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When Climate Scientists Stay Mute:

Roger Pielke Jr. is astounded that "the overwhelming majority of scientists, the media, and responsible advocacy groups have remained mute" about "the repeated misrepresentation of science related to disasters and climate change."

More than anything else, even the misrepresentations themselves, the collective willingness to overlook bad policy arguments unsupported (or even contradicted) by the current state of science while at the same time trumpeting the importance of scientific consensus is evidence of the comprehensive and pathological politicization of science in the policy debate over global warming. If climate scientists ever wonder why they are looked upon with suspicion among some people in society, they need look no further in their willingness to compromise their own intellectual standards in policy debate on the issue of disasters and climate change.
Interestingly enough, Pielke particularly is concerned about the misrepresentations of those who (like Pielke himself) support immediate policy action to address climate change, not the so-called "denialists" or "skeptics."**

[**Why the scare quotes? Because most so-called "denialists" or "skeptics" do not deny the reality of anthropogenic contributions to global warming nor are they skeptical about the basic science of clmate change. Rather, most folks tarred with these labels are, to some degree or another, skeptical of the evidence for certain apocalyptic claims and the need for particualrly dramatic policy measures and particularly vocal about their concerns.]

Steven Plunk (mail):
It used to be that healthy skepticism was a virtue. Now in climate change discussions skeptics are branded as ignorant or in the pocket of oil companies. My how science has changed, we persecute those who want solid evidence and open inquiry rather than those with new ideas.

Global warming is more a political tool than true science. I expect that is largely because of the way our modern media present science to us. Frightening stories get more attention and better ratings. Alar, silicone implants, and various other stories have cost the economy billions of dollars only to debunked later. I expect many of the global warming claims to meet the same fate.

By reamining silent these scientists mentioned truly show a lack of discipline.
11.22.2006 2:18pm
alkali (mail) (www):
Similarly, I frequently wonder why this blog does not seek out and correct various incorrect statements about legal matters made by entirely different people. I can only conclude that the Volokh co-conspirators are acting in bad faith all the time.
11.22.2006 3:20pm
Mr L:
Similarly, I frequently wonder why this blog does not seek out and correct various incorrect statements about legal matters made by entirely different people.

To be fair, 'various incorrect statements about legal matters' are not being used to justify multitrillion-dollar emissions reduction programs.
11.22.2006 3:26pm
Steve:
I'd like to read more about the multitrillion-dollar emissions reduction programs our government has mandated because of climate change. Where can I look?
11.22.2006 3:30pm
Kazinski:
Here is a powerpoint presentation from the Competitive Enterprise Institute that purports to debunk many of the claims in "An Inconvienient Truth".

Some of the debunking is a slam dunk and very persuasive, here is an example(slide 19):

Claim:

“In July 2005, Mumbai [Bombay], India, received 37 inches of rain in 24 hours—the largest downpour any Indian city has received in one day.” (AIT, p. 110)

Counterclaim:

It is scientifically illegitimate to link any particular rainfall event to a gradual increase in global CO2 levels.
If global warming were affecting rainfall in Mumbai, we would expect to see it in long-term precipitation records.
Data from two Mumbai weather stations show no trend in July rainfall over the past 45 years.



But many other points of contention depend on dueling studies and are much harder to evaluate.
11.22.2006 3:39pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Mr. L writes:


To be fair, 'various incorrect statements about legal matters' are not being used to justify multitrillion-dollar emissions reduction programs.
Steve responds:

I'd like to read more about the multitrillion-dollar emissions reduction programs our government has mandated because of climate change. Where can I look?
Mr. L wrote "used to justify." He did not say that our government has imposed such mandates yet.

Perhaps Alkali's claim that
Similarly, I frequently wonder why this blog does not seek out and correct various incorrect statements about legal matters made by entirely different people. I can only conclude that the Volokh co-conspirators are acting in bad faith all the time.
causes me to wonder how many of these statements are factually incorrect, and how many are simply matters of opinion. Political activists may not want to hear this, but there is a difference.

1. A statement of fact is, "Federal law makes it a felony to turn back a motor vehicle odometer." Similarly, "Global concentrations of carbon dioxide have risen in the last century, as have worldwide temperatures."

2. A statement of opinion is, "Lawrence v. Texas (2003) was wrongly decided based on the historical evidence." Similarly, "The rise in worldwide temperatures is the result of man's contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide, and threatens the long-term survivability of mankind" is also an opinion.
11.22.2006 3:48pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Go here and follow the links for an example of reasoned argument with a "denialist".
11.22.2006 3:51pm
Anon. E. Mouse:
There's simply no way for a layman (even a layman w/ a technical background) to sort out what is going on w/ global warming.

Assuming arguendo that the earth is heating up from man's activity, the message of what to do about it has been lost in the politically-driven (i.e., a mish-mash of near-religious ideology and money) screeching we've been calling science. We can’t hear the alarm sounding through the din.

The climate science community failed to criticize Kyoto as pointless -- the change in C02 from Kyoto (if followed...as if anyone will follow it) has a near-negligible effect even on the most extreme models.

There's just no honesty there -- the entire climate science community, regardless of personal or professional beliefs re: global warming -- should have stood up and called Kyoto a sham. They didn't, and this leads me to question the integrity of the rest of the "science." That leaves me confused -- I don't know what or who to believe.

A critical thinker has to question the models that show wildly divergent results depending on key assumptions (e.g., amount of feedback from water vapor, etc.). There’s no consensus of magnitude, the end result feels more like a conclusion of man-induced warming based on a presumption of a positive feedback system. “Hey everyone, there’s a consensus that the sky is falling. Some of us think the sky is made of blue porcelain, others think it is more of a glass, and yet others are sure it is sheets of aluminum. But the consensus is that the sky *is* falling.”

That, and the near-proof by existence that the Earth's climate has a strong negative feedback loop -- we are at a decent temperature today despite previous cataclysmic meteor strikes, (pre-)historical CO2 levels many times what they are today, etc. All of the models assume a positive feedback loop to get to the runaway scenarios. CO2 simply won't do it on its own, its effect is logarithmic (marginal effect decreases rapidly as concentration increases).

My growing suspicion is that we’ve all been had.
11.22.2006 3:57pm
frankcross (mail):
Because most so-called "denialists" or "skeptics" do not deny the reality of anthropogenic contributions to global warming

I'm not sure what your references are, but the most prominent denialists (publicly), like Lindzen and Michaels and others overseas, in fact appear to deny this. I assumed they were the referents.
11.22.2006 4:02pm
Michael B (mail):
Apparent to virtually all, surely, the very use of the "denialist" label itself is an indication that 1) the association with "holocaust denial" is being invoked for purposes of demonization and/or slander, and therein inviting a reductionist, manichean basis for any subsequent "dialog" (a dialog of the type the Andrew Sullivans, the Sam Harrises, the R. Dawkinses, et al. of the world so often attempt to forward) and 2) is an indication that ideology, or worse, is being adumbrated upon the more soundly based rational/scientific aspects of the discussion.
11.22.2006 4:23pm
JonBuck (mail):
I found a rather interesting quote from British climate scientist:


“Over the last few years a new environmental phenomenon has been constructed … - the phenomenon of ‘catastrophic’ climate change. It seems that mere ‘climate change’ was not going to be bad enough, and so now it must be ‘catastrophic’ to be worthy of attention. The increasing use of this pejorative term - and its bedfellows qualifiers ‘chaotic’, ‘irreversible’, ‘rapid’ - has altered the public discourse around climate change.

