i-798beb5d766d3eec82f4727e19ef450d-frink.jpgIn her latest rant, Miranda Devine warns about the imminent threat of a take over by scientists:

It used to be men in purple robes who controlled us. Soon it will be men in white lab coats. The geeks shall inherit the earth.

I suppose you are wondering how they are going to take over. Could it be giant robots? Or tiny tiny robots? Or genetically engineered cephalopods? Nope. Devine reckons they’re going to use Kyoto to take over the world:

Environmentalism is the powerful new secular religion and politically correct scientists are its high priests, rescuing the planet from the apocalypse of climate change, as the Doomsday clock ticks down. Kyoto is the Promised Land and Bush/Howard/capitalism/industry/farmers are Satan.

When I created Global Warming Skeptic Bingo I made a box for “Belief in global warming is a religion”, but didn’t include a refutation because the argument was too stupid to bother with. But hey, let’s spell it out. Belief in religion is based on faith, while belief in global warming is based on empirical evidence. See, for example, the thousands of papers cited in the IPCC Third Assessment Report.

Devine cites an Authority to support her claim:

Perth exploration geologist Louis Hissink suspects “politicised science has replaced religion as the arbiter of human affairs … priesthoods of both organisations are concerned with what happens in the future and that current behaviour is thought to affect that future, hence it needs to be proscribed and prescribed”.

You might remember Louis Hissink. He’s the fellow who made the worst argument against global warming ever. And if you think that Hissink’s arguments might have improved, check out his blog:

In terms of the gas phase, air is 0.0378% by volume chemically CO2. At this concentration no two CO2 molecules are in physical contact with other CO2 molecules. This means that as a coherent phase, CO2 as a gas is physically absent in air. Hence its physical properties are also irrelevant and all opinions on its efficacy as a Greenhouse Gas vacuous rhetoric.

This situation arises from the confusion between chemical composition and physical composition. CO2′s greenhouse properties are physical properties, not chemical, and physically as a discrete gas, CO2 is absent in air. It does exist as a minor impurity in the mixture of air, essentially N2 and O2.

No, I have no idea what he means by coherent phase, either. CO2 molecules do not have to be in physical contact to absorb radiation, which is just as well because otherwise the natural greenhouse effect would not exist. Maybe we’ll be seeing Hissink’s argument presented in a future anti-science Devine column.

Flashman has more on Devine’s rant.

Comments

  1. #1 Tim's wife
    March 5, 2006

    Hey science guys- don’t you get it? Miranda Divine thinks science geeks are hot. That’s why she likes teasing you with outrageous statements that are sure to excite you, and quotes scientists whose theories couldn’t possibly be taken seriously. It’s her way of getting you guys all hot and bothered so you think about her all the time. Just wait til her next column! She’s just going to keep outdoing herself until someone calls her on her game. Then you’ll all have a hearty laugh about it in the morning. Science geeks rule!!!!!

  2. #2 Tim's wife
    March 5, 2006

    Hissink is obviously an Internet prankster and it’s time he fessed up.

  3. #3 Arthur Reader
    March 5, 2006

    Re: the Greenhouse Effect.

    The Greenhouse effect is mostly due ( >90%) due to water vapor and clouds, with CO2 and other trace gases being minor contributors. If carbon dioxide were magically removed from the atmosphere, the Earth’s temperature would hardly change.

    So before you attempt to remove the mote from Louis’ eye, you should remove the plank from your own.

  4. #4 Tim Lambert
    March 5, 2006

    Arthur, his argument applies just as well to water vapour (which is a gas, not a liquid as Louis claims). Removing all CO2 would remove 10% of the greenhouse effect, say 3 degrees of cooling. But this would reduce the amount of water vapour which would cause more cooling and we’d be in an ice age in no time.

  5. #5 FhnuZoag
    March 5, 2006

    Arthur:

    Water vapour is an amplifier in the climate system, not a forcing agent. An influx of water vapour in the atmosphere is quickly removed through such agents as rain, whilst carbon dioxide etc will stick around for up to 100 years and produce a long term effect.

  6. #6 Matt McIrvin
    March 5, 2006

    Wow… I remember when the “scientists as the new priesthood” line was usually characterized as left-wing craziness.

  7. #7 Steve Reuland
    March 5, 2006

    You know, it’s good that Devine warns us about those who use unscrupulous scare tactics, and even better that she shows by way of her own example precisely how such people operate.

  8. #8 SkookumPlanet
    March 5, 2006

    Miranda is funny.

    But it’s quite predictable that if the Evo-ID fight gets really hot around the country, especially the more creationists lose, they’ll attack scientists as dishonest, anti-Christian, and anti-American. They’ll have plenty of indirect help from the far right’s psychomarketing whizzes.

