Instead of answering Monbiot’s questions, Plimer has responded with his own set of questions. I suspect that this is a tactic so he can weasel out of answering Monbiot’s questions. My favourite question from Plimer is this one (which isn’t even a question):

6 From ocean current velocity, palaeotemperature and atmosphere measurements of ice cores and stable and radiogenic isotopes of seawater, atmospheric CO2 and fluid inclusions in ice and using atmospheric CO2 residence times of 4, 12, 50 and 400 years, numerically demonstrate that the modern increase in atmospheric CO2 could not derive from the Medieval Warming.

Yes, Plimer is really arguing that recent CO2 increases were caused by Medieval Warming. Isotopes measurements show that this increase mainly came from burning fossil fuels, but my link goes to RealClimate so Plimer will dismiss it with one of his usual ad hominem attacks.

Also commenting: Chris Colose and greenfyre.

Comments

  1. #1 MarkG
    August 12, 2009

    Absolutely surreal. I don’t really take from these questions that Plimer is suggesting anything, he might argue that he is simply “posing the question:.

    All you can really take from it is that Plimer really doesn’t like getting asked questions about his work.

    My favorite question is:
    >3. From first principles, calculate the effects on atmospheric temperature at sea level by changes in cloudiness of 0.5%, 1% and 2% at 0%, 20%, 40%, 60% and 80% humidity. What changes in cloudiness would have been necessary to drive the Roman Warming, Dark Ages, Medieval Warming and Little Ice Age? Show all calculations and justify all assumptions.

    Um. I don’t think “The Dark Ages” is a climate epoch, and I don’t think the term is really in vogue anymore amongst historians. Unless Plimer is suggesting that the Dark Ages were dark because it was extremely cloudy.

  2. #2 Former Skeptic
    August 12, 2009

    As I mentioned in the [other Plimer thread](http://tinyurl.com/na55zx), round one of the debate goes to Monbiot in a giant landslide.

    Heck, even the normally rambunctious denier crowd in the Guardian’s CiF forums are stunned quiet after Plimer’s response. No need to examine the sophistry behind the questions that Plimer poses – that deafening silence sums up how badly Plimer made an ass of himself.

  3. #3 Michael
    August 13, 2009

    Unless Plimer is suggesting that the Dark Ages were dark because it was extremely cloudy

    Ha!

    He’s lost the plot.

  4. #4 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    August 13, 2009

    There is another problem here. Who has the worked out answers for the questions that Plimer poses? Has Plimer submitted the answers to a third party for checking just in case Monbiot could actually work out the answers?

    I would like someone qualified to check the answers that George is supposed to get right. This could turn out to be another test for Plimer to fail.

  5. #5 Joerg
    August 13, 2009

    Plimer has responded with his own set of questions.

    Looks more like test assignments…presented with a mild air of breathtaking arrogance.

  6. #6 Tony
    August 13, 2009

    I would like someone qualified to check the answers that George is supposed to get right. This could turn out to be another test for Plimer to fail.

    That would be the height of irony, wouldn’t it? Not only would he come across as a bully, but an uninformed bully.

    Seriously, though, wasn’t there a debate between Crichton and Schmidt that went badly for the scientists? Crichton filibustered and charmed the audience while Schmidt droned on and looked uncomfortable. Before and after polls showed that the skeptics gained ground at the expense of the advocates. Yes, it doesn’t change the underlying science, but the deniers have never been about the science, really. It’s all a PR shell game and they won the public debate.

    I’m sure Monbiot is used to public speaking, but if he’s not careful, he could still lose the public debate. After all, who cares about silly written questions or scientific accuracy in a debate?

  7. #7 MarkG
    August 13, 2009

    >I would like someone qualified to check the answers that George is supposed to get right. This could turn out to be another test for Plimer to fail.

    All of these exercises require so many assumptions and approximations that even qualified people are likely to get quite divergent answers. You’d first have to throw out the questions (ie: the medieval warming one above) that are simply too incoherent to have answers.

    I should add that somone who thinks that the sun is made of iron is not qualified to answer these questions or use the phrase “From first principles…”.

  8. #8 Billy Bob Hall
    August 13, 2009

    ‘Yes, Plimer is really arguing that recent CO2 increases were caused by Medieval Warming’.

    Looks ok to me. Lets say middle of MWP is ~1200AD + 800years due to CO2 Lag and what do you know, it might be ~2000AD.

    Sometimes Occam’s Razor is just great ! :-)

  9. #9 Marco
    August 13, 2009

    Billy Bob I think if that is your reasoning then you would have to have evidence of an increasing trend in the temp record from the MWP onwards. That seems to be lacking.

    When using Occam’s razor be careful that you don’t cut yourself.

  10. #10 MikeB
    August 13, 2009

    Tony – George Monbiot isn’t a scientist, but a journalist with a scientific background, which in this case is good. The Crichton and Schmidt debacle came about because Schmidt thought that simply putting facts in front of people would convince them, while Crichton knew that ‘facts’ are for wimps.

    Monbiot was far more effective after ‘TGGWS’ than anyone in the British scientific establishment was at pushing back against the deniers, because he knows their background, he does his research, and he realises that this is combat, not a discussion between two academics.

