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Ron Bailey Comes Clean:

Science writer Ronald Bailey, a longtime skeptic about whether global warming presents an apocalyptic threat, responds to charges that he and other climate "skeptics" are nothing more than paid stooges for evil corporations. As Ron notes, his longtime skepticism of the climate threat can not be explained by his financial interest.

if corporate shilling doesn't explain my stubborn skepticism about global warming, what does? Looking back over my reporting on the issue, I would argue the consistent theme is my reliance on temperature datasets as a way to either validate or invalidate the projections of computer climate models. Up until the last year or so, the satellite data and weather balloon data pointed to relatively modest global warming much below the trends predicted by most climate models. If those trends were correct then there was no imminent "planetary emergency." When the trends were shown to be incorrect last year, I "converted" into a global warmer. . . .

And then there is also the matter of my intellectual commitments. We all have them. Since I work for a self-described libertarian magazine that should indicate to even the dimmest reader that I tend to have a healthy skepticism of government "solutions" to problems, including government solutions to environmental problems. I have long argued that the evidence shows that most environmental problems occur in open access commons-that is, people pollute air, rivers, overfish, cut rainforests, and so forth because no one owns them and therefore no one has an interest in protecting them. One can solve environmental problems caused by open access situations by either privatizing the commons or regulating it. It will not surprise anyone that I generally favor privatization. That's because I believe that the overwhelming balance of the evidence shows that centralized top-down regulation tends to be costly, slow, often ineffective, and highly politicized. As a skeptic of government action, I had hoped that the scientific evidence would lead to the conclusion that global warming would not be much of a problem, so that humanity could avoid the messy and highly politicized process of deciding what to do about it. Unhappily, I now believe that balance of evidence shows that global warming could well be a significant problem. . . .

So I didn't get any stacks of $20 dollar bills in brown paper bags from ExxonMobil (don't believe any photoshopped pictures you may see to the contrary). I also don't think that I was duped by paid-off scientists. Except for climatologist Robert Balling, as the embedded links above show, the sleuths at Exxonsecrets have uncovered no payments to the scientists I chiefly relied upon in my reporting over the years. But was I too skeptical, demanding too much evidence or ignoring evidence that cut against what I wanted to believe? Perhaps. In hindsight I can only plead that there is no magic formula for deciding when enough evidence has accumulated that a fair-minded person must change his or her mind on a controversial scientific issue. With regard to global warming it finally did for me in the last year. That was far too late for many and still too early for others. . . .

So then not a whore, just virtuously wrong. Looking to the future, I can't promise that my reporting will always be right (no reporter can, but I will strive to make it so), but my reporting has always been honest and I promise that it always will be.

Bottomfish (mail):
Bailey spends no time at all on the queation of what is causing the warming. Like so many people, he simply assumes it is CO2.
9.23.2006 7:55pm
dearieme:
Exactly, Bottomfish. It's fair enough to be persuaded of global warming (though, logically, no one should have been until the satellite data was reinterpreted) but that's distinct from Global Warming, the quasi-religous belief that we shall all pay for our sins by roasting in hell.
9.23.2006 8:04pm
Jack S. (mail) (www):
Besides being a science writer, does Ronald Bailey actually have any educational qualifications that would allow him to assess the data for or against global warming? His online bio is strangely devoid of any mention of degrees. I'm not saying he doesn't, but you would think he'd throw that kind of information out there.
9.23.2006 8:08pm
Enoch:
Wiki says Bailey "attended the University of Virginia, where he earned a B.A. in philosophy and economics in 1976. He attended the University of Virginia School of Law for three semesters."

Doubtless his law school experience equipped him to believe he is an expert on every subject. =D
9.23.2006 8:23pm
Bottomfish (mail):
What I am trying to get at here is that unless CO2 accounts for most of the cause, heroic attempts at emissions reduction are not going to mean anything.
9.23.2006 8:32pm
frankcross (mail):
I think it's time to realize that:

1. CO2 accounts for some material amount of global warming; and

2. Heroic attempts at emissions reduction are realistically not a solution (shutting down the world's economy is not heroic).

We need a plan. The deniers may have done a service in preventing foolish and economically destructive responses (though I doubt that would have happened anyway) but they have done a disservice in diverting the issue. The Bush Administration has thrown big bucks into continued research that would have been better spent on seeking ideas to adapt to warming or prevent it through technological steps other than simple emissions reduction
9.23.2006 8:40pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Wow, data going back all the way to 1958 suggest warming! Call me stubborn, but it's been warmer than now in the past -- when we didn't think we could do anything about it -- and leaving well enough alone worked out well.

We still don't have a global dataset of surface temperatures. Some of the unmeasured places are among the coldest, too. After the expenditure of $20 billion or $30 billion or somehing on global climate studies, you'd sort of think somebody might have thought that would have been a useful dataset.

If you take a longer view than 48 years, the temperature data we do have are compatible with the view that the next ice age began within the past 800 years or so. History says we should have expected that, and such information as we have (not much) fits the sort of drunken stagger into an Ice Age that I would expect.
9.23.2006 8:53pm
Bottomfish (mail):
There was a time, several hundred years ago, when temperatures were higher than they were now. This was the "medieval warm period", when the Vikings established agricultural colonies in Greenland. The European historical records of that time do not indicate any coastal flooding, which is supposed to happen when the earth warms up.
9.23.2006 9:03pm
Ross Levatter (mail):
I'll bite. What happened to the data one year ago?
9.23.2006 9:32pm
Dick King:
I've said this before and I'll say it again.

I'll believe that the those who claim that the world is headed for flooding of biblical proportions, etc. really believe it themselves when the majority of them come out in favor of nuclear power. Al Gore, for example, rants about a 20 foot rise in sea level in a couple of decades and regular Katrinas in his movie, but he opposes nuclear power.

It cannot be denied that coal-fueled power plants contribute greatly to atmospheric CO2, and that widespread nuclear power would help a great deal. Surely a Chernobyl every fifty years is better than a Katrina every year, even assuming the industry doesn't learn from its mistake and even assuming that US plants are nearly as badly at risk as former Soviet Union plants.

Note that this is a statement about a number of individuals' beliefs, not about scientific truth, and will necessarily sound ad homenim, but we have to ask ourselves whether they believe it themselves, or not [in which case it's likely they're using it just as a stick with which to beat political opponents].