    Translation — a passionate corp of millions of religious zealots hungry for power led by a cadre of sophisticated political geniuses hungry for power. Both willing to do whatever they can get away with.

    I know it’s is hard to believe, but this could ultimately affect the personal and professional lives of scientists.

  9. #9 Adam Ierymenko
    March 5, 2006

    I don’t think global warming is a religion, but I do think that green ideology is. “Forgive me nature for I have sinned…”

    It was the fact that global warming is often used as a lead-in for green apologetics that caused me to become skeptical of it. I’ve become less skeptical of it as I’ve learned more about it, but in general when I smell religious apologetics of any kind my baloney detector goes haywire. In other words, whenever a fact or theory serves as a preface to evangelism for something abstract and philosphical and moralistic, my mind recoils in horror and tends to tar the whole thing over with “b******t!!!!” I used to place global warming in the same category as intelligent design: conclusion-selective “science” driven by religious belief.

  10. #10 SkookumPlanet
    March 5, 2006

    Adam,

    A BS detector applied like yours is a vital tool for life, mine included. But let me suggest a difference between your two examples.

    “Greens” have real problems these days that I, as a green, have been watching in dismay. Their evangelism around GW comes after the fact. As with other environmental issues, greens trot out their standard mantra and so you find them advocating the solution to global warming as individuals recycling, riding bikes, and using energy effecient lightbulbs. But GW has been driven from the beginning by scientific research, now spanning decades. Greens have just hitched a [insightless] ride.

    ID is driven 100% from outside the scientific community. It has no research history. Inside the relevant disciplines it has no scientists supporting it.

    In both cases there are political constituencies and controversy, but a research literature search would quickly illustrate the difference.

  11. #11 Dennis Williams
    March 5, 2006

    On the other hand, sometimes scientists are poopy heads.

  12. #12 Ender
    March 5, 2006

    Tim – You didn’t risk your sanity by reading Louis’s blog did you? Mind you – we have got him away from the atmosphere is not made of glass argument.

  13. #13 Matt McIrvin
    March 5, 2006

    The rhetoric of environmental activist groups, especially in fundraising appeals, does sometimes go beyond the science in alarming ways; they also sometimes get into the trap of advocating the perfect as enemy of the good or attacking flashy-but-unimportant targets. That’s why it’s important to look at the science and not at the activist rhetoric when figuring out what to actually believe. But the real science behind anthropogenic global warming is solid.

    Another thing that happens is that media outlets will spin stories on climate sensationally, especially in the headlines, and there’s a sort of depressing double-counting effect you can get if you read a lot of news: you’ll see five stories all proclaiming “scientists find global warming even worse than expected”, and maybe think that all those combined worsenings are pretty alarming until it turns out they’re all talking about the same paper.

    One thing I really like about sites like RealClimate, Deltoid and William Connelly’s blog is that, while they’re all deeply concerned, they’ll debunk truly over-the-top sensationalists and exaggerated news stories as well as people who insist that everything is just fine.

  14. #14 mg
    March 5, 2006

    Oh man, you had to link Mr Hissink there at the end. I had managed to get myself off reading his blog. Each sentence therein almost makes sense. When you read them together in a paragraph the effect is, disturbing. I find the cognitive dissonance from a whole bunch of paragraphs takes some time to subside.

    Just so we’re clear. Yes, CO2 is a small atmospheric component. No, you cannot ignore it for purposes of radiation budget. It does absorb radiation throughout a large range of wavelengths. “Coherent Phase” has no meaning in this context. Phew, I feel a bit better now. But I’m going to have the words “coherent phase” blundering around inside my head all morning now.

  15. #15 nanny_govt_sucks
    March 5, 2006

    So it looks like you’ve turned her “politically correct scientists” into “scientists”, and while she’s obviously talking about AGW (with her reference to Kyoto) you provide us with:

    “Belief in religion is based on faith, while belief in global warming is based on empirical evidence.”

    … which is apparently referring to GW.

    There’s a difference.

  16. #16 Ben
    March 6, 2006

    Belief in global warming is a religion

    I don’t think this is said too much. As Adam mentions above, it’s more environmentalism as religion that worries people. Global warming is just a lead in.

  17. #17 mark
    March 6, 2006

    There are many modes of environmentalism, and what we see in the media tends to be the more hyperbolic. But the Green movement would argue (rightly) that hyperbole, and cuddly animals, is the only way to cut through the media. Politicians, marketers, and users of the media of all types all do exactly the same thing, although they don’t get criticized for it in the same way.

    Within the Green movement these issues are canvassed widely and in great detail. Check out The Green Studies Reader: From Romanticism to Ecocriticism, Laurence Coupe (ed.) or Ecocriticism by Greg Garrard.

