Where Are All You Climate "Skeptics" Coming From?

By Chris Mooney | December 17, 2009 10:09 am

Discover is a science magazine. DiscoverBlogs is a science blogging site. And as far as I can see, pretty much everybody here accepts the well established scientific consensus on global warming, which is that it is real and human caused.

Whenever I blog about the matter, though, there is always a cascade of denialist/skeptic comments, frequently of enough magnitude to overwhelm the pro-science commenters. That cascade has been particularly pronounced as I’ve blogged more and more about “ClimateGate,” but it has been a smouldering fire for a long time. And as far as I can tell, although we have gotten some anti-climate science links, such as from Morano, they are not sufficient to explain the phenomenon.

So here’s my somewhat befuddled and honestly, generally curious question–and I really don’t have an answer to it–do a lot of regular online readers of Discover doubt the science of global warming? Or, alternatively, are a lot of the “skeptics” that we’re getting here non-regular readers who are coming from elsewhere for some reason?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Global Warming, Media and Science

Comments (220)

  1. gillt

    I’m sure a few of your regular armchair meteorologists are skeptics but it’s probably mainly non-regulars drawn by your links. As an experiment, you could try linking to any other paranoid conspiracy theory site (IDiots, teabaggers, birthers, supply-siders, flat-earthers, alien abductees, etc.) and compare the results.

  2. Keri

    Just because people are fascinated by science doesn’t mean they automatically accept climate change.

    Lasers and quasars and microbes are one thing – very cool and pure science.

    Global warming often seems as much media circus and political hype as science, and is not nearly as much fun.

  3. Luke Vogel

    While “working” on a good snog shot (embarrassingly, my best so far is me giving my Alvarez a kiss on the neck :)) , I still love the “NGC 6302, a butterfly-shaped nebula just 3,800 light-years away in the Scorpius constellation” idea, absolutely marvelous I think. I do do other things

    One was reading James Randi’s “skepticism” on GW, though not “denialism” from my reading, it does appears a bit like the environmental skeptic’s argument in full light (Bjorn Lomborg’s of course).

    This idea sums up the attitude I think: “In my amateur opinion, more attention to disease control, better hygienic conditions for food production and clean water supplies, as well as controlling the filth that we breathe from fossil fuel use, are problems that should distract us from fretting about baking in Global Warming.”

    Worth a read: “AGW, Revisited”

    http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/805-agw-revisited.html

    There’s other rumors floating around about his ideas, but IMHO, that piece pulls it all together.

  4. Mike Haseler

    As a Sceptic I come from Lenzie near Glasgow. But to answer your question seriously, most people base their opinion on this subject not on the facts but what other people tell them the facts are. So, if e.g. you tend to belong to a social group that reads media that tells the public that it is proven fact it is warming, then that will be your view. And if you prefer the less mainstream media which reports on the abundant and well founded evidence against the mainstream view – then it’s obvious what you will think.

    The other thing, is that it is now respectable to be a sceptic. Many people who have previously been unwilling to say in public that they were not happy with the “Weather of Mass Destruction” type reporting, are now standing up to be counted for policy based on sound science, and not the untested theory of a few highly partisan “scientists” who Lord Monckton said: has committed “Criminal fraud” – an accusation that shows no sign of being contested before a group of peers who can’t be coerced!

    The worst point about this, is that the sloppy science has down tremendous damage not only to science but environmentalism. Is anyone going to believe any of the Green groups next time they highlight a scare?

  5. Mike Haseler

    Sorry – “it is warming” is of course shorthand for “it is mannmade warming”!

  6. Gary

    I was a believer until about a year ago when I started doing my own detailed review of the issues. THe more I looked the more I was convinced the issue is overstated. Yes there is global warming. Yes there is a likely link with man. No CO2 is not the main cause.

  7. Joe Bogus

    I See Morons.
    They’re Everywhere.

    Call it my 6th sense.

  8. ANdy

    you’re living in a liberal vacuum. Poke your head out of la-la land and do some research rather than parroting what everyone else says.

  9. gillt

    Linking to “anti-climate” sites is what brought the armchair meteorologists over here, but the reason they’re flooding your comment section with disinformation is because you have very few if any climate experts here to keep them in check. As much as you loathe Pharyngula, the site attracts a lot of scientists with the knowledge and time to competently handle any climate-change denier’s claim.

  10. John

    Open scientific inquiry admits to the possibility that in-vogue theories and models are subject to change as scientific understanding evolves. Any time a ‘scientist’ slaps down opposing questions or doubt, you’re not dealing with a true scientist, you’re dealing with an Ideologue; You’re dealing with someone’s agenda. There is much to suggest that increasing CO2 levels are contributing to global warming. There is much to suggest that we should not EXCLUDE other possible contributors (and the extent of their contribution) to global warming until these potential contributors have been scientifically discounted – and most have not. Most true scientists will bridle at a ‘case closed’ approach to scientific inquiry. This is not amateurism, this is mature and logical thinking.

  11. M. Andrews

    I believe it is the sole purpose of people who have nothing better to do than to question science, to flood webpages such as DiscoverBlog with their negative comments, just to get a rise from readers who have the opposite view. I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of them are conservative republicans/creationists. They are people who refuse to accept the reality of the situation. More accurately, they are people who were never fully educated and/or do not believe in science.

  12. dschofield

    Good question.

    The scientific establishment must answer convincingly questions about data integrity, data sampling principles and the treatment of variability and uncertainty. Additionally they must make their data available for review and explain the algorithms used in their models for both processing data and modelling into the future. The first time I took an interest was a few months ago when I was called a denier, for simply questioning why Greenland was so called if today’s warming is unprecedented.

  13. Cal

    Maybe the minority should comment more. Trouble is, we don’t disagree with you like the commenters that may have recently graduated from the Town-hall meeting disrupter school. I’d bet your site is monitered for opportunities to virtually shout you down, and when prompted to, pile on. They think that science can be moulded by raw emotion into something that is acceptable to their segment of the population.

    Keep a thick skin through this. It won’t take many years before the skeptics will have to admit they were wrong. Many are just plain stupid and will never get it. I hold out hope that the smart ones of them will change their minds when the evidence can no longer be denied.

    Thanks for your dedication,
    Cal

  14. ANdy

    Hmm, my link mysteriously disappeared about Russia’s findings about cherry-picked weather station data. Here it is again.

    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/12/17/new-study-hadley-center-and-cru-apparently-cherry-picked-russias-climate-data/

  15. T.Johnson

    Scientists better look closely at this scandal. It is undermining the very foundations of trust between the citizen and the scientific community. If you do not regulate yourself, then others will be glad to do it.

  16. Peter

    I think there has always been a huge number of sceptics that have remained silent because 1) they have been compared to Holocaust deniers and 2) no one in the media will print anything that doesn’t support AGW. Now, finally, there’s some real evidence (Climategate) of what many have been thinking for a long time (the science is not settled, there has been data manipulation, etc.). The sceptics have found their voice.

    Your problem is that you haven’t taken an objective look at the subject because you are a ‘believer’. You need to stand back, consider the arguments with an open mind, and re-evaluate your beliefs. Look objectively at what the sceptics say and you’ll discover that there is no ‘consensus’, the science isn’t ‘settled’ and there is no proof of a causal link between CO2 and temperature. And, when you come to that realisation, you’ll have to quit your job at Discover or keep your mouth shut because the editors won’t stand for it as they will remain true to their faith (i.e. they will lose magazine sales if they admit the truth).

  17. boballab

    Dear Chris:

    we have always been here, maybe if you stopped hanging around the fear mongers you would realise that. Also you need to check out what consensus actually means:

    –noun, plural -sus⋅es.
    1. majority of opinion: The consensus of the group was that they should meet twice a month.
    2. general agreement or concord; harmony.

    con·sen·sus (kən-sěn’səs)
    n.
    1. An opinion or position reached by a group as a whole: “Among political women . . . there is a clear consensus about the problems women candidates have traditionally faced” (Wendy Kaminer). See Usage Note at redundancy.

    2.General agreement or accord: government by consensus.

    Please take note that in definition one a consensus is used for Opinion only not scientific fact
    and in definition two consensus is used for a general agreement which is not there that is why you have all those pesky scientists like Dr. Morner, Dr. Lindzen, The group in the APS headed by Dr. Happer, Dr. Christy, Dr. Spencer, Dr. Pielke Sr that state that CO2 is not the primary mover of the earths atmoshpere. Also take note that in Polls the Consensus in the US is that AGW is not true.

  18. Justin S

    Normally a lurker, but I’ll pop out to say this – YES I believe in anthropogenic climate change, as I’m sure do the vast majority of my fellow Discover readers.

  19. Jenny

    The internet is a haven for conspiracy theorists – see the letter from Peter, above. Any anonymous forum brings out the nutters, and it’s no different here. I usually don’t comment here, I just read and enjoy the blog. And I do think the conspiracy theorists are a (very) loud and vocal minority. Or, at least, I hope! Because by the time their damage is done, they will not be the ones paying the price, our children will, and I hate to have my children’s future in their hands.

  20. SLC

    Re boballab

    Pesky scientists like Roy Spencer. Dr. Spencer is a young earth creationist, not exactly the mark of someone who believes in evidence.

  21. Luke Vogel

    A few ideas here seem plausible, I like gillt’s about links, that’s a fairly well known phenomena.

    However, Chris, perhaps you’re not noticing what is happening elsewhere. One example would be what happens at Scientific American when they post on GW. There is unquestionably a flood of comments by “denialist”. I think Peter is probably partly right also given the examples like the James Randi brouhaha. Another example is what is hot in the news at the moment and what are we hearing about on a nearly daily basis about a certain conference? A last one is, haven’t you and others seen this with other issues as well (I can think of one that just mentioning it would cause a flood that is largely due to links from others to this site that come with near demands to come here and there is an absolutely preordained attitude to hold given etc.).

  22. Speaking for myself, I’m VERY actively trying to find out who is discussing the CRU issue. It turns out that there aren’t that many “mainstream media” types who are interested in it. It also seems like the general-purpose AGW crowd doesn’t have much to say about it. That leaves a SMALL number of sites where any discussion is taking place, and a LARGE number of people who finally have an opportunity to say things they have been thinking for years. No conspiracy here, just sociology.

    What’s you take on the most recent claim from the Russian Institute of Economic Analysis, which claims CRU only used 25% of the available Russian temperature data, and that the 25% they chose was “cherry-picked”?

  23. Applegate

    Many of us skeptics are people with scientific training who, when seeing a scientific claim, do a little investigating and thinking about the claim. It is quite irrelevant how popular a claim is. We aren’t looking to reproduce the research but only to verify that it is more than just plausible; to apply Occam’s razor. For me, when I saw that the evidence for AGW was equivocal and that “proof” rested on computer models which were unable to forecast or even reproduce past climate data, I had to dig deeper. To my eye even plausibility seems thin now. To some extent I look at the credibility of those making the claims versus those opposing, and that is where it looks worse and worse each day for AGW. If this were medical research, I would dismiss it as amateur wishful thinking or even hucksterism.

    At this point I feel that it could turn out that AGW is real, but it will be by coincidence.

  24. I’m a regular reader of this and other science magazines who has watched with horror as garbage science has been pushed relentlessly during the past decade. Because the alleged remedies for the alleged climate crisis dovetail so neatly with their political agendas, shouting down the opposition has become an acceptable tactic for the modern breed of activist-journalist. Their continued use of the epithet “denier” is the sort of hyperbole one expects from religious fanatics. Even now, as evidence of data distortion and grotesque cherry-picking has come to light, the true believers are unshaken in their faith. They need only cry “consensus” to silence the apostates.

    Hard as it may be to believe, most “skeptics” (quoting your scare quotes) are advocates of science who are distressed to see it fall into such disrepute.

  25. Mike Haseler

    Peter, the null hypothesis must be that the climate variation is natural. The question you’ve got to ask, is: “is there sufficient evidence against the null hypothesis in favour of another requiring us to give up the null hypothesis”.

    In 15 decades of instrumental readings what is the chance of a random run of three decades of warming – it is actually very high even “to be expected”. What is the noise profile of the temperature signal. It isn’t the guassian noise, it is highly frequency dependant, with demonstrably higher levels of long term noise/variation, than short term.

    (For a technical analysis of see this website on music: http://www.tursiops.cc/fm/#noises)

    If you analyse the temperature signal frequency components, and understand how this tends to show up as apparent long term drift (which is easily misunderstood as external forcing) there is nothing about the 20th century temperature which would suggest it is not perfectly normal and well within the expected variation.

    The only problem is that some “scientists” managed to “create” some historic temperature data that gave the appearance of low climatic variance at odds with the current temperature record. Much of that work has now been debunked. Much of the rest clearly tends to favour short term (within a tree’s life) variation and dramatically reduces long-term variation. Indeed, the whole idea of using trees for proxy temperature has the flaw, that the forest as a whole will adapt its density resulting in individual tress growing at roughly the same rate irrespective of the climate. So, whilst the whole forest grows less, the individual tress grow at the same rate, giving the appearance through tree rings of a relatively stable climate.

    Then we have urban heating, the change to automation, the fact the CO2 is a cooling gas (hot air rises, it can’t fall until it cools, it must cool by IR, the higher emissivity of CO2 increases the rate of cooling QED more CO2 cools the world – noddy scientific explanation!)

  26. I for one am an avid reader of this site. I still am amazed by the information I read from geolists who seem to have a better large scale frame of mind when relating to atmopheric variations. And the fact that this site constantly treats us “deniers” as whack or thoughtless uneducated idiots. I have almost in fact decided to quit reading any of your posts for this unnecessary bias. Science should always incourage retrospection to further prove itself. I know that there is a great amount of research going on but nobody can possibly state that they completely understand the complexe machine that is our Earth.

  27. a dood

    “Many are just plain stupid and will never get it.” … Oh, we get it all right. People don’t like being scammed, it’s just as simple as that.

  28. Luke Vogel

    Here again, I think Don Dixon makes an excellent point (even if we disagree). On several blogs over the past year magazines such Scientific American and Discover have been trashed (nearly completely) by scientist over an issue. I was told directly by a scientist on a blog no more than a month ago that magazines such as American Scientist, Scientific American and Discover are becoming irrelevant due to approach’s to certain issues. This is not restricted to science, science magazines or certain individuals either, a click culture advocacy provides a great deal of cohesiveness, ambiguity and cherished anonymity when wanted, all done simultaneously with being heard loud and clear.

  29. “do a lot of regular online readers of Discover doubt the science of global warming?”

    The science not so much. The politics of it absolutely. The great problem with climate change is that so many of it’s most prominent proponents – such as Al Gore and Dr. Pachauri of the IPCC- are widely (and, quite frankly, correctly) perceived as being self serving, hypocritical, shysters.
    These types will state that armaggedon is just round the corner unless people stop flying, driving, consuming certain luxuries while at the same time living lives of absolute, and totally frivolous, luxury themselves. How large is Gore’s carbon footprint? Pachauri states that (amongst other things) people should be detered from flying while he himself clocks up almost 0.5 million airmiles within a 19 month period so that he can attend book launches, be awarded honorary degrees and even take a break from a conference in NY so that he can fly home to Delhi to play cricket (seriously). Both Gore and Pachauri are also involved in the climate change industry in a way which will see them both benefit financially on a massive scale.
    If these people genuinely believed that destructive, man-driven, climate change were as inevitable and imminent and avoidable as they claim then they simply would not be behaving as they do. The situation was summed fairly well by none other than James Hansen who – to put it crudely – basically described the Copenhagen talks as being nothing more than a circle jerk which would come nowhere near adopting the measures he recommends to stop catastrophic warming.
    The great majority of people are not qualified to judge the science behind claim and counter claim and are fairly ready to defer to those who are. However, when faced with increasingly alarmist claims put forward by people who are clearly bullshitters they will, quite rationally, start to doubt the arguments put forward. It is is the shameless alarmism promoted by many (and in the case of some, like Greenpeace, straight up lying) that leads many to doubt the genuinely sound science tied to the movement as a whole.

  30. Marklaar

    Your posting is a troll to up your page counts. You say skeptics/denialists overwhelm the pro-science commenters… carefully calibrated words to generate pageviews and comments.

    All those damn skeptic losers, like Dr. Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (via wikipedia) Lindzen is known for his work in the dynamics of the middle atmosphere, atmospheric tides and ozone photochemistry. He has published more than 200 books and scientific papers.

    What does he know?

  31. Bugs Bunny

    I was a global warming denier for a while. Not hardcore like these guys, I didn’t really care about the issue and I hadn’t really seen much to convince me it was important. I’m well educated and I fully believe in science. I think the reason I never accepted it was a distrust of Al Gore type activists. People would go and watch his documentary and come back convinced that it was the biggest threat to the world and I would think that this was crazy. Its a blatantly biased documentary made by a politician, I just had trouble believing that Al Gore doesn’t have some kind of agenda or that its a perfectly valid source. Anyway, the reason I mention this is because I think this is where a lot of the distrust comes from. People aren’t stupid, they know when someone is trying to swindle them with biased evidence. At my university, an earth science professor did something clever, he showed the students “An Inconvenient Truth” and then showed a documentary arguing against everything Al Gore said, and told the students to decide. After seeing both sides, the students generally sided with global warming. The point is he let them figure it out for themselves. A lot of people, including myself, felt like the whole global warming issue was shoved down our throats without and real opposition to ask if it was really true. By doing so, you’re essentially asking for people’s faith and I think that is where the anti-global warming sentiment comes from. That said, I also think there is a certain anti-establishment group here on the internet that will never be convinced by anything and must simply be ignored.

    As for me, one day I decided it was worth knowing about and I sat down and read the Wikipedia article, checked out a few of the sources and that was it, I was convinced.

  32. dagwood

    Been a reader for a few months now. The alarmist nature of both sides of this argument have driven me indifferent. There is nothing wrong with healthy skepticism. I admittedly have not read all material for the evidence of man made climate change, but I am not willing to take your passionate word for it. Of course the planet is warming. It has been warming since the last ice age. Declaring man to be the culprit for the latest stage of this event is possible, but it is easier to believe that we are simply participants.

  33. moptop

    Look at your own writing and see what you offer. Do you offer answers? Arguments? Or do you just offer “assurances.” Assurances that the scientists are right without any kind of explanation as to why.

    For instance, what to political insults like “tea bagger” have to do with science?

    I will give you a chance to prove me wrong here. Offer me an answer to my question, as opposed to assurances that I am wrong:

    There is discussion in the climategate emails regarding the “warm blip” in the ’40s.

    “It would be good to remove at least part of the 1940s blip, but we are still left with ‘why the blip’.”

    http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=1016&filename=1254108338.txt

    Fine, whatever, maybe the data was wrong and needed to be adjusted. However, this story just hit the news this week:

    “A surge in sunshine more than 60 years ago helped Swiss mountain glaciers melt faster than today, even though warmer average temperatures are being recorded now, Swiss researchers said Monday.
    Their study into the impact of solar radiation on Alpine glaciers made the “surprising discovery” that in the 1940s, and especially summer 1947, the ice floes lost the most ice since measurements begin 95 years ago, according to Zurich’s Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ).”

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.d1adbaecf2f1d58fb3880c64655e52ea.151&show_article=1

    Maybe I am “just plain stupid and will never get it,” but I think that this is a legitimate question. Isn’t it apparent that the study above supports the raw temperature measure from the ’40s, rather than the “adjusted” data the study relied on?

    Solar cycle theories have been dismissed because they don’t match up with the “adjusted” data, data where “warm blips” have been ironed out.

    Why do you think skepticism is growing? I know for a fact that you will not offer a satisfactory answer to the above questions. Let me see if I can guess what people will say:

    “Are you a PHD Climatologist? If not, then you don’t understand the subject.” – I have enough scientific training to follow a logical argument, certainly regarding temperature adjustments to raw measured data.

    “You are a tool of the oil companies.” – No, my only connection to oil companies is buying gas.

    “You are just repeating right wing talking points.” – No, the above insight is my own.

    Or, the most likely response will be to reject my argument without rebuttal and ask a rhetorical question.

    Look at the polls. It ain’t working.

  34. rms

    I always “believed’ in global climate change since it’s clear the climate changes. I respected and believed those who said it was all caused by man’s release of carbon…and why not believe them because it was science telling me? In recent years, as I have had more time to to read the science it’s become clearer that the science and statistics are extremely weak and there are many un-truths being propagated by so many uninformed people who are simply repeating what they have been told as if it is fact. More and more smart people are getting to notice the issue and starting to speak up. before they were too busy doing other things and leaving it to the “scientists”. The “scientists” have let us down.

