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Climate Change, Cumulative Evidence, and Ideology:

Almost every time I post something on climate change policy, the comment thread quickly devolves into a debate over the existence of antrhopogenic global warming at all. (See, for instance, this post on "conservative" approaches to climate change policy.) I have largely refused to engage in these discussions because I find them quite unproductive. The same arguments are repeated ad nauseum, and no one is convinced (if anyone even listens to what the other side is saying). I have also seen nothing in these exchanges that would alter my current assessment of the scientific evidence.

Given my strong libertarian leanings, it would certainly be ideologically convenient if the evidence for a human contribution to climate change were less strong. Alas, I believe the preponderance of evidence strongly supports the claim that anthropogenic emissions are having an effect on the global climate, and that effect will increase as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere. While I reject most apocalyptic scenarios as unfounded or unduly speculative, I am convinced that the human contribution to climate change will cause or exacerbate significant problems in at least some parts of the world. For instance, even a relatively modest warming over the coming decades is very likely to have a meaningful effect on the timing and distribution of precipitation and evaporation rates, which will, in turn, have a substantial impact on freshwater supplies. That we do not know with any precision the when, where, and how much does not change the fact that we are quite certain that such changes will occur.

So-called climate "skeptics" make many valid points about the weakness or unreliability of many individual arguments and studies on climate. They also point out how policy advocates routinely exaggerate the implications of various studies or the likely consequences of even the most robust climate predictions. Economists and others have also done important work questioning whether climate risks justify extreme mitigation measures. But none of this changes the fact that the cumulative evidence for a human contribution to present and future climate changes, when taken as a whole, is quite strong. In this regard, I think it is worth quoting something Ilya wrote below about the nature of evidence in his post about 12 Angry Men":

People often dismiss individual arguments and evidence against their preferred position without considering the cumulative weight of the other side's points. It's a very easy fallacy to fall into. But the beginning of wisdom is to at least be aware of the problem.
The "divide and conquer" strategy of dissecting each piece of evidence independently can make for effective advocacy, but it is not a good way to find the truth.

Don't get me wrong. I believe that there is room to question the global warming "consensus," particularly as represented by activist groups and some in the media, and to challenge various climate scenarios and their policy implications. I am unpersuaded that climate change threatens civilization or justifies truly draconian measures. Nevertheless, I believe climate change is a serious concern. And as much as I wish it were not the case, I believe the threat of climate change justifies some measures that the libertarian in me does not much like. But that's the way it is.

Truth Seeker:
If you're not interested in more discussion of the evidence and the arguments then it sounds like you have taken a religious approach to AGW like many on the left. You're saying your faith will not be swayed by more evidence.
2.2.2008 11:58am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Truth Seeker --

That's not at all what I said. You may wish to re-read the post.

JHA
2.2.2008 12:05pm
pgepps (www):
So you're saying that because aggregates of human behavior over large populations (global) over long periods (centuries) may affect the distribution of scarce resources (coastland, rainy days, fresh water, sunny days) in unspecified ways, we should ask the government to interfere to "correct" that distribution?

What could we not justify in this manner?
2.2.2008 12:08pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I think his point was a little more like reiteration of the same arguments clogs the thread and does not increase persuasive value.

Personally, living in the Sonoran Desert, it would be hard to notice global warming. I consider wearing shorts in the winter and having a 110 day in the summer quite normal.
2.2.2008 12:13pm
Loophole1998 (mail):
If the proposition were in fact true, would there not be evidence stronger than the mere accumulation of several questionable pieces (many offered by proponents have agendas apart from the search for truth)?

Would such evidence suffice in a civil trial? A defense lawyer is usually successful if he or she can call each piece of the plaintiff's evidence into question. Also, evidence in a trial won't even come before the jury unless it meets certain threshold tests of reliability (i.e., no hearsay). Maybe the rules of evidence should make an exception for cumulative bits of otherwise "bad" evidence?

Also, while it is difficult to prove a negative, should we not also consider the cumulative effect of the evidence against the proposition? (See http://tomnelson.blogspot.com/ for an "accumulation" of the skeptics position.)
2.2.2008 12:17pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
pgepps --

No. I am saying that because the preponderance of evidence supports the conclusion that human behavior will affect the distribution of resources and cause other harms, policies that can provide a reasonable degree of protection against such harms, at a reasonable cost, are justified. I do not believe the set of policies that satisfy such criteria is all that large.

JHA
2.2.2008 12:20pm
Houston Lawyer:
Global warming could possibly be an overall boon to us. Aren't liberals always claiming that change is good?

Why do we start with the premise that the world is at its optimum temperature at the present time? From unexamined premises flow flawed conclusions.
2.2.2008 12:25pm
Jmaie (mail):
The following is an honest question, I will not state my opinion nor agree/disagree with yours. It is about method:

At what point does scientific opinion become consensus and when does it become important?

If 55% of a group of scientists believe one way and 45% posit the opposite, that will not probably sway too many people.

If it is 90% for and 10% against, that will probably sway most.

There are other issues rarely discussed which I personally would welcome, i.e.

1) How is the term "scientist" defined for the purposes of this discussion? My undergrad major was in Physics. This gives me familiarity with the scientific method, but certainly does not make me qualified to discuss cloud distribution, solar cycles, and many other relevant topics. I would guess that a large block of those quoted (on both sides) are not well qualified as good sources of reliable information.

2) Is consensus reliable? Depends on the topic - sometimes consensus can mean nothing (think Copernicus). With climate change we have no basic agreed-to framework as to what is important and what weight should be assigned to each portion of evidence. There are thousands of relevant topics and the tendency is to cherry pick what appeals to each individual.

3) It is unfortunate that there are so many players who's sole purpose is to sway opinion rather than determine the actual situation and produce reasonable responses. How does one cut through the noise? If 90% of the players are not really qualified to have an opinion, will it be possible to do so?

My fear is that none of this is important to policy makers who will make decisions based on political expediency.
2.2.2008 12:33pm
Bender (mail):
How does human activity account for the warming trends on Venus and Mars, which roughly track those on Earth? Wouldn't Occam's razor suggest that changes in solar radiation might be the best explanation for a common trend on all three planets?
2.2.2008 12:40pm
Beran Panasper:
People often dismiss individual arguments and evidence against their preferred position without considering the cumulative weight of the other side's points. It's a very easy fallacy to fall into. But the beginning of wisdom is to at least be aware of the problem.

Does this not also apply to the True Believers in AGW?

At what point does scientific opinion become consensus and when does it become important?


Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

And furthermore, the consensus of scientists has frequently been wrong. As they were wrong when they believed, earlier in my lifetime, that the continents did not move. So we must remember the immortal words of Mark Twain, who said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
2.2.2008 12:42pm
Tern (mail):
Fair enough. For me, the preponderance of the evidence that I have seen indicates that anthropogenic global warming is likely false. That, combined with the exaggerated and distorted nature of what I have seen sets off my b.s. detector and leads me to suspect that the evidence I have yet to seen is of the same character. Nevertheless, I reserve final judgment on the evidence I have not seen.

Also, the pseudoreligious approach taken by many of the more hardcore activists creeps me out and leads me to further doubt their evidence. I don't want to have to believe in some other religion's priests - er, scientists. And their demand that we take the pronouncement of scientists without further thought and their attacks on people who look (admittedly doubtfully) more closely at the evidence smacks more of an inquisition than an open process of scientific discovery.

If global warming is real, let's have them put all the cards on the table, stop claiming that the two pairs are a full house, and invite all qualified comers to challenge their conclusions. If it holds up, I'll stop being an atheist and become a believer.
2.2.2008 12:46pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Well Jon, you've put your foot in it now....

Jmaie: I suspect we feel similarly. I often argue that we should defer to scientists on scientific questions (and doctors on medical questions, and plumbers on plumbing questions). It's not wholly an argument from authority, but a pragmatic realization that it takes years of study and expertise to understand the factors in play and only experts are likely to have valuable insight.

Scientific consensus, which can often be determined by statements from scientific organizations, are therefore very persuasive to me. To answer your questions:

1) "Scientists" should be restricted to the relevant scientific fields. In this case, Earth and Atmospheric Scientists. You often here that some small group of scientists oppose evolution; you almost never here that only the smallest handful of them are biologists.

2) Consensus is pragmatic. You mention Copernicus, but the point is that consensus is often the best we can do. Sure, Galileo was right and the consensus was wrong, but Galileo convinced the others and the consensus corrected itself. It's unlikely that an erroneous consensus will withstand prolonged scientific scrutiny. In any event, name something more reliable that is socially accessible.

3) I suggest focusing on expertise. Consider this page from the National Academy of Scientists, possibly the most elite Scientific body in the world.
2.2.2008 12:48pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Bender: The other 100 bodies in our solar system are NOT warming. Perhaps you should use Occam's razor and consider that the few objects that are warming have individual causes.
2.2.2008 12:50pm
Truth Seeker:
All the evidence I can see with my untrained eye tells me the sun goes around the earth. God thing some bold and persequted scientists pressed the truth.
2.2.2008 12:54pm
Taltos:
Bender: The other 100 bodies in our solar system are NOT warming. Perhaps you should use Occam's razor and consider that the few objects that are warming have individual causes.

Considering that Mercury has no atmosphere to speak of and the outer planets are significantly further from the sun than any of the inner planets, that statement is a bit silly. Not to mention the asteroid belt acting as a baffle for solar radiation to the outer planets.
2.2.2008 1:06pm
allwrits (mail):
That Global Warming is occurring is unassailable. That humans may be either causing or, more likely IMO, exasperating a natural process is -- in light of scientific consensus, probable. Do we not have a duty to mitigate any damage we ar cauding.

Even if the process is ENTIRELY natural, do we not have the same duty to mitigate the damage?
2.2.2008 1:11pm
Loophole1998 (mail):
If mitigation comes with significant costs but is not likely to have any effect on the actual warming, then it would be in our better interest to spend the money figuring out how to cope with a hot world.
2.2.2008 1:17pm
Jmaie (mail):
I do not mean that we should defer to scientists, because the term "scientist" is too broad.

Evolution was mentioned. Biologists are scientists and educated on this particular subject. Astronomers are also scientists but I would not look to them for guidance regarding evolution.
2.2.2008 1:18pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
But the consensus of Earth and Atmospheric Scientists is, I argue, the best source of expertise available when attempting to formulate public policy.

That's the statement I want to make.
2.2.2008 1:26pm
Wayne Jarvis:
But you must take into consideration that the available data might be biased or skewed. It takes while for a complete picture to emerge.

One problem here is that almost no one discusses is that doomsayers get a head start. That's how you get a funding for a grant. Scientists don't get grants to prove that everything is a-okay. Initially there will always be skewed data.

I spend 6 years in a lab studying infection diseases and I experienced this phenomenon first hand. If you are clawing for scare research money, you want to convince reviewers that your project is of paramount importance. Accordingly, I recall certain scientists making outrageous End Of Days claims.
2.2.2008 1:28pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
How long do you want to wait before you consider the scientific consensus? (And what are you going to rely on in the meantime?)

Countries were willing to sign Kyoto eight years ago. Global warming modeling based on CO2 emissions began in the 60s.
2.2.2008 1:46pm
Doc W (mail):
"I am saying that because the preponderance of evidence supports the conclusion that human behavior will affect the distribution of resources and cause other harms, policies that can provide a reasonable degree of protection against such harms, at a reasonable cost, are justified. I do not believe the set of policies that satisfy such criteria is all that large. "

That's your take on the "preponderance of evidence" and you're not interested in discussing it as a live question. So be it.

Just curious, and sorry if I should be consulting your other posts: what in your opinion does fall within the range of policies that satisfy your criteria?
2.2.2008 1:47pm
CiarandDenlane (mail):
I (mostly) agree with the post, and after reading the first 20 or so comments, I am tempted to say that a Q.E.D. would be justified at this point.

I don't mean by that any disrespect to the prior commenters. I don't have any expertise or striking insights to bring to the table. I wish that anthropogenic global warming were a fairy tale. Perhaps because I'm less of a libertarian than the conspirators, I tend to put the burden of proof on those who say that worlwide changes in land use and burning of oxygen will not have appreciable effects on climate.
2.2.2008 1:54pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Taltos, please at least Google common GW claims before you defend/support them
2.2.2008 1:55pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I missed Ilya's discussion of fragmented evidence, but there seem to be some serious problems with it as restated here.

First, one piece of solid evidence can indeed subvert a mountain of apparently contradictory evidence. Darwinism, for example, fails the moment somebody finds a reputable fossil out of sequence.

Second, piling up meaningless bits of information to extract meaning is a mug's game. Consider political polling in the United States.

The usual practice is to ask one person per two counties how he is going to vote.

Think about that. It is assumed that that response tells you something meaningful about those two counties. Obviously, it cannot.

Nevertheless, you pile up 1500 responses and, voila!, a meaningful conclusion.

That this does not work is proven by the poor record of political polls when matched against samples (ballot box) big enough to give meaningful assessments.

The reason we should be skeptical about claims of AGW is that all the bits of information so far advanced in its favor are like political polls.

It is even worse than that. Since there are no reliable global climate series that go back further than 28 years (and even that one is not very reliable), the problem is akin to trying to figure out what a Gallup Poll would have found if it had been taken in the summer of, say, 1908.
2.2.2008 1:57pm
Michael B (mail):
Reid A. Bryson Ph.D., D.Sc., D.Engr., Emeritus Professor of Meteorology, of Geography and of Environmental Studies. Senior Scientist, Center for Climatic Research, The Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies (Founding Director), the University of Wisconsin, Madison, c. 2004

Extended excerpt, emphases added:

1. The atmospheric warming of the last century is unprecedented and unique.

Wrong.

There are literally thousands of papers in the scientific literature with data that shows that the climate has been changing one way or the other for millions of years.

2. It is a fact that the warming of the past century was anthropogenic in origin, i.e. man-made and due to carbon dioxide emission.

Wrong.

That is a theory for which there is no credible proof. There are a number of causes of climatic change, and until all causes other than carbon dioxide increase are ruled out, we cannot attribute the change to carbon dioxide alone.

3. The most important gas with a "greenhouse" effect is carbon dioxide.

Wrong.

Water vapor is at least 100 times as effective as carbon dioxide, so small variations in water vapor are more important than large changes in carbon dioxide.

4. One cannot argue with the computer models that predict the climate effects of a doubling of carbon dioxide or other "greenhouse gases".

Wrong.

To show this we must show that the computer models can at least duplicate the present-day climate. This they cannot do with what could be called accuracy by any stretch of the imagination. There are studies that show that the average error in modeling present precipitation is on the order of 100%, and the error in modeling present temperature is about the same size as the predicted change due to a doubling of carbon dioxide. For many areas, the precipitation error is 300-400 percent.

5. I am arguing that the carbon dioxide measurements are poorly done.

Wrong.

The measurements are well done, but the interpretation of them is often less than acceptably scientific.

6. It is the consensus of scientists in general that carbon-dioxide-induced warming of the climate is a fact.

Probably wrong.

I know of no vote having been taken, and know that if such a vote were taken of those who are most vocal about the matter, it would include a significant fraction of people who do not know enough about climate to have a significant opinion. Taking a vote is a risky way to discover scientific truth.

Then there's the rhetorical baseball bat to the head and shiv in the side approach used to help ensure ideological consensus/conformity is reached. A study unto itself, though one needing a sociological and psychological focus as much as anything else.

h/t to some blogger for the original link
2.2.2008 1:59pm
Wayne Jarvis:

How long do you want to wait before you consider the scientific consensus?


Considering that seems he last year has seen quite a few defectors in the scientific community: a while longer.
2.2.2008 2:05pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Doc W -

I discuss some such measures in this essay. I've also discussed the implications of property rights for climate change policy here, here and here. I also am finishing an (overdue) paper on how greater use of water markets can facilitate adaptation to changes in fresh water supplies.

For some of my earlier, more climate skeptic-friendly work, see here.

JHA
2.2.2008 2:13pm
CiarandDenlane (mail):
"The reason we should be skeptical about claims of AGW is that all the bits of information so far advanced in its favor are like political polls."

That doesn't really advance the case against AGW, because polls are pretty good at what they purport to do/measure. It's news on the rare occasions when they're off. Politicians spend a lot of money on polls. Politicians may be stupid on some subjects and [insert derogatory adjective] on all subjects, but in figuring out how to get elected/re-elected, they are focused pros. That they choose to spend so much money on polls is a telling datapoint that polls can, if properly designed, provide insights into opinions. (Speaking of properly designed, are there really pollsters who take polls of 1500 people nationwide, which works out to one person for every two counties, and then opine based on that one person "something meaningful about those two counties"? I would think they would go for something meaningful about nationwide opinion. I smell straw burning.)

