Sideshow Roy Spencer writes:

Our environmental protection practices have already caused the deaths of millions of people, mainly in poor African countries. By far the most humans — mostly women and children — have been sacrificed in the mistaken belief that the use of any amount of the pesticide DDT would harm the environment. As a result, the preventable disease malaria has continued to decimate Africa.

Only recently has this genocide disguised as environmentalism been partly reversed through the reinstituted practice of twice-yearly DDT treatments of the entryways to homes. While most environmentalists continue to insist that there is no connection between international bans on DDT and human deaths, such protestations really are like denying that the Holocaust ever happened.

So when Malaria Foundation International declares:

OUR CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT A BAN OF DDT FOR MALARIA CONTROL HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL!

they are just like Holocaust deniers.

And if you are wondering if he shouldn’t be blaming the people whose overuse of DDT caused mosquitoes to evolve resistance to DDT for some of those deaths, well Spencer is a Creationist.

Spencer continues:

Indeed, it could well be that one of the functions of weather is to maintain a relatively constant greenhouse effect, no matter how much carbon dioxide is present.

Because God wouldn’t have created a world that we could screw so easily. I’m curious how Spencer reconciles this theory with the existence of Ice Ages.

Spencer thinks that environmentalism is a religion:

And now we are teaching our children to perform their own acts of worship, again hoping to placate the gods of the natural world. Substituting compact fluorescent light bulbs for incandescent ones, and turning the light off when they leave the room, makes them feel good about themselves and their relationship to nature. These rituals being taught in the public schools will help define their still-developing worldviews and religious beliefs.

I’m suprised that he didn’t argue that the First Amendment prohibits it from being taught in schools, like he did for evolutionism:

Does not classical evolutionism, based almost entirely upon faith, violate the same clause? More importantly, what about the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which states that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion?

Comments

  1. #1 Harold Pierce Jr
    June 5, 2008

    RE: #89

    Air pressure and the wind are very important factors that influence the transport of enormous amounts of water vapor into atmosphere. Overland transpiration is also important where there is much vegation i.e., jungles, large forest, wheat and corn fields, etc.

    A hurricane is good example of how air pressure and the wind interact to transport water into the atmosphere. As the hurricane move from the east Atlantic to the Caribbean, it speed of rotation increases due the Coriolis effect. As the speed of rotation increases the air pressure starts to drop and wind speed increases.

    When the hurricane comes over the Caribbean, the warm water flash evporates into the air. The nitrogen, oxygen and argon of the wind are like little molecular sandblasters that just blow water molecules right of the surface of the water.

    When the hurricane makes land fall, the increased drag with the land slows it rotation and there is no warm water.

  2. #2 climatepatrol
    June 5, 2008

    @Barton Paul Levenson, #89

    Yes, the presence of water vapor amplifies the temperature increase due to carbon dioxide. Google “Clausius-Clapeyron” and see what you get

    skepticalscience is what I get.
    “Basic theory, observations and climate models all show the increase in water vapor is around 6 to 7.5% per degree Celsius warming of the lower atmosphere…”
    …but they don’t predict that precipitation also increases by the same amount. Btw, more CO2, more heat, more water vapor – more heat – more water vapor – when is it supposed to stop? It doesn’t make sense to me. But comment no 2 (by Victor) makes sense to me. Stephen E. Schwartz, 2007 has a different approach including the water cycle just as Pielke Sr. suggests. When it comes to the function of a feedback amplifying the “basic” climate sensitivity of CO2, there is a controversal hungarian paper Greenhouse effect in semi-transparent planetary atmospheres.
    All of that is consistent with Roy Spencer’s position who is being personally attacked by some here.

  3. #3 sod
    June 5, 2008

    If such evolution/creation happens during long periods of time, we call it “scientific” and a process of evolution. If it is supposed to have happened suddenly sometime in the past, we call it “creation”. If it is being observed now, we call it unscientific, a miracle or a pipe dream. As my medical doctor confirms: Miracles do happen that cannot be explained by established medicine! I interviewed a man in Ukraine who showed me a picture published in a newspaper which was him before and after the healing process. From a toothless and bone sick junkie to a well-fed, healthy man with new bone structures, jawline and teeth. Call it evolution, call it creation, call it miracle. No matter, it’s the same…Cool eh?

    cp, this sounds like the msot irrational argument that i ever heard on this topic! (and that is quite an achievement, as we are discussing creationism…)

    let me sum this up:

    because you saw a newspaper picture, you believe that miracles happen in medecin. (we are not talking about 1 in a 100 chances of success in an operation, but real unexplainable stuff)

    from that you conclude, that miracles (or “creation”) is a good explanation for tiny differences in DNA between animals. at least as good as the scientific theory of evolution.

    and then you move on to the conclusion, that a similar phanomenon might be the real reason behind climate change, and not CO2 added to the atmosphere by humans. (in case there even is something like a climate change at all..)

    did i get this right?