  35. Aaron Griffin

    The thing I don’t understand about this whole thing is this: who they hell cares if the science is a bit off? The end result is less emissions, or more control over emissions. Even if these things aren’t causing the world to light on fire and melt into a big puddle, they ARE bad. Try living next to a steel mill for a while, if you’re curious, or standing around in a highway tunnel.

    I get that you people believe the science may be wrong, but in being so off-putting about it, you’re taking away from what could be forward progress. I can’t see anything bad coming from having better cars, cleaner factories, etc

  36. AIsimulator

    I haven’t commented before but I’m both a skeptic and a (computer) scientist. My concerns are mostly with the models used to predict complex future events. I have seen firsthand how noisy data and complicated computer-based experiments can combine to create either nonsense or whatever the designer wishes. We need to recognize that modeling the climate is much more difficult than most climatologists pretend, and furthermore these models need to incorporate human decision-making systems as we are part of the earth’s climate as well. When you understand the scope of that problem you will see why climate modeling is no straightforward matter.

  37. Keri

    @#35 – Aaron Griffin

    Who cares? Only everyone who has to pay for driving down the emissions.

    Everything has a cost-benefit analysis, and the amount of harm from CO2 factors directly into that analysis. There’s no way we can stop everything “bad”. What we can do is try to understand all the harms and put our resources into solving the most pressing concerns.

    AGW has world-wide, life-and-death implications for millions of people. A noisy mill or a stinky highway are annoyances in comparison, and people will spend money accordingly. It just so happens that the two are linked through CO2 emissisons, so we have that much more incentive to address both concerns.

  38. Doug

    Chris, your introduction shows quite plainly that you’re not about science on this issue, you’re about advocacy/activism.

    “there is always a cascade of denialist/skeptic comments, frequently of enough magnitude to overwhelm the pro-science commenters.” So, if someone doesn’t agree with your viewpoint, they are anti-science, then? Not that easy, especially in this blog.

    Yes, Discover is a science magazine, etc. You, sir, are talking policy and politics in your posts, so please don’t be surprised when you get policy and political chatter as a result. The closest you have come to addressing the science of the issue in the time I have been reading The Intersection is to say that the science is settled, that there is a consensus view on manmade warming. That’s not science, that’s laying the groundwork for your political discussions.

    I know this is where you live and make your living, as evidenced by the title of your first book, so I’m not casting a value judgement on the subject matter. I’ll just ask that, if you want to avoid skepticism and counter-comments, you’d be best served moving your subject matter into a less grayscale arena, like hard science. If that’s not in the cards for you, then accept that silence is normally seen as consent, and feel secure that your supporters are out there, but don’t feel the need to add a comment consisting of “Yeah, what he said.”

    By the way, the passive/aggressive insulting of those not in line with your views won’t make them go away. I figure a PR savvy guy like you would know that, or maybe you’re just mining the net for hits from those ready to start a flame war.

  39. gillt

    @ John: “Any time a ’scientist’ slaps down opposing questions or doubt, you’re not dealing with a true scientist, you’re dealing with an Ideologue;”

    That’s an unschooled opinion. Scientists slap down bad ideas all the time. In other words, it’s not questioning in general, but the type of question that merits either a horse laugh or a thoughtful response.

  40. Jim Lippard wrote a post detailing where all the naysayers are coming from (or at least who’s behind them).

  41. Doug

    Chris, to answer your initial question: I read Discover, in print and online, regularly.

  42. gillt

    Marklaar: “All those damn skeptic losers, like Dr. Richard Lindzen…”

    That’s the same Alfred P. Lindzen that co-authored the 2001 National Academy of Science’s report on climate change, which said: “Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise.”

    Lindzen also endorsed the IPCC report.

    I would pay less attention to his Op-Ed writings and more to his scientific ones.

  43. gillt

    That should read Richard not Alfred

  44. Some folks here are saying they “believe” in AGW. FWIW, I don’t have to “believe” in it, the preponderance of evidence for the existence of AGW and the lack of any credible refutation speaks for itself. AGW exists whether we believe in it or not. That’s the beauty of science.

    I take it as a good sign for my faith in humanity that I continue to be surprised by deniers and skeptics when I encounter them in a community that I otherwise respect. I think many, many people have been taken in by the false “debate” about AGW, spread by right-wing think tanks and debate framers. It’s an under-appreciated and extraordinarily powerful form of “soft power” exercised by the elite in America.

    On a personal level, I think AGW is just one symptom among many of industrialization. 200 years is nowhere near enough time to adapt culturally and biologically to a new way of life and a drastically changed environment, when we’re still struggling with adapting to agriculture after 10,000 years. Unfortunately, it’s more than enough time to cause drastic changes to the environment and the species around us. Changing the biosphere on a human timescale is an incredible power no other species possesses, and we have used it thoughtlessly, without regard to our own wellbeing or the wellbeing of the biosphere.

    Also, I don’t read Discover itself, but I do follow your blog and Carl Zimmer.

  45. Cal

    ” #26 Mike Haseler said:
    “Indeed, the whole idea of using trees for proxy temperature has the flaw, that the forest as a whole will adapt its density resulting in individual tress growing at roughly the same rate irrespective of the climate.”
    Sorry Mike, I have to disagree. Climate change will have profound effects on total productivity, tree species composition, and spatial distribution of forests on small and large scales.
    During the Hypsithermal (3 to 5 thousand BP) the transition zone from forest to prairie was shifted hundreds of miles north and east. There is no reason to claim that it won’t happen again.
    The family of woody plants which includes willow, aspen, cottonwood, etc. does not close leaf stomates for water conservation in response to shortages of soil water. In warmer growing conditions much more water is lost to evapo-transpiration. As a group they will likely disappear from vast areas. Their contribution to total forest productivity is not trivial.
    Experimental CO2 enhancement does increase forest growth rates, but shifts in species composition, and potential changes in precipitation amounts and timing complicate predicting how forests will respond.

    Cal

  46. skinman

    “do a lot of regular online readers of Discover doubt the science of global warming?”

    I do not.

  47. cg

    You “believers” have a problem, when you debate with us “skeptics” you use techniques usually used by extreme political and religious groups. We “skeptics” are actually sick and tired of being named “deniers” or “flat-earthers” etc just because you have a problem with your own arguments. We are supposed to believe the experts and believe you, the experts followers. When the experts is found guilty pf manipulating data (Hockeysticks etc) and we ask valid questions, your only response is namecalling. If you are trying to sell AGW you are doing a really bad job of it.

    If you are just a tiny bit interested in history you find plenty of parallells to AGW. First you always have the Big Threat, then you have the Solution (in this case money and power to the few). This type of movements should in a healthy society always be questioned and tested. And you have failed the test. By your behaviour you are convincing more and more people that there is something rotten in the state of Denmark.

    I am sure if you had questioned the politics of Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot or Hitler you had also been called “nutter” and “conspiracy theorists”. When you have a sick agenda you have to use the arguments you got.

    You are in fact losing the intellectual battle day by day using these tactics. Very few people go from being “skeptics” to “believers”, many go the other way.

    Sorry for my bad english, but I hope you understand what I am saying.

  48. emerson cardoso

    It might be because discovery is doing a non-science pro-politics move.
    By the way, “established scientific consensus on global warming” is far from the truth. It is not only the public, as yourself can see of the comments section, but thousands and thousands of scientists have spoke out against this lie that is the AGW.

  49. I am a systems engineer who has worked for NASA and the DoD and I realized just recently how flawed the AGW theory is. AGW has been standing on poor science and math, poor code and data, and downright false graphs and results.

    AGW is finally getting a good peer review and it is failing miserably. All you who wanted to believe in it so badly are now the ones in denial.

    The message is getting out more and more – AGW is a myth backed by people who could reap billions of dollars and are in the pay of green corporations.

    http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/category/uncategorized/global-warming

  50. gillt

    @AJStrata,

    Billions of dollars from green corporations?!?! ahahahah! Did you just replace green with oil and thought no one would notice? As as self-described “systems engineer,” you have any numbers to back that the bald assertion that “green corporations” are handing out billions of dollars to shills and hacks?

  51. EyeRon

    This blog is fascinating as a social experiment. Under the debate of “climate science” we see a pecking order of self-affirmation and testimony of how much one sincerely believes the religion. It is not enough to be dwell in the real science of testing, validation, analysis and interpretation. No, to rise to the highest levels of devotion one must prophesy of doom yet offer a way, a single path, to salvation.

    There is no place in science for superstition yet “climate science” is inundated with it. The most egregious superstition being that changes in human behavior can significantly alter the trajectory of the earth’s climate. This belief is no different than the one ancient tribes may have had about dancing for rain or for the return of the full moon.

    As always it is far better for mankind to devote its efforts to solving the knowable problems than the imagined ones.

  52. Luke Vogel

    Since I mentioned the brouhaha over James Randi’s GW skepticism (and provided a link #3), he also has a “clarification”, where as I said he’s not saying “denial”, but it’s much like the “skeptical environmentalist”, Bjorn Lomborg.

    In Randi’s “clarification” he states: “Accepted. Again, the importance and the impact of this phenomenon is well beyond my grasp. I merely expressed my thoughts about the controversy, and I received a storm (no pun intended) of comments, many of which showed a lack of careful reading that led to unfair presumptions and interpretations.”

    Oh, brother.

    Anyway, here’s a nice write up on the mess with Randi by Massimo Pigliucci.

    http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/

    Chris, perhaps even you could learn from this. Or to test gillt’s suggestion, put up something on the “new atheist”, watch the flood.

  53. David

    Where Are All You Climate “Skeptics” Coming From?

    We’ve been here all the time, just never had much of a chance to put forward our point of view because of the bias pro AGW media stance.

    Copenhagen is a farce and its clear it has nothing to do with climate and everything to do with money and taxation

  54. Jochen

    I generally swing by Discover and Live Science about once a week. I am a professional with an advanced degree, and like to read on various topics. As for science, I enjoy reading about new things and the world around us. I was a skeptical believer in AGW for a long time, i.e., I believed it was true but was uncertain to what extent it was being used by the politicians. After reading rather one-sided articles for some time, I became suspicious and started researching the subject. Having read a dozen or so books (both sides of the issue), and countless online articles, on the subject, I began to doubt the claims of AGW. Over the last six months, I have become a complete skeptic. Over the four six weeks (post climategate), I have researched the science behind the use of modeling, and now I am 98% certain that AGW is a fraud as it is currently being presented to us. To put it plainly, I suspected there was somthing fishy a long time ago based on the tone of the AGW camp, ala Al Gore. As for Discover, I generally like the articles but have found it biased on the issue of AGW.

  55. moptop

    The same Dr. Richard Lindzen, atmospheric scientist at MIT who said in a recent radio interview in Boston that he was not a skeptic, you are right about that, but a “denier,” his words.

    http://audio.wrko.com/m/audio/24111309/richard-lindzen-global-warming-denier.htm#q=lindzen

    the preponderance of evidence for the existence of AGW and the lack of any credible refutation speaks for itself.

    Then why can’t you shoot down the arguments you see? Remember, you are the guys who want something. You want us to surrender our lifestyles and freedom of travel, etc, it is up to you guys to explain why. For example, if somebody came on this blog and started spouting some theory as to why evolution was false, I could shoot him down in a New York minute. You guys only offer assurances that you are correct. Assurances, from an anonymous blog commenter? What is the point of that? Answers? Then it doesn’t matter if you are anonymous or not.

  56. DancingBear

    I would think for many of these guys, the question is neither scientific nor political, but psychological.

    The consequences of temperature rise are so dire, and the difficulties of taking action so great, that global warming becomes something that is so bad that it cannot be true. Like death. Like incurable cancer. Then it’s tempting to will oneself into believing that the experts can only be wrong, biased, or have an agenda.

    Remember, denial is the first stage of grief.

  57. John

    @Gillt: “Scientists slap down bad ideas all the time.” True, but you are mis-parsing my post. My point was made in the context of this particular issue. My apologies for not being fully explicit for those who prefer to think in black and white :-). The science on this matter is not fully settled – by any means – except in the opinion of idealoges. In the minds of others, this is a text book example of not knowing what we don’t know. To jump to conclusions that will drive global economic policy may be premature. Those who state the science is settled, done, fini would shut the door on continued, open investigation of assumptions, etc. Again, this is not science.

  58. Chadwell

    I’m a regular reader, and I’d say this poster nicely sums up my opinion of the “consensus” on climate science.

    http://www.zazzle.com/climate_science_poster-228981597036801066

    More seriously, in my opinion I would say the preponderance of scientific evidence indicates that the globe is warming and that humans are playing a significant role (I would also say that that conclusion has absolutely no bearing on whether the benefits of climate change “action” exceed the costs–this is what should be driving policy decisions).

    The real problem with Climategate is of course not necessarily the science, but the PROCESS through which science is produced. And the way in which “mainstream” scientists have hunkered down and “denied” (as Chris would say) a PROCESS problem exists is in my opinion a bigger and broader problem than the dispute over the science itself.

  59. Daryl T

    There are a lot more of us than you think. We, the silent majority, normally keep our heads down and live our lives until we cannot take the arrogance and lies anymore, we are well educated and free-thinking we are not whipped into frenzy like others by Greenpeace, WWF and Government propaganda, we ask questions when something comes along that will impact us, we do not fall for the fear tactics and Appeals to Authority. We find out for ourselves and make up our own minds and we start to speak out when we see the minority are about to drive the bus off the cliff and we are unwilling passengers.

    That is why you do not understand where we are coming from because you have never been there.

  60. Charlie

    My observations are that the sceptical scientists for the most part use data to present their case, and show where data has manipulated or mis-represented by the proponents to refute AGW. On the otherhand, the typical defense by the proponents isn’t to demonstrate flaws in the sceptics’ analyses, but instead to claim they can’t be believed due to ties to “big oil”, or to claim the “science is settled” and that htere is concensus. Frankly, the sceptics present a stronger case.

  61. Mariss

    Your continued use of the word “denialist” tells me you are all about religion (AGW denomination) and nothing about science. You assume people who are skeptical about AGW are creationists, conservatives, ant-scientific and believe the world was created 4,000 years ago. You cannot imagine this being otherwise and it causes you befuddlement.

    I won’t bother you with facts and rational arguments. They fly in the face of your religion and would do nothing to enlighten you. Believe as you must, the rest of us who don’t substitute emotion for intellect will carry on. You have been lied-to and you deny what you call anthropogenic global warming is revealed to be a fraud. You will eventually come around when you get past your own denial. Then you will move on to anger and finally acceptance.

    Until recently, I used to believe AGW was true as well.

  62. badnicolez

    Chris, you are contradicting yourself when you state that everybody here agrees, but then question the origin of the many people who don’t agree.

    I have been reading Discover since I was a kid, and continue to visit the web site regularly (almost daily) for science news, even though I am not a scientist and don’t appreciate the climate change alarmism.

    It’s not the science about which we have skepticism; we take issue with the hijacking of science by extremists with a political agenda who want to destroy our way of life. Wow, that sounds a lot like the problem with Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. Funny coincidence there.

  63. gillt

    John: “The science on this matter is not fully settled”

    Then I didn’t mis-parse your point, obviously. Yours is a tired and inane tactic among denialists to raise doubts where there are none–to willfully misconstrue the built-in tentativeness and conservativeness inherent in all of science as a weakness in the conclusions reached by a particular field of science. Climate “skeptics” have this in common with creationists. Your comments say nothing important about the actual science, but serves only to make obvious your own unfamiliarity with how science works.

  64. gary

    I used to be a sceptic.
    But after years of reading and digging, it became clear that the whole AGW hypothesys was a scam.
    It must be very difficult to maintain your belief when there is no evidence to support it.
    After 20 years of research and 79 Billion dollars, all they have are shakey computer models based on wildly biased assumptions.

    Where’s the beef?

  65. Suzanne

    I’ll tell you where all the skeptics are coming from. Like Gary and others commenting, and literally hundreds of scientists like Nir Shaviv, we are people trained in physical and biological science who did the proper scientific thing and checked for ourselves using the original data and literature instead of what is reported by activists and journalists. We are joined by those literally thousands of scientists who have been quietly doing analysis of lake cores, tree rings, historical records, ice cores and satellite data all along. They don’t dare dissent lest they lose their funding but they continue doing their work of finding out how the climate really works. The science does suggest that man has a role in regional changes from land use changes, soot and brown cloud pollution, but the theory of catastrophic AGW from GHG’s simply is not born out by the science based on real world data. The Catastrophic AGW theory is entirely based on computer models based on disproven assumptions.

  66. Maybe the question should be “how skeptic are we allowed to be”? But I am afraid this has almost nothing to do with Science (as pointed out already).

    The avalanche of contrarian comments may be a byproduct of your laudable efforts so far in discriminating science and policy: by not marginalizing, for instance, creationists and uneducated conservatives, you may have a broader audience than a strictly scientific one. Who might feel betrayed when you are the ones using technical argumentation to shut the communication door. In this sense you might playing the atheist that uses evolutionary theory to bash religion. Even scientifically-inclined readers may feel uncomfortable with your urge in ending the discussion: the climategate goes far beyound the “scientific consensus on global warming”.

    In my opinion, there are some issues neglected or downplayed by you, that naturally attracts the ire of some:
    – GW is not only a scientific endeavour, but also a billionary political program;
    – the expertise in one field does not guarantee the comprehension of another one. Nonetheless it gives the expert the tools to detect reprehensible attitudes of peers.
    – If we understate the implications of the possible unethical behavior of the climate scientists involved, it will backfire to all science. And I expected a science magazine to be the first to defend Science even from scientists.
    – It’s a big mistake to associate climate contrarians to creationists or to reduce the fuss to a right-wing stunt [1].

    I devote my life to Science, but I am ignorant on almost all subjects. I see peer-reviewed magazines on “alternative medicine”, acupuncture, and clinical journals with more op’ed articles on government intervention than on realized research. Should I bow to them since this is the “settled science” or am I correct in pointing to the large pockets involved? This is a caricature, of course, since I don’t put climate science in the bag of pseudosciences, but it gives an idea of how the distinction is not so clear-cut, for any definition of “settled science”.

    And I think you are well aware that no intellectual or scientist is 100% baloney-free.

    [1] http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/2009/12/climategate_how.html#comment-929372

  67. Jason

    gillt et al,

    there is no proof. its a weak hypothesis grounded in a “beleif” system. So to those on your side of the fence, all data must fit the hypothesis and so its engineered to be so.

    Those who are not blinded by your “beleifs” and bias have taken a an objective look at the “science” and found it to be flawed. When you step back and look at it, its clearly fraudulent.

    if nothing else, consider the main drivers behind your “beleif”. They all have huge investments in the outcome and stand to loose much – be it financial, reputation etc. That should push the B.S. meter in my book.

    Either way, the truth will come out. The earth will not respond in ways they think and everyone of you will be forever tarnished by having tried to evangalize the world with your nonsense. I personally beleive everyone of you should be jailed when its all said and done. What you are doing and what you are trying to do is criminal. It will hurt people in the long run and you will all be directly responsible.

  68. anon

    Yes, there are a large number of people out there who disagree with the correct progressive perspective of this.

    You can rant all you want about people who don’t have the correct progressive world view, but it’s silly to actually ask if there exist people out there who see the world differently from you.

  69. Jason

    six general psychological principles that con artists use:

    1. The distraction principle. While you are distracted by what retains your interest, hustlers can do anything to you and you won’t notice.

    2. The social compliance principle. Society trains people not to question authority. Hustlers exploit this “suspension of suspiciousness” to make you do what they want.

    3. The herd principle. Even suspicious marks will let their guard down when everyone next to them appears to share the same risks. Safety in numbers? Not if they’re all conspiring against you.

    4. The dishonesty principle. Anything illegal you do will be used against you by the fraudster, making it harder for you to seek help once you realize you’ve been had.

    5. The deception principle. Things and people are not what they seem. Hustlers know how to manipulate you to make you believe that they are.

    6. The need and greed principle. Your needs and desires make you vulnerable. Once hustlers know what you really want, they can easily manipulate you.

    “Global Warming” is a SCAM! Wake up fools.

