A Few Things Ill Considered

We Are Just Recovering From the LIA

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:

Today’s warming is just a recovery from the Little Ice Age.

Answer:

The problem with this argument is that it relies on an implicit assumption that there is some particular climate that the earth needs to be at and that given a period of globally lower temperatures, an eventual rise is inevitable. What is the scientific basis for such an assumption?

There is no evidence that such a situation exists. The climate is influenced by many factors, factors that change or remain stable in their own ways. The current understanding of the Little Ice Age is that it was likely the result of a decrease in solar irradiance together with an increase in volcanic activity, blocking additional sunlight. The LIA was also not very well synchronized globally, affecting different regions at different times. There is no century scale pattern that scientists are aware of in solar output, or in volcanic activity, so there would be no reason to expect a reversal of those changes. As it happened, solar output did increase somewhat in the early 20th century which did contribute to the warming at that time. This is not a candidate for the current warming.

One other problem with appealing to a natural recovery from the LIA is that we have in fact risen to levels higher than the assumed baseline climate. So even if some recovery were to be expected, why have we now exceeded that? This argument has problems similar to the more general "it is part of a natural cycle" argument.


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.


“We Are Just Recovering From the LIA” 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 Robert
    September 4, 2008

    The LIA argument is that, whatever the mechanism, the recent temperature increase is a continuation of a 0.5 degree/century warming trend that started around 1800. So if the underlying rate is 0.5 degree/century then the anthropogenic component would be substantially less. It is very well developed argument that is strikingly evident in the just released latest Mann et. al. reconstruction.

    This post does not address that.

  2. #2 coby
    September 4, 2008

    Hi Robert,

    The post addresses that argument directly, it does so by pointing out that “whatever the mechanism” is not an adequate basis for an hypothesis. Why not just say it’s magic? Also, might I enquire as to which temprature record shows .5oC/century rise starting around 1800?

    I checked these three records and they do not show that:
    CRU observations
    the latest 1000yr+ reconstruction
    NASA GISS observations

  3. #3 Robert
    September 4, 2008

    The latest Mann reconstruction reproduced here (admittedly, I’m eyeballing it).
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/09/progress-in-millennial-reconstructions/langswitch_lang/sk

    My point is that the mechanism was not increased CO2. So, it would seem reasonable when analyzing the warming for the 1970-2000 period, one would eliminate the cause of the 1800-1950 warming. I have been looking and not found a rigorous analysis that identifies the cause of the warming and eliminates it as a forcing function over the 1970-2000 period. If that analysis existed, you should link to it here.

  4. #4 coby
    September 5, 2008

    Actually, I think it makes much more sense to analyze all possible factors not just those that may have been at play in the 19th century. Have you read the relevant chapters in the IPCC report? You can find the relevant research papers in the citations. The chapter you want to review is here, about attributing observed changes to the various facotrs involved.

    The prime candidates for the cause of the LIA are icreased volcanic activity and reduced solar intensity. (Here is a RC article on the LIA, with some promising links in it.) Both of these factors are very well understood for this century and while solar intensity did play a significant role in the early 20th century warming, it has not changed appreciably since the 50′s.

    This wikipedia page has a nice graphic of climate change forcings the last century, references to the scientific literature are in there.

  5. #5 timwells
    October 29, 2008

    Coby this answer of yours appears to be contradictory.In the first paragraph,you say that there is no evidence for a ‘particular climate’.But in the third paragraph you testify to the existence of an ‘assumed baseline climate’.This is direct contradiction-is it not? The whole basis of the global warming thing is that current temperatures are unusual.Bearing in mind your first paragraph statement,there should be no ‘usual’.Infact any assertion either way can only be sustained if you choose your dates and ranges carefully.If we go back to 1400AD,then ‘usual’ is 2 degrees lower.If we go back 1000AD,then ‘usual’ is 2 degrees higher.Go back to greco-roman times then warmer than now is ‘usual’.Before that we had the ice age.The evidence does not support any notion of ‘usual’ or ‘normal’ temperatures.

  6. #6 coby
    November 2, 2008

    Hi Tilo,

    No, I do not “testify to the existence of an assumed baseline climate”, I am rhetorically granting that assumption only to show it is still not enough to explain the current warming period – “even if” I say.

    “The whole basis of the global warming thing is that current temperatures are unusual.”

    No, this is not actually correct. The issue is the changing temperature and the fact that it is a very rapid and unnatural change. “Normal” is a climate that changes very little on a multi-decadal time scale. Over the last 900,000 yrs, when the climate was changing, it was changing at a rate 100 to 10X slower than it is now (the coolings of some 5oC happening over ~100Kys and the warmings of some 5oC happening over ~10Kyrs)

  7. #7 timwells
    November 3, 2008

    So the first question would then be,’What is the ‘normal’ temperature of this asummed baseline climate that you are ‘rhetorically granting’?There must be a ‘normal’ temp, because you have authoritatively claimed that we have now “exceeded” it.So what is the temp and please give us the evidence that I am sure you have to validate your specific number.
    To your second point,”The issue is….changing temperature…is a very rapid and unnatural change.”
    Coby this is a spectacuarly incorrect assertion.
    1]The rate of temp change for 1975-2001 is the same as for 1915-1940.Same slope.
    2]From 1696-1732{36 years}temp change was 2.2C.A far greater rate than the late 20th Century.
    3]The vostok ice cores show temp changes of 10-12C over far shorter periods than you have quoted.
    Our recent warming is neither ‘very rapid’ nor ‘unnatural’.

  8. #8 coby
    November 3, 2008

    “‘What is the ‘normal’ temperature of this asummed baseline climate that you are ‘rhetorically granting’?”

    Tim, if you think the argument I am debunking – “we are just recovering from the LIA” – is a good argument, then you tell me what the normal temperature is. I don’t think there is one, it is a bogus argument. “Even if” is a very common phrase and clearly implies in this case, as it usually does, that I dont believe whatever follows the “if”.

    I think you should stop trying to disagree with everything I say as a knee jerk reaction and just understand my point first. I may occasionally have a good one.

    “Our recent warming is neither ‘very rapid’ nor ‘unnatural’.”

    I’m sorry, but the three assertions leading to this conclusion are a little problematic. Firstly, I was speaking of the entire 20th century warming, so we need a precedent from earlier than 1915-1940 (it was not the same slope as late 20th warming, btw). Your second example, 1696-1732, requires some substantiation please, though I would note that even if you have some good evidence for this, it is not a very long time period and so is very subject to the influence of local extremes. I think it is much more useful if we discuss sustained rates of climate change over periods of many decades to centuries.

    As for the ice core records there are some very important caveats to that data that effect the strength of your argument. These are local records from polar regions. When inferring global properties from these, which is not unreasonable to do, we have to take into account at least these two factors: 1) the poles change more than the global average during warming and cooling phases and 2) the smaller the detail in those records you look at, the less likely it is to be a good global proxy. So, IIRC, the actual change in global temperature is though to have been 5 or 6oC, not 10. Regardless, those swings took 10-25Kyrs on the way up and ~100K on the way down, so this does not support your point. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Vostok_420ky_4curves_insolation.jpg

    BTW, none of that speaks to the nature of the change.

  9. #9 timwells
    November 4, 2008

    OK,so you dont believe that there is a ‘normal’ temperature.But if that is the case how can you then say that we have ‘exceeded’ it?The best we can probably do is to speak of a “range” of temperatures for any given period.The evidence is for a probable ‘range’ of maybe 4-5C in the last 1000 years.You should also consider that from around 1800 there has has been a long term trend of warming of about .5C per century.So this does suggest a ‘natural’recovery from the ‘unusual’ low temps of the LIA.Most of this trend[up to WW2] cannot be attributed to CO2.The IPCC only considers the warming since WW2 to be attributable to CO2.
    “I was speaking of the entire 20th Century warming..”
    Unfortunately the pre-WW2 period is not available to support the idea of ‘very rapid and unnatural’ warming,because of the fact that it is not considered to be due to CO2.It is not just the IPCC that says this but it is also the general scientific consensus.The only period that can be spoken of is from around 1976-2001,where the warming MAY be attributable to CO2.This period shows the same AMOUNT of temperature change and the same RATE of temperature change as the period 1915-1940 which,according to the IPCC,is attributable to natural factors.
    I will hunt down the substantiation for the 1696-1732 example and post it.Bear in mind that even if this number[ie 2.2C temp change]is subject to ‘local extremes’,it still represents a RATE of change of around 6C per century.The present rate of warming is only of the order of 1C per century.Now given that this data comes from before the instrumental period,it’s degree of accuracy can be legitimately questioned,but even if it has a 50% error,it would still represent a far greater rate of change[ie 3C per Century],than anything we have had in the 20th Century.Your other objection that it is too short a period of time cannot be a valid one.By your own admission,30 years is a long enough period of time to draw an inference for the late 20th Century,so this 36 year period should be long enough as well.
    I will grant you the point about ice core data,although I have heard of very rapid temp changes of 10c in 1000years from some ice core results.However,this is the same rate of change as the 20th Century,so it does not really support my argument.

