply do not consider these feedbacks a serious issue. It is only a vocal and politically powerful minority that is touting them as certain and dangerous. A great many scientists look at the history of temperature change on earth, and do not see any reason to think that the 1.5 C rise from AGW could in any way create so powerful a feeback mechanism. There certainly is no precedent in the temperature records for such a thing, and definitely not as a result of CO2 as the driving mechanism. To the contrary, for the last 3 million years, the equilibrium state for world climate is an ice age, not a highly warned climate. If this interglacial were to move to a whole new equilibrium point outside its own norms, that would be the expected result, not a greenhouse state of high temperatures.

    The models which predict these extreme positive feedbacks are untested and rely on unconfirmed conjectures and unfounded speculation. It is certainly a part of science to encourage many variant hypotheses and scenarios, but the general attitde towards such things ought to be skepticism and harsh criticism, until they prove themselves, especially when so much is being presumed on their basis, and the changes being expected in the world are so radical and costly. I would definitely equate these kinds of measure and hysteria surrounding AGW to Dick Cheney’s famed “1% solution”, which is what got us into the war in Iraq. He claimed that if there is even a 1% chance that a rogue nation might harm us, we should treat it as a 100% certainty. I think this is exactly what is going on now. We are treating a very small chance of disaster as if it were certain when it most certainly is not, and asking the world to go along with a delusional campaign against AGW that bears much resemblance to our misguided war on terrorism that invaded Iraq rather than dealing with actual terrorists. And just as the invasion of Iraq actually weakened our coutnry and ended up promoting terrorism, I fear that fighting AGW by the sort of radical “invasion” being proposed by most AGW alarmists (not AGW realists) will actually harm both the environmental cause, and the plight of the poor and disadvantaged, more than allowing nature to take its course, and providing relief to those affected by climate change.

    Furthermore, I’d say that given the liesurely temperature rises forecast by Hansen, we have plenty of time to begin the inevitable process of converting the world to alternative means of generating energy, from solar to wind to geothermal to nuclear etc. If AGW is significant, it will show itself as such during the next 30 years. On the other hand, much as you dismiss the recent plateauing and even decrease in temperatures over the last decade, Hansen does not. He admits that he cannot explain it, and he proposes that there’s some unknown process that is temporarily halting temperature rises, which he presume will resume shortly. However, even he admits that if we do not reverse this trend and begin making new highs with 2-3 years, there must be some serious problems with the models. I would tend to think that we should wait a bit longer than that to see what’s going on. The notion that we are nearing a tipping point has no genuine scientific basis. It seems like some kind of “gut feeling” among those who are committed to this AGW alarmism. I don’t think we should spend trillions of dollars and plunge the global economy into an ongoing malaise (aren’t things bad enough as it is?) over a gut feeling and unfounded alarmist fears of positive feedbacks that are little more than pure speculation?

    You need to seriously think about the possibility that you and other scientists have been wrong about this issue. Your claim of infallibility for NAS is meaningless, and a sign of your not thinking properly. No one is very good at predicting the future, and all the models that have been proposed thus far have failed to do so. The models are constantly undergoing revision for this very reason. And yet still they do not accurately forecast the future. None of them forecast this present pause in temperature rises, so why should we presume them to be infallible? Again, this is the kind of “slam dunk” mentality that ruined us in Iraq. Let’s learn to be humbler about our alleged powers of prognostication and fear-mongering. It’s so easy to let public policy be guided by fear, which leads rational people to make irrational choices. The certainty of those who feel themselves to be the world’ saviors and protectors, as Bush and Cheney amply demonstrate, is precisely what we should be wary of duplicating in our own ways. It’s a very tempting role to play, and we should eshew it, out of both common sense and the need to protect ourselves from the dangers of an inflated ego.

  99. Chris S.

    Erasmussimo #32: I prefer this analogy but I’m not 100% sure those of you in N. America will fully appreciate it: Climate is predicting the top four finishers in the football (soccer) English Premiership – not necessarily in the correct order, Weather is predicting the results in each match – including the time and scorer of the goals. I’m sure this analogy can be adapted for others…

  100. Guido

    @eras, hey you finally got a hit, now your on first base. I will agree to change my mind when the IPCC forecast models are observed to be correct over the next 20 yrs. Now will you and Waxman/Malarkey agree to observe 20 yrs. of data that agrees with the IPCC forecast models before passing this Crap&Tax bill?

  101. Erasmussimo

    Conrad, thanks for your long and well-thought response. I think that part of the problem here is that you’re getting your information from some very strange sources. I don’t know what your sources are, but they are definitely feeding you some untruths. I suggest that you take an intellectually conservative approach and treat all your sources with skepticism, then sort them by reliability and take it from there.

    So let me start with some comments on the reliability of different sources. First and least reliable is the Internet. There’s an enormous amount of untruth bandied about on the Internet. Moreover, people copy, paste, and post outright lies so that they appear all over the Internet, leading a naif to think that, if so many people say it’s so, it might actually be so. A good example of this was George Will’s falsehoods regarding the statements of an Illinois research center. Somebody flatly lied about what the academics had spread. The lie spread from one place to another, and then Mr. Will picked it up and broadcast it. Gee, if George Will says it, it must be so, right? Well, the research center issued a statement declaring that they had no idea where Mr. Will got his information.

    The absolute best source of information is the scientific literature: the actual research papers published by actual scientists. If you read it regularly (not just a few papers here and there, but a bunch of it), then you can start to get an idea of what’s really going on. Unfortunately, that option is available only to those with access to a good academic library. AND it takes a lot of time. AND you have to know a lot of science just to understand what they’re talking about. In practical terms, it’s not a viable option for most citizens.

