A Few Things Ill Considered

There is no Consensus

This is just one of dozens of responses to common climate change denial arguments, which can all be found at How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.


Objection:

Climate is complicated and there are lots of competing theories and unsolved mysteries. Until this is all worked out one can’t claim there is consensus on Global Warming Theory and until there is we should not take any actions.

Answer:

Sure there are plenty of unsolved problems and active debates in climate science. But if you look at the research papers coming out these days, the debates are about things like why model predictions of outgoing longwave radiation at the top of the atmosphere in tropical latitudes differ from satellite readings or how the size of ice crystals in cirrus clouds affect the amount of incoming shortwave reflected back into space or precisely how much stratospheric cooling can be attributed to ozone depletion rather than an enhanced greenhouse effect. No one in the climate science community is debating whether or not changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations alter the Greenhouse effect or if the current warming trend is outside of the range of natural variability or if sea levels have risen over the last century. This is where there is a consensus.

Specifically, the "consensus" about anthropogenic climate change entails the following:

  • the climate is undergoing a pronounced warming trend that is beyond the range of natural variability.
  • the major cause of most of the observed warming is rising levels of the greenhouse gas CO2
  • the rise in CO2 is the result of fossil fuel burning.
  • if CO2 continues to rise over the next century the warming will continue
  • a climate change of the projected magnitude over this time frame represents potential danger to human welfare and the environment

While theories and alternate view points in conflict with the above do exist, their proponents are in a very small minority. If one requires unanimity before being confident, well, we can’t be sure the earth isn’t hollow either.

This consensus is represented in the IPCC Third Assessment Report, Working Group 1 (TAR WG1). This is the most comprehensive compilation and summary of current climate research ever attempted, and is arguably the most thoroughly peer reviewed scientific document in history. While this review was sponsored by the UN, the research it compiled and reviewed was not, and the scientists involved were independent and came from all over the world..

The conclusions reached in this document have been explicitly endorsed by:

  • Academia Brasiliera de Ciências (Bazil)
  • Royal Society of Canada
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Academié des Sciences (France)
  • Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (Germany)
  • Indian National Science Academy
  • Accademia dei Lincei (Italy)
  • Science Council of Japan
  • Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Royal Society (United Kingdom)
  • National Academy of Sciences (United States of America)
  • Australian Academy of Sciences
  • Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts
  • Caribbean Academy of Sciences
  • Indonesian Academy of Sciences
  • Royal Irish Academy
  • Academy of Sciences Malaysia
  • Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand
  • Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

in either one or both of these documents: [PDF] [PDF]

In addition to these national academies, the following institutions specializing in climate, atmosphere, ocean and/or earth sciences have endorsed or published the same conclusions as presented in the TAR report:

If this is not a scientific consensus, then what in the world would a consensus look like?

[Addendum: One could quite legitimately argue that such policy statements by necessity hide possibly legitimate internal debate while trying to present unity of position. Science is really determined in peer reviewed journals. Fortunately, there is a bit of research one can turn to that looked specifically at this very question, and this is the subject of another guide entry. Please see this article.]


This is just one of dozens of responses to common climate change denial arguments, which can all be found at How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.


“There is no Consensus” was first published here, where you can still find the original comment thread. This updated version is also posted on the Grist website, where additional comments can be found, though the author, Coby Beck, does not monitor or respond there.

Comments

  1. #1 frank
    September 12, 2008

    “Science is really determined in peer reviewed journals.”

    Stop, stop, the laughter is killing me.

    Oh, you’re serious,

    Erm, ok. I’ll put aside the fact that 90% of research groups I’ve had contact with (a fair few) bias their results to make themselves look great and assume that the people in climate research are all from a different gene pool.

  2. #2 Shane
    September 13, 2008

    As a scientist I shudder at the term concensus. There are many papers that disagree with the theory that global warming is caused by rising CO2. There is a whole group of people who believe the cause is due to the sun’s activity. The idea that you put forth is this – it’s so complicated and beyond our comprehension we have decided as a group to attribute the warming to CO2. I actually have no problem either way. As a scientist the results of investigation are simply what they are. The problem with the global warming crowd is, like men from centuries ago, they have looked up at the stars and without any real evidence decided Mars is drawn throught the sky by a firery chariot.

    The concensus you talk about was a horrible phrase in the IPCC report that should have been stricken during peer review. The problem was, the peer review was political and not scientific so the phrase stayed. Most of the IPCC report is written by economists and the bulk of that paper is about transferring wealth from the US to the rest of the world is good. I actually read the paper and many of the papers they site in the report. Science is not determined by peer reviewed journals, its determined by experimentation and evaluation. The results may be published, by certainly not determined by journals.

  3. #3 coby
    September 13, 2008

    “The problem with the global warming crowd is, like men from centuries ago, they have looked up at the stars and without any real evidence decided Mars is drawn throught the sky by a firery chariot.”
    “Most of the IPCC report is written by economists”
    “the bulk of that paper is about transferring wealth from the US to the rest of the world”

    Hi Shane,

    These are such ridiculous statements that it is very obvious you have never looked at that report, much less read the papers it refences. Nice try though (as a scientist ;-)

  4. #4 The Charters Of Dreams
    September 14, 2008

    Evidence that they are ridiculous statements?

    Smearing & ridiculing someone doesn’t show a lot of confidence (or manners) on your part. You’re what — a programmer?

    Tell you what, rather than playing it safe and hiding behind those studies and viewpoints that support your position, why don’t you engage a debate with someone like Richard S. Lindzen over this point:

    “Global Warming: The Origin and Nature of the Alleged Scientific Consensus”

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv15n2/reg15n2g.html

    Just email him with some question — I’m sure he’d be happy to accommodate you. That would really show there’s some real substance behind you and this blog — short of that, your blog is just a self-published platform of self-formed & biased opinion — it doesn’t persuade but only preaches to the choir.

    ~ Best,
    Charters

  5. #5 Michael Bluejay
    September 16, 2008

    Coby, do you think you could address in the article the charges that the IPCC doesn’t represent, as you put it, “arguably the most thoroughly peer reviewed scientific document in history”? For example there’s this piece by Tom Harris and JohnMcLean published in The News Letter (Belfast), and they have a similar bit in Salon. I’m specifically interested in their assertion that only 62 scientists reviewed the important statement from chapter 9, “”Greenhouse gas forcing has very likely caused most of the observed global warming over the last 50 years.” I’ve already seen blog posts denouncing the authors as industry lackeys, and explaining that their charge about comments being rejected is misleading. I’m not interested in that, I’m interested in their charge that the main conclusion of the IPCC’s report was reviewed by only 62 scientists and that thus it’s not “arguably the most thoroughly peer reviewed scientific document in history”. I’ve been unable to find that charge addressed anywhere on the net, even in blogs. Thank you for your time.

  6. #6 Brian D
    September 18, 2008

    Michael Bluejay:

    Tim Lambert does a good enough job on that one, but since some of the links are broken…

    You can take a look at the comments on the entire report, including chapter 9, yourself, between both the first-order draft and the second-order draft, and see that the 62-scientists line is unwarranted. It ignores the more numerous comments on the first-order draft (not to mention it belies the SIZE of the report; it’s just one chapter from one working group).

    You’ll also be treated to Vincent Gray’s comments — see Lambert above for a quick sample. You can’t miss them, he wrote about half (572) of the total comments, and he left most of them unsupported.

  7. #7 Michael Bluejay
    September 19, 2008

    Thank you for the reply, and the links.

    After thoughtful review, I find Lambert’s rebuttal against the charge that only 62 scientists refereed the main conclusion of the 4th assessment to be incredibly lacking. First off, he says there were “much more” than 62 reviewers for chapter 9, but doesn’t bother to say how many. Either he knows this figure or he doesn’t know. If he doesn’t know, then he has no business arguing a point he can’t support. If he does know, then he’s being disingenuous by not sharing that figure.

    And that’s because the figure doesn’t support his claims. I count a whopping 81 reviewers in the 1st draft. By arguing against the 62 figure, Lambert suggests that the number of reviewers is a lot higher. 81 is not a lot higher. In fact, it’s a hell of a lot closer to 62 than to 2500, which was Harris & McLean’s point.

    The same thing can be said about the difference between the 1st and 2nd drafts: Either Lambert is aware of the difference, or he is not. If he’s not aware, then he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. If he is aware, then he is being willfully deceptive by not presenting the full story. In the 1st draft, the summary of chapter 9 says meekly that warming is not *solely* due to natural forces, i.e. that human activity is *partly* responsible. In the 2nd draft, the statement is much more forceful, that human activity is the *dominant* cause. That’s a massive difference.

    This statement from the 2nd draft was specifically what Harris & McLean’s were talking about. That’s not hard to see, they opened the article with their argument, identified the particular statement, and then said, “So how many of the 2,500 scientists who reviewed parts of the complete IPCC report actually reviewed this statement?”

    The correct answer is 62. The (whopping) 81 reviewers of the 1st draft did not review that statement, because it didn’t appear in the 1st draft.

    Say that Harris & McLean are non-scientists and are industry lackeys, but their charge that the most important conclusion statement of the IPCC 4th assessment report was reviewed by only 62 reviewers, is factually correct.

  8. #8 doubledaredenier
    October 24, 2008

    The TRUE history of the consensus is found here
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv15n2/reg15n2g.html

  9. #9 doubledaredeniter
    October 24, 2008

    Apologies to Charters – he had already pointed out the Lindzen paper. Quite a convincing examination of “the consensus”, written at the time (1992)it was being formed (concocted?) by someone who was in close proximity. I am an economist and certainly will leave the climate science to the client scientists – most of the true climate scientists are not on board any consensus on the causes of climate change.

  10. #10 GrecRI
    December 7, 2008

    Just to add some fuel to the fire; the “peer review” process, supposedly employed by the IPCC, is laughable by any normal scientific standards.

    Numerous contributors have reported that their responses, disputing the findings, were dismissed or ignored completely. In at least one case, the final report was altered (by adding a ‘minor’ line about warming being anthropologically caused) AFTER the ‘review process’ had been completed. In essence, the final version was never reviewed at all. This is not how the peer review process works in science.

    Also, after numerous requests to have their names removed from the list of contributors (because they disagreed with the outcome)some on the list have actually had to sue to get the IPCC to comply.

    Regarding your quote: “No one in the climate science community is debating whether or not changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations alter the Greenhouse effect or if the current warming trend is outside of the range of natural variability or if sea levels have risen over the last century. This is where there is a consensus.”

    That is absolutely untrue. For example, in NY City, in March of 2009, there will be a convention of scientists who disagree completely with the conclusions of the IPCC, including the sea level having risen and whether the warming trend is outside of natural ranges. They expect up to 1,000 scientists to attend.

    Those touting ‘concensus’ are doing so to shut down those who disagree. True scientists will welcome others to attempt to disprove their theories. It is that process that leads to the facts. Unfortunately, the facts are not what many in this debate (which I assure you is still ongoing) are searching for.

  11. #11 Brian D
    December 8, 2008

    GrecRl, the “conference of scientists” is put on by the Heartland Institute. It’s the second such conference they’ve held; look at their protocol from the earlier one and you’ll see it’s a policy conference, not a scientific one. The fact that its key speakers included journalists, weathermen, and lobbyists should be a dead giveaway. The 2009 version doesn’t appear to be much better; last I heard they were letting sponsors have input on the topics of the conference (this isn’t the case with scientific conferences) and were asking sponsors not to provide money but to provide an audience (suggesting they’re well-funded but interested in noise and attention rather than further research).

    Interestingly, while the IPCC view is self-consistent with all serious debate being over minor details, the ‘scientists’ at the Heartland conference could only agree on one detail: It’s not man-made. Some claimed it was the sun, others said the oceans. Some claim it’s not happening, others said it was happening but it’d be good. Not one stopped to question why no one at this conference could agree on a consistent story.

  12. #12 GrecRI
    December 8, 2008

    And you don’t consider the IPCC reports policy over science?

    “The fact that its key speakers included journalists, weathermen, and lobbyists should be a dead giveaway”

    That combination sounds like an IPCC review board to me.

    Perhaps they don’t all agree on one consistent story because they:
    A) Have not been working together since 1992 to get their story straght and to create the illusion of a ‘consensus’.
    B) Are not attempting to silence the many different scientific opinions that exist on the subject in order to distort promote a political agenda.

  13. #13 Brian D
    December 9, 2008

    Grec, you seem to have confused the IPCC reports with the IPCC summary for policymakers. Know the difference, it could save your life.

    Some of these folk have been working together since before 1992. Look at the history of the George C. Marshall Institute, for instance.

    And as for the accusation about suppression and persecution, that’s a serious claim. I presume you have evidence to back it up?

  14. #14 paul
    December 11, 2008

    Anyone care to comment on this, and whether the phrase “tiny minority” still applies.

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=2158072e-802a-23ad-45f0-274616db87e6

  15. #15 paul
    December 12, 2008

    Please. I would like to know the official position of some of you AGW proponents on this list of scientists who have gone on record.

    Is “Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson… formerly of NASA” going to be treated with the same slobbering reverence as NASA’s Gavin Schmidt? Is everything she said going to be treated as gospel?

    At the very least Coby, will you withdraw this page and admit that there is no consensus? maybe even rejoin the debate so as to determine what is going on?

  16. #16 coby
    December 12, 2008

    paul, Inhofe’s list is not very convincing in the slightest, have a look here and at the linked material from Andrew Dessler.

    Consensus does not mean unanimity, so the existence of a few qualified people with differing opinions does not overturn the mountain of scholarship and institutional endorsements presented above. Sorry, it just doesn’t. And the presence of mostly unqualified people demonstrates the opposite of the intent.

    As for Joanne Simpson, it is useful to read some of her own material.

    Decisions have to be made on incomplete information. In this case, we must act on the recommendations of Gore and the IPCC because if we do not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and the climate models are right, the planet as we know it will in this century become unsustainable. But as a scientist I remain skeptical.

    Hardly agrees with Inhofe’s view that the whole theory is a hoax.

    What is Simpson’s area of research? Is she still active?

  17. #17 paul
    December 13, 2008

    When is something a “consensus” then? How can we test whether we have arrived at one?

    You call the situation a “few qualified people with differing opinions” – I characterise it differently. I certainly don’t think it obvious that the people on this list are just obviously less qualified than many of those I see quoted defending AGW.

    And you can always pick on a few people and point out that they say something indefensible that the others would not necessarily agree with – are you saying I can’t point out sensationalist or exaggerated claims from AGW proponents? I can do this all day. For example, Al gore recently said

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=3974505n

    that I can be compared with those who believe the moon-landing was fake or flat-earthers. Freeman Dyson is being put in this category? By AL GORE? This is simply too absurd for words – I bet even many AGW people would not defend this. Yet I don’t claim that your entire argument is invalid on this basis, I instead prefer to attend to the facts.

    If Joanne Simpson has changed her mind, then all the better – this is even stronger. She is a just a single example i chose, but the point is, she has a phd in meteorology and worked at NASA. Are you saying she’s a denier, crackpot, whatever?

    I don’t know here exact area of research no. But please don’t suggest that because this is not someone’s exact field that they can’t possibly have anything valid to say. This is also just ridiculous. On this basis, the number of people who could comment at all on the climate models would be very small indeed. And how could a phd ever be examined? The student always knows more about the topic than the examiner. But examiners who have proven expertise in a related subject matter are trusted to ask questions and, based on the answers, determine how well the argument has been constructed.

    No, the point is that you want the case dismissed before trial, yet there are a large number of people who have backgrounds and expertise that cannot be easily dismissed that do not buy into the hype. You can say they are wrong, but you can’t say they’re not there.

  18. #18 GrecRI
    December 14, 2008

    Some info on the backgrounds and expertise of some in the IPCC (who seem to denigrate those on the other side with similar backgrounds)…

    The IPCC’s Rajendra Pachauri – has no peer-reviewed climate articles to his name. Why? He is an economist and industrial engineer, not a climate scientist.

    Of the 51 UK contributors to AR4 WGII:
    5 – economists
    3 – epidemiologists
    5 – civil engineer or risk management /insurance specialists
    5 – zoologists, entomologists, or biologists
    7 – with geography background
    10 – geophysics, hydrology, climate science or modeling
    15 – “social sciences”

    Not to suggest there is anything wrong with any of those professions, but I get a kick out of how people like Pachauri are often referred to as “Climate Experts”.

  19. #19 coby
    December 14, 2008

    Hi GrecRI,

    WGII is all about impacts and concerns all of the disciplines convered by the authors. WGI is all about the scientific basis of climate change concerns.

    Give us a run down on those authors.

  20. #20 John P
    January 19, 2009

    You can add The American Chemical Society to your list. It’s an “ACS Position Statement.” There is a pdf on the page for download.

    It begins thusly: “Careful and comprehensive scientific assessments have clearly demonstrated that the Earth’s climate system is changing rapidly in response to growing atmospheric burdens of greenhouse gases and absorbing aerosol particles (IPCC, 2007). There is very little room for doubt that observed climate trends are due to human activities. The threats are serious and action is urgently needed to mitigate the risks of climate change.”

  21. #21 Crakar14
    January 20, 2009

    Sorry, but i do not see what all the fuss is about. To me a consensus is simply a group of people that agree with each other, how many people do you need to be considered a consensus? A consensus does not infer proof or fact towards what the consensus are in agreeance with. Therefore 1 person can prove a consensus of thousands to be wrong, agreed? There is no point debating who has the bigger consensus.

    As AGW proponents will continue anyway pointing to the consensus as some form of proof i have a question for them, is Jim Hansen part of this consensus, i assume he is as Coby has listed GISS. So when he opens his mouth and speaks without thinking and says

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/18/jim-hansen-obama

    Is he speaking on behalf of the consensus? i doubt it as he often contradicts what is in the latest IPCC report, one example has been pointed out by Luna the cat the IPCC predicts the Arctic sea ice to increase but yet here we have Hansen saying the opposite.

    So what kind of consensus is this? Obviously Hansen did not discuss his latest diatribe with them. The purpose of a consensus is to discuss new developements as they arise and together come to an agreement on what actions or statements to make next. This did not happen, so in the end all you have is a list of names but there is no consensus.

  22. #22 coby
    January 20, 2009

    Crakar, the list of organizations agree on the statements I presented in the post. This does not mean that everything said by every member or each organization is part of that.

    When there is a complex issue whose assessment is beyond the practical grasp of the majority of policy makers and citizens then a consensus of experts in the field is an important thing to have.

    It is not offered as proof, or even evidence, the AGW is real, only as a rebuttal to the stated denialist talking point.

  23. #23 Crakar14
    January 20, 2009

    Sorry about that Coby i assumed Luna was correct when they stated the IPCC predicted the Arctic sea ice extent to increase as per the 2001 report, on closer examination it appears that Luna was not correct. (probably confused with Arctic and Antarctic) i know i have done the same, easier to say north or south pole i think.

    Anyway as the 2001 report states the North pole will continue to melt and J Hansen has said the same so i will respectfully retract the bit about Hansen not being part of the consensus.

  24. #24 Jim Prall
    February 11, 2009

    Hi Coby.

    I’ve built up a website listing members of working group I (the scientific basis) from IPCC’s AR4 (2007), plus a range of other researchers. I link to their academic or research lab homepage, and fill in a few stats on citations to their work looked up on Google Scholar (with links for readers to see the Google Scholar results directly). I’ve linked this as my “home” page for this post so click on my name to reach the site.

    I’ve also annotated which authors signed any of several public declarations on climate change, both from ‘skeptics’ and ones calling for prompt action to cut greenhouse gas emissions — these I term ‘activist’ appeals.

    I’ve got some analysis on this site itself, and further commentary on my blog “Green Herring” which is linked off the site. For those who question whether the IPCC reports reflect the views of the majority of scientists with relevant expertise, this list offers another way to slice the loaf. Have a look at my listings and see who endorsed the 2008 Union of Concerned Scientists Appeal and the 2007 Bali Climate Declaration, then compare to those who appeared in “The Great Globabl Warming Swindle” or signers of the Manhattan Declaration. I’ll let the listings speak for themselves.

    Jim Prall
    Toronto, Canada

  25. #25 tidal
    February 13, 2009

    Jim Prall is probably already aware of this, but for others in the Greater Toronto Area, there is an excellent series of “distinguished lectures” seminars sponsored by the University of Toronto:
    http://www.cgcs.utoronto.ca/Seminars.htm

    (damn! I justed noticed that Ruddiman was last Tuesday! I thought it was next week! damn!)

  26. #26 erstwhile
    August 23, 2009

    “Science is not determined by peer reviewed journals, its determined by experimentation and evaluation. The results may be published, by certainly not determined by journals.”

    Ah you give the game away there Shane – you’ve never published a paper I suspect. Science is determined ultimately by consensus. It begins with the achievement of consensus amongst a peer review that ones experiments stand up to scrutiny – that one’s work passes the basic scientific test of being worthy of publications. This IS the fundamental unit of modern scientific work – the publication of results in reputable conferences and journals. It builds, through a slow accumulation of evidence ot the development of new theories, that again, published in peer reviewed journals, ultimately change the existing consensus view to accommodate this wondrous new discovery of yours. Sometimes, this might even radically overturn or update accepted theory – congratulations – you get the Nobel. But at every stage, from getting your supervisor to agree to let you run the experiments all the way up to delivering your Nobel prize speech, its about communicating ideas so that ultimately the truth of what you say persuades others to accept your ideas. Consensus all the way.

    Those who can’t get the idea of consensus in science are ultimately confused by how consensus is used in other walks of life and what it means, for example, to achieve consensus in say a union-employer dispute or a peace negotiation. Consensus does not mean compromise. Two entirely different ideas.

    Science is fundamentally about discovering and communicating new knowledge, designing and presenting experiments that persuade.

    That you don’t get that tells us you are either a layman, or a very early PhD student.

    Must say its funny to see the GW deniers hanging out here – suppose its to be expected.

  27. #27 erstwhile
    August 23, 2009

    your are also, Shane, hopelessly out of your depth regarding the basis for genuine contention amongst climate scientists. Theories you refer to re. solar activity etc. are the stuff of wingnut blogs, long discounted. The real argument made by a few isolated scientists such as Lindzen and Dyson, do not debate the basic science as you would try to. What they say is that the evidence and basic theory do not allow us to make far reaching conclusions about likely future trends. Lindzen, for example, argues that human induced global warming (which he does not deny is occurring) can account for only a proportion of warming seen and ultimately is not a problem. Most scientists think he is wrong.