  10. #10 timwells
    November 10, 2008

    The 1696-1732 data comes from the Central England[thermometer]Temperature Record.It is considered to be a good proxy for NH temperatures.

  11. #11 coby
    November 10, 2008

    Sorry, that is simply not convincing. You can not take a single small region over 3 decades and claim some knowledge of global temperature. No one considers that a good proxy for NH much less global temperatures at that small timescale. With the ice cores we are looking at many decades, in the case of Vostok many centuries, averaged out per reading. The smaller the timescale you look at the less you can infer anything about global temperatures.

    I am quite sure what you are thinking of with 10oC jumps in ice core records is the GIS cores during the Younger Dryaas event. This is indeed a striking reading, but it is only regional. The antarctic cores do not show this degree and the direction of temperature change appears to have been mostly opposite from one pole to another, so this is clearly a regional event, and represented heat transfer not global warming or cooling.

    So that is point 2 and 3 very clearly not supporting you. As for point 1, the early 20th century warming was partially anthropogenic: roughly 1/3 solar, 1/3 CO2 etc and 1/3 volcanic. Model experiments (sorry, there is no other tool for this job) show that the rate of warming can not be explained without anthropogenic forcings.

    Yes, CO2 was not as strong a factor but it was a factor.

    The current (20th century or if you prefer late 20th century) warming is very rapid and it is unnatural.

  12. #12 Informed
    March 10, 2009

    Sorry, you’re just doing a bunch of handwaving Coby. The warming period from 1900-1940 looks exactly like the period from 1970-2010. Except one is ‘natural’ and one is ‘manmade.’ It is supremely silly to suppose that we are aware of all factors that can affect climate. Yes, the IPCC and others have thought about it and can’t come up with anything to explain the recent warming, but this isn’t compelling in the slightest. Why should all major negative forcings suddenly drop out around 1950? Why should whatever drove temperatures up before suddenly not be responsible now? Instead of trying to discredit the data (which you’re just fine with when it supports your view) try and answer the questions and criticisms. The phrase ‘cannot be explained without anthropogenic forcings’ is simply laughable. Please simply claim that currently we are aware of all important factors that could result in a change in the climate. That is surely the implication. And that is just plain false. But maybe you’re right. If so, please account for the past ten years and the complete lack of warming observed? I mean yeah it’s a small period but I’m sure with our supreme knowledge of the climate a good explanation can be put forward. Ten whole years can’t ALL be ‘just weather.’ Furthermore, there IS no ‘current warming.’ There was warming from the 1970s to about 2000. Now that’s gone away. The rise from 1970 to 2000 was not particularly large, nor did it happen very quickly. It looks exactly like the 1900-1940 rise. Unless you are going to claim otherwise, that earlier rise, which was the same in both magnitude and rate, did not have disastrous consequences for the world. One can imagine quite easily the people of 1940 creating quite the stir about ‘climate change’ if they had had the technology and such to spread such fearmongering. And we’ve warmed beyond what they had! Are we worse off? No. It was a nice cause, for a while, but the science is bad, the policy is bad, and it looks to be going out of style. RIP AGW. I just hope that in another thirty or forty years, when I talk about today and say what a big craze ‘global warming’ was I won’t be told that nobody actually believed it, that it was a media thing.

  13. #13 coby
    March 11, 2009

    Informed, calm down and try to focus a bit. Put a paragraph break in every now and then, it is very difficult to dialogue with that kind of verbal blast!

    If you want to learn a little bit about climate theory and the attribution of the current warming to human factors, you should start with the IPCC report, it will answer your questions.

    I have no problem trying to answer them myself, but you need to ask something more specific and let’s do one issue at a time. As for what governs the earth’s climate, it has been examined thoroughly enough to be fairly confident that we do in fact know what all the major factors are.

    Check this link for information on the 12 largest factors: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/

  14. #14 Anders
    May 18, 2009

    I have some questions that might be a bit abstract, but i’ll try to make them as clear as possible.

    1. Assume that the solar radiation was constant and that there were no volcanic eruptions. What would the computers models look like qualitatively, would you have temperature oscillations, at what amplitude, what time scale? Would there be a superposition of different oscillations?

    2. Given unstable equilibria, (which i assume is the case), wouldn’t the generalized forces involved be quite complex, given the enormous amount of parameters involved, are we likely to be able to express these in terms of “simple” forcings

  15. #15 Anders
    May 18, 2009

    In question 1, I should also have added no anthroprogenic factors such as CO2 emmisions

  16. #16 coby
    May 18, 2009

    I am by no means an expert on this, but I am very sure I have read Gavin Schmidt, who is an expert, in other online discussions at RC say that when given a steady state set of influences climate models do in fact come to and remain at an equilibrium, at least for the more general attributes such as global average temperature.

  17. #17 Anders
    May 19, 2009

    Given your answer, the question arises of wether we need supercomputers at all. As I understand, their reputation of beeing able to predict temperature variation over a year to year basis is not very good. If a handful of external forces are driving the climate, and we are interested in the longterm trends, why not try to construct a simpler model, which maybe even could be linear. In other words, have we gained any knowledge from the computer “noise”?

  18. #18 coby
    May 19, 2009

    Let’s not forget that climate models are not intended to predict year to year temperature variations at all. They are concerned with the long term averaging of the year to year variations that are really weather, not climate.

    There are definitely simpler models out there, ones you can do with pen and paper. But they can only give you the very low resolution picture, such as a global average temperature. Society is understandably concerned with regional expressions of global forcings (and regional forcings such a the Asian Brown Cloud). If you want to understand the feedbacks and sometimes counter intuitive effects (such as cooling of the stratosphere) you really need to incorporate as much physics as possible.

    Check Robert Grumbine’s blog for some very educational discussion of simple climate models.

  19. #19 Robert Grumbine
    May 19, 2009

    Anders: I do also routinely put up spots for people to add questions, so the current, for instance, ‘semi-open thread’ post would be a place to pursue questions.

    Supposing that all the sorts of large scale factors we know affect climate (human activity, solar variation, volcanoes) were held fixed, we’d see about a 0.1 C rms fluctuation in global mean temperature on time scales of years to low decades. There seem to be some multidecadal to multicentury free variations in the climate system as well, which are 0.1 to maybe as much as 2 C variations peak to trough. (Part of the ambiguity being that we’re not sure that they’re entirely unforced.) On tens of thousands of years time scales are the variations due to the earth’s orbit changing, with 5 C or so peak to trough.

    The global mean temperature on years to few decades, and ice age cycles can be computed by pencil and paper (plus some observations to set parameters). It isn’t a supercomputer-requiring problem. The thing that stabilizes, and simplifies, this problem is the fact that such things are set by extremely fundamental physics — global conservation of energy. The chaotic pieces affect the details of internal rearrangements and local responses. Global mean is a simple matter. But the same mean can correspond to different temperatures for North America, etc. If you want to nail down regional climate changes, you need enough computing power to manage those chaotic terms. That means supercomputers, and preferably ones beyond what we currently have.

    For adding greenhouse gases, or solar variation, or volcanoes, it’s still just a pen and paper computation, if you’re only concerned about global means. Granted you have to be patient, but Arrhenius was and gave a figure for 2xCO2 sensitivity over 100 years ago that is still in the range computed by supercomputers and vastly more detailed physical models.

  20. #20 G. Schneider
    June 11, 2009

    “We have in fact risen to levels higher than the assumed baseline climate.” (Coby) What baseline climate, and who assumed it? Another instance of “99% scientific consensus” that is so often invoked in the popular press in support of AGW?

    [coby here:
    There is no baseline climate, this is the implicit assumption in the septic argument this article debunks.]

