Global Warming Sceptic Bingo

Reading and listening to global warming sceptics can get a little
tedious because they keep trotting out the same discredited arguments.
So I’ve come up with a little game you can play to make it more
interesting. I call it Global Warming Sceptic Bingo! Just tick the
box when they use the argument next to it. Get four in a row and you
win! A good talk to try it on is Bob Carter’s (At 37:00 on the 11
April 2005 Counterpoint href="http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/counterpoint/default.htm">here.)

In the 70s
scientists were predicting an ice age #
There is no
such thing as global average temperature. #
Scientists
only say that global warming exists so they can get grants
#
The IPCC
summary for policy makers does not reflect the body of the report #
Belief in
global warming is a religion
Fred Singer
cited #
Ice cores show that warming precedes increases in C02 # Science
doesn’t work by consensus href="http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2005/01/consensus-science.html"> #
17,000
scientists signed a petition saying global warming isn’t
happening #
Satellites
show no warming #
Michael
Crichton cited #
Climate
modeling isn’t scientific #
Urban Heat
Islands contaminate the surface record #
We can’t
predict the weather a week in advance. How can we do it
100 years in advance? #
Water vapour
is 98% of the greenhouse effect. #
The “Hockey
Stick” is broken. #

Oh yeah, I included links to refutations of the arguments (except for the really stupid ones).

Update: William Connolley decides to refute the “can’t predict the weather” argument..

Comments

  1. #1 Disputo
    April 16, 2005

    Hilarious!

    But, referencing your previous post, shouldn’t you call the game Global Warming Denialist Bingo?

  2. #2 John Frankis
    April 16, 2005

    Just priceless, thanks for this novelty Tim! If you can’t laugh at the clowns what use would they be?

  3. #3 PeterW
    April 21, 2005

    Tim this is an absolutely brillant idea. It deserves a dedicated website. I for one would be willing to donate money to help you get it started.

  4. #4 jet
    April 21, 2005

    Wikipedia’s article admits that the only confirmed data set does not show the middle troposphere warming faster than that ground temp. Only the studies that give a freer hand to interpretation of the data come out with faster warming.

  5. #5 Eli Rabett
    April 21, 2005

    Jet, I think you need to read up on the algorithms used by the various groups (RSS, Christy and Spencer, Fu, Prabahakar and Vin…..) It is not that C&S are more constraing, but they are constraining their fits by different things, but thanks for letting us know what to put in the next box.

  6. #6 jet
    April 21, 2005

    Eli, you skipped the first part of my argument. Any particular reason?

  7. #7 jet
    April 21, 2005

    Wait, you are going to add a box for me because I say that C&S’s fit was the only one backed up by independent data, and is the only one to show a slower warming in the middle troposphere?

  8. #8 Frankis
    April 22, 2005

    Yeah, I hope Tim adds a box especially for you Jet. What did you make of the contents of the sixteen boxes he has so far, btw?

  9. #9 jet
    April 22, 2005

    Frankis,
    I think in a real debate they are straw men. Well, straw men except for the one I found exception with. Unfortunately, I think they need to be said even though they are straw men, since so much of the debate is between those who have imperfect knowledge of the known facts.

    Your overly kind generosity is duly noted (and fully expected).

  10. #10 jet
    April 22, 2005

    Oh, and I guess I’ll add this one “In the 70s scientists were predicting an ice age.”

    Stephen Schneider.

    And your defense seems kind of lame. If a whole bunch of professors where publishing and interviewing that an ice age was coming, then does it really matter that they didn’t submit their quackery for peer review?

  11. #11 Scott Church
    April 22, 2005

    Jet, I’m not sure why you think the arguments above are straw men. Every one has been supported by links Tim has provided, and all are in turn supported either directly or indirectly from the peer-reviewed literature. In what respect exactly are those who argue these points suffering from “imperfect knowledge of the known facts”? What known facts?

    Regarding your first point above, Wikipedia aside, it’s incorrect. The satellite analyses of Christy & Spencer are not “independently confirmed”, and their competitors are most certainly not giving “freer hand to interpretation of the data”. If anything, Christy & Spencer have more noise and uncertainty in their methods, especially regarding their merge analysis and diurnal corrections. A review of the upper-air science on this can be found here, and a discussion of the way global warming skeptics have botched it is here.

    One more correction: Neither Stephen Schneider nor anyone else was saying that an ice-age was coming in the 70s. They were speculating on some potential impacts of aerosols in the atmosphere unde a number of possible scenarios (at a time when very little was known about them), and Milankovich effects – which operate on millenial timescales and have virtually nothing to do with the next century’s global warming. You might want to read up a little more closely on these things. All the best.