“This discourse is now characterised by phrases such as ‘climate change is worse than we thought’, that we are approaching ‘irreversible tipping in the Earth's climate’, and that we are ‘at the point of no return’. I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric. It seems that it is we, the professional climate scientists, who are now the (catastrophe) sceptics. How the wheel turns!”


-- Dr. Micheal Hulme.
11.22.2006 4:56pm
Steve:
Prof. Adler talks about the alarmism of some global warming advocates. But there's just as much alarmism on the other side, among the people who are so worried that we'll spend ourselves into poverty with trillion-dollar programs that they can't even agree on facts which ought to be beyond dispute.

Al Gore consciously avoided discussing policy solutions in his movie because he wanted to build consensus on the easy part - the existence of a problem - before we confront the thornier issue of finding practical solutions. I guess it didn't work, because we still see people convinced that if they give even an inch on the science, suddenly Al Gore will be empowered to make cars illegal and revert our economy to the Dark Ages and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

If people would accept that agreeing on the science doesn't mean you'll be on board with any harebrained solution that gets proposed, maybe we could actually advance the dialogue a sliver.
11.22.2006 5:02pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
The quick check for actual science going on is to check for curiosity.

If you don't see any curiosity, there isn't any science either.
11.22.2006 5:25pm
MnZ (mail):
Pielke has a very interesting take on global warming. He is convinced of anthropogenic contributions to localized and global climate change. However, he questions how much climate change is due to global warming rather than other factors. He also questions how much of the current global warming is attibutable to CO2 rather than other greenhouse gases and/or other human caused factors.

Basically, he wants to address climate change. However, he wants to make sure we are addressing the right things and expect the right results.
11.22.2006 5:29pm
Constantin:
Thirty years out and we still haven't solved the global cooling problem that graced Newsweek's cover in 1975. Don't you think we should tackle that one before we address global warming?

Of course, we could just wait another thirty years until the scare is global cooling, again. But it seems the folks who have recast the fear as one of "climate change" have made whether it's getting warmer or cooler an irrelevant distinction.
11.22.2006 5:49pm
Harold Henderson (mail) (www):
One denialist outfit, the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, relies on fiction writer Michael Crichton rather than the peer-reviewed scientific literature. At this level of intellectual bad faith, I fail to see the need to put "denialist" in scare quotes.

How many contributors or commenters on this blog would take seriously arguments about the minimum wage or monetary policy that referred only to amateur economists, while ignoring or misrepresenting publications in the professional literature?

I blogged on one case of misrepresentation August 5 at chicagoreader.com.
11.22.2006 5:50pm
JonBuck (mail):
Speaking of climate change economics, here is a critique of the Stern Review over by Yale economist William Nordhaus. He points out that the Stern Review itself is political in nature and is not peer reviewed.
11.22.2006 6:01pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Frank --

I think my description fairly characterizes both Lindzen's and Michaels' positions.

Patrick Michaels' position, at least since the late 1990s, is that the human contribution to climate change will be less severe and less dangerous than the "consensus" estimates, but he has not (to my knowledge) denied that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 and other gases increase climate forcings. Rather, he has argued that human-caused warming would be relatively small and largely benign. See, e.g., this paper from 1998.

Richard Lindzen has been more skeptical of the human contribution to climate change, but largely because he beleives that various feedback mechanisms act to reduce its overall sensitivity. See, e.g., this 1997 testimony.

JHA
11.22.2006 6:07pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I am a straight denialist and have been saying so in print for 25 years. Not on scientific but on historical grounds.

All statements of the form 'Global temperature has risen/fallen X degrees in the past century' or 'storm numbers and intensity have increased because of global warming' or 'climate change will extend the range of tropical diseases away from the equator' can be disproven on purely historical evidence.

Here is an example that lawyers may feel comfortable with: when Abe Lincoln was practicing law in Illinois, the leading cause of death in that state was malaria. Today, no more malaria. Nobody who has ever been in Chicago in August thinks that happened because Illinois has gotten too cold since the 1840s.

I am not a scientist, but you don't need to be a scientist to work out these sorts of arguments.

Crichton, by the way, is an MD and therefore has more scientific training than Al Gore or probably 99.5% of the global warming doomsayers.
11.22.2006 6:26pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
frankcross:

“I'm not sure what your references are, but the most prominent denialists (publicly), like Lindzen and Michaels and others overseas, in fact appear to deny this. I assumed they were the referents.”

Bjorn Lomborg author of The Skeptical Environmentalist does not dispute that some warming has occurred. He takes issue with the models and assumptions proponents use to make forecasts of how much warming will occur and what the effects will be.


BTW using the term “denialist” is unnecessarily prejudicial and inflammatory. It’s an obvious attempt to associate skeptics with the crackpots who deny the holocaust. Using this kind of language is going to invite the skeptics to engage in their own debasement of language.

Let’s be clear that many other ideas that once had great currency have turned out to be false or mostly false. Eugenics had wide support in the media, academia, the press and with the public. Back in the 1980s we had Nuclear Winter and acid rain. Both these threats to the environment turned out less than spectacular. That goes not necessarily mean the threat of global warming is false, but it does show that wide and deep consensus is no guarantee of correctness. The more I see inflammatory responses to global warming skeptics, the more inclined I am to believe the science is weak. And it does have very specific weakness that we can discuss without resorting to invidious labels.
11.22.2006 6:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“One denialist outfit, the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, relies on fiction writer Michael Crichton rather than the peer-reviewed scientific literature.”

If you read Michael Crichton’s book State of Fear you will see that he provides plenty references to peer-reviewed scientific literature. He also gives a commented bibliography and numerous graphs. Yes it’s a novel, but an unusual one. Compare and contrast to Al Gore’s movie and book An Inconvenient Truth. Gore’s book has no footnotes, no endnotes, no references, and no bibliography—nothing. Not even a table of contents. Moreover he color-codes his graphs in a way that distorts perception. We know from work done at Bell Labs on statistical graphics that one should avoid the primary colors because they can cause misjudgments. For example if you color a figure in red it looks much larger than the identical figure colored in a pastel.
11.22.2006 6:54pm
davod (mail):
Steve:

Gore is a sensationalist pure and simple.

Harold:

Have you read Crichton's book. He mentions that he started writing a different book agreeing with global warming proponents, until he researched the topic. He includes references to everything he refers to.

I have trouble with the global warming being mankinds fault for one simple reason. They consistently use falsified research to bolster their ideas.