-dk
9.23.2006 9:45pm
Mark Field (mail):

I'll believe that the those who claim that the world is headed for flooding of biblical proportions, etc. really believe it themselves when the majority of them come out in favor of nuclear power.


This must be rhetorical overkill. You yourself state in the same post that "this is a statement about a number of individuals' beliefs". Emphasis added. Thus, each individual would have to be judged separately on his/her belief system. The "majority" would be irrelevant.
9.23.2006 9:49pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Ross Levatter: Read Ron's article -- he discusses the studies reconciling the discrepancies between different temperature measurements.
9.23.2006 10:17pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Yeah, but he still goes back only 48 years.

It is commonly said, even by AGW skeptics, that temperatures today are a degree F., more or less, warmer than 100 years ago -- that is a rise is claimed to have been detected of 0.01 degree/year. Pretty impressive, since, as Bailey's article says, there's way more uncertainty than that about what the temperature was in 2005.

Fine, tell me what the temperature of the globe was in 1906, within 0.01 degree. There were no people taking temperatures above 70 degrees N., below 50 S, anywhere in interior Africa, almost anywhere in Amazonia, nor in the Tibetan Plateau.

Nobody has any but the vaguest idea how warm or cold it was a century ago, and anybody who makes statements stating or implying that he does is lying.
9.24.2006 1:40am
Dick King:
OK, I'll be precise. You should suspect the motives and veracity of any individual who makes apocalyptic predictions for the world if we don't turn the world's economy upside down essentially immediately to reduce CO2 but who continues to oppose a timely resurgence of the nuclear power industry. You should suspect that he doesn't believe what he is saying, and that he has ulterior motives in pretending to believe that and in trying to persuade a large audience that those predictions are fact.

Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. is probably the most prominent such individual.

We can reasonably care what a large number of such people believe because, let's face it, we're all relatively busy and specialized people, mostly in other areas, and the way we evaluate questions of this sort does involve deciding what experts to believe.

-dk
9.24.2006 3:35am
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
I suspect that the instant Al Gore comes out in favor of nuclear power Republicans will immediately begin screaming about terrorist attacks on nuclear plants and the impossible problem of burying nuclear waste.

dk, why is your view of scientific truth tied to some specific course of action? What bearing does nuclear power have on whether or not the earth is heating up? Do you also refuse to believe in evolution unless Richard Dawkins is in favor of banning cloning?

Btw, "turn the world's economy upside-down essentially immediately"? Who's the one making apocalyptic predictions?
9.24.2006 7:24am
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
A. You can't tell a trend from a long cycle without a really long amount of data. The uncertainty principle. A cycle of course is bad news for recent cause theories.

B. How ``models'' are made. You substitute garbage for what you can't solve. Equations from physics disappear and are replaced by anything you want. There's so much freedom in this that you can get any result. Say one that's good for your career in publically-funded science.

C. Lack of interest in sociological causes. Why is scapegoating effective? Scientists are immune from this, they think. This would be combatted by reverting back to curiosity as the basis of science, from the idea of lockstep institutional progress.
9.24.2006 8:53am
Bottomfish (mail):
Until we can convincingly state that a given percentage increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will cause approximately a given increase in global temperature, we have no basis for policymaking.
9.24.2006 11:33am
Mark Field (mail):

OK, I'll be precise. You should suspect the motives and veracity of any individual who makes apocalyptic predictions for the world if we don't turn the world's economy upside down essentially immediately to reduce CO2 but who continues to oppose a timely resurgence of the nuclear power industry. You should suspect that he doesn't believe what he is saying, and that he has ulterior motives in pretending to believe that and in trying to persuade a large audience that those predictions are fact.


Ok, now let's add another important qualifier: unless that person reasonably believes the problem can be solved in another way. After all, before we accuse someone of "ulterior motives", we'd have to rule out the alternatives; agreed?
9.24.2006 12:12pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
Until we can convincingly state that a given percentage increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will cause approximately a given increase in global temperature, we have no basis for policymaking.

Somehow I doubt that you apply this standard to any other law or policy. "Until we can convincingly state that a given percentage increase in the police force will cause approximately a given decrease in the murder rate, we have no basis for policymaking."

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? So why is global warming special?
9.24.2006 12:54pm
Dick King:

dk, why is your view of scientific truth tied to some specific course of action? What bearing does nuclear power have on whether or not the earth is heating up? Do you also refuse to believe in evolution unless Richard Dawkins is in favor of banning cloning?


My view of scientific truth is not tied to any specific course of action. However, my view of scientific truth is substantially less important that Al Gore Jr.'s, because I don't make movies claiming that we will or will not lose hundreds of thousands of square miles of prime coastline unless we force Draconian cuts in CO2 emission immediately.

It is useful to try to figure out whether Al Gore really believes what he says. He's a reasonably smart person and perhaps he's studied the issue. If he really believes something, maybe we should pay attention. However, based on his actions, I have to conclude that he does not. We have to assume that he's considered the issue, but he thinks that giving up his religious objection to nuclear power is a greater evil than the global warming he must think nuclear power would avoid. It is possible that he thinks that nuclear power won't avoid any CO2 emissions, in which case I have to drop my supposition that he's well informed and I have to assume he hasn't spoken to the French.

Few serious people deny that CO2 can cause some global warming. There are important questions that remain unanswered: how much of the current warming is human-caused, how much of that is CO2 rather than CH4, what will happen over the next say 30 years if we do this and what will happen over the next 30 years if we do that. There are unanswered questions. The Earth is not the only planet with global warming -- Mars is having similar problems, although in Gore's opinion that's probably also caused by the US automobile fleet.

-dk
9.24.2006 1:01pm
CLS (mail) (www):
Found here:


"Merely establishing a warming of less than 1 degree over the last 100 years is just the start of the debate. Those with a specific political agenda want to end the debate and immediately impose their agenda on the world. When people want to impose "solutions" before problems have been clearly defined one has to wonder if their motivation is so much the problem or really about their agenda."
9.24.2006 1:06pm
Randy R. (mail):
The medieval warming period was a real event. however, it occured only in northern europe. That is actually insignificant, because it didn't warm up all over the globe, only a small part of it. So to argue that the medieval warming period was akin to global warming, is like saying that if you dump a bucket of hot water into a lake, the water around your feet got warmer, so the whole lake got hot. It just doesn't make sense.

Further, people have argued that the medieval period was a warmer period, but then others argue that anyone who knows what temperatures were like before 50 years ago are lying. So one of the global warming deniers is lying on this issue.