  12. #12 Frankis
    April 22, 2005

    What do you mean by “If a whole bunch of professors where publishing and interviewing that an ice age was coming, then does it really matter that they didn’t submit their quackery for peer review”?

    And “nitwit bingo” is pretty funny don’t you think, given the amount of verbiage from the loud and vacuous?

  13. #13 jet
    April 23, 2005

    Scott,
    I think you misunderstood me. I’m saying those are arguements against straw men because they are arguemetns against obvious falsities. For instance the refutation to “Climate modeling isn’t scientific” is a straw man arguement because obviously Climate modeling IS scientific.

    “In what respect exactly are those who argue these points suffering from “imperfect knowledge of the known facts”?” Well for instance, Michael Crichton doesn’t appear to fully represent the facts. In fact most climate debates that occur in popular culture, be it news castors, writers, talk show hosts, or whatever, don’t seem to base their arguements on facts so much as hyperbole. Thus this post is quite useful, even if the arguements here are areguments against obvious falsehoods. See, we are on the same page after all. But I had far to much to drink at lunch to go tracing down your links on why Christy & Spencer don’t know their asses from the upper atmosphere. Perhaps tomorrow after I’ve worked up a really good hangover ;)

    Frankis,
    “…given the amount of verbiage from the loud and vacuous?” Aren’t we so very clever? Ah yes, that instant hostility and closed mindedness to those who haven’t seen “the light”. I presented an open mind and a willingness to learn why my beliefs were wrong. You present mockery and general assclownery. And while amusing, certainly unconvincing ;) But don’t quit, I have a feeling you’ll always be worth a chuckle.

  14. #14 jet
    April 23, 2005

    On a side note, I thought I was the only one who gave a crap that the IPCC decided to ignore those pretty graphs of total cloud coverage that lined up with sunspot levels so incredibely neatly. But low and behold, there are others. http://www.rawls.org/Global_warming_omitted_var.htm Now it would something to see to see that one added to the bingo game ;)

  15. #15 Dano
    April 23, 2005

    Wow, jet, I hope you don’t actually rely on your linky for the basis of your argument. Scary, if so…the line:

    The fact is, global warming alarmists are not scientists, they are propagandists. Instead of trying to incorporate solar-magnetic effects into their models, the alarmists regard the solar-magnetic theory of warming as a competitor to their preferred greenhouse gas theory.

    is a pathetic bit of conflation. Gimme a f’n break. You can see the agitprop language from here, and I’m halfway across the planet.

    D

  16. #16 Tim Lambert
    April 23, 2005

    OK, special bonus bingo box:

    Solar magnetic effects are causing global warming. #
  17. #17 Frankis
    April 23, 2005

    You’re just behaving like a troll who had too much to drink over lunch Jet. Again.

    What do you mean by “If a whole bunch of professors where publishing and interviewing that an ice age was coming, then does it really matter that they didn’t submit their quackery for peer review”?

  18. #18 jet
    April 23, 2005

    Tim,
    Be fair. That RealClimate graph starts at 1950. And while it may be a graph of direclty measured GCR’s, surely we can rely upon extrapolations 50 years earlier from sunspot data? The last 3 solar cycles have peaked higher and lasted longer than those preceding them (by roughly 10% higher peaks if I understand the NOAA graphs correctly). So looking at a graph that starts at 1950 is tantamount to blatant manipulation. Counterpoint: http://star.arm.ac.uk/~epb/paper1.html

    To show why that 1950 number sucks so bad: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Solar_Forcing_GISS_model.gif

    And here’s another kicker just for fun:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Solar_Activity_Proxies.png

  19. #19 Scott Church
    April 23, 2005

    Jet, OOPS! It seems I did misunderstand you. Your points about models, Crichton, etc. are of course, all correct. Sorry ’bout that! About Christy & Spencer, I didn’t mean to imply that they don’t know their asses from the upper atmosphere. They are among the best in the field and in fact, pioneered this line of research. It’s just that skeptics treat their work as, a) The only reliable satellite analysis of upper-air temperature trends, b) Utterly precise and uncertainty-free, while other analyses are completely unreliable and not worth mentioning, and c) that they are confirmed be equally precise radiosonde analyses. None of these things is even remotely true. Christy and Spencer have done some fine work, but they are by no means the last word on the subject, and this is hardly the global warming Oracle at Delphi.

    BTW – about the whole solar thing, a lot of that ground was already covered in another recent post about the hockey stick. I can’t find the link right now, and it’s late here in the states (that and I want a snack before bed :) ). Tim probably knows which one I’m referring to. When I’m rested I’ll have another look and provide a link unless Time beats me to it. All the best.

