Dude, Where's My War on Science?

By Chris Mooney | July 1, 2009 11:23 am

My latest Science Progress column just went up–and just in time, as I have been repeatedly asked to comment on recent allegations that the Obama Environmental Protection Agency quashed a dissenting report on the science of global warming. So to all those who want me to condemn the current administration on this score, just as I condemned the previous one, here’s the thing: You just don’t get it. Moreover, the way in which you just don’t get it underscores how right-wingers managed to become such unrepentant abusers of science in the first place.

The “war on science” argument that I made in my 2005 book crucially hinged on matters of scientific substance. Not only was the Bush administration interfering with science conducted at federal agencies, but moreover, the agency scientists were right, and the administration was wrong–or at least, the agency scientists had strong arguments that should have been taken very seriously.

That is not remotely what we have in the present case. Let’s recap, from my column:

The saga began on June 26, when CBSNews.com’s Declan McCullagh—the journalist responsible for launching the infamous Al Gore/Internet story—breathily reported that the Obama administration Environmental Protection Agency “may have suppressed” a scientific report skeptical of human-caused global warming. Based on internal emails provided by the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, McCullagh’s story highlighted the work of a longtime EPA employee named Alan Carlin, an economist at the agency’s National Center for Environmental Economics. Carlin, it turned out, had prepared a 98 page report questioning the mainstream scientific understanding of climate change on multiple fronts. The scandal, McCullagh suggested, was that Carlin’s dissent was not adequately considered in the process leading up to the agency’s recent proposed endangerment finding on greenhouse gases.

At this point, conservatives thought they had a real scandal on their hands. Problem is, they didn’t pick a winner–Carlin’s report is scientific hogwash. As I write:

Climate researcher Gavin Schmidt of NASA….has written a very devastating analysis of the claims made in Carlin’s paper, calling it “a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at.” For instance, much like Washington Post columnist George Will notoriously did earlier this year, Carlin’s report claims the globe is in a cooling trend. This is an egregious misreading of the last 10 or so years of global temperatures, and is based quite literally on a trick: If you begin with the hottest year on record—1998—then of course it looks like we’ve been cooling since then.

And of course there are many other problems with Carlin’s claims–and with the claims of conservatives who have trumpeted them.

Does any of this mean the Obama administration is impervious from scientific criticism? Of course not:

I rather doubt it will happen on global warming, but surely there could be a scientific issue where a dissenter within the administration advances scientific claims with quite a great deal of merit to them, only to find these claims disregarded or, worse, interfered with in some way. If that happens, I and many others will criticize the administration for it. But first there will have to be some scientific substance to the whistleblower’s case; the claims should be, at minimum, seriously arguable based on the latest and best science. That’s something conservatives have flagrantly failed to understand in the present instance.

It’s precisely that disregard for scientific substance, of course, which explains why they could perpetrate a “war on science” in the first place.

You can read the full column here. And no, I don’t expect the folks at Watts Up With That, or Climate Depot, to take heed.

More from Joe Romm, Grist, Media Matters, Think Progress, Adam Siegel, and many many others.

Comments (198)

  1. John Kwok

    Where I would take issue with the Obama administration would be in any substantial advocacy of such “clean” energy technologies as wind and solar power. Neither one would be capable of supplying up to 40% of America’s energy needs by mid-century. Instead, I have to agree with NASA climatologist James Hansen – who had stressed this very point at one World Science Festival panel discussion on nuclear power – that the best means of reducing our “carbon footprint” and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions – would by expanding substantially our reliance on nuclear power, with the latest technological advances for both ensuring plant security and reducing radioactive waste, in place.

  2. Jon

    I’m willing to look at nuclear.

    I read David Frum mostly to get the scoop on Republican attempts to grasp reality. I don’t consider him a reliable source on science and technology. But he had an interesting post yesterday on French nuclear power, who, from what I’ve heard, have made it somewhat economical:

    http://www.newmajority.com/ShowScroll.aspx?ID=6682ac86-fd6e-45da-b611-dd70a1695cb1

    I’m cautious, but if it can be made to work…

  3. Hi Chris,
    Very funny attempt to explain your indifference in the Obama EPA supression case. You seem to be implying that because Real Climate has trashed the report by Carlin, it is not credible.

    Take a look at this full report on the accuracy woes of RealClimate.org and Schmidt and Mann. You know if Carlin were on what you view the “correct” side of the science and Bush was President, you would be all over this. You need to admit this and be frank about it.

    Here is the my latest report on the history of sad scientific claims and inaccuracies made by RealClimate.org.

    http://www.climatedepot.com/a/1742/Climatologist-slams-RealClimateorg-for-erroneously-communicating-the-reality-of-the-how-climate-system-is-actually-behaving–Rebuts-Myths-On-Sea-Level-Oceans-and-Arctic-Ice

    You may want to think twice next time you uncritically cite the activists at Real Climate as a source.

    Enjoy!

    Thanks
    Marc Morano
    http://www.ClimateDepot.com

  4. Mel

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that nuclear can only be a stop-gap solution to our energy needs because there are only very limited accessible supplies of fissile material on the planet (this wouldn’t be a factor, of course, with fusion, but that is a ways off to say the least). It made sense, but I never followed up on it. Does anyone here know anything about the issue?

  5. John Kwok

    Jon –

    Thanks for the link. I heard at that WSF panel discussion about forthcoming “4th generation” fission nuclear power plants which would work using radioactive waste as well as uranium and plutonium. The other experts on the panel – who included a physicist who is the president of Rochester Polytechnic Institute – believe that these plants could reduce substantially the radioactive half-life of remaining waste down to a few centuries, not tens of thousands of years. Historically France has thrived on nuclear power for decades.

  6. Jon

    Marc Morano! cool. How’s that Exxon Mobil money, Marc? All that Noise Machine corruption embodied in one person. Worked for Limbaugh. Worked for the Swiftboaters. He is a one man wrecking machine.

    The incarnation of what David Frum called “the giant Tupperware party” of slimy operators that has been shaping our national conversation in recent years…

    Cool to see him here.

  7. John Kwok

    @ Jon –

    P. S. I meant Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, not what I said previously. Its president, Dr. Shirley Jackson, is a highly regarded nuclear physicist.

    @ Mel –

    No, and especially with present, and future technologies (fourth generation nuclear fission power plants), nuclear power isn’t a “stop-gap solution to our energy needs”, but instead, most likely, the most viable permanent solution we have for the very reasons stated by climatologist James Hansen.

    @ Marc –

    At my undergraduate alma mater’s geology department – which is well known for its work in paleoclimatology – only one of its five or six paleoclimatological researchers – and he is a professor emeritus still working as an oil industry consultant – believes that our current understanding of global warming and climate change is substantially wrong. Personally I’ll accept as valid, the excellent data and analyses done by NASA climatologist James Hansen and his colleagues, over that of my misguided former geology professor, especially when Hansen et al.’s research have been well-substantiated, at least since the mid 1990s if not before (BTW, I happen to be a registered Republican with strong libertarian biases and someone who has a background in paleoclimatology, so don’t dismiss my support of Hansen’s work as the ravings of yet another liberal Democrat.).

  8. Mel

    @John Kwok

    I understand that is your position, and it might be correct. What I am curious about, and would like some help with, is the amount of available fissile material. Is the big advance with the new reactors that they can run on new radioactive material generated by older reactors using mined fissile material? Do we no longer need to worry about running out of easily mined fissile material?
    Beyond my question, I think that nuclear is going to continue running into public perception problems, and, given this, is it is only prudent to plow money into other options that would have the upshot of required a continual feed of monies that would generate ongoing jobs. True, these technologies likewise have their problems. I won’t deny that. All power generation does. Given that, we also need to put a great deal of emphasis on conservation and reducing unnecessary energy use (building more compact cities and discouraging sprawl development is an important aspect of this).

  9. Scott Robertson

    “You may want to think twice next time you uncritically cite the activists at Real Climate as a source. ”

    The debate is over because there is no way to respond to that statement.

  10. D Johnson

    Jon:

    When someone engages in a totally ad hominem attack such as yours, it demonstates how vacuous their thinking on a subject really is.

    Whether you pick 1998 as a starting point for trends, or 2000, or 2001, temperature trends are falling well below mean projections of the climate models relied on in the IPCC AR4 report.

  11. It’s fair to ask how much U-235 is available at reasonable cost, but estimates tend to be for quite a lot. A Nature article within the past year suggested that there’s much more that could be mined than has been found thus far.

    Known reserves have increased 15% in the last two years, since higher prices finally caused there to be some actual exploration for uranium. This suggests that new supplies aren’t really that difficult to find. Here’s an address that deals with the issue: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf75.html

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t recycle plutonium and uranium from spent fuel, however. Many countries do it, so whatever proliferation risks exist from the practice, well, they exist now. Breeder reactors should at least be pursued, to make the fuel cycle much more efficient.

    Yet it remains a fact that reprocessing is a risk, one that needs evaluation. The economics and risks may be too great. But uranium supplies will be adequate for a few decades anyhow, almost certainly. One reason for this is that there are solution-mining methods for extracting some of the uranium, a relatively cheap way to extract uranium from fairly low-grade ores.

    It’s almost certainly necessary to make more reactors that use U-235 now, while we look more closely at reprocessing and breeding of fuel. Whatever solar and wind can contribute, it is not baseload generation, which is necessary to undergird our electrical system. Baseload generation comes from hydroelectric, fossil fuels, and nuclear, almost exclusively. We can’t increase hydro significantly, so nuclear needs to take supply more of the baseload generation. The U-235 is there, while reprocessing may be what is needed to deal with nuclear waste, as well as to keep from squandering all of the easily available U-235 in a few decades.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  12. Erasmussimo

    Mr. Morano answers RealClimate’s discrediting of the report in question by attacking the RealClimate people. Note that he makes no effort to defend the report itself.

  13. Chris

    Easy to gloss over, but Carlin has a lot of good data, which should give us pause. Trivializing it is irresponsible considering the massive changes proposed on society, which have been shown to not be effective in Europe, will be massively expensive and show minimal results. Lomborg’s economic analysis should not be dismissed because he is not a scientist, as Carlins. Although I’ll take a Physics major over most other degrees as one capable of analyzing technical data.

  14. Jon

    D Johnson–You’re attacking me because you have nothing to say to the arguments of Joe Romm, Chris Mooney, or anyone else commenting on this story.

    The right wing denial machine is a cruel joke. I feel bad for all the people that don’t have the background to understand all the misinformation and aluminum-siding-salesman PR tricks…

  15. jae

    You are completely missing the point, here. The CENTRAL issue that Carlin has is that EPA should have surveyed RECENT peer-reviewed Climate Science articles and BOTH “sides” of the AGW science debate. EPA did NOT do this, hopefully resulting in a black eye for its leaders. If you don’t think EPA politicized the science in this instance, you are just as politicized as the Agency is!

  16. Erasmussimo

    I just read the piece the Mr. Morano links to. It’s not worth anybody’s time. The entire content of the piece consists of a hyped-up version of a short piece by Roger Pielke, Sr, criticizing a piece by RealClimate. (Gadzooks, the levels of indirection are getting deep here!) Mr. Pielke is a well-known denialist. So Mr. Morano’s piece is really just another part of the climate change denialist merry-go-round of webpages quoting each other round and round. For good measure, Mr. Morano appends links to a number of other hit pieces. If the merry-go-round goes round and round fast enough, you don’t notice that it has only one horse.

  17. Jon

    “Both sides.” I guess “both sides” would be the side of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists versus every other scientific organization in the world?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Statements_by_dissenting_organizations

  18. Mel

    Thanks, Glen! That answers my question quite well, and thanks for the links. That’s one less thing to worry about.

  19. Erasmussimo

    Chris and jae, there is certainly a useful debate to be had over the economics of responses to climate change. Unfortunately, we’re not having that debate; we’re still screwing around with climate change denial, which is itself balderdash. I would like to see better work done on the likely costs and benefits of climate change mitigation.

  20. realist

    Discover has it’s own war on science. The problem is the temperature keeps dropping ad Discovery hasn’t discovered it yet. Even worse, Discovery opened a round table discussion in the mag with the false information that the Antarctic is warming. It ain’t.

    The oceans are not rising, the Arctic is recovering, the sea isn’t warming, neither is the troposphere, CO2 keeps increasing and yet it’s effects are negligible.

    Until someone at Discovery steps forward and demands the magazine and bloggers PROVE the planet is warming, then Discovery will remain at war with science.

  21. @ Marc (# 3)

    You say, “You know if Carlin were on what you view the ‘correct’ side of the science and Bush was President, you would be all over this.”

    Yup. And if Carlin were on the correct side of the science with Obama as president, I would also be all over it. But he isn’t on the correct side of the science, which is precisely the point–and you conservatives miss it once again.

    It’s all about the substance.

    Chris

  22. Erasmussimo

    realist, your claims just aren’t substantiated by the research. But let me instead explain something about the science that might help you better understand the data. You’re quite right that our current measures of global average temperatures have shown a decline since 1998. However, if you look at global temperatures since 1999 (use the graphs on page 2 of the Carlin report), then you conclude that global temperatures have risen. If, on the third hand, you look at temperatures since 2001, you’ll find they haven’t changed at all. So, which cherry do you want to pick? The answer is always the same: use ALL the data! Don’t cherry pick anything. And if you use all the data, you see a clear and strong upward trend.

    Moreover, in evaluating fluctuations, you have to consider the relaxation time of the earth as a thermal reservoir. Most of the earth’s thermal reservoir is in its oceans; they have a relaxation time measured in decades, which is why the usual definitions of climate change all consider 30 years as the minimum breadth of time a change has to endure to be considered secular rather than a fluctuation.

  23. realist2

    The moon is made of green cheese. Until Discovery acknowledges that the moon is made of green cheese, then it will be at war with science.

    The moon is not made of goose liver pate, it’s not made of pigeon guano, it’s not made of fairy dust, it’s made of green cheese.

    I don’t care if you have dozens of experiments showing it’s not green cheese, it is. Because I said so.

    Until someone delivers a moon rock to my desk, and the space glove that was used to retrieve it, complete with traces from the moon expedition on its fingers, showing it’s not green cheese, Discovery will be at war with science.

  24. Soil Creep

    Erasmussimo, you are correct. Marc Morano shows up and tries to turn the issue into a blogger duel between Gavin Schmidt and Roger Pielke.

    And leaving aside the merits of Pielke’s criticism of Schmidt and RealClimate (which don’t have much merit at all), what’s truly laughable is that Pielke’s discussion fails to address the main criticisms of the Carlin document! That the global trend is not one of cooling, that the solar forcing attribution analysis cited is wrong, that the IPCC (2007) and CCSP (2009) reports are not significantly out of date, etc. Instead Pielke raises his typical complaints about sea levels not rising and ocean heat storage issues as well as some terminological grievances. Clearly these are the only criticisms Pielke would put his stamp of approval on.

    So failing to address the substantial criticisms against the Carlin document, THIS is what Morano uses as evidence to rant against RealClimate. Well done and Cheers! LOL!

    and jae, science doesn’t operate like Fox News. There are not two sides to science; ideally there’s just science. Of course there is good science (which is always sound but sometimes may be founf to be incorrect) and bad science (which like a broken clock may be correct but is never sound). The problem in the instance was not the failure to review “RECENT peer-reviewed Climate Science articles”. The problem with regard to peer-reviewed science is with the Carlin document itself! Of course this is only controversial to the denialist crowd. What a surprise….

  25. You’re welcome, Mel. I found the Nature source, too:

    Capacity: Because nuclear power requires fuel, it is constrained by fuel stocks. There are some 5.5 million tonnes of uranium in known reserves that could profitably be extracted at a cost of US$130 per kilogram or less, according to the latest edition of the ‘Red Book’, in which the IAEA and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) assess uranium resources. At the current use of 66,500 tonnes per year, that is about 80 years’ worth of fuel. The current price of uranium is over that $130 threshold.

    Geologically similar ore deposits that are as yet unproven — ‘undiscovered reserves’ — are thought to amount to roughly double the proven reserves, and lower-grade ores offer considerably more. Uranium is not a particularly rare element — it is about as common a constituent of Earth’s crust as zinc. Estimates of the ultimate recoverable resource vary greatly, but 35 million tonnes might be considered available. Nor is uranium the only naturally occurring element that can be made into nuclear fuel. Although they have not yet been developed, thorium-fuelled reactors are a possibility; bringing thorium into play would double the available fuel reserves.

    http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080813/full/454816a.html

    Of course a point some have made is that as poorer ores are used it takes more CO2-producing energy to extract it. Nevertheless, there often are more efficient processes being developed for mining, enrichment (centrifuges are more efficient than the old gas diffusion method), and use of uranium being developed and used, so it’s not clear that providing uranium to reactors is going to become significantly worse than it has been. Right now nuclear is far better on that score than are any of the fossil fuels (something like 15 times better than coal), which, of course, also require energy for extraction, usually supplied by fossil fuels.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  26. realist

    Using the most recent decade, which is NOT following the CMs, is not cherry picking, it is comparing observable data with the CM projections. The CMs failed.

    It was always a joke using cloudless CMs to predict climate. Clouds are what will prove the alarmists wrong. That time is coming soon.

  27. james wheaton

    Someone is right, and the other wrong – either Morano and all whom he represents, or the climate science community. Our government representatives hear these opposing views and take their positions, and not being climate scientists, the views they take can be based on ideology or something other than plain facts since the plain facts are so disputed. The future of mankind as we know it is being called into question here, and the arguments and posturing continue, with no end in sight. Already Waxman-Markey is withering before our eyes, and it isn’t even law yet, if it ever becomes law.

    I find myself wondering if somehow a forum could be created where certain members of Congress, representatives of the climate science community, representatives from a denier source (CEI?), and maybe even Fox news, could get together for a few days and hash it out. Dont’ let them come out of the room until all agree, and a document to that effect is published. Couldn’t the current administration somehow create this forum? What other ways are there to make the facts about our climate indisputable to all but the religous fundies?

    I personally know what the outcome would be – but it is this senseless arguing that needs to stop. The deniers are winning, in a country that is too “unscientific” to stop it. If the climate science community is anywhere near right, any delays or weakening of our policy will be deadly to our next generation.

    I have a feeling the right wingers would not be willing to do this. And that alone should answer alot of questions.

  28. Erasmussimo

    Realist writes:

    It was always a joke using cloudless CMs to predict climate

    Would you please cite which climate models are cloudless?

  29. Jon
  30. james wheaton

    realist says:

    “It was always a joke using cloudless CMs to predict climate. Clouds are what will prove the alarmists wrong. That time is coming soon.”

    I sincerely hope you are right (but you are not, as that argument has been largely debunked). I have children whose futures depend on that or some other major error in the CM’s. And as soon as the errors of their ways are exposed, I will trade in my little Honda Fit for a nice fast super car, and bow at the feet of the denier community. From what I can see, I’d say the odds of your being right are around 10%, and the climate science community 90%. Hell, I’ll give you 20%/80%. I say this because of the expertise levels in the climate science community versus in the denier community, the obvious conflict of interest in the denier community, and real things that are happening now, like disintegration of Antarctic ice shelves, northward and upward migration of ecosystems, longer summer weather, shorter winter weather, melting polar ice cap in summer, melting tundra permafrost, etc, etc.

    I’ll be asking my senator to vote for Waxman-Markey.

  31. A random passing physicist

    The claim here appears to be that it is OK to suppress an opponent’s argument or point of view “because we’re right and they’re wrong”. It’s a familiar argument, and one that has been used many times; often by people who have later, with hindsight, proved to be disastrously and catastrophically wrong themselves.

    The trouble is, *everybody* believes “we’re right and they’re wrong” to some degree. It wouldn’t be a belief otherwise. So how can we be sure we’re not deluding ourselves? J.S. Mill gave one answer, when he argued for free speech in his essay On Liberty. We can believe in a proposition if it reliably withstands all attempts to falsify it unscathed. Allowing open criticism strengthens the justifications for our own beliefs, forbidding it kills them dead.

    It’s also the basis of the scientific method. It seems especially bizarre to cite a “we’re right and they’re wrong” argument for leaving out one entire side of the debate, and at the same time to be claiming to be on the side of science.

    Had the submission been rejected for a list of technical reasons, that could be considered reasonable. But the *stated* justification for rejecting it was that the administration had already decided to go ahead on endangerment, and the submission didn’t help the case for doing so. Even if the submission was totally wrong, that’s *not* an acceptable reason.

    The point the submission made was that the EPA had not even *considered* the other side of the debate. Carlin’s paper was rushed up very quickly over 4 days, and is badly flawed. Even Carlin said so, as have other sceptics. It has some good bits in it, but it is by no means the best or most complete case for scepticism that can be made. But it’s argument wasn’t that these issues were necessarily correct, but that they hadn’t even been considered. The EPA hadn’t even looked. On one side, we have the entire machinery of government working for months, on the other, one-and-a-half non-specialist scientists for less than a week, and getting into trouble for spending even that much time on it. That’s not how science works, and it’s not how the EPA normally works, and it’s not how legislation is supposed to be made.

    Carlin’s claim is that in order to reject the sceptical side of the debate, you have to consider the sceptical arguments in detail, evaluate them scientifically, and be able to explain (and preferably document) for each of them why it was rejected. The contents of the document were simply to demonstrate the existence of such counter argument. That people like Gavin happen to disagree with it is no surprise.

  32. GeneB_NoAGW

    james wheaton, I think Climate Science is too young for there to be a winner to emerge from your precious “room of all sides’ views”. New science is still being uncovered. Let’s not ruin our economy (yet) until we know much much more. We need climate models that actually produce results that agree with reality.

  33. Chris Mooney wrote:

    Morano wrote: “You know if Carlin were on what you view the ‘correct’ side of the science and Bush was President, you would be all over this.”

    Mooney’s Reply: “Yup. And if Carlin were on the correct side of the science with Obama as president, I would also be all over it. But he isn’t on the correct side of the science, which is precisely the point–and you conservatives miss it once again. It’s all about the substance.”

    How sad Chris. You main concern is that the “science” have the predetermined outcome that you agree with. To hell with the process if you disagree with the “correct side” of the science?

    No wonder so many man-made climate fear promoters want to shut down any dissent.

    See this report featuring a small sampling of threats, intimidation and censorship: http://www.climatedepot.com/a/1724/All-Hail-the-Planet-Immorality-of-climatechange-denial-NYTs-Krugman-accuses-Congressmen-who-voted-against-climate-bill-of-treason-against-the-planet

    But, as you no doubt know, it’s kind of hard to shut down massive international scientific dissent to your vaunted “correct side” of the science. See here: http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=10fe77b0-802a-23ad-4df1-fc38ed4f85e3

    Chris, you really should reevaluate your position on this, there is still time for you to redeem your reputation.

    Your current view will only lead to the best science politics can manufacture.

