The Strange Spread of Climate Denial

By Chris Mooney | December 18, 2009 1:29 pm

Over at Mother Jones’ blog “Blue Marble,” I’ve got a post/essay on a topic that I started thinking about after my Wednesday night panel with the Guardian’s George Monbiot in Copenhagen–namely, why is there suddenly a new surge of climate denial? The post starts like this:

George Monbiot, the Guardian columnist and global warming author who combines pugilistic defenses of climate science with Monty Pythonesque levity, is struck by a paradox at the heart of the attempt to achieve action here in Copenhagen. For, as he put it to a full room last night at a panel hosted by the Danish science magazine FORSKERForum, “In the past year, there has been a massive upsurge in climate change denial in the United States, even as the science gets stronger.”

Opinion polls certainly support Monbiot’s contention. According to results released in October by the Pew Research Center, considerably fewer Americans now believe the Earth is warming (the decline has been from 71 percent to 57 percent over the space of a year and a half). And as for agreement with scientists about the cause of global warming—human activities, human emissions—that too has sloped downwards, to just 36 percent today.

How is this possible?

Keep reading here for Monbiot’s, and my, answer.

Comments (99)

  1. EyeRon

    My utility bill reports the average temperature for each billed month. I have saved these bills for the past 3 years and if there is a trend it is that temperature has declined.

    Now you scientists can throw up your arms and say local weather is not representative of the climate and a single temperature reading is just an anecdote. But millions of similar anecdotes add up.

    If you want Americans to believe in Global Warming you need there to be an observable uptrend in temperatures in the United States. This happened in the 90s. It has not happened in the naughts.

  2. stefan

    OH your utility bill!! well i’m convinced

  3. Before Pearl Harbor, plenty of Americans resented calls to help Europe resist the Nazis. Isolationists and nativists for ideological reasons, industrialists for economic reasons. Not our war. It’s just the Jew Lovers who want us to fight. Charles Lindbergh says that Mr. Hitler has some good ideas. It was a real and ugly part of our history, neatly buried now under wartime patriotic nostalgia.

    I don’t think any effective measures will be taken until nature pulls a Pearl Harbor on us.

  4. foolfodder

    In fact, a Rasmussen poll taken after the news broke of the incident found that 59 percent of Americans consider it “at least somewhat likely” that scientists have falsified data to support the case for warming, while another 35 percent consider it “very likely.” Just 26 percent say “not very or not at all likely.” This is a truly appalling set of figures.

    59 + 35 + 26 = 120

    Is there something I’m missing?

  5. Doug

    As the consequences/costs of the suggested actions to curb warming become clearer and closer, you’d better believe that people will want climate scientists to show their work before they open their wallets.

    Say, if only 36% of scientists agree that warming is caused by human-generated emissions, can we really call it the consensus view anymore? I’d say that, since consensus implies majority thought, it’s more like a popular view at present.

  6. Jon

    EyeRon, the 00’s were the hottest decade on record. It so happens that 1998 was the single hottest, but if you think that one year defines a whole trend, that’s silly.

    Chris, I think you’re right about Obama. Whatever his issues were, would attract a right wing swarm. Obama is simply not supposed to be president (see Paul Krugman on this).

    But also, ideologically, the issue pushes all their buttons. If Republican elites started pushing the truth on this issue, it would bum the base out and take all populist wind out of their sails.

  7. Jon

    Also, I linked to it before, but don’t miss this piece related to the Sarah Palin WaPo op ed:

    http://trueslant.com/juliansanchez/2009/12/16/the-politics-of-ressentiment/

  8. EyeRon

    Another reason Americans deserve to be skeptical is to consider the inane logic of Michael Mann who wrote today in the Washington Post about the East Anglia e-mails. How in the world does one conclude that post-1960 tree rings are unreliable but pre-1960 tree rings are? This only makes sense if one is biased towards a desired result.

    “In the same e-mail, Jones uses the phrase “hide the decline” in reference to work by tree-ring expert Keith Briffa. Because tree-ring information has been found to correlate well with temperature readings, it is used to plot temperatures going back hundreds of years or more. Briffa described a phenomenon in which the density of wood exhibits an enigmatic decline in response to temperature after about 1960. This decline was the focus of Briffa’s original article, and Briffa was clear that these data should not be used to represent temperatures after 1960. By saying “hide the decline,” Jones meant that a diagram he was producing was not to show those data during the unreliable post-1960 period. “

  9. Jon

    No, it doesn’t. If there’s some reason trees are growing funny in the 60’s (maybe lots of CO2 in the atmosphere?), you study that phenomenon (they did), and you take those samples out and put in THE REAL FREAKIN’ TEMPERATURE RECORD. And you label the graph that that’s what you’re doing.

    Anyone who thinks that’s nefarious is desperately looking for a conspiracy to cry about.

  10. Critic2029

    @Stefan: Interesting fact, Charles Lindbergh was a Progressive. in fact most of those who admired Hitler in the US were from the Progressive movement and the Left. Another ugly fact buried by history. Which leads to the larger historical discussion. There have been plenty of Scientific red herrings over the years that where held up as FACT, when as time went on were seen to be flawed or outright false.

  11. Doug

    Jon, if this anomaly demonstrates that tree ring data can diverge from temperature data, how can we accept that such an anomaly didn’t occur in the past, before temperature records were kept? If you want to take the last 40 years of data out because they don’t match the thermometer readings, then you need to toss the whole set, not just lop off the offending bits. Either the data set is a solid proxy or it isn’t.

  12. gillt

    EyeRon: “This only makes sense if one is biased towards a desired result. ”

    What you just said only makes sense if your opinion stems from intellectual laziness.
    Here’s the explanation in eight-grade level newspaper-speak.

    http://www.morrissuntribune.com/event/article/id/20026/

  13. Jon

    Either the data set is a solid proxy or it isn’t.

    I hear there are papers out there that deal with this matter. Knock yourself out and read them. Reviewers have been reading them for years. I think you’d be redundantly doing the work of people who are better qualified, but again, knock yourself out.

  14. EyeRon

    gillt,

    All that article tells me is the researchers wanted to find an explanation for observations that did not fit their preconceived model and they did.

  15. gillt

    Doug: “how can we accept that such an anomaly didn’t occur in the past, before temperature records were kept?”

    Well gee Doug, because scientists corroborated the data from other proxies and later thermometers.

  16. gillt

    EyeRon, you’ve demonstrated vast incompetent elsewhere so from now on you need to practice the age old method of quoting and citing after you make assertions about what you think the science does and does not say.

  17. Jon

    At this point there’s so much data, you could probably easily do proxy study graphs excluding all the researchers involved in the emails.

  18. Doug

    Fair enough Jon. I am reading now. Turns out that the multiproxy system Mann, et al used has been called an inadequate methodology for climate reconstruction by a few independent groups, and hasn’t been used since MBH98 was published. I know someone will ask, so here are some citations, though I’ll admit that I haven’t read all of these yet, just some summaries.

    H. von Storch, E. Zorita, J.M. Jones, Y. Dimitriev, F. González-Rouco, and S.F.B. Tett, “Reconstructing past climate from noisy data”, Science 22 October 2004; 306: 679-682

    B. Christiansen, T. Schmith and P. Thejll (2009) A surrogate emsemble study of climate reconstruction methods: stochasticity and robustness. Journal of Climate 22, 951-976

    T.C.K. Lee, F. W. Zwiers, and Min Tsao (2008): Evaluation of proxy-based millennial reconstruction methods. Climate Dynamics 31, 263-281.

    One note I caught on this was that when von Storch published the initial criticism, Mann commented “I was not asked to review the von Storch paper, which I consider unfortunate.”