  20. #20 Louis Hissink
    April 28, 2005

    The global warming is not a measured fact but a prediction from computer modelling.

    Fact versus fiction.

  21. #21 Jeff Harvey
    April 28, 2005

    Wake up Louis. The planet’s surface IS indeed warming – unless yoyu’ve had your head stuck very firmly underground over the past twenty years, you’d realize that it is well underway. So yes, it is a measured FACT. The sceptics used to deny this but are using any number of flimsy arguments (play Tim’s bingo) to ensure that prevention is driven from the agenda.

  22. #22 jet
    April 30, 2005

    Scott if you do ever make it back to this post, I would like to see that hockey stick article that explains the effects of indirect solar forcings. For me the graphs on temperature growth in the 20th century are too connected to solar cycles to be so discounted out of hand by the “concensus”. Besides Tim’s silly link (let’s see that trend line from 1900-2000, Mr. Funny Guy), I’ve yet to see anyone with a rational explanation on why there’s no such thing as indirect solar forcings and why the estimates of 25%-75% of the total forcings are wrong.

  23. #23 Tim Lambert
    April 30, 2005

    jet, you don’t know what you are talking about. Whatever the effects are of solar forcings are, they don’t explain any of the warming in the last 30 years.

  24. #24 jet
    May 3, 2005

    Tim, if the suns increase in output is over the threshold of what the Earth can shed, then even if the sun’s increase has peaked, the temperature of the Earth would continue to increase until the earth reached an equilibrium.

    But I can’t find any research papers written on indirect solar forcing since 2003. Surely there is still research going on? You seem adamant in your conclusion, could you point me at the research that convinced you? As a token of good faith, I’ll leave (for the first time ever on a blog) a real email address. jet-put the at sign here-foreverokies.com

  25. #25 Eli Rabett
    May 3, 2005

    Jet, do a search for “Judith Lean”. That will produce a great deal of information on observations of solar luminosity including direct satellite measurements. You should find the answer to your question there. My memory banks say that the best reconstructions of the solar constant are Rind and Lean and Hoyt and Schatten. (as always, my spelling has a risk factor)

  26. #26 jet
    May 3, 2005

    What I learned from googling Judith Lean. The last five years, as measured by lunar earthshine and satellite data, have seen a 2.5% drop in the Earth’s albedo do to decreased cloud cover. I’ll have to see if I can dig up some real numbers on this earthshine and sat data, but until then:

    Palle’ and Butler, still kicking arse in 2005.

    Drop of blood and pound of flesh required to get past the abstracts:
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2005/2004GL021167.shtml
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VHB-4DB5MJR-1&_coverDate=12%2F01%2F2004&_alid=273290821&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_qd=1&_cdi=6062&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=ae89a5228e7081b84fdb813f429e4f8f

  27. #27 Anders
    May 25, 2005

    I thought the article says the boxes included links to refutation of these statements. I can’t find a single refutation. All I can find is links to pages saying, in effect, “if you don’t think manmade climate change is for real and dangerous, you are stupid”

    As an example, the link given to realclimate.org on CO2 vs. temperature in ice cores does not refute the statement that historically there is no evidence CO2 drives climate change. All realclimate says is “yeah, we know that something started warming the planet, but that does not mean CO2 was not responsible for the rest of the warming”. So, “something” warmed the planet for a 1000 years, then all of a sudden CO2 stepped in and took over?? If you call that a refutation, it really says it all about the rest of the boxes as well.

    But have fun while you can.

  28. #28 Meyrick
    May 25, 2005

    Anders,

    As I understand it the skpetics argue that because the CO2 rises are after the temperature increases, CO2 has no role to play in the casual mechanism of temperature change.

    The link argues that CO2 acted as a positive feedback mechanism, suggesting the logic used by the skeptics is not foolproof.

    So yes, I would call that a refutation of the logic employed by the skeptics.

  29. #29 Anders
    May 26, 2005

    Yes, it argues that CO2 acted as positive feedback. But you have to see that is an assumption based on the theory that CO2 will have that kind of net positive feedback.

    It would be a refutation if it could show that, from the observational evidence at hand, CO2 does actually have that kind of positive feedback.

    Thus the link really says: “look, we can give you an alternative explanation” and leaves it at that. It does not provide anything to show that the alternative explanation is preferable to the first.

    It is not a refutation.

  30. #30 Meyrick
    May 26, 2005

    Exactly, ergo the evidence does not disprove the global warming hypothesis, as opposed to what the skeptics claim.