The proponents have adopted the mantra of an ideology. Much like those who use the worst parts of religious teachings to support killing and torture, the proponents bend and twist the facts to suit their ends. And yes, they are just as bad as the religeous zealots. Why, because if implimented, their solutions will result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in the developing world.
11.22.2006 6:59pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Well, if you want to hear folks engaging in denial, you might look at this video (there is a transcript). It helps to have a bit of background before you tune in.

On the other hand, Roger Pielke Jr. manufactures much of the astound that he is shocked by. Something you might keep in mind. Very workmanlike.
11.22.2006 7:55pm
Kazinski:
I'd have less of a problem with the Global Warming industry if they weren't trying to package a range of issues as one single indivisible package. There are four separate questions about global warming, none of which have seem to have definitive answers at this time:


A) Is the Earth actually warming in any significant degree?
B) If the Earth is undergoing a warming event, is it a natural cycle, a solar event or due to manmade disruptions in the natural balance?
C) If A and B, then does anything need to be done about it, or is it likely to be as much positive as negative effects?
D) And if A, B, and C, what should be done, if anything effective can be done?


What raises my bullshit monitor is that it is being loudly asserted that we already know the answer to all 4 questions, it is unconscionable to dispute the evidence or the proposed solutions to any of the questions, and they are the all one issue that needs to be addressed NOW before all life on earth is destroyed.

The fact that New Zealand (.2% of global CO2 emissions) is so sure of the answers that they are transferring a large part of their disposable national income to Russia in penance is just astounding.
11.22.2006 8:11pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I'll not defend Pielke, who I never heard of until today.

But I know something about storm tracking -- having interviewed the leading researchers in the field from time to time since 1966 -- and Kennedy's editorial (which I had seen before) was artfully designed to misinform.

We do NOT know why the Gulf is warmer, if indeed it is. We don't know what its temperature used to be. Not the foggiest idea.

But one thing we do know. Something every storm researcher will admit if you ask: nobody can say whether storms have increased or decreased in frequency or intensity, because nobody has any idea how many storms there were. An accurate count was not possible until satellite observations began, barely a generation ago.

The first thing the storm watchers said to themselves when the satellite images came in was, Wow, there are a lot more storms out there than we had any idea of. This is particularly true for the eastern tropical Pacific, but also true for the more-traveled Atlantic.

To repeat: Anyone who claims to have statistics about storms to back up his view of climate is a fraud.
11.22.2006 8:16pm
Eli Rabett (www):
The problem here is that there is a lot of argument from personal ignorance. Kazinski asks the right questions, but he does not know the answers, thus he assumes that anyone who does is throwing bull.

a) Is the earth warming? The answer is yes, at a rate that is faster than any in history. Note that this is slightly different than whether the earth is warmer than in year x.

b) What is the cause: By far the major cause for this is increases of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the associated feedbacks (water vapor increase mostly) To not believe this you have to falsify a LOT of basic physics. Note this does not say that GHGs are the ONLY cause

Questions a and b were dealt with in great detail in the IPCC Working Group I report and several National Academy of Sciences reports. The support for this will be even stronger in the IPCC Assessment Report 4 to be released in January 07.

c) Does anything have to be done about it? That depends what your goals are. Perhaps the second part is easier to answer, will the results be more negative than positive. Yes, once there is more than about 1.5 C of warming. No if it is less. See WGII report in the IPCC Third Assessment Report and the Jan 07 release. The damage grows exponentially once the temperature passes that threshold.

Current best estimates are that for an equivalent of 560 ppm CO2 (doubling from preindustrial) global temperatures will rise 3 C, with a range of 2 to 4.5 C. We will probably reach that level within the decade.

d) for the ethics and economics of doing or not doing anything see the Stern Report and Nordhaus' comment

Oh yeah, there are a lot of ships records with sea surface temperatures.
11.22.2006 9:08pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
No, there are not lots of ships' records with sea surface temperatures. Nor are the ones that do exist reliable.

You probably have heard of HMS Challenger? Took sea surface temps around the world in the 1870s? I refer you to Rehbock, 'At Sea with the Scientifics,' where we learn from a contemporaneous diary kept on Challenger that it's thermometer registered a temperature of 125 degrees in Honolulu.

It's cooled off a lot since then. No one has ever measured a temperature there over 95.

It is not only not certain that the earth is warming faster, it is not certain that it is warming at all. If you don't KNOW what the global surface temperature was in 1906 -- and no one does nor can it be recovered -- then you cannot KNOW whether it was warmer or colder than now.

After all, Antarctica just went through the coldest winter EVER measured there. Hardly a sign that warming is beyond criticism, is it?
11.22.2006 10:12pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“What is the cause: By far the major cause for this is increases of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the associated feedbacks (water vapor increase mostly)”

The net amount of positive co2 feedback is uncertain because an increase in water vapor can lead to an increase in cloud cover. Some types of clouds will cause cooling because they reflect the incoming solar radiation. Other types of clouds will cause an increase in temperature. The cloud physics is one of the weakest parts of climate modeling. For a discussion see A Climate Modeling Primer section 1.4.3 p. 36. The climate disaster predictions strongly depend on positive feedback. Otherwise increases in co2 don’t cause runaway warming. To my knowledge, IPCC has not resolved this issue yet-- if you know differently please share.

Oh yeah, there are a lot of ships records with sea surface temperatures.

I know a guy who spent full time studying temperature data. The ship temperature samples are not reliable. The crews would haul up buckets of water and then stick in thermometers. One problem was local heating of the water from the ship itself. Another problem is the water cools as it’s hauled up. Most of the reliable temperature data we have comes from land-based stations in the northern hemisphere. Historical temperature data from the southern hemisphere is both sparse and unrealiable.
11.22.2006 10:42pm
Michael B (mail):
"Is the earth warming? The answer is yes, at a rate that is faster than any in history." Eli Rabett

How much of the earth's history does this statement presume to apply to and upon what basis?

"By far the major cause for this is increases of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the associated feedbacks (water vapor increase mostly) To not believe this you have to falsify a LOT of basic physics." Eli Rabett

Perhaps, but how certain is the scientific community of these two claims and what of dissension which in fact seems to be warranted? Cf. this report as reviewed by Philip Stott, Prof. Emeritus of Biogeography, University of London, also here.

Excerpt from the first link:

"One especially eminent science writer has already declared: 'The implications for climate physics, solar-terrestrial physics and terrestrial-galactic physics are pretty gob-smacking...'"

Excerpt from the second:

"We are walking into danger if we think we can stop climate change – we can't, but we can mess up the British economy. Energy security for Britain is a very serious issue and we need a realistic policy that will slow down climate change. But let’s not be conned that we can stop it."

Emphases added. Also, his review of the Stern review.
11.22.2006 11:02pm
Kazinski:
Eli Rabett:

The Earth is warming "at a rate that is faster than any in history".

The problem is that "history" is so short as to be meaningless. We certainly know that the Earth has been warmer in the very recent past, and that a mere 120,000 years ago that sea levels were 6m higher than they are now.