  70. R. Musa

    Chris,

    i have had a lifelong interest in science and math. i also graduated in the top 1% of my class in law school. i think of myself as a reasonably intelligent person capable of understanding the arguments on both sides of an issue. when i began researching AGW i discovered that most “skeptics” used rational, logical arguments supported by both data and science to support their positions. i found that many agw supporters used “appeal to authority” and ad hominum arguments to support theirs. i also found that the vast majority of skeptics accept that the earth has warmed in recent years and accept that co2 has contributed to this warming. (note that this is not how agw supporters characterize the beliefs of the skeptics as it might make the “deniers” look halfway rational. better to set up a straw man). what the skeptics do not support, however, is catastrophic runaway global warming and they have very very good arguments in support of this position.

    i would suggest that if you took, at random, 100 agw supporters and 100 skeptics, and then asked them to explain the positions of their opponents, you would find that the skeptics could do an excellent job of explaining the agw position. i doubt that you would find many agw supporters who can explain the skeptic position. this is because the skeptics have actually looked at both side of the argument.

  71. Interglacial John

    I come from the Eart Sciences department. The ranks of skeptics are growing with defections from the alarmist camp. I have met many skeptics who once believed this fairy tale, but I have never met a skeptic turned alarmist. I have changed the mind of every believer I have ever known. It is easy, truth will always win the day.

  72. I love me my Discover magazine/web site – and science in general – however I despise the way that climate change has been marketed with such an alarmist tone and am distrustful of how the science has been conducted, especially given the nature of some of those leaked emails. The issue has long been more political than scientific, and that’s undermined the credibility of scientists who continue to sensationalize the issue.

    I’m also extremely disturbed at how CO2 emissions have pushed near every other environmental concern out of the public/media consciousness, and feel that it has been detrimental to the environmentalist cause as a whole. There are far more threats to the planet that human-aided global warming, the few of which are ocean dead zones, algae blooms, continued industrial dumping of hazardous waste into oceans/rivers/lakes, clear cutting of rain forests, and so on.

    I love science, and I love this planet…. but neither of those truths shoehorns me into automatically accepting the alarmist viewpoint on global warming.

  73. Somewhere in the blogosphere I came across a commentary that is helpful. Climate science is partly science and (at least up to now) partly statistics. Statistics at the micro level (quantum theory) provide very accurate information. No so with our weather. Whoever is in charge of all the averaging, etc., determines the output – if that scientist has no agenda. What is an average annual temperature? It’s basically the total of monthly averages divided by 12.
    The monthly averages are the total of daily averages divided by the number of daily observations (from 28 to 31).

    And what about that daily average? Probably made of from hourly temperature recordings.
    So, what happens when recordings are missing for an hour or two, or are very strange? Whatever tack you take, and assuming the temperature recordings are accurate to, say, 1/10 of a degree, any fix to missing or anomalous data will almost certainly introduce an error larger than that. Right now there are arguments about whether 1934 (or some year near that) or 1990 (or some year near that) had the highest temperature. How did those “highest” temperatures get derived? And, as it was, if the difference in those two “highs” was about 1/10 of a degree? The debate is then not about temperature, but about statistics.

    And, of course, if you have the CRU folks doing the statistics, any possibility of realism has just disappeared.

    I hear that the recent satellite measurements may be more accurate and these are showing no discernable temperature increase in the past two decades.

    That, plus the irrefutable fact, from observed data, that carbon dioxide increases follow temperature increases by hundreds of years, should have terminated any question about man’s involvement. (None of this is to say that we shouldn’t work at cleaning up our act, but it is assinine to threaten our economies by imposing large tax increases to solve a non-existent problem.

    The “warmists” have to start by explaining what caused the Medieval Warming Period, because if they can’t explain that, well you know ……

  74. Thomas L

    While I on occasion spend time reading the on-line Discover sites when things of interest to me lead me there, I have never posted and my visits are of the order of once or twice a month. I do regularly read the magazine and watch the T.V. station (often what leads me to the sites for additional information).

    I have been somewhat agnostic towards the AGW science in the past, the science part intrigues me, the political accompaniment is almost laughable (I always leave wondering how anyone can be so ignorant of the political and economic realms, and how they could ever be so wrong about what our society is going to be willing to stomach in addressing any issue without first revolting – there are limits to how far people can be pushed, regardless of the issue…). My interest was substantially perked when the CRU “hack” (very unlikely this was simply a hack) started hitting the financial blogs. Thus I decided it was time I started finding out just what the heck was going on.

    It has been a sad learning adventure the past month. The more I have read, the less inclined I was to believe all the AGW scare tactics. It does not take long to realize this is much less about the science and quite a bit more about world viewpolitical agendas. Very disappointing as I prefer to be able to “trust” the scientists (most of us have a real life and don’t have 100’s of hours to spend researching on our own). C02 as a prime force is seriously debatable, though I would agree it may play a part and I also believe that humanity assuredly has had an effect on the greater environment (damns, the pollution clouds over most major cities…). Unfortunately AGW’s proponents concentration on C02 as the only “cause” seems to have trumped any interest in any other possible causes (the political agendas show their ugly face).

    Just in the past week Nature has published a paper indicating that the snow fall on Mt. Kilimanjaro is actually the result of a 15,000 year monsoon cycle (and all I have heard for the past few years is that it was ALL our fault…): http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v462/n7273/abs/nature08520.html. Carbon caused? Hardly, though perhaps in a minor way it has had some role – those studies haven’t been done yet with the inclusion of the new information.

    Next we have NASA this week reporting that the snow and glacier melt issues from the Himalaya’s are substantially more complex than simply “AGW caused it”. Again, for the past few years, we have all been told this was all AGW’s fault… yet apparently it’s actually a coal soot problem: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/himalayan-warming.html. Carbon caused? Yes – but normal coal soot – something we know how to deal with and reduce. Again, AGW would appear to be at best a minor part. Perhaps if we had been looking for real causes instead of trying to prove a theory we could have already discovered this and started doing something to correct it.

    For years the “skeptics” have apparently been adamant that the water vapor is far more important then C02 for warming of the atmosphere and have been ridiculed for being simpletons. Until recently studying such was incredibly complex, if not outright imposable. Again, NASA this week reports with the release of their study using the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder results that indeed water vapor plays a huge role , and carbon in the atmosphere is nothing like they thought – “clumpy” rather than smooth dispersal: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2009-196. They still insist it’s AGW, but it does put some serious questions into the modeling as the way carbon moves in the atmosphere is apparently quite different then they thought. It also raises questions about if the hurriedly discarded and downplayed work of Henrik Svensmark may in fact be an important aspect to the puzzle.

    There are many problems with the “science”, much of it simply being the sheer lack of research on other aspects of the climate which have been forgone either because the AGW agenda doesn’t consider them important, or they outright call aspects of AGW as the prime “cause” into question. When the only thing the scientists are looking at is the C02 effect, one must wonder how much they have missed because they chose to wear – or perhaps their funding was dependent upon wearing – glasses that filtered out other possibilities.

    Such would seem to be a science problem. It would be foolish to continue believing that the CRU scandal will not have an effect on the public. We do live in a democracy and to lose the public is a very serious mistake. At the moment it has done much to undermine all science. The continued support of any who would seem to have manipulated data or were overzealous in silencing criticism will not improve the standing of science in the mind of the public. Political name calling and theological based character bashing will never get us to the level of understanding we truly need. There is only so much wealth the world has to throw at solving problems. We had best be sure we understand the problem prior to completing our countries bankruptcy trajectory on what at best is spotty science.

  75. I subscribe to Discover and New Scientist as well as Science News.

    I make “skeptic” graphics like these:

    http://i49.tinypic.com/2mpg0tz.jpg

    http://i45.tinypic.com/kqbd4.jpg

    http://i50.tinypic.com/2hh3huw.jpg

    I know no other skeptics in person, just online.

    I am a Ph.D chemist (Columbia/Harvard).

  76. Robert of Ottawa

    They come from the land of rational thought, not of belief.

    Never mind temperature proxies; there is ample historical evidence that it was warmer a thousand years ago than it is now.

    This realization is where I am came from, if you wish. Your temperature reconstructions and use of computer model output as data, along with the hystrionics of it all, are where YOU should be going from, over here to the land of rational thought.

    Just don’t try telling me it is hotter now than ever; that is a lie.

  77. rocket

    Many of us are more skeptical of the crusading zeal of those who have found a cause in climate change than we are of the science of global warming. We find the hyperbole incompatible with calm and rational consideration of the hypothesis. We greatly distrust the governments intrusion into our lives and see virtually no value in the shallow but disruptive proposals put forth to respond to the climate issue. Your befuddlement derives from your inability or unwillingness to grant those who do not share your zealotry the possibility that they are anything but ignorant.

  78. conversefive

    I too was a believer in AGW until I started expanding my reading materials to include those from skeptics, which in the past were very hard to find, at least in news print from the prestige press (as refererred to in one of the infamous emails). The whole ClimateGate scandal has made it much easier to find opposing views that back up their views with graphs, charts and objective reasoning. Many of the so-called scientist skeptics are not really skeptics but merely feel that the AGW theory has been overly exaggerated to the level of nonbelievability. This has made me rethink my opinion and I now need more solid proof that global warming is man-made. Until then I will remain skeptical.

  79. Marion Delgado

    Chris:

    I think, although it’s not much more than a guess, that it’s a symptom. Basically, climate change draws people to comment. Not necessarily to read. Quite often, simply another place to spam with Marc Morano’s TPs of the day.

    It’s like a lot of things – reviews on Amazon, etc. etc. I’ve decided that the fear of polarization is actually what’s ENABLED polarization. It’s like playing a basketball game where the refs trip you and call you out of bounds when you’re in the middle of the floor. You might not have enough status to get equal treatment, but if you’re keeping quiet, and the people with an in are screaming at the refs no matter what, perhaps that helps keep the game unfair.

    So, I think that the more people tell Amazon their reviews are a partisan joke, the more likely either people will see that they are, or they’ll change things, and both are good. The more people say the corporate media is stretching to provide a balance to science vs. the GOP base, the more they’re on the spot. But you can’t reverse years of neglect overnight.

    Evolution went through this. The godawful Conservapedia badgered Richard Lenski for “hiding the data” just as McIntyre et al. are with Briffa and CRU etc.:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=lenski+schlafly&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

    I think that parroting Rush and Morano and so on – on radio, LTEs, the Internet, has replaced what used to be civics in the lives of some very motivated people.

  80. Oliver

    It’s not that complicated – Global warming as an scientific issue is much more nuanced than generally presented, and the policy solutions are more nuanced as well. Since there is a wide spectrum of scientific and political opinion, and you work in the confines of a rather limited ‘band’, people from all the other bands appear to be skeptics. So you are simply outnumbered due to your artificially constrained bandwidth, not by a suprisingly well-populated ‘denier camp’.

    If you start treating this complex subject with the respect it deserves, the comments will quickly reflect that.

    As evidence that skeptics are numerous and not monolithic (and not all *gasp* Republicans), see the results from Thomas Fuller’s poll a month or so ago:

    http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner~y2009m11d4-Global-warming-surveyPart-2-portrait-of-a-global-warming-skeptic

  81. Marion Delgado

    gillt:

    I cannot agree with you at all. No, this is not RealClimate or Panda’s Thumb. But there is enough expertise and knowledge reading this to refute any rational and well-defined questions raised by so-called skepticism. No matter what venue, people are going to mostly point to older information in other places.

    And that’s because the so-called skeptics commenting here are bringing nothing new to the table. The laziness and arrogance behind that is breathtaking, but it’s not our problem.

  82. Patrick

    After reading all comments on this post so far I have only a simple man’s view of the entire debate to direct this reply.

    Decades ago we were told by some of the same global warmers that a new ice age was near unless we clean up our act. These people were nicely placed to gain financially or politically from that clean-up.

    As the “debate” of global cooling started to heat up (no pun intended) it became clear that the near-future, the last 40 years to the present, was on track for global warming and the debate changed. It wasn’t that the players changed but that their positions on global cooling did. It went from cooling to warming and then, when dissent became a factor, to climate.

    I’ve followed this from political and financial viewpoints since it’s inception and can say that following the money and the power that goes along with the climate debate paints the clearest picture of why “deniers” are coming out of the woodwork now.

    Most people, at least in the free world, would prefer to have a better future than the present but they don’t want to relinquish their freedoms or financial prosperity to do so. Anyone or anything that demands that they do that should be labeled for what they are; zombies under the control of those who have the desire to profit, the ability direct resources, and a malice towards individual choice.

    I don’t deny that global warming is happening. I don’t rule out the possibility that global cooling could happen without the approval of the politicos. If your goal is to have a better world and not to control the political and financial aspirations of the entire world then perhaps the discussion ought to be re-framed to reflect the need to respond to these changes as opposed to controlling these changes. It would be money and political capital better spent.

  83. Marion Delgado

    I have to add I completely agree with gillt in 40.

    Who are these people, and how can they claim to understand science and still believe scientists don’t slap down bad ideas? They have no idea. I think their image of science is a bunch of dons having tea. It’s not at all – people tell their own thesis advisers they’re “idiots” in one breath, and say “oh, that’s smart!” in the next breath. And think nothing of it. And move on.

    Almost every so-called skeptic here – and boy, are you people NOT skeptical about all the denialist tropes you’re recycling here – is shooting the messenger. It may be uncomfortable to be told your idea is not in fact new, has already been shot down, and is wrong, but that’s exactly how science works. If more people realized how important filtering was to science – and that could be made to stick – we’d make a lot more progress in the world. It may be uncomfortable to realize that the people who work with climate science every day know more about it than you do, but lying and saying they don’t is not how science works. We didn’t create the often overwhelming complexity of scientific knowledge, or overpopulation, or, in fact, AGW, except as people doing our share, we’re just leveling with you about it.

    And that’s why I say so-called. Your arguments are puerile, and simply a repetition of bankrupt tropes because you seem to believe the PR war is the same as the reality on the ground. That has a name, and it’s called denialism, and being IN denial.

  84. gillt

    Like I tell creationists: Lack of a decent work ethic is the deniers fundamental problem.

    Go out and generate some positive evidence if you want to refute AGW so badly. Simply repeating the same tired doubts over existing evidence won’t cut it–that’s how you play a kook not a scientist. And please do yourself the favor of publishing in a peer-reviewed/refereed scientific journal.

  85. Robert of Ottawa

    December 17th, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    The Wiki entries are controlled and monitored by The Real Climate Team; they do not allow anything contrarian evidence .

  86. moptop

    “But there is enough expertise and knowledge reading this to refute any rational and well-defined questions raised by so-called skepticism. ” – MD

    Prove it. Show me one study that supports the ideat that the current warming is “unprecedented” that does not rely on the Climategate data?

    That is an easy task, I would think, since there is a mountain of evidence.

    “The laziness and arrogance behind that is breathtaking, but it’s not our problem.” – MD

    You’re the one who is lazy and arrogant, because you say there are refutations and we are supposed to accept your assurances on the matter. And if you are right, it *is* your problem, because the poll numbers are going the exact wrong way for you to enact your world saving plans.

    If the world is really in danger, one would think that you could raise yourself from your torpor to refute these arguments, one troll at a time. Instead, you just throw up your hands and surrender? I will believe it is a crisis when you guys start acting like it is a crisis.

  87. moptop

    “And please do yourself the favor of publishing in a peer-reviewed/refereed scientific journal.” – gilt

    “The other paper by MM is just garbage …I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin [Trenberth] and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !”

    From the emails

    If you want to read about the above comment, and see it in context, read here:

    http://climateaudit.org/2009/12/17/climategatekeeping-2/

  88. JWD

    I think that first the population is far more complex than a mere division of skeptics and “scientists.” There are – presumably – informed scientists who accept that AGW is a fact. There are also those – presumably – informed scientists – probably from various disciplines – who are going to be very skeptical of the future scenarios generated by climate modelers – because they are self-evidently wrong. Any geologist can point you to literature that discusses the evidence for Phanerozoic climate change and the evolution of atmospheric chemistry. The fact is simple: if “run away global warming” were possible due to high levels of CO2 saturation, it would have taken place two or three hundred millions years ago. It didn’t. Q.E.D.

    Any archaeologist can point to the evidence of the Holocene archaeological record and related environmental analyses and many will be very dubious of assertions about exceptional (“unprecedented”) warming at the present. Many will also be dubious of any assumption that there are simple relations between proxies such as tree rings and some single climatic variable such as temperature. I initially assumed that global warming due to changes in CO2 content was a reasonable suggestion. It really doesn’t take much effort researching literature that leans on first principles rather than models before the manifest weaknesses of the present version of the AGW hypothesis become evident. Among other things the model physics are weak. There are many physicists and atmospheric scientists who have commented on this. The assumptions in the models are not balanced by models using opposite assumptions – multiple working hypotheses are a means of maintaining one’s personal scientific intellectual honesty. The adequacy of the models themselves must be regarded as suspect by any careful thinker since the existing models are profoundly simplistic compared to the real world climate.

    Then too, review of the “debate” literature very soon shows that AGW is advocated by individuals who clearly do not have faith in their data and lack confidence in their models. If they really were confident they would simply have made available the raw data and analytical methods in detail and sat back and allowed the dubious to convince themselves of the validity of the AGW hypothesis. Instead, we encounter arguments that in effect say “trust me.” That is not a scientific argument.

    Having read many of the CRU emails, which were not “hacked” BTW, it seems to me that there is no “conspiracy” as the less informed and more paranoid right wing “skeptics” seem to believe. Instead you see people acting according to their convictions and seeking to reify their expectations. This results in “adjusting” data to behave correctly and in “cherry picking” records that act correctly. No evil conspirators, simply dedicated workers who let their sincerity interfere with their scientific honesty.

  89. David L. Hagen

    Check out serious science since 2007 or ignored by the IPCC. See

    Climate Change Reconsidered, the 880 page 2009 report by
    the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.
    http://www.nipccreport.org/

    They come to the opposite conclusions as the IPCC, based on the evidence!
    Try exploring ALL the evidence some time, not just that promoted by herd mentality.

  90. Michael Heath

    Chris asks,

    do a lot of regular online readers of Discover doubt the science of global warming?

    No. Since I studied environmental sciences in the mid-80s at university, I’ve since made it a priority to understand the science, read the articles, reed the peer-reviewed reports like the IPCC reports, follow new findings through ScienceDaily.com, and consider the perspective of practicing scientists to denialist claims such as those provided at RealClimate.com.

    Denialists are actually worse than intelligent design creationists in terms of their ignorance of both scientific methodology and the empirical evidence. The people they’re primarily fooling are those that are scientifically illiterate, which unfortunately is a heck of a lot of people.

  91. Chris H

    To answer your question, I am not a regular reader of Discover but I am motivated to voice my concerns regarding the way in which climate science has been done. Up to now, I have been generally on board with AGW, both in terms of accepting the weight of the evidence and the necessity of doing something to cut carbon emissions. But this year I started to cringe with all the alarmist talk out there about what was going to happen to the planet and how if we didn’t act immediately we were all doomed. Call it global warming fatigue.

    Then Climategate hit and that has shaken me up out of my complacency. This isn’t science. This is advocacy masquerading as science. While I am still inclined to think that CO2 has something to do with the current warming trend, I really don’t know. Now I realize the scientists may not know either. And the politicians and activists certainly don’t know but they are using AGW for their own narrow agendas, whether they be income redistribution, Third World poverty, or speculative interest in cap and trade carbon credits.

    What has been lost here is trust. I simply don’t trust the science anymore. That trust needs to be re-established before we can move forward on this issue. And if we can’t settle the science, maybe Bjorn Lomborg’s approach makes the most sense. Forget about trying to reduce CO2 directly. Let’s do it indirectly by investing in green technology.

  92. DB

    Clinging tenaciously to the theory of a flat earth will not make it flat. Clinging to the theory of global warming on the other hand will lead to a flat earth. Flat as in flat sodas, flat beer, flat bread, etc. for if the EPA is right, and CO2 is harmful to humans, then by all means, the yeast, soda, baking powder, and other CO2 manufacturers are merchants of death and should be stopped. Otherwise crack open a cold one and enjoy the show. Truth has a funny way of coming through eventually in spite of hype. The fun thing to watch is those who have clung to a lie in desperation. The longer they cling, the harder they fall. It can be entertaining to watch. If you think skeptics are so few, just watch the numbers on Google. If you have not considered that some of them are respectable men of truth and science, perhaps you should. It is not as entertaining watching the fall of someone finally proven wrong if you are doing it in the mirror.

