John Kerry to the Deniers: "Amateur Hour is Over"

By Chris Mooney | December 17, 2009 7:58 am

I love this quote from my Massachusetts senator who is here in Copenhagen (hat tip to the WWF Climate Blog):

There isn’t a nation on the planet where the evidence of the impacts of climate change isn’t mounting. Frankly, those who look for any excuse to continue challenging the science have a fundamental responsibility which they have never fulfilled:  Prove us wrong or stand down.   Prove that the pollution we put in the atmosphere is not having the harmful effect we know it is. Tell us where the gases go and what they do.  Pony up one single, cogent, legitimate, scholarly analysis.  Prove that the ocean isn’t actually rising; prove that the ice caps aren’t melting, that deserts aren’t expanding. And prove that human beings have nothing to do with any of it. And by the way — good luck!

Ladies and Gentlemen: Here in Copenhagen, now and forever, amateur hour is over. It’s time for science fact to trump science fiction.

Amen. These tough words are totally justified, especially in light of the new extremes that climate denialism has reached lately.

Comments (60)

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  1. Quote of the Day » Mind of Dan | December 18, 2009
  1. Edwin Booth

    Same thing can be said said going the other way.Man made global warming is a scam and every SANE person knows it.
    Data compromised and corruption is everywhere to fullfill the greens agenda.How much money has the great liar Al Gore made promoting this lie,millions,tens of millions?
    We live in the age of fools.

  2. Harman Smith

    The conspiracy theorists just can’t help themselves mentioning Al Gore almost every single time. It’s amusing.

  3. bilbo

    Preach it, Kerry!

    …and to the Silly Little Denialists: let’s see what you’ve got. You just got called out. Time to nut up and attack science with science, not drivel like that of Edwin Booth above. Name-dropping from this point onward won’t cut it.

  4. Shoe Thrower

    “..and attack science with science..” What a laugh. Bilbo, you’re the silly one. AGW is a scam, a fraud, an embarassment, and a fool’s errand. You’re a nebbish, Bilbo. Edwin Booth nailed it.

  5. EyeRon

    I compliment “I voted for it before I voted against it” Kerry for his fine rhetoric but his statement is meaningless. One could change just a few words and argue the opposite point in reply.

    Where is the “science” that proves a change in artificial greenhouse gas production will alter the trajectory of the climate? There is no shortage of theory but where is the proof?

    And by the way, it does not help the “science” to label natural biological processes and naturally produced elements pollution. When you do this the intuitive person can only conclude that the movement is more interested in hyperbole and self-flagellation than in understanding ecology.

  6. Michael

    Well, Tax and Trade is dead in the Senate. World dictatorship, as pushed by Mr. Moon at the UN, is also dead.

    The Earth continues to cool off, much to the chagrin and embarrassment of the IPCC lemmings.

    The sea level hasn’t risen a fraction of a millimeter.

    Most glaciers are growing rather than shrinking.

    The northern hemishere is being blasted by one of the most severe winter storms in decades.

    30,000 notable scientists have signed a document expressing grave doubts about global man-made warming.

    Janes Randi has expressed his concerns over the lack of any real science behind the global warming hoax.

    Name dropping won’t cut it, especially names like Al Gore and John Kerry, who are politicians, not scientists. They have a poltical agenda of world government, rather than a science agenda. This is not a conspiracy, but rather a cabal of arrogant politicians and weak-willed scientists who are so wrapped in their own blind hubris they they simply will not accept measurable facts. Gore had to give an embarrassing ‘clarification’ of his completely wacky statement that th sea levels will rise quickly and dangerously because the scientist who did the study simply said the Al was wrong in his conclusions, and that the report didn’t say anything of the sort.

    So run, lemmings, run after the pols and pseudo-scientists who are claiming the sky is falling. The shameful deceit of the public is coming to a much belated, but thankful end. But the damage done to the credibility of science will take decades to repair.

  7. bilbo

    “..and attack science with science..” What a laugh. Bilbo, you’re the silly one. AGW is a scam, a fraud, an embarassment, and a fool’s errand. You’re a nebbish, Bilbo. Edwin Booth nailed it.

    How so, Shoe Thrower? In the real world, when one believes that a scientific tenet is false, they use evidence and scientifically-rigorous analyses to prove so. Clenching your fists and stomping around the room while screaming political pejoratives will get a lot of people to look at you, but you won’t be taken seriously.