    Now, you have to admit, that’s a pretty funny comment from the guy.

  19. EyeRon

    Speaking of data, what is the consensus of uncertainty and standard deviation in the temperature measurements? Would not the uncertainty of older temperature readings be much larger than more recent ones? How much larger?

  20. Doug

    Mind you, Hans von Storch, like myself, agrees that humans have impacted worldwide climate. He’s willing, however, to separate science from advocacy/activism, as I think we all should.

  21. Jon

    Well what are we doing here?

    If we’re calling attention to an old method that is not as precise as the new ones–so what?

    And if we’re doing ad hominem attack on one scientist, I don’t know how that proves your thesis either. It’s normal MO for right wing attack on science, though.

  22. Jon

    (That message was for EyeRon.)

  23. bilbo

    My utility bill reports the average temperature for each billed month. I have saved these bills for the past 3 years and if there is a trend it is that temperature has declined.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. bilbo

    How in the world does one conclude that post-1960 tree rings are unreliable but pre-1960 tree rings are? This only makes sense if one is biased towards a desired result.

    It’s simple: one reads the established science on the subject of proxies and learns that decades of data show unreliability in one time period of the proxy data alone.

    They don’t make this shit up, EyeRon. Again you prove you’ve never actually read anything about the very science you’re trying so feebly to disprove.

  25. Guy

    One thing you that the skeptics might be not aware of is that there are actual climate scientists that are working on alternative climate change theories that don’t involve man-made GHGs. We’d all love for AWG not to be true and have no lingering doubts. We need for science to arrive at that using undeniable facts as evidence not useless conjecture.

    I wonder, even if they did come with a provable alternate theory, would they even get noticed or would they just be thrown out with the other dirty denial bathwater? The deniers may well be undermining any serious effort to look at other possible causes with their unscientific/inane babble and disinformation campaigns.

  26. EyeRon

    Out of respect to Chris Mooney I’d like to address the original question of how a growing percentage of Americans can deny global warming.

    As I stated in my initial post Americans believe what they see. And what they see in their backyards and neighborhoods is a non-warming earth. For those in the Washington DC area tomorrow they will see a blizzard. This is not terribly unusual but the presence of a foot of snow in the mid-Atlantic in December is at odds with the hyperbolic claims that the earth is overheating. America is a beautiful country and it has been for centuries. Why should one buy into threats of doom and catastrophe when all previous fears have proven unwarranted?

    There is another important facet which is that implicit in the question of global warming is man’s influence and whether anything can be done about it. Many Americans believe in God and see man’s power as infinitesimal compared to that of the Supreme Being. So for this large group of Americans the notion that man would change the destiny of the earth is preposterous. I imagine many on this forum find this silly. I’m just telling you the way it is.

    Then this is the political equation. Not so much Republican vs Democrat but Conservative vs Liberal. A plurality of Americans self-identify as conservative in their political thought (google it if you do not believe me). Conservative value self-sufficiency. They do not want and typically distrust top-down government controlled programs. Yet central to the Climate Change agenda is a top-down, government controlled program. It should not surprise anyone that a large portion of the country wants no part of this.

    A last point is climate change advocates, at least as represented on this forum, are arrogant, condescending, defensive and narrow minded. This is best exhibited by the tone of several of Mr. Mooney’s blog titles which express surprise and shock that what is so apparent to him is not obvious to the unwashed masses. If your goal is to educate people about climate science, explain how it is done, debate how it can be improved and discuss what it can teach us this blog is a miserable failure. Which is very unfortunate since the goal of science is to illuminate and seek truth irrespective of political or philosophical bias.

  27. gillt

    That’s it EyeRon keep bouncing around between topics, never addressing anything.

  28. Doug

    Wow. Anyone who wants a lesson in invective should check out the comments section of Chris’ Mother Jones blog. Whoever wrote comment #3 needs to turn off Glenn Beck and get some medication.

    Thanks to everyone here for maintaining a level of civility in the comments.

  29. Wil

    Why is it confusing that when people see a lack of hurricane activity, an increase in the antarctic ice sheet, a lack of rising ocean levels, a steady increase in the polar bear population, and a lack of temperature increases, that they would doubt the theory of man-made global warming?

    Why is it confusing that leaders are doubted when they claim to care dearly about the environment, yet they themselves live in one (or more) huge mansions, drive around in convoys of limosines, and fly around in private jets? Al Gore (for example) owns four mansions, and two of them have electrically heated outdoor sidewalks. Actions speak so very much louder than words.

    Why is it confusing that no argument or evidence has ever been given that indicates that the atmospheric CO2 concentration is the cause of global warming, other than someone just saying that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, or showing a slight short term correlation? One of the most common (and quite intentional) statistical mistakes around, is that correlation does not indicate causation.

    And why is it confusing that when people read the Climategate e-mails, which were written by chief climate scientists thinking that no “outsiders” would ever see them, that most people would conclude that we were all being lied to and used like suckers?

    On the other hand, things that are confusing:

    1. The deep and profound emotional need that some people apparently have, to think that the natural earth is perpetually in trouble, caused by evil mankind who must somehow be stopped.

    2. The need for these same people to denigrate and personally attack anybody who does not belong to their religion (AGW), rather than try to convince them using facts, reason and logic, or to be open to the slightest possibility that they themselves might be mistaken. I usually find that the most ardent AGW believers are bright and well meaning, but also impressionable and inexperienced young people (younger than my children), like the authors of this blog.

  30. Jon

    EyeRon– If I had to write your arguments for you, I would write everything you wrote. You conservatives are like clockwork.

    I apologize if my tone wasn’t to your liking, but that tends to happen when someone is attacking someone ad hominem and with talking points (Google would have informed you about 1998).

    With conservatives, why can’t there be a starting, good-faith expectation that people are doing their jobs? Even if their output is something you don’t like? There’s a lot of output and Michael Mann is just one researcher. Why does it have to be personal? Scientists don’t do the policy you don’t like, they do science.

  31. Ian

    Could we use the full title please – its ‘Climate Change Denial’ not ‘Climate Denial’. Surely no-one falls into the latter.

    Even then, surely ‘Climate Change Denial’ could be interpreted as just that or ‘Human-induced climate change denial’.

  32. bilbo

    As I stated in my initial post Americans believe what they see. And what they see in their backyards and neighborhoods is a non-warming earth. For those in the Washington DC area tomorrow they will see a blizzard.

    Whoa, EyeRon. FOr all your mush-mindedness, I never pegged you as a the-climate-isn’t-changing-because-it’s snowing-outside kind of guy. That’s daft. Incredibly daft.

  33. bilbo

    Chris is receiving death threats now. From a comment on his Mother Jones piece:

    “you’re an anti-democratic elitist fuckhead who should be first against the wall when the revolution comes”

    I’d be doing an Ip lookup on this one. Keep ti classy, denialists.

  34. Guy

    bilbo,

    That’s the kind thing I’m talking about in #26. There’s nothing scientific about that logic.

    “Gee, it’s cold outside right now, GLOBAL warming must be a hoax.”

    That’s just silly and pointless to make such a claim.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Doug,

    The point of the third comment though is valid.

    Like it or not, it’s a democracy not a technocracy, and the people have to be persuaded.

    Economists and psychologists tell us how heavily people discount the future, so arguments that are all about what scientists say is going to happen in the future just aren’t going to have much of an impact against arguments those people are making about what’s going on with their wallets today.

    But add to that the arrogance that the global climate change cloud leads with. The whole “we’re smart, you’re too dumb to really have a say in this”, the smears of “anyone who disagrees with us eats babies and kills puppies”, the hubris of the “we know we’re right, science has always been right”, the scare mongering of “global warming is going to fry the planet”, and the pocketbook raid of “the g77 want $100B dollars a day and sharks with laser beams from the United States Tax Payer”.