    I’m sure that Plimer is using his own questions because he knows that if he fights on Monbiot’s ground, he’ll lose. Of course the usual gang on this site and Real Climate could answer the questions for him – which would be nice since I’m fairly sure he doesn’t know the answers himself.

  11. #11 Martin Vermeer
    August 13, 2009

    As one commenter on Monbiot’s blog already pointed out, the correct answer to each of Plimer’s thirteen questions is: 42.

    I have independently replicated this result, so it appears to be the scientific consensus.

    George Monbiot, take notice.

  12. #12 Michael (Brisbane, Australia)
    August 13, 2009

    erm… just a quickie…
    Have any of you guys read Professor Plimer’s book?
    I have.
    If you are all the “liberal thinkers” that I hope you are, then you will have.
    I know that someone is bound to come back at me with the ol’ “he’s not a peer reviewed writer”. But surely, as a geologist and scientist, now that he HAS written a “paper” on Climate Science, he IS peer reviewed.
    I say that because I’ve been howled down as a “skeptic” and “heretic” for believing in his book. I am not a climate change scientist. I am a regular citizen, and I want the truth! (I believe I’ve earned it!) haha!

    As a non AGW scientist, the scientific writing in his book make sense to me.
    I am in Brisbane, Australia. Everyone my age (41) had geography lessons in school that taught that the middle of Australia was once a sea. It is now a desert, and Prof. Plimer states in his book that according to various records and methods of previous climates, sea level has been up to 600metres higher than it is now, and 70 metres lower.
    Global Warming causes all life on earth to flourish.
    Global Cooling causes all life on earth to suffer.
    “Desertification” is a result of cooling.”
    This makes sense to me, especially as the largest desert in the world, by understanding is the Sahara, closely followed by Antarctica.

    I just think the whole AGW movement is a “religion” of convenience, based on alarmist emotion and fear, rather than scientific fact.

    Well, now it’s out there!
    Cheers everyone.
    Michael

  13. #13 Janet Akerman
    August 13, 2009

    Billy Bob,

    Where is the CO2 coming from? Does your Ockham’s razor mean that the MWP caused us to burn fossil fuels 600 years later, releasing to the atmosphere [30 billion tonnes]((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon_Dioxide_400kyr.png) of CO2 per year?

    >”Looks ok to me”

    Let me guess, any idea that pretends to debunk AGW looks OK to you, and any science that supports AGW is profit motivated propaganda.
    (Propaganda from a selection of people who rather than opting for exceptionally high paying careers, studied for years and years to build careers searching for knowledge instead of disproportionate profit.)

  14. #14 Mark Byrne
    August 13, 2009

    Michael,

    What is your view of Plimer failing to answer simple questions from his critics?

    Should be easy for him to tell us where the sources for his data are shouldn’t it?

  15. #15 anthony
    August 13, 2009

    “Desertification” is a result of cooling.” This makes sense to me, especially as the largest desert in the world, by understanding is the Sahara, closely followed by Antarctica.

    Any cooler and the Sahara would be gigantic!

  16. #16 MAB
    August 13, 2009

    Michael,

    What was the earth’s average temperate when sea levels were 600m higher? And what life forms existed? Plimer didn’t let you in on that little secret.

  17. #17 Jeff Harvey
    August 13, 2009

    Michael, you are speaking nonsense when your write, “Global Warming causes all life on earth to flourish. Global Cooling causes all life on earth to suffer”. If Plimer writes this tosh in his book, then its no wonder he’s being pilloried.

    Warm ambient conditions do favor adaptive radiation and speciation, but within the constraints of the rate of change. Climate systems are largely determinisitic and require a massive forcing to generate the rates of change that are being experienced now regionally and across the biosphere. Stable conditions allow populations to adapt to local condiitons; therefore species occupying boreal forests won’t last long if, within a few centuries or less, conditions suddenly shift to become much more temperate.

    Tropical regions have riotous levels of biodiversity because they are warm and stable; change is not the norm. Species in temperate regions have to cope with seasonal fluctuations in temperature and food supply, meaning that many must move (migrate) to warmer climes in winter or else adapt to local conditions. Species relying on warmer conditions exhibit ecophysiological adapatations to these conditions whereas temperate species exhibit adaptations to temperate conditions. Sudden shifts to alternate states will lead to a spike in local extinction rates. Another problem is that species do not persist as individuals, but due to an immense array of trophic interactions. Food webs are labyrinths connecting organisms across variable scales, some strongly, some weakly. These connections reinforce the resilience and stability of communities and ecosystems.

    Furthermore, different biomes across the biopshere are characterized by different soil regimes as well. Acid soils underlying boreal forests are not suitable for grasslands or temperate forests. The effects of rapid changes in soild chemistry would have all kinds of consequences – many negative – for soil food webs. This area is poorly understood but the idea that a sudden warming will create a green utopia is sadly misplaced. It will destroy much more than it will create if we are talking about the rates of climate warming that are occurring now.