As for global warming itself, I'm glad that Ron Bailey finally changed his conclusion to fit the facts. The fact that he was cautious about doing so should give any denier pause. At this point, the vast majority of scientists believe global warming is occuring: Debating this issue is becoming less and less productive. We know that CO2 amounts in the atmosphere have increased dramatically in the past 100 years. Does everyone here really believe that there cannot possibly be a connection between the two? Especially when plenty of noted scientists argue there is?

I mean, it's one thing to be skeptical. But it's quite another to bet the future of the planet and resist any sort of attempts to alleviate the problems that will occur merely because you hate liberals and environmentalists.

And finally, most the of the solutions proposed to combat global warming are in fact GOOD things. Less reliance upon foriegn oil and pollution causing coal, more reliance upon clean energy sources -- whose technology would be US driven, creating more jobs. More effiicent energy usages, which result in savings. Higher gas mileage standards, which means cheaper operating costs of cars. I posed this question previously, and no one bothered to answer: How is any of this BAD? Either for you personally, or for the economy as a whole? All these proposals are actually good things! So why such resistence?
9.24.2006 3:35pm
Randy R. (mail):
One more thing: One of the reasons that the Kyoto Treaty was defeated was because of cost. The Senate said it would cost at least $500 billion to implement it, and the US just can't afford such costs.

Well, the Iraq War is costing us far more than $500 billion, and we seem to have to problem with spending that amount of money. And Dick Cheney was once quoted as saying that Reagan taught us that deficits don't matter. So obviously, we CAN afford Kyoto. And the cost would actually come back to us in increased savings, new technology, more jobs, and so on. the losers would be the oil-exporting states, especially those who support terrorism.

But I guess most conservatives view this as a bad thing. We must remain an oil and coal economy no matter what, and no matter what the cost to our environment or national security.
9.24.2006 3:39pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
dk must have quite an intuition for ulterior motives because Gore doesn't propose a single solution in his movie, let alone "Draconian cuts in CO2 emission immediately." Someone even asks him in the movie what we can do, and he doesn't have an answer! Did you see the movie?

I ask again, what bearing does nuclear power have on global warming? Why does one necessitate the other? Why is it impossible for someone to genuinely believe that there are solutions to global warming other than nuclear power?
9.24.2006 3:44pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Bottomfish states:

Until we can convincingly state that a given percentage increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will cause approximately a given increase in global temperature, we have no basis for policymaking.

That statistic is called climate sensitivity and refers to a forcing equivalent to doubling CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. For anyone who can handle the math,

Climate sensitivity is 3C. Plus or minus a little bit, of course. But not plus or minus as much as some people have been claiming in recent years :-)

Follow the link there to the actual paper, and even the previous limits were not that wide.

As to Ship Erect's comment on nuclear power, nuclear power is the single method we currently have of reliably handling base load electical generation needs that does not emit carbon dioxide, and that is why it is relevant.

Sorry, but a lot of what goes on here about climate is argumentation from ignorance.
9.24.2006 4:49pm
Bottomfish (mail):
To Ship erect:

In fact, increasing the police force may decrease the murder rate or it may not. The murder rate, like the crime rate in general, depends on many things other than the number of police. Surely you are aware that the murder rate in the black ghetto is higher than the rate in the middle-class suburbs, even if the ghetto is more heavily policed. But a larger number of police in the ghetto is likely to help because the police can at least intervene in a violent situation before it becomes deadly. If expansion of the police force did not help we would look to other methods. The fact is that there is a lot of experience about when increased policing is ineffective and when not -- far more than there is about the relation of CO2 to global warming. Before increasing the number of police, we should try to determine if such an increase would help.

To Randy R:

I don't know how you can be so sure that the medieval warm period was merely regional. How much data is there to show that temperatures everywhere else were unchanged? Pollen counts and tree rings? Not very reliable. The Viking settlement of Greenland is a historical fact. You may also want to look at the opening pages of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: "When April with his shoures soote..." If there is so little data for the rest of the world, that does not imply temperatures were unchanged. In fact, knowing just a little about the global circulation system would seem to me to imply that a purely regional warming is implausible. Consider your analogy of the lake. If you pour warm water into the lake, how long does the water around you stay warm? The medieval warm period lasted roughly 200 years.
9.24.2006 5:22pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
Thank you for the informative post, Eli!

As to Ship Erect's comment on nuclear power, nuclear power is the single method we currently have of reliably handling base load electical generation needs that does not emit carbon dioxide, and that is why it is relevant.

Emphasis added. Question for the Dukes of Nukes: if we were to switch to all nuclear power, would you favor research into alternative sources of fuel with an eye to replace it one day, or is nuclear power the endgame of power generation?
9.24.2006 5:27pm
Jay Myers:

I'll bite. What happened to the data one year ago?


Yale University geologist Steven Sherwood and Ben Santer, an atmospheric scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, announced in separate papers published in the journal Science that they had found and corrected errors in satellite and weather balloon temperature data and that the corrected observational data is consistent with existing computer climate models.

The problem is that computer models differ among themselves by up to 8 degrees Celsius. Even the National Climatic Data Center admits that computer models are only an approximation of an incredibly complex system we do not fully understand. On the other hand, the data taken since 1979 by the nine National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration TIROS-N polar-orbiting weather satellites were within .02 degrees Celsius of one another for simultaneously operating satellites and within .03 degrees Celsius of simultaneous weather balloon measurements of the same region of the atmosphere. So, according to global warming believers, both sets of data were supposedly flawed for completely different reasons but the disparate flaws effected the data in exactly the same way and to the exact same degree so that both sets of data still agreed with one another.

The thing that is so important about those observations is that they show cooling in the atmosphere from 2 to 5 miles in altitude and that directly contradicts not only the predictions of the computer models but also fundamental assumptions of the greenhouse gas theory of global warming on which they are based. Thus, you can easily see why some people would prefer to assume the observational data was wrong and the computer models were right.

Karl Popper wrote that part of what distinguishes science from pseudo-science is that in science every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify or refute the theory. Ask yourself on which side of that divide would he place altering "heretic" contradictory data rather than reexamining the theory.
9.24.2006 5:55pm
Randy R. (mail):
Bottomfish:
Your statement show that you haven't done even an elementary analysis of the global warming. In fact, most global warming models show that there will be a cooling of throughout northern europe. This is why scientists are properly using the term global climate change.

