AGW: Where is the evidence?

A superb opinion piece published recently in The Australian graphs one scientists conversion from AGW believer to skeptic after failing to find evidence. David Evans is the self-confessed rocket scientist who wrote the custom carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia’s carbon credit in the land use change and forestry sector. In disagreeing with mainstream science as represented by the IPCC he is among those that Professor Garnaut indecorously refers to as ‘dissenters’ here or even ‘deniers’ here.

Below are quotes but the full report is well worth reading as an example of the evidential mindset. In this view, climate models are very low on the pecking order of evidential support, and direct evidence for AGW is lacking.

But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

There has not been a public debate about the causes of global warming and most of the public and our decision makers are not aware of the most basic salient facts:

1. The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it.

2. There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. There is plenty of evidence that global warming has occurred, and theory suggests that carbon emissions should raise temperatures (though by how much is hotly disputed) but there are no observations by anyone that implicate carbon emissions as a significant cause of the recent global warming.

3. The satellites that measure the world’s temperature all say that the warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6C in the past year (to the temperature of 1980). Land-based temperature readings are corrupted by the “urban heat island” effect: urban areas encroaching on thermometer stations warm the micro-climate around the thermometer, due to vegetation changes, concrete, cars, houses. Satellite data is the only temperature data we can trust, but it only goes back to 1979. NASA reports only land-based data, and reports a modest warming trend and recent cooling. The other three global temperature records use a mix of satellite and land measurements, or satellite only, and they all show no warming since 2001 and a recent cooling.

4. The new ice cores show that in the past six global warmings over the past half a million years, the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon. Which says something important about which was cause and which was effect.

None of these points are controversial. The alarmist scientists agree with them, though they would dispute their relevance.

The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990, and we have not found any actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming. Evidence consists of observations made by someone at some time that supports the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming. Computer models and theoretical calculations are not evidence, they are just theory.

Credit to Geoff Sherrington for spotting this.

  • Luke

    So a modeller is now complaining about other modellers? I wonder if Stockwell or McIntyre would like to audit FULLCAM.

    Bet not.

  • Luke

    So a modeller is now complaining about other modellers? I wonder if Stockwell or McIntyre would like to audit FULLCAM.

    Bet not.

  • http://www.itia.ntua.gr/dk/ Demetris Koutsoyiannis

    Thanks David for this great piece.

    And congratulations for the new nice look (+ enhanced functionality) of your blog.

  • http://www.itia.ntua.gr/dk/ Demetris Koutsoyiannis

    Thanks David for this great piece.

    And congratulations for the new nice look (+ enhanced functionality) of your blog.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Thanks Demetris. An upgrade was long overdue. Cheers

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Thanks Demetris. An upgrade was long overdue. Cheers

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Luke, I would be interested in posting a review if you send one in. Cheers

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Luke, I would be interested in posting a review if you send one in. Cheers

  • Neal J. King

    I’ve downloaded and read the full article by Evans, and I must say I’m not that impressed:

    - First, anyone who would describe himself as a “rocket scientist” either has an exaggerated sense of his accomplishments, very little respect for the technical level of his readers, or both. This attitude doesn’t engender any trust in me.

    - Secondly, having programmed a carbon-accounting model (land-use change and forestry sector) doesn’t really imply scientific credentials on climate dynamics. So this credential doesn’t really provide any cover either. Evans’ training is in mathematics, computing and electrical engineering (http://www.sciencespeak.com/). See the deep connection to the atmospheric physics of climate? Neither do I.

    So let’s just evaluate the presentation on its own merits:

    1) “The greenhouse signature is missing.” Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any other source for this concept of a “missing greenhouse signature”, other than Evans’ article and re-hashes of the same. In my readings in textbooks of atmospheric physics, the story goes roughly like this: Additional CO2 increases the radius of the photosphere at 15-micron wavelength infrared; this means that the effective radius of radiation for that radiation is at higher altitude then before, and thus will reflect a cooler temperature for radiation; thus less radiation escapes to space, so much is reflected downward. How this is supposed to be translated into a hot spot is unclear to me, and I would like a reference more authoritative than that of a computer programmer: In other words, someone who can actually explain the physics, not just do the accounting.

    2) “There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming.” There is also no evidence to support the idea that it’s NOT causing significant global warming. However, the difference is that global warming is an expectation arising from the atmospheric physics that has been studied for over 100 years (older than quantum mechanics or relativity). If a radiative forcing were NOT occurring due to an increase in CO2, one would really have to wonder why it wasn’t happening. It is basic philosophy of science that you can NEVER prove a theory true, you can only try to disprove it: If you succeed in disproving it, you’ve shot it down, and congratulations! But if you don’t, you’re stuck with it as being the best theory available – unless you’ve got a better one that is also consistent with the rest of physics.

    3) “Warming trend ended in 2001.” Climatologists don’t look at year-to-year trends, but decade-to-decade trends. The world is the most complicated thing in the world, with lots of subsystems and cycles and noise. It’s a bit silly to expect a monotonic increase. What I find impressive is the IPCC’s graph at http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/figspm-4.htm , where they’re able to estimate the contributions to climate change from CO2, sulfate aerosols, volcanoes and solar variations. When they add them all together, it’s a very good qualitative match: noisy, but reasonable.

    4) “The new ice cores show… the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon.” First, there’s nothing particularly new about the ice-core analysis: It’s been known for quite as long as I’ve been looking into the global-warming matter, so at least several years. Secondly, no one has claimed that CO2 initiated previous warmings: In the current period, it is because human beings are measurably adding CO2 to the atmosphere (we’ve added 35% in the last 150 years) that there is a warming effect. In the absence of this addition, you wouldn’t expect any driving from the CO2, the increase is the result of heating of the ground and the waters.

    But there IS an additional effect which does tie in: The warming of the Earth, although initiated by the orbital variations (Milankovitch cycles) lasts longer than would otherwise be expected, and this IS attributed to the effect of the CO2. The out-gassing of the CO2 results in a warming that increases and extends the temperature increase that was initiated by a completely different mechanism. This is commonly understood in scientific discussions of global warming, so it is interesting that our brave “rocket scientist” doesn’t seem aware of it. Maybe it wasn’t on his list of talking points.

    Likewise, Evans lies about Gore, saying “Al Gore made his movie in 2005 and presented the ice cores as the sole reason for believing that carbon emissions cause global warming.” In fact, what Gore said was that there was clearly a link between them, and he very carefully said, “I don’t want to get into the details of the causality.” Not surprising: I just DID get into the details of the causality, and it is a bit subtle – like a lot of scientific reasoning. You don’t believe me? Go back and watch the movie: Gore is rather careful on that point.

    The rest of the article just adumbrates the points already made (in my view, wrongly). He asks for proofs of a theory, which are never possible. (Prove, please, that E always = mc^2. While you’re at it, prove quantum mechanics.)

    The only real point that he brings to the table is the question of the “greenhouse signature”, which I have never seen discussed by any other independent source (in other words, articles that are not just re-hashes of this very article). I would be willing to re-consider the significance of this point if someone can explain to me in detail the exact nature and the size of this so-called signature; and to participate in comparing that quantitatively to the expected uncertainties in tropospheric temperatures.

    In the meantime, I will point out that science is full of surprises, so sometimes a problem in evidence will linger for years until it is resolved. (As happened in 2004 or 2005, when a tropospheric temperature trend that had been a thorn-in-the-side for a decade was resolved by someone finally noticing an algebra error in data reduction.) This always makes people unhappy, but the scientific issue is then, “Do you have a better explanation?” You don’t abandon a working scientific explanation for a nothing, and what the greenhouse-effect deniers have right now is exactly a nothing: no self-consistent model that matches basic atmospheric physics.

  • Neal J. King

    I’ve downloaded and read the full article by Evans, and I must say I’m not that impressed:

    - First, anyone who would describe himself as a “rocket scientist” either has an exaggerated sense of his accomplishments, very little respect for the technical level of his readers, or both. This attitude doesn’t engender any trust in me.

    - Secondly, having programmed a carbon-accounting model (land-use change and forestry sector) doesn’t really imply scientific credentials on climate dynamics. So this credential doesn’t really provide any cover either. Evans’ training is in mathematics, computing and electrical engineering (http://www.sciencespeak.com/). See the deep connection to the atmospheric physics of climate? Neither do I.

    So let’s just evaluate the presentation on its own merits:

    1) “The greenhouse signature is missing.” Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any other source for this concept of a “missing greenhouse signature”, other than Evans’ article and re-hashes of the same. In my readings in textbooks of atmospheric physics, the story goes roughly like this: Additional CO2 increases the radius of the photosphere at 15-micron wavelength infrared; this means that the effective radius of radiation for that radiation is at higher altitude then before, and thus will reflect a cooler temperature for radiation; thus less radiation escapes to space, so much is reflected downward. How this is supposed to be translated into a hot spot is unclear to me, and I would like a reference more authoritative than that of a computer programmer: In other words, someone who can actually explain the physics, not just do the accounting.

    2) “There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming.” There is also no evidence to support the idea that it’s NOT causing significant global warming. However, the difference is that global warming is an expectation arising from the atmospheric physics that has been studied for over 100 years (older than quantum mechanics or relativity). If a radiative forcing were NOT occurring due to an increase in CO2, one would really have to wonder why it wasn’t happening. It is basic philosophy of science that you can NEVER prove a theory true, you can only try to disprove it: If you succeed in disproving it, you’ve shot it down, and congratulations! But if you don’t, you’re stuck with it as being the best theory available – unless you’ve got a better one that is also consistent with the rest of physics.

    3) “Warming trend ended in 2001.” Climatologists don’t look at year-to-year trends, but decade-to-decade trends. The world is the most complicated thing in the world, with lots of subsystems and cycles and noise. It’s a bit silly to expect a monotonic increase. What I find impressive is the IPCC’s graph at http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/figspm-4.htm , where they’re able to estimate the contributions to climate change from CO2, sulfate aerosols, volcanoes and solar variations. When they add them all together, it’s a very good qualitative match: noisy, but reasonable.

    4) “The new ice cores show… the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon.” First, there’s nothing particularly new about the ice-core analysis: It’s been known for quite as long as I’ve been looking into the global-warming matter, so at least several years. Secondly, no one has claimed that CO2 initiated previous warmings: In the current period, it is because human beings are measurably adding CO2 to the atmosphere (we’ve added 35% in the last 150 years) that there is a warming effect. In the absence of this addition, you wouldn’t expect any driving from the CO2, the increase is the result of heating of the ground and the waters.

    But there IS an additional effect which does tie in: The warming of the Earth, although initiated by the orbital variations (Milankovitch cycles) lasts longer than would otherwise be expected, and this IS attributed to the effect of the CO2. The out-gassing of the CO2 results in a warming that increases and extends the temperature increase that was initiated by a completely different mechanism. This is commonly understood in scientific discussions of global warming, so it is interesting that our brave “rocket scientist” doesn’t seem aware of it. Maybe it wasn’t on his list of talking points.

    Likewise, Evans lies about Gore, saying “Al Gore made his movie in 2005 and presented the ice cores as the sole reason for believing that carbon emissions cause global warming.” In fact, what Gore said was that there was clearly a link between them, and he very carefully said, “I don’t want to get into the details of the causality.” Not surprising: I just DID get into the details of the causality, and it is a bit subtle – like a lot of scientific reasoning. You don’t believe me? Go back and watch the movie: Gore is rather careful on that point.

    The rest of the article just adumbrates the points already made (in my view, wrongly). He asks for proofs of a theory, which are never possible. (Prove, please, that E always = mc^2. While you’re at it, prove quantum mechanics.)

    The only real point that he brings to the table is the question of the “greenhouse signature”, which I have never seen discussed by any other independent source (in other words, articles that are not just re-hashes of this very article). I would be willing to re-consider the significance of this point if someone can explain to me in detail the exact nature and the size of this so-called signature; and to participate in comparing that quantitatively to the expected uncertainties in tropospheric temperatures.

    In the meantime, I will point out that science is full of surprises, so sometimes a problem in evidence will linger for years until it is resolved. (As happened in 2004 or 2005, when a tropospheric temperature trend that had been a thorn-in-the-side for a decade was resolved by someone finally noticing an algebra error in data reduction.) This always makes people unhappy, but the scientific issue is then, “Do you have a better explanation?” You don’t abandon a working scientific explanation for a nothing, and what the greenhouse-effect deniers have right now is exactly a nothing: no self-consistent model that matches basic atmospheric physics.

  • Bernie

    Neal:
    Thanks for providing a counterpoint to the Evan’s article. I was actually surprised that he didn’t point out all theother indicators that suggest that catastrophic AGW may not be as supported by observable data as many would like, viz., Ocean temperatures, “clean” SST, Antarctic ice coverage, hard to find detailed explanations of the physics behind sensitivity estimates. However, what also remains the case is that a strong AGW proponent has somehow changed his mind. You may not be persuaded, but he certainly seems to be persuaded.

  • Bernie

    Neal:
    Thanks for providing a counterpoint to the Evan’s article. I was actually surprised that he didn’t point out all theother indicators that suggest that catastrophic AGW may not be as supported by observable data as many would like, viz., Ocean temperatures, “clean” SST, Antarctic ice coverage, hard to find detailed explanations of the physics behind sensitivity estimates. However, what also remains the case is that a strong AGW proponent has somehow changed his mind. You may not be persuaded, but he certainly seems to be persuaded.

  • Neal J. King

    Bernie,

    The fact that someone developed a section of a program does not mean that he was ever convinced of the the framework or knowledgeable of the science behind it. You have only his say-so that he was a strong AGW proponent. So I discount all that: What really matters is not his sincerity (which cannot be measured over the internet) but the cogency of his arguments.

    And my evaluation is that his arguments are rather weak. It’s the same old stuff that you can see on any skeptical website, unaffected by any attempt to find the scientific explanation to an apparent contradiction. The history of science is filled with paradoxes, which are eventually resolved by efforts to uncover the truth, not by abandoning rationality.

    The fact that he trots out these old-warhorse paradoxes make it clear that he hasn’t made the slightest effort to clarify his understanding. These are explained in lots of places.

    If you want to discuss your issues, it would make sense to handle them one at at time.

  • Neal J. King

    Bernie,

    The fact that someone developed a section of a program does not mean that he was ever convinced of the the framework or knowledgeable of the science behind it. You have only his say-so that he was a strong AGW proponent. So I discount all that: What really matters is not his sincerity (which cannot be measured over the internet) but the cogency of his arguments.

    And my evaluation is that his arguments are rather weak. It’s the same old stuff that you can see on any skeptical website, unaffected by any attempt to find the scientific explanation to an apparent contradiction. The history of science is filled with paradoxes, which are eventually resolved by efforts to uncover the truth, not by abandoning rationality.

    The fact that he trots out these old-warhorse paradoxes make it clear that he hasn’t made the slightest effort to clarify his understanding. These are explained in lots of places.

    If you want to discuss your issues, it would make sense to handle them one at at time.

  • kuhnkat

    Neal,

    the MODELS that predict dangerous warming currently invariably have the so-called HOT SPOT in their output. Sorry if you can’t find references to it.

    Maybe you need to read the IPCC report again. They have a really neat set of graphics that show what the MODELS think the tropical troposphere should look like for several different causes of warming. Neither the graphic for GG’s nor the graphic for all forcings match observations.

    It is one of those FALSIFIED moments for a major part of the models.

    By the way, have you checked the background for all the modellers working on climate?? Then there is Hansen’s own credentials. Climate Science is new enough that there just aren’t that many highly qualified LETTERED ones around!! I get a kick out of it every time a believer claims that if you don’t have a degree in it you don’t have any qualifications!!

    Maybe you can be the one that compiles the necessary credentials for Climate Scientists and enforces the rule!! No LETTERS no OPINION!!

    You state:

    “But if you don’t, you’re stuck with it as being the best theory available – unless you’ve got a better one that is also consistent with the rest of physics.”

    Basically you are saying we should act like every WAG that scientists come up with should be treated as FACT and ACTED UPON!!

    I’m sorry, but, you are WRONG!! Just because something is the best GUESS doesn’t make it actionable in any way other than to think up more ways to study it and gather more DATA!!

    Your #3. Sorry, just because they have massaged their guesses for years so they seem to make a little sense is NOT proof and is NOT good science.

    Your #4. Just because no scientist dares to make this claim currently does not mean they didn’t make it in the past!! There are still people who were taught the old religion that still believe this!!

    Basically you need to start dealing with reality and not your own straw men!!

    Finally, have YOU recomputed the atmospheric sensitivity now that it is commonly understood that the premise for the old computations, that many people still use, is WRONG?!?!?! You do a lot of deprecation and arm waving and offer no real data. One attempt was presented on this blog. 2 other papers last year attempted to correct this. Unsurprisingly they all were DECREASING it for very good reasons. Even GISS data isn’t showing anything earth shaking in spite of the CLAIMS!!

    (I’m still waiting for a commercially navigable Northwest Passage!!)

    As for how careful Gore was in his movie, I keep talking to people who think glaciers calving are a sign of global warming. Care to comment on the fact that glaciers calving can be growing, in relative equilibrium, or even melting??

    How about a comment on the Hockey Stick??

    How about a comment on mosquitoes moving north and causing more disease?? A lot of Canadians were really surprised to hear they didn’t have a summer mosquito problem in their swampy melt seasons!!

    Care to comment on how a temperature rise of 5C/100 years is going to raise the sea level enough to inundate New York and the rest of the global coastlines with 20ft of water in this century or even the next?? The IPCC disagrees also!

    Oh yeah, I loved reading about the special effects guys who did a styrofoam mock up of a glacial coastline for “A Day After Tommorow” recognising their work in Gore’s DOCUMENTARY!!

    Gores movie was pure propaganda with the facts overridden with BULL!! Anyone still defending that pile is DESPERATE!!!

    When you get some real, useful facts let us know.

  • kuhnkat

    Neal,

    the MODELS that predict dangerous warming currently invariably have the so-called HOT SPOT in their output. Sorry if you can’t find references to it.

    Maybe you need to read the IPCC report again. They have a really neat set of graphics that show what the MODELS think the tropical troposphere should look like for several different causes of warming. Neither the graphic for GG’s nor the graphic for all forcings match observations.

    It is one of those FALSIFIED moments for a major part of the models.

    By the way, have you checked the background for all the modellers working on climate?? Then there is Hansen’s own credentials. Climate Science is new enough that there just aren’t that many highly qualified LETTERED ones around!! I get a kick out of it every time a believer claims that if you don’t have a degree in it you don’t have any qualifications!!

    Maybe you can be the one that compiles the necessary credentials for Climate Scientists and enforces the rule!! No LETTERS no OPINION!!

    You state:

    “But if you don’t, you’re stuck with it as being the best theory available – unless you’ve got a better one that is also consistent with the rest of physics.”

    Basically you are saying we should act like every WAG that scientists come up with should be treated as FACT and ACTED UPON!!

    I’m sorry, but, you are WRONG!! Just because something is the best GUESS doesn’t make it actionable in any way other than to think up more ways to study it and gather more DATA!!

    Your #3. Sorry, just because they have massaged their guesses for years so they seem to make a little sense is NOT proof and is NOT good science.

    Your #4. Just because no scientist dares to make this claim currently does not mean they didn’t make it in the past!! There are still people who were taught the old religion that still believe this!!

    Basically you need to start dealing with reality and not your own straw men!!

    Finally, have YOU recomputed the atmospheric sensitivity now that it is commonly understood that the premise for the old computations, that many people still use, is WRONG?!?!?! You do a lot of deprecation and arm waving and offer no real data. One attempt was presented on this blog. 2 other papers last year attempted to correct this. Unsurprisingly they all were DECREASING it for very good reasons. Even GISS data isn’t showing anything earth shaking in spite of the CLAIMS!!

    (I’m still waiting for a commercially navigable Northwest Passage!!)

    As for how careful Gore was in his movie, I keep talking to people who think glaciers calving are a sign of global warming. Care to comment on the fact that glaciers calving can be growing, in relative equilibrium, or even melting??

    How about a comment on the Hockey Stick??

    How about a comment on mosquitoes moving north and causing more disease?? A lot of Canadians were really surprised to hear they didn’t have a summer mosquito problem in their swampy melt seasons!!

    Care to comment on how a temperature rise of 5C/100 years is going to raise the sea level enough to inundate New York and the rest of the global coastlines with 20ft of water in this century or even the next?? The IPCC disagrees also!

    Oh yeah, I loved reading about the special effects guys who did a styrofoam mock up of a glacial coastline for “A Day After Tommorow” recognising their work in Gore’s DOCUMENTARY!!

    Gores movie was pure propaganda with the facts overridden with BULL!! Anyone still defending that pile is DESPERATE!!!

    When you get some real, useful facts let us know.

  • Anonymous

    Neal, While your observations seem accurate, I think David cleverly covered himself against a rebuttal on most of your points with the para I quoted:

    “None of these points are controversial. The alarmist scientists agree with them, though they would dispute their relevance.”

    Commenting about his qualifications many would find distastefully elitist I believe. It was after all an opinion piece.

    The greenhouse signature has been claimed to be found by Harries for CO2 and CH4 and for water vapor by Soden, and we have raised some of the questions around this potentially direct evidence on this blog. I hope to do more on these. Claims of greenhouse signatures have been made for patterns of ocean warming, tropoopause rising, tropical troposphere heating and other regional changes. I don’t know where these ‘proofs of AGW’ stand right now, but the upper troposphere heating one arguably runs against AGW since Douglass et. al.

    But I think you raise good points on what to do when we don’t have good theories, and I would like to steer any comments away from the science issues and onto the quality of evidence contributed by issues, if possible.

    David Stockwells last blog post..AGW: Where is the evidence?

  • http://landshape.org/enm David Stockwell

    Neal, While your observations seem accurate, I think David cleverly covered himself against a rebuttal on most of your points with the para I quoted:

    “None of these points are controversial. The alarmist scientists agree with them, though they would dispute their relevance.”

    Commenting about his qualifications many would find distastefully elitist I believe. It was after all an opinion piece.

    The greenhouse signature has been claimed to be found by Harries for CO2 and CH4 and for water vapor by Soden, and we have raised some of the questions around this potentially direct evidence on this blog. I hope to do more on these. Claims of greenhouse signatures have been made for patterns of ocean warming, tropoopause rising, tropical troposphere heating and other regional changes. I don’t know where these ‘proofs of AGW’ stand right now, but the upper troposphere heating one arguably runs against AGW since Douglass et. al.

    But I think you raise good points on what to do when we don’t have good theories, and I would like to steer any comments away from the science issues and onto the quality of evidence contributed by issues, if possible.

    David Stockwells last blog post..AGW: Where is the evidence?

  • Neal J. King

    David,

    I mention the issue of qualifications ONLY because Evans called himself “the rocket scientist”. In other words, “Trust me, I really am smarter than you, and all those other climate scientists as well.”

    From my point of view, the issue with respect to those particular points he mentions is not “relevance” but “mis-interpretation”.

    I think there are many things that can be considered “signatures of the greenhouse effect”, so if someone has a specific one in mind, it should be clearly stated. In fact, one site that talked about such a signature identified it as exactly that which was found when the data-analysis error for lower-tropospheric temperature trends (that I mentioned in my first posting above) in 2004. So if somebody has something specific in mind, it would be helpful to specify a reference which describes it unambiguously. As I mentioned, the first N pages in google I found referring to this point were all re-hashes of Evans’ own article.

    kuhnkat, if you have a particular graph of the IPCC report in mind, please specify it. IPCC AR4 is hundreds and hundreds of pages long, so I don’t want to print it out; and it’s hard to search on PC.

  • Neal J. King

    David,

    I mention the issue of qualifications ONLY because Evans called himself “the rocket scientist”. In other words, “Trust me, I really am smarter than you, and all those other climate scientists as well.”

    From my point of view, the issue with respect to those particular points he mentions is not “relevance” but “mis-interpretation”.

    I think there are many things that can be considered “signatures of the greenhouse effect”, so if someone has a specific one in mind, it should be clearly stated. In fact, one site that talked about such a signature identified it as exactly that which was found when the data-analysis error for lower-tropospheric temperature trends (that I mentioned in my first posting above) in 2004. So if somebody has something specific in mind, it would be helpful to specify a reference which describes it unambiguously. As I mentioned, the first N pages in google I found referring to this point were all re-hashes of Evans’ own article.

    kuhnkat, if you have a particular graph of the IPCC report in mind, please specify it. IPCC AR4 is hundreds and hundreds of pages long, so I don’t want to print it out; and it’s hard to search on PC.

  • Neal J. King

    David,

    I’m also unclear on what you mean by this: “… I would like to steer any comments away from the science issues and onto the quality of evidence contributed by issues, if possible.”

    Evans’ issues are interpretations. If you want to stay away from the science issues, what quality of evidence can you be talking about?

  • Neal J. King

    David,

    I’m also unclear on what you mean by this: “… I would like to steer any comments away from the science issues and onto the quality of evidence contributed by issues, if possible.”

    Evans’ issues are interpretations. If you want to stay away from the science issues, what quality of evidence can you be talking about?

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Neal, I think David was being droll. Please see latest post re evidence and his letter.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Neal, I think David was being droll. Please see latest post re evidence and his letter.

  • Neal J. King

    David,

    I’m afraid I don’t find such applications of Bayesian statistics helpful. I find it easier to evaluate arguments in terms of logical coherence than to try to turn degrees of coherence into Bayesian probabilities.

  • Neal J. King

    David,

    I’m afraid I don’t find such applications of Bayesian statistics helpful. I find it easier to evaluate arguments in terms of logical coherence than to try to turn degrees of coherence into Bayesian probabilities.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Hi Neal, go for it if you have another meta-method.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Hi Neal, go for it if you have another meta-method.

  • Neal J. King

    I have already done so, in my first evaluation of Evans’ arguments, on July 22: I don’t find them convincing.

  • Neal J. King

    I have already done so, in my first evaluation of Evans’ arguments, on July 22: I don’t find them convincing.

  • Pat Cassen

    kuhnkat, you seem a little upset at Neal’s post – all those caps and !s. Not necessary.

    Our host runs a rather civil blog here. Despite the fact that I disagree with most of what he says, I haven’t ever been treated discourteously, which I appreciate. And Neal J. King clearly knows his physics, as demonstrated by his detailed posts on other threads here.

    So get a grip. Care to discuss any of your points individually (and calmly)? Take your first, for instance: “hot spots”. They come and go in the real atmosphere and they come and go in model outputs, right? Do they match up? No, not in a rigorous manner, although broad scale regional patterns are in general agreement (IPCC Fig. SPM 4) Does this “falsify” the models? Yes, if you are (mistakenly) trying to use the global models to predict regional effects in detail. No, if you are using the models to predict the long-term climatic response to increased CO2 forcing.

    You say: “They [the IPCC] have a really neat set of graphics that show what the MODELS think the tropical troposphere should look like for several different causes of warming. Neither the graphic for GG’s nor the graphic for all forcings match observations.”

    See:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/tropical-tropopshere-ii/langswitch_lang/in
    and references therein for a detailed discussion of comparisons of tropical tropospheric measurements and model outputs. Bottom line (I think I’ve got it right): Yes, there are discrepancies, but these discrepancies (a) are diminished by recent re-evaluation of the data, which had, and still has, known problems, and (b) the remaining problems exist regardless of the nature of the forcing, so they (the discrepancies) cannot be used as an argument against enhanced CO2 forcing. That is, physical theory generally implies that the tropical temperature profile adhere to the moist adiabat, but the data do not strictly conform. Whatever the problem is, it applies either to the analysis of the data or to a general theory of tropical tropospheric conditions, regardless of the hypothesized forcing. The experts (whose opinions you are free to dispute, but only with relevant physical arguments) suspect the data analysis, which is not trivial. In either case, CO2 forcing is not discredited.

    With regard to “proof”: I could bore you with many instances in which the correct scientific conclusions were drawn on the basis of what you might call “circumstantial evidence”. It’s common in the natural sciences, and has a pretty good track record, especially when the the evidence is built (and tested) over many years (as is the case for AGW). Smoking guns? Lucky to find them. No excuse for denying the evidence.

    David: I’m a little surprised that you are so enthusiastic about Evans’ op-ed, which is a pretty pallid recycling of some feeble arguments, no? (In other words, I agree with Neal J.)

    Thanks for reading this.
    (Corrections and thoughtful comments are appreciated.)

  • Pat Cassen

    kuhnkat, you seem a little upset at Neal’s post – all those caps and !s. Not necessary.

    Our host runs a rather civil blog here. Despite the fact that I disagree with most of what he says, I haven’t ever been treated discourteously, which I appreciate. And Neal J. King clearly knows his physics, as demonstrated by his detailed posts on other threads here.

    So get a grip. Care to discuss any of your points individually (and calmly)? Take your first, for instance: “hot spots”. They come and go in the real atmosphere and they come and go in model outputs, right? Do they match up? No, not in a rigorous manner, although broad scale regional patterns are in general agreement (IPCC Fig. SPM 4) Does this “falsify” the models? Yes, if you are (mistakenly) trying to use the global models to predict regional effects in detail. No, if you are using the models to predict the long-term climatic response to increased CO2 forcing.

    You say: “They [the IPCC] have a really neat set of graphics that show what the MODELS think the tropical troposphere should look like for several different causes of warming. Neither the graphic for GG’s nor the graphic for all forcings match observations.”

    See:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/tropical-tropopshere-ii/langswitch_lang/in
    and references therein for a detailed discussion of comparisons of tropical tropospheric measurements and model outputs. Bottom line (I think I’ve got it right): Yes, there are discrepancies, but these discrepancies (a) are diminished by recent re-evaluation of the data, which had, and still has, known problems, and (b) the remaining problems exist regardless of the nature of the forcing, so they (the discrepancies) cannot be used as an argument against enhanced CO2 forcing. That is, physical theory generally implies that the tropical temperature profile adhere to the moist adiabat, but the data do not strictly conform. Whatever the problem is, it applies either to the analysis of the data or to a general theory of tropical tropospheric conditions, regardless of the hypothesized forcing. The experts (whose opinions you are free to dispute, but only with relevant physical arguments) suspect the data analysis, which is not trivial. In either case, CO2 forcing is not discredited.

    With regard to “proof”: I could bore you with many instances in which the correct scientific conclusions were drawn on the basis of what you might call “circumstantial evidence”. It’s common in the natural sciences, and has a pretty good track record, especially when the the evidence is built (and tested) over many years (as is the case for AGW). Smoking guns? Lucky to find them. No excuse for denying the evidence.

    David: I’m a little surprised that you are so enthusiastic about Evans’ op-ed, which is a pretty pallid recycling of some feeble arguments, no? (In other words, I agree with Neal J.)

    Thanks for reading this.
    (Corrections and thoughtful comments are appreciated.)

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Hi Pat, Nice to see you back. I do not have much time for the venting common elsewhere and appreciate my efforts are noticed.

    Perhaps I need to explain the angle on this more. If you read the longer article of David it explains more about how evidence has led to evolution of his thinking, and I was more interested from that angle. I don’t want to get into science arguments that are covered elsewhere, and want to stay focused on the modeling and statistics aspects of things which are the blogs theme. Climate change to me is a vehicle for exploring these (niche) things.

    I thought David’s article was well written in that he covered himself well against rebuttals, it was personable and readable. Whether arguments have been made before is not the point.

    There are a lot of directions this could go. For example, circumstantial claims that you mention. While you defend circumstantial cases, I seems to me that AGW is a circumstantial case, and the lack of direct evidence is not widely known. Research directions that could possibly have provided direct evidence such as Harries and Soden seem murky and lack lustre. So there is a whole discussion around direct and circumstantial evidence in the AGW case that seems nipped in but by blithe assertions such as “No denying the evidence.” or “CO2 forcing is not discredited”.

    I understand people are used to talking that way, but I liked the way David stepped back a bit and talked about the evidence.

    A similar long discussion could take place about the temporal ordering of CO2 and temperatures. I think I am aware of the issues, and that no distinction is logically made by the temporal order between AGW vs not AGW. However, CO2 always lagging temperature must alter a balance of evidence, as after all, if CO2 were to lead temperature in the ice cores in all cases then it would be the basis of a strong claim by AGW people. As it is the exisitng explanation seems post hoc. Responding that this is an old argument and David doesn’t understand the science misses his point that the conventional explanation seems to be a convoluted way of explaining away a troubling piece of evidence. David thinks AGW science hasn’t fully responded to this variation.

    I could go through more example but this comment is long enough. If I have explained it better I might turn it into a post. Thanks

    Yeah kuhnkat: See that key with the 1 and the ! on it. Do us a favor and flick it off.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Hi Pat, Nice to see you back. I do not have much time for the venting common elsewhere and appreciate my efforts are noticed.

    Perhaps I need to explain the angle on this more. If you read the longer article of David it explains more about how evidence has led to evolution of his thinking, and I was more interested from that angle. I don’t want to get into science arguments that are covered elsewhere, and want to stay focused on the modeling and statistics aspects of things which are the blogs theme. Climate change to me is a vehicle for exploring these (niche) things.

    I thought David’s article was well written in that he covered himself well against rebuttals, it was personable and readable. Whether arguments have been made before is not the point.

    There are a lot of directions this could go. For example, circumstantial claims that you mention. While you defend circumstantial cases, I seems to me that AGW is a circumstantial case, and the lack of direct evidence is not widely known. Research directions that could possibly have provided direct evidence such as Harries and Soden seem murky and lack lustre. So there is a whole discussion around direct and circumstantial evidence in the AGW case that seems nipped in but by blithe assertions such as “No denying the evidence.” or “CO2 forcing is not discredited”.

    I understand people are used to talking that way, but I liked the way David stepped back a bit and talked about the evidence.

    A similar long discussion could take place about the temporal ordering of CO2 and temperatures. I think I am aware of the issues, and that no distinction is logically made by the temporal order between AGW vs not AGW. However, CO2 always lagging temperature must alter a balance of evidence, as after all, if CO2 were to lead temperature in the ice cores in all cases then it would be the basis of a strong claim by AGW people. As it is the exisitng explanation seems post hoc. Responding that this is an old argument and David doesn’t understand the science misses his point that the conventional explanation seems to be a convoluted way of explaining away a troubling piece of evidence. David thinks AGW science hasn’t fully responded to this variation.