    Add to that private jets and caviar and lots of rock stars and movie stars and big major corporations and politicians and taxes on the people to pay for it all.

    I’m amazed the public will state they believe in AGW as much as they do!

    Chris and his buddies are going about this all wrong.

    I read MoJo quite a bit and the person who wrote #3 comments quite frequently at MoJo. It’s pretty clear that individual is a progressive with a science background and a nasty sense of humor and has nothing whatsoever to do with Glenn Beck. And that’s also the point. There are many people who disagree with aspects of AGW theory, and as #3 says, they are not all right wing religious nutbags just because that’s what you need to dismiss them.

  36. Guy

    #35,

    I know that some of the skeptics are actually thoughtful people with valid concerns, but they are being drowned by all the noise generated by the more fervent but less thoughtful deniers.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    “I know that some of the skeptics are actually thoughtful people with valid concerns, but they are being drowned by all the noise generated by the more fervent but less thoughtful deniers.”

    Yes, but can’t the same be said about thoughtful proponents of AGW whose valid concerns are drowned by the a) doomsayers, b) name callers, c) politicians asking for money money money, and d) corporations asking for money money money?

    There is a valid discussion to be had, but I don’t get the sense that Chris or Sheril or anyone who consistently uses the term denier to describe skeptics really understands that, or wants that discussion.

    So Chris, in is efforts as science communicator with a big agenda fails to communicate science and just generates the response he hates the most. (ObNoteOfEpicFail)

  38. EyeRon Says:

    My utility bill reports the average temperature for each billed month. I have saved these bills for the past 3 years and if there is a trend it is that temperature has declined.

    Do you seriously not understand that the short-term trend at your house has absolutely no relevance to the long-term global trend, or are you just being deliberately obtuse?

    Either way, that single sentence speaks volumes for your credibility on the subject of climate science.

  39. Busiturtle

    I believe Wil made the best point yet. If the earth really was in the balance don’t you think Mr. Gore might express his concern by downsizing his lifestyle and the elite would video conference instead of jetting across the globe?

    Tiger Woods giving a seminar on marriage fidelity has more integrity than what is displayed by the Climate Change elite.

  40. I wonder, even if they did come with a provable alternate theory, would they even get noticed or would they just be thrown out with the other dirty denial bathwater?

    I don’t think so. The few skeptics with the scientific chops to get published are read carefully, and the counter-arguments are science-based. If someone came up with an alternate theory that worked, I think it would be taken quite seriously. Not by everybody–in any scientific field, there are those who are so wedded to their beliefs, and have so much invested in them, that no amount of contrary evidence will suffice–but certainly by many.

  41. bad Jim

    Here we see the “skeptics” once again making pointless attacks on perceived authority figures. Say whatever you like about Al Gore. It has absolutely relevance to the issue.

    If anyone’s interested in the issue of why tree rings no longer track temperature very well, P.Z. Myers has a piece written by one of his colleagues. In short, increased atmospheric CO2 makes the trees more drought-tolerant.

  42. @EyeRon

    How in the world does one conclude that post-1960 tree rings are unreliable but pre-1960 tree rings are? This only makes sense if one is biased towards a desired result.

    As bilbo notes, you conclude that by spending five minutes of your time to do a little research rather than jumping to an unwarranted and incorrect conclusion.

    We know these things:

    1. The post-1960 divergence problem is seen in some Northern Hemisphere tree rings. It is not seen in other NH rings or in any Southern Hemisphere rings.

    2. The SH rings and the non-divergent NH rings correlate well with each other and with post-1960 instrument records.

    3. From 1880 to 1960 (i.e., the span of the instrument record prior to 1960), all rings correlate well with each other and with the instrument record.

    4. Prior to 1880, all rings correlate well with each other and with other proxy data.

    From these facts, it’s pretty obvious how one concludes “that post-1960 tree rings are unreliable but pre-1960 tree rings are”. This is the sort of thing you can fnd out if you try.

  43. Marc

    The denialists have, successfully, poisoned the well here. They can now reject data as fraud, and it fits nicely into a tribal view of politics where anything that bothers liberals is a good thing.

    So far we’ve seen the greatest hits of the lazy and incoherent deniers. It’s cold in the winter, Al Gore flies on planes (even though he uses carbon offsets, a market mechanisms which would matter if the deniers cared at all about logic), the usual garbage. Nothing about the convergence of temperature estimates, the overwhelming evidence that people are changing the air around us, the simply physics behind why this must cause warming. Nothing about all of the work ruling out many alternatives, and the evidence that the conservative models have underestimated the degree of future warming.

    Just comforting tribal fictions on the part of the deniers. The very first comment is ridiculous, confusing climate and weather, and the deniers can’t break solidarity.

  44. I’ve seen at least three posts (one here, one on MoJo, and one somewhere else) that appear to attribute the “36%” figure to a poll of scientists, which is completely incorrect. This is the public’s agreement with the scientists, not agreement among the scientists.

    And thus is born unto us this day A New Myth. “Only 36% of scientists agree with AGW.”

    Chris M, if you read these comments, you might want to rephrase that sentence a bit…

  45. Thermo

    The fact that the believers in the catastrophic AGW conjecture all seem to be a bunch of name-callers is pretty telling. Calling someone who happens to have a different opinion vile names like mush head and the especially odious “deniers” means they have lost the argument. Why?

    Because ‘denier’ refers to holocaust deniers, which in turn refers to the Nazi Party…

    …which invokes Godwin’s Law, meaning…

    BZZ-Z-Z-Z-ZT!!

    Sorry, you lose. But Vanna has some lovely parting gifts for you on your way out, like Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat! Thanks for playing.

  46. Marc

    Nope Thermo. It means that we recognize, from years of experience with creationists, people who deny reality. It means that you’re not coming into this honestly. Actual skeptics might, for example, be skeptical of claims of economic doom from addressing climate change. But when we see people invoking Al Gore, or jealousy of elites, or its-cold-today-so-there-is-no-warming….we know what we’re dealing with.

  47. bilbo

    I believe Wil made the best point yet. If the earth really was in the balance don’t you think Mr. Gore might express his concern by downsizing his lifestyle and the elite would video conference instead of jetting across the globe?

    Tiger Woods giving a seminar on marriage fidelity has more integrity than what is displayed by the Climate Change elite.

    *****GIANT STRAWMAN ALERT*****

    Silly denialist – throw haymakers at that strawman! Al Gore having a fancy jet may make him a hypocrite, but it doesn’t debunk the science of climate change. Not one bit.

  48. bilbo

    The fact that the believers in the catastrophic AGW conjecture all seem to be a bunch of name-callers is pretty telling. Calling someone who happens to have a different opinion vile names like mush head and the especially odious “deniers” means they have lost the argument.

    Then explain to us, Thermo, what someone telling Mooney (just because Mooney accepts AGW) he should be lined up against a wall and executed with a bullet through his brain means about the denialists. To me, that screams desperation. Loud, frantic, hopeless depseration.

  49. bilbo

    The denialists have, successfully, poisoned the well here. They can now reject data as fraud, and it fits nicely into a tribal view of politics where anything that bothers liberals is a good thing.

    Good point. I’ve seen a trend here with the denialists.
    They seem to believe that there are all of these scientific analyses out there that totally debunk AGW, but none can get published because of this secret worldwide scientist conspiracy.

    A self-reinforcing conspiracy theory like that one is extra-stupid, because it gives you an out from thinking for yourself.

  50. gillt

    I second Christ Dunford about the 36% attribution. I read it the wrong way as well knowing full well it made no sense.