  31. #31 John
    May 27, 2005

    What I would say to those who believe CO2 leads temperature. Go to the VOSTOK data and plot the Temp and CO2 YOURSELF. You will see for most large and small excursions in Temp, that CO2 follows and NOT leads.

  32. #32 Dano
    May 27, 2005

    What I would say to THOSE WHO MUST USE ALL CAPS: do go to the literature and read what folks who study this thing for a living say. And see whether they speak with certitude.

    Avoid predigested pap from see-oh-too and GES at all costs.

    D

  33. #33 John
    May 27, 2005

    Dano, don’t go to the literature. Go plot it yourself!

  34. #34 John
    May 27, 2005

    Dano, unlike Prof Mann who refuses to let out his erroneous source code, the VOSTOK data is free:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/icecore/antarctica/vostok/vostok_co2.html

    You have to scale the p-p excursions of CO2 . A good scale is: CO2 scaled= (CO2-245)/9-2.5

    At around 120K BP is a good example. The Temperature changes 8C, thousands and thousands of years before the CO2 even shows a sign of changing. You will see many smaller excursions where T changes and CO2 is phase shifted both on the leading and falling edges.

    Have fun

  35. #35 Meyrick
    May 27, 2005

    As I have already pointed out, that CO2 changes follow temperature changes in the historical record from the Vostok ice cores does NOT disprove the global warming theory, as the link shows.

  36. #36 John
    May 27, 2005

    Meyrick, you can’t talk about positive feedback with transistions that occur before there is any change in CO2 at all. To globally claim that CO2 still affects the temp by feedback mechanisms is weak.

  37. #37 Dano
    May 27, 2005

    Dano, don’t go to the literature. Go plot it yourself!

    And then read in the literature how the people who do this for a living interpret the graphs.

    Done that, thanks.

    And thanks for the rhetorical clue about source codes an’ stuff.

    D

  38. #38 Meyrick
    May 27, 2005

    John: “To globally claim that CO2 still affects the temp by feedback mechanisms is weak.”

    Why?

  39. #39 Meyrick
    May 27, 2005

    Let me elaborate. I once had the fortune of listening to a presentation by Prof Brown to us PhD students (of Ball & Brown fame … finance researchers will know who I’m talking about). Probably the most important thing he told us was that most pieces of evidence are open to multiple interpretations. In particular he said if we were ever presented with a piece of research that give certain evidence and drew a particular conclusion from that evidence, then the best thing for us to do was ask ourselves, what other alternative conclusions could be drawn from the same evidence.

    So, what do we have here?

    Evidence: CO2 changes follow temperature rises with about an 800 year lag.

    Hypothesis 1 (the Skpetics Hypothesis):
    1. Something (changes in the Earth’s orbital path for instance) causes a temperature increase.
    2. The temperature increase causes CO2 levels to rise noticably after 800 years.

    Hypothesis 2 (global warming hypothesis):
    1. Something (changes in the Earth’s orbital path for instance) causes a temperature increase.
    2. The temperature increase causes CO2 levels to rise noticably after 800 years.
    3. CO2 levels feedback, leading to further temperature rises.

    Both hypothesis are consistent with the evidence. It is impossible with this evidence alone to rule out either of the hypotheses. Ergo the global warming hypothesis is NOT disproven (nor is it proven).

  40. #40 Anders
    May 27, 2005

    I agree, Meyrick. It does not refute your explanation.

    But take a look at those graphs (and please, Dano, it is actually possible to do some thinking of your own) and tell me: where do you see indications of a “psoitive feedback”? Do you really need the explanation of a positive feedback to explain the curves?

    And the one thing that makes me wonder is this: Lets assume that “something” started warming the planet for a 1000 years, and that this triggered a biospheric reaction leading to increased content of CO2. Lets also assume that CO2 has this alleged positive feedback and sustained the warming rate (this, of course, also assumes that the initial source of warming started subsiding). Then I wonder, what stopped CO2 from accumulating in the atmosphere when the cooling set in? Which mechanism in the theory of manmade global warming describes this, and where is it present in the GCM’s?

    It seems to me that suggesting CO2 played an important role in the temperature history of the world requires a very complicated explanation.

    But you are right. None of this refutes your idea, it just makes it less likely.

  41. #41 John C
    May 27, 2005

    Anders:

    My comment is that you do need a positive feedback to explain the measured warming.

    Consider the three elements of the Milankovitch cycles (obliquity, precession of equinoxes and eccentricity). Of these, obliquity and precession do not change the overall amount of solar energy hitting the earth over a year, they just change where it hits. The eccentricity does change the total amount but by a very small amount.

