The Australian front pages an article on “eminent historian” Don Aitkin who attacks the “quasi-religious” scientists of the IPCC for advocating that some action to combat global arming should be taken. Aitkin deploys the argument from incredulity

He says an increase in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide over the past century is agreed, some of it due to fossil fuels, cement-making and agriculture. However, normal production of CO2 is not known, and it makes up only a tiny part of the atmosphere. “How does a small increase in a very small component have such a large apparent effect? The truth is that no one has yet shown that it does.”

You wonder why the IPCC bothered to write their fine report if folks like Aitkin are just going to ignore it.

Nexus 6 has more.

I hope one day that the Australian balances the scales by having a climate scientist trash Aitkin’s area of expertise.

Comments

  1. #1 kent
    April 9, 2008

    To suggest that the IPCC’s report is a fine report is just praising government bureaucrats. These guys are not scientists they work for governments and they have thier own hidden agenda. I predicted that as more data was collected and the media started to understand what they were talking about, some of them would start publishing their doubts and guess what, that is exactly what is happening. I also predicted that those who accepted AGW would react like rabid pitbulls, and guess, that is exactly what is happening. Not just in Australia, but in the US, EU and Canada.
    Things were going along so well for the warmists for so long they just cannot believe that people question their dogma. Well guess what guys, we have been subjected to your criticism for over a decade now and now it is your turn to be criticized. You know what they say about payback.Get used to it because there is going to be a lot more in the coming years.

  2. #2 Doug Clover
    April 9, 2008

    I know most of the NZ scientists that contributed to the IPCC report (both WG1 and WG111). None are bureaucrats. All are working scientists at either universities or crown research insititutes. They have nothing hidden up their sleeves.

    Their predictions, when given, are cautious and based on tested science. Their views have weight and heft and accordingly worthy of respect.

    Kent’s predictions on the other hand have none of these characteristics and are therefore worth 0.

  3. #3 arf
    April 9, 2008

    Kent, care to make a small wager?

  4. #4 oku
    April 9, 2008

    But that report has 106 pages! Who is going to read all that?

  5. #5 Pip
    April 9, 2008

    Heh, thanks for continuing the War on Science series. That article was ludicruous. This guy being ‘demonised’ for his ‘critical approach’? Ross Garnaut ‘a captive’? Good old The Australian… yeah.

    Actually my amusement would’ve been untainted by anger if I hadn’t had this encounter the other week with a man (retired engineer, what a surprise…) who’d carefully underlined in red various points in that Christopher Pearson article (Jennifer Marohasy saying no warming since 1997 etc.) and tried to tell me ‘global cooling’ was all the go. It’s really hard to convince someone that something they read reported as a fact in the national paper is just not true.

  6. #6 Charles
    April 9, 2008

    I love the comment in Professor Aikin’s speech where he claims the atmosphere is “too vast” a domain for us to comprehend, as if anything larger than oneself is beyond comprehension. Meanwhile, we understand the universe well enough–and it is somewhat bigger and more complex than our atmosphere, I’m told–to be able to launch satellites and have them rendezvous with planets millions of kilometers away.

    This line of “we can’t begin to understand the atmosphere” is such nonsense and can only appeal to those who have little education.

  7. #7 MarkG
    April 9, 2008

    Incredible really; “How does a small increase in a very small component have such a large apparent effect? The truth is that no one has yet shown that it does.”

    It might be a difficult concept to fully comprehend, particularly for such an eminent and distinguished scientist, but individual ignorance on a subject does not always automatically imply universal ignorance. Meanwhile the physics of radiative transfer through atmospheres (Chandrasekhar (1950) ‘Radiative Transfer’, for a start) is not mysterious. Similarly, the particular importance of CO2 is not mysterious and is well understood, modeled and measured.

    You know? I don’t go around telling engineers how to build bridges and such. I don’t really know why they think they are qualified to lecture me on radiative transfer and climatology.

  8. #8 P. Lewis
    April 9, 2008

    The Australian
    The Heart of the Nation

    Pity they forgot the brains!

  9. #9 P. Lewis
    April 9, 2008

    …it seems to me that we human beings barely understand ‘climate’. It is too vast a domain.

    Is it me, or does this seem to be straight out of the IDiot’s manual topic on irreducible complexity?

    How does a small increase in a very small component have such a large apparent effect? The truth is that no one has yet shown that it does.

    So, Professor Aitkin, are you saying that small things can’t have a large effect?

    I have 50 ng of 210Po at my disposal, which, according to a large consensus of scientists, is an extremely small amount of material. Care for a little experiment? Tea, professor?

    It cannot be a coincidence, surely, that we have the Lawson farrago at the northern antipode and Aitkin at the southern antipode saying much the same thing. Who’s conducting this orchestra?

  10. #10 Gareth
    April 9, 2008

    Who’s conducting this orchestra?

    Why, The Heartland Institute, of course!

  11. #11 bi
    April 9, 2008

    What? No attacks on Al Gore yet?

  12. #12 Tilo Reber
    April 10, 2008

    Looks like Hansen has finally blown out his last brain cell. RSS and GISS are now .6C apart. Hansen jumped his anomally .4C in one month. Both satellites are showing more like .08C. What a clown – just like the guy that is still using his instrument record to try to make a point.

  13. #13 Tim Lambert
    April 10, 2008

    Tilo, RSS and GISS measure different things and have a different baseline. I think it’s clear who the clown here is.

  14. #14 WotWot
    April 10, 2008

    “How does a small increase in a very small component have such a large apparent effect?”