  93. Sven DiMilo

    Apparently, all of these “skeptics” and deniers are autodidacts. They refuse to swallow the bullshit “science” that is shoved down their throats by bloggers and Fat Al Gore and the liberal and probably Jewish mass media. After digging in to review the science and research the raw data themselves, they have all reached the objective conclusion that IT*’S A HOAX!!!

    *where “it” is GW, or a role for CO2 in GW, or the A in AGW, or a role for CO2 in AGW, depending. Strange that all of these dedicated autodidacts reach different conclusions anbout what, exactly, is a HOAX!!!

    These are some depressing comments in this thread.

    Yes there is global warming. Yes there is a likely link with man. No CO2 is not the main cause.

    Because the main cause is…….?
    You forgot to mention that part.

    Over the four six weeks (post climategate), I have researched the science behind the use of modeling, and now I am 98% certain that AGW is a fraud as it is currently being presented to us. To put it plainly, I suspected there was somthing fishy a long time ago based on the tone of the AGW camp, ala Al Gore.

    Yes, suspicions of AL Gore’s tone and four to six weeks of googling stuff certainly justify the precision of your certainty.

    I used to be a sceptic.
    But after years of reading and digging, it became clear that the whole AGW hypothesys was a scam.
    It must be very difficult to maintain your belief when there is no evidence to support it.

    See? Four to six weeks is nothing; here’s a guy who’s been reading and digging for years and has managed to find no (zero) evidence to support the whole AGW hypothesys.

    Those who are not blinded by your “beleifs” and bias have taken a an objective look at the “science” and found it to be flawed. When you step back and look at it, its clearly fraudulent.

    Clearly fraudulent. All you have to do is step back and look at the “science.” If you refuse to do so, it must be because of your blinding beleifs in the hypothesys.

    there is ample historical evidence that it was warmer a thousand years ago than it is now.

    Link, Mr. SuperGenius?

  94. DaveC

    Where do we come from?

    We are mostly highly educated (PhD myself), critical minds that do not easily yield to authority, people who love hard data and numbers, suspicious of any hysteria and hyperball, don’t trust anyone who hides the data and the methods, and don’t believe anyone who uses “concesus”, “settled science” or “debate is over” on something as complex as climate.

    And yes – we do love the environmet. We want to do the right thing. We just think that the AGW ideology and policy is a disaster.

    That’s us.

    Now – tell us about you – the unquestioning believers .

  95. DancingBear

    Ah, and this of course sums it up. Just replace “special relativity”, “racecar on a train”, “philosophy degree” with “climate science”, “hockey stick”, “engineering/CS degree”.

    http://xkcd.com/675/

  96. Jessica

    I wonder if climate “skeptic” bloggers or others with large online followings send people this way whenever they see a post on the topic. Kind of like when PZ Meyers let his readers know about a news site’s poll asking “Do you believe in God?” and we all went and voted and totally skewed the results.

  97. John M

    I’m a skeptic for sure, but please call me a well-trained scientist because skepticism is the heart of the job. I have never joined a political party and make a POINT of presenting opposing views whenever I encounter echo-chamber discussions. Hey, I even got called “conservative” for defending the theory of evolution in graduate school! You see, among the silly-left the notion of evolution and the mere *potential* for biological differences somehow holds women back and/or certain ethnic groups… Whatever…

    I found your blog through a random search out of curiosity following Climategate. I have posted a few things here because you are, in my professional opinion, a large part of the problem. If I had encountered your posts as undergraduate “climate research” I’d give you a “C” grade at best. Your entries are typically one-sided, often drip of zeal, and communicate a near-religious fervor about you KNOWING THE TRUTH!

    If you are not a skeptic then you are not cut out for science or you are naive. Scientific theories are often full of smoke-and-mirrors and are refuted when a charismatic or well-funded proponent dies. The theory goes *POOF* and no one ever mentions it again. Then the same theory is reborn 20-40 years later under a new name, just to go through the same process. Climate science is but one topic in the broader socio-cultural landscape of modern government/grant/tenure driven research.

    What Climategate did is take away the politically correct “the science is settled” argument from the proponents of AGW. AGW is now just another branch of rough-and-tumble sloppy science, knocked from its holier-than-thou pedestal. This is as it should have always been. When you understand this you will no longer be naive.

  98. Michael Heath

    John M. – please describe exactly how Climategate took away the “the science is settled” argument. Wouldn’t that require either new evidence falsifying current evidence and/or superior explanations or a falsification of current evidence? I have not seen any findings making any assertions, only denialists misrepresenting exactly what was revealed in the emails, e.g., the false claim that the tree ring data was covertly left out when in fact this change in the model was published in Nature and the surface temps collected by this CRU still correlated with the NASA and NOAA models.

    What scientific field are you a practicing scientist?

    Have you actually studied what climatologists actually understand?

    I’m skeptical you even know what the emails revealed, let alone that though you’re a scientist, and yet you’re claiming it falsified the status of understanding of climate change.

  99. mitch

    from acceptor to sceptic in 3 weeks.

    this fracas inspired me to read original sources. what i’ve found is a reliance on unvalidated computer models that predict temp increases like 6 degrees, when 1 degree is much more likely.

    i see temperature proxy measurements from ice cores that show that the current warming is not remarkable when compared to past epochs. skewing the debate in favor of a single point of view may mean that we fail to obtain needed insight into the cause of these shifts, that clearly dwarf anything that we are experiencing now.

    i also see a debate where the alarmist camp constantly labels opponents as ‘deniers’ in lieu of attempting to refute legitimate criticisms.

    i see a legion of journalists that lack the ability or ambition to read original sources, preferring to parrot what they’ve been told.

    it’s also clear that most climate scientists seem to be incapable of deriving a model from first principles and explaining it in a clear and consistent manner that identifies and attempts to quantify the uncertainties. it’s unfortunate that so much funding seems to have gone to researchers that lack the technical expertise to conduct a competent investigation.

  100. RC Saumarez

    I always enjoy being told that as a climate sceptic, I am anti-science. As a trained scientist, I followed the debate with some interest and I have been appalled by the low standard of science practiced by some climate “scientists”. Given that there is a growing body of evidence that the data on which AGW is based is contaminated, as a scientist I would suggest that a re-examination of the methods and conclusions on which AGW is examined by a properly convened committee of scientists.

    It’s mildy insulting to be told that we can’t understand the science, and I freely admit that I am no expert on how aerosols influence cloud formatiomation in the Rockies. Nevertheless, I am trained in some of the areas that underpin climate science, apparently to higher level than the CRU croud or Mann, and it is really insulting to be told that one can’t have an opinion.

    This is not a science blog – it is an advocacy blog

  101. Brian

    I was sold on the manmade global warming until I noticed that whenever a scientist was questioned, they either refused to answer or attacked the credibility of the skeptic scientist. I did web searches and found hundreds of climatologists and scientists who said the data was rigged. I dug around, found raw data charts and compared them to the “fakes”. I put more weight on the code recovered from CRU than the e-mails, but the code and it’s comments were damning. I work in the nuclear industry, I know how to conduct experiments and document the results. The climate scientist are either incompetent or they are cherry picking the data. I think the latter. The two most damning things are 1) The hiding of the MWP and 2) the current hiding of the stable temperatures with CO2 rising. It is the HIDING that bothers me, do not falsify the data and then say, “I put in the notes.” You insult the intelligence of anyone who reads your report when you cannot back it up with simple data that is verified [independently] by others. I am waiting for one of you respected scientists to say; “Hey, I will look at this and get back to you.” Or are you so afraid that admitting you are not sure, will decrease your standing in the scientific world and your grant money? It goes like this – “I have just calculated the boron concentration for start up and I am ready to pull rods, Just sign it, trust me, I used the data that gave me the current concentration on boron because I can save thousands of dollars and get a bonus if we get the reactor on line now. See, I wrote that right here on the bottom of the page.” Scary? That is what your scientists appear to be doing. Prove me wrong.

  102. Robert of Ottawa

    I see many AGW believers here. Well, folks, the Earth isn’t frying; CO2 is good for the planet; the CRU e-mails reveal the machinations of the IPCC (for that is who these e-mailers were) to stiffle debate, even to the point of having people fired; computer models do not model clouds well.

    The whole AGW argument depends upon the following: the planet is “warming”. Nothing we have looked at can explain that fact; therefore it must be man-made CO2 that is the cause – not even natural or volcanic CO2.

    Do you not see the fallacy of this argument? Aristotle would pee in your beer!

  103. Michael Heath

    RC Saumarez stated:

    Given that there is a growing body of evidence that the data on which AGW is based is contaminated.

    Citations please. Given you claim you’re a trained scientist this should be easy to accomodate and include multiple articles already independently validated given your claim the body is supposedly growing.

  104. Nathan

    I work in the science field myself (Chemist) and have for years doubted the science behind the Global Warming theory. Knowing that the “Science” is all based on computer models was bad enough, but then I learned that no one has even seen the actual data coming out of CRU; I find that unfathomable. I was always alarmed at the quieting of dissent by labelling dissenters as outside the mainstream, crackpots, skeptics, anti-science, etc. That there was a consensus that can’t be doubted by any rational person. The very root of the scientific process is to doubt the claims of others. Make them prove their theory. That has never happened with climate science.

    Lastly, I always doubt anything that says “If you don’t believe, we’re all going to die.”

    Now to answer your specific question, I’m not a regular reader and found my way here from a link.

  105. John the Gnerphk

    I must confess: I’m a sceptic.

    Not just about “manmade global warming”, but about most things. I need to understand a thing to accept it, and until a subject can be presented to me in a comprehensible fashion, I remain sceptical.

    The world is full of people that let others do their thinking for them. There are enough without me adding myself to their ranks.

    About Global Warming: Nobody has yet answered my question, which is, “So what?” I’m content to remain blissfully uncaring about whether Manhattan Island, New Orleans, and Venice sink into the ocean; there will be a new coastline somewhere, I’m sure. Since the majority of probable associated loss of species due to climate-related extinction will be limited-venue and insectoid, I remain unconcerned.

    Yes, we’re talking about a chaotic event. We aren’t looking at the end of civilization, but doubtless things will change as humanity adapts. I have no doubt that many new species of insect will arise from the same chaos that will eliminate many more. Chaos, you see, drives evolution. The act of change grants momentum to the comtinual process of natural creation.

    This is not the first cataclysmic event to impact the earth; neither shall it be the last. Our world will survive, and it is quite likely that humanity will survive.

    And I must ask again, “So what?”

  106. AGW is based on work of the highest caliber, by climate scientists of the highest ethics, like Phil Jones, as shown by his instructions on how to conduct an absolutely independent peer review:

    Agree with Kevin that Tom Karl has too much to do. Tom Wigley is semi retired and like Mike Wallace may not be responsive to requests from JGR.
    We have Ben Santer in common ! Dave Thompson is a good suggestion. I’d go for one of Tom Peterson or Dave Easterling.
    To get a spread, I’d go with 3 US, One Australian and one in Europe.
    So Neville Nicholls and David Parker.
    All of them know the sorts of things to say – about our comment and the awful original, without any prompting. . . .

  107. Andy

    In my view, the whole issue was oversold. The scare stories were SO overblown that people went looking for more information. The skeptic websites present plausible explanations in simple language, while the pro AGW sites generally denigrate non-believers or, alternatively, explain things in technical language that is indecipherable to a layman who hasn’t been following the issue for years and has a science background.

    After a while of this, there are sufficient numbers of people who don’t buy into the party line and they end up commenting on various blogs such as this.

    Naturally, there is more to the story. For example, those of us who are older and remember reading the NUMEROUS stories in the 1970’s pushing the new ice age stuff. We remember those were also extremely alarmist. If some story in the media today portrays those media reports from the 1970’s as “just a few stories” and “there wasn’t a consensus among real scientists” then our antenna’s perk up and we ask ourselves: “why is this reporter trying to sell me this malarkey?” Our doubts are increased by this stuff, not decreased as is the intent.

    We may not be climate scientists but we know when we are talking to used car salesmen. Collective intelligence is a remarkable thing.

  108. Michael Heath

    Robert of Ottawa – your post @ 102 is an observational data point validating my argument that denialists are more ignorant than intelligent design creationists.

    Well, folks, the Earth isn’t frying;

    No scientist claims it is or will. They are claiming that a sustained increase of about 2 degrees celsius or more is sufficient to cause ice melt which will amplify warming which in turn will cause Greenland and Antartica ice melts which will cause increases in sea levels. This prediction has already started.

    CO2 is good for the planet;

    No scientist claims it isn’t critical to life. In fact even making such a statement shows how ignorant you are. The argument is that incremental increases in greenhouse gasses, such as allowing CO2 to be maintained or increase over its current levels of 370 ppm will ultimately result in rising sea levels. Observations already confirm this and the confidence of our predictions are growing, here is a recent example: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091216131747.htm

    the CRU e-mails reveal the machinations of the IPCC (for that is who these e-mailers were) to stiffle debate, even to the point of having people fired;

    The emails reveal that the tree ring data that was removed allowed the trend to better correlate to temp. observations by this CRU and also NASA and the NOAA. That removal of data was not covert, in fact the modification of the model was published in Nature. Nothing in the emails have challenged the efficacy of the data or the explanations. Please keep up.

    computer models do not model clouds well.

    I am not to up to speed on your claim here regarding clouds or its importance to modeling. The modeling predictions I’ve seen from thirty years ago has already been validated (e.g. Charneys’ models). In addition, just like scientists do not require fossils to confirm evolution, climatologists can confirm AGW is happening and its rate with observed Paleoclimate findings alone. The models do help greatly in both validating and fine-tuning our understanding and predictions, but not required to validate the general theory.

    The whole AGW argument depends upon the following: the planet is “warming”. Nothing we have looked at can explain that fact; therefore it must be man-made CO2 that is the cause – not even natural or volcanic CO2.

    The planet is warming, that is a fact, and independent of all natural forcings. In fact current natural forcings are causing slight global dimming but those forcings are overwhelmed by the increase in greenhouse gasses, e.g., CO2, CH4, NO2, CFCs. In addition, we can differentiate the cateogorical forcing effects within a tight margin of error, both natural and human-generated.

  109. Nathan

    Michael Heath Says:

    “RC Saumarez stated:

    Given that there is a growing body of evidence that the data on which AGW is based is contaminated.

    Citations please. Given you claim you’re a trained scientist this should be easy to accomodate and include multiple articles already independently validated given your claim the body is supposedly growing.”

    The Russian IEA just released a report stating that their temperature data had been tampered with.

    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/climategate-faster-and-faster-the-dominos-fall/

    As for “independantly validated” what exactly do you mean by that? Replotting the original data isn’t enough?

    Also in the CRU emails it shows an active role from Phil Jones to subvert the peer review process.

    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/fast-facts-about-climategate/

    I apologize for all the links coming from the same site. It’s to save time to respond to your question and the articles have links embedded in them.

  110. Bob Wilson

    No, I’m not a global-warming denier. And for the record, I don’t believe in alchemy, astrology, UFOs, or Bigfoot.

  111. moptop

    “Citations please”

    I never claimed to be a scientist, but here are two studies and a newspaper article by Ross McKitrick, who is published in peer reviewed climate journals.

    McKitrick and Michaels (2004)
    de Laat and Maurellis (2006)

    http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/story.html?id=145245

    “there is ample historical evidence that it was warmer a thousand years ago than it is now.
    Link, Mr. SuperGenius?”

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2009/12/climate-james-randi-vs-mindless.html#more

    Loberg is one, Loehle is another. The interesting thing about Loehle’s reconstruction is that he only used proxies, unlike Mann’s tree rings, which have been proven to accurately reflect temperature in the literature. He shows it much warmer a thousand years ago. Nobody seriously argues that it wasn’t warmer 2,ooo years ago when Hannibal crossed the Alps with African elephants. (that is not the evidence, btw, that is known as historic corroboration.

  112. Comish

    I think the comments here — and the tone of posts such as John Kerry declaring “amateur hour” over — are one reason AGW opponents comment on your AGW posts.

    First, let me disclose my biases. I believe the climate is generally warming, and that man is contributing to this effect. I believe we can’t say with certainty the extent of warming, or the extent of man’s influence on that warming, but it seems to be there. I believe that the current proposals being floated would be draconian. (Kyoto would have required the US to shut down factories and plants for several months every year, putting people out of work, lowering the standard of living, and effectively stalling the march of progress.) I believe that the best answer to AGW is through science, which has always found a way to solve our problems in the past — such as vaccines, airplanes, bypass surgery, etc. — and is our best hope of finding a workable solution to this problem. So combating the problem by shutting down progress will hamper our ability to find a workable solution. But I do think that we should be working toward a solution, and dealing with the issue.

    Having said all of that, as much of a fan of “science” as I am, and as much as I believe in AGW, I find myself wanting to argue on the side of the skeptics. The reason is that the vast majority of the arguments in favor of AGW consist mainly of trying to keep the other side from speaking. It’s insulting and condescending, and I don’t want to be associated with it.

    You call them “denialists” to suggest that there’s only one right and obvious answer to this issue. You quote John Kerry when he agrees with you, but refute the opinions of others by suggesting that they don’t count because they’re scientists, but not *climate* scientists. You refer to AGW as having been proven because there’s a “consensus,” but I agree with Lee Smolin (I can hear people grinding their teeth at the mention of his name) that science is not performed by consensus. (I think Galileo would agree with me on this.) It creates the impression that you’re trying to shout down anyone who disagrees with you. You’re not offering facts — the lifeblood of science — but providing a litany of ad hominem attacks.

    Science should either encourage debate or prove that there can be none. Your posts are not filled with facts showing AGW, but rather suggest that people who disagree with you are contemptible and/or ignorant. The debate is clearly not over, so your posts suggesting otherwise are about as effective as a “Mission Accomplished” banner. And it shouldn’t matter who comes up with the argument: climate scientist, statistician, geologist, patent clerk. If you really want to end the debate, you should try posting facts that support your argument. Posts suggesting that people should shut up, but which have an open comments section, are really just baiting people to disagree with you.

    One other suggestion — It’s possible that you’d have more comments on other subjects, but this blog is primarily dedicated to extolling the virtues of the AGW argument. For example, your front page right now has 7 posts on AGW, and 3 posts on everything else. Your blog is a magnet for AGW skeptics because you’re always posting on the subject, and your posts are usually cheerleading AGW proponents rather than providing any facts.

  113. Rich Wright

    AGW theory states that the earth is warming because of increased releases of man-made CO2. However, measurements of climate benchmarks don’t support this warming.

    For example, sea levels have increased at a modest rate for a long time. However, since 1998, many tide stations around the world have seen the rates of increase moderate, or even decline. Along the west coast of the US, all the NOAA tide stations have recorded declining sea levels since 1998. You would think this would be an interesting topic that scientists would talk about, and kick around. There could be several possible explanations. But no, this is a topic not spoken off, like the possibility that the Pacific Ocean is getting cooler. Instead the warmmongers only want to talk about their climate models, whose inner workings are kept secret from anyone else. The same is true of the satellite temperature data, and the growth of sea ice in Antarctica.

    If the earth was really signaling that extraordinary warming was occurring, there wouldn’t be the need to spin things only one way, there wouldn’t be a need to fudge the data, there would not be the need to brutally attack skeptics. It is totally clear that the case for AGW is very weak, because the proponents don’t act like they want to examine the real data that is out there in the world.

  114. Nathan

    Michael Heath Says:
    “The emails reveal that the tree ring data that was removed allowed the trend to better correlate to temp. observations by this CRU and also NASA and the NOAA. That removal of data was not covert, in fact the modification of the model was published in Nature. Nothing in the emails have challenged the efficacy of the data or the explanations. Please keep up. ”

    If the tree ring data doesn’t correlate with modern day temperatures how does anyone know that it correlates with past temperatures? This calls the entire historical temperature record into question. It looks like Tree Ring data is not a reliable proxy for temperature.

  115. Michael Heath

    moptop – the peer-review process was subservted by the publisher of articles that weren’t adequately peer-reviewed. Dr. Jones showed bad form by being resistant to sharing data with two people known to present previously falsified claims to a journal whose editors were quitting because their journal was printing non-scientific articles merely to create a fallacy of balance argument. Citation: http://www.pewclimate.org/science/university-east-anglia-cru-hacked-emails-analysis

    Lastly, your ‘citation’ is a media report that doesn’t make any validated claims, let alone report or link to a validated peer-reviewed claim. This is not how science is done.