Here's why: Northern europe is not kept warm by the gulf stream (although that plays a small part of it), but rather because of the north atlantic conveyor belt. (If you look at a map, England is as north as Labrador). Water from the tropics warms up and moves northward, and warms europe. Once up north, the water cools and falls to the bottom on the ocean where it travels back to the tropics and warms up again. It acts as a conveyor belt -- it help absorb heat from the tropics and move it north where the winds blow it around europe. The salt density of the water plays an important role in keeping this belt moving.

However, if too much freshwater enters at the northern part because the icebergs and glaciers are melting, that changes the salt density of the water up north. If that changes too much, then the conveyer belt may slow down or stop, or worse, actually reverse. That would mean a significant cooling trend in Europe, caused by the melting of the icebergs, which in turn is cause by global warming.

So here's the point: playing with the environment like this is a huge experiment, the outcome of which could be catastrophic. At best, the outcome is simply unknown. Do you really want to fight better gas mileage on your car so that we can keep going on this experiment? Careful prudence, in my mind, would require that we take the issue seriously, and take steps to correct it while we still can. That would be the conservative approach. We WILL run out of oil someday -- whether it's 20 or 80 years -- so it is inevitable that we will switch to a non-oil economy at some point. Why wait? Why shouldn't we take the lead? We will only benefit by doing so now, before it's a crisis. Isnt' that the cautious, prudent thing to do?

Many US localaties have signed on to Kyoto as well as foreign countries. Altough they may not meet their goals, none have experienced a total upending of their economies, as some like to fear-monger. California is moving in that direction. Would it not be better to have one national standard for car emissions, rather than a patchwork of difference regs state by state? Which is the more efficient?

Oh, and by the way, Richard Branson just allocated $3 billion to projects designed to combat climate change. The train has left the station, guys, and either we are on it, or we are not. If not, we will lose the technology lead to other nations.
9.24.2006 6:05pm
Bottomfish (mail):
Well, Eli, I did go to the original paper, and this is part of what I found:

As you might have noticed, over recent years there have been a number of papers using observational data in an attempt to generate what is sometimes called an "objective" estimate of climate sensitivity. Of course, as you will hopefully realise having read my previous posts about Bayesian vs frequentist notions of probability, there isn't such a thing as a truly objective estimate, since in a situation of epistemic uncertainty, observations can only ever update a subjective prior, and never fully replace it. Moreover, subjectivity goes a lot deeper than merely choosing priors over some unknown parameters - in all scientific research, we always have to make all sorts of judgements about how to build models and analyse evidence.

I'm not denying that twice as much CO2 leads to a 3C increase. But the uncertainities should always be kept in mind -- especially when the alternative is effectively to reduce the human population to a fraction of its present size.
9.24.2006 6:07pm
Bottomfish (mail):
To Randy R:

What I said was that the likelihood of a particular region (Europe) warming while the temperature everywhere else stayed the same was small to impossible. There is a global circulation system that keeps the atmosphere in constant motion. Because of the way the earth rotates, the system, commonly known as Hadley circulation, is organized on the basis of latitude. Even aside from the Hadley circulation, warmer air in one region tends to loft upward and be replaced by cooler air. The saline water/fresh water conveyor belt that you cite is certainly important but it is merely one factor among others. This is far more basic meteorology than any climate model. How did Europe get so warm in the medieval warm period? Was there any anthropogenic disturbance of the thermohaline circulation then? Was anyone around at the time to analyze it?
9.24.2006 6:43pm
Randy R. (mail):
So how do you guys explain away Ron Bailey? I mean, obviously, he is a well respected scientist. When he was denying that global warming occured, he was of course hailed as one of the scientists willing to base his conclusions on science, not hysteria or the evil ulterior motives of environmentalists. He was a clear thinker, sober, cautious and reliable.

But now he has changed camps. How do you explain that? Would you say that he is so stupid he has become duped by the evil environmentalists? If so, then he was stupid when he supported your side.

Strange that no one has explained this away on this site yet. Why not?

Furthermore, here's another question: In this history of global warming science since the early 90s, there were at first doubters, but many have concluded that global warming is real. Has it ever gone the other way? I mean, has there been a scientist who believed in global warming, then looked at new data and said, I reverse myself, global warming is a fraud?

Seems to me that the science is only going one way. That should be a strong indicator that there truly is something so this, and the prudent thing to do is prepare for it and do what we can to avert it, if possible.

Thanks Bottomfish, for the reply: How do you know that there was or wasn't disturbances globally? We don't. This is why looking to the past may not be particularly useful. So what if there was warming or cooling in 1300? We live in a vastly different world now, and we've expunged a lot of pollutants into the atmosphere. We have a new model to work with, and the past may not be a good indicator. That's my point.

It's interesting to note that nature took all this carbon and collected it over millions of years an buried it under the ground. In the mean time, the earth evolved, continents shifted and so on. It had these millions of years to adapt to it's atmosphere that existed as recently as the late 18th century.

But now, we are on a grand experiment. We have released millions of years worth of carbon into the atmosphere within 200 years. it defies science -- as well as common sense -- to say that this will have zero impact upon our planet and it's weather. The planet will adapt of course, it has to. The question is whether mankind will.

Let's talk immigration: If central America, through a quirk in weather patterns, becomes a sarah desert. you won't be able to build a wall high enough to keep out such immigration.

Let's talk humanitarian; If the monsoons stop, you are looking at the starvation of millions of people. Perhaps this wouldn't bother you, but it bothers me.

Let's talk national security: If global warming disrupts farming worldwide, causing starvation and so on, how kindly will other nations look up the US, the top contributor to CO2 emissions, and the single greatest obstacle to trying to alleviate the problem?
9.24.2006 8:23pm
Randy R. (mail):
Let me give you a hypo, if you will:

Suppose to move to an area that occasionally has hurricanes. Someplace like New Orleans. You build a house, but you spend extra money to enable it to withstand hurricane force winds. Sure, you probably would have rather spent the money on expensive restaurants and fancy clothes, but you do this because it's the prudent, cautious thing to do.
Then there are reports of a hurricane. Do you immediately board up the house and move to safer ground? No, the prudent cautious person will wait until it looks like the hurricane is bad and will come to your area.