  51. The denialists have, successfully, poisoned the well here. They can now reject data as fraud….

    Unless, of course, it shows the slightest hint of any short-term cooling. In that case, it’s the word of God and not to be trifled with.

    Or, from a subtly different angle, here are two claims that I’ve often seen in a single post:

    “The data are manipulated and fraudulent!”
    “There hasn’t been any warming since 1998!”

    Well, are the data fraudulent, or not?

  52. I second Christ Dunford about the 36% attribution.

    Thanks for the promotion, but I’m going to stick with just “Chris”. :)

  53. Richard Patton

    The science has not been getting stronger on AGW. It has been getting weaker. There are two primary lines of evidence – the hockey stick studies and the Global Circulation Models (GCM). The hockey stick studies keep getting debunked – first Mann’s original one, then subsequently Briffa’s and all the others. It is not just the “divergence” problem. Which, by the way, has no explanation – unless one calls arm-waving an explanation. The bigger problems are the Yamal series which has massive replication problems (only 12 samples) that are clearly cherry-picked (the rest of the series show no warming – only the Yamal 12). There is also the upside-down Tiljander series and on and on. This is why the e-mails show the “Team” in such distress.

    The second line of evidence – the GCMs are also looking weaker and weaker. They predicted increasing warming at the rate of 2 degrees C per century but we have had no increase in warming in the last 10 years. Now, the scientists will say that natural variation is overcoming the warming signal – but that is exactly the point. The GCMs supposedly are taking into account all the known factors. If there is now a factor that they didn’t take into account that is so strong it can overcome the expected rise in temps then we are missing something in the models. Thus, natural variation (some unknown forcing / feedback mechanism) is larger than predicted.

    Put these two together: Hockey stick is false (there was much more natural variation in the past than we currently thought) and the GCMs are missing some large component of natural variation. Then you have the basis for a new level of skepticism regarding the supposedly settled science.

    Notice you suddenly see even the top warmer scientists starting to talk about the ocean cycles (PDO, AMO) when they weren’t before? The meteorologists have been saying for many years that these are large drivers of climate and now they appear to be right.

    Remember, it is really only a small cadre of scientist pushing the alarmist global warming stuff – the dendroclimatologists and the modelers – basically all the folks in the CRU e-mails and their followers.

  54. Richard Patton

    I am surprise at the way EyeRon keeps getting attacked for referring to his own personal experience with his local temperatures (his utility bill) as though he is saying that since the weather is colder where he is then global warming must be false.

    I understand him to be saying that to the extent that a large majority is experiencing this then you would expect to see a rise in skepticism regarding global warming. That seems like a reasonable statement. Someone might then say that all those people who are behaving that way just don’t understand the nature of global warming and that may be valid as well. However, it seems to me that we have been fed a steady diet of major alarmism regarding this global warming – “unprecendented warming”, “worse than we thought” and on and on. Given that this expectation of massive warming with major consequences has been established when one starts to experience temps going down and no big bad consequences in the paper for some time (no increase in Katrina’s) then I would think one could see how the normal person might wonder whether this global warming is being oversold and become skeptical.

    It is always and forever about expectation setting.

  55. Thomas L

    For those who made fun of one looking at his utility bills showing lower temperatures over the past couple years…

    Perhaps you should read this one before you sound any less current on the science (something you are always claiming everyone else is…); “A Strong Bout Of Natural Cooling in 2008″ By Perlwitz Et Al 2009: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009GL041188.shtml

    I also found this one very interesting, especially as discusions about land use always get laughed at in these discussions; “Land-Use/Land-Cover Change and Its Impacts on Weather and Climate” : http://www.springerlink.com/content/3216n312850r4j5m/?p=a595d5e1068a4dd9a471434c4a889a91&pi=0

    What seems to not quite be getting through to most of you overtly zealous AGW types – we are not disputing man has assuredly had an effect on the environment. We don’t even dispute that some of what we do may add a bit to the warming trend we are generally in (which sorry, but many of us also find that normal given the LIA). What we do dispute is the level of understanding professed, and how accurate the modeling is.

    For such a young science you all seem to be far more certain then others that have had centuries of work behind them… What we want is an honest scientific look at ALL the issues so that if we are going to spend large sums they are spent wisely – we aren’t going to have a second chance (I agree with that, but not because we will have blown our chance, but because we will lack the resources to address anything else…).

    Don’t confuse the two very separate disagreements – the first is the true level of the science, the second is any response. While connected they are also very much separate. The first is straight forward scientific dispute, The second is a political and social dispute, and one many of you seem pretty clueless about.

    The second is perhaps more important in the greater scheme of things then the first – if you blow it with the public you have nothing, no matter what the science behind it is.

  56. gillt

    I would expect the lack of anything resembling a coherent and alternative hypothesis or even a scrap of evidence would lead to incoherency.

    Obviously there’s a deep concern that someone is threatening their way of life (I have a grandmother; I get the colorful wingnut emails in my inbox) It doesn’t have to make sense–it’s an emotion. People resist change and with the economy, and job loss, and a protracted war on terror and the national debt, Americans want some reassurance (or a Tiger Woods-sized distraction) not more doom and gloom, and especially not from government scientists. The problem being of course is they picked the wrong thing to oppose, and so are now forced to deny reality. This is a big problem because AGW can’t be ignored forever. As the rest of the world catches on, a large swath of America will find itself on the wrong side of history. And what pisses me off is that the opposition is growing so unreasonable and tribal that it’s moving beyond reach. We’ll have to wait for a new generation of Americans. If it keeps up, AGW denialism will only peter out when the boomers do.

  57. wagdog

    AGW Denial is particularly strong in the US, because The American Dream is based on the promise (or illusion) of a meritocracy. The myth that in the US all winners deserve their winnings, and all losers deserve to be lost, is what indoctrinates Americans to take huge risks — by fooling them into thinking the risks are smaller than they are or simply do not exist. With a low risk world view, those that aspire to greater wealth need only imitate the behaviour of the winners. But in a less meritorious, more risky and more random world, one has to acknowledge that some winners got there by chance, and some losers got there by chance. To make such a world more fair, the less deserving winners need to compensate the more deserving of the losers — a policy that is banded as socialism by defenders of the meritocracy myth. Climate change science, and especially the environmentalist spin on it, threatens this myth, and lends scientific backing for social justice that the busting of this myth implies. That’s why the rejection of AGW science is a self-sustaining theme in American culture.

  58. bilbo

    Thomas L.,

    You just said you “dispute” the science of AGW.

    I posted over 30 peer-reviewed articles supporting AGW earlier in this thread. You just did the equivalent of looking at each and saying “WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Proof, please?

  59. bilbo

    Well put, wagdog. Very well put.

  60. bilbo

    Proof to back up wagdog’s point in #58:

    EyeRon, from another thread: “Yet despite all of this “science” saying the world is warming, it hasn’t affected me. Why should we spend our money on it?”

    Jose: “I can look out my window, and nothing’s happening here…and we’re talking about trillions of dollars!”

    EyeRon also used his heating/cooling costs (money, or “merit”) as a metric for climate change.

    Poke a skeptic enough, and their argument always, always boils down to “me” or money. wagdog was spot-on.

  61. Busiturtle

    Now this I find entertaining. Capitalism deniers mocking Global Warming deniers. Hmmm I’m guessing the evidence of the merits of capitalism outweigh the evidence of man-made Global Warming by 1000 to 1. What makes this all the more hilarious is that the two biggest obstacles to a global climate agreement are China and India – two countries who are happy to invest in the capital to do the industrial work for the world that Europe and the United States find politically incorrect. Let me guess their unemployment rates have not doubled in the past 18 months.

