A Few Things Ill Considered

They Predicted Cooling in the 1970’s

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:

The alarmists were predicting the onset of an Ice Age in the 70’s, now it’s too much warming! Why should we believe them?

Answer:

It is true that there were some predictions of an "imminent ice age" in the 1970’s but a very cursory comparison of then and now reveals a huge difference. Today, you have a widespread scientific consensus supported by national academies and all the major scientific institutions solidly behind the warning that the temperature is rising, anthropogenic CO2 is the primary cause and the warming will worsen unless we reduce emissions. On the other hand, in the 1970’s, there was a book in the popular press, a few articles in popular magazines, and a small amount of scientific speculation based on the recently discovered glacial cycles and the recent slight cooling trend from air pollution blocking the sunlight. There were no daily headlines. There was no avalanche of scientific articles. There were no United Nations treaties or commissions. No G8 summits on the dangers and possible solutions. No institutional pronouncements.

Quite simply, there is no comparison. I’m sure you could find better evidence of a "consensus" of a coming alien invasion.

If you want some additional detail, Real Climate has discussed this, and William Connelly has made a hobby of gathering everything that was written about global cooling at the time.


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.


“They Predicted Cooling in the 1970’s” 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 Sarah
    September 8, 2008

    Daily headlines, avalanche of scientific articles, United Nations treaties or commissions, G8 summits on the dangers and possible solutions and institutional pronouncements does not make scientific evidence.

    E.g. The global consensus used to be for “the Sun revolving around the Earth” while minority thought the Earth revolved around the Sun.

  2. #2 coby
    September 8, 2008

    Hi Sarah,

    Please see the “There is no evidence” article.

    “Eg. …”
    Indeed. Notice how better ideas emerge over time to become the new consensus. The theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming has slowly emerged over the last 100+ years and is not disputed by serious scientists in the field anymore. The future is much less certain, but CO2 driven warming is a settled issue now.

    Do you now doubt that the earth really does revolve around the sun?

  3. #3 Tim Jenvey
    February 6, 2009

    There was every reason to believe that the universe revolved around the earth. How else could we have stayed fixed on a speeding planet? It was not until Newton came up with his laws of motion that folks started to settle down and accept the notion.
    Hey, how do we know what some bright guy might come up with in the future? Best to keep the door open aye? That’s what science is about after all. Consenus is like a cancer.

  4. #4 Tim Jenvey
    February 6, 2009

    Hey, how do we know what some bright guy might come up with in the future? Best to keep the door open aye? That’s what science is about after all. Consensus is like a cancer so why even call it out. Just reinforces the insecurity which is on show here.

  5. #5 coby
    February 7, 2009

    Tim,

    Such detached intellectual curiosity would be fine if there were no human consequences to our activities. The existence of a consensus is not significant for the scientific pursuits, which will continue, but it is significant for formulating policy.

    (Hope I’m not sounding too insecure)

  6. #6 Tim Jenvey
    February 7, 2009

    You say that “The existence of a consensus is not significant for the scientific pursuits, which will continue”. I’m pleased to hear that and trust that we will see this site encourage this.
    Otherwise this must be branded a political website.
    Let’s leave policy to the politicians and give them the complete spectrum of the science we have in the true character of the discipline.
    Oh, and I apologize in advance, you do sound insecure:) Thanks for taking time to reply.

  7. #7 grecri
    February 8, 2009

    As an aside to the main issue here, I have always found the use of the word ‘consensus’ interesting in the global warming debate.

    The dictionary definition varies from 1 more than half, to an overwhelming majority. That makes it the perfect word for those who wish to give the impression that ‘the science is settled’ and that only a few fringe crazies disagree, when in actuality there are far greater numbers who disagree with the current dogma.

    A recent poll by Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union (not exactly a right wing think tank) revealed that 10% of scientists in earth-related fields didn’t even believe we are warming. And 18% didn’t believe man had a significant effect.

  8. #8 Adam
    February 9, 2009

    Just for reference, here’s the study cited by grecri (I believe).
    http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf

    I think this is a particularly important quote from that study that grecri did not point out:
    “In our survey, the most specialized and knowledgeable respondents (with regard to climate change) are those who listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change (79 individuals in total). Of these specialists, 96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1 and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2.”

    Also, the conclusion:
    “It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.”

  9. #9 Tim
    February 11, 2009

    Using your definition of consensus as in a process, there is another step required before making policy and declaring “CO2 driven warming is a settled issue now”. That’s called “unanimity”.
    The use of the word, “consensus” allows folks to agree for the sake of the whole. In which case it is not “settled”.
    In my view science cannot/should not “settle” anything. We are using it in ways for that which it is not intended.