    The bottom line is that all of these adaptations have generated phenotypes in processes that took hundreds of thousands if not millions of years to be manifested. Species are genetically adpated to respond to change within certain boundries, but most scientists are agreed that the current rate of change exceeds ‘normal boundries’, meaning that there will be many losers. The problem with people is that we have not evolved to respond to what we perceive as slow change but within the context of complex adaptive determinstic systems represent dramatic temporal shifts. The very fact that so many nincompoops claim that its been cooling since 1998 nakedly exposes the simplistic view our species has of time scales. In nature, 10 years is less than the blink of an eye but for humans who live only about 80 years it seems like quite a long time. If the climate changes at the rates that are projected over the coming century, then we can expect massive upheavels in natural systems which have not experienced this rate of warming in at least many millions of years. Moreover, given that humans have assaulted and simplified nature in a myriad of ways, these sytems are alread under unprecendented stress; genetic diversity, a prerequisite to adaptation in organisms, has alread been profoundly reduced because of other forms of human interference. Climate change may very well be the final nail in the coffin – not for nature but for us. Our species has the capacity to destroy much of the natural world but not to eliminate it. Whatever we do, the planet would recover in 5-10 million years. The most notable victim of human malfeascence may well be us, because no species in the history of the planet derives more or depends as much on nature as we do.

    Plimer is not a population ecologist. I am. I have seen a number of contrarians with no acumen in ecology writing the same kind of drivel that I read in your last post. I hate to be harsh, but it is precisely this kind of simplistic argument that laypeople often swallow whole – ‘warm is good, cold is bad’. It is not that simple. There are *conditions*. Gradul warming, speaking over thousands of years, mich yield eventual benefits in terms of species richness. But nature is not adapted to respond to the current rate of warming occurring at higher latitudes. Anyone suggesting it is does not know what they are talking about.

  18. #18 Mark Byrne
    August 13, 2009

    Michael,
    If you are interested in testing for yourself some of the criticisms of Plimer, here are [a range of reviews](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/global_warming/plimer/) and critiques by people who address specific issues.

    Though it sounds like you may have already made up your mind, without the need for reading further.

  19. #19 Dave
    August 13, 2009

    @Michael (Brisbane)

    > I am a regular citizen, and I want the truth!

    Except when presented with a detailed summary, intentionally accessible to the Layman and backed by decades of research from thousands of individuals, you choose to disregard it in favour of gossamer-thin discredited and irrelevant hand-waving from Plimer’s book. Its not good enough to pull out random sea-level measurements from the geological past and throw them down on the table as if to say “there – case closed, AGW is disproven”. Perhaps if you approached the subject with some humility you wouldn’t feel compelled to leap to conclusions such as the following:

    > I just think the whole AGW movement is a “religion” of convenience, based on alarmist emotion and fear, rather than scientific fact.

    Of course, you don’t actually provide any evidence for this incredibly insulting opinion. I suggest you consider apologising to the thousands of scientists you just casually denigrated in a baseless and utterly offensive way.

    On Plimer, aside from the incredibly high error rate, and the fact that the science in his book has been torn to pieces by people that actually know what they are talking about, and whose work has been wrongly used by Plimer to support his varied and contradictory arguments, here is what you need to remember:

    Plimer knowingly included a fraudulent graph (the correct graph did not support the point he was attempting to make), and when confronted did not tell the truth about the source.

    If that is the kind of intellectual honesty and rigour you want to defend, you go right ahead.

  20. #20 Bernard J.
    August 13, 2009

    It seems that I was pipped by [Paul Middents](http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/monbiot-vs-plimer/#comment-34121) over at Greenfyre’s site, but I feel moved to note that I too was reminded of this [old classic](http://www.middleweb.com/gradexam.html) when I read Plimer’s ‘questions’ to Monbiot.

    I hope that George holds to his guns and insists that Plimer answer Monbiot’s questions first, because (1) they were posed first, and (2) because Plimer [had agreed to do so](http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2009/aug/05/climate-change-scepticism). As long as Monbiot does so he will have Plimer on the ropes, and the longer Plimer tries to prevaricate by drawing attention to his own ‘questions’, the more people will realise that Plimer’s ‘questions’ are a dissemblance that are full of sound and fury but that signify nothing.

  21. #21 PSC
    August 13, 2009

    Michael (B,A)

    I have read Plimer’s book. If you ignore the trivial errors, the meat of the thing is full of nonsense.

    Many people have compiled lists of errors, and I’ve found a few of my own not on those lists.

  22. #22 Matt Andrews
    August 13, 2009

    Plimer now has a piece at ABC Unleashed. It’s choc-a-bloc full of misleading and downright false statements, as you’d expect.

  23. #23 Jeremy C
    August 13, 2009

    Thanks for the heads up Matt. I’ve gone and asked on the ABC unleashed Plimer piece why won’t he answer George’s questions. It may turn out to be the first comment (useful aspect of being in another time zone) so that may act as a heads up for people reading Plimer’s piece.

  24. #24 Barton Paul Levenson
    August 13, 2009

    Billy Bob writes:

    ‘Yes, Plimer is really arguing that recent CO2 increases were caused by Medieval Warming’.
    Looks ok to me. Lets say middle of MWP is ~1200AD + 800years due to CO2 Lag and what do you know, it might be ~2000AD.
    Sometimes Occam’s Razor is just great ! :-)

    Except that the radioisotope signature of the new carbon shows it’s from fossil fuel burning and not from the oceans, as in a natural deglaciation. More details are here:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Lag.html

    What’s more, carbon dioxide and temperature are highly correlated in the same year (r = 0.87 for ln CO2 and NASA GISS temperature anomaly for 1880-2007):

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Correlation.html

    No 800-year time lag present or necessary.