    How sad that the purported champion of uncorrupted silence hides behind the veil of “correct side” science justifies the means. And that is the real “substance” of the matter.

    Regards,
    Marc Morano
    http://www.ClimateDepot.com

  34. Jon

    you have to consider the sceptical arguments in detail, evaluate them scientifically

    OK, then what specifically did Carlin find that all of these scientific organizations missed?

  35. Jon

    Wow, Morano, so this is your “massive international scientific dissent“?

    That’s the best you can do? Kinda pathetic.

  36. anon

    Mel,

    Nuclear fuel is present in ocean water. We could strain it from the ocean for billions of years, desalinizing the water while we’re at it.

    In addition, nuclear fuel deposits are located across the solar system. If you want to get hardcore about sustainability and talk about human needs thousands or millions of years into the future nuclear is the answer.

  37. Daryl T

    Who made you Chris Mooney the ultimate sage on the validity of any science contained in this report? Silencing of dissent or opposing views for political gain has no bias as to the correctness of the dissenter.

    The facts here are simple.

    1) Was there a report that should have been included in the EPA process?

    2) Was this done for political reasons?

    That is it. The whole issue boiled down to the two relevent points.

    Your bias on this incident shows that your “War on Science” is actually a novel and not any sort of open discussion of the politicizing of science and scientific debate. It is a political attack novel like “Third Term” by Paul Begala.

    Again the relevant validity of the science in the report is of no consequence in this context. I think your readers are now better informed as to your motivations and biases that pollute your articles and other works. Being on the side of science means that you cannot take a position on the validity of scientific arguments, the scientific method takes care of that for you.

    I am very tired of people in positions to defend science from any political interventions that only choose a party to represent rather than the independence of science that they claim to be defending. A sad day for you and for the defense of science by the Party of Science.

  38. Now that Marc is no longer employed by the Senate, it’s much easier to not care what he says. If he thinks he’s right, he should try to get his arguments published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. While he probably believes there is a massive scientific conspiracy afoot to shut down his views, the truth is that the claims he advances have been dismissed over and over again by real scientists working on this issue.

    -Daganstein

  39. doo-wop

    Here’s a bit of simple science to consider: Cause and effect. Specifically, how much is Morano getting paid by Exxon Mobil to bait Chris with his annoying posts?

  40. Jon

    Daryl T Was there a report that should have been included in the EPA process? …That is it.

    The better question would be: Was the draft (isn’t that better than report in this case?) appropriately handled by the EPA process.

    If some EPA employee gathers a bunch of debunked, denialist internet links during his off hours and then compiles them together into a document, that doesn’t deserve the same treatment as the work of the NAS, IPCC, etc. That would be an absurd waste of taxpayer resources.

    Someone could look at them. And from what I understand, that’s actually what happened in this case.

  41. Soil Creep

    Daryl T: Yes, the facts are simple. The report was included in the EPA process and it failed inter-agency review – and it damn well should have.

    Like Jon says above, its the latest bunk from denialist blogosphere.

    And I’m amazed that you state that the “relevant validity of the science in the report is of no consequence”? Are you kidding me? The validity of the science has everything to do with why this paper failed the review! What do you think the “scientific method” is? The review process (whether undertaken by government scientists or otherwise) is an integral part of the scientific process.

  42. james wheaton

    Morano – I read your posts and I conclude you are a talented snake-oil salesman. Your only talent is baffling people with bull*hit. Reminds me of the Gish gallop. Ever hear of that? If not, it is the term coined for the tactics Duane Gish would use when debating “evolutionists” where he would let fly with so many (bogus) statements so fast that the debator could not possibly address them all in the time allowed. If done skillfully, it can be very effective.

    Yup, that’s you. I have very little respect for those who do not educate themselves enough to provide meaningful discourse. I detest those who are more educated and willfully disregard it for another agenda, and try to flood the discourse with bull*hit. I think that is also you.

  43. Orson

    Chris avers: Does any of this mean the Obama administration is impervious from scientific criticism? Of course not

    Ridiculous – the O-man is impervious to the facts of history. Where has universal medicine ever cost less without offering less? Much less? Blank out.

    IF someone is impervious to falsification, one is probably unscientific.

    A random passing physicist sums it:
    “It seems especially bizarre to cite a ‘we’re right and they’re wrong’ argument for leaving out one entire side of the debate, and at the same time to be claiming to be on the side of science.”

    So much for Mooney’s “cause.”

  44. Soil Creep

    james wheaton – in the climate blogosphere, Marc Morano is at the very least a useful indicator species. His comments sprout up, often unexpectedly, like mushrooms on manure. So when he pops up in a discussion, you know someone uncovered a steaming pile of BS.

  45. To James Wheaton:

    “Someone is right, and the other wrong – either Morano and all whom he represents, or the climate science community. Our government representatives hear these opposing views and take their positions, and not being climate scientists, the views they take can be based on ideology or something other than plain facts since the plain facts are so disputed”

    This is creating some form of equivalency, as if “Morano and all whom he represents” has equal merit and substance as “the climate-science community”. Hmmm … Just there, don’t you see a minor little problem in that false equivalency.

    It is fact that not 100% of those who are expert in the relevant scientific domains believe that humanity is the driving factor behind global warming. It is fact that there are disputes on how to analyze the data and understand the implications of that analysis. It, however, also fact that the vast majority of those expert in the relevant scientific domains do believe that humanity is the driving factor behind global warming. And, it is fact that there is a large agreement about the general ways to analyze the data and the core implications of that analysis.

  46. Orson — While this post was not about medical care, you should consider checking out the actual situation around the world. OECD countries are providing universal health care, achieving far better results, at far lower costs than the US system. … Why not actually go out and look at the studies, at the data, at the facts and reconsider your assertions?

  47. Orson

    Reading the entire thread, I am reminded by Chris the fact that no AGW-alarmist has ever actually won a debate with realist-critics. Not one.

    Chris supports Stalinist science – not reasoned debate, rooted in facts, evidence, repeatable analyses, and falsifiability. Stalinist science rejects real science for political ends that justify the means.

    In short, Chris is a fraud, supporting politicized “collectivist” science that many leading authorities in their respective fields dissent from.

    Thus, Paul Reiter, leading infectious disease microbiologist calls the IPPCC a fraud and resigned; Richard Lindzen, atmospheric physicist; Nils Axil-Morner, field geologist specializing in sea level assessment; Christopher Landsea, climatologist and hurricane specialist. I could go on with more of those leading and dissenting scientists who have rejected the IPCC “process” and resigned.

    What’s left for alarmism? Models and their specialists. Oops! THE leading scientist in prediction, Scott Armstrong, calls these models unscientific.

    As I said, Chris is a Stalinist. QED.

  48. SLC

    Well, I see that the climate change denialists, led by Marc Marano and his sockpuppets are out in force today. This is as predictable as the phases of the moon. Just like his anti-vaccination counterpart Dr. Jay Gordon and his sockpuppets come out of the woodwork at Dr. Oracs’ blog every time he lays a load of not so respectable insolence on them. Just like the HIV/AIDS deniers come out of the woodwork at Tara Smiths’ blog every time she posts something on AIDS.

  49. Orson

    A Siegel:

    Orson — … you should consider checking out the actual situation around the world. OECD countries are providing universal health care, achieving far better results, at far lower costs than the US system. … Why not actually go out and look at the studies, at the data, at the facts and reconsider your assertions?

    THIS is getting off topic, but yes, I have.

    As many have noted, socialized medicine is often superior at providing basic care. The measures indicate this. But not at extending lifespans, where the US life expectancy is greater at 40-50 years old (eg, many US cancer-cure rates are better than Euro-socialist countries). The US tradition of federalism and immigration defeats the first, while individualism and capitalistic greed helps the latter.

    If you want to kill the Goose laying Golden Eggs, be a man about it and admit it you’re a goose-killer.

    O-man is a neo-Marxist who favors redistributed misery (which is why I voted against the damned idjit and went Pubbie for Prez for the first time in my life last November – and proudly so!).

  50. Jon

    As I said, Chris is a Stalinist. QED.

    Chris, the Shachtmanites are coming after you.

  51. jae

    Creep (various posts), Jon (various posts), Erasmussimo (19):

    Please read and try to understand post 31, by the random passing physicist. Or, alternatively, provide some facts, instead of rants.

  52. Jon

    Well, give us something to chew on. What was in the report that wasn’t properly considered?

  53. Daryl T

    Jon and Soil Creep.

    Where is the review or the results of the review? Both documents ( Draft and Review) should be included in the process. The reasons for refusal had nothing to do with the process.

    Obviously Jon never read the Draft Report or the citations, but that is beside the point.

    Soil Creep’s logic suggests that any comments and submissions for the process that disagreed with the EPA’s pre-determined outcome, or fail some sort of internal review by those who made the determination and hence determined the results before hand, should similarily be excluded from the record? Including public comments? They do have every right to provide reasons for not using certain data and research, but it must be documented.

    That is not how the process works, nor is that the scientific method, you are confusing the two. The EPA process is not the scientific method, it is a bureaucratic machination, the review portion looks at ALL the relevant science presented via reports and uses the Scientific Method (via internal or external research and data analysis) to weigh the research they use in their determinations.

    On actual science, Peer Review is NOT a validation of conclusions of research, only assessments of methodology and review of data and citations, it is an artifact of publishing science.

    In science there is no “debunking” there is only new research supported by data that invalidates current scientific theory. Commentary and op-eds are not part of the scientific process. In order to accept a scientific theory, you must determine if any new data or observations invalidates it, theories are only accepted, not proven correct but simply have not been proven wrong. If the computed results do not match the observations, it does not matter who wrote it, how smart they are, what they have done in the past, who believes it, or who advocates it, once it is proven to be wrong, it is wrong. That is the nature of science.( thanks to Prof. Richard Fenyman for the last line paraphrased)

    Reports that consolidate research are not science, they are consolidation papers and opinion pieces, they are used to bring relevant scientific research via citation into the process to allow a full and complete examination of the actual relevant science. By excluding the report they throw away much of the newest research and data that should have been included by the process but was counter to the EPA position. That is the real intereference in the Scientific Method, when known information is supressed and not addressed.

    They could have completely found all the cited information was incorrect but they must address it as part of the process, and that is the real issue. They suppressed it in order to not have to provide valid reasons for rejecting the relevant science.

  54. GeneB_NoAGW

    Jon said: Or what did all of these scientific organizations ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change ) fail to consider?

    I don’t trust Wikipedia. Here’s one example of why: http://www.postchronicle.net/newsboard/index.cgi?frames=n;read=20641

  55. Jon

    The talk about “the scientists” and their processes and institutions (the IPCC, the NAS, etc.), versus “the other side” (hmm, who is that?) sounds an awful lot like the opposition between “the reality based community” and the poor, oppressed people in power during the last administration.

    It sounds like special pleading on the part of poor students at the end of a school year. If you do incompetent work, there are consequences, no matter how much whining and pleading you do.

  56. Erasmussimo

    Let’s clarify an important point: the Carlin document was never part of any of the established procedures that the EPA uses in making decisions. Do you think this government bureaucracy can do anything without having a procedure for doing so? Reports such as this start with an announcement of what needs to be decided, and some sort of specification of who is expected to do what. All the various documents that are produced by this order are then gathered together and their various disagreements are ironed out, until finally the digested summary of all that gets submitted to the top level for a decision. Mr. Carlin’s document had no place in this process; it was nothing more than a letter to the editor. Moreover, it fell far outside Mr. Carlin’s sphere of expertise. He is an economist, not a physical scientist, and his thoughts on the matter should have been rejected without any consideration because he has no authority in this field. Indeed, *I* (and many more here, I’m sure) have a sounder basis for claiming authority. So if *I* were to submit a letter presenting my own opinions, would anybody expect the EPA to include my letter in its formal deliberations?

    Orson weighs in with a variety of, shall we say, strong statements. However, I found this statement particularly ironic:

    Chris supports Stalinist science – not reasoned debate, rooted in facts, evidence, repeatable analyses, and falsifiability.
    when compared with another of Orson’s statements:
    O-man is a neo-Marxist who favors redistributed misery (which is why I voted against the damned idjit and went Pubbie for Prez for the first time in my life last November – and proudly so!).

    Three cheers for “reasoned argument”!

  57. jae

    LOL. It is fun to watch the libs scramble to try to put a PC spin on this issue. But no matter what they do, in the view of any impartial observer, the senior EPA bureaucrats now have some serious egg on their faces for politicizing science. Ironically, they have hurt their position, big time!

  58. Jon

    The EPA process is not the scientific method, it is a bureaucratic machination…

    That’s true, actually. The EPA themselves can’t hope to improve on what was already done by the scientific community.

  59. anon

    Soil Creep,

    The report was not included in the EPA process. Just saying a false thing is true does not make it true.

    This is not a matter of framing. The emails state explicitly that the report was not to be circulated anywhere in EPA and Carlin was threatened to keep silent about the entire process.

    Once again 2+2=5 is not true just because you, a liberal, say it is.

  60. Erasmussimo

    DarylT, you present an admirable defense of the rational process of decision-making for complex processes such as AGW. But then you follow with this statement:

    By excluding the report they throw away much of the newest research and data that should have been included by the process but was counter to the EPA position.

    “Much” of the newest research and data? How “much”? 25%? 50%? Did Mr. Carlin review all the scientific research of the last three years? Did he summarize the overall results? And did he even have the scientific training to evaluate the hundreds of papers that have been published on the subject in the last few years? I propose that Mr. Carlin presented a cherry-picked collection of tidbits that he found on the web and slapped them together without a thorough examination of all the relevant information and without even understanding the meaning of the information that he did include. And you believe that such information requires a “stop the presses” response from EPA?!!?!?

  61. jae

    “Let’s clarify an important point: the Carlin document was never part of any of the established procedures that the EPA uses in making decisions.”

    Baloney. Proper science or honest bureaucracies do not limit who gets to speak up. And I think Carlin has a background in the physical sciences (physics, IIRC).

  62. A random passing physicist

    Jon,

    “OK, then what specifically did Carlin find that all of these scientific organizations missed?”

    It’s not what Carlin found. It’s what the EPA failed to even look at. In a court case, both prosecution and defence get to have a say. It doesn’t matter if he’s “clearly guilty” or it’s obvious that “we’re right and they’re wrong”. It doesn’t matter if the advocate for the defence was unable to muster a comprehensive unbeatable case in the five minutes the court permitted him. It doesn’t matter if even with the best defence possible he would still have been found guilty. If you have a court case in which no defence has been permitted or considered, the verdict is unsafe and justice has not been done.

    And citing “scientific organisations” is itself unscientific. It’s absolute classic Argument from Authority.

    Scientists are human, and scientific organisations tend to be run by committees and politics. Nobody is going to rock the boat, or court controversy if that is going to hurt the organisation’s funding, membership, or reputation. Also, the scientific Establishment tends to be very stuffy and conservative about radical new ideas, and very intolerant of dissent. Consider this quote:
    “Although Bohr, Fowler, Pauli, and other physicists agreed with Chandrasekhar’s analysis, at the time, owing to Eddington’s status, they were unwilling to publicly support Chandrasekhar.”
    In this case, it was the discovery of black holes, that are now scientifically accepted. If towering figures like Bohr and Pauli feared to cross the Establishment, what makes you think today’s scientists are any different?

    Nullius in Verba. Science always recovers eventually, but sometimes it takes a while.

  63. Jon

    Erasmussimo: The Carlin document was never part of any of the established procedures that the EPA uses in making decisions.

    Thank you. It actually got more attention by the bureaucracy than it deserved.

    But denialists insist that we argue the obvious.

    Yes folks, cigarettes cause cancer. And CO2 is “causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising.”

  64. Marc Morano claims that Roger Pielke Sr has shown that RealClimate’s criticism of Carlin is wrong. But Peielke Sr’s arguments are laughably bad.

  65. jae

    “Did Mr. Carlin review all the scientific research of the last three years? Did he summarize the overall results? And did he even have the scientific training to evaluate the hundreds of papers that have been published on the subject in the last few years? I propose that Mr. Carlin presented a cherry-picked collection of tidbits that he found on the web and slapped them together without a thorough examination of all the relevant information and without even understanding the meaning of the information that he did include. And you believe that such information requires a “stop the presses” response from EPA?!!?!?”

    LOL, you just demonstrated clearly that you have not even “skimmed” Carlin’s report, let alone read it enough to know jusy what the hell you are talking about!

  66. Jon

    This is not a court case being argued over by lawyers. And the economic interests affected are not oppressed victims of an “establishment.”

    Or if they are, they are oppressed in the same way that this scientist is in this Onion article:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/49180

  67. Erasmussimo

    jae takes issue with my claim that the Carlin report was not part of the established EPA procedure:

    Proper science or honest bureaucracies do not limit who gets to speak up.

    But honest bureaucracies do (and MUST do) set a schedule under which various steps of the process must be completed. If a bureaucracy permits Party A to submit new arguments after a deadline, then why can’t Party B complain that they were given no such benefit? I checked a more complete story of what actually happened and it is clear that when Mr. Carlin presented his results, he was doing so outside of the normal process and after the decision had been made. In effect, Mr. Carlin is demanding that the entire process be reversed so that his own contribution can be discussed.

    You also mention that Mr. Carlin has a physics degree. It’s a BS in physics. I hold an MS in physics. Therefore, should not MY comments be given at least as much weight as Mr. Carlin’s? Should not I be able to demand that the EPA halt its process so that I can write up my own report?

  68. Jon

    LOL, you just demonstrated clearly that you have not even “skimmed” Carlin’s report, let alone read it enough to know jusy what the hell you are talking about!

    We aren’t paid to troll websites full time the way you are.

  69. Soil Creep

    To clarify Erasmussimo’s point, Carlin was not a member of the working group responsible for developing the EPA’s endangerment finding.

    If you want to argue that the working group was probably composed of proponents of AGW, etc. etc. and were therefore inclined to reject Carlin’s “findings” – fair enough (although many of us agree that they should be rejected). We can agree to disagree on this point – but that type of rejection is a far cry from the politicization of science you’re claiming (regardless of our views on the scientific method and John Stuart Mill).

    Unless of course you’re arguing that any attempt to dismiss denialist claims about global warming is a “politicization of science”….Wait. Now I understand. NM.

  70. Erasmussimo

    jae writes,

    LOL, you just demonstrated clearly that you have not even “skimmed” Carlin’s report, let alone read it enough to know jusy what the hell you are talking about!

    Didn’t you see the numerous links Mr. Carlin provided? Or perhaps you should make your accusation specific?

  71. jae

    “We aren’t paid to troll websites full time the way you are.”

    Hmm, I’d be interested to know who “we” are here…

    Anyway, you admitted I was correct :)

  72. Jon

    Anyway, you admitted I was correct

    No I personally have not sat down with the 98 page report. But I have followed Marc Morano’s career. And it aint pretty.

  73. jae

    Erass…, 67:

    Well, you would have a point, IF the dummies at EPA would have made that type of objection/excuse. But, see, they weren’t as smart as you are with your hind-sight, and they gave a response that clearly demonstrates the politicization of science and suppression of knowledge/facts.

    “You also mention that Mr. Carlin has a physics degree. It’s a BS in physics. I hold an MS in physics. Therefore, should not MY comments be given at least as much weight as Mr. Carlin’s? Should not I be able to demand that the EPA halt its process so that I can write up my own report?”

    THAT statement is so full of logical fallacies that it almost made me ruin another keyboard.

  74. A random passing physicist

    “This is not a court case being argued over by lawyers. And the economic interests affected are not oppressed victims of an “establishment.””

    It was an analogy. But in creating new law, the EPA does of course employ lawyers. And the “economic interests” are the taxpayers: the people who use energy, or anything made with it. Here or in developing economies. Poor people always bear the brunt.

    “Or if they are, they are oppressed in the same way that this scientist is in this Onion article:”

    Amusing! But who is who, and how can you be certain?

  75. Jon

    I’d be interested to know who “we” are here…

    I think David Brooks more or less got it right, aside from his usual name calling and culture-war-lite, gross categorizations…

    We are here because you created us. There would be no need for us if it wasn’t for all the disinformation.

  76. Erasmussimo

    jae objects that the EPA did not use my argument that the process had already been completed by the time Mr. Carlin submitted his report. However, the email from Mr. Carlin’s boss to him explicitly stated that the decision had already been made by the time he submitted his document. Mr. Carlin came to the party too late and now wants a special exemption.

    You find fault with the logic I used regarding Mr. Carlin’s BS in physics. Good. That was my point: that a BS in physics does not make Mr. Carlin a scientific authority of such authority that the EPA should reverse its decision-making process to include his input.

  77. jae

    “However, the email from Mr. Carlin’s boss to him explicitly stated that the decision had already been made by the time he submitted his document. Mr. Carlin came to the party too late and now wants a special exemption.”

    As I understand it, EPA is now claiming that Carlin’s thoughts WERE actually considered by the review group. If what you say is true, is EPA making inconsistent statements?

  78. A random passing physicist

    “However, the email from Mr. Carlin’s boss to him explicitly stated that the decision had already been made by the time he submitted his document.”

    Quite so. The decision had already been made before the process was completed, and without any consideration of any argument contrary to that pre-determined decision. The document was submitted some hours before the deadline, but was not passed on, and its author was instructed not to talk about it to anyone.

    Mr Carlin was not invited to the party. His sort are not welcome.

  79. jae

    In fact, I suspect that the Endangerment Finding decision is already set in stone, and the thousands of comments from the public on the “proposal” will have absolutely no effect on the outcome. But, LOL, they COULD make a difference in the courts.

  80. Jon

    Mr Carlin was not invited to the party. His sort are not welcome.

    Yes, an Orthogonian in the Nixon tradition.

  81. Gerhard Kramm

    Dear Chris Mooney,

    you stated:

    “Not only was the Bush administration interfering with science conducted at federal agencies, but moreover, the agency scientists were right, and the administration was wrong–or at least, the agency scientists had strong arguments that should have been taken very seriously. ”
    Are you qualified enough to decide what is right and what is wrong. Defining, for instance, carbon dioxide as an air pollutant is clearly a big mistake. It cannot be justified by scientific evidence.

    kind regards

    Gerhard

  82. Erasmussimo

    I think that the inconsistencies we’re hearing in the stories about the event are the usual inconsistencies that arise when multiple people tell the same story.

    The decision had already been made before the process was completed, and without any consideration of any argument contrary to that pre-determined decision.
    I’d like to see some support for that claim. My understanding is that the decision involved a goodly number of people. Have you examined each of the documents that went into the review process?

    Mr Carlin was not invited to the party. His sort are not welcome.
    Actually, Mr. Carlin was in fact invited to participate in a number of EPA functions and his views were well-known inside the EPA. He was even invited to sit on one of the internal committees, although that was not the primary one charged with responsibility for this decision.

  83. ALLAN12

    This site hosts an incredibly dumb group of commentators.