    Btw, more CO2, more heat, more water vapor – more heat – more water vapor – when is it supposed to stop?

    i am not an expert in this field, but i guess it doesn t stop.
    the water vapor feedback looks like a perfect example of limited growth to me.

    qwhile it will continue to grow for ever, it will converge towards a line that it will not reach.

    CO2 adds temperature, which adds water vapor, which adds less tempearture, which adds less water vapor which adds less temperature, which adds less water vapor, …

    http://serc.carleton.edu/images/introgeo/models/AnalModelFig.jpg

  4. #4 Chris O'Neill
    June 5, 2008

    Lance:

    Not one of those is a “first principles” derivation based on the actual physical dynamics of the atmosphere.

    Thanks for the strawman. They weren’t meant to be, which you would have noticed if you had bothered reading my actual words: “the vast majority of EMPIRICAL evidence”.

    Annan 2006 is just a statistical analysis of other studies

    His analysis allows the confidence interval from various empirically-derived ranges to be combined into one range narrower than the source ranges.

    Tung 2007 attempts to deduce greenhouse gas climate sensitivity by analyzing the response to solar forcings. Not a very direct

    What do you mean by not very direct? You could say that deriving troposphere temperature from atmosperic radiation is not very direct but so what?

    or conclusive method.

    Thank you for your opinion. You’ve written a paper justifying your opinion I take it.

    The others have similar issues

    The others are based on completely different data and methods. IF there are issues then the issues are different, not similar.

    and are based on a variety of questionable proxies

    Sorry, they’re not all just based on proxies and even if they were you’d have the amazing coincidence that the whole variety lead to the conclusion range of probably > 1.5K/2XCO2, therefore every last one of them is questionable. No doubt you’ve written papers questioning all of these proxies.

    and hand waving guestimates.

    If that’s all it takes to get those papers published in those journals then it should be a snap for you to get your opinions published, Lance. Let us know what your publications are and you will have a ready supply of avid readers.

  5. #5 climatepatrol
    June 5, 2008

    @ Sod

    let me sum this up:
    because you saw a newspaper picture, you believe that miracles happen in medecin.

    That’s not what I wrote. Please read it again if you want to jump into the discussion.

    from that you conclude, that miracles (or “creation”) is a good explanation for tiny differences in DNA between animals. at least as good as the scientific theory of evolution.

    No. “Destruction followed by magical acts of creation?” was a quote from another reader as a possible alternative explanation for the general theory of evolution. Well if “mother nature” randomly adds 678 genes and removes 740 genes, isn’t this like magical acts of creation (plus the more usual entropy)?

    I conclude that one could just as well say that 678 new genes were created/evolved and 740 got lost during a timespan of millions of years IF the theory of evolution is true. Some believe this randomly happened because it is “just a tiny difference in DNA”, others believe there was a designer, again others believe it happened all of a sudden (creationists). What is easier to believe? What is more rational, that those megabites out of 740 new genes is “just a tiny random flip in DNA??

    and then you move on to the conclusion, that a similar phanomenon might be the real reason behind climate change, and not CO2 added to the atmosphere by humans. (in case there even is something like a climate change at all…did i get this right?)

    No, you got it all wrong. That’s a different comment post with totally different points raised.

  6. #6 Chris O'Neill
    June 5, 2008

    cp:

    more CO2, more heat, more water vapor – more heat – more water vapor – when is it supposed to stop?

    Obviously someone whose education never covered feedback loops (e.g. engineers that actually get a mathematical treatment of what goes on get such an education).

  7. #7 bi -- IJI
    June 5, 2008

    I said:

    > Another inactivist: Hey look at this new new talking point! Everything you knew about AGW is a Lie!!!!!!!

    And Harold Pierce Jr. said:

    > Go over to ICECAP and check out Joe’s latest graphs.