    I could go through more example but this comment is long enough. If I have explained it better I might turn it into a post. Thanks

    Yeah kuhnkat: See that key with the 1 and the ! on it. Do us a favor and flick it off.

  • Neal J. King

    David,

    I see better what you’re getting at; however, in my opinion there is a lot less than meets your eye.

    For example, you and Evans talk about the “lack of direct evidence” for the greenhouse effect: there’s no “proof”. But in actuality, in rather few cases is there “proof” for even a well-attested scientific theory. This is why the the test of a theory is the fact you are not able to “disprove” it.

    Example: Let’s look at Newton’s theory of universal gravitation, prior to the age of rockets. How would you go about proving that the force on Saturn from Jupiter is GMsMj/r^2 ? You can’t measure these forces directly and you can’t measure the masses directly. If you examine the force between the Sun and the planets, you find the T^2/R^3 relationship – but the masses of the planets cancel, so you can’t measure the actual force.

    Now, at some point, perturbation theory was developed, and you could begin to take into account interplanetary forces and try to make consistent assignments of mass values – but I bet there were a lot of mistakes made. Today’s skeptics would have had a field day with their “model calculations” and “parameter fitting” and outright errors in the mathematics. And yet, a couple of hundred years later, we recognize that, despite these errors and fixes, that in fact this effort was in good faith and was ultimately successful – despite the lack of “direct evidence” for the magnitude of the interplanetary force.

    Why were they able to proceed? Because they were willing to work with what they could derive: Kepler’s laws falling out as a consequence of Newton’s, and also a lack of conflict between what can be derived and what can be measured. Sometimes, that’s all that you can get. Experimentally, you cannot prove that nothing will ever exceed the speed of light; nor can you experimentally prove the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. What you can show is that no experimental results to date violate these concepts, and that conclusions derivable from these principles do not conflict with experiment. Can that be considered “proof”? I don’t think so: It can be considered a very strong argument, particularly if you think the ideas are plausible anyway. But real “proof” is something that is restricted to the realm of mathematics. Arguing that a scientific theory is no good because it hasn’t been proven is like arguing that a president is no good because he didn’t inherit his authority from his father: It’s not part of the framework. (Oops! In the current setting, maybe this isn’t such a great example. Oh, well: stet.)

    Focusing on the specific issue of the time-lag between temperature increase and CO2 increase: The issue is only troubling you because you have a particular analogy in mind: “If CO2 is causing temperature increase now, CO2 must have been causing temperature increase earlier.” But if that were the case, then you really would have to answer the question, “OK, whose jets and cars and smoke-stacks were creating all that CO2 earlier? Was there a Dinosauric-Industrial Age that never left any textbooks behind?”

    Instead, the actual analogy is: “Just as today, when there is a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, there is heating towards a higher temperature; so earlier, when there was a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, there were higher temperatures.” The story is not as plot-line clean as you would like it to be – but a lot of scientific stories aren’t (like the evolution of the eye). The bottom line is still, Does it pose a conflict with measurement? Can you “disprove” the theory?

  • Neal J. King

    David,

    I see better what you’re getting at; however, in my opinion there is a lot less than meets your eye.

    For example, you and Evans talk about the “lack of direct evidence” for the greenhouse effect: there’s no “proof”. But in actuality, in rather few cases is there “proof” for even a well-attested scientific theory. This is why the the test of a theory is the fact you are not able to “disprove” it.

    Example: Let’s look at Newton’s theory of universal gravitation, prior to the age of rockets. How would you go about proving that the force on Saturn from Jupiter is GMsMj/r^2 ? You can’t measure these forces directly and you can’t measure the masses directly. If you examine the force between the Sun and the planets, you find the T^2/R^3 relationship – but the masses of the planets cancel, so you can’t measure the actual force.

    Now, at some point, perturbation theory was developed, and you could begin to take into account interplanetary forces and try to make consistent assignments of mass values – but I bet there were a lot of mistakes made. Today’s skeptics would have had a field day with their “model calculations” and “parameter fitting” and outright errors in the mathematics. And yet, a couple of hundred years later, we recognize that, despite these errors and fixes, that in fact this effort was in good faith and was ultimately successful – despite the lack of “direct evidence” for the magnitude of the interplanetary force.

    Why were they able to proceed? Because they were willing to work with what they could derive: Kepler’s laws falling out as a consequence of Newton’s, and also a lack of conflict between what can be derived and what can be measured. Sometimes, that’s all that you can get. Experimentally, you cannot prove that nothing will ever exceed the speed of light; nor can you experimentally prove the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. What you can show is that no experimental results to date violate these concepts, and that conclusions derivable from these principles do not conflict with experiment. Can that be considered “proof”? I don’t think so: It can be considered a very strong argument, particularly if you think the ideas are plausible anyway. But real “proof” is something that is restricted to the realm of mathematics. Arguing that a scientific theory is no good because it hasn’t been proven is like arguing that a president is no good because he didn’t inherit his authority from his father: It’s not part of the framework. (Oops! In the current setting, maybe this isn’t such a great example. Oh, well: stet.)

    Focusing on the specific issue of the time-lag between temperature increase and CO2 increase: The issue is only troubling you because you have a particular analogy in mind: “If CO2 is causing temperature increase now, CO2 must have been causing temperature increase earlier.” But if that were the case, then you really would have to answer the question, “OK, whose jets and cars and smoke-stacks were creating all that CO2 earlier? Was there a Dinosauric-Industrial Age that never left any textbooks behind?”

    Instead, the actual analogy is: “Just as today, when there is a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, there is heating towards a higher temperature; so earlier, when there was a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, there were higher temperatures.” The story is not as plot-line clean as you would like it to be – but a lot of scientific stories aren’t (like the evolution of the eye). The bottom line is still, Does it pose a conflict with measurement? Can you “disprove” the theory?

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    There is a real difference in the way of looking at thing, which is interesting. No-one, (at least not me) is arguing that AGW has to be proven, or is disproved by lags. It seems like hypo-deductive (HD) mindset is saying — I will believe my theory until you disprove it, no matter how improbable it becomes. The Bayesian updater (BU) is saying — I will change my mind as new evidence comes in. Not right or wrong, just different.

    Eg. Lags. First we have some data that says CO2 correlates with temperature. HD and BU agree that there is support for AGW from this. Then we find out that temperature rises before CO2. BU re-balances his probabilities to not-AGW but HD constructs an auxiliary theory to explain away the lag (something like RealClimate’s “In other words, CO2 does not initiate the warming, but acts as an amplifier once they are underway. “). HD says anyone who thinks lags disprove AGW misunderstands the science.

    Then we find out CO2 lags temperature not only on the way up, but also on the way down. BU gets even more excited by the stronger evidence that the arrow of causation is T->CO2 not CO2->T. HD constructs another theory, like the data is unreliable, or the temporal order does not matter:

    “Just as today, when there is a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, there is heating towards a higher temperature; so earlier, when there was a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, there were higher temperatures.”

    The HD is the one asking for proof. First you say there is no proof of theories. Then you ask — Can you “disprove” the theory? The BU says there is no proof, only vanishing probabilities to the point where we operate ‘as if’ proof were available.

    From what I have heard there are other areas where the conventional theories have become highly improbably given the evidence (Louis Hissink mentions Geology and Cosmology), though I am not familiar enough with them to talk about them.

    The point is, that in modeling David Evans’ thought process, he seems to follow the BU scheme and finds that AGW is becoming more improbable as evidence fails to materialize, or what was claimed to be evidence turns out to be premature enthusiasm over flawed analysis (eg. Hockey sticks, positive feedback in GCMs, CO2 spectral line changes, troposphere hot spots). In his longer article he thinks this is a basis for a rational bet against AGW.

    You seem to be saying, “AGW is still not disproven”. I would agree and he does too if you read the article. But he thinks the chances against it are mounting.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    There is a real difference in the way of looking at thing, which is interesting. No-one, (at least not me) is arguing that AGW has to be proven, or is disproved by lags. It seems like hypo-deductive (HD) mindset is saying — I will believe my theory until you disprove it, no matter how improbable it becomes. The Bayesian updater (BU) is saying — I will change my mind as new evidence comes in. Not right or wrong, just different.

    Eg. Lags. First we have some data that says CO2 correlates with temperature. HD and BU agree that there is support for AGW from this. Then we find out that temperature rises before CO2. BU re-balances his probabilities to not-AGW but HD constructs an auxiliary theory to explain away the lag (something like RealClimate’s “In other words, CO2 does not initiate the warming, but acts as an amplifier once they are underway. “). HD says anyone who thinks lags disprove AGW misunderstands the science.

    Then we find out CO2 lags temperature not only on the way up, but also on the way down. BU gets even more excited by the stronger evidence that the arrow of causation is T->CO2 not CO2->T. HD constructs another theory, like the data is unreliable, or the temporal order does not matter:

    “Just as today, when there is a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, there is heating towards a higher temperature; so earlier, when there was a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, there were higher temperatures.”

    The HD is the one asking for proof. First you say there is no proof of theories. Then you ask — Can you “disprove” the theory? The BU says there is no proof, only vanishing probabilities to the point where we operate ‘as if’ proof were available.

    From what I have heard there are other areas where the conventional theories have become highly improbably given the evidence (Louis Hissink mentions Geology and Cosmology), though I am not familiar enough with them to talk about them.

    The point is, that in modeling David Evans’ thought process, he seems to follow the BU scheme and finds that AGW is becoming more improbable as evidence fails to materialize, or what was claimed to be evidence turns out to be premature enthusiasm over flawed analysis (eg. Hockey sticks, positive feedback in GCMs, CO2 spectral line changes, troposphere hot spots). In his longer article he thinks this is a basis for a rational bet against AGW.

    You seem to be saying, “AGW is still not disproven”. I would agree and he does too if you read the article. But he thinks the chances against it are mounting.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Further, another example of the operation of the HD reasoners is seen in the attitude from RealClimate in posts such as “Its the Physics Stupid” where despite acknowledging that “remaining uncertainty about whether water vapor feedback would amplify warming in the way hypothesized in the early energy balance models” they they maintain that “the basic prediction of warming is founded on very fundamental physical principles relating to infrared absorption by greenhouse gases, theory of blackbody radiation, and atmospheric moist thermodynamics.” Maybe, but the fundamental principles do not provide strong evidence for AGW in the BU framework for the same reason that the effectiveness of a drug in-vitro does not provide strong evidence of its effectiveness in-vivo. Because there are other factors at play in the real system, including feedbacks, that are uncertain.

    The HD reasoner would tend to take the theory as absolutely true, and respond to contradictory data by saying, “Well it is complicated, maybe more than we thought at first, and there were some other factors at play we didn’t anticipate, but our assumptions are intact.” The BU reasoner would say, “I need to change my mind about this theory, its not as good as I thought”.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Further, another example of the operation of the HD reasoners is seen in the attitude from RealClimate in posts such as “Its the Physics Stupid” where despite acknowledging that “remaining uncertainty about whether water vapor feedback would amplify warming in the way hypothesized in the early energy balance models” they they maintain that “the basic prediction of warming is founded on very fundamental physical principles relating to infrared absorption by greenhouse gases, theory of blackbody radiation, and atmospheric moist thermodynamics.” Maybe, but the fundamental principles do not provide strong evidence for AGW in the BU framework for the same reason that the effectiveness of a drug in-vitro does not provide strong evidence of its effectiveness in-vivo. Because there are other factors at play in the real system, including feedbacks, that are uncertain.

    The HD reasoner would tend to take the theory as absolutely true, and respond to contradictory data by saying, “Well it is complicated, maybe more than we thought at first, and there were some other factors at play we didn’t anticipate, but our assumptions are intact.” The BU reasoner would say, “I need to change my mind about this theory, its not as good as I thought”.

  • Jack Willis

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/dino_trans.shtml

    Neal said:

    “Just as today, when there is a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, there is heating towards a higher temperature; so earlier, when there was a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, there were higher temperatures.”

    The dinosaurs didn’t seem to mind a volume of 5,000 parts per million of CO2 and they were around for 160,000,000 years (versus our great and grand 5,000).

    What was the temperature back then? Yep, something like 50C higher. But there was also an atmosphere that was a 12% higher oxygen level, with no polar ice caps and sea levels hundreds of feet higher.

    Attributing all of the higher (and more uniform) temperatures to CO2 is naïve, to say the least. It was a different planet.

    AGW indeed. Look up Deccan Traps.

  • Jack Willis

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/dino_trans.shtml

    Neal said:

    “Just as today, when there is a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, there is heating towards a higher temperature; so earlier, when there was a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, there were higher temperatures.”

    The dinosaurs didn’t seem to mind a volume of 5,000 parts per million of CO2 and they were around for 160,000,000 years (versus our great and grand 5,000).

    What was the temperature back then? Yep, something like 50C higher. But there was also an atmosphere that was a 12% higher oxygen level, with no polar ice caps and sea levels hundreds of feet higher.

    Attributing all of the higher (and more uniform) temperatures to CO2 is naïve, to say the least. It was a different planet.

    AGW indeed. Look up Deccan Traps.

  • Neal J. King

    Jack Willis,

    Increased CO2 is a known influence to temperature trends, not the sole determining factor. I think it’s safe to say that anyone who has spend any time studying atmospheric physics knows that.

    What dinosaurs enjoyed or didn’t enjoy is not really the issue: There is no “ideal” temperature, but when the temperature changes from whatever it is to something else rapidly, it puts the different species inhabiting the Earth under extreme stress, collectively. We could lose a whole lot of species in a hundred years or so. In my opinion, this is the real problem, not a little bit of disappearing shoreline.

    And human beings have been around substantially longer than 5,000 years.

  • Neal J. King

    Jack Willis,

    Increased CO2 is a known influence to temperature trends, not the sole determining factor. I think it’s safe to say that anyone who has spend any time studying atmospheric physics knows that.

    What dinosaurs enjoyed or didn’t enjoy is not really the issue: There is no “ideal” temperature, but when the temperature changes from whatever it is to something else rapidly, it puts the different species inhabiting the Earth under extreme stress, collectively. We could lose a whole lot of species in a hundred years or so. In my opinion, this is the real problem, not a little bit of disappearing shoreline.

    And human beings have been around substantially longer than 5,000 years.

  • Neal J. King

    David,

    It is very common for scientific theories and frameworks to have problems. They tend to get fixed over time; either that, or they blow up into something so big and attention-grabbing that the hotshots focus on it and either clear it up or create a new theory.

    In this case, you focus on a few issues that are currently open. But if you went back 10 years, I think you would have found different issues that were open – issues that have since been resolved.

    If you look up the complete history of the global-warming discussion, as can be found at http://www.aip.org/history/climate/ , you will see that it’s gone through a lot of ups and downs. There have been moments of scientific despair and moments of breakthrough.

    A big one occurred in 2004 or 2005: There was an apparently clear-cut result that lower-tropospheric temperatures were not increasing, even though ground-level temperatures had been. The radiosonde & satellite measurements matched each other, but didn’t show a trend. This was a major embarrassment for about 10 years. The skeptics had a field day, and the defenders of the theory had to just scratch their heads and either hand-wave or assert, “Well, something must be wrong with the experiment.”

    And in 2004 or 2005, a mistake was found in the experiment: One of the teams that was involved discovered that they had introduced an algebra error in their data-reduction procedure. (Embarrassingly enough, the team leader was Spencer – well-known to be a climatologist on the AGW-skeptical side himself!). When the error was fixed, the temperature trend expected, based on the surface-level measurements, appeared; and that long-standing problem disappeared.

    So sometimes you have to have the courage to say that the experiment is wrong!

    But how can you have this courage? It’s only legitimate if you are really well-informed about the field and the work being done and the people doing the work. That’s why it’s significant that, throughout that uncomfortable decade, the majority of climatologists, who were completely absorbed in all the results of and discussions on this and other experiments, were convinced that the problem would eventually be resolved in favor of the greenhouse effect: Because they knew that either this one aberrant result was funny, or else that a lot of other results were screwed up; and it was more likely that this one result was in error.

    A related story recounted by Richard Feynman: In the field of particle physics, when Lee & Yang predicted that parity might not be conserved in the weak interaction, Feynman kicked himself, because he had read the original paper a few years ago that experimentally “proved” that parity was conserved – and he remembered thinking to himself, “This paper doesn’t prove a damn thing! The whole argument depends on the last data point; and you know that if that last data point were any good [trustworthy], they would have taken another one!” Unfortunately for him, he didn’t take the time to calculate through the consequences of that insight, so Lee & Yang got their Nobel Prizes instead of his picking up another one.

    I can summarize my point by saying that if you look into the philosophy of science, as described for example by Thomas Kuhn (see The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), you find that people tend to lock into a framework for doing science in a particular field, and they stick with it until a problem emerges that won’t go away. It is normal to persist, even in the face of apparent contradictions, because most of the time these contradictions are resolved in the context of the framework, or by small modifications to it. When something persists as a problem, it attracts the attention of the brightest and most ambitious in the field, who either earn a feather in the cap by fixing it; or earn a new hat by overthrowing the framework – which happens very rarely. But in the course of what Kuhn calls “normal science”, there is always “bad news” (inconsistencies) and “good news” (resolutions of inconsistencies): a theory that always and only has good news ceases to be an area of research (it becomes part of engineering), and an area that only has bad news becomes a construction zone for a new theory. I would say that climate science is far from being part of engineering, but has plenty of solidity as a real science. People who want to sell a new idea have to make a case that they can cover a very significant amount of what is already understood before they can convince the scientific community to toss out the old framework. The “alternative” ideas which are brought forth by most of the skeptics don’t come close; in fact, in many cases they have been taken from the junk-heap of ideas already considered and discarded over the history of climate science (I refer you to the website at the American Institute of Physics, above).

  • Neal J. King

    David,

    It is very common for scientific theories and frameworks to have problems. They tend to get fixed over time; either that, or they blow up into something so big and attention-grabbing that the hotshots focus on it and either clear it up or create a new theory.

    In this case, you focus on a few issues that are currently open. But if you went back 10 years, I think you would have found different issues that were open – issues that have since been resolved.

    If you look up the complete history of the global-warming discussion, as can be found at http://www.aip.org/history/climate/ , you will see that it’s gone through a lot of ups and downs. There have been moments of scientific despair and moments of breakthrough.

    A big one occurred in 2004 or 2005: There was an apparently clear-cut result that lower-tropospheric temperatures were not increasing, even though ground-level temperatures had been. The radiosonde & satellite measurements matched each other, but didn’t show a trend. This was a major embarrassment for about 10 years. The skeptics had a field day, and the defenders of the theory had to just scratch their heads and either hand-wave or assert, “Well, something must be wrong with the experiment.”

    And in 2004 or 2005, a mistake was found in the experiment: One of the teams that was involved discovered that they had introduced an algebra error in their data-reduction procedure. (Embarrassingly enough, the team leader was Spencer – well-known to be a climatologist on the AGW-skeptical side himself!). When the error was fixed, the temperature trend expected, based on the surface-level measurements, appeared; and that long-standing problem disappeared.

    So sometimes you have to have the courage to say that the experiment is wrong!

    But how can you have this courage? It’s only legitimate if you are really well-informed about the field and the work being done and the people doing the work. That’s why it’s significant that, throughout that uncomfortable decade, the majority of climatologists, who were completely absorbed in all the results of and discussions on this and other experiments, were convinced that the problem would eventually be resolved in favor of the greenhouse effect: Because they knew that either this one aberrant result was funny, or else that a lot of other results were screwed up; and it was more likely that this one result was in error.

    A related story recounted by Richard Feynman: In the field of particle physics, when Lee & Yang predicted that parity might not be conserved in the weak interaction, Feynman kicked himself, because he had read the original paper a few years ago that experimentally “proved” that parity was conserved – and he remembered thinking to himself, “This paper doesn’t prove a damn thing! The whole argument depends on the last data point; and you know that if that last data point were any good [trustworthy], they would have taken another one!” Unfortunately for him, he didn’t take the time to calculate through the consequences of that insight, so Lee & Yang got their Nobel Prizes instead of his picking up another one.

    I can summarize my point by saying that if you look into the philosophy of science, as described for example by Thomas Kuhn (see The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), you find that people tend to lock into a framework for doing science in a particular field, and they stick with it until a problem emerges that won’t go away. It is normal to persist, even in the face of apparent contradictions, because most of the time these contradictions are resolved in the context of the framework, or by small modifications to it. When something persists as a problem, it attracts the attention of the brightest and most ambitious in the field, who either earn a feather in the cap by fixing it; or earn a new hat by overthrowing the framework – which happens very rarely. But in the course of what Kuhn calls “normal science”, there is always “bad news” (inconsistencies) and “good news” (resolutions of inconsistencies): a theory that always and only has good news ceases to be an area of research (it becomes part of engineering), and an area that only has bad news becomes a construction zone for a new theory. I would say that climate science is far from being part of engineering, but has plenty of solidity as a real science. People who want to sell a new idea have to make a case that they can cover a very significant amount of what is already understood before they can convince the scientific community to toss out the old framework. The “alternative” ideas which are brought forth by most of the skeptics don’t come close; in fact, in many cases they have been taken from the junk-heap of ideas already considered and discarded over the history of climate science (I refer you to the website at the American Institute of Physics, above).

  • Mike N

    Hi Neal,

    Thoughtful post (23), but wrt “When the error was fixed, the temperature trend expected, based on the surface-level measurements, appeared; and that long-standing problem disappeared.”

    Wasn’t the trend expected to be ~1.2 times the GMST trend? Last time I had looked it seemed to still be quite a bit less than the GMST trend estimations. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that there is still somewhat of a discrepancy there?

  • Mike N

    Hi Neal,

    Thoughtful post (23), but wrt “When the error was fixed, the temperature trend expected, based on the surface-level measurements, appeared; and that long-standing problem disappeared.”

    Wasn’t the trend expected to be ~1.2 times the GMST trend? Last time I had looked it seemed to still be quite a bit less than the GMST trend estimations. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that there is still somewhat of a discrepancy there?

  • http://condeve.blogspot.com sadunkal

    This might seem irrelevant at first sight, but I thought that this issue might be of interest to the blog owner:
    http://failingsofhivaidstheory.homestead.com/

    Basically there are many scientists out there saying that HIV cannot cause AIDS, but they don’t get much attention. Henry Bauer approaches the issue primarily by examining the numbers and statistics I guess. He also has some extra info on that website and a regularly updated blog.

    Apart from that you can find a lot more information on various other websites if you simply google “rethinking aids” or something like that.

    HIV “denialism” is very similar to AGW “denialism” but I guess many AGW “denialists” don’t know about them. I personally think it’s currently a much more important issue, that’s not to say GW isn’t important. Just thought that I should mention it… You can remove this comment if it seems too irrelevant.

    sadunkals last blog post..Objective approach to 9/11 Conspiracy Theories -Milgram

  • http://condeve.blogspot.com sadunkal

    This might seem irrelevant at first sight, but I thought that this issue might be of interest to the blog owner:
    http://failingsofhivaidstheory.homestead.com/

    Basically there are many scientists out there saying that HIV cannot cause AIDS, but they don’t get much attention. Henry Bauer approaches the issue primarily by examining the numbers and statistics I guess. He also has some extra info on that website and a regularly updated blog.

    Apart from that you can find a lot more information on various other websites if you simply google “rethinking aids” or something like that.

    HIV “denialism” is very similar to AGW “denialism” but I guess many AGW “denialists” don’t know about them. I personally think it’s currently a much more important issue, that’s not to say GW isn’t important. Just thought that I should mention it… You can remove this comment if it seems too irrelevant.

    sadunkals last blog post..Objective approach to 9/11 Conspiracy Theories -Milgram

  • http://condeve.blogspot.com sadunkal

    On second thought, maybe this book is more appropriote:
    http://www.amazon.com/Science-Sold-Out-Really-Cause/dp/1556436424

    It’s written by a mathematician who’s job was to construct mathematical models about HIV infection.

  • http://condeve.blogspot.com sadunkal

    On second thought, maybe this book is more appropriote:
    http://www.amazon.com/Science-Sold-Out-Really-Cause/dp/1556436424

    It’s written by a mathematician who’s job was to construct mathematical models about HIV infection.

  • Neal J. King

    Mike N.,

    My general impression on the lower-tropospheric temperature measurements is that people have been working very hard to get long-term information out of a system that was not designed for that purpose. It’s not just an issue of statistical uncertainties, but of trying to find the systematic problems. Of course, a data-processing error goes even beyond normal systematics, but in general it’s very hard to know when you’ve found all the problems. Especially when the basic problem is that the measurement set-up is not what you would have chosen for the quantities that are now of interest.

    So, this is a long-winded way of saying that I think that you can’t expect too much from these measurements. A fuller discussion can be found at RealClimate (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=170 ), but, as a non-professional in the area, I would say that the difference between expectation and results is not significant enough to constitute a real problem.

  • Neal J. King

    Mike N.,

    My general impression on the lower-tropospheric temperature measurements is that people have been working very hard to get long-term information out of a system that was not designed for that purpose. It’s not just an issue of statistical uncertainties, but of trying to find the systematic problems. Of course, a data-processing error goes even beyond normal systematics, but in general it’s very hard to know when you’ve found all the problems. Especially when the basic problem is that the measurement set-up is not what you would have chosen for the quantities that are now of interest.

    So, this is a long-winded way of saying that I think that you can’t expect too much from these measurements. A fuller discussion can be found at RealClimate (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=170 ), but, as a non-professional in the area, I would say that the difference between expectation and results is not significant enough to constitute a real problem.

  • Neal J. King

    sandunkal,

    For a few years, there was a rather eminent expert on retroviruses, Peter Duesberg, who argued that HIV did not have the signature of being a result of retroviruses. I followed the story for a few years, because it seemed that he was being unfairly treated by more conventional scientists, but couldn’t evaluate the science on my own. As time went on, it seems that his point of view has receded ever farther from acceptance.

    One rather nasty side-effect of his raising this intellectual controversy is that it gave a particular idiot named Thabo Mbeki some cause to doubt the connection between transmission of AIDS and sex. He took it upon himself to “disabuse” other people of the conventional understanding of AIDS. By tremendous bad luck, Mbeki happens to be the President of South Africa, so the result of this intellectual controversy is that the program to fight AIDS in South Africa emphasized herbal medicines and de-emphasized condoms and attention to sexual issues generally. The stupendous expansion of AIDS in South Africa has been a direct result.

  • Neal J. King

    sandunkal,

    For a few years, there was a rather eminent expert on retroviruses, Peter Duesberg, who argued that HIV did not have the signature of being a result of retroviruses. I followed the story for a few years, because it seemed that he was being unfairly treated by more conventional scientists, but couldn’t evaluate the science on my own. As time went on, it seems that his point of view has receded ever farther from acceptance.

    One rather nasty side-effect of his raising this intellectual controversy is that it gave a particular idiot named Thabo Mbeki some cause to doubt the connection between transmission of AIDS and sex. He took it upon himself to “disabuse” other people of the conventional understanding of AIDS. By tremendous bad luck, Mbeki happens to be the President of South Africa, so the result of this intellectual controversy is that the program to fight AIDS in South Africa emphasized herbal medicines and de-emphasized condoms and attention to sexual issues generally. The stupendous expansion of AIDS in South Africa has been a direct result.

  • Raven

    Of course we must not forget all of the people who suffered needlessly with ulcers because the “consensus” opinion refused to accept that ulcers could be a result of a bacterial infection.

  • Raven

    Of course we must not forget all of the people who suffered needlessly with ulcers because the “consensus” opinion refused to accept that ulcers could be a result of a bacterial infection.

  • Mike N

    Neal (27), thanks for the links. Last night I almost typed a few lines at the end of my post saying essentially the same thing as the first two sentences in your response, but they wouldn’t have been so succint or clearly expressed. Of course, I think we’d also be in agreement that there are considerable problems with the GMST estimates from the surface record as well. I don’t really consider either to be set in stone in any way.

    Anyway, I had a quick gloss over the RC page, checked out their reference to Fu et al 2005, read a little, and went to their reference of Fu et al 2004(a) and see, “GCM studies have predicted a global ratio of ~1.2 (ref. 8) and a tropical ratio of ~1.54 (ref. 14).” It seems to me that the “expectations” haven’t appeared as of yet, hence my nitpicking of your post. ;) As far as how important the discrepancy is, I guess we’ll just have to let them hash it all out.

    PS. Another small nitpick, I took a look at the earlier Fu and Johanson 2004 J. Clim, and why do they round to -0.27 instead of -0.266? With a ton of linear extrap. going on even after that, you would think they’d want to keep it as accurate as possible? (it’s only the tiniest sliver, but of course it goes in the direction of the effect they’re trying to show ;)

  • Mike N

    Neal (27), thanks for the links. Last night I almost typed a few lines at the end of my post saying essentially the same thing as the first two sentences in your response, but they wouldn’t have been so succint or clearly expressed. Of course, I think we’d also be in agreement that there are considerable problems with the GMST estimates from the surface record as well. I don’t really consider either to be set in stone in any way.

    Anyway, I had a quick gloss over the RC page, checked out their reference to Fu et al 2005, read a little, and went to their reference of Fu et al 2004(a) and see, “GCM studies have predicted a global ratio of ~1.2 (ref. 8) and a tropical ratio of ~1.54 (ref. 14).” It seems to me that the “expectations” haven’t appeared as of yet, hence my nitpicking of your post. ;) As far as how important the discrepancy is, I guess we’ll just have to let them hash it all out.

    PS. Another small nitpick, I took a look at the earlier Fu and Johanson 2004 J. Clim, and why do they round to -0.27 instead of -0.266? With a ton of linear extrap. going on even after that, you would think they’d want to keep it as accurate as possible? (it’s only the tiniest sliver, but of course it goes in the direction of the effect they’re trying to show ;)

  • http://condeve.blogspot.com sadunkal

    -Sorry for offtopic again but-

    Neal,

    The issue is much more complicated than that. I recommend to really investigate it all deeply and then make up your mind, or simply don’t make up your mind. I’ll just say that I don’t trust Duesberg either and that what Mbeki did -no matter right or wrong- takes a lot of courage. But we shouldn’t discuss this any further here. Whoever is interested in the subject can contact me.

  • http://condeve.blogspot.com sadunkal

    -Sorry for offtopic again but-

    Neal,

    The issue is much more complicated than that. I recommend to really investigate it all deeply and then make up your mind, or simply don’t make up your mind. I’ll just say that I don’t trust Duesberg either and that what Mbeki did -no matter right or wrong- takes a lot of courage. But we shouldn’t discuss this any further here. Whoever is interested in the subject can contact me.

  • Neal J. King

    Mike N.,

    Haven’t looked at the paper, but maybe they felt that the actual uncertainties did not justify the extra precision implied. Recalling, again, that a lot of the uncertainty can be due to systematics rather than to statistics.

    sandunkal,

    You can call Mbeiki’s insistence on a scientifically controversial view of AIDS as courageous. I call it superstitious – and disastrous for his country, for Africa, and the world.

  • Neal J. King

    Mike N.,

    Haven’t looked at the paper, but maybe they felt that the actual uncertainties did not justify the extra precision implied. Recalling, again, that a lot of the uncertainty can be due to systematics rather than to statistics.

    sandunkal,

    You can call Mbeiki’s insistence on a scientifically controversial view of AIDS as courageous. I call it superstitious – and disastrous for his country, for Africa, and the world.

  • http://condeve.blogspot.com sadunkal

    -offtopic-
    Neal,

    That’s because you don’t know enough about him or the science behind AIDS. Please read my last comment again. Inform yourself before you join the defaming:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY_Pu2gvI-4

    And please don’t reply here anymore about this subject, I don’t want to ruin the comments but I also find it very hard to keep silent when you talk like that. We can continue here:
    http://condeve.blogspot.com/2008/07/aids-niche-modeling.html

  • http://condeve.blogspot.com sadunkal

    -offtopic-
    Neal,

    That’s because you don’t know enough about him or the science behind AIDS. Please read my last comment again. Inform yourself before you join the defaming:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY_Pu2gvI-4

    And please don’t reply here anymore about this subject, I don’t want to ruin the comments but I also find it very hard to keep silent when you talk like that. We can continue here:
    http://condeve.blogspot.com/2008/07/aids-niche-modeling.html

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Thanks for your restraint. I have been busy on the other web site http://landshape.org/stats and unable to give these discussions much attention.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    Thanks for your restraint. I have been busy on the other web site http://landshape.org/stats and unable to give these discussions much attention.

  • Neal J. King

    Returning to the main point:

    There are always discrepancies in ongoing scientific research, otherwise the area is designated as engineering. If these persist over time, they catch attention and are either resolved or bring the framework down. This is how normal science works, according to Kuhn’s way of thinking, which is very popular among physicists, at least.

    The history of the global-warming discussion fits into this way of looking at things, as laid out in Spencer Weart’s hyperlinked website, http://www.aip.org/history/climate/summary.htm . The field has had plenty of ups and downs, over a period of more than 100 years, but the basic framework has survived, like a canoe down a mountain rapid. With this perspective, I don’t see any reason to consider the current set of discrepancies as anything more than “the current set of discrepancies”.

  • Neal J. King

    Returning to the main point:

    There are always discrepancies in ongoing scientific research, otherwise the area is designated as engineering. If these persist over time, they catch attention and are either resolved or bring the framework down. This is how normal science works, according to Kuhn’s way of thinking, which is very popular among physicists, at least.

    The history of the global-warming discussion fits into this way of looking at things, as laid out in Spencer Weart’s hyperlinked website, http://www.aip.org/history/climate/summary.htm . The field has had plenty of ups and downs, over a period of more than 100 years, but the basic framework has survived, like a canoe down a mountain rapid. With this perspective, I don’t see any reason to consider the current set of discrepancies as anything more than “the current set of discrepancies”.

  • Neal J. King

    Raven,

    I just realized that you said something interesting on another thread: on posting #88 of “Radiative Equilibrium: Miskolczi Part 4″, you state:
    “The basic physics of GHGs are not in dispute and even skeptics agree that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will result in some warming.”

    But on this thread, we are talking about Evans’ article, which affirms: “There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. ”

    Please clarify your position regarding Evans’ article.