  18. #18 Steve Munn
    March 6, 2006

    Professor John Quiggin had a fund raising appeal for Pakistan earthquake victims earlier this year on his blog. Louis Hissink posted the following comment:

    “I give nothing, I thought the socialist system obviated this need for additional aid.” see http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2006/01/30/pakistan-earthquake-appeal/

    Not only is Louis a nutter, he is a nutter in need of a moral compass.

  19. #19 FhnuZoag
    March 6, 2006

    Since when is expressing the conclusion that AGW exists politically correct?

  20. #20 Tim Lambert
    March 6, 2006

    Nanny, the term “politically correct” doesn’t mean anything any more, so “politically correct scientists” means the same thing as “scientists”. HTH.

  21. #21 Jeff Harvey
    March 6, 2006

    There’s nothing wrong with criticism of empirical science, but I get a bit dismayed when I read fluffy comments like that from Adam: “I don’t think global warming is a religion, but I do think that green ideology is. ‘”Forgive me nature for I have sinned…’”. This remark is utterly meaningless and throwaway. It doesn’t say anything about the current state of the biosphere, covering scales from communities, to ecosystems, to biomes. It expunges any notion that the survival of our species is utterly dependent on a vast array of indirect ecological (supporting) services that emerge from natural systems over variable temporal and spatial scales: these services operate in intricate and little explored ways, but we now know – and have known since the 1980′s – that they permit our existence. Our civilization is littered with ecological subsidies that technology cannot replace.

    Such remarks as Adam’s tend to reflect a poor understanding (or, shall I say no understanding) of the link between human well being and the environment, and instead tend to fatuously lump in the findngs of extensive empirical research – which unambiguoulsy shows that we are in a bottleneck and that the prognosis is ot good – with the dreamy idealogical aspirations of a minority. Moreover, the attempt to lump together the conclusions of researchers with a broader ‘green ideology’, is deliberate, because it suggests that scientists have an alternate agenda that has nothing to do with ‘finding the truth’, as elusive as that is in science.

    When I took on the nonsense contained in Bjorn Lomborg’s monumentally erroneous book, the same trick was used as that described by Adam. Forget the fact that I studied zoology in a UK University, did a PhD in evolutionary ecology, did several postdocs, had a short stint as an Associate Editor at Nature before accepting a senior post where I now do work on several different projects in population ecology. Forget the fact that I have published more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals. The fact that I dared take on someone (Lomborg) whose understanding of ecology is no higher than that of a typical high school student meant that I had to be labeled a “doomsayer”, “cassandra”, “extremist” etc. etc. etc. And much of this came from scribes working in think tanks with no formal scientific training and who probably could not tell a mole cricket from a giraffe.

    Adam, here’s some advice. Instead of parroting the corporate media or worse still, the think tanks, corporate lobby groups and astroturf web sites, why don’t you head off down to your local university library and read some of the thousands of papers that detail the ecological consequences of global change. Or simpler still, read books like Simon Levin’s “Fragile Dominion”, Gretchen Dailey et als. “Nature’s Services” or Yvonne Baskin’s “The Work of Nature”. All eminently readable books which underline the importance on nature in generating life-support services upon which our civilization rests. Your baloney detector does not work, because it has little in the way of science to go on.

  22. #22 Jeff Harvey
    March 6, 2006

    GMB,

    Chicago may well be under ice in 4,000 years. But, considering what our species is doing to our planetary life-support systems at present, there’s certainly no guarantee that Homo sapiens will persist that long; heck, we may struggle to make it out of the present century, let alone worry about 4 millenia.

    BTW, you say, “most climatologists” in reference to your argument. Names, addresses, affiliations please? Or this is this just a case of hearing some hearsay somewhere and parroting it as a fact?

  23. #23 Adam Ierymenko
    March 6, 2006

    “There’s nothing wrong with criticism of empirical science, but I get a bit dismayed when I read fluffy comments like that from Adam: “I don’t think global warming is a religion, but I do think that green ideology is. ‘”Forgive me nature for I have sinned…’”. This remark is utterly meaningless and throwaway. It doesn’t say anything about the current state of the biosphere, covering scales from communities, to ecosystems, to biomes. It expunges any notion that the survival of our species is utterly dependent on a vast array of indirect ecological (supporting) services that emerge from natural systems over variable temporal and spatial scales: these services operate in intricate and little explored ways, but we now know – and have known since the 1980′s – that they permit our existence. Our civilization is littered with ecological subsidies that technology cannot replace.”

    I’m not arguing with any of that per se. However, I find it hard to believe that you’re denying that there is a strong current of romantic quasi-religious ideology behind the green movement.

    Why, for example, is nuclear energy forbidden? I can think of some reasons that one might be skeptical of it– it is *not* a panacea. However, the notion of powering a region like where I live here in the northeast with only wind power and other small renewable energy is 100% pure fantasy.

    As near as I can tell, nuclear energy is forbidden because it is big, industrial, and synthetic. It is forbidden for romantic-aesthetic reasons.