  10. #10 coby
    February 11, 2009

    There may be a few exceptions, but clearly the vast majority of policy decisions are made without being unanimous.

    Science can not “settle” what policy should be, but it can certainly settle any questions about what reality is, at least for those to whom reality still matters.

    About agreeing for the sake of the whole, I think this is a valid point. Please see here for a discussion of that.

  11. #11 Tim
    February 14, 2009

    I agree that policy decisions will always be a compromise by their very nature.
    We are talking here about science.
    In your reply above you mention that science delivers ‘reality’. I again question you understanding of science. Science only comes up with concepts and theroies based on what we can observe. It does not even get close to reality. What is space, time, light, mass, etc. ???? Not a clue.
    Thanks for making an interesting exchange….

  12. #12 mikatollah
    February 15, 2009

    Tim,

    There was nothing particularly interesting or informative about this exchange. It was the usual misrepresentations we see AGW deniers use all over the blogosphere.

    You began with “consensus is a cancer”… This is another conspiracy theory-type argument against AGW. Consensus is not a goal of science, but it is typically a result. And in the case of AGW, this result has allowed us to progress to a point where we can now take political action to try and reverse or slow its affect on our planet.

    Next you repeat an old straw man argument that the scientific consensus somehow inhibits future scientific research. This is a complete misunderstanding (or more likely, misrepresentation) of the scientific method. A scientific consensus can be a fragile thing, only as strong as the evidence supporting the theory. The first time someone provides real evidence for a competing theory, or one of the predictions of the theory fails, the consensus will melt away.

    Finally, I’m not sure what to make of the last response where you question the relationship of science and reality. The primary purpose of science is to provide us with useful models of reality, and a method for testing them. And don’t fall into the trap of believing that just because you are incapable of observing realities like “space, time, light, mass, etc.” that no one can. There are many ways to observe reality, and physicists do it every day.

  13. #13 Tim
    February 16, 2009

    You are right. There is nothing interesting or informative. You say “The first time someone provides real evidence for a competing theory, or one of the predictions of the theory fails, the consensus will melt away”
    I will say the consensus will not be allowed to ‘melt’ away even with the contradictory evidence piling up and scientist moving to the non-AGW camp.
    You will say the science is settled and the scientists are moving to the pro-AGW camp (come to think of it, maybe you won’t, as I have not heard of any).
    On science vs. reality that’s a philosophical question and this is clearly not a forum for that.
    Thanks for the exchange.

  14. #14 Gigs
    February 16, 2009

    “The first time someone provides real evidence for a competing theory, or one of the predictions of the theory fails, the consensus will melt away.”

    In theory! (pun heh)

    In reality, science is more like dogma than most scientists would like to admit. It often takes a generation change for a highly ingrained idea to fade away, even in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.

    This is especially true of softer sciences that are more observational in nature than experimental. You can’t reproduce an experiment on the earth’s climate, after all.

  15. #15 mikatollah
    February 17, 2009

    There can be no discussion about science vs. reality in this forum or any other… because the conflict exists only in your mind.

    “Soft science” is another concept that is misapplied here. It is a legitimate term, but it refers to academic science and experiments that can’t be reproduced. The physics of climate change can be observed in any science lab.

    Come on Tim, words have meanings. By definition science is the opposite of dogma. Now I will grant you that there have been bad actors over the years who couldn’t give up their favorite theory despite the evidence against it. But even they eventually give it up or die and the consensus will follow the evidence. In the case of climate change, it is not a theoretical exercise that we can afford to let drift around for generations. It is happening now and we have to deal with it.

    Science is never settled. The question of AGW is settled to a point where we now must take action, but climate science goes on each day. As for your “mounting evidence against AGW”, that is a creation of the right wing media. Watch it if you want because its pretty funny and can be entertaining, but if you want answers that can be backed up by the science, stick around here.

  16. #16 Tim
    February 17, 2009

    Well you place me with good company!! Einstein had a lot to say on the ‘Illusion of Reality’ and tried unsuccessfully to come up with a ‘unified field theory’ to address the issue.
    Climate cannot be reproduced in a laboratory. Period. This is delusional.
    Science is the new dogma. It has been hi-jacked.
    Right wing media aye? Please read the two sides of this debate in American Physical Society (APS): http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807
    Volume 37, Number 3 and the two “Articles”. Then tell me this is Right Wing Media. I can swamp you with more.

  17. #17 coby
    February 17, 2009

    Hi Tim,

    Read about that APS article here.