    So we need a feedback system that the orbital mechanics can start. There seem to be two candidates – GHG and Albedo changes. The argument against albedo changes is that we would expect to see this effect strongest in the Northern Hemisphere but it appears that a rise in CO2 precedes Northern Hemisphere deglaciation. Thus GHG seem the better argument.

    So while I agree the above does not prove the effect of GHGs, in my opinion it makes it more likely rather than less.

    Regards,

    John

  42. #42 Dano
    May 27, 2005

    and please, Dano, it is actually possible to do some thinking of your own

    Yes, and it’s possible that one doesn’t have context, information, or wisdom enough to make valid conclusions when one thinks about something.

    It is very difficult to interpret natural phenomena by looking at one graph, pointing to it, and saying ‘a-ha’. Of course, elegant solutions are found in one graph, and all that.

    But it is very possible to look at a graph, say ‘a-ha’ and think you understand. One always wants to check with the folks who do this for a living to see if your ‘a-ha’ is right or not.

    And the one thing that makes me wonder is this: Lets assume that “something” started warming the planet for a 1000 years, and that this triggered a biospheric reaction leading to increased content of CO2. Lets also assume that CO2 has this alleged positive feedback and sustained the warming rate (this, of course, also assumes that the initial source of warming started subsiding). Then I wonder, what stopped CO2 from accumulating in the atmosphere when the cooling set in? Which mechanism in the theory of manmade global warming describes this, and where is it present in the GCM’s?

    Huh. These wonderances are explained in the literature.

    HTH,

    D

  43. #43 Anders
    May 30, 2005

    Ok, Dano, I accept that. You should also accept that people other than you have done some reading to see what “the folks who do this for a living” has to say. I totally agree that any argument building on a glance at a graph which happens to fit your preconception should be discarded.

    As you seem to be able to come up with links to this and that in other discussion forums, I suppose you could enlighten me on where in the literature my wondering may be turned into knowledge?

  44. #44 Anders
    May 30, 2005

    John,

    you have to remember that CO2 is only an insulator. It is not a source of energy. To sustain warming on the scale shown in these proxy records you need a fairly powerful and lasting source. In order to back up the current theory of CO2′s role as an enhancer of warming you need also to explain why the initial source of energy subsided. You need also to explain why the initial source could not increase its strength over time. In short, you need to tell us how you know what this initial source was and how you know why it acted the way it did.

    As I said before, in light of the established “simplicity is better” your theory that CO2 took over driving after 1000 years really does not look good.

  45. #45 Louis Hissink
    May 30, 2005

    Measured warming?

    Of what.

  46. #46 Louis Hissink
    May 30, 2005

    Measured warming?

    Of what.

  47. #47 John C
    May 31, 2005

    Anders:

    I am somewhat confused by your reply. I thought my comment did address the points you raise. Ice ages tend to correlate very well with orbital mechanics. But orbital mechanics mostly change where and when the sun’s energy strikes the earth, not the total amount.

    What am I missing?

    Regards,
    John

  48. #48 Dano
    May 31, 2005

    As you seem to be able to come up with links to this and that in other discussion forums, I suppose you could enlighten me on where in the literature my wondering may be turned into knowledge?

    OK:

    Lets assume that “something” started warming the planet for a 1000 years, and that this triggered a biospheric reaction leading to increased content of CO2.

    Petit, JR et al. 1999. Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica. Nature 399 pp. 429-436.

    Monnin et al. 2001. Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations over
    the Last Glacial Termination. Science 291 pp. 112-114.

    Blunier T and Brook EJ 2001. Timing of Millennial-Scale Climate Change in Antarctica and Greenland During the Last Glacial Period. Science 291 pp. 109-112.

    Lets also assume that CO2 has this alleged positive feedback and sustained the warming rate (this, of course, also assumes that the initial source of warming started subsiding).

    Whoa! Stop right there! You don’t think CO2 has a positive feedback? Do you need to define terms?

    Then I wonder, what stopped CO2 from accumulating in the atmosphere when the cooling set in?

    Petit et al.,

    Caillon et al. 2003. Timing of Atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic Temperature Changes Across Termination III. Science 299 pp. 1728-1731.

    Hansen J, Sato M 2004. Greenhouse gas growth rates. PNAS 101:46 pp. 16109-16114.

    Which mechanism in the theory of manmade global warming describes this, and where is it present in the GCM’s?

    You are confusing past processes with modern occurences.

    The past was caused by natural processes. The current is largely being caused by man. It’s great to look to the past for clues, but there is no period in the past that matches what is happening today, so when you read a Googled website that confuses the past with the present, and then makes some sort of argumentation that GCMs blablabla, you’re unwittingly passing on the confusion.

