You, Sir, Are No Galileo

By Chris Mooney | December 3, 2009 9:07 am

Over at the rightwing Wall Street Journal editorial page, Daniel Henninger is invoking Galileo and painting the Swifthack episode as an “epochal event”:

The East Anglians’ mistreatment of scientists who challenged global warming’s claims—plotting to shut them up and shut down their ability to publish—evokes the attempt to silence Galileo. The exchanges between Penn State’s Michael Mann and East Anglia CRU director Phil Jones sound like Father Firenzuola, the Commissary-General of the Inquisition.

Alas, there are quite a few things Henninger is forgetting about Galileo. Among other matters, the Tuscan sage doesn’t merely symbolize “dissent in science,” as Henninger puts it. The people who dissented in the history of science, but were overwhelmingly wrong, tend to be forgotten. Galileo dissented and he happened to be overwhelmingly right (about the whole Earth-sun thing, anyway–let’s, er, forget that theory of the tides).

All of which kinda makes for a huge difference between Galileo and the climate skeptics.

Comments (88)

  1. Jon

    This scientist is waiting for his right wing think tank sinecure:

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

  2. TTT

    I like to teach denialists about Iben Browning as often as possible. He had a Ph.D. and was certain climate change was a hoax, all the research phony, blahblah, and oh-by-the-way he also had his own studies–all of them suppressed by the peer-review conspiracy of course!–that the phases of the moon could predict earthquakes. And of course he DID predict earthquakes, a very major one at the New Madrid fault, which in turn sparked a serious public panic. And then, guess what didn’t happen?

    I always have to teach denialists about Iben Browning, never remind them of him, because they’ve never heard of him. Their delusions of grandeur somehow always seem to reach higher than him.

  3. Roadtripper

    I remember Iben Browning’s prediction, but I don’t recall a great deal of “panic.” And I was living near the new Madrid Fault at the time. Did I miss a good riot or mass evacuation somewhere? It all seemed like a tabloid joke at the time.

    Rt

  4. ER Johnson

    The fact that those that support AGW theory leaped onto the purposefully hateful labeling of those that disagree as “denialists”, frankly says a great deal about how this process is too politically charged. Its just so ironic that scientists would stoop to that level if, indeed, there was no doubt about their theory. (Of course, we know there is plenty of doubt about the theory — even among those that are supposed proponents) Scientists are human, subject to the same moral failures as the rest of us — they are NOT above the fray: to say otherwise is just foolish.

    Mix in politics, money, ego with “science” and you have the makings of a very big problem. Not to mention that “getting this right” is not just about “being right” but about potentially using the science to promote reordering of the world economy. The process becomes corrupted as folks begin to drift from truth discovery to expectation management. Those that are fully bought into AGW theory will, of course, disagree with this comment — which in itself serves as evidence of how distorted reality has become.

    The fact that Discover is now labeling media outlets (“rightwing” WSJ — above) says a great deal as well. I guess I should assume that WSJ is the enemy, and that Discover is Left Wing — or is that a leap? I thought Science was neither left wing nor right wing in nature — at least that is what I understood while studying engineering.

    I sure see a heck of a lot more “deny’ing” from those in ClimateGate (…nothing to see over here…move along…) than from anyone on the other side.

  5. “Galileo dissented and he happened to be overwhelmingly right (about the whole Earth-sun thing, anyway–let’s, er, forget that theory of the tides).

    All of which kinda makes for a huge difference between Galileo and the climate skeptics.”

    He happened to be overwhelmingly right and this was, over time, widely accepted. It’l be some time before we can look back at the climate debate with anything approaching the same type of certainty. Regardless of how overwhelming one may feel the evidence already is in favour of AGW the debate is still ongoing and the fact you consider sceptics to consist of a conglomeration of quacks doesn’t change this fact. The analogy with Galileo is pertinent. That there is a consensus is all the more reason to argue against it – either the consensus holds and is the evidence in favour of it is strengthened or it fails. Ultimately sceptics who are wrong are every bit as essential to the scientific process as those who are eventually proven to be right.

  6. Jon

    The fact that Discover is now labeling media outlets (”rightwing” WSJ — above) says a great deal as well

    The Wall Street Journal editorial page doesn’t lean right? I think even if you polled *conservative* pundits they’d all sign on to the notion that that page leans right. Please. I won’t argue with you if you say the NYT editorial page leans liberal.

  7. bilbo

    That there is a consensus is all the more reason to argue against it

    Exactly, Costello…but the argument against the consensus needs to be informed argument, scientific argument – in other words, argument that isn’t based in accusations of shady political conspiracies and “hey! I plotted this on my home laptop using Microsoft Excel! It TOTALLY debunks climate change!!!”

    Unfortunately, those latter types of argument are what predominate in the climate skeptic world. That’s not to say that there aren’t legit skeptics arguing with legit science – Phil Jones and friends even published multiple, peer-reviewed skeptics in the last IPCC report (which, by the way, totally debunks the whole “they corrupted peer review!” part of the Swifthack…).

    Silly attacks on the consensus that aren’t based on real, informed science deserve no place in the discourse.

  8. bilbo

    That there is a consensus is all the more reason to argue against it

    Exactly, Costello…but the argument against the consensus needs to be informed argument, scientific argument – in other words, argument that isn’t based in accusations of shady political conspiracies and “hey! I plotted this on my home laptop using Microsoft Excel! It TOTALLY debunks climate change!!!”

    Unfortunately, those latter types of argument are what predominate in the climate skeptic world. That’s not to say that there aren’t legit skeptics arguing with legit science – Phil Jones and friends even published multiple, peer-reviewed skeptics in the last IPCC report (which, by the way, debunks the whole “they corrupted peer review!” part of the Swifthack…).

    Silly attacks on the consensus that aren’t based on real, informed science deserve no place in the discourse.

  9. bilbo

    Apparently I’m in duplicate-post mode today. Nice.

  10. bilbo

    One other thing while I’m already going: anyone ever notice how many of the ‘big’ names in climate skepticism were also people who claimed:

    a.) that acid rain was a hoax made up by liberal, money-grubbing scientists

    b.) that the hole in the ozone layer was a politically-motivated sham

    c.) that secondhand tobacco smoke was harmless

    and

    d.) DDT was harmless.

    That kind of track record should speak volumes: stupid skepticism is no match for the informed type.

  11. ER Johnson

    Jon, I know the WSJ leans right. I know the NYT leans left. My point is, why should a science magazine lean either way? Once a science journal starts labeling politically entities, it invites further politicizing of science…which is the thrust of my original post.

    Politics should be driven out of science *at every turn* to maintain its credibility as a means to truth.

  12. Jon

    Look at Chris’s books in the right hand margin. Chris is not a scientist. He’s a science journalist who covers the *intersection* of politics and science (hence the name of the blog).