    You (Coby) want to impress on everyone that the rapid temperature rise in the past 30 years is historically unprecedented. But in order to assert that on sound scientific grounds, you have to know reasonably accurately what the other past temperature rises (or falls) were like. Instead, you go on to either disparage or dismiss whatever the past temperature records (as mentioned by “timwells”) that scientists have been able to gather on the account of inadequate or inaccurate observations.

    [coby: it is timwells who is inaccurate, not the studies. Going from memory here, but I think he was making rather wild claims and did not provide any evidence, but I have not reread the thread.]

    Well, if the past temperature readings were so inaccurate to be dismissible, then how could you infer that the current temperature event is extraordinary and unprecedented (“. . . we now exceeded that.”)? You talk in the comparative (“levels higher”) then you dismiss anything from the past that can be favorably compared to what you are trying to promote. This is like a girl saying: “I know I’m the prettiest, but you’ll never find me in the company of other pretty girls.”

    This is no way to do science.

    [coby again:

    Bizarre analogy aside, this is a reasonable point. The various proxy records on their own do not necessarily rule out even more rapid changes than we see today. Global temperatures could have jumped 20oC and back in a decade and the proxies might have missed it. However, we can constrain these wild possibilities by understanding the nature of the system and applying occams razor: if there is no evidence of some extreme forcings coming and going out of the blue, then the working hypothesis is that there were none.]

  21. #21 coby
    June 11, 2009

    G. Schneider, please see some replies inline.

  22. #22 Snowman
    June 12, 2009

    In these discussions, I am surprised that no one seems to invoke Occam’s razor. Admittedly, it is a philosophical rather than a scientific principle; nevertheless, it is a powerful way of stripping a discussion down to its essentials.

    Occam’s razor, we recall, states that entities should not be allowed to multiply unnecessarily. To put it in more modern terms, the simplest explanation is to be preferred over the more complex.

    So, when we consider that, for the past one million years at least, an ice age has always been followed by a relatively short interglacial warm era to be followed by another ice age, then, in contemplating the current pattern, we should assume (according to the razor) that what we are seeing is, so to speak, business as usual.

    Of course, we can debate the short term significance of perceived temperatures for the past 30 years or 100 years. But to do so (again in keeping with the principles of the razor) is merely to indulge in excessive analysis of minutiae, while losing site of the for more important long term pattern.

  23. #23 coby
    June 12, 2009

    Snowman, you may have confused Occam’s razor with The Ostrich Algorithm. There has been an unprecedented increase in one of the factors controlling climate puttin it at levels never seen in the last million years. Occam’s Razor says warming is the simplest expectation.

  24. #24 Snowman
    June 12, 2009

    Come on, Coby. I’ve read many of your other ripostes and know you can do better than that. Occam’s Razor unquestionably decrees that we should not invoke a complex explanation when a simple one – that the pattern we are seeing is no more than a repeat of what has gone before – is available. This is a powerful argument and it really won’t do to dismiss it with a weary wave of the hand and witticisms about ostrichs.

    If William of Occam were reading this website he would say: ‘No one doubts that the world got warmer throughout much of the 20th century; but the fact that this has happened many times before in the history of the earth means that we should not look for uniquely contemporary influences.’ When we told him that there was some evidence of cooling in the early years of the 21st century, he would add: ‘QED’.

    It is instructive to read back through the posts and see how many are obsessed with archane detail, rather like some mediaeval debate about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. How different from the elegance and simplicity of genuine, provable science.

    I am reminded of a remark made by Newton. He said in effect (I don’t remember the precise words) ‘I do not know how I seem to the world, but to myself I am no more than a small boy playing with pebbles on the beach, while all before me lies undiscovered the ocean of truth.’

    The parallel is that the AGW enthusiasts are the small boys on the beach, while before them lies undiscovered the fundamental truth that climate oscillates and changes as it has always done and always will do.

    By the way, on a slightly less serious matter, I note with some satisfaction that we deniers are beginning to win in the court of public opinion, and AGW advocates are clearly on the run. Opinion polls in the US show that people who do not believe the AGW argument are now in a large AND GROWING majority. The same is true in the UK, where I live.

    One journalist here recently described global warming – frivolously, perhaps, but accurately – as soooooo last season.

  25. #25 Snowman
    June 13, 2009

    Correction to irritating typo: the word at 24 in line six should, of course, read ostriches.

  26. #26 Adam
    June 13, 2009

    Snowman -

    The parallel is that the AGW enthusiasts are the small boys on the beach, while before them lies undiscovered the fundamental truth that climate oscillates and changes as it has always done and always will do.

    Are denialists actually incapable of understanding that this is not new or unknown information to anyone, or do you just enjoy getting a rise out of ‘AGW enthusiasts’?

  27. #27 Snowman
    June 13, 2009

    Adam, I would like someone (you perhaps) to address the fundamental philosophical issue I raise in Occam’s razor. You ask if I enjoy getting a rise out of AGW enthusiasts. Well, who could fail to enjoy that?

    But let’s not score petty points. What do you say about the razor? It is a powerful philosophical tool, and I would genuinely like to hear your response.

  28. #28 pough
    June 13, 2009

    You philosophy is junk. It’s completely ignoring science. You know – the part where we try to figure out how something has happened. Temperatures went down in the early 19th century. How did that happen? They’ve been coming back up. How did that happen? The rate of increase has been remarkable. How did that happen? Meanwhile, a known greenhouse gas has been increasing. How does that affect things?

    You’re so much like the cdesign proponensists. You call disinterest science.

  29. #29 Snowman
    June 13, 2009

    You know, Pough, one thing about this that I never understand is the vehemence of the warmistas. I try to raise, with perfect courtesy, questions that strike me as entirely legitimate, and invite the other side to reply. And for my troubles I am called a liar and a scumball.

    Oh, and speaking of epithets, I am indebted to Adam for calling me a denialist. I had always thought of myself as a denier, but I see that denialist is the term of abuse du jour. I stand corrected.

  30. #30 pough
    June 13, 2009

    You know, Pough, one thing about this that I never understand is the vehemence of the warmistas. I try to raise, with perfect courtesy, questions that strike me as entirely legitimate, and invite the other side to reply. And for my troubles I am called a liar and a scumball.

    I don’t feel vehement. I also didn’t call you a liar or a scumball. Too, you didn’t reply in any way to my response except to lament the way you’re treated, apparently not by me. I attacked your philosophy, and I gave the reasons why: it completely ignores the important question of how things happen, questions that may give answers that can affect our lives. Otherwise, we simply accept that “stuff happens” and that is the opposite of science.

    (Hmm.. I only noticed now my typo at the start of my comment. “You” should have been “your”.)

    You invited us to reply to what you saw as legitimate questions. I replied. You’re now evading the substance of the reply and simply playing the role of the innocent victim.

    I do like irony, though. In a comment where you imply that you’re being unfairly abused by the name denialist, you start off call everyone else warmistas. Nice!

  31. #31 Snowman
    June 13, 2009

    Never mind the typo, Pough. I make them too. Annoying though, isn’t it, when you spot them after you’ve posted?

    But to return to the matter at hand. With the greatest respect, you are incorrect in trying to present this discussion as a collision between science and philosophy (which, I suspect you think is mere word play, although to be fair you don’t actually say so).

    Occam’s razor transcends such issues. It is an a priori way of thinking that should help to cut out the clutter, and, in fact, is particularly useful in trying to answer important issues of science.

    At the risk of being repetitive, Occam’s razor compels us to answer, clearly, unamibiguously and compellingly, the following question: why, when for the past one million years lengthy ice ages have been puncuated by relatively short interglacials, do we think things are fundamentally different now?

    Merely pointing to current levels of CO2 falls at the first hurdle as a scientific hypothesis. We know that in the past CO2 has sometimes been higher and sometimes lower. Yet the ice always returns. Why is our current era different? If there is a good answer to this question, I have yet to hear it.

  32. #32 coby
    June 13, 2009

    “why, when for the past one million years lengthy ice ages have been puncuated by relatively short interglacials, do we think things are fundamentally different now?”

    Because now, unlike previously, humans have increased the level of the most significant GHG (I am aware of H2O, please don’t digress) by 35%. It is now higher than it has ever been in that time and has achieved that level faster than we have ever seen it rise before in that time.

    Enough?

    “I try to raise, with perfect courtesy, questions that strike me as entirely legitimate, and invite the other side to reply. And for my troubles I am called a liar and a scumball.”

    Who in this thread has called you either a liar or a scumball??