  116. moptop

    Nathan,
    Is the National Academy of Sciences good enough for you?

    http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=11676

    They will only go so far as to say that the “hockey stick” is reliable back 400 years. In other words, it is the warmest it has been since the start of the Little Ice Age. Wow! That is really saying something!

    What? You don’t keep up with the NAS?

  117. Nathan

    Michael Heath – If the peer review process has been called into question due to tampering, you shouldn’t use a lack of peer reviewed article as a claim to dismiss. The questions are still valid. Since most people don’t have a peer review magazine laying around it makes the demand a little absurd. Not to mention access to peer reviewed articles cost subscription fees and access to the major research networks can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    I did have a peer reviewed article somewhere around the house, but it’s a paper copy that I would have to scan and upload to the internet to make available to you. I’ll see if I can find it anyways.

  118. moptop

    There are two peer reviewed papers referred to in my post, and one newspaper article. I assumed you could find them on Google Scholar. Shame on me. Here, I will spoon feed you then.

    http://www.ottokinne.de/articles/cr2004/26/c026p159.pdf

    http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~wsoon/JosDeLaatWasteHeat08-d/deLaatMaurellis06.pdf

  119. bilbo

    I can’t tell where they’re coming from, but over the past few weeks I’ve certainly noticed some undeniable similarities between the skeptic posters here:

    1.) The arguments are all the same – unsubstantiated.

    The typical skeptic post here goes something like this: begin with a few well-placed labels for liberals and environmentalists – “greenies,” “envirowhores,” maybe a name-drop of Al Gore. Then follow up with an absolutist claim about the state of the science. Some of the usuals are “Climate change is a hoax!”, “There’s no way CO2 causes warming!”, “Models don’t work!”, etc. Close with an accusation that scientists are trying to obtain research money and are thus falsifying data.

    But the most important part of the argument is this: don’t back up your claims with substantiation. Which leads into number 2:

    2.) Most climate skeptics fail to address/support their claims when challenged.

    A couple of the tactics I’ve noticed here:

    a.) Silence I have been engaged with several skeptics on this blog who, when you challenge their points and ask them to back them up with data, they tuck tail and run. Barton and scinci are two prime examples from the past two weeks.

    b.) Innocent bystander/confusion. This is usually precluded by something along the lines of “Hey now buddy, I’m no scientist. BUT…” What follows is typically a long diatribe about climate science where the skeptic uses jargon inappropriately and pretends to be a self-taught exppert on the ins and outs of global climate models.

    c.) Evasion The most common. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a skeptic here do the following:

    -Skeptic says that CO2 does not drive climate change.

    -Levelheaded person asks for substantiation of that claim.

    -Skeptic responds by talking about 5 cherry-picked years of some obscure Russian temperature data from Siberia that have nothing to do with CO2.

    -Evasion complete.

    3.) Skeptics show an embarrasing ignorance what science actually exists FOR AGW

    The skeptics here are like a textbook of talking points from skeptic and political blogs. But they seem to have no clue, and I mean none, what the evidence is FOR climate change. This might be important if you’re trying to criticize it and say that the science is wrong, don’t you think?

    Anyway, just some observations. The steadiness of how the skeptics fit the above profile tells me they’re coming from a common source, or may even likely be the same poster posting under duplicate names. Maybe both.

  120. The Global Warming Choir is equivalent to the Benny Hinn Tele-Evangelist scam crowd. All Lies, Hype and promise of a new tomorrow with only the proceeds going in their own coffers.

  121. moptop

    “when you challenge their points and ask them to back them up with data, they tuck tail and run”

    That’s pretty funny, isn’t it mister moderator.

  122. moptop

    Let’s see if it gets through this time:

    There are two peer reviewed papers referred to in my post, and one newspaper article. I assumed you could find them on Google Scholar. Shame on me. Here, I will spoon feed you then.
    http://www.ottokinne.de/articles/cr2004/26/c026p159.pdf
    http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~wsoon/JosDeLaatWasteHeat08-d/deLaatMaurellis06.pdf

  123. I find it amusing that some here think that bloviating about “intelligent design creationists” helps the AGW case. AGW and militant Darwinism are being sold/enforced using the same intellectually/rhetorically shoddy methods. The same corrupt institutional stench attaches to each. And generally speaking, it is precisely the same people who shriek “denier!” or “creationist!” when sensible questions are asked or valid points are made in either field. Add in the all-too-usual leftism championed by these same folks, and really, why wouldn’t you trust them completely?

  124. moptop

    Let me try it one link at a time: Maybe it is the spam filter.

    There are two peer reviewed papers referred to in my post, and one newspaper article. I assumed you could find them on Google Scholar. Shame on me. Here, I will spoon feed you then.

    http://www.ottokinne.de/articles/cr2004/26/c026p159.pdf

  125. Thomas L

    To numerous posts above…

    Links on medieval warming and the indications that it was warmer than current temperatures are easy to find. Of course you won’t find them in the climate scientists peer review journals, you have to go to numerous other disciplines journal papers. Clamoring that it has to be in peer review to be of any importance is also very counterproductive in trying to sway anyone. For most technical types we already know the limitations and flaws in peer review – being “published” in such is anything but the end of the discussion in any other field – though for Client Science it seems to be. That might be the first indication that something is amiss to those of us who are knowledgeable in how things work in other fields. Most of the public neither has access to the journals nor are they willing to pay the charges – per article – to read any of them, so yea, claiming that’s all that matters does wonders to legitimize your arguments and help sway public opinion…

    So, here are a few links that deal with far more than a few decades. Are you implying with such arguments that we understand any of these events very well and “this time it’s different” – or are you saying we don’t need to understand them very well because even though we aren’t very sure what caused them they matter not? Both arguments would be laughed it in any other discipline.

    First, a very interesting global map of peer reviewed research on temperatures during the MWP. While I am sure the AGW crowd hates this site and has lots of arguments about why no one should look at it such is out there, and people are looking at it. Feel free to look up all the data used in all the graphs – it is all collected and presented from peer reviewed articles, feel free to look them up and refute them (one by one – and remember, you can only do such through other peer review – your rules…): http://pages.science-skeptical.de/MWP/MedievalWarmPeriod.html

    Or perhaps a jaunt over to the Paleomap Project page (winner of the SciTech Web Award 2001 – Scientific American) would be less politically troublesome: http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm. There are many interesting insights into earth climate history there. It would also appear it was substantially warmer several times in Earths’ past.

    There is also increasing knowledge presented from the current ice core work (though there are some problems with ice cores, they are useful for understanding general conditions). Much indicates temperature changes that happened far faster than previously thought possible. I leave it to others to find such sites as there are many. We’ll leave the argument about higher Co2 concentrations in the record alone – but I think explaining why such then did not cause a tipping point and this time it will would be rather prudent too, wouldn’t you?

    The argument is not about if it is warming. The argument is about if the Co2 cycle can properly explain it, and if such is “unprecedented”. The more I have studied and the more I have read the less inclined I am to believe that such thinking holds all, or even most, of the answers.

    As to the “oh look, they actually spent a couple weeks reading and now they think they now something”. Well, I could say the same thing about people and their computers. Because they use them they think they understand them and even try to occasionally write code… But I never make fun of them, I just try to teach them.

    And the skeptics are the lazy ones?

  126. rtheron

    Are you serious? Talk about living in an echo chamber……… Maybee the “pro science” people aren’t as keen as you led yourself to believe……….

  127. bilbo

    moptop:

    It is rather funny, considering that those who fit into that characterization in no way give support to an accusation that climate change isn’t happening/isn’t manmade. This is a scientific topic we’re talking about, remember? You must debunk science with science, after all.

    But since you seem concerned and upset at my characterizations, perhaps you can make a fool out of me. I’ll give you the chance. If you (or any other skeptic here) can do the following, I’ll never post on this blog again:

    1.) Discuss what scientific evidence exists for a role of humans in driving global climate via carbon emissions. Be specific. Don’t use Google – go from your head on this one (if you’re so certain about the truth/falsehood of this hypothesis, a skeptic should know, right?? I can certainly do this). Then find (in your opinion) ten of the most influential peer-reviewed articles that support this topic and cite them here, followed by a brief sentence or two on the conclusions of each that illustrates you have read them in full and understand them). You may use Google for this latter part.

    2.) Now that you’ve proven your familiarity with the state of the science, I would like you to debunk all of the points and evidentiary claims made in the papers from Part 1 above – and this is important – using hard data and statistical analyses that would likely stand the test of peer review. To be clear, I don’t want “the models are flawed.” I want why they’re flawed – backed up with a scientific analysis, complete with what tests you performed, how you performed them, what software you used, what your data sources were, and what the results were. Mentioning the Swifthack, psoting a graph from Microsoft Excel, and linking to skeptic blogs won’t cut it either. Again, if you claim that the science is incorrect, you must falsify it using rigorous science yourself, or you simply have no argument. (If you choose to post published, peer-reviewed articles for this section, fine. But they must debunk each and every one of the ten papers from part 1, and I still expect you to outline data, methods, tests, results, conclusions, etc. to prove you grasp them).

    The above may sound silly, but if you’re going to make sweeping claims about a well-supported tenet of science such as climate change, you had damn well better debunk science with science. Otherwise, you’re just blowing hot air. Unsubstantiated claims won’t cut it anymore folks. If you’re so certain that the overarching opinion of science on climate change is categorically wrong, I want to see why. A good, evidence-backed argument would certainly change my mind.

    This is your chance, skeptics. I’m waiting.

  128. David M.

    Chris,

    When you draw false dichotomies like “pro-science” vs whoever you don’t like, you shouldn’t be surprised when people smack down your BS.

  129. I have long been a skeptic of global warming. I have always read a lot about global warming, but have been reading everything I can get my hands on since climategate began. We ‘Deniers’ are eating this up because we’ve know this was all a scam for so long and now we’re seeing our long held beliefs given some of the credit they deserve. I think that the % of people that are skeptics are a higher % of the people interested in science than of people in general, which might explain some of your observations.

  130. How can anybody not be a skeptic when faced with such idiocies as UK’s PM Brown’s :

    “Hurricanes, flood, typhoon and droughts we have from time immemorial thought of as the invisible acts of God we can see clearly now as the visible acts of man”

    ?

    How can a media enterprise marketing to the lay science community think it can continually insult the intelligence of market . Ain’t going to fly in this peer to peer internet age . I see no evidence that this Chris Mooney has any background in a HARD science .

    Perhaps Discover could write a series of articles going thru the fundamental physics of planetary temperature at a level appropriate for the 100,000s of us who have engineering degrees or the equivalent level of mathematical skills . See if you come to the same result I do based on my basic implementation of the StefanBoltzmann&Kirchhoff relationship that we’re about 8c warmer than a gray body in our orbit . If you want to convince me or people like me , you’ve got to get quantitative .

    Show me the physics .

  131. Nathan

    Bilbo – That is the most ridiculous request I have ever heard. In fact it’s so absurd I questioned for a second how a mentally retarded person could post such a long comment. While I’m at it, why don’t I just go found my own journal, make it respected worldwide within 24 hours, AND prove through pure statistical analysis that the heat death of the universe will never come.

  132. bilbo

    First comer: Nathan.

    Nathan’s claim: “But trying to debunk science with data and facts is hard!!”

    Nathan fails.

  133. Jeremy

    Chris,

    I took graduate courses in atmospheric physics a long time ago. I heard about the CO2 greenhouse gas theories long before you probably did. I know an enormous amount of physics about our planet. However, I know enough to know that we are still UNABLE to explain significant natural variations in climate.

    For many years, I never paid any attention to this silly nonsense being banded about in the press until recently – when large taxes and ridiculous policies were proposed – policies that will destroy our industrial base and cause poverty and starvation. (Prosperity and GDP are very closely linked to energy consumption – do some research and you will understand just how very very important cheap energy really is)

    Sorry to burst your bubble. You have been misled. The science is NOT SETTLED. It is FAR from settled. Computer models prove absolutely nothing ( I am an engineer also – so I know how easy it is for a model to achieve a historical match and how that does not imply that the model has any actual value as a predictor)

    Where have people like me come from?

    I guess we were always there but we seriously underestimated you and your ilk – we never expected your simplistic childish beliefs to have the potential to actually cause huge damage to Western economies and be manipulated by fraudsters for financial gain.

    Now we are speaking out – probably because we are deeply disturbed about the fraud and we are frightened by the fervor and fascist zeal of you and your ilk. You and your ilk have become a serious threat to society.

    What can you and your ilk in the media do now?

    I am very interested to see the results of research by Jasper Kirby and Henrik Svensmark about the possibility that the sun is influencing climate through its effect on cosmic rays and cloud cover.

    Why not report about Svensmark’s real investigations (still unproven but certainly interesting) rather than all the garbage alarmist research claiming “dire man-made CO2″ induced Global warming is killing our planet.?

  134. MutantJedi

    :) I’m a long time reader of Discover. In fact, I had the first issue in my possession for years.
    When I first encountered the AGW theory, I simply accepted it as given primarily because its story fitted my own values well – sustainable development, protection of the environment, and a general distain for cars, to name a few. Being that it could be used as such a lever to affect policy change is likely a factor in why it gets so readily accepted. And by the other side of the line, readily rejected by those with a more “republican” agenda.

    The science has been, for a long long time, corrupted by environmental politics.

    Since 2007, I have been skeptical of AGW and its spawn of runaway global warming. As for climate change, with me it sits along side of the atomic model and evolution. For example, we are currently enjoying the benefits of living in an interglacial. Primarily my reasons for being skeptical are: the politics, CO2 needs positive feedbacks assumptions to drive the models, Mann and friends lose credibility when they make the medieval warm period basically go away, and analysis of ground based temperature measurements are suspect when they downplay the effect of the urban heat island.

    What I do find intriguing is a post I found, ironically, on a skeptical blog that suggests that the link between CO2 and water vapor may finally be observed.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/16/nasa-says-airs-satellite-data-shows-positive-water-vapor-feedback/

  135. Nathan

    Bilbo – You clearly have no understanding of how science works. Nor did you read any of the above comments relating to peer review. It’s up to the people that pose the theory to prove it and in this cause they made an attempt to do that by fudging data. So essentially all the peer review articles based on said data are now worthless. Maybe you can explain to me the “Science” behind adjusting past temperatures downward and modern temperatures upward? Cause I can see no scientific reason for it. Nor did the scientists who did it disclose a reason for it. What is your field of specialty in science by the way?

  136. Seminatrix

    I am very interested to see the results of research by Jasper Kirby and Henrik Svensmark about the possibility that the sun is influencing climate through its effect on cosmic rays and cloud cover

    I bet you would, Jeremy. I also bet you’d be surprised to know that virtually every climate scientist studying climate change already acknowledges and accounts for the role of the sun and water vapor in their research. But you just implictly claimed they didn’t. Why is that?

    I know – it’s because you’re utterly ignorant of what the state of the science is.

    Another uninformed buffoon trying to look like he’s making informed accusations. You just got exposed, Jeremy….and we have another poseur in our midst, everyone.

  137. bilbo

    Second comer: Nathan (his second attempt)

    Nathan’s second argument: deflection (stating that all the evidence for AGW is based on a single dataset from the CRU – a patently false claim).

    Nathan fails. Again.

  138. Sorbet

    There are three kinds of people here; denialists, skeptics and proponents. The deniers probably mostly come from the anti-global warming sites Chris links to while I suspect the skeptics are more scientifically oriented and probably number more among regular Discover readers. It’s very important to allow the valuable dissent of the latter and excoriate the ramblings of the former.

  139. Nathan

    Bilbo – I said any data based on fudged data is useless, not that all data came from the CRU. Also, you never answered my question about why data would be fudged. Are you admitting the CRU data is not accurate?

    Also, the argument about needing peer reviewed articles sounds very familiar. Oh yeah, I’ve heard it from discredited scientists Phil Jones and Michael Mann.

  140. FergalR

    Thanks for the wonderful blog, I simply cannot stop laughing. I found you by googling “Climate Research Unit” a few weeks ago, but “climategate” finds you very easily nowadays. It’s nice to see that bilbo has gone from using the phrase “silly little denialist” more than 20 times each here:
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/11/24/the-climategate-burden-of-proof/
    and here:
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/12/02/why-climategate-is-something/comment-page-1/
    to only twice yesterday:
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/12/17/john-kerry-amateur-hou/

    Kind of heartwarming that bilbo demands rigourous scientific refutation of the “fact” of AGW when it has been already been proven false by the fact that measured temperatures haven’t risen in a decade.

    The science is settled. Humanity has spend decades and billions on climate science and all we’ve accomplished is the vandalism of the global temperature record using nonsense dendrochronology and a theory of global warming via carbon dioxide which is now obviously false and/or fraudulent. If you find that impossible to accept that then there’s plenty of polar bears to go hug.

  141. 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.

  142. ethel

    How do you know that each post is by a different skeptic? Could one person be posting using many different names?

    Thanks for your articles.

  143. Brian

    Why is it necessary to try and get to the bottom of this? Why does it matter? Try this for a reason to question science that has no peer check. Please accept this e-mail as an example of the lack of a true independent verification process.
    Peer check by Phil Jones, love the last line…

    Agree with Kevin that Tom Karl has too much to do. Tom Wigley is semi retired and like Mike Wallace may not be responsive to requests from JGR.
    We have Ben Santer in common ! Dave Thompson is a good suggestion. I’d go for one of Tom Peterson or Dave Easterling.
    To get a spread, I’d go with 3 US, One Australian and one in Europe.
    So Neville Nicholls and David Parker.
    All of them know the sorts of things to say – about our comment and the awful original, without any prompting. . . .

    I believe there are some good scientists who believe global warming is being accelerated my human industry and some who don’t. There are some politicians who truly believe we need to reduce CO2 and some who think it is a waste of money. It’s really not simple, if we reduce CO2 and it turns out that was not part of the cause, we waste trillions of dollars we could have used to save people who need help because of climate change. It is a shame there is the likes of Al Gore, Mark Schoeberl, Mann and others who have used this for their own profit. It makes choosing the honest people so much harder. At best they have helped each other to receive more money, at worst they have clouded the issue and cost millions of lives. I want to know how deep this went, a NASA climate scientist has recently been convicted of funneling grant money to his wife’s business, the Russian data is now suspect, and scientist are stepping up saying they wanted to talk but were afraid of losing grants or being blacklisted by leading science magazines. PROVE me wrong.

    bilbo, you need to calm down son, you are in a big boy discussion now.

  144. Roald A

    If regular readers of Discover are content with the preposterous idea that consensus actually validates scientific conclusions, it’s only natural they would agree with the idea of AGW. Case in point is the “New Scientist” magazine, an otherwise good weekly publication on a variety of science topics, but since its presentation of AGW went so hopelessly one-sided, I could no longer read it.

    What you might fail to consider is the sheer size of instantaneous internet sharing, where at least one Discover reader spreads the word around to non-Discover readers, saying something like “you will not believe the way Mooney uses the words ‘science magazine’ and ‘scientific consensus’ in the span of three sentences…”. A curiosity factor about what you said in its complete context caused me to come over for a look.

    Call me a cog in the wheel of a recently created giant anti-science conspiracy if it makes you feel better. The real truth is that I’ve been questioning AGW since 1988 while receiving nothing but dodgey answers the whole time, and that there will not even be a consensus of public opinion if the masses discover the manner in which skepticism has been suppressed rather than addressed and refuted. As the CRU scandal nicely illustrates, that kind of suppression is a now rapidly growing cancer on AGW.

  145. Rick

    It’s not about science. It’s about what scientists want us to do – which is a lot.

  146. Thomas L

    FergalR & Nathan,

    Bilbo (and others just as ridiculous) show up on a lot of threads – rather like what you see of the creative editing over at Wikipedia after it was taken over by the thought police, and any disagreement on a topic gets edited out faster than it takes to blink. In any thread on climate science they show up in mass and disrupt all conversation – and John wants to know where the skeptics are coming from! I think he (Bilbo), and the others in his ilk, have single handedly alienated 100’s, if not thousands. He is a great asset to the AGW cause…

    I doubt he could do what he asks of others here, (oh – but he doesn’t need to because he’s a believer…) – and the last part of this post is a question I would like to hear his response to. I’ve yet to discuss AGW with a physicist who has anything flattering to say about the methods found in AGW (and there are a couple in my family) – but remember, no one from any other field understands anything, and AGWers are all experts in every other field (why they can dismiss everyone who questions anything about their science or methods – they need not listen to criticism from statisticians, geologists, historians, physicists, computer scientists – no, all you get is denial that they ever do anything questionable and certainly never erringly use such techniques and methods…).