    So, if you’ve got some scientific proof to debunk the 1000s of peer-reviewed articles on climate change, let’s have it! Let’s settle this once and for all. Otherwise, you’re just blowing a lot fo hot air…

    …like a good Silly Little Denialist should.

  8. SLC

    I am still waiting for the denialists to tell us why the Northwest Passage was open for shipping in the summer of 2009 for the first time since European explorers arrived in North America. I am still waiting for the denialists to tell us why glaciers are disappearing in Bolivia.

  9. bilbo

    Where is the “science” that proves a change in artificial greenhouse gas production will alter the trajectory of the climate? There is no shortage of theory but where is the proof?

    …and thus EyeRon, the Laughably Uniformed Yet Still Opinionated Little Denialist, revealed his striking ignorance of what evidence actually exists for climate change. If I was as stupid as EyeRon and thought that the evidence for AGW was just a couple of scientists waxing poetic about what they “think” might happen in a room somewhere, I might think it was a scam, too. Read up, Eyeron. It’ll open your eyes.

    And by the way, it does not help the “science” to label natural biological processes and naturally produced elements pollution. When you do this the intuitive person can only conclude that the movement is more interested in hyperbole and self-flagellation than in understanding ecology.

    That’s quite a statement, EyeRon the Imminent Ecologist (CO2 is not an element, by the way. You might want to go retake high-school chemistry). To highlight the unwavering ignorance of your first sentence above, consider the following. All of the listed elements/compounds below are completely naturally occurring yet are labeled pollutants by the EPA:

    Asbestos
    Lead
    Mercury
    Carbon dioxide
    Carbon monoxide
    Radon
    Methane
    Nitrogen Oxides
    Coliform bacteria
    Viruses
    Mold
    Mildew
    House dust
    Arsenic
    Ozone
    Cyanide

    Why don’t we see you ranting and raving about all of these “naturally occurring” compounds and elements that are pollutants. Surely if you think that CO2 shouldn’t be labeled a pollutant for simply being naturally ocurring, you’ll suggest that the EPA should let lead (a NATURALLY OCCURRING ELEMENT) be put back into our paint and gasoline? Those stupid government bureaucrats and their hyperbole. Everyone knows that lead is a harmless, naturally occurring element.

    You’re an uninformed wanker who is an unwitting political pawn, EyeRon, and you just proved in full-on stupid glory. Go learn some basic science, and THEN come back. I’ll start taking you seriously when you can display the same level of basic scientific knowledge as my 6th-grader.

  10. V.O.R.

    *Clap clap clap*

    I’ve pride myself on my dry wit and, especially, sarcasm, but how am I supposed to top what’s already been posted? I bow my head before the brilliance linking an accusation of hyperbole and self-flagellation in the same sentence. Or ending a standard ant-Gore rant with that “age of fools” comment. And while I say “standard”, only one word in all-caps was a *fantastic* touch. Sure, you can go full-frother, but the implication that you’re merely twitching away a little spittle at the corner of your mouth is a far more subtle and effective. It’s like good method-acting as opposed to an over-the-top kid’s-movie villain.

    My only criticism – and I think this is important – is that the main charge of Kerry’s statement wasn’t sufficiently addressed. As great as some of those posts are they left something out.

    I’m thinking maybe “The AGW skeptics have spent an enormous amount of time and effort to make a good, solid case. At this point to deny that is like denying the enormous intel behind the discovery of Iraqi WMDs.”

    Or, speaking of “discovery,” perhaps: “The Discovery Institute has show that you don’t have to have done “mainstream” or “consensus” science to be in the right.”

    And this is really just a matter of taste, but my favorite would be “The CRU e-mails demonstrate that climate science is just as corrupted by perverse incentive and infighting as any other “hot” or well-funded field of research. The day such scientists actually produce something of real worth is the day I eat my abacus.”

  11. EyeRon

    OK, if the science is so solid please use it to make a forecast and then we’ll validate the theory.

    Oh wait, that has already happened. And when global temperatures failed to increase the anticipated amount we ended up with an e-mail from a climate researcher bemoaning the lack of global warming!

  12. bilbo

    OK, if the science is so solid please use it to make a forecast and then we’ll validate the theory.

    Oh wait, that has already happened. And when global temperatures failed to increase the anticipated amount we ended up with an e-mail from a climate researcher bemoaning the lack of global warming!

    *

  13. bilbo

    OK, if the science is so solid please use it to make a forecast and then we’ll validate the theory.