  13. Jon

    Chris’s *beat* is the politicization of science. It so happens that that has happened much more on the right over the past decade than on the left (although he does cover left politicization sometimes–it just isn’t nearly the problem it is on the right).

  14. ER Johnson

    What is a “silly attack on the consensus”?

    –How about: existing climate models that predict catastrophic warming don’t seem to be playing out.

    –or: existing climate models do not effectively nor accurately model cloud cover and its impact on warming. We all know that cloud cover makes an enormous difference in surface and above surface temps

    –or: there is no general agreement on how to deal with changing land use and how that has impacted surface temperature records and adjustments. Wide disagreement in the community leading to different slopes of temps.

    The problem is that many of the models that predict catastrophe make gross assumptions on things like this. Depending on reality, tweaks could result in changing the “sign” of warming. I for one, feel that this is a pretty big thing to nail before putting proclamations out to the media of coming catastrophes.

    If the economic stakes were not so enormous, I suspect that scientists behavior would be different and we could more rapidly determing the truth.

  15. Jon

    Well, ER Johnson, you’re not a scientist. These people who published these studies are:

    http://www.tinyurl.com/heatisonline

    We all know that cloud cover makes an enormous difference in surface and above surface temps

    Well, scientists are not stupid. They look into these things, and they form a consensus. That doesn’t happen in a knee jerk way, ignoring cloud cover, water vapor, etc.

  16. ER Johnson

    Jon,

    I have a different take, obviously, than you do. To me — it appears that the left has sought to “own” science and use it to further their political causes. Let’s not forget that most academic institutions are bastions of the left (not to mention Govt run labs, etc) — to think that that environment doesn’t seep into the lab is silly.

    My only point is that until Science is freed, as much as possible, from political influence — it will be progressing with a millstone on its neck. And personally, I see the Green movement (obviously leftist in nature) hijacking Science for ITS causes…much as the Church of old did for ITS causes. Both political forces — both using science as a political tool.

    For example — to think that the IPCC is somehow politically neutral is just naive. But yet, folks will argue all day long that it is an organization that is just researching climate for science’s sake. We all know that is bull — it serves to further a political agenda of the UN.

    Until people acknowledge these enormous political forces and how they have corrupted this process of real science….we won’t get anywhere.

  17. Jon

    If the economic stakes were not so enormous, I suspect that scientists behavior would be different and we could more rapidly determing the truth.

    Sounds like you have a conspiracy theory. The scientists are all colluding, hiding things from us, so they can bring a new socialist revolution?

  18. ER Johnson

    Jon — no conspiracy theory at all. I call it Human Nature — a bit which was revealed in the emails.

    Pride, money, ego, jobs, — to say this had no impact on behavior is, just ….. stupid. People have a vested interest in their theories. It becomes MORE vested as the stakes go up — what is so difficult to understand about that?

  19. Jon

    My only point is that until Science is freed, as much as possible, from political influence — it will be progressing with a millstone on its neck.

    Again, Chris is a journalist, not a scientist.

    And as far as political influence goes, those are serious charges. Where in all these studies, for instance, was the data fudged for political purposes? These scientists don’t only have their colleagues going after them (if someone successfully publishes something contrary, paradigm shifting, their career is made) they have the whole right wing think tank industry with fossil fuel grants going after them. You’d think they’d find something.

  20. Sorbet

    -My only point is that until Science is freed, as much as possible, from political influence — it will be progressing with a millstone on its neck

    Well said ER. The problem in this case is that as long as the science is tied to policy recommendations- which it of course is going to be- it will always be progressing with a millstone on its neck. Which is why in this field scientists have to be even more careful than in other fields not to cut corners the way Jones and others did.

  21. ER Johnson

    We should *ALL* be going after them — this should not be a right / left thing. That is what you keep coming back to….making it about politics. It should NOT be about Left / Right. The fact that raw data was THROWN AWAY and only the “value added data” (I have to chuckle at that one) was kept — that alone is enough to make one pause and say — you know, this just does not smell right.

    If you side with those that say we should not have an all out investigation — I have to wonder why? If there is nothing to hide…no problem.

  22. ER Johnson

    By the way, for the record — I have nothing to do with Jon’s conspiracy theory about the “right wing think tank industry” — nor do independent thinkers like Steve McIntyre. I’m an interested engineer — a US Citizen that is wary of how Science can be foisted onto a gullible public with the telltale “peer reviewed studies” “consensus” “you aren’t in my field” mantra designed to shut down inquiry.

    Besides, anything that Hollywood is all about — I’m going to do a double take on.

  23. Jon

    Well, if you want politicization, I think the motives for politicization are much more believable coming from the other side. Again, here’s Naomi Oreskes:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio#t=53m11s

    A scientist does have vested interests, ER Johnson, but it’s for their careers. Again, if you want to make your career, knock down the existing science.

    On the other hand, if you want to confuse the public, make headlines, make arguments look political, instead of scientific (the oldest weapon in the denialist industry) but this doesn’t change the science *itself*. If a scientist publishes something saying 2+2=5 or whatever, it either isn’t going to survive the peer review process, or someone is going to knock it down and get tenure.

  24. ER Johnson

    The MSM is arguably a left leaning institution. Where are the stories around these emails aon ABC, MSNBC, CNN? The silence is frankly deafening. Why, (?) because they have been a party to beating the AGW Catastrophe drum for 20 years. Nobody has the balls in the MSM to say “you know what, we need to look into this deeply”. Rather, they chase someone like Tiger Woods around to see what he is doing on his personal time — and we hear ALL ABOUT THAT.

    They, the MSM, have a vested interested in keeping the story going in the direction that it has been — or else they fear they will look stupid and lose credibility. Careers at stake? Quite possibly.

    You fall into the trap of just repeating “peer reviewed” “consensus”, blah blah blah. The fact is that the models don’t work. There is not a SINGLE model that can reproduce the past and has been accurate on predictions — WHY? because of the fact that there is not agreement on how to accurately model a very very complex climatic system.

    BTW I’m not a scientist…you are correct — just have an electrical engineering and physics background.

  25. Jon

    You’ve yet to make one scientific argument in this thread. Sorry, if my kid is sick, I take him to a doctor with an MD. I don’t take him to a lawyer or Indian chief. Similarly, if the climate is heating, you look to a climate scientist, not to an electrical engineer who rails against the allegedly leftist MSM.

  26. bilbo

    Where are the stories around these emails aon ABC, MSNBC, CNN? The silence is frankly deafening.

    Wow, ER. After several seemingly-levelheaded posts, you post one that gets all nutty on us. Predictable? Yes.

    As for your “MSM silence” claim, perhaps you should actually look for yourself rather than making sweeping, unfounded accusations (the mark, might I add, of a denialist).