  25. #25 Barton Paul Levenson
    August 13, 2009

    Michael,

    Plimer thinks the sun is made out of iron. I’m sure he’s a competent geologist, but that doesn’t give him any expertise in any other field.

    For a quick overview of what AGW actually says, and the evidence for it, try here:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/GlobalWarmingBriefLecture.ppt

    If you don’t have Powerpoint, just read the articles on the site. “Greenhouse 101″ gives the basics of the science.

  26. #26 cce
    August 13, 2009

    If we ignore all other evidence (CO2 rise coincident with industrial revolution, isotope ratio, decreasing atmospheric oxygen, acidification of the oceans) the suggestion that the current increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to medieval warming would imply that the MWP was the warmest period in 850,000 years, because the CO2 levels are the highest in 850,000 years. But I suppose the ice cores are wrong too.

  27. #27 Martin Vermeer
    August 13, 2009

    Michael from Brisbane:

    I am a regular citizen, and I want the truth! (I believe I’ve earned it!)

    Yes, I agree. But the world is a very unfair place; sometimes we get more than we deserve, and often a lot less… I am at a loss how to give you what you so rightly deserve. I just don’t see any way to do it. To put it bluntly, you’re screwed mate.

    If ever you stumble upon the truth in spite of me, I hope that looking back, you’ll spare a thought for the folks who did this to you. You were lied to, big time. You need to get very, very angry. I know I was. Still am.

    BTW here’s to hoping you don’t have offspring. Guilt eats you.

  28. #28 Dave Andrews
    August 13, 2009

    It never ceases to amaze me the way people here, and on other blogs, seem to hold George Monbiot in such high esteem. The guy is a journalist, who spouts off on many subjects, not just climate change, and often gets many details wrong, asserts dogma as fact and thereby ruins many of his arguments.
    He is regularly brought to task by serious readers of the Guardian in the papers letters page.

    But you slavishly seem to hang on his every word.

  29. #29 guthrie
    August 13, 2009

    Dave Andrews – the few times I have seen Monbiot genuinely get something wrong (as opposed to commenters online claiming he is wrong) I have actually seen him admit to it.

    No other journalist I have seen ever admits to being wrong. Indeed, note how Plimer and others avoid actually admitting they got things wrong.

  30. #30 TrueSceptic
    August 13, 2009

    29 guthrie,

    I agree. Every journo makes mistakes. Monbiot is one of the few who owns up.

    Now, Dave Andrews, show us some examples where this was not the case.

  31. #31 dhogaza
    August 13, 2009

    No other journalist I have seen ever admits to being wrong. Indeed, note how Plimer and others avoid actually admitting they got things wrong.

    I’ve never seen Dave Andrews admit he’s wrong, either, though in his defense it might take hours a day if he were to start doing so.

  32. #32 TrueSceptic
    August 13, 2009

    31 dhogaza,

    It should be easy for DA to cite examples in this case, given the claims in post 28.

  33. #33 Steve Chamberlain
    August 13, 2009

    28 Dave Andrews – if you’ll forgive me I made some minor edits to your post, let me know what you think:
    “It never ceases to amaze me the way people like yourself, on blogs like WTFWT, seem to hold Prof Plimer in such high esteem. The guy is a geologist, who spouts off on many subjects, not just climate change, and often gets many details wrong, asserts dogma as fact and thereby ruins many of his arguments. He is regularly brought to book by serious readers of climate blogs and in the letters pages of newspapers, and now a mere journalist has cornered him with some pretty straightforward and simple question.

    But you slavishly seem to hang on his every word.”

    Or something :)

  34. #34 Deep Climate
    August 13, 2009

    Like Matt Andrews and Chris Colose, I commented on Plimer’s “Unleashed” at the ABC website.

    But I’ve also filed an official complaint with ABC, demanding corrections for two of the most obvious factual errors.

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/08/14/complaint-to-the-australian-broadcasting-company-regarding-plimer/

    Excerpts:

    Ian Plimer’s opinion piece, entitled “Legislative time bomb” contains several egregious factual errors. Plimer has the right to express his opinions, no matter how cretinous or ill-informed they may be, but his propagation of obvious falsehoods is unacceptable. ABC has a duty to correct any clear errors of fact, even in an opinion piece.

    This is not to suggest that there are no other errors. Indeed, the entire piece contains not a single sentence free of error or misleading information.

    I also recommend Tamino’s analysis at Open Mind:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/do-you-believe-ian-plimer/

  35. #35 anthony
    August 13, 2009

    Nice editing there Steve.
    I like the way you maintained the integrity of Dave’s piece by not substantiating any claims with links or evidence.

  36. #36 Dave Andrews
    August 14, 2009

    Steve Chamberlain,

    I can have an opinion about George M that is totally unrelated to any opinion about Ian P. This doesn’t in any way therefore imply that because I have a certain view about the former I must therefore have your imputed view about the latter.

  37. #37 Chris O'Neill
    August 14, 2009

    Dave Andrews:

    This doesn’t in any way therefore imply that because I have a certain view about the former I must therefore have your imputed view about the latter.

    He wasn’t talking about your view, he was talking about “people like yourself, on blogs like WTFWT”.

  38. #38 Steve Chamberlain
    August 15, 2009

    Dave (36):
    “I can have an opinion about George M that is totally unrelated to any opinion about Ian P. This doesn’t in any way therefore imply that because I have a certain view about the former I must therefore have your imputed view about the latter.”