    Anyone who claims that “climate science is settled” is an imbecile.

    Anyone who states that “climate deniers are in the pay of big oil” is an imbecile.

    Earth is cooling, not warming, and has been for about a decade. I have personally verified this fact through satellite measurements, as have many other competent scientists.

    Anyone who says that Earth is still warming is just plain wrong.

    Atmospheric CO2 is still increasing, but Earth is cooling. We can probably expect (average) global cooling for another 20-30 years. It is a natural, cyclical process, and humankind has not significantly affected it.

    So much for global warming hysteria. So much for the science being settled.

    You hysterical imbeciles will have to find something else to be very afraid of. The global warming crisis has been cancelled.

    ____________________

    http://climatedepot.com/a/1745/Scientists-Write-Open-Letter-to-Congress-You-Are-Being-Deceived-About-Global-Warming–Earth-has-been-cooling-for-ten-years

    Scientists Write Open Letter to Congress: ‘You Are Being Deceived About Global Warming’ — ‘Earth has been cooling for ten years’

    ‘Present cooling was NOT predicted by the alarmists’ computer models, and has come as an embarrassment to them’

    Wednesday, July 01, 2009 – By Marc Morano – Climate Depot

    Below is a reprint of a July 1, 2009 letter to Congress by a team of atmospheric scientists.

    OPEN LETTER TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES: YOU ARE BEING DECEIVED ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING

    You have recently received an Open Letter from the Woods Hole Research Center, exhorting you to act quickly to avoid global disaster. The letter purports to be from independent scientists, but that Center is the former den of the President’s science advisor, John Holdren, and is far from independent. This is the same science advisor who has given us predictions of “almost certain” thermonuclear war or eco-catastrophe by the year 2000, and many other forecasts of doom that somehow never seem to arrive on time.

    The facts are:

    The sky is not falling; the Earth has been cooling for ten years, without help. The present cooling was NOT predicted by the alarmists’ computer models, and has come as an embarrassment to them.

    The finest meteorologists in the world cannot predict the weather two weeks in advance, let alone the climate for the rest of the century. Can Al Gore? Can John Holdren? We are flooded with claims that the evidence is clear, that the debate is closed, that we must act immediately, etc, but in fact

    THERE IS NO SUCH EVIDENCE; IT DOESN’T EXIST.

    The proposed legislation would cripple the US economy, putting us at a disadvantage compared to our competitors. For such drastic action, it is only prudent to demand genuine proof that it is needed, not guesswork, and not false claims about the state of the science.

    DEMAND PROOF, NOT CONSENSUS

    Finally, climate alarmism pays well. Many alarmists are profiting from their activism. There are billions of dollars floating around for the taking, and being taken.

    Robert H. Austin
    Professor of Physics
    Princeton University
    Fellow APS, AAAS
    American Association of Arts and Science Member National Academy of Sciences

    William Happer
    Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics
    Princeton University
    Fellow APS, AAAS
    Member National Academy of Sciences

    S. Fred Singer
    Professor of Environmental Sciences Emeritus, University of Virginia
    First Director of the National Weather Satellite Service
    Fellow APS, AAAS, AGU

    Roger W. Cohen
    Manager, Strategic Planning and Programs, ExxonMobil Corporation (retired)
    Fellow APS

    Harold W. Lewis
    Professor of Physics Emeritus
    University of California at Santa Barbara
    Fellow APS, AAAS; Chairman, APS Reactor Safety Study

    Laurence I. Gould
    Professor of Physics
    University of Hartford
    Chairman (2004), New England Section of APS

    Richard Lindzen
    Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Fellow American Academy of Arts and Sciences, AGU, AAAS, and AMS
    Member Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
    Member National Academy of Sciences

  84. rxhill

    The Warmies have the momentum right now, and have declared the debate closed. No new science! The geocentrics had the momentum for 1500 years then the heliocentrics presented new science. In 1992 the geocentrics conceded to heliocentrics. Good scientists will welcome new research. The debate is never over. I Miss Pluto.
    dart

  85. Richard S Courtney

    Friends:

    There seems to be much confusion here. Most comments are not pertinent to the matter of the treatment of Carlin’s report.

    The politics of Carlin, posters of comments, or anybody else are not relevant to the matter under discussion (and – to avoid any suggestion that I make this point because I have a right-wing bias – I add the irrelevant fact that I am an old-fashioned left-wing British socialist).

    The facts in the report submitted by Carlin may or may not be correct, but that is not relevant, either.

    Furthermore, the academic qualifications of a person do not prove or disprove the merits of a persons statements (e.g. James Hansen, Head of climate studies for NASA, is academically qualified as a cosmologist and Rajendra Pechauri, Chairman of the IPCC, is qualified as a railway engineer but neither of them is academically qualified as a climatologist).

    And the opinions of Marc Morano, Gavin Schmidt, Roger Pelke jnr. or anybody else are also irrelevant.

    At issue is
    (a) was Carlin’s report properly submitted
    and
    (b) was it dealt with appropriately.

    Carlin’s report is available for download at
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/endangermentcommentsv7b1.pdf

    Importantly, Carlin’s report was properly submitted. As it says;
    “These comments (dated March 16) represent the last version prepared prior to the close of the internal EPA comment period as modified on June 27 to correct some of the non-substantive problems that could not be corrected at the time.”

    So, there was a call for “internal EPA comment” on the draft EPA Endangerment Document. Carlin was employed by the EPA and answered that call within the specified time.

    However, it seems that the call may not have been intended to be taken seriously. Instead, its true purpose seems to have been to provide protection against later complaints that the EPA Endangerment Document was a partisan view of a selected group. This seeming intent that the call for “internal EPA comment” should not be taken seriously is provided by the short time made available for responses to the call. As Carlin’s report says;
    “It is very important that readers of these comments understand that these comments were prepared under severe time constraints. The actual time available was approximately 4-5 working days. It was therefore impossible to observe normal scholarly standards or even to carefully proofread the comments. As a result there are undoubtedly numerous unresolved inconsistencies and other problems that would normally have been resolved with more normal deadlines. No effort has been made to resolve any possible substantive issues; only a few of the more evident non-substantive ones have been resolved in this version.”

    Despite this, the reason for Carlin’s response to the call was very proper. He spells it out in the opening paragraph of the Preface to his report, saying;
    “I have become increasingly concerned that EPA has itself paid too little attention to the science of global warming. EPA and others have tended to accept the findings reached by outside groups, particularly the IPCC and the CCSP, as being correct without a careful and critical examination of their conclusions and documentation. If they should be found to be incorrect at a later date, however, and EPA is found not to have made a really careful independent review of them before reaching its decisions on endangerment, it appears likely that it is EPA rather than these other groups that may be blamed for any errors. Restricting the source of inputs into the process to these these two sources may make EPA’s current task easier but it may come with enormous costs later if they should result in policies that may not be scientifically supportable.”

    So, his purpose was to point out that the Draft Endangerment Document provided a risk to the EPA because the EPA had not demonstrated due diligence in assessing the science that underpinned the Document and – in the absence of that due diligence – the EPA risked legal blame if the science were to prove to be flawed at a later date. His paper listed several points that the EPA needed to have shown it had considered if the EPA did later need to defend itself against such legal action.

    In summation, Carlin’s report was a proper response for a proper reason from a proper person and it was submitted within the time required for its submission.

    However, his report was not properly addressed. This is clear from internal emails of the EPA. Those emails were leaked to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) which has posted them on its web site at
    http://cei.org/cei_files/fm/active/0/Endangerment%20Comments%206-23-09.pdf

    Perhaps the most important of these internal EPA emails is one on March 17 from Mr. McGartland to Mr. Carlin. It sates that McGartland would not forward Carlin’s study for consideration, saying:
    “The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision.
    …. I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.”

    It cannot be known if McGartland took this decision himself or in consultation with others. But the decision demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that Carlin’s study was suppressed for purely political reasons; i.e. a decision had been made to “move forward” regardless of any input from the call for “internal EPA comment” and, therefore, Carlin’s study would not be forwarded for consideration.

    This demonstrates to any impartial observer that the internal EPA consultation process was a sham and that Carlin made the error of taking it seriously.

    The matter is important because if – as clearly happened in this case – the EPA makes judgements without due diligence then the US population is put at risk (at very least, economic risk) by EPA’s Endangerment rulings.

    Richard

  86. Jon

    Hmm. No activity.

    The whistle must have blown at the hack factory and they all went home…

  87. John Kwok

    @ Marc Morano –

    I may be that rare Republican – and I hope I’m not too rare – who believes we have to make meaningful political and other policy decisions from sound science, whether it pertains to public health or the environment or some other issue. I know Chris has done a great job in evaluating evidence – especially as an outsider without prior substantial scientific expertise – and his reporting truly falls into what I regard as the “mainstream”. So help me out please. Why should I ignore credible scientific work by NASA climatologist James Hansen and his Goddard Institute colleagues based on years of data collection and rigorous data analysis over that of climate denialists, whose arguments, incidentally, have won ample appreciation and respect from such “notable” evolution denialists as the Dishonesty Institute’s William A. Dembski and Casey Luskin?

  88. Erasmussimo

    John Kwok, I’m glad to learn that you’re taking the rationalist approach to this issue. What saddens me about the whole issue is that there really is a serious issue to consider: how much do we owe our descendants? We face a nasty trade-off here between our own economic well-being and their economic well-being. How selfish or magnanimous should we be? Our current course is extremely selfish: we’re burning up all the fossil fuels and leaving them a world that will be considerably less livable than ours. But how much should we sacrifice for their well-being? This is the fundamental issue at stake, and it is not being addressed. Instead, we waste all of our time on this denialist nonsense. What makes this especially sad is that the outcome of all this is now obvious to anybody with some appreciation of science. The evidence is steadily mounting and someday something dramatic will happen that drives the point home in a way that the electorate cannot deny. Most likely it will be something in the Arctic: perhaps an ice-free Arctic Ocean on warm September day; perhaps some dramatic event in Greenland that makes great video; perhaps something else. But when that day comes, the denialists will be so thoroughly, completely discredited that we won’t be able to have the thoughtful debate we need. It’ll be like September 12th, 2001: we’ve got to do something NOW. And in the rush to get something done, we probably won’t do as good a job as we would have done had we worked it out step by step.

    Here’s a good example of the problem. Most economists agree that the simplest, cleanest, and most effective solution to all this would be a carbon tax. It really is the ideal solution, except for that one little three-letter word: tax. That word makes the whole idea a dead goner in American politics. So we end up passing a thousand-page bill that costs more than a carbon tax would cost, accomplishes less, but buries the costs to the American public under so much indirection that they don’t realize how hard they’re being hit.

  89. SLC

    Re John Kwok

    We should also note, relative to the Dishonesty Institute, that climate change denialists also receive appreciation and respect from folks like Jonathan Wells, a noted HIV/AIDS denier, and John West, a sometime Holocaust denier.

  90. Jon

    Just to make sure, everyone’s read the classic Krugman article on the Disco Institute, right?

  91. anon

    Erasmissimo,

    I was fooled by the WMD scam. I was young and and idealistic and did not realize that the authority figures you trust are capable of betraying you. Now you might be so young as to think that liberal, as opposed to conservative, authority figures would never betray you, in that case, you need to wise up.

    Just like on 9/12/01, what we need is calm, rational discussion. Jingoistic banter will only lead to disaster.

    Remember that no end of the world prediction has ever come true, you should be wary about the latest one.

  92. John Kwok

    @ Erasmussimo –

    IMHO the “rationalist approach” is the only approach that must be taken. While I’m not in favor of draconian measures, I am, however, sufficiently concerned to understand that the West and leading developing countries like Brazil, India and the People’s Republic of China have to start soon with some concerted economic and political activity that will slow down – if not stop immediately – the buildup of excess carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. If we don’t I fear we may see, here in New York City, an expanded waterfront that will include substantial portions of drowned Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens real estate.

    I wonder what Marc Moriano and his friends expect us to do to counteract this problem (And the best analogy I can think of is that this is quite literally a Stage Four cancer that is threatening not only our economic survival, but more fundamentally, our very existence as a global technological civilization.).

  93. John Kwok

    @ Jon –

    Thanks for that link to Krugman’s article. I agree with his comments except the final point he made about Intelligent Design’s potential success. As a “theory” it is quite literally in a moribund state, which is why the Dishonesty Institute has been promoting “strengths and weaknesses” ever since a certain trial held at the Federal courthouse in Harrisburg, PA back in the fall of 2005.

  94. Jon

    No one said it’s the end of the world. It’s just going to be a very different world unless we figure out how to live within the limits of certain resources. And THAT wouldn’t mean the end of the world as is being forecasted by certain parties.

  95. Erasmussimo

    Remember that no end of the world prediction has ever come true, you should be wary about the latest one.
    I’d like to emphasize Jon’s point that nobody is predicting the end of the world. Global climate change won’t render the species extinct, it won’t even kill civilization. However, it will certainly cost us a lot of money coping with all the changes. All of our infrastructure is built on assumptions about the local climate. If you change the climate, you can get a lot of economic loss. For example, my area is rather dry — maybe 20 inches of annual rain, all of it in the winter. One summer a few years back we had a monster thunderstorm come through and it dropped a ton of rain on my immediate area (we live in the country). Our water runoff infrastructure was not up to the load and all up and down my road we had people whose dirt driveways were washed away. It turned out that the cost of repairing all the damage was several hundred thousand dollars. And that’s for a three mile stretch of road. And it’s all because we just weren’t prepared for that kind of event.

    I’m not saying that this thunderstorm was due to AGW. Nobody could possibly attribute it to AGW. But it does go to show just how much money we can lose when our infrastructure is not matched to the climate. And we have to take into account all the infrastructure everywhere on the planet. How much do you think it will cost to retrofit everything to meet new climate conditions?

  96. Marc, we all understand that your job is to spread fear, uncertainly and doubt about climate change. But anyone who can dish up the moral relativism with your skill must understand the actual facts quite well.

    So can you hit us up with some investment tips? Where are you going to hole up to avoid the rising oceans? Where’s your survivalist camp?

  97. Jon

    One thing I don’t hear much talk about is agriculture. At this point we are a few generations removed from the average person knowing farmers. If we did know farmers, we might be more concerned about things like growing seasons and rainfall patterns. What are we going to do when the US bread basket is 90-100 throughout the growing season with little rainfall compared to now? Things like crop failures are practically abstractions to people nowadays. Things you read in history books. They didn’t use to be.

  98. Jay the Lowly Engineer

    Wow, this discussion is quite amusing and rather sad. I have essentially been an anthropogenic warming denier for 15 years because I could not see adequate evidence to the contrary, and lots of evidence of confusion, sampling error, methodology immaturity, modeling slavishness, and political meddling. My wife always says, “Follow the money.” I fear that is the real debate we should be having about Waxman-Markey. Where is the cost benefit analysis? Who benefits most? Why are certain positions being pushed so hard – political power?

    In the above discussion it appears to me that “A random passing physicist” and “Richard S Courtney” make the only cogent arguments concerning the Carlin report. It is not about what he said but why he said it and how his speaking up was received. Both are correct in that the scientific method is NOT being followed. In a political discussion it cannot be!

    On a broader vein, I would like to see some better reporting on the whole climate issue.

    For instance, who are the 700 scientists who are deniers? What are their specialties and their qualifications? Do they really do climate science or just look in the window?

    Conversely, who are the IPCC AR4 document scientists? Ditto questions. (From my vantage point in an IOC (international oil company) I know geoscientists who contributed to things like carbon sequestration and I know how they were instructed/influenced by the IPCC rules of report construction. Learning those facts did not inspire any confidence in a scientific methodology being fairly used. That ole “consensus” word again.)

    For me as an engineer, the real discussion has to be economics. We must decide on the forcing variables that contribute to the problem, we must rank the solutions, we must estimate the costs. We must run some Decision Analysis and find the cost effective solution. This can only be done in an environment that is free of political gainsaying.

    As things stand right now I see biased solutions, special interest moneymakers, powerplay politics, environmental evangelism, and desire for control. And there is precious little good economics.

    So, I can only conclude that Waxman-Markey must fail.

    My company has just gone through almost 20 years of evaluation to decide how to produce a large subsea energy resource that will require a few tens of billions of dollars to develop. In contrast, Congressman Markey has spent a few months proposing and a few days discussing a bill that could cost the People of the United States trillions of dollars. Something is wrong with this whole scenario!

  99. kim

    The globe is cooling, folks; for how long even kim doesn’t know.
    =========================================

  100. Mooney wrote:

    “The “war on science” argument that I made in my 2005 book crucially hinged on matters of scientific substance. Not only was the Bush administration interfering with science conducted at federal agencies, but moreover, the agency scientists were right, and the administration was wrong–or at least, the agency scientists had strong arguments that should have been taken very seriously. ”

    This is a twaddle statement. It is dichotomous and confusing. On the one hand you say the scientists are RIGHT and then qualify it with OR AT LEAST which is an admission of them maybe not being right.

    As a scientist I can confidently say that was is scientifically correct today becomes totally wrong tomorrow in the light of new knowledge.

    “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” – Albert Einstein

  101. Mac

    Quote: “My latest Science Progress column just went up–and just in time, as I have been repeatedly asked to comment on recent allegations that the Obama Environmental Protection Agency quashed a dissenting report on the science of global warming. So to all those who want me to condemn the current administration on this score, just as I condemned the previous one, here’s the thing: You just don’t get it.”

    The words “pot”, kettle” and “black” come to mind.

  102. ALLAN12

    I can attest to the validity of all the points here except the “Solanki” comment – I have not verified and hold no opinion on that point.

    _______________

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/a_proper_focus_in_the_climate_change_debate.html

    A Proper Focus in the Climate Change Debate

    The Debate Is Not Over. Early in 2007 there was a concerted, international effort among climate alarmists to suggest that the science was so certain that debate was no longer possible. That effort had no impact on the scientific community, which continues to debate climate change vigorously and sometimes even acrimoniously in the peer-reviewed, learned journals. The debate continues.

    Climate change has always been real, but the fact of climatic variability tells us nothing of its cause. The more the climate is researched, the less likely it appears that humankind has had any significant climatic impact.

    Climate change is not unprecedented. The mediaeval warm period was warmer than the present. Even now, melting glaciers in the Alps are revealing mediaeval trackways, silver-mines and even entire forests that have been buried under ice since the Middle Ages. Some of the Viking settlements in Greenland are still under permafrost to this day.

    The chicken and the egg: The temperature changes that led to the ice ages and interglacial period preceded changes in CO2 concentration.

    The central calculation: The UN says a doubling of CO2 concentration will push global temperatures up by 3C. Others say less than 1C.

    Will warming be harmful? Almost certainly not. Warming is better than cooling. We now know that neither droughts nor floods nor storms have increased or are likely to increase as a result of anthropogenic warming; these events come and go in natural cycles which have scarcely altered over the past 100 years.

    What is the cause of the present warming? Even if one assumes that the UN’s estimates of recent warming are not themselves an exaggeration, observations do not confirm the presence, in any climatically-significant degree, of the characteristic signature of anthropogenic warming – namely, a greater rate of increase in temperature at altitude, particularly at low latitudes, than at the surface. These results provide proof that much of the present warming is not anthropogenic but natural, caused partly by millennial alterations in patterns of ocean circulation and partly by the Sun, which has been more active, and for longer, in the past 70 years than at almost any time in at least the past 11,400 years (Solanki et al., 2005).

    Will proposed mitigative measures cost more than they achieve? Now that the predictions of the extremists have been discredited even by the UN, it is near-certain that the cost of almost any measure to mitigate the volume of anthropogenic CO2 emissions will outweigh the effectiveness and economic benefit of that measure. Most proposed measures would not make any significant climatic difference even if implemented. The few measures that might have some impact would have only a small impact, but will prove impossible both politically and economically, and will not be achieved, though much money will be wasted in the attempt. It is the poorer nations who will suffer most grievously by the proposed restrictions on CO2 emissions.

    What is the real problem? Energy is the real problem. Primary energy sources, particularly fossil fuels, are becoming scarce and expensive, and are increasingly in the hands of unstable regimes that are unfriendly to the West. Energy prices are already rising, but could rise very much more quickly in the coming years.

  103. matt v.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:2001/to:2009/plot/gistemp/from:2001/to:2009/trend/plot/rss/from:2001/to:2009/plot/rss/from:2001/to:2009/trend/plot/uah/from:2001/to:2009/plot/uah/from:2001/to:2009/trend/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2001/to:2009/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2001/to:2009/trend

    You partly right about the 10 years . The least square trend line slope using monthly anoamlies goes negative in 2000. So we are in the 8 th year of cooling. The oceans also started their cooling in 2000 based on least square trend lines.On an annual basis ,the planet is in the 4th year of cooling. The oceans have been cooling on annual basis since 2002. AMO has been cooling since 2003 and PDO since 2001. Every sign is cooling

  104. realist

    Not water vapor – clouds.

    No one, and that means no one, knows if clouds provide positive or negative feedback. So all CMs are complete guesses o the role of clouds in warming (or cooling).

  105. Chris, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I heard Marc Morano speak at the Heartland Institute and he said global warming was all Leo DiCaprio’s fault.

    I’m actually kinda serious. Marc seemed to think the climate crisis was just another front in the culture war, on par with sex & foul language on TV. It was interesting (and disturbing) to see the real heart of his personal war on science.

  106. R. Case

    I’m another lowly engineer (like Jay above), who has been following the AGW issue for quite a few years now. I’ve read more than I’d like to admit from both “camps”, and can honestly conclude that I am more than disappointed in the state of our scientific process, public discourse and how it all translates to policy making.

    Grown adults acting worse than children. And I’m not even talking about the folks commenting on blogs like these (although I’ll get to that in a moment). I’m talking about the scientists, mathematicians and others who are actively a part of this whole situation. Look at yourselves. There’s no debate. There’s no willingness for civil and open discourse. Instead, there’s name-calling, ad hominem attacks, over-generalizations and character misrepresentations. Joe Rohm acts like a child. Mark Morano is no better. The both of them should be ashamed of themselves. But the same goes for Gavin Schmidt and Steve McIntyre and a host of others who have immersed themselves into the center of this storm.

    The truth is out there somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I thought we were anywhere close to it. The data to date is compelling, and many of the analyses and models are also interesting and enlightening (and perhaps even frightening). But those models and analyses should be considered preliminary in the process of real science. In the scheme of things, these models and analyses have barely evolved the process beyond the hypothesis stage. Theories need to be scrutinized, audited and validated. That means open access to the data, the proxies, the assumptions and the methods employed in the modeling.

    But when that open access doesn’t happen, then the scientific process stops dead in its tracks. It doesn’t mean the science is settled. And it doesn’t mean that the science is worthless either. But when the defenses arise and the walls go up around the data and methods, and anyone who asks a reasonable question is automatically labeled a “denier”, then it’s not surprising that you’re seeing more skeptics emerge day by day.