    People who believe that very small quantities of chemicals cannot have large (and potentially adverse) effects on complex biophysical systems, should try ingesting 50 micrograms of pure lysergic acid diethylamide, and then report back to us. If they still can.

  15. #15 John Mashey
    April 10, 2008

    usually History/PolySci professors don’t write such, so I wondered who he talks to.

    Aficionados will want to read the actual 18-page Aitkin
    PDF, not just the Australian’s article.

    I just found it, and am off to bed, but the references make interesting reading… and those of Oz may recognize a few I don’t. I see (Mr/Dr) McLean apopears, as does Arthur Robinson, surfacestations, SEPP, climatedebatedaily, etc.

    The first article Informath is also interesting, as are the remarks.

    ===
    I see the PIA has a Conference running next week called:

    A Climate for Change, and Dr. Martin Parkinson is the Secretary, “The Department of Climate Change”, as shown here.

    I wonder if he heard Dr Aitkin’s talk.

  16. #16 sod
    April 10, 2008

    Aficionados will want to read the actual 18-page Aitkin PDF, not just the Australian’s article.

    wow.

    i shall hereby declare this the most complete and detailed assortment of denialist myths that i ve sen for quite some time.

    does anyone know in what lottery he won his PhD?

  17. #17 Reality check
    April 10, 2008

    John Mashey: I would be interested in your explanations of the graphs in John McLean’s Submission to the Garnaut Review, e.g. Figure 1-1. HadCRUT3v average global temperature and carbon dioxide over last 10 years. Are they accurate? are they informative? do they show correlations?

  18. #18 Barton Paul Levenson
    April 10, 2008

    “How does a small increase in a very small component have such a large apparent effect? The truth is that no one has yet shown that it does.”

    We have the same argument from incredulity over a climatebrains.com, where a guy named PA is absolutely convinced that CO2 is present in amounts too small to make a difference.

    CO2 has risen from 280 parts per million by volume to 385 ppmv over the last 200 years.

    0.47 ppmv is the EPA standard for mercury in fish.

    0.1 ppmv of fluorine can kill you.

  19. #19 Bernard J.
    April 10, 2008

    Hello lalala-I-can’t-hear-you climate change deniers, one and all.

    If you still can’t understand the profound effect that small concentrations of a substance might have upon a system, ponder an example that occurs in an atmospheric context, since this is where the greenhouse gases that you are so sceptical about operate.

    So, let’s consider ozone, shall we? Can you say that – ‘ozone‘…?

    Our favourite lazyman’s reference source, which is sometimes actually quite a good source of information, explains it so simply that even stubbornly obtuse minds might assimilate the simplicity of it all. Under ‘ozone layer’ (can you say ‘ozone layer‘?) it says:

    About 90% of the ozone in our atmosphere is contained in the stratosphere. Ozone concentrations are greatest between about 15 and 40 km, where they range from about 2 to 8 parts per million. If all of the ozone were compressed to the pressure of the air at sea level, it would be only a few millimeters thick.

    We know what ozone does – or at least we should, unless we’re one of those flat-earth type of deniers. If you have any doubt about this read some more of the above link. The point is that it takes only a teeny weeny bit of ozone to profoundly change the flux of ultra violet radiation through the atmosphere…

    Those who argue against the infrared absorbing capacities of CO2 on the basis that it occurs at ‘too low’ a concentration might do well to ponder the effect that ozone demonstrates, at about 1% of the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    If you still disagree, please place your bona fides on the table.

  20. #20 guthrie
    April 10, 2008

    The interesting thing (at least to me) about the Aitkin screed is the way that some of the start of it is, for a layman operating way out of his area of expertise, quite well written, and fairly sensible.
    Yet it dives off into la la land quite quickly, and shows that he hasn’t actually understood any of the bona-fide stuff he might have read at one point, instead giving centre stage to all the usual non-arguments which have been debunked before.

  21. #21 kent
    April 10, 2008

    Blackbody radition available to CO2…. 8%. amount of C)@ to absorb that 8%…about 30 ppmv. Current level..

    Saw a very interestinghow on the Amazon last night. The usual CO2 isthe main green house gas but what caught my attention was the level of CO2 they were measuring…420 ppmv.(and increasing at the rate of 2.6 pp[mv per year) Don’t know what year or what month it was but it was daytime. How can one explain such a high level of CO2 when as far as the eye can see there was CO2 consuming vegetation and no human industrial activity?
    The measuring instrumentation was high above the forest canopy. Should we assume that the forest itself was producing this high level or is it an error in the machine.
    I have also seen where the amazon is producing massive amounts of methane gas.
    It seems that we don’t really know what is going on yet some think we do.

  22. #22 P. Lewis
    April 10, 2008

    Plants respire, too — more especially at night or in the dark. Soil (organisms), too. And the rivers efflux CO2. Then bung in the kinetics of dispersion.

    I daresay the answer is in there somewhere.

  23. #23 P. Lewis
    April 10, 2008

    guthrie, Aitkin is on Stoat’s nutters list, i.e. Inhofe’s 400 399, remember.

  24. #24 Bernard J.
    April 10, 2008

    How can one explain such a high level of CO2 when as far as the eye can see there was CO2 consuming vegetation and no human industrial activity?

    Kent, this is why you are indistinguishable from Tim Curtin.