    Second best are digests written by scientists themselves. The best of these are the NAS reports. I linked you to a short brochure on the subject, but there are many more detailed reports. You expressed skepticism about the reliability of the NAS. I will agree that, although historically they really have been infallible, that is no guarantee that they’ll be infallible in the future. However, the point is not that they are infallible, but that they are far and away the most reliable source of information on this question. That’s their official function, and they do it very well. I urge you, if you have not already made up your mind on this question, you really should look over what the NAS has to say about climate change.

    Another good digest is the IPCC. They have issued many detailed reports. The most recent reports can be found here:

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/wg1-report.html

    These are technical reports and they get pretty technical. Most deniers, being conservative, dismiss the IPCC reports out of hand as the product of a leftist UN conspiracy to take over the world. I’m sure that you’re above such nonsense, so I urge you to have a look at this material. Start with the executive summaries and then dig into the meat if you have further questions. They document every claim they make with extensive references to the scientific literature. These guys dot their i’s and cross their t’s.

    So now let’s turn to some of your specifics. You propose an alternative model to explain the temperature history of the last 500 years:

    1. Something, you don’t know what, cause the earth’s temperature to fall during the Little Ice Age.
    2. That something, for some unknown reason, went away around 1800, permitting the earth’s temperature to rise.
    3. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions caused a small rise in temperature from 1970 to 2000.
    4. But now something else, you don’t know what, is at work, bringing temperatures down.

    My criticism of this model is that it has a lot of mysterious somethings in it. In fact, it’s not a model, because it does not purport to explain what has happened; in the end, the whole thing boils down to the assertion that temperatures change for unknown reasons. But the problem with that strategy is that, in order to be acceptable, you have to demonstrate that the conventional explanation, AGW, is implausible. And it most certainly is NOT implausible.

    You also base most of your argument on statements by Mr. Hansen. I remind you, no single scientist is infallible, and it is imprudent to base your position on the statements of any individual. I urge you to dump your reliance on his statements and instead consult the more intellectually conservative statements of the NAS and the IPCC.

    This leads directly to my next point. You believe that temperatures are predicted to change by only 0.15ºC per decade. Here’s the IPCC statement on projected temperature increases:

    “For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES
    emission scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept
    constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected.”

    Now, temperature increases of 0.2ºC per decade aren’t bad. The problem is that CO2 emissions are expected to grow dramatically in the next few decades. This is the inevitable result of the world becoming wealthier, with millions of people in China, India, and the Third World getting cars. It’s that dramatic growth in CO2 emissions that will push the rate of temperature increase up higher and create problems. In effect, the scientists are saying: “If you keep emitting CO2 at the rate you’re doing now, we’ll get through OK, but if you increase CO2 emissions the way it looks like you’re going to, then we could be looking at some serious consequences.”

    You also seem to think that scientists are rock-solid certain about all of this and lack intellectual humility. Again, I urge you, please don’t rely on the Internet for this information — read what the scientists themselves are actually saying. I think, when you do so, you’ll change your opinion.

    Another point you make is that there is some sort of emotional component driving the science. I’ll agree that there’s a strong emotional component among the peanut galleries on both sides of this issue. But not among the scientists as a group. Again, please, please, just read what the scientists themselves are saying, not the words that other people are putting into their mouths.

    I’m certain that, if you take the time to do some independent reading, if you dump the emotional nonsense from the advocates and go to the sources and find out what the scientists themselves are actually saying, you’ll come to the conclusion that there’s a serious issue here. What we do about it, that’s another matter entirely, and not one for the scientists to make. But we can’t make a reasonable decision about what to do if we don’t grasp what’s really happening.

  102. Dr. Booda

    104. Erasmussimo Says: “I’m certain that, if you take the time to do some independent reading, if you dump the emotional nonsense from the advocates and go to the sources and find out what the scientists themselves are actually saying, you’ll come to the conclusion that there’s a serious issue here.”

    Here’s a link to what the scientists are saying:

    http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/TheExperts.htm

    In addition, I’m one of the “31,000 imaginary scientists” that signed the Oregon Petition. My Doctorate is in Chemistry, and I’ve studied Geology, Astronomy, and Atmospheric Science as well. My conclusion today is the same as it was when I first began reading the literature on this issue in 1990; man has nothing to do with it.

    It sickens me, as someone who has devoted their entire life to Science, to witness the level of corruption that the Climate Change debate has created. Science has always stood as a search for truth, yet now we have scientists being censored and marginalized when they have contrarian views. Religion tried that evil during the Middle Ages (side note: it was really warm then too), and now we have those of the New Church of Environmentalism making the same mistake because of Political Ideology. Those of us on the correct side of the issue will be vindicated eventually, but at what cost?

  103. Erasmussimo

    Dr. Booda, the page you link to lists 19 scientists. There are tens of thousands of scientists with credentials just as good as those of the scientists you list. 19 out of tens of thousands isn’t very impressive. There are at least 19 scientists who reject the theory of evolution. Does that constitute convincing evidence that the theory of evolution is wrong?

    It is silly and pointless to do nose-counts about who supports what, because it’s so difficult to determine who qualifies as a scientist. The best way to handle this was figured out by Congress about 150 years ago when they set up the National Academy of Sciences to provide the government with reliable scientific advice. The NAS has a sterling track record. Why do you prefer the conclusions of 19 individuals over the conclusions of the NAS? Is there not some editorial selectivity going on here?

    I see that you’re one of the 31,000 people who signed the Oregon petition. That’s one. But it’s a bit of a stretch to extrapolate one genuine scientist to 31,000. As I wrote earlier, that petition has been debunked as containing lots and lots of fakes. The fact that at least one of those name is NOT a fake doesn’t do much to improve the credibility of the petition.