    Before swamping us with editorials from non-experts (and in the case of Monkton, bonifide crackpots) why don’t you have a look at this list of scientific agencies and organizations with relevant expertise and come back with even two examples of similar institutions that disagre with the IPCC’s conclusion?

    BTW, your reply to mikatollah is a strawman. No one mention reproducing climate in the lab. Why not address the actual point that science describes and explains reality, which should then inform policy. Existential questions about what is space and time are fun to think about, but meanwhile practical decisions must be made.

  18. #18 mikatollah
    February 17, 2009

    You are obviously taking about a tongue in cheek quote attributed to Einstein: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” You put the emphasis on illusion when you should have focused on persistent. Einstein was famous for tweaking the media of his day with little bites of scientific wisdom that he knew they would print and debate. And just because he failed to find a unified theory of everything doesn’t disconnect science from reality.

    Reality may be stranger than we imagine, or maybe even stranger than we can imagine, but that in no way lessens the value of science as a tool for sorting out what is real and what is not.

    I clicked on your link and look what I found on the front page (second paragraph):

    “The FPS Executive Committee strongly endorses the position of the APS Council that “Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.” The statement in the July 2008 edition of our newsletter, Physics and Society that, “There is considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution” does not represent the views of the Executive Committee of the Forum on Physics and Society.”

    I totally agree with the above, but I’m not sure why you would direct me to a site so hostile to AGW deniers argument (that there is no scientific consensus)…

  19. #19 Tim
    February 18, 2009

    Wow. A broadside within an hour of posting. You guys are impressive.
    I was not referring to a “tongue in cheek quote attributed to Einstein”. I agree that media bites are not very useful.
    mikatollah wrote – “The physics of climate change can be observed in any science lab”. My response was not a straw man.
    An APS editor requests input on a topic about which he says “There is considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion……..” He receives at least two replies and publishes one for and one against. Seems perfectly reasonable. However, his bosses feel the need to put up health warnings. This begs the question: why do they feel the need to do that? Surely they should let the articles stand on their merits in the true discipline of science. More importantly – what did you think of the articles?
    And sadly the name calling has crept in: “bonifide crackpots” (you probably meant “bonafide”). So this is a good point for me to exit.

  20. #20 coby
    February 18, 2009

    Tim, duly noted that you decline to offer anything more than editorials by non-scientists as evidence of the alleged scientific debate about this topic.

    Since you object to my opinion of Monkton, why don’t you tell us what it is in his APS newsletter essay that you find convincing? A true sceptic examines arguments for their logic and factual content, not merely for confirmation that there is a “debate”. What did Monkton write that you find convincing?

  21. #21 kristof
    February 19, 2009

    Tim said the following:
    ‘Science is the new dogma. It has been hi-jacked.’

    That pretty much sums it up. If you don’t trust that science can say anything meaningful about our world (any more), then you don’t even bother about learning what science has to say about climate change.

    You believe they cannot any more and even if they could you believe they are pressured into it anyway (at least for climate science). This leaves ample room for a debate based on arguments.

    There are by the way many consensuses in science: e.g that the earth revolves around the sun, that evolution is happening, that water boils at 100 degrees (Celcius),… if there is any debate about these issues, it is about the how and the specific circumstances and to get a deeper understanding. The same seems to be happening with climate science. Yes, there is debate but not any more about the if, but about the exact details. The idea that a consensus in science is by definition a bad thing is absurd. Science would really be delayed if one would have to investigate everything that has already been done before (I stress the word ‘everything in the last sentence’). This of course does not mean that a consensus will never to toppled (history shows that a false consensus will topple).

    Of course you can still choose to challenge all these consensuses I have mentioned before.

  22. #22 Svempa
    April 29, 2009

    Problem is: If you say that 92,6% of those who have published more than 50% of their articles in the field, you will get exactly the career-minded people who are ready to say what IPCC wants to hear. Frankly, I am surprised so few believed in warming.

    I would be much more interested in hearing what the people who have NOT been paid off by the IPCC have to say.

    But then, alarmism is a religion, with its own high priests, and their well-paid flunkies.

  23. #23 Adam
    April 29, 2009

    Svempa –

    This isn’t Free Republic. If you’re going to posit a global conspiracy, you’re going to have to provide some evidence.

  24. #24 AK
    September 29, 2009

    Great article from the American Meteorological Society (via Daily Kos). The “global cooling in the 70s” myth rests upon this James Schlesinger quote:

    “judging from the record of the past interglacial ages, the present time of high temperatures should be drawing to an end… leading into the next glacial age.”