    Oh wait, that has already happened. And when global temperatures failed to increase the anticipated amount we ended up with an e-mail from a climate researcher bemoaning the lack of global warming!

    *OUT OF CONTEXT ALERT!!!! OUT OF CONTEXT ALERT!!!!*

    EyeMoron, your ignorance is showing. No well-respected climate scientist (or anyone with a sh*t’s worth of scientific knowledge) believes that actual temperatures should EVER precisely match model output. Ask your local TV weatherman if NOAAs short-term models ever nail temperatures right on the noggin. (Hint: they don’t). Uncertainty is part of modeling, and models are but one part of several different sources of information regarding climate change that all show the same thing and all reach the same conclusion: the conclusion your Silly Little Denialist brain will do anything – including take things deliberately out of context – to debunk. Deviation in actual temperatures is not evidence that climate change isn’t happening. In fact, it’s expected!

  14. Not Amused

    “… it does not help the “science” to label natural biological processes and naturally produced elements pollution.”

    Cancer is a natural biological process (cells reproduce all the time!) with naturally produced elements. It is also harmful to it’s environment. This intuitive person concludes that something must be done to limit these harmful effects before the environment (person) reaches a point where it is unable to recover.

    Do you honestly believe that we as a species can continue to burn more than 80,000,000 barrels of petroleum each day (approx 3.36 billion gallons/day) and keep increasing the rate over decades with no harmful effects to our environment??

  15. EyeRon Says:

    OK, if the science is so solid please use it to make a forecast and then we’ll validate the theory.

    Oh wait, that has already happened. And when global temperatures failed to increase the anticipated amount we ended up with an e-mail from a climate researcher bemoaning the lack of global warming!

    Actually, the temperature trends of the last decade–since I assume that’s what you’re talking about–are well within the IPCC predictions’ uncertainty bands.

    And if you think that Trenberth was “bemoaning the lack of global warming”, you haven’t actually read the first page of the paper he referenced in the email, because that is most assuredly not what he was bemoaning.

    I can’t find my car keys. I know they’re in the house somewhere, but I don’t know where. I say, “I can’t account for my car keys, and it’s a travesty that I can’t.” Now, am I saying that the car keys don’t exist, or only that I don’t know precisely where they are in the house?

    And so it is with Trenberth. If you had just read just the first page of his paper, you would have known that his complaint is actually about instrumentation. What he’s saying is, the environment is more than just the atmosphere, and we don’t have the necessary systems in place to track where in the environment the GHG-retained heat went. It’s in the house (i.e., on the Earth somewhere), but we can’t track precisely where because we haven’t instrumented it.

    The full quote, which he didn’t need because he was talking with other climate scientists, would have been something like:

    “We can’t account for the lack of warming in the atmosphere because we don’t have the systems to track where the retained heat went, and it’s a travesty that we don’t. We know it’s here, but is it in the oceans? In melting glaciers? In melting permafrost? Somewhere else? Some combination of these? It’s in one of those, it’s here, but we can’t put any numbers on it yet, and we need to fix this.”

    So your rather glib statement that he was bemoaning the lack of warming shows that you’ve read or listened to the denier noise machine, but you haven’t done your due diligence.

  16. EyeRon

    “Deviation in actual temperatures is not evidence that climate change isn’t happening. In fact, it’s expected!”

    This is no science, it is a religion!

    (1) There are no wrong answers, the theory (ie the climate God) is always correct

    (2) There is no metric on which to gauge the effectiveness of the remedy (perfection is elusive)

    (3) There is no limit on how much freedom must be taken from people to support the movement (all must sublimate their will to the supreme being)

  17. EyeRon

    OK, folks, explain how this global warming from 125,000 years ago was man-made

    http://news.discovery.com/earth/ancient-warming-sea-levels.html

    Sea levels were likely eight meters higher around 125,000 years ago when polar temperatures were 3-5 degrees Celsius (5.4-9 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer, says a new study published Wednesday to show the effects of global warming.

  18. Edwin Booth Says:

    Man made global warming is a scam and every SANE person knows it.

    Actually, what every sane person knows is that tens of thousands of people can’t maintain a scam for decades, which is what climate scientists would have had to have done if this were really a scam.

  19. Zathras

    Like the sign says over the door to Mission Control in Houston…….

    “In God we trust….everyone else brings data”

  20. EyeRon Says:

    OK, folks, explain how this global warming from 125,000 years ago was man-made.