    > Also check the pic of the sun: No spots!

    Wahahahahaha. I think I can now proclaim myself a Level IV Junior Goracle.

  8. #8 Lee
    June 5, 2008

    apparently climatepatrol is not aware that feedback amplification can have a gain less than 1.

    Fairly basic piece of missing knowledge for someone who thinks he knows better than the entire field of science.

  9. #9 climatepatrol
    June 5, 2008

    @Sod
    Your explanation of the feedback mechanism convinces me in principle. It has a ceiling over a for ever flattening growth line. However, it is just this positive feedback loop that could be offset by more precipitation, thus cooling. (Spencer, Schwartz, Pielke, Miskolsci, only to name a few)
    @Chris
    Right. Nevertheless, my “moron” brain can take Sod’s explanation.:-)

  10. #10 climatepatrol
    June 5, 2008

    someone who thinks he knows better than the entire field of science

    C’mon. Please, give me a break! Deltoid does not represent the entire field of science. If you could just look at the papers I linked next time. And if you have a feedback of 0.75 over the globe, couldn’t you get a runaway feedback over the poles in theory with enough global haze? Those models!

  11. #11 Chris O'Neill
    June 5, 2008

    cp:

    if you have a feedback of 0.75 over the globe, couldn’t you get a runaway feedback over the poles in theory with enough global haze?

    This would imply an unbounded difference between the poles and elsewhere. I don’t think the atmosphere would allow it to be unbounded, not even on Venus.

  12. #12 Barton Paul Levenson
    June 6, 2008

    climatepatrol writes:

    skepticalscience is what I get. “Basic theory, observations and climate models all show the increase in water vapor is around 6 to 7.5% per degree Celsius warming of the lower atmosphere…” …but they don’t predict that precipitation also increases by the same amount.

    Yes, very true. You still have 6-7.5% more water vapor in the air at any given time.

    Btw, more CO2, more heat, more water vapor – more heat – more water vapor – when is it supposed to stop? It doesn’t make sense to me.

    Do you understand the difference between a diverging series and a converging series? An example of a diverging series would be 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5… which continues without limit, getting a larger and larger sum as it goes on.

    An example of a converging series would be 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16… As in the first series, there are an infinite number of terms, yet the total never rises above 2. Water vapor amplification of CO2 warming is an example of a converging series.

    But comment no 2 (by Victor) makes sense to me. Stephen E. Schwartz, 2007 has a different approach including the water cycle just as Pielke Sr. suggests. When it comes to the function of a feedback amplifying the “basic” climate sensitivity of CO2, there is a controversal hungarian paper Greenhouse effect in semi-transparent planetary atmospheres.

    If you mean Miskolczi’s paper, it’s riddled with mistakes. The man confuses emissivity with emission, uses terms from the top of the atmosphere in constructing his surface balance, falsely assumes that modern climate models use Milne’s 1922 infinite-atmosphere model, etc., etc. It never should have passed peer review, and I have to wonder what the people at that journal were thinking of. Note, too, that if Miskolczi’s theory was true, there would never have been any ice ages.

  13. #13 Marion Delgado
    June 6, 2008

    The same reason the Ponder the Maunder girl is not worth replying to applies to all the trolls here.

    It’s not just that non-scientists don’t have a lot to add to the climate change discussion, which is true collectively, and less true the closer you approximate the scientific norm, which is focusing on a small area, not pretending it covers more than it does, and being scrupulous about everything from your sources of evidence to your chain of reasoning.

    It’s that a non-scientists can more easily do the easy – refine or rephrase or buttress the scientific consensus – it gets to be that way because it’s passed more scientists’ personal filters, and they/re mostly good.

    What is hard is to do the hard – authoritatively overturn a broad consensus in a science despite not knowing the basics.

  14. #14 Lance
    June 6, 2008

    Chris ONeil,

    Your sarcasm aside your only point is that all of the “empirical” studies to which you refer come to similar conclusions therefore they must be correct in the mean. The “echo chamber” currently existing in climate science has produced the sort of plateau that occurs from time to time in various scientific communities.

    Anon’s is the best example of this effect. He chooses a variety of studies that confirm his bias and then performs Bayesian statistical analysis to add yet another “study” to the “mountain” of empirical evidence confirming the “consensus”.