Here is my problem Eli, this is a set of complex questions with conflicting evidence, and is likely to be settled, like most scientific questions, by a preponderance of the evidence, not absolute certainty. So when someone says they "know" the answers, I know for certain they are full of bull.
11.22.2006 11:48pm
Tom952 (mail):
Despite the application of the very latest climate theories by the smartest scientists utilizing the best computers, the year 2006 produced a quiet hurricane season. Those responsibly for this heresy will be made to pay.
11.22.2006 11:49pm
Steve:
Steve:

Gore is a sensationalist pure and simple.


Strong beginning...

...if implimented, their solutions will result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in the developing world.

Ouch. Painfully ironic ending.
11.22.2006 11:52pm
Lev:
billions and billions
11.23.2006 12:04am
Antonio Manetti (mail):
Clearly, for an unbiased, expert critique of the science dealing with a problem requiring a vast collective effort to address, a libertarian lawyers' blog is the place to go.
11.23.2006 1:14am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"To be fair, 'various incorrect statements about legal matters' are not being used to justify multitrillion-dollar emissions reduction programs."

Maybe not. But I can say for a certaintly the few times I have traveled through LA, the air is a sickly yellow brown and burns when it one breathes it in. And, anyone who has suffered through a central Florida summer the last three years knows how much higher the tempteratures and humidity has been than yeas earlier. Thus, the "multitrillion-dollar emissions reduction programs" may in fact be quite justified.
11.23.2006 1:34am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Here is a powerpoint presentation from the Competitive Enterprise Institute that purports to debunk many of the claims in "An Inconvienient Truth".

Some of the debunking is a slam dunk and very persuasive, here is an example(slide 19):


Claim:


“In July 2005, Mumbai [Bombay], India, received 37 inches of rain in 24 hours—the largest downpour any Indian city has received in one day.” (AIT, p. 110)


Counterclaim:


It is scientifically illegitimate to link any particular rainfall event to a gradual increase in global CO2 levels.
If global warming were affecting rainfall in Mumbai, we would expect to see it in long-term precipitation records.
Data from two Mumbai weather stations show no trend in July rainfall over the past 45 years.





But many other points of contention depend on dueling studies and are much harder to evaluate."

Whose leg are you pulling Kazinski? Do you really think people who go to law school do not take undergrad logic classes? And we are supposed to generalize from just one isolated cited instance?
11.23.2006 1:42am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"We can’t hear the alarm sounding through the din?"

I dunno ... those pictures of the Artic North Pole melting with comparisons between 1979 and 2006 are pretty impressive.
11.23.2006 1:45am
MnZ (mail):
Thus, the "multitrillion-dollar emissions reduction programs" may in fact be quite justified.

A trillion dollars is a lot of money. Poor air quality in LA and hot days in Florida are problems, but are probably not worth multi-trillion dollars to solve.

Anyway, the poor air quality in LA is a separate issue from global warming and greenhouse gases. The poor air quality of LA largely reflects the topography of the land and high usage of automobiles in LA. Reducing greenhouse emissions in Chicago or even Sacramento is not going to improve the air quality of LA.
11.23.2006 2:42am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
The poor air quality of LA largely reflects the topography of the land and high usage of automobiles in LA. Reducing greenhouse emissions in Chicago or even Sacramento is not going to improve the air quality of LA.

But reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases in LA is certainly going to improve the air quality there because the best way to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases is to find alternatives to burning fossil fuels, the cause of LA's poor air quality (same goes for Chicago and Sacramento).

We need to find alternatives to fossil fuels. We have been through this exercise before. The environmental regulations of the seventies were going to destroy the economy and force us back into the dark ages. Guess what, it didn't happen. We were able to clean up our rivers, lakes, and air and our economy, indeed the global economy, didn't collapse. Why on earth should we believe the economic doomsayers now, especially considering the hidden costs of our dependence on oil (do you seriously think we would have spent $500 billion on a war in Iraq if they weren't sitting on the second largest oil reserves in the world?).
11.23.2006 9:27am
Aleks:
Re: when Abe Lincoln was practicing law in Illinois, the leading cause of death in that state was malaria. Today, no more malaria.

Malaria was never a "tropical" disease: historically, there were outbreaks as far north as St Petersburg (Russia, not Florida). Ditto for yellow fever: the 1790s featured a severe epidemic in Philadelphia! What has relegated these diseases to the tropics today is economics and technology, not climate. We northern First Worlders tend to live an work in well-screened, mosquito-free buildings and our sick are isolated in ways that make transmission via insect vectors very difficult.

Re: Is the earth warming? The answer is yes, at a rate that is faster than any in history.

Um, how is that statement even knowable? Accurate measurements of temperature go back maybe 150-200 years, and only quite recently were such measurements taken from large areas of the planet.

Re: And, anyone who has suffered through a central Florida summer the last three years knows how much higher the tempteratures and humidity has been than yeas earlier.

Care to back this up with data? I live in Fort Lauderdale, and lived in St Pete three years before that. Yes, Florida summers are wretched, but I don't recall anyone screaming about records being broken. You can relaibly count on it being somewhere in the low-to-mid 90s in the summer, with at least 90% humidity.
11.23.2006 12:11pm
Paul Zrimsek (mail):
Clearly, for an unbiased, expert critique of the science dealing with a problem requiring a vast collective effort to address, a libertarian lawyers' blog is the place to go.

Provided it has a comments section, yes. That's where the real experts hang out.
11.23.2006 12:36pm
MnZ (mail):
But reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases in LA is certainly going to improve the air quality there because the best way to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases is to find alternatives to burning fossil fuels, the cause of LA's poor air quality (same goes for Chicago and Sacramento).

We need to find alternatives to fossil fuels. ... Why on earth should we believe the economic doomsayers now, especially considering the hidden costs of our dependence on oil (do you seriously think we would have spent $500 billion on a war in Iraq if they weren't sitting on the second largest oil reserves in the world?).


(sigh) Where to begin?

Certainly, there is a superficial link between smog and global warming, namely fossil fuels. However, they are really separate issues.

First of all, smog and global warming are largely caused by different pollutants. The primary greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide which is not a cause of smog. Instead, smog can be caused by various pollutants. Only a few smog pollutants are related to global warming, and even then, they are only related in a minor way.

Second, smog and global warming are local and global problems, respectively. It is very poor and inefficient public policy to fix a localized problem (e.g., smog in Sacramento, Chicago, and LA) by causing non-affected areas (e.g., Iowa) to incur unnecessary costs.

Third, the technologies to address smog and global warming are different. For example, diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline, and therefore release less greenhouse gases. However, diesel engines tend to release more smog producing pollutants than gasoline engines.

Finally, regarding Iraq, if the US really only wanted Iraq's oil, then we would not have invaded Iraq. Instead, the US could have made a deal directly with Sadaam Hussein to end (or ignore) the UN sanctions in exchange for oil contracts.
11.23.2006 1:30pm
MnZ (mail):
Correction:

The primary greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide which is not a cause of smog.
11.23.2006 1:32pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Apparent to virtually all, surely, the very use of the "denialist" label itself is an indication that 1) the association with "holocaust denial" is being invoked for purposes of demonization and/or slander, and therein inviting a reductionist, manichean basis for any subsequent "dialog" (a dialog of the type the Andrew Sullivans, the Sam Harrises, the R. Dawkinses, et al. of the world so often attempt to forward) and 2) is an indication that ideology, or worse, is being adumbrated upon the more soundly based rational/scientific aspects of the discussion."