But at point will you be convinced that this will happen? A hurricane's path is difficult to predict, and it's strength. Metereologists will disagree on this issue. So do you wait until 30% say it will hit your town? 50%? 90%? What's the tipping point for you before you say that the prudent cautious approach is to board up and move out?

If you wait until you get 99% or 100% of the meterologists to say your house will be destroyed, it will probably be bearing down upon you, and you probably won;t find the materials at Home Depot, and you won't have time. people would say your were being reckless to wait so long.

And then, if at the last moment, the hurricane takes a turn, and spares your house. Would then say what a fool you were to board up and move out? No, because these things are hard to predict, so you realize you got lucky.

But maybe not. As we learned from katrina, it wasnn't the hurricane per se that destroyed the city, but storm surge, then levee break, then floods. As George Bush said, Who could have predicted that the levees would break?

Who indeed. Many people did, and they asked Congress to appropriate a few million to reinforce the levees. Congress ignred it, and now we have to spend billions. In retrospect, it would have been prudent and cautious to listen to the Army Corps and fund the levees before the hurricane struck.

This is why I believe preparing for global warming and making attempts to reduce CO2 emissions is actually the prudent cautious approach. To me, these people who say do nothing at all are the wild-eyed reckless ones. To say that tax cuts are more important the preparing for this is just stupid -- any republican knows that we don't have to eliminate tax cuts, we can just add to the deficit and let someone else pay for it.

Costs? Well, all I hear from conservatives is how well the economy is doing under the Republican congress. So the economy is doing really well, but not well enough to pay for kyoto? That's a very strange argument.

And then there is the false choice arguement: The only way to combat global warming is to sentence millions to death and lower the US standard of living back to the Depression era. Nonsense. We can actually improve the economy by making energy more efficient, and reduce pollution.
9.24.2006 8:35pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Although we don't have measurements of temperatures, there are ways to determine, without any ambiguity, whether and when northwest Europe warmed and cooled. Emmanuel Le Roy Ledurie used depictions of glaciers in the Alps, records of villages and mountain shrines covered by descending ice and records of the start of the grape harvest to determine that the Little Ice Age was real in -- at least -- eastern France and Switzerland -- and that the earlier period was, therefore, considerably warmer.

Human history can sometimes be a valuable guide to natural history.

The period of climate change in northwest Europe tracks very closely with climate change -- toward drought, measured via dendrology -- in the American Southwest, as determined by Reid Bryson in 'Climates of Hunger.'

Other, physical proxies -- possibly less reliable than historical and archaeological records -- suggest pretty strongly that the Medieval Warm and the Little Ice Age were not isolated but segments of a worldwide shift in climatic conditions.

++++

I tentatively explain Bailey by concluding that he is oversensitive to recent physical measurements and undersensitive to more distant historical evidence.

And that he is, like me, a mere journalist, not a scientist.
9.24.2006 8:45pm
Randy R. (mail):
But Bailey got it right up until now, and now he's wrong? Your tentitive explaination could explain why he is wrong now, but doesn't explain why he was right when he said there was no warming. Nor does it explain the flipflop.

And again, any other journalists or scientists who flipflopped the reverse?
9.24.2006 11:08pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Costs? Well, all I hear from conservatives is how well the economy is doing under the Republican congress. So the economy is doing really well, but not well enough to pay for kyoto? That's a very strange argument.
Uh, why? I'm doing really well professionally, but not well enough to buy a Lear jet. Is that "strange"?

(Besides, Kyoto would actually be completely insufficient to combat global warming; the costs of doing the latter are actually significantly higher.)

Nonsense. We can actually improve the economy by making energy more efficient, and reduce pollution.
Wow! And yet some people oppose it. They must like seeing people be unemployed! Why, we can regulate the entire world economy from Washington and Brussels and improve it by fiat! Randy R knows how to do that!


Let's talk immigration: If central America, through a quirk in weather patterns, becomes a sarah desert. you won't be able to build a wall high enough to keep out such immigration.

Let's talk humanitarian; If the monsoons stop, you are looking at the starvation of millions of people. Perhaps this wouldn't bother you, but it bothers me.

Let's talk national security: If global warming disrupts farming worldwide, causing starvation and so on, how kindly will other nations look up the US, the top contributor to CO2 emissions, and the single greatest obstacle to trying to alleviate the problem?
1) Why do you assume the effects of climate change will be negative, rather than positive? Why is it that so many environmentalists live in a Panglossian natural world such that things can only get worse due to humanity rather than better?
2) Why do you assume that the costs of dealing with the effects are greater than the costs of stopping climate change?
3) The idea that the U.S. is the "single greatest obstacle" is absurd. The U.S. is just more honest than other countries; we don't promise to adhere to Kyoto without actually adhering to Kyoto. Nobody is willing to do what it would take to actually do so.
9.25.2006 5:00am
Bottomfish (mail):
I feel that the discussion has lost touch with its essential thread, namely what is causing global warming.
9.25.2006 6:52am
Randy R. (mail):
David: When I talked about costs, I'm talking about costs spread over the entire nation. No one person should bear the costs of reducing global warming.
Certainly, some costs of reducing pollution are expensive. But others are not. Building buildings that are 'green' actually reduces their expenses over time, since they consume less energy -- and that saves money. China has been particularly agressive on this, as has the city of Chicago. Why don't all developers build their buildings green? I don't know -- perhaps ignorance, not knowing that they can. The point is that there are plenty of ways to reduce pollution that save you money, and those should be explored first. Why is this so objectionable?
The effects of global climate change show the displacement of millions of people who live near coastal waters, due to rising sea levels, due to the melting of ice around the world. This also means more floods, greater incidence of storms and so on. That's just to start. Some parts of the world will be wetter, some dryer, and that will disrupt traditional farming practices. Drink fine wine? Well, here's an industry that will be disrupted, as the best vineyards will get too hot to produce good wine, or too dry.

But you still haven't addressed why switching away from an petro-based economy is bad for the US, since we will have to do it at some point in the future anyway, nor have you explained how or why reducing pollution is a bad thing, or becoming more energy efficient is so terrible.
9.25.2006 12:50pm
Randy R. (mail):
AS I pointed out in an earler thread, Lloyd's of London issued an advisory letter to the world's insurance companies stating that global warming is a fact, and that insurance companies should be prepared to deal with it.
Partly as a result of this letter, US insurance companies have decided to reduce capacity all along the eastern seaboard of the US. Why? Because the companies understand that global warming means more storms of greater intensity along the coastal regions. You don't like this? Then don't argue with me -- argue with Lloyd's and the US insurance industry.