  • Neal J. King

    Raven,

    I just realized that you said something interesting on another thread: on posting #88 of “Radiative Equilibrium: Miskolczi Part 4″, you state:
    “The basic physics of GHGs are not in dispute and even skeptics agree that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will result in some warming.”

    But on this thread, we are talking about Evans’ article, which affirms: “There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. ”

    Please clarify your position regarding Evans’ article.

  • Jan Pompe

    Neal,

    “But on this thread, we are talking about Evans’ article, which affirms: “There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. ”

    Evans’ claim that there is no empirical evidence to be found that supports the notion that carbon emissions cause significant global warming does not dispute the notion that basic physics of GHGs suggest they will cause some warming. It merely states that there is no evidence for it, that in turn might mean that the observations are wrong or that the basic physics employed is too basic or over simplified or something else as yet unknown is not quite right.

  • Jan Pompe

    Neal,

    “But on this thread, we are talking about Evans’ article, which affirms: “There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. ”

    Evans’ claim that there is no empirical evidence to be found that supports the notion that carbon emissions cause significant global warming does not dispute the notion that basic physics of GHGs suggest they will cause some warming. It merely states that there is no evidence for it, that in turn might mean that the observations are wrong or that the basic physics employed is too basic or over simplified or something else as yet unknown is not quite right.

  • Neal J. King

    Jan Pompe,

    That is your point of view. But I am specifically asking Raven to clarify his point of view, because he has stated: “The basic physics of GHGs are not in dispute and even skeptics agree that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will result in some warming.” (emphasis added).

    Raven did not say, “The basic physics of GHGs suggest that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will result in some warming.”

    So, Raven, please provide your position on this point.

  • Neal J. King

    Jan Pompe,

    That is your point of view. But I am specifically asking Raven to clarify his point of view, because he has stated: “The basic physics of GHGs are not in dispute and even skeptics agree that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will result in some warming.” (emphasis added).

    Raven did not say, “The basic physics of GHGs suggest that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will result in some warming.”

    So, Raven, please provide your position on this point.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Let’s have a quick look at Dimitris Koutsoyianannis’ hydrology paper

    Hydrological Sciences–Journal–des Sciences Hydrologiques, 53(4) August 2008.

    One conclusion he reaches regarding precipitation is

    “However, where tested, replacement of the modelled time series with a series of monthly averages (same for all years) resulted in higher efficiency.”

    A large part of the argument for GHG warming is the model residual when other factors are subtracted. If the models are wrong, the residual is wrong. (Note, the correct residual, if any, can be higher or lower than actual. I have expressed no opinion).

    Although not a killer observation, this is just another ecent piece of evidence that questions the AGW concept.

    Now, Neal, if you can explain this away with neutral reasoning, I’d be delighted by your diligence.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Let’s have a quick look at Dimitris Koutsoyianannis’ hydrology paper

    Hydrological Sciences–Journal–des Sciences Hydrologiques, 53(4) August 2008.

    One conclusion he reaches regarding precipitation is

    “However, where tested, replacement of the modelled time series with a series of monthly averages (same for all years) resulted in higher efficiency.”

    A large part of the argument for GHG warming is the model residual when other factors are subtracted. If the models are wrong, the residual is wrong. (Note, the correct residual, if any, can be higher or lower than actual. I have expressed no opinion).

    Although not a killer observation, this is just another ecent piece of evidence that questions the AGW concept.

    Now, Neal, if you can explain this away with neutral reasoning, I’d be delighted by your diligence.

  • Neal J. King

    Geoff Sherrington, #39:

    The argument for GHG warming is that, based on the understanding we have of atmospheric physics, it would be extremely surprising if an increase in CO2 did NOT result in a warming – as Raven has admitted: See #36.

    But since you bring this up, maybe you could exhibit the full logical & quantitative connection between GHE and precipitation. I am quite sure that there are lots of uncertainties about cloud behavior (for example) that would severely limit a firm prediction on precipitation, based on ANY model – including one that does not assume GHG warming.

    - Indeed, according to K’s presentation at http://www.itia.ntua.gr/getfile/850/2/documents/2008EGU_ClimatePredictionPr_.pdf
    “According to IPCC AR4 (Randall et al.,
    2007) GCMs have better predictive
    capacity for temperature than for other
    climatic variables (e.g. precipitation) and
    their quantitative estimates of future
    climate are particularly credible at
    continental scales and above.” So IPCC is not vaunting their modeling of precipitation.

    - Your argument will be more powerful when a climate model is presented, that does NOT include GW, but better predicts precipitation trends. Got a candidate?

  • Neal J. King

    Geoff Sherrington, #39:

    The argument for GHG warming is that, based on the understanding we have of atmospheric physics, it would be extremely surprising if an increase in CO2 did NOT result in a warming – as Raven has admitted: See #36.

    But since you bring this up, maybe you could exhibit the full logical & quantitative connection between GHE and precipitation. I am quite sure that there are lots of uncertainties about cloud behavior (for example) that would severely limit a firm prediction on precipitation, based on ANY model – including one that does not assume GHG warming.

    - Indeed, according to K’s presentation at http://www.itia.ntua.gr/getfile/850/2/documents/2008EGU_ClimatePredictionPr_.pdf
    “According to IPCC AR4 (Randall et al.,
    2007) GCMs have better predictive
    capacity for temperature than for other
    climatic variables (e.g. precipitation) and
    their quantitative estimates of future
    climate are particularly credible at
    continental scales and above.” So IPCC is not vaunting their modeling of precipitation.

    - Your argument will be more powerful when a climate model is presented, that does NOT include GW, but better predicts precipitation trends. Got a candidate?

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re #40 Neal,

    There is a long-held realisation among virtually all of my scientific colleagues that the main mechanisms of radiation absorption by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are qualitatively likely, but the consensus varies about quantity and the less quantifiable effects of clouds, etc as has been so often stated in the past.

    To the extent that those who rely upon models not adding up, to set the quantity factor, yes, there is a big argument.

    When people invoke temperature changes of the magnitude of IPCC because such magnitudes are needed to satisfy the model gap, we tend to part philosophic company because the onus of proof has to be on the proposers. The first step is to show the models are right. This has patently not been done.

    I worked in a highly successful mineral exporation team for many years. It was part of my job to evaluate new proposals and to allocate funding to those judged to have the best chance of success. Apart from climate having a temporal component (whereas we worked mainly spatially) there is a lot of overlap in ways of dealing with earth science data.

    Because of the stationary nature of our targets, what we set out to show could be modelled again if we succeeded once. Thus, model refinement proceeded on the basis of demonstrated success.
    Typically, about one out of 100 – 1,000 anomalous areas we tested would produce a payable ore deposit. Even among those of similar geology, or on a similar mineral field, we did not ever attempt an ensemble approach to “improve the look” of our model.

    Instead, we evolved algoriths that we self-calibrated from our measured data. There were few others in the world using some methods so precisely. That is why we succeeded. We stuck to plausible science, we used quality control, we documented, we held frequent seminars and overviews and we had no barriers to communication from bottom to top. At the top there were extremely science-conscious leaders who would not let pass any excuse for science. If we failed to find a goal on a property in a set time, the law required that we pass ownsership to others.

    One result of this intensity of science was that nobody who followed us in an audit role exposed significant errors in our work. Sometimes we had passed up a marginal find that became economic in the hands of others because commodity prices improved, or extraction technology. But the mathematical validity of our early models still stands. Some were developed in the 1960s, on mechanical calculators.

    We did not develop models for the reason that there was a gap between what we measured and what we thought the models should show. We developed models that found ore deposits, then invented and developed more ways to add support.

    Above all, our careers lived or died by our success in returning a corporate profit. A high bang for the buck. We called it accountability. We scientists did not make public pronouncements about the importance of our finds. Stock market rules imposed tight constraints, so that the eventual statement by the Board of Directors was, in blue chip companies, not really questionable. It was certainly not speculative, not designed able to affect the actions/emotions of people before the answers were in.

    So, having a career that evolved in those conditions, I must turn your invitation back to you. I am not going to create a new global climate model. But, I am able to form an opinion on those that exist and I will continue to offer opinion until the “gap” is resolved. That can only happen when the standards and methods of modellers improves. The record so far is not at all good. Many people would be out in the cold by now if they had been in “our team” and done what is being done now.

    So, Neal, it is up to the AGW believers to convince experienced others that their findings can be used confidently, with a high chance that they are right.

    And yes, I have read about all of IPCC 2008 and many of the references as well. So I was well aware of what you note about thermometry being better grounded than hydrology. It’s just as shame that both fail so many tests.

    The model has to be right for hydrology as well as for thermometry and Dr Koutsouyannis is the most recent to cast more doubt.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re #40 Neal,

    There is a long-held realisation among virtually all of my scientific colleagues that the main mechanisms of radiation absorption by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are qualitatively likely, but the consensus varies about quantity and the less quantifiable effects of clouds, etc as has been so often stated in the past.

    To the extent that those who rely upon models not adding up, to set the quantity factor, yes, there is a big argument.

    When people invoke temperature changes of the magnitude of IPCC because such magnitudes are needed to satisfy the model gap, we tend to part philosophic company because the onus of proof has to be on the proposers. The first step is to show the models are right. This has patently not been done.

    I worked in a highly successful mineral exporation team for many years. It was part of my job to evaluate new proposals and to allocate funding to those judged to have the best chance of success. Apart from climate having a temporal component (whereas we worked mainly spatially) there is a lot of overlap in ways of dealing with earth science data.

    Because of the stationary nature of our targets, what we set out to show could be modelled again if we succeeded once. Thus, model refinement proceeded on the basis of demonstrated success.
    Typically, about one out of 100 – 1,000 anomalous areas we tested would produce a payable ore deposit. Even among those of similar geology, or on a similar mineral field, we did not ever attempt an ensemble approach to “improve the look” of our model.

    Instead, we evolved algoriths that we self-calibrated from our measured data. There were few others in the world using some methods so precisely. That is why we succeeded. We stuck to plausible science, we used quality control, we documented, we held frequent seminars and overviews and we had no barriers to communication from bottom to top. At the top there were extremely science-conscious leaders who would not let pass any excuse for science. If we failed to find a goal on a property in a set time, the law required that we pass ownsership to others.

    One result of this intensity of science was that nobody who followed us in an audit role exposed significant errors in our work. Sometimes we had passed up a marginal find that became economic in the hands of others because commodity prices improved, or extraction technology. But the mathematical validity of our early models still stands. Some were developed in the 1960s, on mechanical calculators.

    We did not develop models for the reason that there was a gap between what we measured and what we thought the models should show. We developed models that found ore deposits, then invented and developed more ways to add support.

    Above all, our careers lived or died by our success in returning a corporate profit. A high bang for the buck. We called it accountability. We scientists did not make public pronouncements about the importance of our finds. Stock market rules imposed tight constraints, so that the eventual statement by the Board of Directors was, in blue chip companies, not really questionable. It was certainly not speculative, not designed able to affect the actions/emotions of people before the answers were in.

    So, having a career that evolved in those conditions, I must turn your invitation back to you. I am not going to create a new global climate model. But, I am able to form an opinion on those that exist and I will continue to offer opinion until the “gap” is resolved. That can only happen when the standards and methods of modellers improves. The record so far is not at all good. Many people would be out in the cold by now if they had been in “our team” and done what is being done now.

    So, Neal, it is up to the AGW believers to convince experienced others that their findings can be used confidently, with a high chance that they are right.

    And yes, I have read about all of IPCC 2008 and many of the references as well. So I was well aware of what you note about thermometry being better grounded than hydrology. It’s just as shame that both fail so many tests.

    The model has to be right for hydrology as well as for thermometry and Dr Koutsouyannis is the most recent to cast more doubt.

  • Anonymous

    I was intrigued by this definition in Wikipedia.

    Pseudoscience is defined as a body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific or made to appear scientific, but does not adhere to the scientific method,[2][3][4] lacks supporting evidence or plausibility,[5] …

    Not the whole of climate science and not only climate science. Just identifying our common enemy.

  • http://landshape.org/enm davids

    I was intrigued by this definition in Wikipedia.

    Pseudoscience is defined as a body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific or made to appear scientific, but does not adhere to the scientific method,[2][3][4] lacks supporting evidence or plausibility,[5] …

    Not the whole of climate science and not only climate science. Just identifying our common enemy.

  • Neal J. King

    Geoff Sherrington, #41:

    The fact is that the climate problem is loads harder than your likelihood-of-mine-worthiness problem:

    Having one system that changes in time, due to many variables and dynamics about which you do not fully know and most of which are beyond your control, is much more complicated than having a sequence of static systems.

    If you do not believe this, feel free to outdo the climatologists and get your own Nobel Prize: If you succeed in the first endeavor, I’m sure the second will be forthcoming.

    In the meantime, deciding to simply not act is also a decision. Waiting for things to become clearer is not like waiting to test the next mining possibility: We don’t have a spare planet, so it’s not just a matter of losing one mining opportunity to a competitor. The analogy to Spaceship Earth is more appropriate: Our best experts are convinced there is a problem. We can implement their proposals; or we can hope that our best experts are wrong.

  • Neal J. King

    Geoff Sherrington, #41:

    The fact is that the climate problem is loads harder than your likelihood-of-mine-worthiness problem:

    Having one system that changes in time, due to many variables and dynamics about which you do not fully know and most of which are beyond your control, is much more complicated than having a sequence of static systems.

    If you do not believe this, feel free to outdo the climatologists and get your own Nobel Prize: If you succeed in the first endeavor, I’m sure the second will be forthcoming.

    In the meantime, deciding to simply not act is also a decision. Waiting for things to become clearer is not like waiting to test the next mining possibility: We don’t have a spare planet, so it’s not just a matter of losing one mining opportunity to a competitor. The analogy to Spaceship Earth is more appropriate: Our best experts are convinced there is a problem. We can implement their proposals; or we can hope that our best experts are wrong.

  • Neal J. King

    davids, #44:

    I understand the issue. The fundamental problem is that we don’t have multiple Earths which can be subjected to different experiments. And even if we had a few Earths, we don’t fully understand the dynamics which go on that have nothing to do with additional CO2.

    This reminds of the situation in astrophysics as well: There are a lot of research situations for which it is impossible to find a second example of anything, so it’s very difficult to test a model. I remember being told about one phenomenon for which the same (rather eminent) astrophysicist wrote three different papers, proposing three completely different explanations. I found this frustrating.

    However, just as we have only one universe, we only have one Earth (available to us). We have to make the scientific best out of our situation, rather than just say that “It’s not repeatable, we can’t do science.”

  • Neal J. King

    davids, #44:

    I understand the issue. The fundamental problem is that we don’t have multiple Earths which can be subjected to different experiments. And even if we had a few Earths, we don’t fully understand the dynamics which go on that have nothing to do with additional CO2.

    This reminds of the situation in astrophysics as well: There are a lot of research situations for which it is impossible to find a second example of anything, so it’s very difficult to test a model. I remember being told about one phenomenon for which the same (rather eminent) astrophysicist wrote three different papers, proposing three completely different explanations. I found this frustrating.

    However, just as we have only one universe, we only have one Earth (available to us). We have to make the scientific best out of our situation, rather than just say that “It’s not repeatable, we can’t do science.”

  • http://condeve.blogspot.com/2008/06/value-of-science-by-richard-feynman.html sadunkal

    Neal, #43#44,

    This acting out of fear will also have a huge cost. It’s not as simple as “We save the planet, or we don’t”. It’s more like “We make huge sacrifices because we’re afraid that the experts may be right, or we wait until the experts give us more plausible reasons to be afraid.” I guess you’re also familiar with Bjorn Lomborg’s proposals.

    Panic without strong foundations shouldn’t be the driving force behind global policy changes.

    I’ll also go back to Feynman once again now:

    “We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on. It is our responsibility to leave the people of the future a free hand. In the impetuous youth of humanity, we can make grave errors that can stunt our growth for a long time. This we will do if we say we have the answers now, so young and ignorant as we are. If we suppress all discussion, all criticism, proclaiming “This is the answer, my friends; man is saved!” we will doom humanity for a long time to the chains of authority, confined to the limits of our present imagination. It has been done so many times before.

    It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress which comes from a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom; to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed; and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations. ”

    As you said, climate modeling is much more complicated, but I see this as something which makes the experts much less credible and not more important.

    #41, Geoff Sherrington:
    Nice story…

  • http://condeve.blogspot.com/2008/06/value-of-science-by-richard-feynman.html sadunkal

    Neal, #43#44,

    This acting out of fear will also have a huge cost. It’s not as simple as “We save the planet, or we don’t”. It’s more like “We make huge sacrifices because we’re afraid that the experts may be right, or we wait until the experts give us more plausible reasons to be afraid.” I guess you’re also familiar with Bjorn Lomborg’s proposals.

    Panic without strong foundations shouldn’t be the driving force behind global policy changes.

    I’ll also go back to Feynman once again now:

    “We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on. It is our responsibility to leave the people of the future a free hand. In the impetuous youth of humanity, we can make grave errors that can stunt our growth for a long time. This we will do if we say we have the answers now, so young and ignorant as we are. If we suppress all discussion, all criticism, proclaiming “This is the answer, my friends; man is saved!” we will doom humanity for a long time to the chains of authority, confined to the limits of our present imagination. It has been done so many times before.

    It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress which comes from a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom; to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed; and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations. ”

    As you said, climate modeling is much more complicated, but I see this as something which makes the experts much less credible and not more important.

    #41, Geoff Sherrington:
    Nice story…

  • Neal J. King

    sadunkal:

    - Lomborg’s estimate for the cost to fix the CO2 problem (even though he did not recommend it) was one year’s growth by 2100. In other words, the difference in economic growth would be such that in the year 2100, we would only have developed as far as we would have by 2099 under the expectation of not-acting on AGW.

    One year out of 92 is not much of a slow-down.

    - Unfortunately, whatever is happening to the world will not wait for us to satisfy 100% of the population, or 100% of the scientific population. On a much smaller percentage of scientific consensus on nuclear weapons, the U.S. proceeded with the Manhattan Project – a project in which Feynman participated.

    - So the more complicated the problem, the more you trust the non-experts? I don’t think Feynman would have liked to be interpreted in that way. The point about “not trusting experts” is not to just doubt what they know, but to get deeply into the material. The revolutionaries in science are the folks (like Galileo, Copernicus, etc.) who knew more deeply than everyone else, not people who denied knowledge. Feynman distinguished carefully between having an open mind and having an empty mind.

  • Neal J. King

    sadunkal:

    - Lomborg’s estimate for the cost to fix the CO2 problem (even though he did not recommend it) was one year’s growth by 2100. In other words, the difference in economic growth would be such that in the year 2100, we would only have developed as far as we would have by 2099 under the expectation of not-acting on AGW.

    One year out of 92 is not much of a slow-down.

    - Unfortunately, whatever is happening to the world will not wait for us to satisfy 100% of the population, or 100% of the scientific population. On a much smaller percentage of scientific consensus on nuclear weapons, the U.S. proceeded with the Manhattan Project – a project in which Feynman participated.

    - So the more complicated the problem, the more you trust the non-experts? I don’t think Feynman would have liked to be interpreted in that way. The point about “not trusting experts” is not to just doubt what they know, but to get deeply into the material. The revolutionaries in science are the folks (like Galileo, Copernicus, etc.) who knew more deeply than everyone else, not people who denied knowledge. Feynman distinguished carefully between having an open mind and having an empty mind.

  • Sadun Kal

    Neal,

    -Really? I’m not so sure about that. Could you send a link or sth. about this. He sure gave me the impression that the difference would be much more if we would focus on more immediate problems like poverty, diseases etc… And I also believe to have heard him say that our efforts won’t be enough to stop the AGW anyway.

    - I don’t get why you give the Manhattan Project as an example. You think it was a good thing that they proceeded?

    -”So the more complicated the problem, the more you trust the non-experts?”

    Is that really how you understood what I said or is it just an attempt to dismiss my argument somehow?

    I find this a little too ridiculous, sorry…

  • Sadun Kal

    Neal,

    -Really? I’m not so sure about that. Could you send a link or sth. about this. He sure gave me the impression that the difference would be much more if we would focus on more immediate problems like poverty, diseases etc… And I also believe to have heard him say that our efforts won’t be enough to stop the AGW anyway.

    - I don’t get why you give the Manhattan Project as an example. You think it was a good thing that they proceeded?

    -”So the more complicated the problem, the more you trust the non-experts?”

    Is that really how you understood what I said or is it just an attempt to dismiss my argument somehow?

    I find this a little too ridiculous, sorry…

  • http://landshape.org/enm Neal J. King

    - Lomborg, http://sophistpundit.blogspot.com/2006/07/finding-right-question.html:
    “Yet, one could be tempted to suggest that we are actually so rich that we can afford both to pay a partial insurance premium against global warming (at 2-4 percent of GDP), and to help the developing world (a further 2 percent), because doing so would only offset growth by about 2-3 years. And that is true. I am still not convinced that there is any point in spending 2-4 percent on a pretty insignificant insurance policy, when we and our descendants could benefit far more from the same investment placed elsewhere. But it is correct that we are actually wealthy enough to do so.
    And this is one of the main points of this book.”

    - Manhattan Project: It was a necessity of the war effort. Moral issues were put aside entirely, but the question has to do with technical & scientific doubts. There were some, but the experts were allowed to make the decision. Feynman went along with that.

    - You said “climate modeling is much more complicated, but I see this as something which makes the experts much less credible and not more important.” But influence is like a see-saw: When the influence of one group (the experts) goes down, the influence of the other group (the non-experts) goes up. Is this what you want, that the people who know less should have increased influence?”

  • http://landshape.org/enm Neal J. King

    - Lomborg, http://sophistpundit.blogspot.com/2006/07/finding-right-question.html:
    “Yet, one could be tempted to suggest that we are actually so rich that we can afford both to pay a partial insurance premium against global warming (at 2-4 percent of GDP), and to help the developing world (a further 2 percent), because doing so would only offset growth by about 2-3 years. And that is true. I am still not convinced that there is any point in spending 2-4 percent on a pretty insignificant insurance policy, when we and our descendants could benefit far more from the same investment placed elsewhere. But it is correct that we are actually wealthy enough to do so.
    And this is one of the main points of this book.”

    - Manhattan Project: It was a necessity of the war effort. Moral issues were put aside entirely, but the question has to do with technical & scientific doubts. There were some, but the experts were allowed to make the decision. Feynman went along with that.

    - You said “climate modeling is much more complicated, but I see this as something which makes the experts much less credible and not more important.” But influence is like a see-saw: When the influence of one group (the experts) goes down, the influence of the other group (the non-experts) goes up. Is this what you want, that the people who know less should have increased influence?”

  • jimdk

    Neal, are you saying temperature is not affected by precipitation? Is this the position of the experts?
    thanks, jim

  • jimdk

    Neal, are you saying temperature is not affected by precipitation? Is this the position of the experts?
    thanks, jim

  • Neal J. King

    jimdk,

    No, what I’m saying is that the IPCC is not claiming great accuracy with their projections of precipitation. So there isn’t much point in dinging them for it.

    Analogy: You hire a pitcher for how well he pitches with his best hand, not how well he pitches with his worst hand.

    The goal is to get the best insight you can get. Somebody who’s scoring 50% is doing a lot better than somebody who’s doing 0%.

  • Neal J. King

    jimdk,

    No, what I’m saying is that the IPCC is not claiming great accuracy with their projections of precipitation. So there isn’t much point in dinging them for it.

    Analogy: You hire a pitcher for how well he pitches with his best hand, not how well he pitches with his worst hand.

    The goal is to get the best insight you can get. Somebody who’s scoring 50% is doing a lot better than somebody who’s doing 0%.

  • Raven

    Neal,

    I think it is important to distinguish between saying the experts are wrong and saying the experts are exagerrating the certainty of their claims. The latter is definitely happening in climate science and this constant exaggeration of certainty has politicized the debate and made it much more difficult set policy.

    In fact, I find the false claims of certainty are simply used as a polictical hammer in order to push for particular policy outcomes. For example, the average left leaning anti-CO2 activist does not like nuclear power yet such opposition makes no sense if the science was actually as certain as they claim.

    If politicians have to set CO2 policy they should be given an accurate picture of how little we really know. This will mean that politicians will not be able to justify moving as fast or as radically as many activists would like.

  • Raven

    Neal,

    I think it is important to distinguish between saying the experts are wrong and saying the experts are exagerrating the certainty of their claims. The latter is definitely happening in climate science and this constant exaggeration of certainty has politicized the debate and made it much more difficult set policy.

    In fact, I find the false claims of certainty are simply used as a polictical hammer in order to push for particular policy outcomes. For example, the average left leaning anti-CO2 activist does not like nuclear power yet such opposition makes no sense if the science was actually as certain as they claim.

    If politicians have to set CO2 policy they should be given an accurate picture of how little we really know. This will mean that politicians will not be able to justify moving as fast or as radically as many activists would like.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Neal, As a scientist, I would not make a judgement call as to whether finding ore deposits was easier than climatology. Seek the evidence. I acknowledged the extra dimension of time. A scientist would make a comparison of the technical issues with each pursuit, try to quantify them try to balance/compare them. What you have done is an old-fashioned arm-wave without proof.

    That is a recurrent problem with modern climate investigation. In essence, your posts here go a long way to making a case for cessation of climate modelling because of unavailiblity of critical data. We used to say that knowing when to enter a project is 30% of the case; knowing when to get out is 70%. Also, we would set progressive benchmarks and withdraw when they were not met.

    It is not only difficulty, it a deficiency of methodologic design that plague global warming debate, Who else would write a summary for policy makers before the cited science papers were completed and accepted?

    I also disagree with your claim that ….. “There is no “ideal” temperature, but when the temperature changes from whatever it is to something else rapidly, it puts the different species inhabiting the Earth under extreme stress, collectively.” This is a half-full/half empty glass argument, with you the pessimist. It remains to be shown whether temperature flucuations enhance or decrease the populations of genera – and who is to say what is a good genus and was is an unwanted one. Coping with change is an imperative not limited to Homo sapiens. Maybe it is even an integral part of Darwinian theory.

    Disagreement also with your assertion in # 18 that ….. “But real “proof” is something that is restricted to the realm of mathematics.” We reached a stage in one region where, by measuring surface magnetic field perturbations, we could predict the size, attitude and depth to the top (to several hundred m depth) of discrete mineral bodies containing magnetite. There was a minimal probaility of being wrong, as we showed by drilling more than 100 of these with 2 or more drill holes. What more “proof” do you need? This was cutting edge geophysical modelling/testing and it was RIGHT. Later we used methods like lead isotopes and the decrepitometry of fluid inclusions to distinguish those that were barren of gold and copper from those which might make mines. It was mutidisciplinary, it was hard, it was intensely mathematical and rigidly controlled and possibly no easier than climatology.

    When you drift into discussion of the philosophy of science, (which is about the ultimate stage in the progression of activities of a scientist) I feel that you might like to read the several books about an unrelated namesake, Sir Charles Sherrington, died 1952. Nobel Laureate, twice Pres of the Royal Soc of London, discoverer of cure for diphtheria……. IMO, ranks with Popper. Amazing what he did without supercomputers.

  • Neal J. King

    Raven,

    I believe that, in the media, there is at least at much exaggeration of our ignorance as there is of our knowledge.

    It is still extremely common to see articles and comments saying, “Global Warming is only a theory. No one has proven the greenhouse effect.”

    Whereas, as you admitted earlier, even the more skeptical climatologists agree that the greenhouse effect is an actuality.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Neal, As a scientist, I would not make a judgement call as to whether finding ore deposits was easier than climatology. Seek the evidence. I acknowledged the extra dimension of time. A scientist would make a comparison of the technical issues with each pursuit, try to quantify them try to balance/compare them. What you have done is an old-fashioned arm-wave without proof.

    That is a recurrent problem with modern climate investigation. In essence, your posts here go a long way to making a case for cessation of climate modelling because of unavailiblity of critical data. We used to say that knowing when to enter a project is 30% of the case; knowing when to get out is 70%. Also, we would set progressive benchmarks and withdraw when they were not met.

    It is not only difficulty, it a deficiency of methodologic design that plague global warming debate, Who else would write a summary for policy makers before the cited science papers were completed and accepted?

    I also disagree with your claim that ….. “There is no “ideal” temperature, but when the temperature changes from whatever it is to something else rapidly, it puts the different species inhabiting the Earth under extreme stress, collectively.” This is a half-full/half empty glass argument, with you the pessimist. It remains to be shown whether temperature flucuations enhance or decrease the populations of genera – and who is to say what is a good genus and was is an unwanted one. Coping with change is an imperative not limited to Homo sapiens. Maybe it is even an integral part of Darwinian theory.

    Disagreement also with your assertion in # 18 that ….. “But real “proof” is something that is restricted to the realm of mathematics.” We reached a stage in one region where, by measuring surface magnetic field perturbations, we could predict the size, attitude and depth to the top (to several hundred m depth) of discrete mineral bodies containing magnetite. There was a minimal probaility of being wrong, as we showed by drilling more than 100 of these with 2 or more drill holes. What more “proof” do you need? This was cutting edge geophysical modelling/testing and it was RIGHT. Later we used methods like lead isotopes and the decrepitometry of fluid inclusions to distinguish those that were barren of gold and copper from those which might make mines. It was mutidisciplinary, it was hard, it was intensely mathematical and rigidly controlled and possibly no easier than climatology.

    When you drift into discussion of the philosophy of science, (which is about the ultimate stage in the progression of activities of a scientist) I feel that you might like to read the several books about an unrelated namesake, Sir Charles Sherrington, died 1952. Nobel Laureate, twice Pres of the Royal Soc of London, discoverer of cure for diphtheria……. IMO, ranks with Popper. Amazing what he did without supercomputers.

  • Neal J. King

    Raven,

    I believe that, in the media, there is at least at much exaggeration of our ignorance as there is of our knowledge.

    It is still extremely common to see articles and comments saying, “Global Warming is only a theory. No one has proven the greenhouse effect.”

    Whereas, as you admitted earlier, even the more skeptical climatologists agree that the greenhouse effect is an actuality.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Ooops, here we go again. I do not admit that the greenhouse theory as popularly expressed is a reality and I have never accepted it. I do accept the physics reported so far, of interaction between radiation of various wavelengths and GHG on a qualitative scale and have major problems with feedback. After all, I did a couple of years of reasearch on hich-powered CO2 lasers and so I am not ignorant of much relevant physics.

    I have no interest in proving the ‘greenhouse theory’ because it is wrongly posited. It’s bit like the theory, still popular, that farmers can bury a cow horn of excrement in a corner of a field when the moon is in the right phase, to increase crop yield.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Ooops, here we go again. I do not admit that the greenhouse theory as popularly expressed is a reality and I have never accepted it. I do accept the physics reported so far, of interaction between radiation of various wavelengths and GHG on a qualitative scale and have major problems with feedback. After all, I did a couple of years of reasearch on hich-powered CO2 lasers and so I am not ignorant of much relevant physics.

    I have no interest in proving the ‘greenhouse theory’ because it is wrongly posited. It’s bit like the theory, still popular, that farmers can bury a cow horn of excrement in a corner of a field when the moon is in the right phase, to increase crop yield.

  • jimdk

    Neal, the pitcher’s worst hand does not affect his best hand. How can we claim confidence in temp models when we have no ability with precipitation which does affect temperature?

  • jimdk

    Neal, the pitcher’s worst hand does not affect his best hand. How can we claim confidence in temp models when we have no ability with precipitation which does affect temperature?

  • Neal J. King

    #52, Geoff Sherrington:

    1) Relative difficulty of ore-deposit modeling vs. climatology: Here’s the hand behind the wave:

    - Variables:
    For ODM: constant in time and spatially limited. For C: changing in time and spatially covering the entire globe.

    - Dynamics:
    For ODM: Nothing is changing, so nothing depends on anything else.
    For C: Temperature affects wind-speed affects pressure affects humidity affects cloud formation; time-changing inputs such as human-generated pollutants and land-use changes as well as volcanic eruptions…

    - Data collection:
    For ODM: You can get collect data at whatever spatial intensity you want, and you can go back and apply better instruments if you want.
    For C: If you miss the data, or didn’t take it at sufficient frequency (spatial frequency as well as in time), too bad: You can’t go back and get it. Whatever data you have from the past is what it is: No one has invented a time machine for going back to put in-place the instruments you would have wanted to have, instead of the ones actually used, because the people who were in charge at the time inconsiderately didn’t think what the future experimenters would want, and in fact had something rather different in mind at the time. Not to mention those unhelpful trees and corals that didn’t just provide calibrated thermometers instead of requiring detective work to try to sort out different kinds of temperature & precipitation or pH inter-dependencies.

    Yes, on balance: I might not find ore-deposit modeling that interesting, but if my life depended on getting the answers right, I’d gravitate towards ODM and not toward Climatology: Climatology looks orders of magnitude harder.

    2) “Withdrawing when the benchmarks are not met”: The loss in the event of you withdrawing from a potential mining site is a commercial risk. The loss in the event of an environment that is much worse for human habitation – even if that happens in 200 years – is rather more significant. For you to “write off” that risk is the height of irresponsibility. Is that what the folks planning the Manhattan project should have done? “The problem looks too hard. Let’s forget about it.”

    3) “Who else would write a summary for policy makers before the cited science papers were completed and accepted?” My understanding is that the window for considering papers was closed 6 months before the technical reports were essentially finalized; that the Summary was written up after that; and some wording was changed in the technical reports to make the vocabulary and framework consistent.

    4) “It remains to be shown whether temperature fluctuations enhance or decrease the populations of genera”:
    - http://www.world-science.net/othernews/071022_mass-extinction.htm
    - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041001092938.htm
    - http://www.grist.org/advice/books/2001/12/12/point/

    What I have gathered from my reading is that it takes about 1 million years for a really distinct species to evolve. That suggests that any major change that happens on timescales much shorter than that can likely not be adapted-around, if it is a problem. A 2-3 degree change in global average temperature is fairly big (we’re only 5 degrees from the middle of the last ice age), so if that happens over 100 or 200 years, we are asking for trouble.