    The future climate, if you insist on stating that present is like past, cannot be predicted by the CO2 rise from the past.

    That’s whut I’m sayin.

    D

  49. #49 Anders
    June 1, 2005

    Dano,

    Does CO2 have a positive feedback? Yes it does. Is it a strong positive feedback beacuse of its coupling to other feedbacks? Well, that we really do not know. Some assume it is, some don’t. GCM’s assume the feedback is very strong.

    So it is with the interpretation of these CO2 vs. temperature curves as well. As John C said in one of his early comments, “something” started raising the temperature and the CO2 kicked in after 800 – 1000 years. Well, that’s assuming the “something” was not up to the task by itself. And since we expect the “something” to be changes in earths orbit around the sun and changes in the sun itself, there really is no need for a strong CO2 feedback to keep the warming going at its initial rate (which is mostly what the curves show).

    You are absolutely right that thos historical proxy records (they are not temperature measurements as indicated by john C) are not similar to the modern situation since man did not contribute to the rise in CO2 way back then. But they do tell us something very significant, namely that CO2 in and of itself is incapable of sustaining temperature growth (we really do know that, as it is an insulator and a poor one at that). And at the termination of heat rise we do see that immediately following the collapse of external energy input CO2 plummets.

    There are periods of time with events being comparable to today, though. Those records do also show periods of time where CO2 has a positive change without change in temperature, or even with negative change in temperature. That is also evident in paleoclimatic records from really long ago, when CO2 was at several thousand ppm’s.

    Pearson, P.N. and Palmer, M.R. 2000. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years. Nature 406: 695-699.

  50. #50 Jeff Harvey
    June 1, 2005

    Anders,

    You state: “There are periods of time with events being comparable to today, though. Those records do also show periods of time where CO2 has a positive change without change in temperature, or even with negative change in temperature”. This is probably correct. But what you and other sceptics often fail to do is to factor in other anthropogenic changes into the equation. Humans have drastically altered the surface of the planet, we have fragmented large swathes of natural biomes across the biosphere, and we have significantly altered a suite of biogeochemical and hydrological cycles across variable spatial and temporal scales. There are, of course, ecological consequences to these changes, and that is what scientists like myself are attempting to find out. Many of these processes are synergized i.e. do not affect the functioning of these systems independently but in concert with other stresses.

    Another problem that is hard for many people to grasp is the scale with which humans are altering processes across the planet. Many of the other changes that you allude to in the past occurred over much longer periods of geological time, and when the planet was not dominated by a rapacious, intelligent bipedal primate. This is one great shortcoming of Homo sapiens. We have not evolved to respond to changes that we perceive as gradual (e.g. occur over decades) when in an evolutionary or geological framework they are exceedingly rapid. Instead, we are genetically programmed to respond to instantaneous threats (a tsunami, a tornado, a mountan lion on the path ahead etc).

    I think that there is more than enough empirical evidence to support the argument that the human fingerprint is all over the latest warming episode. The rate of contemporary temperature change is certainly unprecedented over the past 20,000, and perhaps 60,000 years.

  51. #51 Dano
    June 1, 2005

    But they do tell us something very significant, namely that CO2 in and of itself is incapable of sustaining temperature growth (we really do know that, as it is an insulator and a poor one at that). And at the termination of heat rise we do see that immediately following the collapse of external energy input CO2 plummets.

    This is why you read the literature for your understanding and not see-oh-too and GES.

    First, looking at 10MYA or 20MYA is problematic at best, as landcover changes, mountain ranges, and species distribution and population effects were far different than today.

    Second, the papers I guided you to take issue with your italicized statement I include here. For example, the Caillon et al.:

    This confirms that CO2 is not the forcing that initially drives the climatic system during a deglaciation. Rather, deglaciation
    is probably initiated by some insolation forcing , which influences first the temperature change in Antarctica (and possibly in part of the Southern Hemisphere) and then the
    CO2. This sequence of events is still in full
    agreement with the idea that CO2 plays, through its greenhouse effect, a key role in amplifying the initial orbital forcing. First, the 800-year time lag is short in comparison with the total duration of the temperature and CO2 increases (5000 years). Second, the CO2
    increase clearly precedes the Northern Hemisphere
    deglaciation (Fig. 3). [footnotes omitted]

    Lastly, the Pearson and Palmer address “your” conclusion above thusly:

    Modelling of the atmosphere suggests that pCO2 forces surface temperature in a logarithmic relationship. We use the equation of Kiehl and Dickinson to estimate the level of greenhouse heating predicted by our pCO2 estimates. We note that the relatively small changes in pCO2 that occurred in the Neogene would have had a disproportionately large effect on surface temperature because absorption of outgoing radiation by CO2 is further from saturation at low values. [footnotes omitted]

    Ah, well.