    In my opinion, there’s not been a single bit of progress in this century that has furthered the science of AGW. And that’s sad. Commentary like those above illustrate the over-polititization of this topic, and how people can not even provide civil responses without unnecessary name calling and personal attacks. This is ridiculous. And childish.

  107. Jon

    Looks like everyone’s punched in again at the hack factory.

    Nearly all the canards in circulation (Vikings in Greenland, mediaeval warm period, it’s the sun, water vapor/clouds, blah blah blah) are addressed here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2008/07/how_to_talk_to_a_sceptic.php

  108. Jon

    I’m talking about the scientists, mathematicians and others who are actively a part of this whole situation. Look at yourselves. There’s no debate. There’s no willingness for civil and open discourse… The truth is out there somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I thought we were anywhere close to it.

    This has nothing to do with the scientific research. The scientific research has been done.

    There are certain people who want to make it appear that there’s some sort of huge fracas. This is a deliberate tactic. We saw the same thing with the tobacco companies. “Demand Debate” and “Doubt is our product.”

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

  109. Arrow

    The biggest problem is the absence of experimentally verified climate models. The only way science can say anything reliably is by using models which have been proven to make correct predictions.

    Can any of the man-made global warming proponents point me toward a single climate model which have a proven track record of successful climate predictions?

    Without such a model there is no science of global warming there is only politics.

  110. Truthseeker

    I began my investigation into this issue – as a layperson – with an open mind, with the intent to respect and take into consideration all arguments impartially.

    I started researching this and other issues when I first heard there was such a thing as consensus science, which surprised me, having had an excellent education. In addition, sweeping, draconian measures were being advocated.

    Once again, it is obvious here that the reasoned arguments are being made by the skeptics. I am very disappointed, not only on this site, but on others as well by the low quality of remarks by AGW proponents.

    It’s a real shame – there are many out there like me who seek the truth – some of us having started with other issues affecting our lives where the “science is settled.”

  111. R. Case

    Jon,

    I don’t mean to argue with you nor anyone else here (nor do I have the time to constantly monitor this site throughout the day), but your response is exactly the kind of thing that I believe is getting in the way of what seems to be your own cause here. If I’m reading you correctly, you’re pretty much saying that the debate is indeed over (“the scientific research has been done”) and everything that has suggested as questioning such is nothing more than a purposeful distraction tactic. Such a stance is only likely to strenghthen the resolve of those who are likely to believe otherwise.

    I don’t believe that’s the way science works, nor should work. Science evolves and theories rarely remain static. Scientific theories are less often proved wrong by a scientific revolution than revised and refined as part of a work in progress. Given that much of the science/theory of AGW is reliant on mathematical models and subjective methods, it is likely that this science/theory will be even more prone to revision and refinement – as it should be. Let’s keep an open mind, and see where this all goes. There are likely to be many people with egg on their face in ten years or so. And I really don’t have a good guess as to which side that’s going to be. But there’s been way too much written material that claims a certain absoluteness about either side of this matter, and I think that’s just foolish at this point in time.

  112. Soil Creep

    The real scientific work is simply not being conducted on blogs. Blogs can be an excellent source of information. And misinformation as well. But the science of AGW continues to progress regardless who you think is winning the debate in the blogosphere.

    Serious people concerned with the issue of AGW think critically about their information sources; some sources are better than others. The hierarchy I liken to a preferential pathway of information sources. Off the top of my head, the preferential hierarchy would look approximately like this:

    Seminal literature on Climate Science (even if your a skeptic, these cannot be ignored) > Other Peer Reviewed Research Articles (primary literature) > Review Papers and Assessments (e.g. IPCC Reports)> Primary research and data sources (e.g. GISS Datasets, unreviewed analysis) > Popular literature, Lectures, and Articles (classroom stuff, science journalism, documentaries) > Science Blogs and related web-sites run by scientists (realclimate, climate audit) > Other blogs (climate progress, WUWT) > Blog Comments and discussion forums.

    The credibility of a source depends on how much it relies on higher levels and it should surprise no one that much of the junk thrives at the lower levels esp. in blogs and esp. in blog comments.

  113. Jon

    I don’t believe that’s the way science works, nor should work. Science evolves and theories rarely remain static. Scientific theories are less often proved wrong by a scientific revolution than revised and refined as part of a work in progress.

    If you met a person who smoked 10 packs of cigarettes a day, showed signs of lung problems, but didn’t want to quit. And they told you that the science concerning smoking and health issues would “evolve,” you would rightly think that that person had some delusions.

    Science changes but the basics don’t. Newton’s laws of physics in their basic form don’t change. Evolution of species isn’t going away. Smoking causes cancer. CO2 has the property of trapping heat. Etc.

  114. Erasmussimo

    Yes, Jon, it certainly appears as if the deniers are out in force, full of assertions and devoid of evidence. However, there are some thoughtful commentators whose comments demand careful answers. Let me begin with Jay the Lowly Engineer.

    Jay, you’ll have to ask Marc Morano who those 700 scientists are. However, after you look at his list, you’ll have to check it twice. You see, a number of those 700 scientists objected vociferously to his categorizing them as deniers. You’ll also need to check their research work — it turns out that a good number of those scientists aren’t actually climatologists or geophysicists. Some — quite a few, in fact — are geologists. Geologists know that the earth has gone through many dramatic and perfectly natural climate changes. What they overlook is that those climate changes took place at a much slower pace than we’re seeing now. Oh, and some of those scientists have no apparent publication record or academic positions.

    As for the IPCC scientists, you can find a list of all the contributors and reviewers of the IPCC AR4 report in the Annexes portion of the document, which can be downloaded from:

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

    The annex lists, amusingly enough, about 700 scientists. Every single one is shown with their institutional affiliation so that you can verify for yourself that they’re for real. And they’re from disciplines that actually bear on the scientific issues, too.

    I agree with you that the debate we’re now having fails to address the real issues. But you can blame the deniers for that. The scientists have clearly stated the scientific dimensions of the problem, but the deniers are attempting to sow doubt about the matter while the problem grows in magnitude. Yes, we should definitely be working on cost-benefit analysis. But look at how the whole denialism school screws that up. Mr. Carlin is an economist at EPA. He should be working on economic analysis of the costs and benefits of CO2 emissions mitigation. But instead he’s playing amateur scientist, writing up lengthy reports on matters he has no expertise in. How can we get good cost-benefit analyses in such an environment?

    The best overall economic analysis to date was done a couple of years ago by Nicholas Stern, a British economist of some renown for his judicious thinking. He surprised everybody by coming down strongly in favor of expensive mitigation measures. His reasoning was interesting: he felt that the compelling issue was the small but undeniable possibility of disastrous consequences of AGW. He saw the issue rather like that of an insurance policy: the costs of mitigation were so much smaller than the costs of the worst-case scenario that such expenditures were justified. You can find the Google Books presentation of the first pages of the book here:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=U-VmIrGGZgAC&dq=%22white+paper%22+economics+%22climate+change%22&printsec=frontcover&source=in&hl=en&ei=i8dMSsmdPJDGsQPkw7mXBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=11

    I agree wholeheartedly that the current policy is serious distorted by all sorts of political factors. As I mentioned above, the best overall solution would be a carbon tax. I would like to see such a tax phased in according to a schedule that gives everybody some time to change their behaviors. But American politics is so screwed up that the simplest cleanest overall solution is out of the question.

    On the matter of reporting on the issue, I think that your best source is a judicious selection of websites. The main stream media are hopelessly entangled in the desire to present a controversy, so they end up “balancing” a real scientist with, say, Marc Morano. Mr. Morano knows far more about propaganda than climatology, so he’s pretty good at taking advantage of the 5-minute format of most MSM to sow doubt and confusion. The scientist, by comparison, spends most of his five minutes laying out all the complications — which only adds to the uncertainty that Mr. Morano seeks to sow.

    Yes, the best websites have become overly shrill. RealClimate was once an unimpeachable source, but of late they have started showing some emotional involvement in the issues. I can’t blame them as humans — they have been subjected to such scurrilous attacks that it’s understandable that they would be growing frustrated. Climate Audit has a similar problem, but to greater degree. Steve McIntyre started his career in this as “the honorable opposition”, doggedly pointing out methodological errors in various studies, but in the last year or two he too has become quite shrill. I consider these two sources to be the best overall representatives of the two sides of the debate, but they both have to be read with due regard for the emotional states of the authorship. Particularly revealing, I think, is the commentary from others in RealClimate. There’s some robust scientific debate going on there. You’ll have to pick your way through the dreck from the deniers, but if you don’t mind wearing your slop boots, it’s definitely worth wading through for the good material.

    There are lots of other sites, some of which have some merit. On the pro side, there are a number of useful sites. Desmogblog.com has some good articles, more about the politics than the science. Skepticalscience.com is a very good source explaining the science in detail.

    There’s a nicely detailed rebuttal of all the standard denialist claims at:

    http://www.grist.org/article/series/skeptics/

    On the anti side, the best source is ClimateAudit.com, but remember to keep in mind the emotional radicalization that Steve McIntyre has undergone. Another source is drroyspencer.com. Mr. Spencer is a bit overzealous in his claims, and his scientific claims often lack mention of countervailing considerations. But he’s a solid scientist who understands the material and vociferously argues the denialist case.

    Finally, you should definitely look at the official statements. Certainly have a look at the IPCC reports at the URL I presented above. You might also look at the short brochure by the National Academy of Sciences:

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

    This is an important consideration: just about every major scientific organization with any competence in the subject has declared itself in favor of the overall scientific conclusions regarding AGW. This, I think, should weigh heavily in the mind of any fair-minded citizen.

  115. Truthseeker

    Jon,

    1. The “science” on smoking and health issues IS evolving.

    2. Smoking does not CAUSE cancer – this should be obvious! First-hand smoke is correlated with a higher risk – it appears to be one of many contributors – and may be far more risky for some than others. Science still out on that one.

  116. Erasmussimo

    Allan12 presents us with a great many falsehoods; given that I took up so much space answering some of Jay the Lowly Engineers observations, I’ll try to be more concise in answering Allan12’s claims. They are a collection of falsehoods that have been demolished many times before; perhaps the best place to see the explanations is the webpage I previously cited:

    http://www.grist.org/article/series/skeptics/

    I will tackle the most egregious of Allen12’s claims myself:

    Will warming be harmful? Almost certainly not. Warming is better than cooling. We now know that neither droughts nor floods nor storms have increased
    As I wrote earlier, we have trillions of dollars invested in infrastructure that was built with the assumption that climate wouldn’t change. Think of all the buildings in the world that were built without air conditioning because the climate was too cool to make air conditioning necessary. How much do you think it will cost to retrofit many of those structures with air conditioning?

    Or how about farming infrastructure? Farmers around the world have invested trillions in optimizing their farms for particular climates and particular crops. Warming will force them to change their irrigation systems, their planting, treatment, and harvesting infrastructure, and so forth. How much do you think that will cost?

    Or how about port facilities. Sea level has already risen slightly — what happens when sea levels rise to levels high enough to require retrofitting of port facilities. What do you think it will cost to reposition port facilities all over the world?

    Or what about the fact that a large percentage of humanity lives in coastal regions? I believe that 50 million people live on the delta land in Bangladesh at only a meter or two above sea level. Every year the monsoons bring floods and surges that flood enormous tracts of land, killing thousands of people. These people can’t just pull up stakes and move to higher ground — they’re too poor. What’s going to happen to them as sea level rises? Are you willing to pay the cost of moving 50 million people to higher ground?

    Or what about the Maldive Islands, a country with a maximum elevation of 2.3 meters and a population of 300,000. You wouldn’t mind paying for a few Maldivians moving into your neighborhood, would you?

    And let’s not forget all the other island atolls around the world. All those people will need new homes and new livelihoods — who’s going to pay those costs?

    And then there are the political ramifications of all this. Climate change will create lots of losers, and they’re not going to take their losses quietly. They’re going to blame the countries that emitted most of the CO2. That’s going to make the USA the target of a lot of ire. (Yes, there are plenty of other countries that have contributed to the problem, too.) All that political anger is going to express itself in international tensions, general nastiness, and a certain amount of outright conflict. How much do you think that will cost us?

    I could go on, but the point should be clear: the cost of a general warming is stupendous, difficult to quantify, and irregularly distributed — that’s a formula for a lot of trouble.

  117. Erasmussimo

    MattV argues that we are undergoing a cooling trend, citing data from the last eight years. What MattV doesn’t realize is that climate doesn’t change in time periods of eight years. Weather changes on that time scale. Consider: suppose that today is hotter than yesterday: does that prove AGW? Of course not. OK, what if this week is hotter than last week? No, that still doesn’t prove anything, because that’s weather, nor climate. The same thing goes for this year versus last year: the time periods are simply too short to be taken seriously as indicators of real physical climate change. So this brings us to the trillion-dollar question: what’s the right time period to use in assessing the changes we see?

    We don’t need to guess that number: we can calculate it from simple thermodynamic considerations. Just calculate the heat capacity of the world’s oceans and compare it with the thermal flux for the earth. Here’s an analogy to clarify the meaning of this: think in terms of a big water reservoir with water pouring into it from rivers and water leaving at the dam. How fast will the water level rise or fall with time? That depends upon three factors: the input water, the output water, and the capacity of the reservoir. Suppose that you’re on a dock trying to figure out whether the amount of water coming in from the various input rivers is rising or falling. You have a water gauge but it’s always rising and falling for a number of reasons. There are little waves all the time, and then there are the wakes from passing boats, and the echoes of the wakes of passing boats, and there’s sieching to consider, too (sieching is the natural sloshing of the lake’s water in the basin). So you need to take average readings over a period of time long enough to average out all those fluctuations and isolate the real physical effect. How long should that be?

    The answer is simple: start with the output flow from the dam. Suppose you know that the dam is releasing 1,000 gallons per second. Now get the capacity of the reservoir, expressed in terms of how much the water level will rise if you add water to it. Suppose that the capacity of the reservoir is 100 million gallons per inch. In other words, if you add 100 million gallons to the reservoir, it’s level will rise by one inch. That means that, if all the input rivers dried up, the reservoir would lose depth at a rate of one inch every 100,000 seconds — a bit less than one inch every day.

    OK, now suppose that all the sloshing and waves and ripples at the dock cause variations in your water gauge that are on the average about an inch high. So if you see an inch-high variation, you can’t really sure that it’s not due to some complicated combination of boat wakes, sieching, etc. Suppose that you see a drop in water depth of half an inch. If it lingers for more than half a day, it might be permanent, but it’s hard to say with all the inch-high variations from other sources. But suppose now that you see a change of one inch that persists for more than a day. That’s starting to look pretty suspicious. And a change of two inches over two days — that’s pretty serious evidence.

    Of course, this would be much harder if you knew that the rivers hadn’t dried up, but were still running, and you wanted to know if they were diminished by, say, 10%. In that case, you’d have to wait ten times longer, or ten days to see a one inch change. If you see a one inch change over two days in a case like this, that probably doesn’t mean anything. You really need to wait at least ten days to verify that the effect is real.

    So, what are the comparable numbers for the earth’s temperature? The rate of heat input to the earth from the sun is about 1.5 x 10**17 Watts. The heat capacity of the oceans is about 6 x 10**24 J/ºC. Thus, if the sun were to disappear, the earth would cool at a rate of about 2.5 x 10**-8 ºC/s.
    In other words, it would take about one year for the earth to cool by about one ºC. That’s in the extreme case where the sun goes out (analogous to all the rivers drying up). We know that the sun’s radiative input has been stable to at least 1% for the last 30 years. That multiplies our minimum time period by a factor of 100. So we conclude that the earth would cool by 1ºC per century if the sun’s output were reduced by 1%. But the fluctuations we see in the data you link to are on average about 0.3ºC high, so that means that we need about 30 years to be confident in our results. This is why relying on an eight-year span of data is ridiculous. You need to consider a much longer time period — at least 30 years — before you can reliably determine climate change. And if you DO look at the data with that kind of time scale, there’s absolutely no question that we’re seeing a steady increase in temperature.

  118. Erasmussimo

    Truthseeker mentions:

    when I first heard there was such a thing as consensus science, which surprised me, having had an excellent education.

    Sorry to be so snide, but I think you should ask for a refund on that excellent education. Science in the real world really does proceed by consensus. A beautiful example is provided by the theory of continental drift. When it was first proposed by Wegener in 1912. However, the evidence in support of his theory was weak, and the killer problem was that he could offer no mechanism to support the hypothesis. Nevertheless, the hypothesis was debated vigorously through the 1920s and 1930s. By then, a consensus had developed that the hypothesis was too weak to explain what evidence was available. The hypothesis was NEVER flatly rejected by a majority of geologists; instead, the consensus position seems to be that the hypothesis had insufficient data to support it and lacked any plausible causal agent.

    After World War II, however, evidence in favor of the hypothesis began to accumulate. The discovery of the mid-Atlantic rift in the 1950s provided a big boost to the hypothesis. In the 1960s the theory of plate tectonics provided a plausible causal agent and the hypothesis rapidly won acceptance. By the 1970s the consensus in favor of the hypothesis was strong.

    So there really is such a thing as scientific consensus, and it really does play a part in the way science evolves.

    R.Case presents a standard misrepresentation of the issue:

    If I’m reading you correctly, you’re pretty much saying that the debate is indeed over (”the scientific research has been done”)

    No, the situation is more complicated. The AGW hypothesis will NEVER be proven. No scientific hypothesis is ever proven, and so the debate never ends. However, as evidence mounts, scientific opinion trends in one direction or another. During the early phases of development of a hypothesis, most scientific opinion is “on the fence”, with most scientists taking a neutral position. However, as the evidence mounts, more scientists jump off the fence and declare for one side or the other — tentatively, of course. We have reached that point with the AGW hypothesis. A strong supermajority of scientists have embraced the AGW hypothesis. Much debate continues on the details, but the outlines are agreed upon. What is important to us is that the designated scientific organization — the National Academy of Sciences — has declared that the AGW hypothesis is solid enough to justify policy actions to mitigate it.

    The debate is never over. But we have certainly reached a point where the evidence is so strong that the time has come to move to the next stage of the debate: what will mitigation cost and what’s the right trade-off between costs and benefits?

  119. Truthseeker

    Erasmussimo,

    You didn’t mention http://wattsupwiththat.com/ in listing what you call the “anti” side.

  120. Erasmussimo

    Oops, yes, thanks for catching that slip on my part. Although I sometimes find flaws in Mr. Watts’ presentations, I nevertheless think that he does a good job of presenting the anti side.

  121. GeneB_NoAGW

    Erasmussimo, and what about this excellent site for the “anti” side?

    http://www.climateaudit.org/

  122. Mark

    Erasmussimo, thank you for your very well-done analogy and example. (#119)

  123. Erasmussimo

    Sheesh, I got it wrong again. You’re right: it’s ClimateAudit.org, not ClimateAudit.com as I had it. Thanks for catching it. As I mentioned, I think that ClimateAudit.org is the best of the anti sites.

  124. R. Case

    Erasmussimo,

    Thanks for the thoughtful replies to many of the points raised above. I completely agree with your assessment of how science progresses in the direct response to my “misrepresentation” (which was parsed a bit out of context, as I was more trying to represent Jon’s stance than to carefully represent my own). Aside from the needlessly (and your self-admittedly) snide remark to Truthseeker, it’s good to see a more respectful dialog take place here. Especially in light of my earlier posted comment, which was targeted specifically at those who reduce the dialog to nothing more than name calling.

    But that said, and using your analogy, count me as one still “on the fence.” As far as evidence goes… yes, it is a fact that CO2 does help to trap heat. But it’s also a fact that there are drastically diminishing returns in the additive heat per extra CO2 added. And this is where the models come into play. And this is where the empirical evidence starts to give way to other complicating factors and variables. And assumptions. They may be entirely or partially right. Or they may be directionally wrong. No one yet really knows whether doubling Co2 will result in any appreciable global temperature increase. Because of the other complicating factors (cloud formation, water vapor, etc), this isn’t something that can be tested or validated in a laboratory. The evidence will need to be obtained in situ. But until the models start to correlate with actual events, the jury’s still out for me.

    Of course, my opinion only counts for myself (as it should), as I’m not trying to sway anyone one way or the other. That still may label me as a “denier” to many who’ve already landed on the one side of the fence. The fact that I’m likely to be labelled anything (that has an inherently disparaging connotation to it) is something that does nothing to further the dialog.

  125. GeneB_NoAGW

    Erasmussimo, you wrote (in 119): The rate of heat input to the earth from the sun is about 1.5 x 10**17 Watts. The heat capacity of the oceans is about 6 x 10**24 J/ºC. Thus, if the sun were to disappear, the earth would cool at a rate of about 2.5 x 10**-8 ºC/s.
    In other words, it would take about one year for the earth to cool by about one ºC. That’s in the extreme case where the sun goes out

    Now, I’m not a scientist by profession — but can you explain this in more detail? Why do nighttime temps fall so much (more than 1 degree C per 12 hours)? Are you saying that, because of the oceans, the total average temp will fall about 1 degree C in one year?

  126. Erasmussimo

    R.Case, I respect your sitting on the fence; my complaint is against the deniers who distort the truth. I would urge you, though, to look closely at the IPCC AR4 (assuming you haven’t already done so), because it will give you a better idea of the science.

    There is room for uncertainty. I do not believe that the matter is fully resolved. What I do believe is that the evidence is strong enough to justify mitigating action. The magnitude of the mitigating action required is impossible to know just now; we need more research here. But we need to get started setting in place systems for reducing CO2 emissions.

    GeneB, you’ve hit upon a fine point that raises complexities. Yes, surface temperatures plummet at night because of the outgoing IR. The oceans act as an averaging mechanism, smoothing out short-term variations. Here’s the reservoir-analogy version: suppose that your water gauge is set inside a box with converging walls that focus wave energy onto the water gauge. Then the wave heights would be much higher and you’d get really wild data. In the same way, surface temperature measurements tend to bounce around a lot. But the oceans provide an averaging mechanism that smooths out a lot of the bounces. You can still get a lot of fluctuations in ocean temperatures, especially at the surface. It takes time for heat to spread around the oceans. But when you average a bunch of ocean temperatures for a long period of time, at least 30 years, you start getting reliable results.

  127. Orson

    Chris Mooney=stooge for Stalinist “science.”

    (I’ll be quoting myself in my lectures on skepticism.)

  128. Orson

    Erasmussimo says The AGW hypothesis will NEVER be proven. No scientific hypothesis is ever proven, and so the debate never ends.

    The debate? What debate?-when AGWers can’t win even one debate with their critics?

    Instead they rely on scary computer models and their “projections.” So much for actual evidence.

    The unreported science stories should be legion: like jerry-rigged and unaccountable data set adjustments, arm-waving about climate sensitivity, fraudulent paleo-climate histories (cf, the Wegman report and since), and non-existent “2,500 scientists say”, and unresponsive IPPCC “peer-review,” and junk-science standard “weight of the evidence” (when so much ‘evidence’ has been manfactured)…..