    Dave, you mistake the matter wholly if you believe I was making any comment (let alone rules) on what opinions you ought to hold about anyone. When I read your post, I wondered if I could turn the entire thing on its head simply substituting Plimer for Monbiot. It worked : )

    I was pointing at two facets:
    1) Your attempt to invalidate Monbiot’s questions to Plimer by resort to character attack; and
    2) your (baseless) assertion that “people on here” idolise Monbiot.

    The first point is more than amply covered here and particularly on the Grauniad’s Comment columns (CiF). Whether the questioner has made mistakes in the past (and who of us hasn’t?) is wholly irrelevant to the value of the questions they pose. As the old saying goes, a complete idiot can say it’s a sunny day, but that doesn’t make dark out. In this instance, Monbiot has set Plimer a dozen or so perfectly straightforward questions (phrased in perfectly everyday language that any intelligent person can understand) that relate to the basis of the case Plimer makes in his book. Whether Monbiot has made mistakes in the past (or even whether he has owned up to them) is immaterial – if Plimer is as sure of his case as he says he is, he ought to be able to answer Monbiot’s questions in a matter of minutes, and reply in the same vein as the questions were posed (i.e. in plain, simple language that does not require the reader to have undertaken PhDs in the relevant disciplines).

    The second point you make (“hanging off [Monbiot's] every word”) is palpable nonsense, if not a downright insult to the intelligence of almost everyone who posts here. I like reading Monbiot’s columns, which is not to say I agree with everything he says, and nor do I agree with some of the issues he brings up. That said, he possesses two character traits I respect in any human being (whether a journalist or not): he says what he thinks and doesn’t shy away from the flack; and when he’s wrong he admits he’s wrong. Would that half the journos I read had that combination.

    But as my post tried to point out, two can play at your game – by a simple act of substituting one name for another, it was shown that your post about Monbiot was nothing more than a number of disparaging remarks that could equally be (and have been) levelled at Plimer. And their relevance to the validity of the questions raised and the importance of the issue at hand? None whatsoever.

  39. #39 TrueSceptic
    August 25, 2009
  40. #40 Hushashi
    August 26, 2009

    I hope it’s not too much to ask, but I actually expect to get a little *actual* warming with my global warming.

    Perhaps due to the fact I live indoors and often wear clothes, my senses have dulled a bit, but to be honest I’m just not feeling it.

  41. #41 Mark Byrne
    August 26, 2009

    [Here is](http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/mean:360) your warming Hushashi. The 30 year moving mean is sufficient time to show the cumulative effects of CO2 driven warming. Shorter periods have a lot of noise from cyclic events that mask the warming trend over short time scales.

  42. #42 Hushashi
    August 26, 2009

    Mark, no doubt your graph shows warming, however I fail to see how that addresses my complaint, “I’m just not feeling it.” I trust my senses, however quaint that notion may be today.

  43. #43 Mark Byrne
    August 26, 2009

    Hushashi, Thanks for the clarification.

    It’s difficult to calibrate your feelings.

  44. #44 Fran Barlow
    August 26, 2009

    Hushashi@42

    I trust my senses, however quaint that notion may be today.

    The notion is hardly quaint, though I assume this ironic, but it is not apt. Your senses are too poor a tool and your recollections too unreliable a foundation upon which to found global policy on the interaction between humans and the biosphere. Were you either to suffer a slight fever or a polar draft those devising and implementing agricultural or infrastructure policy could be confronted with a real nightmare.

  45. #45 Gaz
    August 26, 2009

    Hushashi:

    I trust my senses, however quaint that notion may be today.

    It’s not quaint, it’s pathetic.

    Are you seriously suggesting you doubt global warming is occurring because you, personally, don’t notice a temperature rise in the order of 0.01 degrees C per year?

    Why on Earth would you expect to be conscious of such a trend, especially given the much bigger variation from day to night and from summer to winter?

    Do your senses also tell you the world is flat?

    You have got to be joking. Or trolling.

  46. #46 bi -- IJI
    August 26, 2009

    Hushashi:

    > Perhaps due to the fact I live indoors and often wear clothes, my senses have dulled a bit, but to be honest I’m just not feeling it.

    Hmm. If I go outdoors without wearing clothes, will I be able to feel the average global temperature that occurred during medieval times?

    Perhaps Plimer can…

  47. #47 Chris S.
    August 27, 2009

    Hushashi’s point is actually apposite. Whilst we sit in our heated/air conditioned homes pontificating species across the globe are moving steadily northwards and/or uphill and steadily getting earlier in their breeding/emergence/peak abundance in order to remain in the temperature band that they have evolved to live in.

    It’s a phenomenon that has been observed from Canada to Borneo, from the sea to mountain ranges.

    The question is: What do these insects/plants/fish/birds etc. know that Hushashi doesn’t?

  48. #48 Hushashi
    August 27, 2009

    Actually, gentlepersons, I was simply making the point that the majority of people, wherever they’re from and whatever their biases, will inevitably form their own conclusions based substantially upon what they can feel and see with their own senses.

    It’s a method that’s served us well for a long time, and for good reason. Tales of creepy crawlies migrating and temperature record quilting competitions (maths that I submit at most one per cent of you are capable of minimally checking for accuracy, yourselves) are most likely going to be insufficiently convincing to the average bear, especially when he’s being asked to change his habits or subsidize those of others.