    The Amazon in its ‘natural’ state is pretty much in an equilibrium with respect to CO2 assimilation. Sure, ‘new’ CO2 is being fixed all the time, but its also being respired by decaying vegetation, and in a mature forest there’d be essentially a similar order of magnitude of CO2 being thus freed. And add to this the natural plant and animal respiration, and then add the ‘bonus’ of human slashing and burning which is occurring much faster than is sustainable for the health of the forest, and it could be predicted a priori that CO2 would probably be elevated in the proximity of a forest such as the Amazon.

    Do you ever stop to think before you try, so clumsily, to ‘trap’ your so-called ‘warmers’ into a corner? Obviously not, because you spend all of your time painting yourself into said dead-end.

  25. #25 guthrie
    April 10, 2008

    Ahh, Kent mentioned “blackbody radiation available to CO2″.
    I wonder where that meme comes from. I had a denialist try it weeks ago, but it was clear he didn’t know what a blackbody is, or indeed what albedo and emmissivity are either.

    P Lewis- so he has form. I’m afraid the cockroaches are so numerous I hardly bother asking their ancestry, its not worth it.

  26. #26 kent
    April 10, 2008

    Bernard you are such a *******. If CO2 is so well mixed in the atmosphere (not) then why such a high level? One would think the answer is obvious… More CO2 is being generated than is being consumed. Which leads to the possibility that the rainforest is a major source of Greenhouse emissions. Methane, CO2 and H2O.

    I guess you are just not used to bouncing ideas off one another, just getting your own way.

  27. #27 John Mashey
    April 10, 2008

    17 reality check

    1) I’ve looked at John Mclean’s stuff from before, and hence am uninclined to waste a lot of time on it, as I have too many real sources.

    But OK, I’ll take a quick look. It would have been nice if you’d given a URL, but I know where Mclean’s website is, so:
    Garnaut.

    2) On 2nd page:
    There’s a long rant by Tim Ball, from an Internet discussion forum, labeled as a Climatologist. I know lots of real climatologists, but have seen no evidence that Tim Ball is one.
    This is not a promising start.

    3) The Executive Summary has standard “I don’t believe in AGW” arguments, of which a good list can be found in John Cook’s
    Skeptical Science.

    4) McLean doesn’t appear to understand (or doesn’t want to):

    - the statistics of noisy time series and doing regression analyses

    (an easy lack to remedy by reading Open Mind regularly, which has fine tutorials on the interpretation of data. Also, for this particular topic, there’s a nice example at “Atmoz or you can read Bathtub.

    ENSOs and other oscillations easily cause jiggles that mask any long term trend in the short term. Personally, I don’t care much about anything less than 20-30 years.

    - That drawing graphs isn’t the same as doing serious statistical analysis. A graph like Fig 1-1 may impress the statistically-innumerate, but not anyone else, given, lag times, noise, and of course, cherry-picking the interval to start at 1998.

    Finally,if you want to talk about temperature trends, it would be a nice idea to do it like professionals, i.e., don’t just draw charts. Use linear regressions for starters, look at different intervals for sensitivity to interval choice, and maybe even do some analysis of statistical significance. Again, Open Mind has very nice examples.

    McLean’s Garnaut submission doesn’t do these things. A while back, I looked at his website, and I didn’t see *any* use of simple regressions, but then I didn’t look at every webpage, so if someone finds something, post it.

    Really, it’s not that hard: in 20 minutes, one can:
    - download the 1880-2007 GISTEMP data (which is handy, yes, McLean doesn’t like it of course, but one could do it for other datasets as well).
    - paste it in an Excel spreadsheet
    - compute the SLOPE from each year to 2007 (i.e. the linear regression)
    - graph the SLOPEs (i.e., linear regression)

    and see that:

    a) The slope from any year to 2007 is positive *except* for 2005.
    b) As one moves the start-point from 1880 to 2006, the slope to 2007 generally rises in a smooth curve, of course, until the interval gets short enough to be dominated by noise. This is exactly what one would expect from a trended noisy time-series – see that Atmoz link.
    c) With the exception of 2005-2007, YYYY-2007 SLOPE is positive. it’s even positive from 1998-2007.

    Anyway:

    accurate: maybe, but irrelevant
    informative: no
    correlations: useless

    I’d say there is a serious Dunning-Kruger Effect in operation.

  28. #28 Bernard J.
    April 10, 2008

    Kent.

    CO2 is not uniformly (or “so well”, as you put it) mixed in the atmosphere. Nor, on the other hand, is it possible to get CO2 concentration down to zero in a localised part of the atmosphere, as your doppleganger Tim Curtin likes to claim, without a pretty extraordinary process involved. However variations can and do occur, and as I said it is not surprising that there may be elevated CO2 above a forest such as the Amazon.

    I’d be curious to see an isotopic analysis of the carbon in the elevated CO2 to which you refer, if such elevation actually exists, in case it displays a signature possibly identifying a particular source.

    More importantly I would like to see the primary reference(s) from which your television program gathered its information, in order to know exactly what the ‘elevated’ levels were, and under what circumstances they occurred – for example in what distribution in space and time. 420ppm is higher than commonsense might predict, but on the other hand, as any scientist should know, trusting to commonsense is not a flawless strategy either. Without any serious backing it really is just hearsay.

    Oh, and I’m a star?

    You flatterer.

  29. #29 David Kane's friend
    April 10, 2008

    I agree that “some action to combat global arming should be taken”. Also, some action to combat global warming. The arms trade is out of control, no question about it.

  30. #30 Eli Rabett
    April 10, 2008

    WHAT!!%^%& Get the free market fairy on the arms control case.
    Oh, you mean she already is doing her good stuff?