    I – for one – am sick of the hoax of CAGW. This Emperor has no clothes!

  129. Erasmussimo

    Orson, you don’t expect a serious answer to your question, do you?

    Chris, why haven’t you banned this troll? He adds nothing to the discussion.

  130. GeneB_NoAGW

    Erasmussimo, you wrote (in 119): The rate of heat input to the earth from the sun is about 1.5 x 10**17 Watts. The heat capacity of the oceans is about 6 x 10**24 J/ºC. Thus, if the sun were to disappear, the earth would cool at a rate of about 2.5 x 10**-8 ºC/s.
    In other words, it would take about one year for the earth to cool by about one ºC. That’s in the extreme case where the sun goes out

    Something just seems wrong here.

    If we add just a little CO2 into the atmosphere, the earth will warm by how many degrees per year, again? The numbers I’ve heard sound way too high, as compared to this value you give is the Sun went out completely. Either the CO2 number is way too high, or your Sun-gone number is way too low.

  131. GeneB_NoAGW

    Can anyone tell me what the IPCC Climate Models would predict if the Atmospheric Water Vapor percent stayed constant (instead of rising, as the theory predicts)?

    Also, I read recently that clouds actually are a negative forcing (instead of a positive one — that the IPCC Models use).

  132. GeneB_NoAGW

    Where did everybody go?

    Has everyone gone over to http://www.climateaudit.org/ ?

  133. Jon

    Sounds like some of your questions are addressed in the discussion thread of this article:

    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/02/climate-scientists-hide-water-vapor.php

  134. Erasmussimo

    GeneB, the most pessimistic scenarios have the earth warming by 0.05ºC/year on average. What’s probably confusing you is the fact that most of the numbers you get are temperature increases by the end of this century. That’s ninety years away!

    I don’t understand your question about water vapor. I think this is what you’re asking:

    “If the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere were somehow constrained to remain constant, what would be the theoretical effects on the models?”

    Clouds are not a forcing agent — they’re a feedback mechanism. A forcing agent is something that is injected into the system that changes its operation. A feedback is something within the system that changes in a way that leads to other changes. Clouds are held to provide negative feedback. If the temperature increases, then there will be more clouds, and the clouds are more reflective than the earth’s surface, so more sunlight will be reflected away, which tends to cool the earth. So clouds as a phenomenon tend to lessen the magnitude of any warming generated by CO2.

  135. Richard S Courtney

    Erasmussimo:

    Your several very long postings here demonstrate that you have a very mistaken view of science. It would take a book to correct all the misunderstandings that you have stated above, and so I explain two of them in hope that this will encourage you to learn to correct your view. The problem seems to be that you confuse the business of politics with the practice of science.

    Science is a constant reassessment of what is thought to be known by comparison with observational (i.e. empirical) data. And this basic nature of science denies several of the assertions you make above.

    Firstly, the scientific method demands that all information needs to be assessed in its own right and, therefore, the source of the information is not relevant. Simply, all information should be assessed by comparison with empirical data to determine its merit regardless of its source.

    For example, the seminal information on aeronautics was written by two bicycle salesmen and was published in a journal on bee-keeping without peer review, but that information seems to be useful to Boeing, Aerbus Industrie, and etc.. Also, the seminal papers on general relativity and special relativity were written by a second-rate patents clerk working in a Patent Office and were published without peer review, but they overturned conventional physics.

    In postings above, you provide a list of sources for information that you assert should be trusted as a hierarchy. However, as is demonstrated by the above illustrations – and there are many thousands more such illustrations – your assertion is a denial of the scientific method. The scientific method says all information from any source should be distrusted and should be assessed on the basis of its agreement with observation of reality.

    So, in science there is no hierarchy of trustworthy sources and all information should be assessed to determine its merit regardless of its source. Politics assesses information according to its source, but science does not.

    Then you ascribe value to personalities instead of data. Politics ascribes value to personalities and their motivations, but science does not. In science only the data is of importance and the value of the data is assessed on the basis of its agreement with observation of reality, and who said what or why is of no relevance.

    Severe error is obtained by ascribing value to personalities instead of data. You provide several examples of such error in your postings above. One of these examples is your references to the about 700 people listed by the IPCC as it reviewers and the about 700 people listed by Marc Morano as a list of so-called ‘deniers’. You say you ascribe value to IPCC authors and not to Morano so you value the IPCC’s list but not Morano’s list. However, several people – including myself – are on both lists, and this fact is hidden by an assertion that only one of the lists should be trusted. The scientific method says that neither list should be trusted and that each should be assessed for its degree of accuracy.

    I could go on but I think the above is sufficient to show you that you are confusing politics with science, and I hope this will encourage you to learn the difference. When you do learn the difference then you will understand that the treatment of Carlin’s paper was pure politics which denies the scientific method. And you may understand why Orson’s question is pertinent and deserves consideration with a view to an answer.

    Regards

    Richard

  136. ALLAN12

    Well said Richard. But don’t expect these hysterical warmists to hear you – they are an uneducated bunch.

    On another topic:

    While I don’t care what names these imbeciles call me, I would like to address the term “climate denier”.

    This is a perversion of the term “holocaust denier”, and it is a very reprehensible use of language, because:
    1. It tries to equate, in the minds of imbeciles, the legitimate questioning of flawed global warming science with the odious questioning of whether the holocaust really happened.
    2. In so doing, it disrespects the memory of all those who died in the holocaust.

    Such warmists have no intellect, no decency, and no shame.

  137. Erasmussimo

    Richard, perhaps you misunderstood my points. I’m not talking about science as described in the textbooks, I am talking about how science gets done in the real world. This involves both sociology and politics. I agree that it is important to differentiate between scientific method and policy-making, but I am not conflating them.

    Let’s start with the science side: how do scientific decisions get made? There’s lots of great theory about how scientific method should be applied in a pure universe where everybody’s lab coats are spotless, there are no outliers in the data, and every experiment is perfectly reproducible. But in the real world it’s a lot messier. Outliers always crop up; do you toss them or retain them? Pure scientific integrity insists that you retain them, but what if you suspect that one of your grad students screwed up? Do you really want to publish spoiled data?

    Ultimately, science is a social activity and as such social factors play an undeniable role in the advance of science. For example, there are always cranks: weirdos who somehow got their doctorate and a faculty position, and then went off into the weeds. The world is full of such people; Mr. Dembski provides us with an excellent example of a fully qualified PhD who’s off his rocker. And so the scientific community ignores Mr. Dembski. This is an egregious violation of the noble model you describe, but it is justifiable in terms of maintaining focus. Scientists do not have any responsibility to give a hearing to every crackpot who comes along. They have to budget their time just like anybody else, and if they decide to ignore Mr. Dembski, that strikes me as a perfectly rational thing to do.

    Scientists are extremely cautious in evaluating issues. They are happy to wait for decades or centuries to acquire the data necessary to resolve an issue. And when we get to the dramatic period where a hypothesis sits on the tipping point, there’s lots of controversy. But at some point, scientists will start to gravitate towards one side or the other, and when most of them have hung their hats on one side, you can take their decision as pretty reliable.

    Moreover, scientists are often called upon by society to provide scientific judgement on issues that affect society. The IPCC did not just accidentally pop into existence; it was created because the UN want to get the best possible scientific judgement on the matter. Similarly, the National Academy of Sciences was created by Congress to provide scientific judgement on matters that affect policy. When it first addressed the issue of climate change back in 1975 it refused to make a recommendation, declaring that there wasn’t enough evidence to support any conclusion. However, in the last few years, the NAS has reconsidered the growing mass of data and is now recommending that action be taken to reduce CO2 emissions. These are scientists doing their jobs.

    You take me to task for providing my own judgement of the reliability of various websites, complaining that I am violating the scientific method. Please be advised that this discussion is not part of a scientific analysis. This is a public discussion of a matter of political import. It includes scientific information but it is not science itself. No scientific papers will issue from this discussion; no conference reports will be published. And surely nobody will cite our commentary in future papers.

    I agree with you that, in theory, we should weigh all information without any regard to its source. However, the amount of time I or anybody in this discussion has is well short of infinity, and so we all, as reasonable people, budget our time, prioritizing our work based on its value. If you wish to devote your time to scouring the web for every possible source of information on AGW, reading every crackpot claim, be my guest. I wrote my comment for those people who would like to get reliable information in a limited amount of time.

    Finally, you seem to take the position that we should never take into account the authority of any source of information. I disagree with you. Suppose, for example, that an undergraduate in Kansas offers us a dataset of temperatures from the ocean floor. You would have us embrace the dataset. I would approach it with extreme wariness, asking rude questions such as, “Where’d you get this data?” “HOW did you get this data?” and “Where did you get the money for the equipment to obtain this data?”

    But there’s an even more important consideration: every single datum we obtain is the product of somebody’s scientific judgement. If somebody tells me the triple point temperature for iron, I’d expect that person to understand what “triple point temperature” means. If they don’t understand the concepts behind the number, why should we trust their number?

    And of course, at the highest level, the assessment of huge masses of data, we must rely completely on the judgement of those who have the experience and training to correctly interpret all that data. When Marc Moran declares that the AGW hypothesis is wrong, I dismiss his claim because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But when a broad collection of the best scientists in the country study the matter carefully and declare (as the NAS has done) that we should reduce CO2 emissions, then I pay attention. You’re welcome to pay attention to Marc Moran, Bugs Bunny, and everybody else with an opinion on the matter. But I think I’m on solid ground giving greatest weight to the best authorities in the field.

  138. Erasmussimo

    Arg, Marc MORANO, not Marc Moran. Sorry.

    Mr. Allan12 objects to the term “climate denier”. First, most people seem to be gravitating towards plain old “denier” (I prefer “AGW denier”). Second, it may be a reference to the Holocaust in your mind, but the meaning that you assign to words is not guaranteed to be the meaning that other people assign to words. I certainly don’t make that association. If I make comparisons, I refer to evolution deniers and flat earth believers.

    Third, the term is apt. The alternative term “skeptic”, is inapt because that term describes somebody who refuses to accept any position. AGW deniers are adamant in their rejection of the AGW hypothesis. They are far removed from skepticism — they have made up their minds. And since their only position is that the AGW hypothesis is wrong, the best term to describe them is “AGW deniers”. If you can think of a more apt term, let’s hear it!

  139. Jon

    Richard S Courtney: Firstly, the scientific method demands that all information needs to be assessed in its own right and, therefore, the source of the information is not relevant.

    If you know a source of information is habitually unreliable, the sane person who is not a specialist can surmise that the source is either 1) not competent, 2) does not argue in good faith, or 3) some combination of the two.

    If you spend lots of time getting into “one way hash arguments” with such sources, you are not spending your time wisely.

  140. Richard S Courtney

    Erasmussimo:

    Oh dear! I am replying to your message timed at ‘July 2nd, 2009 at 6:07 pm’ to demonstrate that I am not avoiding it. However, your message contains so much that is plain wrong that there is not sufficient time to provide a full and proper answer to it. Indeed, this will be my final comment on the matter because either you will choose to learn the difference between the practice of science and the business of politics or you will not, and my repetition of the difference will not alter your choice.

    Firstly, I agree that there is bad science. I disdain it but you excuse it as a “social activity”, and you ask;
    “Outliers always crop up; do you toss them or retain them? Pure scientific integrity insists that you retain them, but what if you suspect that one of your grad students screwed up? Do you really want to publish spoiled data?”

    The only proper answer to your question is that choosing which data to publish is scientific fraud. And such fraud is not excusable as a “social activity”.

    Therefore, either
    (a) one should not publish the work
    or
    (b) one should publish all the data obatained during the work.

    Frankly, if you did not know those are the only proper answers to your question then your misunderstanding of the scientific method is even greater than I thought.

    And you again betray your confusion of the business of politics with the practice of science when you assert;
    “But at some point, scientists will start to gravitate towards one side or the other, and when most of them have hung their hats on one side, you can take their decision as pretty reliable.”

    Your assertion is so wrong as to be risible. Politics decides right and wrong by votes, but science does not.

    Importantly, when most scientists “have hung their hats on one side” then it is usually the case that they will need to move their hats at some future date because it is the norm in science that an accepted theory is revised by additional information. (If you do not believe this then research the histories of, for example, phlogiston, plate tectonics and the nature of the atom.)

    Furthermore, the history of science is replete with examples of most scientists ‘hanging their hats on the wrong peg’. When that happens on a matter of social importance it has often had disastrous consequences: eugenics is perhaps the worst of many such examples.

    And your appeal to authority is so mistaken that I choose not to bother to debate it and, instead, I merely state that you need to look up Socratic principles.

    I repeat, when you do learn the difference between the practice of science and the business of politics then you will understand that the treatment of Carlin’s paper was pure politics which denies the scientific method. And you may understand why Orson’s question is pertinent and deserves consideration with a view to an answer.

    Regards

    Richard

  141. Erasmussimo

    I must say, Mr. Courtney, you apparently have never been involved in doing science. You write,

    The only proper answer to your question is that choosing which data to publish is scientific fraud. And such fraud is not excusable as a “social activity”.

    In real science, we generate mountains of data. Much of the data we get is lousy. An instrument was still warming up, the sample had not yet stabilized when we began data collection, the temperature was initially too high, the data from a secondary source was unavailable, there was gross conflict between two sources of data — the reasons for excluding data go on and on and on. We throw out lots of data when things aren’t perfect. Eventually we get a data run where everything seems to go well, and that’s the data that we publish. But there is inevitably a great deal of judgement involved in determining what data gets retained and what data gets tossed. I’ve participated in some of these discussions, and most of the time these meetings are uncontroversial. Only rarely does somebody balk at throwing out data. Indeed, in some occasions we’ve thrown away so much data that we didn’t have enough left to draw any conclusions!

    This takes judgement and integrity. Your black and white version of including all the data all the time is hopelessly out of touch with the realities of science. Delicate instruments never perform flawlessly. Assumptions about the role of conflicting factors turn out to be wrong — “can we continue the measurements even though the salinity is greater than our calculations?” In the analysis, we always overlook tiny factors that could be significant but which, in our judgement, do not play a large enough role to affect our conclusions. It’s a judgement, not a formal scientific measurement. Why don’t we measure everything that could affect the outcome? Because there are a zillion factors that could affect the outcome! So we measure the main variables, control for all the significant secondary variables that we can think of, and carefully consider all the others to reassure ourselves that they won’t mess up our results.

    Politics decides right and wrong by votes, but science does not.
    Your appreciation of science seems to be taken out of philosophy textbooks. In the real world, scientists spend a LOT of time checking out the opinions of others and seeing just how much support there is for an idea. Why do you think that scientists have so many conferences? If it were all as neat and tidy as you think it is, they’d all just publish their papers in the journals and argue out ideas in print. But in fact the papers that appear in the journals appear only AFTER the ideas are thrashed out in meetings. Scientific conferences are meetings nested within meetings. The formal sessions allow a certain amount of debate, but social conventions forbid serious arguments. The real decisions get made in meetings among specialists after the formal presentation of the papers. They all get together and argue their points. The brightest scientists get more airtime than the less renowned ones. Heads nod up and down. Opinions shift in the social hothouse of all those meetings. Most scientists will tell you that attending conferences is crucial to their careers because conferences are where the major shifts in group opinion take place.

    Now, you can argue that this is all just politics, and that none of it matters anyway because the principles you have laid down still govern the truth. I disagree. Having watched science being done, I believe that it’s a very complex social phenomenon in which a lot of bright minds with weak social skills hammer out general agreements that shape overall opinion. That might not be the way that you think it SHOULD happen, but it is most certainly the way that it DOES happen.

    I’d like to point out to you that the examples you cite provide in fact an excellent example of how science actually evolves. You see, scientific method did not spring whole and complete out of Roger Bacon’s head. It has evolved over the centuries and steadily improved. For example, you mentioned earlier that Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis papers did not undergo peer review. That’s because peer review didn’t become standard until the mid-twentieth century. Anybody could publish a paper if they could get the editor to decide in their favor. And there were a lot of bogus papers printed because of those lax policies. Nowadays scientists have really tightened up the policies to insure that the peer review process is more effective.

    Thus, the phlogiston theory you mention was too early in the history of science to help us evaluate modern scientific method. The debates over the nature of the atom were much more complicated than you seem to believe. They were not simple examples of scientists all hanging their hats on the wrong theory. The most common attitude in the early twentieth century was that we simply didn’t know the structure of the atom. Sure, there were advocates for the various models, but if you read the old textbooks, what you see is that opinion was plainly divided for a long time. The Bohr model steadily gained acceptance as better experimental evidence in its support came into being. This controversy is a good example of the process I described. There was a lot of controversy in the first decade of the twentieth century because nobody had a good model. The bulk of physicists therefore withheld judgement. When the Bohr model was introduced in 1912, its explanation of the hydrogen atom’s behavior was very compelling, but even then physicists were reticent to plunk down in favor of the Bohr model. It wasn’t until the early 20s that the Bohr model achieved broad acceptance. As I wrote earlier, scientists are cautious people.

    And the plate tectonics theory that you mention provides an excellent example of science working well. Yes, there were prominent geologists who loudly denounced the theory — but the fact that they loudly denounced it so often proves that it continued to command respect in the scientific community. Do not be deceived by the big guns in that controversy: the community as a whole never flatly rejected continental drift. And when the mid-Atlantic ridge data started coming in in the late 50s, the geological community had no problem embracing the continental drift theory that they had been flirting with for 50 years.

    the history of science is replete with examples of most scientists ‘hanging their hats on the wrong peg’
    That’s a common misconception that has some merit before the 20th century, but lessening merit with each decade of the 20th century. I challenge you to cite a single scientific theory from the second half of the twentieth century that was grossly incorrect yet commanded the respect of the majority of the scientists in its field. You can’t — there aren’t any. Scientific institutions have gotten better and better at what they do.

    And your appeal to authority is so mistaken that I choose not to bother to debate it and, instead, I merely state that you need to look up Socratic principles.
    This argument would have merit in a philosophy class. But when society needs to make a decision based on scientific issues, I am glad that it consults scientific experts. You may rail against such behavior because it produces results you don’t like, but that’s the most rational way to make decisions about complex problems that require judgement and expertise.

    when you do learn the difference between the practice of science and the business of politics then you will understand that the treatment of Carlin’s paper was pure politics which denies the scientific method. And you may understand why Orson’s question is pertinent and deserves consideration with a view to an answer.
    I have already explained that Mr. Carlin’s paper was ignored because it was submitted after the deadline. Yes, that was a political decision. Yes, in an ideal world we’d all sit around on our duffs waiting for perfect information before we ever made a decision. But in the real world, nature waits for no man. In the real world, we have to proceed with decisions based on incomplete information and the judgement of experts. It’s easy for armchair critics to dismiss the process with grand philosophical condemnations, but the real work of making policy is a long, hard grind, replete with deadlines and reports and complicated data and coordination of different points of view. I for one am glad that our government makes a sincere effort to get these things done with a good balance between intellectual certainty and timeliness.

    And as for Orson: he’s troll! Perhaps someday he’ll rehabilitate himself but so long as he continues with these crazy tirades about Stalinism, I don’t think he deserves much consideration.

  142. Brian

    Oh dear. I somehow feel certain I’ll regret posting here. However I also feel that the discussion has seriously bogged down. Name calling, unyielding defense of intellectual territories, and so forth. The term “Pyrrhic Victory” comes to mind.

    My opinion? All discussion of whether we should be talking about 8, or 10, or 12 year data sets is pointless. We have 700,000 years of data and that needs to be the basis for the debate. More data = better science, and the data sets from the polar ice cores has data in spades. Please address the 700,000 year data set. For the reason why, please see “Supercrunchers…”, by Ian Ayres.

    Next important point. It’s called the Precautionary Principle. Climate change predicts very serious consequences on humanity, bad enough to invoke the Precautionary Principle. On the other hand, many important mitigations of climate change are low cost and can be defended on their economic merits. Saving energy and becoming more efficient is simply a good thing all round. I’ve never understood why people would NOT want their house to be more comfortable and cheaper to run. And that includes the up-front cost considerations.

    Third point. The carbon economy is getting more expensive all the time. Anyone seen US $20/barrel oil lately? It’s not enough that certain oil companies pooh-pooh “Peak Oil”. The rising cost of oil is a strong signal that oil is getting tougher to find and deliver to markets. This is a warning to those willing to hear; even in a down economy, oil is still far more expensive than in the 1980’s.

    Fourth point. I take it as fact that the tobacco companies lied about their products for decades. Why? To defend entrenched business interests of course. I’ve heard plenty of credible allegations of ties between the same lobbying companies that the tobacco companies used, and oil companies use today. Not all of course, but enough. You only have to look around to see how entrenched the carbon economy is: roads, cars, gas stations, furnaces in every home, pipelines, refineries. It’s a big business. Worth defending, by any means necessary, for those so inclined to do so.

    Therefore it seems to me that people who claim that climate change is not real, have a credibility problem. And it’s their problem, not mine. They may be legit, but they’re going to have to nail down both their science and their independence before I spend too much time listening. For a different viewpoint, we have the IPCC. I’ll take their viewpoint until someone explains to me, in very convincing terms, why they are wrong. It just seems to me that the IPCC has fewer vested interests to protect.

    Final point. This one’s for those who say it can’t be done, or it costs too much, or that we just don’t understand. Really? Ever take a look at Europe? They are switching to new power sources big time. Their economy is thriving on the new business it generates. The NIH crowd will doubtless begin Europe-bashing, but Europe has made alternate energy work.

    Somehow, I feel that similar arguments were made when ships switched from sail to steam. Likely it happened again when cars came along and began to replace horses. We’re going to be decades switching away from oil. The point isn’t that it’s a crisis now. The point is, if we allow it to become a crisis, it’s going to cost a fortune and hurt a lot of people.

  143. Erasmussimo

    Brian, I agree with all your points save one: the proper role of the Greenland ice core data. While it does provide a great deal of useful information, I don’t consider it definitive for our problem because it does not include the crucial element we face: the sudden injection of large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. We need to know what the effect of that will be, and that experiment wasn’t done on this planet heretofore.

    But I like all your other arguments. There are many reasons to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels that have little to do with AGW.

  144. Censorship is censorship irrespective of political leaning, something that Mr. Mooney doesn’t seem to understand. I certainly hope that Mooney is not holding himself up as a qualified reviewer of what constitutes actual “matters of scientific substance.” While it is true that Carlin may not be qualified to have originated the items in the EPA report, the points are none the less valid and have been raised by qualified scientists. The quote from Gavin Schmidt shows his criticism not to be reasoned scientific argumentation but basically childish name calling. Funny, if Monday was the hottest day of the year and the temperatures dropped through Friday most people would call that a cooling trend. It is irrelevant that 1998 was “the hottest year on record,” if temperatures have dropped since that is a cooling trend and is in direct contradiction to global warming supporters who told everyone that temperatures would be skyrocketing this decade. There are real scientific issues here and the public’s understanding of them is in noway enhanced by the rantings of unqualified hacks like Mr. Mooney. If you wish to actually read the statements in the EPA draft see:

    http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/banned-epa

  145. Arrow

    Erasmussimo you confuse the institution of Science with scientists themselves.