What does this mean as a practical matter? If you live in the NYC, Boston, Washington, Charleson regions of the US, you will find insurance much more difficult to obtain, and it will cost you more. Plus, if your building gets destroyed in a storm, this costlier insurance will only give you, say, 70% of the money you need to rebuilt. Naturally, your taxes will have to rise to pay for the increased insurance of gov't property.

How's that for a practical and immediate cost to you due to global warming? Would it not be better for the US economy to apply all those insurance increasees into finding ways to combat global warming?
9.25.2006 12:57pm
Dick King:


Question for the Dukes of Nukes: if we were to switch to all nuclear power, would you favor research into alternative sources of fuel with an eye to replace it one day, or is nuclear power the endgame of power generation?


That's a fair question.

I personally favor research and pilot projects into all plausible alternatives with a couple of exceptions. Those who would apply the so-called "precautionary principle" seem to give wind power a pass. I would think that putting substantial resistance in the path of continent-wide airflows will change climates. I know that rainfall patterns in California, where I live, are substantially different downwind v. upwind of mountains, and adding a few hundred feet to the effective height of these mountains or adding new mountains in the praries of the American Midwest can't help but affect climate. I therefore think we should go very slow on wind power. Never mind the fact that if nuclear power plants, as an apparently unavoidable part of their routine operations, killed dozens or hundreds of endangered raptors per gigawatt-year, the howling from "environmentalists" would be audible all the way on Mars.

Fusion is the energy source of the future, and may always be, but it's worth a small ten-digit sum per year. That's about what we spend.

Solar power is not climatologically dangerous in the manner wind power is, because although we'll be making part of the desert black, the sun would strike and heat the earth anyway, and the percentage of total solar power we would need to tap [perhaps 0.001%] is much less than the percentage of wind power we would need to tap [a few percent]. It looks like it's getting near the point of economic self-sufficiency, so few subsidies are justified at this point. There is the nighttime problem.

Tapping wave and tide and ocean current power is a bad idea for the same reason tapping wind power is a bad idea, only more so.

I don't know what to think about OTEC.

-dk
9.25.2006 12:57pm
Dick King:

dk must have quite an intuition for ulterior motives because Gore doesn't propose a single solution in his movie


Read his book.

-dk
9.25.2006 1:05pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
For pete's sake, Randy, the insurance problem on the east coast has nothing to do with warming or greater number or intensity of storms (which are neither more numerous nor more intense). It has to do with building in stupid places and the fact that the amount of insurable property has multiplied thanks to (gasp!) the prosperity created by the petro economy.
9.25.2006 1:35pm
Falafalafocus (mail):

Certainly, some costs of reducing pollution are expensive. But others are not. Building buildings that are 'green' actually reduces their expenses over time, since they consume less energy -- and that saves money. China has been particularly agressive on this, as has the city of Chicago. Why don't all developers build their buildings green? I don't know -- perhaps ignorance, not knowing that they can. The point is that there are plenty of ways to reduce pollution that save you money, and those should be explored first. Why is this so objectionable?


It seems to me that you are arguing two different, sometimes consistent, positions: 1) the United States government must get involved and save us all from our individual evilness of destroying the environment, and 2) individuals have an economic incentive to do the "right thing" regarding the environment anyway.

Assuming that you are right about 2), then why in the global warming hell should a government get involved? If the individual has an economic incentive to be more green, then why demand it by fiat? Unless, of course, we just love it when governments have the power to regulate everything.
9.25.2006 2:19pm
Jay Myers:
Randy R.:

Furthermore, here's another question: In this history of global warming science since the early 90s, there were at first doubters, but many have concluded that global warming is real. Has it ever gone the other way? I mean, has there been a scientist who believed in global warming, then looked at new data and said, I reverse myself, global warming is a fraud?


Well, let's see.

"Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again."
The New York Times, Feb. 24, 1895

"Prof. Schmidt Warns Us of an Encroaching Ice Age."
The New York Times, Oct. 7, 1912

"Fifth ice age is on the way. Human race will have to fight for its existence against cold."
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 7, 1912

"Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada."
Chicago Tribune, Aug. 9, 1923 - Quoting "Professor Gregory" of Yale University

"The discoveries of changes in the sun's heat and the southward advance of glaciers in recent years have given rise to conjectures of the possible advent of a new ice age."
Time magazine, September 10, 1923

"MacMillan Reports Signs of New Ice Age."
New York Times, September 18, 1924

"Most geologists think the world is growing warmer, and that it will continue to get warmer."
Los Angeles Times, March 11, 1929.

"(T)he earth is steadily growing warmer."
New York Times, May 15, 1932

"That next ice age, if one is coming … is still a long way off."
New York Times, March 27, 1933

"Gaffers who claim that winters were harder when they were boys are quite right... weather men have no doubt that the world at least for the time being is growing warmer."
Time magazine, January 2, 1939

"Climate -- the Heat May Be Off. (D)espite all you may have read, heard, or imagined, it's been growing cooler -- not warmer -- since the Thirties."
Fortune magazine, 1954

"How long the current cooling trend continues is one of the most important problems of our civilization."
J. Murray Mitchell jr. PhD, meteorologist. Quoted in Science News, November 15, 1969

"Colder Winters Herald Dawn of New Ice Age."
The Washington Post, January 11, 1970

"As for the present cooling trend a number of leading climatologists have concluded that it is very bad news indeed."
Fortune, February 1974 - This story won the "Science Writing Award" from the American Institute of Physics.

"Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age."
Time magazine, June 24, 1974

"(T)he facts of the present climate change are such that the most optimistic experts would assign near certainty to major crop failure in a decade."
New York Times, December 29, 1974

"The Ice Age Cometh?"
Science Age, March 1, 1975

"(T)he cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed."
Science News, 1975

"Scientists Ponder Why World's Climate is Changing; A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable"
The New York Times, May 21, 1975

"(T)he earth's climate seems to be cooling down." Experts are "almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century." "The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only ten years from now."
Newsweek, April, 28, 1975

"The cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people in poor nations. (W)orld famine, world chaos, and probably world war … could all come by the year 2000."
Lowell Ponte, "The Cooling", 1976

Oops. I think I went back too far. But don't fret. I'm sure this climate change catastophe won't be any more real than the last five were.
9.25.2006 3:30pm
happylee:
Thanks, Jay Myers. Good stuff.
Smearing opponents is a rather low-brow way to enforce conformity. One remembers the sweet Nazis systematically smearing, firing and then arresting those academics who dared disagree with the "overwhelming" scientific proof of Ayran superiority -- and surely the fact that some of these deviants were financed by (horror!) jews just provided more evidence of guilt. Ditto for kind Joe Stalin and those pesky vermin academics who denied the "overwhelming" scientific proof of socialist superiority -- no doubt financed by capitalist swine (some even jewish!).
The real story that should be written up by "papers of record" is what steps are taken by "mainstream" scientists to destroy opponents instead of simply refuting the deviant scientists' ideas....now that's news!
9.25.2006 4:32pm
BobDoyle (mail):
Ah, yes, happylee, sometimes I think this whole issue, and the greeny advocates, is (are) an example of modern-day Lysenkoism.
9.25.2006 4:38pm
Randy R. (mail):
WASHINGTON - The planet's temperature has climbed to levels not seen in thousands of years, warming that has begun to affect plants and animals, researchers report in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Earth has been warming at a rate of 0.36 degree Fahrenheit per decade for the last 30 years, according to the research team led by James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

That brings the overall temperature to the warmest in the current interglacial period, which began about 12,000 years ago.

The researchers noted that a report in the journal Nature found that 1,700 plant, animal and insect species moved poleward at an average rate of about 4 miles per decade in the last half of the 20th century.

The warming has been stronger in the far north, where melting ice and snow expose darker land and rocks beneath allowing more warmth from the sun to be absorbed, and more over land than water.

Water changes temperature more slowly than land because of its great capacity to hold heat, but the researchers noted that the warming has been marked in the Indian and western Pacific Oceans. Those oceans have a major effect on climate and warming that could lead to more El Nino episodes affecting the weather.

"This evidence implies that we are getting close to dangerous levels of human-made pollution," Hansen said in a statement.

Few scientists doubt that the planet has warmed, though some question the causes of the change.

Hansen, who first warned of the danger of climate change decades ago, said that human-made greenhouse gases have become the dominant climate change factor.

The study said the recent warming has brought global temperature to a level within about one degree Celsius — 1.8 degree Fahrenheit — of the maximum temperature of the past million years.

"If further global warming reaches 2 or 3 degrees Celsius, we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know. The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene, about 3 million years ago, when sea level was estimated to have been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today," Hansen said.

But then again, the National Academy of Scientists is just filled with wild-eyed freaks.,...
9.25.2006 7:37pm
Randy R. (mail):
Yes, there is an insurance problem with people building too close to the coast. But this is not what I'm talking about.

I am talking about FUTURE insurance needs, starting within the next year. If you go the Lloyd's of London website, you will find the advisory letter they issued to all insurance companies to prepare for the huge monetary outlaws caused by storms cause by global warming. You don't like that statement? Then don't argue with me, argue with those screaming liberals in at Lloyd's.

In response, insurance companies will be reducing capacity throughout the eastern seaboard region, not just the coastal areas, because hurricanes and storms can wreak damage far inland. Therefore, as bad as insurance is now, it will get much worse in the future. My brother-in-law was prez of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and is still a bigwig in the insurance industry, and they are taking global warming quite seriously.

now, the insurance industry is not one to change business practices for no reason at all. They are, in effect, taking the prudent cautious approach and building up reserves and limiting exposed liability. To do nothing would be the very definition of reckless.

Love the quotes of scientists from the early 20th century. Do you quote medical texts from that time period and say that doctors know nothing about medicine because all that stuff is outdated? It is really very specious to pull that stunt, because the whole basis of science to to keep moving forward, and change theories based on the available evidence. So they were wrong about global cooling in the past -- they were also wrong about blood letting, too.
9.25.2006 7:45pm
Mark Field (mail):
Randy, your efforts in this thread have been heroic. Some people are just impervious to evidence.

Let me return to the nuclear issue for a moment. I think many people are focused just a little too narrowly when they demand nuclear power as a solution. (In saying that, I personally don't reject nuclear; I just think there are serious issues to resolve.)

Step back for a moment. Global warming is not a problem local to the US (doh!). It's, well, global. If we reduce our CO2 emissions by building nuclear power plants, but other countries continue to emit CO2, we're still screwed if the predictions are true. Thus, any solutions to the problem can't be limited to the US, but have to be solutions that can be implemented anywhere.

For example, let's randomly pick some country, oh, I don't know, say .... Iran. Iran has lots of oil. Whether they burn that oil or we do, the effect on global warming is the same. If nuclear power is the preferred solution... Well, I think you can see where this is going.

Everybody in favor of solving global warming by going global nuclear, raise your hand.
9.25.2006 10:05pm
Randy R. (mail):
Actually, I'm against nuclear power, since studies have shown that there is a much higher incidence of birth defects and cancer rates among people who live within a few miles of any such power plant.

So what's left? I know that solar and wind power are inadequate for our needs. Coal, oil, and nuclear are off the table, in my opinion. However, we can do quite a bit to reduce our need for energy, and that goes a long way. And we need more federal money to seed development of better energy production.

But some people are totally against this. And they haven't exactly explained why.
9.25.2006 10:19pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Had a little problem with the machine last night and lost a post, so I'll repeat it for Randy, because it helps explain why claims that today we are exceptionally warm are, to say the least of it, poorly supported.

And Randy asked if any reporters or scientists went the other way from Bailey. Well, I did, although as a reporter at a provincial daily that may not count for much.

Anyhow, when the initial suggestions that the Arrhenius principle suggested that humans could warm the climate came out, it sounded reasonable to me. I changed my mind later.

What started me thinking was a story about a Harvard researcher who applied to the Natural History Museum to borrow the bucket used on HMS Challenger to collect water samples. He wanted to determine the amount of heat loss via convection as the bucket was hauled in, in order to derive a corrected record of sea surface temperature in the 1870s.

Whoa, thought I. This is really, really crazy. It helped that at the same time I was reading Rehbock's 'At Sea with the Scientifics,' a collection of letters home from the Challenger. A clerk wrote his sisters that Challenger was experiencing a hot day in Honolulu -- 125 degrees. (In case you don't know, the highest temperature ever recorded by anybody else in Honolulu was 95.)