  15. #15 jodyaberdein
    June 6, 2008

    Lance,

    Which studies do you think he should have included for 20th century warming, volcanic cooling and last glacial maximum that weren’t included in his analysis?

  16. #16 jodyaberdein
    June 6, 2008

    Also,

    Presumably your disdain for such horribly Bayesian methods would lead to you demanding synthetic blood were you to be unwell enough in the right sort of way?

    http://www.badscience.net/?p=683

    Jody

  17. #17 climatepatrol
    June 6, 2008

    @Chris
    Thank you.

    @Barton
    I didn’t know it is called that way but…0.5 feedback results in a temperature of 1K + …2K. and a sensitivity of 0.75 results in 3.75K if I got it right. The empirical research of the heat budget of the water cycle with its three aggregates is still young and ambigious, thus neglected in AR4 (scientific understanding low). And Roy Spencer is probably not more biased than most other climatologists are when it comes to clouds and ocean heat uptake. It’s just that he is on the other side of the debate. Thank you for your time for now.

  18. #18 climatepatrol
    June 6, 2008

    sensitivity of 0.75

    This should read “feedback of 0.75″. Sorry.

  19. #19 Lance
    June 6, 2008

    jodeyaberdine,

    I didn’t say I had a problem with Bayesian statistical methods. The point was that you can use the finest statistical methods you like but if the data you are analyzing is biased your analysis will be biased as well.

    As far as which other studies should have been analyzed this is also a diversion, just because I can’t rattle off studies that come to different conclusions does not mean that the studies used were valid.

    Spontaneous generation was the prevailing theory of the origin of life for centuries. I suppose you would have demanded that anyone that didn’t buy into the “consensus” was wrong because they couldn’t point to studies that gave evidence for an alternative theory. Eventually Mr. Darwin pointed out a few things and spontaneous generation was an embarrassing relic.

    The difference in this case is that the phenomenon itself needs no complex explanation beyond the fact that the observed fluctuations of temperature fall well within the bounds of natural variability. Thus the amount of heat added to the system by anthropogenic CO2 is not empirically demonstrated to be influencing the system to the point of being distinguishable from the effect of the complex and poorly understood factors that give rise to what is often called “noise” in this forum..

  20. #20 jodyaberdein
    June 7, 2008

    Re:119

    ‘I suppose you would have demanded that anyone that didn’t buy into the “consensus” was wrong because they couldn’t point to studies that gave evidence for an alternative theory’

    Presumably as opposed to denying the consensus simply because I didn’t believe it, or want to believe it, or because it caused some cognitive dissonance with other of my strongly held beliefs.

    I wouldn’t say they were wrong, I’d just say they had no evidence to support their beliefs.

    There’s an episode of a program called Brass Eye, made by a guy called Chris Morris. I think it’s the paedophilia one. A very famous UK radio DJ actually says: ‘it’s a scientific fact. There’s no evidence for this but it’s a scientific fact’. You are starting to sound a bit like a Chris morris character.

  21. #21 Chris O'Neill
    June 7, 2008

    Moving to another set of goalposts, Lance says:

    your only point is that all of the “empirical” studies to which you refer come to similar conclusions therefore they must be correct in the mean.

    That wasn’t the point. The point was that there are several independent sources of empirical estimates which deliberately ignorant people ignore when they say the climate sensitivity estimate only comes from climate models.

  22. #22 Robin Levett FCD
    June 8, 2008

    @Lance:

    Spontaneous generation was the prevailing theory of the origin of life for centuries. I suppose you would have demanded that anyone that didn’t buy into the “consensus” was wrong because they couldn’t point to studies that gave evidence for an alternative theory. Eventually Mr. Darwin pointed out a few things and spontaneous generation was an embarrassing relic.

    Nope; Chucky actually produced the study that gave evidence for a mechanism for an alternative theory (a theory, by the way, that had been around for some considerable time).

    The difference between then and now is that there were no studies providing evidence for the “theory” of spontaneous generation; that “theory” had not earned its right in the scientific sun by weight of evidence, but as the default option for godfearing scientists.

    The theory of AGW is based upon more than a century of solid scientific study.

    You claim that there is nothing outside the bounds of natural variability in what is happening now? When in the past has CO2 increased at a rate of c60ppmbv per century? When in the past has temperature increased at a rate of 0.2K/decade?

  23. #23 Robin Levett
    June 8, 2008

    @Lance:

    When in the past has temperature increased at a rate of 0.2K/decade?