    Best,

    D

  52. #52 Anders
    June 2, 2005

    Jeff,

    I totally agree that human behaviour has both changed the face of our planet and the local climatic situation. There is also no doubt that humans have annihilated species of plants and animals, and that our landscaping probably has accounted for some small influence on the huge variability of the climate system these past 20000 years.

    I would like to challenge you on your statement that the present warming is unprecedented the past 20- 60000 years. My part of the planet was covered in several kilometers ice during that period. Both the plunge into that part of the current ice age AND the rise out of it were times where several studies have shown temperature fluctuations in the order of 10C over a few decades. Even more recently, studies from Greenland about 7000 years before present show much sharper temperature rise than at present.

    About your”genetical programming”, which species is not? And why should any of them be? What kind of argument is that? We live for 70 years and are supposed to act as if we live 10000?

    I hope you do not perform your research with the preconception that humans are basically “rapaceous” (what does that say for so-called “nature people”?). You might end up believing that we annihilate 50000 species a year.

  53. #53 Jeff Harvey
    June 2, 2005

    Anders

    Since we have identified and formally classified so few of the 5-80 million species that are thought to exist, it is not at all unreasonable to believe that we extirpate 50,000 species or more per year. Research by Jennifer Hughes and colleagues at Stanford University (and published in Science in 1997) estimated that human activities destroy some 30,000 genetically distinct populations of species every day (out of a global total of between 2 and 6 billion populations). There is no question that our species is the first evolved organism in the planet’s history to kick-start a massive extinction event. This is not controversial. All of the five previous extinctions were the result of abiotic factors. This is not a legacy for Homo sapiens to be proud of.

    The fact that we cannot perceive the consequences of anthropogenic changes that, within a geological time frame, are rapid, but are not perceived by our innate senses as such, is not an argument. It is a fact. It may also be the main factor of the current human predicament, and may suggest, as Edward O. Wilson staes in “The Future of Life”, that intelligence may be self-extinguishing in an evolutionary sense. Humans are nickel and diming the plaet to death but we may be unable to perceive the consequences until it is too late.

    Even if you are correct, and past temperature fluctuations over the past 60,000 years have occasionally exceeded the current rate (and this is highly debatable, as we are seeing quite a spike over the past three decades alone), you have to bear in mind that the past changes occurred in local and global conditions where ecosystems across the biosphere had not already been greatly simplified as they have been over the past century by humanity. This is something that most of the contrarians just don’t seem able to understand. No species co-opts more of nature (~40% of net primary production and 50% of freshwater flows) and thus depends more on a range of services emanating from wild nature than does Homo sapiens. We do not have technological substitutes for a vast range of services that permit our species to exist and persist. Climate change is but one stress – albeit an important one – on systems that our species has already greatly simplified and stressed through a huge range of processes.

  54. #54 Anders
    June 3, 2005

    Ok, Jeff, you have made your point of view clear. I do not agree with your basic fatalistic view that we are heading for doom and destruction based on our built-in greed. I also do not find it plausible that extinctions are going as fast as you describe. I am totally aware that species are going extinct because of human interference, but I am also aware that thos extinction rates do not take into account the reckless nature of life with respect to extinction.

    I would like to ask you a general question, although this is aside from what this thread is all about: under which conditions does life thrive, cold or warm? On a geological timescale.

  55. #55 Jeff Harvey
    June 3, 2005

    Anders

    The empirical evidence speaks for itself. Current extinction rates are at least 100-1,000 times higher than normal ‘background’ rates. I’d suggest you read papers by people like Tilman, Pimm, Lawton, May and colleagues because I don’t have time to go into the specifics here (I leave for ortugal Sunday and I am in the middle of three large experiments). You might also read the piece in the Union of Concerned Scientists by Wilson et al. (including myself as an author) in which we counter biodiversity distortions in Lomborg’s “The Skeptical Environmentalist”. But there is no question that we are now well into the ‘sixth big one’, and that any extinction rate hundreds or thousands of times higher than normal should be a cause for immense concern, especially as populations and species constitute the ‘working parts’ of our ecological life support systems.