People are claiming to know the temperature of the globe a century ago, without many data points, and the ones they have are wildly suspect. GIGO.
9.26.2006 2:15am
Jay Myers:
Randy R.:


WASHINGTON - The planet's temperature has climbed to levels not seen in thousands of years, warming that has begun to affect plants and animals, researchers report in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


That is blatantly not true. Surface temperatures are approximately the same for most of the globe as they were from 1100 to 800 years ago. (The southwestern US actually experienced a temperature decrease at that time rather than an increase.) Sea temperatures, as measured at the Sargasso Sea are still over a full Celsius degree below what they were at that time and are over two degrees below what they were 3000 years ago.


The Earth has been warming at a rate of 0.36 degree Fahrenheit per decade for the last 30 years, according to the research team led by James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.


Also not true but probably a typo. The measured increase over that time has been a very consistent 0.17 degrees Celsius per decade, which translates to .306 degrees Fahrenheit per decade.


That brings the overall temperature to the warmest in the current interglacial period, which began about 12,000 years ago.


Interglacial period i.e. those times during an ice age when the ice caps are not rushing to crush us like a beer can against a frat boy's forehead. For the record, as late as 2003 Dr. Hanson has written that he believes that, if not for the presence of human beings, the Earth would currently be entering a new era of glaciation, but that as long as humans are around heating things up, that glaciation will never occur. I don't know about you but I do not like the idea of a mile-thick sheet of ice on top of where my house currently is. Wouldn't be good for property values.


Water changes temperature more slowly than land because of its great capacity to hold heat, but the researchers noted that the warming has been marked in the Indian and western Pacific Oceans. Those oceans have a major effect on climate and warming that could lead to more El Nino episodes affecting the weather.


Possibly, but temperature gradients seem to be more important than absolute available energy. After all, weather is nothing more than convection systems transferring heat energy from areas of abundance to areas of scarcity. The more energy that needs to be transferred, the more violent the weather. Global warming acts by boosting low temperatures and reducing temperature variations. Temperature extremes tend to cluster closer to the mean. Nighttime lows are closer to daytime highs, winter temperatures are closer to summer temperatures, and higher latitudes are closer in climate to the tropics than they are now. All that means less energy needing to be transferred from the equatorial regions towards the temperate and polar regions. That implies milder weather patterns.


Hansen, who first warned of the danger of climate change decades ago, said that human-made greenhouse gases have become the dominant climate change factor.


Yes. He first testified before Congress on the subject in 1988. Since then he has revised his predictions downwards by two-thirds. Why are his current predictions only a third of what they were in 1988? I cannot say for sure, but in 2003 he wrote in the journal Natural Science, "Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue. Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate…scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions." That implies manipulation of results and deception.

Other quotes on this point are Stanford professor Stephen Schneider, "To (grab the public attention) we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. This 'double ethical bind' we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest..." and Ecology Professor Jerry Franklin of the University of Washington, "A lot of environmental messages are simply not accurate. But that's the way we sell messages in this society. We use hype. And we use those pieces of information that sustain our position. I guess all large organizations do that." They are not the kind of people I want to base public policy on.


The study said the recent warming has brought global temperature to a level within about one degree Celsius — 1.8 degree Fahrenheit — of the maximum temperature of the past million years.


Which just happens to correspond with the beginning of the current 100,000-year-cycle glaciations. In other words, things were different before they changed to be as they are now. Not only is that not news but it actually adds strength to theories that this could be a natural change to a different climate cycle. And in a mere 15,000 years or so, we may have enough data to begin to speculate.


"If further global warming reaches 2 or 3 degrees Celsius, we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know. The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene, about 3 million years ago, when sea level was estimated to have been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today," Hansen said.


I learned at a very young age that life means change. Ask an elderly person about the change during their lifetimes. Simply stating that something will be new and unfamiliar is not proof that it is bad. Even when it is bad, as grown ups we often have to adjust to the new situation. Coastal land is always in flux and being lost or reclaimed. Can we adapt? Mathematically, the entire current population of Earth can be accommodated without terrific crowding by a territory smaller than Texas (not counting farmland of course). None of this addresses the issue of what is causing global climate variability. If it is human-caused CO2 emissions then how do we explain the observed cooling from 1940 to 1970 and the measured cooling of the lower troposphere? Altering the data to fit our theories simply is not going to make those questions go away.


But then again, the National Academy of Scientists is just filled with wild-eyed freaks.,...


They are true believers whose pseudo-scientific religion is funded by $4 billion US tax dollars each year. I would also like to point out that there is a huge disincentive for findings contradicting claims of a human-caused climate catastrophe since that would almost certainly mean an end to lucrative government research grants. Look at the drubbing Bjorn Lomborg continues to get merely for asking questions.
9.26.2006 3:49am
Dick King:

Actually, I'm against nuclear power, since studies have shown that there is a much higher incidence of birth defects and cancer rates among people who live within a few miles of any such power plant.


Please back this up. Unless someone has been cherry-picking studies [doing twenty studies and, lo and behold, they find a correlation to the 95% significance level in one of them] there's substantially less radiation vented by a nuclear power plant and absorbed at the border fence than people receive from cosmic rays all the time. This is the first I've heard this asserted, and the French, who are paranoid about environmental hazards of all kinds, seem to think that nukes are just fine for about 80% of their electrical power -- in a more crowded country than we have [France -- 109/square kilometer, US -- 80 per square MILE]

Coal and natural gas plants give out more radiation than nuclear power plants [although, like all fossil fuel plants, they reduce the radiation we all receive by diluting the C14 in the atmosphere with old carbon which is all C12 -- but that's the problem we're trying to solve, you see. Every cloud has a silver lining and if I took background radiation doses at all seriously I would pay this fact more attention].

I didn't mention any of these points because the amounts of radiation coal, gas and nuclear power plants vent is exquisitely small. Cosmic rays and [for us married folks] our spouses chock full of C14 and K40 expose us to more radiation than the nuclear power plant down the street. Of course, as a greater percentage of the earth's CO2 load comes to be the result of fossil fuel burns, our spouses and our own bodies become safer.

-dk
9.26.2006 6:13pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Bottomfish, I suggest you might benefit from the powerpoint presentation. What the Baysean estimate does is narrow the range a bit. Take a look at the figures towards the end of the file

Also, note that the estimate of 3C climate sensitivity is based on observations, not modelling, which also gives ~3C.

I begin to understand why people fear lawyer science
9.27.2006 1:56am