    Insufficiently convincing. Full stop.

    Make of that whatever you like, but it’s the dynamic both sides are forced to reckon with.

  49. #49 bi -- IJI
    August 27, 2009

    Hushashi:

    > I was simply making the point that the majority of people [...] will inevitably form their own conclusions

    That wasn’t what you said. You said you aren’t convinced because you only “believe” what you “feel”.

  50. #50 Gaz
    August 27, 2009

    Hushashi:

    Actually, gentlepersons, I was simply making the point that the majority of people, wherever they’re from and whatever their biases, will inevitably form their own conclusions based substantially upon what they can feel and see with their own senses.

    No they won’t, they’ll form their own conclusions based on their informed assessment of the facts and the guidance of the vast majority of scientists working the relevant disciplines.

    That’s why democratically elected governments all around the world are moving toward policies which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, despite the whining denial of a minority of idiots who think their “feelings” are more telling than a vast body of scientific knowledge.

  51. #51 Chris S.
    August 27, 2009

    Hushashi, I was kind of with you until this: “(maths that I submit at most one per cent of you are capable of minimally checking for accuracy, yourselves)”. What’s the reason for this baseless slur? If you can’t compute it that doesn’t mean 99% of the rest of us can’t.

    As to the rest, well it’s certain that many will be “insufficiently convinced”, much as many are unconvinced that smoking is harmful, homeopathy is bunk & GM crops aren’t evil. What is clear though is those who remain “insufficiently convinced” tend to not expose themselves to the primary literature on the subject & instead rely on their feelings and on others to do their thinking for them.

  52. #52 Hushashi
    August 28, 2009

    @Gaz, I doubted the idea of extraterrestrial life until I read what you wrote. Welcome to Earth! I regret you’ll find most humans are more set in their ways than you might care to imagine.

    @Frank, you are indeed right, I didn’t actually say anything about a majority of people, initially, although I was thinking it. Sloppy, perhaps my mind got ahead of my typing fingers. That small error notwithstanding, I do consider myself somewhat typical and have full confidence the average person trusts what they sense above all else, (not “feel”, which implies excessive subjectivity) particularly shared experiences such as time of day, weather, etc.

    @Chris, you may be the exception, or perhaps the audience here is exceptional. But regardless of your capabilities, I very much doubt you have checked all the evidence pro & con for yourself, and feel I am on firm ground in doubting the majority of folks’ aptitude in this area one way or the other.

    I for one am not qualified to judge any of the evidence for myself, and only wish more partisans on both sides could admit the same.

    There might be a lot less name calling as a result, which would be a step in the right direction.

  53. #53 bi -- IJI
    August 28, 2009

    Hushashi:

    So, in addition to being able to feel, I mean sense, that the earth isn’t warming and that it was warmer during medieval times, you’re also able to feel that “the majority of people” think the same things as you, and you feel very confident that the “majority of people” (i.e. you) are correct?

  54. #54 Chris S.
    August 28, 2009

    “I very much doubt you have checked all the evidence pro & con for yourself, and feel I am on firm ground in doubting the majority of folks’ aptitude in this area one way or the other.”

    Hushashi – a few questions.

    Are you familiar with the concept of scientific review?

    Do you believe the authors of the IPCC reviews are partisan?

    Do you feel that the authors of said reviews have not considered the evidence in their field for some reason?

  55. #55 Hushashi
    August 30, 2009

    @Frank – My environment isn’t noticeably warmer compared to ten or twenty years ago. I’m sorry if that fact upsets you. I don’t recall saying anything about “medieval times”, nor anything about the majority of people being “correct”.

    @Chris

    I am indeed familiar with the of “scientific review”, the question is, are you familiar with the concept of “competing theories”?

    If you are presented with two viewpoints on the same topic, both elaborated by people of seemingly of good character, high intelligence, and of sufficient qualification to hold an opinion on the topic, how would you advise me to choose between them?

    They can’t both be right, can they? What, exactly, is the criterion most important to you in determining who is “right” on the issue of dangerous CO2 driven warming? Or, more specifically — precisely *what* convinced you? (of whatever you believe, I don’t know because you haven’t really said, in so many words)

  56. #56 Mark Byrne
    August 30, 2009

    >*I am indeed familiar with the of “scientific review”, the question is, are you familiar with the concept of “competing theories”?*

    >*If you are presented with two viewpoints on the same topic, both elaborated by people of seemingly of good character, high intelligence, and of sufficient qualification to hold an opinion on the topic, how would you advise me to choose between them?*

    Which two theories are your refering to?

  57. #57 bi -- IJI
    August 31, 2009

    Mark Byrne:

    I think the two theories are

    Theory A: The most reliable way of finding truth is through verifiable evidence. (the rest of us)

    Theory B: The most reliable way of finding truth is to feel it. (Hushashi)

  58. #58 Steve Chamberlain
    August 31, 2009

    hushashi (55): “If you are presented with two viewpoints on the same topic, both elaborated by people of seemingly of good character, high intelligence, and of sufficient qualification to hold an opinion on the topic, how would you advise me to choose between them?”