    Lastly, you make the unfounded accusation that the science behind AGW is corrupt and that deniers have been persecuted. I’d like to see some evidence in support of that. I doubt that you can come up with much more than hearsay.

  104. Debunked? That’s a word to describe a poor theory – it has nothing to do with with the FACT of 30+ thousand scientists. Oh, yes, there are plenty of fakes in that list, duh! That’s the fallible nature of PEOPLE, isn’t it? It doesn’t “debunk” anything, nor does the nature of humanity “debunk” anything else – talk about a red herring!!

    A stretch? You say it’s a stretch to look at one scientist and extrapolate, duh, but at the same time you extrapolate the same from some fakes in the list? Hello? Pardon me while I call shenanigans…

  105. Erasmussimo

    Dave, there’s plenty of material showing how deceitful the Oregon petition was. Here’s an old story from Media Matters:

    http://mediamatters.org/research/200602140013

    Some key points: the original petition included a paper that was formatted in exactly the same style as the papers from the National Academy of Sciences. This was so misleading that the NAS issued a statement in 1998 on it:

    “But in an April 20, 1998, statement, NAS clarified that “this petition has nothing to do with the National Academy of Sciences and that the manuscript was not published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or in any other peer-reviewed journal.” The statement added that “[t]he petition does not reflect the conclusions of expert reports of the Academy.”

    “PR Watch also noted that “[w]hen questioned in 1998, … Robinson admitted that only 2,100 signers of the Oregon Petition had identified themselves as physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, or meteorologists, ‘and of those the greatest number are physicists.’ ” The AP article reported the total number of signatures on the petition as of April, 1998 to be approximately 15,000. The AP reported that Robinson “acknowledged that little attempt was done to verify credentials of those who responded” to the petition, and though the names of the signatories are listed on the OISM website, many of the entries lack academic credentials, none lists a city of residence, and none lists an academic institution with which the signer is affiliated.”

    “Several environmental groups questioned dozens of the names: “Perry S. Mason” (the fictitious lawyer?), “Michael J. Fox” (the actor?), “Robert C. Byrd” (the senator?), “John C. Grisham” (the lawyer-author?). And then there’s the Spice Girl, a.k.a. Geraldine Halliwell: The petition listed “Dr. Geri Halliwell” and “Dr. Halliwell.”

    Asked about the pop singer, Robinson said he was duped. The returned petition, one of thousands of mailings he sent out, identified her as having a degree in microbiology and living in Boston. “It’s fake,” he said.

    “When we’re getting thousands of signatures there’s no way of filtering out a fake,” Robinson, 56, said in a telephone interview from Oregon.”

    Meanwhile, Scientific American (http://web.archive.org/web/20060823125025/http://www.sciam.com/page.cfm?section=sidebar&articleID=0004F43C-DC1A-1C6E-84A9809EC588EF21) reported:

    “Scientific American took a random sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition—one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages. Crudely extrapolating, the petition supporters include a core of about 200 climate researchers‐a respectable number, though rather a small fraction of the climatological community.”

    If you wish to look at the petition itself, you can find it at:

    http://www.oism.org/pproject/

    along with its mail-in form for signing the petition. Anybody can sign and there is no verification of the process. So all we really know is that OISM lists 31,000 names that it claims have been returned to it claiming to be scientists.

    Anybody can prepare a list of 31,000 names derived from various sources purporting to be experts on any given field, supporting any given political position. Verifying that list is another matter entirely.

  106. So, you don’t trust a list with a STATED agenda but you do trust politicians and scientists with unstated agendas, hmm?
    Yeah, history is full of examples of the wisdom of your ‘logic’…

    I repeat, when history tosses the murky and unverified AGW theory into the dustbin, the damage to scientific credibility and science in general will be HUGE. Payback is a nasty you-know-what, and if you think it’s nasty now, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

    Embrace the hockey stick and you’ll fall head first to the ice below…

  107. Erasmussimo

    Dave, I certainly don’t trust politicians, but I do trust most scientific institutions whose history I know. I’d like to turn the question around: why DON’T you trust the NAS?

  108. Refute this:

    The scientific data already proves that human produced changes in CO2 are not a major driver of global climate, never mind the primary driver of global climate. The planet has been in a cooling trend since 1998. If this were only a surface-temperature trend, it could still be consistent with the theory that the small amount of late 20th century warming was caused by human CO2 emissions, since the warming effect of continued CO2 emissions could be getting stored in sub-surface ocean water. But ocean temperature measurements show the opposite: that for the last five years, the entire ocean has been cooling. (See Graig Loehle, “Cooling of the global ocean since 2003,” 2009. Energy and Environment. Volume 20, No. 1&2, p.101-104. See also, Roger Pilke, “A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system,” Physics Today, Nov. 2008, p.54-55.)

    Not only does this falsify the hypothesis of Anthropogenic Global Warming, but it is powerful evidence for the leading alternate explanation for late 20th century warming: that it was caused by the extraordinarily high levels of solar-magnetic activity between 1945 and 2000. The sun has been in an extended lull for the last five years, and the cooling we have experienced over that period is exactly what the theory of solar-magnetic warming predicts.

  109. Erasmussimo

    Alec, the scientific data does not prove what you say it does. It is meaningless to declare that the planet has been in a cooling trend since 1998, because climate effects manifest themselves over many decades, not just one decade.

    On the question of ocean heat content, I suggest that you look at

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/06/ocean-heat-content-revisions/#more-572

    for a detailed explanation of what’s going on. The source you cite is, I believe, not a peer-reviewed publication and therefore is not to be granted the same credence that a peer-reviewed paper would earn.