  31. #31 Tilo Reber
    April 10, 2008

    “I think it’s clear who the clown here is.”

    You apparently.

    A. The difference in their baseline is about .1C. They are now about .6C apart. That difference is not explained by the difference in baseline.

    B. A difference in baseline has no effect on the monthly variation. The satellites went up about .08C in March. Hansen’s hoax went up .4C in March. That’s 5 times as much as the satellites.

  32. #32 P. Lewis
    April 10, 2008

    Tilo

    What is the temperature anomaly difference between the GISS 1951-1980 normalisation period average and the RSS 1979-2001(?) normalisation period average?

    Then have a think on its significance.

  33. #33 Barton Paul Levenson
    April 10, 2008

    kent writes:

    Which leads to the possibility that the rainforest is a major source of Greenhouse emissions.

    Good call. Deforestation is the second largest source of artificial CO2 after human industry/transportation.

  34. #34 John Mashey
    April 10, 2008

    1) For the Aussies who might have local knowledge:

    Aitkin:
    a) He sounds at first glance to be accomplished in his own turf.
    b) The question is: is he on a campaign, like Monckton, or has he just fallen into this? Any data?

    Stephen Schneider:
    2) In #15, I mentioned the PIA conference next week, and it turns out there is a 4th Australian Water Summit at the end of the month.

    Stephen Schneider is speaking at both (althouhg * availability on 2nd), so it seems likely that he’ll be Down Under for a few weeks.

    He is world-class and well worth hearing, if he’s speaking at a venue near you.

  35. #35 Tilo Reber
    April 10, 2008

    P. Lewis
    Don’t know what the normalized difference is. But here are four non normalized trend lines that give you an idea what the difference is.

    At the point where we started taking Satellite data, it looks like GISS started out being less than .2C greater than the satellites. As you can see, it has since diverged to where it is now about .3C greater. It has also diverged from HadCrut3.

    In any case, having a reading this month that is .5C greater; and having a single month anomaly jump that is 5 times as large as the satellites – that is significant.

    http://bp0.blogger.com/__VkzVMn3cHA/R8ozPPuIdpI/AAAAAAAAAAs/pXIYNPLQPoQ/s1600-h/10+Year+Temp.bmp

  36. #36 Boris
    April 10, 2008

    tilo, v. [TEE-loh] to accuse someone of fraud whilst exhibiting little understanding of facts, theories or arguments. [tiloed, tiloing.]

    The motorist tiloed the police officer and then launched into an explanation of how radar guns do not work properly on white cars.

    Don’t tilo me, bro! I’m being honest!

  37. #37 Tilo Reber
    April 10, 2008

    P. Lewis
    Don’t know what the normalized difference is. But here are four non normalized trend lines that give you an idea what the difference is.

    At the point where we started taking Satellite data, it looks like GISS started out being less than .2C greater than the satellites. As you can see, it has since diverged to where it is now about .3C greater. It has also diverged from HadCrut3.

    In any case, having a reading this month that is .5C greater; and having a single month anomaly jump that is 5 times as large as the satellites – that is significant.

    http://bp0.blogger.com/__VkzVMn3cHA/R8ozPPuIdpI/AAAAAAAAAAs/pXIYNPLQPoQ/s1600-h/10+Year+Temp.bmp

  38. #38 Chris O'Neill
    April 10, 2008

    Aitkin: a) He sounds at first glance to be accomplished in his own turf. b) The question is: is he on a campaign, like Monckton, or has he just fallen into this? Any data?

    Aitkin has been a political animal for a long time. It is not surprising that he has fallen for this.

  39. #39 davidp
    April 10, 2008

    To show their “balance” the Australian followed the next day with an article about an Australian Conservation Foundation director’s speech. Of course it the article just contained assertions that “The science is in on climate change” – no details, no refutations.

    This is part of framing this as a political debate, not a scientific one. Poolitical balance comes from getting opposing biases opinions. For honest news reporting, they should have got a response from a good practising climate scientist who is used to debating the denialists and included it in the original article. Professor David Karoly working at Melbourne University would be a good candidate.

  40. #40 z
    April 10, 2008

    “More CO2 is being generated than is being consumed. ”

    again with the not understanding of equilibriums. if the rainforest more co2 is generating than is consuming, then the atmosphere there 100% CO2 being would now. but generatikng of co2 simply raising the equilibirium point where net uptake = net efflux is. much like….. ir absorbance and temperature.

  41. #41 Steve
    April 10, 2008

    “Although not a scientist, he [Aitken] has brought his critical approach as an experienced academic accustomed to testing theories to a debate he says so far lacks clear evidence.”

    Well….. that’s good enough for me……

    /tumbleweed

  42. #42 Chris O'Neill
    April 10, 2008

    tilo, v. [TEE-loh] to accuse someone of fraud whilst exhibiting little understanding of facts, theories or arguments. [tiloed, tiloing.]

    Or to engage in extraordinary cherry-picking e.g. he tiloed the temperature record and found:

    There was no global warming from 1983 to 1994 (11 years);

    There was no global warming from 1988 to 1997 (9 years);

    There was no global warming from 1996 to 2001 (5 years);

    There was no global warming from 1998 to 2006 (8 years).

    There is also multiple-tiloing as in denigrating the records you don’t like AND cherry-picking the parts of the ones you do like simultaneously. e.g:

    He tiloed-out the GISS record and tiloed the other records from January 1998 to January 2008 to show there was no global warming.