    They are way too busy calling everyone stupid, ignorant and anti-science to actually listen.
    We all should have been paying more attention to these miscreants far sooner then we have begun to.

    Kevin,

    They hate physics. I’ve watched in several other threads how they foam at the mouth and insist you know nothing. In fact here is one that was put up on a computer code site that was never responded to (after accusing everyone of not knowing physics mind you…). I gain my knowledge from numerous places and areas of study, I tend to think most, if not all, have something to add to any understanding…

    So Bilbo,

    what are your thoughts about this (below)? I’d actually be interested in a counter argument (and no, it is not my argument, though I find no fault with it)…

    (Picked up after short comment on saturation functions was replied to with the normal dismissiveness):

    Interesting link to the RealClimate article, but it does not invalidate the saturation in any way. Actually it verifies what I’m saying completely. First thing to check out is this graph:

    http://www.realclimate.org/images/CO2Abs4x.jpg

    Note that the whole pink area is what you get from 300ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere. Then the thin yellow bands are the EXTRA that you get if you go from 300ppm up to 1200ppm. That’s right, to get an increase big enough to even notice when plotted the author needed to multiply the CO2 quantity by 4. This is exactly what any normal engineer or physicist would mean by a saturating function, it does not mean that the function gives nothing back for large inputs, it means that the function gives most of the return for small inputs then rolls off on a “knee” shape and gives diminishing returns for increasing inputs.

    This is clearly displayed in this graph:

    http://www.realclimate.org/images/TransLongPaths.jpg

    Since the graph shows transmission, flip it over upside down and you get the shape of the graph for power absorbed. Note that the left hand side (low CO2) is very steep, then it hits a knee shape and rolls off into a region of diminishing returns. We are at the start of the knee part of the curve right now and we are in the rolling off phase. More CO2 will cause warming, but all the steep changes that were going to happen, have happened.

    You might like to note that during the ice ages in the last half million years, CO2 was down at 200ppm, on a much steeper part of the curve (so a little bit of CO2 in the middle of an ice age has significantly more influence on the climate than the same CO2 does now).

    Let’s get to 4th power radiation, looking at a baseline of 273K and compare 1 degree warming with percent of baseline:
    273.0K => 100.0%
    273.5K => 100.7%
    274.0K => 101.5%
    274.5K => 102.2%
    275.0K => 103.0%
    275.5K => 103.7%
    276.0K => 104.5%
    276.5K => 105.2%
    277.0K => 106.0%
    277.5K => 106.8%
    278.0K => 107.5%

    This is not a diminishing return, it is a rapidly INCREASING nonlinear function. Adding CO2 to the world at present gives a situation where the more CO2 you add, the less additional energy you get (in a rolloff function) and every bit of heating loses energy faster (in a fourth power). The effect of increasing CO2 is real, but small, and getting smaller all the time. The only “tipping point” is when it vanishes into complete irrelevance.

    Ask any programmer, if part of your algorithm involves a complexity of O(N^4) and the other parts are either linear or logarithmic then you can be sure that the fourth power step is going to dominate everything else.

    For the IPCC models to amplify the minuscule warming that CO2 provides, they needed to insert significant positive feedback gains into the model, and ignore the large negative feedback caused by the water convection cycle (evaporation, condensation, rain, snow, etc). None of these positive feedback gain factors were based on fundamental physics, they were based on seat of the pants empirical twiddling (a technique which MAY work, but comes with no guarantees).

    They come up with a 3K sensitivity value and keep making predictions that have never yet come to pass. If the climate models from 10 years ago were to be believed we would be living with another 0.5K of warming now, but it didn’t happen so they just moved the goalposts and started making even less plausible predictions for 2050.

    Putting some more numbers into it I can get the 3K warming by making these assumptions:

    * All the energy is leaving Earth in the 10-22 micron band drawn in the plot above.
    * No energy leaves by any method other than ground level radiation.
    * All energy absorbed by the CO2 gas is returned to the surface of the earth.
    * Only CO2 is in the system (no water).
    * CO2 is likely to double from 300ppm to 600ppm.

    Using the green horizontal line as the baseline, we have approx 300K global temperature at 300ppm of CO2 and 0.663 transmission factor. Moving to the red band (double CO2) we get about 0.635 transmission factor.
    300.0 ^ 4 * 0.663 approx equals 303.25 ^ 4 * 0.635
    Thus 3.25 degrees C of warming (give or take).
    ——————–

    Here are the problems with the above assumptions:

    * Water is already absorbing in most of the wavelengths 17 microns and larger. This is the region where most of the gain in the CO2 curve is coming from, leaving only the gain on the low wavelength side (around 13 microns). This is the part of the CO2 curve that gives the least gain so cut the above estimate by at least half.

    * There are other methods for energy to leave the Earth’s surface (e.g. evaporation and convection).

    * Energy absorbed by CO2 (and any other greenhouse gas, including water) does not instantly return to the ground, some of it re-radiates, some goes into convection. As warm gas floats higher it’s radiation efficiency improves. Rough guess is half goes up, half goes down so cut the gain by half again.

    * Water has a latent heat providing additional cooling when show falls to the ground and then melts. Substantial portions of the Earth have regular and semi-regular snowfall.

    * Cloud-top-temperature (at least over oceans in tropical areas) is a yearly average of approx 280K which is approx 75% as efficient a radiator as 300K ground level, but with substantially less greenhouse gas to obstruct the transmission (making it about the same or perhaps slightly better all up).

    * Cloud-top-temperature (over land and non-tropical ocean) is a yearly average of approx 250K which is approx 50% as efficient a radiator as 300K ground level, providing yet another way for heat to escape.

    I think it’s safe to say that the assumptions that give 3 degrees of warming are the worst possible case assumptions, thus the real world situation is going to be considerably less warming than that, and that anything more than 3 degrees could be considered outrageous.

    For reference cloud data (as measured by satellite) is available from here –
    http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/products/browsed2.html

  147. Geoff Sherrington

    After 35 years of science, often at the leading edge, I have come to detest poor science and the most prominent examples of poor science come from climate science and other fringes like homeopathy. I was questioning Phil Jones and asking for evidence years before Climategate, and that was just as a hobby. Climategate merely confirmed what an evaluative scientist would discover independently.

    Here are some pointers to poor science. 1. Failure to produce raw data 2. Denial of the merit of contrary thought 3. Obsession with funding 4. Formation of cliques 5. Failure to ask for external expert advice 6. Failure to properly state error terms, possible bias and caveats re complexity 7. Repetition of dismissed hypotheses 8. Adoption of faith-based over evidence-based conclusions 9. Lack of accountability for bad work 10. Immodest self-promotion as in papers with frequent references to self.

    It is self-evident that repeated references to Journals that mix politics with science is another factor. Time for some navel gazing. You have not seen the strength of opposition because you have had your eyes closed. Much of it, if I observe accurately, comes from people way more experienced than you. The cheer squad for man-made GW projects an image of late teens rebellion.

  148. ZT

    I am a scientist – and until recently I assumed that the facts of climate change were settled.

    When the climategate news broke – I assumed climategate was ‘a storm in tea cup’. Then I had a look at the emails myself. This is not hard to do. I did not look just at the messages that were incorporated into news stories.

    As a scientist who has written and reviewed scientific papers, I have to say I was shocked by what I saw.

    I have never seen or even heard of scientists ‘gaming’ the peer review system – and thereby damaging the scientific credibility of fellow scientists.

    I have never seen requests to delete possibly incriminating email messages.

    I have never seen anyone contemplating mixing two forms of data (slyly) to prove a point, when in fact the raw data sets themselves diverge and thereby cast doubt on this point.

    I was also ashamed to see the sloppy programming used in processing and manipulating the data. I have never had anything to do with this particular world of programming – but I found it embarrassing to see what this ‘team’ had put together. This was a well funded team of experts – how they could come up with that collection of ‘code’ – is hard to understand.

    In all, the contents of that email archive made me truly angry.

    That anger caused me to check further into the actual evidence for AGW. I immediately found that the evidence that humans are causing global warming is thin. Indeed, some of the best evidence for AGW appears to have been fabricated. Indeed, climategate provides documentary evidence that humans have been suppressing evidence of past periods of global warming.

    Talking with scientists following the revelations of climategate indicates that my reactions are not unique. Many scientists are surprised that there have not been immediate resignations – surely those involved cannot believe that their careers can carry on with this on the records.

    So, one reason for the increased ‘skepticism’ may be increased interest from scientists – who until now had assumed that climatology was operating in a fairly normal scientific fashion – but who now see that science has long been absent from climatology.

  149. GailC

    I am a scientist and was a lab manager. I have been asked to falsify data or caught falsified data enough times to make me really skeptical of any research. Therefore I read as much as I could on the subject.

    There is no way that enough is understood about all the factors that go into the weather and climate for scientists to make the types of predictions I see in the mass media. I have done enough research and design of experiments to detect when I am being fed a pack of lies. The fact that dissenting opinions were killed and the data was hidden was a real big clue. I then followed the money and now I KNOW I was fed a pack of lies.

    What is truly funny is that it is Oil/Banking money behind the whole thing. Check out the Maurice Strong/ David Rockefeller connection to AGW.

  150. Glenn

    Chris, count me as another skeptic coming out of the woodwork. I am an engineer with 36 years of experience in energy related fields. My technical expertise is fairly narrow, but I must deal with many other technical disciplines to pull a successful project together. Sorting the truth- tellers from the spinners is essential, even when I am not an expert in the technologies involved. It is generally pretty easy to learn who you can trust. And too often, it is the most impressively credentialed people or studies that prove to be bogus.

    Now consider the climate issue, with claims that the debate is over. That we know CO2 drives climate because we can think of nothing else. That peer reviewed reports and reconstructions provide all the answers. That climate models take all relevent factors into account and process them correctly. That recent warming is unprecedented- or that even more recent cooling does not exist or does not matter. These are absolute claims, and to believe them without question means we must deny things we can easily verify about events in the past.

    Consider the ice ages- major and “little”. Viking settlements in Greenland during the medieval warm period. The Maunder Minimum and the Dalton Minimum and the corresponding periods of cool climate. The glaciers of Glacier Bay, which have been receeding since they were first mapped around the end of the Dalton Minimum. The warm (and dry) “dust bowl” years of the 1930s. The global cooling fears of the 1960s and 1970s. I see no need to go on. Incredible variability, both hotter and cooler than recent temperatures.

    Peer reviewed studies do not document these occurances, but a wide range of historical, archaeological, literary, and geological data does. It is the peer reviewed studies and hockey stick temperature reconstructions (based on a few trees in Siberia???) that claim none of this happened. We are expected to believe that recent temperatures are unprecedented and caused by our CO2 emissions based on studies that cannot explain the past so they deny it. All from scientists who will not reveal their data or their methodology.

    No sale. I am not a climate scientist. But I do not need to be to sense there is too little truth- telling from those who want to destroy our economy to save us.

  151. ZT

    Interesting – reading the messages here – it looks like I am not alone – the new round of ‘skeptics’ are scientists. There’s your answer.

  152. Neil

    What Justin S said:

    Normally a lurker, but I’ll pop out to say this – YES I believe in anthropogenic climate change, as I’m sure do the vast majority of my fellow Discover readers.

  153. Science_Boy

    Where do all the skeptics come from? First, politics and money are deeply involved in this issue. Doing something to deliberately control the climate will cost somebody a lot of money. Second, people naturally tend to oppose predictions of bad news.

  154. GailC

    # 137. Seminatrix Says:
    December 17th, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    I am very interested to see the results of research by Jasper Kirby and Henrik Svensmark about the possibility that the sun is influencing climate through its effect on cosmic rays and cloud cover

    I bet you would, Jeremy. I also bet you’d be surprised to know that virtually every climate scientist studying climate change already acknowledges and accounts for the role of the sun and water vapor in their research. But you just implictly claimed they didn’t. Why is that?

    I know – it’s because you’re utterly ignorant of what the state of the science is.

    Another uninformed buffoon trying to look like he’s making informed accusations. You just got exposed, Jeremy….and we have another poseur in our midst, everyone.

    That is because clouds were left static in the “climate model” and a possible the cosmic ray/cloud connection certainly is left out.

  155. Nik

    “Unprecedented warming” means it never happened before. Easy to accept if you have not read first hand historic sources from the Medieval Warm Period. Documents like those in the Vatican which prove that there was a tithe contributing Diocese in Greenland in the years 1000-1350 prove that the warming is definitely NOT “unprecedented”. The Greenland community had sufficient agricultural production, in a perma frost-free land to collect tithes.

    Climate science is valid, but it is NOT the only source of knowledge and facts. Seeking corroboration sometimes leads to questions which climate science alone cannot answer. Those that rely exclusively in climate science to the esclusion of ALL other disciplines are the true deniers of knowledge.

  156. Robs

    The scientific community is just as amenable to corruption as any other publicly funded institution. In this particular case, the climate botherers have been found out. Continuing the blind support of their cause is hardly going to help the broader scientific community.

  157. moptop

    Chris,
    Be honest with yourself. Are you proud of how your defenders have acquitted themselves on this thread?

    I always thought that “Discover” was about science, not assurances from high priests. Maybe this thread shows that you need to raise your level of evidence if you want to win any converts.

  158. mitch

    consistently effective real world problem solving often requires that one apply high standards of proof before reaching a conclusion.

    one consistent theme that i see is that there’s observation that things must be warmer (ice melting), and co2 levels have risen, followed by the conclusion that co2 is the cause.

    but correlation does not imply causation.

    can anyone cite papers where the co2 induced ‘greenhouse effect’ has been quantified by direct measurement? perhaps satellite based measurements would provide this evidence.

  159. Gary Prince (BSc)

    I think – therefore I am sceptic.

    What makes you (Chris Mooney) believe the rubbish (models) put forward as science these days.

    The hockey stick is false.
    The hadcru has been tampered with.
    CO2 in a lab (arrenius) is all thats left – and he doesnt work in the real world (sensitivity).

    The rest of the so-called science refers just as well to the effects of natural warming.

    What do you really have that is so convincing Chris ?

  160. Well, I was going to give a more detailed answer, but about a third of the way through the comments I lost interest. To answer the Q I am from outside.

    The fatigue set in after comments like these that show a profound level of unwillingness to listen to anyone else’s viewpoints:

    “As an experiment, you could try linking to any other paranoid conspiracy theory site (IDiots, teabaggers, birthers, supply-siders, flat-earthers, alien abductees, etc.) and compare the results.”

    “the reason they’re flooding your comment section with disinformation is because you have very few if any climate experts here to keep them in check”

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of them are conservative republicans/creationists. They are people who refuse to accept the reality of the situation. More accurately, they are people who were never fully educated and/or do not believe in science.”

    “Many are just plain stupid and will never get it. I hold out hope that the smart ones of them will change their minds when the evidence can no longer be denied.”

    “The internet is a haven for conspiracy theorists – see the letter from Peter, above. Any anonymous forum brings out the nutters, and it’s no different here.”

    and as for this:
    “As for me, one day I decided it was worth knowing about and I sat down and read the Wikipedia article, checked out a few of the sources and that was it, I was convinced.”
    Wikipedia is as biased as it can be – about as biased and artfully edited as RealClimate. Look further afield. Much further!

    and this shows a deep ignorance of the consequences of the proposals being made:
    “Even if these things aren’t causing the world to light on fire and melt into a big puddle, they ARE bad. Try living next to a steel mill for a while, if you’re curious, or standing around in a highway tunnel.”
    You miss the point that we are not only considering giving away billions, or even trillions of dollars, we are also proposing to essentially halve the economy (at best). That is money out of your pocket, and a halving of the value of what remains. Think about it in those terms rather than just a bit of housekeeping, and you may see a different picture. If you don’t like living with steel, move to a country that does not use it. Grass huts, perhaps? As for the cars – get a decent public transport system and cars are not needed so much. There are many solutions to this (real pollution, not CO2) that do not cripple entire western economies.

  161. bilbo

    Kind of heartwarming that bilbo demands rigourous scientific refutation of the “fact” of AGW when it has been already been proven false by the fact that measured temperatures haven’t risen in a decade.

    The science is settled.

    It is, Fergal? Oh my!! Then what oh what did I miss? See, you’re exactly what I (rightfully) call a Silly Little Denialist: someone who makes broad pronouncements about climate change (“it has been already been proven false”) without backing it up.

    How utterly stupid.

    Your data? Your analyses? Your proof that you understand the evidence for AGw to begin with? I can say the sky is green, and end it with “the science is settled,” but I still will look like as much of a fool as you do when I look outside and yep, the sky is blue.

  162. bilbo

    mitch:

    Explain to me how one can deny a role of humans in shaping global climate and even go on blogs like you’re doing to declare it false when that same person (such as yourself) admits that he hasn’t even seen the scientific evidence that he’s declaring to be false.

    Am I not the only one who sees how stupid that rationale is?

  163. bilbo

    So, over 30 posts since my challenge, and all the skeptics have done is still jump into the fray, scream an absolutist statement like “AGW has been proven false!!!!” and run away like cowards without providing data. I’m starting to think coward is perhaps the correct term. Come on, guys – I’m making this easy for you! SURELY if this is a clear-cut of an issue as you claim it to be, you can rise to my challenge. Debunk just TEN (out of thousands) of articles with scientific analyses, and you win. It’s fairly simple.

    As an example of what not to do, see Thomas L.’s response in #147. His argument is about a single climate model and doesn’t involve any analyses or data – instead, he wants people to “flip graphs upside down” and interpret them. In other words, he believes that science works by simple interpretation of graphs: if you stare at a graph long enough, you start to not like it. Sorry, Thomas L – that’s not science. You failed to prove an understanding of the science you want to debunk, and followed it up by attempting to debunk established science without give analytical proof of it. In fact, you just played the “blind them with jargon” denialist gag: use a bunch of jargon strung together nonsensically (as you just did in your post) to attempt to sound educated on the topic. Read your post again, and you make no sense, reach no conclusions, and your argument has no flow. You fail.

  164. bilbo

    An example of the Blind Them With Jargon Denialist, which Thomas L. also exemplifies, from another skeptic blog (words in parentheses mine):

    “If you consider the logarithmic transformation beyond the inverse property function, it rectifies the matter using a third-power component to represent CO2 inputs over the last 10k. However, the IPCC models (incorrect assertion – the IPCC builds no models of its own) contain only an exponential inversion in the preceding 100k, which completely ignores the Humboldt property of water vapor radiation, thus rendering the model obsolete.”

    Sounds smart, has a lot of jargon, but means nothing. …but if you’re a denialist looking for support, you’ll lap it right up.

  165. We skeptics stopped reading Discover a LONG time ago because you abandoned skepticism on environmental issues. Skepticism is the very HEART of being a scientist. The alternative is being gullible or religious.

    Is it really that hard to accept and see the evidence that 20th century temperatures are NOT unprecedented in the climate and historical record? Is it really that hard to see (and acknowledge) the political manipulation occuring via the UN IPCC? Is it really that hard to admit that Climategate is a legitamate scandal — likely the worst scientific scandal of the last 50 years — and massive blow to all of science?

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. All raw temperature data MUST be made public and ALL massaging/manipulating/”correcting” of such raw data MUST be made completely public — and then must be openly discussed for a couple of years before we’ll concede that your claims of unprecedented, AGW will be accepted. If the science is as solid as Discover (and Nature and Science) editors have claimed, you’ll have zero objections to this demand.

  166. ZT

    Bilbo – what do you make of the ocean temperatures declining in recent years. It is a lot easier to measure the temperature of the ocean, and the oceans are the majority of the surface of the planet. If CO2 causes global warming, and we are in the midst of thermal runaway, then how can the largest heat reservoir on the planet be cooling? Another inconvenient divergence?

  167. Kate U

    104. Michael Heath Says:
    December 17th, 2009 at 6:51 pm
    RC Saumarez stated:

    Given that there is a growing body of evidence that the data on which AGW is based is contaminated. Citations please.

    http://www.cimateaudit.com

  168. Jim

    Bilbo,

    If you didn’t understand the equation, just say so. I love that you’ve continually demanded that the “skeptics” show you the science, since you yourself have shown none. It isn’t up to anyone to disprove a proposition ( that’s all AGW is) it’s up to the proponents to prove it true (ie put up or shut up). None of the so called science out of CRU is credible at this point and even if it was, they NEVER proved anything really, they backed up nothing they asserted with actual data, unless it was data they made up, they assumed. Nothing they asserted has been tested independently, and apparently never can be. Science depends on that testing, for all the pro AGW folks, that’s why there are so many skeptics (I think that any thinking person should be).