    Why don’t we let the scientists figure out what’s going on with ocean heat content?

  110. Erasmussimo

    Oh, one other thing. You refer to the “theory of solar-magnetic warming”. I was under the impression that no clear mechanism has been developed for the claimed correlation between solar activity and global temperatures. Could you refer me to a source explaining that mechanism?

  111. Dr. Booda

    106. Erasmussimo Says:

    “There are tens of thousands of scientists with credentials just as good as those of the scientists you list.”

    Where exactly does that number come from? Your own AWG Petition? I have never seen any documentation that lists such a number. IIRC, the entire UNIPCC was only a few hundred scientists, with less than 100 major peer reviewers.

    “It is silly and pointless to do nose-counts about who supports what, because it’s so difficult to determine who qualifies as a scientist.”

    I find it quite easy to determine who qualifies as a scientist; I ask the individual if they have a Science degree.

    “Why do you prefer the conclusions of 19 individuals over the conclusions of the NAS? Is there not some editorial selectivity going on here?”

    I never mentioned the NAS in my first posting, my opinions on their judgment isn’t germane. I prefer the conclusions of the “19” because they match my own. As I have previously stated, I have formed my conclusions by reading literature on the subject since 1990 and by educating myself in all of the relevant fields. That’s what it means to be a multi-disciplinary scientist; one never stops teaching oneself new areas of expertise.

    “But it’s a bit of a stretch to extrapolate one genuine scientist to 31,000.”

    Actually, it is a stretch to disenfranchise the legitimate scientists who signed a petition because of a few clerical errors. There may be 30,000 legitimate names on that list, but even the number is lower, the existence of even 15,000 would suggest that there is definitely not a consensus in this country on the matter.

    “Lastly, you make the unfounded accusation that the science behind AGW is corrupt and that deniers have been persecuted.”

    Again, you are misquoting my words. I never said that the science behind AWG is corrupt; I said that Science has been corrupted during the Climate Change debate. There is no such thing as consensus in Science or statements such as “The Science Is Settled.” There is always hypothesis, experimentation, and debate; that’s the entire basis of the scientific method. Science never stops searching for truth; it strives to add to the current base of knowledge.

    As for deniers being persecuted, I would suggest that you read the column that started this blog in the first place. It’s such a caring and open-minded discussion on the AWG matter. There is so much tolerance oozing from the prose that it warms the soul.

  112. Marco Polo

    I wonder how people can assert that the warming stopped in 1998?

    Science is difficult to refute with emotional and political assertions that ring empty in the face of evidence. For example, Fawcett and Jones point out that the data suggests warming hasn’t stopped since 1998, when they present evidence to the contrary:

    “There is very little justification for asserting that global warming has gone away over the past ten years, not least because the linear trend in globally-averaged annual mean temperatures (the standard yardstick) over the period 1998-2007 remains upward. While 1998 was the world’s warmest year in the surface-based instrumental record up to that point in time, 2005 was equally warm and in some data sets surpassed 1998. A substantial contribution to the record warmth of 1998 came from the very strong El Niño of 1997/98 and, when the annual data are adjusted for this short-term effect (to take out El Niño’s warming influence), the warming trend is even more obvious.

    “Because of the year-to-year variations in globally-averaged annual mean temperatures, about ten years are required for an underlying trend to emerge from the “noise” of those year-to-ear fluctuations. Hence, the fact that 2006 and 2007 were cooler than 2005, is nowhere near enough data to clearly establish a cooling trend.”

    http://www.aussmc.org/documents/waiting-for-global-cooling.pdf )

    For another look at it, there is the popular scientific article “Did Global Warming Stop in 1998?” by John Cook at SkepticalScience.com:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm

    Cook, by the way, points out that the Deniers seem to be motivated by two main points, which I see throughout this particular thread. Cook explains:

    “Firstly, many reasons for disbelieving in anthropogenic global warming (AGW) seem to be political rather than scientific. Eg – it’s all a liberal plot to spread socialism and destroy capitalism (or sometimes just plain dislike for Al Gore). As one person put it, “the cheerleaders for doing something about global warming seem to be largely the cheerleaders for many causes of which I disapprove”.

    “Beneath the politics is a more elemental instinct – an aversion to alarmism. We’ve been burnt before. The media predicted an ice age in the 70’s which never eventuated. Y2K was going to destroy society – it was barely a hiccup. And I won’t deny there are alarmists in the global warming camp. Urgent cries that the ice sheets are on the verge of sliding into the sea. Or emotional pleas to save those cute little polar bears. Sadly, alarmists seem to be the loudest voices in the global warming debate. But that doesn’t change the science underneath. ”

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/page.php?p=3

  113. Erasmussimo

    Dr. Booda, the number of scientists is easily determined from surveys of graduation data. The numbers have been exploding in the last few decades because so many foreign schools are growing, but the last set of numbers I saw in the 1990s were, IIRC, something around 6,000 astronomers, way over 100,000 physicists, and about a million life sciences people. These are all PhDs. I’m sure that we could find the numbers somewhere on the web, but these numbers give an idea of the scale. I think my gross estimate of tens of thousands is reasonable.

    Your approach is considerably more lax and in fact is what the Oregon Petition people did. And sure enough, thousands of people claimed to have a science degree, even though, as was demonstrated by the material I posted on Scientific American, many of those were admitted by the organizers to be fakes.

    I’m going to jump all over your attitude towards the NAS, (“I never mentioned the NAS in my first posting, my opinions on their judgment isn’t germane. I prefer the conclusions of the “19” because they match my own.”) Perhaps your opinion of their judgement isn’t germane, but their judgement itself is most certainly germane. Indeed, I claim that their judgement is far and away the most germane judgement of anybody’s. So why do you reject their judgement? You give the answer: you reject their judgement because they disagree with you.