  43. #43 Steve
    April 10, 2008

    “The story of the human impact on climate change, which Professor Aitkin calls Anthropogenic Global Warming”

    anthro..naan an… anthropoGENic… wow, that guy is money, he’s got all the lingo.

  44. #44 Reality check
    April 11, 2008

    Chris: just show us your satellite series from 1978 demarcated as you suggest. The land measurements are worthless because of the sytemic frauds of Had & GISS, with their CONTINUOUS retrospective adjustments to make earlier years look cooler and later years hotter. BTW, what is your take on global temps in 1900 when there were virtually no tropical stations? Hansen of GISS purports to cite monthly tropical data then from Kinshasa, Kampala and Port Moresby, no doubt you can do better and come up with daily records. I look forward to seeing them. But the actual absence of any such records (no doubt you never heard of or read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness about Kinshasa in those glory days) does not deter you or Hansen from producing “global” base year data for 1900.

  45. #45 Eli Rabett
    April 11, 2008

    Eli humbly suggests you cash that Reality Check.

  46. #46 Reality check
    April 11, 2008

    Eli: sure, just ask your boss J Hansen to set up your account and I will oblige once I get the numbers.

  47. #47 jade
    April 11, 2008

    “The humidity! The humidity!”
    – Clement Lindley Wragge, circa 1899

  48. #48 Chris O'Neill
    April 11, 2008

    The Spencer and Christy satellite measurements are worthless because of their systemic frauds, with their CONTINUOUS retrospective adjustments to make earlier years look cooler and later years hotter.

  49. #49 Boris
    April 11, 2008

    Global Warming is not real[1].

    References:
    1. Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. 1902.

  50. #50 david tiley
    April 11, 2008

    Oi! Too much of this and I’ll have to change my name.

  51. #51 Barton Paul Levenson
    April 11, 2008

    Tilo Reber writes:

    In any case, having a reading this month that is .5C greater; and having a single month anomaly jump that is 5 times as large as the satellites – that is significant.

    I get the impression you have no idea what “significance” means in statistics. No, what happens in one month is not significant.

  52. #52 kent
    April 11, 2008

    Barton,
    Deforestation does not produce CO2 but burning what is left does.
    Bernard, I agree with you, so many questions about the 420 number but no answers.
    This site, I presume, was a scientific station doing lots of research. Is it situated near a burn site? Being scientists would they do such a thing? Given the way the guy was talking about global warming it is possible.
    Another bit in the show was about how the creation of dam flooded areas was creating methane. The guy went on about how bad this was but the production of methane within a small (relatively)area, makes one wonder what is happening over the whole Amazon basin. This does fit in with the satellite data that shows levels of methane in the jungle.
    This would indicate that instead of helping to cool the atmosphere, the tropical jungles may be doing something unexpected.

    Can someone tell me why it is that we use 30 year averages but the cryosphere today uses 21 years to get the mean for Arctic sea ice anomaly? My guess is that it gives a higher mean so that things look a lot worse than they are. What is yours?

  53. #53 Barton Paul Levenson
    April 11, 2008

    Reality check, still an oxymoron, writes:

    The land measurements are worthless because of the sytemic frauds of Had & GISS

    If you can’t believe that someone could honestly disagree with you, and have to resort to accusing them of lying, it’s a sure sign that you don’t understand the subject under discussion.

  54. #54 Tim Lambert
    April 11, 2008

    Over John Quiggin’s Reality Check (aka Arthur T Wall) [is lying about me](http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2008/04/07/lomborg-on-the-mythical-ddt-ban/#comment-209475), claiming that I disemvowel everyone who disagrees with me.

  55. #55 Chris O'Neill
    April 11, 2008

    Can someone tell me why it is that kent asks why someone unidentified uses 30 year averages for something also unidentified. My guess is that he’s an intellectually dishonest troll. What is yours?

  56. #56 John Mashey
    April 11, 2008

    re: #55 Chris
    My guess is that Firefox+Greasemonkey+killfile would make life easier.
    A brief count syhows that there are 3 posts by kent [blocked], and 8 replies to kent, i.e., 20% of the posts so far.

    DON’T FEED THE TROLLS.

  57. #57 Harold Pierce Jr
    April 11, 2008

    RE: #24

    An important reason for the elevated conc of CO2 in the Amazon is the higher rate of metabolism by non-photosynthetic plants and animals especially microbes which rapidly decompose all dead organic matter. Also there is high density of insects such as ants and termites.

  58. #58 Eli Rabett
    April 11, 2008

    As I said, go cash that Reality Check. In spite of the idiocy you may have read Eli don’t work for, with, by, near or at Hansen.

    If you feel generous, give some of that reality check to kent. Forests produce a lot of CO2 when they are clearcut by decay of organic matter. Clearing by slash and burn is about the worst but slash alone is productive. Kent also may want to look at how long the satellites that Cryosphere Today uses have been up, about 21 years. Another example that for a stupid person a simple answer is not ever enough.

  59. #59 P. Lewis
    April 11, 2008

    John Mashey is right. If you’ve got Firefox, then get that smiley monkey in the bottom right corner of your browser. Download Greasemonkey (one click and it’s done I think it was) and then Daniel Martin’s killfile (just another click or two). It’s simple and painless to do.

    All you have to do then is resist the occasional temptation to “show comment” when someone replies to a troll and curiosity gets the better of you. I’ve not quite mastered the latter part fully yet … but it won’t be long.