    With respect to your question, there is still much debate over what stimulates high levels of adaptive radiation and speciation and under what conditions life thrives. Certainly, stable ecosystems in tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems are exceedingly rich in species, and realized niches in these sytems are certainly much smaller for most species than is the case in temperate latitudes, where becoming too specialized in a changeable environment can be an evolutionary dead-end (of course there are exceptions). Species in temperate regions tend to have much broader distributons than tropical species, although there is much more heterogeneity in tropical biomes (in general). To be specific, warm conditions favor species persistence more than cold conditions, although to a large extent stability – that is lack of rapid, short-tern changes – are also critically important. Whereas there are obvious winners in a rapidly changing environment, there are probably more losers. This is why the biggest mass extinction the world has yet seen – at the Permian/Mesozoic boundry – was likely caused by rapid cooling (caused by a spate of huge volcanic eruptions and/or the impact of a large meteror or planetoid) and consequent changes across vast biomes that doomed some 90% of extant species to extinction.

    Lastly, you state that “extinction rates do not take into account the reckless nature of life with respect to extinction”. This is incorrect, because, as I said extinction rates are currently at least many hndreds of times higher than normal rates in geological time. In future post (if you like) I will explain this in more mathematical terms.

  56. #56 Ian Gould
    June 3, 2005

    “under which conditions does life thrive, cold or warm? On a geological timescale.”

    Hmmm, let’s take a look at Venus shall we? Or nearer to home, which ecosystem is more productive – Death Valley or Tasmania?

  57. #57 Eli Rabett
    June 4, 2005

    Anders, it is not necessary that Jeff believes we are headed for doom and gloom, what is necessary is for you to understand the reasons for caution and rush ahead over the cliff, which may, or may not have a one or one hundred foot drop.

  58. #58 Ian Gould
    June 4, 2005

    AS Eli has said, most of the economic evidence suggests that addressing global warming would be relatively cheap and might even produce net economic benefits.

    That’s if you believe in the ability of markets to adapt and respodn creatively to new problems, of course.

  59. #59 Chris O'Neill
    June 4, 2005

    “under which conditions does life thrive, cold or warm? On a geological timescale.”

    If you asked Ian Plimer or Bob Carter this question they would answer warmer, Death Valley notwithstanding. The defect in the Death Valley argument is that, as Plimer points out, a warmer world in the past was normally a wetter world.

    It may well be that life thrives in a warmer world but that doesn’t mean a warmer world in the near future will be a happy place for a lot of humans. An ocean 10 metres higher and hotter summers in places with dry summers will make a lot of people very unhappy.

  60. #60 Anders
    June 6, 2005

    Ian, do you live in Tasmania? I do not think of Tasmania as a cold place, but then I live in Norway. My perspective may be different from yours. I woul also consider it more relevant to look at species diversity up here in the north compared to the warmer regions around the equator.

    Eli, and Jeff, I agree. I am sorry to have rushed to the conclusion that Jeff is an extinction alarmist. And I do agree, as I said before, that extinction rates are probably higher today because of us. I do not subscribe to the “50 000 a year”-view, but nonetheless….we do know as a positive (or should I say negative) fact that large land animals are mcuh less abundant today than only a few hundred years ago. I acknowledge that this is a problem, and it should be dealt with. I’m just tired of all those crying doom and despair…..

    Anyways, back to the origin of this thread. I am currently checking out the state of knowledge with regard to the sun adn its influence on the CO2 vs. temperature curves. I hope to have something on this soon.

  61. #61 Dano
    June 6, 2005

    When you go to your Uni library, Anders, make sure you search the scientific literature via the ISI database. Good luck!

    Best,

    D

  62. #62 Bob
    November 12, 2005

    You can just about fill the entire card with this Milloy article:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,175241,00.html

  63. #63 Tim Worstall
    December 21, 2005

    Re: Urban Heat Islands. From the link you give:

    “More recently two papers have sought to show directly that the effect is minimal.”

    So the correct answer is that they do contaminate the surface record but not very much and it can be corrected for.

  64. #64 Jack Lacton
    December 24, 2005

    You lot really let yourselves down through the utter lack of real scientific proof to the whole AGW debate. Yes, it’s possible that CO2 increases could impact temperature. However, there are NO studies that confirm this to be the case. In fact, there are studies that are now showing CO2 increase to lag temperature increase. There is speculation and ‘consensus’. How the heck can science be based on consensus?

    The IPCC is largely to blame for the emotion in the debate due to 1) the left’s desire to believe anything that points to the USA being the cause of problems and 2) its own lack of scientific honesty, which is leaving it justifiably open to attack.

    With anthropogenic CO2 making up less than 1% of all CO2 emissions, and with CO2 being less than 5% of all green house gasses, it’s incumbent on those who wish to inflict economic catastrophe on the world to prove, unambiguously and definitively, their case.

    Until that time, the global warming debate will remain divided down ‘party lines’, which won’t help anyone at all.

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