    Also, if you’ll re-read my post, you’ll find that I mention that I’m no longer as big of a GW skeptic as I used to be. The reason is that I’ve read into it a bit more, become more familiar with the methodology (especially simulation), and thus find it more credible than I once did. GW is not the core problem that I have with the environmental movement, nor is anything else scientific. The core problem that I have is philosophical.

    I’m an atheist-humanist, and to me one of the things that this means is categorically rejecting all belief systems that attempt to value a “virtual” entity in place of real entities. A real entity is something like a person, a house, etc. A virtual entity is a constract of a clever writer. Virtual entities do not exist; they are created by strokes of the pen.

    Examples of virtual entities include: the nation, the state, the race, the “culture,” Gaia, God, Jesus, Mohammed, the spirit world, “unspoiled” nature (a romantic concept that places inherent value in nature minus mankind), etc. All of those are “gods” in the cognitive sense, and being an atheist to me means rejecting them all.

    So this causes me to categorically reject the romantic notion that unspoiled wilderness has inherent value for the same reason that I categorically reject the notion that sexuality is inherently a sin. As a consequence, I view abstinence-based sex ed and prohibitions against the use of energy in the same light.

    Put a rubber thing on your wang and build nuclear reactors. God is dead.

  24. #24 mark
    March 6, 2006

    However, I find it hard to believe that you’re denying that there is a strong current of romantic quasi-religious ideology behind the green movement.

    The thing is, it is possible to recognize this, and indeed you’re absolsutely right, but also do the science and understand the effect that human activity has on the planet. It’s possible to step carefully through these issues in political and moral terms and arrive at a course of action. Read Garrard’s book.

  25. #25 Urinated State of America
    March 6, 2006

    “In terms of the gas phase, air is 0.0378% by volume chemically CO2. At this concentration no two CO2 molecules are in physical contact with other CO2 molecules. This means that as a coherent phase, CO2 as a gas is physically absent in air. Hence its physical properties are also irrelevant and all opinions on its efficacy as a Greenhouse Gas vacuous rhetoric. ”

    Oh. My. God.

    What idiocy. It’s almost…beautiful in its disdain for physics and physical chemistry.

  26. #26 John Cross
    March 6, 2006

    USA:

    I don’t know, there is something comforting in it. For example if you ever meet someone who is suffering from acute botulin toxin poisoning (LD-50 for mice of 0.000,000,000,003%) you can comfort them by saying “Don’t worry, you are only feeling vacuous rhetoric – its properties are irrelevant”

  27. #27 Alexey Merz
    March 6, 2006

    “In terms of the gas phase, air is 0.0378% by volume chemically CO2. At this concentration no two CO2 molecules are in physical contact with other CO2 molecules. This means that as a coherent phase, CO2 as a gas is physically absent in air.”

    Interestingly, Louis Hissink is less than 0.0378% manganese (by volume, mass, or mole ratio). Without that small quantity of manganese, Mr. Hissink would be quite dead.

    Yet, even with manganese, Mr. Hissink is still quite stupid. Go figure.

  28. #28 Dano
    March 6, 2006

    I want Louis to increase his dosage of lithium 33% from 1g to 1.3g at the same relative rate as the atmosphere has had the increase in CO2, and then tell us how he feels.

    Do it, Louis.

    Best,

    D

  29. #29 Patrick Caldon
    March 6, 2006

    Myers’s blog had this entirely apposite Doonesbury cartoon – pubished within a day or so of Devine’s little effort:

    http://www.uclick.com/client/wpc/db/2006/03/05/index.html

    From the opinion piece:

    Every time I write an article pointing out there is no scientific consensus on the extent of man-made – as opposed to natural – climate change, or that attacks on genetically modified food are flawed, I am accused, quite seriously, of being on the payroll of Monsanto or Western Mining.

    This is simply misleading. One can tendentiously argue that there’s no scientific consensus on the speed of light, since there’s an error estimate on all the measurements given. There’s a substantial consensus that “business as usual” carbon-dioxide emissions for the next 100 years will result in signifigant (1.5-4.5 degree) warming – the majority man-made. Either she’s daft, and doesn’t know what an error estimate is (or very daft, and doesn’t know what substantial consensus is), or she’s carefully chosen some words to imply the existence of a controversy (i.e. 1.5 =/= 4.5) when there is a substantial consensus (it’s in this range). Which then leads one to ask why she’s done this? Either: as stated, she’s daft; she’s politically blinded (which I suspect); or she’s on someone’s payroll. In truth I don’t know which is the worse insult – at least the payroll allegation credits her with intelligence.

  30. #30 nanny_govt_sucks
    March 6, 2006

    “the term “politically correct” doesn’t mean anything any more”

    What is that supposed to mean? Are you saying that no one is worried about offending anyone anymore? I’d have to disagree.