    But the full quote reveals Schlesinger was referring to a 20,000 year timeframe, not rapid global cooling; in fact, the conclusion was that global warming is the real threat:

    “Judging from the record of the past interglacial ages, the present time of high temperatures should be drawing to an end, to be followed by a long period of considerably colder temperatures leading to the next glacial age some 20,000 years from now. However, it is possible, or even likely, that human interference has already altered the environment so much that the climatic pattern of the near future will follow a different path.”

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/9/27/785796/-Dispelling-Climate-Research-Myths:-The-1970s-global-cooling-consensus

  25. #25 Wisco
    April 20, 2010

    Growing up in the 70s, I don’t remember a thing about people freaking out over global cooling. From my recollection, it wasn’t a big issue, so I don’t think many people took it too seriously.

    What I do remember was a big concern about nuclear winter in the 80s. I wonder if people are getting the two confused?

  26. #26 SkepticalbyNature
    April 21, 2010

    I don’t know about people freaking out about it, but I clearly remember listening to the radio with my mother in the early 80’s and listening to news/documentary articles warning of the threat of an impending ice age. I specifically and vividly recall one correspondent reporting on an idea to spray carbon dust all over the arctic/antarctic to promote less albedo. So while this argument may have nothing to do with whether scientists are currently right or wrong in their AGW hypotheses, I don’t think we should try to deny that global cooling was a story that got through to the masses, at least for a period. It was promulgated and it was wrong – but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything for the validity of the current AGW theory. Just because some people were wrong before doesn’t at all mean that the current theory is suspect. I don’t see how the two arguments could logically follow. Maybe a lesson was learned not to read too much into relatively short-term trends.

    Regards,

  27. #27 skip
    April 21, 2010

    @SBN:

    And that’s the key. Dogmatic deniers don’t want to believe what science says, so they fish for an instance when “scientists” were wrong (i.e. the faux global cooling consensus) and reason thus: “Scientists have been wrong before; therefore I don’t have to believe scientists now.”

    I was lurking on a denier website and even read a comment that reached a new nadir of absurdity. The poster (I’m paraphrasing) argued that most scientific change is instigated by the minority. Since the minority now deny significant anthropogenic climate change, they are by definition correct. In other words, if you want to know scientific truth, find that particular claim that the fewest possible scientists believe. Therein lies truth.

    It is thoughts such as these that will scorch our earth as much as amount of CO2.

  28. #28 GFW
    April 21, 2010

    Heh, that’s just another variation on the old “I’m just like Galileo” meme. What these Galileo-come-lately idiots don’t realize is that there already was a time when AGW was the minority scientific position, and that time is long past.

    To beat the metaphor a little harder, in current society-at-large, the climate scientists are Galileo, and the fossil fuel industry is the Catholic church.

  29. #29 crakar24
    April 21, 2010

    Skip,

    Dont get me wrong here i agree with your post but compiling a long list of names that agree with you does not prove you right either.

  30. #30 skip
    April 22, 2010

    And this, my dear Crakar gets us right back to the Key Question for which you will never have an answer:

    What evidentiary state of affairs would satisfy you what AGW is both real and threatening?

    Don’t say “evidence”–that is a vague dodge.

    Don’t say its forcing you to prove a negative or asking to find proof for the opposition. Those are red herrings.

    Don’t say, “I’ve already answered, but not to your satisfaction, Skip.” That is another dodge. Fine– answer again. I’ve repeated myself to you enough times.

    What would it take to convince you?

    Crakar–*this* is the mentality going on here. When you dodge this question yet again.

  31. #31 crakar24
    April 22, 2010

    For the love of God…..

    In the past i have answered by saying when there is evidence to support it or when the doomsday predictions come true and so on but this has all been in vain as these answers have not satisfied you.

    Ok i will try to answer your question which does not involve evidence or red herrings or anything perceived as a dodge.

    Without the above all i have left to offer you is my own perceptions of the world around, when i begin to see the world around me change in a significant way then i will sit up and take notice of the AGW theory. Until then i consider it to be an overrated hype from the UN/IPCC.

    Now i am sure my answer has done two things, firstly it wont be good enough (thats a given) but maybe we can talk some more and i can pad it out with more detail in an effort to appease you.

    Secondly as for the rest of your fellow dart throwers all my answer will achieve is give them more encouragement and ammunition to throw at me.

    Flame suit on, check

    Hatches secured, check

    Post

  32. #32 skip
    April 22, 2010

    when there is evidence to support it

    Still not answering. For you, what would constitute “evidence”? You’re dodging.

    or when the doomsday predictions come true

    Well Christ, Crakar. It will be real big of you to come clean and admit you were wrong when its too bloody late. What will you want at that point–a Nobel bleeding Peace Prize?

    and so on but this has all been in vain as these answers have not satisfied you.