    CNN:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/11/23/hacker.climate/index.html

    MSNBC:

    http://rss.msnbc.msn.com/id/34079149/

    Time:

    http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1929071_1929070,00.html

    “Deafening silence?” I tihnk you’re just mad because these media outlets aren’t parading it around as the end-all, be-all of AGW like Faux News and blogosphere are.

    Try again.

  27. bilbo

    Similarly, if the climate is heating, you look to a climate scientist, not to an electrical engineer who rails against the allegedly leftist MSM.

    Bingo, Jon. I don’t listen to climate scientist if I have an electrical engineering question, either.

    And I certainly don’t try to do electrical engineering in Microsoft Excel….

  28. ER Johnson

    Jon, I’ve made several if you care to look. Why not take it from MIT’s Dr. Richard Lindzen ==>

    http://bit.ly/7yJrXC

    Most importantly, he points to a fact (that you say has been apparently taken care of, unknown to him…so you may want to write him) that the water vapor and cloud issue in climate models is far from solved. The fact that depending on how it works out, the whole “sign” of warming could be suspect.

    Temperature data is not settled — and without an accurate dataset that is agreed to be correct — how can one create an accurate model? (Oops…didn’t alot of that raw data get thrown away by CRU?) Tree ring data is suspect (divergence has yet to be fully explained), Land Use changes temperature readings of thermometers — which has been accounted for differently in different models, and scientists can’t even account for the fact that the past 10 years have been much cooler than expected. (Oh…temporary abberation..how convenient.)

    If you can’t honestly look at that and say, “you are correct — there are some serious unknowns in the models” then you are frankly just not an honest broker of information.

  29. Jon

    Richard Lindzen accepts AGW. And up until fairly recently he was the last contrarian with anything near serious credentials.

  30. ER Johnson

    bilbo — you serve to illustrate how tribal this debate has become by seeking to shut down debate by virtue of credentials. (see point 1 below)

    Don’t you see that “that” is what is causing such a backlash against those up on the pedestal? The self annointed knowers of climate truth? Reads like something out of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

    Every time someone brings up dissent — there is a formulaic, talking points attack:

    1) Question their credentials
    2) call them a name like Denialist
    3) Talk about Peer Reviewed journals and how that is the “only” way science is done
    4) Make sure you say Consensus often

    THIS is why Science will be set back. THIS is why a growing distrust endures. There is and will be a continuing backlash against this kind of “lack” of discussion.

    This is not speculation on my part. I have witnessed it countless times in various blogs — it is just standard operating procedure by those that are blind AGW proponents. And guess what, it serves to rally your opposition greatly — that is the irony. This kind of defense will only serve to slow down the very process that many people would like to accelerate — finding the truth.

    Unfortunately for the masses, most people will just shrink back (refer to 1-4) above and not bring the subject up again for fear of ridicule. They ask simple questions to the elite — and get blown completely out of the water — “and dont ever come back here” A few people will not shrink away — and that is just quite infuriating for the self appointed climate elite.

    Civil debate is healthy and good. Resorting to juvenile talking point tactics to shut it down is moving society in the wrong direction.

  31. ER Johnson

    AGW and catastrophe inducing AGW are quite different things. Lindzen believes in very slight warming due to CO2 — I haven’t a problem with that.

    Catastrophes? I don’t believe it.

    How long do you think we have? And based on which model?

  32. ER Johnson

    “he was the last contrarian with anything near serious credentials”

    Wow — I wonder if Dr. Lindzen knows he is “all alone”. Saying he is the last contrarian with credentials is just an outright lie.

    Why not call these guys up, or do they not have the *serious credentials* you require to even listen to them? http://bit.ly/DmacJ

  33. ER Johnson

    bilbo

    You gave me three links to mainstream media articles / posts — one of which went nowhere. Where is the video during primetime on this for the MSM? Give me a break — the MSM is really not digging into this like they did something as non-impactful as Tiger Woods. For you to spin it otherwise is really kinda crazy. We have Universities doing investigations, we have Congress doing inquiries, we have Phil Jones stepping down…. oh…nothing to see here, move along — and let’s go BACK to the Tiger Woods story.

    Nutty? I think its nutty (actually self serving) they aren’t spending more time on it.

  34. Sorbet

    -Again, if you want to make your career, knock down the existing science.

    Jon, it’s not as simple as that. I am sure a climate scientist would publish his findings if he actually found a gigantic smoking gun that would make global warming crumble. It’s virtually impossible that such a one-time thing would happen with anything as complex as the climate. More realistically the problem would be with researchers who find small discrepancies and troubling inconsistencies and don’t make them public for two reasons:

    1. Peer pressure and approval

    2. Arousing the denialists.

    Whatever the reason, science ultimately loses since good science means honestly publishing all the data (including the tree ring proxies for instance)

    This happens with every discipline. For a long time for instance, the Chicago School of economics reigned supreme and people who argued with it were not as likely to get spots in top universities and committees. More recently this has happened with the string theorists who have gone off into mathematical playland without experimental validation. They have become quasi-religious and string theory critics have had a hard time finding faculty positions or making their voice heard. Anytime anything approaches something close to universal consensus, it always runs into the danger getting bogged down in such problems.

  35. Jon

    Sure, nothing is so simple. But the whole point of science is that over the long run, especially with the physical sciences, the institution self-corrects.

    Economics is a good part social sciences. It’s not a hard science in the sense of physics, biology, climatology. The basic assumptions of physics and biology don’t veer away from Newton or Darwin as they do between Neoclassicism and Keynes.

  36. ER Johnson

    Sorbet touches on the underlying, unchangeable fact of human nature and its non-linear response to enormous pressures. The enormous pressure inherent to this particular research can’t be ignored as a factor. Peer pressure doesn’t go away for scientists after their sophomore undergrad year.

  37. SLC

    Re ER. Johnson @ # 28

    Yessir, some real impressive names on that list. Like young earth creationist Roy Spencer. Like tobacco/lung cancer and ozone depletion denialist Fred Singer. Mr. Johnson will have to do better then that.

  38. Jon

    It looks to me like ER Johnson is a fan of the scientist I linked to in the Onion article at the top of the thread. The basics of Newton and Darwin don’t change, as much as the Discovery Institute *wants* to change the basics of Darwin by sheer force of media- and legal-directed hot air.

  39. plotting to shut them up and shut down their ability to publish—evokes the attempt to silence Galileo

    Everyone loves to evoke Galileo, but Galileo was not a victim of the scientific community,
    Galileo was silenced by the political elite. His arguments were attacked because they were thought to be undermining the Church and he was imprisoned for that.

    Today we have climate scientists under attack by political and powerful industrial lobbies. Republican Senators are demanding an investigation into scientists that they’ve spent the last 20 years attacking. Denialists are shouting that Climategate shows proof of criminal activity not on the part of the hackers, but on the part of the scientists. Comments here have demanded prison time for members of CRU. So Henniger is right to evoke Galileo. He just doesn’t realize which side of the analogy he falls on.