  31. #31 SkookumPlanet
    March 6, 2006

    Patrick

    There’s a fourth choice you missed which, I’ve come to the dismal conclusion, is usually the case in these situations.

    It’s a lie. Not a single lie, but a carefully chosen component of a much larger falsification, often a group construct, designed to help create a particular sociopolitical landscape that’s conducive to tactical political success over time. [This might be your "politically blinded".]

    This is most easily observed in the output of the few ID “thinkers”, and is explicit in what the Discovery Insitute is doing. In a few short years this has beeen turned into electoral politics all over the nation. From a larger perspective, it activates and energizes voters.

    Whether there’s direct financial reward or not, there are other rewards. I’ve come to a dismal conclusion about that, also. The ultimate payoff is, these people believe they are on the side of ultimate truth, and anything they do that can help that truth is justified.

    Seems to be a successful approach these days.

  32. #32 Hans Erren
    March 7, 2006

    Belief in anthropogenic global warming is a religion.

    Why?
    see the the definition of pathological science:

    Langmuir described typical cases as involving such things as barely detectable causal agents observed near the threshold of sensation which are nevertheless asserted to have been detected with great accuracy. The supporters offer fantastic theories that are contrary to experience and meet criticisms with ad hoc excuses. And, most telling, only supporters can reproduce the results. Critics can’t duplicate the experiments.

    http://skepdic.com/pathosc.html

  33. #33 Jeff Harvey
    March 7, 2006

    Adam,

    Sorry if my message was heavy. The main point I would like to address in your response is that it doesn’t matter if you are an atheist-humanist or whatever religious-philosophical inclination, because our dependence on natural systems, like it or not, is virtually absolute. Humans aren’t exempt from the laws of nature – heck, our species co-opts over 40% of net primary production and 50% of net freshwater flows. No species is actually more dependent on nature than we are.

    You’ve also misinterpreted the original meaning of the Gaia hypothesis, instead seeing it as some sort of new age religion (admittedly it has been embraced by certain extremist sects who do not understand its scientific meaning). Lovelock and Margulis’ hypothesis – which is empirically supported – is that there is a definte connection between the biological processes of individual organisms at very small scales and emergent properties at large scales, such as the productivity and resilience of ecosystems. There is no doubt that organisms – from single celled bacterial microorganisms to large quadrupeds – do not function out of any altruistic sense of environmental well being as they are performing their biological functions (in fact, we know that individuals are inherently selfish and are attempting to pass on genetic material in greater proportion than their conspecifics). However, we do know that, somehow unwittingly, their combined biological activities help to regulate the cycling of nutrients, the transfer of material through ecosystems and the renewal of the atmosphere.

    The attempt to replicate a healthy, functioning ecosystem was attempted in the Biosphere II experiment (biosphere I being the actual global ecosystem), which as you may know was a colossal flop. Within a very short time, CO 2 levels spiked, crazy ants and cockroaches overan the facility, the wetland became hypereutrophic, and all of the pollinators went rapidly extinct. Apparently, replicating a self-regulating ecosystem is beyond the means of human technological capability. This is hardly surprisiong since our understanding of these complex adaptive systems is still in its infancy. We do know that these systems generate life-sustaining conditions for humanity, and that if these services are sufficiently impeded, then systems will break down taking with them their life-supporting functions. There is plenty of empirical evidence for this; its hardly controversial. What is also uncontroversial is that humans are nickel and diming the environment to death; that we are simplifying systems whose function we barely understand but which we know upon which our survival is dependent. We are conducting a global experiment for which there are no replicates, and that the continued assault on them may push them beyond a point by which they can sustain themselves, and, ultimately us. Is this prudent?

    Your humanism is misplaced unless you place it firmly within the context of the environment. I am speaking as a scientist who works in community ecology. I have no mystical beliefs in nature any more than you do, except that I recognize its vital importance in sustaining life in a manner that we know.

  34. #34 Louis Hissink
    March 7, 2006

    This does wonders for my Google score.

    Thanks people.

  35. #35 Arthur Reader
    March 7, 2006

    This is simply misleading. One can tendentiously argue that there’s no scientific consensus on the speed of light, since there’s an error estimate on all the measurements given.

    But the error estimate is extremely small, and experimenters across the world can measure the speed of light to be the same value regardless of their political value system, religion or sexual orientation. No prior belief in the constancy of the speed of light is required, nor will anyone allege that if you announce that you’re going to try and measure variance in that speed will scientific academies condemn your actions as part of a conspiracy against Einsteinian physics.

    There’s a substantial consensus that “business as usual” carbon-dioxide emissions for the next 100 years will result in signifigant (1.5-4.5 degree) warming – the majority man-made.