  114. “You see, the secret goals of scientists are to increase taxation and grow the government. They can’t help but spout that talking point. It’s like Movement Conservatism Tourette’s Syndrome.”

    Scientists didn’t write the Waxman-Markey bill – lawyers, lobbyists and activists in cahoots with liberal Democrat Congressmen did. Dont blame scientists for this horrible fiasco of nanny-state eco-fascism run amok!

    http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/News/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=7059
    Determining who actually designed much of the legislation also intrigued the committee. On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., asked U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., “Mr. Weiner, how much of this bill was written by the National Resources Defense Council? And who was in the room?” In response, the famously loquacious Rep. Weiner stood uncharacteristically silent until Terry concluded that he would get no answer.

    THESE NON-SCIENTIST ACTIVISTS WROTE A TERRIBLE BILL…
    WashPost’s Steve Pearlstein: “The other thing to say about it is that it is a badly flawed piece of public policy. It is so broad in its reach and complex in its details that it would be difficult to implement even in Sweden, let alone in a diverse and contentious country like the United States. It would createdozens of new government agencies with broad powers to set standards, dole out rebates and tax subsidies, and pick winning and losing technologies, even as it relies on newly created markets with newly created regulators to set prices and allocate resources. Its elaborate allocation of pollution allowances and offsets reads like a parody of industrial policy authored by the editorial page writers of the Wall Street Journal. The opportunities for waste, fraud and regulatory screwup look enormous.”

    Cost estimate for Waxman-Markey runs into tens of thousands of dollars per household over next 10 years.

  115. Dr. Booda

    116. Erasmussimo Says:

    “Dr. Booda, the number of scientists is easily determined from surveys of graduation data. The numbers have been exploding in the last few decades because so many foreign schools are growing, but the last set of numbers I saw in the 1990s were, IIRC, something around 6,000 astronomers, way over 100,000 physicists, and about a million life sciences people. These are all PhDs. I’m sure that we could find the numbers somewhere on the web, but these numbers give an idea of the scale. I think my gross estimate of tens of thousands is reasonable.”

    Your gross estimate is not only unreasonable, but without any evidence, similar to the AWG models.

    “Perhaps your opinion of their judgment isn’t germane, but their judgment itself is most certainly germane. Indeed, I claim that their judgment is far and away the most germane judgment of anybody’s. So why do you reject their judgment? You give the answer: you reject their judgment because they disagree with you.”

    Why on Earth should the judgment of the NAS be followed like the Rule of Law? Are we living in Nazi Germany where no independent thought is allowed? The NAS did not as a whole confirm the hypothesis of AWG. There was no poll of all of the members, and the decision was solely made by the leadership of the organization. That is not how Science is supposed to function. There is no “vote” to decide what hypotheses are correct or incorrect. Only data can prove or disprove such facts.

    The road towards Fascism begins with the censorship of debate and the elimination of independent thought. Science is and always has been the polar opposite of Fascism, and I’ll always strive to speak my opinion regardless of any organization’s “declaration”.

  116. Erasmussimo

    Dr. Booda, you completely misunderstand the role of the NAS here. They do not rule anything. However, they did make a recommendation, and that recommendation is the most reliable recommendation available to our policymakers. There’s no law requiring our policymakers to comply with the NAS recommendations — but it would be idiotic not to.

    Similarly, you seem to think that the NAS should operate in the same fashion that a republic does. It in fact operates more carefully than that. It assembles teams consisting of eminent scientists whose expertise is most appropriate to the task. Those teams then work out their report. They do not require unanimity, but they do rely on more than a simple majority to make their determinations. The deliberations of any single group are done in secrecy, just as many of our democratic deliberative processes are done in secrecy. You are welcome to criticize their methodology but you cannot deny the established fact that it has produced excellent results for nearly 150 years.

    Lastly, I observe that rejecting conclusions merely because you disagree with them is unreasonable.

  117. conradg

    Erasmussimo,

    I’ve been away for the weekend, and have at last had a chance to review your last reply. I appreciate your lengthy response, but I have to say, it’s not a very good one. I know we come from similar political backgrounds, but scientifically, I’m just a lot more skeptical of authority than you are, simply because I know from experience that authority is often wrong.

    I appreciate the efforts of the NAS and IPCC to come to grips with the AGW situation, but trying to give authoritative answers when there is insufficient evidence to come to authoritative conclusions is a highly misleading way to go about these things. I understand the political pressure they are under to give some kind of rational explanation for these things. I also understand that their reputation and funding often depends on telling politicians something they want to hear. I understand that they would never consciously think they are shading their recommendations in the process – just as many in the intelligence community didn’t think they were telling the Bush administration what they wanted to hear when it came to WMDs and the Iraq war. I opposed that war not because I’m a leftist ideologue, (even though in some respects, I actually am) but because I examined the evidence carefully and found it severely lacking, regardless of what the “experts” claimed.

    I find myself in a similar position in regard to the AGW. It would be very convenient, based on my politics, to support the AGW thesis. I just don’t find enough evidence available to support it, and the authorities who do don’t seem entirely credible in their approach to the evidence, but seem to be part of a political apparatus that has much more to gain than lose by supporting AGW measures. I do think the evaluation of the science has been corrupted by politics in the process, and that if there were no political pressure involved, and this were being examined in some purely abstract sense, as, say, a thesis about the climate of Mars or Jupiter, there’s no way the statements by the NAS or IPCC would be anywhere near as strongly in support of AGW as they are. Why? Simply because the evidence is nowhere near conclusive, and could really swing either way.