  40. Sorbet

    -It’s not a hard science in the sense of physics, biology, climatology

    I would not put biology and climatology in the same category as physics, especially theoretical physics. I have been modeling biological systems for years and the modeling is fraught with problems, in spite of giving useful answers. And even in physics, there is a reason why the Standard Model is called a Model.

    It’s always important not to overestimate how much we truly understand nature’s complex systems.

  41. Jon

    I’m talking about the basics. Also (as I’ve said it before) uncertainties shouldn’t always be assumed to favor *us*.

  42. Argumentum ad Galileus:

    Risum procul Galileus
    Rideo procul mihi
    Ergo sum tunc Galileus

    That’s my first attempt, but corrections to the Latin would be greatly appreciated here:

    http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2009/10/first-draft-attempt-at-argumentum-ad.html

  43. TTT

    The fact that those that support AGW theory leaped onto the purposefully hateful labeling of those that disagree as “denialists

    Nobody “leaped.” There is a nearly 30-year history behind this topic, during which time one side has consistently failed to ever produce any evidence or to conduct itself in an intellectually honest and serious fashion. Their theory appears to be “AGW isn’t happening, and it isn’t our fault, and what we did won’t cause any problems, and the problems are too expensive to fix.” They have now been accurately labeled as denialists, far too late in my opinion.

    Not to mention that “getting this right” is not just about “being right” but about potentially using the science to promote reordering of the world economy. The process becomes corrupted as folks begin to drift from truth discovery to expectation management. Those that are fully bought into AGW theory will, of course, disagree with this comment — which in itself serves as evidence of how distorted reality has become

    Hah. That’s the beautiful thing about kooky made-up conspiracy theories: they are totally unfalsifiable, because the lack of any evidence just shows that the conspiracy was big enough to squelch it all. Why don’t you just go burn a witch?

  44. ER Johnson

    TTT — this is why the debate isn’t really a debate. You label anyone who disagrees with almost any part of AGW (and you have no idea which parts I happen to agree with and what I don’t now do you) as a kook.

    I happen to not believe in the climate models that produce catastrophe. Why? because the ones produced have not panned out. They are wrong. And folks like you continue to say they are correct, despite reality…you just keep banging your head against the wall.

    Good luck with that.

  45. ER Johnson

    Jinchi — you are spot on. I would add however that we have political forces on this issue that are equally massive from *both* sides. Both supporting and attacking the theory. It just turns out that many of the influential scientists happen to have strong political support from tiny organizations like the UN — and arguably, those in power at the UN wish to find AGW something to blame on big bad western economies. To argue otherwise is ignoring how political processes work historically — and to ignore what the UN is motivated to do long term.

    On the other side, there are political forces that wish to see AGW disproved.

    So — for one to argue that the science processes and scientists have been subject to zero corruption and are infallible in this …errrr….climate…is just operating in fantasy land. The processes have been corrupted, lets just find out to what extend and then get on with real science.

  46. ER Johnson

    I’d like someone way smarter than me please shoot me over the link to the climate models that correctly calculate the medieval warm period and the little ice age and our recent temperatures looking backwards in time with climate modeling algorithms — and please explain exactly how those processes happened — and exactly why those processes are not in play today? Also, help me understand why the models in the late 90′s have incorrectly predicted the temperatures of the last 10 or so years? Are the new and improved models fixed now so that they can look backwards and “predict” that we were going to have an essentially level decade?

    I know those models are out there somewhere, I just haven’t been able to find them.

  47. ER Johnson

    SLC — I’m certain you’ll find fringe scientists on that list — but more than not, they are just scientists who have a different take. Doesn’t make them all kooks, sir.

    If we are going to attack — let’s take a look at the more vocal proponents of Catastrophic AGW — namely Al Gore. Wow — there is a scientific power house speaking for all the smart people. Arguably the most visible proponent — and he thinks the earth’s core is Millions of degrees — he won’t have a public debate on the issue, and hypocritically has a carbon footprint dozens of times larger than most.

    Just interesting that the group of people shouting down those that dissent supposedly for lack of credentials has as a mascot a non-science credentialed politician to carry their water. The irony is thick.

  48. bilbo

    ER Johnson said:

    Every time someone brings up dissent — there is a formulaic, talking points attack:

    3.)Talk about Peer Reviewed journals and how that is the “only” way science is done

    Umm…research must stand the test of peer-review before it can be called science, genius. That’s how science works…at least outside of Bizarro World. Otherwise, it’s just you dicking around with some numbers on a computer somewhere.

  49. bilbo

    ER Johnson: The MSM is arguably a left leaning institution. Where are the stories around these emails aon ABC, MSNBC, CNN? The silence is frankly deafening.

    Bilbo: Posts lengthy examples from each “MSM” outlet on the Swifthack.

    ER Johnson: You gave me three links to mainstream media articles / posts — one of which went nowhere. Where is the video during primetime on this for the MSM?

    Argue, get called for BS, reframe. Argue, get called for BS, reframe.

    Look, everyone! It’s the goalpost-shifting, ER Johnson Circle Dance!

  50. ER Johnson

    bilbo -

    You are just laughingly dishonest — and actually pretty juvenile in your attack posts — I’m a bit embarrassed for you.

    Are you really trying to make an argument that the mainstream media is paying serious attention to the climate / CRU / email scandal?

    Have you actually watched CNN or MSNBC or ABC or CBS news recently to hear how they have covered this story? Have you? They haven’t given it the time of day. They’ve willfully buried it or whitewashed it.

  51. You label anyone who disagrees with almost any part of AGW (and you have no idea which parts I happen to agree with and what I don’t now do you)

    That’s exactly the point. We have no idea what you believe, because you never make a scientific argument. In fact the entire Climategate issue emphasizes this point. In all the hyperbole about “tricks” and buggy code and demands for all the data, exactly what aspect of climate science has been called into question? Which Science and Nature papers need to be retracted for fraud or malfeasance? Why haven’t skeptics taken the fount of supposedly damning emails and pointed out exactly where mainstream climatologists have rigged the results or falsified output to force a conclusion that the globe is warming? Instead we get a constant whine that Phil Jones thinks Willie Soon is an idiot.

    One side of this issue has published thousands of studies, available at any University library (or online) to any skeptic for rebuttal. They’ve had their working codes, raw and processed data online for years. On the other side, the “proof” presented is in the form of WSJ editorials, proclamations from James Inhofe, fragments of codes, and keyword searches on emails. And then you fret that you aren’t allowed access to some exclusive club. It’s not exclusive. It just takes work.

    We don’t take your argument seriously because you haven’t done the work to prove a point. And that’s why you get branded a denialist and not a skeptic.

  52. ER Johnson

    bilbo –

    Nice distraction from the real issue that I brought forward.