    There are really very very few climate scientists left who challenge the basic theory. They simply question the consequences, pointing to the significant gaps in understanding. Note, they don’t anymore offer any new fundamentally new ideas or explanatory theories. They just do criticism. This is a pretty natural retreat, if you think about it. The consensus has moved on past them, even as they resist, to acknowledge that climate change is a real and present danger. Its good they are around, but it should also be remembered that on the other side of the IPCC are the other bunch of fringe scientists who argue that the IPCC deeply underestimate the dangers. The deniers like to identify the IPCC as extremists in order to portray Lindzen et al. as simply cautious careful scientists. In reality thats the IPCC, and these guys are reactionary in essence, promoting a radical departure from mainstream scientific understanding, right or wrong.

  28. #28 crakar14
    August 23, 2009

    erstwhile,

    The question is, is there a concensus that AGW is alive and well? Yes there is, so does this prove the theory correct?

    Before you answer that question let me say this, there is also a consensus that says AGW is vastly overrated and that CO2 plays nothing more than a bit part.

    So here we have two scientific consensus’s with basically opposing views, does this help us reach a greater understanding of the climate? No a consensus merely says that a group of people agree with each other nothing more nothing less.

    One question i have for you (or anybody else) if the IPCC is 90% sure man is the culprit then where is the 10% of their vast budget being spent to try and find evidence to the contrary?

    I thought a concensus would be 100% sure?

  29. #29 dhogaza
    August 24, 2009

    Before you answer that question let me say this, there is also a consensus that says AGW is vastly overrated and that CO2 plays nothing more than a bit part.

    A phone booth could hold the climate scientists that are part of this so-called “consensus”.

    The consensus you speak of isn’t held by climate scientists, but typically people with no scientific training, such as the much-worshipped Anthony Watts who apparently doesn’t hold as much as an undergraduate degree (in anything).

  30. #30 crakar14
    September 23, 2009

    A phone booth dogaza?

    Follow this link to see how big the anti agw consensus really is (37 pages worth of quotes), also note that many of these people are in fact “expert IPCC reviewers”.

    h.t.t.p://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/un_scientists_speakout.pdf

    My favourite quote is the very last one,

    Nobel Prize Winner for Physics in 1973, IVAR GIAEVER, a fellow of the American Physical
    Society.

    “Global warming has become a new religion.”

    “We frequently hear about the number of scientists who support it. But the number is not important: only whether
    they are correct is important. We don’t really know
    what the actual effect on the global temperature is. There are better ways to spend the money.”

  31. #31 crakar14
    September 24, 2009

    dogaza i just realised what phone booth you were talking about, its the doctors Tardis isnt it. You are a very clever (and funny person).

  32. #32 robert
    October 13, 2009

    The University of Chicago released a survey in January of 2009 which involved surveying all scientists who study climatology through North America Europe and Asia. The results indicate 97% of climate scientists believe that GW is anthropogenically caused… By the way my professor at the University of Oslo is a huge climate change skeptic and what a surprise, not a climatologist… shocking… there’s almost a trend between researchers who study other things than climate and skepticism…

  33. #33 richard pauli
    October 16, 2009

    This is the story of how much we tolerate these members of the modern idiot royalty of pseudoscience. I recall seeing an association of AGW skeptics with denying plate tectonics. And when is the next meeting of the Flat Earth Society? Then there is phlogiston theory, aether, hollow earth, phrenology, Martian canals and even the planet Vulcan (in 1860).

    We used to be amused by such fringe whack-jobs, now their meddling influence – a power that we bestow upon them – is causing great damage. Time for everyone to move along.

  34. #34 fustian
    December 6, 2009

    What a difference a couple of months make?

    Now we know that the raw data has been fudged to “hide the decline”. We know that the whole peer-reviewed process has been subverted. We suddenly see many more legitimate scientists not on board with AGW, and we know that they original data was thrown away!

    We have now seen that the raw New Zealand data shows no warming as does the European dataset put together by the geo-magneticists.

    And there is evidence that both Mann and the CRU guys have pretended there is no urban heat island effect in order to show some warming.

    We also know that their models have failed to predict the temperature of the last decade or so (in their own words).

    There’s a nice word for models that fail to predict anything.

    Wrong.

  35. #35 Chris S.
    December 6, 2009

    Fustian’s last word describes the whole of his post – nice.

    Note the lack of sources to back up the accusations, note the complete lack of awareness that all of his points have been addressed and found wanting, note the complete credulity regarding the misinformation campaign spread across the nets.

    Wrong.

  36. #36 skip
    December 17, 2009

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200911/brownlee-h1n1

    Forgive me if I look like I’m aiding and abetting the enemy, but this link to a nifty Atlantic article I read provides analogies to the global warming debate (and some research I’m working on in my own field, but that need not concern the forum.)

    It provokes interesting questions about how we should regard a scientific “consensus” and how it should impact public policy. The authors interview “dissenters” from the “consensus” position that the flu vaccine improves public health. (To oversimplify, selection biases across groups who do and don’t get the flu shots might cause overestimation of the effectiveness of the intervention– but read the article.)

    I can see how an AGW denier would use this as an analogy: The “cure” might be worse than the “problem” (Dissenters from the vaccine consensus say it causes a false sense of security and diverts people from the simple, everyday behavioral adjustments like washing hands and avoiding contact with the infected. By analogy, the Bjorn Lomborgs of the world might say that carbon emissions don’t solve anything and more realistic responses are within reach. I think his arguments are inane but we could discuss that on another thread.)

    I guess my response would be: Fine, but this doesn’t change the fact that the flu is still a *public health problem* that requires *some* response. There is no threat to the consensus on that.

    Anyway food for thought,

    Skip

  37. #37 dhogaza
    December 17, 2009

    I guess my response would be: Fine, but this doesn’t change the fact that the flu is still a *public health problem* that requires *some* response. There is no threat to the consensus on that.

    There you go … they’re differing on how to respond to a known problem, not denying that influenza exists. They’re not trumpeting stolen Flugate e-mails and quoting them out of context to “prove” that it’s all a hoax based on the fact that home thermometers aren’t always precisely calculated and therefore those reports of 103F fevers can’t be trusted, etc etc. Or that “trick” of adjusting for the temperature differences between oral and rectal thermometer measurements “proves” that people who supposedly have the flu don’t really have fever symptoms.

    That’s the kind of analogy I draw …

  38. #38 skip
    December 17, 2009

    Hehe.

    Doesn’t a prone patient with a rectal thermometer inserted form a “hockey stick”? Hasn’t that been debunked?

    Oh God. Where’s Crakar when I need him?

    LOL.

    Skip

  39. #39 mandas
    December 17, 2009

    skip
    I had a look at your article, and I apologise if I give you the same advice that I have been trying to drum into crakar’s head, but I feel I need to.
    Please don’t rely on blog posts and magazine articles etc for information on scientific issues – they are invariably wrong, or at best, provide only snippets of useful information.
    I read throught the linked article, then decided to do a little research on what studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of the flue vaccines, especially in the “cohort studies” that they were concerned about.
    Unfortunately, the available evidence just does not support the assertions in the article. There have been plenty of cohort studies where other confounding factors such as lifestyle etc do not play a part or have been considered – despite the claims in the article – (in studies of vaccinated health care workers etc), and the findings are unequivocal. Flu vaccinations work. They reduce mortality rates, they reduce the costs associated with hospitisations etc, and they reduce the transmission rates of the disease.
    So in one way I feel you are right – this is analogous to the climate change debate. Unfortunately, the analogy I draw is that people use incorrect information based on inadequate research to draw false conclusions. Sorry about that.

  40. #40 skip
    December 17, 2009

    Huh.

    Well how about that?

    I don’t know how well the cohort studies controlled for selection bias but I imagine those folks knew what they were doing. In any event, I wasn’t citing it as an authority per se (I would stake far less on the flu issue than I would on my view on AGW) but as a conversation starter. But thanks for the insight.

    I’m still not getting my flu shot.

    It will be interesting to see the letters to the editor that come out of this article. No doubt the AMA will have an angle.

    Skip

  41. #41 crakar24
    December 17, 2009

    Mandas,

    Why dont you use your own advice and supply me with a study that shows how CO2 will cause the catastrophic warming (via empirical evidence) that is predicted, your continued failure to produce such a study suggests strongly that you as Skip put so well are full of shit.

    So please produce the requested study or stop bullshitting.

  42. #42 Nils Hafrolic
    March 8, 2010

    > “No one in the climate science community is debating whether or not changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations alter the Greenhouse effect or if the current warming trend is outside of the range of natural variability or if sea levels have risen over the last century. This is where there is a consensus.”

    Ok. This article was written in 2006.
    Do you still affirm this today ?

  43. #43 coby
    March 8, 2010

    Nils,

    I think I was clumsy in my wording on the second of those three points. Specifically, I meant to express that we are outside of the range of unforced natural variability, ie random, chaotic wandering that dominates the year to year global temperatures and can influence short term trends like 10 or 15 year trends. No one currently publishing in the reputable scientific journals is providing evidence that there is no significant warning. (“No one” may be falsifiable in the strictest sense, but I am comfortable saying it in the vernacular, where 1 out of 1000 is close enough to zero to say “no one”. Let’s remember the context is one of establishing the existence of a consensus).

    So with those qualification, yes I believe this is and was the case.

    How about you? Do you think that there is an active scientific controversy about any of those points?

  44. #44 Brunnen
    March 9, 2010

    To all you AGW True Believers:

    How’s your faith in the IPCC working out for you?

    Having fun defending their falsified data, fudged statistics and outright bullshit (for example, there’s a bunch of glaciers in the Himalyas that are going to be around a LOT longer than the IPCC guestimated)?

    For years we’ve been told to trust the IPCC, they’re the leading authority on climate change after all. If they’re the leaders, second place must belong to a half-trained chimp.

  45. #45 Joseph
    March 9, 2010

    @Brunnen: I don’t know who you’re talking to, but I doubt many truly pro-science people would take anything the IPCC says on ‘faith’ alone. I, for one, do not accept the IPCC assessments on tropical cyclones and sea level rise, at the very least, and I have my reasons.

  46. #46 Brunnen
    March 9, 2010

    And there’s another myth which, unsurprisingly, isn’t debunked here.

    I like the way you implied that being skeptical about AGW means one is not ‘truly pro-science’.

    I AM pro-science. That’s why I’m opposed to the IPCC and everything it stands for.

    When you falsify data, massage statistics and try to pass off bullsh*t as hard fact, you’re not pro-science, you’re abusing science for political ends.

    Or as you know it, the IPCC.

  47. #47 Joseph
    March 9, 2010

    I like the way you implied that being skeptical about AGW means one is not ‘truly pro-science’.

    It depends. I suppose you could truly be skeptical of AGW based on purely scientific reasons. Most of the time, though, it appears to be the result of political thinking. You can tell by the failure of ‘sceptics’ to accept that their arguments have been shown to be bogus. Case in point: google “Tamino Wattergate.”

  48. #48 Brunnen
    March 9, 2010

    This is where I can at least claim pure motives. I lean politically to the left. By American standards I would be considered very liberal (I’m European). By the standards of American conservatives, I would be considered a damn commie pinko, or some such nonsense.

    I’m skeptical of AGW because the evidence presented in its favour is shockingly weak, not because I want to advance any conservative agendas.

  49. #49 skip
    March 9, 2010

    Brunnen:

    Tell me which of these is not true:

    1. You have never studied this issue rigorously at all.

    2. You have no formal training in science.

    3. You recently read an editorial/blog–perhaps climateaudit–and now you think you have the world figured out.

    4. You have never attempted to understand the other side of this position (i.e. what are the *best* arguments in favor of the AGW hypothesis.)

    5. You’re very young (i.e., 18-22).

  50. #50 Brunnen
    March 9, 2010

    1. False

    2. True, I have no doctorate or degree in a science subject. This does not mean I can’t understand the subject, merely that some of us had families to look after and couldn’t spend a few years dicking around a university.

    3. False. I have been an AGW skeptic for about 2 years now. Nor have I ever visited climateaudit.whatever. I’m interested in the science of climate, not guesswork and opinion.

    4. Incredibly False. Until about 2 years ago, I was Mr.AGW. I was completely committed to the fiction and had no reason to doubt it, until I scratched the surface.

    5. I’m 35.

    It’s interesting to see how you try to pigeonhole people though. No doubt the fact that I’m not a climate scientist will be used as evidence that I couldn’t possibly understand something as complicated as AGW.

    But then I have that in common with around 80% of the members of the IPCC…

  51. #51 skip
    March 9, 2010

    Not trying . . . just what I’ve seen over and over so if I’m wrong on some of my speculations then yeah you called me on it.

    But there still some dead giveaways in your statements:

    “AGW True Believers . . . your faith in the IPCC . . . falsified data, fudged statistics . . . bunch of glaciers in the Himalyas[sp] . . . ”

    Brunnen: Its got nothing to do with your love of science. You’re just parroting things you’ve picked up on biased blogs and editorials. You’re parroting secondhand things from agenda-driven sources (and yes I don’t know exactly which ones because they all recycle the same crap but if its not ClimateAudit its Heritage Foundation or Competitive Enterprise Institute or one of the half-dozen others that specialize in climate disinformation).

    You’re right there are plenty of subtleties to yourself and your acclaimed skepticism that I can’t figure out from a post but you need to know something up front, Brunnen: People who post like you come in and out of this blog again and again and again and most leave pretty battered after Mandas et al are done with them.

    Until about 2 years ago, I was Mr.AGW. I was completely committed to the fiction and had no reason to doubt it, until I scratched the surface.

    Ok, Brunnen. Which surface did you scratch? What did you find? So far all you you’ve done is parrot the same talking points that circle the blogosphere.

    What turned “Mr. AGW” into a ‘truly pro-science’ climate? This I truly want to see.

    I’ll make a prediction based on experience: If you attempt to use any empirical references *at all* to show us how you came to your enlightened climate skepticism it will be things that have been destroyed multiple times: CRU email hacks, the hockey stick, its snowing in Arizona, and a host of other tidbits that circle the denialsphere like a rash for which the truly committed AGW deniers have no immunity.

    Brunnen, again. This is just based on experience. The reason I persist in reading/posting on this blog is because I am genuinely interested in the Next Great Argument that disproves AGW (with the one proviso that I have to have the technical comprehension to understand it).

    Maybe you’ll come up with it, but I doubt it. Its sounds like an insult, I know, but I’m giving you pearls, Bru. Folks that start out here posting about AGW “religion” etc., are a dime a dozen.

  52. #52 Joseph
    March 9, 2010

    The apostate gambit is a classic in discussions of politically controversial scientific matters, most typically evolution.

    “Until about 2 years ago, I was Mr.AGW. I was completely committed to the fiction and had no reason to doubt it, until I scratched the surface.”

  53. #53 Brunnen
    March 9, 2010

    No no, I really did buy the whole AGW thing. No gambits, no ploys, just my life.

    Skip: I’m sure that for every flaw in AGW theory I pointed out someone would be ready with a fairly plausable, well rehearsed answer. So let’s not go over a point by point and say we did. I’ll say I raised the flaws, you’ll say you gave the doctrinal answers, I won’t buy it and we’ll all be happy. Deal?

    However, I will raise one issue, one that was addressed, but not satisfactorily answered on this site.

    Temperature records. We have 150 years worth, and that’s it. Everything before that is a best guess. An educated guess, to be sure, but still a guess.

    Tree rings, coral growth and other scrying methods are no substitute for accurate data. If they were, we wouldn’t bother with thermometers…

  54. #54 Joseph
    March 9, 2010

    Temperature records. We have 150 years worth, and that’s it. Everything before that is a best guess. An educated guess, to be sure, but still a guess.

    So? Even if we had no temperature records, CO2 still absorbs radiation at certain wavelengths. This has been measured, and there are very precise databases with data on this (e.g. HITRAN).

    The temperature record is a scientific bonus. It shows that what should happen, based on scientific prediction, is actually happening in the real world.

    In fact, when Tyndall came up with the greenhouse effect, what temperature record was there exactly? How about when Arrhenius came up with the first estimate of climate sensitivity?

  55. #55 Brunnen
    March 9, 2010

    Oh no you don’t.

    One of the most popular claims is that CO2 is rising at an unprecedented rate and that the rise in temperature is ‘shockingly fast’.

    Compared to what? 150 years ago?

    Yeah, that makes sense. On a planet that’s had life on it for 4 billion years, let’s base our assumptions on 150 years of reliable data.

  56. #56 Joseph
    March 9, 2010

    One of the most popular claims is that CO2 is rising at an unprecedented rate and that the rise in temperature is ‘shockingly fast’.

    CO2 is rising at an unprecedented rate, and the rate of temperature change is exceedingly fast.

    Compared to what? 150 years ago?

    For comparison, consider how fast the Earth moved out of the last glacial maximum. Let’s say it’s 4C in 4000 years — ballpark figures. That’s 0.1C per century. Compare that to 1.6C per century.

    There are some uncertainties regarding historical temperature reconstructions, but there’s a range we can work with. The last glacial maximum was not 20C colder than today, for example.

    I’m not saying that at no time in the history of the Earth there was a faster rate of temperature change. This in no way invalidates the greenhouse effect, or the seriousness of it. Again, Arrhenius estimated climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling without the benefit of an observed warming trend.

  57. #57 GFW
    March 9, 2010

    Joseph nails the rate-of-change issue. (I’d actually ballpark the rise out of the last glacial maximum at about twice that, but it’s still an order of magnitude slower than the current rate.)

    Ah yes, the old “life existed on Earth for 4 billion years under a wide range of temperatures” argument. Two problems with that:
    1. The fossil record tends to show mass extinctions around times of rapid temperature change.
    2. We really only care about temperatures (and sea levels, and ocean pH) conducive to the continuation of modern human civilization, not “will the cockroaches survive”.

    Finally:

    I’m sure that for every flaw in AGW theory I pointed out someone would be ready with a fairly plausable, well rehearsed answer. So let’s not go over a point by point and say we did. I’ll say I raised the flaws, you’ll say you gave the doctrinal answers, I won’t buy it and we’ll all be happy. Deal?

    No deal. It’s not about what is plausible or well rehearsed. It’s about what is scientifically rigorous and part of a cohesive whole. Real science is. The denialist arguments are not. It’s too bad that people who buy into denialist views miss out on the real scientific debates that takes place as our understanding is advanced.

  58. #58 GFW
    March 9, 2010

    Bleh – editing sentence form can make one look illiterate. I was deciding whether “debate that takes place” or “debates that take place” was the better wording. So naturally I wound up mixing the two.

  59. #59 skip
    March 9, 2010

    First, the trash talk:

    “To all you AGW True Believers . . . How’s your faith . . . ?
    Having fun defending the [the IPCC’s] falsified data, fudged statistics and outright bullshit . . .

    Next: the self-aggrandizement:

    “I AM pro-science. That’s why I’m opposed to the IPCC . . . “
    “I’m interested in the science of climate, not guesswork and opinion.”
    “. I was completely committed to the fiction . . . until I scratched the surface.”

    But when asked, ”What turned “Mr. AGW” into a ‘truly pro-science’ climate? This I truly want to see.”, the response

    . . . let’s not go over a point by point and say we did. I’ll say I raised the flaws, you’ll say you gave the doctrinal answers, I won’t buy it and we’ll all be happy. Deal?

    Translation: You want to make big claims about AGW believers’ dogmatism, promote your take on the matter as scientifically driven, but to be granted a gentleman’s reprieve when someone asks you to justify your rejection of the overwhelming preponderance of the climate-science trained community.

    I mean, come on, Bru. Put yourself in my shoes. What am I supposed to be at this point—convinced by your statements of anything? Or is your appearance here nothing more than the agenda of 9 out of 10 skeptics who post—to taunt?

    Except for:

    “Temperature records . . . “ We have 150 years worth, and that’s it. Everything before that is a best guess. An educated guess, to be sure, but still a guess.

    So we can safely conclude we have nothing to fear from AGW . . . amazing. Remember what I predicted:

    If you [Brunnen} attempt to use any empirical references *at all* to show us how you came to your enlightened climate skepticism it will be things that have been destroyed multiple times . . .

  60. #60 mandas
    March 9, 2010

    skip

    Why are we even replying to this brunnen guy? He comes on and makes dogmatic statements with no empirical evidence to back them up, and makes ludicrous logical fallacies qabout life on earth being around for 4 billion years therefore there is nothing to worry about. He makes wild assertions about the data record which is based on a complete lack of understanding about how science is conducted. And finally, and most laughably, he suggests that he is pro-science, but openly states that he will refuse to accept any evidence which supports a position that he doesn’t agree with. He has no training or education in science, and I suspect (I admit without any evidence other than his obvious lack of knowledge in any area) that he has NEVER read a journal or even a science paper in any discipline, let alone climate science, despite his claims to an interest in the subject.

    And just for your edification there brunnen, I also raised 3 kids, but that didn’t stop me attending university and getting two undergraduate degrees and two post-graduate degrees, as well as working for a living at the same time. My wife also attends university as an undergraduate student, and works part time as well. So don’t use the excuse that you can’t ‘dick around at university’ because you are too busy raising a familoy. You don’t have an education because you are too lazy and are happy being ignorant.

    This guy isn’t even a denier – he’s a troll.

  61. #61 coby
    March 9, 2010

    I think you are right, mandas, (happy to be shown wrong Brunnen!) but I do find skip’s thorough and well supported dissection of Brunnen’s comments to be valuable and interesting.

    It is always a tough judgment call when deciding “do I” and “if I do how” about responding…

  62. #62 Nils Hafrolic
    March 9, 2010

    > “Do you think that there is an active scientific controversy about any of those points?”

    Actually I do.
    Let’s get things right. I do think, or have been made to believe that, there is no consensus on these three points TOGETHER. (on just point one I might be more inclined to think there might be somthing closer to a “consensus”.)
    – warming
    – catastrophic
    – man made

    I guess you have seen that documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. You may probably be more aware than me on the details : are the scientists testifying (against MMGW) in this film the only and very few you are referring to ?

    And what about these 30 000 or so scientists suing Al Gore for his “documentary” AIT ? (once again you might enlighten me on the subject). Or maybe we both agree that, MMGW or not, Al Gore is indeed a great big fraud ?

    Regards,

    Nils

  63. #63 skip
    March 9, 2010

    Why are we even replying to this brunnen guy?

    Probably because I lack the wit to respond to Maxwell. That’s your job. Leave these drive-bys to me . . . they’re a waste of your time and talent.