    When in the past has temperature increased at a rate of 0.2K/decade?

    That, for the hard of understanding, refers to trends in global mean temperatures, not to decadal variation.

  24. #24 sod
    June 8, 2008

    @Sod Your explanation of the feedback mechanism convinces me in principle. It has a ceiling over a for ever flattening growth line. However, it is just this positive feedback loop that could be offset by more precipitation, thus cooling. (Spencer, Schwartz, Pielke, Miskolsci, only to name a few) @Chris Right. Nevertheless, my “moron” brain can take Sod’s explanation.:-)

    what do you mean by “could be”?

    ps: a reply from me is still awaiting moderation on your blog.

  25. #25 climatepatrol
    June 9, 2008

    @Sod
    “Could be”: where the scientific understanding is not generally known as “high”, it is subject to further research.

  26. #26 Chris O'Neill
    June 9, 2008

    cp:

    “Could be”: where the scientific understanding is not generally known as “high”, it is subject to further research

    It’s nice to have a “high” scientific understanding of climate sensitivity, but it would be silly to think that lack of such high understanding makes any difference to how we respond to knowledge of the observed range of climate sensitivity.

  27. #27 Lance
    June 9, 2008

    When in the past has temperature increased at a rate of 0.2K/decade? -Robin Levett

    Since we only have reliable temperature records accurate to this precision for less than a century it is impossible to say with any level of certainty that this rate of increase is anything unusual let alone alarming.

    Doubtless you will now appeal to various “proxy” studies which we can discuss if you like, but that is not the same issue as reliable instrumental temperature measurement.

  28. #28 Robin Levett
    June 9, 2008

    @Lance (#127):

    Since we only have reliable temperature records accurate to this precision for less than a century it is impossible to say with any level of certainty that this rate of increase is anything unusual let alone alarming.

    Doubtless you will now appeal to various “proxy” studies which we can discuss if you like, but that is not the same issue as reliable instrumental temperature measurement.

    Wrong talking point, Lance; you made the claim that “the observed fluctuations of temperature fall well within the bounds of natural variability”. It’s for you to support your claim. Yet you’re seriously saying that you don’t know what natural variability is? Where does that leave your claim?

  29. #29 jodyaberdein
    June 9, 2008

    What, you mean to question a claim simply because somebody cannot produce any evidence for it?

    After all, people have only been doing science for the last say four hundred years, so it’s impossible to say with any level of certainty well pretty much anything really.

  30. #30 Lance
    June 9, 2008

    Robin Levett,

    You are the one making the extraordinary claim that 0.2k/Decade is remarkable (let alone acurately observed) not I. It is therefore incumbent upon you to provide proof. I made the point that there was only proxy evidence for temperatures before the last century and that we could discuss those proxies if you like for there are many proxies that show warmer temperatures during the Holocene than present.

    Don’t you get a little tired of puffing and posing as the defender of science, the planet and all that is holy against evil “deniers”? I always find it refreshing when someone on this blog replies in good faith and responds with courtesy and deference.

    You might try it some time. The planet and science would probably survive you putting down the sword of righteousness for a post or two.

  31. #31 jodyaberdein
    June 9, 2008

    Yes Robin,

    Please provide us with proof, i.e. actual thermometer observations, of the global mean temperature over the last thousand years before you go off with your wild wild claims. Nothing less will do, at least if we are to have any level of certainty.

  32. #32 Robin Levett
    June 10, 2008

    @Lance(#130):

    You are the one making the extraordinary claim that 0.2k/Decade is remarkable (let alone acurately observed) not I

    No; I make the claim that 0.2K/decade has been observed. That was in response to your positive claim that current temperature increases are well within natural variability. I merely ask you to show what natural variability actually is. If you want to withdraw your claim, then fine.

    I will ignore your discourtesy, but certainly don’t intend to show “deference” to you.

  33. #33 Lance
    June 10, 2008

    Robin Levett,

    I don’t believe I was discourteous in my post. Apologies if you were somehow offended by my straightforward remarks.

    Since accurate thermometric records exist for only about 100 years your “question” as to when has a 0.2K/Decade rate of increase been “observed” is rather fatuous considering the 4 billion year history of the earth.

    You are quite right however in stating that I cannot positively claim to know any particular decadal variability from the distant past based on thermometry, but since I never claimed to be able to do so that is rather beside the point isn’t it?