    You aren’t honestly suggesting that the MSM is deeply covering this CRU email scandal, are you? Funny, because my MSNBC + CNN + ABC news coverage on television has been essentially zero — or at best whitewashed.

    Just contrast that with, say, Tiger Woods coverage of late — and if your are intellectually honest, you’ll see my point. Frankly — I don’t think you will admit it even if you do see my point — way too far gone.

  53. ER Johnson

    OOPs…sorry for the duplicate posts folks.

  54. bilbo

    So now we’ve gone from “silence” to “they’re not silent – but they’re just not covering it enough!!” and “they’re whitewashing it!!!”

    See the shifting goalposts here, ER?

    Probably not.

  55. SLC

    Re ER Johnson

    1. By bringing up Al Gore in his response to my comment, Mr. Johnson identifies himself as a crank. Al Gore is not a scientist and is not even remotely the nutcase that a young earth creationist like Roy Spencer is.

    2. By the way, I am totally unimpressed with internet petitions. There is an internet petition from the Dishonesty Institute denying evolution. There is an internet petition denying the big bang. There is an internet petition denying the relationship between HIV and AIDS circulated by followers of Peter Duesberg. There is an internet petition denying the relationship between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, which includes Mr. Johnsons’ boy Fred Singer.

    3. The link to an op ed by Prof. Lindzen published in the Wall Street Journal does him no credit. The Wall Street Journal is now owned by Rupert Murdock. No self respecting scientist would publish anything in a rag owned by that piece of filth.

  56. TTT

    You label anyone who disagrees with almost any part of AGW as a kook.

    Not “almost any”, but in this case a person who said that the scientific arguments are just incidental to the REAL PLAN which is to reorder the global economy. Which is well into our-precious-bodily-fluids territory.

  57. ER Johnson

    SLC–

    The venom in your response is palpable. Once again, you serve as living proof that you can’t have dissent with the mainstream opinion on this topic without being derided and labeled — just the sort of behavior that the climategate emails have exposed regarding scientists that differ from the core group.

    We’ve lost something when debate instantly dissolves into name calling and polarization — it isn’t good for any process or any person or any group — but it has become the norm, and this AGW issue is the prime example. The irony is that those on both sides — half of which have proudly worn the banner of “tolerance” and “open mindedness” drop all pretense of either and just instantly go for the low blow.

    Is Dr. Lindzen a “crank”, a “kook”, a “denialist” (?) — or maybe you have another name to attack him with. Rather, I’d like you to take apart his assertions one by one that he posted in the WSJ article –

    Or — is his perspective completely wrong because of where it is posted? In other words truth is not truth unless it is published by someone YOU approve of? How utterly arrogant and narrow minded.

  58. ER Johnson

    TTT –

    You misrepresent my assertions. I’ve never asserted anything about a REAL PLAN, or conspiracy to reorder the global economy. I have no belief in some conspiracy — only a realization that political forces are most definitely at play on both ends of the spectrum — and science is caught square in the middle. What I am asserting however, is that the catastrophic AGW scenario is being USED to put forth plans that would indeed reorder the world economy — that is very clear. Therefore, enormous scrutiny is being brought to bear on the scientific process because of this — and I find no fault with that scrutiny.

    Those being scrutinized recoil, dig in, attempt to thwart requests for data, and finally just start calling people kooks, conspiracy theorists, witch hunters…whatever — all the while hurting the very process they are trying so desperately to hold up as infallible.

    Once I start hearing warmers admit some faults in the models — admit that there indeed is a GREAT deal unknown about how the fantastically complex climate works, and that gee…we can’t even create a computer model that can replicate via known natural processes what caused the little ice age and the medieval warming period + the temperatures we have measured in modern times… well, to me that is real progress.

    Unfortunately, the refrain I commonly hear (particularly in places like here) is the arrogant “we know it all” assertions that rarely if ever admit errors or mistakes. That isn’t science — that’s politics.

  59. ER Johnson

    Jinchi –

    You want an scientific argument? Please show me a link to a well accepted computer climate model that is being used that accurately incorporates cloud creation and water vapor modeling and that also can re-create all the known temperature data including medieval warming and the little ice age. Show me that we understand the systems so completely that the computer can just go back in time and recreate that which we have experienced down to +_ a degree or two.

    At that point we can talk about the catastrophic effects of AGW into the crystal ball of the future.

    The scientific argument is that the climate processes that certain folks claim to fully understand, are likely much more complex than the current models account for. There is not agreement in the scientific community on how to accurately model cloud formation and even what the sign change would be regarding warming or cooling with certain cloud types. How can 100% reliable conclusions be reached if such a fundamental driver of warming or cooling can’t be properly modeled?

    Again, as a citizen — I could give a rip if this was a test question or an academic exercise. Getting it right or wrong would be, in the big scheme, inconsequential.

    Getting this answer right is about as consequential as I can imagine.

  60. bilbo

    We’ve lost something when debate instantly dissolves into name calling and polarization — it isn’t good for any process or any person or any group

    All of this talk about the evils of name calling from the guy who calls someone “ignorant and narrow-minded” just two paragraphs later in the exact same post.

    Classic!

  61. ER Johnson

    bilbo –

    I see your point. You chose to interpret “silence” to be literal — how clever of you. Oh ok… they did make a few blog posts in the MSM and mentioned something about illegal hacking at CRU in text. Man, you are so sharp to have caught that! — such a clever rebuttal and sidestep to my core point.

    So — let me correct my post by saying that the MSM has practically gone out of their way to NOT seriously delve into the climate email scandal and has spent magnitudes of more time and effort on WH gate crashers and Tiger Woods — rather than something that could, just might, have very serious implications for the planet.

  62. SLC

    Re ER Johnson

    Is Dr. Lindzen a “crank”, a “kook”, a “denialist” (?) — or maybe you have another name to attack him with.

    Up to the present time, Prof. Lindzen has been a reputable skeptic whose contrarian views perform a valuable service by keeping the scientists who support the global warming hypothesis on their toes. However, he is in some peril of turning from a skeptic into a denier. I would point out a disturbing parallel with a medical researcher named Peter Duesberg whose early work on retroviruses in the 1960s made him a candidate for the Nobel Prize in medicine. In the early 1980s, when AIDS suddenly came onto the medical research communitys’ radar screens, Prof. Duesberg was skeptical of the relationship between HIV and AIDS. Unfortunately, as the evidence of the relationship mounted, the good professor became more and more adamant in his views and turned from a skeptic into a denier to the extent that his scientific reputation was destroyed. I would suggest that Prof. Lindzen would be well advised to consider the saga of Prof. Duesberg.

    However, putting aside the issues with the climate models, there is mounting evidence that the earth is warming. For instance, last summer, the Northwest Passage through the Arctic Sea was sufficiently ice free that ships could pass through it. This is not evidence of global cooling, contrary to the assertions of clowns like Mark Marano.