    Already happening: pine forests in North America are being ravaged by pine beetles. Why? Because the beetles are no longer dying in the winter cold, but surviving until spring. Then they come out hungry: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/28/AR2006022801772.html

    5) Proof: Real proof is a mathematical concept. From that point of view, not even relativity or quantum mechanics or even hydrodynamics has been “proven” – and any one of them is more of a scientific foundation stone than your ore-deposit model.

    6) Philosophy: My interest in philosophy of science runs more towards Thomas Kuhn, as in “The structure of scientific revolutions.”

    7) Computers: These days they make progress in quantum field theory using lattice field theory – which is numerical computation applied to QFT. The famous four-color map theorem was proven with computers. Richard Feynman – no slouch at mathematical invention and prestidigitation – advertised numerical integration as the final resolution to complex dynamical problems with differential equations. Computers are used as just a way of doing computations – nothing more, nothing less.

  • Neal J. King

    #52, Geoff Sherrington:

    1) Relative difficulty of ore-deposit modeling vs. climatology: Here’s the hand behind the wave:

    - Variables:
    For ODM: constant in time and spatially limited. For C: changing in time and spatially covering the entire globe.

    - Dynamics:
    For ODM: Nothing is changing, so nothing depends on anything else.
    For C: Temperature affects wind-speed affects pressure affects humidity affects cloud formation; time-changing inputs such as human-generated pollutants and land-use changes as well as volcanic eruptions…

    - Data collection:
    For ODM: You can get collect data at whatever spatial intensity you want, and you can go back and apply better instruments if you want.
    For C: If you miss the data, or didn’t take it at sufficient frequency (spatial frequency as well as in time), too bad: You can’t go back and get it. Whatever data you have from the past is what it is: No one has invented a time machine for going back to put in-place the instruments you would have wanted to have, instead of the ones actually used, because the people who were in charge at the time inconsiderately didn’t think what the future experimenters would want, and in fact had something rather different in mind at the time. Not to mention those unhelpful trees and corals that didn’t just provide calibrated thermometers instead of requiring detective work to try to sort out different kinds of temperature & precipitation or pH inter-dependencies.

    Yes, on balance: I might not find ore-deposit modeling that interesting, but if my life depended on getting the answers right, I’d gravitate towards ODM and not toward Climatology: Climatology looks orders of magnitude harder.

    2) “Withdrawing when the benchmarks are not met”: The loss in the event of you withdrawing from a potential mining site is a commercial risk. The loss in the event of an environment that is much worse for human habitation – even if that happens in 200 years – is rather more significant. For you to “write off” that risk is the height of irresponsibility. Is that what the folks planning the Manhattan project should have done? “The problem looks too hard. Let’s forget about it.”

    3) “Who else would write a summary for policy makers before the cited science papers were completed and accepted?” My understanding is that the window for considering papers was closed 6 months before the technical reports were essentially finalized; that the Summary was written up after that; and some wording was changed in the technical reports to make the vocabulary and framework consistent.

    4) “It remains to be shown whether temperature fluctuations enhance or decrease the populations of genera”:
    - http://www.world-science.net/othernews/071022_mass-extinction.htm
    - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041001092938.htm
    - http://www.grist.org/advice/books/2001/12/12/point/

    What I have gathered from my reading is that it takes about 1 million years for a really distinct species to evolve. That suggests that any major change that happens on timescales much shorter than that can likely not be adapted-around, if it is a problem. A 2-3 degree change in global average temperature is fairly big (we’re only 5 degrees from the middle of the last ice age), so if that happens over 100 or 200 years, we are asking for trouble.

    Already happening: pine forests in North America are being ravaged by pine beetles. Why? Because the beetles are no longer dying in the winter cold, but surviving until spring. Then they come out hungry: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/28/AR2006022801772.html

    5) Proof: Real proof is a mathematical concept. From that point of view, not even relativity or quantum mechanics or even hydrodynamics has been “proven” – and any one of them is more of a scientific foundation stone than your ore-deposit model.

    6) Philosophy: My interest in philosophy of science runs more towards Thomas Kuhn, as in “The structure of scientific revolutions.”

    7) Computers: These days they make progress in quantum field theory using lattice field theory – which is numerical computation applied to QFT. The famous four-color map theorem was proven with computers. Richard Feynman – no slouch at mathematical invention and prestidigitation – advertised numerical integration as the final resolution to complex dynamical problems with differential equations. Computers are used as just a way of doing computations – nothing more, nothing less.

  • Neal J. King

    Geoff Sherrington, #54:

    “I do not admit that the greenhouse theory as popularly expressed is a reality and I have never accepted it.”

    “I do accept the physics reported so far, of interaction between radiation of various wavelengths and GHG on a qualitative scale…”

    The second item is the theory of the enhanced greenhouse effect. If you want to actually get quantitative, you can consult:
    - John Houghton, The Physics of Atmospheres

    - R.T. Pierrehumbert, Principles of Planetary Climate,
    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/ClimateBook/ClimateVol1.pdf

    The basic physics of radiative transfer is not considered controversial, and is widely used in astrophysics, in studies of stellar structure and stellar evolution. Leading to, among other things, the prediction of supernovae – which have now been observed.

  • Neal J. King

    Geoff Sherrington, #54:

    “I do not admit that the greenhouse theory as popularly expressed is a reality and I have never accepted it.”

    “I do accept the physics reported so far, of interaction between radiation of various wavelengths and GHG on a qualitative scale…”

    The second item is the theory of the enhanced greenhouse effect. If you want to actually get quantitative, you can consult:
    - John Houghton, The Physics of Atmospheres

    - R.T. Pierrehumbert, Principles of Planetary Climate,
    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/ClimateBook/ClimateVol1.pdf

    The basic physics of radiative transfer is not considered controversial, and is widely used in astrophysics, in studies of stellar structure and stellar evolution. Leading to, among other things, the prediction of supernovae – which have now been observed.

  • Neal J. King

    jimdk, #55:

    The basic physics of the model is based on the understanding that when there is more solar-radiation power being absorbed than infrared-radiation power being emitted, the build-up in energy will be reflected in the global average temperature: Roughly speaking, the amount of stuff affected, multiplied by the average heat capacity, multiplied by the change in global average temperature, should equal the increase in energy.

    What evaporation and precipitation do is to absorb some of that heat and to move it somewhere else. But that is similar to the wind moving heat from one area to another: It changes the local temperature, but it doesn’t affect the overall average (since neither the wind nor precipitation move that energy out into space).

    Now, uncertainties in the amount of cloud formation are a problem, because if there are clouds at high altitude, they reflect the solar energy away, which would reduce the input from solar radiation. This is a very well-known issue, which is consistently listed in the IPCC reports as deserving focus, and as being a source of uncertainty. The only ones who don’t seem to be aware of this are the GW-deniers, who keep pretending that they are the only ones who have noticed this “scandal”!

  • Neal J. King

    jimdk, #55:

    The basic physics of the model is based on the understanding that when there is more solar-radiation power being absorbed than infrared-radiation power being emitted, the build-up in energy will be reflected in the global average temperature: Roughly speaking, the amount of stuff affected, multiplied by the average heat capacity, multiplied by the change in global average temperature, should equal the increase in energy.

    What evaporation and precipitation do is to absorb some of that heat and to move it somewhere else. But that is similar to the wind moving heat from one area to another: It changes the local temperature, but it doesn’t affect the overall average (since neither the wind nor precipitation move that energy out into space).

    Now, uncertainties in the amount of cloud formation are a problem, because if there are clouds at high altitude, they reflect the solar energy away, which would reduce the input from solar radiation. This is a very well-known issue, which is consistently listed in the IPCC reports as deserving focus, and as being a source of uncertainty. The only ones who don’t seem to be aware of this are the GW-deniers, who keep pretending that they are the only ones who have noticed this “scandal”!

  • Neal J. King

    jimdk, #55, part 2:

    So there could be substantial uncertainty in the precipitation predictions without that necessarily being a problem for global-average-temperature trend projections.

  • Neal J. King

    jimdk, #55, part 2:

    So there could be substantial uncertainty in the precipitation predictions without that necessarily being a problem for global-average-temperature trend projections.

  • Sadun Kal

    Neal, #48
    - The quote you’ve sent is from his 7 years old book. Lomborg certainly opposes current GW policies very strongly now, since they only became less rational in the last years:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=OU5c78UyWbQ
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121141221734512357.html

    - Maybe it’s because I’ve never been an American but I can’t see the Manhattan Project as a good thing. As far as I know it also left Feynman scarred, he wasn’t so proud of what they had done. I believe you chose a bad example.

    - The thing is, the “non-experts” aren’t trying to push a global change, mostly they aren’t pushing anything. So basically there is no influence going on from their side, nothing goes up, it just stays or proceeds normally. If the so called experts’ influence were to go down, it might seem as if the non-experts have increased influence, but they won’t be having more influence than they had before the experts showed up with apocaliptic claims and a good PR.

    In the end I wouldn’t trust a normal priest’s views about the universe more than I would trust Pope’s. But that doesn’t mean I have to take the Pope seriously: They both lack sufficient knowledge.

  • Sadun Kal

    Neal, #48
    - The quote you’ve sent is from his 7 years old book. Lomborg certainly opposes current GW policies very strongly now, since they only became less rational in the last years:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=OU5c78UyWbQ
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121141221734512357.html

    - Maybe it’s because I’ve never been an American but I can’t see the Manhattan Project as a good thing. As far as I know it also left Feynman scarred, he wasn’t so proud of what they had done. I believe you chose a bad example.

    - The thing is, the “non-experts” aren’t trying to push a global change, mostly they aren’t pushing anything. So basically there is no influence going on from their side, nothing goes up, it just stays or proceeds normally. If the so called experts’ influence were to go down, it might seem as if the non-experts have increased influence, but they won’t be having more influence than they had before the experts showed up with apocaliptic claims and a good PR.

    In the end I wouldn’t trust a normal priest’s views about the universe more than I would trust Pope’s. But that doesn’t mean I have to take the Pope seriously: They both lack sufficient knowledge.

  • Neal J. King

    Sadunkal. #48:

    - Lomborg opposed spending any money on AGW at the time of the original book. Nonetheless, he made the point that it would set back world development by only a couple of years out of 100. That was my point.

    - Whether or not you agree with it is beside the point: It was considered a matter of extreme national importance, and in that circumstance, it was necessary to go with the best advice available. And there were prominent people who privately disagreed: If I remember right, there was one professor of mine who was advised by Millikan (Nobel Prize in physics for measuring the charge of the electron) NOT to participate in it, because “They’ll never get any more power out of that bomb than a peanut-whistle!” But the majority of the relevant experts was right, and Mr. Nobel-Laureate was wrong; and he was a lot closer to the physics of the situation than the AGW-deniers are today.

    - What you are forgetting: A decision to stall or do nothing is still a decision. If the climatologists are right, and AGW is a real and growing threat, the amount of heating-up we are storing up for ourselves is growing every day. So doing nothing is not a neutral action. It is exactly analogous to the case in which a gigantic asteroid is heading towards the Earth, and some people are wondering whether to try to destroy or deflect it, and others are saying that they’re not sure of the science, and maybe it’s actually going to miss us by a couple of miles, so we shouldn’t spend the money on a solution until we know better.

    And by the way, GW as a scientific issue has been studied for well over 100 years.

    - How does the Pope get into this discussion? I haven’t cited him.

  • Neal J. King

    Sadunkal. #48:

    - Lomborg opposed spending any money on AGW at the time of the original book. Nonetheless, he made the point that it would set back world development by only a couple of years out of 100. That was my point.

    - Whether or not you agree with it is beside the point: It was considered a matter of extreme national importance, and in that circumstance, it was necessary to go with the best advice available. And there were prominent people who privately disagreed: If I remember right, there was one professor of mine who was advised by Millikan (Nobel Prize in physics for measuring the charge of the electron) NOT to participate in it, because “They’ll never get any more power out of that bomb than a peanut-whistle!” But the majority of the relevant experts was right, and Mr. Nobel-Laureate was wrong; and he was a lot closer to the physics of the situation than the AGW-deniers are today.

    - What you are forgetting: A decision to stall or do nothing is still a decision. If the climatologists are right, and AGW is a real and growing threat, the amount of heating-up we are storing up for ourselves is growing every day. So doing nothing is not a neutral action. It is exactly analogous to the case in which a gigantic asteroid is heading towards the Earth, and some people are wondering whether to try to destroy or deflect it, and others are saying that they’re not sure of the science, and maybe it’s actually going to miss us by a couple of miles, so we shouldn’t spend the money on a solution until we know better.

    And by the way, GW as a scientific issue has been studied for well over 100 years.

    - How does the Pope get into this discussion? I haven’t cited him.

  • Sadun Kal

    -My point is I don’t think he thinks so today, or he probably wouldn’t be so loud about opposing it.

    -Oh, I see, the context is different. Interesting… Alright, I get your point but let me tell you how I perceive it:

    It was considered of extreme importance, yet it really wasn’t. What did the world or even just the US exactly gain by all that at the time?

    So I think the best advice available was misguiding and cost a huge, unnecessary price.

    There were also people who disagreed with it because of potential consequences and not just because it’s “impossible”. And looking back now, I’d agree with those kind of disagreements…

    - To do nothing is being turned into a decision because there is an illusion of urgency based on computer model prophecies.

    It is not exactly analogous to the case you mention, because we can be sure about the results of an asteroid crash to a certain degree; it will be seriously bad. And we probably know enough about the physics to easily calculate the path of such an asteroid. It’s obviously not the same and this just shows what kind of mindset you’re in. In the case of the GW:

    We don’t exactly know what the consequences will be, not even to a degree if it will be seriously good/bad. But we know that it wont be instantaneous, unlike an asteroid crash.
    And the science involved with GW is more complex, we know that we are not able to calculate “the path” of GW. We tried, we keep failing, we’re sure -if we’re honest- that we can’t do it yet.

    The Pope example was to say that even the seemingly more knowledgable sources can be completely unreliable regarding complex issues. So it doesn’t make much sense to change the course of your entire life based on an advice without strong foundations.

  • Sadun Kal

    -My point is I don’t think he thinks so today, or he probably wouldn’t be so loud about opposing it.

    -Oh, I see, the context is different. Interesting… Alright, I get your point but let me tell you how I perceive it:

    It was considered of extreme importance, yet it really wasn’t. What did the world or even just the US exactly gain by all that at the time?

    So I think the best advice available was misguiding and cost a huge, unnecessary price.

    There were also people who disagreed with it because of potential consequences and not just because it’s “impossible”. And looking back now, I’d agree with those kind of disagreements…

    - To do nothing is being turned into a decision because there is an illusion of urgency based on computer model prophecies.

    It is not exactly analogous to the case you mention, because we can be sure about the results of an asteroid crash to a certain degree; it will be seriously bad. And we probably know enough about the physics to easily calculate the path of such an asteroid. It’s obviously not the same and this just shows what kind of mindset you’re in. In the case of the GW:

    We don’t exactly know what the consequences will be, not even to a degree if it will be seriously good/bad. But we know that it wont be instantaneous, unlike an asteroid crash.
    And the science involved with GW is more complex, we know that we are not able to calculate “the path” of GW. We tried, we keep failing, we’re sure -if we’re honest- that we can’t do it yet.

    The Pope example was to say that even the seemingly more knowledgable sources can be completely unreliable regarding complex issues. So it doesn’t make much sense to change the course of your entire life based on an advice without strong foundations.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Neal, Re your 56 & 57, you are simply not watching my lips move. Your summaries of what you think I wrote are inaccurate. Besides, some of your assertions are plain wrong. (For example, there is evidence of species evolution in decades or less – but I was talking about genera).

    Your definition of the enhanced greenhouse effect is not that in common circulation in classrooms and the general public. Besides, I do not need a list of references to activists like Pierrehumbert and Sir John. They have both demonstrated a capacity to politicise science in questionable ways, like beating up the imperative to act.

    Here’s a thought. Civilisation as we enjoy it would have a high probability of becoming a big mess quickly if we stopped mineral exploration. It might, just speculatively, get into a mess if we failed to act now to tilt at the AGW mindmill. The first is easier to prove than the second, because the science is currently better.

    My personal preference for redistributed spending (which is the motivation of AGW) is (a) encouragement of private enterprise in all endeavours and (b) reduction of global disease and mortality through more research, preferably private.

    If you take Ross Garnaut’s emission trading proposal (a 600 page suicide note), money would go from emitters to a Government pool, to be disbursed to the needy and worthy. What would be the first act of the needy and worthy? Why, they would want to create additional GHG while doing this or that. Close to a zero sum game.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Neal, Re your 56 & 57, you are simply not watching my lips move. Your summaries of what you think I wrote are inaccurate. Besides, some of your assertions are plain wrong. (For example, there is evidence of species evolution in decades or less – but I was talking about genera).

    Your definition of the enhanced greenhouse effect is not that in common circulation in classrooms and the general public. Besides, I do not need a list of references to activists like Pierrehumbert and Sir John. They have both demonstrated a capacity to politicise science in questionable ways, like beating up the imperative to act.

    Here’s a thought. Civilisation as we enjoy it would have a high probability of becoming a big mess quickly if we stopped mineral exploration. It might, just speculatively, get into a mess if we failed to act now to tilt at the AGW mindmill. The first is easier to prove than the second, because the science is currently better.

    My personal preference for redistributed spending (which is the motivation of AGW) is (a) encouragement of private enterprise in all endeavours and (b) reduction of global disease and mortality through more research, preferably private.

    If you take Ross Garnaut’s emission trading proposal (a 600 page suicide note), money would go from emitters to a Government pool, to be disbursed to the needy and worthy. What would be the first act of the needy and worthy? Why, they would want to create additional GHG while doing this or that. Close to a zero sum game.

  • Neal J. King

    Sadun Kal, #62:

    - As far as I am concerned, the topic is the science, and not the politics or the morality. From the viewpoint of the science, the experts said it could be done, with a push; and there was a respectable minority who said it could not be done (and rather more respectable than the folks who deny AGW today). The respectable minority were wrong, and the experts were right. And, scientific revolutions aside, this is usually the way things work out in science.

    - The question is, How big of a deal will it be? For you to assume that the answer is “Not a big deal” is to presuppose that you know the answer. I’m afraid I can’t let you get away with that. And if the problem is real, the fact that it happens slowly is not much comfort if we really can’t find a way to reverse the problem. Think of being trapped in a basement that is slowly flooding: Is it of any comfort to know that you won’t drown “in a flash”, but only gradually? Or would you rather think, “I wonder if there’s some way OUT of here?”

    - My interpretation of what makes sense is to look honestly at what most likely is the case. If the most knowledgeable people on the subject think that AGW is the case, that needs to be considered very carefully. How strong the case is depends on how hard you look into the evidence. Whenever I’ve done so, I’ve been much more impressed by the climatologists than by the nay-sayers.

  • Neal J. King

    Sadun Kal, #62:

    - As far as I am concerned, the topic is the science, and not the politics or the morality. From the viewpoint of the science, the experts said it could be done, with a push; and there was a respectable minority who said it could not be done (and rather more respectable than the folks who deny AGW today). The respectable minority were wrong, and the experts were right. And, scientific revolutions aside, this is usually the way things work out in science.

    - The question is, How big of a deal will it be? For you to assume that the answer is “Not a big deal” is to presuppose that you know the answer. I’m afraid I can’t let you get away with that. And if the problem is real, the fact that it happens slowly is not much comfort if we really can’t find a way to reverse the problem. Think of being trapped in a basement that is slowly flooding: Is it of any comfort to know that you won’t drown “in a flash”, but only gradually? Or would you rather think, “I wonder if there’s some way OUT of here?”

    - My interpretation of what makes sense is to look honestly at what most likely is the case. If the most knowledgeable people on the subject think that AGW is the case, that needs to be considered very carefully. How strong the case is depends on how hard you look into the evidence. Whenever I’ve done so, I’ve been much more impressed by the climatologists than by the nay-sayers.

  • Neal J. King

    Geoff Sherrington, #63:

    - I wonder why all the biologists are worried about mass extinction? Or do you assume they get paid by the species?

    - OK, so now you want to blame me for being correct about the science, instead of promoting the strawman that you want to attack.

    - The rest of your discourse concerns politics, not science. The topic at hand was, What is the situation with regards to EVIDENCE? Instead, you plunge into the political and economic implications. This only confirms my experience with AGW-deniers: You guys first make up your mind that you don’t like the proposed solution, and then afterwards go looking for trouble in the science. So you walk into the question with a big bias to begin with: free-market capitalism, a la AEI or CEI. A more rational approach is to put aside the politics and the economics, and ask, “What’s the best understanding we have of the situation, scientifically?” And then deal with the political & economic implications based on what can be known scientifically. Have you ever studied a textbook on atmospheric physics?

  • Neal J. King

    Geoff Sherrington, #63:

    - I wonder why all the biologists are worried about mass extinction? Or do you assume they get paid by the species?

    - OK, so now you want to blame me for being correct about the science, instead of promoting the strawman that you want to attack.

    - The rest of your discourse concerns politics, not science. The topic at hand was, What is the situation with regards to EVIDENCE? Instead, you plunge into the political and economic implications. This only confirms my experience with AGW-deniers: You guys first make up your mind that you don’t like the proposed solution, and then afterwards go looking for trouble in the science. So you walk into the question with a big bias to begin with: free-market capitalism, a la AEI or CEI. A more rational approach is to put aside the politics and the economics, and ask, “What’s the best understanding we have of the situation, scientifically?” And then deal with the political & economic implications based on what can be known scientifically. Have you ever studied a textbook on atmospheric physics?

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re Neal # 65.

    If you really believe that “all the biologists are worried about mass extinction” then you are capable of belief in the tooth fairy.

    In the geological sciences we study reconstructions of climate during extinctions and yes, I have read widely on climate science. You can’t really comprehend the significance of a geochemical enrichment at an unconformity of some platinum group metals without some understanding of the climate that produced the sedimentary rocks around it.

    In biology I have lectured internationally several times by invitation (botany) and I have made a number of privately-funded trips to western China to bring back endangered plant species for safe haven here, working at times with a Director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    When one takes a plant from the eastern foothills of Tibet at 2,000 m and summer rainfall and grows it in Melbourne at sea level and different temperature and winter rainfall, in a different hemisphere, and it thrives, this does not cause panic about a temperature change of 1 deg a century.

    In mine design we study hydrology. One of the first constructions on a potential mine site in remote locations is a weather recording station; one of the early activities is a review of past weather records for the broader region.

    The “politics” part of my post was merely to show that, since global income redistribution was the likely driving force behind AGW, others like me might have preferences too. My comments were not intended to cause a permanent 666 to be etched on my forehead.

    When you are old enough and wise enough to have thought deeply about Malthus and the Club of Rome and Paul Erlich and Al Gore, you will realise that the trade in gloom is just as alive as the trade in illegal ivory. I seek neither.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re Neal # 65.

    If you really believe that “all the biologists are worried about mass extinction” then you are capable of belief in the tooth fairy.

    In the geological sciences we study reconstructions of climate during extinctions and yes, I have read widely on climate science. You can’t really comprehend the significance of a geochemical enrichment at an unconformity of some platinum group metals without some understanding of the climate that produced the sedimentary rocks around it.

    In biology I have lectured internationally several times by invitation (botany) and I have made a number of privately-funded trips to western China to bring back endangered plant species for safe haven here, working at times with a Director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    When one takes a plant from the eastern foothills of Tibet at 2,000 m and summer rainfall and grows it in Melbourne at sea level and different temperature and winter rainfall, in a different hemisphere, and it thrives, this does not cause panic about a temperature change of 1 deg a century.

    In mine design we study hydrology. One of the first constructions on a potential mine site in remote locations is a weather recording station; one of the early activities is a review of past weather records for the broader region.

    The “politics” part of my post was merely to show that, since global income redistribution was the likely driving force behind AGW, others like me might have preferences too. My comments were not intended to cause a permanent 666 to be etched on my forehead.

    When you are old enough and wise enough to have thought deeply about Malthus and the Club of Rome and Paul Erlich and Al Gore, you will realise that the trade in gloom is just as alive as the trade in illegal ivory. I seek neither.

  • Sadun Kal

    Neal, #64
    -I understand that, but my point is also relevant. It’s also a case of experts giving advice, but I think it was some real bad advice. Considering our lack of knowledge about the climate dynamics, the science is not so solid and highly muddy. GW is not something which you can easily determine by some calculations. So I think it’s fair to compare it with seemingly non-scientific expertise. And how certain the experts seem to be should only raise more suspicions…

    - I just don’t assume that “It’s a big deal” because I’m not convinced by the politized science. If this means that I’m assuming that it’s “Not a big deal!” then so be it, but I’d prefer to say that “There is no real deal.”

    So I might be trapped in the basement -and maybe it’s even raining outside- but I don’t see any signs of a flood when I look around carefully. That’s why I choose not to panic.

    - I also suggest that you consider the influence of politics on these experts a little more. There has probably never been a case in recent history where politics played a bigger and consistent role in science.

    I think the only evidence necessary/sufficient is for the computer models to make precise predictions for all regions at all times. And we don’t have such an evidence as far as I know.
    So I don’t care how “correct” the physics and equations behind it all looks. It’s obviously not enough.

  • Sadun Kal

    Neal, #64
    -I understand that, but my point is also relevant. It’s also a case of experts giving advice, but I think it was some real bad advice. Considering our lack of knowledge about the climate dynamics, the science is not so solid and highly muddy. GW is not something which you can easily determine by some calculations. So I think it’s fair to compare it with seemingly non-scientific expertise. And how certain the experts seem to be should only raise more suspicions…

    - I just don’t assume that “It’s a big deal” because I’m not convinced by the politized science. If this means that I’m assuming that it’s “Not a big deal!” then so be it, but I’d prefer to say that “There is no real deal.”

    So I might be trapped in the basement -and maybe it’s even raining outside- but I don’t see any signs of a flood when I look around carefully. That’s why I choose not to panic.

    - I also suggest that you consider the influence of politics on these experts a little more. There has probably never been a case in recent history where politics played a bigger and consistent role in science.

    I think the only evidence necessary/sufficient is for the computer models to make precise predictions for all regions at all times. And we don’t have such an evidence as far as I know.
    So I don’t care how “correct” the physics and equations behind it all looks. It’s obviously not enough.

  • Franko

    250 million years ago, before Earth cooled to become an Ice Ages planet, the mass extinction did not kill everything.

    Even if we could duplicate the events, several degrees cooler starting point, and less extinctions

    The natural switches can make difficult, but humans wil also be capable of altering the climate.

  • Franko

    250 million years ago, before Earth cooled to become an Ice Ages planet, the mass extinction did not kill everything.

    Even if we could duplicate the events, several degrees cooler starting point, and less extinctions

    The natural switches can make difficult, but humans wil also be capable of altering the climate.

  • jimdk

    Ok Neal, you agree precipitation affects temp but only local temp so somehow the global temp knows not to be affected by local temps?
    Maybe you should point us to the Real Evidence for AGW that has convinced You there is a real problem.
    When i look closely at the evidence as you suggest we do i don’t see a problem.

    thanks, jim

  • jimdk

    Ok Neal, you agree precipitation affects temp but only local temp so somehow the global temp knows not to be affected by local temps?
    Maybe you should point us to the Real Evidence for AGW that has convinced You there is a real problem.
    When i look closely at the evidence as you suggest we do i don’t see a problem.

    thanks, jim

  • mondo

    Is there GW? Despite the continuing suspicious adjustments by Jones/Hansen (most/all are in the direction of exaggerating the warming) and the other many deficiencies in the Global Mean Temperature, it does appear that there is some warming happening.

    Is it AGW? We are told that the warming correlates (and therefore must be caused by) rising CO2 levels which, we are also told, are due to man’s efforts. Personally, I don’t think that the case that CO2 is the cause has been made, for the many reasons that I won’t go into here.

    As I have come to understand the issues more fully however, I have come to the view that in fact there is an Anthropogenic element to GW, but it is not (at least in any significant sense) due to CO2 but to the land use and land management practices that are affecting local and regional climate (and in aggregate the global climate). In this regard I have been influenced by RP Sr, and particularly in recent days by the excellent work “Water For The Recovery of Climate – A New Water Paradigm” by M. Kravcík, J. Pokorný, J. Kohutiar, M. Kovác, and E. Tóth of the Czech Republic (July 2008).

    The Czech team make a compelling case for the advancing desertification in many areas of the world. Desertification arises from clear felling of forests, modern industrial farming practices (ploughing, fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides, monoculture plantings, irrigation), draining of swamps and wetlands, and general interference with natural processes that relate to how water functions in the landscape.

    The tragedy is that the foolish (and indefensible) focus of the AGW crowd on CO2 is distracting attention from the much more serious problems pointed out by the Czech team (and others such as Peter Andrews in Australia).

  • mondo

    Is there GW? Despite the continuing suspicious adjustments by Jones/Hansen (most/all are in the direction of exaggerating the warming) and the other many deficiencies in the Global Mean Temperature, it does appear that there is some warming happening.

    Is it AGW? We are told that the warming correlates (and therefore must be caused by) rising CO2 levels which, we are also told, are due to man’s efforts. Personally, I don’t think that the case that CO2 is the cause has been made, for the many reasons that I won’t go into here.

    As I have come to understand the issues more fully however, I have come to the view that in fact there is an Anthropogenic element to GW, but it is not (at least in any significant sense) due to CO2 but to the land use and land management practices that are affecting local and regional climate (and in aggregate the global climate). In this regard I have been influenced by RP Sr, and particularly in recent days by the excellent work “Water For The Recovery of Climate – A New Water Paradigm” by M. Kravcík, J. Pokorný, J. Kohutiar, M. Kovác, and E. Tóth of the Czech Republic (July 2008).

    The Czech team make a compelling case for the advancing desertification in many areas of the world. Desertification arises from clear felling of forests, modern industrial farming practices (ploughing, fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides, monoculture plantings, irrigation), draining of swamps and wetlands, and general interference with natural processes that relate to how water functions in the landscape.

    The tragedy is that the foolish (and indefensible) focus of the AGW crowd on CO2 is distracting attention from the much more serious problems pointed out by the Czech team (and others such as Peter Andrews in Australia).

  • wmanny

    New to this site, and I admire the restraint and the urge to actual debate rather than name-calling. Only a handful of the noxious “denier” epithets, and only two “alarmists”. A breath of fresh air relative to other blogs I have visited.

    To Mr. King’s: “Whenever I’ve [looked into the evidence], I’ve been much more impressed by the climatologists than by the nay-sayers.”

    Fair enough, and as a recovering AGW proponent and intense lay reader, whenever I look into the evidence, I have been impressed the other way round (and I might take issue with your implication that all climatologists are ‘on board’). That is not to say I believe the AGW researchers are wrong to keep adding variables to their models until such time, if ever, that they achieve accurate forecasts and backcasts. But to the extent that science is skepticism, as you point out, I am inclined in that direction and do not find the Best Theory Available to merit the precautionary principle being so aggressively applied as its proponents recommend. I admit I am also influenced by the defensiveness and urge to anger that I encounter in the response of AGWs to skeptics’ questions and observations. I understand that there are a great many careers invested in the theory-requires-policy biz, and I sympathize with what is at stake for the human beings who stand to lose much if the theory fades away, but I sympathize as well with the potential victims of over-reaching policy.

  • wmanny

    New to this site, and I admire the restraint and the urge to actual debate rather than name-calling. Only a handful of the noxious “denier” epithets, and only two “alarmists”. A breath of fresh air relative to other blogs I have visited.

    To Mr. King’s: “Whenever I’ve [looked into the evidence], I’ve been much more impressed by the climatologists than by the nay-sayers.”

    Fair enough, and as a recovering AGW proponent and intense lay reader, whenever I look into the evidence, I have been impressed the other way round (and I might take issue with your implication that all climatologists are ‘on board’). That is not to say I believe the AGW researchers are wrong to keep adding variables to their models until such time, if ever, that they achieve accurate forecasts and backcasts. But to the extent that science is skepticism, as you point out, I am inclined in that direction and do not find the Best Theory Available to merit the precautionary principle being so aggressively applied as its proponents recommend. I admit I am also influenced by the defensiveness and urge to anger that I encounter in the response of AGWs to skeptics’ questions and observations. I understand that there are a great many careers invested in the theory-requires-policy biz, and I sympathize with what is at stake for the human beings who stand to lose much if the theory fades away, but I sympathize as well with the potential victims of over-reaching policy.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    wmanny: I agree, congratulations to all involved in maintaining a civil tone. Avoiding discussion of whether AGW exists, and talking about the evidence for its existence helps.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    wmanny: I agree, congratulations to all involved in maintaining a civil tone. Avoiding discussion of whether AGW exists, and talking about the evidence for its existence helps.

  • Neal J. King

    #66, Geoff Sherrington:

    On mass extinctions:
    - E.O. Wilson, one of the most eminent biologists around: http://raysweb.net/specialplaces/pages/wilson.html
    - http://archive.salon.com/people/feature/2000/04/22/eowilson/index.html

    On moving a plant from Tibet: And why were those plants endangered to begin with? I would bet that something in their native environment is changing to the extent that they cannot cope, or are out-competed by invading species. We cannot and will not move every endangered species into a private protected space. Therefore, for most of these species,
    “endangered” => “extinct”

    I am aware of the history of the Malthus, the Club of Rome and Ehrlich. Indeed, Ehrlich went too far. But I am also aware of the history of one of the “grand old men” of the “scientific anti-AGWers”: Fred Singer, Ph.D in physics, who has worked on:
    - Explaining why 2nd-hand smoke is not really a problem
    - Explaining why the science behind the CFC/ozone connection “is shaky”: His last article on the topic came out 3 weeks before the Nobel Prize committee awarded those guys the chemistry prize for their work.
    - Explaining why global warming was not happening; and then suddenly explaining why global warming happens every 1500 years.

    The underlying thread to all these themes? “Which side of the bread has the butter?”

    And I notice that you never gave any response to the four dimensions of complexity in which climate science greatly exceeds ore-deposit modeling (#56). Failure to be able to make a judgment call in that situation is not “scientific fairness”: It would rather seem to reflect lack of imagination.