    Oh, and bilbo, since you struggle with reading comprehension let me remind you of what EyeRon actually wrote. He was not saying a local weather events were scientific proof but that the lack of local weather events indicative of global warming were a hindrance to your propaganda.

    EyeRon:1 wrote: “Now you scientists can throw up your arms and say local weather is not representative of the climate and a single temperature reading is just an anecdote. But millions of similar anecdotes add up. If you want Americans to believe in Global Warming you need there to be an observable uptrend in temperatures in the United States.”

  62. Perhaps you should read this one before you sound any less current on the science (something you are always claiming everyone else is…); “A Strong Bout Of Natural Cooling in 2008″ By Perlwitz Et Al

    I don’t understand your point, Thomas. Who has said that there won’t be any periods of natural cooling? Nobody I know of.

    This is from paper you referenced:

    We demonstrate that the anthropogenic impact in 2008 was to warm the region’s temperatures, but that it was overwhelmed by a particularly strong bout of naturally-induced cooling…. The implication is that the pace of North American warming is likely to resume in coming years, and that climate is unlikely embarking upon a prolonged cooling. [Emphasis added]

    In other words, NA experienced a short-term natural cooling event in 2008, but it has no effect on the long-term warming trend. This is completely in accord with what climate science expects and certainly in no argument against significant AGW. So, I don’t understand quite what you were trying to say.

  63. @Richard Patton:

    … we have had no increase in warming in the last 10 years

    Skeptical posters have been repeatedly asked here on this blog for the source of this claim; no one responds.

    Specifically, why do you say this? What numbers are you using? What are you comparing?

  64. Busiturtle

    “a particularly strong bout of naturally-induced cooling”

    Is this not confirmation of what the climate realists are saying? For all the models and data crunching scientists might employ they possess only a sliver of understanding of the earth’s climate.

    Climate research is an important field of study. But lacking the ability to successfully predict changes in the climate and how the climate will respond to different stimuli is it not an exercise in futility to enact policy that may or may not produce the desired change?

  65. Busiturtle

    The charlatans of climate change (courtesy of Mark Steyn).

    The Prince of Wales, a man who has never drawn his own curtains, ramps up a carbon footprint of 2,601 tons while telling us that Western capitalist excess is destroying the planet. Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the railroad engineer who heads the International Panel on Climate Change and has demanded that “hefty aviation taxes should be introduced to deter people from flying,” flew 443,226 miles on “IPCC business” in the year and a half before the Copenhagen summit. And Al Gore is a carbon billionaire: He makes more money buying offsets from himself than his dad did from investing in Occidental Petroleum.

    In all seriousness, those of you fully engaged in the politics of climate change need to find some Mother Theresa-like offsets for your Prince Charles and Al Gores.

  66. Busiturtle Says:

    “a particularly strong bout of naturally-induced cooling”

    Is this not confirmation of what the climate realists are saying? For all the models and data crunching scientists might employ they possess only a sliver of understanding of the earth’s climate.

    No. You are missing the point. Climate prediction is long term. This event was short term. It’s noise. The models predict the signal, not the noise. Over time, the noise averages out and the signal emerges.

    Try to imagine a die that you are somehow loading very slowly. Individual rolls are unpredictable, but we can predict that over the long term, the average roll will be increasing. The individual rolls are weather and short-term events like La Nina. The long term average is the climate. The fact that we can’t predict individual rolls doesn’t mean that we don’t know what’s happening.

    Forgive me, but this is very, very basic stuff.

  67. gillt

    Why is every single AGW skeptic here only citing newspaper articles and unreferenced hearsay and not one single scientific paper? Can you really call yourselves skeptics and not smirk? I can’t.

  68. Tomas L

    Gilt and Wagdog,

    You obviously don’t understand the American Dream very well – it isn’t what the sales men have been pitching. It has to do with the right to live mostly as one chooses with little government interference. You either aren’t American, or haven’t been around long enough to figure that out. There are quite a large number who care little about getting “rich”, there are other drivers of “happiness” (which one has a right to the pursuit of, not a guarantee they will achieve such).Perhaps you are more like my daughter who stated the other night that the problem is “they don’t actually teach much about our Constitution any more, just a couple parts, mostly about freedom of the press…”.

    And Gilt, I just presented two – and they are very current ones at that. I read what I can, but sorry, have other things to do & spend money on (you know, actual productive stuff) to pay for every journal or article. The one’s I can access through my old academic on line account I do – but remember not everyone even has that much access. I’ve stated such before, if you want to win any one over it has to be accessible information…

    Bibo,

    You are worse than a talking head. That is not even close to what I said. If you wish to engage me forget the little you learned in your logic classes – I would wager I have far more experience in such and have actually chosen not to play such games here. The question is how much is really AGW – and I actually understand bands of probability and the importance of the what the words “if’”, “possibly’” and “may’” (and other ways to phrase uncertainty) that accompany any scientific paper mean.

    Chris,

    Well, they are saying that now (guess they don’t have a choice as it’s happened). Want to go back in the literature and let me know when they started to ay such as I can’t seem to find much from more than a couple years ago even indicating such was a minor probability, let alone certain to happen. The reason you keep hearing about lack of warming for ten years is because it’s been flat – as in no warming. That data is everywhere; do we really need to track it down for you? Aren’t the AGW one’s always saying it is up to us to track things down? No one is missing the point. Every time one of these happens there are adjustments and reworking of models – that means the old stuff was wrong.

    Sorry, La Nina and El Nino are not “short term events” – they are part of the feedback cycle, and one they haven’t done very well modelingpredicting in detail yet (20 years ago they didn’t even talk about them) – they still have quite a bit of work to do to get to anything close to a full understanding of even those two, as in regularly not getting the predictions of intensity and such right would indicate they still don’t quite have the real triggers figured out very well yet. “warming is likely to resume…” is a probability band, not a certainty. They still aren’t sure exactly what kicked in to drive this, though they do have some ideas. Again, it’s about the actual state of current knowledge.

    Busiturtle,

    Yes, they really hate capitalism. Wonder how they are going to plug their computers in after they get done trashing the system that allows them to (and a more interesting question might be plug them into what?…). And it is indeed China and India who are the real obstacles – they have very little interest returning to the dark ages and are more than happy to continue taking over the means of production and hence build their wealth (at our expense, which many will learn about soon enough). Many of them are still under the illusion America is rich – they can’t read a balance sheet and don’t understand “unfunded liabilities” – or what it means to have a major currency devaluation…

    Again, there are two issues. The first is the HONEST state of understanding (poor, but getting better – nowhere near close enough to call out “finished” in my opinion, shared by quite a few others). Then the politicaleconomic (perhaps they too should be separated). Many show their shear depth of ignorance on the second part regularly.

  69. Ed Forbes

    Mann, through CRU, produced a graph in the late 90’s that shows unprecedented warming in the last 100 ys greater than any seen in the last 1000 yrs. This shape was said to look like a “Hockey Stick” and was (is) VERY contentious.

    What makes the debate over the “Hockey Stick” so contentious? The keystone for the “alarmists” theory for human caused global warming relies on the “Hockey Stick” being a valid hypothesis.

    The “Hockey Stick” does away with both the Medieval Warm Epoch (MWP) and the Little Ice Age. The theory holds that as the warming we are seeing is unprecedented for over 1000 years, any current warming must be due to the actions of humans.

    If the Medieval Warm Epoch and the Little Ice Age stand as global events, then the hypothesis collapses.

    As wine and grain were being grown in large areas of the world during the MWP that does not support such activity today due to our current, and cooler, climate, saying the MWP was colder than today is false, so the hypothesis is false.