  63. ERJohnson

    bilbo –

    You got anything but a strawman attack and whining? I have not called anyone names like: Denialist, Kook, Flat-Earther or other flames designed to shut down debate. — I have fairly described their thinking as ignorant and narrow-minded ==> adjectives. Two very different things sir. I think you just can’t face facts and lack the ability to admit when you are wrong . MSM is willfully ignoring this situation — although you can flagellate, dodge, wave your virtual hands — it will all catch up soon enough. Just too much at stake — too much inertia for a few scientists to be able to handle or contain it, and of course now the debate will extend out of their area of expertise.

    Like it or not — whether the science is correct or not…it really doesn’t matter right now to “the masses”. Few people in the big scheme of thingse really care about your defenses, and the vast majority will not spend even 30 seconds listening to you berate them — the bulk of folks (I think I saw 56% as of yesterday) believe that scientists have lied — and THAT, sir, is the problem. The Public has moved much farther away from belief in catastrophic AGW — in part, because of behavior like you exhibit on this blog.

    You can call people names, shout them down with derision, chase them out of your little bubble — and they’ll just make sure their congressional folks spend far, far less for funding in the future. That is what is a shame — and you refuse to “get it” — the whole human aspect / and political element here — which is now the big “forcing” function which overwhelms *all* models.

    Until the scientific community embraces THAT problem — progress will be little.

  64. SLC

    Re ER Johnson

    So — let me correct my post by saying that the MSM has practically gone out of their way to NOT seriously delve into the climate email scandal and has spent magnitudes of more time and effort on WH gate crashers and Tiger Woods — rather than something that could, just might, have very serious implications for the planet.

    I can only talk about the coverages in the New York Times and the Washington Post but, at least in those two venues, the coverage of the Tiger Woods incident has been mostly confined to the sports pages, which seems appropriate. The so-called extravagant MSM coverage has been confined to the cable so-called news outlets, particularly CNN.

    As for the WH gate crashers, that incident is not nearly as frivolous as Mr. Johnson would have us believe. Although the gate crashers in this case were, apparently harmless, the incident exposes a serious problem with the Secret Service presidential protection procedures. Considering that the current president has received more death threats in his 10 months in office then his predecessor received in 8 years and considering the shenanigans of the birther clowns and the stormfront thugs, I would suggest that the consequences of a successful assassination of the president would be far more serious then climategate, which has been blown all out of proportion by the Mark Maranos and the James Inhofes of the world.

  65. bilbo

    I have not called anyone names like: Denialist, Kook, Flat-Earther or other flames designed to shut down debate. — I have fairly described their thinking as ignorant and narrow-minded ==> adjectives. Two very different things sir.

    Ummm….no. Those are all adjectives, actually. Or at least in Normal Grammar World they are. The “difference” is that you got called some of them, while you called other people the rest.

    Unlike you would have everyone believe, ER, I don’t dislike you just because you don’t accept climate change. The reason why I REALLY don’t like you (the same reason I have for many that have magically appeared on the blog to troll the past week) is that your reasoning for not accepting climate change appears to be based solely on your political leanings. You talk about the “mainstream media,” rant about “AL Gore” and “liberals,” and never talk about the actual science. And when you do talk about the science, it becomes apparent that you’ve never read a single paper on AGW yourself but instead get your science secondhand through skeptic blogs which is filtered through – you guessed it – someone’s political leanings.

    Learn a little more about the science – and I mean really learn it – and then I’ll give you a little more respect. Until then, you’re just being loud.

  66. bilbo

    So — let me correct my post by saying that the MSM has practically gone out of their way to NOT seriously delve into the climate email scandal and has spent magnitudes of more time and effort on WH gate crashers and Tiger Woods — rather than something that could, just might, have very serious implications for the planet.

    I would much rather see the lengthy, well-researched, objective journalism that’s been put out on the Swifthack by your “mainstream media” than the coverage I’ve seen on what you would likely call the “non-mainstream media,” which roughly amounts to:

    “GLOBAL WARMING IS A LIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE WIN! WE WIN! LIBERALS LOSE! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    I’m not exaggerating, either. James Inhofe himself said “We win. You lose. Get over it.” Funny – I didn’t think this was a political contest….

  67. ERJohnson

    nar⋅row-mind⋅ed  [nar-oh-mahyn-did] Show IPA
    –adjective
    1. having or showing a prejudiced mind, as persons or opinions; biased.
    2. not receptive to new ideas; having a closed mind.

    It’s an adjective bilbo.

  68. ERJohnson

    Here is a noun — basically a slur.

    ook  [kook] Show IPA
    –noun Slang.
    1. an eccentric, strange, or foolish person.
    2. an insane person.

  69. You want an scientific argument? Please show me …

    So I ask you to present any case backing up your opposition to climate science and you respond by giving me a homework assignment in which I have to answer detailed, but subjective questions to your satisfaction while simultaneously addressing all your doubts before you’ll even tell me what your doubts are.

    Before I go off on a wild goose chase for you. Are you aware of what the medieval warming and little ice age refer to? How long they lasted? What the regional variations were? And since I have to recreate history down to +_ a degree or two, maybe you can tell me how accurately you think we’ve measured these temperatures in the first place.

  70. ERJohnson

    bilbo –

    You make stuff up. I never said I did not believe in climate change.

    Climate Change, in fact, is a constant. It has and always will change.

    I don’t accept the AGW Catastrophe climate models that predict irreversible man-caused warming culminating in massive extinctions, death, destruction, etc. I reject that hysteria. Why? Because I do know enough about the science, and I *have* read papers on AGW theory, temperature reconstructions, land use impact, etc Do I understand all of it — not claiming that I do. (I’m sure you understand every single bit of it however — good on you.)

    But one doesn’t have to understand every bit of data and algorithm to understand the larger truth that the climate is fantastically complex, and currently beyond our ability to model accurately. Grid sizing is too large, cloud cover is very difficult to model, feedback mechanisms are not perfectly understood, etc. I am yet to see a link to a model that accurately reconstructs the past temperature records with any accuracy — so why would I believe that the future predictions of catastrophe should be relied upon? I’ve asked for this model several times — and met with silence. That is in essence my beef — and I would postulate a large majority of folks that don’t express their opinions on blogs like this feel similarly.

    At any rate — I realize this is a waste of time to try to rationally discuss this with you, but hopefully other folks that read this blog will see at least a bit of wisdom in my points — and that until the attitudes of the scientific community change to help the public deal with the credibility issue — you’ll just be stuck with your talking points of Consensus, Name Calling, Peer-Review Process — etc.

    Good luck with that.

  71. ERJohnson

    jinchi –

    You don’t need to go on a wild goose chase — and if you don’t know what the medieval warming period and little ice age were, google is helpful.