    I would certainly agree that one should be skeptical of all sides in this debate. I’ve certainly encountered many anti-AGW dissenters who are emotional, even hysterical, right-wing conspiracy buffs who distort the science and misrepresent the evidence and the statements of scientists. But frankly, such people are pretty easy to spot and disregard. But as I’ve seen all too often, even these people can still be right, if for the wrong reasons. The fact that these people are my natural political opponents doesn’t make them wrong on this issue, even if its easy to think that way. I’ve come across a great many anti-AGW sources who are highly credible, with just as strong science and climate backgrounds as the supporters, and who are clearly not motivated by hysteria, conspiracy theories, politics, or incompetence. They are very sincere scientific skeptics who simply remain unconvinced by the actual evidence. I read Will’s column, and I agree, it was just ignorant, and testimony to how most media commentators on this subject just don’t understand the science. But that in no way means that his skeptical instincts were wrong, only that he doesn’t know enough about the subject to speak intelligently about it. Many who opposed the Iraq war (like Will himself) were similarly unable to give informed reasons for it, and merely spouted slogans that agreed with their own instincts. And yet, they turned out to be right.

    As for your warning about finding sources on “the internet”, what world do you live in, for God’s sake? Need I remind you that you are on the internet? Are you warning me not to take your own opinions seriously, because you are on the internet? The NAS and IPCC reports are on the internet too. Should I disregard them? There are slews of pro-AGW sites, like Realclimate, that are on the internet. Are they all untrustworthy as well? Or is it only skeptics on the internet who are untrustworthy? Doesn’t that display an incredible bias on your part? You say that my sources have fed me untruths. And yet, you don’t cite a single untruth I’ve put forward to justify that remark. Am I just to take your word for this, because you’re on the internet?

    Now, I agree that I should take an intellectually conservative approach. You seem not to understand that the word “conservative” in this context doesn’t mean “bowing to authority”, but it means using only what can be considered very certain evidence when trying to prove a new theory. AGW is a new theory, a rather radical one, not a conservative one, and so it requires some very credible and highly convincing evidence to support it. I am being quite conservative in examining the evidence, and I simply don’t think the NAS or IPCC are being conservative enough. There are many issues in every aspect of the case that I don’t think they are being conservative enough about, but the most prominent is their reliance on computer models that have not demonstrated any reliable predictive power. Computer modeling can be very effective when the models can be honed by running them through an experimental system over and over again to confirm their predictive power. The problem with climate is that we can’t do that. We can’t compare these climate models to multiple earth-experiments to show whether they are true or not. Anyone experienced in modelling knows that trying to create a chaotic system model on the run in real-time to predict the future of that system is almost impossible. I don’t fault the modelers for creating imperfect models – they are doing the best they can under the circumstances. But I do fault the evaluaters of the evidence for putting much credibility in them, because their best is far from good enough.

    I don’t dismiss the official reports out of hand. But it’s simply true that many of the original participants in these reviews refused to sign the final drafts, or only partially agreed with the results. There is far from a consensus on these matters. I don’t think there’s some UN socialist conspiracy involved. There’s the usual mix of human fallibility and politics producing the all-too-common result of bad advice and bad policy. Mix in with that a media propaganda war on both sides that cares very little about the truth – Al Gore himself admits that he’s exagerted the threat of AGW in order to motivate people to act – and it’s a rather polluted atmosphere in which to carefully consider the evidence.

    Now, as for your remarks about the specifics I mentioned, you state:

    1. Something, you don’t know what, cause the earth’s temperature to fall during the Little Ice Age.
    2. That something, for some unknown reason, went away around 1800, permitting the earth’s temperature to rise.
    3. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions caused a small rise in temperature from 1970 to 2000.
    4. But now something else, you don’t know what, is at work, bringing temperatures down.

    My criticism of this model is that it has a lot of mysterious somethings in it. In fact, it’s not a model, because it does not purport to explain what has happened; in the end, the whole thing boils down to the assertion that temperatures change for unknown reasons. But the problem with that strategy is that, in order to be acceptable, you have to demonstrate that the conventional explanation, AGW, is implausible. And it most certainly is NOT implausible.

    I agree that there are many mysterious things going on in climate. Are you saying there aren’t? Are you suggesting that my not being able to say what caused the Little Ice Age means that I’m somehow scientifically ignorant? Do you know what caused the Little Ice Age? Does anyone? Do you know why it ended? Does anyone?

    This only reminds us how little scientists really know about climate change. They do know it happens, and it happens a lot, but they don’t know why it happens most of the time. They have various theories, but not many that are proven to a very high degree of certainty. They don’t even know for sure what causes the major Ice Ages. And yet, somehow you want us to believe that they DO know with a great deal of certainty that the current warming over the last 30+ years is caused by AGW? How exactly is that possible? It’s certain a valid hypothesis, something to consider and scrutinize for evidence, but how can you or they be anywhere near certain about this, when they don’t know very much about what causes all the other, far more major climate changes that have occurred in the last few hundred, thousand, and even hundreds of thousands of years?

    I mean, there was global warming in the earlier part of this century, from about 1910-1945, which is every bit as strong as the warming trend of the last 30-35 years. And yet, that warming was not driven by AGW, since we didn’t have enough CO2 buildup to account for that. So do we know why the earth warmed during that time? Do you? Clearly, we don’t. Maybe it had to do with the PDO. In any case, if we don’t know what caused it, how do we know what caused the most recent warming trend? Yeah, it could be AGW. Or it could be something similar to what occurred in 1910-1945. It could be something else entirely. And when this current climate trend changes, we probably won’t know why that happened either. That’s the sad truth. It could well be that warming has peaked over the last ten years, and will now decline. If it does, no one will know why, and I bet the AGW theorists will claim that when this cycle is over, AGW will continue again, and even worse? Why can they do that? Beause when we don’t know what causes climate change, any theory can claim some credibility, and ones that carry a particular emotional and political impact will be the most attractive.