  60. #60 Ken
    April 11, 2008

    I’m not sure that kill filing is the way to go – a lot of people hold similar opinions. They should be challenged, their logical fallacies pointed out, their misinformation countered. Of course, move on when done, and don’t expect good information to change their minds, any more than calling them names will, but people who really do want good information may be reading and be influenced.

  61. #61 John Mashey
    April 11, 2008

    ken: how new are you to the newsgroup/blogopshere scene?

    (Speaking as someone who’s done posting on and off since the mid-1980s):

    In my experience, trolls can *destroy* the usefulness of a newsgroup or blog thread and drive away reasonable people [of whatever opinion] by lowering the signal-to-noise ratio to near-zero, at which point it’s just too much bother, especially for people who have other things to do.

    If someone thinks a troll has asked the same question they would ask, they can post and ask questions. Then, someone can post a quick answer, saying “I think X is troll, so I didn’t read it, but the answer is Y.” Of course, one must be wary of sock-puppets.

    If someone repeatedly proves themselves useless, killfile them forever, whether via software, or via simply resolving NEVER, EVER respond to anything from them ever again. of course, newsgroup moderators can control this, but (properly) tend to err on the side of letting posts through if not outright offensive … although this does faace the danger of driving away useful people. By the way, the most *useful* person, to me, is someone who has a different point of view, and supports it well enough to modify my view.

  62. #62 Peter Bickle
    April 12, 2008

    Hi all

    On GISSTemp, can anyone honestly say that the March just gone was the third = warmest ever? 2002 & 2005 were warmer, while 1990 was =.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts.txt

    Regards
    Peter Bickle

  63. #63 Arthur T Wall
    April 12, 2008

    Thanks Peter Bickle. Of course to the true believers there is nothing odd in the series from 1880 to 2007 OR 2008, very cold until 1940 when the war led to airfields being built across the tropics, so temperatures finally got to be measured there, and very hot especially after 1990 as the USSR imploded and Siberian stations folded. It would also be interesting to see the actual data before the homogenising was done.
    Eli: gald you don’t work for Hansen, apologies. But you are wrong about the forests, as there is no necessary permanent net loss – even clear fell does not reproduce the Sahara. Usually the area cleared is replanted, quite often to commercial plantations, which over respective lifetimes sequester more CO2 than native forest, or across countries like Malaysia & Indonesia to oil palm, which absorbs far more CO2 per ha. p.a.. also for a net gain. About half, can be more, of the harvest from a plantation used for plywood etc is permanently sequestered in wood products. The annual FFB harvest from oil palm does not of course remove the tree which keeps on absorbing, and some of the FFB goes to long life products. Please admit that your claims were simplistic.

  64. #64 Arthur T Wall
    April 12, 2008

    Another interesting feature of the GISS data is that when plotted as is, as deviations from the 1951-1980 mean, it yields only linear trends (two of the quarterlies have identical, thanks to the homogenising = cooking). But if plotted as absolute temperatures we get logarithmic quarterly trends, and basically flat since 1950. No wonder GISS always uses deviations with their gratifying upward trends rather than the sinful actuals. I’m glad Eli is not after all involved in this sort of subterfuge.

  65. #65 bi
    April 12, 2008

    Another incoherent rant from a denialist.

  66. #66 Bernard J.
    April 12, 2008

    Arthur T Wall.

    Take a reality check.

    Your understanding (?!) of carbon cycles and forest ecology leave absolutely EVERYTHING to be desired. And that’s after leaving actual climate science completely alone.

    You are simply a troll. And an embarrassing one (for denialists) at that.

    I think that you will be visiting quite a few peoples’ Greasemonkey killfiles very soon…

  67. #67 P. Lewis
    April 12, 2008

    Definitely has too many vowels! ;)

  68. #68 P. Lewis
    April 12, 2008

    Hi Ken

    How one uses the killfile is a matter of personal choice. One could killfile everyone’s post but one’s own, but it wouldn’t be very useful or desirable. But there are a handful of people (actual known trolls or sockpuppets) who produce the same tripe within and between sites, and it gets tiresome — not actually reading them (because it gives me a nice inner chuckle) — because I have a low threshold of desire to respond even if it’s to the same tired, wilfully error-strewn argument.

    There are only two (or is it three?) in my killfile currently. And even they probably won’t be permanently killfiled.

    Anyway, since someone almost invariably responds eventually to the known timewasters (because very few have the level of supreme self-control needed to follow the maxim “don’t feed the trolls”), then anyone new to the scene who might be taken in by them is soon educated. And the responder to someone in my killfile list is visible, so that if that responder is not a known troll, sockpuppet, or whatever, then they will get the undoubted wisdom I always impart ;-) should I respond to them.

    The beauty is you have an element of control beyond self-control. It doesn’t stifle debate (not unless you want it to).

  69. #69 P. Lewis
    April 12, 2008

    Arthur T Wall’s intellectual dishonesty is immediately apparent in #64 on at least two counts:

    (1) anomalies, their reason for use;
    (2) the statistical reasons for homogenising climate data.

    And if it’s not intellectual dishonesty, then it’s plain bona fide ignorance. But given his posting record, it’s probably the former.

  70. #70 P. Lewis
    April 12, 2008

    Malaysian palm oil expansion = big bucks = less rain forest = fewer and fewer orang-utans.

    Does our species have any conscience?

  71. #71 Jeff Harvey
    April 12, 2008

    Bernard, great last post. I read ATWs embarrassing series of posts and they made me cringe. For example, he said, “Usually the area cleared is replanted, quite often to commercial plantations, which over respective lifetimes sequester more CO2 than native forest, or across countries like Malaysia & Indonesia to oil palm”.