    Simple- show me the link to the computer climate model that accurately reconstructs the agreed upon past temperature record, including aforementioned periods — and up to the present time — using climate modeling algorithms. This should be in your bookmarks folder since the science is settled. I am sure this model would include cloud simulation modeling, large storm modeling (cyclones, hurricanes), solar forcing, all the things that you know, certainly, much more about than me.

    Enlighten me with this model please.

  72. bilbo

    I don’t accept the AGW Catastrophe climate models that predict irreversible man-caused warming culminating in massive extinctions, death, destruction, etc.

    And what papers are those published in where model output specifically talks about “death, destruction, etc.?” Citations, please.

    Do I understand all of it — not claiming that I do…But one doesn’t have to understand every bit of data and algorithm to understand the larger truth that the climate is fantastically complex, and currently beyond our ability to model accurately

    In other words: “I just ignore the data because of an opinion on something I just admitted that I know little about.” Somehow that isn’t a credible argument.

    I am yet to see a link to a model that accurately reconstructs the past temperature records with any accuracy — so why would I believe that the future predictions of catastrophe should be relied upon? I’ve asked for this model several times — and met with silence.

    Why, of course you have. That’s because we didn’t have weather stations all across the world recording temperatures even 200 years before present. So…we rely on proxy data (a “model!!!”) to reconstruct even the actual past temperatures. So, in essence, you’re asking for someone to build a model that reconstructs actual temperature data that, by definition, doesn’t really exist. Why, how self-satisfying of an argument you’ve constructed! (Really, ER, that’s a common misconception of climate science that you’re positing. And, for the record, the evidence for “AGW” isn’t all model-based.)

    Try another angle, please.

  73. ER Johnson

    “So, in essence, you’re asking for someone to build a model that reconstructs actual temperature data that, by definition, doesn’t really exist.”

    I’m asking for a model that can reconstruct data that was derived from both weather stations and proxy data — temperature data / proxies that are supposed to have some widespread “consensus”. If we have such a clear understanding of the climatic processes to be able to predict the future, we should be able to apply that into the past ==> we at least “know” what the curve should look like. Future temperatures don’t exist either — yet the models being used are predicting those temperatures and ranges of accuracy.

    Make it easier. Show me the model that predicted the last 12 years accurately — the one that either was created 12+ years ago — or one created more recently that can reconstruct the temperature. I’m sure it is out there, I just have not been able to find it.

    My point is that a model like this does not exist because the processes are not understood well enough to create a complete model that is accurate.

  74. ER Johnson

    “citations ,please”

    Here is a very recent paper that speaks to the irreversible damage that AGW is supposed to cause — pretty good example of what I refer to:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/01/28/0812721106.abstract

    And here’s some nice words from some of our friends at the IPCC who apparently use papers such as the ones above to justify certain sentiments:

    “Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.” – Sir John Houghton, first chairman of IPCC

    “We need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination… So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts… Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.” – Stephen Schneider, Stanford Professor of Climatology, lead author of many IPCC reports

    But, I guess since their quotes were not “peer reviewed”, they don’t exist — or they were just kidding — or maybe just taken out of context — or better yet, scientists are completely immune from any influence other than “data”.

  75. ER Johnson

    Oh…here is another one that speaks to sea level rise of an additional 320% by 2100 (and that we are a bit too late to do anything about it) — and that is considered a conservative number. The paper asserts this is going to happen — nothing we can practically do about it unless we go to pre 1990 levels of emissions for multiple decades.

    I’d say that has a tone of disaster and irreversibility to it.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/307/5716/1769

  76. John Kwok

    @ ER Johnson -

    Whether you like it or not, the following is happening:

    1) Substantial range extensions of formerly tropical to subtropical plants and animals in North America (Why we may not see this in Eurasia because mountains, seas and deserts are impenetrable barriers to plant and animal migration) within the past few decades.

    2) In the Arctic and Antarctic regions, rapid melting and subsequent collapse of ice sheets which have accelerated rapidly over the past decade (which, in the Artic, photographer James Balog is documenting via ample technical assistance from Nikon and financial support from the National Geographic Society)

    I could go further, but these are two clear-cut examples pointing to global warming, and since no natural cause can be invoked to explain why, then these are patterns consistent with anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

    Although I regard myself as a Conservative Republican with a very pronounced Libertarian bias, my training as both a geologist and evolutionary biologist has alerted me to the importance of these patterns and why they represent such overwhelming proof on behalf of AGW.

  77. ERJohnson

    John Kwok –

    You’ll find me disagreeing very little with those observations and your sentiment — and in fact the historical record has shown 1) and 2) having happened, quite naturally, in the past geologic record at various times. Apparently, very large forces having *zero* to do with mankind made and melted glaciers, made and destroyed habitats, and regularly changed the climate — and we are here to talk about it. I’m not aware of studies that indicate the climate, habitat expanse, glacier melt rates are or *should be* static. (If there are studies like that, I’m very interested in what “the correct” temperature, or “proper” habitats are*supposed* to be.) For the record, seems pretty clear to most that warming has occurred over the past 100-150 years.

    The quantity associated with man’s contribution to the warming is what is less clear. Are carbon emissions 50% responsible for the warming? 10%? 2%? 93.6% Understanding of short and long term feedback mechanisms is critical — in that those processes drive “irreversibility” / or potential “self correction” of temperature. Shouldn’t we understand and properly communicate the probabilities to the public in a way that doesn’t distort? My humble opinion is that good science gets picked up by the media, filtered, amplified, possibly distorted in a way that makes “the public” believe that catastrophe is 100% certain unless we do something, something huge, right NOW.

    The climate processes are enormously complex — I would think, if anything, everyone would agree with that. Correlation = Causation is pretty tempting when you can’t figure out other explanations. (Of course CO2 has continued to increase over the past 12 years — and the temp output from the models showed a substantial rise in temps. Hansen’s models from the 90′s showed temp ranges that haven’t panned out.)

    Off topic — but the predictive accuracy of science hasn’t been really that great unless we are talking hard science. Good example is H1N1 — wasn’t this going to shut our society down this winter? Instead, indications are it is on its way to petering out, much on its own, thank you very much — ironically just *prior* to the life-saving flu vaccines being readily available.

    I’m advocating we tell *all* the truth to the Public in ways they can understand. And this means that if the media, political figures, Hollywood, or whomever starts taking information and presenting only worst case scenarios as “Truth” — don’t scientists have an obligation to go out of their way to very publicly “correct” the distortions so that they have “all” the information. I guess I am not seeing pro-AGW scientists going out of their way to correct the end-of-the-world predictions with caveats like: “we think this is x% probable — and here are areas where we could have it wrong”. It seems to me that the media can say absolutely anything it wants, no matter how outrageous, and the scientists remain silent in their corrections.