  • Neal J. King

    #66, Geoff Sherrington:

    On mass extinctions:
    - E.O. Wilson, one of the most eminent biologists around: http://raysweb.net/specialplaces/pages/wilson.html
    - http://archive.salon.com/people/feature/2000/04/22/eowilson/index.html

    On moving a plant from Tibet: And why were those plants endangered to begin with? I would bet that something in their native environment is changing to the extent that they cannot cope, or are out-competed by invading species. We cannot and will not move every endangered species into a private protected space. Therefore, for most of these species,
    “endangered” => “extinct”

    I am aware of the history of the Malthus, the Club of Rome and Ehrlich. Indeed, Ehrlich went too far. But I am also aware of the history of one of the “grand old men” of the “scientific anti-AGWers”: Fred Singer, Ph.D in physics, who has worked on:
    - Explaining why 2nd-hand smoke is not really a problem
    - Explaining why the science behind the CFC/ozone connection “is shaky”: His last article on the topic came out 3 weeks before the Nobel Prize committee awarded those guys the chemistry prize for their work.
    - Explaining why global warming was not happening; and then suddenly explaining why global warming happens every 1500 years.

    The underlying thread to all these themes? “Which side of the bread has the butter?”

    And I notice that you never gave any response to the four dimensions of complexity in which climate science greatly exceeds ore-deposit modeling (#56). Failure to be able to make a judgment call in that situation is not “scientific fairness”: It would rather seem to reflect lack of imagination.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    #73+#66. Guys, aren’t we all vulnerable to bias, and even via silence when to speak up would bite the hand that feeds us is bias. We can still do science though, if we put in place checks and balances for our individual human biases.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    #73+#66. Guys, aren’t we all vulnerable to bias, and even via silence when to speak up would bite the hand that feeds us is bias. We can still do science though, if we put in place checks and balances for our individual human biases.

  • Neal J. King

    #67, Sadun Kal:

    - No one has claimed that [i]every aspect[/i] of the AGW projections is precise & certain: the IPCC reports indicate lots of error bars. Where the science is claimed to be clear is in the big picture: the general principles of how the enhanced greenhouse effect work (and notice how even Geoff Sherrington couldn’t deny that (#63): “Your definition of the enhanced greenhouse effect is not that in common circulation in classrooms and the general public. “; another way of saying, “Oops, he didn’t push the high-school version of the theory.”); the general retreat of the glaciers, worldwide; the general trend of the temperatures over the last 150 years; the thinning and vanishing ice in the north pole; the failure to find plausible explanation in solar-based phenomena. When people deny these facts, the answer indeed is, “This is no longer conjecture.”

    - If you’re not convinced by the science, how much of the science have you studied? You cannot learn it from just websites. There are a lot of scientific disciplines that go into supporting the methods by which climate scientists find things out – and unfortunately, there are far too many people who have a lot more invested in a particular answer than in good scientific understanding. That’s why the American Enterprise Institute (who offered scientists $10,000 a shot for papers written against AGW) and the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the George C. Marshall Institute (before they got into the anti-AGW issue, they were into the anti-”cigarette & lung cancer connection” business). Where are you getting your information from?

    - The problem with waiting until all the computations come out perfectly clean is that this may never happen. It’s very likely that the equations of climatology are chaotic. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make use of them, but it means you have work with them rather carefully, do a lot of runs and averaging, etc. That’s just the nature of the beast: The equations at the basis of turbulence and hydrodynamics (Navier-Stokes equations) are also chaotic. It doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s going on a basic level, but the implications are just going to be more difficult to pull out.

    So again, it comes down to the following situation: You have a very complex situation, one that is irremediably complex by nature. Do you place more confidence in the people that society has trained and asked to study this matter, or do you place your confidence in “common sense”, noting in particular that some people have been projecting their interpretations of “common sense” in a way that is favorable to their industries?

  • Neal J. King

    #67, Sadun Kal:

    - No one has claimed that [i]every aspect[/i] of the AGW projections is precise & certain: the IPCC reports indicate lots of error bars. Where the science is claimed to be clear is in the big picture: the general principles of how the enhanced greenhouse effect work (and notice how even Geoff Sherrington couldn’t deny that (#63): “Your definition of the enhanced greenhouse effect is not that in common circulation in classrooms and the general public. “; another way of saying, “Oops, he didn’t push the high-school version of the theory.”); the general retreat of the glaciers, worldwide; the general trend of the temperatures over the last 150 years; the thinning and vanishing ice in the north pole; the failure to find plausible explanation in solar-based phenomena. When people deny these facts, the answer indeed is, “This is no longer conjecture.”

    - If you’re not convinced by the science, how much of the science have you studied? You cannot learn it from just websites. There are a lot of scientific disciplines that go into supporting the methods by which climate scientists find things out – and unfortunately, there are far too many people who have a lot more invested in a particular answer than in good scientific understanding. That’s why the American Enterprise Institute (who offered scientists $10,000 a shot for papers written against AGW) and the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the George C. Marshall Institute (before they got into the anti-AGW issue, they were into the anti-”cigarette & lung cancer connection” business). Where are you getting your information from?

    - The problem with waiting until all the computations come out perfectly clean is that this may never happen. It’s very likely that the equations of climatology are chaotic. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make use of them, but it means you have work with them rather carefully, do a lot of runs and averaging, etc. That’s just the nature of the beast: The equations at the basis of turbulence and hydrodynamics (Navier-Stokes equations) are also chaotic. It doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s going on a basic level, but the implications are just going to be more difficult to pull out.

    So again, it comes down to the following situation: You have a very complex situation, one that is irremediably complex by nature. Do you place more confidence in the people that society has trained and asked to study this matter, or do you place your confidence in “common sense”, noting in particular that some people have been projecting their interpretations of “common sense” in a way that is favorable to their industries?

  • Neal J. King

    #69, jimdk:

    When heat is moved from one location to another, it affects local temperatures. But the global temperature is an average over all the local temperatures, so the cooling in one location cancels out the heating in the other: That’s how averaging works. It’s like the average water level in a tub: Swirling the water affects the local water level at various points of the tub, but the average water level of the tub is not affected at all.

    Evidence:
    - When CO2, sulfate aerosols, volcanoes, and solar variations are all taken into account (as they are known from measurements and records), they account pretty well for the last 150 years of global average temperature.
    - The general world-wide retreat of glaciers.
    - Thinning and vanishing ice at the north polar region.
    - The profile of temperature as a function of ocean depth in the different oceans.
    - Environmental changes ongoing that are plausibly attributed to climate change: Such as the emergence, as a threat, of the pine beetles in North American pine forests, when previously they died in the winter.

    The subject has been studied for over 100 years. A lot has been found out. The danger lies not in what has already happened, but in what is fully expected to happen. There are uncertainties in that expectation – but there is no particular reason that all those uncertainties will ultimately break in our favor. As Clint Eastwood said, “Ya gotta ask yourself, kid: ‘Do I feel lucky today?’ “

  • Neal J. King

    #69, jimdk:

    When heat is moved from one location to another, it affects local temperatures. But the global temperature is an average over all the local temperatures, so the cooling in one location cancels out the heating in the other: That’s how averaging works. It’s like the average water level in a tub: Swirling the water affects the local water level at various points of the tub, but the average water level of the tub is not affected at all.

    Evidence:
    - When CO2, sulfate aerosols, volcanoes, and solar variations are all taken into account (as they are known from measurements and records), they account pretty well for the last 150 years of global average temperature.
    - The general world-wide retreat of glaciers.
    - Thinning and vanishing ice at the north polar region.
    - The profile of temperature as a function of ocean depth in the different oceans.
    - Environmental changes ongoing that are plausibly attributed to climate change: Such as the emergence, as a threat, of the pine beetles in North American pine forests, when previously they died in the winter.

    The subject has been studied for over 100 years. A lot has been found out. The danger lies not in what has already happened, but in what is fully expected to happen. There are uncertainties in that expectation – but there is no particular reason that all those uncertainties will ultimately break in our favor. As Clint Eastwood said, “Ya gotta ask yourself, kid: ‘Do I feel lucky today?’ “

  • Neal J. King

    #70, mondo:

    - Unless you are magically gifted with the ability to accurately predict climate change, how can you say that Hansen is exaggerating the warming? He is obviously getting more worried about it, and increasing the numbers. But you cannot legitimately claim he is exaggerating unless you know you have the right numbers. Where does your special knowledge come from?

    - Science, including climate science, is a highly competitive endeavor, so if there are good insights in the Czech team’s work, it’s highly likely that someone will jump on it. But, as Richard Feynman (no crowd-follower he) said in his Nobel Prize speech, in science “the likelihood is that the conventional wisdom is right.” The revolutions are rare – and memorable because they are rare.

  • Neal J. King

    #70, mondo:

    - Unless you are magically gifted with the ability to accurately predict climate change, how can you say that Hansen is exaggerating the warming? He is obviously getting more worried about it, and increasing the numbers. But you cannot legitimately claim he is exaggerating unless you know you have the right numbers. Where does your special knowledge come from?

    - Science, including climate science, is a highly competitive endeavor, so if there are good insights in the Czech team’s work, it’s highly likely that someone will jump on it. But, as Richard Feynman (no crowd-follower he) said in his Nobel Prize speech, in science “the likelihood is that the conventional wisdom is right.” The revolutions are rare – and memorable because they are rare.

  • Neal J. King

    #71, wmanny:

    Don’t forget to extend your sympathy to the dependent children of the Singer’s and Seitz’s, who are struggling to support their families by revealing the “scientific truth” on
    - cigarette smoking & lung cancer (as understood by tobacco companies)
    - 2nd-hand smoke & respiratory illness (as understood by tobacco companies)
    - CFCs and the ozone layer (as understood by CFC manufacturers)
    - and now, fossil fuels & global warming (as understood by the fossil-fuel companies)

    Otherwise, I refer you to #76.

  • Neal J. King

    #71, wmanny:

    Don’t forget to extend your sympathy to the dependent children of the Singer’s and Seitz’s, who are struggling to support their families by revealing the “scientific truth” on
    - cigarette smoking & lung cancer (as understood by tobacco companies)
    - 2nd-hand smoke & respiratory illness (as understood by tobacco companies)
    - CFCs and the ozone layer (as understood by CFC manufacturers)
    - and now, fossil fuels & global warming (as understood by the fossil-fuel companies)

    Otherwise, I refer you to #76.

  • Neal J. King

    #74, David:

    Bias is one thing, and is essentially unavoidable. Everyone favors his own theory.

    What is insidious, however, is argument in bad faith. When arguments are exhumed which have long since been discarded for lack of support, or have been thoroughly refuted again and again, this is not “checks & balances”: This is an effort to mislead, and it’s not aimed at the scientists in the field (who will know better) but at swaying the public perception.

    In this connection, many if not all of the ideas promoted from time to time as alternative explanations to AGW have just been recycled from the dustbin of discarded theories. Check out the American Institute of Physics site on global warming, and go through the history of the subject: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/

    You will recognize a lot of the skeptical arguments circulating the web today, dating back 20, 30, 60 years.

  • Neal J. King

    #74, David:

    Bias is one thing, and is essentially unavoidable. Everyone favors his own theory.

    What is insidious, however, is argument in bad faith. When arguments are exhumed which have long since been discarded for lack of support, or have been thoroughly refuted again and again, this is not “checks & balances”: This is an effort to mislead, and it’s not aimed at the scientists in the field (who will know better) but at swaying the public perception.

    In this connection, many if not all of the ideas promoted from time to time as alternative explanations to AGW have just been recycled from the dustbin of discarded theories. Check out the American Institute of Physics site on global warming, and go through the history of the subject: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/

    You will recognize a lot of the skeptical arguments circulating the web today, dating back 20, 30, 60 years.

  • wmanny

    So, Neal, where is the revolution in this case? Is the AGW theory revolutionary? Was it revolutionary previously, and now the opposition to it is the [unlikely to be correct] revolution? I haven’t read everything you have ever blogged, though I have read quite a bit of it (and find you in the main to be an extraordinarily reasonable and patient advocate), so I can only unfairly paraphrase your view as: “AGW is the best theory available, with the preponderance of experts in support. While the IPCC overstates its certainty, there is reason to exercise the precautionary principle due to the probability that the theory is correct.” How would you respond to the notion that AGW theory, rather than or in addition to being the most reasonable response to a perceived and dangerous threat of rising temperatures and associated anomalies, might instead be viewed as the first and therefore most predominant theory advanced to confront a problem, prolonged but minor increases in temperature, that was never, in fact, much of a threat and may never be one?

  • wmanny

    So, Neal, where is the revolution in this case? Is the AGW theory revolutionary? Was it revolutionary previously, and now the opposition to it is the [unlikely to be correct] revolution? I haven’t read everything you have ever blogged, though I have read quite a bit of it (and find you in the main to be an extraordinarily reasonable and patient advocate), so I can only unfairly paraphrase your view as: “AGW is the best theory available, with the preponderance of experts in support. While the IPCC overstates its certainty, there is reason to exercise the precautionary principle due to the probability that the theory is correct.” How would you respond to the notion that AGW theory, rather than or in addition to being the most reasonable response to a perceived and dangerous threat of rising temperatures and associated anomalies, might instead be viewed as the first and therefore most predominant theory advanced to confront a problem, prolonged but minor increases in temperature, that was never, in fact, much of a threat and may never be one?

  • wmanny

    Neal, I was responding to #70, and while writing it missed your earlier response to me, #71, which I will now read. Odd timing!

  • wmanny

    Neal, I was responding to #70, and while writing it missed your earlier response to me, #71, which I will now read. Odd timing!

  • Anonymous

    Neal, you claim this is a line between bias and argument in bad faith. Couldn’t your ire also be directed at the recycling of the hockey stick, exaggerated certainty of regional forecasts, and other efforts “not aimed at the scientists in the field (who will know better) but at swaying the public perception.”

  • http://landshape.org/enm David Stockwell

    Neal, you claim this is a line between bias and argument in bad faith. Couldn’t your ire also be directed at the recycling of the hockey stick, exaggerated certainty of regional forecasts, and other efforts “not aimed at the scientists in the field (who will know better) but at swaying the public perception.”

  • wmanny

    #71
    Neal, I take your point, but I am training myself to ignore what AGW proponents and skeptics have to say about other subjects or whether they support Intelligent Design or believe in reincarnation. Come to that, I don’t particularly care if they get their funding from Exxon or the Sierra Club, either. It’s juicy, but irrelevant.

    If Singer and/or Seitz have advanced poor scientific arguments countering AGW theory, they will lose out in the end.

  • wmanny

    #71
    Neal, I take your point, but I am training myself to ignore what AGW proponents and skeptics have to say about other subjects or whether they support Intelligent Design or believe in reincarnation. Come to that, I don’t particularly care if they get their funding from Exxon or the Sierra Club, either. It’s juicy, but irrelevant.

    If Singer and/or Seitz have advanced poor scientific arguments countering AGW theory, they will lose out in the end.

  • Neal J. King

    #80, #81, #83, wmanny:

    - First, I would point out that the IPCC are careful to state the uncertainties as they understand them. These include both conceptual issues (such as how the role of clouds will play out) and quantitative uncertainties.

    - With regard to AGW theory being the first shot: This entire area of study has been under way for over 100 years. It has already had lots of ups and downs, with big turn-arounds in concept. Indeed, the theory was NOT set up to explain an increase in temperature: That increase was predicted. As I said already in #79, most of the “skeptical alternatives” have just been dragged off the recycling heap: The reason most climatologists are so dismissive of these notions is that they’ve been through them in basic training. It’s like someone trying to sell you back your own previously owned car: There was a reason you got rid of the thing, and you really don’t want it back.

    - Among scientists, Singer and Seitz lost a long time ago. But they are (were) funded by think-tanks who have a message to sell, like the George C. Marshall Institute. The question of funding is irrelevant if you are sure that you can disentangle the facts from the factoids, the speculations from the well-accepted views, and if you’re confident that you will be able to detect “missing” aspects of the story. In other words, if you’re an expert, you don’t need to worry about who is behind it.

    Alternatively, if you’re very experienced and perceptive, and can identify logical jumps, missing logic, irrelevant citations, and generally false arguments, at least that could tip you off to a faker. But if someone is quite skillful at omitting inconvenient facts but doesn’t otherwise make detectable solecisms, he could be quite misleading without a non-expert being able to tell the difference. That’s why it’s helpful to acquire some degree of familiarity in the field, so you will have some expectation of what is normal: If in subject A, topics a1, a2, a3 are normally discussed; but then someone presents a view on subject A and hammers topic a1 and a3, but doesn’t say anything about a2, that could lead you to wonder why. If you explore that, you could find out that he’s leaving out an aspect of the story that would change your entire view.

    - Losing out in the end: The Tobacco Institute knew they were going to lose out in the end: They knew the facts, they knew the statistics, they were not dummies. What they wanted was that people should keep smoking cigarettes as long as possible so that the tobacco industry could garner the profits. So they kept the game going (“Did you know that there’s a statistical correlation between the number of telephone poles and lung cancer? That shows you that you just can’t trust statistics! Be serious, how can a little smoke hurt you?”) as long as they could. It wasn’t until their internal papers were leaked, putting on display the way they planned to mislead people to delay a societal move against smoking, that it became obvious to the public what the game was.

    - As to beliefs on other subjects: I don’t care what someone says about baseball, general religious issues, racism or free markets, unless their views on these topics color their perceptions on the scientific issues. However, I think that certain viewpoints, however admissible in their own right, are rather incompatible with a scientific perspective. In my opinion, “intelligent design” is an intellectually dishonest way of talking about creationism: If you think a God created everything, then let’s start with that assumption, and see how it square with the scientific review of the evidence; ID seems to be just a negative critique of evolution, pointing to creationism without saying it.

    So somebody who adopts that approach can be a very fine person morally, but I would not trust that individual’s scientific judgment. That suggests too much compartmentalization to me.

  • Neal J. King

    #80, #81, #83, wmanny:

    - First, I would point out that the IPCC are careful to state the uncertainties as they understand them. These include both conceptual issues (such as how the role of clouds will play out) and quantitative uncertainties.

    - With regard to AGW theory being the first shot: This entire area of study has been under way for over 100 years. It has already had lots of ups and downs, with big turn-arounds in concept. Indeed, the theory was NOT set up to explain an increase in temperature: That increase was predicted. As I said already in #79, most of the “skeptical alternatives” have just been dragged off the recycling heap: The reason most climatologists are so dismissive of these notions is that they’ve been through them in basic training. It’s like someone trying to sell you back your own previously owned car: There was a reason you got rid of the thing, and you really don’t want it back.

    - Among scientists, Singer and Seitz lost a long time ago. But they are (were) funded by think-tanks who have a message to sell, like the George C. Marshall Institute. The question of funding is irrelevant if you are sure that you can disentangle the facts from the factoids, the speculations from the well-accepted views, and if you’re confident that you will be able to detect “missing” aspects of the story. In other words, if you’re an expert, you don’t need to worry about who is behind it.

    Alternatively, if you’re very experienced and perceptive, and can identify logical jumps, missing logic, irrelevant citations, and generally false arguments, at least that could tip you off to a faker. But if someone is quite skillful at omitting inconvenient facts but doesn’t otherwise make detectable solecisms, he could be quite misleading without a non-expert being able to tell the difference. That’s why it’s helpful to acquire some degree of familiarity in the field, so you will have some expectation of what is normal: If in subject A, topics a1, a2, a3 are normally discussed; but then someone presents a view on subject A and hammers topic a1 and a3, but doesn’t say anything about a2, that could lead you to wonder why. If you explore that, you could find out that he’s leaving out an aspect of the story that would change your entire view.

    - Losing out in the end: The Tobacco Institute knew they were going to lose out in the end: They knew the facts, they knew the statistics, they were not dummies. What they wanted was that people should keep smoking cigarettes as long as possible so that the tobacco industry could garner the profits. So they kept the game going (“Did you know that there’s a statistical correlation between the number of telephone poles and lung cancer? That shows you that you just can’t trust statistics! Be serious, how can a little smoke hurt you?”) as long as they could. It wasn’t until their internal papers were leaked, putting on display the way they planned to mislead people to delay a societal move against smoking, that it became obvious to the public what the game was.

    - As to beliefs on other subjects: I don’t care what someone says about baseball, general religious issues, racism or free markets, unless their views on these topics color their perceptions on the scientific issues. However, I think that certain viewpoints, however admissible in their own right, are rather incompatible with a scientific perspective. In my opinion, “intelligent design” is an intellectually dishonest way of talking about creationism: If you think a God created everything, then let’s start with that assumption, and see how it square with the scientific review of the evidence; ID seems to be just a negative critique of evolution, pointing to creationism without saying it.

    So somebody who adopts that approach can be a very fine person morally, but I would not trust that individual’s scientific judgment. That suggests too much compartmentalization to me.

  • Neal J. King

    #82, David Stockwell:

    - They are not recycling the hockey stick, they are using it. I have read the Wegman report that was commissioned by Inhofe at the Senate’s Energy & Environment committee and the report by the National Research Council: their were some mistakes with the methodology when a young graduate student named Mann applied the PCA technique for the first time in this field, but they have been fixed. The main message is still valid: The change in temperature over the last 150 years has been large and historically remarkable in its speed. When this is combined with the failure of understanding how the known non-human-caused mechanisms could give rise to this; and the expectation, from atmospheric physics, of a CO2 effect; this builds a strong case that human factors are indeed responsible for this warming.

    - “Exaggerated certainty of regional forecasts”: As far as I’m aware, the IPCC only projects climate changes, so they don’t get into time-resolution much less than a decade or so. What are you referring to?

  • Neal J. King

    #82, David Stockwell:

    - They are not recycling the hockey stick, they are using it. I have read the Wegman report that was commissioned by Inhofe at the Senate’s Energy & Environment committee and the report by the National Research Council: their were some mistakes with the methodology when a young graduate student named Mann applied the PCA technique for the first time in this field, but they have been fixed. The main message is still valid: The change in temperature over the last 150 years has been large and historically remarkable in its speed. When this is combined with the failure of understanding how the known non-human-caused mechanisms could give rise to this; and the expectation, from atmospheric physics, of a CO2 effect; this builds a strong case that human factors are indeed responsible for this warming.

    - “Exaggerated certainty of regional forecasts”: As far as I’m aware, the IPCC only projects climate changes, so they don’t get into time-resolution much less than a decade or so. What are you referring to?

  • Anonymous

    I going away for a few days. Take care.

  • http://landshape.org/enm davids

    I going away for a few days. Take care.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re # 84 Neal King

    Your views are from the reverse. The mature scientific community regards the AGW people as outside the circle of proper science, whereas you regard skeptice as being there. Ah well, each to his own.

    But you should try to be factually correct. A few posts ago you doubted that the IPCC had accepted late publications before release of its 2008 reports. Try reading the summary of Jason W. Solinsky at post 13 of
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3393#comments

    “Here is my reconstruction of these unfortunate events. Please correct me if I am wrong:

    “1. W&A wanted to write in AR4 that M&M 2003 had been discredited.

    “2. To do this they used invalid statistical methods (dissected by Steve above) which they knew perfectly well could not withstand due diligence.

    “3. They withheld the supplementary information that would have allowed Steve (or anybody else) to prove that their methods were invalid until after AR4 was published.

    “4. They submitted these results to a journal AFTER the cut off for submitting papers to the IPCC for AR4 (thus minimizing the opportunity for somebody to correct them before AR4 went to press).

    “5. They falsified the acceptance date of the paper in a crude attempt to permit its use in AR4.

    “6. They proceeded to write the following in AR4:

    “McIntyre and McKitrick (2003) reported that they were
    unable to replicate the results of Mann et al. (1998). Wahl
    and Ammann (2007) showed that this was a consequence of
    differences in the way McIntyre and McKitrick (2003) had
    implemented the method of Mann et al. (1998) and that the
    original reconstruction could be closely duplicated using the
    original proxy data. “

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re # 84 Neal King

    Your views are from the reverse. The mature scientific community regards the AGW people as outside the circle of proper science, whereas you regard skeptice as being there. Ah well, each to his own.

    But you should try to be factually correct. A few posts ago you doubted that the IPCC had accepted late publications before release of its 2008 reports. Try reading the summary of Jason W. Solinsky at post 13 of
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3393#comments

    “Here is my reconstruction of these unfortunate events. Please correct me if I am wrong:

    “1. W&A wanted to write in AR4 that M&M 2003 had been discredited.

    “2. To do this they used invalid statistical methods (dissected by Steve above) which they knew perfectly well could not withstand due diligence.

    “3. They withheld the supplementary information that would have allowed Steve (or anybody else) to prove that their methods were invalid until after AR4 was published.

    “4. They submitted these results to a journal AFTER the cut off for submitting papers to the IPCC for AR4 (thus minimizing the opportunity for somebody to correct them before AR4 went to press).

    “5. They falsified the acceptance date of the paper in a crude attempt to permit its use in AR4.

    “6. They proceeded to write the following in AR4:

    “McIntyre and McKitrick (2003) reported that they were
    unable to replicate the results of Mann et al. (1998). Wahl
    and Ammann (2007) showed that this was a consequence of
    differences in the way McIntyre and McKitrick (2003) had
    implemented the method of Mann et al. (1998) and that the
    original reconstruction could be closely duplicated using the
    original proxy data. “

  • James

    Neal,

    I have enjoyed reading your posts here and elsewhere, as you are admirably fact-focused and have a knack for explaining complex things clearly.

    Having said that, I find the following statement to be nothing less than shocking:
    their (sic) were some mistakes with the methodology when a young graduate student named Mann applied the PCA technique for the first time in this field, but they have been fixed.

    Currently, I believe the opposite. I would argue that McIntyre and others have made an absolutely bulletproof case that MBH is complete nonsense.

    Can you explain why you find Mann’s work compelling and/or cite the studies that you think buttress Mann’s Hockey Stick?

    James

  • James

    Neal,

    I have enjoyed reading your posts here and elsewhere, as you are admirably fact-focused and have a knack for explaining complex things clearly.

    Having said that, I find the following statement to be nothing less than shocking:
    their (sic) were some mistakes with the methodology when a young graduate student named Mann applied the PCA technique for the first time in this field, but they have been fixed.

    Currently, I believe the opposite. I would argue that McIntyre and others have made an absolutely bulletproof case that MBH is complete nonsense.

    Can you explain why you find Mann’s work compelling and/or cite the studies that you think buttress Mann’s Hockey Stick?

    James

  • Neal J. King

    #87, Geoff Sherington:

    - Funny how it’s the AGW people who actually participate in writing textbooks and training the next generation, whilst the anti-AGWers who get paid by such educational institutions as CEI, AEI, the George C. Marshall Institute, etc., producing books of already-refuted arguments and tons of newspaper articles.

    - I looked at the piece of which Solinsky’s post is a part. I’m sorry, too much “inside baseball” for me.

  • Neal J. King

    #87, Geoff Sherington:

    - Funny how it’s the AGW people who actually participate in writing textbooks and training the next generation, whilst the anti-AGWers who get paid by such educational institutions as CEI, AEI, the George C. Marshall Institute, etc., producing books of already-refuted arguments and tons of newspaper articles.

    - I looked at the piece of which Solinsky’s post is a part. I’m sorry, too much “inside baseball” for me.

  • Neal J. King

    #88, James:

    A couple of years ago, there was a presentation of Wegman’s report to the House’s Energy & Commerce committee, commissioned by the former chair, Barton. Wegman presented his case against Mann’s work, and then there was other testimony by other expert witnesses. I read his report, and I think I also read or viewed some of the other testimony.

    Wegman made the case that Mann’s use of the PCA technique was incorrect – which no one disagrees with. Mann pointed out in his own defense that even with the corrections, the new results were within the error bars of his original paper. I think the most significant change was that Mann’s original claim that the last few decades were the hottest in 1000 years was cut back to the last 400 years.

    The rest of Wegman’s report was mostly dedicated to criticizing the idea that scientists who reviewed each other’s work might also work together. He had this ideal in mind, of a scientific field consisting of disjoint sets of scientists, where each group keeps to itself but has it’s papers reviewed by the people from another group. Completely unrealistic: How many frigging specialists in an subject matter do you think you can support? Then you’d have to double that number? Plus, he’s completely losing sight of the intense competition among scientists in the same field for funding: If they can find a mistake, they’ll trumpet it – just as posters and counter-posters do at a blog.

    The other report I saw was by the National Research Council. Here’s a summary of their press release: “There is sufficient evidence from tree rings, boreholes, retreating glaciers, and other “proxies” of past surface temperatures to say with a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years, according to a new report from the National Research Council. Less confidence can be placed in proxy-based reconstructions of surface temperatures for A.D. 900 to 1600, said the committee that wrote the report, although the available proxy evidence does indicate that many locations were warmer during the past 25 years than during any other 25-year period since 900.”

    You can find Wegman’s report here:
    http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/WegmanReport.pdf

    A write-up on the NRC report can be found here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5109188.stm

    A summary of it, and link to the full report:
    http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=11676

    Perhaps it would not be too unkind to say that Steve McIntyre’s claim to fame is his involvement with the fight over the hockey stick, so you will hear a lot about it at ClimateAudit. However, in the rest of the climate world, it is not such a big deal:
    - No one doubts that the Earth has been warming anymore. Fred Singer has switched from saying “It’s not happening” to “It happens every 1500 years”, without missing a beat.
    - In fact, I see a shifting of position from “It’s not due to humans” to “It’s not going to be a problem.” In a few more years, it will probably shift to “It’s too late to do anything about it.”
    - Worrying about other interpretations of the hockey stick is kind of like worrying about non-relativistic interpretations of the Michelson-Morley experiment: the main point of the experiment is established by several methods by now, so what’s the point of making a big fuss over one of several lines of argument?

  • Neal J. King

    #88, James:

    A couple of years ago, there was a presentation of Wegman’s report to the House’s Energy & Commerce committee, commissioned by the former chair, Barton. Wegman presented his case against Mann’s work, and then there was other testimony by other expert witnesses. I read his report, and I think I also read or viewed some of the other testimony.

    Wegman made the case that Mann’s use of the PCA technique was incorrect – which no one disagrees with. Mann pointed out in his own defense that even with the corrections, the new results were within the error bars of his original paper. I think the most significant change was that Mann’s original claim that the last few decades were the hottest in 1000 years was cut back to the last 400 years.

    The rest of Wegman’s report was mostly dedicated to criticizing the idea that scientists who reviewed each other’s work might also work together. He had this ideal in mind, of a scientific field consisting of disjoint sets of scientists, where each group keeps to itself but has it’s papers reviewed by the people from another group. Completely unrealistic: How many frigging specialists in an subject matter do you think you can support? Then you’d have to double that number? Plus, he’s completely losing sight of the intense competition among scientists in the same field for funding: If they can find a mistake, they’ll trumpet it – just as posters and counter-posters do at a blog.

    The other report I saw was by the National Research Council. Here’s a summary of their press release: “There is sufficient evidence from tree rings, boreholes, retreating glaciers, and other “proxies” of past surface temperatures to say with a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years, according to a new report from the National Research Council. Less confidence can be placed in proxy-based reconstructions of surface temperatures for A.D. 900 to 1600, said the committee that wrote the report, although the available proxy evidence does indicate that many locations were warmer during the past 25 years than during any other 25-year period since 900.”

    You can find Wegman’s report here:
    http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/WegmanReport.pdf

    A write-up on the NRC report can be found here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5109188.stm

    A summary of it, and link to the full report:
    http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=11676

    Perhaps it would not be too unkind to say that Steve McIntyre’s claim to fame is his involvement with the fight over the hockey stick, so you will hear a lot about it at ClimateAudit. However, in the rest of the climate world, it is not such a big deal:
    - No one doubts that the Earth has been warming anymore. Fred Singer has switched from saying “It’s not happening” to “It happens every 1500 years”, without missing a beat.
    - In fact, I see a shifting of position from “It’s not due to humans” to “It’s not going to be a problem.” In a few more years, it will probably shift to “It’s too late to do anything about it.”
    - Worrying about other interpretations of the hockey stick is kind of like worrying about non-relativistic interpretations of the Michelson-Morley experiment: the main point of the experiment is established by several methods by now, so what’s the point of making a big fuss over one of several lines of argument?

  • Neal J. King

    #88, James:

    - I read the Wegman report when it came out. You can find a link to it here:
    http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/WegmanReport.pdf

    There were methodological errors in Mann’s application of the PCA technique. The result is that the last few decades can only be assured of being the hottest in the last 400 years, instead of 1000. But this doesn’t change the issue of the rapid rate of increase, which is the real problem. And even Wegman admitted GW is clearly happening.

    - The NAS report can be found here:http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=11676 . They state: “There is sufficient evidence from tree rings, boreholes, retreating glaciers, and other “proxies” of past surface temperatures to say with a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years, according to a new report from the National Research Council. Less confidence can be placed in proxy-based reconstructions of surface temperatures for A.D. 900 to 1600, said the committee that wrote the report, although the available proxy evidence does indicate that many locations were warmer during the past 25 years than during any other 25-year period since 900.”

    - By now, there are multiple parallel lines of evidence leading to the conclusion of global warming. Trying to search for alternate explanations of the hockey stick is like looking for alternative non-relativistic explanations of the Michelson-Morley experiment: Why bother?

  • Neal J. King

    #88, James:

    - I read the Wegman report when it came out. You can find a link to it here:
    http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/WegmanReport.pdf

    There were methodological errors in Mann’s application of the PCA technique. The result is that the last few decades can only be assured of being the hottest in the last 400 years, instead of 1000. But this doesn’t change the issue of the rapid rate of increase, which is the real problem. And even Wegman admitted GW is clearly happening.

    - The NAS report can be found here:http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=11676 . They state: “There is sufficient evidence from tree rings, boreholes, retreating glaciers, and other “proxies” of past surface temperatures to say with a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years, according to a new report from the National Research Council. Less confidence can be placed in proxy-based reconstructions of surface temperatures for A.D. 900 to 1600, said the committee that wrote the report, although the available proxy evidence does indicate that many locations were warmer during the past 25 years than during any other 25-year period since 900.”

    - By now, there are multiple parallel lines of evidence leading to the conclusion of global warming. Trying to search for alternate explanations of the hockey stick is like looking for alternative non-relativistic explanations of the Michelson-Morley experiment: Why bother?

  • James

    Thanks for responding and providing your references. I humbly suggest that you’re demonstrating a bizarrely low threshold for proof for paleo studies, much much lower than I suspect you’d demand from a physics discussion.