    And for the fourth time I remind you that you have not even thought to ask me the analogous question.

  33. #33 mandas
    April 22, 2010

    SBN

    The concept that scientists in the 1970s and 1980s were predicting global cooling or a global ice age is a very serious myth being propagated by deniers. Although there were some articles in the popular press etc which suggested that an ice age etc was coming, these did not reflect the views of climate scientists of the time – who were strongly of the view that rising CO2 levels were likely to cause climate change and global temperature rise.

    This is important, because the concept of AGW is not a new one – it has been around for at least 50 years – and the science is steadily improving as more information comes to hand. To debunk the myth that climate scientists in the 1970s thought that the Earth was headed for cooling, a study was conducted in 2008 which reviewed the scientific literature from the 1970s to determine what the consensus of the time was. That study is here:

    http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/131047.pdf

    The study is definitive. Although there were some scientists and studies at the time who believed in cooling, the overwhelming consensus was the other way – that AGW was already a cause for concern.

    If you want a little more information, there is a very good video here which discusses the issue a little better than I can. The whole series is actually worth a look:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/greenman3610#p/u/9/XB3S0fnOr0M

  34. #34 crakar
    April 23, 2010

    Skip i have asked the question and you have answered do you not remember?

    So lets strike that from Skips list of things worthy of throwing darts at shall we.

    Well why not give me a Nobel F$%&&g Prize Obama got one for peace after he stepped up the spilling of Islamic blood and Gore got one for making a Hollywood movie about the impending apocalyptic death which like all Hollywood movies was based on very little if any facts.

    I think i now understand how to answer your question, back in the days of Ramases when the Nile did not flow they prayed to the Gods for rain. Ramases himself sacrificed first born children to Ammon and Horus to bring the rains.

    But when the rains came they were smited by the Gods once again with the coming of the locust plagues.

    We see the very same thing happening today, the great God of CO2 tooketh the rain away but after much sacrifice (Kyoto, etc) the great God of CO2 has bestowed our great land with floods to replenish the rivers and lakes with life saving water.

    Great rejoicement was seen by the farmers of the land, this was of course short lived as the great CO2 God has now smited them with locust plagues eating all there crops.

    This will of course require even more sacrifice, a sacrifice so large as to destroy the great economies with ETS type regulations and of course the population bomb proponents of yesteryear will see an opening (perhaps the killing of first borns will be with us again).

    So what is next oh great CO2 God, will the rivers run red? Will great balls of fire explode from the Earth…sorry this has already happened in Iceland hasnt it.

    Only when the four horseman of the apocalypse ride over the hill will i take all this AGW crap seriously.

    Unless of course you can present me with the evidence to support your theory.

  35. #35 SkepticalbyNature
    April 23, 2010

    #33
    Mandas. I enjoyed both those links you provided – thank you. I hope I was not adding to the disinformation in my post (#26). My point was simply that regardless whether some actual scientists got it wrong for a time, or that certain media promulgated a non-factual story (as they still do now!), this has no bearing on the current science. Indeed, despite the disparaging of the peer-review process recently, we have a classic example here of the process essentially working well: the studies that were incorrect at the time were corrected by future studies.
    But I do remember as a young lad listening to some correspondent or other scaring the bejesus out of me with his horror stories of impending glaciations. I probably only heard that single radio broadcast, but I can still remember it!

    Regards,

  36. #36 skip
    April 23, 2010

    of course you can present me with the evidence to support your theory.

    I’ll never stop asking: *What* would constitute evidence?

    You can’t answer; you never will. I’ll never let it drop. I have the rest of my life to expose your intellectual dishonesty on a worldwide forum and trust me I will.

    And no you *never* asked me the question but I will answer it anyway.

    I would disbelieve AGW if . . .

    A preponderance of scientifically *qualified* opinion on the matter declared it to be disproven.

    I hereby predict Crakar will now post another link to the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine or the Inhoffe/Hatch Minority Report–which I know he never read.

  37. #37 mandas
    April 23, 2010

    I think this thread encapsulates the whole climate change perfectly. Climate scientists who have been working in the field for decades, put forward evidence they have discovered through painstaking research. They build on that by uncovering more and more data, which they develop into constructive theories which are consistent with plausibility and known scientific principles, which agree with other fields of research, which explain all the observations. This has been going on for decades, and major scientific, government and inter-government bodies are set up to address the issue and develop options to correct the problem.