  64. #64 mandas
    March 9, 2010

    Oh skip, you do flatter me so. I happen to think you are very witty and thorough in your analyses, but I will leave drive-bys to you then (but I do want to say something to Nils).

    Nils

    You really do need to read a little wider. Firstly, the concept of whether or not there is a consensus in the debate is meaningless. The vast majority of climate scientists accept that climate change is occurring, and it is anthropogenic. Some disagree, but then again, some so-called scientists (including people with degrees in Biology) don’t accept evolution either. There certainly is debate over the severity of climate change, but in reality that’s the only real debate there is. There is no debate over the observed fact of warming and there is no debate that the causes are anthropogenic. Just because you don’t accept it, doesn’t mean there is a controversy. The only controversies around this debate are over red herrings such as hacked emails and minor errors in the IPCC report – there are no scientific controversies at all.
    As far as your other points go, the “Great Global Warming Swindle’ has been soundly debunked in so many places I don’t even know where to begin. Many of the scientists quoted in the movie are well known proponents of anthropogenic climate change, and are VERY upset about being misquoted and taken out of context. No-one with any credibility still refers to the movie – although it is still a favourite of many in the denialist movement. If you want a reasonable treatise on the film, have a look at this video (yes it is a youtube video and not a science paper, but no real scientist takes the film seriously):
    http://www.youtube.com/user/greenman3610#p/u/19/boj9ccV9htk

    The claim about 30,000 scientists suing Al Gore is pretty close to the silliest thing I have ever heard. Quite simply, it isn’t true. Maybe you are thinking about the so-called 30,000 scientists who have supposedly signed a petition against global warming. I will once again refer you to someone a little more erudite than me:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/greenman3610#p/u/4/Py2XVILHUjQ

    But even if it were true that Al Gore was being sued, so what? Al Gore isn’t a scientist, he is a politician, and anyone who knows anything about climate science knows there were many errors in the film. But that doesn’t change the facts as they are known to science. Perhaps if you did some reading at sites other than flatearth.com you might discover some of these things.

  65. #65 mandas
    March 9, 2010

    Nils

    Oh, and if you have ANY doubts about the dishonesty being perpertrated by many in the denialist movement, you should have a read of the (for want of a better word) paper which was circulated with the petition supposedly signed by those 30,000 scientists. Here it is here:

    http://www.petitionproject.org/gw_article/GWReview_OISM150.pdf

    This is nothing other than outlandish propoganda for the fossil fuel industry. If you can read this, and cannot find dozens of outright lies and distortions, then you either have no scientific knowledge at all, or have been completely blinded by your own prejudices. It staggers me that ANYONE who has at least a high school education could be taken in, because it is so obviously and patently flawed. And this is the scariest thing about the whole issue; that there are people out there in positions of influence who are swayed by such obviously flawed propoganda.

  66. #66 maxwell
    March 9, 2010

    coby,

    I think there is fairly unanimous consensus on CO2 being a greenhouse gas, its concentration increasing with time, those increases due to people and thermometer readings going up. There is substantial observational data to support these claims.

    When it comes to claim

    ‘the climate is undergoing a pronounced warming trend that is beyond the range of natural variability.’

    I think things become a bit more muddled and the perceived consensus on this issue in 2006 may not still exist, if it existed at all.

    In Hans von Storch’s text book ‘Statistical Analysis in Climate Research’, section 7.4 undertakes the statistical approaches to detecting the ‘CO2 Signal’. From the methodological considerations section (7.4.2), von Storch and his co-author write,

    ‘The main methodological obstacle (to detecting the CO2 signal, my edit) is the lack of observation that samples the ‘control’ regime. Most of the available instrumental record consists of surface observations taken during the last century or so. This record may be contaminated by the greenhouse gas signal, but, more importantly, it not large enough to provide us with a reliable estimate of the natural variability of the climate on the time scales on which the climate change is expected to occur.’

    I understand that Dr. von Storch is climate scientist and this text is aimed at students of climate science, ie atmospheric sciences, geophysics and geology who learn to study this topic. I also don’t think that extending our record by the ten years interceding the publishing of this text and the present-day has put us in the regime where we are capable to claim we now know the true climate variability.

    You can check the google view of the book with the search ‘CO2 signal’ for yourself if you’d like.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=5QgAfL1N6koC&dq=statistical+analysis+in+climate+research&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=he2WS8bFM4mz8QbCxMVA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=co2%20signal&f=false

    (that’s long)

    Possibly more importantly, much of the debate concerning knowing the climate variability deals with the field of paleo-climatology. This particular field has received a great deal of ‘press’ in the four years since the writing of this post.

    That last summer (before the whole ‘Climategate’ thing), the journal Climate Change from Springer ran an issue containing three articles considering the problem of ‘divergence’. Jan Esper’s review of a paper by Loethe (remember him) I think sums up what I am beginning to find problematic with the presentation of an argument concerning how well we know the natural climate variability based on paleo-climatological studies. He and his co-author state,

    ‘DP (divergence problem) was first described over a decade ago by Jacoby and D’Arrigo and since then has been reported from a variety of sites mainly concentrated towards the Northern Hemisphere boreal forest zone. DP effectively describes a disassociation of late twentieth century (typically post-1960) tree growth parameters, such as ring width or maximum latewood density, from the regional temperature record. This disassociation does not necessary comprise a weakening of the high-frequency climate signal. That is, inter-annual tree-ring variation may be predominantly controlled by temperatures, but the long-term warming trend is not (fully) retained in the tree-ring time series. Such a situation is of importance, as it limits the suitability of tree-ring data to reconstruct long-term climate fluctuation, particularly during periods that might have been as warm or even warmer than the late twentieth century.’

    That is, on short time periods (inverse of high-frequency) tree rings can be suitable to reconstruct climate, but because they diverge as proxies for an unknown reason, which Esper explores in a different article in that issue of Climate Change, longer time period reconstructions probably do not show us the full natural variability of climate.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/w245h94527g4/?p=19a26a56fdaf44919dfa9cf257ca779e&pi=10

    There is the issue of Climate Change containing these articles if you would like to check them out. The article that contains the quote from above is titled ‘Divergence pitfalls in tree-ring research’.

    All in all, I find it hard to believe with a range of possible equilibrium climate sensitivities from 1 to 4.5 degrees C (AR4 chapter 10) that the last point of consensus is very meaningful either. Especially since the probability the IPCC gives to the middle of this distribution is based on there simply being a higher density of such sensitivities in that region of the range. As ad hoc a method of determination of such an important quantity I’ve ever seen.

    Luckily for us, consensus is a moot point.

  67. #67 mandas
    March 9, 2010

    maxwell

    In reference to your recent post, where you state (inter alia)
    “….When it comes to claim: ‘the climate is undergoing a pronounced warming trend that is beyond the range of natural variability.’ I think things become a bit more muddled and the perceived consensus on this issue in 2006 may not still exist, if it existed at all….”

    Well no. There is quite a lot of consensus on this issue. You refer in your post to Hans von Storch and his book on “Statistical Analysis in Climate Research”, and provide the following quote in an attempt to suggest that the current climate signals may not be distinguishable from natural variability because of a lack of a ‘control signal':

    “….The main methodological obstacle is the lack of observation that samples the ‘control’ regime. Most of the available instrumental record consists of surface observations taken during the last century or so. This record may be contaminated by the greenhouse gas signal, but, more importantly, it not large enough to provide us with a reliable estimate of the natural variability of the climate on the time scales on which the climate change is expected to occur…”.

    Well firstly, you are quite correct in your assessment of von Storch as a climate scientist. In fact, he appeared before U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, on July 19, 2006 , where he said (inter alia):

    “…Based on the scientific evidence, I am convinced that we are facing anthropogenic climate change brought about by the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere…”

    (from: http://archives.energycommerce.house.gov/reparchives/108/Hearings/07192006hearing1987/Storch.pdf )

    So whether or not he believes that the current climate changes are statistically distinguishable from natural variability or not, he certainly believes in anthropogenic climate change.

    However, back to your post. Could I ask that when you provide a quote from a paper or book, you at least put in the whole quote rather than omitting the last sentence (I won’t accuse you of quote mining, I am sure it was just an oversight). If you do, we will be able to track down some of the references a lot easier. But fortunately I tend to read all the information that people link or refer to, so I discovered an interesting paper (Sanger et al 1991) in the reference list which happens to address exactly the point that von Storch was making. Here is the link here:
    http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=4999182

    Of course, this is hardly new information or an unknown revelation that no-one has thought of. The IPCC addressed the issue in their reports here (which included Hergel – referenced by von Storch in his book – as an author):
    http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/pdf/TAR-12.PDF

    So I am not sure what point you are trying to make. Yes there are difficulties in distinguishing the anthropogenic signal from natural variability and noise, but the people who do these things for a living have thought about it and appear to have adequately addressed the issue. And I am not sure what point you are trying to make with regard the divergence problem in the dendrochronological record post 1960. This issue has been done to death here and on other blogs that I know you post on (eg Island of Doubt). If it is an attempt to support the point re a lack of a clear control signal, then that has been addressed on both links I provided. I am well known for my criticisms of the dendrochronological record (just ask dhogoza), but don’t forget that tree rings are not the only proxy datasets used to reconstruct the historical temperature record.

  68. #68 crakar24
    March 9, 2010

    Hi Mandas,

    Did you whatch insight last night about rising sea levels? There was not much consensus about that.

    I am posting today from Woomera.

    Here is a link to it

    http://www.woomera.com.au/

    This also has a link to where i work.

    A link for what we are doing

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/indepth/woomera-hosts-first-hifire-hypersonic-test-flight/story-e6frewsr-1225715365056

    This is from the last launch this one is similar.

    Until tomorrow

    Crakar

  69. #69 mandas
    March 9, 2010

    crakar

    Your project looks interesting. Have heard of the scramjet program before, but not sure what the long term practical applications would be, other than weapons technology. Isn’t fuel load one of the drawbacks to developing a practical application?

    Didn’t see the Insight program, but I was up to other things last night.

    The Operational Group structure has changed a lot since my day. I am ex Maritime Patrol Group (now part of SRG), but I was around before it was even a Group, and spent my last years in staff jobs in places like Sydney and Canberra.
    Have fun in that exotic location!

  70. #70 Brunnen
    March 10, 2010

    If only you guys could see yourselves from the outside.

    You hear only what supports your beliefs and attack anything else. Even to the point of defending trash like the hockey stick or discredited organisations like the IPCC.

    And I’M the dogmatic one.

    Your faith is so strong you’ve even managed to invent your very own Satan. The ‘denialist movement’.

    The WHAT? I hate to be the one to break it to you, but AGW skeptics don’t go to meetings in abandoned power stations in black robes, read from the necronomicom and plot how to release more CO2 into the atmosphere.

    There is no movement. Just a whole lot of people who won’t swallow whatever junk they’re fed.

  71. #71 Nils Hafrolic
    March 10, 2010

    Mandas,

    > “There is no debate over the observed fact of warming ”
    There my research has led me to agree with that.

    > “and there is no debate that the causes are anthropogenic. (…) ”
    There my research has led me to fairly question that. (It’s not really a question of accepting it or not, rather more a question of not denying the existence of the very ones denying)

    >”As far as your other points go, the “Great Global Warming Swindle’ has been soundly debunked in so many places ”
    I have indeed read that, although “many places” might be an over-optimistic assessment.

    > “I don’t even know where to begin. Many of the scientists quoted in the movie are well known proponents of anthropogenic climate change, and are VERY upset about being misquoted and taken out of context. ”

    Read that too. Well, one at least, from what I gather. And he does not dismiss the value and truth of what he expresses.

    > “If you want a reasonable treatise on the film, have a look at this video ”

    Thanks for the links, I will def be having a look.

    > “But even if it were true that Al Gore was being sued, so what? Al Gore isn’t a scientist, he is a politician, and anyone who knows anything about climate science knows there were many errors in the film. But that doesn’t change the facts as they are known to science. Perhaps if you did some reading at sites other than flatearth.com you might discover some of these things.”

    Well it seems with hindsight Al Gore was grossly out to scare the world and make big bucks out of it. I will not use this as an argument against MMGW, clearly as you have stated it cannot, but you might agree with me that this does not serve the cause of MMGW as far as the layman is concerned.
    (I don’t read flatearth.com)

    Regards,

    Nils

    PS : thanks for this site, I have gone from believer to denier to (right now) almost agnostic.

  72. #72 skip
    March 10, 2010

    You hear only what supports your beliefs . . .

    At least we can identify what supports our beliefs. Can you?

    . . . and attack anything else. Even to the point of defending trash like the hockey stick or discredited organisations like the IPCC.

    I suppose you cannot even see the hypocrisy in this statement.

    Bru: You know nothing of the hockeystick but something you got secondhand from a blog. You’re knowledge of the IPCC is equally primitive.

    I hate to be the one to break it to you, but AGW skeptics don’t go to meetings in abandoned power stations in black robes, read from the necronomicom and plot how to release more CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Wow. That really cuts me to the quick. You swear?

  73. #73 Joseph
    March 10, 2010

    @Brunnen: In your own words, explain the problems with the hockey stick reconstruction. Convince us it’s broken.

  74. #74 Brunnen
    March 10, 2010

    Firstly, I don’t need to convince you of anything. Believe whatever nonsense you like, it’s no skin off my back.

    My main problem is simple. Proxy records are unreliable. We have 150 years of reliable temperature records and that’s it.

    As I’ve said earlier, using tree rings et al is little better than scrying. Not only that, but the further back in time one goes, the less reliable proxy records become.

  75. #75 Joseph
    March 10, 2010

    @Brunnen: You didn’t say the hockey stick data is unreliable. You said it’s trash. Is “trash” a scientific or political assessment, and what is it based on?

    What do you make of Borehole-based and glacier-based reconstructions, among others?

  76. #76 skip
    March 10, 2010

    I am curious how you arrived at your certainty that

    using tree rings et al is little better than scrying.

    Given that you

    couldn’t spend a few years dicking around a university.

    You are quick to inform us that

    I don’t need to convince you of anything.

    Which, given your method of debate, is probably for the best for your sake, but it begs a question: What *are* you trying to accomplish?

  77. #77 mandas
    March 10, 2010

    Brunnen

    Thanks for provided this quote at post #74:

    “….My main problem is simple. Proxy records are unreliable. We have 150 years of reliable temperature records and that’s it…”

    So I take it from that statement that the reason you don’t accept AGW is because you believe that because we only have 150 years of accurate records then we are unable to make any accurate determinations of current and future changes and trends in climate. You have made this point several times, so it is obviously important to you.

    Is that a true summary of your position? If so, then I (we) will address the point. But I don’t want to waste my time by providing a detailed deconstruction, with links to papers and evidence, only to have you simply ignore it or follow it up with another issue.

    How about you act like the skeptic you claim to be, and be ‘pro-science’. In other words, have an open mind and discuss the issue based on evidence, and then come to a conclusion and adopt a position based on that evidence, not a dogmatic, predetermined viewpoint – that’s a trait of creationists and their ilk. So please confirm on what bases you do not accept AGW so we can have a rational discussion on the issue.

  78. #78 maxwell
    March 10, 2010

    mandas wrote

    ‘Yes there are difficulties in distinguishing the anthropogenic signal from natural variability and noise, but the people who do these things for a living have thought about it and appear to have adequately addressed the issue.’

    Based on what? Because of the TAR’s authors include someone von Storch discusses in the methodologies section of his text book? Is that your argument? I didn’t see much more than that.

    As for von Storch’s testimony for Congress, since I stated that I think there is consensus concerning the source of CO2, I appreciate you re-iterating my point for me. It’s very kind of you.

    You said,

    ‘So whether or not he believes that the current climate changes are statistically distinguishable from natural variability or not, he certainly believes in anthropogenic climate change.’

    Actually, since Coby is presenting a argument that claims such a statistically significant distinguishability (is that a word?) is a matter of consensus. So, as a climate scientist, I would think Dr. von Storch’s opinion on this specific issue would be of interest. At least to me.

    ‘I won’t accuse you of quote mining…’

    What is quote mining? I was merely presenting a representative portion of a larger argument concerning the limitations of being able to measure how climate is changing due to changes in human activity. Since you can go read the rest of the book at your leisure, if you can find sections that contradict such an argument, then you’re free to present them.

    Arguments necessitate evidence rather than links to websites or documents with statements along the lines of ‘there should be something that supports my position here’. I can’t even find a website where one is able to see the journal that published the first journal you linked to.

    For someone who has such a strong desire to be part of this discussion, you sure present a straggler of an argument most of the time.

  79. #79 mandas
    March 10, 2010

    maxwell

    “…..Based on what? Because of the TAR’s authors include someone von Storch discusses in the methodologies section of his text book? Is that your argument? I didn’t see much more than that….”

    Then I guess you need to actually read the documents in the links that I provide.

    “….As for von Storch’s testimony for Congress, since I stated that I think there is consensus concerning the source of CO2, I appreciate you re-iterating my point for me. It’s very kind of you….”

    Looks like you didn’t actually read what von Storch said then. He did much more than suggest that atmospheric CO2 was anthropogenic, he said:

    “…I am convinced that we are facing anthropogenic climate change…”

    Is there any part of that statement you don’t understand?

    “…What is quote mining? I was merely presenting a representative portion of a larger argument concerning the limitations of being able to measure how climate is changing due to changes in human activity. …”

    No, you weren’t. Stop being disengenuous. You obviously read the relevant paragraph in the book (did you read any more, or were you just directed to that quote by someone else?). And since you did read the paragraph, you would realise that the last sentence (the one you omitted) said this:

    “…In the next subsection we summarize the approach to this problem developed by Hergel et al [172] 16….”

    And if you read the bottom of the page, you will also clearly see that footnote 16 states:

    “…There is extensive literature on climate change detection. Some additional important entry poitns to the recent literature include Bartlett and Schlesinger (23), Bell (38,39), Hasselmann (168), Hergel et al (172), Karoly et al (214), Mitchell et al (279), North, Kim and Shen (297), Parker et al (303), Santer et al (339) and Stevens and North (359), Santer et al (340) provde an extensive overview….”

    In other words, these papers – and I refered you to the Santer paper – address the very issue that you think is the problem, ie how to detect the anthropogenic signal. And you knew that, which is why you deliberately left that last sentence out of your quote.

    You may accuse me of presenting a ‘straggler of an argument’, but your arguments seem to be nothing but lies, cherry picking and quote mining. But then again, you are a denialist so I would expect nothing better.

  80. #80 mandas
    March 10, 2010

    maxwell said:

    “…Arguments necessitate evidence rather than links to websites or documents with statements along the lines of ‘there should be something that supports my position here’. I can’t even find a website where one is able to see the journal that published the first journal you linked to…”

    That’s the problem isn’t it? I said nothing about ‘there should be something that supports my position here’. I provided you with a link to a paper that is published in a science journal. Just because you either couldn’t access it or simply didn’t read it is not my fault.

    Papers published in journals are exactly that – published in journals. They are not all placed on open websites for all and sundry to read. Those of us who work for institutions that have a strong focus on science provide us with the wherewithall to access those journals and read the entire paper, rather than just the abstract which is freely available.

    Apparently you do not work for such an institution.

  81. #81 skip
    March 10, 2010

    strong discussion.

    Max: Thank you for your diligent dissent.

    Mandas: Thank you for your diligent retorts.

    I’m a dimwit myself but appreciate these exchanges as a spectator.

  82. #82 maxwell
    March 11, 2010

    mandas,

    I do in fact work for such an institution and have access to as many if not more of the published literature in any field of study as you. I have had von Storch’s in my hands after getting it from my university’s library allowing me to read most of the chapter on signal detection in general and how such methods are extended CO2 detection.

    As far as quote mining goes, the section I cite stands on its own. Just because some researchers have decided to try to find such a signal does not mean that we know natural climate variability or that there is consensus on such an issue. If you have read that section of the book, you also know that von Storch points out that mean temperatures may not even be the measurement necessary to find such a signal. There is also a section of the book toward the end of that very chapter that points out all the problems with Hergel’s approach. Since I don’t have it in front of me (it’s not part of the Google view), I’m not going to speculate on what it says at the moment. Am I going to call you disingenuous for not including that? Nope.

    I will say that you have to PROVE that these citations you claim support your argument (what’s your argument again?) that the claim that there is consensus on the current warming being outside the extent of natural climate variability. I agree with you about anthropogenic sources of CO2 so I am having a hard time understanding how you’re confused about my ability to read when what you have provided in terms of quotes from Congressional testimony seems to support such a claim. I again thank you for buffering my argument.

    The journal that contains the article in your response to my first comment, however, does not have a website either because it is no longer in existence or exists at the periphery of the journals in atmospheric sciences. My university’s library catalog does not have any issues of this journal, in paper or electronically, either.

    Since I am part of the one of elite research communities in the world in this field, I would imagine that this journal does not have much significance. The link you provided did not even have an abstract either. Another sign that this journal may or may not have had its act together in the first place.

    As to this point concerning my going and educating myself on your points, I have a great deal to do in my own life as most researchers do. If you would like make an argument, then make the damn thing. Don’t fall behind this wall of ‘you need to do x, y and z when I provide a link’. That’s not an argument. That is implicitly saying that something at this source supports your position, which you do a rather poor job of making known to me.

    Most importantly, if you think that somehow pointing out that an individual does not have access to the kinds of information you have access is an argument against the logic of such a person’s position, think again. Arguments demand logically drawn conclusions about the facts concerning the issue at hand, in this case natural climate variability. Had I not been part of a university community, your pointing out this fact is neither here nor there when it comes to this issue. Because you rely on these and other arguments including ‘quote mining’ or pigeonholing me as a ‘denialist’ pretty much proves to me that this should be the last response I make to your comments. Maybe that will change if you have something substantive to say, but otherwise take care and good luck.

  83. #83 skip
    March 11, 2010

    Arguments necessitate evidence rather than links to websites or documents with statements along the lines of ‘there should be something that supports my position here’.

    Following what I can with this, Max, but I would ask you: Would you be willing to direct this statement toward some of our less sophisticated contrarians who have posted here (i.e. Peter of Sydney, Crakar, Scottar, etc)?

  84. #84 maxwell
    March 11, 2010

    Skip,

    I definitely would, but since the rest of you guys do such an outstanding job of pointing out the flaws with their arguments, I don’t see a reason to pile on. I leave those comments for blogs by contrarians who muster up stupid arguments like ‘saturation’ as a reason to not care about CO2 emissions. I do feel that I am a balanced critic, though I admit that my contribution here would lead to a different conclusion.