    Why does it have to be manmade? Does the fact that things occur naturally prove that they can’t also have human causes?

    “You’re telling me that getting shot can be fatal? That’s a scam, and I can prove it. Aristotle died in 322 BC. Guns wouldn’t be invented for well over a thousand years. OK, folks, explain that.”

  21. EyeRon

    Chris,

    The scam is the claim of “man-made” climate change when the models consistently fail to prove it.

    The earth’s climate changes.

    Man certainly has some impact on the earth’s ecology.

    But to what extent and is the impact positive, negative or neutral?

    And before one knee-jerk thinks that any impact of man on the earth is negative think again. Man has proven it can be a very wise steward of the earth and there are innumerable examples of man’s presence boosting the vitality of the earth and benefiting all life forms.

  22. EyeRon Says:

    “Deviation in actual temperatures is not evidence that climate change isn’t happening. In fact, it’s expected!”

    This is no science, it is a religion!

    (1) There are no wrong answers, the theory (ie the climate God) is always correct.

    No, that’s just plain wrong. It’s a straightforward signal-to-noise problem. Climate change is the signal. Short-term deviation is the noise. It’s easy to calculate the noise factor from historical data using very basic statistical techniques. You can do it in Excel.

    If the deviation exceeds the noise factor, what you have is a “wrong answer”. It hasn’t happened.

    You really need to bone up on some basic science before you post these comments.

  23. EyeRon

    Chris,

    Sane people do not spend trillions of dollars on problems that are lost in the statistical noise.

  24. TB

    @12 EyeRon :”OK, if the science is so solid please use it to make a forecast and then we’ll validate the theory.”
    ——————–
    2.28.06
    Scientists Confirm Historic Massive Flood in Climate Change

    Scientists from NASA and Columbia University, New York, have used computer modeling to successfully reproduce an abrupt climate change that took place 8,200 years ago. At that time, the beginning of the current warm period, climate changes were caused by a massive flood of freshwater into the North Atlantic Ocean.
    ——————–
    http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/abrupt_change.html

    The problem is you’re limiting the criteria (for success of climate models) to only accurately predicting future events, implying that we can only know if the prediction is accurate – and the models work – after those future events occur. That’s either an misunderstanding of how science can work, or a dishonest delaying tactic.

    The reality is we don’t have to limit ourselves to predictions about future events, we can use past events and test the models efficiency, as they did in the link above, and apply what we learn from that.

    They probably used climate modeling software for the sea-level story you linked to in 17. So if you accept that as accurate – as you apparently do, it’s difficult to understand why you’d have a problem with predictions of future climate using the same software.

  25. SLC

    I’m still waiting for the denialists to explain how the opening of the Northwest Passage in the summer of 2009 is not evidence of global warming. I suspect that the shrimps will learn to whistle before any respectable response is forthcoming.

  26. I call Poe on EyeRon. His last paragraph on comment #22 is just too much to believe, even for a climate skeptic.

  27. EyeRon Says:

    The scam is the claim of “man-made” climate change when the models consistently fail to prove it.

    Models don’t “prove” anything. When used to make predictions, you can invalidate your assumptions by observing that the actual results fail to match predicted results in a statistically significant way. (And no matter how many times you and other “skeptics” claim that the last decade blew away the IPCC’s projections, it did not.)

    The point of Kerry’s statement is that climate science has done what it’s supposed to do: It has produced a hypothesis and supported it with mountains of evidence and warehouses full of peer-reviewed research. The “skeptics” constant cries of “Prove it!” are specious, because hypotheses can almost never be proved, only be disproved.

    Science has the hypothesis, now go show where it’s wrong. Get on the stick. Find something wrong with it and demonstrate the problem with evidence and research. Screaming “Gore! Scam! Communists! Freedom!” is never going to do that. Not ever.

  28. EyeRon Says:

    Chris,

    Sane people do not spend trillions of dollars on problems that are lost in the statistical noise.

    Obviously, you didn’t get it. Please go read about signal-to-noise issues and try to understand why what you say here is wrong.

    And where do you get “trillons of dollars”? Skeptics toss this around casually as if it were a given. I think it’s a religion. Prove it. (And don’t use economic models, since we all know that models are useless.)

  29. Marklaar

    Stop challenging our power grab. The great and powerful Kerry has spoken!