    As for your tired, put upon act, I simply cannot take you seriously. If you were a sincere conversant actually seeking some understanding or sharing of same you would have responded to my very simple and direct request for the slightest justification for your repeated claim that global temperatures have dropped in the last few years to levels of 100 years ago. That is the least courtesy you could show, save us the baloney about “entirely legitimate questions” and “inviting the other side to respond”.

  33. #33 Snowball
    June 14, 2009

    I am sure you can see, Coby, that your answer is no answer at all. It is evasive and disingenuous.

    The question of how quickly CO2 has risen is irrelevant and, in any case meaningless. We simply have little idea about the rate at which CO2 levels have risen in the past, and none at all on the time scale you are discussing.

    You continue to avoid the central issue: WHY is it different this time? Where is the clear, unambiguous, compelling evidence? It is the fundamental, fatal weakness in the warming lobby’s case, and the one that will ultimately destroy it.

    But it really doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is public opinion, because that will inevitably force governments to abandon this lunacy about cap and trade, emissions controls and so on.

    To that extent, I note with profound satisfaction that the we, the deniers, are winning. In fact, Coby, the game is up, although, blinded by your sanctimonious certainties, you cannot see that.

    Opinion polls in your country and mine show unequivocally that the pubic has judged your case and seen its self-righteous prissiness for what it is.

    I can almost sense you and others thinking: what does it matter what a lot of unscientific rabble think? It matters a great deal, not least because there is a type of filter at work here, and the public has an unerring way of being correct on the big issues. ‘Trust the people,’ Winston Churchill once admonished his colleagues who were disinclined to do so.

    Coby: not only am I right, you KNOW, in some deep, secret part of you that you rarely visit, that I am right. You wake at 3.00am and think: ‘Was it really just an illusion? Did we really believe all of this guff because it pandered to our sense of virtue and indulged our vanity?’

    Well, I’ll say no more. But Coby, remember this: time is not neutral in this matter. As cold winters are followed by yet colder winters (the process has clearly begun) our regression to a severely, dangerously cold climate system and food shortages will happen with terrifying speed. When that happens, Coby, think back to this conversation and reflect not only upon your own gullibility and enthusiasm for hippyish nonsense; consider also that, by being one of those who helped divert attention from the real danger, you have contributed in a small way to catastrophe.

    Anyway, that’s enough. I really can’t bear to read any more, although it was amusing for a short while to see people who (judging from writing styles and grammar) have little education and less intellect, pretending to be scientists, solemnly quoting their laughable ‘cites’ at each other.

    So a bientot, Coby, this is my last post. (And thank the Lord for that, you say)

  34. #34 coby
    June 14, 2009

    Snowman (now Snowball) asked:

    “why, when for the past one million years lengthy ice ages have been puncuated by relatively short interglacials, do we think things are fundamentally different now?”

    I replied:

    “Because now, unlike previously, humans have increased the level of the most significant GHG [...] by 35%. It is now higher than it has ever been in that time”

    Snowjob then says:

    “You continue to avoid the central issue: WHY is it different this time”

    Why not be more explicit and say “nyah, nyah, nyah I’m not listening!”?

    Yes, thank the almighty if this really is your last post (though I doubt it)

    Also thanks for clearly acknowledging your primary concern is PR and not science.

  35. #35 Richard Simons
    June 14, 2009

    Snowman said

    To that extent, I note with profound satisfaction that the we, the deniers, are winning.

    What a bizarre comment to put on what is supposed to be a science blog! It isn’t a case of who is ‘winning’ or not (presumably in the court of public opinion). It is not even a matter of who is correct or not. It is a matter of what is happening to our climate. That is a reason why it is important that you can justify statements like your claim that today’s temperatures are close to those of a century ago; not so that you can ‘win’ the argument but so that we can, together, come closer to an understanding of what is actually taking place. Lying and misrepresenting other people just acts as an impediment to the process.

  36. #36 Adam
    June 14, 2009

    Snowman -

    Adam, I would like someone (you perhaps) to address the fundamental philosophical issue I raise in Occam’s razor.

    Short version: Ocaam’s razor is a useful tool for framing your approach to a question, but it is not the be-all and end-all of scientific inquiry. Additionally, for Ocaam’s Razor to apply, you need to decide between positions for which there is approximately even/equal evidence. You can’t just say “Well, on the one hand, we have evolution and all this evidence for it, but it would be a lot simpler if Aliens just waved a magic wand and everything came into existence, so I think the Alien option is the right one.”

    You ask if I enjoy getting a rise out of AGW enthusiasts. Well, who could fail to enjoy that?

    Thank you for specifying that you have no interest in the science and are just interested in spouting whatever garbage you can to annoy people.

    Oh, and speaking of epithets, I am indebted to Adam for calling me a denialist. I had always thought of myself as a denier, but I see that denialist is the term of abuse du jour. I stand corrected.

    I seem to be one of the few who prefers this term, but it is hardly an abusive term. It is in fact quite accurate. You are engaged in denial, and therefore are a denialist, just how someone engaged in art is an artist and someone engaged in altruism is an altruist. No abuse intended or conveyed, just accuracy.

  37. #37 crakar14
    June 15, 2009

    Coby re post #32,

    Just a small point, i understand your need not to digrees but you still misrepresented your point by claiming CO2 to be the most significant GHG.

    This statement gets made all the time which i find strange, as you know the IPCC condiders WV to be the most significant GHG and relys heavily on it to project its temp increases.

    For others unaware the IPCC via the SB equation predict a doubling of CO2 to increase temps by 1C but the +ve feedback of WV will increase temps by a further 5.4C.

    The only reason i bring this up is because i was looking at cars on the weekend and due to new gov legislation (Australia) we now have a sticker on all new cars to be sold.

    The sticker has two pieces of info,

    1, fuel efficiency expressed in litres/100kilometers
    2, co2 produced expressed in grams/kilometer

    Below this a statement reads “Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the major GHG that causes global warming”

    Now in one context this statement is totally incorrect (re doubling of CO2)

    On the other hand they are probably saying as this car produces CO2 it will then cause GW via the WV feedback.

    Here is a list of what a car emits out of its exhaust pipe:

    Nitrogen gas (N2) – Air is 78-percent nitrogen gas, and most of this passes right through the car engine.

    Carbon dioxide (CO2) – This is one product of combustion. The carbon in the fuel bonds with the oxygen in the air.

    Water vapor (H2O) – This is another product of combustion. The hydrogen in the fuel bonds with the oxygen in the air.

    So as the car produces WV, and as WV is the most powerful GHG would it be prudent of the sticker makers to inform potential buyers about the dangers of WV at least aswell as CO2?

    Can anyone explain why WV does not get a mention? As i would be interested to know why it does not.

    Crakar

  38. #38 Adam
    June 15, 2009

    Crakar -

    Can anyone explain why WV does not get a mention? As i would be interested to know why it does not.

    I can only speculate, but since we directly (though not exclusively) influence the amounts of CO2, CH4, N2O, and a few others in the atmosphere, it makes more sense to focus the discussion on what we influence. We don’t directly influence the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.

  39. #39 coby
    June 15, 2009

    Crakar,

    Please see this article. Water vapour is the strongest GHG in the atmosphere but it does not act as a forcing due to the fact that as a general approximation relative humidity remains constant as temperatures go up or down.

    So H2O is the most significant GHG in the atmosphere in determining the overall effect, but CO2 is the most significant GHG in the atmosphere controlling the change n the greenhouse effect.

  40. #40 crakar14
    June 15, 2009

    Re post #38,

    Thanks for the response Adam, however here are examples of where we directly influence the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere.

    Nuclear reactors (the white fluffy stuff coming out of the cooling towers).

    Coal fired power stations

    Gas fired power stations

    The internal combustion engine

    Agriculture or more to the point increased agriculture via turning desert or arid regions into cropping land.

    Lets not forget we are pumping the artesean basins dry (adding water to the hydrologic cycle). In fact here in South Australia BHP have been pumping the artesean basin dry for many years (so they can mine uranium at Roxby Downs). So much so that outback communities which rely on this water are having to sink their pumps lower and lower every year and every year the water gets more salty.

    Oh and what about jet aircraft, they pump out all sorts of crap, one being water vapour.

  41. #41 crakar14
    June 15, 2009

    Coby re post #39,

    Not sure i understand what you are saying here Coby, Co2 controls the change in the GH effect but H2O controls the overall effect?