You may be right that trying to evaluate whether/the extent to which AGW is real is worse in some respects than the problems facing pollsters. But it's probably better in others. The earth (anthropormorphizing of the earth as Gaia notwithstanding) will not be making some subjective decision whether to warm up or changing its mind on Tuesday based on the latest spin or the momentum carried over from what Mars decided to do. It will be reacting to physical processes that(at least in theory) we are capable of trying to understand and therefore predict. And it's not as if there are 250 million earths and we have to worry about sampling errors. We have only one earth to get/keep right.
2.2.2008 2:23pm
Doc W (mail):
JHA--Thanks. I promise to check those out. Probably not in time to respond this time around, though. --Doc W
2.2.2008 2:25pm
Truth Seeker:
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Truth Seeker --
That's not at all what I said. You may wish to re-read the post.
JHA


I know you're trying to sound intellectual and rational, but considering that the science does not exist to prove things one way or another, when you say you're convinced and don't want to hear it, you've gone over to the other side and made it your religion.

It's like a criminal trial and mankind is charged with harming the Earth. There is evidence on both sides but the evidence of guilt is circumstantial and we do not yet have a dna test to prove it. You are proclaiming guilt because we can't afford to let him loose IF he is guilty. The correct result is acquittal at this point. I say innocent until PROVEN guilty!
2.2.2008 2:27pm
Truth Seeker:
When there are hundreds of scientists on each side of an issue and you are not a scientist then the only rational side to take is agnostic.
2.2.2008 2:41pm
CiarandDenlane (mail):
"It's like a criminal trial and mankind is charged with harming the Earth. There is evidence on both sides but the evidence of guilt is circumstantial and we do not yet have a dna test to prove it. You are proclaiming guilt because we can't afford to let him loose IF he is guilty. The correct result is acquittal at this point. I say innocent until PROVEN guilty!"

If I were a space alien coming upon the ecological wreckage of earth a couple of hundred years hence and had an interest in apportioning justice upon today's mankind's children based an evaluation of the guilt of their ancestors, that might be my standard of proof.

But WE today are not the prosecutor in that hypothetical case. We're not even the defendant, at least not if the question isn't how much to beat breasts over what we've already done, but the more useful one of figuring out what WE do NEXT. Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt may be a good standard for assessing someone else's guilt over actions that are in any event now no longer preventable. But if I am told that MY proposed FUTURE actions that I can still change may cause harm in excess of the actions' benefits, under what moral standard (or prudential standard if I am still talking about a "we" of mankind doing harm unto ourselves) can I decline to make that change if there is merely, say, a strong preponderance of evidence that the harm will occur?
2.2.2008 2:42pm
Paul McKaskle (mail):
There is clear evidence that there has been some global warming over the past century. It is reasonably possible that the warming will continue or intensify. Finally, it is reasonably possible that past warming as well as future warming has been caused by human activity. There are contrary arguments which are also reasonably possible, both as to the possibility of continued warming and as to whether it is caused by human beings (as opposed, for example, by solar activity or some other non-human cause). Perhaps, judging from the head count of scientists speaking on the subject (some perhaps more qualified than others) the anthropogenic thesis is at least somewhat more probable. But even this doesn’t tell us very much about the expected amount of change and whether the change will, on balance, be harmful. I suppose in the next few decades we will have a better understanding of the issues.

If there is continued global warming it will have some undesirable effects. If the ocean rises even somewhat, countries such as the Maldives and Bangladesh will certainly be badly affected. But, just as the Dutch have done for centuries, I suspect that most low lying developed areas will be able to protect themselves by dikes or other devices–at a cost, of course, but not an overwhelming cost. (I think the Gore “prediction” of something like a twenty foot rise in sea-level is absurd, but if there is more warming there may be some rise--the IPCC predicts a rise in the range of a foot or two.) But there may also be advantages to a warmer climate–much more habitable land in places such as Canada and Russia, for example. (A great deal of the world’s land mass is fairly far north on the planet and is currently very lightly populated.) A recent study in the United States suggested that when elderly people move from the Northeast and Upper Midwest to warmer climes it adds several years to their expected life-spans. If significant climate changes occur there will be significant dislocation costs and these shouldn’t be minimized, but in the long run (or even in the medium term) I think it is hard to say whether the losses outweigh the gains. (Bjorn Lomborg, who agrees that there is global warming, has suggested in his recent book “Cool It”that the long term advantages may well predominate.)

I think there are two problems with the current fad for advocating extreme actions to combat global warming.

First, a pessimistic one, I think there is very little the United States or even a combination of the United States and Europe can do in the near future to significantly lower the world-wide amount of carbon dioxide being discharged into the air. By significant I mean to lower CO2 discharges enough that the worldwide levels stop increasing or even decline. The reason is simple, the discharges by China and India alone (let alone other emerging economies) by themselves are producing (or soon will produce) enough carbon dioxide to sustain at least some increase in worldwide levels of CO2. Perhaps at some point in the future China and India might themselves take ameliorative steps to reduce their carbon dioxide discharges by a significant amount, but I suspect this will occur, if at all, several decades in the future. If methods (industrial techniques) can be developed to make discharge of carbon dioxide more expensive than not discharging it, then I think India and China would adopt them, but I think it is highly unlikely that either will undertake drastic (and expensive) methods to reduce carbon dioxide discharges if it will substantially impair their economic development and there is zero chance that the Western World would be willing to use force to require such a result.

Second, another pessimistic problem, I think that the prospects of either the United States or Europe reducing discharges of carbon dioxide enough to stabilize or reduce the level of world-wide CO2 are dismal. Ten or twenty percent reductions would not do any good (other than slow the warming by a year or two). Probably only a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in the neighborhood of eighty percent would. It would take a wrenching change in current living standards–steps to reduce immensely the number of automobiles, complete restructuring of urban life (e.g., rules requiring drastic reduction of residential square footage per family, forced use of public transportation), bans on any “non-essential” air travel, rationing of electricity and heating fuels, and much more. That is the only way that the Western World can, by itself, “solve” the problem of increases in world-wide levels of CO2.

Would the body politic be willing to do this? Europe failed miserably in its quest to live up to the Kyoto Protocols that it signed. The only two European countries that met the very mild restrictions in the Protocol were Germany (because it was in the process of shutting down the grossly inefficient coal power plants it inherited when East Germany was annexed) and Britain (because it converted its coal power plants to natural gas partly because it had recently discovered large sources in the North Sea and partly to destroy the militant coal miners union). I think it is significant that most resolutions (such as by the California legislature) to “reduce” CO2 emissions by certain percentages are always cast fairly far into the future (i.e., when those who voted for them will long be out of office). No politician is willing to vote for drastic restrictions which will take effect immediately. Even the recent highly-touted Energy Bill passed by Congress is, in substantial part, smoke and mirrors because the Michigan congressional delegation had to be appeased as to auto fuel efficiency standards.

Another source of pessimism on my part is that the few steps which we have taken are patently inadequate and are a gross waste of money and resources. The promotion of ethanol as a partial replacement of gasoline is an outrageous scam. One method to reduce CO2 emissions by a substantial amount is to increase reliance on nuclear energy to produce electricity. But nuclear energy is simply unacceptable to most extreme global warming zealots. Carbon credits, when not a complete scam, are very marginal in their effects and can have terrible side effects (such as converting subsistence farming land in Africa into forests–thus reducing the standard of living of very poor natives). Further they enable the very rich to continue their jet setting ways (producing massive amounts of carbon dioxide) with a faux clear conscience.

For all my pessimism, I don’t think all efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are ill-founded. I think realistic attempts to make automobiles more efficient make sense, I think research into converting agricultural waste products or switchgrass into usable fuels makes sense, methods of sequestering power plant carbon dioxide discharges deserve more research, and in general promoting efficiency in use of energy resources makes sense. These (and other similar activities–including considering nuclear energy) will reduce (maybe only slightly) discharge of carbon dioxide but they might make us more energy independent, and it is possible that someday in the future supplies of our current energy sources will become more scarce. But I would hope politicians would make sensible cost-benefit analyses before embarking on promotion of such research or processes.
2.2.2008 2:52pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
When there are hundreds of scientists on each side of an issue and you are not a scientist then the only rational side to take is agnostic.

Intellectually, maybe, but not in real life. In real life, something must be done or not done about global warming. Saying "I'm not a qualified scientist; therefore, I'm agnostic" is essentially acting like you think the scientists are wrong.

In real life there comes a point when you realize you must sometimes rely on the opinions of others.
2.2.2008 2:56pm
Taltos:
Taltos, please at least Google common GW claims before you defend/support them

1.) I wasn't defending or supporting anything, I was pointing out that the statement you made was foolish. Distance from the source has a direct effect on the radiation recieved by an object.

2.) The post you link to merely points out that some other guys think that maybe changes in dust distribution could have altered the planetary albedo on Mars and resulted in warming. In other words you like that guy's theory instead of the other guy's theory.
2.2.2008 2:59pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“Water vapor is at least 100 times as effective as carbon dioxide, so small variations in water vapor are more important than large changes in carbon dioxide.”

That’s true but misleading. Water vapor is generally not included as a greenhouse gas because it’s not a forcing. It’s one of the feedback loops in the climate system. As such it serves to amplify the effects of increased co2 concentration. But more water vapor (from increased co2) means more clouds. Does more cloud cover act as a positive or negative feedback? That’s one of the unanswered questions in the climate science debate. We still don’t understand the appropriate cloud physics enough to make an accurate calculation of the climate sensitivity factor (amount of warming for a doubling of co2). Note that the uncertainty in climate sensitivity has remained virtually unchanged since the 1970s. If we were making progress in our understanding of the physics of global warming, the uncertainty would be shrinking.

The basic argument from advocates of AGW goes as follows. We observe a warming trend. Our models predict the warming trend. We can think of no other mechanism to explain the warming trend, so go with the models as it’s on the only game in town. There are two problems with this argument. First the models are calibrated using empirical data, so in a sense they function as a complicated interpolator/predictor. In other words the data and the models really aren’t independent. If the models were developed from first principles and then compared against data, we would have little controversy. Second the climate modelers and AGW advocates essentially ignore competing theories such as solar wind and cosmic ray flux. None of this rebuts AGW. AGW could be true. It’s a matter of how you view the supporting science.

You can read about the science behind the climate sensitivity factor and the cosmic ray theory here.
2.2.2008 3:03pm
GaltLives:
I'm fascinated by the new information on sun spots that indicates a mini ice age is starting. Will the zealots then switch to saying "burn more coal" and "drive more Hummers" to save the planet?
2.2.2008 3:11pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Tatos:

The link I provided at least cites scientists for its opinion. You should know that "Mars is heating up, so global warming is false" is a common argument that has been debunked multiple times. I just gave you one cite. Again, Google it and see.

And the idea is silly. If the sun is heating up, then all objects would receive more solar energy in relation to their distance from the sun. The only effect of atmosphere would be to trap in heat and accelerate the warming. Considering that Earth, Venus, and Mars all have completely different atmospheres and reflective properties, it's like comparing apples and oranges without factoring all those things in.

No one ever bothers to include in their statements the fact that several solar bodies are getting cooler.

and the asteroid belt helps block the sun? Please.
2.2.2008 3:13pm
Truth Seeker:
Chris Bell
...Saying "I'm not a qualified scientist; therefore, I'm agnostic" is essentially acting like you think the scientists are wrong.

In real life there comes a point when you realize you must sometimes rely on the opinions of others.


You're just completely ignoring the fact that there are two groups of scientists who have come to different conclusions. You have been brainwashed into believing that all scientists are on one side. Lots of scientists are saying that man has no effect on the climate.
2.2.2008 3:14pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
I've gotta go, so I won't be responding anymore for a while. This is my entire point (and my response to Truth Seeker).

Here is a statement signed by:
-Academia Brasiliera de Ciências, Brazil
-Royal Society of Canada, Canada
-Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
-Academié des Sciences, France
-Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher, Germany
-Indian National Science Academy, India
-Accademia dei Lincei, Italy
-Science Council of Japan, Japan
-Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
-Royal Society, England
-National Academy of Sciences, America

Collectively, these bodies represent the most prestigious scientists on the planet.

I'm not an expert on climate change and I'm not going to go spend the years it would take to become one. Therefore, I think the most rational course for me to follow is to trust what these guys have to say.
2.2.2008 3:21pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Truth Seeker --

You're still misrepresenting my post. Yes I said I am convinced that human activity contributes to climate change, but I did not say I didn't want to hear contrary evidence. Rather, I said that none of the claims made in these discussions has convinced me to I should return to a more skeptical position. That's quite a difference.

I am glad you brought up the trial analogy, however. Indeed, I accept that analogy, but with one important qualification: The proper analogy is not to a criminal trial, but to a civil trial. A is claiming harm from actions taken by B, and would like compensation, mitigation, and other appropriate relief. No one is talking about imprisoning GHG emitters. The sorts of measures that are on the table (or at least those I would consider) are equivalent to the sorts of remedies that would be available in a civil trial -- payment of money and injunctive relief. Therefore, the burden of proof would not be "beyond a reasonable doubt" but the preponderance of evidence. Judged by this standard, the basic claim that human activity is contributing to a gradual warming of the earth easily passes muster.

Does this mean there is no doubt? No. Does this mean there is no room for debate? Of course not. But in my mind it establishes ample reason to consider which available policy measures are appropriate.

JHA
2.2.2008 3:29pm
Brian K (mail):
you have taken a religious approach to AGW like many on the left.

you've got to be joking. only people on the left take a quasi-religious view? you either don't read much on this topic or are ignoring evidence that doesn't fit your preformed opinion. neither of which speak well about your ability to come to a rational scientifically supported opinion about AGW.

I also love how some of the above posters seem to think that only pro-AGW people are distorting evidence or making doomsday predictions. I've seen the claim that even partially mitigating global warming would require us to live in caves and send our economy back to stone age made quite often.
2.2.2008 3:29pm
Brian K (mail):
When there are hundreds of scientists on each side of an issue and you are not a scientist then the only rational side to take is agnostic.

yes, if there the number of scientists on either side about equal by some meaningful and relevant measure. It would be very irrational to hold that belief if there hundreds of scientists on one side and 1 or 2 on the other side. the AGW position is much closer to the latter than it is to the former.
2.2.2008 3:32pm
Wondering Willy:
As a former research scientist who left the lab for the courtroom, I'd just like to point out that there have been many times in human history that the scientific "consensus" ended up being wrong. I also have a very difficult time understanding how global warming could possibly have anything to do with the composition of the earth. The earth does not radiate an appreciable amount of heat into space, and the "greehouse gases" do not make the atmosphere less reflective to photons raining down on us from the sun. Therefore, I have a very, very difficult time understand how either heat input or heat retention could possibly be caused by gas emissions on earth.

To the extent there is any anthropogenic global warming, it is likely caused only be increased exothermic processes caused by, simply put, human beings doing more stuff now than we used to. A human who drives and flies and watches TV and runs an air conditioner and refrigerator and heat pump puts out more heat than a human who sits in a cave and hunts for game and berries. But such a contribution could not possibly be particularly appreciable, and will not lead to some catastrophic "jumping off point" like something familiar to those who study differential equations.
2.2.2008 3:53pm
Truth Seeker:
One of the biggest problems with the AGW debate is that proponents almost always are using it to gain money or power. Politicians and leftists want power overpeople and the market and scientists want money for their work or their products.

JHA, from your comment above, you seem only to have come over to the believer side after you found a way to profit from it (academically or otherwise) as a legal expert in the niche area of water markets and property rights in a time of climate controls. It just isn't convincing.

Show me someone who believes it in spite of his contrary financial interest and I'll pay attention.
2.2.2008 4:02pm
Kazinski:
I'm a skeptic on global warming, but I am willing to defer to the scientific consensus. After all we've taken action before on issues where there was even less or no scientific consensus. As a conservative I see nothing wrong with conservation and conserving resources. The one thing I do vehemently object to is feel good actions, or those pushing solutions that match their political agenda's that will do little if any good.

So if we are going to reduce our carbon footprint by 80%, the first thing to be done is start a worldwide crash nuclear power plant construction program to replace coal fired power plants. That is where we could get the biggest bang for our buck with reducing CO2 emmissions, and reducing pollution in general.

Next up is banning recreational and most business travel. Outlawing private jets is also an early step to be taken. Mandatory quotas for work at home employee's for businesses.

I could go on and on, but the point is, there are absolutly NO serious proposals for addressing GW on the table. Most of the proposals are revenue enhancing (taxes), pork (grain based ethanol), or feel good proposals that just tinker around the margins.
2.2.2008 4:09pm
allwrits (mail):
One of the biggest problems with the AGW debate is that proponents almost always are using it to gain money or power. Politicians and leftists want power overpeople and the market and scientists want money for their work or their products.


The same is true on both sides of the debate, those most likely to be opposed, esp. rabidly opposed, are those in the carbon based industries. Indeed, once you begin to exclude "experts" with a substantial financial interest in opposing AGW the "proof" for at least some human influence in GW becomes much stronger.