    Most US citizens (or any for that matter) are low on the math skills to follow high level statistical arguments, but they do have a reasonable knowledge of history.

  70. Man in the Yellow Hat

    “Bilbo and his ilk are our best spokespeople.” — The Denial Industry

    Nothing like assurances from an anonymous blog commenter to relieve my doubts about junking an economy that has worked pretty well over the years. Now I realize that both the bathwater and the baby need to be discarded.

  71. gillt

    @ Thomas L:

    The first article you linked is titled “Bouts of Cooling in 2008″ and the abstract ends with this sentence: “The implication is that the pace of North American warming is likely to resume in coming years, and that climate is unlikely embarking upon a prolonged cooling.”

    So, um you were saying? It sounds to me like you didn’t even bother reading past the first sentence of the abstract. Some has-been academic you were.

  72. gillt

    Ed Forbes: “What makes the debate over the “Hockey Stick” so contentious? The keystone for the “alarmists” theory for human caused global warming relies on the “Hockey Stick” being a valid hypothesis.”

    Wrong all over the place. You are uniformed, a willing participant in the spread of anti-scientific propaganda. Begone cretin!

  73. Thomas L

    Gilt,

    “warming is likely to resume in coming years, and that climate is unlikely embarking upon a prolonged cooling” – yes, exactly. I’d advise reading the whole thing, not just the abstract. The question is about certainty, is it not? Those are not words of certitude. My point, again, is that there is far, far more work that needs to be done.

  74. gillt

    Also Thomas L., the second “scientific study” you linked to…wasn’t a scientific study. It presented no data or original research. Instead, in your obvious confusion as to what constitutes research you linked to an editorial. Also, the authors wrote nothing about debunking AGW.

  75. gillt

    Thomas L.
    Certitidue? Scientists trade in probabilities. It’s a dishonest dichotomy anyway. Policy is never made on 100% certainty, and we don’t wait for stark lines of delineation before we act. No know this which is why your argument is laughable.

    What the first article you linked to shows is an alive and healthy field of research, which is what you pretend to be asking for, and not the rigid dogma of unblinking faith you blame scientists for.

  76. Sorry, La Nina and El Nino are not “short term events”

    Well, actually, yeah, they are. They last a year or maybe two. That’s a short-term event in climate terms. Climate trends are measured in time spans of fifteen years or more.

  77. @Thomas L:

    The reason you keep hearing about lack of warming for ten years is because it’s been flat – as in no warming. That data is everywhere; do we really need to track it down for you?

    Yes, would you do that, please? Because when I get the global data for the last ten years, and I plot a graph and draw a trend line, it points up. I can’t seem to find the data that yield a flat trend line. So, if you could do that it would be very helpful.

  78. Thomas L

    Gilt,

    I don’t have a problem with the scientists or the science – I do have an issue with the overtly zealous activist who mistake sciencepoliticssociologyeconomics regularly, and mix them up so much no one can even figure out what the debate is. That doesn’t help anyone. I also happen to think there are still far too many areas that are still huge question marks to say anything near what keeps getting tossed out there for the public. Again, too much work on proving AGW (amazing how almost every study on everything studied – no matter how remote to AGW directly – seems to have to tie into AGW to get grants & funding…) at the cost of other areas involved that should be studied just as thoroughly…

    I would advise reading the linked articles from the second, there is a lot in there – and yes, that is the summation of where things are in that area (with a call for seriously extended studies). Sorry, can’t find any that I can just post a link to – part of the problem with directing people to journal papers…

    While I know Pilke Sr. has both his followers and detractors, here are two that are readily available to the on-line community that I also find interesting – again, things that we should be looking at and analyzing that certainly have an effect and aren’t very well understood (and not reflected in current modeling):

    Less directly relevant to AGW, but very important non the less: http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/r-3512.pdf

    More relevant to AGW: http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/r-349.pdf

    I have pointed to a few articles in other threads to Nature & NASA (again, things that have only come out in the last couple weeks) that also point out that there is far more involved in the pointed at and screamed “proofs” then simply AGW. Sort of like the Northwest Passage stuff (posted in some threads a day or two past) – not nearly so simple if you understand how they navigated it this past year, and it has been done in the past – several times. The problem has been and remains – it’s not usable enough or predictable enough to become a trade route… It is in fact as dangerous a route as ever. That is where you are all loosing the public.

    And in case you missed it, I’m not “negative AGW”, just do not think it is nearly as well understood as it is being sold as. I am also far more interested in the socialpoliticaleconomic realms then this particular issue, though I do find its intersection with such rather fascinating to watchfigure outunderstand.

  79. Ed Forbes Says:

    The keystone for the “alarmists” theory for human caused global warming relies on the “Hockey Stick” being a valid hypothesis.

    Can you defend this claim for me, please?

  80. gillt

    Thomas L. “I also happen to think there are still far too many areas that are still huge question marks to say anything near what keeps getting tossed out there for the public.”

    OBVIOUSLY! because you whine about certitude and certainty when you know full-well that’s not how science works.

    Turns out you don’t want to be convinced, but would rather sit back and take pot shots at science you pretend to understand. As I pointed out in the Geophysical Research Letters you linked to your armchair analysis extrapolates some good and healthy debate in one area of research for widespread confusion and blindness throughout the science community, and your home-schooled contrarianism confuses what the media hypes with what the science actually says–so of course you blame scientists for jumping to conclusions.

    By your own contrived standards of 100% certitude, if you were a scientists you’d be an indecisive and unpublished failure, sitting idly by as others did all the work. Now go out and find an alternative hypothesis to AGW, but until you do the massive amount of positive evidence pointing to AGW stands, which should clue you into the overwhelming consensus among scientists.

    Thoms L. “I have pointed to a few articles in other threads to Nature & NASA’

    In the time it took you to write that you could have pointed again because I don’t see it.

  81. Tomas L

    Chris,

    I would not call constantly re-occurring ocean patterns which play a HUGE role in the long term climate system “short term”. Together the two represent significant and ONGOING feedback in the system. As they have both a cooling effect and a warming affect that has huge impact on northern hemisphere temperature I would not think working harder to actually understand them better is less than of vital importance. I would also consider them two sides of the same climate moderating system, not separate things.

  82. Tomas L

    Gilt,

    My opinions on it all has changed over the past couple months, actually. I would bet mine are less negative then many – though the insults are rather despicable and don’t help achieve anything. If anyone wants action on anything, alienating the majority of the population is a good way to NOT achieve that goal. I started pretty much agnostic to it all (other far more pressing “right now” things to deal with). At this point I would guess that I am now inclined to think there is more AGW induced affects then I previously thought – though I also still think such is the age old pollution problem, just in new clothes due to newly understood effects…. We have managed to deal with many of those without trashing our foundations. I also spend time looking at all the relevant sites (on both sides) and look for other things on my own (time permitting) to learn what I can. I never expect anything close to 100% certitude, I do expect solid foundations and reproducible work product. What I mostly see in the blogs are mocking of others with a differing view point – I actually appreciate differing viewpoints, it is why we don’t still live in caves…

    Here:
    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/himalayan-warming.html
    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2009-196
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v462/n7273/abs/nature08520.html
    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/9/26593/2009/acpd-9-26593-2009.pdf
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009GL040789.shtml
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/view.php?id=36367
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2008/

    All this within the past month (except last two). Things are not nearly so simple… Earth climate history is obviously very complex with numerous variables. Concentrating on one is, in my opinion, detrimental in understanding the whole. Clouds actually seem far more important than CO2, but we are just at the stage where we can actually monitor such and analyze real data rather than “rough guessing”, and it’s an area we have little understanding of at this point (perhaps more attention needs to be paid and more research needs to be done on the ideas of Henrik Svensmark in that regard).