    Regarding NAS, Gerry North, the panel chair, later confessed that they didn’t really look that closely at the details and basically just “winged it”. A sadly typical level of peer review for paleo studies in particular, and climate science in general.
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2290

    No sane person disputes that things are warmer now than during the last few hundred years. But that is completely uninteresting since we were/are emerging from abnormally low temperatures (the “Little Ice Age”). The crux is how recent temperatures compare to periods prior to that. If modern temperatures have recent precedents, that increases the possibility that some/most/all of recent warming is just Earth’s internal variability. Per NAS, Mann provides “less confidence” on this question, which is a charitable way of saying it’s nonsense. And per hundred’s of other studies (as well as incontrovertible human artifacts), contra Mann, the Medieval Warm Period is both real and warmer than current temperatures. As for bold assertions that the recent *rate* of change is unprecedented…based on what evidence?

    Also, it’s worth emphasizing that Mann’s paper suffers from many woes worse than errors in applying PCA. There are ample reasons to doubt that all the signals he’s using are, in fact, proxies for temperature. There is reason to suspect he cherry picked which series to use. His study is horribly brittle, i.e. removing one or two series dramatically changes the outcome. Etc, etc, etc. McIntyre has absolutely shredded this paper and published the working code he used to do it. Bland assurances from a NAS panel are not a sufficient defense, and I’m simply stunned that you seem so willing to accept their word for it.

    One test of a theory is whether it has predictive power. Mann’s doesn’t. His results depend critically on bristle cone pines and on the assertion that warm temperatures lead to wider rings. Some of the key bristle cone sites have been subjected to several out-of-sample tests (i.e. modern re-samples), first by Ababneh, then by McIntyre himself. Lo and behold, despite “unprecedented” recent warm temperatures, recent rings are small, not large. This is a beautiful illustration of the euphemistically named “divergence problem”, and suggest rather strongly these trees are less magical than Mann might have you believe.
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2208 (and many many others in this category
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?cat=15)

    Another touchstone is reproducibility. Alas, Mann and his brethren have done their best to prevent this by withholding their data, inadequately describing their methods, and brazenly mis-stating their results. For this latest tactic, see
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3393 and especially
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3393#comment-285971 which concisely summarizes the sordid multiyear campaign to insert bald faced lies into AR4. Personally, I believe this pattern of mischief further confirms that Mann’s result is nonsense. If it could stand on its own, they’d let it.

    Regarding the multiple parallel lines…this is circular. Mann’s data is supposed to *be* one of the independent lines. The existence of other lines does nothing to buttress Mann’s worthiness.

    Based on your many other lucid posts, I think I understand (and respect) where you are coming from. I would summarize your position as follows:
    1) our current model of radiative physics demands that increased CO2 leads to warming
    2) we increased CO2
    3) we see warming
    4) QED
    And given that starting point, you are pre-disposed to believe any and all other supposedly corroborating evidence.

    This is eminently reasonable But I would (presumptuously) recommend a few modifications to your stance:
    a) Stop referencing Mann and other Hockey Stick studies. They are garbage that you should not want to be associated with.
    b) Reconsider the possibility of negative feedbacks. As you well know, radiative physics only gets you 1.2 degrees C for the first doubling, so the real debate comes down to feedbacks. And there are some decidedly non-parallel lines such as 10+ year’s of flat temperatures (RSS/UAH), failure to observe upper ocean heat buildup (Argo), record Antarctic ice extent, etc.

  • James

    Thanks for responding and providing your references. I humbly suggest that you’re demonstrating a bizarrely low threshold for proof for paleo studies, much much lower than I suspect you’d demand from a physics discussion.

    Regarding NAS, Gerry North, the panel chair, later confessed that they didn’t really look that closely at the details and basically just “winged it”. A sadly typical level of peer review for paleo studies in particular, and climate science in general.
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2290

    No sane person disputes that things are warmer now than during the last few hundred years. But that is completely uninteresting since we were/are emerging from abnormally low temperatures (the “Little Ice Age”). The crux is how recent temperatures compare to periods prior to that. If modern temperatures have recent precedents, that increases the possibility that some/most/all of recent warming is just Earth’s internal variability. Per NAS, Mann provides “less confidence” on this question, which is a charitable way of saying it’s nonsense. And per hundred’s of other studies (as well as incontrovertible human artifacts), contra Mann, the Medieval Warm Period is both real and warmer than current temperatures. As for bold assertions that the recent *rate* of change is unprecedented…based on what evidence?

    Also, it’s worth emphasizing that Mann’s paper suffers from many woes worse than errors in applying PCA. There are ample reasons to doubt that all the signals he’s using are, in fact, proxies for temperature. There is reason to suspect he cherry picked which series to use. His study is horribly brittle, i.e. removing one or two series dramatically changes the outcome. Etc, etc, etc. McIntyre has absolutely shredded this paper and published the working code he used to do it. Bland assurances from a NAS panel are not a sufficient defense, and I’m simply stunned that you seem so willing to accept their word for it.

    One test of a theory is whether it has predictive power. Mann’s doesn’t. His results depend critically on bristle cone pines and on the assertion that warm temperatures lead to wider rings. Some of the key bristle cone sites have been subjected to several out-of-sample tests (i.e. modern re-samples), first by Ababneh, then by McIntyre himself. Lo and behold, despite “unprecedented” recent warm temperatures, recent rings are small, not large. This is a beautiful illustration of the euphemistically named “divergence problem”, and suggest rather strongly these trees are less magical than Mann might have you believe.
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2208 (and many many others in this category
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?cat=15)

    Another touchstone is reproducibility. Alas, Mann and his brethren have done their best to prevent this by withholding their data, inadequately describing their methods, and brazenly mis-stating their results. For this latest tactic, see
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3393 and especially
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3393#comment-285971 which concisely summarizes the sordid multiyear campaign to insert bald faced lies into AR4. Personally, I believe this pattern of mischief further confirms that Mann’s result is nonsense. If it could stand on its own, they’d let it.

    Regarding the multiple parallel lines…this is circular. Mann’s data is supposed to *be* one of the independent lines. The existence of other lines does nothing to buttress Mann’s worthiness.

    Based on your many other lucid posts, I think I understand (and respect) where you are coming from. I would summarize your position as follows:
    1) our current model of radiative physics demands that increased CO2 leads to warming
    2) we increased CO2
    3) we see warming
    4) QED
    And given that starting point, you are pre-disposed to believe any and all other supposedly corroborating evidence.

    This is eminently reasonable But I would (presumptuously) recommend a few modifications to your stance:
    a) Stop referencing Mann and other Hockey Stick studies. They are garbage that you should not want to be associated with.
    b) Reconsider the possibility of negative feedbacks. As you well know, radiative physics only gets you 1.2 degrees C for the first doubling, so the real debate comes down to feedbacks. And there are some decidedly non-parallel lines such as 10+ year’s of flat temperatures (RSS/UAH), failure to observe upper ocean heat buildup (Argo), record Antarctic ice extent, etc.

  • James

    Thanks for responding and providing your references. I humbly suggest that you’re demonstrating a bizarrely low threshold for proof for paleo studies, much much lower than I suspect you’d demand from a physics discussion.

    Regarding NAS, Gerry North, the panel chair, later confessed that they didn’t really look that closely at the details and basically just “winged it”. A sadly typical level of peer review for paleo studies in particular, and climate science in general.
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2290

    No sane person disputes that things are warmer now than during the last few hundred years. But that is completely uninteresting since we were/are emerging from abnormally low temperatures (the “Little Ice Age”). The crux is how recent temperatures compare to periods prior to that. If modern temperatures have recent precedents, that increases the possibility that some/most/all of recent warming is just Earth’s internal variability. Per NAS, Mann provides “less confidence” on this question, which is a charitable way of saying it’s nonsense. And per hundred’s of other studies (as well as incontrovertible human artifacts), contra Mann, the Medieval Warm Period is both real and warmer than current temperatures. As for bold assertions that the recent *rate* of change is unprecedented…based on what evidence?

    Also, it’s worth emphasizing that Mann’s paper suffers from many woes worse than errors in applying PCA. There are ample reasons to doubt that all the signals he’s using are, in fact, proxies for temperature. There is reason to suspect he cherry picked which series to use. His study is horribly brittle, i.e. removing one or two series dramatically changes the outcome. Etc, etc, etc. McIntyre has absolutely shredded this paper and published the working code he used to do it. Bland assurances from a NAS panel are not a sufficient defense, and I’m simply stunned that you seem so willing to accept their word for it.

    One test of a theory is whether it has predictive power. Mann’s doesn’t. His results depend critically on bristle cone pines and on the assertion that warm temperatures lead to wider rings. Some of the key bristle cone sites have been subjected to several out-of-sample tests (i.e. modern re-samples), first by Ababneh, then by McIntyre himself. Lo and behold, despite “unprecedented” recent warm temperatures, recent rings are small, not large. This is a beautiful illustration of the euphemistically named “divergence problem”, and suggest rather strongly these trees are less magical than Mann might have you believe.

    Another touchstone is reproducibility. Alas, Mann and his brethren have done their best to prevent this by withholding their data, inadequately describing their methods, and brazenly mis-stating their results. For this latest tactic, see http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3393#comment-285971 which concisely summarizes the sordid multiyear campaign to insert bald faced lies into AR4. Personally, I believe this pattern of mischief further confirms that Mann’s result is nonsense. If it could stand on its own, they’d let it.

    Regarding the multiple parallel lines…this is circular. Mann’s data is supposed to *be* one of the independent lines. The existence of other lines does nothing to buttress Mann’s worthiness.

    Based on your many other lucid posts, I think I understand (and respect) where you are coming from. I would summarize your position as follows:
    1) our current model of radiative physics demands that increased CO2 leads to warming
    2) we increased CO2
    3) we see warming
    4) QED
    And given that starting point, you are pre-disposed to believe any and all other supposedly corroborating evidence.

    This is eminently reasonable But I would (presumptuously) recommend a few modifications to your stance:
    a) Stop referencing Mann and other Hockey Stick studies. They are garbage that you should not want to be associated with.
    b) Reconsider the possibility of negative feedbacks. As you well know, radiative physics only gets you 1.2 degrees C for the first doubling, so the real debate comes down to feedbacks. And there are some decidedly non-parallel lines such as 10+ year’s of flat temperatures (RSS/UAH), failure to observe upper ocean heat buildup (Argo), record Antarctic ice extent, etc.

    (PS I apologize for relatively few references. My first draft of this included more supporting links, but I think it got snared in the spam filter, so I deleted most of them and am re-submitting. FWIW, I was mostly linking to CA articles documenting the various points I was making.)

  • James

    Thanks for responding and providing your references. I humbly suggest that you’re demonstrating a bizarrely low threshold for proof for paleo studies, much much lower than I suspect you’d demand from a physics discussion.

    Regarding NAS, Gerry North, the panel chair, later confessed that they didn’t really look that closely at the details and basically just “winged it”. A sadly typical level of peer review for paleo studies in particular, and climate science in general.
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2290

    No sane person disputes that things are warmer now than during the last few hundred years. But that is completely uninteresting since we were/are emerging from abnormally low temperatures (the “Little Ice Age”). The crux is how recent temperatures compare to periods prior to that. If modern temperatures have recent precedents, that increases the possibility that some/most/all of recent warming is just Earth’s internal variability. Per NAS, Mann provides “less confidence” on this question, which is a charitable way of saying it’s nonsense. And per hundred’s of other studies (as well as incontrovertible human artifacts), contra Mann, the Medieval Warm Period is both real and warmer than current temperatures. As for bold assertions that the recent *rate* of change is unprecedented…based on what evidence?

    Also, it’s worth emphasizing that Mann’s paper suffers from many woes worse than errors in applying PCA. There are ample reasons to doubt that all the signals he’s using are, in fact, proxies for temperature. There is reason to suspect he cherry picked which series to use. His study is horribly brittle, i.e. removing one or two series dramatically changes the outcome. Etc, etc, etc. McIntyre has absolutely shredded this paper and published the working code he used to do it. Bland assurances from a NAS panel are not a sufficient defense, and I’m simply stunned that you seem so willing to accept their word for it.

    One test of a theory is whether it has predictive power. Mann’s doesn’t. His results depend critically on bristle cone pines and on the assertion that warm temperatures lead to wider rings. Some of the key bristle cone sites have been subjected to several out-of-sample tests (i.e. modern re-samples), first by Ababneh, then by McIntyre himself. Lo and behold, despite “unprecedented” recent warm temperatures, recent rings are small, not large. This is a beautiful illustration of the euphemistically named “divergence problem”, and suggest rather strongly these trees are less magical than Mann might have you believe.

    Another touchstone is reproducibility. Alas, Mann and his brethren have done their best to prevent this by withholding their data, inadequately describing their methods, and brazenly mis-stating their results. For this latest tactic, see http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3393#comment-285971 which concisely summarizes the sordid multiyear campaign to insert bald faced lies into AR4. Personally, I believe this pattern of mischief further confirms that Mann’s result is nonsense. If it could stand on its own, they’d let it.

    Regarding the multiple parallel lines…this is circular. Mann’s data is supposed to *be* one of the independent lines. The existence of other lines does nothing to buttress Mann’s worthiness.

    Based on your many other lucid posts, I think I understand (and respect) where you are coming from. I would summarize your position as follows:
    1) our current model of radiative physics demands that increased CO2 leads to warming
    2) we increased CO2
    3) we see warming
    4) QED
    And given that starting point, you are pre-disposed to believe any and all other supposedly corroborating evidence.

    This is eminently reasonable But I would (presumptuously) recommend a few modifications to your stance:
    a) Stop referencing Mann and other Hockey Stick studies. They are garbage that you should not want to be associated with.
    b) Reconsider the possibility of negative feedbacks. As you well know, radiative physics only gets you 1.2 degrees C for the first doubling, so the real debate comes down to feedbacks. And there are some decidedly non-parallel lines such as 10+ year’s of flat temperatures (RSS/UAH), failure to observe upper ocean heat buildup (Argo), record Antarctic ice extent, etc.

    (PS I apologize for relatively few references. My first draft of this included more supporting links, but I think it got snared in the spam filter, so I deleted most of them and am re-submitting. FWIW, I was mostly linking to CA articles documenting the various points I was making.)

  • James

    Neal,

    Regarding this:
    I looked at the piece of which Solinsky’s post is a part. I’m sorry, too much “inside baseball” for me.

    Surely you’re joking.

    The IPCC is highly political, and the politics strongly affect the published reports. It’s nothing less than absurd to cite the report as if it were apolitical Truth and also not deign to read detailed, well-documented demonstrations of the sordid politics that shape the “truth” you cite.

    That CA post should be required reading for anyone who currently views the IPCC as a trustworthy source. Ammann, Wahl, and some complicit editors executed a carefully orchestrated campaign to embed *lies* in AR4. It is inconceivable this was an accident. And unlikely it’s an isolated incident.

    Continuing my (presumptuous) recommendations from my prior post, I now add this:
    c) Significantly increase your skepticism of the IPCC.

  • James

    Neal,

    Regarding this:
    I looked at the piece of which Solinsky’s post is a part. I’m sorry, too much “inside baseball” for me.

    Surely you’re joking.

    The IPCC is highly political, and the politics strongly affect the published reports. It’s nothing less than absurd to cite the report as if it were apolitical Truth and also not deign to read detailed, well-documented demonstrations of the sordid politics that shape the “truth” you cite.

    That CA post should be required reading for anyone who currently views the IPCC as a trustworthy source. Ammann, Wahl, and some complicit editors executed a carefully orchestrated campaign to embed *lies* in AR4. It is inconceivable this was an accident. And unlikely it’s an isolated incident.

    Continuing my (presumptuous) recommendations from my prior post, I now add this:
    c) Significantly increase your skepticism of the IPCC.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re # 89 Neal King

    You armwave again with “inside baseball” as your only comment to a thorough, many-page examination and commentary on what seems fairly positive proof that the IPCC not only received papers after its cutoff date, but also that there was conniving and even possibly acceptance of a rejected paper.

    I’m sorry, but arm waving and neat terms will not be adequate. I claimed late papers were received, you doubted it, I provided evidence of one, you refused to accept it.

    That, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with a lot of climate science. The traditional scientific method is the subject of sneer, despite its impressive performance in helping to bring science to its present state.

    You can’t really sneer at what Dr Wegman said about lack of use use of statisticians; or his recommendation to avoid strip-bark bristlecone pines for dendro (without which much of Mann’s work fails).

    A logical person might conclude that much of “climate science” does not deserve the second word in the term. You can arrive at this position from a neutral start, quite easily.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re # 89 Neal King

    You armwave again with “inside baseball” as your only comment to a thorough, many-page examination and commentary on what seems fairly positive proof that the IPCC not only received papers after its cutoff date, but also that there was conniving and even possibly acceptance of a rejected paper.

    I’m sorry, but arm waving and neat terms will not be adequate. I claimed late papers were received, you doubted it, I provided evidence of one, you refused to accept it.

    That, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with a lot of climate science. The traditional scientific method is the subject of sneer, despite its impressive performance in helping to bring science to its present state.

    You can’t really sneer at what Dr Wegman said about lack of use use of statisticians; or his recommendation to avoid strip-bark bristlecone pines for dendro (without which much of Mann’s work fails).

    A logical person might conclude that much of “climate science” does not deserve the second word in the term. You can arrive at this position from a neutral start, quite easily.

  • http://www.capitaloffice.com.au Will Nitschke

    The hockey stick studies have been torn to shreds over and over and over and over again. Even if the study(s) were credible, what could really be extrapolated from them?

    To quote a well known ‘auditor’:

    “U.S. trees, analysed according to Mannian methods, are supposedly capable of reconstructing ENSO, the Chinese monsoon, the East Asian monsoon, the PDO, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Indian Ocean Dipole – did I leave anything out?”

    Making this study the central plank of an IPPC report was not even justified in terms of logic, even if it could not be dismissed so easily as rubbish. (I suspect it was made a central plank of a particular IPPC report because after billions of dollars of climatology research (or at least some claim), no better proof could be found. This is how bad the situation actually is in terms of trying to dig up *any* kind of plausible evidence for AGW. ) I’ve read this very long email exchange between critics and defenders of AGW and could not walk away with one good link on a even a single solid technical paper to read in support of AGW. Instead I’ve read a lot of hand waving of how scientific theories do not need to be ‘proven’.

    Those who still defend this sort of nonsense have left the realm of rational discourse and are clinging to ideology.

    Evolutionary theory is controversial in some quarters, but 30 minutes of research leads me to hundreds of books and journal articles that will walk me through the scientific basis of its ideas. Try to do the same with AGW and all one finds is dead-ends, distortions, and appeals to authority.

  • http://www.capitaloffice.com.au Will Nitschke

    The hockey stick studies have been torn to shreds over and over and over and over again. Even if the study(s) were credible, what could really be extrapolated from them?

    To quote a well known ‘auditor’:

    “U.S. trees, analysed according to Mannian methods, are supposedly capable of reconstructing ENSO, the Chinese monsoon, the East Asian monsoon, the PDO, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Indian Ocean Dipole – did I leave anything out?”

    Making this study the central plank of an IPPC report was not even justified in terms of logic, even if it could not be dismissed so easily as rubbish. (I suspect it was made a central plank of a particular IPPC report because after billions of dollars of climatology research (or at least some claim), no better proof could be found. This is how bad the situation actually is in terms of trying to dig up *any* kind of plausible evidence for AGW. ) I’ve read this very long email exchange between critics and defenders of AGW and could not walk away with one good link on a even a single solid technical paper to read in support of AGW. Instead I’ve read a lot of hand waving of how scientific theories do not need to be ‘proven’.

    Those who still defend this sort of nonsense have left the realm of rational discourse and are clinging to ideology.

    Evolutionary theory is controversial in some quarters, but 30 minutes of research leads me to hundreds of books and journal articles that will walk me through the scientific basis of its ideas. Try to do the same with AGW and all one finds is dead-ends, distortions, and appeals to authority.

  • wmanny

    #84
    Neal, to the history of AGW theory, I was not clear and wasted some of your time. I should have specified the theory-becomes-modeling age, around about the 70’s, correct? – when global temperatures were shifting back upwards, Rasool misapplied Hansen’s computer program to infer continued and even dramatic cooling, and uncertainty ruled the roost, to the extent there even was a roost such as there is today (IPCC).

    Would it be fair to suggest, then, that the theory was advanced (not initiated) both to explain previous warming (50s and 60s aside) and to predict future warming? To be clear, I am not questioning Hansen’s et al. sincerity, here at any rate, but rather their mistaken belief, if it was or is mistaken, that warming is a big problem. If one believed at the time that the climate was too chaotic to predict, especially in light of natural forcings, would there have been much incentive to research those forcings? Here is where you might be able to help me. You refer to a slagheap of skeptical alternatives easily and repeatedly dismissed. Do you foresee any real and respectable natural forcing research (from your point of view), or is there much being conducted at the moment, now that many skeptics are genuinely concerned that there are big policy mistakes looming?

    Otherwise stated, are the skeptics absolutely full of it, or only mostly so? Are objections to or questions about, in no particular order below, all or only mostly groundless:

    Proxy sources
    Politicization
    Water vapor/cloud formation/albedo
    Proxy merges
    Ocean venting
    Sunspots
    Missing greenhouse fingerprint
    Proxy splices
    “Best available theory”
    Dust
    Ocean circulation variation
    CO2/temperature lag
    Scientific consensus vs. scientific method
    Models vs. Proof
    CO2 doubling – temperature ratio
    Precautionary principle application
    Volcanoes
    Hockey Stick reliability
    Solar radiation
    Current flat/decreasing temperatures
    Modeling turbulent systems

    I know, for example, that you have been frustrated by not being able to work out the doubling ratio (unless I am out of date). Arrhenius started out with a CO2 doubling to about 5.5 C˚, correct? Over time, we have arrived at a doubling to 3.7 Watts/m^2? Is there much riding on that? How long have we been relying on that number, and has it worked well? Is it not incumbent on both “sides” to nail that one down?

  • wmanny

    #84
    Neal, to the history of AGW theory, I was not clear and wasted some of your time. I should have specified the theory-becomes-modeling age, around about the 70’s, correct? – when global temperatures were shifting back upwards, Rasool misapplied HansenÂ’s computer program to infer continued and even dramatic cooling, and uncertainty ruled the roost, to the extent there even was a roost such as there is today (IPCC).

    Would it be fair to suggest, then, that the theory was advanced (not initiated) both to explain previous warming (50s and 60s aside) and to predict future warming? To be clear, I am not questioning Hansen’s et al. sincerity, here at any rate, but rather their mistaken belief, if it was or is mistaken, that warming is a big problem. If one believed at the time that the climate was too chaotic to predict, especially in light of natural forcings, would there have been much incentive to research those forcings? Here is where you might be able to help me. You refer to a slagheap of skeptical alternatives easily and repeatedly dismissed. Do you foresee any real and respectable natural forcing research (from your point of view), or is there much being conducted at the moment, now that many skeptics are genuinely concerned that there are big policy mistakes looming?

    Otherwise stated, are the skeptics absolutely full of it, or only mostly so? Are objections to or questions about, in no particular order below, all or only mostly groundless:

    Proxy sources
    Politicization
    Water vapor/cloud formation/albedo
    Proxy merges
    Ocean venting
    Sunspots
    Missing greenhouse fingerprint
    Proxy splices
    “Best available theory”
    Dust
    Ocean circulation variation
    CO2/temperature lag
    Scientific consensus vs. scientific method
    Models vs. Proof
    CO2 doubling – temperature ratio
    Precautionary principle application
    Volcanoes
    Hockey Stick reliability
    Solar radiation
    Current flat/decreasing temperatures
    Modeling turbulent systems

    I know, for example, that you have been frustrated by not being able to work out the doubling ratio (unless I am out of date). Arrhenius started out with a CO2 doubling to about 5.5 C˚, correct? Over time, we have arrived at a doubling to 3.7 Watts/m^2? Is there much riding on that? How long have we been relying on that number, and has it worked well? Is it not incumbent on both “sides” to nail that one down?

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re #90 Neal J King.
    It is interesting that you write -

    “Worrying about other interpretations of the hockey stick is kind of like worrying about non-relativistic interpretations of the Michelson-Morley experiment: the main point of the experiment is established by several methods by now, so what’s the point of making a big fuss over one of several lines of argument? Worrying about other interpretations of the hockey stick is kind of like worrying about non-relativistic interpretations of the Michelson-Morley experiment: the main point of the experiment is established by several methods by now, so what’s the point of making a big fuss over one of several lines of argument?”

    Michelson-Morley were wrong. However, they did start a train of investigations that found the error and that supported relativity theory. As technology has developed we have developed devices and experiments to add support to these later findings.

    With Global Warming, we have a hockey stick that Blind Freddie can criticize as wrong. We have authors who refuse to accept the criticism. We have authors refusing to release raw data. This means that the opportunity (like Einstein had with M-M) to devise an explanation is more limited. Reverse engineering of experimental data is not as satisfactory as disclosure.

    Now, we have more and more climate measurements that do not agree with the hockey stick projection for temperature. (Today in Melbourne is the coldest Aug 10th since records began 150 years ago – not proof, but an anomaly).

    The point to making a big fuss over the hockey stick is that this one single line of argument is wrong. It is no longer a contender among scientists who can read elementary data. The big fuss is to have it removed.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re #90 Neal J King.
    It is interesting that you write -

    “Worrying about other interpretations of the hockey stick is kind of like worrying about non-relativistic interpretations of the Michelson-Morley experiment: the main point of the experiment is established by several methods by now, so what’s the point of making a big fuss over one of several lines of argument? Worrying about other interpretations of the hockey stick is kind of like worrying about non-relativistic interpretations of the Michelson-Morley experiment: the main point of the experiment is established by several methods by now, so what’s the point of making a big fuss over one of several lines of argument?”

    Michelson-Morley were wrong. However, they did start a train of investigations that found the error and that supported relativity theory. As technology has developed we have developed devices and experiments to add support to these later findings.

    With Global Warming, we have a hockey stick that Blind Freddie can criticize as wrong. We have authors who refuse to accept the criticism. We have authors refusing to release raw data. This means that the opportunity (like Einstein had with M-M) to devise an explanation is more limited. Reverse engineering of experimental data is not as satisfactory as disclosure.

    Now, we have more and more climate measurements that do not agree with the hockey stick projection for temperature. (Today in Melbourne is the coldest Aug 10th since records began 150 years ago – not proof, but an anomaly).

    The point to making a big fuss over the hockey stick is that this one single line of argument is wrong. It is no longer a contender among scientists who can read elementary data. The big fuss is to have it removed.

  • Neal J. King

    #92, James:

    a) Climate science, as I’ve already discussed above, is very complex, and is particularly complex compared with a field like physics, where there are nice clear black&white mathematical principles, which, however abstract and bizarre, are nonetheless quite definite; and where experiments can be redone again and again. Yes, it’s true that I am not as demanding of the climate scientists as I would be of physicists working in most fields: nobody could meet this standard. There is too much noise compared to the signal.

    b) Based on my reading of your link concerning North’s comments, I don’t read it as their “winging” it. They are not trying to re-do the work that they are reviewing, they are trying to get a sense of whether the people doing the work know what they’re doing. In the case of Mann and his colleagues (both immediate and distant), these guys are the world experts in the questions at hand: The job of the panel cannot be to quickly get up to equivalent speed independently, because (especially in a data-rich field such as I described above) this would take years. Their job is to apply the relevant knowledge and experience they have, and the scientific judgment and “good taste” that they have developed over the years, to evaluate different points of view and decide whether someone is really making sense, or which side seems to have a better understanding.

    I had a friend who had an analogous job for the National Science Foundation for some time: He was supposed to evaluate grant proposals in some area of physics and make recommendations as to which should be funded. Very very difficult: How do you prevent yourself from being swayed by what may be writing style rather than real scientific content? How do you counter your bias towards topics that you understand better? How do you work around the fact that you may know some of the people quite well, and like (or dislike) them personally?

    It is unavoidable that the members of the committee are actually trying to evaluate the people, rather than directly evaluating the work, because they can’t evaluate the work without re-doing it. If someone has a habit of doing sloppy work, that will affect his professional reputation – and they’ll have heard about that.

    When I was in grad school, talking about things in the student lounge, I rapidly came to an opinion of which among the other students was really worth paying attention to, and which were a waste of time to discuss things with. In following up what’s happened since, that has been borne out pretty well: the clowns have disappeared, and the people I thought well of have done mostly OK (and one even went on to get a Nobel Prize).

    c) With regards to the specifics of Mann’s work, a lot can be said. I want to get back to this a bit later, so I’ll defer my thoughts right now.

    d) Parallel lines: The issue is not that the existence of different lines strengthens any one of the others, it is that the when multiple lines of evidence lead to the same conclusion, that conclusion seems more likely. The conclusion? That the warming we’ve been having in the last 150 years is highly unusual and related to emissions of CO2.

    e) Little Ice Age: I do not accept the idea that there is a “normal” state of the Earth or a “normal” temperature of the Earth. So it does not make sense to me to talk about the Earth “emerging from abnormally low temperatures”. If there is a change, there is a physical cause for that change. People have been exploring all sorts of explanations for the behavior of the last 150 years. When they take into account everything “natural” they can, they still end up needing to explain some warming – by an amount that is quite consistent with what would be expected from the impact of the CO2 that has clearly been added (35% over the last 150 years).

    f) Other points:
    - Feedbacks are always being evaluated. As Gavin Schmidt pointed out in one of his posting, not all of the ones pointed out by climate scientists are positive, some are negative.
    - The uncertainties in the data have to be considered as well as the trend and duration. 10 years is not much time to evaluate a trend from a climate perspective.
    - I think the Argo measurement has only been in operation since 2003: not much time. However, I recall studies of temperature profiles in various oceans, again consistent with a warming over time.
    - Antarctic ice has been expected to increase due to increased precipitation, unlike Arctic ice. I believe part of the difference is that the Antarctic ice is based on land; whereas the Arctic ice is based on ocean, which is going to bring more heat flux.
    -

  • Neal J. King

    #92, James:

    a) Climate science, as I’ve already discussed above, is very complex, and is particularly complex compared with a field like physics, where there are nice clear black&white mathematical principles, which, however abstract and bizarre, are nonetheless quite definite; and where experiments can be redone again and again. Yes, it’s true that I am not as demanding of the climate scientists as I would be of physicists working in most fields: nobody could meet this standard. There is too much noise compared to the signal.

    b) Based on my reading of your link concerning North’s comments, I don’t read it as their “winging” it. They are not trying to re-do the work that they are reviewing, they are trying to get a sense of whether the people doing the work know what they’re doing. In the case of Mann and his colleagues (both immediate and distant), these guys are the world experts in the questions at hand: The job of the panel cannot be to quickly get up to equivalent speed independently, because (especially in a data-rich field such as I described above) this would take years. Their job is to apply the relevant knowledge and experience they have, and the scientific judgment and “good taste” that they have developed over the years, to evaluate different points of view and decide whether someone is really making sense, or which side seems to have a better understanding.

    I had a friend who had an analogous job for the National Science Foundation for some time: He was supposed to evaluate grant proposals in some area of physics and make recommendations as to which should be funded. Very very difficult: How do you prevent yourself from being swayed by what may be writing style rather than real scientific content? How do you counter your bias towards topics that you understand better? How do you work around the fact that you may know some of the people quite well, and like (or dislike) them personally?

    It is unavoidable that the members of the committee are actually trying to evaluate the people, rather than directly evaluating the work, because they can’t evaluate the work without re-doing it. If someone has a habit of doing sloppy work, that will affect his professional reputation – and they’ll have heard about that.

    When I was in grad school, talking about things in the student lounge, I rapidly came to an opinion of which among the other students was really worth paying attention to, and which were a waste of time to discuss things with. In following up what’s happened since, that has been borne out pretty well: the clowns have disappeared, and the people I thought well of have done mostly OK (and one even went on to get a Nobel Prize).

    c) With regards to the specifics of Mann’s work, a lot can be said. I want to get back to this a bit later, so I’ll defer my thoughts right now.

    d) Parallel lines: The issue is not that the existence of different lines strengthens any one of the others, it is that the when multiple lines of evidence lead to the same conclusion, that conclusion seems more likely. The conclusion? That the warming we’ve been having in the last 150 years is highly unusual and related to emissions of CO2.

    e) Little Ice Age: I do not accept the idea that there is a “normal” state of the Earth or a “normal” temperature of the Earth. So it does not make sense to me to talk about the Earth “emerging from abnormally low temperatures”. If there is a change, there is a physical cause for that change. People have been exploring all sorts of explanations for the behavior of the last 150 years. When they take into account everything “natural” they can, they still end up needing to explain some warming – by an amount that is quite consistent with what would be expected from the impact of the CO2 that has clearly been added (35% over the last 150 years).

    f) Other points:
    - Feedbacks are always being evaluated. As Gavin Schmidt pointed out in one of his posting, not all of the ones pointed out by climate scientists are positive, some are negative.
    - The uncertainties in the data have to be considered as well as the trend and duration. 10 years is not much time to evaluate a trend from a climate perspective.
    - I think the Argo measurement has only been in operation since 2003: not much time. However, I recall studies of temperature profiles in various oceans, again consistent with a warming over time.
    - Antarctic ice has been expected to increase due to increased precipitation, unlike Arctic ice. I believe part of the difference is that the Antarctic ice is based on land; whereas the Arctic ice is based on ocean, which is going to bring more heat flux.
    -

  • Neal J. King

    #92, James:

    (Sorry, previous post was directed towards #91)

    What I meant by “inside baseball” was that there were so many unexplained acronyms and drawing implications by innuendo that I had a hard time figuring out what anyone meant. (I noticed quite a few posters were also asking, “What do you mean by X?”. So I wasn’t the only one.) Trying to understand what people were insinuating was like trying to get into someone else’s private nightmare. No, thank you.

    In general, the relationship between ClimateAudit types and what I would consider the scientific establishment is pathological, with blame accruing to both sides. For somebody just dropping in for an exchange of views on the science, it’s like visiting Tug Fork for a vacation and walking into a confrontation between the Hatfields and the McCoys.

    In such circumstances, people often do not live up to their own standards. Science is done by human beings.