However, even assuming there is no AGW (again the evidence suggests either a human activity causing or, IMO, amplifying naturally occurring GW)do we not have a duty to plan for, to mitigate and, hopefully harness the power of GW?
2.2.2008 4:16pm
PaddyL (mail):
See:

http://icecap.us/index.php/go/new-and-cool/environmental_
effects_of_increased_atmospheric_carbon_dioxide/

This is a review of the scientific literature involving experimental research about the consequences from increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on climate by Robinson, Robinson, and Soon. Not unsurprisingly, they found:

"There are no experimental data to support the hypothesis that increases in human hydrocarbon use or in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing or can be expected to cause unfavorable changes in global temperatures, weather, or landscape. There is no reason to limit human production of CO2, CH4, and other minor greenhouse gases as has been proposed."
2.2.2008 4:22pm
Nimrod:
I personally think that even if human greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate warming that the fact is humans won't be able to cut back for economic and political reasons anyway.

It seems like if there's really a coming disaster then we need a contingency plan for what to do if our CO2-cutting measures don't work. The fact that nobody seems to even be talking about one causes me to wonder how many people really truly believe in global warming. After all, if an asteroid were heading toward the planet, we'd no doubt try to divert it somehow, but we'd probably also have some sort of plan for what to do if we failed. (Start building self-sufficient colonies underground or something, etc.)
2.2.2008 4:30pm
Michael B (mail):
“Water vapor is at least 100 times as effective as carbon dioxide, so small variations in water vapor are more important than large changes in carbon dioxide.”
That’s true but misleading. A. Zarkov
Well, perhaps, but it's difficult to comprehend how a simple and unadorned statement of scientific fact is deemed to be misleading. (And don't misunderstand as I appreciate the tenor of your comment as a whole.)
2.2.2008 4:34pm
Doc Rampage (mail) (www):
Actually, there is a proposal that would make a big difference in net human CO2 production at very low cost and with other advantages. Global warming isn't the justification for Zubrin's proposal, but it would replace a large percentage of fossil-fuel burning (which produces new CO2) with agriculturally-created fuels, which are mostly CO2 neutral --when burning it, you only put out as much carbon as the plant originally took in from the atmosphere.
2.2.2008 4:35pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I am convinced that the human contribution to climate change will cause or exacerbate significant problems in at least some parts of the world."

There is a huge difference between causing and exacerbating. Which is it? Exacerbate means human influence could add another .0001 degres to warming. Cause means a problem will exist only because of human action. Just tell us 1) the number of average warmimg degrees we can expect with no contrary action, and 2) what percentage of that is due to human activity. If you don't know, why bother posting? You are really not sayig anything.

Can we expect you will reply by saying such numbers are at best unrealiable, but in your gut you feel right?
2.2.2008 4:42pm
Doc W (mail):
JHA--I did look at those links and all I found was the idea of prizes for technological innovations and subsidies for certain R&D. If there's more, I'm still interested. I'm very sympathetic to property rights arguments for compensation or behavior mod on the part of those who cause damages. Nevertheless, it's not as though people in countries like Bangladesh don't burn any fossil fuels and wouldn't be burning a lot more if their governments didn't hamper their economic development. The discussion is interesting and I need to think more about it. I suspect we agree, however, that just siccing the taxman and bureaucrats on global warming, whether the warming is long-term or temporary, whether it is anthropogenic or natural, would likely have devastating effects of its own, on all we hold dear.

Wondering Willey--Over the long term, the Earth radiates energy into space at roughly the same rate that it absorbs energy from the Sun. Because the Earth is about 20 times cooler than the surface of the Sun, it emits this energy at infrared, rather than visible, wavelengths. Carbon dioxide is among those gases which are transparent to visible light but offer some significant absorption in the infrared. So it acts somewhat as a blanket to keep the surface warmer than it otherwise would be. And indeed, the Earth's surface is warmer on average by some tens of degrees than if there were no such "greenhouse effect." It doesn't have to do with exothermic processes.
2.2.2008 4:56pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Truth Seeker --

How exactly am I profiting from my change in views? My occasional work on water rights and the like is anything but lucrative, and nothing I've done on climate was part of my tenure file or figures prominently on my C.V. If you're going to make such accusations, you might want to have some basis for it.

JHA
2.2.2008 5:46pm
Curt Fischer:
Kazinski has it exactly right. Err, almost. I don't quite agree with him, but he is at least moving the debate to a fruitful area.

No one know what policies (including the do nothing poicy) will best mitigate the effects of AGW. Can't we talk about that?

I'm very glad Prof. Adler made this post.
2.2.2008 5:49pm
eyesay:
I would have liked to have CO2 appear with the 2 as a subscript, but unfortunately, although allowed on Preview, the <sub> tag is prohibited on Posting. Why?

Wondering Willy wrote
As a former research scientist.... I also have a very difficult time understanding how global warming could possibly have anything to do with the composition of the earth. The earth does not radiate an appreciable amount of heat into space, and the "greehouse gases" do not make the atmosphere less reflective to photons raining down on us from the sun. Therefore, I have a very, very difficult time understand how either heat input or heat retention could possibly be caused by gas emissions on earth.
As a thinking human being, I have a difficult time understanding how Willy could ever have been a scientist.

Scientists don't say that global warming is caused by the composition of the earth. They say that global warming is caused by the composition of the earth's atmosphere.

A greenhouse is warmer than the surrounding area because sunlight passes through the glass on the way in, and heat is reflected to some extent on the way back out. Greenhouse gases such as CO2 work the same way.

Fact: In the past several decades, fossil fuels (laid down over millions of years) containing carbon have been burned at historically unprecedented rates.

Fact: In the past several decades, forest areas (where trees have grown for centuries and millennia) have been slashed and burned for fuel, for farmland, and for other purposes.

Fact: As a result of these, atmospheric CO2 has increased greatly over historic levels.

Fact: Increases in atmospheric CO2 lead to a reduction in radiation of the earth's heat into outer space.

Fact: Global warming is real and it is happening right now.

We don't know how much we need to cut back greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid a critical tipping point. We don't know how much sea levels will rise if we take no action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But we do know that global warming is real.
2.2.2008 6:16pm
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
Quoth Tern:
the pseudoreligious approach taken by many of the more hardcore activists creeps me out and leads me to further doubt their evidence.
There's your mistake.  You're right to question the policy positions of those activists, but the evidence which is their support must be judged separately (I'm sure you'd support a different policy, and mine would be much closer to yours).  After all, the failure of autism activists to pin blame on thimerosal does not mean the syndrome does not exist or is not a matter of public concern.

Quoth Taltos:
Not to mention the asteroid belt acting as a baffle for solar radiation to the outer planets.
Can we nominate this for the 2008 Dan Quayle award for expertise in planetary science?

This is the sort of "knowledge" I expect to hear from soi-distant "skeptics".  A large part of what they think they know is flat wrong, but even a concerted effort to show them where they are wrong (with references) usually fails to convince them that they may not have a good picture, let alone that they are on the wrong side.
2.2.2008 6:58pm
Wondering Willy:
eyesay,

Exactly how does heat radiate into space? Heat conduction into space occurs through two mechanisms: mass interactions (i.e. through atoms and molecules and other particles) and radiation (i.e., light). There is no appreciable transfer of heat into space through a mass transfer mechanism because there is very, very little matter in space. Sure, you come across the occasional hydrogen or helium atom and some subatomics and exotics, but otherwise, there's no mass to transfer heat into from the earth.

Radiative transfers follow one of two mechanisms. Photons originating on earth fly out into space, and photons originating in space are reflected back into space. The first mechanism cannot be seriously suggested to have an impact on global warming; there is no earth-side source of photons that used to send lots of heat into space that is now being interfered with. The second mechanism likewise fails, because there is no appreciable difference between greenhouse gases and the standard atmospheric components and surface absorbers. Put simply, an atmosphere without CO2 is not appreciably more reflective than an atmosphere with CO2.

Further, my reference to "the composition of the earth" was intended to include the atmosphere. I did not use "earth" as a synonym for "dirt." Further, I appreciate the personal insult: "As a thinking human being, I have a difficult time understanding how Willy could ever have been a scientist." Your hateful comments towards me lend lots of credibility to your position.
2.2.2008 7:16pm
Truth Seeker:
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Truth Seeker --

How exactly am I profiting from my change in views? My occasional work on water rights and the like is anything but lucrative, and nothing I've done on climate was part of my tenure file or figures prominently on my C.V. If you're going to make such accusations, you might want to have some basis for it.

JHA


Sorry if I misunderstood, but I based it on your comment uppost listing your work which started out skeptical, but then switched to legal writing that can be useful to pro-climate control types. Presumably if you are the first writing in this niche you will be much sought out when climate control gets stricter.
2.2.2008 7:18pm
Doc W (mail):
To eyesay's list of facts might also be added that global warmings and coolings have occurred over and over again throughout recorded history and apparently for millions of years before that, according to evidence from ice cores. And the ice core data demonstrate that CO2 levels rose with the increasing temperatures when it couldn't have been blamed on humans. Global temperature data for the past several years seem to indicate a leveling off of the temperature. There is also an apparent correlation of climate with solar activity--for example, an extremely cold period in the 1700s coincided with an almost total disappearance of sunspots.

As for claims of scientific consensus, I've never quite gotten over that statement by Stephen Schneider some years back, a still-prominent and oft-quoted climatologist who owned as to how scientists might need to serve up scary stories and downplay doubts in order to get folks to buy into their policy preferences.
2.2.2008 7:25pm
Wondering Willy:
Doc W,

My personal opinion is that solar activity is the real reason for climate change of any magnitude. With regard to your comment about the greenhouse effect and CO2's absorption of IR photons, that has never seemed to me to be a useful explanation of how heat remains through a "greenhouse" effect. The reason is this: the heat is eventually going to get rattled out into space somehow, it just has to go through more contortions to get there. It's an equilabrated system, so it doesn't seem to me that there is appreciably more heat remaining in the atmosphere because of Le Chatelier's principle applied to the earth-space heat transfer.
2.2.2008 7:33pm
Doc W (mail):
Heat radiates from the Earth's surface via thermal or (roughly) "blackbody" radiation. The power radiated is equal to the Stephan-Boltzmann constant times the fourth power of the absolute temperature times the surface area, times the emissivity. For the Earth's surface, at infrared wavelengths, the emissivity is fairly close to one as I recall. The peak wavelength is given by Wien's law. It is the absorption of outgoing infrared light by greenhouse gases, not any effect on reflectivity, that constitutes the greenhouse effect.
2.2.2008 7:35pm
Doc W (mail):
WW--sorry, our posts crossed in the ether. Yes, the same amount of energy has to get out into space at the same rate, over the long term, but the absorption by greenhouse gases requires the surface temperature to be higher in order to radiate at a sufficiently higher rate (than would otherwise be the case) to make up for the fraction absorbed. This stuff has been in physics and astronomy texts for many decades, including back in the days when people were fretting about global cooling. I happen to know this particular story real well because my grad work was in astrophysics and I've taught physics and astronomy for a long time.
2.2.2008 7:43pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Don't know if I am going to mix into this much, but I submit you captured the problem in your first sentence:
<blockquote>
Given my strong libertarian leanings, it would certainly be ideologically convenient if the evidence for a human contribution to climate change were less strong.
</blockquote>
A human contribution to climate change is neither good nor evil. People make the same mistake of assigning motives to markets.

If you are really serious about what you said one has to ask what is it about humans causing climate change that makes any necessary response difficult for a libertarian to contemplate. That is much more interesting in this forum.
2.2.2008 7:53pm
eyesay:
Doc W wrote "Global temperature data for the past several years seem to indicate a leveling off of the temperature."

Do you mean (a) the leveling off has already completed, or (b) the leveling off is occurring now over the course of the past few and next few years, or (c) the leveling off is expected to start at some point in the future? (I agree with (c); there is no theory that earth temperatures will rise without limit.) And please provide a source for this claim — preferably a source not associated with a right-wing think tank.
2.2.2008 7:55pm
Wondering Willy:
Sure, reflectivity has nothing to do with it, I was just, in my previous post, explaining how that was one potential mechanism that, in the end, doesn't end up being a possible mechanism. I just don't happen to believe that the fractional absorption by greenhouse gases creates an appreciably warmer surface, only a slightly warmer surface. Atmospheric absorption in the IR certainly has some effect, but it's likely to be miniscule.

My grad work was in nanochemistry, but my undergrad was in physics and chemistry (with a mathematics degree thrown in for good measure), so I have no doubt you are better versed than I am.
2.2.2008 7:58pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
CiarandDenlane, your faith in political polling is touching, but you need to look at it more closely.

In 1980, I was working at The Des Moines Register, home of 'the respected Iowa Poll' (which was respected because unlike Gallup and the rest it did not load up its surveys with junk), and when Iowans actually voted, the result was not close to the poll result, it was opposite.

There was much handwringing and gnashing of teeth among management, to my great amusement, since I already knew what was wrong, and there was serious consideration of killing the poll.

Closer to national elections, outfits like Gallup take much bigger samples than they do in their routine polls, and consequently the likelihood of guessing right increases somewhat. But polls are not reliable.

++++

'Fact: Increases in atmospheric CO2 lead to a reduction in radiation of the earth's heat into outer space.'

This is not a fact, just a conjecture. And even if it turns out to be correct, increases in carbon dioxide have to give diminishing returns in the ability to trap photons.

No gas can trap photons of all energies. This is what quantized particles are about.

Diatomic nitrogen also is a greenhouse gas, but adding nitrogen would not trap any more photons because there is so much nitrogen that all the photons N2 is capable of capturing are captured. Any excess of photons at those energies escapes.

Since water vapor is 100K times more important than CO2 at trapping photons (different energy levels but the heat consequences are the same), then an increase in CO2 from 2 to 3 (which is what we've seen) has the same effect as an increase in water vapor from 100,000 to 100,001.

Contra Zarkov, forcing has nothing to do with it.
2.2.2008 8:17pm
Doc W (mail):
eyesay--I googled something like "global temperature 2007" and checked the data on various official-looking, global-warming-touting sites. Apparently 1998 was the hottest year, or maybe tied with 2005. The points for the past 8 years or so don't appear to be following the steep trend from the decade before. Maybe it's just a pause. I used the word "seem" because that's how it seems to me, but I've also hear others (whom you presumably would dismiss as "right-wing") comment on the same thing.
2.2.2008 8:23pm
lucia (mail) (www):
Jonathan:

Ditto. The preponderance of the evidence supports the idea that the recent warming is due in a sufficient degree to humans. Though advocates for climate action often over reach, and deny all counter argument, there is still some counter evidence. But, yes, the preponderace points to change, and it's due to we homo-sapiens.

What to do about it? I don't know.

@Eli Rabette: The difficulty for a liberatian is obvious. Most proposed solutions call for collective actions imposed by a centralized governments. Generally speaking, libertarians believe these sort of solutions are unworkable, and are doomed to failure. So, it would be convenient if one could deny the balance of the evidence leaned against AGW. After all, who wants to believe everything is hopeless.

But it doesn't. (Even if there are some data inconsistencies and some people want to wave them away with smiley faces.)

@Bender-- Sorry.. but it just looks this way. Even with Venus and Mars heating. OTOH, I do supsect (possibly incorrectly) that sensitivity is on the low side of the range predicted, but still, the recent heating is due to us.
2.2.2008 8:29pm
GaryC (mail):
The global climate models make fairly specific predictions about the temperature anomaly patterns that will be produced by increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The temperature anomalies created by different changes show very different patterns in terms of temperature change versus latitude and altitude. The patterns are distinctive enough that they constitute a fingerprint for the different possible causes of global warming.

The Climate Change Science Program Report released in April 2006 shows the observed temperature changes as a function of latitude and altitude. This pattern is entirely inconsistent with the model predictions. To use the criminal trial analogy, imagine a fingerprint expert testifying that there is absolutely no similarity between the fingerprints on the murder weapon and those of the defendant.

The conclusion that I reach is that either carbon dioxide is not implicated in global warming, or that the computer models are so inaccurate that their predictions cannot be deemed reliable. The water vapor feedback is only one possible source of error.

Fred Singer is one global warming "denier" who is eminently qualified, and his article in the August issue of Imprimis is worth reading.


Professor Singer references the Climate Change Science Program Report 1.1
2.2.2008 8:46pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Adler, that is the strangest arguement I've ever seen come out of an educated mind. You're saying that even if every detail of an argument is proven false, that if there are enough of these false arguments, then that is sufficient to prove the theorty true. What silliness. How profoundly anti-intellectual.

Beyond that, all the modern research is based on assumptions that have little basis in reality. They claim to be able to measure a worldwide temperature for a year within an accuracy of tenths of a degree.

Folks, you can't even measure the temperature in one small city like Austin on one day with that degree of accuracy. You can't even do it for one moment in that day. Temperatures vary in the area of a city by as much as five to ten degrees. If you could theoretically measure every location in one city for one moment, you still have the vast majority of the planet that is not being measured.

You can't conclude to a greater degree than the accuracy of your data. Especially for any time before the late 19th century (and even then for only a tiny part of the globe) it is absurd to speculate on any average temperature that doesn't have an error in ranges much much greater than tenths of a degree.
2.2.2008 9:20pm
pmorem (mail):
There's another name for an arguement where each piece of evidence is itself false or questionable:

The Big Lie.