    The idea that plantations sequester more CO2 than native stands of forest is pure fantasy; grade school level science. Moreover, the clearing of huge expanses of native tropical forests in southeast Asia to be replaced with monocultures of oil palm, a west African tree, have been an ecological catastrophe. Oil palm plantations are ostensibly ecological deserts, much like banana plantations; the elimination of highly diverse ecological systems certainly has profound consequences for a range of ecological services, such as pollination, nutrient cycling, generation and renewal of soil fertility, pest control, and regional climate control.

    When I visited Malaysia in the 1990s, I was astounded that mile after mile there was nothing but endless oil palms in sight, and at the time the government was cunning enough to include these barren ecosystems in their assessment of ‘forest cover’ in the country. But, by and large, they are ecological ‘dead zones’.

    The argument put forward by ATW gives the impression that humans are exempt from the laws of nature. It assumes that we can pave, plough, dam, deforest and dredge much of the planet’s surface and that there are no consequences for nature or, more worryingly, for us (Homo sapiens). This slash-and-burn approach to the biosphere is exactly the kind of nonsense I, as a senior scientist, have to deal with all of the time when debating the anti-environmental crowd.

  72. #72 Bernard J.
    April 12, 2008

    It irks me to feed trolls, but it irks me even more to think that they leave patches in the blogosphere where genuine folk ignorant of the facts might sink into the denialist quicksand. Nevertheless, I do respond to several: however, in the current case P. Lewis and Jeff Harvey have made the points well that I only vaguely alluded to earlier.

    Which leaves me to make only two small comments at this time…

    Arthur T Wall:

    1) Tim Lambert has, strangely enough, NOT disemvowelled you, as you claim on John Quiggin’s blog that he is wont to do,

    and

    2) you have yet to apologise to Tim for these same unfounded aspersions that you cast at him at the same link above.

    This is enough billygoat for now.

  73. #73 Barton Paul Levenson
    April 12, 2008

    Arthur T. Wall posts:

    very cold until 1940 when the war led to airfields being built across the tropics, so temperatures finally got to be measured there,

    This is incorrect. Temperatures have been measured in the tropics since the 19th century. Thermometers date to the 16th century and the colonial powers all brought them to their various colonies.

    you are wrong about the forests, as there is no necessary permanent net loss – even clear fell does not reproduce the Sahara. Usually the area cleared is replanted, quite often to commercial plantations, which over respective lifetimes sequester more CO2 than native forest, or across countries like Malaysia & Indonesia to oil palm, which absorbs far more CO2 per ha. p.a.. also for a net gain.

    Incorrect again. A rain forest sequesters much more CO2 than any commercial plantation.

  74. #74 Barton Paul Levenson
    April 12, 2008

    Arthur T. Wall posts:

    Another interesting feature of the GISS data is that when plotted as is, as deviations from the 1951-1980 mean, it yields only linear trends (two of the quarterlies have identical, thanks to the homogenising = cooking). But if plotted as absolute temperatures we get logarithmic quarterly trends, and basically flat since 1950.

    Temperatures have not been “basically flat since 1950″ by any measure at all. This is a complete fantasy on your part.

  75. #75 Peter Bickle
    April 12, 2008

    On GISSTemp, can anyone honestly say that the March just gone was the third = warmest ever? 2002 & 2005 were warmer, while 1990 was =.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts.txt

    Any honest answer? Frankly, March 2008 was a cool month IMHO.

    Any reply without the ‘D’ word used?

    regards from New Zealand
    Peter Bickle

  76. #76 Jeff Harvey
    April 12, 2008

    Peter, across most of Asia, March was the warmest on record. Moscow hardly had a winter this year. Globally, the surface temperature was, according to GISS, 0.81 C above the 1951-1980 mean.

    So March was NOT a cool month.

  77. #77 Boris
    April 12, 2008

    Mr. Bickle,

    March 2002 and March 2005 were warmer than March 2008. So March 2008 is third. Are you really having trouble with this?

  78. #78 Eli Rabett
    April 12, 2008

    Beyond kill files, you can vote the clowns off the island, in which case the blog owner just cachungs them

  79. #79 P. Lewis
    April 12, 2008

    Is Peter Bickle confusing local weather and climate with its larger cousins of regional weather and climate, of hemispheric weather and climate, and of global weather and climate I ask myself?

    Being of the opinion that it was cold in March 2008 in the face of proper physical measurements is not worth a lot Mr Bickle. From whence do you get the feeling that March 2008 was cold then?

    Not from GISS certainly, since it is plain what their figures indicate for the globe.

    From your locale then?

    Well, evidently not that either, since the report for March 2008 by the National Climate Centre in New Zealand states:

    March 2008 was warmer than December 2007, with temperatures well above average everywhere. The national average temperature of 16.5°C was 0.8°C above average. Heatwave conditions occurred across inland and eastern areas of the South Island from 18th to 21st March with temperatures of 30°C or more recorded regularly. Record daytime extreme maximum temperatures for March occurred during this period throughout Canterbury, north and Central Otago. The highest temperature for the year so far of 35°C was recorded at Culverden, Woodbury and Timaru Airport on the 19th. The highest ever March temperature recorded in New Zealand is 36°C (Ashburton, March 1956).

    Where were you spending your March then, Mr Bickle, to feel so cold?

    I hazard, Mr Bickle, that you wouldn’t know an honest answer even if it were presented to you … even if it came up to you and bit you on the jacksy. You appear to be trolling.