    But there is a difference between trying to “stick the knife” in your enemies and faking temperature readings. Neither is ethical, but in the second case, you soil your own bed. I don’t think they do that: They have to use that data later.

  • Neal J. King

    #92, James:

    (Sorry, previous post was directed towards #91)

    What I meant by “inside baseball” was that there were so many unexplained acronyms and drawing implications by innuendo that I had a hard time figuring out what anyone meant. (I noticed quite a few posters were also asking, “What do you mean by X?”. So I wasn’t the only one.) Trying to understand what people were insinuating was like trying to get into someone else’s private nightmare. No, thank you.

    In general, the relationship between ClimateAudit types and what I would consider the scientific establishment is pathological, with blame accruing to both sides. For somebody just dropping in for an exchange of views on the science, it’s like visiting Tug Fork for a vacation and walking into a confrontation between the Hatfields and the McCoys.

    In such circumstances, people often do not live up to their own standards. Science is done by human beings.

    But there is a difference between trying to “stick the knife” in your enemies and faking temperature readings. Neither is ethical, but in the second case, you soil your own bed. I don’t think they do that: They have to use that data later.

  • Neal J. King

    #93, Geoff Sherrington:

    What I meant by “inside baseball” is explained in #100.

    Wegman’s advice to use statisticians is reasonable. His advice that peer-reviewers should not know the people whose work they are reviewing is a bit off-the-planet.

    And his advice that “all data be made available for review”: A month after the report came out, a Stanford physics prof discovered a problem with Wegman’s own report – in the statistical analysis no less! He asked Wegman for the raw data. Did he get it? Um, no.

  • Neal J. King

    #93, Geoff Sherrington:

    What I meant by “inside baseball” is explained in #100.

    Wegman’s advice to use statisticians is reasonable. His advice that peer-reviewers should not know the people whose work they are reviewing is a bit off-the-planet.

    And his advice that “all data be made available for review”: A month after the report came out, a Stanford physics prof discovered a problem with Wegman’s own report – in the statistical analysis no less! He asked Wegman for the raw data. Did he get it? Um, no.

  • Neal J. King

    #94, Will Niteschke:

    I will address the hockey-stick strengths and weaknesses later.

    For the justification of the whole AGW picture, I recommend the American Institute of Physics site, at http://www.aip.org/history/climate/ .

    This site goes through the history of the scientific study of this topic.

    Another useful site is: http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    It addresses the “top 50″ arguments used against AGW, with explanation and references.

  • Neal J. King

    #94, Will Niteschke:

    I will address the hockey-stick strengths and weaknesses later.

    For the justification of the whole AGW picture, I recommend the American Institute of Physics site, at http://www.aip.org/history/climate/ .

    This site goes through the history of the scientific study of this topic.

    Another useful site is: http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    It addresses the “top 50″ arguments used against AGW, with explanation and references.

  • Neal J. King

    #95, wmanny:

    - From what I read, Rasool & Schneider pointed out the possibility of cooling due to aerosols, but did not think it was really likely.

    - I don’t see that the chaotic nature of weather was ever considered a barrier to projection of climate trends. You have to average weather predictions to get climate projections, so the chaotic aspect just means it’s more work, not that it’s impossible.

    - “Natural forcing research”: Everybody is interested in every aspect that can pin down another source of variability. I don’t think it has anything to do with the skeptics: Scientists are competitive by nature and by need, so they will always be looking out for something that admits of an explanation.

    - Your list of topics: I recommend looking at:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php
    I think that will reduce the number of your issues. After that, we could discuss what’s left – but one at a time!.

    - Actually, I’ve never heard anyone on either side express serious doubt on the 3.7 Watts/m^2. I would like to see it done explicitly, to make sure my understanding of it is right; but it’s not unusual for such things to go missing in the published literature: Scientific articles often abbreviate calculations.

  • Neal J. King

    #95, wmanny:

    - From what I read, Rasool & Schneider pointed out the possibility of cooling due to aerosols, but did not think it was really likely.

    - I don’t see that the chaotic nature of weather was ever considered a barrier to projection of climate trends. You have to average weather predictions to get climate projections, so the chaotic aspect just means it’s more work, not that it’s impossible.

    - “Natural forcing research”: Everybody is interested in every aspect that can pin down another source of variability. I don’t think it has anything to do with the skeptics: Scientists are competitive by nature and by need, so they will always be looking out for something that admits of an explanation.

    - Your list of topics: I recommend looking at:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php
    I think that will reduce the number of your issues. After that, we could discuss what’s left – but one at a time!.

    - Actually, I’ve never heard anyone on either side express serious doubt on the 3.7 Watts/m^2. I would like to see it done explicitly, to make sure my understanding of it is right; but it’s not unusual for such things to go missing in the published literature: Scientific articles often abbreviate calculations.

  • wmanny

    #103

    1Thank you , Neal, and while it may be premature to cut to the chase, or my perception of that chase, what concerns, if any on anyone’s skeptics’ list, would you say merit the most serious consideration? Otherwise stated, what concerns, if any, would you most like to remove from the minds of reasonable [if misinformed] people like me? If there are none from your point of view, then we need not proceed, in which case it has been a pleasure.
    To back up a bit and reiterate, I am a lay reader – BSEE, high school calc. teacher, and no more than that – whose instincts cry out on AGW: “Not so fast.” I am trying to get at the basis of those instincts. It is difficult, of course, given I am not a climate scientist – I dutifully slog through IPCC chapters and policy suggestions and get what I can from those as well as occasional science journal articles. Equally difficult is to blog-slog. Reading RC and CA side-by-side, for example, is sort of like reading NYT and WSJ editorial pages to try to discern through the bleating who has the better take on particular issues. The invective flies alongside the scientific debate, and the ironies and hypocrisies abound (e.g. Wegman won’t give Ritson the data, Mann derides Wegman for behaving like Mann. Their various supporters say, “See how they are!”)

    [Incidentally, I had thought your complaint about the 3.7 was precisely that nobody seemed to challenge it, but I may be remembering that wrong.]

  • wmanny

    #103

    1Thank you , Neal, and while it may be premature to cut to the chase, or my perception of that chase, what concerns, if any on anyone’s skeptics’ list, would you say merit the most serious consideration? Otherwise stated, what concerns, if any, would you most like to remove from the minds of reasonable [if misinformed] people like me? If there are none from your point of view, then we need not proceed, in which case it has been a pleasure.
    To back up a bit and reiterate, I am a lay reader – BSEE, high school calc. teacher, and no more than that – whose instincts cry out on AGW: “Not so fast.” I am trying to get at the basis of those instincts. It is difficult, of course, given I am not a climate scientist – I dutifully slog through IPCC chapters and policy suggestions and get what I can from those as well as occasional science journal articles. Equally difficult is to blog-slog. Reading RC and CA side-by-side, for example, is sort of like reading NYT and WSJ editorial pages to try to discern through the bleating who has the better take on particular issues. The invective flies alongside the scientific debate, and the ironies and hypocrisies abound (e.g. Wegman won’t give Ritson the data, Mann derides Wegman for behaving like Mann. Their various supporters say, “See how they are!”)

    [Incidentally, I had thought your complaint about the 3.7 was precisely that nobody seemed to challenge it, but I may be remembering that wrong.]

  • Neal J. King

    #98, Geoff Sherrington:

    - Michelson-Morley experiment:
    No, the MM experiment was not wrong: They were unable to detect the motion of the Earth through the ether, a failure that ran counter to pre-relativistic physics. My point is that many theorists who were not convinced as to Einstein’s theory thought up all sorts of clever ways by which the MM null result could be accommodated, without relativity being true. There were several other optical experiments as well that had a simple explanation in terms of relativity, but could be, by some surgery, accommodated by other theories of light propagation.

    This had interest for awhile. However, by now, it’s not just the MM and other optical experiments that support relativity. Special relativity has changed the way particle dynamics is conceived, and nuclear and elementary particle physics is unworkable without relativity. So there’s not much interest in pursuing alternative interpretations of MM, because the big message, which is the relativistic view of physics, is supported by so many other lines of evidence and basically make sense. If you give up relativity to get a different explanation of the MM experiment, you have to find replacement explanations for all the other lines of evidence. Why bother? Relativity works well, is self-consistent and not that hard to understand.

    - In the same way, complaining about the hockey stick doesn’t change the other lines of evidence leading to the conclusion that the last 150 years of warming has a major source in human activities.

    - I think that ClimateAudit fans are over-exposed to the hockey stick issue, because it is Steve McIntyre’s claim to fame.

  • Neal J. King

    #98, Geoff Sherrington:

    - Michelson-Morley experiment:
    No, the MM experiment was not wrong: They were unable to detect the motion of the Earth through the ether, a failure that ran counter to pre-relativistic physics. My point is that many theorists who were not convinced as to Einstein’s theory thought up all sorts of clever ways by which the MM null result could be accommodated, without relativity being true. There were several other optical experiments as well that had a simple explanation in terms of relativity, but could be, by some surgery, accommodated by other theories of light propagation.

    This had interest for awhile. However, by now, it’s not just the MM and other optical experiments that support relativity. Special relativity has changed the way particle dynamics is conceived, and nuclear and elementary particle physics is unworkable without relativity. So there’s not much interest in pursuing alternative interpretations of MM, because the big message, which is the relativistic view of physics, is supported by so many other lines of evidence and basically make sense. If you give up relativity to get a different explanation of the MM experiment, you have to find replacement explanations for all the other lines of evidence. Why bother? Relativity works well, is self-consistent and not that hard to understand.

    - In the same way, complaining about the hockey stick doesn’t change the other lines of evidence leading to the conclusion that the last 150 years of warming has a major source in human activities.

    - I think that ClimateAudit fans are over-exposed to the hockey stick issue, because it is Steve McIntyre’s claim to fame.

  • Neal J. King

    #104, wmanny:

    The single most important concern that I have is that I see people buying into the idea that “those climate scientists are just saying there’s a problem because they’ll get paid that way.” If people really think that the science is for sale, then it will really be a situation where the biggest ad & public-relations budgets win the story.

    Here are some reasons why that doesn’t make sense:
    - For the amount of education and training they have to undergo, climate scientists are not particularly well paid. An engineer with that amount of education and communication skills can get paid twice as much. And any physical scientist, including climate scientists, can become a programmer in a few months. So the opportunity is there, if they wanted the money that much.
    - The reason they’re in science is because they want to find things out, and, less idealistically, to become well-known for finding things out. In that circumstance, very few scientists will try to fake their results, because eventually it will come out – and they’ll be totally disgraced.
    - There is actually not much incentive to “agree in order to get along”: You don’t get known in scientific circles for agreeing with everyone, you get known for coming up with new ideas – at least if they turn out to be right. In every abstract, scientists will emphasize what is new or different about their experiment or theory. As Gavin Schmidt (from RealClimate and NASA) said, if he found good evidence that disproved the concept of anthropogenic global warming, he’d be all over it and would publish it in a flash – it would be his best shot at a Nobel Prize.
    - Finally, if the goal of climate scientists was to get more funding to do research, why would they say that they’re convinced that AGW is happening? Because if it’s agreed to be definitely happening, you don’t need to spend any more money on researching that issue, it would be time to go full-bore into the question of solutions – which is not a topic that climate scientists have much to say about: it would be the chemical engineers / solid-state physicists / bio-whatever folks who are hopefully going to find solutions. Not climate scientists.

    Learning about this issue from websites is difficult, because it really is a multidisclipinary topic; and there is an unhealthy degree of polarization. I recommended some websites in #102 that I believe to be useful. I also wrote up a review of some textbooks (one available by download for free) here:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0497116/board/thread/64426867?d=64426867#64426867

    My actual beef about the 3.7 is that I would like to see it fully worked out, the way you would have to work out a homework set, not the way that it is sketched out in (rather old) articles. In principle, I know how to do the calculation myself, but to actually complete that calculation I would have to spend a lot of time learning how to download the appropriate files from the right websites, set myself up in a programming language or else set up a complicated Excel spreadsheet (a very ugly way to program a calculation), etc. I would be happy to see that the way that I understand how to approach this actually works out.

    It doesn’t seem to be a real scientific issue, as not even the skeptical climate experts (Lindzen, Spencer) have said anything nasty about the calculation.

  • Neal J. King

    #104, wmanny:

    The single most important concern that I have is that I see people buying into the idea that “those climate scientists are just saying there’s a problem because they’ll get paid that way.” If people really think that the science is for sale, then it will really be a situation where the biggest ad & public-relations budgets win the story.

    Here are some reasons why that doesn’t make sense:
    - For the amount of education and training they have to undergo, climate scientists are not particularly well paid. An engineer with that amount of education and communication skills can get paid twice as much. And any physical scientist, including climate scientists, can become a programmer in a few months. So the opportunity is there, if they wanted the money that much.
    - The reason they’re in science is because they want to find things out, and, less idealistically, to become well-known for finding things out. In that circumstance, very few scientists will try to fake their results, because eventually it will come out – and they’ll be totally disgraced.
    - There is actually not much incentive to “agree in order to get along”: You don’t get known in scientific circles for agreeing with everyone, you get known for coming up with new ideas – at least if they turn out to be right. In every abstract, scientists will emphasize what is new or different about their experiment or theory. As Gavin Schmidt (from RealClimate and NASA) said, if he found good evidence that disproved the concept of anthropogenic global warming, he’d be all over it and would publish it in a flash – it would be his best shot at a Nobel Prize.
    - Finally, if the goal of climate scientists was to get more funding to do research, why would they say that they’re convinced that AGW is happening? Because if it’s agreed to be definitely happening, you don’t need to spend any more money on researching that issue, it would be time to go full-bore into the question of solutions – which is not a topic that climate scientists have much to say about: it would be the chemical engineers / solid-state physicists / bio-whatever folks who are hopefully going to find solutions. Not climate scientists.

    Learning about this issue from websites is difficult, because it really is a multidisclipinary topic; and there is an unhealthy degree of polarization. I recommended some websites in #102 that I believe to be useful. I also wrote up a review of some textbooks (one available by download for free) here:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0497116/board/thread/64426867?d=64426867#64426867

    My actual beef about the 3.7 is that I would like to see it fully worked out, the way you would have to work out a homework set, not the way that it is sketched out in (rather old) articles. In principle, I know how to do the calculation myself, but to actually complete that calculation I would have to spend a lot of time learning how to download the appropriate files from the right websites, set myself up in a programming language or else set up a complicated Excel spreadsheet (a very ugly way to program a calculation), etc. I would be happy to see that the way that I understand how to approach this actually works out.

    It doesn’t seem to be a real scientific issue, as not even the skeptical climate experts (Lindzen, Spencer) have said anything nasty about the calculation.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re # 105 Neal J King

    The objection to the hiockey stick is that it still being used by close cohorts of the authors. It’s like an archaic, flat earth group sticking to the original Michelson-Morley experiment, with eyes closed by fairy dust in the belief that nothing significant happened after.

    Re your # 101 – can you please expand, with references?

    Re your # 103 – are your eyes shit tight with fairy dust too? Read the literature. You will find intense discussion about “- Actually, I’ve never heard anyone on either side express serious doubt on the 3.7 Watts/m^2.

    Re your # 100. You say “But there is a difference between trying to “stick the knife” in your enemies and faking temperature readings. Neither is ethical, but in the second case, you soil your own bed. I don’t think they do that: They have to use that data later.”

    Well, Neal, the evidence points to falsification in quite a few areas. The bed has been soiled. The apologies have not been issued.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re # 105 Neal J King

    The objection to the hiockey stick is that it still being used by close cohorts of the authors. It’s like an archaic, flat earth group sticking to the original Michelson-Morley experiment, with eyes closed by fairy dust in the belief that nothing significant happened after.

    Re your # 101 – can you please expand, with references?

    Re your # 103 – are your eyes shit tight with fairy dust too? Read the literature. You will find intense discussion about “- Actually, I’ve never heard anyone on either side express serious doubt on the 3.7 Watts/m^2.

    Re your # 100. You say “But there is a difference between trying to “stick the knife” in your enemies and faking temperature readings. Neither is ethical, but in the second case, you soil your own bed. I don’t think they do that: They have to use that data later.”

    Well, Neal, the evidence points to falsification in quite a few areas. The bed has been soiled. The apologies have not been issued.

  • mondo

    Neil,

    You are demonstrably voluble in support of your position. However, given the gross uncertainties (evident in the body of the IPCC reports if not the SPM) don’t you think that we should remain a bit open to what is going on and to seek the best answers?

    The skeptics have demonstrated that much of what is claimed by the pro AGW crowd doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Not much wrong with that (that is the normal process of science) but before we commit all of our limited resources to “fixing” the problem, shouldn’t we be a bit more confident as to what the problem is.

    It seems to me that there are a few possibilities:

    1. The AGW crowd is correct and the warming is primarily due to man’s emissions of CO2.

    2. Warming is occurring, but for natural reasons not fully understood. Man’s emissions of CO2 are small in relation to the volumes released from the oceans as ocean temperatures incurease.

    3. Warming is occurring, but due mainly to desertification effects relating to man’s activities, primarily in relation to land-use practices that progressively dehydrate the land surface, and increase the portion of the planet’s water that resides in the ocean as opposed to land (and thus may account for rising sea levels as well!).

    4. Warming is apparent only, and largely an artefact of UHI effects, changing temperature station populations etc.

    No doubt there are other possibilities, but there is enough here for me to make my point.

    I am seriously interested in learning which of these scenarios is most likely, and to develop appropriate mitigation plans that delivers the maximum chances of peace and prosperity for all. I have studied the issues relatively comprehensively over the past few years, and formed impressions as to which of the above scenarios is most likely to apply (I acknowledge that there could be combinations of several).

    I note, in my explorations of the issues, that the pro-AGW crowd is evangelical in their zeal to deal with the CO2 driven AGW hypothesis, brooking no opposition, nor even serious questioning of their frequently over the top claims.

    Perusal of the IPCC works and the various commentaries on it has led me to conclude that rather too much zeal is being applied, particularly in relation to the high levels of certainty being attributed to the CO2 AGW hypothesis, as if none of the other possibilities could apply. I also note the extravagant use of ad hominems (those of us asking reasonable questions do not deserve to be called ‘deniers’) by the pro-AGW crowd, and numerous attempts to exaggerate (acknowledged particularly by Stephen Schneider and Al Gore) on the basis that “the end justifies the means” (it can never). I note obfuscation, obstruction, refusal to disclose data, one-way adjustments to temperature series and similar behaviour that doesn’t exactly engender confidence.

    On the other hand, I see serious efforts to alert the population to the desertification processes that in my view pose a much more serious threat to mankind than CO2, but these efforts are being overshadowed by the paranoid obsession with CO2.

    I would like to pose to you a question. What if it could be shown that there is AGW, but that the A part of the equation is, as Roger Pielke Sr et al, the Czech team, and people like Peter Andrews here in Australia are saying, due to man’s interference in the natural hydrological cycles? Man is disrupting things seriously through clear felling of forests, monoculture farming practices, use of fertilizers/herbicides/pesticides, destruction of swamps and wetlands, disrupting annual seasonal rejuvenation of floodplains by building dams for irrigation (eg in the Murray Darling basin here in Oz). What if these factors were to turn out to be far more important in the desertification of large areas of the planet, leading to increased temperatures, rising sea levels, and destruction of soils reducing the food growing capacity of the planet.

    It is clear that you and many others are totally convinced that CO2 is the bad actor, and the only bad actor at that. But let me ask you the question that you ask the skeptics. What if you are wrong and the problem lies elsewhere. How will you explain to your grandkids that you got it wrong by focusing on CO2, when it subsequently turned out that land-use practices were the real problem in the decline of civilization as we know it, and we could have and should have done something about it in the early part of the 21st C when we could have turned it all around?

    Tell you what, I’ll even support sensible action to deal with CO2 (on a precautionary principle basis – we can discuss the details separately) if you will support action to deal with land-use practices that disrupt natural hydrogeological cycles.

  • mondo

    Neil,

    You are demonstrably voluble in support of your position. However, given the gross uncertainties (evident in the body of the IPCC reports if not the SPM) don’t you think that we should remain a bit open to what is going on and to seek the best answers?

    The skeptics have demonstrated that much of what is claimed by the pro AGW crowd doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Not much wrong with that (that is the normal process of science) but before we commit all of our limited resources to “fixing” the problem, shouldn’t we be a bit more confident as to what the problem is.

    It seems to me that there are a few possibilities:

    1. The AGW crowd is correct and the warming is primarily due to man’s emissions of CO2.

    2. Warming is occurring, but for natural reasons not fully understood. Man’s emissions of CO2 are small in relation to the volumes released from the oceans as ocean temperatures incurease.

    3. Warming is occurring, but due mainly to desertification effects relating to man’s activities, primarily in relation to land-use practices that progressively dehydrate the land surface, and increase the portion of the planet’s water that resides in the ocean as opposed to land (and thus may account for rising sea levels as well!).

    4. Warming is apparent only, and largely an artefact of UHI effects, changing temperature station populations etc.

    No doubt there are other possibilities, but there is enough here for me to make my point.

    I am seriously interested in learning which of these scenarios is most likely, and to develop appropriate mitigation plans that delivers the maximum chances of peace and prosperity for all. I have studied the issues relatively comprehensively over the past few years, and formed impressions as to which of the above scenarios is most likely to apply (I acknowledge that there could be combinations of several).

    I note, in my explorations of the issues, that the pro-AGW crowd is evangelical in their zeal to deal with the CO2 driven AGW hypothesis, brooking no opposition, nor even serious questioning of their frequently over the top claims.

    Perusal of the IPCC works and the various commentaries on it has led me to conclude that rather too much zeal is being applied, particularly in relation to the high levels of certainty being attributed to the CO2 AGW hypothesis, as if none of the other possibilities could apply. I also note the extravagant use of ad hominems (those of us asking reasonable questions do not deserve to be called ‘deniers’) by the pro-AGW crowd, and numerous attempts to exaggerate (acknowledged particularly by Stephen Schneider and Al Gore) on the basis that “the end justifies the means” (it can never). I note obfuscation, obstruction, refusal to disclose data, one-way adjustments to temperature series and similar behaviour that doesn’t exactly engender confidence.

    On the other hand, I see serious efforts to alert the population to the desertification processes that in my view pose a much more serious threat to mankind than CO2, but these efforts are being overshadowed by the paranoid obsession with CO2.

    I would like to pose to you a question. What if it could be shown that there is AGW, but that the A part of the equation is, as Roger Pielke Sr et al, the Czech team, and people like Peter Andrews here in Australia are saying, due to man’s interference in the natural hydrological cycles? Man is disrupting things seriously through clear felling of forests, monoculture farming practices, use of fertilizers/herbicides/pesticides, destruction of swamps and wetlands, disrupting annual seasonal rejuvenation of floodplains by building dams for irrigation (eg in the Murray Darling basin here in Oz). What if these factors were to turn out to be far more important in the desertification of large areas of the planet, leading to increased temperatures, rising sea levels, and destruction of soils reducing the food growing capacity of the planet.

    It is clear that you and many others are totally convinced that CO2 is the bad actor, and the only bad actor at that. But let me ask you the question that you ask the skeptics. What if you are wrong and the problem lies elsewhere. How will you explain to your grandkids that you got it wrong by focusing on CO2, when it subsequently turned out that land-use practices were the real problem in the decline of civilization as we know it, and we could have and should have done something about it in the early part of the 21st C when we could have turned it all around?

    Tell you what, I’ll even support sensible action to deal with CO2 (on a precautionary principle basis – we can discuss the details separately) if you will support action to deal with land-use practices that disrupt natural hydrogeological cycles.

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    mondo: Nice comment. Observing the frequent tendency to blame local problems on global warming, I tend to think there is a big element of shifting the blame behind it. Who are the real deniers?

  • http://landshape.org/enm admin

    mondo: Nice comment. Observing the frequent tendency to blame local problems on global warming, I tend to think there is a big element of shifting the blame behind it. Who are the real deniers?

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re # Neal King 106

    My apologies for a typo that unintentionally produced the word “shi.”. I do not argue by expletives. When I find I have made a mistake, I apologise.

    Re your comment -
    “For the amount of education and training they have to undergo, climate scientists are not particularly well paid.”

    Thank you for arguing one my my cases for me. For decades now I have been decrying the poor quality of green science, of which parts (not all) of climate science qualify. Analogy – when I need an operation, I go for the most expensive, high-reputation surgeon I can find.

    Indeed, the quality of science being produced today could well be in proportion to $ remuneration. There are occasional episodes of the opposite, but talking in averages, show me an underpaid acedemic who develops a chip on his shoulder and I’ll show you a poor climate scientist. As for myself, three years after my last degree I was earning nearly double the usual professorial salary and the gap increased with time. Relatively free of the niggling wories about feeding the family, we did better work in “my” team and the better we worked the more wealthy we became. Do you have a problem with that? Are you underpaid with a chip on the shoulder? (because many of your posts read that way).

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re # Neal King 106

    My apologies for a typo that unintentionally produced the word “shi.”. I do not argue by expletives. When I find I have made a mistake, I apologise.

    Re your comment -
    “For the amount of education and training they have to undergo, climate scientists are not particularly well paid.”

    Thank you for arguing one my my cases for me. For decades now I have been decrying the poor quality of green science, of which parts (not all) of climate science qualify. Analogy – when I need an operation, I go for the most expensive, high-reputation surgeon I can find.

    Indeed, the quality of science being produced today could well be in proportion to $ remuneration. There are occasional episodes of the opposite, but talking in averages, show me an underpaid acedemic who develops a chip on his shoulder and I’ll show you a poor climate scientist. As for myself, three years after my last degree I was earning nearly double the usual professorial salary and the gap increased with time. Relatively free of the niggling wories about feeding the family, we did better work in “my” team and the better we worked the more wealthy we became. Do you have a problem with that? Are you underpaid with a chip on the shoulder? (because many of your posts read that way).

  • Neal J. King

    #108, mondo:

    - It is my impression that people representing mainstream science get irritated when confronted with blanket statements such as, “There’s no evidence that CO2 produces any warming.” This sort of claim only proves that the interlocutor has never studied anything about the physics of atmospheric radiation. And in that situation, people are likely to respond, “You haven’t the foggiest idea of what you’re talking about. The evidence is incontrovertible.”

    - That does NOT mean that the mainstream scientists claim that all of their expectations are going to be precisely accurate. They don’t – and that’s why they put error bars on their projections.

    - “Perusal of the IPCC works and the various commentaries on it has led me to conclude that rather too much zeal is being applied, particularly in relation to the high levels of certainty being attributed to the CO2 AGW hypothesis, as if none of the other possibilities could apply.” Then you haven’t read the IPCC report carefully enough, as they discuss many many factors that can and are contributing to warming, including land-use issues, de-forestation, and so on.

    - Ad hominems: People asking reasonable questions are not deniers. But there are individuals who make it a business to create a dust concerning the science around issues with impacts on business: Fred Singer, for example, has been paid to be on the industry side of: regulatory efforts on CFCs to reduce ozone depletion, the impact of second-hand cigarette smoke, and now global warming. His technique is always the same: Find plausible “issues” that wouldn’t detain a professional in the field for 10 seconds, but sound reasonable to those who are not well-educated in that specialty. And on that basis, create doubt about the entire problem. He’s made a good living doing that, and he still doing it.

    - When Schneider was talking about exaggerating, he was young and foolish: This was decades ago.

    - Gore is a “marketing guy”. People in climate science don’t take him for a scientific leader.

    - I am a big fan of land-use issues, particularly of de-forestation, and especially of rain-forests, which harbor so much biodiversity. And as it turns out, using the preservation of rain-forests is one of the top ideas promoted for reducing CO2. Where’s the conflict?

    - “It is clear that you and many others are totally convinced that CO2 is the bad actor, and the only bad actor at that. ” Where do you get this from? I’ve never said this, and I’ve never heard this from other people concerned with AGW. Who’s telling you this? And why?

  • Neal J. King

    #108, mondo:

    - It is my impression that people representing mainstream science get irritated when confronted with blanket statements such as, “There’s no evidence that CO2 produces any warming.” This sort of claim only proves that the interlocutor has never studied anything about the physics of atmospheric radiation. And in that situation, people are likely to respond, “You haven’t the foggiest idea of what you’re talking about. The evidence is incontrovertible.”

    - That does NOT mean that the mainstream scientists claim that all of their expectations are going to be precisely accurate. They don’t – and that’s why they put error bars on their projections.

    - “Perusal of the IPCC works and the various commentaries on it has led me to conclude that rather too much zeal is being applied, particularly in relation to the high levels of certainty being attributed to the CO2 AGW hypothesis, as if none of the other possibilities could apply.” Then you haven’t read the IPCC report carefully enough, as they discuss many many factors that can and are contributing to warming, including land-use issues, de-forestation, and so on.

    - Ad hominems: People asking reasonable questions are not deniers. But there are individuals who make it a business to create a dust concerning the science around issues with impacts on business: Fred Singer, for example, has been paid to be on the industry side of: regulatory efforts on CFCs to reduce ozone depletion, the impact of second-hand cigarette smoke, and now global warming. His technique is always the same: Find plausible “issues” that wouldn’t detain a professional in the field for 10 seconds, but sound reasonable to those who are not well-educated in that specialty. And on that basis, create doubt about the entire problem. He’s made a good living doing that, and he still doing it.

    - When Schneider was talking about exaggerating, he was young and foolish: This was decades ago.

    - Gore is a “marketing guy”. People in climate science don’t take him for a scientific leader.

    - I am a big fan of land-use issues, particularly of de-forestation, and especially of rain-forests, which harbor so much biodiversity. And as it turns out, using the preservation of rain-forests is one of the top ideas promoted for reducing CO2. Where’s the conflict?

    - “It is clear that you and many others are totally convinced that CO2 is the bad actor, and the only bad actor at that. ” Where do you get this from? I’ve never said this, and I’ve never heard this from other people concerned with AGW. Who’s telling you this? And why?

  • Neal J. King

    #107, Geoff Sherrington:

    - wrt #101:
    “RealClimate points to some documents that Mann filed in response to questions asked at the hearings. One of the documents is a transcript of e-mail messages sent to Wegman, a statistician at George Mason University, by retired Stanford physics professor David Ritson, asking for more information on how Wegman generated his own statistical data…” You can find the whole story here:
    http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/2006/08/31/wegman/
    and the email trail here:
    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/house06/RitsonWegmanRequests.pdf

    - wrt #103: I have never seen a peep on the 3.7 Watts/m^2 of radiative imbalance induced by a 2X of CO2 from Lindzen, Spencer, Christy… If there were a valid issue, I believe they would have raised it. wrt the Singer’s and Baliunas’s: Don’t waste my time.

    - As I said before (#99), I will return to the issue of Mann’s hockey stick later.

  • Neal J. King

    #107, Geoff Sherrington:

    - wrt #101:
    “RealClimate points to some documents that Mann filed in response to questions asked at the hearings. One of the documents is a transcript of e-mail messages sent to Wegman, a statistician at George Mason University, by retired Stanford physics professor David Ritson, asking for more information on how Wegman generated his own statistical data…” You can find the whole story here:
    http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/2006/08/31/wegman/
    and the email trail here:
    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/house06/RitsonWegmanRequests.pdf

    - wrt #103: I have never seen a peep on the 3.7 Watts/m^2 of radiative imbalance induced by a 2X of CO2 from Lindzen, Spencer, Christy… If there were a valid issue, I believe they would have raised it. wrt the Singer’s and Baliunas’s: Don’t waste my time.

    - As I said before (#99), I will return to the issue of Mann’s hockey stick later.

  • Neal J. King

    #110, Geoff Sherrington:

    - When I said “climate scientists are not paid particularly well”, I meant that as part of a general situation: Scientists are not paid particularly well. I know quite a few, as I attended graduate school for many years: Physicists, mathematicians, electrical engineers, etc.

    - It is generally the case that master’s degree students are making more in industry than their professors after only a few years. Does that mean they’re more knowledgeable than their professors? Mostly not: They still go back to them for advice and for consultation. What it tells me is that people working for industry are helping other people make a profit, and so the industry can afford to compensate them better. Academic scientists are only working to expand knowledge and hopefully build their own reputations; and to a significantly greater extent, they get to define what they want to do, so their work is itself a form of compensation. So they aren’t in a good position to ask for more money.

    - And, no, I’m not an academic. I’m an over-paid engineer.

  • Neal J. King

    #110, Geoff Sherrington:

    - When I said “climate scientists are not paid particularly well”, I meant that as part of a general situation: Scientists are not paid particularly well. I know quite a few, as I attended graduate school for many years: Physicists, mathematicians, electrical engineers, etc.

    - It is generally the case that master’s degree students are making more in industry than their professors after only a few years. Does that mean they’re more knowledgeable than their professors? Mostly not: They still go back to them for advice and for consultation. What it tells me is that people working for industry are helping other people make a profit, and so the industry can afford to compensate them better. Academic scientists are only working to expand knowledge and hopefully build their own reputations; and to a significantly greater extent, they get to define what they want to do, so their work is itself a form of compensation. So they aren’t in a good position to ask for more money.

    - And, no, I’m not an academic. I’m an over-paid engineer.

  • mondo

    Neal,

    First, apologies for spelling your name wrongly. That was careless of me.

    Second, you say: – “It is my impression that people representing mainstream science get irritated when confronted with blanket statements such as, “There’s no evidence that CO2 produces any warming.” This sort of claim only proves that the interlocutor has never studied anything about the physics of atmospheric radiation. And in that situation, people are likely to respond, “You haven’t the foggiest idea of what you’re talking about. The evidence is incontrovertible.”

    But you would have to acknowledge that I did not say “There’s no evidence that CO2 produces any warming”. I am arguing for a more nuanced approach than appears to have been understood and accepted by the policy makers, and certainly we are being told that CO2 is the bad actor.

    In the same way, I acknowledge that I have tended to conflate your own more nuanced position with that of the pro-AGW crowd who appear to have convinced 70% of the population that CO2 is the worst problem faced by mankind, that will lead to utter disaster. I am sorry for that.

    As you can see, I am concerned to ensure that attention is directed towards the most serious problems, and in such a way that our resources can be applied most effectively.