    Here is what I did say “…the phenomenon itself needs no complex explanation beyond the fact that the observed fluctuations of temperature fall well within the bounds of natural variability.” Since we know from geologic analysis of past periods that the earth has been much warmer and much colder it follows quite directly that the earth’s mean temperature excursions of the last century fall within those bounds.

    Now had the temperature climbed 12K over the last hundred years we could certainly say that something was up but when the average increase over the last one hundred years is less than one degree I think we can safely say that there isn’t a crisis afoot. Using metrics like K/Decade is somewhat facile. The temperature outside my window here in central Indiana has increased 7 degrees Kelvin in the last four hours, a rate of increase that translates to a 153,300 K/Decade. No one in my neighborhood looks too worried.

    You are the one attempting to move the goal posts to “decadal variability” a claim I did not make and one you cannot support without appeals to proxy studies.

    As I said we can discuss these studies and your implied claim that they exclude such decadal fluctuations if you like but you have no legitimate basis to claim I am spewing “talking points” and thus my claim stands intact.

    jodyaberdein,

    What is the problem that you and many other blog posters have with capitalization and proper spacing? May I call you Jody Aberdein or would that make you look less cool or cyber-savvy? While sarcasm can often highlight a point in a humorous and enlightening way I find your remarks fall somewhat short of those goals. Do you have an actual point to make or do you just enjoy making infantile noise?

  34. #34 Robin Levett
    June 10, 2008

    @Lance:

    If you can’t recognise discourtesy in yourself you have little call to allege discourtesy in others.

    Your original claim was that the current temperature fluctuations were within natural variability. It now seems that you mean that current observed temperature levels are within the bounds of natural variability. On that we can agree; I have no problem with the idea that the earth has been both warmer and colder than it is currently. It is irrelevant to the debate, but you can have that point; perhaps you could be clearer next time, since those less charitable than myself might have accused you of moving the goalposts…

    Even so, I can’t see how you can make even that case if you don’t rely upon those proxies that you dismiss as unreliable.

    As for your comments on the rate of 0.2K/decade (not 0.2k – that’s 200 degrees); you might, had you read my clarificatory post at #123 (immediately after #122, where I said:

    When in the past has temperature increased at a rate of 0.2K/decade?

    That, for the hard of understanding, refers to trends in global mean temperatures, not to decadal variation.

    have realised that I am explicitly not talking about decadal variations. I don’t care whether you express it as a rate of 2K/century, 20K/millennium or whatever – degrees K per decade seems to be the usual unit used.

  35. #35 jodyaberdein
    June 10, 2008

    Hmm. Points?

    ‘I suppose you would have demanded that anyone that didn’t buy into the “consensus” was wrong because they couldn’t point to studies that gave evidence for an alternative theory.’

    or: ‘first I’m going to complain about this irksome requirement for evidence that you scientists seem to have.’

    Combined with:

    ‘Since we only have reliable temperature records accurate to this precision for less than a century it is impossible to say with any level of certainty that this rate of increase is anything unusual let alone alarming.’

    or: ‘That’s not to say I can’t accuse others of having no evidence and therefore of having no point’

    Combined with:

    ‘The difference in this case is that the phenomenon itself needs no complex explanation beyond the fact that the observed fluctuations of temperature fall well within the bounds of natural variability’

    or: Notwithstanding, I can still make authoritative statments about historic temperatures, the same temperatures I accuse others of lacking the evidence to comment upon.

  36. #36 Lance
    June 11, 2008

    Jody and Robin,

    I needn’t appeal to proxies studies to know that the earth has been much colder and much warmer at various times. The area where I live was covered by an ice sheet over a kilometer thick during the last glacial period and there was once a vast tropical inland sea that covered much of the southern US.

    Also the word fluctuate does not imply a rate of any kind just the movement between disparate points. Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines fluctuate thusly

    1 : to shift back and forth uncertainly
    2 : to ebb and flow in waves

    Notice there is nothing that implies a rapid, or slow for that matter, period for those waves.

    You would have to twist pretty hard to imply that I was making a claim about the rate of change between those points. No charity is required to interpret my remarks as I intended them.

  37. #37 Robin Levett
    June 11, 2008

    @Lance:

    Errm; I hate to be the one to break this to you, but in the context of temperature measurement, ice sheets and inland tropical seas are proxies.