    Scientific results and theories do not depend upon whether a majority believe in those results or not. What you’re describing is an appeal to the popularity of the notion that both climate and economic modelling can predict the future at all. Also, unlike the speed of light measurement, the resulting temperature rise depends upon assumptions built into the models by the experimenters, and has an error bar far larger than the thing measured.

    The temperature range differs by 200%. You’re not surely making a comparison with the error in the speed of light, are you?

    Either she’s daft, and doesn’t know what an error estimate is (or very daft, and doesn’t know what substantial consensus is), or she’s carefully chosen some words to imply the existence of a controversy (i.e. 1.5 =/= 4.5) when there is a substantial consensus (it’s in this range). Which then leads one to ask why she’s done this? Either: as stated, she’s daft; she’s politically blinded (which I suspect); or she’s on someone’s payroll. In truth I don’t know which is the worse insult – at least the payroll allegation credits her with intelligence.

    Why resort to conspiracy theories rather than to demonstrated experimental results that anyone regardless of prior belief, can replicate?

    Dr Erren is correct. We have entered pathological science.

  36. #36 Jeff Harvey
    March 7, 2006

    Arthur,

    Hans Erren is not a doctor. He does not have a PhD, so please don’t elevate his scientific acumen any more than it has to be.

    Moreover, you cannot compare economic models with climate change models. The latter are based on known physical and chemical properties of the biosphere, and are certainly more rigid than econometric models.

  37. #37 Hans Erren
    March 7, 2006

    Thank you Jeff for putting that straight, I hold an MSc in geophysics, my CV is online if anybody is interested.

    BTW I submitted my paper.

  38. #38 Jeff Harvey
    March 7, 2006

    Sorry Hans, I do realize that having a PhD is not the be-all-and-end-all (just look at [Dr.] Bjorn Lomborg’s nonsense and you should get the point). I do not question your scientific abilities in any way, although I am perplexed as to how long you will continue to argue that either (a) the current warming episode has little or anything to do with human actions, and (b) what the ecological consequnces might be for a 1.6 C to 5.8 C increase in global mean temperature in this century (with much higher regional disparities).

    BTW, I am giving a lecture at the Paradiso in Amsterdam on April 9th (a Sunday) and you might like to hear my ramble. FYI, there is little, if anything, on climate change in my talk, but I do examine the link between political expediency and environmental destruction.

  39. #39 z
    March 7, 2006

    “This means that as a coherent phase, CO2 as a gas is physically absent in air. Hence its physical properties are also irrelevant and all opinions on its efficacy as a Greenhouse Gas vacuous rhetoric. ”

    Damn, there goes all my work on converting the atmosphere into a giant laser, down the drain. (Is vacuous a deliberate pun there?)

  40. #40 z
    March 7, 2006

    “it’s more environmentalism as religion that worries people.”

    A quick check of the headlines confirms that hewing to any fixed set of beliefs on the basis of unshakable faith rather than rational analysis is likely to lead to problems. I had hoped we (or at least Western Europe-derived society) had gotten over that with the Reformation and the Enlightenment.

  41. #41 z
    March 7, 2006

    “Why, for example, is nuclear energy forbidden? I can think of some reasons that one might be skeptical of it– it is *not* a panacea. However, the notion of powering a region like where I live here in the northeast with only wind power and other small renewable energy is 100% pure fantasy.
    “As near as I can tell, nuclear energy is forbidden because it is big, industrial, and synthetic. It is forbidden for romantic-aesthetic reasons.”

    As luck would have it:

    Plan for new nuclear programme approaches meltdown after report
    By Michael Harrison, and Michael McCarthy
    Published: 07 March 2006
    < http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article349711.ece>
    Tony Blair’s backing for nuclear power suffered a blow yesterday when the Government’s own advisory body on sustainable development came down firmly against the building of a new generation of reactors.

    Despite the Prime Minister’s well-known support for the nuclear industry, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) concluded that a new nuclear programme was not the answer to the twin challenges of climate change and security of supply. In a hard-hitting report, the 15-strong Commission identified five “major disadvantages” to nuclear power:

    * The lack of a long-term strategy for dealing with highly toxic nuclear waste

    * Uncertainty over the cost of new nuclear stations and the risk that taxpayers would be left to pick up the tab;

    * The danger that going down the nuclear route would lock the UK into a centralised system for distributing energy for the next 50 years;

    * The risk a new nuclear programme would undermine efforts to improve energy efficiency;

    * The threat of terrorist attacks and radiation exposure if other countries with lower safety standards also opt for nuclear.

    Nuclear power generates 20 per cent of the UK’s electricity but, by 2020, that will have shrunk to 7 per cent and, by 2035, the last of the current generation of stations will have closed, potentially leaving the UK highly dependent on imported gas.