    Then along comes someone with no scientific training whatsoever, and who has demonstrated that he doesn’t understand even the most basic concepts of the scientific method, of mathematics or statistics, and who never reads any of the information provided by the scientists. He proclaims that the scientists are all wrong, and that he knows better because there are other people just like him who also have no background in the subject who think all the scientists are lying, that there is either a global conspiracy to introduce socialist world government and make themselves rich (not sure how you do that in a socialist world – but internal contradictions don’t seem to bother this person), or that he has uncovered a secret that the scientists either don’t know about or are deliberately ignoring. His debating style consists of anything other than science (because he doesn’t understand it anyway) – red herrings, strawmen, ad hominem attacks against people who aren’t even scientists, and distractions.

    Every time this person puts forward a position, it is shown to be incorrect through the presentation of actual data and studies which show the correct position. But still he refuses to accept that he is wrong and that the people who know what they are talking about are right. He refuses to read the data, then moves on to the next point without even acknowledging the evidence presented against him. He is asked what it would take to convince him – and the only answer he can come up with is that it would take the world being destroyed before he would accept that he is wrong; which of course strengthens this person’s delusion, because there is no way that he can be shown to be wrong when the proof he demands is not even predicted by the theory.

    There are a few ‘sceptics’ around who are true sceptics. They want to see the evidence before accepting something is true, then they ask questions to clarify points which appear to them to be incorrect. But when the answer comes, they consider what it means, and they actually understand both the question they are asking and the answer they are given. Unfortunately, there are very few sceptics around here. The normal position adopted by ‘sceptics’ is that of the fundamentalist – they are right because it is thus written in their mind, and no amount of evidence or logic will ever be able to sway them that they are wrong. You can try to debate these people, but it is like arguing with a brick wall – except the average brick wall is more flexible and can be moved if you know it’s weak points.

    In concluding post #34, crakar stated:

    “….Only when the four horseman of the apocalypse ride over the hill will i take all this AGW crap seriously….Unless of course you can present me with the evidence to support your theory….”

    The only problem is, the evidence HAS been presented- you just close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and refuse to accept it. A rational person would take ‘this AGW crap’ seriously even if they had doubts, because the long term consequences of being wrong about it could be very serious indeed. But apparently, it doesn’t matter, because the fundamentalist could not possibly be wrong could he crakar?

  38. #38 PaulinMI
    April 24, 2010

    As an interested laymen in the climate science field, here is what would allow me to take the AGW theory serious enough to support political policy designed to mitigate it.

    – CO2 is called something other than pollution.
    – Events like “Copenhagen” become WebX events.
    – Nuclear power is discussed (rationally vs dismissed) as part of the solution.
    – The AGW promoters lead “Carbon footprint reduction” by public example. (Oh, and not including offsets.)
    +This includes no flying. Sale of private planes. Then I will know they are worried.
    + No more “Fiji water”
    + No more “organic” foods

    – Prediction models of global temps don’t allow for the same temp from say 1980, present in 2010 to be “consitant with expectations”. A prediction like this, is not a (useful) prediction.
    – Present a coherent prediction (which can be understood and proved true or false by the general population.)
    – Explain the forcing(s), sensitivitiy or feedback(s) which allow for a 10 year “drop out” like we see from 2010 back to 2000 or thereabouts. There is something relevent overcoming the expecteded rise, “Where is the heat (joules)?” Rise need not be monotonic, but it should be explained.
    – Sea level rise and temperature predictions/data are reconciled with recent ARGO data.
    – Some data sets are “corrected” and show less warming, less rise, less melting, less alarm.
    – Data manipulation to improve accuracy is stated clearly in plain words and is verified by objective and subjective individuals, groups, methods.
    – General educational, open, professional behavior among “the scientists”.
    – Geo Engineering schemes which lower CO2 are discussed rationally.
    – Geo Engineering schemes which lower temps are discussed as part of the near/mid term solution.
    – Alarmist terms like “accelerated”, “tipping point”, “worse than” this or that are in context.
    (e.g.- The prior report x suggested 50% of Greenland ice sheet will flow into the Atlantic by the year 3000, this report expects that to be closer to 2800)
    – Monbiot and Lomborg are discussed with reason. (I agree that Monckton can be misleading, but he should be able to be proved wrong in a civil manner, after X such times, people will quit listening to him.)
    – Possible solutions are tried on a small scale first and proven for cost and effectiveness.
    – All propsed subsidies, taxes, etc need a sunset provision based on a date AND performance.
    – CO2 output “rights” belong to the people and any taxes which are related to climate change are paid to the individual in a proportional manner.
    – People who change their mind (pro AGW to unsure are not met with derision).
    – State clearly the CO2 goal and what it would require, in what time frame. Certainly changing to FRL’s and re-using grocery bags isn’t scratching the surface.
    (For example, to reduce CO2 emission to zero in the US would require building 350 nuclear power plants to supplant the base load power requirements and another 350 to power electric vehicles. We propose to do this in the next X years at a cost of $$ Y per person)

  39. #39 crakar24
    April 28, 2010

    Re post 37,

    Interesting post which gives us an insight into the mind of a believer and how they discern the difference between a denier and a skeptic.