    In other words as per the SB equation a doubling of CO2 gives us +1C of warming (controlling the change)and WV gives us another +5.4C of warming (+ve feedback) therefore determining the overall effect? Is that what you are saying?

    This of course is the IPCC prediction, whilst the best in the business not associated with the IPCC predict at best a warming of no more than +0.6C due to a -ve feedback from WV.

    I disagree with what you say re constant humidity at varying temps. see graph in following link.

    wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/05/negative-feedback-in-climate-empirical-or-emotional/

    The graph clearly shows humidity at 300 to 700 mbars and therefore WV has dropped over the years , which may suggest WV is acting as a -ve feedback.

    Here is the original abstract

    climateresearchnews.com/2009/03/new-paper-suggests-long-term-water-vapour-feedback-is-negative/

    Note how the accuracy of the radiosonde data is now being called into question as it differs from the model data, of course this is not the first time this has happened (re atmospheric temps). Now i have worked with RS for many years and i can tell you there is nothing wrong with the equipment so i suggest they have another look at the models.

    This link is written by one Professor Geoffrey G Duffy, it is a bit long winded but he talks about WV and its effects on climate, he also delves into the validity of models etc. It is well worth the read. Basically reinforcing the errors in the IPCC predictions and shows that we are infact recovering from the LIA (had to get back on topic)

    wattsupwiththat.com/2008/09/04/even-doubling-or-tripling-the-amount-of-co2-will-have-little-impact-on-temps/#more-2769

    Crakar

  42. #42 Adam
    June 15, 2009

    Crakar –

    Thanks for the response Adam, however here are examples of where we directly influence the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere.

    Agree with all your examples, but my understanding was that the amount of water vapor per unit volume of atmosphere had an upper limit, which increases as temperature rises. So, on balance, the amount of water vapor we emit to the atmosphere doesn’t necessarily increase the overall water vapor content of the atmosphere without a corresponding rise in temperature (from other greenhouse gases).

  43. #43 crakar14
    June 15, 2009

    Yes thats right, simply put the sun heats the water and turns it into water vapour this is also heat of course. The WV then travels high above the CO2 up into the cold atmos where it condenses into clouds (some say this is 95% of the heat transfer from the surface to space) known as the Hydrologic cycle. Also WV traps more IR than any other GHG which forms part of the remaining 5%.

    The clouds then act as a -ve feedback as they reflect the sunlight (albedo) and then the clouds drop the WV as rain which in turn cools the planet. So yes the overall WV levels dont change too much but they do change.

    So the next obvious question is if WV alone cannot cause GW because it does not hang around very long and is constantly being replaced by newer WV then how can WV cause GW as per the IPCC predictions?

    I would have thought we would see with a doubling of CO2 1C increase but then WV would reduce this temp via a -ve feedback. I do not understand how the IPCC has come to their conclusions. If WV does act as the IPCC says it does then WV should be increasing in amount but the link i posted above shows it has dropped somewhat.

    Crakar

  44. #44 coby
    June 16, 2009

    Crakar,

    Read the “water vapour is aalmost all of the greenhouse effect” article. When the persistent CO2 goes up this allows the atmosphere to hold more H2O. H2O by itself can not stay in the atmosphere long enough to get its own feedback going (ie days or maybe weeks vs CO2 decades to centuries).

    I think you are correct in the negative feedback you describe from clouds, but there are also positive feedback effects. Cloud cover will trap heat inside as well as reflect it back into space. The balance is what is important and what is very uncertain.

    Some evidence that the models are getting the overall balance right comes from modeled and observed response to large volcanic eruptions, which agree very nicely.

  45. #45 crakar14
    June 17, 2009

    Coby,

    I read the story, from what i can see it mainly deals with trying to establish how much CO2 came from where and how much warming CO2 is causing. Whilst these issues are important and worthy of discussion they are nor related to this topic perse.

    I agree WV and cloud cover can work as both -ve and +ve feedbacks and models are very poor when it comes to modelling this area.

    I ask/asked two questions but first lets clear a few things up, the IPCC believe CO2 will create a small increase in temp (doubling CO2 = +1C) i think we all agree this is about right.

    However the IPCC then say that WV will produce an additional increase of +5.4C, which differs significantly from independant studies.

    Lets assume for the moment that the IPCC is correct,

    First question, should we then be educating the illinformed public about the dangers of WV? If this CO2 induced warming increases WV then the last thing we want to do is add more of it as this will simply drive temps even higher, agreed? And in the mean time we can try and drop the CO2 levels.

    Second question, assuming the IPCC is correct then for WV to add an additional +5.4C to the temps then the atmospheric content of WV would have to increase, agreed?

    As already demonstrated the radiosonde data shows the WV content to have dropped. If the IPCC are correct then why is WV levels dropping when they should be increasing, or is my logic flawed?.

    The guy at real climate wrote this quote

    “One could make the point that my calculations are ‘just another web page’ no more and no less authoritative than the links above.”

    I agree we need to be careful what we read, i only know what the IPCC have said and what they have said does not make sense, in fact i would say they are not correct and they need to have a rethink of the theory.

    Crakar

    Unless

  46. #46 coby
    June 17, 2009

    Crakar, as a general comment I would like to point out that “the IPCC said …” is technically not really the case. The IPCC merely assesses and summarizes what the peer reviewed literature says, it is worth keeping this in mind.

    I don’t know where you are getting you 5.4oC WV feedback from. The generally agreed climate sensitivity to doubled CO2 is around 3oC. This includes direct effects, water vapour feed backs and sea ice albedo feedbacks. It does not included ice sheets or carbon cycle feedbacks.

    The answer to your first question is no, I am not sure what else to say to make clear the fact that H2O added directly to the atmosphere will not persist, so at the current levels of anthropogenic contribution there is no need to control it.

    For your second, the data you are probably referring to is specific to the tropical troposphere, not the global average. Regardless, it is a legitimate model-observation discrepancy, though it is hardly enough to overturn the generally observed fact that warmer air can hold more moisture. It is also not enough to invalidate the general success at global average temperature modeling. For example, you can not reproduce the observed cooling response to large volcanic eruptions without a large WV feedback.

  47. #47 pough
    June 17, 2009

    Crakar wrote:

    The WV then travels high above the CO2…

    Is that how you see it? H2O goes up higher than CO2? Do you have a reason to think that?

  48. #48 crakar14
    June 18, 2009

    Coby,

    If the IPCC assesses and summarises the findings then it must surely endorse the findings, so i think it is appropriate to say “the IPCC said….”.

    I think the 6.4C figure was the upper limit so yes 3C is probably the mid point, i should have quoted that figure instead, point taken.There are some climate experts that predict a -ve feed back so temps will only rise by +0.6C. So one side may have it completely wrong, but which one.

    To be honest i do not personnally have enough knowledge of “how the climate works” to debate this issue in any greater detail other than dredging up papers from the internet.Best we agree to have a differing of opinion for the time being.

    Pough,

    My mistake, i did not word that correctly so i understand your confusion. Let me put it another way, a majority of the heat or energy from the Earth is transported up into the asphere through evaporation (WV). it rises to very high altitudes and some escapes to space or condenses in the cold air and forms clouds. CO2 has no effect on this process.

    The statement

    “The WV then travels high above the CO2…” means the WV travels higher up in the asphere than where the CO2 is, if this statement is incorrect then i will retract it. Can anyone out there either confirm or deny the validity of the above statement?

    Crakar

  49. #49 coby
    June 18, 2009

    Crakar,

    CO2 is well mixed throughout the homosphere (up to about 100 km) which includes the troposphere, stratosphere and thermosphere) whereas H2O does not rise above the tropopause, only getting into the stratosphere via contrails (AFAIU). You can
    read about it here.

    This is one of the reasons the arguments about H2O being 95% of the GHE are incorrect, and also where the arguments about saturation and overlapping absorption bands fall over.

  50. #50 pough
    June 18, 2009

    I might be wrong about this, but doesn’t CO2 also indirectly affect how much H2O is in the atmosphere by raising the temperature, thus allowing more H20?

    Thanks, Coby, for posting that. What I could vaguely recall from things read in various places led me to believe that Crakar was wrong about the H2O rising above the CO2.

    Crakar, why did you think that H2O is able to go higher than CO2? Did you read it somewhere or were you assuming it because of relative weights?

  51. #51 Adam
    June 18, 2009

    pough -

    I might be wrong about this, but doesn’t CO2 also indirectly affect how much H2O is in the atmosphere by raising the temperature, thus allowing more H20?