  78. John Kwok

    @ ER Johnson -

    Both phenomena I described are occurring recently within our lifetimes as the mean daily temperature of Earth has been rising. There’s no natural phenomena I can think of which can explain this, so it has to be anthropogenic global warming, especially as our carbon “footprint” has increased substantially with the advent of the Industrial Revolution (BTW you are replying to someone who had studied paleoclimatology in one of the best programs for that in college, and then later, in graduate school at another, quite good, program as well.).

    Much of the hysteria you write of in your last post is due to “end of the world” scenarios by journalists and others interested in sensationalist headlines. Credible scientists like James Hansen have said for years what would happen with comments like “we think this is x% probable — and here are areas where we could have it wrong”. Your own refusal to look carefully at the substantial scientific data that points to AGW is giving you as much “blindness” IMHO as I have seen from evolution denialists.

  79. ER Johnson

    John –

    Fair enough — although are there any natural phenomena you “can think of” that would explain the MWP or the Little Ice Age, or any of the other longer term anomalies that you studied about? Is there even the slightest possibility that those same natural phenomena could be at play today — as they have likely been doing for millions of years? With all due respect John, just because you “can’t think of any” other reason the temperature should be rising — that doesn’t constitute anything close to “proof” that carbon emissions, and CO2 increase is the sole cause. (And if you are talking correlation as a basis for proof, then total solar radiation should be put back up on the likely culprits list again…)

    I haven’t seen the Hansen quotes where he said his models were wrong or probable with a certain %. Rather, he gave ranges of temperatures where we would end up — and guess what .. reality has been consistently under his low range predictions. He has been wrong more than right — yet insists he is right. He is also the same guy that said in 2001 that the street next to his house would be underwater in a few years due to rise in sea level. (It is still famously high and dry today.) So…forgive me if I am being asked to continue to believe these models when they are too consistently wrong.

    Don’t scientists have a responsibility to LOUDLY correct the journalists or other mouthpieces that create the sensationalist headlines and say…”hey wait a second — we didn’t say this was going to happen with certainty — we said there was an x% chance”. I think they do have that responsibility — and yet what I witness is silence from scientists today — have even had scientists reply with posts that in effect say “well…the papers don’t say that, and if the journalist wanna say it .. that is their problem…” Kind of looking the other way…

    Not reporting a crime that you are a witness to is a bit of a crime in itself don’t you think?

  80. ER Johnson

    One other quick point — I’ve never “refused” to look at any of the data on either side of this issue…quite the opposite. It was the curiosity of the increasingly alarmists headlines that drove me to want to understand this issue some time ago, and my engineering and physics background is substantial enough for me to not be completely lost in the subject.

    Usually at this point is when AGW advoctates proclaim something akin to “well…you need to shut your mouth and get out of OUR are of expertise if you don’t have a degree in climatology…blah blah blah…”

    Well — news flash. The debate has left the building. It no longer resides in the realm of only degreed climatologists — and until they realize that, and , that they are *losing* the “real” debate, there will be no forward progress. Appetite and funding for the research will just quietly evaporate…

  81. John Kwok

    @ ER Johnson,

    You share something in common with evolution denialists. Most of the “scientific” ones I have met just happen to have degrees in engineering or physics or some other field not directly pertaining to evolutionary biology. What qualifications do you have, sir, to comment on climate change science (BTW, I don’t claim to be a paleoclimatologist, but instead, a former evolutionary biologist trained not merely in invertebrate paleobiology, but other, related sciences, including, of course paleoclimatology.)?

    As for the “Little Ice Age” – a regional phenomenom BTW confined to the landmasses surrounding the North Atlantic from the Middle Ages to the 17th Century – that was probably due to changes in the “track” of the Gulf Stream which ensured that none of its warmer water was working its way into the polar regions of the North Atlantic. You are conflating a “regional” problem with what seems to be a worldwide global phenomenom.

    As for James Hansen, I believe that Chris Mooney does quote him in “The Republican War of Science” declaring that some Democratic United States senators in the late 1990s – most notably one Albert Gore – had questioned his global warming projections for not being dire enough. Ironically, though, he adds that he had no idea how calamatious the state of affairs would be now. And if you think Hansen is some environmentalist zealot, then explain to me why I heard him say during a World Science Festival panel discussion here in New York City back in June that we need to expand greatly our usage of nuclear power, seeing it as the primary means of reducing not only our overall “carbon footprint” but in reducing substantially AGW.

  82. ERJohnson

    Are you suggesting that the climate cycles in the past have all been just “regional”? Including the MWP (which recent data suggests was global)? Do ocean currents / tracks still have the ability to shift and change?

    Are we talking about the same Hansen? Dr. James Hansen? Must be a different one that was quoted as same skeptics should be “tried for crimes against humanity and nature.”

    That kinda sounds zealot like to me.

  83. John Kwok

    @ ERJohnson,

    You claim to have some knowledge of paleoclimatology but the rhetoric I seem from you is akin to what I have encountered before from evolution denialists (which may not be a surprise since none of them have expertise in evolutionary biology; I have to question whether you truly possess any in either climatology or paleoclimatology). You brought up the “Little Ice Age” and I gave a reasonable answer explaining what had happened for several centuries in the northern – especially polar – regions of both North America and Europe with regards to the circulation of the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic Ocean. I did not say that all climate changes are regional in nature (Nor do I agree with your assessment that what we have are climate cycles, though am familiar with the significance of Milankovitch Cycles, especially since it was one of my college professors who had emphasized their importance.).

  84. John Kwok

    @ ER -

    Compared to James Hansen – who has come across as a very thoughtful, quite reasonable person every time I have read or seen an interview with him – you come across as a zealot against accepting AGW as established scientific fact.

  85. ERJohnson

    @ JohnKwok

    Reasonable? You are saying a guy who wants to lock up people that dissent with him as reasonable? Kim Jong Il would agree with you — however, most folks (in the free world at least) would think that locking people up based on their *opinion* is a bit over the top. We have nothing if we haven’t the ability to dissent.

    Even New Yorker journalist Elizabeth Kolbert believes Hansen is “increasingly isolated among climate activists.” because of his controversial views. Its not just skeptics who think he has moved into fringe territory.

    You may wish to attempt to marginalize people like me through 1)name calling 2) credential filtering etc… but you are too late. The train has left the station — and it has one hell of a lot of inertia. The debate is now way beyond your control — and, like it or not, the reality is that mainstream opinion now sides with me. You can get really upset about that and look down on the people as idiots — but it won’t do any good until your credentialed friends can communicate in a way that doesn’t come across to “the masses” as manipulation. As the saying goes, its not what you say but how you say it ~ maybe the community should revisit that, look in the mirror, and honestly assess how they are coming across in the court of public opinion.

    The theory and predictions may be 100% accurate (and I’m perfectly OK with that) — but — bottom line — people are not buying it. And THAT is the problem.

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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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