    As opposed to scientists Science speaks through experimentally verified models ONLY. Scientists can say what they want, can have varying opinions, can base their stance on consensus, or whatever but this has NOTHING to do with the stance of Science itself. If there is no experimental data to back a model Science is SILENT about the issue.

    During the history of Science for every successful model there were tens or perhaps even hundreds of failed ones. This means that the only rational approach is to assume all models wrong until proven otherwise by experimental data.

    This is why Science cannot predict future climate as no climate models exist which have been proven to make correct predictions on the time scales involved. Nothing can change that simple fact. We don’t have a single trustworthy climate model, anyone who claims Science can say what the climate will be at the end of this century is a lier.

    Remember the only difference between scientific predictions and astrology is that scientific predictions are based on experimentally verified models.

  146. Mark

    Funny, if Monday was the hottest day of the year and the temperatures dropped through Friday most people would call that a cooling trend.

    How many times must it be told? Weather is not climate!

    It is irrelevant that 1998 was “the hottest year on record,” if temperatures have dropped since that is a cooling trend…

    Go read post 119 to see why 11 years is not long enough a time period to conclusively make that determination.

    …and is in direct contradiction to global warming supporters who told everyone that temperatures would be skyrocketing this decade.

    Name one. I want a specific citation of a climate scientist who said that temperatures would “skyrocket” this decade. Exaggerations by foolish journalists in the news media don’t count. Show me one scientist who said something anywhere close to what you claim.

  147. Richard S Courtney

    Sirs:

    I object to your having posted an untrue smear of me by an anonymous troll (i.e. “I must say, Mr. Courtney, you apparently have never been involved in doing science.”) and your then refusing to publish my rebuttal of it.

    Richard S Courtney

  148. Erasmussimo

    Science speaks through experimentally verified models ONLY

    And who should decide whether a model has been experimentally verified? Fishermen? Accountants? Bloggers? I suggest that scientists are the people we should rely on to make these decisions. And in fact, they HAVE made these decisions. So are you rejecting their judgements? Are you declaring your own scientific judgement to be superior to that of the collective judgement of the eminent scientists in the National Academy of Sciences?

    Mr. Hoffman, you assert that the claims made in Mr. Carlin’s report are “valid”. They do appear to be valid, but I don’t think they are correct. But the key point here is that it is unreasonable to expect the EPA to reverse its decision-making bureaucratic juggernaut in order to consider and debate the points raised by a johnny-come-lately.

  149. Brian

    Discover published an interview collection:

    http://discovermagazine.com/2009/jun/30-state-of-the-climate-and-science/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

    The interviewees made a lot of sense to me. For example there was a rational explanation as to why the upper and lower atmospheres could diverge in their temperature trends.

  150. Arrow

    Quote Erasmussimo: “And who should decide whether a model has been experimentally verified? Fishermen? Accountants? Bloggers? I suggest that scientists are the people we should rely on to make these decisions. And in fact, they HAVE made these decisions. So are you rejecting their judgements? Are you declaring your own scientific judgement to be superior to that of the collective judgement of the eminent scientists in the National Academy of Sciences?”

    Comparing predictions with data is the simplest task ever and almost anyone with a grasp of basic statistics can do it, this is exactly why Science works, why it can approach objectivity – given proper data verification of models is banal.

    For example if you have a model which predicts constant see level rise during the next ten years, and of the first 5 years 3 experienced significant sea level decline then anyone including fishermen, accountants, bloggers and whoever you want will know the model is worthless. The opinion of National Academy of Science won’t change it one bit.

    No issue is settled in Science until there is enough data to rule out all competing models when viewed by an intelligent unbiased person. Consensus has NOTHING to do with it. As a matter of fact if someone invokes consensus it is obvious the issue is far from settled.

    Science speaks through experimentally verified models ONLY.

    In cases where there are no data to verify models (as is the case with climate) Science cannot make any predictions, anyone who says otherwise is confusing Science with politics and unfortunately many scientists do play politics.

  151. Erasmussimo

    Well, Arrow, your problem is that, as a non-scientist, you’ve misunderstood the science — which should come as no surprise. For example, there is no climate model that predicts constant sea level rise; you have misunderstood what the models say. That’s one good reason why we need trained scientists to interpret this data: scientifically illiterate people get confused about what’s really at issue.

    No issue is settled in Science until there is enough data to rule out all competing models when viewed by an intelligent unbiased person. Consensus has NOTHING to do with it.

    First, no issue in science is ever completely settled, but we can reach a point where our confidence in some hypothesis reaches a high enough level that we can safely act on the assumption that the hypothesis be true. But more important, you assume that an “intelligent unbiased person” can interpret complex intellectual issues without having any education in those issues. I disagree with your assumption. I believe that we must rely upon intelligent, unbiased people who ALSO have training in the relevant subjects. Even then, we have the problem that there will always be differences of opinion. So how do we resolve those differences of opinion? Would you insist that we wait until there are no dissident voices? There are people even today who reject Newton’s Laws, evolution, special relativity, the round earth, the reality of space travel, and on and on. We need some criterion for establishing when a hypothesis is solid enough to act upon. What criterion would you use? Would you demand that everything must have your own approval? The National Academy of Sciences says that the time to act has come. Are you claiming that your own expertise is greater than that of the combined expertise of the scientists at the National Academy of Sciences?

  152. Richard S Courtney

    Friends:

    The Enlightenment replaced reliance on the assertions of authorities with reliance on evidence.

    The scientific method is a development from the Enlightenment. But several postings above reject Enlightenment rationality and, instead, promote a return to Dark Age superstition. A clear example of this is the rant which concludes with:

    “The National Academy of Sciences says that the time to act has come. Are you claiming that your own expertise is greater than that of the combined expertise of the scientists at the National Academy of Sciences?”

    The same question was put to Galileo except that the authority put to him was the “Holy Roman Catholic Church” and not the “National Academy of Sciences”.

    As I explained in a previous posting (above), science is a constant reassessment of what is thought to be known by comparison with observational (i.e. empirical) data.

    Only the observational data has importance for science. And the indications of the observational data are not diluted by assertions of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the National Academy of Sciences, the IPCC, the CCSP, Al Gore, James Hansen, anonymous trolls who pontificate while hiding behind aliases, or anybody else.

    Several postings above concern arguments about recent global temperature trends. These arguments demonstrate opinions being asserted to outweigh empirical observations. For example, in response to a factual statement of one person saying:
    “It is irrelevant that 1998 was “the hottest year on record,” if temperatures have dropped since that is a cooling trend…”
    a person replied by saying;
    “Go read post 119 to see why 11 years is not long enough a time period to conclusively make that determination.”
    But post 119 says nothing of the kind: indeed, post 119 does not explain – indeed, it does not address – the issue of short-term global temperature variability but asserts matters of ocean thermal storage which would oppose such variability.

    The fact is that the globe has cooled over the last decade. Refusal to agree that fact is climate change denial.

    And climate change is a serious problem. All governments need to address it.

    In the Bronze Age Joseph (with the Technicolour Dreamcoat) told Pharaoh that climate is observed to have always changed everywhere: it always will. This was and is science.

    Joseph told Pharaoh to respond to climate change by preparing for bad times when in good times, and all sensible governments have adopted that policy throughout the millennia since. This was and is politics.

    It is a sensible political policy because people merely complain at taxes in good times. They revolt if short of food in bad times. But several governments have abandoned it and, instead, are trying to stabilise the climate of the entire Earth by controlling it. This change of policy is politics.

    The attempt at global climate control arises from the hypothesis of anthropogenic (that is, man-made) global warming (AGW). And the hypothesis – together with assessment of the hypothesis by comparison to empirical data – is science.

    AGW does not pose a global crisis but the political policy of attempted climate control does, because it threatens constraint of fossil fuel usage and that constraint would kill millions – probably billions – of people.

    The AGW hypothesis says that increased greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the air will increase radiative forcing to increase warming of the Earth. This is science which is based on understanding of radiation physics.

    But it is superstition – not science – to jump from that scientific fact to a claim that increased GHGs in the air will increase global temperature significantly if at all. The Earth’s climate system is extremely complex and it has adjusted to accommodate much larger changes than the postulated GHG rise without losing its bi-stability (i.e. stable glacial and interglacial temperatures) over geological ages.

    Many physical, geological and geographical changes have occurred to the Earth over geological ages. But the Earth’s climate system is observed to have been so robust that these changes have not resulted in significant change to the Earth’s global temperature. For example, the Sun has increased its output – and, therefore, its radiative forcing of the Earth – by ~30% in the ~2.5 billion years since the Earth has had an oxygen-rich atmosphere. The oceans would have boiled to steam long ago if increase to radiative forcing had a direct effect on global temperature. So, it is not clear that an estimated 0.4% increase to radiative forcing from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide will overwhelm that bi-stability when ~30% increase to radiative forcing from the Sun has had no discernible effect on the system. This is science.

    Of course, slight temperature variations are observed throughout both glacial and interglacial conditions, but the Earth’s climate system has maintained its bi-stability. These observations are science.

    There is no evidence for man-made global warming; none, not any of any kind. This is science.

    The existence of global warming is not evidence of anthropogenic global warming because warming of the Earth does not prove humans warmed it. At issue is whether humans are or are not affecting changes to the Earth’s temperature that have always happened naturally. This is also science.

    Evaluation of the global temperature record is science, too.

    Anybody who looks at the records of recent global temperature (i.e. the most recent millennia) can see a series of cycles that are overlaid on each other. For example:
    1. There seems to be an apparent ~900 year oscillation that caused the Roman Warm Period (RWP), then the Dark Age Cool Period (DACP), then the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), then the Little Ice Age (LIA), and the present warm period (PWP).
    And
    2. There seems to be an apparent ~60 year oscillation that caused cooling to ~1910, then warming to ~1940, then cooling to ~1970, then warming to ~2000, then cooling since.

    So, has the warming from the LIA stopped or not? That cannot be known because the pattern of past global temperature fluctuations suggest that the existing cooling phase of the ~60 year cycle is opposing any such warming. And that cooling phase can be anticipated to end around 2030 when it can be anticipated that then either
    (a) warming from the LIA will continue until we reach temperatures similar to those of the MWP
    or
    (b) cooling will set in until we reach temperatures similar to those of the LIA.

    So, it is a scientific conclusion that the data does not indicate whether future warming or cooling will occur. And it is a political decision to ignore that unarguable scientific conclusion. But climate change deniers do ignore it and they proclaim that human activities alone cause global warming: their climate change denial is pure superstition.

    Deciding to respond to the clear scientific conclusion by preparing for the possibilities of warming or cooling would be a political decision (with a precedent going back to Joseph in the Bronze Age) based on the scientific evidence. And deciding to prepare for only warming or only cooling would also be a political decision, but it would be based on superstition and would have high risk.

    Replacing consideration of the empirical data with appeals to Authority is a denial of Enlightenment reasoning, a denial of the scientific method, and a call for a return to medieval superstition.

    Carling is being chastised because he championed reason and science against such superstition.

    Richard

  153. Arrow

    Erasmussimo : “Well, Arrow, your problem is that, as a non-scientist, you’ve misunderstood the science — which should come as no surprise. ”

    It just so happens that I am a scientists, not that it matters for what I am trying to say here, you seem to be extremely fond of the argument from authority, you do know it’s a logical fallacy, don’t you?

    E : “For example, there is no climate model that predicts constant sea level rise; you have misunderstood what the models say.”

    It was just an example of course. Here let me quote it again since you have obviously missed the point:

    For example if you have a model which predicts constant see level rise during the next ten years, and of the first 5 years 3 experienced significant sea level decline then anyone including fishermen, accountants, bloggers and whoever you want will know the model is worthless. The opinion of National Academy of Science won’t change it one bit.

    See it is meant as an *example* I did not reference any specific model, I made it up to make the point easier for you to understand, the point is that one does not have to have any expertise to compare mode’s *predictions* with reality.

    E: “But more important, you assume that an “intelligent unbiased person” can interpret complex intellectual issues without having any education in those issues. ”

    Again, I am talking about *predictions* not about understanding the subtleties of the model but about comparing it’s predictions with reality after the fact. It is a trivial exercise and any intelligent person can do it. Referring to my example again you don’t have to understand how sea level model works to know it’s wrong if the sea level keeps going in the opposite direction to the one predicted by the model.

    This is the whole point so please try to not misread it again, you don’t have to understand the model to compare it’s predictions with reality, this is the only reason why Science is so successful. Contrary to what you claim Science does not rest on authority or consensus, even if you have ten nobel prizes if your model fails to agree with observations it is wrong and no support from National Academy of Science will change that. I should not even have to explain it, especially if you are a scientists yourself as you seem to imply.

    Models which have never passed an experimental test are NOT trustworthy and should NEVER be relied upon. As I’ve already said before during the history of Science for every correct model there have been tens or perhaps even hundreds of failed ones, so there are overwhelming odds that any new and untested model is wrong and should be treated as such until it’s predictions are shown to match reality.

    No climate model has ever passed such a test and this is why Science cannot claim to predict future climate, this should be obvious to anyone who truly understands Science. Scientists who claim otherwise are abusing the public trust for political power.

  154. Erasmussimo

    Well, there’s a ton of material to respond to here. Let’s get rolling!

    Richard, you present a great many extreme claims, but I think that the most important claim you make, one that is shared by Arrow, is that reliance upon the judgement of experts is irrational. Both of you argue that “the facts speak for themselves”. My point is that it takes a lot of time just to know what the facts really are, and a lot of training to understand what the facts are saying.

    Consider the amount of research going on in climate change science just now. There are hundreds of papers and research reports being published every year. Just taking the time to read all those papers would consume hundreds of hours each year. I certainly haven’t expended that much time — have you? Sure, the facts speak for themselves — but if you haven’t actually read the facts, how can you assert that your opinion on the matter has any weight? And how can you dismiss the judgements of those who HAVE read the facts?

    But it’s more than just reading the facts — you have to understand them, too. For example, consider the following statement from IPCC AR4 Ch 5:

    Shoaling of the aragonite saturation horizon has been observed in all ocean basins based on alkalinity, DIC and oxygen measurements.

    Do you know what shoaling is? What the aragonite saturation horizon is? Do you know how it is determined from alkalinity, DIC, and oxygen measurements? If not, and “the facts speak for themselves”, then how can you understand what the facts are saying?

    And no, I don’t know what those things are, either. I’m not trying to prove that you’re dummies and I’m smart. I’m arguing that the knowledge required to make reliable judgements is esoteric.

    I agree with the fundamental claim that we have to base our conclusions on the evidence. But if you don’t know all the pertinent evidence, and you can’t understand its significance, then how can you ask anybody to accept your judgement on the matter over that of people who DO know the pertinent evidence and DO understand its significance?

    Now for some lesser arguments. Richard S. Courtney writes:

    post 119 does not explain – indeed, it does not address – the issue of short-term global temperature variability but asserts matters of ocean thermal storage which would oppose such variability.

    The mistake in this statement is the identification of temperature measurements with actual temperature. The actual temperature of the earth is unknown. We’d need to measure the temperature at every point on the surface and in the oceans, and even with reasonable simplifications, this is an impossible task. In particular, we do not have good temperature measurements for the deep ocean. (We do have SOME good temperature measurements, but not enough to provide us with reliable estimates of the average temperature in the deep ocean.) Now, the ocean is the primary heat reservoir for the surface of the planet; the atmosphere holds little heat compared to the ocean. Thus, the atmosphere is the tail wagged by the ocean’s dog. Atmospheric temperature measurements are easy to obtain and great in quantity, but they are subject to temporary fluctuations unrelated to the long-term trends — which is precisely what we are observing now. The point of #119 is that the ocean is such a large thermal reservoir that it changes temperature very slowly, and so a temperature change over ten years cannot be taken as an indicator of underlying long-term trends.

    Richard, you make a statement that I can’t resist taking a poke at:

    There is no evidence for man-made global warming; none, not any of any kind. This is science.
    Well, it’s science according to Richard S. Courtney. It’s not science according to scientists.

    Arrow, you assert that you were providing only hypothetical examples, and therefore reject my criticisms. You’re right: if these were purely hypothetical examples, then my criticisms were irrelevant to the real issues. Of course, this also means that you have written nothing pertinent to the real issues. Yes, if scientists declared that the sky is red, and you look outside and see that the sky is blue, then the scientists are wrong. The problem is, you haven’t offered any indication that scientists are claiming that the sky is red. So what’s your point?

  155. Erasmussimo

    Oops, I overlooked the fact that Arrow did in fact declare that scientists claim that the sky is red:

    No climate model has ever passed such a test

    Here he refers to a comparison of model results with observations. The problem here, Arrow, is that you misunderstand the models. They most assuredly do NOT claim to predict the sea level at any particular point in time or space, nor do they claim to predict the temperature at any particular point in time or space. They make general predictions about sea levels and temperatures averaged over long time intervals. When you compare what they actually predict with the observations, you get a very good fit. You’re comparing the wrong things.

  156. Richard S Courtney

    Erasmussimo:

    As usual you obfuscate, dissemble and insult, but you say nothing of true substance.

    For example, you ask me:
    “Consider the amount of research going on in climate change science just now. There are hundreds of papers and research reports being published every year. Just taking the time to read all those papers would consume hundreds of hours each year. I certainly haven’t expended that much time — have you? Sure, the facts speak for themselves — but if you haven’t actually read the facts, how can you assert that your opinion on the matter has any weight? And how can you dismiss the judgements of those who HAVE read the facts?”

    Well, as an IPCC peer reviewer I have read each and every fact reported in the IPCC scientific reports, and I have read them in their draft and in their final forms.

    I remind that earlier (above) you claimed to “trust” the list of IPCC Reviewers, and I pointed out that I am in that list. It seems that inconsistency is also one of your many errors.

    Indeed, I ponder why you have taken it upon yourself to try to monopolise the debate here when you admit that you do not know and do not understand several of the issues and the facts.

    Also, it is plain insulting for you to proclaim an assumption that I do not understand something merely because you do not understand it (incidentally, I do understand that insignificant piece of trivia and I have published on it).

    Importantly, if it is cooler now than it was a decade ago then it has cooled over the last decade. Your meaningless ramblings do not – and cannot – change that fact.

    Furthermore, although it is true that the globe does not have a temprature (e.g. it is hotter in the tropics than in the polar regions) mean global temperature (i.e. average temperature) is used as a climate metric and I reported its temporal pattern correctly.

    I have better things to do with my time than to waste it on rebutting all your errors, obfuscations and insults so I conclude by advising people to ignore your ramblings (I will ignore any more that you emit here) and, therefore, this is my last response to you.

    Richard

  157. Richard S Courtney

    PS

    There is no evidence of any kind for man-made global warming. That is science according to all scientists.

    If there were one jot of any such evidence then it is certain that the likes of Erasmussimo would be shouting it from the rooftops.

    The reason they appeal to authority and do not cite any such evidence is because there is no such evidence.

    Richard

  158. Erasmussimo

    Richard, I am surprised that you reviewed the entire output of the IPCC materials in preparation for the AR4. They broke that task down and established subgroups to handle each of the chapters. You must have had a very special position to participate in both the individual chapter groups and the overview. I don’t know of anybody else who participated so broadly. It must have been a great deal of work.

    I remind that earlier (above) you claimed to “trust” the list of IPCC Reviewers, and I pointed out that I am in that list. It seems that inconsistency is also one of your many errors.
    Not quite. On several occasions I have observed that one cannot trust any individual scientist, but one can certainly trust a solid majority of scientists. I don’t think you constitute a majority.

    (incidentally, I do understand that insignificant piece of trivia and I have published on it).
    What an astounding coincidence! Could you provide me with the citation for the paper? I’d love to read it. I searched for it on the Internet but couldn’t find anything. I did discover one source that describes you as ‘a Technical Editor for CoalTrans International (journal of the international coal trading industry)’. But I couldn’t find any references to scientific papers you have authored.

    I did, however, find an article (not very flattering, I confess) on you here:

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2008/02/on-astounding-diplphil-courtney.html

    And it does include this information:

    A search of Science Citation Index under “Courtney RS” turns up a total of seven written documents (excluding another RS Courtney who has worked on personnel management).

    One of these is a two page discussion summary on Environmental Economics in a 1995 issue of the Journal of Power and Energy and all the rest are Letters to the Editor. Three of the Letters to the Editor are in the popular science magazine New Scientist. The most recent of these is on butterfly wings, and the next most recent concerns a patent dispute over a wind energy generating device.

    It also mentioned that, inasmuch as the IPCC reports are public documents and comment is invited from anybody, your inclusion in the IPCC reviewers means only that you availed yourself of the opportunity open to any person to submit your comments.

    Lastly, you declare that

    There is no evidence of any kind for man-made global warming. That is science according to all scientists

    I suggest that you read the material from the NAS that I cited above. It declares:

    Most scientists agree that the warming in recent decades has been caused primarily by human activities that have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

    You might also want to consult IPCC Synthesis Report (2007), which states on page 30:

    Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level (Figure 1.1). {WGI 3.2, 4.8, 5.2, 5.5, SPM}
    Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (since 1850). The 100-year linear trend (1906 2005) of 0.74 [0.56 to 0.92]°C is larger than the corresponding trend of 0.6 [0.4 to 0.8]°C (1901-2000) given in the TAR (Figure 1.1). The linear warming trend over the 50 years from 1956 to 2005 (0.13 [0.10 to 0.16]°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the 100 years from 1906 to 2005.

  159. Richard S Courtney

    Quote from a propogandist (above):

    “The linear warming trend over the 50 years from 1956 to 2005 (0.13 [0.10 to 0.16]°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the 100 years from 1906 to 2005.”

    The quote and the fact it states are true. But it is also true that the linear warming trend for the FIRST 50 years of the last century is more than double the linear trend for the entire century.

    The IPCC used the same statistical trick as the propogandist in its 2007 so-called Scientific Report (AR4).

    A key – and blatantly misleading – statement in the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of AR4 says; “The linear warming trend over the last 50 years is nearly twice that for the last 100 years”.

    But this statement was not in the drafts provided for peer review. It was inserted into the final draft of the report and that final draft was only submitted to government representatives for comment. The Chinese Government suggested that it should be deleted and pointed out that “These two linear rates should not compare with each other because the time scales are not the same”. But this valid comment was ignored.

    It is not surprising that this key statement was not submitted for peer review because it is extremely misleading. It is justified by a statistical trick that the following paragraphs explain.