    Those particular individuals and most who come for the so-called ‘dump and run’ usually do not find the most nuanced ways to communicate their concerns with arguments being made here. I try to do a better of this, lo I do fail at times. I think this failure serves more to push to be better at trying to make clear points.

    Sometimes that necessitates using quotes that are representative of a larger argument and giving anyone who is concerned the chance to see if said quote is taken in context or not. I think I do a pretty good job of that.

    I don’t think that crakar, peter or most others who may disagree with Coby’s conclusions do a very good job of arguing their points either. Having had a clear up a couple of crakar’s point, I think I can say that conclusively. But because others engage in such behavior does not mean we should all stoop to such things. Science is about quality in information, both by presentation and in its essence.

    I appreciate you sticking up for me at times. Makes me feel like I’m not beating my head against a wall all the time.

    Cheers

  85. #85 mandas
    March 11, 2010

    Maxwell

    I am interested in your claim that: “…I will say that you have to PROVE that these citations you claim support your argument (what’s your argument again?) that the claim that there is consensus on the current warming being outside the extent of natural climate variability…”, when you have made no such attempt to PROVE your argument that the anthropogenic signal CANNOT be distinguished from the natural signal. You provided a (partial) quote from von Storch’s book which suggests support for your argument, but you neglected to provide the rest of the quote where von Storch clearly states that there is extensive literature on the subject where people have done work in this very area.

    And once again, you appear to be missing my – I thought clearly made – point regarding von Storch’s testimony before the US Congress. I would have thought that IF von Storch felt that it was impossible to distinguish the anthropogenic signal from the natural signal, he would have said so. But he didn’t. He stated that he believed that there IS anthropogenic warming taking place; and if he is a competent scientist (which I have absolutely no reason to doubt), he would not make such a claim unless he had evidence to support that view. So he obviously has such evidence, which in my view points to the very simple fact that he also believes it IS possible to distinguish the anthropogenic signal from natural variability, and this is achieved via the mechanisms which he references in his book – which I believe you took pains to exclude from your discussion of the issue, and which I have been calling you on over several posts. So I am NOT ‘buffering your argument’ re the anthropogenic source of CO2, I am COUNTERING your argument that von Storch (and others) do not believe that the anthropogenic signal can be distinguished from natural variability, because clearly von Storch thinks so – he has said as much (in the quote I provided). I really don’t think I can make this point any clearer.

    If you have access to on-line science journals and actually read the things, then I apologise for suggesting otherwise. It is a very typical position of many people who post here to never read anything that they are linked to, so it is an easy misunderstanding to make, especially when you made statements like this, “…Arguments necessitate evidence rather than links to websites or documents with statements along the lines of ‘there should be something that supports my position here’. I can’t even find a website where one is able to see the journal that published the first journal you linked to…”. As I NEVER said ‘there should be something here that supports my position’, but have ALWAYS provided a links and references to science papers published in journals, your statement was a complete misrepresentation of what I had done. I WAS NOT making the argument, “..that somehow pointing out that an individual does not have access to the kinds of information you have access is an argument against the logic of such a person’s position..”, I was making the argument that people need to read and at least have some understanding of an issue before making comment. And I would sincerely hope that you would agree with that point.

    If you have decided to no longer reply to me, that is fine; I will survive. But I will continue to reply to your posts if you make statement that I do not consider to be valid, or raise points which are worthy of comment. BUT, if your decision to no longer respond is based on a perceived concern over my approach or ‘brashness’ in my response, then you should take a VERY hard look at yourself in the mirror. You have castigated people for appealing to authority, yet have done so yourself. You don’t like being called names, but are not above doing so yourself. You have (in my opinion) selectively quoted from a source and omitted a vital part of that quote which provided references to views opposing yours. And I – and others – are completely in the dark regarding your views on the wider issue. It is a tactic of many deniers – and we meet a LOT here – to post quotes and cuts and pastes from blog sites and journals that they think support their dogmatic view that AGW is some sort of global conspiracy or is simply not supoprted by the evidence. When their particular point is shown to be false, they simply ignore or ‘deny’ the response, and move on to the next cut and paste. You appear to be doing something similar, because you have moved around and provided a number of arguments, none of which we believe stacks up to scrutiny. And unless you come clean and state your position and why you believe such and such (including the evidence), then I (we) have no way of distinguishing you from those people – except you appear FAR more erudite and articulate in your arguments. However, neither of those traits means you are correct, as I am sure you understand.

  86. #86 skip
    March 11, 2010

    Is it possible that there is scientific confusion/dissent on the *extent* to which we can disentangle natural variation from anthropogenic forcing? I.e. we know *some* of its anthropogenic, but the dispute is how much?

  87. #87 skip
    March 11, 2010

    btw:

    I wonder what happened to Bruno. I suspect he might have decided to stop casting his pearls before swine.

  88. #88 mandas
    March 11, 2010

    skip

    There are actually a LOT of papers on the issue of separating the anthropogenic signal from natural variation and ‘noise’. I won’t post a long list of links, because every time I try that it gets sent off for moderation and I don’t want to bother coby with trivia.

    The issue is going through an evolutionary process, and as more information comes to hand the science improves. This is obvious from reading the papers over time. The earlier ones from the early 90s and before suggest the ability is rather tenuous. In the late 90s, the view was that the anthropogenic signal COULD be separated, as long as the CO2 and aerosol signals were included – they suggest it is difficult to isolate the CO2 signals in isolation. However, more recent papers suggest it is possible to separate the anthropogenic CO2 signals (and other GHGs) by themselves.

    Suggest you go to Google Scholar and type in ‘anthropogenic climate signal’ or similar. There are a lot of relevant (and irrelevant) papers, and you can pick and choose at your leisure.

  89. #89 maxwell
    March 11, 2010

    skip,

    ‘we know *some* of its anthropogenic, but the dispute is how much?’

    That is exactly the point. And if there is such a dispute, how can there be consensus?

    There is likely a real CO2 signal, but it is very hard to disentangle (good word) all of the contributing climatic factors from it.

    This winter is a great example. Many people have claimed that both the record amount of snowfall in eastern North America and lack of snow at the Olympics were due to global warming (I see the words ‘consistent with’ a lot, but that’s just a weak form of cause). What such people don’t know is that there is a strong El Nino signal right now that is likely driving the vast majority of climate changes we’ve seen the past few months. This guy has a great blog about all this.

    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/

    This is the most interesting to me because I work on signal processing in my ‘real’ life as a researcher. I am constantly thinking about how we could modulate the temperature signal to extract the CO2 contribution. If we could only change to modulated rate at which we consumed energy, it would be a lot easier to resolve how CO2 affects the total temperature signal. Or we might not be able to find it in the noise. It’s hard to say right now.

    But that’s the major issue with climatology. In other scientific endeavours, one needs to test observational equipment to the point where controls can be manipulated in real time, that is, in a day. Because we rely on decades of data to observationally sample the climate system, it takes a great deal of time to test for such observational controls. That’s why computer simulations of physical models are the biggest push. There’s not a lot of grant money is sitting around twiddling your thumbs and waiting.

  90. #90 Dappledwater
    March 11, 2010

    “What such people don’t know is that there is a strong El Nino signal right now that is likely driving the vast majority of climate changes we’ve seen the past few months.” – Maxwell

    Moderate to strong El Nino according to NOAA, however I expect the regulars here know that.

    Some historical perspective on the El Nino phenomena:

    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/soi2.shtml

    Page back and it’s obvious that this El Nino event isn’t a patch on the El Nino’s that occurred in 1997 – 1998 & 1982 – 1983. Despite this we’re getting these record snowfalls in parts of the Northern Hemisphere on top of record and near record monthly MSU satellite global temperatures for January and February 2010.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/

  91. #91 maxwell
    March 12, 2010

    DW,

    ‘Despite this we’re getting these record snowfalls in parts of the Northern Hemisphere on top of record and near record monthly MSU satellite global temperatures for January and February 2010.’

    And?

    What are we able to say with confidence about the nature of this warming in the past two months? That it is caused by global warming? The Arctic Oscillation? El Nino? Local effects? Or like I have been trying to convey, a complicated combination of all of these factors that makes it hard to decipher which one is acting most strongly?

  92. #92 skip
    March 12, 2010

    But Max, isn’t the difficulty of deciphering short term effects a different animal than interpreting overall, long term anthropogenic warming?

  93. #93 maxwell
    March 12, 2010

    skip,

    I don’t think that it is different in its essence, no.

    Either way, long versus short term, you have a signal that has several different sources and that each vary in relative magnitudes. The difference comes from detection. With longer time scales one can ‘beat back’ the noise to see a smoother signal, but the same sources should be contributing. Every scientist does so in an experiment. The more points, the better.

    That’s why there was the big debate about whether or not Phil Jones’ comments concerning climate scientists ability to see warming in the past fifteen years matter at all. Because one cannot beat the standard error in the signal back enough, one cannot say much of anything about the past 15 years in climate with a standard amount of confidence (95%).

    But in the end, it’s all signal processing.

    What gets brought up a lot is how people use computer simulations of physical models to see where an anthropogenic signal would come in and what it might look like. As far as I understand it, however, such a signal still has not come out from observations. On a shorter time scale, for the reasons I have stated above, the job of finding the signal from CO2 forced warming is even harder, but it should be there. The question, as you pointed out, is ‘how big?’.

  94. #94 skip
    March 12, 2010

    But doesn’t “uncertainty” have a tricky meaning in this context?

    For example, Crakar once asked (I forget which thread) for a model that “proved” the future effects of CO2 on climate. To the extent the request was even intelligible, it is of course an impossibility, since the future is inherently uncertain (anything could happen for godsake) and science by definition is supposed to shy away from such absolutes.

    The “uncertainties” that scientists talk about vis-a-vis climate deal with the minutiae of confidence intervals in standard scientific practice (i.e. Jones and recent warming), the nature of cloud feedbacks, the exact impact of future warming on differing regions’ agriculture, etc. Of course thats tricky stuff.

    BUT, in my perception those “uncertainties” are abused by deniers into “The AGW theory is rife with uncertainties, therefore AGW is *certainly NOT* a problem”. But its either a problem or it isn’t, and if it turns out we are responsible and continue to warm the planet to the point that it will be inhospitable for most or all of humanity, the argument from “uncertainty” will be no repair for our descendants’ baked farmlands and flooded shorelines.

    Whatever the legitimate uncertainties, the best evidence we DO have indicates that (1) its warming; (2) we, at least for now, have an extremely plausible and well-substantiated mechanism by which we can attribute much of this warming to our behaviors–that *is* supported by an overwhelming scientific consensus, however the members of that consensus might dispute the specifics; (3) the possible long term outcomes range from benign/tolerable to outright nasty; (4) we can hedge against risk and avoid the nasty ones with extremely tolerable sacrifices that we have numerous other non-environmental reasons to be making *anyway*.

    I’m not saying this is you, Max, but your articulate dissent probably has merit as an exercise in refining and strengthening theory but in *practice* voices like yours, when publicized, become excuses for intellectual and political indolence (“See? The theory is in dispute. Fire up the Hummer.”)

  95. #95 dhogaza
    March 12, 2010

    That’s why there was the big debate about whether or not Phil Jones’ comments concerning climate scientists ability to see warming in the past fifteen years matter at all. Because one cannot beat the standard error in the signal back enough, one cannot say much of anything about the past 15 years in climate with a standard amount of confidence (95%).

    If the 1995-present timeframe using HadCRUT proves AGW false because a 92.3% confidence level ain’t a 95% confidence level …

    Then the 1994-present timeframe equally proves AGW is true.

  96. #96 Dappledwater
    March 13, 2010

    “What are we able to say with confidence about the nature of this warming in the past two months?” – Maxwell.

    That it’s not cooling.

    “That it is caused by global warming?” – Maxwell.

    Given the moderate to strong El Nino and the long term warming trend, yes most likely:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Satellite_Temperatures.png

    “The Arctic Oscillation? El Nino? Local effects? Or like I have been trying to convey, a complicated combination of all of these factors that makes it hard to decipher which one is acting most strongly?” – Maxwell.

    The point is the long term trend continues to be one of climatic warming, the weather features you describe above are merely the Earth’s mechanism’s for distributing the heat trapped in the atmosphere, they can’t of themselves cause long term global warming.

  97. #97 maxwell
    March 13, 2010

    DW,

    if I were to make a judgment, I would say that you did not make your comment about the record temps in the last two months because they are indicative of a ‘long term warming trend’. The very fact that they are record temperatures for months has less to do with such a trend and more to do with shorter term events like El Nino.

    And yes, El Nino are short term events, but there is a longer term El Nino signal in the global average temperature. The fact that you can show a pick from the Australian whatever agency that shows a relatively high resolution depiction of the variation of El Nino/Southern Oscillation means that there should still be a component from ENSO in the longer term signal. Because it’s being modulated at a almost regular rate, it should be pretty easy to see its contribution to such a long term signal, although I don’t know how large variations in its amplitude will affect such an analysis or how far back in the record ENSO events have been documented.

    But the take home point is that while one El Nino event may not be part of a longer time series, ENSO as a regularly varying component to the climate system should be. You already proved this with the pick in your earlier comment. Thanks.

    skip,

    I think you’re a bit confused between ‘uncertainties’ in the context of the future versus ‘uncertainties’ in the context of measurements.

    I’m not worried about climate models because I know they are not going to be able to predict the future. The ways in which organizations like the IPCC use the model simulations to determine important parameters like climate sensitivity do not reflect anything about the climate system. Rather they reflect something about the different models used in those simulations with relation to one another. It’s an important difference that does not get discussed often, for obvious reasons.

    You check out Box 10.2 of the IPCC AR4. Even as a social scientist, if you have some experience dealing with probability distributions, you should be able to understand the gist of what they are talking about.

    There are other areas of climate science, mostly the measurement of a man-made CO2 forcing signal in the global mean temperature, where I think uncertainties are very indicative of some larger problems.

    For instance, I have heard many arguments like yours that because we are not ‘certain’ about the future should not stop us from taking action. My usually response to such arguments is to ask ‘What’s the experimental error, or uncertainty, in the CO2 contribution to the temperature signal?’. Do you know?

    I have not been able to find such a number and believe that if we are going to take political action, we should probably find out what this number is first. Because if we can get all these other contributions out of the time series and there is no CO2 signal above the noise, then it won’t matter what we do in terms of cap and trade or whatever else some think will work best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Warming is likely to continue.

    I think I am going to have to respectfully disagree with your assessment of what the best evidence indicates. Especially concerning what it would take to bring our emissions down to levels currently discussed at climate conferences. It seems like it would take a Herculean effort to do that.

    Richard Tol, an economist who has worked with the IPCC, has a great analysis of how the IPCC did not show the negative economic impacts of such carbon mitigation programs. You can find part I at the following link:

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/03/bias-in-ipcc-wgiii-guest-post-by.html

    As for what other people do or don’t do, I have such a little impact on that. No one is reading this for some excuse to continue to live the type of lifestyle they like. I think that I agree with recent assessments of the political situation in which policy analysts note that no amount of science is going to convince people. The converse of this is that scientific dissent doesn’t enable people to disregard environmental concerns. I think the take home point here is that stupid people who find stupid reasons to do things aren’t going to use complicated arguments about experimental error and signal processing to support their lifestyle. I don’t buy it.

    If you would like to not continuing these conversations because you feel it undermines your political position, you’re welcome to do that. But the ‘maybe you should just shut up about this’ notion is not very flattering.

  98. #98 Marco
    March 13, 2010

    Maxwell: it is well known that ENSO isn’t a regular occurrence. It is rather ‘chaotic’. But there is no reason to assume it actually introduces a warming trend, simply because it is a redistribution of heat. It is, however, possible to remove the ENSO signal from the trend:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/07/global-trends-and-enso/

    Moreover, climate sensitivity does NOT come from “climate models”. It is calculated from observations using known changes in forcing. For example, volcano emissions can be used to determine climate sensitivity. The interglacials can be used to determine climate sensitivity. They are an *input* to the models, not an output.

    Finally, do note that Richard Tol is a long-time critic of the IPCC and a big fan of the Pielke Jr-doctrine: let’s just adapt. They claim the IPCC overestimates the costs of climate change, and underestimates the costs of mitigation. But ask them whether they ever take the enormous subsidies given to fossil fuel industries into account, and they’re awfully quiet (estimates run into the hundreds of billions *a year*, Germany alone gives several billions a year to the coal industry, an estimated 80,000 euros PER EMPLOYEE).

  99. #99 skip
    March 13, 2010

    I think you’re a bit confused between ‘uncertainties’ in the context of the future versus ‘uncertainties’ in the context of measurements.

    I understand the difference perfectly but believe both types of “uncertainties” are abused in the manner I mentioned before: “Uncertainties” of either variety are used to justify assuming that AGW is “certainly” *not* a problem.

    The ways in which organizations like the IPCC use the model simulations to determine important parameters like climate sensitivity do not reflect anything about the climate system. Rather they reflect something about the different models used . . .

    I could only agree with that statement if I could trust what appears to be your judgment that these climate models are just arbitrary guesses. They reflect *a lot* about the “climate system” in that climatologists use them for *estimation*—not pinpoint prediction—of future long term climate trends. Again it seems very much to me that you’re inferring that any imperfections (“uncertainties”) in these models nullifies their value as tools for policy forumation. If that is what you’re saying (and if I am misreading you please clarify) I just can’t buy that.

    You check out Box 10.2 of the IPCC AR4. Even as a social scientist, if you have some experience dealing with probability distributions, you should be able to understand the gist of what they are talking about.

    And as you are an advanced hard scientist, I *know* you can.
    Section 10 explains very clearly that, within understood and openly accepted research constraints (“uncertainties”), our best evidence indicates that doubling of atmospheric CO2 could cause as much as 4.5 degrees C increase in global mean temperatures by 2100, *and* that even higher increases cannot be excluded—part of the double-edged sword of uncertainty, Max. I might not be as bad we think, but it also might be worse. In my mind, Max, the IPCC is simply giving a more technically supported rendition of my amateur take on the problem.

    There are other areas of climate science, mostly the measurement of a man-made CO2 forcing signal in the global mean temperature, where I think uncertainties are very indicative of some larger problems.

    And of course I have to concede that as a possibility but that just seems vague to me, Max. I mean, what “problems”?

    For instance, I have heard many arguments like yours that because we are not ‘certain’ about the future should not stop us from taking action. My usually response to such arguments is to ask ‘What’s the experimental error, or uncertainty, in the CO2 contribution to the temperature signal?’. Do you know?

    In my mind, this is probably the most important part of your post, Max.

    I argued that, even granting an element of uncertainty, based on a *range* of “very likely” (the IPCCs language) outcomes that would result from our current behaviors (i.e., a doubling of atmospheric CO2 by 2100) we should (1) acknowledge those outcomes are threatening; (2) act to avert them.

    I basically said, “Despite uncertainties, it is in our interest to hedge against risk and act.”

    Your response was, “But there are still uncertainties.”

    Again, this looks to me like “uncertainty” is just a trump card fall back: “We don’t *know* it’s a problem, in the strictest scientific sense of “knowledge”, therefore we can assume it isn’t.”

    It seems like it would take a Herculean effort to [mitigate atmospheric CO2].

    Even setting aside how we might argue over the applicability of “Herculean” in this context, my response is it took a truly Herculean effort to beat the Japanese in the Pacific and the Nazis in Europe. But our grandparents did it, Max. They didn’t even have level of certainty of success that we have about the likely effects of reducing carbon. If they could ration rubber, food, and lo-and-behold *oil*, don’t you think we can manage the sacrifices of driving cars that average 80 mpg or sub-4000 sq ft homes? I’m not directing this at you personally, but sometimes this whole “it will cost too much” line of reasoning just irks me. I feel like telling people, “Go watch *Saving Private Ryan* and then tell me you can’t live without your RV.”

    I read with interest your link to Tol, of whom I’m kind of fan, not just because he’s so zany looking (being a routinely unkempt, thrift-store attired academic lunatic myself, when I first saw that preposterous hair and beard I thought, “This is my kind of guy.”), but because he attempts to tackle what I think we can agree is an extremely complex problem: modeling economic impacts of action on CO2 emissions in tandem with climate forecasts. In your link he iterates that the IPCC AR4 was peppered with errors (Himalayan glacier melt, etc.) but said an additional error not receiving as much publicity were overly optimistic projections of the economic benefits of action, but he summarizes his critique thus:

    Similarly, it *is well-accepted in the literature that emission abatement would stimulate economic growth if policy reform is smart and well-designed.* [my emphasis] By the same token, a badly designed policy could greatly enhance the costs. Boehringer et al. (2009) estimate, for instance, that the EU 20/20/2020 package is more than twice as expensive as needed.

    Chapter 11 of AR4 WG3 suggests that climate policy could stimulate economic growth and would create jobs. These claims are supported by gray literature only, and they are biased.

    Tol’s concern is not that the IPCC is wrong that acting on emissions can be economically beneficial, but that policy needs to be “smart” and based on rigorous literature. I think anyone would disagree with this.

    So where does Tol stand on acting on climate change?

    One need only read his latest policy piece, the following segment of which I quoted before in this forum on the “Narratives” thread.

    “[T]he great many unknowns [about the impact of climate change] imply that the uncertainty is skewed to the negative; and that, if anything, current impacts estimates are positively biased . . .

    The policy implications are twofold. Firstly, in the short-term, *more* [my emphasis] emission reduction may be economically justified than suggested by a cost-benefit analysis. Secondly and more importantly, we need to build up the technological and institutional ability to rapidly respond to climate change – be it in the form of greenhouse gas emission reduction, adaptation (including international adaptation assistance), or geoengineering.

    Policy should not fly blind, however . . . [and it this point he emphasizes the need for more research on cost-benefit analysis of responses to global warming—his field.]”

    Like me, Tol wants rigor in climate policy making and more research into impacts of policy responses, but does not see “uncertainty” as an excuse for inaction.

    I think the take home point here is that stupid people who find stupid reasons to do things aren’t going to use complicated arguments about experimental error and signal processing to support their lifestyle. I don’t buy it.

    I guess we have to civilly disagree on that. One need only read one of the screeds by our less sophisticated contributors to this forum to see what I’m talking about, and the phenomenon also pervades personal exchanges with deniers I know. A typical template is this: A person predisposed toward political conservatism sees Chris Horner or Lord Monckton on Fox News ranting about IPCC conspiracies and climategate bullshit and then think they have the world figured out.

    But the ‘maybe you should just shut up about this’ notion is not very flattering.