Wow, that's really taking liberties to read stuff into what someone might or might not be thinking ... That certainly wasn't what I was thinking.
11.23.2006 2:31pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
It is quite a leap to construe individuals who are "in denial" to a whole class of "denialsts" or even "denialist" organizations (though Bush agencies I might believe).
11.23.2006 2:37pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"I guess it didn't work, because we still see people convinced that if they give even an inch on the science, suddenly Al Gore will be empowered to make cars illegal and revert our economy to the Dark Ages and there's nothing anyone can do about it."

This is quite a scare. However I find riding horseback quite preferable to breathing carbon monoxide from gridlocked cars, though I realize some might not be able to take the flies.
11.23.2006 2:39pm
Eli Rabett (www):
If you want to have some deja vu all over again, just compare the campaigns against the Clear Air Act in the 70s and the Kyoto Treaty today. Some of the same players, a lot of the same organizations.
11.23.2006 2:50pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Here is an example that lawyers may feel comfortable with: when Abe Lincoln was practicing law in Illinois, the leading cause of death in that state was malaria. Today, no more malaria. Nobody who has ever been in Chicago in August thinks that happened because Illinois has gotten too cold since the 1840s.

I am not a scientist, but you don't need to be a scientist to work out these sorts of arguments."

How does this argument have any merit when other Mosquito-borne viruses like West Nile Virus exist in such Northern states? Alls the faux-argument might mean is malaria has been eradicated, not that mosquitos previously confined to the South have now moved North.
11.23.2006 3:00pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"not that mosquitos previously confined to the South have now moved North." = not that mosquitos previously confined to the South have not now moved North. I apologize for the double negative. The idea that there is reallyglobal cooling rather than global warming is not supported by pointing out that malaria has moved South, when mosquitos carrying West Nile Virus have, in fact, moved North.
11.23.2006 3:04pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“This is quite a scare. However I find riding horseback quite preferable to breathing carbon monoxide from gridlocked cars,…”

You won’t breathe too much CO unless you’re idling in a garage or tunnel and the ventilation systems aren’t working properly. But on a more serious note, try to imagine what life would be like if we had to drastically reduce our energy consumption. It’s not just a matter of riding horses or even driving smaller cars. For example, most of our food gets to us in refrigerated trucks, and stored in refrigerated warehouses before distribution to the retail markets. This includes “fresh” produce. You would have to shop almost every day like your grandmother or great grandmother did, and your food choices would be very limited. This means far fewer two-earner households with children. How many women are going to be willing to give up working to reduce CO2 emissions? Now that we have developed the farmland near our urban centers (e.g. Long Island) food has to be shipped long distances and that requires energy and lots of it. Next time you go to the market ask how much of what they sell is produced locally. Let’s face it, the western world is really hooked on energy consumption for good reasons—life is a lot more pleasant and healthy with it. How many electrical appliances in your house are you willing to give up? Do you want to give up your washing machine and go back to the days of “blue Monday?” When people realize what they will have to give up, they will take their chances with global warming. The only salvation I can see is nuclear power, but that’s going to take a long time to put in place.
11.23.2006 3:10pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
MnZ sez: 'The primary greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide which is not a cause of smog.'

The primary greenhouse gas is water vapor, accounting for about six-sevenths of all greenhouse gases.

Mary-Katherine, you have completely missed my point, which Aleks got exactly.

The arugment of, eg, Gore is that a warming globe will cause tropical diseases to migrate northward along with the thermoclines. This is ignorance redoubled.

First, malaria is not a tropical disease. The malaria plasmodium never experiences the atmosphere. It is always 98 degrees for him.

Second, malaria vectors, mosquitoes, do respond to climate. But, if you believe the Earth's climate has been warming (a statement I do not accept), this cannot have anything to do with spreading of disease, because in the same period the range of specified diseases has contracted closer to the equator by hundreds, even thousands of miles. (Hansen disease -- leprosy -- has contracted even more dramatically, from Norway to a few spots near the equator; not because Hansen disease is a sickness of the tropics but because it is a disease of poverty and the tropics are poor.)

If you want to spend money controlling disease, the worst way to spend it is to try to influence climate. Spend it on what we spent it on eradicating malaria from Illinois.

Did you enjoy the snow in Central Florida this week?
11.23.2006 3:43pm
orson23 (mail):
frankcross [quoting Adler]:
"Because most so-called 'denialists' or 'skeptics' do not deny the reality of anthropogenic contributions to global warming

"I'm not sure what your references are, but the most prominent denialists (publicly), like Lindzen and Michaels and others overseas, in fact appear to deny this. I assumed they were the referents."

I know for a fact that Pat Michaels does not; Lindzen does not seem to. Only famed hurricane predictor William Gray denies it, seeing solar cylces as dominant. (Gray is a recent entrant into the debate, claiming his work has been harmed by yht eACW hysteria).

From my fairely detailed knowledge of the ACW debate and the so-called "denialists," I'd say Jonathan Adler's summary is accurate and fair.
11.23.2006 7:05pm
orson23 (mail):
"Steve [wrote]:

"Prof. Adler talks about the alarmism of some global warming advocates. But there's just as much alarmism on the other side, among the people who are so worried that we'll spend ourselves into poverty with trillion-dollar programs that they can't even agree on facts which ought to be beyond dispute.

"Al Gore consciously avoided discussing policy solutions in his movie because he wanted to build consensus on the easy part..."

WHICH IS the point of hearing real scientific debate when the US spends billions of dollars on ACW science: "the easy part" is definitely uncertain: the role of the sun, cosmic rays, and whether or not water vapor in the climate system plays a positive, negative, or neutral role in temperature modulation. All these things are not known

In other words, the basic science underlying ACW is still not known. so much for "the easy part."

Indeed, the latest satellite temp records indicate slight recent warming in the Northern hemishphere, and none in the Southern. No theory of ACW accounts for this, but it suggests that land use change might outweigh CO2 forcing.

But then who in the MSM tells us the truth about the status of climate change science?
11.23.2006 7:13pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Land use change' is good.

I once described what I call the Goldilocks Theory of Climate:

'Oooh! The 20th century is too hot! Eeeew! The 18th century was too cold! But, aaah! The 19th century was just right.'

Between the 18th and 20th century, vast areas of North and South America, Siberia, Africa and Australia were stripped of their natural vegetation and either turned from woody forests and brushland to pastures or to arable, with dirt bare a good part of the year.

If it's even possible for humans to affect climate, that's at least as good a mechanism as injecting carbon dioxide. Yet no one has the slightest idea whether this sort of change tends to warm or cool (or have no effectd) and it is not accounted for in any of the GC models, which are all bogus. Don't account for clouds, don't account for agriculture, don't account for solar flux. Hogwash.
11.23.2006 8:06pm
Roy Stogner:
Don't account for clouds, don't account for agriculture, don't account for solar flux. Hogwash.