    Given the uncertainties regarding CO2(particularly the lack of an engineering style exposition supporting the thesis that doubling of CO2 will lead to a 3 deg C increase in Global Mean Temperature) and the puny benefits achieved even if massive expenditure and disruption is introduced by all of the world’s nations, it seems sensible to focus on the apparently more serious land-use issues where comparatively modest actions can achieve major benefits.

  • mondo

    Neal,

    First, apologies for spelling your name wrongly. That was careless of me.

    Second, you say: – “It is my impression that people representing mainstream science get irritated when confronted with blanket statements such as, “There’s no evidence that CO2 produces any warming.” This sort of claim only proves that the interlocutor has never studied anything about the physics of atmospheric radiation. And in that situation, people are likely to respond, “You haven’t the foggiest idea of what you’re talking about. The evidence is incontrovertible.”

    But you would have to acknowledge that I did not say “There’s no evidence that CO2 produces any warming”. I am arguing for a more nuanced approach than appears to have been understood and accepted by the policy makers, and certainly we are being told that CO2 is the bad actor.

    In the same way, I acknowledge that I have tended to conflate your own more nuanced position with that of the pro-AGW crowd who appear to have convinced 70% of the population that CO2 is the worst problem faced by mankind, that will lead to utter disaster. I am sorry for that.

    As you can see, I am concerned to ensure that attention is directed towards the most serious problems, and in such a way that our resources can be applied most effectively.

    Given the uncertainties regarding CO2(particularly the lack of an engineering style exposition supporting the thesis that doubling of CO2 will lead to a 3 deg C increase in Global Mean Temperature) and the puny benefits achieved even if massive expenditure and disruption is introduced by all of the world’s nations, it seems sensible to focus on the apparently more serious land-use issues where comparatively modest actions can achieve major benefits.

  • Neal J. King

    #114, mondo:

    - Neal vs. Neil:
    Everybody misspells it. I’m inured to it.

    - What you did not say:
    I did not claim that you said it. I was just explaining why you might see the phrase, “There is no doubt.” in some circumstances, when the writer is confronted with someone arguing a point for which there is, indeed, no doubt.

    - CO2 is the bad actor:
    There is indeed a lot of evidence to the effect that CO2 is a major bad actor: the atmospheric physics, the 35% increase over the last 150 years.

    - Focusing on land-use issues:
    I don’t have any problem focusing some attention on land-use issues, but I reject an “either/or” attitude. What do you do with a choice like, “You can have water or you can have food. You cannot have both?” I tell them to shove it. If we have a plausible reason to be concerned about the threat of the issue in the relevant time-frame (and all our major scientific societies agree that we do), we need to be concerned.

    -“Engineering analysis”:
    I participated in some discussion of the need for an “engineering-style exposition” of climate science at CA, and I thought it was wholly off the mark. Scientific modeling is about exploration (not only of data but of techniques and principles); engineering is about implementation of known principles and techniques for a specific application. Trying to fit the one into the other is like expecting to develop a new Challenger shuttle as part of an existing Ford design cycle.

  • Neal J. King

    #114, mondo:

    - Neal vs. Neil:
    Everybody misspells it. I’m inured to it.

    - What you did not say:
    I did not claim that you said it. I was just explaining why you might see the phrase, “There is no doubt.” in some circumstances, when the writer is confronted with someone arguing a point for which there is, indeed, no doubt.

    - CO2 is the bad actor:
    There is indeed a lot of evidence to the effect that CO2 is a major bad actor: the atmospheric physics, the 35% increase over the last 150 years.

    - Focusing on land-use issues:
    I don’t have any problem focusing some attention on land-use issues, but I reject an “either/or” attitude. What do you do with a choice like, “You can have water or you can have food. You cannot have both?” I tell them to shove it. If we have a plausible reason to be concerned about the threat of the issue in the relevant time-frame (and all our major scientific societies agree that we do), we need to be concerned.

    -“Engineering analysis”:
    I participated in some discussion of the need for an “engineering-style exposition” of climate science at CA, and I thought it was wholly off the mark. Scientific modeling is about exploration (not only of data but of techniques and principles); engineering is about implementation of known principles and techniques for a specific application. Trying to fit the one into the other is like expecting to develop a new Challenger shuttle as part of an existing Ford design cycle.

  • wmanny

    to #106:

    Neal, I take it that if your primary concern, then, is that AGW climate scientists are misunderstood and unfairly characterized, it follows logically that you do not believe there to be any significant, legitimate scientific evidence, refutation or concern that we should be worried about that emanates from the skeptics’ camp. My reasoning would be that if there were such concerns, those surely would outweigh the one you name.

    Further, you seem to imply that the skeptics are better paid, or if not they at least have the PR and budgets on their side. Do you fear the tide is turning, then, or is about to, that the public is being brought to believe that AGW is over-hyped, that in fact they are losing their belief that there is overwhelming consensus and the handful of objections come from an oil-funded few? To the extent you fear science is for sale, do you believe only the skeptics are receiving the sales dollars? How would you characterize, for example, what many might refer to as Gore’s very powerful PR piece?

    I find your arguments less compelling compared with what you have offered previously, especially when you back them up with the notion that Gavin Schmidt has looked for or would ever look for prize-winning evidence refuting AGW. For one thing, the Nobel committee would hardly offer a prize, Peace or otherwise, for evidence stating, essentially, “oops.” For another, Gavin’s role at RC is well-established and has nothing to do with seeking contradictory evidence.

    I do agree that “if the goal of climate scientists was to get more funding to do research, [they would not] say that they’re convinced that AGW is happening.” But they don’t say that. They say they are increasingly sure, and find it “likely” enough for policy makers to feel free to get after it. I don’t think they are being cynical (“We’re almost there, so keep ponying up the dough.”) but whatever the case, the money does keep flowing in, unless you are telling me they are doing it pro bono.

    Having said all that, though, I did agree that if you could not name any legitimate scientific, skeptical concerns, we’d be done, and so we are. Thanks, though, for taking the time.

  • wmanny

    to #106:

    Neal, I take it that if your primary concern, then, is that AGW climate scientists are misunderstood and unfairly characterized, it follows logically that you do not believe there to be any significant, legitimate scientific evidence, refutation or concern that we should be worried about that emanates from the skeptics’ camp. My reasoning would be that if there were such concerns, those surely would outweigh the one you name.

    Further, you seem to imply that the skeptics are better paid, or if not they at least have the PR and budgets on their side. Do you fear the tide is turning, then, or is about to, that the public is being brought to believe that AGW is over-hyped, that in fact they are losing their belief that there is overwhelming consensus and the handful of objections come from an oil-funded few? To the extent you fear science is for sale, do you believe only the skeptics are receiving the sales dollars? How would you characterize, for example, what many might refer to as Gore’s very powerful PR piece?

    I find your arguments less compelling compared with what you have offered previously, especially when you back them up with the notion that Gavin Schmidt has looked for or would ever look for prize-winning evidence refuting AGW. For one thing, the Nobel committee would hardly offer a prize, Peace or otherwise, for evidence stating, essentially, “oops.” For another, Gavin’s role at RC is well-established and has nothing to do with seeking contradictory evidence.

    I do agree that “if the goal of climate scientists was to get more funding to do research, [they would not] say that they’re convinced that AGW is happening.” But they don’t say that. They say they are increasingly sure, and find it “likely” enough for policy makers to feel free to get after it. I don’t think they are being cynical (“We’re almost there, so keep ponying up the dough.”) but whatever the case, the money does keep flowing in, unless you are telling me they are doing it pro bono.

    Having said all that, though, I did agree that if you could not name any legitimate scientific, skeptical concerns, we’d be done, and so we are. Thanks, though, for taking the time.

  • Neal J. King

    #116, wmanny:

    - Yes, it’s fair to say that I do not think that the skeptics are adding value to the situation. If they were bringing up really new issues, that would be useful. But they seem to have two modes:
    i) Recycling issues that have been satisfactorily understood in the expert community into the public arena – which is not well-equipped to understand them. (But see bottom of this posting);
    ii) Raising a fuss about issues that are under active consideration – not to shed light but in order to magnify uncertainties and to distort the understanding that has already been acheived.

    - The skeptics are not, overall, better paid than the climate science community. But the scientists have to do actual research, that requires experimental equipment, massive computation, graduate students, and lots of effort and time; whereas the American Enterprise Institute or the Competitive Enterprise Institute only need to pay someone to gin up a story by finding an obscure article and blowing it out of proportion. It is much easier to publish yet another newspaper article or opinion piece that says, “Global Warming theory is all wrong because…” and then append the list of criticisms that have already been dealt with in the published literature: Newspaper readers don’t know, and can’t be expected to know, the technical background to all this.

    - What I’m worried about is what happened in the parallel case of tobacco: The public acceptance of reality of the connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer was delayed by decades. Unfortunately, the connection between CO2 and global warming is not going to go away because of PR (and nobody would be happier than me if it did go away): All that can happen is that action is delayed, most likely setting us up for a bigger problem over the next few hundred years. And the societal effort and change that is likely to be required to prevent even the worst from happening is likely to be much greater than ejecting smokers from the work-place and from cafes.

    - An Inconvenient Truth is indeed a PR piece: Gore is trying to get the world to act on the problem that climate scientists perceive. It cost them about $1 Million to create the film, and it made about $25 Million, of which Gore’s share was donated to the cause of combating AGW. I don’t believe the money went back into paying scientists at NASA, NCAR, NOAA, etc.

    - I am quite sure that if someone had conclusive evidence that AGW were no problem, the Nobel-Prize would be just the cherry on the sundae. Scientific discovery has nothing to do with looking for “contrary evidence”, it has to do with trying to find out what is going on. Heisenberg, the inventor of the matrix approach to quantum mechanics, was asked one day, “How did you go about making a scientific revolution?” His answer was, “By being as conservative as possible.” Schmidt (whose role at RealClimate is not his day job: He works at NASA/GISS as a climate modeler), like any other highly competitive scientist, would no sooner bury really interesting evidence on GW, even if “antagonistic” to the concept of AGW, than I would walk away from a strings-free gift of $1 Million. (Saying “oops!” is not evidence. Evidence is measurements, analysis, and relating it all to the rest of science.)

    - Funding: Scientists very rarely use language like, “It’s a proven fact.” When they say that it’s “very likely” (and so often, and in so many different forums, and in so many (virtually all) of the national and international scientific bodies), that’s as good as it gets. It never got any better for the cigarette/lung-cancer connection either. Are you also suggesting that the medical researchers were holding out for the bucks?

    - I really recommend the site mentioned before: http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php . They go through the top most popular skeptical notions, in their most convincing form, and then explain how they are understood and resolved in the current scientific framework, with references. It is really rather well done.

    - I appreciate your sincere and couteous inquiry. As Bertrand Russell recommended: “Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.”

  • Neal J. King

    #116, wmanny:

    - Yes, it’s fair to say that I do not think that the skeptics are adding value to the situation. If they were bringing up really new issues, that would be useful. But they seem to have two modes:
    i) Recycling issues that have been satisfactorily understood in the expert community into the public arena – which is not well-equipped to understand them. (But see bottom of this posting);
    ii) Raising a fuss about issues that are under active consideration – not to shed light but in order to magnify uncertainties and to distort the understanding that has already been acheived.

    - The skeptics are not, overall, better paid than the climate science community. But the scientists have to do actual research, that requires experimental equipment, massive computation, graduate students, and lots of effort and time; whereas the American Enterprise Institute or the Competitive Enterprise Institute only need to pay someone to gin up a story by finding an obscure article and blowing it out of proportion. It is much easier to publish yet another newspaper article or opinion piece that says, “Global Warming theory is all wrong because…” and then append the list of criticisms that have already been dealt with in the published literature: Newspaper readers don’t know, and can’t be expected to know, the technical background to all this.

    - What I’m worried about is what happened in the parallel case of tobacco: The public acceptance of reality of the connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer was delayed by decades. Unfortunately, the connection between CO2 and global warming is not going to go away because of PR (and nobody would be happier than me if it did go away): All that can happen is that action is delayed, most likely setting us up for a bigger problem over the next few hundred years. And the societal effort and change that is likely to be required to prevent even the worst from happening is likely to be much greater than ejecting smokers from the work-place and from cafes.

    - An Inconvenient Truth is indeed a PR piece: Gore is trying to get the world to act on the problem that climate scientists perceive. It cost them about $1 Million to create the film, and it made about $25 Million, of which Gore’s share was donated to the cause of combating AGW. I don’t believe the money went back into paying scientists at NASA, NCAR, NOAA, etc.

    - I am quite sure that if someone had conclusive evidence that AGW were no problem, the Nobel-Prize would be just the cherry on the sundae. Scientific discovery has nothing to do with looking for “contrary evidence”, it has to do with trying to find out what is going on. Heisenberg, the inventor of the matrix approach to quantum mechanics, was asked one day, “How did you go about making a scientific revolution?” His answer was, “By being as conservative as possible.” Schmidt (whose role at RealClimate is not his day job: He works at NASA/GISS as a climate modeler), like any other highly competitive scientist, would no sooner bury really interesting evidence on GW, even if “antagonistic” to the concept of AGW, than I would walk away from a strings-free gift of $1 Million. (Saying “oops!” is not evidence. Evidence is measurements, analysis, and relating it all to the rest of science.)

    - Funding: Scientists very rarely use language like, “It’s a proven fact.” When they say that it’s “very likely” (and so often, and in so many different forums, and in so many (virtually all) of the national and international scientific bodies), that’s as good as it gets. It never got any better for the cigarette/lung-cancer connection either. Are you also suggesting that the medical researchers were holding out for the bucks?

    - I really recommend the site mentioned before: http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php . They go through the top most popular skeptical notions, in their most convincing form, and then explain how they are understood and resolved in the current scientific framework, with references. It is really rather well done.

    - I appreciate your sincere and couteous inquiry. As Bertrand Russell recommended: “Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.”

  • Mike N

    Neal, Re: 117, Wasn’t it more Born than Heisenberg?

  • Mike N

    Neal, Re: 117, Wasn’t it more Born than Heisenberg?

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re 117 Neal King

    You write -

    “What I’m worried about is what happened in the parallel case of tobacco: The public acceptance of reality of the connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer was delayed by decades. Unfortunately, the connection between CO2 and global warming is not going to go away because of PR (and nobody would be happier than me if it did go away): All that can happen is that action is delayed, most likely setting us up for a bigger problem over the next few hundred years.”

    The cases are NOT parallel. It was quickly established what dose of tobacco substances posed a danger. There is public literature back to the mid-40s about smoking hazards. Likweise, alcohol dangers have been known for centuries, but people are eisk takers.

    It is not established what level of CO2 poses a danger. Or even what that danger is. People are risk takers. They won’t sell their beachfront because some theorist says the seas will rise up and smite them.

    What we are asking for, again and again, is how much does global temperature rise for a CO2 doubling? Your mates cannot provide an experimental answer of any merit. This game is into its 3rd year by now and still no result. It’s pivotal, but unanswered.

    I’m not an emotional person, but I do resent your frequent snides about people being in the pay of vested interests. Hop into the real world now and then.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re 117 Neal King

    You write -

    “What I’m worried about is what happened in the parallel case of tobacco: The public acceptance of reality of the connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer was delayed by decades. Unfortunately, the connection between CO2 and global warming is not going to go away because of PR (and nobody would be happier than me if it did go away): All that can happen is that action is delayed, most likely setting us up for a bigger problem over the next few hundred years.”

    The cases are NOT parallel. It was quickly established what dose of tobacco substances posed a danger. There is public literature back to the mid-40s about smoking hazards. Likweise, alcohol dangers have been known for centuries, but people are eisk takers.

    It is not established what level of CO2 poses a danger. Or even what that danger is. People are risk takers. They won’t sell their beachfront because some theorist says the seas will rise up and smite them.

    What we are asking for, again and again, is how much does global temperature rise for a CO2 doubling? Your mates cannot provide an experimental answer of any merit. This game is into its 3rd year by now and still no result. It’s pivotal, but unanswered.

    I’m not an emotional person, but I do resent your frequent snides about people being in the pay of vested interests. Hop into the real world now and then.

  • Neal J. King

    #119, Geoff Sherrington:

    - The cases are quite parallel, and even some of the players are the same: Seitz, Singer. Their payments are documented, not just rumored at.

    - “Your mates cannot provide an experimental answer of any merit. ” So we’re supposed to wait until the CO2 level goes up to 600 ppm to make a scientific judgment? Give me a break. We have to make the best judgment we can. Waiting until the car hits you before deciding whether it’s a risk is foolish.

    - “I’m not an emotional person”: You could certainly have fooled me. I’ve always considered expressions such as “Hop into the real world now and then.” as inflammatory. Perhaps in your circle it counts as “hail fellow – well met”?

  • Neal J. King

    #119, Geoff Sherrington:

    - The cases are quite parallel, and even some of the players are the same: Seitz, Singer. Their payments are documented, not just rumored at.

    - “Your mates cannot provide an experimental answer of any merit. ” So we’re supposed to wait until the CO2 level goes up to 600 ppm to make a scientific judgment? Give me a break. We have to make the best judgment we can. Waiting until the car hits you before deciding whether it’s a risk is foolish.

    - “I’m not an emotional person”: You could certainly have fooled me. I’ve always considered expressions such as “Hop into the real world now and then.” as inflammatory. Perhaps in your circle it counts as “hail fellow – well met”?

  • Neal J. King

    #118, Mike N.:

    Born found/created the matrix mathematics that was used to express the new quantum theory, but it was Heisenberg’s bizarre way of thinking about dynamics, quantum states and correspondence that led up to the fundamental insight for matrix quantum mechanics.

    The key moment came when he was on a hay-fever vacation on Helgoland, an island of Denmark which had no grass. The only description I’ve seen of his thought process so far (not that I’ve done an exhaustive search) is in Born’s book, Problems of Atomic Dynamics.

    It’s a fascinating topic.

  • Neal J. King

    #118, Mike N.:

    Born found/created the matrix mathematics that was used to express the new quantum theory, but it was Heisenberg’s bizarre way of thinking about dynamics, quantum states and correspondence that led up to the fundamental insight for matrix quantum mechanics.

    The key moment came when he was on a hay-fever vacation on Helgoland, an island of Denmark which had no grass. The only description I’ve seen of his thought process so far (not that I’ve done an exhaustive search) is in Born’s book, Problems of Atomic Dynamics.

    It’s a fascinating topic.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re 120 Neal J King

    I re-emphasise (which I usually do not have to do) that the cases of cigarette smoke and Carbon Dioxide are NOT parallel examples.

    Cigarette smoke is a voluntary product (reasonably speaking) of the cultivation then combusion of what was a fairly rare plant. Individuals can usally accept or decline involvement with cigarette smoke. It is inessential to vertebrate life.

    Carbon Dioxide, by reasonable geochemical evidence, has been a part of the natural atmosphere for as long as is needed for argument. It is an integral part of the sustenance of all macro life (except in deep oceans, maybe). Normally, it cannot be avoided. Normally, it is essential.

    The way that you equate these two very different entities is too similar to the way climate scientists have been equating Global Warming with Carbon Dioxide. Here is a list of several hundred problems associated with Global warming, with some levity.

    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

    Correlation is not causation. Carbon Dioxide has warming physics mechanisms in the atmosphere, readily conceded. It also gets involved in feedbacks, more complicated. There has probably been a slight global warming since instrumental records began, but it is small and alternatives are proffered by others. But we await a conclusive experimental proof of the quantitative magnitude of the effect in the real world.

    To say that man-made CO2 is the root of all evil takes me past Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg to another German, Wernher von Braun. He has achieved fame for his defence of actions (and by extension, uncorrelated data) through the song by Tom Lehrer. About rockets,

    Once the rockets are up
    Who cares where they come down?
    That’s not my department
    Says Wernher von Braun.

    Reminds me of people who act with the IPCC sending up dubious reports – who cares where they come down. Well, I do. I prefer good science, taken to a good conclusion and recommendation.

    So, you can stop sending up when replying to me.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re 120 Neal J King

    I re-emphasise (which I usually do not have to do) that the cases of cigarette smoke and Carbon Dioxide are NOT parallel examples.

    Cigarette smoke is a voluntary product (reasonably speaking) of the cultivation then combusion of what was a fairly rare plant. Individuals can usally accept or decline involvement with cigarette smoke. It is inessential to vertebrate life.

    Carbon Dioxide, by reasonable geochemical evidence, has been a part of the natural atmosphere for as long as is needed for argument. It is an integral part of the sustenance of all macro life (except in deep oceans, maybe). Normally, it cannot be avoided. Normally, it is essential.

    The way that you equate these two very different entities is too similar to the way climate scientists have been equating Global Warming with Carbon Dioxide. Here is a list of several hundred problems associated with Global warming, with some levity.

    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

    Correlation is not causation. Carbon Dioxide has warming physics mechanisms in the atmosphere, readily conceded. It also gets involved in feedbacks, more complicated. There has probably been a slight global warming since instrumental records began, but it is small and alternatives are proffered by others. But we await a conclusive experimental proof of the quantitative magnitude of the effect in the real world.

    To say that man-made CO2 is the root of all evil takes me past Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg to another German, Wernher von Braun. He has achieved fame for his defence of actions (and by extension, uncorrelated data) through the song by Tom Lehrer. About rockets,

    Once the rockets are up
    Who cares where they come down?
    That’s not my department
    Says Wernher von Braun.

    Reminds me of people who act with the IPCC sending up dubious reports – who cares where they come down. Well, I do. I prefer good science, taken to a good conclusion and recommendation.

    So, you can stop sending up when replying to me.

  • Neal J. King

    I’ve been trying to reply to Geoff Sherrington’s posting above, but the system doesn’t appear to be accepting the post.

  • Neal J. King

    I’ve been trying to reply to Geoff Sherrington’s posting above, but the system doesn’t appear to be accepting the post.

  • Neal J. King

    Now when I try to re-submit the response, the system complains that I’ve “already said that.” But it doesn’t display what I submitted, either time.

  • Neal J. King

    Now when I try to re-submit the response, the system complains that I’ve “already said that.” But it doesn’t display what I submitted, either time.

  • http://landshape.org/enm Neal J. King

    #122, Geoff Sherrington:

    I have no idea where you are getting the notion that anyone, least of all myself, is promoting the notion that the nature of the threats of cigarette smoke and that of CO2 are similar.

    The parallel I’ve drawn is based on two points:

    a) The manner in which the scientific case explaining the harm has been opposed by a disinformation campaign: In both cases, the industries threatened by attention to the harms have engaged in a program to cast a degree of doubt on the scientific case that greatly exceeds the actual uncertainties.

    - In the case of the tobacco industry, those of us who were paying attention during the 1980s and 1990s can remember hearing many specious explanations given as to why the statistical evidence put forward by the medical-research community should be ignored: “Correlation is not causation! There is a correlation between the density of telephone-pole placements and the density of lung-cancer cases. Do you think that telephone poles cause lung cancer?” For anyone involved in the research or able to understand the steps involved between finding correlation and drawing a conclusion on causality, these arguments were clearly flawed. But these arguments were not aimed at convincing the research community: They were aimed at undermining the confidence in the research community held by the general public. And they were successful at delaying the social response of severe limitations on where and when people are allowed to smoke. The industry denied they were engaged in this disinformation program until 1994, when the so-called “tobacco papers” were leaked. These internal papers clearly revealed that the industry was not as lacking in the ability to understand the implications of the statistical evidence as they had pretended, but was simply fighting a rear-guard action to protect their business interest in selling an addictive substance: nicotine. See, as a starting point, http://www.thenetnet.com/readme/smoke.html.

    - Nor did the industry stop in 1994. Concerning the issue of second-hand smoke, the industry has continued to fund “research” to convince the world that passive smoking is not a health threat. This matter is further described in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_smoking#cite_note-whitecoat-106, in the section “Critique of individual studies and epidemiology,” which links to many references.

    - In the case of global warming, the plan for a disinformation campaign was frankly discussed in a meeting held April 1998 at the American Petroleum Institute. A memorandum and action plan emanating from that meeting is shown at: http://www.euronet.nl/users/e_wesker/ew@shell/API-prop.html. It details a “Global Climate Science Communications” plan to “Identify, recruit and train a team of five independent scientists to participate in media outreach. These will be individuals who do not have a long history of visibility and/or participation in the climate change debate. Rather, this team will consist of new faces who will add their voices to those recognized scientists who already are vocal.” It makes for interesting reading! It defines strategy and tactics that match very well to what you see on the skeptics’ webpages and the op-eds of the Wall Street Journal.

    b) The commonality of certain participants to both programs:

    Frederick Seitz: He was a very well-respected solid-state physicist, was President of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, President of Rockefeller University – and from 1979 was a paid permanent consultant of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. As such, he directed their “research” program into the health aspects of cigarette smoking. He also founded the George C. Marshall Institute, and was a board member of the Science and Environment Policy Project (SEPP): Both institutions have been very active in this kind of disinformation, not only against the global-warming issue but also against the CFC/ozone-depletion issue. His obituary can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/05/AR2008030503524.html?
    Fred S. Singer: An atmospheric physicist who has taken skeptical views on the connection between second-hand smoke and lung cancer, the CFC/ozone-depletion issue (embarrassingly, he called the science uncertain up until 3 weeks before the Nobel Chemistry Prize committee came to the opposite conclusion), and now global warming. After taking the position for years that global warming was simply not happening, he has recently switched to the position that it happens every 1500 years – without missing a beat.

    Steve Milloy: Now a FoxNews commentator, he has been associated both with the second-hand smoke issue and now the global-warming issue. The story is the same: The scientists don’t know what they’re talking about and they’re wrong. (Oh, and by the way, he sat in on that meeting at the American Petroleum Institute. You remember the “action plan”? He’s part of it.)

  • http://landshape.org/enm Neal J. King

    #122, Geoff Sherrington:

    I have no idea where you are getting the notion that anyone, least of all myself, is promoting the notion that the nature of the threats of cigarette smoke and that of CO2 are similar.

    The parallel I’ve drawn is based on two points:

    a) The manner in which the scientific case explaining the harm has been opposed by a disinformation campaign: In both cases, the industries threatened by attention to the harms have engaged in a program to cast a degree of doubt on the scientific case that greatly exceeds the actual uncertainties.

    - In the case of the tobacco industry, those of us who were paying attention during the 1980s and 1990s can remember hearing many specious explanations given as to why the statistical evidence put forward by the medical-research community should be ignored: “Correlation is not causation! There is a correlation between the density of telephone-pole placements and the density of lung-cancer cases. Do you think that telephone poles cause lung cancer?” For anyone involved in the research or able to understand the steps involved between finding correlation and drawing a conclusion on causality, these arguments were clearly flawed. But these arguments were not aimed at convincing the research community: They were aimed at undermining the confidence in the research community held by the general public. And they were successful at delaying the social response of severe limitations on where and when people are allowed to smoke. The industry denied they were engaged in this disinformation program until 1994, when the so-called “tobacco papers” were leaked. These internal papers clearly revealed that the industry was not as lacking in the ability to understand the implications of the statistical evidence as they had pretended, but was simply fighting a rear-guard action to protect their business interest in selling an addictive substance: nicotine. See, as a starting point, http://www.thenetnet.com/readme/smoke.html.

    - Nor did the industry stop in 1994. Concerning the issue of second-hand smoke, the industry has continued to fund “research” to convince the world that passive smoking is not a health threat. This matter is further described in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_smoking#cite_note-whitecoat-106, in the section “Critique of individual studies and epidemiology,” which links to many references.

    - In the case of global warming, the plan for a disinformation campaign was frankly discussed in a meeting held April 1998 at the American Petroleum Institute. A memorandum and action plan emanating from that meeting is shown at: http://www.euronet.nl/users/e_wesker/ew@shell/API-prop.html. It details a “Global Climate Science Communications” plan to “Identify, recruit and train a team of five independent scientists to participate in media outreach. These will be individuals who do not have a long history of visibility and/or participation in the climate change debate. Rather, this team will consist of new faces who will add their voices to those recognized scientists who already are vocal.” It makes for interesting reading! It defines strategy and tactics that match very well to what you see on the skeptics’ webpages and the op-eds of the Wall Street Journal.

    b) The commonality of certain participants to both programs:

    Frederick Seitz: He was a very well-respected solid-state physicist, was President of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, President of Rockefeller University – and from 1979 was a paid permanent consultant of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. As such, he directed their “research” program into the health aspects of cigarette smoking. He also founded the George C. Marshall Institute, and was a board member of the Science and Environment Policy Project (SEPP): Both institutions have been very active in this kind of disinformation, not only against the global-warming issue but also against the CFC/ozone-depletion issue. His obituary can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/05/AR2008030503524.html?

    Fred S. Singer: An atmospheric physicist who has taken skeptical views on the connection between second-hand smoke and lung cancer, the CFC/ozone-depletion issue (embarrassingly, he called the science uncertain up until 3 weeks before the Nobel Chemistry Prize committee came to the opposite conclusion), and now global warming. After taking the position for years that global warming was simply not happening, he has recently switched to the position that it happens every 1500 years – without missing a beat.

    Steve Milloy: Now a FoxNews commentator, he has been associated both with the second-hand smoke issue and now the global-warming issue. The story is the same: The scientists don’t know what they’re talking about and they’re wrong. (Oh, and by the way, he sat in on that meeting at the American Petroleum Institute. You remember the “action plan”? He’s part of it.)

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Neal, your post is convoluted, one-sided and attacks people and methods rather than science on this numbers blog.

    Socially, I see the IPCC acting like you describe the tobacco chiefs, repressing counter opinion, refusing to admit they were wrong, dismissing dissenting papers without explanation, ad homs on those with opposing views.

    The IPCC neeeds to put it house in order, urgently. Why not realise that that is the imperative and direct your efforts that way. That would be applauded by those who value scientific integrity.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Neal, your post is convoluted, one-sided and attacks people and methods rather than science on this numbers blog.

    Socially, I see the IPCC acting like you describe the tobacco chiefs, repressing counter opinion, refusing to admit they were wrong, dismissing dissenting papers without explanation, ad homs on those with opposing views.

    The IPCC neeeds to put it house in order, urgently. Why not realise that that is the imperative and direct your efforts that way. That would be applauded by those who value scientific integrity.

  • Neal J. King

    #126, Geoff Sherrington:

    Since you were so completely off-base on what I was saying, it was necessary to explain.

    Feel free to point out what I said that was wrong.

  • Neal J. King

    #126, Geoff Sherrington:

    Since you were so completely off-base on what I was saying, it was necessary to explain.

    Feel free to point out what I said that was wrong.

  • Ric Techow

    Neal, with all respect what you have in #122 is a political argument and you are playing the man and not the ball.

    The environment lobby is big business in it’s own right and not without it’s own self interest.

    It is the data and the uncertanties and the physics that should be discussed not funding.

  • Ric Techow

    Neal, with all respect what you have in #122 is a political argument and you are playing the man and not the ball.

    The environment lobby is big business in it’s own right and not without it’s own self interest.

    It is the data and the uncertanties and the physics that should be discussed not funding.

  • Neal J. King

    #128, Ric Techow:

    As mentioned in #127, it was necessary to explain how Geoff Sherrington was so off-base.

    If you read #126 and then compare #122 to anything I have written in this thread or anywhere in the WWW, you have to conclude that Geoff Sherrington has set up a “strawman” that makes the Scarecrow of Oz look like Ironman.

  • Neal J. King

    #128, Ric Techow:

    As mentioned in #127, it was necessary to explain how Geoff Sherrington was so off-base.

    If you read #126 and then compare #122 to anything I have written in this thread or anywhere in the WWW, you have to conclude that Geoff Sherrington has set up a “strawman” that makes the Scarecrow of Oz look like Ironman.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Sorry Neal,

    You’ve hit over the fence for 6 and out.

    This is a blog about “The power of numeracy” and all you want to talk about is evil minds. I asked you for a derivation of CO2 doubling sensitivity and like the vast majority of your cohorts, you ducked it and went on talking about evil tobacco people. If you can’t stick to the thread, I’m not going to answer you any more. Far better things to do. Besides, your thoughts are 1-3 years behing what’s already been aired globally.

    Geoff.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Sorry Neal,

    You’ve hit over the fence for 6 and out.

    This is a blog about “The power of numeracy” and all you want to talk about is evil minds. I asked you for a derivation of CO2 doubling sensitivity and like the vast majority of your cohorts, you ducked it and went on talking about evil tobacco people. If you can’t stick to the thread, I’m not going to answer you any more. Far better things to do. Besides, your thoughts are 1-3 years behing what’s already been aired globally.

    Geoff.

  • Neal J. King

    #128, Ric Techow:

    Both the data and the uncertainties are addressed in the IPCC AR4 report.

    That’s why they have error bars in their projections.

  • Neal J. King

    #128, Ric Techow:

    Both the data and the uncertainties are addressed in the IPCC AR4 report.

    That’s why they have error bars in their projections.

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  • Richard

    “we have not found any actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming.”

    Well actually there is plenty of evidence that AGW exists. But this video should go some way to explaining why the AGW theory can never be proven
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb8Omi2ozA4

  • Daz550

    I dont think there is any definative evidence to support this “man made global warming otherwise the vast majority of the public would have this information by now. 

    The definative evidence that man has caused “global warming” to any signifant amounts if indeed any is non exesistant.

    So how anyone especially politicians can actually state any other is either lying or badly informed the theories are pure speculation.

    • Anonymous

      Yet to read the abstracts of the papers it is a reality.  I wouldn’t trust anything in this field unless you have personally checked it out, and even then its probably wrong!

  • Daz550

    http://www.john-daly.com/stations/stations.htm#Europe

    take a look at the following graphs from various weather stations
    around the world they show no significant temparature rises that could link incresed carbon emmision to global warming. 
     
     
     

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Neal J King: Two years later, where is the evidence? I think on a recount, you were wrong many more times than I was.

  • Daz550

    http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/archive/ci/31/i05/html/05vp.html#ref   A vital read a big question that needs answering in this debate is could it be possible that the warming actually drives temparatures this repoort suggests that global temparatures cause rises in co2 levels—– rather than co2 being the cause of  the rise.

    • Anonymous

      Most probably IMHO

  • http://removevirushelp.com/how-to-remove-security-shield-2011-virus.html security shield 2011 virus

    I think so. Computer models and theoretical calculations are not evidence, they are just theory.

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