    But instead of sanctioning a new nuclear programme, the SDC urged Mr Blair to back a further expansion of renewable power, fresh measures to promote energy efficiency and the development of new technologies such as “carbon capture” to tackle the environmental threat posed by fossil-fuelled stations.

    The commission’s report comes just three months before the Government publishes the results of its latest energy review, which is widely expected to pave the wave for a new generation of nuclear stations.

    Sir Jonathon Porritt, the chairman of the commission, said:”Instead of hurtling along to a pre-judged conclusion (which many fear the Government is intent on doing) we must look to the evidence. There’s little point in denying that nuclear power has its benefits but, in our view, these are outweighed by serious disadvantages. The Government is going to have to stop looking for an easy fix to our climate change and energy crises – there simply isn’t one.”

    The commission said that even if the UK’s existing nuclear capacity was doubled, it would only lead to an 8 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from 1990 levels. By contrast, renewable energy sources such as wind, wave, solar and biomass, which are zero-carbon sources of energy, could supply 68-87 per cent of the country’s electricity needs if fully exploited.

    Sir Jonathon added that opting for the “big-bang fix” of a new nuclear programme would jeopardise public-sector support for renewable power. It would also undermine efforts to improve energy efficiency, which the report estimates could reduce UK energy demand by as much as 30 to 40 per cent and cut carbon emissions by 20 million tons a year – equivalent to the output of 27 power stations.

    Sir Jonathon said, that among the commission’s 15 members, eight had come down against nuclear power, five had concluded it was not yet time for a new programme and two had said there was “maybe” a case for more reactors. He also took a sideswipe at other well-known environmentalists such as James Lovelock who backs nuclear power. “No one person should be accorded that over-arching credibility in the face of the evidence before us,” he said.

  42. #42 Jeff Harvey
    March 7, 2006

    Since the Labour Party (at least ‘New Labour’) has prostituted itself to big business, I am dubious of anything Tony Blair supports. David Edwards and David Cromwell at Media Lens pretty well sum up Blair’s behaviour as “Passionately sincere truth reversal”. The guy lied the UK into aggressing against Iraq, and he couldn’t give a jot about climate change, unless he can see it as a means to suck up to another industry lobby.

  43. #43 Ian Gould
    March 7, 2006

    Louis Hissinck:

    “This does wonders for my Google score.

    Thanks people.”

    Thanks Louis for confirming that you don’t actually believe the nonsesne you spout but are simply engaging in a desperate search for attention.

  44. #44 Eli Rabett
    March 8, 2006

    Some comments on this after dinner entertainment. Han Erren quotes Irving Langmuir on pathological science involving:

    “barely detectable causal agents observed near the threshold of sensation which are nevertheless asserted to have been detected with great accuracy.

    This is not the case with radiative forcing. The changes in CO2 and other greenhouse gas concentrations are easily detected with modern instrumentation and analytical protocols (you have to remember what instrumentation was like before WWII to understand that when Langmuir was talking about sensations, he was talking about one of the best then current analytical instruments, people)

    Erren continues quoting Langmuir:

    “fantastic theories that are contrary to experience”

    Of couse, that depends on your attitude to quantum mechanics:) (www.blacklightpower.com)

  45. #45 Patrick Caldon
    March 8, 2006

    Arthur,

    On scientific theories, I don’t have the time or the acumen to be master of everything. I can check that it’s coherent and reasonable, but at some point I have to apply trust. While the results and theories don’t depend on the supporters, my belief in the theory does, by virtue of my limitations. I suspect most people, and therefore our society, have to function in this way.

    You’re right the speed of light analogy is poor, since it’s now defined to be a specific value, which gives us a definition for the metre. However I can’t see the problem with the analogy to other fundamental physical constants. Admittedly they’ve got formal error estimates, whereas the error estimates for climate change are based on reasonable best and worst case scenarios, but I don’t see that this destroys the analogy. Having experiment obviously allows you better error estimation techniques, without them you have to rely on models, so your potential errors are larger and your error estimates of poorer quality. Still, I’d be as surprised to discover the global temperature cooler than what it is today in 100 years time as if I measured a fundamental physical constant and found it to be substantially outside the published range.

    Why resort to conspiracy theories rather than to demonstrated experimental results that anyone regardless of prior belief, can replicate?

    If we had infinite time and resources and a few spare planets, then we’d be replicating like mad. As it happens we only have the resources to do the real experiment precisely once – therefore we rely on models. There’s nothing stopping you from making your own more rigourous climate model which disproves global warming. Why not do it? You’d be famous! To require political machinations to explain this is again, daft.

  46. #46 Tim Lambert
    March 8, 2006

    Louis replied to my post on his blog. This bit is almost poetic:

    Gravity? Who needs it. Abacus Tim does because that is all he knows. Gravity experts are also expert at playing billiards and I know the billiard tables in the UNSW Student Union facilities are very good the ones I used to play on had slate as the table surface (1965/66).