Yes, it is hogwash to claim that not any climate models account for these things, particularly since a minute or two on google is all it takes to find counterexamples. So why are you repeating that claim?
11.23.2006 10:34pm
WHOI Jacket:
Having looked at some climate models, you'd be astounded by what "accounts for" some of the processes. It can usually be a single variable that is adjusted at a modeler's whim.

Not to say that the modelers aren't trying and that they aren't making educated guesses, but it's still guesses when you break it down.

CO2 overturning in the MIT EPPA Model can vary from 0.3 to 0.7 and you'd be amazed at the differences in results they were getting.
11.24.2006 12:29am
Avatar (mail):
More to the point, people are skeptical of the motive behind the climate change movement.

Kyoto isn't going to be sufficient to halt climate change. You know it, I know it, practically everyone on both sides of the issue knows it. So when you're arguing "the danger is worth spending the money to prevent", the costs you're arguing aren't the real costs of preventing climate change - they're just the costs involved in setting up a structure that could be expanded into something that might prevent climate change. How much are the real costs going to run? Nobody's really sure, but it's a lot, lot, lot of money. This is why people can throw around the words "multitrillion"; nobody on the, er, "non-denialist" side is comfortable estimating that cost, because then it becomes a fairly easy economic decision - "no, I think I'll live with climate change instead of ending industrial society as we know it, thanks all the same."

Naturally, we may get some technological advances to reduce CO2 emissions without spending unholy amounts of money. This would be good, and is worth funding. There's good reasons to look into non-petrochemical energy sources even if you couldn't care less about climate, for that matter.

Personally, my estimate of how serious someone takes the climate issue is their views on nuclear fission. It's the one source of energy that we have that (a) works and (b) does not involve setting fire to a petrochemical. There are indeed people worried about climate change who are all in favor of greatly expanded nuclear power generation - but in my experience, they're thin on the ground. Even if we could generate all our power from nuclear energy, that would not satisfy a significant number of the climate-change crowd, because they're not worried about climate change for its own sake... but seizing on it as an excuse to reduce industrial activity.

Nuclear's the only currently-viable solution for CO2 emission generation; if you think that global warming is a problem, and you are NOT for massively expanded nuclear power generation, then you haven't thought through the issue sufficiently, or your thinking on the issue is sufficiently confused that I don't feel bad for ignoring you. ;p
11.24.2006 1:37am
Mark Buehner (mail):

One denialist outfit, the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, relies on fiction writer Michael Crichton rather than the peer-reviewed scientific literature.


Luckilly the Global Warming Sensasationalists have Nobel Prize winners like Al Gore to lead their charge. Where exactly is his PHD from?
11.24.2006 2:33am
Mark Buehner (mail):
I'm glad the Florida example came up, because it really goes to show the power anecdotal evidence has.

Have a look here: for the average Orlando temps by year. The data can speak for itself- but in brief, here are the first 5 complete years average temps and the last 5 complete years, just as an example:


1975: 73.37d F
1976: 71.56d F
1977: 71.28d F
1978: 72.91d F
1979: 71.90d F

average= 72.20d F

2001: 72.52d F
2002: 72.78d F
2003: 72.65d F
2004: 72.69d F
2005: 71.67d F

average= 72.46d F

And it was actually a degree or so warmer in the late eightees - early 90s. Whoever claims that they notice that .26 degree temp increase... sure.

But again, this is on much too short of a timeframe to have any meaningful value. My point isnt that Florida isnt any warmer over a given period of time, it may well be. The point is that Global Warming Sensationalists get away with using this kind of anacdotal evidence all the time. The media eats it up. But if counter-evidence in the same vain is introduced, those same people pitch a fit over it.
11.24.2006 2:56am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Third, the technologies to address smog and global warming are different. For example, diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline, and therefore release less greenhouse gases. However, diesel engines tend to release more smog producing pollutants than gasoline engines.

You miss my point entirely. Actually you don't, it is blatantly obvious you get my point but like so many burn-fossil-fuels-till-we-are-out advocates, just twist my argument to make yourself appear smart and me appear to be an ignorant back-to-the-stoneage nut.

The perfect internal combustion engine(compression combustion engine or indeed any process to burn fossil fuels) burning the perfect hydrocarbon fuel would generate nothing but CO2 and water vapor, eliminating smog and just generating lots of greenhouse gases. Of course such an engine or fuel only exists in the lab. Reducing, overall, the amount of carbon based fuels we burn, whether it is oil, coal or even biofuels, will decrease the amount of both smog and greenhouse gases.

Finally, regarding Iraq, if the US really only wanted Iraq's oil, then we would not have invaded Iraq. Instead, the US could have made a deal directly with Sadaam Hussein to end (or ignore) the UN sanctions in exchange for oil contracts.

Again you miss (or deliberately distort) my point. For the last one hundred years--since oil was discovered in Persia (now Iran) and the British made the decision to switch their fleet from coal to oil, western governments (especially us, the British and the French) have been intimately involved in the governance and oil businesses of the middle east. Sometimes acting as power brokers, sometimes outright engineering coups and installing friendly governments. In the name of "security" and "stability" we support governments that if they didn't have a national flag and a few thousand square miles of oil soaked sand would be no better, and in many ways worse, than the worst organized crime families that this country spent years rooting out in Chicago and New York in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Do you honestly believe that we would consider Iraq worthy of the massive effort, in both blood and treasure, we have poured into it if it wasn't sitting on all that oil in the middle of the world's biggest source of oil?
11.24.2006 10:08am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Nuclear's the only currently-viable solution for CO2 emission generation;

Simply not true. What about good-old fashioned conservation and energy efficiency. There is a hell of a lot more we could squeeze out of that without even blinking an eye. Western Europe is about 25% more energy-efficient than us, with a similar lifestyle. We could do a hell of a lot better. It just requires willingness and commitment.
11.24.2006 1:35pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Roy, the reason the GCMs are hogwash is that no one has any theory to predict how the factors I mentioned -- and there are others -- interact to influence climate.

Surely clouds influence global temperature. Earth is the only partly cloudy body in the solar system and the only one with a middling climate. Surely that suggests something?

Just making arbitrary guesses and plugging random numbers into a GCM is not helpful.

As W. Edwards Deming used to say (about industrial processes), 'You've got to have a theory. If you don't have a theory, how do you know when you're wrong?'

Climatologists have no theory about arable, not even which sign to put in front of the factor, should there be a factor.
11.24.2006 2:35pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Simply not true. What about good-old fashioned conservation and energy efficiency. There is a hell of a lot more we could squeeze out of that without even blinking an eye.