    Both the local plumber and local electrician are good blokes, by no means stupid, one still smokes while the otehr gave up 5 years ago. The two hold conflicting views on the health effects of smoking 40 a day. I’m not sure who to believe, so I go see an independent expert in the field (called “A Doctor” in these parts) who points me to an enormous body of existing scientific research, the general consensus of which is “smoking really isn’t all that good for you.”

    Easy.

  59. #59 Chris O'Neill
    August 31, 2009

    Hushashi, I doubt that you could tell what the air temperature is to the nearest 0.5 deg C. Is there some point to your strawman argument?

  60. #60 Chris S.
    September 1, 2009

    #55 Hushashi you didn’t answer my other two questions. However I’ll answer yours. I am aware of the concept of competing theories – do you feel there are competing theories the IPCC has overlooked? Remember – just because they chose to ignore a theory doesn’t mean they didn’t consider it, and on the balance of the evidence reject it.

    As Steve points out in #58. The best way to evaluate the strength of an argument is look at the supporting evidence – there is an enormous body of evidence in support of the consensus (just look at the IPCC report reference lists) – that’s why it is a consensus.

    In addition, I am able to draw on my personal experience. I know (and work with) some of the authors of the IPCC reports & can vouch for their character. Many of these people would receive their funding whether climate change existed or not – they do important work outside the remit of climate change. Their desire to contribute to this area of science is not for want of money. For some it is altruistic – the desire to not see the world they live in suffer under the impacts of climate change – for others it is the purely scientific need to study a new phenomena.

    What convinced me? I was already pretty convinced by my work on insect phenology (why, for example would a species named by Linnaeus in 1758 after its common name (St Mark’s fly-named thus because it generally emerged at or around April 25th, a date that still marked its emergence in the 1950s) now emerge in late March?) But when the tropical disease Bluetongue turned up in Sweden that firmed it up. I can also see that the rate of change is far in advance of anything since at least the last Ice Age and probably a lot further back. This is not a good thing.

  61. #61 Hushashi
    September 10, 2009

    Thanks for the reply, Mark. I appreciate you taking the time to explain your views. Actually I did write out a reply but, as can happen when you compose in a web form, it died on submission and there was no cache. Painful.

    In any case, my interest is not in evaluating the strength of an “argument” but rather in evaluating the strength of the *evidence*. I feel there is nothing *inherently* stronger about either warming or skeptical arguments, themselves. Though mutually exclusive, when considered alone they are perfectly *plausible* propositions. The evidence offered in their support, however, is quite varied and anything but clear-cut from the perspective of a non-specialist. The nearly insoluable philosophical divide between warming and skeptical arguments, particularly the type of evidence each side considers persuasive, muddles the situation even more.

    Warming proponents seem to base their arguments upon what we supposedly “know” or seem *likely* to *discover*. Skeptical proponents appear to give greater weight to what we supposedly “do not yet understand” or have so far *failed* to *account for*. Skeptics feel warming proponents are over-reaching, while skeptics are viewed as being obtuse, sometimes deliberately so, by proponents of warming.

    Both approaches appeal to differnt pieces of our psychology, but in any case the non-specialist is almost wholly unequipped to evaluate either one to any significant degree. They boil down to questions of belief and philosophy, essentially.

    The appeal to knowledge, and the appeal to humility in the face of the unknown or extremely complex, are fine approaches depending on what you are trying to explain. Unfortunately for both sides, neither has demonstrated a superior capability to fortell the future of the Earth’s climate, so far.

    It’s not a lot of fun to be pushed into choosing between options you can’t possibly test for yourself, especially if the effects are not readily obvious to ones own senses, one way or the other. The average person sees no reason why he should accept the opinion of Al Gore over, say, that of Michael Crichton, or how one might be in a position to evaluate the correctness of Dr. Gavin Schmidt versus Dr. Roy Spencer. If you’ve come up with a way to do this that makes sense, do tell.

    If nothing else I find the topic a fascinating window into what people believe our current state of understanding is capable of explaining, at this moment.

  62. #62 Mark Byrne
    September 10, 2009

    >*”…I find the topic a fascinating window into what people believe our current state of understanding is capable of explaining, at this moment.”*

    Agreed, there is also great insight into power dynamics to be gleaned from the way the “debate” is carried out.

    It also sounds good when you say: “*my interest is not in evaluating the strength of an “argument” but rather in evaluating the strength of the evidence.*” But the rest of your posts seem to focus on arguments rather than evidence.

    The “warming proponents” have presented [clear evidence]( http://www.ipcc.ch/) and a coherent theory. The non-AGW theorist present a scatter gun of arguments. Which I’ve read described as the caged monkey assault, flinging faeces everywhere and seeing what sticks. Others are left to hose off the walls see what’s what.

    Plimer is an interesting example, why is he unwilling to answer Monbiot’s questions? They are straight forward questions. Straight forward unless Plimer is using fabricated data and misrepresenting his sources. Surely Plimer’s running from providing his sources should show him up to “non specialists”?

    As you appear to have a preference for social science rather than physical. What evidence would you glean from those on either side of the AGW “debate”.

    Left vs Right? Somewhat. Certainly most left are with the scientific consensus, but so are a large portion of the right. I recall figures of about 75% Democrat and 45-50% Republican of the top of my head (may be out by 10% or so). Yet this slip is not representative of the [division among scientists]( http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf).