    So lets put the theory to the test. We shall use a number of current AGW theories as our test bed.

    The latest claim from Trenberth is that of the 100% heat build up predicted by the models more than 50% of the predicted heat cannot be found.

    Using post 37 as a guide a skepticical approach would be “They want to see the evidence before accepting something is true, then they ask questions to clarify points which appear to them to be incorrect. But when the answer comes, they consider what it means, and they actually understand both the question they are asking and the answer they are given.”

    So a skeptic would ask “where is the evidence of this 100% heat build up?”

    As there is no evidence of the 100% heat build up (less than 50% can be found) this theory would no doubt appear incorrect to them. So the resulting question would be
    “where is the missing heat”.

    The answer to this question is “we have a new theory which states that either our equipment is in error by over 50% or the heat has sunk to the bottom of the ocean where we cannot measure it”

    They understand the both the question asked and the answer they are given and contemplate their response. The author of post 37 now expects the skeptic who was skeptical of the original unproven theory (well to them anyway)to now suddenly believe in the new still unproven theory. Anyone who does not subscribe to the author’s beliefs is the considered to be denying the validity of the unproven theory.

    Yes of course the author will throw in a few studies which he feels supports his belief but in reality does any of these studies offered account for the missing heat? No they do not they merely imply that the heat maybe at a deeper depth but they do not account for the missing heat. Therefore the skeptic has every right to remain skeptical.

    Our second theory is of course the lack of surface warming, the IPCC claim the science is settled, this of course infers the AGW theory to be robust and therefore any models derived from said theory to also be robust. Logically then the predictive power of these models should be deemed as accurate. The IPCC has made a series of predictions based on these moels, one such prediction is the surface temp of the planet out to 2100.

    Paraphrasing from post 37 a skeptic will look at the evidence ie temps for over tens have remained flat as CO2 levels have continued to rise, whilst the IPCC prediction shows temps continually rising.

    To a skeptic it would appear as though the prediction is incorrect so they ask the question “why have temps not risen etc”. The answer they are given is the failure of the models to predict no warming is due to natural variations. In other words “aw gee shucks thats just weather not climate”. There is no evidence to support this as the models could not predict it.

    A true skeptic would have to be skeptical of the models accuracy to predict future climate if it cannot predict what it was designed to do in the first place. Why is it that the models have failed so? Are the models wrong? Or is the theory wrong? These questions cause the skeptic to be called a denier as he denies to believe “its only weather”.

    Have the models ever been questioned? Has the theory ever been questioned? Of course not, why? Simply because the science is settled.

    In short for people like the author of post 37 there is no such thing as a skeptic, you either believe what he does or you are in denial.

  40. #40 addicted
    April 28, 2010

    I am also an interested layman. However, #38’s desired “evidence” strikes me as weird…