"Weighting" false evidence is not useful. Either the evidence is valid, or it's not.
2.2.2008 9:21pm
pmorem (mail):
I'll put it another way:

For the past year, I've been running a series of experiments. Up until recently, every single test run was fouled. Those test runs do not supply meaningful evidence towards what I am trying to demonstrate. They only provide evidence of means by which a test can be fouled.

If I were to attempt to claim my fouled runs as evidence, my work could not be independently reproduced. Therefore, they can only be included as "potential causes for test failure".
2.2.2008 9:36pm
Adler Colleague:
Prof. Adler,

With respect, I still have not found a comprehensive analysis by you regarding the "convincing evidence" of man induced climate change. Your intellect is among the best I have known in my experience, and I am open to your view. However, saying you are persuaded by the "preponderance of the evidence" without detailed analysis won't do it. Please provide some direction. Also, could you please further expound on the collectivist measures that, while offensive to your libertarian sensibilities, are acceptable?

My research reveals that solar heating, subtle but detected changes in earth's magnetic properties and the well-documented cyclical nature of climate (among other natural factors) are far more influential precursors to any climate change; rather than the actions of humans. That said, I'm all for a clean environment, including the air, and believe we may need to abandon some of those libertarian principles to achieve the objective. I don't like to see a specious issue such as global warming being the government bludgeon to get there, however.
2.2.2008 9:47pm
Taltos:
Quoth Taltos:
Not to mention the asteroid belt acting as a baffle for solar radiation to the outer planets.
Can we nominate this for the 2008 Dan Quayle award for expertise in planetary science?


Asteroids = rocks, rocks absorb sunlight, ergo the amount of solar radiation reaching a point on the trailing edge of the asteroid belt necessarily will be less than that reaching an opposite point on the leading edge. Or have the global warming folks changed the laws of physics whilst I wasn't looking.
2.2.2008 10:29pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
Actually, the big question is not whether or not human activity changes the climate. The big question is whether or not it will save us from the impending mini-ice age. The most amusing thing about all of this is not whether or not human activity does or does not add or subtract a couple of points from the temperature (and remember, the "scientific consensus" from all these same folk 20 years ago was that we were all going to freeze because of these very same effects). The amusing thing is that these same people think they can predict what the *major* climate pattern will be. They can't. And those who do are almost uniformly predicting that we are going to get much colder.

See:
http://www.britsattheirbest.com/001645.php
2.2.2008 10:58pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
There is an experiment you can do in your backyard to demonstrate that carbon dioxide does not trap (an appreciable amount of) heat.

It's a little trouble, but if it saves you THIRTY TRILLION DOLLARS, it might be worth it.

Dig a hole deep enough to protect the bottom from air currents. 4 or 5 feet will do, maybe less. Put a stryofoam cooler in the bottom. Put water in cooler. Wait for a clear, calm night. Sleep. Wake up at dawn. Look in cooler. Find ice.

The heat in the water, following the laws of thermodynamics, radiated toward space (effectively, a cold black body). The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere did not stop it.

The Egyptians knew this thousands of years ago, and it worked for me in Hawaii, which is warmer than almost anyplace VC conspirators are posting from, and warmer than even the alarmist AGW panicmongers are predicting it will be in 2050 where you are.

Which is a different issue from cumulative evidence, but sometimes you need only one piece of evidence.
2.2.2008 11:18pm
John Lederer (mail):
Before doing anything, donb't we need to answer some questions.

It has been warmer and cooler in the past before we had any input into the equation, and the rates of chnage have been as large as those at present. So:

1. What temperature would we like it to be?
2. How fast do we want it to get there?
3. How does the present natural (without man induced CO2 effects) trend go?

I don't think we can reach consensus on the first or second question -- here in Wisconsin I would like it a bit warmer, please, I suspect someone elsewhere might like it cooler.
2.2.2008 11:22pm
GaryC (mail):

Asteroids = rocks, rocks absorb sunlight, ergo the amount of solar radiation reaching a point on the trailing edge of the asteroid belt necessarily will be less than that reaching an opposite point on the leading edge. Or have the global warming folks changed the laws of physics whilst I wasn't looking.


Taltos, space is empty.

Really, really empty.

The amount of solar radiation blocked by the asteroid belt is infinitesimal, even if you only worry about the plane of the ecliptic, to which the planets are (roughly) confined.

Assume that there are 2 million asteroids that are 1 km in diameter or above. (Wikipedia gives 1.1 to 1.9 million.) Although there are a few large ones, most will be near the size limit, so let's assume that the average cross section is 4 square kilometers. That's is a total of 8 million square kilometers of asteroid surface absorbing sunlight.

That sounds like a lot, doesn't it? It's a little bit more than the projected surface area of the Earth, at 5.1 million square kilometers.

The main asteroid belt is between Mars and Jupiter, more than 2 astronomical units from the Sun. An astronomical unit is 93 million miles, or about 160 million kilometers. At a distance of 320 million kilometers, the surface area of a sphere is 1.3 x 10^18 square kilometers. The inclinations of the asteroids cover a larger range than those of the planets, but suppose that we only have to worry about a band that is 10 degrees wide. The surface area is reduced by an order of magnitude, to 1.1 x 10^17 square kilometers, so the fraction of sunlight blocked by the asteroids in this band is about 1 in 14 billion.

This has been a public service calculation by an astronomy geek. We now return you to the regularly scheduled comments by legal geeks.
2.2.2008 11:23pm
GaryC (mail):
Oops!

The projected surface area of the Earth is actually 256 square million kilometers.
2.2.2008 11:27pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):

Harry Eagar: There is an experiment you can do in your backyard to demonstrate that carbon dioxide does not trap (an appreciable amount of) heat.

This is what I was talking about earlier.

I cited a document signed on behalf of every serious scientific academy on the planet, all of whom agree that global warming is real and needs to be dealt with.

Harry Eager dug a hole in his backyard and thinks he knows better.

Now maybe Harry just won the f*ing Nobel Prize here, but you think he would consider the fact that maybe his experiment doesn't show what he thinks it shows.
2.3.2008 12:25am
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Taltos, GaryC is right. When NASA sends explorers to the outer planets they don't even consider the possibility that they might hit an asteroid. (Well, the consider it, but they don't factor it into the flight plan.)

The asteroid belt looks impressive in illustrations, but for practical purposes space is just too empty for it to have any effect.
2.3.2008 12:28am
eyesay:
William Oliver writes "and remember, the 'scientific consensus' from all these same folk 20 years ago was that we were all going to freeze because of these very same effects."

Mr. Oliver's memory is incorrect. He is remembering the nuclear winter scenario, in which a hypothetical nuclear war, between, say, the USSR and the U.S., kicks up so much smoke and dust into the atmosphere that, for a period of months to years, so much sunlight is reflected back and never reaches earth, that the earth's surface and atmospheric temperature is greatly reduced. The nuclear winter scenario caused by smoke, ash and dust is fully consistent with the global warming scenario caused by greenhouse gases; these two theories do not in any way contradict each other.
2.3.2008 3:44am
Oren:
Exactly how does heat radiate into space? Heat conduction into space occurs through two mechanisms: mass interactions (i.e. through atoms and molecules and other particles) and radiation (i.e., light).


Blackbody radiation has been known for 100 years. The earth is constantly giving of IR photons that are escaping into space. If space were also 300K, it would contribute back the same number and we would be in equilibrium however, space is 3K. This is the same principle that lights up incandescent bulbs, except they are much hotter and therefore radiate in the visible (Wein's Law).
2.3.2008 3:49am
eyesay:
Adler Colleague writes, "My research reveals . . . "

Sorry for this ad hominem, but when you were in third grade, it was OK to look stuff up in the encyclopedia and other sources and call it "research." But now that you are a grownup, you're not supposed to use the word "research" for looking up stuff written by others. Research is what actual scientists do. It's not just looking stuff up. It requires developing a background understanding of the field, development of a hypotheses, gathering and analyzing data, and more, culminating in the writing of scientific papers that are then peer-reviewed.

Tell us, Adler Colleague, where did you publish your research? I thought so.
2.3.2008 3:56am
Doc (mail):
Eyesay seems to have selective or inaccurate memory. The discussions of the coming ice age in the 1970s (see the Time and Newsweek covers of the period) were not at all in the context of "nuclear winter". That was a totally separate issue which was also discussed publicly at great length-- But the 1970s literature on the"coming ice age" had little to do with the "nuclear winter" scenario.
2.3.2008 4:12am
Kazinski:
I'm about 80% convinced that anthropocentric global warming is a crock of shit, but I'm past arguing that now. If it is a crock then it will come out in the next 4-20 years when the natural solar cycle reverses itself and the warming levels off or reverses itself.

With McCain as a AGW believer on the GOP side, and Hillary and Obama also as believers then we have to turn our focus to what the solutions are. Now we can be 100% certain, because politicians are in charge that the primary solution is going to be part 98% of a combination of pork and regulation, and about 2% of real solution. Its just a question of how much the politicians really believe the problem needs to be fixed and how much AGW is just going to be a trojan horse to push their own agendas.

I just think we need to hold their feet to the fire and make sure their is real accounting of the costs and a real accounting to the benefits. Take California's proposal to regulate automobile CO2 emissions, that will cost a lot more and do less good than if they replace all the oil and coal powerplants with nuclear.
2.3.2008 4:12am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The original question had to do with the effect of a large number of pieces of evidence, all pointing in a given direction. That one or two, or perhaps more, are shown to be doubtful does not mean the conclusion drawn by looking at all of them is false.
I suppose one response might be that what we have is a large number of assertions, most of which are false or irrelevant.
There is another way to look at the process and that's who goes first.
The pro AGW folks went first, made large numbers of assertions and expect the number to overcome the demonstrable falsity of one or another. In fact, what we have is a proposition that the large number assertions overcomes a single case where one is wrong. This is asserted every time any assertion is demonstrated to be false or irrelevant. So, by the structure of the argument, it's always the large number of assertions versus a single contradicting fact. And the same with the next contradicting fact, and the next, and so on.

Now, suppose the anti-AGW folks had started this: They'd have made their large number of assertions and could point to their cumulative effect when faced with a single contradicting fact. And the next....

So the idea that an accumulation of doubtful assertions comprises a real truth depends largely on who went first, and who maintains control of the structure of the argument.

I have made some conclusions about my own life based on a number of data points. Each had half a dozen possible meanings. Each had a meaning which agreed with one of the meanings of another point. The other meanings pointed in all directions. By dragging the single meanings together and ignoring the other meanings, I came to a conclusion which seemed to be supported by the facts but which was, in fact, wrong. But I had the numbers!!
2.3.2008 9:31am
Michael B (mail):
"Mr. Oliver's memory is incorrect. He is remembering the nuclear winter scenario, in which a hypothetical nuclear war, between, say, the USSR and the U.S., kicks up so much smoke and dust into the atmosphere that, for a period of months to years, so much sunlight is reflected back and never reaches earth, that the earth's surface and atmospheric temperature is greatly reduced." eyesay

It was the mid to late 70's and into the early 80's, so his memory is fine (concerning global cooling scares).

Also, Wiki is decidedly not a good place to go for authoritative conclusions when it comes to these types of contentious issues since the editing fights that occur at Wiki largely reflect the PC vs. non-PC fights in any other on-line forum and elsewhere. They can be a place to begin some research and even that can be misleading if relied upon too heavily.

As to nuclear winter scenarios, using models, they essentially posited that an all-out nuclear war (using models where all or a very sizeable percentage of the world's nuclear arsenal is unleashed) would not be good for the environment. Or for people, one might be inclinded to add. As to modeling, an example pulled from the Kuwait oil fires after the first Gulf War may be instructive:

"During, and after Operation Desert Storm, various models were used to predict morbidity (illness), mortality (deaths), and cancer risks due to exposure to the oil well fire smoke. The predictions of these models differed greatly. The predictions of one of these models changed dramatically after real, rather than estimated, information became available. I will contrast the predicted illnesses, deaths, and cancer rates from this model used in the spring of 1991, with the predictions from the same model after a large number of measurements had been taken. In the spring of 1991, the model [using modeling estimates] predicted 27,839 illnesses, 1,883 deaths, and 10,273 cancers per 100,000 population for Al Ahmadi, a populated area near the oil well fires. In October 1991, after actual measurements were used in the model, it predicted only 17 illnesses, 4 deaths, and 0.3 cancers per 100,000 population for Al Ahmadi. The second scenario fits more closely with what PHS physicians and Kuwaiti governmental personnel have reported. It is important that models be validated continually so that the health professionals and the public are not confused."

Likewise, it should be emphasized that the more dire predictions concerning the Kuwait oil fires did not bear out.

Moreso, a single, localized phenomenon such as the Kuwait oil fires is vastly simpler to model than the earth's climate as a whole over a period of decades; indeed there is no comparison between the two given the multiplicity of evolving and indeterminable factors that can effect the climate as a whole over an period of decades.
2.3.2008 9:33am
Michael B (mail):
Btw, even the term "scientific consensus" itself is misleading. The better phrase to apply would be "a consensus of scientists" as it serves to highlight the fact that 1) individuals are involved and not science in the abstract or as an ideal and 2) the consensus itself is more of a gauge of median and mean proximations rather than scientific conclusions, for example in the pure/mathematical sense of the term.

I.e. some notable epistemic caution is in order, even prior to the policy debate that has the potential to leverage literally trillions of dollars.

(If you want a serious moral cause to go after, the global sex trade is a huge one and we positively know it's real and variously destroys massive numbers of young lives, many, many of them very young indeed. But there is little or no cause celeb fervor that can be associated with that trade and there is likewise little or no chance a quasi-religious fervor will be attached to that project.)
2.3.2008 9:57am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Chris, making ice isn't the only thing we know about radiation. It is one of the few demonstrations you can do with a shovel, though.
2.3.2008 10:31am
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
I'm going to post a bunch of replies to people as separate comments, to make it easier to track them.  I have consolidated bits of various comments from the same author for conciseness.

Quoth "Truth Seeker":
It's like a criminal trial and mankind is charged with harming the Earth. There is evidence on both sides but the evidence of guilt is circumstantial and we do not yet have a dna test to prove it. You are proclaiming guilt because we can't afford to let him loose IF he is guilty. The correct result is acquittal at this point. I say innocent until PROVEN guilty!
The failures of the legalistic mind are coming into sharp relief here.

This is not unlike refusing to put smog controls on any of the cars in Los Angeles until one can finger the driver whose emissions caused John Doe's bronchitis and Harry Roe's heart attack.  It is like refusing to inspect a bridge for cracks until it starts falling down.  It is like calling fire insurance a waste of money until you see the flames licking out the windows.  It is, in short, a complete repudiation of everything we know about prudent policy and risk management — which repudiation "Truth Seeker" would no doubt attack vigorously if his client stood to win a tort claim.

While "Truth Seeker" bloviates, research has linked the drying of the western US to climate change.  The chickens are coming home to roost, and the things we could have done about today's problems needed to have been started around 1985-90.  If we start today, we'll be seeing real results around 2025-30.  We can't do anything about today's problems; we failed to write that insurance check.

Our policy obviously cannot be "innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt".  It cannot even be "a preponderance of the evidence".  We must act on precaution, to limit the untoward consequences.  This also means we should be looking for "no regrets" options.  Fortunately, we've got plenty of them.  Most moves to increase efficiency cut costs as well; I've saved a bundle with CFs since I started using them in the mid-90's.  If we cut the use of coal we eliminate the mining scars, ash dumps and mercury emissions too.  If we use wind power we at least have some powerplants which don't need to draw on shrinking supplies of water to cool condensers.

Policy isn't about what's innocent or guilty.  Policy is about what is prudent or foolish.  Our energy and environmental policies of Republican administrations since 1981 have been very, very foolish.
Show me someone who believes it in spite of his contrary financial interest and I'll pay attention.
Right here.  My primary source of income for the last 25 years has been the auto industry.  I am willing to sacrifice because I believe that the choice is between a clean, no-greenhouse, OPEC-free auto industry, or no auto industry.
2.3.2008 11:32am
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
Quoth Paul McKaskle:
I think there is very little the United States or even a combination of the United States and Europe can do in the near future to significantly lower the world-wide amount of carbon dioxide being discharged into the air. By significant I mean to lower CO2 discharges enough that the worldwide levels stop increasing or even decline. The reason is simple, the discharges by China and India alone (let alone other emerging economies) by themselves are producing (or soon will produce) enough carbon dioxide to sustain at least some increase in worldwide levels of CO2.

I think you're missing a point.  Two very big reasons for the behavior of China and India are that the West has done nothing substantial about emissions (so why should they?), and trade agreements had environmental requirements specifically written out of them.

Suppose that all changes.  The US and EU adopt a carbon-tax regime and simultaneously form a trade bloc to replace the WTO.  This trade bloc comes with stiff tariffs on goods from countries with non-compliant carbon policies.