    Perhaps, though, your physiological make-up may be the cause of your apparent coldness. In which case, you have our sympathies. (But I’d bet you’re trolling personally, between you and me.)

  80. #80 Chris O'Neill
    April 12, 2008

    Frankly, March 2008 was a cool month IMHO.

    Peter Bickle never uses thermometers, he uses his opinion. He might call it humble, but forgot to say “My opinion is superior to thermometers.”

  81. #81 John Mashey
    April 12, 2008

    #68 P. Lewis
    “(because very few have the level of supreme self-control needed to follow the maxim “don’t feed the trolls”)”

    That’s leads to an interesting psychology question:

    Clearly, given a troll being fed:
    a) People unfamiliar with the specific troll may respond, not realizing the troll is one, or not being sure.

    b) Less experienced people may not realize that feeding trolls just encourages them.

    c) More experienced people may well recognize the troll, believe in “don’t feed the troll”, and still not be able to resist doing so.

    There may be other categories. I understand a) and b), but I’m curious about c). I’d invite introspective comments from anyone in c) who has fed a troll.

    - Did you regret it later? In retrospect, would you still respond to that troll-instance the same way?
    - Do you have specific reasons for responding?

  82. #82 P. Lewis
    April 12, 2008

    Usually, the reason for replying in case (c) in my case is the usual one of wanting to see gross errors corrected.

    I wait a bit, to see whether anyone else will respond (with an eye to the various time zones); if no one else replies, then I compose a reply and wait a little longer to see whether anyone will reply before sending the message.

    I regret it if it goes on for days and I’ve not got the time to follow things up properly and keep at it.

  83. #83 bi
    April 12, 2008

    John Mashey:

    Me, I generally don’t respond to trolls now unless I can fit my response into a few words. I believe in “don’t feed the troll” — to a point. It’s a bad idea to give trolls too much attention, but at the same time, one doesn’t debunk trolls by totally ignoring them.

    Hmm, that was the answer to the 2nd question. Back to the 1st question: yes, I’d probably have responded the same way. For now.

    = = =

    Peter Bickle:

    Any reply without the ‘D’ word used?

    As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve been thinking of using the word “inactivist”. After all, if “activism” is a bad thing, then “inactivism” must sound pretty good.

    Or “reactivist”/”reactionary”, for that matter.

  84. #84 Bernard J.
    April 13, 2008

    In response to John Mashey’s interesting question at #81…

    As I noted at #72, it really is against my general inclination to toss billygoats over the bridge, although I have been doing a bit of it lately. The trouble is, I remember how it was years ago when I was trying to separate two sides of any argument on many of the lists I used to inhabit, and especially how the lack of response to a plausible (or even rather implausible, in hindsight) troll only served to sway many others – the folk ‘in the middle’ – who didn’t have the background to distinguish fact from psuedofact.

    I guess it bothers me that a causual drop-in might read a bogus denialist point here, and not realising, take it away as a ‘fact’ that they read on Deltoid.

    Erk.

    Perhaps we could do with a thread on Deltoid which is composed just of a list of well-stated postings, similar to the one-by-one refutations on a few other blogs and climate sites, addressing all of the hoary old chestnuts that the denialists trot out. That way, instead of repeating ourselves ad nauseum, someone could just put up a link to the relevant post, exempli gratia

    Trollshit, see here (linked) and here (linked).

    A non-emotive rubbing of the troll’s nose in their own do-do might potty-train them better than our high umbrage. Or not…

  85. #85 John Mashey
    April 13, 2008

    re #84 Bernard J

    1) When you say “only served to sway many others”, can you give any data about that?

    2) I often use Skeptical Science”, and unless one can do it noticeably better, maybe John Cook can use some help over there as new things pop up.

    I like its organization because:
    a) There’s a one-page list.
    b) There’s a succinct page per argument, reasonably accessible, but with real science references.
    c) And because there is a terse pointer, i.e., [code], position-#, which really helps in length-constrained places like letters-to-editor and some online sites.

  86. #86 Bernard J.
    April 13, 2008

    John,

    For me the most galling example that comes to mind was during my Masters when I and several of my postgrad colleagues were demonstrators for undergrad classes. We used Blackboard as a vehicle for electronic discussions amongst the classes, and one of the other postgrads (who was pathological in his need to be controversial, and to lead the ‘younguns’ astray) made a number of very reasonable-sounding (and anonymous to the students) posts that claimed that chytrid fungus did not kill amphibians, and that the observed mortality was all due to habitat destruction – which is not to dismiss habitat destruction as a problem, but this was a discussion about the population effects of chytrid per se.

    Initially I said nothing, thinking that the troll’s claims were patently absurd, but a lot of the students took this on board, and it took a bit of hosing to put out that fire.

    It’s amazing how painting a psuedofact with a hint of authority can greatly enhance a group’s acceptance of garbage, especially if they don’t immediately know to check the facts (if they even know how to).

    After this incident in particular I have a more cautious approach to dismissing the harmlessness of trolls, whether willful or just plain stupid.

    Yes, Skeptical Science is a good site, and I have directed confused friends there in the past. Perhaps it is a better place to link to, rather than to reinvent the wheel… I shall have to keep a tab open with it for future reference, perhaps.

  87. #87 John Mashey
    April 13, 2008

    re: #86 Bernard
    Thanks. An interesting question for the social psychologists out there is whether the believability of anonymous sources is the same between a small-group, constrained case like you describe, and the wild world of public blogs.

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