    And yes, of course I don’t know why the temperature rise of 1970 -2000+ has leveled off, and possibly begun to reverse. Obviously there is a cause however, since all physical events have physical causes. Whether it is temporary, and warming will resume, is impossible to say for sure. As I said earlier, Hansen himself doesn’t know what caused it, nor does anyone. However, since the AGW models themselves all predicted a continuing rise in temperatures during this time that have not come about, either Hansen’s .15/decade increase or the IPCC’s .2+, it’s an important issue. Even if AGW is the driving force, this interruption needs an explanation for AGW to remain credible as the cause of the warming it interrupts. Hansen is the one who, in defending the AGW theory, hypothesizes that the explanation is some temporary sink that will soon abate, and AGW will resume its course. But even this is purely guesswork driven by the presumption that AGW was behind all the temperature increases of the last 100 years, something still not proven.

    And yes, Hansen can be mistaken, as can all scientists, and as can all collective enterprises by scientists. In fact, collective efforts are more easily mistaken, as they can multiply the errors of individual scientists. That’s why there is no such thing as “scientific consensus”. Such political inventions only exagerate the errors within any scientific investigation, rather than minimize them. Genuine science steers awary from collectivism and sticks to evaluating the evidence itself. That’s the only way to minimize collective errors. For that reason one never argues from authority in genuine science, but only from the evidence.

    You base your notions of greatly increased temperatures beyond .2C/decade on exponential increases in CO2 output. But the numbers already take that into account, and the fact that there are diminishing returns on increased CO2 production. Past a certain point, the greenhouse effect of CO2 simply reaches a maximum level that it cannot increase beyond. Beyond about 600-700 PPM, there simply isn’t any more “warm” in AGW. And the pure warming due to CO2 alone, even at its max, can’t be more than 1.5C total. The rest of the estimates are due entirely to highly controversial claims of positive feedback forcings that will be driven by this small increase in temperature. The suggestion is that the earth’s climate is incredibly fragile and that very small changes in atmospheric concentrations of trace gases like CO2 can tip it into extremes. But we have no history of this to turn to. Instead, we get a highly stable “top” in all the interglacials. The only “tipping” seems to occur when the climate falls into an extended Ice Age, and none of that is at all indicated to be caused by changes in trace greenhouse gases. If the earth were prone to highly positive feedbacks, we would have many such instances over the last few million years of such runaway warming scenarios. Instead, we have none at all. Furthermore, we don’t have any solid evidence behind any of these positive feedbacks. Instead, we have good reasons to think that many of the feedbacks will actually be negative, that our climate has many mechanisms which negate greenhouse gas feedbacks and keep climate relatively stable.

    So there doesn’t seem to be many good reasons to fear anything dramatic from increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Even if AGW is ocurring due to CO2 emissions, the rate of warming will fall, rather than rise, and it will peak at a low, rather than increase to some dramatic and dangerous level.

    You also seem to think that scientists are rock-solid certain about all of this and lack intellectual humility. Again, I urge you, please don’t rely on the Internet for this information — read what the scientists themselves are actually saying. I think, when you do so, you’ll change your opinion.”

    Actually, no, I don’t think real scientists are at all certain about AGW. I think a few very loud propagandists and environmentalists are certain, but scientists themselves simply feel pressured to make or sign political statements that stretch the envelope of their certainty. And that’s just the problem. There is very little genuine certainty going on in the scientific world, and yet the public is being led to think that there is, that it’s “case closed”. Scientists with doubts are reluctant to speak out because of this atmosphere, which has a serious effect on careers and funding.

    “Another point you make is that there is some sort of emotional component driving the science. I’ll agree that there’s a strong emotional component among the peanut galleries on both sides of this issue. But not among the scientists as a group. Again, please, please, just read what the scientists themselves are saying, not the words that other people are putting into their mouths.”

    Here I disagree strongly. Scientists are human beings, and very prone to emotion, despite the stereotypes. They emotionally promote their own theories, and emotionally attack theories they dislike. They use evidence in both cases, but they are not above employing the evidence with emotion. Often they let their emotions get the best of them in many debates, and they have to make great efforts to look at the evidence unemotionally. Careers and funding are often at stake, not just personal theories. We expect too much of science if we think it is some unbending, unemotional machine of evidence. We have to learn to untangle the emotion from the evidence at every step of the way. This AGW debate is highly emotional not just in the peanut galleries, but in the front ranks of science itself – as is every serious scientific debate. Pretending otherwise is to perpetuate a delusion and a stereotype about scientists as unemotional, purely objective creatures of some kind of Vulcan origin, rather than human beings with all their fallibilities and foibles. Read a biography of Newton some day.

    I’m certain that, if you take the time to do some independent reading, if you dump the emotional nonsense from the advocates and go to the sources and find out what the scientists themselves are actually saying, you’ll come to the conclusion that there’s a serious issue here. What we do about it, that’s another matter entirely, and not one for the scientists to make. But we can’t make a reasonable decision about what to do if we don’t grasp what’s really happening.