It’s true that we could be more energy efficient, but that’s costly and it takes time. We have a big investment in our current energy infrastructure and it won’t be cheap to replace with a more efficient one. We have already done most of the easy things like home insulation. Our big problem is transportation and that’s not easy to fix. Automobile engines are already near their optimum efficiency at about 25%. We can make cars smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic, and use regenerative breaking. All good stuff, but it costs a lot to switch your whole fleet over. It comes down to a trade off between capital costs and energy costs. If global warming really is a serious threat then energy prices have been too low because they didn’t include the unrecognized external costs of CO2 build up. Comparisons with Europe are not useful. The Europeans are poorer than the US, they live in smaller houses, and greater population densities that make mass transportation more practical. The public has to accept a life much less energy consumption, and they’re not inclined to do that. Notice the Democrats push global warming and conservation, yet announce that they will reduce gasoline prices. Well reducing gas prices is exactly the opposite of what we need to do. But what do you think will happen if the price of gas went to $7.00 per gallon? Within two years we would have a whole new government. The politicians know that and it’s not going to happen.
11.24.2006 4:04pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
If you are concerned about global warming and are driving a car with automatic transmission, you're the problem.

Zarkov talks about various ways to reduce fuel consumption in motor vehicles. Going to manual transmissions provides a gain of about 5%.

Anybody who doesn't advocate banning automatics is not serious.

(I'm not concerned about warming; I think the next ice age probably has already started. But I drive a stick 'cause I like it.)
11.24.2006 7:32pm
Mark Field (mail):

Personally, my estimate of how serious someone takes the climate issue is their views on nuclear fission. It's the one source of energy that we have that (a) works and (b) does not involve setting fire to a petrochemical. There are indeed people worried about climate change who are all in favor of greatly expanded nuclear power generation - but in my experience, they're thin on the ground. Even if we could generate all our power from nuclear energy, that would not satisfy a significant number of the climate-change crowd, because they're not worried about climate change for its own sake... but seizing on it as an excuse to reduce industrial activity.

Nuclear's the only currently-viable solution for CO2 emission generation; if you think that global warming is a problem, and you are NOT for massively expanded nuclear power generation, then you haven't thought through the issue sufficiently, or your thinking on the issue is sufficiently confused that I don't feel bad for ignoring you. ;p


Your thinking here is too US-centric. Global warming is a global problem, not just a problem in the US. It makes no difference if the fossil fuel is burned here or in Timbuktu -- it all goes into the atmosphere.

This means we have to devise solutions which can be used in EVERY country. Suppose there's a country with vast resources of oil. Purely hypothetically, let's call this country "Iran". I take it that we're to infer that you are "serious" and not "confused" because you favor Iran shifting from oil to nuclear power.
11.24.2006 8:31pm
Eli Rabett (www):
From http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/temp/jonescru/jones.html


The marine data used are compiled at the Hadley Centre of the United Kingdom Meteorological Office and consist of sea surface temperatures (SSTs) that incorporate in situ measurements from ships and buoys. The SST data have been corrected for different types of buckets used before 1942 (Folland and Parker 1995; Parker et al. 1994, 1995). Since the majority of the marine observations come from the voluntary observing fleet, coverage is reduced away from the main shipping lanes and is minimal over the Southern Oceans. Maps/tables giving the density of coverage through time are given for land regions by Jones and Moberg (2003) and for the oceans by Rayner et al. (2003). Both these sources also extensively discuss the issue of consistency and homogeneity of the measurements through time and the steps that have been taken to ensure all non-climatic inhomogeneities have been removed.


References therein. OTOH if all you got is one anomalous measurement off Hawaii, good luck.
11.24.2006 11:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“Anybody who doesn't advocate banning automatics is not serious.”

I have always preferred and driven manual transmission cars except for my current model. I wanted a 6-cylinder Honda Accord, and it didn’t come in manual. I was very disappointed. However modern automatics are pretty good, and my 6-cylinder Honda comes within about 2 miles per gallon of my old 4-cylinder manual Accord. If automatics are banned you won’t hear me complain, but I suspect 90% of the today’s drivers will scream. They can barely drive at all. I’m astounded at the number of people I meet who can’t parallel park. You couldn’t get a drivers license at one time unless you could demonstrate that ability. Hey that’s a way to get drivers off the road, and cut CO2 emissions.
11.25.2006 12:39am
karl (mail):
Imagine almost a third of Earth's land surface buried beneath ice sheets and glaciers thousands of meters high and the ocean level 300 feet lower than today. These were the conditions when the Pleistocene Ice Age Epoch peaked about 165 million years ago and the earth has been getting warmer ever since. What is the cause? Not man-made Co2 emmissions for sure. Actually no one knows for sure and I wish, as some previous correspondent wrote, the real scientists of the world would stand up and squash the chicken little scenerios.
11.25.2006 10:13am
Harry Eagar (mail):
'is minimal over the Southern Oceans'

Eli, do you read your own posts?

The oceans cover seven-tenths of the earth's surface. Most of the oceans, most of the time, are not visited by human beings.

That is why things as big as hurricanes could form, migrate and die out without ever being observed. And you imagine that a bucket of water here and there is telling you useful information about climate?

Here are the areas for which there are NO data about sea surface temperatures from 100 years ago: the entire globe below 50 degrees south, the entire globe above 70 degrees N, most of the Indian Ocean, all of the eastern tropical Pacific, all of the North Pacific except Hawaii and Guam, most of the South Atlantic, interior Africa, most of the Amazon basin, southwest Asia, Mongolian desert, most of Siberia.

The uncertainty in what the surface global temperature may have been a century ago is larger (probably by a factor of two) than the posited rise in temperature since then.

There is no evidence that the globe has warmed in the last century. Nil, nada, not any.
11.25.2006 12:50pm
Randy R. (mail):
"There is no evidence that the globe has warmed in the last century. Nil, nada, not any."

You should read today's Nov. 25 Washington Post. The front page has this article:

While the political debate over global warming continues, top executives at many of the nation's largest energy companies have accepted the scientific consensus about climate change and see federal regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions as inevitable.

The Democratic takeover of Congress makes it more likely that the federal government will attempt to regulate emissions. The companies have been hiring new lobbyists who they hope can help fashion a national approach that would avert a patchwork of state plans now in the works. They are also working to change some company practices in anticipation of the regulation.

"We have to deal with greenhouse gases," John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Co., said in a recent speech at the National Press Club. "From Shell's point of view, the debate is over. When 98 percent of scientists agree, who is Shell to say, 'Let's debate the science'?"
11.25.2006 1:30pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Ever hear of Bendectin?

That businessmen, willingly or not, bend to political pressure says nothing -- nil, nada, zip, zero -- about whether the globe is warming.

We also have federal regulations to reduce harmless dioxins.
11.25.2006 11:50pm
Randy R. (mail):
When a major oil supplier such as Shell says that 98% of scientists agree on global warming, it should be taken as a serious issue, if for no other reason that then fact that it is a statement against interest.

At point will you be convinced there is global warming? Do you require 100% of all scientists? Do you require 100% of all energy companies? Or is your position that no amount of evidence could ever convince you? Which is pretty much were you are at....
11.26.2006 1:47am
karl (mail):
The Geological History of Pennsylvania published by the Commonwealth of PA reports that as recently as 10,000 years ago glaciers covered the North American Continent as far south as Western Pennsylvania. Their retreat completed the construction of the Great Lakes. What caused the great melt-off? It wasn't the industrial revolution.
11.26.2006 10:38am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
There is no evidence that the globe has warmed in the last century.