    – CO2 is called something other than pollution. (How does this affect the science? This is about nomenclature)
    – Events like “Copenhagen” become WebX events. (How does this affect the science? Do you ask for all oil companies’ board meetings to be public before agreeing with their stance?)
    – Nuclear power is discussed (rationally vs dismissed) as part of the solution. (How does this affect the science? Anyways, it is discussed pretty rationally. In fact, Obama has done more to promote nuclear energy in less than 2 years than Bush did in 8. Guess which one believed Global warming is happening?)
    – The AGW promoters lead “Carbon footprint reduction” by public example. (Oh, and not including offsets.)
    +This includes no flying. Sale of private planes. Then I will know they are worried.
    + No more “Fiji water”
    + No more “organic” foods
    (Again, what does this have to do with science? There are millions of people who know smoking will kill them, but still smoke. That doesn’t mean that smoking wont kill them)
    – Prediction models of global temps don’t allow for the same temp from say 1980, present in 2010 to be “consitant with expectations”. A prediction like this, is not a (useful) prediction. (Not sure what this is asking for.)
    – Present a coherent prediction (which can be understood and proved true or false by the general population.) (There are many predictions, regarding temperatures, increased hurricane activity, as well as melting of glaciers which are coming true)
    – Explain the forcing(s), sensitivitiy or feedback(s) which allow for a 10 year “drop out” like we see from 2010 back to 2000 or thereabouts. There is something relevent overcoming the expecteded rise, “Where is the heat (joules)?” Rise need not be monotonic, but it should be explained. (Are you asking for all the energy in the atmosphere to be measured?)
    – Sea level rise and temperature predictions/data are reconciled with recent ARGO data. (I dont know anything about this, personally)
    – Some data sets are “corrected” and show less warming, less rise, less melting, less alarm. (So basically, falsifying the data to show less warming will prove to you there is more warming?)
    – Data manipulation to improve accuracy is stated clearly in plain words and is verified by objective and subjective individuals, groups, methods. (This is all available very publicly. There are certain instances, where some of the extremely raw data (which is huge) wasn’t saved, but condensed, more useful (based on standard methods) were maintained. Either way, these were teh exceptions).
    – General educational, open, professional behavior among “the scientists”. (What does this have to do with science? What do you mean by “General Educational”? So if scientists are not being professional in private communications, means you disbelieve everything they say? Next you will be telling energy utilities to stop operating, based on comments from Enron folks, and banks to shut down based on Goldman Sachs calling their products shitty).
    – Geo Engineering schemes which lower CO2 are discussed rationally. (Again, this would be a response to climate change. What does that have to do with whether it is happening or not?)
    – Geo Engineering schemes which lower temps are discussed as part of the near/mid term solution. (Same as above)
    – Alarmist terms like “accelerated”, “tipping point”, “worse than” this or that are in context. (Nomenclature. Anyways, most of these are seen in the media, not scientific literature. Even the IPCC report, which was not a completely scientific report, defined the kind of probability expected, to use words such as “likely”, “very likely”, etc… How many times have you said, “I am likely (defined as between 80-90%) to finish my work by today evening?. And again, what does this have to do with science?)
    (e.g.- The prior report x suggested 50% of Greenland ice sheet will flow into the Atlantic by the year 3000, this report expects that to be closer to 2800)
    – Monbiot and Lomborg are discussed with reason. (I agree that Monckton can be misleading, but he should be able to be proved wrong in a civil manner, after X such times, people will quit listening to him.) (I dont know their history, so I am not going to comment on this. You yourself admit he has been misleading. Maybe other folks’ value for X is lower than yours? )
    – Possible solutions are tried on a small scale first and proven for cost and effectiveness. (Again, nothing to do with the science, but rather the response. Btw, dont you think things like Wind Farms, and Solar Farms, done at costs of a few hundred million, i.e. much less than a Nuclear Power Plant, aren’t “small scale”?)
    – All propsed subsidies, taxes, etc need a sunset provision based on a date AND performance. (I am really repeating myself here. What does this have to do with the science?)
    – CO2 output “rights” belong to the people and any taxes which are related to climate change are paid to the individual in a proportional manner. (Do I need to say it?)
    – People who change their mind (pro AGW to unsure are not met with derision). (same as above)
    – State clearly the CO2 goal and what it would require, in what time frame. Certainly changing to FRL’s and re-using grocery bags isn’t scratching the surface.
    (For example, to reduce CO2 emission to zero in the US would require building 350 nuclear power plants to supplant the base load power requirements and another 350 to power electric vehicles. We propose to do this in the next X years at a cost of $$ Y per person) (The goals, i.e. what levels of CO2 outputs are expected to stabilize the CO2 content has been stated many times. How to achieve those falls under the province of engineers and politicians).

    So basically, its quite clear, like most other skeptics, its not the science you are really skeptical of. Its the political response. I wish more skeptics would state that as clearly as you did, so we could move beyond arguing what does not seem to be contested by the facts anymore, and making the tough decisions on what is the appropriate way to respond.

  41. #41 PaulinMI
    April 29, 2010

    addicted,
    thanks for the comments.
    Yes, political and evidential.
    I would prefer not to be labeled a skeptic (clearly something is happening related to CO2), but rather to say we are incomplete.

    Perhaps these could be arranged in 3 categories?
    a] further the evidence or science
    b] political issues and scale of the solution and problem
    c] if it’s really a catastrophe, lead by example

    But if you read this with an eye toward how the “average Joe” is bombarded with messages on a daily basis, many of your response questions will be answered.
    For it’s always been about getting the “average Joe” on board to make the policy happen.

    And recall, this was the title of the item >
    “what would allow me to take the AGW theory serious enough to support political policy designed to mitigate it”

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