    So we’ve got a division among scientist that is far smaller than most issues in science. We’ve got popular support for strong mitigation. Where is the doubt coming from? You mentioned Roy Spenser, there is also Richard Lindzen, and a handful of others. But have you read their papers showing evidence that rebuts AGW? The papers that are out there are speculative, and as you suggest they appeal to the unknown. Such genuine scientist have doubts but not strong evidence. Hence, lacking strong evidence we scientists, we see denialists trotting out misrepresentation and distortions that would not be required if they had a strong case.

    So who is providing the counter balance to the scientific consensus? This is a group of stakeholders that you did not mention in your latest post. Analysis of their power and behaviour is relevant.

  63. #63 Jeff Harvey
    September 10, 2009

    Hushashi,

    Thanks you for writing a very thoughtful post.

    In response to your post I would very much make a number ofcomments. First of all, you appear to give the impression that the scientific community are evenly divided over the issue of climate change. This is most certainly not true. The vast majority of the scientific community – most importantly including those actually on the ground so to speak doing the actual research – are not climate change sceptics. This impression is certainly one probably derived from mainstream media sources anxious to create controversy and by their desire to maintain “balance”. It is not a case of Gavin Schmidt versus Roy Spencer; it is a debate more with the ratio of 95% on one side and 5% on the other. It is easy to see this, because many of the same sceptics (a bad word as all scientists by nature are sceptical; many of the so-called sceptics are outright denialists) have been recycled over and over for the past 20 years. I note many of the same people crop up in the denial camp, whereas few new names have actually come forward over the years.

    I also suggest that you follow the data. Many of the data trails of the denialists grow quickly cold. As Naomi Oreskes has pointed out several times, all or virtually all published studies in rigidly peer-reviewed journals support the hypothesis of AGW. There are very few outliers.

    Lastly, denial is a multi-billion dollar industry involving think tanks, public relations firms and corporate lobbyists. Follow the money. Although the denialists try and argue that pro-AGW scientists can only secure grants by making up scary scenarios, no evidence is ever procured showing this to be so. I am a senior scientist and a population ecologist and none of my research has anything remotely to do with “scaring the public”. But as someone working within the scientific arena I am well aware of the position taken by most of my peers, including those in climate science. I attend many workshops and conferences where these issues are debated and argued. Most of those suggesting that there is a huge silent majority of sceptics who are afraid to speak out are actually speaking rubbish. Given the huge amounts of corporate money sloshing around in the denial industry, some in the denial camp have appeared to do very well without actually publishing much if anything on the subject or indeed in any other scientific fields.

    In truth, as I have said before, the denial lobby does not have to win a scientific victory to influence policy (or, more appropriately, to render mute any chance of tackling the problem). In fact, they never will prevail scientifically. All they have to do is sow enough doubt that the public and policy makers will think that the issue is far from being resolved. In this way nothing will change, which represents a victory for them.

  64. #64 Mark Byrne
    September 10, 2009

    Correction: @62

    The sentence: Hence, lacking strong evidence we scientists,…

    Should read: Hence, lacking strong evidence from scientists,…

  65. #65 Mark
    September 10, 2009

    > In addition, I am able to draw on my personal experience. I know (and work with) some of the authors of the IPCC reports & can vouch for their character.

    > Posted by: Chris S

    Not just that, I can do some of the work myself. Not much of it, but some.

    And the AGW science I can work with I can personally confirm.

    The denialist science I can work with (there isn’t much) I can confirm doesn’t work.

    The denialists also use “I personally have verified…” but when you ask for their workings go strangely silent or evasive. When I’ve done what they say and don’t get their answer, they then come with some vague “you’re using the wrong maths” but then won’t say what maths I should be using. Despite having done this work themselves…

  66. #66 Chris S.
    September 10, 2009

    “In any case, my interest is not in evaluating the strength of an “argument” but rather in evaluating the strength of the evidence. ” Much like [evidence based medicine](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_medicine) I suppose. As the wikipedia page states “EBM … seeks to clarify those parts of medical practice that are in principle subject to scientific methods and to apply these methods to ensure the best prediction of outcomes in medical treatment, even as debate continues about which outcomes are desirable.” Of course EBM allows certain individuals (e.g. [Homeopaths](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1UJ_qGZ24k&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ebadscience%2Enet%2F2006%2F07%2Fhomeopath%2Dsquirms%2Damusingly%2F&feature=player_embedded), [nutritionists](http://www.badscience.net/2008/09/dave-ford-from-durham-council-plays-at-being-a-scientist-again/) and [anti-vaxxers](http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/09/after_all_this_time_dr_bob_sears_finally.php) ). Such fringe elements are characterised by drawing attention to gaps in the knowledge (real or imagined), decrying a lack of research in their area (whether there [has been](http://www.badscience.net/2007/08/490/) or not), disproportionate media coverage – including their [own TV shows](http://www.badscience.net/2007/02/ms-gillian-mckeith-banned-from-calling-herself-a-doctor/), their own pet “[scientists](http://www.badscience.net/2005/10/lab-that-finds-bugs-where-others-do-not/)” and a reliance on research published in [trade journals](http://www.badscience.net/2008/10/more-crap-journals/).

  67. #67 Chris S.
    September 11, 2009

    To add to #66: …individuals (…) to operate on the fringes.

Current ye@r *