    As for your rapid backpedalling from your claim about temperature fluctuations – the whole point of fluctuations is that they are changes; so what is interesting about a change (as opposed to a level) other than the rate of that change?

  38. #38 Boris
    June 11, 2008

    “Natural variability” is a meaninglessly vague term.

    Lance appears to be saying that the current warming is not outside the bounds of unforced variability. The evidence suggests otherwise, but suppose that unforced variability were large enough to explain the current warming. If this were the case, it would mean that the CO2 signal (and the true sensitivity) would be very hard to extract from background variation. As a result, we could not exclude very high climate sensitivities. It would NOT mean that climate sensitivity is low.

    But again, there’s no evidence for the claim that the current warming is unforced variability.

  39. #39 Lance
    June 11, 2008

    Robin,

    I was wondering if you would try to claim that I was using “proxy” information. I guess you could say that any observation was based on “proxy” information since you have to interpret the light waves, sound waves etc. caused by the phenomenon. This sort of epistemological retrenchment is the refuge of the desperate.

    Seeing vast inland fresh water lakes flanked by flat plains is pretty direct evidence of glacial melting but I suppose you could claim that the Great Lakes are a “proxy”. The same for massive fossil deposits of tropical sea creatures I guess, but you are stretching the word “proxy” a bit out of shape don’t you think?

    The context of “proxy studies” in our discussion was in reference to much more subtle and debatable proxies like tree rings and coral fossil isotopes.

  40. #40 Robin Levett
    June 11, 2008

    @Lance:

    Perhaps you don’t understand what proxies are?

    It isn’t me that considers proxy measurements an inaccurate indication of past temperatures; it’s you. I have no problem with calling everything that isn’t a direct measurement of temperature a proxy measurement.

    The fact that ice-sheets are evidence only that the local temperature was at or below zero doesn’t stop them being a proxy; an accurate, but not a very precise, proxy. But your more interesting comment relates to a “vast inland tropical sea”. How exactly do you know it was a tropical sea? Did you directly measure the temperature of the water?

  41. #41 Lance
    June 13, 2008

    Robin,

    “How exactly do you know it was a tropical sea? Did you directly measure the temperature of the water?”

    See here.

  42. #42 Lee
    June 13, 2008

    Lance, you claimed a “there was once a vast tropical inland sea that covered much of the southern US.”

    Your link talks about a tropical sea that was at what is now Ontario – not the southern . But that’s a nit. More on target, it seems the ancient sea you linked was tropical, literally. As in, in the tropics. Continental drift is not evidence for changing temperatures.

    And the ‘proxy’ issue is still open. Other than the appeal to CBC as authority, how do you know that sea was tropical?.

  43. #43 z
    June 14, 2008

    “More on target, it seems the ancient sea you linked was tropical, literally. As in, in the tropics”

    Ha! you have unwittingly put the final nail in the coffin of the global warming hoax. I’ve been through the ipcc reports and all the other propaganda, and never once is the possibility that the current warming trend is merely an artifact of continental drift even mentioned, let alone eliminated. why would such a known mechanism of climate change NOT be addressed, when such other competitive hypotheses as solar output and urban heat islands are? i think we know the answer; the ipcc does not want to open that door a crack or the wind of truth would sweep in!

  44. #44 jodyaberdein
    June 14, 2008

    Re 143:

    So what sort of timescale do plate tectonics operate on compared with the sort of timescale we have reliabe paleoclimate data for? Where were the major plates at the beginning of this dataset as compared with today do you think?

    Jody

  45. #45 jodyaberdein
    June 14, 2008

    Re143:

    Adendum: Presumably you discounted pages 449 and 450 of the AR4:1 chapter on paleoclimate?

  46. #46 Robin Levett
    June 14, 2008

    @Jody (#144-145):

    Blue on blue is to be discouraged…although admittedly parody is increasingly difficult to recognise.

    @Lance (#141):

    Your answer then is “by examination of proxies”. I differ slightly from Lee, in that the sea is known to have been tropical by examination inter alia of proxies; still, however, he has a point; I can show that modern day global temperatures vary by 75K or so in a single year if I’m allowed to include temperatures both from the Antarctic and the Tropics.