India and China are building coal plants like crazy because they make business sense.  Overnight, the business case for those plants collapses.  They become a liability; if CO2 emissions have to be taxed at $50/ton, the goods produced using those plants lose much or all of their competitive edge.  The only way out is to build wind (already cheaper than natural gas), solar, maybe nuclear, and sequester, sequester, sequester.
I suspect this will occur, if at all, several decades in the future.
By that time, climate change will be driven by feedback effects (e.g. methane from thawing permafrost areas) and it will be too late.
Probably only a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in the neighborhood of eighty percent would. It would take a wrenching change in current living standards–steps to reduce immensely the number of automobiles, complete restructuring of urban life (e.g., rules requiring drastic reduction of residential square footage per family, forced use of public transportation), bans on any “non-essential” air travel, rationing of electricity and heating fuels, and much more.
No it wouldn't (damn filter doesn't allow lists, gotta reformat):

* Partially or completely electric vehicles can reduce emissions by 80% or more (some biofuel options add to soil carbon and are net carbon negative).
* We're already building zero-energy houses, and we can build houses which are net energy suppliers.
* Public transit is a remedy for congestion.  Electric transport gets the carbon end.
* $150/bbl oil will cut the market for air transport anyway.  What we want is medium-speed (120 MPH or so) passenger rail and 70 MPH freight on electrified lines.
* Passivehaus" barely needs heating fuel, and why would we need to ration power from solar, wind, nuclear or any carbon-sequestered combustion plant?
2.3.2008 11:37am
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
Quoth Wondering Willy:
As a former research scientist who left the lab for the courtroom, I'd just like to point out that there have been many times in human history that the scientific "consensus" ended up being wrong.
How do you know that the scientific consensus was wrong before?  Because it studied the evidence and corrected itself.  Your implicit argument for distrusting the scientific process is thus hypocritical.
I also have a very difficult time understanding how global warming could possibly have anything to do with the composition of the earth. The earth does not radiate an appreciable amount of heat into space
You gave me the first snort of the morning (I'm reading this late).

The Earth received about 380 W/m² from the Sun, of which about 39% is reflected and 61% absorbed.  Most of that 61% (232 W/m²) is re-radiated to space as thermal emissions; a small part of it is held by e.g. the warming of the oceans.
To the extent there is any anthropogenic global warming, it is likely caused only be increased exothermic processes caused by, simply put, human beings doing more stuff now than we used to.
Trivially refutable.  Total human energy consumption is about 400 quadrillion BTU (roughly 4.2e20 joules, 420 exajoules) of energy per year.  The absorbed solar radiation is about (0.61*1360*3.1416*(6.38e6)²*86400*365.25) = 3.3e24 joules (3.3 yottajoules).  Direct human heat production would raise average global temperatures by roughly .0025%, and the effects would be concentrated around cities, not at the poles.  What we see is directly attributable to the greenhouse effect.

For a research scientist, you sure have forgotten a lot of basic physics.
2.3.2008 11:39am
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
Quoth Doc:
The discussions of the coming ice age in the 1970s (see the Time and Newsweek covers of the period) were not at all in the context of "nuclear winter".
I was there.  The discussions were a popular craze, not a scientific one.  Scientists had noted that our state of the Milankovich cycle was giving the climate a forcing in the direction of cooling, and climate records would lead us to expect renewed glaciation.  What few people had quantified, and the popular authors never mentioned, is that CO2 and other GHGs created an even greater forcing of the climate toward warming.

Quoth Doc W:
ice core data demonstrate that CO2 levels rose with the increasing temperatures when it couldn't have been blamed on humans.
Ice core data also show that CO2 concentrations did not naturally rise over about 300 ppm over the last million years.  CO2 is now over 380 ppm, and the isotopic composition proves that the added carbon is from fossil fuels.  We have the smoking gun, DNA, fingerprints AND eye-witnesses.

People can deny this all they want, but they're starting to sound like Kwame Kilpatrick pleading for the public to ignore his perjury.
2.3.2008 11:40am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I believe the ice core data show the CO2 rise lagging warming.
2.3.2008 12:02pm
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
And at long last, I'd like to say something about policy.

If humanity can only add so much greenhouse gas to the atmosphere without causing harm, it makes sense to treat that capacity like any other scarce good.  The libertarian approach to scarce goods is to let the market decide what it should cost, and let people buy what they will at that price.  Note, it would also let people sell the good; a farmer might have to pay for the nitrous oxide emissions from his use of fertilizer, but he could turn his cornstalks and rice straw into charcoal, bury it and get money for taking greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere just as others pay to put them in.

This market analogy isn't perfect.  Governments would be deciding how much of the "good" exists.  However, this already goes on to some degree with other pollutants; government decides how much NOx is permissible in the LA basin, and forces various emitters to cut down and pay the cost for doing so.

A carbon tax would allow people to stop paying it by not using fossil fuels.  This is easier than it sounds.  Suppose you live in the LA basin, and buy a low-end Tango, which uses about 200 watt-hours of electricity per mile.  You buy a solar array which generates electricity for about 25¢/kWh, and use this to run the car.  Voila, your "fuel" supply costs about 5¢/mile and you're immune to increases in the cost of carbon emissions.  Wind energy would be even cheaper, and e.g. cogenerating furnaces would leverage fuel used for other purposes.

We can do this, it's mostly a question of will.
2.3.2008 12:13pm
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
I believe the ice core data show the CO2 rise lagging warming.
This is exactly what you would expect if the shift out of glaciation is triggered by other effects, but driven by GHG feedback.  You should find this worrisome rather than reassuring; it shows that warming trends can be self-amplifying.
2.3.2008 12:16pm
Toby:

(If you want a serious moral cause to go after, the global sex trade is a huge one and we positively know it's real and variously destroys massive numbers of young lives, many, many of them very young indeed. But there is little or no cause celeb fervor that can be associated with that trade and there is likewise little or no chance a quasi-religious fervor will be attached to that project.)

But can I buy credits to offset my own behavior? Or, as I have been married for many years, can I at least sell credits...
2.3.2008 1:01pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Mr. Oliver's memory is incorrect."

Nope.

See:http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/993807/posts

Same hysteria, different verse.
2.3.2008 1:47pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Same hysteria, different verse."

No.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94
2.3.2008 2:23pm
Ohio Boy (mail):
My understanding is that the earth is some 4 billion years old, and has gone through a few changes in temperature over that time. (If I am in error, please correct me.)

Does anyone know what the temperature of earth should be right now?
2.3.2008 2:26pm
Smokey:
Engineer-Poet:
The Earth received about 380 W/m² from the Sun...
Actually, the Earth receives about 1,366 Watts per square meter from the Sun, not 380. Note also in the chart above that solar irradiance correlates closely with the "Little Ice Age" in the late 1600's, and with the Wolf Minimum in the early 1800's. And it closely correlates with the 0.6 degree C temperature increase beginning around 1900 - when CO2 emissions were much, much less than post-WWII levels.
Ice core data also show that CO2 concentrations did not naturally rise over about 300 ppm over the last million years.
See what he's doing here? By cherry-picking a specific starting date [the last million years], he can make any argument at all. So let's be honest here, and provide data from the past 4.6 billion years. Note that CO2 levels have no correlation with temperature. None. At times, CO2 levels have been in the thousands of ppm [parts per million]. IF CO2 caused global warming as claimed, then a level of 2,000+ ppm would certainly cause substantial global warming. But again, there is no correlation. [Compared 2,000+ ppm in the past - for millions of years - with today's very low 380 ppm].

And if a chart covering the past 4.6 billion years is too long, then here's one covering the past 450,000 years. Note the natural pre-SUV cycles. Or maybe a chart of the past 4,500 years would better show the climate's natural cycles. Or perhaps a chart showing no unusual temp changes over the past decade is in order. A decade is too short? Then how about a chart showing temperature fluctuations over the past century?

Next, the claims that other planets in our solar system are not heating has been refuted by numerous scientists.

Dr. Fred Singer, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia certainly knows more about this subject than Al Gore and his acolytes, doubled and squared.

Another view is provided by the internationally renowned physicist, Dr. Freeman Dyson, who also knows a thing or two about this subject.

Another internationally known climatologist, M.I.T.'s Dr. Richard Lindzen, is highly skeptical of the CO2/AGW hypothesis.

Finally, more than 19,000 individuals, the overwhelming majority of them credentialed scientists, have signed agreeing with the conclusions in this peer-reviewed paper [note that signing the petition requires a hard-copy original signature, not a simple email click].

I would prefer to accept the conclusions of reputable scientists over the [usually uncited] opinions of those who have bought into the global warming/AGW hype lock, stock and barrel.
2.3.2008 2:39pm
Smokey:
Ohio Boy:
Does anyone know what the temperature of earth should be right now?
Being an Ohio boy myself, I'm happy to provide an answer.
2.3.2008 2:42pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"My understanding is that the earth is some 4 billion years old, and has gone through a few changes in temperature over that time."

I believe that's correct. And glaciers once covered much of North America. What's your point?

"Does anyone know what the temperature of earth should be right now?"

What do you mean, "should be"? It is what it is. Obviously it's a little more congenial for us now than when glaciers covered much of North America.
2.3.2008 2:45pm
Jmaie (mail):
Engineer-Poet says:

This is easier than it sounds. Suppose you live in the LA basin...

I live just south of Seattle, what is my magic bullet?

Our energy and environmental policies of Republican administrations since 1981 have been very, very foolish.

I suggest you avoid claiming that AEI funding automatically makes the research biased...
2.3.2008 2:52pm
Adler Colleague:
Smokey,

You da man!


(Apologies to those who don't like legal beagles entering the scientific fray.)
2.3.2008 3:00pm
Brian K (mail):
Smokey,

you're charts are essentially meaningless and highly misleading. They use the common statistical ploy of changing the scales on the axis to make minor fluctuations seem very large. They present very distorted pictures of what is actually and ignore other confounding variables...many factors affect climate change and just because volcanoes controlled the climate billions of years ago doesn't mean CO2 and other greenhouses gases aren't controlling climate change now.

Not to mention the fact that your charts aren't even internally consistent. This graph here shows a temperature drop during between 1990 and 1995 of no more than .08 degrees F with no spike, while this graph states there was a 1.1 degree F change between 1991 and 1992.
2.3.2008 3:06pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Actually, the Earth receives about 1,366 Watts per square meter from the Sun, not 380."

I don't think that's correct. 1,366 w/m2 is what's measured at the outer edge of the atmosphere. The actual incoming solar radiation is one fourth the solar constant. So the Earth does not "receive" 1,366 w/m2.
2.3.2008 3:23pm
Smokey:
In general, the same folks who are pushing the global warming/AGW scam are also pushing ethanol over nuclear power.

Why? For the very same reason: there are big bucks in ethanol, just like there are big bucks in selling AGW snake oil.

If all of the corn in the U.S. were converted into ethanol every year, it would replace only 12% of the demand for gasoline. In addition, every gallon of corn ethanol requires 1,700 gallons of water to produce -- in addition to .8 gallons of fossil fuel [source: the Economist, 2-02-08]. And ethanol production is making the cost of food skyrocket -- women & children hurt most.

Now, the UN has just proclaimed that it needs twenty trillion dollars ($20,000,000,000,000) to 'fight global warming'. [Note that the UN wants dollars -- not Euros].

This is the same opaque, corrupt UN that routinely refuses to allow an independent audit of its spending; the same UN that collaborrated with Saddam Hussein to divert nearly $20,000,000,000 from the Oil-for-Food program. The same envious UN that is filled with an intense hatred of the U.S.

Is it so difficult to understand that greed is the driving force behind the AGW scam? The U.S. has done more to combat pollution than the rest of the world combined. At a time when China is building 1 - 2 new coal-fired power plants a week, it would be well to remember that in the 1950's, on most days you couldn't see across the river in Pittsburgh.

Today, Pittsburgh's air is clean, because we took care of the problem. In fact, while the UN bleats about the U.S. ...

• Emissions worldwide have increased 18.0%.
• Emissions from countries that signed Kyoto have increased 21.1%.
• Emissions from non-Kyoto signers increased 10.0%.
• Emissions from the U.S. increased only 6.6%.

We all want clean air. In the U.S., unlike the rest of the world, we've taken care of most of the problem. Yet the UN demands dollars -- not pounds or renminbi or franks or yen. Dollars. They demand to be allowed to tax the air we breathe.

Cassandra predicted doom and gloom, and everyone believed her. But she was always wrong. Cressida told the truth -- but no one paid any attention. The UN and its clone organizations are bestowing glory on anyone pushing the AGW/global warming meme. But those same individuals absolutely run away from any open, moderated debate. What are they trying to hide?
2.3.2008 3:26pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"...there are big bucks in ethanol, just like there are big bucks in selling AGW snake oil."

Of course, there's no money at all in fossil fuels.
2.3.2008 3:31pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Having failed at the level of science, we move briskly on to conspiracy theories.
2.3.2008 3:33pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Cassandra predicted doom and gloom, and everyone believed her. But she was always wrong. Cressida told the truth -- but no one paid any attention."

What?? Mythology fact check, please...
2.3.2008 3:38pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Adler Colleague (and others who've posed similar questions) --

I reached the conclusion that human activity is having a significant effect on the global climate system after working in this area for years. I have neither the time nor the inclination to write up a full literature review. So, if you want to see a comprehensive assessment of the evidence of a human contribution to climate change, you should start with the full report of Working Group I of the IPCC -- the actual report, not the policymakers' summary. If you think the new one is too politicized, read the 2001 report. It's got enough in it. If that still doesn't suit you, read Bjorn Lomborg's Cool It. He offers a critical analysis of the so-called "consensus," but he largely accepts the IPCC's conclusions. The same can be said of many (most?) of the so-called "skeptics" within the climate science community. Read their work closely and you will find that they are challenging the idea of a greenhouse apocalypse, not the idea of a potentially significant human contribution to climate change.

As to why I believe even a modest human contribution to climate change, see my posts on property rights and climate change that I referenced above. In those essays and exchanges you'll see where I differ most from other market-oriented types.

As for what collective measures I would support, these are also discussed and explained in the links I posted above.

JHA
2.3.2008 3:58pm
Mac (mail):

Partially or completely electric vehicles can reduce emissions by 80% or more (some biofuel options add to soil carbon and are net carbon negative).



Not unless we are using nuclear fuel. Otherwise, you are merely transferring the point of pollution from the tailpipe of the car to the power plant which produces the fuel for the car. No help. Neither wind nor solar, while worth pursuing, will provide more than a small fraction of our energy needs.

Re biofuels, does it really make any sense for a people to be burning their food supply? You do need to understand that half the world depends on us to feed them and in the poorest of countries, corn is a vital necessity. Corn that is plentiful and cheap is all that stands between a good many in the 3rd world and starvation. We have chosen to burn that food source. They are already feeling the burden of higher corn prices as we burn our corn and drive up the price. Is it for good reason or for political expediency? I fear it is the later as in follow the money and the votes. It does not make much sense to cause starvation now to prevent maybe, hypothetically, starvation in the future. And, what proof is there that warming by a degree or two, if that, over the next 100 years will cause anything other than having more food as we have a longer growing season and areas in northern latitudes can grow more food? That has certainly been the case for the last 150 years as it was true of the warming period of the middle ages. The mini ice age caused starvation and death, not the warming period that preceded it and followed it.

And, another little fact, CO2 comprises .56% of the atmosphere and of that infinitesimal amount, only 4% is caused by human activity. We are a carbon based planet. We have been much warmer in the past if Greenland is anything to go by, as it was very, well, green, when first settled by Europeans. It got cold and turned to ice. This is fairly recent. No fossil fuel being burned when that happened. You have to account for past warning and cooling cycles sans fossil fuel, before you can blame CO2 and man for the current warming, I think.

Re consensus. It has no place in science. Besides, who has done a poll of all the scientists? How do you know how many consent to AGW and that the number is a vast majority? The media only talk about the ones who agree with AGW. Those who disagree get precious little exposure. It seems that there is a consensus, but we really don't know that to be true at all. But, even if there were a consensus, it is meaningless. A skeptic approached Einstein expressing doubt about his Theory of Relativity. Einstein said, "It only takes one". That is, if even one time the Theory is proven to be incorrect, the entire theory is wrong.

In the 90's, on a much simpler subject, a brash Australian Dr. gave a report to the gathering of Doc's and pronounced that ulcers were not caused by stress or spicy foods, but by a bacterium. He was ridiculed and derided by the medical and scientific community. The major drug companies all had a huge stake in this not being true. But, a few researchers decided to see if they could replicate his results and, guess what, he was right. A whole host of dissenters and financial interests lined up against him could not win out against a scientific fact. The overwhelming consensus said he was wrong. He was right. As was the scientist who said that the continents were once all together. He was a lone voice, but he was right. They just had to discover plate tectonics to explain out how they moved.