    Yes, I come to this debate from other areas of interest, sorry if you find that to be a fault. To even begin explaining to you why I think much of the solutions offered are even worse than the problem would require turning this into a financial blog rather than a science blog – but I would advise you (as I have everyone else I know) to be paying very close attention to what is happening there and trust the MSM as much as most should already realize is due them. Or, to be more blunt – things are actually only beginning, we are likely only approaching the (maybe) half way point…

    And I actually have family duties to attend to for most the rest of the day (we are entertaining a Japanese foreign exchange student for the holidays) – I am sorry I do not have endless hours to discuss everything on the blogs, though I try to keep an eye on any threads I have chosen to post in. I am trying to read anything of interest that gets linked to (when I can – the journal problem, and unfortunately – or luckily (depending on how one looks at) it Bilbo & others in his image just post rants & rarely ever says anything of importance, so I think I’m just going to start ignoring his posts altogether… less to read that way – and highly unproductive. I do have real responsibilities to cope with every day – jobs & such – and literally others whose livelihood depends on us “taking care of business”, as they say…

  83. Tomas L

    sorry for double post

    Hopefully the moderator will kill the dupes!

    Thought it was too long, so split it up when it didn’t show anything… Guess they do not always come up saying it’s in moderation, and thus can’t tell when it doesn’t show (even after a couple refreshes) if it just got swallowed or what… I’ll be more patient

  84. Busiturtle

    Tomas,

    Anyone with an appreciation of complex system would agree with you. It is academic to vary an input while “holding all other variables constant”. But real life does not work that way. When anything changes everything changes.

    What most surprises me about the scientific philosophy expressed by advocates is how Newtonian it all is. They believe that not only do they know all the inputs but they can measure them. And after that the future is determined. They call deniers simpletons but it is they who have embraced a naive view of the planet.

    The great irony of all this was that it was Edward Lorenz, a pioneer in climate science, who introduced the Western world to Chaos theory and the difficulty of building deterministic models of natural systems.

    We know the earth has powerful feedback loops that help it maintain an hospitable equilibrium. If this was not the case the odds are that we would not be here. It is unfortunate that in their zeal to sell a political solution global warming advocates have shortchanged science and cut short their inquiry.

  85. Tomas L Says:

    I would not call constantly re-occurring ocean patterns which play a HUGE role in the long term climate system “short term”.

    The point is that the paper you referenced showed that the somewhat cooler North American temps in 2008 were strongly influenced by a single La Nina event. The individual events are certainly short term. You tried to use this to defend the individual who tried to show that there’s no global warming by noting the average temperatures on his recent utility bills. Well, those aren’t long-term, and neither is the single La Nina event the paper discussed. Neither the existence of the 2008 La Nina nor his recent utility bills have anything to say about long-term global climate trends.

    Yes, there is a long-term cycle, but it includes both ups (El Ninos) and downs (La Ninas). The effects of any single event are significant but short term (like the 1998 El Nino and the 2008 La Nina). The overall long-term effect tends toward averaging out. AGW rides on top of the cycle, making the El Nino years even warmer and the La Nina years not quite as cool. At the end of one cycle, the overall regional average temperature is higher than it would have been. That’s the signal; the El Ninos and La Ninas are the noise.

    And, of course, that’s not even getting into the fact that the significant El Nino/La Nina effects are regional, but what’s under disucussion is global warming.

  86. Tomas L

    Chris,

    My point is that the combination of those two cycles – both of which are actually a PART of the ocean cycleregulating system, dictate quite a bit of the GLOBAL equation by significantly regulating the Northern hemisphere – and that we only sort of understand them – and there are many others, some of which we may not be aware of yet at all. Our recognition of those two is actually very recent – even though they are actually quite huge. We seem to understand the carbon cycle pretty well – but that is but one cycle amongst many cycles. It may, or may not be, the “key” cycle. It is the cycle everyone has focused on because “nothing else seems to explain it” – a rather iffy statement given how little we still know (and apparently in part because any other ideas are shot down or killed by those invested in maintaining the current focus). We don’t know enough yet about ALL the cycles to state such with any real certainty – despite pretending to. That does not mean I don’t think there are things we can, and ought to do. Destroying the economic system however is not one of them.

    We also know carbon has been substantially higher in the past, and it has also been substantially warmer. We also know that carbon increases tend to follow temperature increases. We have been in a warming cycle since the LIA, so increasing carbon levels are – or should be ( given the historic record) at least to some extent, expected. Thus one would expect that the other gasses, such as methane released from permafrost, were also substantially higher as the overall temperatures were substantially higher and the permafrost thus likely melted in the past as well. None of these understandings have been seriously analyzed because the concentration has been on ONE of them. Somehow the earth as a WHOLE system managed to survive such episodes, in fact there are many indications it actually thrived during them (and even managed to end up in “ice ages” despite them). Without being able to explain those episodes, trying to pretend we understand this event is rather simplistic. Some would say overtly simplistic. Talking about “tipping points” with such huge holes in the overall understanding is really pushing the limits of believability.

  87. Tomas L

    Busiturtle,

    Yes, almost as bad as dealing with those whom are mesmerized by the circular logic of the Hegelian Dialectic. They fail to realize Kierkegaard sent that to the trash heap and now it is mostly an insightful curiosity of the dangers in “pure reason”, and not an answer – though it is a good way to find out if Existentialism went over their head and led to some truly insightful and ground breaking understandings in what logic is and isn’t and how language works ;). Philosophy moved on from that over 100 years ago… The constant demand to refer to authority is seen all over this area as well – we never would have had a renaissance if that hadn’t been killed off at the end of the “dark” ages (it was actually a straight jacket on thought for a few centuries before it was dumped, everything was “as the teacher showed” or “according to his student” – very dry, very limiting – substantially less then enlightening, and nothing could be said unless one of those two – Socrates and Aristotle – had somehow addressed it …). I think that truly damaging reemergence is the most disheartening part (actually why peer review wasn’t viewed as very important outside of medicine for centuries afterwards, and in medicine it played a much different role so it worked reasonably well…). It has its place, but it is not everything and has flaws…

    I also agree with your post in another thread – very much like macro economics and the complexities and “never wrong” excuses one finds in such.

  88. gillt

    Is it Thomas or Tomas? Anyway, you seem to have gathered a bunchy of links that are mostly science by press release and on top of that don’t say what you think they say. Here are quotes from the first two.

    1. “A new modeling study from NASA confirms that when tiny air pollution particles we commonly call soot – also known as black carbon – travel along wind currents from densely populated south Asian cities and accumulate over a climate hotspot called the Tibetan Plateau, the result may be anything but inconsequential.
    […]
    the new research, by NASA’s William Lau and collaborators, reinforces with detailed numerical analysis what earlier studies suggest: that soot and dust contribute as much (or more) to atmospheric warming in the Himalayas as greenhouse gases. This warming fuels the melting of glaciers and could threaten fresh water resources in a region that is home to more than a billion people.

    2. “”The implication of these studies is that, should greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current course of increase, we are virtually certain to see Earth’s climate warm by several degrees Celsius in the next century, unless some strong negative feedback mechanism emerges elsewhere in Earth’s climate system,” Dessler said.”

  89. AllScience

    Here are a few very relevant articles.

    http://www.forecastingprinciples.com/files/WarmAudit31.pdf An elegant article which questions how good the various climate forcasts are. Forecasting is a science, and has some well-developed principles which are being ignored. Perhaps the most important, “do no harm”.

    http://www.climate4you.com/ all the data, with some good analysis.
    The subhead climate reflections is informative, especially 20080911: Is the global temperature increase 1981-2005 unique compared to the general temperature rise since the end of the Little Ice Age ? The IPCC AR4 uses some very questionable techniques to highlight a supposed “accelrated increase” in surface temperatures.