    I was not attempting to insult or silence you, only to express my concern that this line of argumentation, in my view, gets abused again and again in denialist circles: Any “uncertainty” translates into “AGW is certainly nothing to worry about.”

  100. #100 GFW
    March 13, 2010

    I think I’d better clarify something Marco said. It is absolutely true that climate sensitivity (to any radiative forcing, whether caused by reflective aerosols, CO2, vegetation albedo changes, etc.) can be estimated from volcanoes and from the glacial/interglacial cycles. However, it is definitely not true that sensitivity is input into climate models. *Physics* is input into climate models and sensitivity is an output.

    Now, Maxwell,
    That the model output sensitivity agrees with estimates from other sources is a validation of the models, and increases our confidence in their predictive powers. We’ve actually been at this long enough that we have a couple of decades of observations that came after some of the earlier models. RealClimate did an analysis a while back, and it’s impressive just how good even those comparatively primitive models were in predicting what actually happened. Models can’t predict the exact path of upward temperatures because the internal variability modes, like ENSO, are essentially chaotic, and volcanoes are basically random on this time scale. But the models have pretty much nailed the underlying trend.

    There *is* an area of noteworthy uncertainty. We *may* have underestimated the quantities of *both* reflective aerosols and absorptive aerosols (e.g. soot) that are in play (and partially canceling out which is why the uncertainty). If so, an aggressive move to reduce soot could give us a little more time on CO2 – but sooner rather than later the CO2 and the reflective aerosols have to be reduced because of ocean acidification. Based on my readings, I’d guess the uncertainty in the “canceled out aerosol” radiative forcing to be on the order of 20% of the anthropogenic CO2 radiative forcing. Big enough to matter for a detailed understanding, but ultimately it changes nothing regarding what we have to do.

  101. #101 maxwell
    March 13, 2010

    Marco,

    so you have provided proof that ENSO signals have to be taken out of the SST record. Thanks.

    Whether or not its physically reasonable to believe that on very long time scales ENSO or other such phenomena provide something to warming is an important conversation. But because we’re talking about at most 40 years of really reliable observational data, the effect of such ‘short term’ events is important, which is why RC did that piece a couple years. And you should note that they pointed out such business is ‘tricky’.

    As for ‘models’ I think that there is again confusion over which version of the world model is being in this context. When I personally use the word ‘model’ I am not talking about a computer simulation, though most of the literature seems to use the word this way. I am talking about the physical model. That is, I am talking about the equations and parameters that one uses to run the computer simulation. To calculate a quantity like the climate sensitivity, one needs equations that quantify how different parameters depend on one another. This is what I am referring to, as it seems you are as well.

    In the context of the IPCC AR4, box 10.2 explicitly talks about climate sensitivity as a number calculated from the interpretation of computer simulations of these physical models, general circulation models mostly it seems. They create a probability density function used to enumerate the probability that a particular equilibrium climate sensitivity will come to pass.

    I don’t know how to rationalize the discrepancy in the use of the word ‘model’ in this context personally. It would be interesting to me if someone were to do so.

    As far as Tol is concerned, I don’t know enough about the economics to make a cogent and/or useful comment other than that this analysis has been brought to my attention. I also would say that his being or not being a long-time critic of the IPCC has little to nothing to do with the logic he, or even Roger, brings to an argument. Such statements are usually made to question the legitimacy of an individual’s viewpoint which I think would be a mistake in this instance.

    To say whether or not your assertion is a useful in this debate I would have to read more on that side of the issue, but I will say thanks for bringing that part of the equation to my attention.

  102. #102 GFW
    March 13, 2010

    Max, there’s no problem with your definition of “model”. The computer models are implementations of physical models. So, aside from approximations necessary to fit the physical model into the computer, discussions of what are inputs and outputs of the models are pretty much unaffected by that distinction.

    so you have provided proof that ENSO signals have to be taken out of the SST record. Thanks.

    Utterly untrue. The ENSO signal *can* be taken out of the record, but it is not necessary to do so.

    Whether or not its physically reasonable to believe that on very long time scales ENSO or other such phenomena provide something to warming is an important conversation.

    Not really. By definition ENSO is “internal variability” (actually, if they don’t change the reference temperature for the ENSO index, eventually as the ocean gets warmer, we’ll always be in “El Nino”, but that’s just a silly technical point). Long term the only thing that matters is the energy balance at the top of the atmosphere. Everything below that is just redistribution.

  103. #103 GFW
    March 13, 2010

    Crap, I missed a / and I didn’t preview.
    Obviously that last indentation is supposed to be not blockquoted rather than nested.

  104. #104 Dappledwater
    March 13, 2010

    “DW, if I were to make a judgment, I would say that you did not make your comment about the record temps in the last two months because they are indicative of a ‘long term warming trend’. – Maxwell.

    Well you’d be wrong. I’m well aware of the “big picture”.

    “The very fact that they are record temperatures for months has less to do with such a trend and more to do with shorter term events like El Nino.” – Maxwell

    So by your logic, the more powerful El Nino events should coincide with higher global temperatures throughout the instrumental record. Apart from 1997-1998, we know that isn’t true. No, the difference between the El Nino events is that the Earth continues to warm between episodes and even moderate to strong events can now induce global records. Eventually even moderate El Nino’s will have the same effect.

    “And yes, El Nino are short term events, but there is a longer term El Nino signal in the global average temperature” – Maxwell.

    What is that supposed to mean?.

    “The fact that you can show a pick from the Australian whatever agency” – Maxwell

    Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

    “that shows a relatively high resolution depiction of the variation of El Nino/Southern Oscillation means that there should still be a component from ENSO in the longer term signal.” – Maxwell.

    Huh?. Don’t know how to come to that conclusion.

    “Because it’s being modulated at a almost regular rate, it should be pretty easy to see its contribution to such a long term signal, although I don’t know how large variations in its amplitude will affect such an analysis or how far back in the record ENSO events have been documented” – Maxwell

    If El Nino occured at regular intervals we’d be able to accurately predict when the next one will be. We can’t. As far as amplitude AND frequency there is some evidence that both may have increased in the latter half of the 20th century, but they (the El Nino’s) have certainly tailed off in amplitude this century.

    There is paleo evidence for El Nino dating back many thousands of years, however from the half dozen or so papers I’ve read no clear trend seems to have yet emerged. Intuitively I’d expect the frequency and amplitude of ENSO to adjust dependent on the rate of change in the Earth’s energy budget, i.e. the greater the warming or cooling the more frequent and/or intense El Nino/La Nina’s emerge. However it may be that some climate switch is tripped and we enter an entirely new regime all together, such as a permanent El Nino suggested in one or two climate models. I guess we’ll see.

    “But the take home point is that while one El Nino event may not be part of a longer time series, ENSO as a regularly varying component to the climate system should be. You already proved this with the pick in your earlier comment. Thanks.” – Maxwell

    No need to thank me, you ain’t getting it………. yet:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/exogenous-factors/

  105. #105 dhogaza
    March 14, 2010

    “And yes, El Nino are short term events, but there is a longer term El Nino signal in the global average temperature” – Maxwell.

    What is that supposed to mean?.

    It puts him in the camp of those who don’t understand that El Niño/La Niña redistribute heat that’s already in the system, rather than being a source of energy input into the system.

  106. #106 maxwell
    March 14, 2010

    DW, GFW and dhogaza,

    I think there is confusion over what I am referring to.

    I am referring to the OBSERVATIONAL RECORD of temperature.

    I am not talking about a physical model for how the earth heats up, which you all seem to be inferring from what I have written.

    There is a signal of temperature observed on earth directly that is caused by different factors over the time we have observed this signal. I am not referring to some general way in which these contributions account for energy into or out of the climate system. I am specifically talking about the OBSERVATIONAL RECORD. So let’s focus here, please.

    So even though ENSO is a redistribution of heat, if its amplitude has increased even slightly over the period of direct temperature observation (ie the satellite era) then there should be a positive contribution when the temperature signal is decomposed into its constituent parts.

    In fact, Lean et al. did a decomposition that found such a positive contribution. I’m not sure what method they used mathematically, though I would imagine SVD would do the trick.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/fw02425x68641332/?p=b541ab8628d44193a2619eec6f1663f2&pi=3

    They also found that 40% of the observed warming couldn’t be accounted for in their model, which I find quite interesting.

    When GISS published a summarized report of model simulation results,

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2002/2001JD001143.shtml

    you’d notice that the abstract points out that the temperature increase over the last few decades is ‘primarily’ due to radiative forcings, implying there are other contributions. When talking about changes in mean temperature on the order or 1%, these higher order corrections become important.

    What I think you guys aren’t thinking about is that ENSO is a complicated process of the ocean giving up some of the energy stored in it. Since the transients of radiative forcings are longest in the ocean, energy that was deposited in the ocean up to centuries ago could be affecting climate today via processes like ENSO.

    So yes, ENSO is a redistribution of energy. But because that energy could have been deposited in the ocean many years ago, one has to consider an energy balance that spans a long time to account for variations we see on shorter time scales in the climate, specifically mean temperatures. Because we can’t integrate over the energy for the last few centuries due to a lack of observations, ENSO can show in the observational signal as if it were a ‘source’ of energy.

    (Notice that I have put quotes around the word ‘source’ because it is not truly a source of energy, but appears as a ‘source’ because when all the energy that has fallen on the earth in the last 200 years isn’t taken into account, which no one can do due to lack of observations.)

    Now when one considers the problems we have pointed out with measurement and prediction of ENSO events it makes an interesting topic of conversation in terms of how the ocean affects short term climate (less than centuries). Especially since the full variability of the ocean is hard to sample in the course of two or three decades of direct observation.

  107. #107 skip
    March 14, 2010

    Hi Max.

    First, I genuinely enjoy going through your posts and the various repartee they encourage, so please feel encouraged to continue.

    Regarding the role of ENSO as a lagged forcer, I have two questions:

    1. What is the point—that it *might* be ENSO, so we can’t be sure its CO2 so much—an “interesting conversation”?

    2. Or, is this a reason to balk at acting on climate change?

    I ask because I think its pertinent to our previous exchange.
    To wit: I don’t want you to feel ganged up on here, especially since with your obvious strong scientific training and articulateness you kind of represent the Holy Grail for many of us who lurk and/or post here: The Intelligent Denier.

    However, I have to be honest and say a bit of a credibility gap is emerging here. I’m not trying to be a dick (although I’ll admit at times I can succeed at it effortlessly). I’m not trying to pull one over on you. If I have missed something in this exchange I am totally open to being refuted. This is the underlying sentiment that animates this post, ok?

    BUT, that being said, in the context of discussing the admitted “uncertainties” of climate science (and even the discussion of what we mean by “uncertainties”), I made what is, at least for me, an extremely important point about hedging against risk even given technical uncertainties. As part of your response you said:

    Especially concerning what it would take to bring our emissions down to levels currently discussed at climate conferences. It seems like it would take a Herculean effort to do that.

    You then provided a link to Tol’s post, which I dutifully read. I pointed out that even in that link what Tol argued for was “smart” emissions reductions programs vis-à-vis the issue of their economic impacts. He even asserted that it was “widely accepted” in the literature that such savvy programming *would* be of economic benefit, and that his beef with the IPCC was its sloppiness in approaching the problem. He was *not* saying we should not work to reduce emissions, and in fact I provided other, summary statements by Tol in which he argued that we should, (paraphrasing with my language) *hedge against risk* and perhaps even reduce emissions *more* than would be dictated by a strict cost-benefit analysis.

    Since this was in the context of discussing whether we should or should not hedge against the plausible risks of AGW and your (apparent) effort to deny this was feasible/worthwhile, I felt I handled this pretty fairly. In response you said:

    As far as Tol is concerned, I don’t know enough about the economics to make a cogent and/or useful comment other than that this analysis has been brought to my attention. –Maxwell #101

    Humble and honest enough, but a little different from your first comment:

    Richard Tol, an economist who has worked with the IPCC, has a great analysis of how the IPCC did not show the negative economic impacts of such carbon mitigation programs. –Maxwell #97

    You first told me, in response to my underlying point/question about the value of hedging against climate risk, that Tol’s comments were a “great analysis” about “the negative economic impacts” of acting on climate change. This was in the context of a vague reference about how you felt that the necessary policy efforts would be “Herculean”. You later ducked out when I pointed out the full scope of Tol’s position; you even acknowledged the limits of your economic understanding (a state of ignorance that I must confess we have in common.

    So Max, while you will always have my respect and my attention, I feel compelled to remind you that it was you who once posted, in response to Mandas:

    Arguments necessitate evidence rather than links to websites or documents with statements along the lines of ‘there should be something that supports my position here’. Maxwell #83

    But stay strong, man. Discussing this with you—and watching your exchanges with the more educated contributors—is frankly a rare treat in comparison to lowbrow slugfests with the usual suspects who haunt this forum.

  108. #108 GFW
    March 14, 2010

    The question I see posed by Max: How “old” is the oceanic heat redistributed out of an El Nino?

    Now that’s an interesting question and I certainly don’t know. But I know somebody who might, so I’ll ask him.

  109. #109 crakar
    March 14, 2010

    In regards to post 91 etc of the sat temps, here is a really good (in laymans terms) analysis of what is going on. This is not my own work but something i read which i feel is a good explanation.

    There is a tendency to view the atmosphere in a very simplistic way for example we assign imaginary boundries to the differing layers stratosphere, troposhpere etc. But of course in reality the boundaries do not exist. Within these layers we have a mix of gases even the IPCC specifies such an atmosphere and magically changes its composition while maintaining its well mixed slab like state.

    The heat is transported from the tropics to the poles were there is mostly always a high pressure system which gives us descending cold dry air.

    The Hadley Cells are either side of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone that is along the ‘thermal equator’. The thermal equator moves between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The air in the Hadley cells is very humid and is rising convectively taking heat and humidity upward.

    Between these cells are the Ferrel Cells these carry the streams of weather areas in the Rossby waves that run along the edge of the polar cell this is delineated at the tropopause by the jetstreams. None of these patterns of convective cells are geometric shapes there are ‘jet-streaks’ and discontinuities and there are waves in the tropopause that can ‘break’ rather like waves on a beach. But in general there is cold and dry at the poles and hot and humid at the equator with variable conditions in the Ferrel cells between the two extremes.

    The tropopause is the level at which the convective weather stops – note that again – the tropopause doesn’t stop the convective weather it is where the weather stops. ( like a flood line is where the flood got to.) The tropopause at the poles is ~30,000ft or lower in the tropics it is 60,000ft or higher.

    Now let us add in a little more – dry air has a lot lower thermal capacity than humid air. So at the poles in the ‘lower troposphere’ we have a layer of cold dry air; in the tropics we have a layer twice as deep of hot humid air. The heat content and heat capacity of a volume of air in the tropics is much higher than the heat content and capacity of a similar size volume of air at the poles. Most of the heat content in tropical air is the sensible and latent heat of the water vapor in the air – this is the energy that is the driver for the severe convection in the tropics.

    If a particular amount of heat is added to dry Polar air it will rapidly rise in TEMPERATURE as its heat capacity is low. If I add the same amount of heat to the same volume of tropical humid air it will NOT rise by the same amount as its heat capacity is higher; water will change state or warm but the specific heat of water is VERY much higher than that of nitrogen.

    So the question:

    Is use of ‘average atmospheric temperature’ a suitable metric in a swirling heterogeneous atmosphere ?

  110. #110 crakar
    March 14, 2010

    Last post cont….

    If we look at this year’s weather, the polar highs and the Arctic polar vortex extended a LONG way South of the normal . The dry air received a relatively normal amount of heat from the sun/surface and rose in temperature more than the normal more humid Ferrel cell air would have done. It was still cold – but not _as_ cold. So perhaps the Northern areas such as Canada were ‘warmer’ (see posts from Jim Cripwell) and drier than normal. At the same time the Ferrel Cell weather was COLDER than normal by enough to put the zero degree isotherm close or onto the ground. So the precipitation in the mid-Latitudes fell as snow and then Rossby waves brought the polar air south and it warmed (relatively). The Hadley cells in the tropics became compressed into a smaller area. It looks like the _heat content_ of the atmosphere has dropped.

    But now we have an ‘average’ where polar air covering a lot larger area warmed, although it was still very cold, and the rest of the atmosphere stays the same. Thus the HEAT content of the atmosphere can stay constant or drop but an expansion of the polar vortex south will show a rise in TEMPERATURE as the air is dry.

    There is a huge skew in atmospheric heat content to the tropics expand or shrink the Hadley cells or the polar vortex and the skew is increased.

    TEMPERATURE is NOT a good metric for atmospheric HEAT CONTENT

  111. #111 mandas
    March 14, 2010

    crakar

    Welcome back. How was life in the GAFA?

    And with regard to your previous 2 posts, I am not sure what point you are trying to make. I guess my question is “so what?”. What conclusion do you draw from this?

  112. #112 mandas
    March 14, 2010

    It looks as though scientists are starting to fight back. Interesting news article today re a joint statement by the CSIRO and BOM in Australia, here (and in other places):

    http://www.news.com.au/national/scientists-accuse-climate-change-sceptics-of-smokescreen-of-denial/story-e6frfkvr-1225840688396

    I particularly like this quote at the end of the story:

    “…Dr Clark said the CSIRO had been observing the impacts of human-induced climate change for many years and had moved on from debate about it happening to planning for the changes to come…”

    Perhaps we should do the same.

  113. #113 mandas
    March 14, 2010

    And for those interested in such things, here are both the CSIRO/BOM media release, and their “State of the Climate” statement:

    http://www.csiro.au/news/State-of-the-Climate.html

    http://www.csiro.au/files/files/pvfo.pdf

  114. #114 skip
    March 15, 2010

    Is use of ‘average atmospheric temperature’ a suitable metric in a swirling heterogeneous atmosphere?

    As opposed to what, Crakar?

    TEMPERATURE is NOT a good metric for atmospheric HEAT CONTENT.

    So are you asking or stating? I don’t know who your source for this line of reasoning is, but this is the reason climate scientists look at smoothed averages over the *long term*, not a chaotic system over the course of a season.

    If we look at this year’s weather . . . It looks like the _heat content_ of the atmosphere has dropped.

    And went where? Over what time frame?

    I mean I don’t know where you got all that basic material (I appreciate being apprised up front that you weren’t claiming it was your own) but I actually would have preferred a link. Some of your editing errors sneaked in and I couldn’t follow some of it.

  115. #115 GFW
    March 15, 2010

    Crakar, indeed heat content (of the entire land-ocean-atmosphere system, but the ocean is by far the dominant term) would be the most stable indicator of warming (or cooling). It’s only been relatively recently that we’ve had measurements at enough depth in the ocean to calculate this. And yep, it shows much less noise than the surface temps. http://www.skepticalscience.com/How-we-know-global-warming-is-happening-Part-2.html

    However, one can just imagine that if GISS stopped publishing average temperatures and started publishing a “total biosphere heat content” … and that number was going up, but it was cold and snowing somewhere, then various deniers would say GISS was “hiding the decline” in temperature.

    Speaking of global avg. temps, anyone been watching the daily numbers from UAH? Today may be the Ides of March, but it seems a reasonable prediction that March will be one for the record books.

  116. #116 crakar
    March 15, 2010

    Re post 111,

    I am still here Mandas, not much to do but drink beer and round up the sheep and not a goat in sight.

    If nothing goes pear shaped, Monday should be an exciting day. The local news usually cover the launch so keep an eye out.

    Max was talking about latent heat in oceans etc, and i think GFW hit the nail on the head. For the rest let me say that whilst parts of the US, asia and europe had a cold winter on the surface the atmosphere has appeared to warm.

    The above posts may go some way to explaining this, but the question still remains do we want to measure the temp or the heat content?

    GFW said OHC may/is the best way to do this and he may be right. The question is what measurement is more relevant to us in our every day lives and which is more relavent to long term climate trends.

  117. #117 mandas
    March 15, 2010

    I’m somewhat surprised by the link re the ocean temperatures. I know for a fact that the temperature of the deep ocean has been measured in quite a few discret locations since at least the 1960s. The US Navy used the data to construct sound velocity profiles to determine acoustic propagation paths in order to detect Soviet submarines. I guess the data is still classified, otherwise it might be able to give a bit more history to the datasets. Perhaps there is not enough coverage as well. Certainly the systems (called SOSUS) were nowhere near as extensive as the ARGUS system today. Although primarily based on hydrophones for listening, the system included temperature sensors which were essential to determine acoustic pathways. However, it would still be interesting to do a comparison and see what changes – if any – have occured.
    If you could couple it with the bathythermagraph readings that were taken during the Cold War by aircraft and ships it might add a bit more ‘depth’ to the datasets.

  118. #118 crakar
    March 16, 2010

    Mandas,

    Subs can sit in warm currents that are surrounded by cooler water. When a “ping” is sent out the sound waves travel through the colder water, when it hits the warmer water the sound waves will “go around” the warmer water and thus not detect the object/sub.

    This temp info might indeed help to fill in the blanks of OHC.

  119. #119 crakar
    March 16, 2010

    Here is an interesting article titled “when to doubt a consensus”.

    http://american.com/archive/2010/march/when-to-doubt-a-scientific-consensus

    Getting back to what i said earlier about polar vortexes etc. Here is a link which explains it in a lot more detail.

    Essentially it says in its most simplist form, temp and heat are two different things moist air can hold more heat than dry air but dry air can be a higher temp.

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/enthalpy-moist-air-d_683.html

    cheers

    Crakar

  120. #120 mandas
    March 16, 2010

    crakar

    re post #118, as you know I spent some time at Edinburgh, and without revealing too much about what I did there, I am VERY well acquainted with how submarines use thermoclines and changes in the sound velocity profile in the ocean to hide.

    In essence, sound travels faster in denser mediums (we all know that), and the temperature of the ocean varies with depth, and those changes in temperature mean the density of the water varies, and that means that the sound waves rarely propagate in a straight line in the ocean. Most submarine hunting is conducting using ‘passive’ sonar (ie listening) only – active sonar is only used for localisation and then usually only for conventional submarines. When hunting boomers, you don’t want them to know you are out there, because counter-detection compromises the mission.

    The study of how sound propagates in the ocean is fascinating, and depending on the target, you could get convergence zones – where the sound is detectable in a narrow annulus at range from the target – bottom bounce, surface reflection and direct path contact.

    Of course, all this is completely unrelated to my point, which is that there could be a lot of data related to deep ocean temperature profiles, but it is fairly discrete in spacial extent, and may be classified. However, access to this data may help answer some of the questions which were raised earlier.