    I think that principle is governed by this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clausius-Clapeyron_relation

  52. #52 crakar14
    June 18, 2009

    Re post 49

    What Coby says might be right, in regards to the 95% figure i have not seen a compelling argument for or against this therefore i do not assume this figure to be correct which is why i decline to use it in a debate.

    Re post 50

    I think i read it somewhere (H2O rising) Pough, i might have got it wrong and yes they did mention CO2 is a heaver molecule etc. The point i was trying to make but mucked it up was that the CO2 has no effect on WV as it rises (transference of heat etc), but yes an increase in CO2 will increase the temp and increase evaporation most climate experts (i use that word with caution) agree on this i think. There is a differing of opinion as to what happens next (feed backs etc).

    Crakar

  53. #53 Adam
    June 18, 2009

    Crakar -

    but yes an increase in CO2 will increase the temp and increase evaporation most climate experts (i use that word with caution) agree on this i think. There is a differing of opinion as to what happens next (feed backs etc).

    This is, by definition, a feedback.

  54. #54 crakar14
    June 18, 2009

    Sorry, to clarify the experts differ on wether it is a -ve or +ve feedback, The IPCC say it is +ve.

  55. #55 Tim
    July 17, 2009

    “The problem with this argument is that it relies on an implicit assumption that there is some particular climate that the earth needs to be at and that given a period of globally lower temperatures, an eventual rise is inevitable. What is the scientific basis for such an assumption?”

    The whole controversy around the current warming for AGW believers is that it is supposedly not normal. You AGW believers are assuming the climate of the pre Industrial Revolution is what we are supposed to be at and any warming trend is abnormal. How can you make this assumption and discredit skeptics for believing that warming and cooling trends are natural based upon an assumption of a “particula climate that the earth needs to be at?” You just discredited yourself in the first paragraph of your supposed argument.

  56. #56 Snowman
    July 17, 2009

    Coby – I hesitate to bring this up because I can well imagine your ‘not again’ response. However, as Tim opens it up once more, let me plunge in.

    I have never understood your point about this argument relying upon ‘an implicit assumption that there is some particular climate that the earth needs to at…’

    I don’t honestly see why there is an assumption of this kind, implicit or otherwise. All some people are saying is that this oscillation between warmer and colder periods seems to have been pretty regular in the past, so why isn’t the current pattern merely business as usual? Such an argument doesn’t, it seems to me, make assumptions of any kind. Indeed, if anything it does the opposite: it merely notes historical fact.

    Now, before dhogaza starts ripping me to shreds, can I say that I am addressing only your specific point about an ‘assumption’ and not any other evidence that may be offered.

  57. #57 coby
    July 17, 2009

    Tim,

    This is one argument out of over 60, the whole AGW case will not be presented in each. There is no assumption of “normal” in this case, there is however evidence that the current change is abnormal and anthropogenic. See here for the basic reasoning. See the IPCC report for all the evidence.

    The argument being debunked here is frequent and specific and the word recovery is what it is about. That word implies some state to be recovered to.

    The “it’s just natural changes” argument is addressed here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/02/this-is-just-natural-cycle.php

  58. #58 pough
    July 17, 2009

    The whole controversy around the current warming for AGW believers is that it is supposedly not normal.

    I don’t agree with that at all, although I can see how you might end up thinking it. There are two things that I see as being abnormal. One is the cause of the temperature change and the other is the rate of change.

    While it’s apparent that the climate changes normally, its usual pattern involves changes that aren’t a result of things that we do. CO2 volume normally increases as a result of other forcings, but we’ve been adding it to the atmosphere. That’s not normal. As well, the rate of temperature increase is at least somewhat striking when compared to other (natural) temperature swings. That’s not normal.

    Changing climate? Normal. Rapid climate change due to human interference? Not normal.

    You AGW believers are assuming the climate of the pre Industrial Revolution is what we are supposed to be at and any warming trend is abnormal.

    That’s not true at all. We’re well aware that there are natural changes in climate and that there isn’t any objective optimal climate. What there is, though, is a subjective normal, and from our own (ie. humanity’s) perspective the climate we’ve built our societies upon is what we think of as normal, if only because change is difficult and expensive. While it may be entirely natural for food crops to only grow far away from our established farms in a changed climate, it’s hardly to our benefit. And if it’s our own damn fault? And if we could have done something about it?

    Objectively optimal? No. Subjectively optimal? Obviously.

  59. #59 Adam
    July 17, 2009

    Snowman -

    I don’t honestly see why there is an assumption of this kind, implicit or otherwise. All some people are saying is that this oscillation between warmer and colder periods seems to have been pretty regular in the past, so why isn’t the current pattern merely business as usual? Such an argument doesn’t, it seems to me, make assumptions of any kind. Indeed, if anything it does the opposite: it merely notes historical fact.

    Since this seems like an earnest request for discussion, I’ll keep it civil.

    The main reason we can’t say “it has always cycled, so why isn’t it natural” is because we know the circumstances are different.

    Three main points here: we know that the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has been below 300ppm for the better part of 800,000 years (and maybe as much as 2 million years) from the ice core data. We also know that carbon dioxide concentrations are approaching 400ppm.

    We also know that humans have been emitting enormous quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for the last 150 years. This is a very unique circumstance in the history of the planet (the only other time I can think of that say such a rapid rise in CO2 was the PETM 55 mya… maybe).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleocene%E2%80%93Eocene_Thermal_Maximum

    Given this information, it’s clear that the situation is different than it has been for the last 800,000 years. So, we can’t assume it’s a continuation of the business-as-usual pattern. We have to dig deeper. The more thorough evidence for AGW is far more complex and comprehensive than what I just described, but this just shows that there’s a fundamental difference between the historical record and the current situation.

    I hope you will take this in the spirit it’s meant to be, as an honest answer to the best of my knowledge and abilities without trying to sound patronizing (which I don’t know if I succeeded or not).

  60. #60 Adam
    July 17, 2009

    re: my post at 10:47am July 17

    By “know,” I mean know in the scientific sense:

    “know with a reasonably degree of certainty”

  61. #61 Snowman
    July 17, 2009

    Thank you, Adam, and I do indeed take your observations in the spirit in which they were intended.

    However, perhaps I could just mention again that I was addressing only Coby’s ‘assumption’ argument, not other evidence that people may put forward.

    Please don’t take this as a sign that I am attempting to inflate one small point while ignoring everything else. I don’t dispute that there are many aspects to this complex matter that need to be considered.

  62. #62 Myhrr
    December 26, 2009

    Adam “Three main points here: we know that the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has been below 300ppm for the better part of 800,000 years (and maybe as much as 2 million years) from the ice core data. We also know that carbon dioxide concentrations are approaching 400ppm.”

    So what?

    If as you say Carbon Dioxide has shown no previous rises and yet the earth in those 800,000 years has gone through many cataclysmic rises and falls in temperature, then how is CO2 at all relevant to rising and lowering temperatures?

    You’ve just shown that CO2 has nothing to do with temperatures rising for the last 800,000 years.

  63. #63 dhogaza
    December 26, 2009

    If as you say Carbon Dioxide has shown no previous rises and yet the earth in those 800,000 years has gone through many cataclysmic rises and falls in temperature, then how is CO2 at all relevant to rising and lowering temperatures?

    You’ve just shown that CO2 has nothing to do with temperatures rising for the last 800,000 years.

    Logic fail. Exercise left to the denialist.

  64. #64 dhogaza
    December 26, 2009

    If as you say Carbon Dioxide has shown no previous rises

    Perhaps reading comprehension fail is more accurate.

    But again, exercise left to the denialist.

  65. #65 gfw
    December 26, 2009

    Here’s a little hint for the denialist. “Below 300″ does not mean constant. It’s varied cyclically between 180 and 300 over that time. Look at the near perfect correlation between temperature (blue) and CO2 (green) on this graph http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vostok-ice-core-petit.png Adam’s point is that because we’ve driven CO2 into a range humans have never seen, we’re going to see temperatures that humans have never before experienced. Of course this conclusion is supported by more than just that graph. Decades of multiple lines of research support that conclusion.