  30. EyeRon

    Radio report today said 3rd world nations were looking for payments of $100 billion a year. For you English majors pretending to be “climate” scientists the present value of such payments over the next 50 years amounts to many trillions of dollars.

  31. EyeRon Says:

    Radio report today said 3rd world nations were looking for payments of $100 billion a year. For you English majors pretending to be “climate” scientists the present value of such payments over the next 50 years amounts to many trillions of dollars.

    This is pretty much the same as the talking heads screaming that the healthcare bill would cost a trillion dollars. They knew perfectly well that that was only the out-of-pocket cost, that it didn’t include any savings, and that the CBO had already scored the bill as deficit neutral. They knew that the “trillion dollars” was only part of the picture, but they used it anyway.

    Your number is only a part of the picture. There is a broad consensus among economists that the cost of climate action is dwarfed by the costs of both our recent recession and of climate inaction.

    As for “English majors pretending to be ‘climate’ scientists”, if you don’t want people to correct you on science, then don’t post incorrect claims about science.

  32. kramer

    I can prove that the ice capS aren’t melting:

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.south.jpg

    (The antarctic ice area has been expanding for decades)

  33. John Kwok

    I don’t usually find myself in agreement with Senator Kerry, but he’s right.
    “Amateur hour” is over. Here’s a link to a website which does a fine job refuting the inane claims of global warming skeptics:

    http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/climate-change-deniers-vs-the-consensus/

  34. The last, best chance for the children is “now-here”. Let’s hope those with power to create the colossal ecological mess that is now presented to humanity will agree to help clean the global mess up before it is too late for human interventions to make a difference.

    Human-induced challenges can certainly be acknowledged, addressed and overcome by human-driven action.

  35. Tom Skiles

    Hello all,
    Had to chime in. I’m an environmental biology major at a local college. I spent the last 4 1/2 years, studying
    the effect of AGW. What in God’s name are you people talking about? Geeze, read a book now and again. Educate yourself.
    Your being silly.

  36. Tom

    Agree with Kerry 100%, but the denialist response will simply be: AGW proponents are the ones proposing to spend trillions to fix a problem, so YOU prove it to US. And they do have a point, there seems to be a lot more information (invalid as it is) out there supporting the denialists’ theories than supporting the consensus. I’ve followed this issue closely and have yet to see convincing evidence presented in a way that is understandable and compelling to the non-scientific public. And in the absence thereof, it just boils down to credibility. You either choose to believe the scientific experts, or you choose to believe the character assassins and detractors trying to tear them down. They have succeeded in turning it into a political circus.

  37. Patrick

    Humor abounds!

    “Sane people do not spend trillions of dollars on problems that are lost in the statistical noise.” from comment 24, has the unstated implication that our governments act in a sane manner. You’re good, EyeRon.

    “Whaaaat!? This is why this debate isn’t really about global warming, or global cooling, but of climate control. All of us “deniers” are sure that following the money will prove that global warming is nothing more than a tool for creating a one-world government that uses science to decide who will control the lives of everyone else.”

    Can we at least agree that humor, to be humorous, must have some truth to it?

  38. John M

    You wrote: “Amen. These tough words are totally justified, especially in light of the new extremes that climate denialism has reached lately.”

    Actually the original statement is rather simplistic. Few/none dispute that the climate has changed, is changing, and will change in the future. Few dispute that humans have *some* impact on the planet. Instead, the adult arguments are about (1) the magnitude of the human impact, (2) the cost/benefit of human impact, and (3) the ability of humans to do anything to fix it.

    Put another way, if 2% of the temperature rise is caused by humans few are likely to be concerned. If 50% of the rise is caused by humans then all should be concerned. You see for a true scientist, the key question is about the details of causation and the cause CANNOT BE DETERMINED BY THE MERE EXISTENCE OF CHANGES IN CLIMATE! Every year millions of college sophomores learn that “correlation is not causation.” You and Kerry need to learn the same. Please do not present, let alone defend, fallacious arguments. If you had taken a freshman logic course you would know that this fallacy is called Post hoc, ergo propter hoc…or after it, therefore because of it. See below:

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

  39. Busiturtle

    John,

    My view of what the science should be is along the same lines as yours. At best the “state approved” climate researchers have demonstrated correlation between CO2 and temperature. But even that correlation is suspect given doubts about the integrity of data collection and questions of instrumentation errors. As for causation I have seen it argued both ways.