  90. Thomas L

    Sorry Gilt,

    Thomas – missed the “H” when I went to post, it usually already has it in the box…

    Yes, carbon – but not so much GHG as black soot. GHG adds There is quite a bit one can do to lowerlimit that. Most of what is causing it is also local (South Asia), not from the transport around the world.

    It is a complex system, this study has improved our insight. One would think such would have been looked at a while back – it should have been.

  91. gillt

    Did you even read the quotes, Thomas?

    If it’s newly analyzed data and new modeling system built on new technology what sense does it make for you to say, “One would think such would have been looked at a while back – it should have been.”?

    The reason I quoted the sections from the link YOU sent was to show how these new technologies support the existing hypothesis. Your inability to admit this reveals your obvious motivations.

  92. Thomas L

    Well Gilt,

    What I get from it is there is way more involved than simple AGW. Black soot and its warming effects are a known, and have been for quite some time (why they talked about salting the arctic with it to fend of freezing 30 years ago…). Why has taken until now for anyone to notice? Could it be that rather then searching for answers everyone has been far more interested in proving a theory, ignoring other possibilities? It also raises other interesting questions, such as what the effect of it in the late 1800’s was, when coal was pretty much the main heating source of the world. Perhaps it had an effect on the system far back as well, and actually played a role of increasing what would have otherwise been even cooler temperatures back then – meaning perhaps warming is actually more than implied.

    While my points of interest may indeed show my bias (which is simply we don’t know half as much as we pretend), your insistence on everything being AGW shows yours. My open minded pursuit allows me to think about the above possibility – what does yours allow?

    None the less, your insights are helpful in my search for greater understanding, so I ignore your insults.

  93. gillt

    Thomas L. “Why has taken until now for anyone to notice? Could it be that rather then searching for answers everyone has been far more interested in proving a theory, ignoring other possibilities?”

    That’s a curious statement: a wild conjecture expounded into a conspiracy theory. For one, people who notice this stuff are the one’s researching it, (not the writers as National Review) which are the same researchers you accuse–through vague and baseless conjecture–of biased and possibly unethical research practice. Do you have any evidence for this? Do I even have to ask anymore?

    I think it needs reiterated that theories in science are not whatever pops into your head or even educated guesses. Theories are powerful explanations for a body of observations. Natural selection is a theory. Gravity is a theory. AGW is a theory.

    I certainly never said everything is AGW. I’m also not a climate scientist, but I know enough of how science works to trust in its self-refuting nature, not in armchair analysis from non-experts.

    I think if you open your mind much further your brain will fall out.

  94. Thomas L

    Gilt,

    Self-refuting, yes – over a period of decades, often after such as what is happening now in Climate science. First it takes those willing to buck the consensus however, and that seems to have begun to happen.

    You read an awful lot into everything that simply isn’t there. Going on a mission to wipe out dispute by editing over 5,000 articles, killing a few hundred articles outright and banning from one’s own whim 2,000 submitters – yes, I call that ethically questionable. Possibly warping peer review and sharing information on papers under review – again, yes if such turns out to be true I would say that is very unethical (and substantially against rules of peer review period). Manipulating data and fudging numbers, again, if true that too would be unethical. Gaming FOI requests – again, if true very unethical and even more, highly illegal. Notice I say “if”. Investigations are ongoing; we shall see what the results are. At this point I leave my judgment in check.

    Many of the faithful in AGW’s ranks seem to have worked out a formula on how their “opposition” must be (political affiliation, religious beliefs, and attitudes towards science…). Not everyone fits in your convenient box of how everyone who disagrees with something (or you) thinks, and if you haven’t caught it yet an awful lot of us are not even close to being part of the old “skeptic” group. In the intellectual realm there is little I am not skeptical of – that is what I was taught during my educational journey – it was my responsibility to always be critical and skeptical. It is part of the “you can’t prove a negative”, and “you should never just accept the positive”. In other words, it is the positive that requires the proof, and there is no such thing as enough of such.

    Most researchers have some sort of bias – it is why they investigate those things that interest them. Most areas are not nearly as dogmatic as AGW seems to have become, however, so there is usually much more room for opposing thoughts and ideas. There are also, as a result, much more public disagreements.

    Being open minded has been very profitable for me in many ways. Being close minded is what I have watched in others who end up getting less then desirable returns over time. Hence I will remain open minded – despite how much it appears to bother you.

  95. Thomas L

    Or perhaps these two as well:

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/12/treating-peer-review-like-partisan-blog.html
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/12/a_climatology_conspiracy.html (linked to from the above, obviously a bit on the “right wing” side of things, but it is where they posted too, so whatever you want to make of that I am sure you will… and I note The Air Vent states it is rather technical and one should read the appendixes)

    and as I am not sure if the other one got sucked into the vortex of the web, here is another that shows the same pattern:
    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2009/12/climategate.html

    These are the things that I see coming out, and rather than viewing them as negative, I view them as positive in the sense that in the end maybe we will be left with some science most of us will be able to “trust”, though perhaps not quite as straight forward and single minded as everyone would like. I do think the “circle the wagons” mentality has now been shown to be highly counterproductive, so I would suspect things are going to be much more “by the book” and much less good ‘ol boy in the workings from now on. That is a very good thing.

    The indications from quite a few scientists whose blogs I’ve been directed to or stumbled upon seem to indicate jumping through hoops for any view not endorsed was quite regular, and quite substantial (as noted in the above links). Many managed to survive such episodes, many are left substantially less than happy, though now they seem to have an idea of what happened to them. I suppose my question is how many gave up.

    And yet I am still not “anti AGW”, rather I think the level of “consensus” was somewhat artificial, and as stated – we still have much to learn and much to work out.

  96. Jim C.

    AGW denial is really just another angle on Creationism. Those people have been towing the same line for 150 years since Darwin published his book. Fundamentalists, especially oil-steeped greedy ones, will reject ANY evidence that tells them they aren’t the center of the Universe, or that nature doesn’t owe them a living. It’s a dangerous form of proud ignorance.

    They are stuck on the idea that they merely have to work hard, gather a paycheck and go to church, and everything will be fine because an invisible deity loves them. Many believe in The Rapture and think nature is warehouse that must be raided before the Holy Son returns. Don’t try to tell them there’s no evidence for that. They’ll steer you to a 20 century-old book, which is all the “proof” they need for anything, period. Of course, the authors of that book weren’t scientists and couldn’t even foresee pocket calculators, let alone DNA, astrophysics, and of course, climatology. But fundamentalists will swear they had the world “all figgered out” back then. Just because the book itself said so!

    The methodology of global warming denial is nearly identical to “skepticism” on acid rain, ozone depletion, and cigarette/health issues (Fred Singer at al). Every time someone tells righteous sons of guns that their behavior is greedy, gluttonous and motivated by avarice, those righteous sons of guns will protest, deny, protest and deny some more. It’s a shortfall of human brain evolution more than anything. Objectivity and critical thinking get buried by “me, myself and my money” thinking.

    It may take centuries for that mindset to be cleared from the gene pool, so the best hope is to keep plodding along with evidence and finding practical solutions. Idiots will always try to force ego onto evidence and we just have to minimize their damage.

  97. Jim C.

    Doug wrote: “Say, if only 36% of scientists agree that warming is caused by human-generated emissions, can we really call it the consensus view anymore?”

    That’s a big misinterpretation of what was actually written. The “36%” figure referred to the general public’s perception of scientific certainty, not uncertainty among actual climatologists.

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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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