  121. #121 crakar
    March 16, 2010

    Mandas,

    Thanks for the detail on subs and sound, if you worked where i suspect you did then no wonder you quit and now shoot goats for a living :-))

    I seem to recall Saint Al of the Gore rambling on about getting Arctic ice thickness data from his mate in the US sub fraternity. Did he ever come good on his promise and if so what did the data show?

    You never know maybe he can get a hold of the ocean temp data you speak of, ever little bit helps of course.

    OT, how is Adelaide going? Recovered from the clipsal yet? Monday is still looking good so keep an eye out on the news. I will try and get a few pics if i do i can send them to you if interested.

    Cheers

    Crakar

  122. #122 mandas
    March 16, 2010

    No idea about Gore and ice data. But I seem to recall someone had got a hold of all that data and did a study on it. I saw a video on it somewhere – might try and track it down.

    Adelaide is getting back to normal. You can get through the streets again. I was going to go to Clipsal, but I changed my mind and set a deckchair up in the backyard and watched the grass grow – far more interesting.

    Weekend was good. No goats – but I went diving off West Beach with the university. Great day. Clear water. Interesting fish etc. I guess not a lot of that in your neck of the woods.

  123. #123 crakar
    March 16, 2010

    Nope just beer, sheep and flies.

  124. #124 skip
    March 17, 2010

    Did you list them in order of preference?

    Sorry, Crak, this is, admittedly, my dickery coming through.

  125. #125 skip
    March 17, 2010

    So Crakar, I read your link to AEI, and was a classic study in incoherent Denierthink.

    Jay Richards of the American Enterprise Institute tells us in “When to Doubt a Scientific ‘Consensus’” that:

    Anyone who has studied the history of science knows that scientists are not immune to the non-rational dynamics of the herd.

    We want to know whether a scientific consensus is based on solid evidence and sound reasoning, or social pressure and groupthink.

    So the agenda is clear: He knows there are claims of a “consensus” that is hostile to his ideology, so he is going to mine for reasons why we should doubt it.

    On one thing I totally agreed with the Richards:

    We shouldn’t, of course, forget the other side of the coin. There are always cranks and conspiracy theorists . . . So what’s a non-scientist citizen, without the time to study the scientific details, to do?

    That is, indeed, the money question. Richards then lists the things to look for in a reject-able consensus, and why AGW fits the bill. Its a study in Deniallusion, where the confusion of concepts and the use of straw men show an individual as determined to convince himself as he is his audience. Its just amazing how the neocons at AEI and elsewhere never seem to ask themselves this one, simple question: “Is it possible that I doubt AGW because I find taxes and bureaucracies distasteful, and that skews my interpretation of the arguments for and against?”

    But anyway, Richards list of what to look for in determining when a consensus should be doubted:

    (1) When different claims get bundled together.

    . .. There’s a lot more agreement about (1) a modest warming trend since about 1850 than there is about (2) the cause of that trend. There’s even less agreement about (3) the dangers of that trend, or of (4) what to do about it. But these four propositions are frequently bundled together, so that if you doubt one, you’re labeled a climate change “skeptic” or “denier . . . “.

    Straw man. You’re labeled a crank if you doubt the *first* two—which is exactly what the Richards did when he linked to his superficial “climategate”, an article by James Delingpole from the *Telegraph* who is identified as “a journalist and broadcaster who is right about everything.” [So much for not being dogmatic.] But Delingpole has obviously read and understands little, and is right about less. He just recites secondhand the ubiquitously abused emails about the “the nature trick”, “hide the decline”, Trenberth’s, “travesty”, the utterly distorted non-issue of data deletion—all things we’ve rehashed here ad nauseum, on top of subjects completely irrelevant to the question of the science of AGW, including some of the emails gloating about John S. Daly’s death or wanting to “kick the crap out of” Pat Michaels, or the venting at the editorial review breakdown at *Climate Research*.

    Translation: “Here’s a guy who says the CRU emails prove its all bullshit—not that *I’m* saying* this.” Get the benefit of the rhetorical power of mentioning “climategate” for the already converted then back away by conceding propositions (1) and (2) when you want to look reasonable.

    (2) When ad hominem attacks against dissenters predominate.

    . . .When it comes to climate change, ad hominems are all but ubiquitous. They are even smuggled into the way the debate is described. The common label “denier” is one example.

    Completely naked, unsubstantiated assertion, and another straw man:

    “Just trust me on this; those AGW zealots use of a lot of personal attacks! Makes ya think, huh?”

    Furthermore, it’s the other way around: The consensus leads to frustration at the dissenters and thus the attacks; the attacks aren’t used to bolster the consensus. Climate scientists did not reason, “McIntyre is a pseudo-scientific hack, therefore AGW is true.” The theory is based on a mountain of observational evidence and a basic physical principle that has been understood for a century. Its *because* of that scientific evidence that pompous skeptics drive scientists nuts, often eliciting the personal attacks.

    (3) When scientists are pressured to toe the party line.

    “ . . .Tenure, job promotions, government grants, media accolades, social respectability, Wikipedia entries, and vanity can do what gulags do, only more subtly . . . Climategate, and the dishonorable response to its revelations by some official scientific bodies, show that scientists are under pressure to toe the orthodox party line on climate change, and receive many benefits for doing so. That’s another reason for suspicion.”

    This after having previously linked to a writer who doesn’t even understand what “nature trick” and “hide the decline” refer to, or that CRU scientists’ ire at *Climate Research* was based on their dismay at wheat they perceived to be its lowbrow publication record and not an effort to suppress contrary evidence. Richards mistakes the rage that all of us feel when someone tries to promote horseshit as credible as “suppression of dissent”.

    (4) When publishing and peer review in the discipline is cliquish.

    . . .Nerds who follow the climate debate blogosphere have known for years about the cliquish nature of publishing and peer review in climate science (see here, for example).

    He then links to Wegman’s testimony regarding the original statistical drawbacks of Mann’s ’98 reconstruction and how the “cliquish” nature of their peer review network led to this error.

    This ends up being the hockey stick straw man all over again. We will never hear the end of this as long as deniers think attacking the “stick clique” is a decapitation strike against AGW. We all know the dispute: Can we use the available proxy data to verify that the 1990s were the hottest decade on record since the MWP/last 2,000 years/[insert time period of preference here].

    We’ve beaten each other half to death with the stick controversy of course, but the science of global warming is *far beyond* the historic temperature reconstructions. It based on a basic principle of physics, *recent* observational data, and *improving* understanding of the role of the complex factors affecting global average temperatures. There are literally thousands of scientists involved, and as Donbar et al, 2009 showed, the overwhelming majority (including 97 percent of those specializing in climate research) of those responding to their survey agreed with propositions (1) and (2) above, about which Richards *himself* does not even dispute that there is a consensus!

    (5) When dissenting opinions are excluded from the relevant peer-reviewed literature not because of weak evidence or bad arguments but as part of a strategy to marginalize dissent.

    Richards then links to (my God) Climateaudit, in which McIntyre (that unbiased font of “proof”) claims to demonstrate that McKitrick and Michaels were victims of suppression by the IPCC working group as per this hacked CRU email by Jones:

    The other paper by MM is just garbage …I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin [Trenberth] and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !

    McIntyre’s ability to clumsily cite things that don’t even prove his own point–and then get cited by someone like Richards who assumes pro forma that McIntyre has done the work for him, will never cease to amaze me. Trenberth and Jones were not threatening to suppress “dissent”, but what they regarded as “garbage”. If Jones had written, “Holy shit! They’ve got our number. If we let this get out our game is up!” then we can talk about suppression.

    Besides, the MM paper was *not* suppressed from the IPCC report, as McIntyre *himself* points out. It was mentioned in AR4 “grudgingly” and with what McIntyre calls “a dismissive editorial comment that was not supported by any reference to peer reviewed literature . . . “ His support of this statement? A personal communication he had with Doug Ross.

    (6) When the actual peer-reviewed literature is misrepresented.

    In Science, Naomi Oreskes even produced a “study” of the relevant literature supposedly showing “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.” In fact, there are plenty of dissenting papers in the literature . . .

    This was the turning point when I realized that it was totally amateur hour. Richards links to Oreskes’ finding that nothing in the peer reviewed literature up to that point (2004) disputed the fundamental finding of the IPCC that:

    “Human activities … are modifying the concentration of atmospheric constituents … that absorb or scatter radiant energy. … [M]ost of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations”

    At least he linked a primary source (Oreske), but to prove “there is plenty of dissent” Richards, either by incompetence or design, conflates “dissent” over AGW specifics with “dissent” over AGW fundamentals, and uses an abominably weak list of literature to prove his schizophrenic point. Of the 10 examples Richards’ link gives, six—one of which is not peer reviewed—dispute only the *magnitude* of CO2 forcing (by negative feedback or other mechanisms), three only dispute the imminence of zero summer arctic ice extent (and are derived from news stories or agency reports, not peer reviewed literature), and one—the infamous McClean et al article, 2009, from the Journal of Geophysical Research has been criticized for having used a methodology that would have eliminated any anthropogenic signal *anyway*. I can’t claim to be able to disprove that article, but I need a preponderance of *real* dissent, not magazine articles and half-ass questioning of the magnitude of forcing, for me to doubt the fundamental premise of AGW.

    Richards did what I have seen deniers do *constantly*–provide a link to something that does not even help their case. Its doubtful he even read it. This again is the narrative of the dogmatically committed. And it shows up repeatedly when you debate with deniers.

    (7) When consensus is declared hurriedly or before it even exists.

    Just when I thought I’d seen the worst, Richards produces this tinder-stuffed, gasoline-soaked straw man.

    Richards quotes Al Gore as declaring the debate about AGW over in 1992, despite polls showing *caution* within the scientific community, and then renewing his declaration of consensus in 2009.

    This argument is so incoherent and self-defeating I’m struggling with how to even respond to it. I mean, answer quickly: What if, right before you served, your opponent in a tennis match shouted “I am compost!” and then inserted his raquet in his rectum?

    Richards on the one hand tells us that Al Gore “declared hurriedly” a consensus, but the scientists weren’t on board at the time. So, the “consensus” was *not* “hurriedly declared! What the *hell* does it matter what Al Gore says? But going after Gore is resonant with deniers, and Richards is preaching to an entranced choir.

    I was literally embarrassed for Richards at this point.

    (8) When the subject matter seems, by its nature, to resist consensus.

    . . . fact, if there really were a consensus on all the various claims surrounding climate science, that would be really suspicious. A fortiori, the claim of consensus is a bit suspicious as well.

    The straw men are breeding and multiplying.

    The “consensus” is on assertions (1) and (2). As Oreskes says in her summary of the literature (had Richards read his own link):

    The scientific consensus might, of course, be wrong. If the history of science teaches anything, it is humility . . . Many details about climate interactions are not well understood, and there are ample grounds for continued research to provide a better basis for understanding climate dynamics. The question of what to do about climate change is also still open. But there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Climate scientists have repeatedly tried to make this clear . . . .

    But people like Richards simply pay no attention—even when the very sources they cite make it clear as crystal.

    (9) When “scientists say” or “science says” is a common locution.

    This particular straw man is the dimwit half-brother of the one used in point (8). By this tortured logic you could never make any scientific claim.

    Scientists say the earth is round and revolves around the sun. Scientists say that dogs are genetically descended from wolves. Scientists say it requires an X and Y chromosome to make a boy. By Richards’ reasoning, all these propositions are in doubt because “Scientists say” they are true.

    And it highlights the incredible mental gymnastics that politically motivated AGW deniers have to employ. Because a scientific consensus implies policy recommendations they don’t like, they need to concoct a reason to disbelieve it—right to the point of saying, “If people say scientists say something, you shouldn’t believe it.”

    (10) When it is being used to justify dramatic political or economic policies.

    The usual argument that AGW is just a pretext to turn us all into pinkos.

    I would be bored with this asinine line of reasoning if were not such a potent narrative animating AGW denial. Thinking themselves the defenders of freedom and productivity, deniers have it lodged in their heads that their resistance to acting against climate change is a noble struggle against Big Government and environmental “religious zealots”. Richards shudders at the “ . . . strange philosophical and metaphysical activism” and “the megaphones of consensus” typified in Cophenagen. Its the classic denier conflation: If you don’t like the science, find a zealot who agrees with it and claim you’re just resisting the zealotry–the science.

    (11) When the “consensus” is maintained by an army of water-carrying journalists who defend it with uncritical and partisan zeal, and seem intent on helping certain scientists with their messaging rather than reporting on the field as objectively as possible.

    Do I really need to elaborate on this point?

    Preaching purely unsubstantiated balderdash to the predisposed choir: “The goddamn liberal media is on board, and we all know how full of shit they are!”

    (12) When we keep being told that there’s a scientific consensus.

    A scientific consensus should be based on scientific evidence. But a consensus is not itself the evidence. And with really well-established scientific theories, you never hear about consensus. No one talks about the consensus that the planets orbit the sun, that the hydrogen molecule is lighter than the oxygen molecule, that salt is sodium chloride, that light travels about 186,000 miles per second in a vacuum, that bacteria sometimes cause illness, or that blood carries oxygen to our organs. The very fact that we hear so much about a consensus on catastrophic, human-induced climate change is perhaps enough by itself to justify suspicion.
    This near-final paragraph captured so much absurdity and narrow-mindedness in one concentration that I had to quote it in its entirety. The reason no one hears about the “consensus” of the speed of light is (1) it is, unlike climate, an easy to thing to establish with scientific certainty; (2) there is *nothing at stake*. The reason you hear reference to the “scientific consensus” on AGW is that those of us who want to act to hedge against the risks of climate change are clashing those with a vested ideological or financial interest in not doing so. We keep pointing out the “consensus” because that’s the *reason to act.* But Richards would pervert the *mentioning* of consensus as proof of its nonexistence: “Hmm. Talking about a ‘con-SEN-sus’, eh? Ha! You said the C-word! You said the C-word! Neeener neener neener . . .you said the C-word! Sounds to me like you’re hiding something!”

    It is no coincidence that the American Enterprise Institute would endorse and publish this fallacy-riddled screed. Posts like this provide intellectual shorthand for ideologues who want to comfort themselves with the delusion that AGW scientists are some sort of hokey farce, like members of a religious sect peddling doorstep salvation. Like Crakar has done, most will merely skim this and feel vindicated in their denial. There is no doubt a “consensus” among its ill-informed readers that Richards’ nonsense constitutes sound argument. And that is truly sad.

  126. #126 dhogaza
    March 17, 2010

    Its just amazing how the neocons at AEI

    I think the AEI is better characterized as being dinocons, they’re not neocons nor are they fundycons (the worst of the lot, IMO). They’ve been around forever (just checked – 1943).

  127. #127 mandas
    March 17, 2010

    skip

    Thanks for that rather detailed dissection of the offending article by Jay Richards from AEI.

    I tend to think that the most telling quote from the whole document is on the one you provided first, ie:

    “….We want to know whether a scientific consensus is based on solid evidence and sound reasoning, or social pressure and groupthink….”

    If this was used as part of the introduction to an essay a student of mine had written, I would have assumed that the aim of the essay was to therefore conduct an examination of the evidence and reasoning behind climate change, in order to determine whether the evidence was sound, or if it was based on groupthink etc.

    But of course, the essay would have attracted an “F”, because the author made absolutely no attempt to examine the evidence. It was just a dogmatic denialist rant against scientists coming from a complete moronic luddite. And if you think that is a bit harsh, you should know a little more about Mr Jay Richards.

    Jay Richards is one of the leading advocates for Intelligent Design, Creationism, and the “Wedge Strategy”. If you haven’t heard of this, then you may be interested in it’s principles:

    “…The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Institute manifesto known as the Wedge Document which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to “defeat scientific materialism” represented by evolution, “reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions”…”.

    If you don’t think that is some of the scariest shit you have ever read, then you are probably a moronic creationist luddite as well.

    Mine you, Mr Richards did day a few true statements in his article. I kind of like these ones:

    “…Many of the doubt-inducing climate scientists and their media acolytes attribute this rising skepticism to the stupidity of Americans…..”

    “…Sometimes these folks (non-scientists) turn out to be right. But often, they’re just cranks whose counsel is best disregarded…”

  128. #128 skip
    April 29, 2010

    I made no remarks on Tol other than it was something that looked interesting and that I did not in fact understand all of it.

    Max:

    This is pasted from the old “There is no consensus” thread—the last element in an exchange between us after which you vanished until just a couple of days ago. It was in the context of the discussion of whether it is “worth it” to hedge against climate change:

    As far as Tol is concerned, I don’t know enough about the economics to make a cogent and/or useful comment other than that this analysis has been brought to my attention. –Maxwell #101
    Humble and honest enough, but a little different from your first comment:
    Richard Tol, an economist who has worked with the IPCC, has a great analysis of how the IPCC did not show the negative economic impacts of such carbon mitigation programs. –Maxwell #97
    You first told me, in response to my underlying point/question about the value of hedging against climate risk, that Tol’s comments were a “great analysis” about “the negative economic impacts” of acting on climate change. This was in the context of a vague reference about how you felt that the necessary policy efforts would be “Herculean”. You later ducked out when I pointed out the full scope of Tol’s position; you even acknowledged the limits of your economic understanding (a state of ignorance that I must confess we have in common.)
    So Max, while you will always have my respect and my attention, I feel compelled to remind you that it was you who once posted, in response to Mandas:
    Arguments necessitate evidence rather than links to websites or documents with statements along the lines of ‘there should be something that supports my position here’. Maxwell #83

    I mean, Max, look: This is the salient thing I see when I try to get a straight answer from AGW deniers/skeptics/fence straddlers/whatever-we-call-thems: Some sliding scale of simple intellectual dishonesty. You blatantly switched your song about Tol/costs of action when you realized I had the jump on Tol (because I’ve actually read the guy’s work), and when I called you on it, what did you do? You vanished. What am I *supposed* to think at that point—that you had a really, really clever smashing response but got distracted by the health care debate?

    Max, what would have been wrong with simply saying, “Ok, Skip. I admit it. I shot before looking on the Tol citation and yes, I admit I have not given this relative costs issue a tremendous amount of thought. I’ll ponder and get back to you.”

    Do I think *I’m* intellectually honest? Yes. I have no choice but to be. I’m not very clever and know any lies/distortions I might forward will be found out. I’d be more impressed if you’d show the same caution on a consistent basis.

  129. #129 maxwell
    April 29, 2010

    skip,

    you need to keep my comments within the context that I am discussing. You have a craft for taking them out of context.

    ‘Richard Tol, an economist who has worked with the IPCC, has a great analysis of how the IPCC did not show the negative economic impacts of such carbon mitigation programs.’

    That was my comment.

    What is it saying?

    I did read Tol’s remarks on the IPCC’s assessment of working group 3. He makes a rather strong argument that the IPCC authors distinctively did not report findings from the peer-reviewed literature that went astray the narrative that they wanted to put forth, but cited those papers in order to beef up the argument (not quite sound logic on their part). That is the analysis I was calling ‘great’. I was not referring to the econometrics he used, nor the difference between his economic models and someone else’.

    I was referring to the fact that he systematically went through many of the claims of that working group on economic benefits purported by the IPCC AR4 and showed they did not report findings of negative economic impacts found in the literature, despite citing the peer-reviewed papers that did in order to beef up their legitimacy. He even showed how the working group author took his own work out of context, despite his own objections in the review process.

    Then, when pressed on specifics of Tol’s research, which I am not all familiar with, I said,

    ‘As far as Tol is concerned, I don’t know enough about the economics to make a cogent and/or useful comment other than that this analysis has been brought to my attention…’

    which may be misleading I admit, but I think (I cannot remember for certain) I am specifically discussing the econometrics and models Tol, or anyone else for that matter, may use in their research.

    So no, I don’t think this is ‘intellectual dishonesty’ nor do I think that I am attempting to hold others to a standard I would not hold myself. Like many other instances of confusion and conflict, I’m gonna chalk this one up to miscommunication.

    As for ‘vanishing’, I did actually have a pretty significant breakthrough on understanding laser-mediated non-adiabatic interactions in molecules and more complex quantum systems that’s likely to yield at least two, if not three papers by the fall. So I did have something to do, but I’m sure you’ll still find me ‘dishonest’ since I don’t agree with you.

    Cheers again.

  130. #130 skip
    April 29, 2010

    Max, the context:

    I think I am going to have to respectfully disagree with your assessment of what the *best evidence* [my emphasis] indicates. Especially concerning what it would take to bring our emissions down to levels currently discussed at climate conferences. It seems like it would take a Herculean effort to do that.

    And now this is your *very* next statement:

    Richard Tol, an economist who has worked with the IPCC, has a great analysis of how the IPCC did not show the negative economic impacts of such carbon mitigation programs.

    Are you now saying that I should have divined that you never intended to mean that Tol was part of the “best evidence” supporting your claim that acting on climate change would be “Herculean”?

    Max, I’m sorry but this is special pleading. The whole innocent-as-a-kitten I-never-claimed-to-know-the-specifics-of-econometrics plea came *after* I exposed your misuse of Tol.

    (Indeed Tol, as I pointed out, in the very link you provided, even agrees that acting on climate change is *good* for the economy if properly done. You don’t get Tol’s credit for pointing out sloppy IPCC scholarship, because you were attempting to use Tol as refuting an IPCC premise with which Tol himself *ultimately agrees*–just for better reasons than the IPCC provides.)

    Max: I’m sure I’ll bungle something eventually on a post here and when I do and you nail me on it please attend to how I react.

  131. #131 maxwell
    April 29, 2010

    skip,

    ‘Are you now saying that I should have divined that you never intended to mean that Tol was part of the “best evidence” supporting your claim that acting on climate change would be “Herculean”?’

    I’m not asking you to ‘divine’ anything. I’m merely asking to read what is written and not into anything else. Is that too much to ask?

    Did I say Tol says it’s Herculean? Nope.

    I’ll admit not providing direct evidence for the claim that it will be ‘Herculean’. You got me.

    Does that make you happy?

    On all of the points I have made on this blog concerning the exaggeration of scientific claims, improper interpretations of basic physics and presentation of a narrative that has a propensity to focus on unimportant facets of the “deniers'” fault of the day, you were able to point out that I did not supply evidence that weening our carbon dependence will be a great challenge.

    Well done.

    ‘Max, I’m sorry but this is special pleading. The whole innocent-as-a-kitten I-never-claimed-to-know-the-specifics-of-econometrics plea came *after* I exposed your misuse of Tol.’