Also, Jonathan,

The historical record in the Southwest indicates that drought has NOT occurred during periods of the highest temperatures, but rather during periods of lower temp's. That may seem crazy until you understand that we in Prescott, Az have a period of high and uncomfortable temperatures in June and/or July for about 3-4 weeks. It is precisely that high temp which causes a change in the jet stream and brings us water from the Gulf. So, no high temperature, no monsoon and we get a drought. High temperatures prevent a drought here, they do not cause it.
This is the problem with both a little knowledge and "common sense" . It is frequently wrong.
As for not trading with China unless they go green, there is a reason China has a huge military and continues to build that military. If you think they would go quietly into an economic depression with a billion people to feed, you might just want to rethink that.
I will remain a skeptic. And, I will resist the government taking over our lives until they can PRIOVE I am going to die if they don't. Right now, I think more people are likely to die if they do. All of the proposed solutions cause for an increase in the prices of the basic necessities of life. Poverty is the number one killer of mankind. Making more people poor, does not seem to me to be good policy. WE know more folks will die if we do that. We don't know if warming will cause any harm at all or be a net benefit.
What would make sense is to prepare for climate change whether it be hot or cold. That is what the climate has always done. It is highly unlikely we can change it. We can prepare for whatever it decides to do to us, though. Or we can at least try.

Mr.. Oliver is quite correct. The "consensus" was for a new ice age. The nuclear winter was a different subject entirely.
2.3.2008 3:58pm
Smokey:
Grover:

Maybe if I put it another way, it will help resolve your confusion: Human activity produces about 9.6 terawatts on average. The Earth receives about 174,000 terawatts from solar radiation. The amount of energy received from the Sun fluctuates much more than 9.6 terawatts, so human activity is well down into the Sun's natural "noise." In other words, if human activities either stopped or doubled, the overall effect on the Earth would not be measurable.

And Brian K, I won't take the time to explain the difference in the Y-axis between the charts, but with a little googling, I'm sure you can find out why a comparison between a hundred year chart and a 4,500 year chart might not show every annual squiggle.

Mac: Excellent post. Unfortunately, it is apparently pointless to argue with Jonathan Adler, who, as he readily admits, has already made up his mind [and is now in the position of putting his hands over his ears, shouting "La, la, la, la, la, I can't he-e-e-e-ear you-o-o!"] He's like many others, who give *very* strong opinions on the subject -- with not an iota of real backup.

But others are reading what you wrote, so don't give up. The more we're educated on this subject, the better.

As I've mentioned many times, if anyone can provide proof of the AGW/global warming hypothesis, I will promptly change my mind. So far -- including the extremely heavily politicized UN/IPCC's pronouncements, AGW is still 100% conjecture.

We're still waiting for any proof.
2.3.2008 4:26pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Maybe if I put it another way, it will help resolve your confusion"

Excuse me, I wasn't confused. You were *wrong* to contradict Engineer-Poet. He was right and you were *wrong*. I'm no physicist and yet it was immediately apparent to me where you'd screwed up. Changing the subject doesn't alter that fact.

Brian K is also *correct*--your charts are misleading, internally inconsistent and in some cases simply bogus. One specifically claims a certain temperature change in a specific year, while the other disagrees about *that same year*. The biocab.org chart you so love to link to is invalidated by another chart on the same web site. This is pointed out to you time and time again to no effect. You just adopt a supercilious attitude and change the subject. But it's clear, even to a non-scientist like myself, that you don't know what you're talking about.
2.3.2008 4:40pm
Michael B (mail):
It's amusing to see RealClimate and others pooh-pooh the global cooling scare that hit the media and was in fact spawned by scientists. No one has suggested it was anything like the scale of the current AGW initiative, but it was real nonetheless and in fact had a scientific or at least a quasi-scientific basis.

Carl Sagan, both a scientist and popularizer, touted it for a time and the following excerpt from the 1975 Newsweek article previously cited in this thread serves to reflect both the quasi-scientific origins along with the scare mongering; that article, excerpted and with emphases added follows:

"There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production– with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now. ...

"The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. ...

"To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world's weather. Meteorologists disagree ... But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. ... “A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale,” warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, ...”

"A survey completed last year by Dr. Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] reveals a drop of half a degree in average ground temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968. According to George Kukla of Columbia University, satellite photos indicated a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72. And a study released last month by two NOAA scientists notes that the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3% between 1964 and 1972.

"... Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin points out that the Earth’s average temperature during the great Ice Ages was only about seven degrees lower than during its warmest eras – and that the present decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age average. ...

[...]

"“The world’s food-producing system,” warns Dr. James D. McQuigg of NOAA’s Center for Climatic and Environmental Assessment, “is much more sensitive to the weather variable than it was even five years ago.” ...

"Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality."

Yet now, all that is pooh-poohed as "revisionist" history and as reflecting merely a "kernel" of truth. Amusing. (Have they taken to airbrushing any of these scientists and institutions out of official photographs yet?) It reminds of Auguste Comte, one of the original scientific positivists c. 1800; specifically, his desire that the earth's orbit be changed from an elliptical to a circular orbit in order to greatly mitigate seasonal climate variations.

Genuine science should be heeded and no one desires that a luddite-like attitude be adopted, but what is real and more soberly assessed needs to be distinguished from what is overly leveraged, hyped, fear-induced, variously and seductively proffered, variously motivated, endlessly repeated in a range of media outlets, etc.
2.3.2008 4:56pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Genuine science should be heeded and no one desires that a luddite-like attitude be adopted, but what is real and more soberly assessed needs to be distinguished from what is overly leveraged, hyped, fear-induced, variously and seductively proffered, variously motivated, endlessly repeated in a range of media outlets, etc."

And yet you quote the egregiously hyped-up Newsweek article from 1975 as if it were loaded with facts.
2.3.2008 5:01pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Michael, what was the actual scientific consensus regarding global cooling in 1975?
2.3.2008 5:13pm
Smokey:
Ah, another "consensus" comment. At this point, "consensus" is all the gorons have. But 'consensus' has nothing whatever to do with science.

Folks, there is big, big, BIG money involved in the AGW scam - literally trillions of dollars. American tax dollars. Your dollars. That's why there is such a desperate attempt to claim 'consensus' on AGW/global warming. So bear with me a moment, and consider this:

In the early 1970's physicist Alan Guth of M.I.T. hypothesized that the proton decays over time. Recall that falsification is essential to the scientific method; if a conjecture can be proven false [falsified], it is scientifically invalid. But if it can not be proven false, it becomes a scientific theory [e.g., the theory of gravity].

In order to test Dr Guth's proton decay hypothesis - and based on widespread scientific consensus - in 1982, physicists built a huge [and very expensive] detector, located thousands of feet underground, called the Kamiokande, using [mostly American] taxpayers' money. But the Kamiokande detector failed to find the proton decay that was widely predicted by scientific 'consensus.'

But governments and scientists did not give up. So in 1985 they built Kamiokande II. It cost $1 billion - a huge amount of money in the mid-80's. The scientific consensus was overwhelming that this new, much more sensitive detector would prove the hypothesis that the proton decays over time [the half-life of a proton was determined - again by 'consensus' - to be about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years].

In the event, Kamiokande II, like the original Kamiokande, failed to find any evidence of proton decay. But many physicists were certain of their hypothesis that the proton decays [they had staked their reputations on it]. So they prevailed on the government to spend more $billions, and Superkamiokande [Super K] was built, and completed in 1996. Why? Because the overwhelming scientific 'consensus' remained: that the proton decays into lighter subatomic particles.

But the ultra-sensitive Super K failed to find any evidence of proton decay.

By this time the consensus for proton decay was getting a little shaky, after the many $billions that were spent on the proton-decay hypothesis [although a few scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of neutrinos from supernovas, by using the Super K detectors and studying the results for over 15 years].

Even though the 'consensus' for the proton decay hypothesis was finally eroding [after burning through much of the U.S. science budget, thereby starving many other important programs], the search for proton decay had taken on an inertia of its own.

So, in 2006, the latest and greatest proton detector came on-line: the Super Kamiokande II. As you can probably guess, the Super K II has not found any evidence of proton decay. None, after more than $20 billion had been spent on Alan Guth's proton decay conjecture - and based on the 'consensus' of the scientific community.

It hasn't been money completely wasted. The purpose of the scientific method is to show whether a hypothesis can be falsified. In the case of proton decay, the conjecture was, in fact, falsified - forcing physicists to acknowledge that they needed a new and entirely diffeerent hypothesis, for explaining why the proton does not in fact decay. So much for 'consensus.'

Compare this situation with the current, and totally unproven AGW/global warming hypothesis: taxpayers are being told that they must pony up over twenty trillion dollars to fight AGW - when there is no solid evidence, much less any proof, that CO2 is causing, or will ever cause, a global warming problem.

Moral of the story: Watch your wallets, folks.

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary... The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it."

~~ H. L. Mencken
2.3.2008 6:13pm
Michael B (mail):
Grover Gardner,

Three or four things. Firstly, hind-sight is 20/20, not to mention a tendency to revise history in order to suit more recent, present-day agendas.

Secondly, the primary fact I was establishing was the fact of the scientific basis of the climate based scare of that previous decade - e.g., in contra-distinction to E-P's claim that it was merely a "popular craze, not a scientific one," which, minimally, is fundamentally misleading on at least two levels (it was scientifically founded, or quasi-scientifically if you like, and the current GW and AGW is media driven as well, so from the laymans pov separating the science from the popularized aspects is problematic from additional standpoint of comparing the two popular/scientific phenomenon). That blanket dismissiveness is unwarranted. (Worse still, a previous commenter had dismissed it outright, confusing it with the nuclear winter scare that, essentially, came on the heels of the global cooling scare. Not at all to be similarly glib or dismissive, but an incautious observer just might be tempted to notice a trend here, no? And wasn't even the global cooling scare itself preceded by scares as reflected in Rachel Carson and others still? So perhaps our observer wouldn't be so incautious after all to propose such a hypothetical? That's intended rhetorically, since each situation needs to be evaluated on its own merits, nonetheless ...)

As to the scientific consensus (rather, the consensus of scientists), I don't know, I already allowed that earlier global cooling scare was not on the scale of the current GW and AGW initiatives. Then again one of the reasons for that is likely that the global cooling scare of that era was initiated toward the end of that cooling cycle, not the beginning, and therefore the climate itself, essentially, served to shut-down that earlier debate. ALthough Sagan and others were proponents into the 1980's.
2.3.2008 6:20pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Grover Gardener wrote:

I don't think that's correct. 1,366 w/m2 is what's measured at the outer edge of the atmosphere. The actual incoming solar radiation is one fourth the solar constant. So the Earth does not "receive" 1,366 w/m2.

You seem to be confused on a couple of levels. First, the radiation that reaches the ground on a clear day, measured perpendicular to the direction of insolation, is about 70 percent of the flux at the top of the atmosphere, roughly one kilowatt per square meter. (What was your source for your grossly lower figure?) Only about six percent of the incoming flux is reflected by clear atmosphere. Additionally, the figures I've seen (including Wikipedia) indicate that over the entire cross-section of the planet, approximately 20 percent is reflected from clouds. (Clouds have a much higher albedo than 0.2, but they don't cover the entire Earth ... fortunately.)

Second, other than what's reflected by atmospheric constituents, where do you think the rest of the energy goes between the top of the atmosphere and the ground? (Hint: It's absorbed by the atmosphere ... the Earth's atmosphere. Part of the planet.)

Now, a substantial fraction of the solar radiation that reaches the ground is reflected back into space -- but that isn't what you were talking about. And some of the reflected infrared (and reradiated blackbody infrared) is intercepted on the way out by atmospheric absorption, chiefly the absorption bands of water vapor, carbon dioxide. and ozone (with a tiny contribution from methane). That's the stuff that makes the difference in the global warming models.
2.3.2008 6:35pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Whoops. Sorry about misspelling your surname, Grover.
2.3.2008 6:36pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Smokey wrote:

Recall that falsification is essential to the scientific method; if a conjecture can be proven false [falsified], it is scientifically invalid. But if it can not be proven false, it becomes a scientific theory [e.g., the theory of gravity].

Ummm ... I have problems with this. A more accurate way of stating it would be:

Recall that falsification is essential to the scientific method; if a conjecture can be proven false [falsified], it is scientifically invalid. If it is tested and survives all attempts to prove it false, it becomes a scientific theory [e.g., the theory of gravity]. But if it cannot be tested, it is irrelevant -- possibly interesting for idle speculation, possibly "true" in some abstract sense, but not useful as far as the scientific method is concerned. If the hypothesis becomes testable at some future date it will become useful again ... as long as it survives testing.
2.3.2008 6:45pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Mike, I appreciate your chiming in. There really seems to be some confusion now. ;-)

Engineer-Poet said:

"The Earth received about 380 W/m² from the Sun, of which about 39% is reflected and 61% absorbed."

Smokey replied:

"Actually, the Earth receives about 1,366 Watts per square meter from the Sun, not 380."

But Smokey is referring to the solar constant which is measured at the perpendicular just outside our atmosphere, correct? Engineer-Poet is referring to the *received* energy at the surface which, after absorption and rotation are figured in, is closer to his 380 figure. Am I wrong?
2.3.2008 7:55pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Sorry, meant to say that I assume Engineer-Poet was referring to the *average* received energy.
2.3.2008 8:06pm
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
Asketh Grover:
what was the actual scientific consensus regarding global cooling in 1975?

Here's what Real Climate quotes from the 1976 report (emphasis added):
Having presented evidence that major changes in past climate were associated with variations in the geometry of the earth's orbit, we should be able to predict the trend of future climate. Such forecasts must be qualified in two ways. First, they apply only to the natural component of future climatic trends - and not to anthropogenic effects such as those due to the burning of fossil fuels. Second, they describe only the long-term trends, because they are linked to orbital variations with periods of 20,000 years and longer. Climatic oscillations at higher frequencies are not predicted.
2.3.2008 9:03pm
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
Quoth Smokey:
Actually, the Earth receives about 1,366 Watts per square meter from the Sun, not 380.
The disc receives ~1360 W/m².  The sphere has 4x the area, thus about 380 W/m².  It's the sphere that radiates back to space, not the disc.

Chalk up ignorance of solid geometry for the antis.
See what he's doing here? By cherry-picking a specific starting date [the last million years], he can make any argument at all.
Yes, that is a trivial part of Earth's history, isn't it?  It only includes:

* The entire history of cultivated plants.
* The entire history of domesticated animals.
* Some 5 times the history of the species Homo sapiens sapiens.

Why are we concerned about that last one, anyway?  It obviously has little foresight or regard for itself; it's busy trashing its one and only planet while some of its most intelligent members make excuses!
... data from the past 4.6 billion years. Note that CO2 levels have no correlation with temperature.
There's this little thing called plate tectonics which exerts strong forcing effects over longer timescales.  Antarctica is a pretty good example; it has fossils of tropical organisms on it.

Here are two graphics which illustrate how far we are from historical norms:
Vostok ice core CO2 data to 400k years BP.
CO2 data measured at Mauna Loa, 1958-2005.

It's very amusing that you refer us to biocab.org.  That's the same place you can find this gem:
But what happens to all of the heat generated by the transformation of infrared radiation into kinetic and chemical energy in the atmosphere? The heat is radiated to outer space; we think heat in outer space is transferred to the gravity field. Some people do not understand how heat can be deposited in the gravity field. You should know that heat is not a thing, but energy in movement. In this case, as we are talking about heat, we are talking about energy in motion carried by photons as gravitational energy that travels at the speed of light.

If you're citing such obvious cranks as authorities, it says all we need to know.
2.3.2008 9:05pm
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
Quoth Smokey again:
In general, the same folks who are pushing the global warming/AGW scam are also pushing ethanol over nuclear power.
Is that so?  Perhaps you'd like to look at my positions on ethanol and nuclear power.  That is, if you'd rather not argue against strawmen.

For those of you unwilling to click through, here's what I said about corn ethanol back in 2005:
Look at the 2004 USDA harvest figures for corn:
http://www.usda.gov/nass/graphics/county04/data/cr04.csv
I summed up the state by state figures and came up with 11.8 billion bushels total harvest. At a conversion rate of 2.66 gallons per bushel (per http://www.ethanol-gec.org/corn_eth.htm), you would only get 31.4 billion gallons if *all* of it was converted to ethanol.

Total US motor gasoline consumption in 2003 was 134 billion gallons.....

But hey, if you want to swing at strawmen I'll be happy to let you be.
the UN has just proclaimed that it needs twenty trillion dollars ($20,000,000,000,000) to 'fight global warming'.
Funny, per this, the National Petroleum Council also claims it needs $20 trillion.  A trillion here and a trillion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.