    Logic tells me that the actual climate is influenced by many factors, including some that are yet to be understood. Logic also tells me that the earth’s ecology is strongly self-regulating. If not what are the chances the earth would not have already transitioned to a toxic, lifeless orb?

    In terms of environmental priorities it would seem worrying about CO2 levels would fall well down the list of quality of life issues. That the Copenhagen crowd is obsessed by CO2tells me that their agenda is motivated much more by political interests than it is by science.

  40. moptop

    Oh yeah, we are going to hear about denialism from a man who claimed he spent Christmas in Cambodia based on the movie Apocalypse Now.

  41. If you had taken a freshman logic course you would know that this fallacy is called Post hoc, ergo propter hoc…or after it, therefore because of it.

    post hoc ergo propter hoc doesn’t apply. Nobody simply said, “CO2 increased, then temperature increased, therefore CO2 is the cause.” The causal relationship has been carefully established. If you establish the relationship rather than simply assuming it, post hoc ergo propter hoc goes out the window.

  42. moptop

    ”it just boils down to credibility.”

    Don’t read the emails then, if you want to keep your opinions pure, and don’t read this link which comprehensively documents malfeasance on the part of the Climate Research Unit, and chief authors if the IPCC reports *in their own words*.

    Newspaper report http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1235395/SPECIAL-INVESTIGATION-Climate-change-emails-row-deepens–Russians-admit-DID-send-them.html

    Original blog post: http://climateaudit.org/2009/12/10/ipcc-and-the-trick/

    If you find a serious debunking anywhere, I would love to read it.

  43. Busiturtle

    Chris Dunford wrote: “The causal relationship has been carefully established”

    In which case there should exist a formula for which anyone can input values and it will produce a result, against which actual measurements can be compared.

    Where do we find this formula?

  44. Busiturtle Says:

    In which case there should exist a formula for which anyone can input values and it will produce a result, against which actual measurements can be compared.

    They’re called GCMs, and they appear to work pretty well, but your premise is false anyway. Establishing a causal relationship and being able to quantify it down to the last decimal point are quite different things.

    The fact of the matter is that you tried to claim that it’s just post hoc ergo propter hoc, which is clearly wrong. For you to be right about that, climate scientists would have had to use the mere existence of the temporal relationship as the entire basis for the claim that CO2 causes an increase in temperature. They don’t do that, and they never have.

  45. Busiturtle

    Chris,

    It is one thing to treat climate change research as a profession or even just a hobby. But when conceptual models are being used as the basis to justify the global redistribution of income on the order of hundreds of billions of dollars do we not have the right to demand something more concrete?

  46. Busiturtle

    Chris,

    Just to give you an example of what I’m saying. Do you think it would have been prudent for the US government to pursue a moon landing if NASA scientists and engineers were unsure about the laws of physics governing the flight trajectory? Would it have been moral and ethical to have put spent the money, invested the time and put lives at risk if the scientists could only rely on a conceptual model?

  47. Kevin

    The “Greenhouse Effect/Man Made Global Warming” Revisited;

    Much has been made for the last few decades of the “Greenhouse Effect” and the “Enhanced Greenhouse Effect” a.k.a. “Man Made Global Warming”. So, let’s review:

    Let’s start from basic principles, let’s follow “A Day in the Life of a Global Warming Photon”;

    1. A Photon of Visible Light (a.k.a. Sunlight) arrives on the surface of the Earth. Nothing spectacular here, this happens all the time when the Sun is shining.

    2. This Photon is either reflected or absorbed by the surface of the Earth. The visible reflected portion is not of much interest to the Man-Made Global Warming Hypothesis, so we will ignore it for now.

    3. This absorbed Photon raises the temperature of the Earth by a small amount, no dispute here.

    4. The warmer Surface of the Earth then releases some Infrared radiation, no dispute here. As a result the Earth cools by an amount equal to the energy radiated.

    5. This infrared Radiation MAY be absorbed (the chances are about 450/1,000,000) by a molecule of a “greenhouse gas” in the atmosphere, no dispute here.

    6. This molecule of a “greenhouse gas” will be warmed by a small amount, no dispute here.

    7. This warmed molecule of “greenhouse gas” will emit something less than 50% of this energy back towards the surface of the Earth as infrared radiation, no dispute here. As a result the molecule cools by an amount equal to the energy radiated.

    8. Some of this infrared radiation emitted back towards the surface of the Earth will be absorbed by the surface and thereby warm it, (ignoring for a moment that some is reflected), no dispute here.