    The IPCC submitted a graph of mean global temperature to peer reviewers for comment. Unfortunately, I cannot copy graphs here. That version of the graph was for the period 1850 to 2006 and it contained only one trend line which covered the entire time period.

    But another version of the graph was published in final version of the AR4. It is one of the key graphs from the AR4 report: it is Figure 1 from FAQ 3.1, and is on page 253 of the WG1 section (i.e. the section by the IPCC’s purportedly scientific working group). I repeat, that the published version was not submitted for peer review.

    The published graph shows 3 trend lines for different time periods and shows the slope over the last 25 years is significantly greater than that of the last 50 years, which in turn is greater than the slope over 100 years. This is said to show that global warming is accelerating. It is important to note that this grossly misleading calculation is in chapter 3 of WG1 and also in the SPM that states, “The linear warming trend over the last 50 years is nearly twice that for the last 100 years”. Thus, policymakers who only look at the numbers (and don’t think about the different timescales) will be misled into thinking that global warming is accelerating. Of course, the IPCC could have started near the left hand end of the graph and thus obtained the opposite conclusion!

    For example, using the HADCRUT3 data., the 40-year trend from 1905 to 1945 has a slope of 1.46 degrees per century and the 100-year trend for 1905 to 2005 has a slope of 0.72.

    The trend in the early part of the 20th century is twice that of the whole century.

    Richard

  160. Erasmussimo

    Richard, I do not understand the basis of your reasoning. I am looking at the graph you cite. I see four trend lines: red, purple, orange, and yellow, specified to cover the last 150, 100, 50, and 25 years, respectively. These four trend lines do indeed show higher rates of increase in later years. You seem to acknowledge this in stating:

    The published graph shows 3 trend lines for different time periods and shows the slope over the last 25 years is significantly greater than that of the last 50 years, which in turn is greater than the slope over 100 years.

    But your next sentence declares that:

    This is said to show that global warming is accelerating.

    Your wording suggests that you deny the proposition that these trend lines show that global warming is accelerating; in the next sentence you refer to it as a “grossly misleading calculation”. So you agree that the rate of change is increasing but you deny that the change is accelerating? Perhaps you are using a different definition of acceleration than I am.

    Several paragraphs earlier, you quoted a comment by the Chinese government representative who pointed out that the time scales are different. This would be a valid criticism, I think, if it were accompanied by calculations showing that the r-values for the four trend lines were smaller for the shorter trend lines. However, just eyeballing the trend lines, I see the opposite: the r-values look higher for the shorter trend lines.

    Of course, the IPCC could have started near the left hand end of the graph and thus obtained the opposite conclusion!
    I think you have misunderstood the concept here. If you were to articulate each of the steps in the computation you envision, I think you will see that your statement is false.

    For example, using the HADCRUT3 data., the 40-year trend from 1905 to 1945 has a slope of 1.46 degrees per century and the 100-year trend for 1905 to 2005 has a slope of 0.72.

    Here you provide a classic example of cherry-picking the data. Your starting point is a local minimum and your endpoint is a local maximum. Such arbitrary selection of endpoints cannot be justified.

    The statistical treatment of time series data is a very thoroughly studied field. The simplest and most reliable way to determine the first derivative is to draw a straight line through the data and determine the slope and r-value of that line. To proceed to the second derivative, you split the data at the center point and draw two lines: from the beginning to the center, and from the center to the end. This would have yielded an even greater calculated second derivative! Instead, the IPCC chose to use a more conservative approach that suggests a lower acceleration. And even then it got a near-doubling of the rate of increase.

  161. Richard S Courtney

    Friends:

    The Earth is in a state of global cooling. The global temperature has fallen for the last decade. As I explained previously (above) this fits with the observed cycles of climate change. Indeed, the present global cooling period began around ~2000 was a change from the global warming warming period of ~1970 to ~2000, and this change coincided with a change to the phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).

    The present global cooling period has lasted for a decade and (as I explained above) it can be anticipated to last for two more decades. But the present global cooling is an inconvenient truth to the propagandist who posts here under the pseudonym of “Erasmussimo”, so he again lies, misleads and obfuscates by saying to me:

    “Your wording suggests that you deny the proposition that these trend lines show that global warming is accelerating; in the next sentence you refer to it as a “grossly misleading calculation”. So you agree that the rate of change is increasing but you deny that the change is accelerating? Perhaps you are using a different definition of acceleration than I am.”

    Rubbish! There is no “acceleration”! There is only the statistical trick of using linear trends with differing lengths on a fluctuating series. Choose the lengths and you can suggest anything you want.

    As I said, doing the same procedure for the first 25, 50 and 100 years to the time series and the trends show a deceleration.

    For those who do not understand this, try fitting linear trends to a sine wave. Start at any point on the wave, fit straight lines of differing lengths from that point and see how their slopes vary.

    I do not know who or what this “Erasmussimo” is, but his postings above indicate that he is either a spokesman for an activist propaganda organisation or he is both stupid and ignorant. I choose to think that he is not stupid.

    Richard

  162. Erasmussimo

    Richard, your describe a 30-year cyclicality to global temperatures. There are indeed some well-established cyclicalities, such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which has a period of about 20-30 years. However, the PDO sits on top of a longer secular increase in temperatures, as can easily be demonstrated by applying a 50-year smoothing term to the annual temperatures. Depending upon the amplitude of this phase of the PDO, it is conceivable that temperatures could actually decline for a decade or two — but that would mean that the positive peak of the cycle would also be higher, which means that after this cooling phase ends, the warming phase, added on top of the secular increase due to AGW, will be even hotter!

    It is important to remember that we’re not talking about the temperatures tomorrow, or next year, or next decade; we’re talking about temperatures 30, 50, or 100 years from now. And if you carry out a simple smoothed extrapolation of the existing data, you end up predicting some very high temperatures 100 years from now.

    You insist that there is no acceleration in temperature change, arguing that, if the technique were applied in reverse, it would show a deceleration of temperatures. Very well, let’s carry out your calculations for the last century. Here are my readings of the smoothed curve of Figure 1 from FAQ 3.1 that you referenced for the dates 1900, 1925, 1950, and 2000:

    1900: 13.76 ºC
    1925: 13.73 ºC
    1950: 13.83 ºC
    2000: 14.41 ºC

    Which leads to the following temperature increase rates:

    1900 – 1925: -0.03ºC/25 years = -0.12ºC per century
    1900 – 1950: +0.07ºC/50 years = +0.14ºC per century
    1900 – 2000: +0.65ºC/100 years = +0.65ºC per century

    So you can see that the method you prefer to use ALSO demonstrates acceleration in temperatures.

    For those who do not understand this, try fitting linear trends to a sine wave.
    This would be a useful exercise if the data followed a sine wave. An examination of the graph you describe shows quite clearly that the data does NOT follow a sine wave. It shows a curve whose overall second derivative is positive i.e., it plainly shows acceleration.

  163. Richard S Courtney

    Friends:

    As untrue twaddle goes, this assertion concerning rate of rise (n.b. RISE) in mean global temperature clearly takes some beating; quote:

    “It shows a curve whose overall second derivative is positive i.e., it plainly shows acceleration.”

    The latest global averaged satellite temperature data is for June 2009, and it reveals yet another drop in the Earth’s temperature. This latest drop in global temperatures means the Earth has cooled (i.e. mean global temperature has FALLEN) 0.74°F since 2006.

    Can anybody explain – not excuse – a claim that the rate of RISE in mean global temperature “plainly shows acceleration” when the last 13 years show a rate of FALL in mean global temperature?

    Remember, any data can be processed to show anything. The actual data is as I have described (above) as anybody can check for themselves.

    The persistent denials of observed climate change by promoters of the man-made global warming hypothesis become more laughable by the day.

    Richard

  164. Erasmussimo

    RIchard, let me explain why any change in temperature over a two year period is meaningless to the debate over AGW. I have already presented the scientific reasoning for this point, but now I shall use some analogies to make the point clearer.

    Suppose that the stock market jumped up tomorrow morning. Would I then be justified in declaring that the worldwide economic downturn had ended? No. Everybody knows that the stock market bounces up and down, and the day-to-day fluctuations are not indicative of the long-term trends. Indeed, most economists would refuse to take a stock market rise seriously until it extended over at least 3 months. In the same way, climatologists refuse to take a temperature change seriously until it extends over at least 30 years.

    Suppose that an election is approaching and the opinion polls show a sudden jump upwards for Candidate Smith. Does that mean that Candidate Smith is guaranteed to win the election? Of course not. Pollsters know that polling data can fluctuate and they don’t put much faith in a change until it extends over a period of at least a week. In the same way, climatologists refuse to take a temperature change seriously until it extends over at least 30 years.

    Suppose that you’re a scientist monitoring the swine flu outbreak. You’re collecting incidence statistics from all over the world. You’ve been getting an average of about 20 new cases reported each day. One day, you get 40 new cases. Does this mean that swine flu has suddenly gone on a rampage, and that soon millions of people will be dying? Probably not; it could just be a fluctuation. Epidemiologists refuse to take such a change seriously until it extends over at least several weeks. In the same way, climatologists refuse to take a temperature change seriously until it extends over at least 30 years.

    I hope these examples have clarified what I mean by fluctuations in data and the intrinsic response times of various phenomena. Every changing phenomenon has an intrinsic response time, and fluctuations shorter than that intrinsic response time are meaningless. For economies, that intrinsic response time is several months; for elections, it’s about a week; for epidemics, it’s a few weeks. For climate change, it’s 30 years.

  165. GeneB_NoAGW

    Erasmussimo said: For climate change, it’s 30 years.

    Why is it 30 years? Why not 100 years? Or 1000?

  166. GeneB_NoAGW

    This is a bit of-topic, but …

    Can anyone explain to me the following:

    1) Does the atmosphere warm (cool) the oceans, or is it the other way around (or both)? Or is it the Sun that mainly warms the oceans?

    2) If an increased CO2 level is warming the atmosphere, is that supposed to be warming the oceans?

    3) Why is it said that man’s CO2 production is the increased CO2 we are measuring in the atmosphere? Could there be other sources for the increase — like the oceans?

    4)

  167. Erasmussimo

    GeneB, you can find the answer in my post #119. The 30-year value arises from a computation of the thermal inertia of the oceans.

    To answer your questions:

    1. The ocean is the dog that wags the tail of the atmosphere, because it has so much more thermal inertia than the atmosphere. However, since heat transfer is a two-way street, it’s academically more precise to say that they both affect each other. When the rich man gives money to a poor man, is the rich man enriching the poor man, or is the poor man impoverishing the rich man? Both.

    2. It’s actually a bit of a bouncing process. The increased CO2 in the atmosphere intercepts a portion of the infrared light that the surface (both land and ocean) emits as part of its cooling process. Some of this intercepted infrared light is then bounced back to the surface. So the CO2 is in the atmosphere but it is the oceans and the land surface that get hotter. They in turn transfer some of their heat to the atmosphere. Think of the rich man and the poor man, only now add a bunch of intermediaries. Same process, though.

    3. Indeed there are many sources of CO2, and in fact most of the natural sources of CO2 are greater than the human contribution. The catch is that the earth has been in equilibrium for a long time: for every ton of CO2 that gets put into the atmosphere by one process, another ton is absorbed by another process. The whole system was in balance. Now we come along and start adding a lot more CO2 into the atmosphere, but there has been no increase in the amount being removed from the atmosphere by natural processes, so the CO2 builds up in the atmosphere. This also leads to feedback processes the add even more CO2 to the atmosphere — but that’s a longer story.

    Have I answered your questions adequately?

  168. Arrow

    Erasmussimo: “Oops, I overlooked the fact that Arrow did in fact declare that scientists claim that the sky is red:
    No climate model has ever passed such a test
    Here he refers to a comparison of model results with observations. The problem here, Arrow, is that you misunderstand the models. They most assuredly do NOT claim to predict the sea level at any particular point in time or space, nor do they claim to predict the temperature at any particular point in time or space. …”

    I see you are reduced to straw man arguments, I’ve never implied climate models “claim to predict the sea level at any particular point in time or space,” indeed this is precisely why in my earlier post I’ve stated that it requires a grasp of basic statistics to compare predictions with reality, here is the quote from that post:

    “Comparing predictions with data is the simplest task ever and almost anyone with a grasp of basic statistics can do it, this is exactly why Science works, why it can approach objectivity – given proper data verification of models is banal.”

    It is telling that this is the only defense you were able to come up with, there are simply no valid counterarguments. The truth is banal, Science does not have experimentally verifed climate models and therefore cannot predict climate and cannot answer to what extent our emissions are responsible for current climate changes.

    I know Erasmussimo that you are perfectly aware of that. I also know you find yourself on the opposite side of this political debate and that you will keep trying to distort my statements to imply that I somehow don’t know what I am talking about. This is the only hope you have of minimizing the damage to your agenda. I won’t play this game with you any longer, I think anyone who has read my posts knows very well what my message is, but just in case I’ll repeat the most important points one more time as they are worth remembering:

    1. The only difference between scientific predictions and astrology is that scientific predictions are based on experimentally verified models.

    2. During the history of Science for every correct model there have been tens or maybe hundreds of wrong models, it’s only by comparing predictions with reality that we can pick the right ones from the wrong ones. From this follows that models which have never passed an experimental test are almost certain to be wrong and therefore should NEVER be relied upon.

    3. Yes, there are plenty of publications dealing with climate but they contain only observations and proposed models, those models cannot be trusted until they are verified to make accurate predictions. Due to time scales involved it will take a long time to reliably verify those models.

    4. At present Science does not have even a single climate model that has been shown to make accurate predictions. Without such a model Science cannot predict future climate or answer what the climate would have been today without man-made emissions.

    5. Those who claim Science can predict climate without experimentally verified climate models either do not understand scientific method or are purposefully lying.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=Scientific+Method

    Have a nice day.

  169. GeneB_NoAGW

    Erasmussimo said: Have I answered your questions adequately?

    Sorry, no.

    1) I don’t like the ‘rich man, poor man’ analogy. You say it’s a two way street. Isn’t one way predominant over the other? Is it just the warmer one at the interface at a given moment?

    2) A small fraction of infrared light emitted from the land and oceans is absorbed and re-emitted by CO2 in the atmosphere, correct? And, of that re-emitted infrared light, only a fraction is sent back down towards the land and oceans, correct? Do we know these fractions? Empirically? Is it somewhat accurate to say that CO2 in the atmosphere acts like a slight delaying mechanism for heat leaving the earth? Does the extra CO2 in the atmosphere also mean that the atmosphere emits more infrared into the night sky than it otherwise would?

    2b) Is it somewhat accurate to say that CO2 in the atmosphere acts like a slight delaying mechanism for heat leaving the earth? If the atmosphere, warmed by extra CO2, is supposed to be warming the land and oceans more, then how can we be experiencing a cooling trend now? Is it because the oceans act like a slow conveyor belt, moving the current extra warmth down into the deep ocean, and exhibiting heat from the past now? If so, is this ~30 years in the past? Also, if this is true, are you saying that the recent cooling would be even more pronounced if Global Warming hadn’t occurred ~30 years ago?

    Something just doesn’t sound right to me.

    3) How do we know that they have been in equilibrium for a long time? We know that the earth has been warmer and colder in its past, and the CO2 levels in the atmosphere have also been higher and lower.

  170. Erasmussimo

    Arrow, the core of your case is that there is no experimental verification for the models. In fact, there are mountains of data that do in fact meet the predictions of the models. That data encompasses much more than simple temperature measurements. For example, the models all predict much higher increases in temperature in polar regions than temperate regions, and those predictions are borne out by the data. The models have predicted ice mass loss in polar regions, and those predictions have been borne out by the data. The models have predicted that the troposphere should warm more than the stratosphere, and that prediction has been experimentally verified. The models have made predictions about ocean thermoclines, and those predictions have been experimentally verified. The claim that the models have not been experimentally justified is entirely specious. There’s a mountain of verification data.

    GeneB, you’re right that most of the heat transfer is in one direction. I was being academically correct in pointing out that there are local and temporary transfers in the other direction. But yes, the bulk of the heat transfer is from the ocean to the atmosphere, not the other way around.

    2. I don’t have the fractions of infrared light intercepted and re-radiated at my fingertips, but I’m pretty sure I can find them for you, if you wish. They’re quite small — which is why we’re talking about decades for the effect to build up.

    Yes, it is correct to say that the greenhouse effect acts like a slight delay in the heat emissions of the earth. During that delay, the earth absorbs more heat as a system and increases its temperature in response. The increase in temperature causes the earth to radiate more infrared, and this process continues until the warmer earth is emitting enough infrared to equal the amount coming in from the sun — a new equilibrium is reached at a higher temperature.

    No, the extra CO2 does not mean that more IR is emitted. The overall heat balance of the earth must still eventually reach equilibrium, at which point the total amount of energy leaving the earth must be equal to the amount coming in from the sun.

    how can we be experiencing a cooling trend now?

    We’re not experiencing a cooling trend. What we’re experiencing is a fluctuation, a temporary deviation from the normal trend. Remember, climate change is a very slow process taking centuries. The minimum time for a genuine climate change to express itself is about 30 years. We have not been seeing temperatures fall for 30 years.

    Is it because the oceans act like a slow conveyor belt, moving the current extra warmth down into the deep ocean, and exhibiting heat from the past now? If so, is this ~30 years in the past? Also, if this is true, are you saying that the recent cooling would be even more pronounced if Global Warming hadn’t occurred ~30 years ago?

    I think you’re seeing the ocean in the wrong terms. It’s a reservoir for heat; it stores gigantic amounts of heat. However, the manner in which it stores that heat is extremely complicated. Over short periods of a few decades, that heat can slosh around between different regions of the ocean. For example, there’s something called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation that causes a large area of the Pacific Ocean to heat up and cool down over periods of several decades. That heat isn’t coming out of nowhere — it’s coming from different regions of the ocean. However, if you average all those oscillations out over long periods of time — say, 30 years or more — they average out and you can see what’s really going on in terms of the climate: a steady increase in temperature.

    3) Yes, there have been many oscillations in earth’s temperature and CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. But these oscillations have taken place over tens of thousands to millions of years. Such slow changes are entirely natural and can be explained by a variety of causes. However, the change we’re experiencing now is much faster than anything we’ve seen before — and that’s what’s so unnatural about it.

  171. GeneB_NoAGW

    Erasmussimo said: No, the extra CO2 does not mean that more IR is emitted. The overall heat balance of the earth must still eventually reach equilibrium, at which point the total amount of energy leaving the earth must be equal to the amount coming in from the sun.

    I meant, before there is an equilibrium, each night, since there is more heat in the atmosphere (because of more CO2), will there be more heat radiating into space than with out the extra CO2? There should be, no?

  172. Real , classical science is the Stefan-Boltzmann/Kirchhoff relationship which shows the mean temperature of any object in our orbit is constrained to be about 1/21st the temperature the sun decides to be . The sun is about 6000k , we are about 300k . See my CoSy.com for the calculations . It appears impossible to find either a comparably fundamental quantitative explanation of the purported “greenhouse” effect , or any quantitative experimental verification which would allow a quantitative estimate of the effect of our minute change in our planetary spectrum due to our few percent increase in CO2 . Yet the alarmists continue spewing such provable absurdities as the idea that Venus’s extreme temperature is due to “runaway” warming . Venus is radiating 16 times as much energy as any object in its orbit could obtain from the sun . On the other hand , its never pointed out that Mars , which is right on the SB/K prediction has a 95% CO2 atmosphere .

    On the other hand , every bite of food you eat is constructed essentially of CO2 + H2O by green plants thru the chain of life . And the ‘green’ gas CO2 is provably by experiment and practice greening , and increasing agricultural yields in every corner of the planet .

    Any person who is truly “green” and concerned for both the welfare of the current generation of humanity and the abundance of the planet should consider this classical textbook physics and chemistry and reject the alarmists anti-life anti-green global neo-marxism .

  173. Erasmussimo

    GeneB, I don’t understand the nature of your question. It’s certainly true that the earth cools during the night, but it’s not primarily the atmosphere that does the cooling: it’s primarily the surface. Here’s a detailed explanation: The sun goes down, and the warm surface continues radiating IR light upwards. There’s no sunlight coming in, so the surface is losing heat to space and not gaining any; therefore, it’s cooling. That heat is radiating up through the atmosphere. Some of the CO2 in the atmosphere intercepts some of the IR and bounces half of that IR back downwards towards the surface, which serves to warm the surface up slightly. However, the effect is small; the surface continues to cool. The atmosphere itself is also radiating IR in all directions, and half of that IR escapes into space, causing the atmosphere to cool. However, the atmosphere is also cooled by contact with the surface. This cooling often lowers the temperature of the atmosphere so much that it is forced to give up some of the water vapor it carries — that’s how dew is created. Also a special form of fog called “radiation fog”.

    Bob, It is not difficult to find a fundamental quantitative explanation for the greenhouse effect; it was first described in the literature more than 100 years ago and the basic physics of molecular absorption and emission of radiation was worked out in the 1920s and 1930s. (The Bohr model of the atom won broad acceptance largely because it provided quantitative explanation of the absorption and emission spectra of the hydrogen atom.) Moreover, the emission and absorption processes have been verified in numerous experiments in the latter half of the 19th century.

    You assert that “Venus is radiating 16 times as much energy as any object in its orbit could obtain from the sun”. Whatever is the source of this energy? That’s quite a striking assertion.

    As to Mars, your initial calculation is incorrect, and you make an even larger mistake: while the relative percentage of CO2 in the Martian atmosphere is high, the absolute amount of CO2 is quite low because the atmospheric pressure is so low. The greenhouse effect is provided by the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Mars doesn’t have much CO2 in its atmosphere because it doesn’t have much atmosphere.

    It’s true that CO2 is used by plant life in photosynthesis; just like water, it is a necessary ingredient. However, there are costs and benefits of everything, and while there may be some benefits from increased CO2 concentrations, there will surely be some serious costs as well. The preliminary cost/benefit studies I have seen all show serious net costs arising from continued increases in CO2 concentrations.

  174. Richard S Courtney

    Friends:

    For a straightforward explanation of the issues of man-made global warming, including a graph which shows
    (a) the recent disagreement between atmospheric CO2 and global temperature
    and
    (b) the fall in global temperature over the past decade,
    see

    http://www.lenzie.org.uk/scam.php

    The article also provides a point-by-point explanation of the direct correspondence between the activities of man-made global warming promoters and astrology that is amply demonstrated in some postings above.

    Richard

  175. Erasmussimo

    Richard, I had a quick glance at the site you link to, and it repeats the error that you and many other deniers make: confusing weather with climate. As I have explained many times, climate is a long-term phenomenon, expressing itself over many decades, while weather is a short-term phenomenon, expressing itself over periods of one or two decades. Thus, the best overall description of the situation is that global weather is cooling even as global climate is warming.