WTF does the UN have to do with this, anyway?  This is a US blawg; we should be talking about US policy, US treaties, etc.
Is it so difficult to understand that greed is the driving force behind the AGW scam?
Funny, you don't complain when it's the oil lobby with its hand out.
2.3.2008 9:06pm
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
And quoth Mac:
Not unless we are using nuclear fuel. Otherwise, you are merely transferring the point of pollution from the tailpipe of the car to the power plant which produces the fuel for the car.
Nuclear will do.  So will any of:
* Sequestered fossil fuel
* Biomass-fired plants
* Solar (thermal or PV)
* Wind

The problem with nuclear is the lead time.  The first round of applications for new US plants were submitted in 2005.  We won't see these plants come on-line until 2015.
Neither wind nor solar, while worth pursuing, will provide more than a small fraction of our energy needs.
Wind is already providing 20% of the electricity for Denmark.  Electric vehicles and wind are complementary; vehicle chargers can follow the variations in supply much more easily than generation can be controlled.  While we're waiting for nuclear, the 2007 installations of wind plants more than doubled the 2006 total.
does it really make any sense for a people to be burning their food supply?
People generally don't eat corn stalks, rice straw and the like.  At the simplest level, these can be burned for fuel to make electricity.
CO2 comprises .56% of the atmosphere and of that infinitesimal amount, only 4% is caused by human activity.
4%?  Human activity is responsible for about 95 ppm out of 380+ ppm, or more than 25% of the total CO2.  Then there's the nitrous oxide, the methane, the CF4 and SF6, etc. etc.
All of the proposed solutions cause for an increase in the prices of the basic necessities of life.
Eh?  Looks to me like climate change-induced droughts in Australia and the US southeast is driving up the cost of those necessities.

Cutting demand for petroleum, getting more efficient with electricity and the like are also cost-saving measures.  The major reason we don't already have the equivalent of Passivehaus standards enforced by mortgage lenders is that the cost of heat and electricity isn't taken into account when evaluating ability to pay.
2.3.2008 9:08pm
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
Quoth Smokey yet again:
Folks, there is big, big, BIG money involved in the AGW scam - literally trillions of dollars. American tax dollars. Your dollars.
I'm just waiting for you to say "And behind it all are the JOOOOOZ!"

Please, spare us your conspiracy nonsense.
there is no solid evidence, much less any proof, that CO2 is causing, or will ever cause, a global warming problem.
Allowing you to equivocate that any confirmed change we cite "isn't a problem".

You can spare us the sleazy debating tactics too.
2.3.2008 9:21pm
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
Sorry, where I was saying ~380 W/m², I meant ~340.  Either a typo or a thinko.
2.3.2008 9:23pm
Brian K (mail):
And Brian K, I won't take the time to explain the difference in the Y-axis between the charts, but with a little googling, I'm sure you can find out why a comparison between a hundred year chart and a 4,500 year chart might not show every annual squiggle.

It appears you didn't even bother to look at your own charts. it is stated on the 4500 yr chart and it is not present in the 100 yr chart. you might want to try looking at the upper right hand corner of your very own chart where it specifically mentions the mt. pinatubo eruption. a 1.1 degree drop in a period of less than 2yrs will definitely show up on a 100 yr chart with a y-axis measured in the .05 degree increments. in other words, it's just not some annual squiggle.
2.3.2008 9:25pm
Brian K (mail):
I see grover already responded. sorry grover, i should have read a bit further down the post.
2.3.2008 9:27pm
Michael B (mail):
I'm just waiting for you to say "And behind it all are the JOOOOOZ!" Engineer-Poet

That's a cheap shot beyond measure, the cheapest imaginable. There wasn't so much as a wisp of a hint of a hint of that type of inference in his statement. Even if you were somehow "joking," it doesn't play that way.

Tawdry.

Further, the suggestion wasn't even that some conspiracy was involved, the suggestion more simply took note of large sums of money, so even the "conspiracy" tack was a cheap shot, if not itself tawdry.

Finally, you failed to correct your earlier statement concerning the climate cooling scare of the mid to late 70's and early 80's.
2.3.2008 10:03pm
Smokey:
I'm just waiting for you to say "And behind it all are the JOOOOOZ!" Engineer-Poet

Yes, I wondered about that, too. Maybe E-P is a noob here, but he's apparently unaware that I've condemned anti-semitism more strongly than a lot of jewish folks. But people make cheap shots when they're out of rational arguments.
2.3.2008 10:23pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Finally, you failed to correct your earlier statement concerning the climate cooling scare of the mid to late 70's and early 80's."

His earlier statement was correct, Michael. The scare was not generated by scientists and there was no consensus. Nowhere in the Newsweek article, for instance, is any scientist quoted directly as saying that a global cooling trend was anything other than speculative.
2.3.2008 10:25pm
Michael B (mail):
"His earlier statement was correct ..." Grover Gardner

Wrong, his earlier statement indicated "The discussions were a popular craze, not a scientific one."

As previously noted directly upthread, that is fundamentally misleading. I.e. suggesting it was one (the popular media) and not the other (science and scientists), as some type of binary either/or characterization, is simply wrong.
2.3.2008 10:38pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
But Smokey is referring to the solar constant which is measured at the perpendicular just outside our atmosphere, correct? Engineer-Poet is referring to the *received* energy at the surface which, after absorption and rotation are figured in, is closer to his 380 figure. Am I wrong?

Now that you've added those extra words to clarify what the discussion is about, you're right.

I suggest that everyone take a nice deep breath and then read the surprisingly good exposition on solar variation over on Wikipedia. Even if you're already familiar with the subject, it's a useful refresher. It contains a discussion of the issue of whether (and how much) solar variability affects climate. (Speaking as an astronomer, my opinion is that this section gives too much weight to the IPCC and not enough to the actual, observed variation of solar activity and its proxies and their correlation with climatic anomalies, but your mileage may indeed vary.)

Some of the posts in this thread -- on both sides of the issue -- remind me of the fellow who "proved" that the WTC had to have been brought down by explosives by building a model made of chickenwire, putting a concrete block on top of it, dousing it with kerosene, and setting it alight.
2.3.2008 10:43pm
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
Michael B, perhaps you missed the 1976 quote in this comment?  The published science was full of caveats, ignored by the popular writers.
2.3.2008 10:45pm
Eli Rabett (www):
There has been a major change in astrophysicists and astronomers understanding of solar variability in the last five or six years. The short of it is that the variability is now thought to be a lot less than before even extending back to the Maunder Minimum. See Chapter II pp188 of the IPCC WGI report.

Also, Harry's hole does not allow him to draw the conclusion that CO2 has no effect. There are three things blocking radiation from the water in the hole to space. You can study the effect with and without two of them: Clouds (it doesn't work on cloudy days), water (it doesn't work on the Mississippi Gulf Coast but works great in the desert) and CO2. Since you can't have a situation where the CO2 is removed between the hole and space, you can't conclude that CO2 has no effect based on that experiment. You can say that the experiment shows that water vapor and clouds have an effect, but that is all.
2.3.2008 11:00pm
Michael B (mail):
Engineer-Poet,

I didn't miss it at all.

The problem is the science/media nexus, or lines of communication between them, can most always be characterized by such inexact filters. Many of the current GW studies contain both inherent or tacit caveats as well as more overt caveats. So? Again, my earlier excerpt from the article takes note of the scientists and institutions involved. Hence, bare minimum, the situation three decades ago cannot be so blithely dismissed and categorically imputed to the popular press. To do so is to engage in revisionism and a post hoc CYA tactic.

Even the regional/historical study you cited earlier can be characterized as containing tacit caveats in that it used two different global climate modeling engines (MIROC and another), it modified them or scaled them back for regional study purposes and it then used the historical data to project twenty, thirty and fifty years into the future. As such, it would certainly be feasible for the authors at some future point to indulge those implicit caveats, or predicates, as precisely that.
2.3.2008 11:05pm
Michael B (mail):
"If you're citing such obvious cranks as authorities, it says all we need to know." Engineer-Poet

And yet you cite RealClimate's refutation of the "myth" of the global cooling scare. Here's Real Climate's Gavin Schmidt simply dismissing sustained periods of flat-lined temperature data. First a commenter in italics (emphasis now added), then Gavin Schmidt's rank dismissiveness in unitalicized bold text at the end:

Overall, from 1978 until today, the trend line of 1.43 degrees centigrade per century is significant. The probability of that trend arising by chance is infinitesimal. [note I do not redact this first comment]

But, there was no significant increase from 1978 until December 1995, and there has been no significant increase from July 1997 to date [Jan., 2008].

Between the two trend line means, there was a step increase of 0.28 degrees centigrade in just 19 months.

The questions I put from this analysis are simple. Would the general public, politicians, and journalists accept the AGW argument if that step had not appeared?

And if that step was crucial, what caused it?

[Response: Yet the trend from 1978 to today gives a difference 0.43 deg C. Your claim that a flat-line, short 0.28 jump and then another flat line is a better fit is not true. In fact it simply demonstrates that fitting trends to short post hoc picked periods is misleading. And that doesn’t even deal with the impossibility of coming up with a mechanism for such a strange series of events. This is just nonsense. - gavin]

It's preposterous, from a scientific pov, to rankly dismiss as "nonsense" - rather than seek to explain - the two periods from '78 to '95 and then from mid-'97 to today. Kinda' basic, but that isn't how hypothesis formation and science in general works.
2.3.2008 11:17pm
Michael B (mail):
On a general FYI basis, discovered Climate Debate Daily today, which features commentary and links covering both sides of the debate, nicely done in two opposing columns; good one to bookmark.
2.3.2008 11:24pm
Smokey:
Mike G in Corvallis:
...falsification is essential to the scientific method; if a conjecture can be proven false [falsified], it is scientifically invalid. If it is tested and survives all attempts to prove it false, it becomes a scientific theory [e.g., the theory of gravity]. But if it cannot be tested, it is irrelevant -- possibly interesting for idle speculation, possibly "true" in some abstract sense, but not useful as far as the scientific method is concerned. If the hypothesis becomes testable at some future date it will become useful again ... as long as it survives testing.
By including "irrelevance," you said it better than I did. Thanks.

The entire premise of human-caused global warming [AGW] is predicated on the discredited hypothesis that an increase in carbon dioxide will result in a statistically significant increase in the planet's temperature. That has not happened. There is no proof that CO2 is the cause of the very minor warming over the past century.

For instance, the Earth cooled significantly from 1940 to 1970 -- during a time when CO2 emissions were ramping up substantially. The Bovine Fecal Purveyance Specialists shoveling their AGW scam do not mention that indisputable fact -- because it completely undermines their false global warming/CO2 conjecture.

The burden of proof in a hypothesis is always on those advancing their hypothesis. Al Gore and his climate alarmists are trying to turn this accepted scientific method on its head, and they now demand that rational skeptics, rather than the climate alarmists, must prove a negative.

That is dishonest. AGW/global warming as a result of increasing CO2 is their conjecture. It is not based on the real world; it is based on computer models -- the very same models that are used to predict the weather. But even when inputting all past adiabatic and climate data, computer models are unable to accurately predict yesterday's weather.

It is no surprise that Al Gore's minions can not provide any proof that CO2 has raised the Earth's temperature any more than it is being raised by the completely natural process of emerging from the last Ice Age, when Chicago was under a mile of glacier ice and the sea level was literally hundreds of feet below current levels. We are expected to take their unproven hypothesis on faith alone? On their unfounded insistence? Keep in mind that temperatures have gone up only a mild six-tenths of one degree centigrade over the past century. A tiny .006 degrees per year -- and much of that minute increase can be explained by solar forcing.

Demanding that skeptics must prove a negative is not science; it is simply a not-so-honest tactic employed by those who are incapable of proving their own AGW hypothesis.

That tells us all we ned to know about their real agenda: taxing the air we breathe.

Finally, a comment about the Realclimate site [run by the odious Gavin Schmidt during the day, when he should be doing the job that taxpayers pay his salary to do], which has been discredited for routinely deleting comments from internationally recognized scientists like Dr Roger Pielke, Sr, and Steve McIntyre, who has so thoroughly deconstructed Michael Mann's bogus "hockey stick" temperature charts, that the UN/IPCC took the unusual step of removing any mention of them from its publications. To this day, neither Mann nor his mentor, James Hansen, will allow the public archiving of their data or algorithms.

Folks, we're not talking national security here. It's climate data! And the people like Mann and Hansen who are pushing their globaloney refuse to allow the public -- whose taxes paid for their 'research' -- to see their data, or their methodology. It is clear that they are hiding bad science.

Keep that in mind when you see the name RealClimate: it is a propaganda site run by another tax-sucker -- during his weekday working hours -- as a means of selling the AGW scam. If he had the facts in his favor, Schmidt would certainly be trumpeting them. Instead, he quickly deletes all uncomfortable questions. The truth is not in him. His principle competitor, Climate Audit [winner of Best Science Blog, 2007], unlike RealClimate, doesn't shy away from any questions. Which one would you trust?
2.3.2008 11:24pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Michael, do you think the biocab.org web site presents sound science?
2.3.2008 11:37pm
Wondering Willy:
The hatefulness of the global warming folks, as is plainly on display in this thread, is one of the primary reasons folks like me doubt their scientific conclusions. If a scientist has an emotional bond with his scientific opinions, he has lost his objectivity. Posts by Eyesay and Engineer-Poet demonstrate this principle well, in my opinion. Methinks both would benefit from a strong dose of Richard Feynman, a genuinely world-class scientist who never fell in love with his own conclusions. Humility is the trademark of trustworthy science.
2.3.2008 11:52pm
Stu (mail):
Some changes are happening globally, whether they are man made or not. These changes must be dealt with while the "consensus" view of the cause of the changes must be continually challenged. And consider this:

The horse is out of the barn with respect to rulemaking by EPA to regulate industry. Since the Massachusetts v. EPA decision last year, EPA has been developing rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions on a fairly fast track. Numerous industry sectors are gong to see proposed rules published by EPA in the Federal Register. Industry needs to prepare to respond to new regulatory challenges just as everyone must prepare for global changes that may be happening, regardless of whether man is the cause.
2.4.2008 12:26am
Eli Rabett (www):
Willy - Smokey
2.4.2008 12:28am
Evelyn Marie Blaine (mail):
Umpteen zillion posters: "Consensus doesn't matter in science! Look at Einstein! He went against the consensus and he was right!"

The only sense in which consensus doesn't matter in science is the very minimal one that it shouldn't play a role in an experimenter's interpretation of his own data. It matters a great deal in terms of what it's reasonable for someone who isn't doing the experiments himself to believe. (And that includes most scientists, most of the time, since nobody can do all or even most of the relevant experiments for themselves, or even examine all the relevant raw data.)

Don't think so? Ask yourself: why do you believe that Einstein was right and physics orthodoxy circa 1900 was wrong? Hands up, all those who measured the perihelion of Mercury and plugged the results into Newtonian and relativistic models of the solar system before believing in Einstein's theory ... I'm waiting ...

Anyone who claims that it isn't reasonable to form beliefs on the basis of expert consensus, and act on those beliefs, even though expert consensus is fallible, either (a) hasn't really thought through what he's saying or (b) is not bothered by the fact that his entire daily practice is in open conflict with his claims, and has to be if he intends to function in life at all.
2.4.2008 12:53am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Again, my earlier excerpt from the article takes note of the scientists and institutions involved."

Is any scientist or institution anywhere in that Newsweek article quoted as saying that global cooling is an immediate concern?
2.4.2008 12:57am
a knight (mail) (www):
Professor Adler, the libertarian in me gets angry, when I contemplate global warming, and the lack of libertarian thought which goes into conceptualising solutions for it. If libertarian thought were to focus upon methods of mitigation, instead of arguing against its existence, it would lead to a better future. It takes free-thinkers to promulgate non-authoritarian remediation plans. They would also have better effectiveness. Coercion as a means of directing policy requires an inordinate amount of force.

If a future valuation of the present-day sequestration costs were allowed, its economic feasibility becomes real for many business entities. If global warming is an axiom, it is not fantasy to set a higher future valuation on its present-day removal from the equation, especially when it is derived from higher efficiency. Then the effect is accumulative.
2.4.2008 1:01am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Wrong twice, Eli.

First, the parameter we hold constant is carbon dioxide. The concentration does not change when the sun goes down.

By going to the Gulf Coast, you have invalidated one of the parameters of my demonstration. Since I didn't say it would work on an unclear night, so what?

Don't know where you got your myth about the astronomers. Unless they've changed their minds since September.
2.4.2008 1:30am
Curt Fischer:
The idea that a simple experiment (digging a hole, putting a cooler in it, and seeing if ice forms in it) can provide not only insight, but dispositive evidence one way or the other on the AGW theory is one of stupefying ignorance.

The energy fluxes into, through, and out of the Earth are enormous. The total energy Earth receives from the sun is about 2 petawatts (2*10^17 W). Of course, all this energy (and a bit more from e.g. radioactive decay) eventually leaves the Earth by radiation into space. The temperature of the planet depends on minute changes in the balance of this massive energy flux.

Averaged over the surface of the upper atmosphere we obtain the solar "constant" of ~1370 W/m^2, as has already been debated here. Against that backdrop, let's consider the effect of CO2. The IPCC says that anthropogenically elevated CO2 levels in the atmosphere effect a climate forcing of about 1.5 W/m^2.