  47. #47 Lance
    June 16, 2008

    Robin,

    I see you continue to stretch the definition of “proxy” out of shape. You could just as easily argue that the expansion of mercury in thermometers was actually a “proxy” for temperature increase. Also that our nerve endings respond to increased temperature by sending chemical-electrical signals to the brain and therefore there is no such thing as “direct” evidence for temperature or any other physical parameter for that matter.

    z,

    I see you crack yourself up.

  48. #48 Robin Levett
    June 18, 2008

    @Lance (#147):

    I was right – you don’t understand what the term “proxy” means. Without trying to give a formal definition – because I’m not a climatologist and don’t even play one on TV – a proxy variable is something that varies with temperature, from which temperature can be inferred. Usually, it means a proxy for instrumental measurement; which clearly isn’t available for the periods during which there were glaciers and inland seas over what is now the North American continent.

  49. #49 Lance
    June 18, 2008

    Robin Levett,

    The proxy studies I first mentioned measure minute difference in various things (tree ring widths, isotope levels in coral depositions) that have questionable linkage to temperature.

    Looking outside and seeing a foot of snow is pretty direct evidence of cold temperatures but I suppose you could call it a proxy for cold temperatures. The same for vast fresh water lakes adjacent to flat plains that show the movements of ancient glaciers indicated much colder temperatures in the past.

    I think you see the difference but insist on playing word games rather than cede the point.

  50. #50 Robin Levett
    June 18, 2008

    @Lance (#149):

    I think you see the difference but insist on playing word games rather than cede the point.

    Of course I see the difference – one of your chosen proxies is binary; temperatures are either above or below 273K. The other? Well, until you produce the basis upon which it was determined to be a tropical sea, I shall continue to believe that the determination was on the basis of the fossilised organisms found at that geological stratum.

    So far as I am aware you have never looked outside the window and seen either glaciers or a tropical sea covering the North American landmass either in glacial times or 400 million years ago.

    How difficult is it to understand that any inferences as to historical temperatures not based on looking up instrumental measurements are based on proxies of one kind or another?

    The linkage between tree rings and temperature, by the way, is hardly “questionable”; the trick is accounting for the confounding factors. Ditto for isotopic ratios in coral.

  51. #51 Bernard J.
    June 20, 2008

    Climatepatrol at #57 above said:

    “Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme.”

    and links to (groan) ‘Karl Popper in falsifiability of evolution’.

    The manipulation of Popper’s falsifiability premise as it applies to scientific methods is becoming rather mendacious. Whilst falsifiability has a powerful contribution to make, it is not as all-powerful in scientific endeavour as some would have us believe.

    Popper is not dead (metaphorically), but he is rather wan these days.

    Nudging Popper to the side somewhat are Bayesian techniques, which are becoming a powerful adjunct in scientific methodology. They were briefly described in an article in New Scientist last week. Although the article is behind a paywall, the issue should be easily found in anyone’s local library.

    The gist of the piece is that rigid Popperian falsifiability cannot be applied blanket-fashion to disciplines such as evolution or AGW, and that Bayesian techniques can better describe the probability that a certain theory is better supported than others, in such disciplines.

    I am not an overly-enthusiastic proponent of Bayesianism myself (that may simply be a historical reflection of my education), but it has some merit, and at the least it shows that Popperian falsifiability should be used with a little more care than has been in the past.

    I could be a little more blunt about this matter, and particularly about those who twist it for denialist reasons, but for now I’ll leave the readers to consider these complementary techniques for themselves. If one is to argue the validity of various theories, based upon scientific procedure, the onus exists to properly understand the evolution of science itself.

    That might sting some of a conservative bent. Or not – denial is a powerful mistress.

  52. #52 Barton Paul Levenson
    June 20, 2008

    Not to mention that evolution is easy to falsify — just find rabbit bones in Devonian rocks. And Darwinian natural selection is also easy to falsify — just find cases where the less fit according to a predetermined engineering criterion won out over the more fit.

    As Stephen Jay Gould put it, did anyone ever propose a theory of evolution where the less fit won out? And the answer is, yes, they did — like Alphaeus Hyatt’s Racial Life Cycles and Phyletic Senility theory, which was repeated in popular books long after biologists had dropped it (e.g. “the dinosaurs became too big and unwieldy to survive”). There have also been theories where fitness wasn’t what mattered in evolution — Hugo de Vries’s Mutationism, or Kimura’s Neutral Evolution Theory (the latter of which may have a good deal of truth to it). So yes, Darwinism is falsifiable. It just hasn’t been falsified.