    9. The surface of the Earth having been warmed by the radiation reemitted by the “greenhouse gas” will thereby re-emit this as infrared energy back towards space, no dispute here. As a result the Earth is cooled by an amount equal to the energy radiated.

    10. This infrared radiation emitted back towards the cold vacuum of space MAY again be absorbed by a “greenhouse gas”, the chances of this occurring is now (450/1,000,000)*(450/1,000,00).

    11. This cycle continues ad-infinitium…

    12. Simply calculate the following equation to find the chances that a Photon is forever “trapped” by the alleged “greenhouse effect”; chances of being “trapped forever” = 450^N/1,000,000^N, where “N goes to infinity”. N represents the number of times a Photon is absorbed/reemitted by the surface of the Earth and is ALSO absorbed/reemitted by a molecule of a “greenhouse gas”.

    13. The chances of an individual photon being absorbed by a “greenhouse gas” TEN times is:
    450^10/1,000,000^10 = ~ 3.4×10^-34 = 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,34 !! (I have to admit I counted the zero’s several times, but I may be mistaken by a few)

    14. So, as N approaches infinity the chances of a Photon being “trapped” and forever after causing a “permanent warming” of the Earth quickly approaches NOTHING, or as we in the engineering field used to call it “ZERO POINT S–T OVER INFINITY”.

    15. Oh, by the way this simple calculation ignores the fact that something less than 50% of the energy absorbed by the “greenhouse gas” is emitted back towards the surface of the Earth.

    16. A more accurate equation is: 0.50^N*450^N/1,000,000^N, which for N=10, is even WORSE at ~3.3×10^-37, hurry up and add three more zero’s.

    17. The value of 450 (“greenhouse gas equivalent” in ppmv) is largely immaterial, it could be 100ppmv or 5000ppmv, the outcome is the essentially the same. The chances of TEN “greenhouse gas” absorptions at “100ppmv” = 1×10^-40, the chances at “5000 ppmv” = ~ 9.8×10^-24. Either way, that’s a WHOLE LOT OF ZERO’S

    So in summary, we can suggest a few salient points:

    As predicted by the laws of Thermodynamics, no heat is ever “trapped” in the atmosphere of the Earth.

    The surface of the Earth (a.k.a. A WET ROCK) is not particularly well known for its intelligence. It is not capable of figuring out if it was heated by visible light, or by infrared light reemitted from a “greenhouse gas”. Regardless of how it was heated the Earth emits this heat back towards the cold vacuum of space as infrared radiation, WITHOUT ANY NET GAIN IN ENERGY CONTENT, resulting in a cooling of the Earth.

    The fact that some of the Thermal Insulating Gases surrounding the surface of the Earth are heated only by conduction and convection (Oxygen, Nitrogen, etc.), and other gases are heated by conduction, convection and the absorption of infrared radiation is INCONSEQUENTIAL! All of these gases participate in a huge heat transfer problem which still follows all of the Laws of Thermodynamics.

    Note that all of these absorptions and reemissions happen within time frames of microseconds, or less. So the thought that heat has been trapped and will show up in a decade, or two decades, or one hundred years is RIDICULOUS !!

    So the final result of a change in the proportions of gases heated by convection and conduction versus the gases heated by convection, conduction and radiation is that the response time of the climate of the Earth is ever slightly slower as “greenhouse gases” increase. Since the ultimate forcing function is the Sun these changes (approximately one part in ten thousand) are overwhelmed by the changes in the Sun’s output (approximately one part in a thousand). Of course, there are likely to be other physical processes identified (i.e. the cosmic ray – cloud connection) that may expand our current understanding of the very complex system known as the “Climate of the Earth”.

    Finally, yes, we know that a photon is defined as the smallest unit of light. We are aware that 50% of a photon is not a meaningful unit, but the logic of this argument is still sound. If you are concerned about this, you can rephrase this logical argument in Step 1 as: “a flux of 1 photon per second arrives on the surface of the Earth”. The conclusions are not changed.

  48. Busiturtle

    Kevin,

    Is it also not true that the earth itself is a source of heat? Do any of the climate models take into account variations in the heat output of the earth itself?

    Intuitively we know the specific heat of water is much greater than that of air. This explains why the temperature change between night and day is so much more extreme in the desert than near the coast. If CO2 concentrations alter the specific heat of the atmosphere it is very minor compared to the impact of large bodies of water.