There is also no evidence man has ever landed on the moon. You are quite simply an idiot. It is one thing to not believe that global warming is caused by man, it is an entirely other thing to deny that there is no evidence that the globe is warmer than it was 100 years ago. I guess all the glaciers are retreating because the melting point of water has dropped over the last 100 years.
11.26.2006 10:51am
Harry Eagar (mail):
J.F., All the glaciers aren't melting. Some are advancing.

I suggest you examine Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's 'Times of Feast, Times of Famine: A History of Climate since the Year 1000.' Ladurie is not a scientist but an historian (the greatest living French historian, by most estimates).

His book collects, among much other evidence, paintings made of glaciers in the eastern Alps since around 1000, which show that in that millenium, the glaciers have advanced and retreated, sometimes by scores of miles, on a cycle of a few centuries.

So, even if your original statement were correct instead of being merely ignorant, it would still not show that the globe is warming, much less that humans are making it do so.

Similarly, even if Shell says 98% of scientists are agreed the globe is warming, that does make the statement true. 98% of which scientists? Climatologists? Ecologists? Chemists?

Arguments from authority impress me not at all, although I suppose lawyers react differently.
11.26.2006 1:10pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
Thats a good point- if you look at those lists that get compiled of scientists screaming about global warmining, they tend to be filled with biologists, physicists etc. When Steven Hawking speaks out on global warming, its front page news. He's a smart guy, but i wouldnt go to him for expertise on genetic engineering, im not sure why he carries so much weight on climate science (as an example).

Meanwhile, if you look at the actual fields of climate study you will find a much more intense debate on whether humans have a major impact on global climate, much less just what that means to human civilization on any timescale.

Meanwhile, you have things like this letter: where 60 Canadian scientists specializing in climate study question the Kyoto treaty and write:
"When the public comes to understand that there is no "consensus" among climate scientists about the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change, the government will be in a far better position to develop plans that reflect reality and so benefit both the environment and the economy."

These are all people in the field, can anyone really claim there is no controversy? Are all of these scientists in the pocket of big oil?

Alarm bells go off with me anytime a subject is said to be so certain that any dissent is a sign of mal intent. Climate study is a rather nichey field- and as far as i know nobody in the media has made much of an effort to do a systematic study of what they actually think. What we do know for certain is that public skeptics are attacked by the Sensationalists and their credibility (when not their ethics) are brought into question.
11.26.2006 2:10pm
Michael B (mail):
"If you want to have some deja vu all over again, just compare the campaigns against the Clear Air Act in the 70s and the Kyoto Treaty today. Some of the same players, a lot of the same organizations." Eli Rabett

They're hardly commensurate; and no one is attempting to anoint and player or organization, the focus is on warranted skepticism about critical aspects of arguments being forwarded by other players and orgs. Too, of course, there's the well known scientific principle:

When your hypothesis is threatened by questions that are too probative and too rigorously demanding: ignore the questions and malign the messenger.
11.26.2006 4:16pm
Michael B (mail):
"... and no one is attempting to anoint any player or organization ..."
11.26.2006 4:18pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
J.F., All the glaciers aren't melting. Some are advancing.

You really are contrary aren't you. Where are these mythical advancing glaciers? Where they are advancing, it is not because they are increasing in mass, but because they are sliding downhill faster (i.e., spreading out), probably because they are lubricated by their own melting. Glaciers are retreating and getting thinner all over the world.
11.26.2006 5:04pm
Michael B (mail):
google glaciers+growing

This link comes up, one decidedly hostile to global warming alarmism.

This link comes up, sympathetic to global warming views, but which contains this interesting excerpt:

"In a press conference held during the San Francisco meeting, scientists argued that mankind had elevated the levels of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere, one suspected cause of global warming, long before the industrial revolution of the 1700s and1800s. William Ruddiman, an emeritus professor at the University of Virginia said that people had deforested much of Eurasia by the time of Christ’s birth, and widespread cutting down of forests caused elevated levels of carbon dioxide. Ice cores show drops in CO2 levels during times of great human die-offs, such as the Roman plague and the Black Death."

Those are two contrasting examples only.
11.26.2006 5:51pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Mark sez: 'as far as i know nobody in the media has made much of an effort to do a systematic study of what they actually think.'

True. But there were at least two studies by social scientists in the 1990s that surveyed professional climatologists on this subject. It's been a long time since I looked at them.

As I recall, the first sample was only about 60 people, which was said to be almost all the professional climatologists in the world at that time. Surely there are more now.

Anyway, there was nothing like consensus in the first survey. In the second, a few years later, there was some movement toward accepting anthropogenic global warming as likely or highly likely. But it was nowhere near consensus.

About that time, I read Lorenz' Danz Lectures and concluded that climate cannot be modeled -- ever. It is chaotic, in the formal, mathematical meaning of that word. (Lorenz, the inventor of chaos theory, does not say this, but he comes mighty close.) Until somebody offers me a good reason to, I pay no attention to GCMs.

If you don't believe in GCMs, then you have to fall back on actual measurements. It turns out there are very few of these. For global surface temperatures, none before 2000.

That's right. None before 2000. Everything else is extrapolation, guesses and proxies.

If you don't have models and you don't have measurements, then you have to fall back on history. History says we're about due to move into an ice age.
11.26.2006 7:26pm
Michael B (mail):
From another angle, forget about individual glaciers for a moment and consider Greenland's entire icesheet, emphases added to the following excerpts from the linked study based upon satellite based radar altimeter data.

"By combining tens of millions of data points from ERS-1 and ERS-2 [satellites], the team determined spatial patterns of surface elevation variations and changes over an 11-year period.

"The result is a mixed picture, with a net increase of 6.4 centimetres per year in the interior area above 1500 metres elevation. Below that altitude, the elevation-change rate is minus 2.0 cm per year, broadly matching reported thinning in the ice-sheet margins."

"The spatially averaged increase is 5.4 cm per year over the study area, when corrected for post-Ice Age uplift of the bedrock beneath the ice sheet."

I.e., there is no scientific consensus, but once the large expanse of the elevated area is taken into account, it may be that the overall mass of the Greenland ice sheet is increasing.

A caveat is noted when the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation, similar in the north Atlantic to the El Niño effect) is introduced as one of the indeterminates. Another caveat is introduced vis-a-vis projections of temperature change (changes remain positive up to a +2 to +3°C temp. change, negative above that number). In part this serves to suggest that while GCMs (Global Climate Models) are far more difficult to assemble than climate models which "only" address Greenland's ice sheet, even the latter is highly problematic.

Too, if only briefly, the article closes with a similar note vis-a-vis the Antarctic ice sheet, a note which also reflects radar altimeter data.
11.26.2006 11:43pm
karl (mail):
J.F. Comment of 11.26. Sorry, the melting point of water is still 32 degrees F; zero degrees C; 492 degrees R; and 273 degrees K. Ambient temperature does not affect the thermodynamic properties of a substance.
11.27.2006 11:30am