    Personally I’ve suspected all scientfic assertions for about 30 yrs, going back to the saccarine, and butter causing cancer scares. I think that was “settled science” too. I’ve been sceptical of anything that came out of the UN for way longer than that, so to me the combination is deadly.

    BTW, I’ve proven beyond a doubt that Global Warming is way worse that they say. I have data that shows all the thermpometers are wrong and should be 20 degrees higher, there was an ice age 327 years ago, and peanut butter causes acne. It’s true. Unfortunatly I can’t share my data, since my neice refuses to give me permission. Plus all the formulas were destroyed when my other computer crashed. It has serious consequences though so it can’t be ignored………

  169. Alexrkr

    I haven’t done any research on this subject so I’m in the don’t know don’t believe catagory. That is to say I don’t accept GW nor do I accept the skeptics claim of any wrong doing.That being said Id like to say that the majority of comments on both sides have been irrational and mainly just flaming the opposition. This is pathetic for a group of adults discussing a serious issue. I hope this isn’t what I should expectwhen trying to figure it all out. Stay rational everyone.

  170. Cal

    Having said all that, I still believe that it is ethical for any problems caused by CO2 to be internalized – that the cost of CO2-caused global warming should be included in its price. The determination of these costs is obviously not going to come from the IPCC. I believe we need a non-profit and transparent organization to analyze these costs in an ethical manner. Separate but similarly-based organizations could conduct a transfer of money from producers to recipients based on this data. Consumers, not governments, should then demand their energy suppliers contribute to these funds.

  171. Cal

    oops, first part of my comment:

    OK I’ll bite. I’m not a regular reader but found this through Google.

    I got my BSC about 4 years ago in Geography but I especially enjoyed geology. It was the class “Geologic History of the Earth” that made me wonder why global warming was such a bad thing. Certainly the Earth has been much warmer with much higher levels of CO2 in the past and these periods seem to be characterized by abundant plant and animal life.

    I accepted AGW but was skeptical of the harm it would cause. To me the greatest risk was the rate of change and the possibility of sea-levels rising too quickly. My opinion was that as long as global warming wasn’t causing the sea-level to rise more than a meter or so a century it was good because of the increase in heat, rainfall and CO2 fertilization. I have always been suspicious of claims of catastrophe. As the fear mongering grew so did my suspicions.

    The emails gave me the impression that these scientists were not actually interested in science but proving their point and that they weren’t opposed to using unethical means to do so. More revealing however was something not necessarily in the emails but that my attention turned to – the hockey stick. At this point it doesn’t seem to me that there is scientific proof that our current temperatures are “unprecedented”. My impression is that if these temperature rises have occurred in the recent past (the MWP) the claim that CO2 is the primary cause is not proven.

    I don’t believe the current temps are entirely natural or man-made – I simply don’t know what the facts are and my impression is that most respected scientists don’t either. Given my belief that a warming planet is much more conducive to life than a cold planet I don’t think we are facing a crisis of any sort.

  172. bilbo

    Jim,

    Actually, when someone accuses someone else of fraud, the burden of proof is on the accuser (you). And science doesn’t operate by “proving” anything. You’re totally wrong on both counts there.

    Personally I’ve suspected all scientfic assertions for about 30 yrs, going back to the saccarine, and butter causing cancer scares.

    In other words, you’re a science denialist that refuses to accept anything a scientist says. You needn’t say anything further.

  173. bilbo

    Oh, and by the way, Jim – it’s not my job to prove AGW. As the one hurling accusations, it’s your job to debunk it. If a person (such as yourself) runs into a room and screams “FIRE!!!!!”, it’s up to you to show us the smoke.

    And you’ve just simply run away.

  174. Nathan

    Bilbo – It is up to you to prove AGW. That’s the point everyone is making, you’re just too blind to see it. You ignore all questions posed to you and deflect every statement while making demands for actual data. I wonder if you would even know what actual data looks like. You say people run away, but there are several people trying to engage you on the issue.

    This proving of the theory AGW wouldn’t even be an issue like it is if demands weren’t made to take action because everything is so bad. I say it’s not bad…you say “Pay up, it is”. I still say it’s not bad. I’d be perfectly content if your belief never stepped on my foot.

  175. Bilbo, you have deligitamized yourself.
    Scientific fact: There is ample evidence in the historical and geologic record of the Medievil Warm Period 1,000 years ago, when temperatures were as high or higher than today. How else could mediterranian wine grape varieties have grown in England (as they did during the Roman Warming 2,000 years ago!)? This warming shows up in every proxy record other than Mann’s broken Hockey Stick.

    Your refusal to concede this (along with Mann, Jones, et al.) and your ad nauseum demands that we disprove a negative (a scientific impossibility) show you are not an impartial skeptical scientist interested in the truth, but a partisan activist.

    Quit cluttering what is suppposed to be a survey of readers with constant bullying, self-serving posts. You said your peace, now let others have their turn.
    (are there any referees on this forum at all?)

  176. AMac

    Michael Heath wrote (December 17th, 2009 at 6:51 pm) —

    > RC Saumarez stated: ” Given that there is a growing body of evidence that the data on which AGW is based is contaminated.”

    > Citations please.

    — end quote —

    What follows is not a citation, but an readily-verified instance of the “contaminated” nature of some paleoclimate reconstructions.

    In 2008, a prominent paleoclimatologist’s team made grossly erroneous calibrations of several proxies as part of a major paleoclimate reconstruction. This mistake meant that Lake Korttajarvi lakebed sediment series were used in an upside-down manner.

    This reconstruction was published in the high-impact peer-reviewed journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

    A challenge to this misuse of data was rebuffed by the authors; the paper was not corrected or retracted. The climatology community has accepted this outcome.

    Google “Tiljander Mann” (without the quotes) for details.

  177. Doug

    Alex, don’t bother asking bilbo for rational explanations. He will only call you a ‘silly little denialist’ while he continues to deny any shady business at CRU. (Seems a little silly)

    Hi there, kettle, it’s your old pal the pot. You’re black.

    The battlefield has changed, and unless the tactics change, it’s going to become increasingly amusing to watch.

  178. Thanks Doug. It’d be funnier if the political/economic ramifications weren’t so massively bad. But you’re probably right about bilge-bo. Ad hominum, ad hominum (to the tune of Oh Tanenbaum) seems to be the only thing he can sing.

    Happy Holy-days, to all.

  179. MrCannuckistan

    As a layman I somehow found the idea of man having some kind of global and catastrophic effect on the global climate system a little far fetched. I kept an open mind, watched AIT and listened to the scientists. When I started to research some of the claims myself I found some interesting things that, to a layman, just didn’t add up.

    Claim: If Greenland (Antarctica) melted the sea level rise would be 23 feet. — This sounds reasonable. But when I found that the IPCC (TAR) said it would take 11,900 years for that to happen I realized it was just fear mongering. The melt rate would have to be increase by a factor of 5 for it to add any significant sea level rise over the next century. As for Antarctica, the little I’ve read (wikipedia) says it’s so cold there it would take huge temperature increases just to get the sea ice around it to melt, let alone anything on land to cause any significant sea lever rise. And even then, coolantartic.com speculates that increased snow fall as a result of the tempeature increase could sequester water offsetting sea level rise to a certain degree.

    Claim: Ocean acidification will cause said problems with the marine ecology. — I can understand their concern. According to Orr, James C.; et al. (2005) the ocean has gone from a pH of approximately 8.179 to 8.104 (−0.075) over roughly 250 years. I have not read anything to indicate that the rate is increasing but maybe it has. Based on those numbers though, just to become neutral (7 pH) (let alone acidic) it would take another ~3500 years.

    (Side Note: Saw an interesting show last night about an underwater volcano that showed fish and shrimp swimming around perfectly unharmed in what they said was the equivalent of battery acid coming from the eruption.)

    Claim: As arctic sea ice melts it will give way to a considerably lower albedo causing more ice to melt. — Interestingly enough, the past two summers (ice doesn’t melt in the winter) since the record melt in 2007 have shown MORE ice in subsequent years and not less. This contradicts what we are told and simply casts more doubt in my mind. Check out Cryosphere Today or the NSIDC for the observations made by them.

    Claim: The oceans are taking up all the heat. — I never understood this one cuz I’ve always been taught that heat rises and that the deeper you go in the ocean the closer you get to core temperatures. So for heat to sink in the ocean it sounds like it’s defying gravity or the laws of physics or something. Maybe someone can explain what I am missing.

    Claim: Glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. This one is so muddled it’s hard to find a straight answer. Some glaciers are 30kms long and are retreating at an “alarming” rate of 30m/y. That means it will take 1000 years to disappear, not by 2035. Then someone points out that a 1996 report by VM Kotlyakov says Himalayan glaciers will lose 80% of their volume by 2350, not the 2035 the IPCC claims. Lastly, you have promoters of AGW glacier melt showing us pictures and videos of tidewater glaciers calving into the water. Dramatic yes, but as I understand it, this is result of an increase in mass balance or a growing glacier. Regardless of all this, haven’t glaciers been retreating since the end of the LIA?

    Claim: A warming world will cause hurricane activity to increase. Ryan Maue of Florida State University claims that hurricane (ACE) activity is at a 30 year low right now. While the claim/theory of more storms has never been explained in terms I can understand, the simplistic explanation that clashes in temperature gradients cause storms seems reasonable. And with warmers stating that higher latitudes will get warmer faster, this contradicts the theory and validates the observation.

    Claim: AGW will cause deserts to grow. Articles in NewScientist and National Geographic claim that the Sahara is shrinking. While they don’t always claim to be as a result of AGW there are some that claim plants can be more drought tolerant in a CO2 rich environment. Inversely the Gobi desert is growing in China. As a result of climate change or just land mismanagement? Cyclical changes perhaps?

    These are but just a few of the inconsistencies I view with my own eyes. Perhaps a little rational thought and logical analysis is a dangerous thing without the technical background. But from a layman’s perspective these things seem like such abstract concepts that are hundreds or even thousands of years away to be relevant in a finite fossil fuel world.

    References available on request, but I hope you intelligent people know how to use Google well enough that I don’t have to clutter up the comments with a bunch of links.

    MrC.

  180. Themo

    The scientific method requires skepticism of any hypothesis, such as the repeatedly falsified conjecture that CO2 causes Catastrophic AGW (CO2=CAGW; abbreviated to here to “AGW”).

    Scientific skeptics are the ONLY honest scientists. Every honest scientist is a skeptic, first and foremost. The rest are simply promoting a political agenda in return for money and status.

    If it were not for scientific skepticism, sick people would still go to witch doctors, instead of to hospitals. The scientific method is what has made it possible to advance technologically; it is the reason that you don’t have to do your laundry on river rocks, or harvest wheat with a scythe, or die from an infection.

    When a new hypothesis like AGW comes along, the burden is on the promoters of that hypothesis to show that it explains reality better than the existing and long held theory of natural climate variability. The AGW hypothesis fails because it cannot make accurate predictions. Not one GCM (computer climate model) predicted the flat to falling global temperatures over most of the past decade. Furthermore, the burden is not on skeptics to prove ANYTHING. The scientific method requires that a new hypothesis must withstand skeptical attack. Those that fend off all challenges become accepted theories.

    But in order to sort the truth from what the witch doctors say, the scientific method requires full and complete disclosure by fully cooperating with requests from other scientists for all of the data, both raw and adjusted, and all methodologies that went into formulating the AGW hypothesis, so that the hypothesis can be replicated, tested, and if possible, falsified. After that, only what remains standing is accepted as being scientifically valid.

    This is where AGW fails. Promoters of AGW routinely stonewall requests for the data and methods used to arrive at the hypothesis that CO2=CAGW. For example, the CRU is in receipt of over forty legitimate FOI requests for their data, the methods used, and their sources. Not a single one of those requests from numerous different scientists has been honored. Rather, the leaked emails show the CRU scientists strategizing over how to thwart all information requests, including their planned destruction of the data rather than allowing it to be released.

    What are they hiding? This is weather and climate data, not nuclear defense secrets. The taxpaying public paid for their work product and is entitled to review it.

    Despite the trumped-up excuses, such as putative agreements to not disclose their data (and they now claim that the agreements themselves are also secret, so they do not have to show signed and dated copies of those supposed “agreements.”), they continue to stonewall.

    Why do the purveyors of AGW refuse to open their data and methods to examination? For one reason: if they opened their books, the CO2=CAGW hypothesis would be promptly falsified.

    Planet Earth itself is falsifying the CO2=AGW hypothesis: for the past decade, as the minor trace gas CO2 continues to rise, the global temperature has continued to fall.

    As many others have pointed out, the AGW hypothesis is not based on science, because its purveyors refuse to abide by the scientific method. AGW is based on politics, not science.

    It is unfortunate that the relatively small clique of government scientists involved in the AGW scam have made all scientists suspect in the eyes of the general public. And that perception is continuing to get worse.

  181. Rich Wright

    Most of the strongest skeptics of AGW are people who highly respect the scientific method. These people observe that the IPCC scientists have never published their methodologies along with their results, so there is no way for someone to attempt to duplicate their research to verify their findings.

    Climate science has been a corruption of normal science. It is time for serious scientists in other fields to demand that all climate science studies publish their methodologies along with their results.

    Any climate science that doesn’t release its raw data and methodologies, including computer model code, should be rejected as real science. That means that right now we can’t accept all the research that was built on the supposedly lost CRU raw data for global temperatures over the past 150 years.

  182. Doug

    @ Alex, and in general:

    Past post from this blog’s authors regarding commments policy:

    “While we encourage and appreciate commentary from readers, we cannot allow the tenor of dialogue to be lowered or debased, or for one individual to ruin an otherwise constructive dialogue. Our general rule is that comments must be substantive and on topic, and must avoid profanity, personal attacks, and hectoring. It is for us to judge who has violated these principles; and if, after a warning, behavior doesn’t change, we reserve the right to moderate comments at our discretion.”

    Target defined. Target missed.

  183. Jim

    One cannot make an assertion and then say it’s up to someone else to accept or disprove it. period. that’s not science, that’s anti-science. perhaps the core of the issue.

    I don’t mind being called a skeptic, in fact I don’t even mind being called a denier. AS far as I’m concerned anyone who never is skeptical is a fool. To deny that AGW is not settled science is not bad either.
    Increasingly its the AGW faction that are becoming deniers and flat earthers, denying that other opinions have value, and refusing to accept that the science isn’t settled yet.

    I’m not sceptical of science, btw, just scientists, and their motives.

  184. Thomas L

    Bilbo,

    Actually what I gave you was a pretty basic saturation function. You have not answered it. I also stated it was not my presentation, but from someone else. As I actually do understand the equation and understand the charts referenced (from RC by the way), I would think it is an equation that needs consideration, and if Co2 somehow works different than any other substance I would like to have the why’s of such explained to me (because I doubt such is the case). What is “denialist jargon”?. We are talking physics, and accepted (by every other field) equations of how such works. I am sorry if you think such is jargon, most of us view such as science. It does make me question how much you have understood anything you have read.

    You are constantly demanding “data”, and several have provided what in their respective fields are considered basic equations that seem to have been ignored by your supposed “proof”. Yet you have nothing to say of them but that they are stupid and trying to blind people with jargon? No one can “prove” a negative – I think most are taught that in their freshman year. The question is proving the positive. Something many of us do not agree has been done. But yes, I can assuredly see your towering intellect from your rambling posts. You sound much more like one who has had their religion attacked rather than one who is thoughtful.

    Perhaps you need to find a real job so you have something to do with your time and the rest of us can have a grown up conversation.

  185. FergalR

    bilbo said: (single quotes are him or her quoting me)
    “‘ ‘Kind of heartwarming that bilbo demands rigourous scientific refutation of the “fact” of AGW when it has been already been proven false by the fact that measured temperatures haven’t risen in a decade.
    The science is settled.’

    It is, Fergal? Oh my!! Then what oh what did I miss? See, you’re exactly what I (rightfully) call a Silly Little Denialist: someone who makes broad pronouncements about climate change (”it has been already been proven false”) without backing it up.

    How utterly stupid.

    Your data? Your analyses? Your proof that you understand the evidence for AGw to begin with? I can say the sky is green, and end it with “the science is settled,” but I still will look like as much of a fool as you do when I look outside and yep, the sky is blue.”

    Here’s my data: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1950/plot/uah

    Here’s my analysis: The global temperature (something that was actually measured) hasn’t risen in a decade therefore the theory of man-made global warming is something that only someone suffering supreme naivety, or who would be claiming unemployment benefit it it was proven false, would believe.

    Q) If CO2 causes global warming then why hasn’t the world warmed since the turn of the millennium?
    A) It doesn’t.

    I may as well try to understand Lamarckism since it shows more promise than the obviously false premise that the minuscule atmospheric CO2 increase causes a measurable change in the temperature of the Earth.

    Using any variation of the word denier to shut down debate is an insult to the victims of the holocaust, but I forgive you since you’re obviously too young to even remember the imminent ice age that James Hansen, John Holdren and numerous others were demanding action to avert back in the ’70’s.

    I have little doubt that when their like are demanding action to ameliorate the coming ice age towards the middle of this century I’ll be dead and you’ll be the one arguing with the likes of your current self. Best of luck.

    Are you quite sure that the sky is blue on your imaginary world in which you have fully invested your ego in a falsified theory?

  186. Thomas L

    Bilbo,

    Your tactics are failing (in a big way) “On environment, Obama and scientists take hit in poll”:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/18/AR2009121800002.html

  187. ZT

    Disappointing – my response from yesterday didn’t seem to get into the comments. If this is a duplicate apologies. I wanted to get to contribute to the discussion as I believe my experience is not atypical – and it answers your question ‘where are the skeptics’ coming from.

    I am a scientist – and until recently I assumed that the facts of climate change were settled.

    When the climategate news broke – I assumed climategate was ‘a storm in tea cup’. Then I had a look at the emails myself. This is not hard to do – just a quick google and you have all the files. I did not look just at the messages that were incorporated into news stories.

    As a scientist who has written and reviewed scientific papers, I have to say I was shocked by what I saw.

    I have never seen or even heard of scientists ‘gaming’ the peer review system – and thereby damaging the careers and credibility of fellow scientists. This (in my scientific experience) just ‘not done’.

    I have never seen requests to delete possibly incriminating email messages.

    I have never seen anyone contemplating mixing two forms of data (slyly) to prove a point, when in fact the raw data sets themselves diverge and thereby cast doubt on this point.

    I was also ashamed to see the sloppy programming used in processing and manipulating the data. I have never had anything to do with this particular world of programming – but I found it embarrassing to see what this ‘team’ had put together. This was a well funded team of experts – how they could come up with that collection of ‘code’ – is hard to understand.

    In all, the contents of that email archive made me truly angry.

    That anger caused me to check further into the actual evidence for AGW. I immediately found that the evidence that humans are causing global warming is thin. Indeed, some of the best evidence for AGW appears to have been fabricated. Indeed, climategate provides documentary evidence that humans have been suppressing evidence of past periods of global warming.

    Talking with scientists following the revelations of climategate indicates that my reactions are not unique. Many scientists are surprised that there have not been immediate resignations – surely those involved cannot believe that their careers can carry on with this on the records.

    So, one reason for the increased ‘skepticism’ may be increased interest from scientists – who until now had assumed that climatology was operating in a fairly normal scientific fashion – but who now see that science has long been absent from climatology.

  188. Big Sky

    The entire AGW theory is just to big to be shown TRUE with the likes of a few published papers. There is NO ONE SINGLE PAPER to show such a massive piece of work as predicting the future weather patterns of the entire planet. The failures of the IPCC’s 2000 models should have given pause to all AGW folks – but they just bypass it. Where are the cloud studies? What about basic soot? The questions go on and on.

    ZT is spot on as well.

    Climategate = a dark day for Science. I hope those ‘peer review’ charges are not true.

  189. MattyS

    I think people are sceptical because they were told temperatures would continue to rise, then when temperatures stopped rising, people were told they were stupid for expecting temperatures to continue to rise.

    Of course, they *will* rise; just at some poorly defined point in the future. And by an unknown amount. And with fairly unclear results.