    I have no doubt there’s a serious issue here. But I have grave doubts that the issue will be decided by the evidence in favor of AGW catastrophism. In fact, I have almost no faith whatsoever in that conclusion. Anything is possible, of course, but the evidence to date simply doesn’t point in that direction. What I do feel certain is that if you actually examine the real evidence, and not merely invest your faith in convenient authorities who agree with your politics and policies, that you will one day see that your own faith in AGW catastrophism has been misplaced. And like the neocons who led us into war in Iraq, you will come to deeply regret that in the process you have perhaps fatally destroyed many ideas and goals you once held dear.

  118. Dr. Booda

    Yet another UNIPCC scientist discusses true science:

    http://www.nzcpr.com/guest147.htm

    The debate continues…

  119. Eric (skeptic)

    As a conservative “like most deniers” I would point out that the IPCC is political (leftist) and has changed its tune and will change it again. The 2001 hockey stick, for example, was buried under a mish mash of estimates in 2007. The IPCC does not represent a scientific consensus, but a political one. The science they publish is cherry picked. They dismiss M&M’s useful critique of the hockey stick but buried the stick anyway because it was laughably unscientific.

    Cherry picking happens a lot, like talking about positive feedbacks (sea floor methane, permafrost methane) while ignoring evidence (methane is decreasing), and ignoring positive feedbacks (concentrated convection, e.g. stronger hurricanes, is a negative feedback), the greening of the Sahara will be a negative feedback, etc). Cherry picking is plentiful on the other side, for example 1998 peak warming. I think temperature has been flat from about 2002 or so, rising to 2005 and falling since. I don’t think that constitutes much of an argument for anything.

    A quick note on CO2: without it the earth would be basically frozen, there would not be enough greenhouse effect to get water vapor in the air to cause the bulk of the warming. More CO2 will cause a bit more warming, the only serious question is the feedback.

    A note on ice cores, they are extremely smoothed and out of sync. Each layer of ice has thousands of years of CO2 gas smoothed into it. Ice that is thousands of years old still has present-day CO2 leaking into it. OTOH the isotope-based temperature estimates come from the water itself so a lot less smoothing and no leakage. Conclusions of warming first then CO2 need to carefully checked for assumptions of accuracy. There is also little doubt that prior peaks of CO2 in the ice record far exceed the present day measurements but were smoothed out.

    Note on the impending catastrophe. There is little science about how Greenland melts, just lots of anecdotes (lakes on the ice sheet, rivers emptying into tunnels, etc). Then a hand wave about how the water will lubricate the bottom of the ice sheet and cause it move faster. Faster where? The bottom is below sea level. The current fast glaciers are a tiny subset on the coast. They are not “holding back” the interior ice as if the interior ice is just slush ready to flow to the sea. It is quite solid, not slush.

    Finally the most important point of all: the original author has it backwards. The current cap and trade is the last stand of the alarmist warmers and their cherry picked science and catastrophes. Warming, natural or not, is mostly a good thing and most people realize that. Most congressmen realize that most people realize that. If the current radical leadership and radical administration can’t pull this off, it is dead forever.

  120. Pardon if I repeat earlier points I do not have the patience to read every reply before venting my spleen.
    Consider Chris Mooney’s statement:
    “Once a law passes, meanwhile, there will be no reason any longer even to discuss whether global warming is real and human caused. The decision will have been made at the level of policy.”

    I find this attitude alarming in the extreme. “Who cares what the facts are once we get the policy implemented?!” Does this mean the policy is more important than the facts?

    Do not forget the parables of Chicken Little, or of The Emperor’s New Clothes. The majority of congress does not decide what is fact. Empirical evidence decides what is fact. And the facts about the facts are there is insufficient empirical evidence to justify the policy outlined in the Global Warming Bill. Note I am not saying that the empirical evidence says there is no global warming or that it says it is not cause by human activity. I am pointing out that the EMPIRICAL evidence is ABSENT at the level where one can make far reaching and certainly economically detrimental policy. Yes many of the dissenters have an agenda. Their agenda is to prevent the Federal government from screwing us over with this loaded bill.

    There is certainty that there is great political pressure to “toe the line” and “shut up if you don’t agree with the orthodoxy”. This makes the dissenters true Heritics = individuals who will be persecuted for their opposition to the orthodox view. I do wonder how long it will take before thumb screws and breaking on the rack will be used to quiet the dissenting voices. Of course burning at the stake is right out unless we can sequester the resulting CO2 produced.

    Is it shocking that the remaining dissenters are all Republicans? They are the only ones who do not rely on DNC financing for their campaigns.

  121. Menippus cynicus

    1000 denialists won’t disprove a theory, but a single fact will. Einstein said something like that about general relativity. Is there a fact that will disprove either AGW or NGW? I don’t think so. Whatever happens, either theory can be adjusted to accomodate it. Arctic ice sheets melt even faster than the climate models predicted. That fact disproves neither theory, though it does perhaps indicate the climate models need some further adjustment.

    When Arrhenius put forward his carbonic acid theory, many denialists remained convinced of Croll’s “now discredited” hypothesis that when the northern hemisphere warmed, the southern hemisphere cooled and vice-versa. But hang on, isn’t that what’s happening now?

    And so the argument rages on and on and on.

  122. Eric (skeptic)

    Looks like I was right about the politics. The last stand was the House passing their cap and trade. The Senate didn’t bother with their watered down, special-interest version, nor will they ever. House members seeking re-election in 2010 are not going to brad about how they voted for cap and trade, but it will be used against some of them.

    As for the science, I underestimated the maleficence of the AGW proponents who ran the IPCC (the main sections on modelling, paleo and instrument record). They conspired to thwart skeptical articles from being published, withheld data from skeptics, and generally behaved like spoiled 8 year olds. When I first read the emails the day after they were published, I thought they were fake. Nobody could be that stupid and juvenile. But I was wrong, they are real.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs.For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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