  176. Richard S Courtney

    Friends:

    A lie has again been posted here. The lie says “weather is a short-term phenomenon, expressing itself over periods of one or two decades”.

    NO!! That is a lie which is told in an attempt to pretend that global cooling is not happening. But all measurements of global temperature indicate global cooling over the last decade.

    1.
    Weather is atmospheric phenomena at geographical locations.
    2.
    Climate is average weather.

    So, global climate is the average weather over the entire globe. And global climate data can be computed for any period of time.

    For example, global climate could be computed for a second or a minute of time if the weather over the entire Earth were known for that second or minute.

    Climate data is computed for many periods with different lengths (i.e. months to millennia). Simply, climate data can be of any length provided that its length is stated.

    For example, mean global temperature for a month is a metric of the global climate of that month. Such monthly global climate data is provided by HadCRUT, GISS, RSS and UAH.

    And the 1994 IPCC so-called scientific report compared 5-year periods (n.b. NOT decadal periods) for assessment of a climate change (i.e. hurricane intensity) between the 5-year periods.

    The standard climate period was established in 1958 as an activity of the International Geophysical Year. The purpose of the ‘standard period’ was to establish a ‘norm’ against which climate data could be compared. It was thought that 30 years of climate data had been accumulated so 30 years was adopted as the standard period for obtaining an average to be a comparative norm. Indeed, the various estimate of average global temperature are provided as “anomalies” (i.e. differences”) from such a norm.

    Establishment of the ‘standard period’ provided a basis against which climate data could be compared: it did NOT establish that climate data is determined over any minimum or maximum period.

    GLOBAL COOLING HAS BEEN HAPPENING FOR A DECADE. Lies do not change that.

    Richard

  177. Arrow

    Erasmussimo : “Arrow, the core of your case is that there is no experimental verification for the models. In fact, there are mountains of data that do in fact meet the predictions of the models. That data encompasses much more than simple temperature measurements. For example, the models all predict much higher increases in temperature in polar regions than temperate regions, and those predictions are borne out by the data. The models have predicted ice mass loss in polar regions, and those predictions have been borne out by the data. The models have predicted that the troposphere should warm more than the stratosphere, and that prediction has been experimentally verified. The models have made predictions about ocean thermoclines, and those predictions have been experimentally verified. ”

    Very good Erasmussimo, you seem to finally beginning to understand what I mean, yes you are correct that some short term and/or local effects may have been correctly predicted but it is much more important what is missing from your list – you failed to mention any cases of correct long term (decades) predictions of *global* temperature and global sea level. Now I was only talking about global long term climate predictions but you failed to mention any such prediction, why? Of course we both know why – there simply are no verified predictions of this kind, If there were your posts would be filled with them.

    The lack of experimentally verified climate models capable of predicting global climate on the time scales of decades is very unfortunate because those are precisely the models which are required to asses the impact of our CO2 emissions on the climate now and in the future.

  178. Arrow

    The first line in my reply above should read “you are finally beginning to understand.”

  179. Erasmussimo

    Richard, you argue that the distinction between weather and climate is that weather is localized while climate is averaged. There’s a fundamental flaw in your analysis: averaging must be specified both spatially and temporally. Your argument treats weather as spatially and temporally localized to individual points. Thus, you argue that the average of all weather observations over all points on the earth’s surface over a single microsecond of time constitutes climate. One microsecond later, the new observations would create a new climate. And so your definition of climate would jiggle around at very high frequencies.

    At this point, we could argue about the true meaning of the word “climate”. You could resort to consulting a dictionary. And indeed, you offer a preposterous explanation for the 30-year rule of thumb used by climatologists: that the IGY scientists back in 1958 picked that number because that’s how much data they had. Your argument hinges on the belief that good climate data first became available in 1928. However, nothing special happened in 1928 as regards meteorological instrumentation. Thermometers had been invented more than a century earlier; measurement stations all over the globe had been established by the late 19th century.

    No, the reason why the 30-year period was established as the rule of thumb is easily explained by the calculation I provided in post #119. It’s a simple and obvious calculation. It expresses the basic physics underlying climate change. It’s not arbitrary. If you have an objection to that calculation, please provide it. Merely insisting that it’s wrong without addressing its content strikes me as feckless.

    Arrow, I think I understand the basic reasoning you are using. As I understand it, it goes something like this:

    “In order to trust long-term climate predictions, we must have a long-term track record of success in such predictions. For example, if we want to trust predictions that reach 100 years into the future, then we must use models that were used a century ago that correctly predicted climate during the 20th century. Since the models we use now have only been in use for a decade or so, they have not provided a long enough track record to justify reliance in them.”

    The flaw in this reasoning is that it relies on purely extrapolatory analysis; that is, it rejects the role of science in providing a logical basis for understanding phenomena, even when those phenomena fall outside the range of human experience. For example, your approach would reject the Big Bang theory out of hand, because we are not able to observe the Big Bang itself nor have we collected observations for the requisite 14 billion years. Similarly, your thinking would reject Darwinian evolution because we have not been collecting data for the periods of time necessary to observe evolution in action. As many creationists point out, we have never observed evolution taking place in the wild. We have instead observed the end results of evolutionary processes, not the processes themselves.

    Thus, the standard you have created would reject a great deal of the science that we now accept.

  180. Erasmussimo

    GeneB, I would be extremely suspicious of anything coming from the hand of Mr. Marc Morano. This gentleman is a political operative, not a scientist, and he is paid to pursue a political agenda opposed to legislation restricting carbon emissions. In pursuit of this agenda, Mr. Morano does not scruple to present highly biased information or, in some cases, outright falsehoods. The article in question is a good example of Mr. Morano’s deceptive techniques: it is a sensationalized and simplified account of some extremely complex issues. I expect that quotes have been taken out of context or obtained from sources who are not knowledgeable. Overall, I don’t think it correct to call it “news” — it’s more accurately termed “opinion”.

  181. Richard S Courtney

    Friends:

    I provided the definitions of ‘weather’ and ‘climate’ that are generally used. They are used by – among others – the IPCC and I demonstrated their use by the IPCC with example.

    But some anonymous person (or possibly persons) replied to me:

    “you offer a preposterous explanation for the 30-year rule of thumb used by climatologists: that the IGY scientists back in 1958 picked that number because that’s how much data they had.”

    Rubbish!

    There is no “30-year rule of thumb”. To suggest that there is such a “rule of thumb” is a confusion of ‘climate’ with a ‘standard climate period’.

    It is factually and historically correct that 30 years was an arbitrary choice of ‘standard climate period’ and that it was made for the reason I gave. Indeeed, 30 years is not a logical choice because, for example, 30 years is not a multiple of the 11-year solar cycle and the 22-year Hale cycle.

    Of course, it is true that “Thermometers had been invented more than a century earlier” but it is not that “measurement stations all over the globe had been established by the late 19th century.” In 1958 it was decided that there was about 30 years of reasonable climate data from around the globe.

    GLOBAL COOLING HAS BEEN HAPPENING FOR A DECADE. And that fact cannot be hidden by a pretence that anything less than 30 years of cooling should be ignored, especially when the person making the pretence has also tried to pretend that global warming has increased recently.

    Richard

  182. Erasmussimo

    Richard, I have already explained the physics behind the 30-year rule of thumb. I have asked you to discuss why you do not accept my explanation. All you have done is repeat your claims. Have you no justification for your rejection of my explanation? Are you reduced to simple insistence?

  183. GeneB_NoAGW

    Erasmussimo said: GeneB, I don’t understand the nature of your question. It’s certainly true that the earth cools during the night, but it’s not primarily the atmosphere that does the cooling: it’s primarily the surface. Here’s a detailed explanation: The sun goes down, and the warm surface continues radiating IR light upwards. There’s no sunlight coming in, so the surface is losing heat to space and not gaining any; therefore, it’s cooling. That heat is radiating up through the atmosphere. Some of the CO2 in the atmosphere intercepts some of the IR and bounces half of that IR back downwards towards the surface, which serves to warm the surface up slightly. However, the effect is small; the surface continues to cool. The atmosphere itself is also radiating IR in all directions, and half of that IR escapes into space, causing the atmosphere to cool. However, the atmosphere is also cooled by contact with the surface. This cooling often lowers the temperature of the atmosphere so much that it is forced to give up some of the water vapor it carries — that’s how dew is created. Also a special form of fog called “radiation fog”.

    The reason I’m asking these questions, is because I want to hear from someone on the ‘AGW side’ to explain how this is supposed to work.

    Questions A: When a CO2 molecule absorbs a photon of infrared radiation, it gets warmer, correct? Does it then re-radiate it? Or does it lose it’s warmth right away by convection to surrounding Nitrogen and Oxygen molecules?

    Questions B: Do the IPCC Climate Model(s) take into consideration atmospheric convection (the warmer air moving higher into the atmosphere) ?

    Questions C: Do the IPCC Climate Model(s) take into consideration higher albedo caused by more clouds? If I’m not wrong, the AGW theory states that the extra CO2 will cause extra water vapor, correct? Won’t this cause more clouds? How can this be predicted one way or the other accurately? Are we seeing this increased level of water vapor now?

  184. Erasmussimo

    Answer A: The CO2 molecule doesn’t actually get warmer when it absorbs a photon; it instead moves to a higher internal energy state. It holds the energy in that state for a fraction of a second, then it *usually* re-emits the energy as a new photon in a different direction. However, *if* it collides with another molecule while it is in its higher energy state, it can release the energy in bouncing off of the other molecule, in which case both molecules get a kick and they both speed up — that is, they increase their “temperatures” (technically, temperature is the average kinetic energy of all the molecules in a sample). So, some small portion of the absorbed energy goes to increase the temperature of the atmosphere, and most is re-radiated. Half of the re-radiated energy goes up, the other half goes down back to the earth’s surface.

    Answer B: Good lord, yes! Adding convection into the model would be one of the simplest, most basic things to do; it’s include in student-level simulations. If anybody ever suggests to you that such a simple factor is missed by climate models, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

    Answer C: Good lord, yes! That’s another Climatology 101 kind of problem. These models go much deeper than simply cloud albedo. For example, they’re working on the problem of how to model the effects of snow in forested regions. Snow has a very high albedo and trees have a low albedo, so when you get snow in a forest, you *can* get a dramatic change in albedo. However, that depends on how much of the snow sticks to the trees and how much falls to the ground, and how much sunlight penetrates to the ground — which in turn depends on the latitude of the forest. Forests in high latitudes consist of conifers which point straight up, but the sunlight is coming from a shallow angle. The effects are pretty complicated — and that’s what they’re working on now. And the different teams, using completely different approaches, are coming up with similar results.

    Figure 8.14 in AR4 Chapter 8 presents summaries of the feedback effects of water vapor, clouds, surface albedo, and lapse rate as forcing factors in five different models. Each climate model has a number of variations depending upon the scenarios assumed. The feedback forcing factor for clouds from all these models ranges from a low of -0.1 Wm**-2 ºC**-1 to a high of 1.4 Wm**-2 ºC**-1, with an (eyeballed) average of about 0.7 Wm**-2 ºC**-1 and an (eyeballed) std deviation of about 0.4 Wm**-2 ºC**-1. So they not only take this into account, but they are in broad agreement as to the size of the factor.

    the AGW theory states that the extra CO2 will cause extra water vapor, correct?
    Yes, increased temperatures increase the absolute amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. That in turn increases the magnitude of the greenhouse effect, because water vapor is also a greenhouse gas. This is an example of a positive feedback.

    Won’t this cause more clouds?
    Yes it will. However, clouds have both positive and negative feedback effects; the net result is positive. In any case, the effect of the clouds is less than half the size of the effect of water vapor.

    How can this be predicted one way or the other accurately?
    The models carry out this calculation based on what we know about the physics of cloud formation. As it happens, we’ve been studying cloud formation in detail for more than 60 years now, and we know a great deal about it. There are still uncertainties, of course, but we do have a rational basis for making the calculation.

    Are we seeing this increased level of water vapor now?
    Yes. Our data starts with radiosonde data dating back to the 1940s, although as new technologies arrived we saw jumps in the water vapor readings arising from systematic errors in the sensors. In 1987 we began getting excellent satellite data. Putting all the data together and taking into account the various error factors, the overall conclusion is that water vapor in the atmosphere has increased by about 5% in the last hundred years, and about 4% since 1970. The current rate of increase is measured to be 1.2% per decade. See IPCC AR4, 3.4.2.1.

  185. Arrow

    Erasmussimo: “Arrow, I think I understand the basic reasoning you are using. As I understand it, it goes something like this: “In order to trust long-term climate predictions, we must have a long-term track record of success in such predictions. For example, if we want to trust predictions that reach 100 years into the future, then we must use models that were used a century ago that correctly predicted climate during the 20th century. Since the models we use now have only been in use for a decade or so, they have not provided a long enough track record to justify reliance in them.””

    Yes, you got my reasoning right although your counterarguments which followed are flawed. There is enough data to rule out any competing theory to evolution, but we still miss plenty of small details like precise mutation rates, frequency of horizontal transfer, etc. This does nothing to invalidate the theory of evolution but this is a very serious problem for any attempts to predict where evolution will go in the future. This is why even though no one doubts evolution any models attempting to predict it’s future course would still require careful experimental verification done by comparing their predictions with reality on a comparable timescale.

    Scientifically valid predictions can only be based on experimentally verified models and in the case of climate we do not have such models.

    Thanks GeneB_NoAGW for the link it describes the problems with climate models very well.
    http://www.climatedepot.com/a/1813/US-Government-Scientists-Shock-Admission-Climate-Model-Software-Doesnt-Meet-the-Best-Standards-Available

    Here are a few paragraphs especially relevant to what I’ve been saying all along:

    Another high-profile UN IPCC lead author, Dr. Kevin Trenberth, echoed Renwick’s sentiments in 2007 about climate models by referring to them as “story lines.”

    “In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been. The IPCC instead proffers ‘what if’ projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios,” Trenberth wrote in journal Nature’s blog on June 4, 2007.

    Trenberth also admitted that the climate models have major shortcomings because “they do not consider many things like the recovery of the ozone layer, for instance, or observed trends in forcing agents. There is no estimate, even probabilistically, as to the likelihood of any emissions scenario and no best guess.”

    IPCC reviewer and climate researcher Dr Vincent Gray, of New Zealand, an expert reviewer on every single draft of the IPCC reports going back to 1990, author of more than 100 scientific publications and author of The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of “Climate Change 2001,” declared “The claims of the IPCC are dangerous unscientific nonsense” in an April 10, 2007 article. (LINK) & (LINK)

    “All [UN IPCC does] is make ‘projections’ and ‘estimates’. No climate model has ever been properly tested, which is what ‘validation’ means, and their ‘projections’ are nothing more than the opinions of ‘experts’ with a conflict of interest, because they are paid to produce the models. There is no actual scientific evidence for all these ‘projections’ and ‘estimates,’” Gray noted.

  186. Erasmussimo

    Arrow, the criterion you demand for science forsakes all abstraction for exclusive empiricism. Your criterion rejects the role of scientific laws, theories, or principles by demanding that every prediction must be tested before it can be trusted. Thus, you would deny that we can send a satellite to the moon until AFTER we have successfully sent a satellite to the moon. You would deny that we could build an atomic bomb until AFTER we have successfully detonated an atomic bomb. This is an absurd interpretation of empiricism. Empiricism does not apply in detail to every prediction; it applies to every principle or scientific law that underlies a prediction. For example. physicists demonstrated empirically in the 1930s that, when a uranium 238 nucleus fissions, it releases more energy than was required to trigger the fissioning. Based on that empirically derived result, they concluded that fissioning many U-238 nuclei would release vast amounts of energy. They used this argument to convince the US government to fund the creation of an atomic bomb, an effort that cost a stupendous amount of money — and your criterion would have led to a rejection of that proposal.

    It is perfectly reasonable and logical to combine multiple scientific principles that have been individually empirically demonstrated to obtain a scientific conclusion that is itself reliable. Demanding empirical verification at each and every stage of the logical process is not rational; it is merely obstructionist.

    Moreover, you forget that we are trying to make a political decision here, not a scientific one. Political decisions are usually made with very little in the way of solid evidence. Consider, for example, some of the major decisions of recent political history. What evidence was there that the bank bailouts of last September would have any beneficial effect? Certainly not enough evidence to meet your criterion. We had never faced a banking crisis quite like this one, so we had no empirical evidence to justify ANY kind of action. Or what about the economic stimulus? The health care proposals? What evidence do we have that keeping those people locked up in Guantanamo will increase our security? What evidence do we have that torturing them yields beneficial results? On what evidentiary basis is ANY tax law passed? What evidence underlay the decisions to deny marriage to gays? What evidence underlay the decision to GRANT marriage to gays?

    Your criterion is absurd. If it had been used throughout history, we’d still be waiting for the Industrial Revolution.

  187. Cross posted from Science Progress by Deep Climate (deepclimate.org)
    ============================================

    Carlin appropriated as his own, without any attribution whatsoever, whole swathes of material from the contrarian World Climate Report, run by disinformation spinmeister Patrick Michaels.

    Indeed the central premise, along with at least four key sections, were lifted from that source.

    Please see:
    http://deepclimate.org/2009/06/28/epas-alan-carlin-channels-pat-michaels-and-the-friends-of-science/

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/06/30/suppressed-carlin-report-based-on-pat-michaels-attack-on-epa/

    So, much of Carlin’s analysis comes word for word from a misleading pseudo-scientific attack on the EPA, written by a known purveyor of disinformation with a history of links to fossil fuel interests.

    Then Carlin actually tried to get his comments put forward as official NCEE review coments on the Endangerment TSD. And when that didn’t work, he co-operated in the orchestration of a fake “suppression” scandal, timed to inflict maximum political damge on the Administration’s legislative and regulatory initiatives.

    Of course, Carlin’s analysis was utterly devoid of substance. But it goes well beyond that. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more contemptible litany of acts of bad faith by an employee of the U.S. government agency entrusted with health and well-being of the population, and indeed the planet.

  188. GeneB_NoAGW

    Erasmussimo said: Answer A: The CO2 molecule doesn’t actually get warmer when it absorbs a photon; it instead moves to a higher internal energy state. It holds the energy in that state for a fraction of a second, then it *usually* re-emits the energy as a new photon in a different direction. However, *if* it collides with another molecule while it is in its higher energy state, it can release the energy in bouncing off of the other molecule, in which case both molecules get a kick and they both speed up — that is, they increase their “temperatures” (technically, temperature is the average kinetic energy of all the molecules in a sample). So, some small portion of the absorbed energy goes to increase the temperature of the atmosphere, and most is re-radiated. Half of the re-radiated energy goes up, the other half goes down back to the earth’s surface.

    If the energy radiated from the ground is absorbed by a CO2 molecule, and is then almost immediately re-radiated, and 50% is sent back to the ground, then this process is repeated all over again, right? The ground absorbs this energy and then re-radiates this up again? And a small fraction of this is re-radiated back to the ground (50% of the small fraction absorbed by the small amount of CO2 in the atmosphere)? So, how long does this process take? Given all the Sun’s radiation that reaches the earth in a day, how much of this radiation is prevented from escaping to space (intercepted/re-diverted/stored somewhere) by the extra CO2 in the atmosphere? Shouldn’t all of this extra energy be radiated to space by the time night is over (hours later, as opposed to split second interactions for a given photon)?

    What I’m getting at is this… If extra CO2 in the atmosphere causes more energy to be retained in the atmosphere/oceans (over decades), then shouldn’t there be an extra amount (albeit much much smaller) of energy to be retained each and every day in order for that to happen? Where is this extra energy stored? If it is in the oceans, then wouldn’t the oceans’ temperature be increasing, and its volume increasing?

    And, how does the fact that the atmosphere has cooled over the past decade work into this model? The extra energy, plus the energy that the atmosphere has lost (because it’s cooler) must then be in the oceans, no?

  189. Erasmussimo

    GeneB, the ground side of the process is nowhere near as reflective as the atmosphere side. That’s because the surface is either a solid or a liquid, where the molecules are in much closer contact, meaning that the odds are much higher that another molecule will collide with an excited molecule and the energy will be released as kinetic energy rather than as another photon. Once the energy is released as kinetic energy, it can take a while before it is re-emitted as a photon. That’s why surface temperatures don’t plunge to zero the instant the sun goes down.

    What I’m getting at is this… If extra CO2 in the atmosphere causes more energy to be retained in the atmosphere/oceans (over decades), then shouldn’t there be an extra amount (albeit much much smaller) of energy to be retained each and every day in order for that to happen? Where is this extra energy stored? If it is in the oceans, then wouldn’t the oceans’ temperature be increasing, and its volume increasing?

    Yes, there’s a tiny increase in heat energy stored in the surface materials. That causes them to heat up — global warming! This extra energy is stored in the form of heat energy in the surface materials. And yes, although water has extremely small compressibility, the increase in temperature of the water does cause it to expand very slightly, and in fact this is one of the contributing factors to rises in sea level. It’s still a very tiny effect, but it is growing in magnitude.

    And, how does the fact that the atmosphere has cooled over the past decade work into this model? The extra energy, plus the energy that the atmosphere has lost (because it’s cooler) must then be in the oceans, no?

    You’re mostly right. Yes, the oceans are the likely heat reservoir at work here. The oceans have much, much higher heat capacity than the atmosphere. Which means that the great majority of heat from the sun is stored in the oceans, not the atmosphere. That’s why I wrote earlier that the oceans are the dog that wags the atmosphere’s tail. We can see the atmospheric tail wagging back and forth but it’s the oceans that really drive the whole system. What makes this messy is that we don’t have really good temperature data for the oceans because we don’t have a lot of thermometers down deep. Our best indicator of overall ocean temperatures is the temperature of the atmosphere averaged over 30 to 50 years. 30 years is the minimum amount of time it takes for the ocean to demonstrate a significant change in temperature from radiative processes.

  190. GeneB_NoAGW

    There is VERY interesting climate, temperature, cloud cover, water vapor, etc. information on this site:
    http://www.climate4you.com/

  191. Arrow

    Erasmussimo I have no more time to keep explaining it all to you, especially since it looks like you are distorting my points on purpose. Those who understand scientific method know perfectly well what I am talking about, as for you and others who don’t I can only encourage you to keep trying:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=Scientific+Method

  192. Marion Delgado

    Morano + lack of killfile-ability = mostly useless comments.

  193. kim

    You mean you don’t think the world is cooling? How quaint. I’m not talking about since 1998; look at the curve, the latest warming spell ended just about 4-5 years ago. The earth’ll cool for the next 20 years or so, by the oceanic oscillations in their cooling phase, and for even longer if the sun is getting into the act. CO2 is such a weak greenhouse gas it can’t even keep the earth warm. Fact. You could look it up; better, just watch the thermometers drop. Take your time, there.
    =============================================================

  194. GeneB_NoAGW

    Read this post:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=6590

    This is an example of why I do not believe what the IPCC says.

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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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