  47. #47 Hans Erren
    March 9, 2006

    Eli,
    Greenhouse gas theory works with the following proposed mechanism:
    Increasing greenhouse gas blocks outgoing radiation, temperature rises to restore radiative equilibrium.

    Observations: OLR (Outgoing Longwave Radiation) increased dramatically.

  48. #48 Dano
    March 9, 2006

    The world awaits, Hans, the denialists’ explanation of how the temp is going up and the increased CO2 has nothing to do with it.

    [crickets chirping]

    Best,

    D

  49. #49 Eli Rabett
    March 9, 2006

    Dear Hans, First, you do not appear to understand the greenhouse effect. Increased greenhouse gas concentrations increase both local absorption AND emission of radiation. While absorption increases first when the greenhouse gas is introduced, in order to reach thermal equilibrium the greenhouse gas and its surroundings must warm which increases the emission rate.

    Thermal balance requires that incoming and outgoing energy balance. Right now the Earth is out of balance by ~2-4W/m^2, with more energy coming in than going out. That means the system is heating.

  50. #50 Hans Erren
    March 9, 2006

    LOL Eli,

    TOA OLR is increasing. Greenhouse theory predicts decreasing or constant OLR, depending on the radiative equilibrium time. (Try modtran)

    Just do the sums Dano, CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

  51. #51 Tim Curtin
    March 9, 2006

    Thermal balance requires that incoming and outgoing energy balance. Right now the Earth is out of balance by ~2-4W/m^2, with more energy coming in than going out. That means the system is heating.

    Posted by: Eli Rabett | March 9, 2006 12:31 PM

    But is it? Hatzidimitriou et al (Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 4, 1419-1425, 2004) find “no significant decadal trends for the air temperature at any atmospheric level other than in the lower atmosphere where there appears to be decadal DECREASE [1984-2000]” (p.1419) They also find there has been an INCREASE in OLR from TOA of 1.9 +/-0.2 per decade due to decreased cloud cover (contrary to CO2 predictions?).

  52. #52 Ken Miles
    March 9, 2006

    Tim, you’ve got your quote wrong.

    Where you quote “no significant decadal trends for the air temperature at any atmospheric level other than in the lower atmosphere where there appears to be decadal DECREASE [1984-2000]”

    the authors actually write “No significant decadal trends were found for the air temperature at any atmospheric level (see also Kistler et al., 2001), other than in the lower stratosphere where there appears to be a decadal decrease of 0.90.2 K/decade (Fig. 6).”

    The bold is my emphasis.

    AGW predicts a cooling stratosphere.

    Also, the rest of the atmospheric trends refer to top of the atmosphere not troposphere where greenhouse gases are important.

  53. #53 Ken Miles
    March 9, 2006

    The paper which Tim C cites is interesting (just not for the reasons as to why Tim C cites it). Basically, the authors have constructed a model which does a reasonable job at explaining the trends in OLR. Nothing in the model contradicts AGW theory in any way.

  54. #54 Tim Curtin
    March 10, 2006

    Dear Ken Miles

    First an apology, I was in a rush and meant to type “lower stratosphere”.

    Second: the “decrease” in temperature there is stated by the authors to be non-monotonic, and therefore NOT consistent with the AGW hypothesis, as it was the result of a SINGLE drop of around 1.3k around 1993; whereas the IPCC claims a steady decrease of 0.3-0.7k for the period 1979-2000.

    Third: once again, anything goes for your AGW mates, hotter, colder, wetter, drier, tree rings bigger/smaller with temperature. Everything is possible, AGW is consistent with all known states of the universe since Adam.

    Fourth: I repeat my question – why the decrease in cloud cover demonstrated by my authors? (IPCC predicts both more rain and less rain so they are covered either way).

  55. #55 Chris O'Neill
    March 10, 2006

    “They also find there has been an INCREASE in OLR from TOA of 1.9 +/-0.2 per decade due to decreased cloud cover (contrary to CO2 predictions?).”

    Funny how some skeptics subscribe to the idea that cloud cover is decreasing and others think cloud cover has to increase to keep the earth’s temperature stable with increasing CO2.

  56. #56 Krusty
    March 11, 2006

    Results 1 – 10 of about 39,600 for “Louis Hissink”. (0.15 seconds)
    Results 1 – 10 of about 638,000 for Bozo the clown. (0.23 seconds)
    Results 1 – 10 of about 4,230,000 for Louis the clown. (0.21 seconds)

  57. #57 Eli Rabett
    March 12, 2006

    I would appreciate some pointers to where the various claims about OLR and other such are coming from. BTW, I do recognize that solar irradiation varies with the solar cycle, so that itself will drive decadal cycles, but correcting for that factor input must equal output over the long term, otherwise we are venus or mars.

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