    WTF? Do you think that for one second when I was doing my work I couldn’t come up with a response to your point on Tol? Honestly?

    skip the honest truth is that I couldn’t care less of what you or anyone else thinks of me, my points or my position on this issue. Your ‘calling me out’ for my ‘vanishing’ is further evidence for why this course of action is necessary.

    Nor did I lose one iota of sleep or focus one moment on you or this blog. Like I said, I had work to do and now knowing what has come of it, I think the more time I spend not thinking about this blog, or my responses to contributors like you who couldn’t even tell what a greenhouse gas is off the top of their head, the better.

    So long skip.

  132. #132 skip
    April 30, 2010

    I’ll admit not providing direct evidence for the claim that it will be ‘Herculean’. You got me.

    Does that make you happy?

    I wish it did. Its too late for that now. What you *should* have done was just admit it up front instead of this kicking, screaming, squalling, reluctant pout. We could have gotten on fine if you’d just done that, Max.

    who couldn’t even tell what a greenhouse gas is off the top of their head

    What am I supposed to say? Ouch?

    Max, if you’d ever had your life threatened or lived in a neighborhood where such was the norm (I have), you wouldn’t be trying to brow-beat me with your technical research prowess and this half-ass effort at condescension.

    But in all seriousness, I wish you the best of success in your research and publication. I believe in science–even the parts I can’t do.

  133. #133 maxwell
    May 4, 2010

    skip,

    ‘Max, if you’d ever had your life threatened or lived in a neighborhood where such was the norm (I have)…’

    I was born on the north side of Detroit and lived there until I was five. Thereafter, I lived for 20 years on the north side of Chicago in the police district with the second most murders of any district in the city. I am a product of the federally funded Head Start Program and the Chicago Public School system. We had metal detectors all four years of high school and our graduation rate was just above 40%.

    Violence and the threat of violence have always been the norm in the world around me.

    More than that, you’re brow beating with this bogus conclusion that somehow such a place ‘puts things in perspective’. From your responses on this totally misreading and misunderstanding of what I’ve written, it seems that you can’t even live up to your standard.

    Really though, I wanted to point out that I’m not the only one who considers the task of decarbonizing our economy as ‘Herculean’. From a UCSD press release concerning getting down to specific levels of CO2 in the atmosphere,

    “Avoiding the threshold requires holding carbon dioxide levels to less than 441 parts per million, according to the authors, only slightly higher than today’s value of 389 ppm. This equates to a 50-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and an 80-percent reduction by 2100. Ramanathan and Xu acknowledge that such drastic reduction will require a “portfolio of actions in the energy, industrial, agricultural and forestry sections.” Some of these actions will require development of new technologies.

    “A massive decarbonization of the energy sector is necessary to accomplish this Herculean task,” the authors write.”

    You can read the rest of this piece at the link:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-05/uoc–sro042910.php

    The conclusion I have come to on this little escapade is that your inability to make legitimate points concerning the science of this issue has forced you to find flaws in other aspects of the arguments I present here. Even if those flaws actually are created by the incorrect inferences you make about my writing. And that’s it.

    Because I used the word ‘analysis’ twice, you assumed that the meaning was the same (you thought econometric analysis for both) despite the fact that they did not have the same context. When I didn’t care about the points you made in response to this misunderstanding, you misconstrued it as me not being able to ‘handle’ your points for reasons that I still don’t yet understand. Even more frustrating, when contributors who support your position do the same (not responding to valid counter points), I have not seen one peep out of you, even when Coby does it.

    Now you want a different standard?

    It’s a legitimate mistake that you have made, yet you demand that I ‘should’ have acted differently. Then you say this has something to do with growing up in a violent community? I don’t get how that has anything to do with this or just about any other discussion here other than to create some kind of proxy legitimacy for your points. But, as I pointed out already, if you get ‘street cred’ then so do I.

    Cheers.

  134. #134 skip
    May 4, 2010

    Maxwell:

    You might not believe this but I’m trying really hard to like you, but posts like the last just make it really difficult.

    this totally misreading and misunderstanding of what I’ve written

    Because I used the word ‘analysis’ twice, you assumed that the meaning was the same

    What else was I supposed to assume? What other possible meaning could it have had in context?

    I can’t let you run free on this. Max, you can’t just start out saying, “I don’t agree with you about X . . . Here’s Scholar A who talks about X in a manner that is highly inimical to your position,” and then, when shown that Scholar A doesn’t even *agree with you*, try to hide behind, “Oh, well, I never technically said Scholar A proved *my* point about X.” It was clearly *implied* max. What was the point of bringing up Tol if *not* to (supposedly) buttress the point you thought you were making about “Herculean” policy changes? What other possible purpose would referencing him have served? You first tell me the “best evidence” is against me, and the *very next thing* you reference is *Tol*. Are you asking me to believe that you brought him up just out of the blue—utterly irrespective of the point you thought were making—that you never intended that I think Tol was your “evidence”? Do you *not* see why this is so hard to believe? This is what I mean special pleading and track-covering.

    Why not just admit it? I just hate that so much! And you get it all the time on a sliding bullshit scale from people who think we shouldn’t worry about global warming. You guys want the option of throwing shit out there willy-nilly as “evidence” but want to claim victimization by foul pedantry if you’re called on it.

    skip the honest truth is that I couldn’t care less of what you or anyone else thinks of me, my points or my position on this issue . . . Max#131

    Unless of course you’re telling me

    I did actually have a pretty significant breakthrough . . . that’s likely to yield at least two, if not three papers by the fall–Max#129

    Then you say this has something to do with growing up in a violent community?

    I didn’t say that, and you know it. I said it puts your cheek in perspective. Max, you take yourself very, very seriously, and with good reason for all I know. I’m just saying I’m not going to defer to you because you’re certified to operate an electron microscope.

    Even more frustrating, when contributors who support your position do the same (not responding to valid counter points), I have not seen one peep out of you, even when Coby does it.

    Because often I *simply don’t know*, Max. When I’m not sure of a technical scientific point—or let us say just for the sake of argument—what a particular source says, I *shut up*. Remember Ricky Roma’s No. 1 Rule in Glenngary Glenn Ross (As a Chicago kid you should appreciate the reference):

    “You never open your mouth unless you know what the shot is.”

    This is why I’ll happily let you handle “laser-mediated non-adiabatic interactions in molecules and more complex quantum systems” and why I take my cue on climate from climate scientists—as opposed to a non-specialist, however technically apt in other pursuits, who can’t even come clean when he mis-cites a source.

    “A massive decarbonization of the energy sector is necessary to accomplish this Herculean task,” the authors write.”

    You can read the rest of this piece at the link

    And indeed I did, And you are quite, correct, Max, your report authors used the adjective “Herculean”. They also said,

    Fortunately there is still time to avert unmanageable climate changes, but we *must act now*. [to avoid the potentially irreversible threshold of a 2 degree increase in global average temps; my emphasis]

    The authors write that aggressive simultaneous pursuit of these strategies could reduce the probability of reaching the temperature threshold to less than 10 percent before the year 2050.

    . . . Ramanathan and Xu acknowledge that there are uncertainties about the nature of aerosols and the sensitivity of climate to mitigation actions that make the effects of their suggested course of action hard to determine with precision. [In case the Crakar’s of the world want to jump on the source as mindless “religion”.]

    In other words, Max, R&X believe that the “best evidence” (remember my post in #94 which led to this hissy fit between us about Tol?) indicates that climate change *is real*, whatever the uncertainties, and *demands precautionary action* that is *worth it*, even if the adjective “Herculean” is attached those actions.

    In other words: *Your source agrees with me, Max; not you.*

    Déjà vu all over again?

  135. #135 maxwell
    May 4, 2010

    skip,

    ‘I can’t let you run free on this. Max, you can’t just start out saying, “I don’t agree with you about X . . . Here’s Scholar A who talks about X in a manner that is highly inimical to your position,” and then, when shown that Scholar A doesn’t even *agree with you*, try to hide behind, “Oh, well, I never technically said Scholar A proved *my* point about X.” It was clearly *implied* max.’

    If you’re just going to re-submit the same hack argument in the face of what I have already written, then there is really no point in reasoning with you, is there? If the point is for you to be unreasonable, why you are even bothering trying to apply logic? You could simply just call me some names like the others and be on your way instead of wasting a whole bunch of time continuing to take my comments out of context.

    As for agreement on the position of ‘action’, sure they agree with you. That, however, is simply a matter of opinion. It’s not as though these particular scientists, or any other for that matter, have the last say in what can or should be done politically. That’s the beauty of a democracy. So it’s not really a ‘source’ for evidence in an argument. The argument for action is any more sufficient because two more scientists are throwing their hats into that ring.

    That seems to be the point you’re missing. Your position is not the only reasonable position precisely because the uncertainty, in my opinion, is sufficiently unknown that undertaking, as you even agree now, a Herculean effort to stop proposed effects. This is a fundamental difference between the two of us and it is simply a matter of opinion.

    Your overbearing, rhetorical style of beating your opponents over the head with the idea that yours is the only logical position is based on a false dichotomy from a fringe science that you don’t even understand. Either we act and save the world or we don’t and the world is doomed. Like all false dichotomies, this necessitates ignoring everything you know about your particular field of study where there are a spectrum of possibilities. Not simply the extremes.

    In fact, if you were asked to review a paper that only examined the outcomes several standard deviations from the mean in either direction, would you say it was sound? Would you say that the conclusions of such a study were meaningful? Because I know you’re a trained social scientist, I would suspect that you would not give such a study the stamp of approval.

    Yet, when it comes to this field of study, which you admit not having sufficient knowledge to even hold others to same standard you would hold me, you are willing to do just that. Simply examine the most extreme possibilities, the least likely possibilities even according to the IPCC and the literature, and attempt to make arguments about ‘action’ from them.

    This, again, is just applying one standard for yourself, or your cohort, and another for those with whom you disagree.

    Well done.

  136. #136 skip
    May 4, 2010

    If you’re just going to re-submit the same hack argument in the face of what I have already written, then there is really no point in reasoning with you, is there? If the point is for you to be unreasonable, why you are even bothering trying to apply logic?

    I would ask you the same question. I didn’t try to bullshit you with a source I didn’t understand. On your own time you’ll have to decide for yourself if you can make the same claim.

    Your overbearing, rhetorical style of beating your opponents over the head with the idea that yours is the only logical position

    False.

    I asked you direct questions about what you thought the importance of uncertainties was and gave you my reason why I felt they are a poor logic for inaction. Your response: Quote as “best evidence” something you didn’t even understand and then try to deny you ever did it. I don’t know about the overall “logic” of any number of positions, Max, but I could sure see the fault in yours on that issue.

    is based on a false dichotomy from a fringe science that you don’t even understand.

    In its entirety, of course not. Do you think you do?

    Either we act and save the world or we don’t and the world is doomed.

    False. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve made this clear multiple times and now you’re falling into Crakarian straw men. The world *might* be fine, Max. I acknowledge the uncertainties. But it also *might* be in real, real trouble.

    if you were asked to review a paper that only examined the outcomes several standard deviations from the mean in either direction, would you say it was sound?

    False analogy on two points.

    First, the available range of estimated outcomes–*not* the outliers–are very, very nasty, Max. This is why the preponderance of the world scientific community believes acting on climate change is prudent.

    Second, we don’t have “outcomes” yet in regard to future climate. We only have what the available science says *might* be the outcomes. This uncertainty is, for you, a reason to not worry about it. And Tol and the NAS are (sometimes) your evidence why we shouldn’t.

    Again, its the question I always ask and never get a straight answer to: “How do you get from, “There are uncertainties”, to “We should certainly do nothing.”?

  137. #137 PaulinMI
    May 4, 2010

    Again, its the question I always ask and never get a straight answer to: “How do you get from, “There are uncertainties”, to “We should certainly do nothing.”?

    Quite simple really, that we (collectively) find other things more important, at the moment.
    The cost of the action is currently more than the value received. So, no transaction takes place.

  138. #138 maxwell
    May 4, 2010

    skip,

    you’re continuing to analyze an argument I’m not making.

    It is my personal opinion that given what we know about climate science there is no reason to take ‘action’. I never attempted to make an argument supporting this opinion.

    The fact that you keep trying to drag me into this argument, however, is further proof that you are trying to find some place to hold me to some ‘claims’ I have made, even if I never really made them in the context of an argument against your position.

    Now the fun begins…

    ‘First, the available range of estimated outcomes–*not* the outliers–are very, very nasty, Max. This is why the preponderance of the world scientific community believes acting on climate change is prudent.’

    Two things are interesting to me about this statement. One is the fact that in order to understand the ‘estimated outcomes’ versus ‘outliers’ you have to have a strong understanding of the science put forth in chapter 10 of the AR4. You have pointed out several times that you don’t understand this science. So how can you now make claims about what is an ‘outlier’ and what is an ‘estimated outcome’ in this context? What is the physical difference between ‘outlier’ and ‘estimated outcome’ in this context? What does ‘very, very nasty’ even mean, scientifically?

    Second, you’re making a statement about the concerns and motives of hundreds of thousands of people who representative a wide spectrum of interest in this issue. What evidence do you have to support the idea that the reason why the scientific community supports ‘action’ on climate change are the possible catastrophic consequences?

    ‘Again, its the question I always ask and never get a straight answer to: “How do you get from, “There are uncertainties”, to “We should certainly do nothing.”?’

    This question is actually entertaining in the light of the fact that you can’t identify a ‘false dichotomy’ because you have provided yet another one.

    I have always said we should ramp up research efforts to get a better understanding of the physical reality created by humans. That goes for climate, ecology, geology and environmental science. Now, you may disagree with me about what doing ‘nothing’ or ‘something’ means, but that, again, is a matter of opinion not fact. Given your propensity to take my comments out of context, I’m sure you’ll be throwing a hissy fit about that one in no time.

    Cheers.

  139. #139 skip
    May 5, 2010

    I never really made them in the context of an argument against your position.

    Let me guess: When I pointed out you mis-cited Tol. I see this is your story and you’re sticking to it in the face of all reason, Max. But if you want to keep having an argument about the argument I’m not letting it go.

    I say you name-dropped Tol, got caught, didn’t like getting caught, made up —after the fact—a story about how you were only talking about the “econometric analysis”, threatened to depart in indignation after first dropping a faux parting shot about what a knuckle dragger I am and not worth your time, but returned shortly thereafter with a new lament: That you are beleaguered by my “propensity to take [your] comments out of context”. Finally, you have, at last, apparently even convinced yourself of this version of the facts.

    Maybe I should have posted this in “Narratives”.

    how can you now make claims about what is an ‘outlier’ and what is an ‘estimated outcome’ in this context?

    . . What evidence do you have to support the idea that the reason why the scientific community supports ‘action’ on climate change are the possible catastrophic consequences?

    Max, are these questions an awkward attempt at humor?
    What are you saying? Because I don’t understand the *minutiae* of the science I cannot understand the basic *conclusions* of it?

    And I guess technically you’re right, Max, maybe the potential catastrophic consequences never figured in anyone’s mind. I mean, Jesus: You have science that says the planet is warming and the possible outcomes (long term diminishing of fresh water supplies, nefarious feedback loops, loss of arable land even as population increases, disruption of oceanic ecologies from long-term warming) are truly unnerving—maybe even *nasty*. But nah, that’s not a reason to act on global warming. “Nasty” cannot be measured, so don’t worry about anything called “nasty.”

    And in this context, answer the question I asked earlier: Are you saying you *do* understand this science—at a sufficient level to critique the overwhelming consensus of it? Do you think you get a pass because you can spell “modulation” and eagerly dwell on the un-profound deduction that I am no expert? Because you’re not going to get one—even if you are from North Side, Homie.

    I have always said we should ramp up research efforts to get a better understanding of the physical reality created by humans.

    And what does this mean in terms of action on climate change now? Oh yeah, you told me.

    It is my personal opinion that given what we know about climate science there is no reason to take ‘action’. I never attempted to make an argument supporting this opinion.

    That is, unless you are. Translation: “Not that I’m saying I’m right, but . . . I’m right.”

    Now, you may disagree with me about what doing ‘nothing’ or ‘something’ means, but that, again, is a matter of opinion not fact. I’m sure you’ll be throwing a hissy fit . . .

    Groan.

    Max, I’ve had a busy, productive, but ultimately shitty day, and I would rather not (a) throw a hissy fit proper or (b) ask Coby to devote a new thread to “Anthropogenic Global Warming as Postmodern Epistemology”.

    To say that (1) global warming is either real or not and (2) if it is real it is either dangerous—and worthy of intervention—or it isn’t, is *not* a matter of opinion. The Yes/Yes condition is a very *real* possibility, and saying so is not creating a false dichotomy.

    @Paul:
    Paul, I must say I take you very much at your word that when you look at the cost-benefit balance sheet of acting on climate change, there really isn’t any logic in acting on it.

    For you, that is.

  140. #140 PaulinMI
    May 5, 2010

    @Paul:
    Paul, I must say I take you very much at your word that when you look at the cost-benefit balance sheet of acting on climate change, there really isn’t any logic in acting on it.
    For you, that is.

    Skip, just an observation of the current reality.

    For me, I’m still trying to figure out what to do.
    How about you?

  141. #141 skip
    May 5, 2010

    Ok Paul.

    That is fair and I misread it. I thought you were giving a prescription, not just a *de*scription.

    But I would add this: At what point does it make sense to stop “figuring” and act on the best science we have–especially since recommended changes *have* to happen eventually anyway?

    As you well know, I say sooner rather than later.

  142. #142 PaulinMI
    May 6, 2010

    Skip,
    We must act now, but how?
    By figuring, I meant, what is effective, at what time frame, cost etc.
    IE, a plan of action, who, what, where, goals, etc.

  143. #143 skip
    May 6, 2010

    We’ve had this talk.

    Are you suggesting that you need *me* to hash out these details for you?

    The UN has proposed a set of benchmarks and means to achieve them. I emphasize gradual taxes on fossils to initiate a reduction in their use and as further scientific evidence comes in as to what the exact “time frame” should be.

    Are you saying that unless *I personally* have a road map for you that it doesn’t make sense in general to act?

    Besides, I’ve seen you work this game before. Its a Sisyphean runaround where you’ll end up calling taxes on fossils just a criminal confiscation and thus definitionally invalid for you.

    Paul, my mother is taking treatments for ongoing Lymphoma. Her doctors cannot specify (1) the time frame of recovery (2) the exact effect of which treatments will work best (3) when the end of treatment will be necessary. But what they can tell her is that some action *based on current evidence* is *her best chance* at recovery and survival.

    By your tortured logic, we shouldn’t act on her treatment because of all these uncertainties in both outcomes and evolving responses to the problem. (And after all, the goddam doctors just want the money for treating her; its a criminal confiscation!)

    Its an impossible standard your setting up, Paul. I cannot personally tell you what the best and brightest have come up with for acting on climate change. Go ask them. What I can tell you is that the logic for *some* effective action is *overwhelming*.

  144. #144 PaulinMI
    May 6, 2010

    Well, I don’t know where that came from. Just wanted your opinion on what you see as the way forward.

    My best choice today would be to figure out how to get to zero CO2 as fast as practical or the problem keeps getting worse. Can we pass 450ppm or 850ppm and still survive? That will determine how fast this needs to be done. Should we drop our military down to 40%, 30% or 20% of what it is today to free up resources for the switchover? The non-military budget may have be cut by a similar amount.

    And because we’re over the limit already, we need to figure out a method of pulling CO2 out of the air to set the global temp at a better level.

    Part of that would be an enormous increase in nuclear power plant construction or wind or solar, depending on the most effective CO2 reduction per unit of effort ($$ ?).

    As for your comment on taxes, well, that’s counter intuitive for me. Seems we should use as much fossil fuel as cheaply as possible to finance the productivity and $$ needed to place nuclear wind and solar as fast as possible. The cost of power will do what it will as CO2 based power goes offline.

    Taxing our workhorse power makes us less well off, enough to destroy our ability to finance a national or global power change over.

    For figuring out what to do, I haven’t come to grips on how big and fast, can it be done, in time?

    And, we need a global buy-in to make it worthwhile.

  145. #145 crakar24
    May 6, 2010

    Skip & Paul,

    The guy with the googly eyes has been talking again;

    http://www.icecap.us/index.php/go/joes-blog

    Have a read of the (as of now) first story you see, you can download the PDF if you want.

    In section 3 he talks about what action if any we need to take, he begins by saying based on current observations as opposed to model predictions we need not worry etc, etc.

    He then assumes for a moment the IPCC is correct in their predictions, uses a bit of math and then claims what action is taken would be a waste of time and money and we would best spend that money on GW as a defence rather than action taken to preempt its effects.

    Now as far as i can tell the only why he could be wrong is if he has his calculations all screwed up, if not then he does raise some very good points. Feel free to examine the maths and point out any errors he may have made.

    By the way i hope your mother is OK.

    Crakar

  146. #146 PaulinMI
    May 7, 2010

    Thanks for the link Crakar, I was hoping to get to see it live here, but work intervened, ha. Hopefully it will be re-broadcast or find its way to you tube or some denier blog.

  147. #147 skip
    May 7, 2010

    Have not examined the link yet. But thanks for your thoughts on my mom, Crak.

  148. #148 skip
    May 8, 2010

    Crakar:

    At least you didn’t plagiarize him (this time), but your link was a pseudo-scientific rant by *Monckton*.

    Monckton, Crakar!

    Question: Do you believe C. Monckton is a credible source of information regarding climate and how to respond to it? Having once plagiarized his absurd CO2 “residence time” nonsense the question might, for you, already be answered. But please, have at.

    This strikes me as a simple yes or no issue.

  149. #149 crakar24
    May 9, 2010

    Skip,

    I suspect you did not even bother to read section 3 as i asked because you have completely and utterly failed to address the question i posed. I understand that you have beiefs and vehemently oppose all those who disagree with you, thus you had no need to read section 3 as Monkton et al are flat earth deniers or to keep with religious links, heathens.

    So i will delve a little deeper into where you fear to tread, Monkton quotes the IPCC formula for calculating the temp rise for every doubling of CO2. From this he calculates the temp rise produced for a CO2 increase of 2ppm.

    He uses the 2ppm figure because as you can see (link provided below)CO2 levels have been rising by about 2ppm every year for over the past 30 years.

    http://www.carbonify.com/carbon-dioxide-levels.htm

    Using the IPCC’s very own calculations it can be seen if CO2 increases at 2ppm per year the temp would increase by 0.044F (0.024C). If we shut down the world economy overnight like that other great Hollywood movie A.K.A The day the Earth stood still, we would reduce the amount of global warming in the next 23 years by 1F (0.55C).