  66. #66 michael
    December 27, 2009

    Hey gfw, I maintain that that graph does not show or prove that CO2 causes temperature rise.
    Here are two links that support my position.
    http://swampie.wordpress.com/2009/01/11/what-the-vostok-ice-core-data-says-about-global-warming-and-more-importantly-cooling/
    http://joannenova.com.au/global-warming/ice-core-graph/

    Surely you have seen this information before, i.e., the graph looks like a “near perfect” corelation, but the scale is huge! CO2 lags temperature by 800 years!
    What do you think of that?
    I’d also like to know what you think of what I have posted on “climate is always changing”.

    Dhogaza, I think I can read and comprehend the written word, and I must say, I don’t see where you’re coming from with your comments. (#s 63 & 64)
    I realise that the chances I am missing the bleedin’ obvious are high, but I just can’t see it! Please explain how Myhrr has mis-read/mis-understood/mis-comprehended this sentence written by Adam.
    (I would also like to know what you think of my posts on “climate is always changing”. …. sans abuse)

  67. #67 dhogaza
    December 27, 2009

    Surely you have seen this information before, i.e., the graph looks like a “near perfect” corelation, but the scale is huge! CO2 lags temperature by 800 years!
    What do you think of that?

    You need a remedial course in climatology, or at least you need to read one or two pages from a reliable source. I’m tired of spoon-feeding willfully ignorant people.

    I realise that the chances I am missing the bleedin’ obvious are high, but I just can’t see it! Please explain how Myhrr has mis-read/mis-understood/mis-comprehended this sentence written by Adam.

    gfw gave the game away in 65, damn it! He even said “here’s a little hint …”.

    I would also like to know what you think of my posts on “climate is always changing”. ….

    It’s the logical equivalent of saying “people are always dying of natural causes, therefore this bullet I’m about to put into your head won’t kill you”.

    Care to test the logical correctness of that construction?

  68. #68 michael
    December 27, 2009

    By the way, those two links were pretty easy to find.
    I typed “vostok ice core data” into our beloved Google, and these results were numbers 6 and 11. (I didn’t look at the others)
    My point is that the “AGW movement” would have us peasants believe that “the science is settled”.
    I really don’t believe it is.
    I mean, I look at websites like these, (in the links) I have read Heaven and Earth by Prof. Ian Plimer, I search Youtube. I find article after article that decrys AGW.
    They are all very convincing.
    How can that be?
    How can anyone say the science is settled?
    (by the way, I saw the “debate” between Monbiot and Plimer. I though Prof. Plimer’s performance was just awful. “Please just answer the question!”)

    I fully expect various comments in reply mentioning “flat-Earth”, and “Gravity”, but really(!) How can the average punter (like me) know the truth?

  69. #69 dhogaza
    December 27, 2009

    I have read Heaven and Earth by Prof. Ian Plimer

    Oh, Lord. As I said, I’m tired of spoon-feeding the willfully ignorant.

    I find article after article that decrys AGW.
    They are all very convincing.
    How can that be?

    They’re lying to you, and you’re willing to be lied to, in other words – you’re willfully ignorant.

  70. #70 skip
    December 27, 2009

    Michael:

    Have you ever read *anything* that makes the case *for* AGW?

    This is a question I propose to every denier I meet in person or on the net: Would you be willing to read *three* books that make the case *against* your position?

    I always pose the question because I have done exactly that with the denial position; I will also provide my 47 page essay detailing why I found all of those sources (Bjorn Lomborg, Lawrence Solomon, and Christopher Horner) to be blatant, arrant, horse*shit*–if you wish.

    The point: It looks very much like you only expose yourself to things that tell you what you want to believe, and this is *classic* denier behavior, in all my experience.

    Skip

  71. #71 michael
    December 27, 2009

    Hey Skip,
    To answer your question, no, I haven’t.
    I’ve written here before about how I was shocked and apalled
    by Al Gore’s movie at first. I saw another documentary that convinced me even more-so than that one which was this one.
    http://www.abc.net.au/science/crude/resources/
    (I could only find one little clip on Youtube)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yd3yaF2yYos

    This documentary convinced me that humans were burning oil and releasing all that carbon into the atmosphere.
    However, as you can read on the intro page in my first link, they use the term “increasingly wierd weather patterns”…. That got me! I simply cannot see evidence of this apparent “weird weather”. Can you?
    My basic understanding of weather made me think that surely if the entire earth were to warm, i.e. the temperature differential between poles and equator decreased, surely that would lead to decreased storminess? The ferocity of storms is caused by the difference in temperature between two masses of air meeting. Isn’t that right?
    Or, is it the case that a warm mass of air meeting a slightly less warm mass of air will cause a more ferocious storm than a warm mass meeting a very cold mass?
    Because of this very idea, I started to question the information that was put forward as “the science of global warming”. Since then I have read as much as I could on both sides of the argument, and I have been convinced by what you would call The Dark Side. (and what I would call The Truth)
    Notice the very emotive images and language used by the AGW movement. “dangerous climate change”, the power staion cooling tower emitting that filthy blace smoke into the air. (of course we all know it’s water vapour/steam, and if you shoot it with the sun behind it, it looks darker)
    The opening video of the COP15 summit was the same. Emotive use of catastrophic flooding, children stranded etc. Can you see my point?
    God! There’s so much to say, and not enough time to say it all.

    What about my posts on “climate is always changing”?
    I would appreciate you responding to those. (re sea levels etc)

    Of course now, we’ve had the leaked emails, but long before that I felt the information coming from the IPCC was more political than scientific. I feel like that information is tainted, and I therefore am sceptical of all of it.
    I can only read what I can read and garner what I can garner. From my own observations of life here in Brisbane Australia, I do not see any wierd weather, I do not see that the sea levels are rising, and whenever there is an unusually high (or low) temperature, it is usually equalled or bettered by a temperature from the twenties, thirties or forties.
    The tragic bushfires that occurred in Victoria Australia early this year were, in some instances, blamed on AGW.
    Here’s a link that shows how wrong that is:
    http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/resources/14_0980.pdf
    My point is, that the weather patterns we are seeing on the earth now, (flooding, hurricanes, heatwaves, ice storms, record snow, etc) are nothing new.
    It’s our collective memories that are short.
    This is the purpose of the Emotion used by the AGW movement.
    Am I making sense? I hope you will read all this and look at the links.
    I know you’re above name calling and abusive responses.
    Cheers, have a good day.

  72. #72 michael
    December 27, 2009

    erm… Dhogaza, does it really seem reasonable to you that a person would be “willfully ignorant”?
    Why would someone do that?
    Is it willfully ignorant of me to not trust the information emitted by the IPCC and it’s buddies?
    Is it willfully ignorant of you to continually nominate a “reliable source”, which invariably turns out to be from the IPCC, Real Climate or some other “endorsed and vetted” source.
    You have mentioned “comprehension” before. I honestly can’t see how you can justify what you’ve written in your “cherry picked” copy and pasted replies.
    Why do you not just copy and paste the entire post, and then write underneath it: “this sux!!” ?
    Of course, you could save electrons and not copy and paste at all. Just write something like “michael’s a dickhead”.

    Forgive me, but from a supposedly educated person, I expect more.

  73. #73 skip
    December 27, 2009

    does it really seem reasonable to you that a person would be “willfully ignorant”?
    Why would someone do that?

    If they don’t like the implications of the truth. There is your answer.

  74. #74 michael
    December 27, 2009

    Skip, I have written a response to your previous question. However it is quite long, and needs to me moderated.

    I do not take my position in this debate because I “do not like the implications of the truth”. I take my position because I believe your “truth” is the opposite of my “truth”.
    I do not believe I am ignorant at all.
    I think to imply that someone is ignorant on purpose is quite ridiculous. Wouldn’t it mean that I know I am wrong but I’m gonna stick to it anyway?
    For example, I KNOW that the light inside the refrigerator is controlled by a little man with a light switch. I will argue about that until the cows come home! The fact that you can open the door and show me how the door itself operates the switch is irrelevent. If the door is open, you can’t see the little man! He is invisible to our eyes. Nothing you say can convince me otherwise!

  75. #75 skip
    December 27, 2009

    No, that’s cool.

    Take your time . . . happy holidays, Michael. I will address your analogy later but right now we’re having family time. (This excursion to Coby’s blog was a guilty digression from my alleged trip to the biffy.)