    And then there’s the realisation once you look into the science that actually, climates have shifted dramatically in the past, in a matter of decades. Then it turns out actually perhaps this was months, not decades. And humans weren’t pumping out CO2, so maybe something else caused it?

  190. wagdog

    My feeling is that a lot of denial (and a fair number of conspiracists) come from the extreme end of the libertarian sphere. They tend to be extremely resilient against all forms of science that doesn’t confirm their laissez-faire free market beliefs, irrespective of the framing one uses.

  191. Sven DiMilo

    the obviously false premise that the minuscule atmospheric CO2 increase causes a measurable change in the temperature of the Earth

    And this is “obviously false” because you can cherry-pick a particular decade (1% of the milennium under discussion) that doesn’t show net warming?

    Please go back and review the difference between “weather” and “climate.”

  192. FergalR

    Oh, right Sven, should I review the 1,000 year temperature reconstructions fabricated by Michael Mann – who’s curently under investigation – in collusion with the CRU who’s director has stepped down while an investigation is carried out? Or should I ignore everything those (alleged) philistines said and review the beliefs generally held among climatologists before the advent of politics in their field of study?

    “that doesn’t show net warming?”

    It doesn’t show ANY warming Sven. Open your eyes.

    Weather and climate do have one important thing in common though: you should hope that anyone who believes that they can predict either is only deluding themselves.

  193. Paul W.

    About that “obviously false” premise that a “miniscule” amount of CO2 can make a big difference…

    It appears that most climate “skeptics” don’t understand the basic mechanism of the greenhouse effect, and think that it’s the concentration of CO2 that matters.

    It’s not. Sure, people talk about the concentration, because that’s what you generally measure, but what really matters is the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere per unit area of the Earth’s surface.

    A difference of a hundredth of a percent in atmospheric concentration doesn’t sound like much, but it really is, because there’s a whole lot of air between us and outer space.

    The mass of air over our heads is equivalent in mass to about 30 feet or 10 meters of water.

    What the CO2 in the air does is to absorb infrared far, far more efficiently than the major components of air (nitrogen, oxygen, etc.).

    Consider a 30-foot deep swimming pool full of crystal clear water, with the sun shining down on it. Most of the sunlight will penetrate 30 feet of water, and either be absorbed by the paint on the bottom of the pool, or reflected by that paint and come right back up through all that water.

    That’s roughly what infrared radiation does—the Earth shines with reflected IR, and glows with IR that it generates by being warm. (Warm bodies radiate heat away as IR.)

    Now imagine putting one hundredth of one percent of black ink in the water in our pool—a few buckets of ink for a normal-sized pool, and mix it up reasonably well.

    All the sudden the water will be gray. A glass of the water will still look quite clear, because it will contain only a tiny amount of ink, but there’ll be enough ink in the water to absorb most of the light reflected off the bottom of the pool—30 feet of very slightly gray water will look pretty dark.

    (In much the same way that a pitcher of iced tea looks a couple of shades darker than a glass of the same tea. And on a smoggy day in in Mexico City, you can’t see the smog looking across the street at all, but you can definitely see it graying the appearance of a building a few miles away—there’s just a whole lot more air and thus a whole lot more smog between you and that building than between you and one across the street.)

    Think about the buckets of ink we threw in the pool. How much will it darken the pool?

    About as much as painting the bottom of the pool with a few buckets of ink! It’s basically the same thing—a photon of light has to get past about the same as many molecules of ink in either case, and has about the same chance of being absorbed.

    That’s why the intuition that a few hundred parts per million “isn’t much” is just wrong.

    Imagine condensing the miles of air above our heads to the density of water, so that we get 30 feet of liquid air.

    How much carbon dioxide is in there, at the density of water?

    About an eighth of an inch. An eighth of an inch of liquid carbon dioxide.

    That much carbon dioxide is distinctly “gray” in the infrared. It absorbs a lot of IR and keeps it from radiating harmlessly away into space.

    If we compress it a few times more, so that we have, say, a millimeter of gray stuff about the density of smoky-colored plastic, you probably start to get the idea…

    A few hundred parts per million of CO2 around the whole earth is like a thin layer of smoky plastic around the whole earth, darkening it in the IR range.

    Will that heat up the earth? You bet it will.

  194. Paul W.

    There’s a certain irony in FergalR’s talking about the “obviously false” premise that a “miniscule” amount of CO2 can signficantly affect the Earth’s temperature in the very same post that he talks about how obviously the sky is blue.

    Why is the sky blue? Because blue light traveling through a few feet of air has a miniscule chance of
    scattering—a few feet of air is almost absolutely clear—but blue light traveling through a few miles of air has a substantial chance of scattering, and being reflected back down so that we can see it when we look out into space. So the “miniscule” scattering effect makes the sky obviously blue.

    If you could see in the infrared, it would be equally obvious that a “miniscule amount” of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere changes the color of the sky—or looking at the earth from space, the color of the earth.

    (I have a longer post in moderation that explains this.)

  195. I love how people who obviously have no understanding of the scientific process, the science behind climate research, or even just a rudimentary ability to understand scientific papers, claim that they are scientists. See ZT as an example of this.

    When he claims that

    As a scientist who has written and reviewed scientific papers, I have to say I was shocked by what I saw.

    I have never seen or even heard of scientists ‘gaming’ the peer review system – and thereby damaging the careers and credibility of fellow scientists. This (in my scientific experience) just ‘not done’.

    he clearly shows that he is no scientist, and that he doesn’t follow science news. Scientists “game” the peer review system all the time. There are frequently big dust-ups about how someone got a below par article printed in one journal or another, about how certain editors will try to push certain views (see e.g. how pro-creationsts or pro-denier articles have gotten published in the past, leading to editors resigning).

    All of this, of course, have nothing to do with the content of the emails, which were private communications between people talking about sub-par articles, which they felt shouldn’t be included in a summary report (in the end, the articles were included), or which they felt should lead to a journal to either take action or be disregarded as serious (the journal did in the end take action, after half its editors resigned in protest of the sub-par article).

  196. I think people are sceptical because they were told temperatures would continue to rise, then when temperatures stopped rising, people were told they were stupid for expecting temperatures to continue to rise.

    MattyS, that sounds like a reasonable explanation. Of course, it would have required the temperatures to have stopped rising, which they haven’t, so in the current context it’s nonsense, but in whatever fantasy world where the temperatures have stopped rising, it’s certainly reasonable.

    The current decade is the warmest on record, and all of the years are among the warmest years recorded.

  197. Paul W.

    My feeling is that a lot of denial (and a fair number of conspiracists) come from the extreme end of the libertarian sphere. They tend to be extremely resilient against all forms of science that doesn’t confirm their laissez-faire free market beliefs, irrespective of the framing one uses.

    The odd thing is that a fair fraction of serious libertarian economists favor carbon taxes. (I think Milton Friedman did.)

    If anything is a commons, such that it’s a reasonable thing to tax people for damaging it, it would have to be the atmosphere. (Who owns the sky?)

    Of course, you’re not likely to hear that sentiment—fairly common even among serious libertarian thinkers—from libertarian “think tanks,” which are mostly corporate-funded anti-regulation propaganda mills.

    What you hear instead is the same kind of doubt-sowing we heard for so long about the link between smoking and cancer. (And often from the very same professional deniers—third-rate hack scientists who’ll say anything for a buck.)

  198. Cal

    Paul W. Says:

    About that “obviously false” premise that a “miniscule” amount of CO2 can make a big difference…

    I think you need to review the science re climate sensitivity and positive feedbacks. The amount of warming by co2 itself is small – about a 1 degree C per doubling. It is the water vapour feedback that will supposedly cause the extra 3 – 4 degree warming.

    People on both sides of this argument seem awfully certain about their views while at the same time lacking a basic understanding of the science behind it. Skeptics are often just as guilty with their claims that it’s primarily the sun driving the warming. The fact is we just don’t know the extend of feedbacks in the system.

  199. Cal

    wagdog Says:

    “My feeling is that a lot of denial (and a fair number of conspiracists) come from the extreme end of the libertarian sphere.”

    I think there is some truth to this. I consider myself an anarchist and libertarian (but not Libertarian I’m more of the socialist type). I think that people with these types of politics are more distrusting of government in general. Alarmist climate science is definitely touted by governments making it at least somewhat suspect.

    Having said that I know many anarchists who do believe that there is a potential crisis over warming. What most anarchists do agree on is that whatever damage caused by co2 should be included in its price either because it is ethical and moral and/or because of economic principles (internalizing the externalities).

  200. Paul W.

    Cal,

    I’m not disagreeing with you about the complexity of the mechanism—I know that there are other factors that come into play and are very important in the final analysis.

    (One I didn’t mention is that some of the IR absorbed by greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere will be reradiated away into space from there, and some fraction of that will be IR that would have made it through the atmosphere and been absorbed at the Earth’s surface. So stratospheric effects are different…)

    My point was just that the common dismissal of a few hundred PPM CO2 as obviously negligible is just flat wrong. It’s a bullshit talking point I’ve heard over and over again lately; evidently a lot of climate “skeptics” think that climate scientists are not only wrong, but dumber than a box of rocks to think that such a small amount of CO2 could possibly matter. They’re not.

    It does matter, and it would even be visible to the naked eye if you could see in the infrared, just as it’s visible that blue light scatters significantly in the atmosphere. What the net effect is at the bottom line is a lot more complicated, of course; climate modeling isn’t simple.

  201. Sven DiMilo

    should I review the 1,000 year temperature reconstructions fabricated by

    They were “reconstructed,” not “fabricated.” You can argue about the methods of reconstruction (not that it matters anymore, since several independent reconstructions since have shown the same patterns), but “fabrication”? You have drunk the Exxon/Mobil koolade.

    It doesn’t show ANY warming Sven. Open your eyes.

    *rolls eyes*
    Here are the data, OK? These are thermometer measurements, not reconstructions from proxies. Anybody can go in there and pick out a particular decade with net cooling or net warming or net stability. The 5-y moving average even declines over some decades.
    Changes on that scale are irrelevant. They are not what the big people are talking about when they talk about global climate change. OK? Your smug little red herring doesn;t mean shit.

  202. FergalR

    oooOOOooo, no need to get touchy there Sven. Big person Kevin Trenberth – Nobel Peace prize winning head of NCAR – seem to think it was important to point out to fellow big (and, no, I’m not making fun of his giant head) person Michael Mann that the lack of warming was a travesty.

    Perhaps he meant to say that it was a farce?

    Try checking the satellite records instead of the corrupted and cherry-picked thermometer readings and please don’t disguise wikipedia links in light of this; http://www.nationalpost.com/m/blog.html?b=fullcomment&e=lawrence-solomon-wikipedia-s-climate-doctor&s=Opinion , thanks.

    I forgive you for your foul language since I’ve heard that cognitive dissonance can be trying on the mind.

  203. FergalR

    Sorry, I should worry more about completeness and just let the sentences run on. It was, of course, their inability to account for the current lack of warming that Trenberth labeled a travesty. In this sense it is a travesty since they are allowed to spout the line that they are 90% confident that the current warming is mostly man-made despite the fact that if they couldn’t predict the current lack of warming then no-one in their right mind would believe them when they blame carbon dioxide for the warming until 2000.

  204. Daryl M

    All I can say to your comment that “pretty much everybody here accepts the well established scientific consensus on global warming, which is that it is real and human caused” is that it doesn’t reflect the views of an increasing number of people, myself included. If Climategate hasn’t caused you to reconsider whether the “established scientific consensus” reflects reality, then you need to get out more.

  205. Geoff L

    “Or, alternatively, are a lot of the “skeptics” that we’re getting here non-regular readers who are coming from elsewhere for some reason?”

    Count me as a visiting sceptic. As for the state of climate science Richard Lindzen’s “Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?” offers an interesting view from a sceptical climatologist.

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0809/0809.3762.pdf

    From the abstract: “In particular, we show how particular bodies act to control scientific institutions, how scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions, and how opposition to these positions is disposed of.”

    Read this in conjunction with the leaked e-mails and other information from the University of East Anglia. Note the similarities. No better source to understand the context & significance of the e-mails is Steve McIntyre’s site, climateaudit.

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

  206. Sven DiMilo

    RegalR, you are a piece of work.

    Kevin Trenberth – Nobel Peace prize winning head of NCAR – seem to think it was important to point out…that the lack of warming was a travesty.

    Let’s let Dr. Trenberth clarify the issue for us:

    Trenberth says his quote “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment.” was taken out of context: “We’ve always had some problems with the observing system,” he said. “It’s obviously not as good as we would like, and that’s true of the temperature record, as well. What this is saying is we need better observations. What it’s not saying is that global warming is not here.”

    As for his Nobel Peace Prize, it’s funny that the Nobel Foundation hasn’t heard about it…unless you are referring to the IPCC, which would just be dishonest in this context.

    Try checking the satellite records

    These? See that positive slope? That means “warming.”

    the corrupted and cherry-picked thermometer readings and please don’t disguise wikipedia links in light of this

    You are paranoid. These are the data, not a conspiracy, and aren’t you relying on data like these to make your stupid argument about the last decade?
    I do hope my language meets with your approval this time. Unclutch those pearls.

  207. AMac

    Way back at the beginning, Discover’s blogger asked, “Where are all you climate ‘skepics’ coming from?” S/he framed the debate this way: “Whenever I blog about the matter, though, there is always a cascade of denialist/skeptic comments, frequently of enough magnitude to overwhelm the pro-science commenters.”

    Emphasis added. Denialists (echoes of Holocaust Deniers) versus the defenders of Science.

    Among the 207 comments posted so far, this reader finds:

    * Some strong science-based defenses of the AGW consensus.
    * Some strong science-based reasons for skepticism towards the AGW consensus.
    * A whole lot of ad hominem, and shoddy argumentation, going both ways.

    Not much reason to label the AGW-believing side Pro-science and the skeptics anti-science.

    Maybe the Discover blogging staff learned something, this time?

  208. @ Paul W

    Unlike , eg , Bilbo , you seem to actually understand the basic physics more than most on either side . So why don’t you or any of the alarmists lay out the essential Stefan-Boltzmann&Kirchhoff physics and take it to a quantitative conclusion . You should agree with everything in my implementation of the equations for gray bodies on my website because it comes to the right numbers . Global mean temperature is a much simpler problem than “climate” , like determining the mean temperature of a volume of gas is much simpler than explaining all the eddies within it . Perhaps you could enhance my implementation to full spectra ( Not having funding from anybody and being motivated simply by fear of this “Pinky and the Brain” attempt to take over the world , I have not managed to justify the effort to just do it ) and break out the changes in earth’s spectra which cause us to be about 8c warmer than a gray body in our orbit . ( And perhaps get Wikipedia to correct their SB and Black Body pages which present equations for the non-physical case of a body which absorbs as a gray body but emits as a black body . This perpetuates the fallacy that radiantly heated white balls come to a lower equilibrium temperature than black balls . )

    But , a major reason to disbelieve that even a doubling of CO2 will change planetary mean temperature appreciably is the essentially logarithmic declining effect of increasing concentrations of filters . The strongly absorbing peaks of the CO2 are essentially opaque within a few hundred meters of the ground . Additional CO2 makes little difference . See the widely available graph at http://cosy.com/Science/LogCO2effect.jpg if it does not display here .

    John Hendricks should get politics out of his products and increase the rigor of the science . Something’s wrong that you find more sophistication among some of the blog posters than you do from Discovery’s paid authors .

  209. Geoff L

    Further my comment 206. above a good example of the corruption of the “peer review” process by a “team” of AGW scientists is shown in the link below. The essay in American Thinker below is by David H Douglas & John R Christy who published “A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions” in the “International Journal of Climatology”, 2007. This was rebutted by Santer et al, 2008.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/12/a_climatology_conspiracy.html

    “The CRU e-mails have revealed how the normal conventions of the peer review process appear to have been compromised by a team* of global warming scientists, with the willing cooperation of the editor of the International Journal of Climatology (IJC), Glenn McGregor. The team spent nearly a year preparing and publishing a paper that attempted to rebut a previously published paper in IJC by Douglass, Christy, Pearson, and Singer (DCPS). The DCPS paper, reviewed and accepted in the traditional manner, had shown that the IPCC models that predicted significant “global warming” in fact largely disagreed with the observational data.

    We will let the reader judge whether this team effort, revealed in dozens of e-mails and taking nearly a year, involves inappropriate behavior, including (a) unusual cooperation between authors and editor, (b) misstatement of known facts, (c) character assassination, (d) avoidance of traditional scientific give-and-take, (e) using confidential information, (f) misrepresentation (or misunderstanding) of the scientific question posed by DCPS, (g) withholding data, and more.

    *The team is a group of climate scientists who frequently collaborate and publish papers which often support the hypothesis of human-caused global warming. For this essay, the leading team members include Ben Santer, Phil Jones, Timothy Osborn, and Tom Wigley, with lesser roles for several others”.

    As a postscript Steve McIntyre & Ross Mckitrick have a comment on Santer et al, 2008, showing that key results were reversed when up to date data is used (Santer’s data ended in 1999).

  210. Geoff L

    I meant to add at the end of comment 210. above that the McIntyre & McKitrick comment on Santer et al, 2008, has been tied up nearly one year.

  211. Climate sceptics are inconsistent and disagree with each other more than the scientific mainstream
    http://another-green-world.blogspot.com/2009/12/climate-sceptics-are-like-alcoholics.html

  212. I subscribe to “Discover” which has truly excellent articles. As a coauthor of “The Resilient Earth” along with coauthor Dr. Doug Hoffman, we looked at the IPCC findings and Al Gore’s doom scenarios two years ago, and knew something was not right. I have twelve years with NASA and knew the shortcomings of climate models, and the total difficulty modeling water vapor. Hoffman, with a PhD in Computer Science also knows the shortcomings of computer models, particularly in something as complex as Earth’s atmosphere. But beyond our education and backgrounds, one must apply simple logic to a simple question. Can we predict (compute) Earth’s temperature 100 years out, and use this prediction to blindly change our industrial infrastructure in a decade or two. There is an answer to all of this bickering and wasting money. Phase out carbon based electricity generation, phase in nuclear power; transition from internal combustion engine driven vehicles to hybrids over a sensible period of time. Modeling should be for science purposes period. Modeling should not be for shoveling money into dirty hands of politicians like the IPCC and Gore. They should be thrown out with the dishwater. They harm science. In the year 2100, someone can hold up a thermometer and read the temperature. Then our survivors will know if they should put on overcoats, on go out in shirt sleeves.

  213. Allen you are very complacent about your childrens future, I bet you don’t below the smoking causes cancer either.

    Perhaps you are an addict, no link between CO2 and climate, you don’t even discuss this.

    Climate modelling is difficult, ignoring climate change could be fatal.

    Ah well lets not worry, lets act like the big birds who put their heads in the sand.

  214. Hi Derek,
    Yes, there is a link between CO2 and climate. It is a
    relatively smaller GHG than H2O, and is impossible to
    accurately model. When we first modeled atmospheres,
    CO2 was chosen as a principal player because it was easier.
    It is sorrowful that CO2 has been so vilified because animal life, including future generations, could not make it without it. I do not know if Earth will be warmer or cooler in 2100, and neither does anyone else. But I do know this, warm or cool, CO2 will not be the reason. Perhaps you have not read “The Resilient Earth.” If you had, you would have known that we, (myself and coauthor) care a great deal about Earth and all future species. We cared so much, we wrote a book about it. As a matter of fact ‘…..the Future of Humanity’ is in our subtitle.

  215. I bet that the vast majority of people with an opinion on human climate change are merely espousing beliefs, not science, and have never done any serious climate research or comprehensive climate research reading of more than a few minutes.

    And those who have done a lot of reading on the subject have done it with sources that match their own present beliefs, quickly dismissing opposing ‘facts’. Everyone says they have the facts, so the word facts has become pretty meaningless.

    When we choose to speak up on a topic in which we have shallow depth of education that includes mostly media summaries and adamant opines from the most vocal, the topic turns into a linguistic brawl.

    This is a ‘change-by-pain’ issue. When/if humans start feeling enough collective pain in our health/bank accounts, then we will rally to make a change.

  216. ‘CO2 has been so vilified’ too much of it we burn, like wise water is good for us but too much of it and we burn.

    Seems very straight forward unless you are an oil economy like Saudi Arabia.

  217. I mean drown with too much water!

    The sceptic case is very flaky but convenient if you want to keep on wasting resources and don’t care about acid oceans.

    Burn baby burn is the sceptic motto.

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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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