    Or if we do nothing over the next 23 years the world will have warmed by 1F (0.55C). If we exclude any other theories that the +ve feed backs have been overcooked by a factor of 4 and the world really is going to warm by 1F (0.55C) by 2033 do you think there is any great need to “act now before it is too late” and drive 1st world economies into the dust while allowing second and third world economies like India to continue to expand?

    So i ask you again Skip are Monktons calculations correct and if so what are your thoughts on our “need to ask fast before we reach a tipping point”? Or do you feel his calculations are flawed, if so where did he go wrong?

    Crakar

  150. #150 mandas
    May 10, 2010

    skip

    It’s amazing what you can pick up if you click on some of the other links from this site. I found an interesting one in the “Editor’s Picks” box. Worth a read.

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/moncktons_testimony_to_congres.php?utm_source=mostactive&utm_medium=link

  151. #151 skip
    May 10, 2010

    Because half the time he does not even cite, I cannot verify Monckton’s work.

    But first, you commit:

    Are *you* saying Monckton’s arguments are correct? Do you believe there are *no fundamental flaws* in his argument?

    Commit, my good fellow, and we can talk.

  152. #152 crakar24
    May 10, 2010

    One can only assume the math is correct, therefore Skip my boy why do you suggest we must act now as there is no time for delay.

    Would it be better to spend the next few years in developing alternative energies that actually work to replace coal, oil and gas? Rather than this ham fisted tax on carbon dioxide that does nothing to reduce our emissions?

    Quotes from people with a vested interest:

    “The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences.”

    A Gore

    “We simply must do everything we can in our power to slow down global warming before it is too late. The science is clear.The global warming debate is over.”

    The terminator

    “Today we’re seeing that climate change is about more than a few unseasonably mild winters or hot summers. It’s about the chain of natural catastrophes and devastating weather patterns that global warming is beginning to set off around the world.. the frequency and intensity of which are breaking records thousands of years old.”

    Barry Obama

    “All across the world, in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms are abruptly putting an end to the long-running debate over whether or not climate change is real. Not only is it real, it’s here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster.”

    Sigh Barry again

    “Two thousand scientists, in a hundred countries, engaged in the most elaborate, well organized scientific collaboration in the history of humankind, have produced long-since a consensus that we will face a string of terrible catastrophes unless we act to prepare ourselves and deal with the underlying causes of global warming.”

    A Gore

    “The issue of climate change is one that we ignore at our own peril. There may still be disputes about exactly how much we’re contributing to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere and how much is naturally occurring, but what we can be scientifically certain of is that our continued use of fossil fuels is pushing us to a point of no return. And unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe.”

    Woops Barry nearly spilled the beans there.

    And lets not forget Gordon Browns chilling words before COP15 “We have only 50 days to save the planet”

    The point of all these quotes Skip is to highlight the lengths that some will go to to convince you that the only way out of this roller coaster ride to hell is to pay a tax, a tax that will achieve nothing but make some rich.

    So go ahead avoid Monktons math and believe.

  153. #153 Matt Bennett
    May 11, 2010

    Ok Crack, so you DO agree that Monckton’s “logic” is flawless in your book? Yes or no?

  154. #154 PaulinMI
    May 11, 2010

    Would you agree, this is where the uncertainty lies?

    http://climate.nasa.gov/uncertainties/

    They are much more common at regional scales than at the global scale, but can be global. State changes have triggers, or “tipping points,” that are related to feedback processes. In what’s probably the single largest uncertainty in climate science, scientists don’t have much confidence that they know what those triggers are.

    Clouds. Clouds have an enormous impact on Earth’s climate, reflecting back into space about one third of the total amount of sunlight that hits the Earth’s atmosphere. As the atmosphere warms, cloud patterns may change, altering the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth. Because clouds are such powerful climate actors, even small changes in average cloud amounts, locations, and type could speed warming, slow it, or even reverse it. Current climate models do not represent cloud physics well, so the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has consistently rated clouds among its highest research priorities. NASA and its research partners in industry, academia, and other nations have a small flotilla of spacecraft and aircraft studying clouds and the closely related phenomenon of aerosols.

  155. #155 crakar24
    May 11, 2010

    Matt, how are you long time no see. I have asked on more than one occasion for any one to check the maths. If the maths are correct and we warm by a paltry 0.5C max in 23 years then the above quotes (which are just a small sample) are totally incorrect.

    Also if the math is correct then what is the hurry, as many have said here before lets develope the technology required to replace fossil fuel and stop emissions rather than simply slapping a tax on it which we all know will achieve nothing.

    Surely you Matt would agree with that..yes?

    Now it is hard to imagine what tech advances will occur in 20 years but i would think battery tech would increase substantially, photo-voltaic cell efficiency will sky rocket making them a more viable alternative for base load replacement. Who knows what advancements in nuclear fusion may take place. I see hydrogen cars are gaining a foot hold in the US they seem like a good idea and with increased battery tech (fuel cell) they may be the ideal replacement for the internal combustion engine.

    As i said it all depends on how much TIME we have before the above quotes come true. Do we have 50 days as the now defeated British PM thought or is Monktons math correct and we have a few decades to think it through and apply the right and correct approach rather than a slash and burn taxation policy.

    It would appear that Gov. around the world are starting to accept this as we see the Australian and German gov. shelving their ETS schemes, NZ gov has now begun softening its ETS by removing the agriculture sector. Of course these decisions were made after the Spanish gov financially destroyed itself in chasing the green economy dream and low carbon legislation in the US is stuck in the mud and has been for some time.

    As i and others have said, applying a tax to this will not work but do we have the time to do it properly? Well according to Monktons math we do. Therefore his logic here is sound, however if you or anyone else can show his math to be flawed then yes we have no alternative but to follow Spain off the cliff.

    PS Are you the same Matt Bennett from JO Nova fame?

  156. #156 coby
    May 11, 2010

    crakar, how about move this over to the new Monkton Matters thread and us, reviewing that post’s material, why you are comfortable “assuming” his math is correct? And as an added bonus tell me why it is worth anyone’s time to take anything Monkton says seriously.

    The man has been shown a fraud over and over again, sorry not interested in biting on this.

  157. #157 skip
    May 14, 2010

    Trying to catch up on the forum while doing end-of-the-semester grading . . .

    Thanks for y’all’s contributions.

    God damn it, Crakar, you retarded-brilliant, charismatic-repugnant, illiterate-poetic, lucid-insane SOB . . .

    Of course these decisions [to soften carbon emission reduction strategies] were made after the Spanish gov financially destroyed itself in chasing the green economy dream and low carbon legislation Crakar

    I know Spain is one of the PIIGS, but what is your basis for the presumption that going green was the cause? I actually trust you enough on political analysis to ask . . . sheep shagger.

    Well according to Monktons math we do [have time to act on climate change “properly”]. Therefore his logic here is sound,

    And here again, my very dear Crakar, you are placing the future of climate and the planet on a proven charlatan. Duane Gish would love us both. There is no way in bloody hell I’m wasting my semi-valuable time chasing down the specific refutations of this quack.

    But on that note, why don’t you and I go debate on the Flat Earth forum? (Btw: the last thing I saw on Flat Earth was by “Pancake Productions” out of Oz. No sheep involved.)

    Only this time *I* get to be *you* and argue the earth is flat. Oh no! I called it first! Dibs, mate!

    http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/forum/

    Seriously, it would be fun for both of us.

    (I personally have a vested interest in a flat, young earth. It means I am a direct descendant of Adam. Great consolation for a humble social scientist who just got a nasty peer review on an article submission.)

    And how ‘bout an answer to my Big Question, Crakar:

    Do you believe *you* are qualified to critique the climate science consensus?

    I would ask Maxwell the same question, but he’s taken one of his hiatuses.

  158. #158 PaulinMI
    May 14, 2010

    I’ll save Crakar the time. This is quite well known in the denial-o-sphere like here:

    Job Losses From Obama Green Stimulus Foreseen in Spanish Study

    By Gianluca Baratti

    March 27 (Bloomberg) — Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain’s experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide.

    For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

    U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget proposal contains about $20 billion in tax incentives for clean-energy programs. In Spain, where wind turbines provided 11 percent of power demand last year, generators earn rates as much as 11 times more for renewable energy compared with burning fossil fuels.

    The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power – – which are charged to consumers in their bills — translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.

    “The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” he said in an interview

  159. #159 skip
    May 16, 2010

    I actually tracked down Calzada’s report, Paul.

    http://www.juandemariana.org/pdf/090327-employment-public-aid-renewable.pdf

    I admit it made me think.

    The essential premise is that subsidizing wind and solar in Spain turned into a bubble because of the “retributive” incentives built into it: Because the government subsidized the creation of the green industries it siphoned money from other sectors of the economy and those incentives are dying now because Spain is insolvent.

    However, let the record show he is full blown climate denier–appearing at the ICCC along with other flat earthers Monckton, Spencer, etc–which creates a major credibility drain, although the article seemed well researched and was articulate.

    It also had the ring of truth to me anyway because it made a plausible argument: you can’t fantasize your way to climate change action; you can’t have it both ways, deficit spending to fix carbon emissions *and* make jobs, *and* find Jesus *and* ensure the Lakers don’t win the title, etc.

    But I would respond that I never denied this. Even if Calzada is correct in his analysis (and again he might very well be) the only lesson we can take from this is that that *type* of action on climate change/green tech is a poor idea. It does *not* mean that not acting is a good idea. If anything its a backhanded vindication of what I’ve been arguing for for years now: sell the public on a progressive taxation system. Gradually tax fossils until (a) oil pays its own way, because right now it does not (b) the incentive system gradually forces consumers and businesses to adapt to lower levels of use (c) green technologies can improve and eventually be made cost-effective and replace an increasing share of the base load.

    Because Paul (and this is an argument I never get a straight answer to) it *has to happen anyway*. Assuming we don’t destroy ourselves, someday, someone will *have* to live on something other than fossil fuels. Its a mathematical certainty. So when I hear these arguments about how weaning ourselves off fossils is too “costly”, it pisses me directly off, because its a cost that the arguer has no problem imposing on future generations.

    As my alter ego D. Nyer once put it when I posed him that point, he said, of our descendants whose oil we’re burning in our Hummers, “They will adapt to what is.” So its ok to make *them* adapt, but asking *him* to adapt is too “costly”. Again it irks me.

    So even if your man is right in his economic analysis (and we have every reason to suspect he has an ideological bone to grind) it does not follow logically that *any* action on climate change is ill advised.

    Yes, Paul, it will “cost”. So did beating the Nazis.

  160. #160 PaulinMI
    May 16, 2010

    Because Paul (and this is an argument I never get a straight answer to) it *has to happen anyway*. Assuming we don’t destroy ourselves, someday, someone will *have* to live on something other than fossil fuels. Its a mathematical certainty. So when I hear these arguments about how weaning ourselves off fossils is too “costly”, it pisses me directly off, because its a cost that the arguer has no problem imposing on future generations.

    Ok, now what is our best choice to replace fossil fuel?
    Hint, the answer is easy. If you really want to save the planet, that is.

    [btw, it shouldn't piss you off. It is costly because of the compressed time frame required and dismantling perfectly functioning existing infrastructure.]

  161. #161 PaulinMI
    May 16, 2010

    from Clamate Progress,

    NASA: Easily the hottest April — and hottest Jan-April — in temperature record
    Plus a new record 12-month global temperature, as predicted
    May 16, 2010

    Isn’t this just weather?

  162. #162 skip
    May 16, 2010

    If you’re thinking going nuke, Paul, then I admit I don’t object in principle, but it is also a short run solution. Uranium is also a finite resource. (I know there are different schools of thought on ore reserves but more cynical estimates say nuclear might replace base load for at most a century. Then we’re right back where we were (or more accurately, our descendants will be right back where we are).

    One thing strikes me as a certain discussion ender–the Fusion Trump Card. I suspect if we had a Manhattan Project to solve that riddle we could all go home. In the mean time be willing to drive a Prius and set your winter heat to 67. Is this asking too much? Grandma worked the graveyard shift building Shermans while Grandpa manned an AA gun at Okinawa without ever bitching about “cost”.

  163. #163 PaulinMI
    May 16, 2010

    I’ll have to check the uranium issue. If it’s finite I’d agree. Thanks for the heads up.

    I don’t think a Prius and 67 is gonna cut it.

  164. #164 crakar24
    May 16, 2010

    Skip 159,

    Lets assume for a moment he does not have an axe to grind just like you haven’t. The problems begin with gov subsidies allowing these cottage industries to develope. Once the subsidies are removed the cost of the power goes up and it becomes quite expensive. It is quite simple really when you think about it.

    So you say if we are to learn anything from Spain it is that we must act now but act in the best way possible. This of course makes perfect sense, but how do we do this?

    You say it has to happen anyway so why not do it now, ok if you accept the IPCC’s over cooked sensitivity figures then we only have a short time to save the planet, thus why not do it now rather than passing this on to the next generation.

    So far so good.

    However to do it right we only have one viable option and that is nuke power but then you say this will only last 100 years so it is no good. Why is it no good? In 100 years we will have solved the fusion issue or come up with something even better, surely nuke would give us 100 years of breathing space yes?

    Mind you any government here in Oz or for that matter NZ that allows the building of nuke plant would be in opposition for the next 100 years so that might be a propblem.

  165. #165 crakar24
    May 16, 2010

    Paul 161,

    No, no, no, no, no this is not weather this is all part of the long term trend of CO2 induced climate change. Just like the Nth hemi experienced its snowiest winter ever recorded and the past decade has been the snowiest ever are also “signs” of climate change.

    Its funny because i have always associated snow with cold temps.

    There is a difference between heat and temperature.

  166. #166 crakar24
    May 16, 2010

    Skip,

    I did not know who Duane Gish was so i looked him up on google, i think between the two of us we would give him a run for his money, i would go in first and rough him up a bit, then you would come in with knockout punch :-)))

    Post 157,

    Do you believe *you* are qualified to critique the climate science consensus?

    I see where we are headed here Skip and congrats to you as you have finally phrased the question where i have no wriggle room. Looks like the cunning fox has finally caught his chicken.

    So in answer to your question “Do you believe *you* are qualified to critique the climate science consensus?” I would have to say no.

    Luckily for you for all the scientists that disagree with the consensus are buffoons, nutjobs and deniers thus blunting any possibility of me asking the same question of you.

    PS I will look at that website you mentioned and yes it would be fun to swap sides for a while, i will have a look tonight.

    PPS So your grandma built Sherman tanks did she? Do you know why they are called tanks? The Poms first came up with the idea to counter the German trenches, the design was so secret they told the workers they are building water tanks.

  167. #167 skip
    May 17, 2010

    Luckily for you for all the scientists that disagree with the consensus are buffoons, nutjobs and deniers thus blunting any possibility of me asking the same question of you.

    Yeah, well . . . all I can say is it sucks being on the wrong side of the evidence. I was there myself back when I was a creationist-fundamentalist in my formative years. Books and an inquisitive Irish mind happily cured me of it.

    I will look at that website you mentioned and yes it would be fun to swap sides for a while, i will have a look tonight.

    Fine. But like I said, I have dibs on defending the flat-earth dogma. I want to see it from your side of the fence and this might be my best chance. In the mean time you be safe. Back to my wine . . .

  168. #168 PaulinMI
    May 22, 2010

    Skip,
    Confirmed your comment on 100 years uranium. Worse still, it’s at present consumption rates. However thorium and breeder reactors are also mentioned.

    Biggest disappointment is that it’s not mentioned in the “pro nuclear” discussions.

    Personal opinion here > but’s it’s certainly one of the solution starters.

    Also, as far as running out of things, see here. http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/will112209.php3

  169. #169 PaulinMI
    May 22, 2010

    However to do it right we only have one viable option and that is nuke power but then you say this will only last 100 years so it is no good. Why is it no good? In 100 years we will have solved the fusion issue or come up with something even better, surely nuke would give us 100 years of breathing space yes?

    Crakar, Skip,
    In the end it doesn’t really matter.
    Look at the task at hand. Globally.
    Money aside, there is simply not enough skill, manpower and facilities available to do what needs to be done in the time frame allowed by the alarmists.

    The only hope is that the sensitivity figures and feedbacks or whatever you want to call them are wrong, much lower then, than what the IPCC predicts now.

    And, counter intuitively, to some, to have a chance to make the shift, we need to burn as much fossil fuel as quickly and cheaply as possible.

    Ironic that the “greenies” will be their own biggest impediment.

  170. #170 crakar24
    October 19, 2010

    Skip seeing how you like to accuse people of plagiarism i thought i would show you what palgiarism really looks like.

    I hope the hand full of scientists that make up the massive consensus at the IPCC get it right come AR5

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/glacier_gate.pdf

  171. #171 skip
    November 29, 2010

    Re: New Article on Freeman Dyson

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/12/the-danger-of-cosmic-genius/8306/

    (The same issue of the *Atlantic* also has an article on the future of clean coal but I’m not finished yet.)

    My take if anyone is interested:

    Freeman Dyson has made his name as something of a hero for the denier movement. Although he accepts the basic science of AGW he disputes that its particularly threatening, and that various adaptive mechanisms and the social and technical evolution of humankind will address it. With a Mozartian IQ (as a prodigious teenager he was helping OSS plan British bombing raids during the war) and an amazing list of scientific achievements, he is regarded as an ace in the hole for climate change deniers.

    Posted above is article from this month’s *Atlantic* about him, written by an old acquaintance. Although the article is weak on the specific sources of dispute against Dyson (i.e. the overwhelming scientific evidence for the potentially massive threat posed by climate change), it does attempt to disentangle why Dyson, who does not study climate, would so eagerly position himself against a consensus on a subject on which he himself is no specialist.

    Among Brower’s guesses are:

    1. Contrariness: some people just like getting jazzed being different and bucking the trend. When challenged with facts it only makes them more recalcitrant. Brower senses an element of this:

    It is clear to me that he has been stung by the criticism of his musings on global warming, and is digging in his heels.

    He Doesn’t Really Mean It: Dyson has at times shown a frivolous side, and he’s just talking out his genteel ass when he calls concerns over AGW the paranoia of environmentalist “religion”.

    Brower says no. On this Dyson has made it clear he is dead serious.

    Educated Fool He’s a nutty professor, able to unlock the deepest mysteries of the physical universe but no more able to understand the basics of climate science than to shoot a duck.

    Brower says there is an element of this with Dyson but some of his colleagues have identified a supreme engineering practicality to accompany his stellar theoretical IQ. Jury out.

    Old Age: The old man is just losing it.

    Brower says Dyson’s intellectual powers are as keen as ever. Not the answer.

    The one Brower also tends toward is

    Collision of Faiths:

    Dyman has a view of humanity as an animal of destiny, able to control our physical world and even adjust ourselves as social animals through technology and enlightenment–this in sharp contrast to a conservationist worldview that values other species, living within nature’s strictures as much as possible, and conserving the physical world and its resources:

    In the worldview underlying those opinions, however—in the articles of his secular faith—he makes a kind of good vicar for a much more widely accepted set of beliefs, the set that presently drives our civilization. The tenets go something like this: things are not really so bad on this planet. Man is capable of remaking the biosphere in a coherent and satisfactory way. Technology will save us.

    It was overall a good read, but the “Contrariness” explanation is incomplete, because it lacks (perhaps because Brower wanted to offend an old friend as little as possible) any explicit reference to the obvious role of *pride*.

    Freeman Dyson is not used to thinking of himself as wrong about things, and being told by a body of scholars–the vast majority of whom have a fraction of his intellect–that he’s “wrong” about climate change and its likely implications is impossible to swallow.

    “Wrong? Wrong? I am Freeman *F–ing* Dyson. I designed the flight patterns that got your grandfathers through Messerschmitts and AA flack while your grandmothers carried your dads in their shit-filled diapers from the ration line to the bomb shelter. I won the Lorenz and the Planck when you were sticking toothpicks in potatoes in a bowl of water in middle school. Don’t tell *me* I’m wrong.”

    I believe this because I’ve seen a similar mentality from far lesser minds, with far less basis for such hubris, who think they’ve got the goods on the AGW “hoax”. If these mediocrities can believe they’re above refutation its very easy to believe Dyson might.

    I won’t mention names.

  172. #172 skip
    December 1, 2010

    Question for Snowman coming over from “The Case against Fluoride”.

    Snowman:

    Have *you* read Plimer’s book?

    If so, what are the *good* arguments that you suggest we consider?

  173. #173 Snowman
    December 2, 2010

    Sorry for the delay, Skip. I have been away from the computer for most of the day.

    I had rather hoped your question would not be such an obvious one, but I am afraid you have disappointed me yet again. My disappointment is all the more acute as I know you like to present yourself as a ruthlessly logical fellow.

    No, I haven’t read the book, but that is very far from being the point. I have no idea if his work is full of insights or full of junk. My argument was that people have no right to condemn a book without reading it.

    (I have, by the way, been to hear Prof Plimer speak in London. I found him rather disappointing.)

    But anyway, Skip, I am getting a little weary of trading insights in this strange virtual world. Do you ever stop to think about the oddness of it all? Here we are (and we are hardly the most aggressive) working ourselves into a state of high dudgeon over remarks by someone on the other side of the world whom we will never meet and know nothing about.

    What do I know about you, for example? Well, I know that you live in Nevada, that you teach at a university, that you are a football fan (mainly college football, I believe) and….and that’s it. I have no idea if there is a Mrs Skip and little Skips. I don’t know if you are a Republican or a Democrat (I suspect the latter, but I could be wrong). I don’t know if you are a native Nevadan (is that the word?) or if you grew up somewhere else. In short, I know none of the really interesting things that make a person what he is.

    But why am I rambling on this way? I must be in a mellow mood this morning.

  174. #174 Nils Hafrolic
    December 27, 2011

    Coming back after a bit of a while …
    Has anything worth noting changed ? Have any of the pros recanted, have any of the antis subsided ?
    ?

    I might have guessed.

    You people are just like the ones on the “Does God exist ?” forum.

    Regards,

    Nils

  175. #175 Nils Hafrolic
    December 27, 2011

    Hum …
    It seems the conversations stopped back there in 2010 … strange…
    What happened there ? Premature end of the world ? Giant wave killing all coast-dwelling humans ? (yuk yuk)

    Anyway, happy 2012, may it be a warm and sunny year for all of us.

    Regards,

    Nils

  176. #176 skip
    December 27, 2011

    The scoundrels have fled, Nils.

    Will you be among them … again?