  76. #76 michael
    December 28, 2009

    Hey Mr T,
    It seems persons of our ilk can also be called “conspiricists”.
    (It’s always good to learn new words.)
    I maintain, in fact that I consider myself someone searching for the truth. I consider myself an environmentalist. This argument, in my opinion, should be concentrating on pollution, not carbon dioxide.
    Do I need to keep stating ad nausaeum that I don’t trust any of the information that is EMITTED (pun intended) from the IPCC? (or it’s approved and vetted sources)
    Do I need to explain my pun?
    Ok then, I will…
    I belive wholeheartedly, that the “information/data” that is emitted by the IPCC is pollution in itself. I state again, that I believe the IPCC is a political body and not a scientific one. (I posted this opinion well before the emails were leaked)
    I ask you, Coby, Skip, Adam, Ian Forrester, Dhogaza, Mandas, gfw, carrot eater; How can you KNOW (in the scientific sense) that the information endorsed and vetted and peer reviewed which you get from essentially the same source, is real, accurate and true?
    How can I know (in the scientific and biblical senses) that the information that I have gleaned from everything I’ve read is real, accurate and true?
    I will tell you.
    It is because in my part of the world at least, the weather is NOT weird, the sea levels are NOT rising and there is enough “unsettled science” to keep me asking questions.
    Are these things happening in your parts of the world?
    Other than what you read on the internet, are you observing changes in your local weather and climate?
    If you are, then I might be convinced to the contrary.
    If you are not, then how can you know your information is real?
    Before you come at me with cherry picked “copy ‘n’ pastes”, I hope you will think for a minute.
    If you cannot come up with anything other than to call me names, I’d rather you didn’t say anything at all.
    (not that that’s stopped you before)
    I am writing all this from the heart.
    I have stated my environmentalistic position previously.
    Please respond solemnly?

  77. #77 Dappledwater
    December 28, 2009

    “It is because in my part of the world at least, the weather is NOT weird, the sea levels are NOT rising and there is enough “unsettled science” to keep me asking questions.” – Michael.

    The sea level is rising alright. That you haven’t noticed is not relevant.

    http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_hist_last_15.html

    “Other than what you read on the internet, are you observing changes in your local weather and climate?” – Michael.

    Yup, it doesn’t get as cold as it did in the 60′s and 70′s – no frozen puddles in winter anymore and no frosts so heavy that one is able to make balls of ice out of it. It doesn’t get that cold anymore, although it’s still cold in winter. But it doesn’t constitute evidence of a global phenomenon.

  78. #78 skip
    December 28, 2009

    ‘morning, Michael.

    I will take you at face value that you are speaking from the heart, ok?

    Having looked over your previous posts from the other thread, there are a couple of recurring themes which concern me.

    First, I have seen you routinely refer to “warmistas” with their “scare tactics” (I did not follow your links but take at face value your assertion that they show “alarmism”).

    But what does this prove? It looks very much like the internal reasoning going on here is, “Many people who believe AGW is real use loaded emotional appeals, therefore I don’t have to believe in AGW.” I don’t use scare tactics when trying to persuade people to act on climate change for two simple reasons: (1) Fear is a poor, short-lived motivator; (2)I don’t know for a fact how bad and how imminent the effects of global warming will be. (I know how bad they *could* be–sinister feedback loops such as the loss of ice mass which reflects sunlight back to space, over-concentration of CO2 in the ocean, loss of vegetation as warmer climates gradually dry, release of frozen methane reserves from the ocean–and these are risks against which we should hedge.)

    Second, (and this is reminiscent of a more recent poster named John Nicol or something), when you say you think the IPCC is a “political body” you say it not only with audacity but with the apparent assumption that being “political” means “not believable.” But Michael, even assuming your label is valid, why should the truth not be allowed “political” support or its proponents to engage in “political” activity? In my country, abolitionists, civil rights activists, suffragists, and other movements all engaged in aggressive “political” activity because they recognized that certain changes were necessary to make their world *better*. Why is it not possible that the IPCC and its attendant scientific supporters are similarly motivated?

    Which brings us to the question of who should we believe and why. You asked:

    How can you KNOW (in the scientific sense) that the information endorsed and vetted and peer reviewed which you get from essentially the same source, is real, accurate and true?

    In the pure “scientific” sense, I of course cannot. I am too unsophisticated in my understanding of science. But I am certainly not going to run around saying I have sound reason to believe they are *wrong*. When I write an article for peer review, I don’t lie, Michael. The people I work with in my field–whatever their personal failings, whatever their biases, and however many nasty emails they might have written about their enemies–also, overwhelmingly, are *honest*. Many of them are record pricks, but they’re honest. By and large, in the long run, the scientific peer review process yields credible results, and in the case of AGW, we ignore those credible results perilously.

    Which leads to the matter of your own espoused approach to scientific knowledge:

    How can I know (in the scientific and biblical senses) . . .

    On a semi-tangent, what should I infer from your claim to have achieved a “biblical” level of knowledge on these matters?

    . . . that the information that I have gleaned from everything I’ve read is real, accurate and true?
    I will tell you.

    (I was really interested in this part.)

    It is because in my part of the world at least, the weather is NOT weird, the sea levels are NOT rising . .

    And this might be my biggest concern of all: The appeal to your perception of “everything” you’ve read (which you earlier conceded does not include a rigorous dose of the other side) and subjective experience (the absence of “weirdness” in the weather) as a means of falsifying AGW. Climate science does not predict that your weather patterns on any given day, or even over the course of five years for that matter, should be “weird”. It simply says that the overall *climate* is warming, and this has potential long term negative consequences for the planet. In 100 years people living near the arctic circle will find nothing “weird” about the fact that there is no summer ice extant. It will be a routine feature of their lives, but it will not mean that AGW is false.

    . . . and there is enough “unsettled science” to keep me asking questions.

    But I thought you had achieved scientific and biblical certainty (based on the body of information to which you’ve allowed yourself exposure and by observing no weirdness in the weather).

    Nonetheless, if you are truly asking questions, Michael, I would humbly suggest you ask this one: “What is the *best* case *against* what I believe, and why do I think its wrong.” If you’re just reading Plimer and Monckton, you are not asking that question in earnest, I fear.

    Skip

  79. #79 Dappledwater
    December 29, 2009

    “ermm…. Dappled Water, I’m not too sure of what your link is showing.” – Michael.

    Rising sea levels.

    “Is it showing that the sea levels change all the time?” – Michael.

    Nope.

    http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_drives_intro.html

    ” I can’t find the part where they attribute the changes in sea levels to human emissions of CO2.” – Michael.

    There’s strong hint here:

    http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_proj_21st.html

    Notice the mention of the IPCC and their projections?. Enhanced Greenhouse Effect from fossil fuels = global warming = melting ice + thermal expansion of oceans = rising sea level.

  80. #80 michael
    December 29, 2009

    But DW, this website cites information that comes, once again, from the IPCC. Is there no other source??
    I have already said ad nausaeum that I cannot trust information from the IPCC.
    I appreciate that the diagrams are good, and what they said made sense, right up until I saw the IPCC reference.
    (I have certainly learnt something about different sea levels in different parts of the world.)
    As for your first link, there are five reasons that sea levels can change. If AGW is real, then it accounts for only two of those reasons.
    Couldn’t any current sea level rise be accounted for, by any of the other three?
    If not, why not?
    What is your opinion of the quote above about what is un-certain?
    Don’tchathink they put that in to cover their own asses?

  81. #81 Marco
    December 29, 2009

    @Michael:
    I think you still need to learn more about sea level changes. Of the five reasons, one is a short-term effect (circulation changes + storm surges), one actually would lower sea levels (terrestial water storage etc), and only the third could give long-term changes…but regional (up or down).

  82. #82 michael
    December 29, 2009

    Point taken Marco, I certainly need to learn more about lots of things.
    My main point was that although the site is well put together and great reading, as soon as they mention anything to do with AGW, they source their information from the IPCC.
    Is there no other source?
    “this is a recording”….

  83. #83 Dappledwater
    December 29, 2009

    “they source their information from the IPCC.” – Michael.

    Wrong. The IPCC source some of their information on sea level research from Neil White, John Church and co. If you read the site properly you’d understand the data for recent sea level observations come from tide gauges and satellite altimetry.

    “Is there no other source?” – Michael.

    Read the primary scientific literature the IPCC summarizes. Drink lots of coffee.

    What is your opinion of the quote above about what is un-certain?

    The recent acceleration in sea level rise, and whether it is long term trend. That pretty much is a slam dunk because of the continued global warming and increased rate of ice mass loss from Greenland and Antarctica. Especially considering sea level projections don’t include “rapid dynamical changes in ice flow”.

    “Don’tcha think they put that in to cover their own asses?” – Michael.

    Nope.