  49. Busiturtle Says:

    It is one thing to treat climate change research as a profession or even just a hobby. etc.

    I’m sorry, but you’ve changed the subject. I pointed out that you were wrong about post hoc ergo propter hoc (which makes your statement that “[Chris Mooney] and Kerry need to learn [that correlation is not causation]” a bit of a stretch, if not an insult). You can’t really refute that by coming up with a completely different argument.

    Incidentally, post hoc ergo propter hoc isn’t the same logical fallacy as “correlation does not imply causation”. That’s cum hoc ergo propter hoc. post hoc has a temporal element: one has to precede the other. cum hoc only requires correlation; the timing isn’t part of it.

  50. Thomas L

    SLC,

    You mean the passage that was accomplished with the use of satellite information and GPS to name two examples of the modern technology used to achieve it? I don’t think anyone in the past had such technology, and I would seriously suggest that anyone trying it without such aids seriously reconsider.

    It was, however done prior to 2009, do a search on the ship “St. Roch” which did it twice (perhaps still the only vessel to go both ways) – once during WWII and once after. You might also want to look up the successful completion of navigating the Northwest passage by the Storis, Bramble and SPAR (U.S. Navy) in September of 1957.

    So no, that’s never been done before…

  51. bilbo

    For you to be right about that, climate scientists would have had to use the mere existence of the temporal relationship as the entire basis for the claim that CO2 causes an increase in temperature. They don’t do that, and they never have.

    Chris Dunford is the man. And the denialists here are still ignorent of what the science FOR anthropgenic climate change is.

    Enough said.

  52. bilbo

    …and I apparently can’t spell “ignorant.” Ha.

  53. bilbo

    Kevin,

    You present a rambling, blind-them-with-jargon type argument about photons and the greenhouse effects, but then end it with “Finally, yes, we know that a photon is defined as the smallest unit of light. We are aware that 50% of a photon is not a meaningful unit.”

    Thanks for debunking literally everything you had just written before with a couple of short sentences. You could have done that at the beginning and saved your fingers (actually, the cut-and-paste function) a lot of work. Now, go back and retake grade school physical science, and then we’ll talk.

  54. Action Jackson

    Kevin’s greenhouse effect claim, followed by an admission of irrelevancy at the end, is akin to me giving a lecture about how ghosts communicate and ending it with “Finally, yes, I know ghosts don’t exist. We are aware that ghosts are imaginary, but my argument is logically sound.”

    Seriously, Kevin?

  55. Action Jackson

    Oops. Bilbo beat me to it.

  56. Bob

    A comment above claimed the Northwest Passage was open in 2009 for the first time since the Europeans arrived in North America. This is not correct. There have been commercial navigations of the Northwest Passage for many years. In the 1940s, the Hudson Bay Company regularly had its ship navigate it to resupply its stores located in both the Western and Eastern Arctic. And of course, local Inuit have been navigating it for centuries for hunting purposes.

  57. Brian Too

    57. Bob,

    While you are essentially correct, I’m concerned that your statements might be, how shall we put it, a bit blasé?

    Ice rules the Northwest Passage. Period. Even at the height of summer the route can be choked with ice at any time, anywhere. Taking a vessel in there that isn’t ice strengthened is extremely risky. It can (and has) been done, many times, by fools as well as the wise. Both have lost ships and people, although the Passage is less lethal in the last 100 or so years.

    In fact that has always been the problem. The fabled Northwest Passage exists, it just hasn’t been practical. Just look up the history on the voyage of the Manhattan in 1969. They got through, but only after they learned to respect the ice and avoid the worst of it. The Manhattan was defeated by an ice stream of old, multi-year ice when they tried to tackle it directly.

    My understanding is that the only vessels that can reliably make way, at most times of year and under most weather conditions, are the nuclear submarines and the nuclear ice breakers. And even then, I promise you, if an ice breaker tries to take on a big pressure ridge of old polar ice, it will fail.

    In the Passage, there are old Captains, and there are bold Captains. There are no old bold Captains.

  58. Thomas L

    SLC,

    Do a simple Google search on the ship “St. Roch”. Then do another one on the U.S. Navy’s Storis, Bramble and SPAR in September of 1957. You can further your research by checking out the Hudson Bay Company and how they regularly had ships navigate it to resupply its stores located in both the Western and Eastern Arctic during the 1940′s.

    There are enough links, pick one for yourself.

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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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