That's roughly one one-thousandth of the Earth's insolation. In other words, the IPCC is saying that the extra CO2 in the atmosphere is having an effect which, crudely speaking, is about the same as the sun's light becoming 0.1% more intense.

How does a hole in the ground with a cooler in it help us dispose of the IPCCs claim? Clearly the experiment, as Mr. Eager describes it, does not. Maybe if we added precise equipment to measure the AMOUNT of ice formed and the RATE at which it formed, the experiment would be meaningful. But only if we had good control data from an identical experiment done ~150 years ago when CO2 levels were 'natural'. Even then, we'd be looking for differences of one part per thousand or so.

On a somewhat tangential note, why are so many amateur climatologists such fans of the VC? I thought this was a law blog...
2.4.2008 2:10am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
On a somewhat tangential note, why are so many amateur climatologists such fans of the VC? I thought this was a law blog...

Well, we're all personally affected by the law, and we're all personally affected by climate. Add to that the fact that politicians want to make laws based on what they believe about climate change. Then add to that the fact than many of us are opinionated SOBs, and I think you've got a winner.
2.4.2008 3:29am
Michael B (mail):
"... do you think the biocab.org web site presents sound science?" Grover Gardner

I've never visited it hence have no information to go on. I stated literally nothing as pertains to that site and instead used it, or rather used E-P's reference to it, as a point of departure.

I.e. you miss the simple logic of my point reflected in the rank dismissiveness of Gavin Schmidt from RealClimate.

Do you approve of Schmidt's incurious dismissiveness?
2.4.2008 8:48am
Wondering Willy:
Evelyn Marie Blaine,

No one is saying that consensus doesn't matter in science. What many of us are saying is that the climate change crowd has a history of being wrong and overly enthusiastic (to the point of propagandistic) with predictions about climate change.

When those facts are combined with a little horse sense, such as knowledge of equilabrated systems and the fact that there has been much, much more CO2 in the atmosphere at points in Earth's more-volcanic past, one can reasonably conclude that the climate change crowd is wrong.
2.4.2008 8:55am
Curt Fischer:
I choose to combine my horse sense and facts a little differently:


Wondering Willy: To the extent there is any anthropogenic global warming, it is likely caused only be increased exothermic processes caused by, simply put, human beings doing more stuff now than we used to. A human who drives and flies and watches TV and runs an air conditioner and refrigerator and heat pump puts out more heat than a human who sits in a cave and hunts for game and berries.



Wondering Willy: [...] one can reasonably conclude that the climate change crowd is wrong.


The irony just makes me smile.
2.4.2008 9:55am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"I.e. you miss the simple logic of my point reflected in the rank dismissiveness of Gavin Schmidt from RealClimate."

No, I didn't miss the "logic" but I think you ought to investigate the merits of the scientific content of biocab.org before comparing it to RealClimate.

"Do you approve of Schmidt's incurious dismissiveness?"

Given that RealClimate is at least an open forum for discussion, I'm less concerned than I would be about someone referring to biocab.org as an authoritative source on global warming. And the "global cooling myth" article at RealClimate which I pointed to isn't by Gavin Schmidt but by William Connelly, who links to research on his own web page. Do you have a rpoblem with him? Do you feel that his summary is wrong or overly biased?
2.4.2008 10:06am
Michael B (mail):
Grover, might you respond to what I said instead of what you are imputing to me? I didn't compare one site with another in its entirety. I openly stated I hadn't even visited this other site. Instead I took exception to a single statement by Schmidt, though I also think it reflects a qualitative dismissiveness that is too often on display there as well. Nonetheless, my focus was singular.

Do you have a problem with the type of dismissiveness referred to?
2.4.2008 10:40am
Harry Eagar (mail):
curt, the point is that the atmosphere, even with added carbon dioxide, is transparent to re-radiation.

However, as Eli helpfully pointed out, very small changes in water vapor make it not transparent.

All proposals to reduce CO2, unless they somehow guarantee no change in water vapor, will be/could be pointless.

Besides, as no one here seems to think it worth pointing out, when AGW panicmongers talk about 'carbon dioxide equivalents' (usually, as here, sloppily reduced to 'carbon dioxide'), their models are really amalgamating the absortion capacity of a variety of atmospheric gases (GHG, greenhouse gases), of which CO2 comprises about half (water vapor excluded).

So if the climate really is being forced at a rate that will (per Al Gore) ruin us in less than 20 years, controlling carbon dioxide still leaves us ruined in less than 40 years.

Sheesh.

I thought lawyers were supposed to be better than the average bear at picking apart statements and forcing them to their logical conclusions.

As for the solar astronomers, I interviewed some of the best last September. Their conclusion is that climate changes are driven primarily by changes in the geometry of the Earth orbit.

It's going to be really hard to legislate against that.
2.4.2008 11:32am
William Oliver (mail) (www):
""Same hysteria, different verse."

No. "

Well, yes. Revisionist reinterpretation notwithstanding, the scientific establishment was running around convinced that the sky was filling with particulate matter and that we were going to freeze to death.

What's amusing about the revisionism in the blog you refer to is that the *same* thing could be written today. After all, there are large numbers of scientists who find the human cause of global warming to be religion wrapped in fake science. They are just ignored by the blame-humanity-first evangelists. When this is all over, and it, once again, turns out to be false, it will be possible to write a similar revisionist history of this period showing that there was, in fact, no such consensus and that everybody did the right thing *again,* just with the opposite conclusion.

Meanwhile, both positions -- human-cause global warming and human-caused global cooling -- conveniently have the same solution. Increase central government control of our lives, attack national sovereignty, decrease liberty, and increase socialistic economic controls. It has never been about science. It has always been about religious adherence to a particular ideology. If it's not global warming, it will be something else.

Personally, I hope there is some truth to human-cause warming of the atmosphere. We may need it as we slip into a colder cycle. However, of course, such a possibility is not on the radar of the climate control evangelists.
2.4.2008 11:51am
Curt Fischer:

Mr. Eagar: All proposals to reduce CO2, unless they somehow guarantee no change in water vapor, will be/could be pointless.


Reducing CO2 is physically guaranteed to reduce the water vapor in the atmosphere. AGW skeptic Dick Lindzen agrees that CO2 contributes to climate warming. Since CO2 contributes to warming, reducing CO2 would reduce warming, i.e., lower the global mean temperature.

Further, since the vapor pressure of water is a monotonically increasing function of temperature, a lower mean temperature means less water in the atmosphere.

Lowering CO2 thus has a benefit of not only reducing the CO2 greenhouse effect, but also the water vapor greenhouse effect as well. The net result, if all else remains constant, will be a lowering of Earth's mean temperature.

This is a simple physical fact and is true whether or not you agree that the current warming trend is anthropogenic or not.

Assuredly, whether or not reducing CO2 is sound policy is a matter that needs the type of careful scrutiny that readers of this blog are usually expert at providing.

The armchair climatology of Smokey, Mr. Eagar, and others here, on the other hand, is not meaningful scrutiny of any climatological theory or data. Instead their various incorrect claims should themselves be scrutinized. Fortunately this scrutiny is not difficult for anyone reasonably well-versed in physics and physical chemistry.
2.4.2008 12:31pm
Randy R. (mail):
I'm a climate change believer for many fo the reasons Chris Bell has mentioned (thanks!). What I find striking is the similiarity between evolution deniers and climate change deniers. And William Oliver hit it on the head for me.

Both deniers tend to be very conservative and/or religious. Both are skeptical of scientists. Both wouldn't care a hoot about it but for one reason -- it upsets their world view.

For the creationists, belief in evolution means total catastrophe for their religious beliefs. They are pefectly willing to believe whatever science has to say about anything, so long as it doens't contracdict the bible. So, science can go forth with medicine, space exploration, cell research, physics, astromony, whatever -- they have no problem with it. IF the bible said something like, you cannot cure a disease with an injection, then they would deny that any vaccines could ever work. But because they bible doesn't, they have no problem with it.

Climate change deniers are the same. they really wouldn't care one hoot about it, except that they fear gov't regulation and assume this is some sort of liberal plot to take away their SUVs. A few years ago, we had the bird flu scare, and no one had a problem with the 'scientific consensus' back then, which was that bird flu can kill you. Why not? Because the bible doesn't mention bird flu, and because no one asked for gov't regulation or serious tax money to fight it. Had there been, you could be assured to see the exact same resistence that we do to both evolution and climate change.

If we could solve climate change at no cost to us at all, the opposition would evaporate. If we could solve climate change by just giving up many of our liberties and constitutional rights, as we have with the so called War on Terror, only liberals would oppose it, but conservatives would heartily support it.

I find that these are stronger predictors of where you stand on the evidence than any other measures.
2.4.2008 12:52pm
Randy R. (mail):
What's also funny is that the evolution/climate change deniers use exactly the same tactics. Consider:

Both claim that believers are treating evolution and climate change as a religion, and say that anyone who disagrees is treated as a heretic. Of course, they have no problem with any other strong beliefs similarly grounded in science, just these two.

Both exploit and disingenuously find fissures in the scientific community. As we know, scientists rarely say something is proved, but rather, say that all other things are unprovable. So the deniers say, See! Even the scientists admit that they can't prove evolution or climate change! There is always some degree of disagreement regarding details or processes, of course, but the deniers will exploit these disagreements and conflage them to appear much bigger than they really are. Then they disengenously say, See! Even the supporters can't agree!

Both claim simplistic refutations, such as Harry Eager's silly experiment, or the comment that if one fossil is found out of sequence, the entire theory of evolution collapses. These sort of things appeal to idiots who don't know anything, but don't fool people actually educated in the matter. But they obviously are playing to the idiots anyway.

Both claim massive conspiracy theories, that all scientific grants and money are associated with supporting the "lies" of evolution and climate change, and assume that the only reason anyone would support such heresies is because they are so easily swayed by money, or because such people are really just evil and want to destroy America.

If they truly believe that, and I think they really do, it actually reveals more about themselves that they are prepared to believe.
2.4.2008 1:23pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Both deniers tend to be very conservative and/or religious. Both are skeptical of scientists.'

Oh, crap. I'm an atheist New Dealer.
2.4.2008 2:17pm
cjwynes (mail):
What I don't understand is that, for those who believe in manmade global warming as a legitimate threat, the only remedy ever considered is prevention. Why not consider adaptation?

There is something you believe will happen in the future, there are conflicting reports about whether or not it can be halted or at least mitigated and about what that would require, and there are a host of conflicting reports about what exactly the consequences would be. (One example of many: everybody said two years ago that it would cause MORE hurricanes, then last week there was a study saying it would result in FEWER hurricanes.)

With so many uncertainties, if you really believe this is going to happen, the best approach would be to put aside a bit of money to handle the costs of adapting to the changes. That way we can wait until we actually know exactly what we need to do to alleviate the harm, and we can target our actions to specific and limited harms where the cost/benefit analysis warrants intervention.

Instead, all we get is cries that we must try to "stop" climate change. I suspect this is because A) it makes the eco-freaks feel like they are good people because they are TRYING and making sacrifices, and results don't really matter to them, and B) most of the people who are pushing this agenda are just using this as a vehicle to get their Marxist policies into place, and any remedy that doesn't increase government control over our economy and even our daily lives is of no interest to them.
2.4.2008 4:00pm
Curt Fischer:

cjwynesWhat I don't understand is that, for those who believe in manmade global warming as a legitimate threat, the only remedy ever considered is prevention. Why not consider adaptation?


This is a really important point and it certainly warrants further discussion. Really, it doesn't matter whether you think that global warming is manmade or not, just that it is a legitimate threat.

If you think it might be a threat, adaptation is a perfectly rational course to take. It may or may not be preferable to all the others. I'm no policy expert, but I suspect the devil is in the details. For example, Bjorn Lomborg thinks that global warming is a threat, but certainly not nearly as important as poverty, disease, and water shortages in developing countries. He highlights how global warming may even ameliorate some of these (e.g. water shortages) by melting river-feeding glaciers faster.

I haven't read enough to be absolutely sure, but I don't think enough solid evidence on how the climate is changing at regional and local levels is yet in hand to be able to plan adequately for adaptation, or to rely on global warming to ameliorate anything.

But in my view, just because we don't know how to do it perfectly yet does not mean these ideas should be discarded. On the contrary, both are worthy of further consideration, and perhaps even worthy of guiding future research on climate.
2.4.2008 4:17pm
Smokey:
This has been an excellent thread! Less than a year ago, the great majority of comments would have accepted Al Gore's position. But after thinking it over, people are now pointedly questioning the veracity of AGW, and as we see from the comments above, the majority is now becoming much more skeptical [note that the goron contingent is unable to provide any proof of their belief system: that an increase in CO2 will result in an increase in planetary temperature]. Proof is a funny thing. Without it, all you've got is opinion. But where's the proof of their AGW hypothesis?

Folks are now beginning to look at Al Gore's wild-eyed catastrophe claims with a jaundiced eye. That's a good thing! The truth is always good - and the truth is starting to come out: there is no proof at all that AGW is anything but the output of the very *inaccurate* computer models. That's the GIGO, principle. [In the repair end of our metrology lab there was a sign prominently displayed: "One Test Is Worth A Thousand Expert Opinions"] Computer models are not real world tests. They are useful in certain areas, but they can not accurately predict future temperatures. But computer models are still used as the basic argument for the CO2/AGW conjecture. Without models, the AGW purveyors would have just about nothing.


Harry Eagar:
"Wrong twice, Eli."
Eli then took a wild swing and a miss:
"Willy - Smokey"
That makes it: Wrong three [3] times in a row, Eli. Outside of reading Mr Willy's posts above, I have no idea who he is and have never had contact with him. Strike three, Eli. Sorry you're so rattled that rational folks like Mr Willy do not buy into your AGW scaremongering. As an incompetent teacher ranked extremely low by his disgusted students, it is no surprise that Eli comes to a flat wrong conclusion.

There are certainly legitimate climate experts who are well worth listening to:

"There is a clear attempt to establish truth, not by scientific methods, but by perpetual repetition."

- Richard S. Lindzen, Ph.D., Professor of Meteorology, MIT


I would rather listen to the informed view of someone like Dr Richard Lindzen regarding climate facts.

Or Reid Bryson, the founding chairman of the department of Meteorology at UW-Madison, and of the Institute for Environmental Studies: "There is no question the earth has been warming. It is coming out of the 'Little Ice Age,' he said in an interview this week.

"However, there is no credible evidence that it is due to mankind and carbon dioxide." [all emphasis mine] [source]

Or Dr. Richard Courtney, a UN IPCC Expert Reviewer and a UK-based climate and atmospheric science consultant:
“To date, no convincing evidence for AGW (anthropogenic global warming) has been discovered. And recent global climate behavior is not consistent with AGW model predictions.” [source]
No doubt a few of our admitted non-scientist posters [AKA: True Believers] will armflap over something or other in these citations; that is because the goron contingent is desperate to take the spotlight off the truth of the matter: there is no proof -- nor even any convincing evidence -- that AGW exists to any measurable degree.

Like other rational folks here who want to sort the truth from the politics, I get accurate climate information from a recognized authority, like the head of M.I.T.'s Atmospheric Sciences department, rather than the extremely heavily politicized, agenda-driven UN/IPCC. Those getting their climate information from Al Gore would do well to remember what GIGO stands for.
2.4.2008 4:22pm
anonthu:
Asteroids = rocks, rocks absorb sunlight, ergo the amount of solar radiation reaching a point on the trailing edge of the asteroid belt necessarily will be less than that reaching an opposite point on the leading edge. Or have the global warming folks changed the laws of physics whilst I wasn't looking.

This is just horrible science, and it doesn't help that its combined with snark. "Less" solar radiation, sure. But how much less? As a quick example, do you suppose transits of Mercury or Venus cause cooling on Earth?

There's a lot of space in space. The cross-sectional area of planetary bodies (of which there are tens of thousands) has little effect on the solar flux at a given distance from the Sun. (unless of course, you have a complete eclipse...)
2.4.2008 4:22pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
That is really, *really* uncool...
2.4.2008 4:55pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Actually, you don't have to know any science at all to spot the problem with AGW panicmongering.

If you know anything about the history (not the results, just the history) of climate measurements, you know that there are no observations of global surface temperatures back then to say that we are warmer than that now.

You can look for proxies, but it would be a bold panicmonger who would claim that regional proxies are accurate to within 0.01 degree for the entire globe, which is the accuracy being claimed.

And there are no global temperature proxies.

Yes, the world probably is worming. It looks as if it has been doing so for a few thousand years.

Even if it is warmer today than on Feb. 4, 1908, nobody -- not Eli, not Al Gore, not anybody -- knows whether Feb. 4, 1908, was warmer or cooler than Feb. 4, 1808.
2.4.2008 5:31pm
Smokey:
Responding to my comment that the UN has just proclaimed that it needs twenty trillion dollars ($20,000,000,000,000) to 'fight global warming', the Engineer-Poet said: "Funny, per this, the National Petroleum Council also claims it needs $20 trillion."

Not only is that psychological "projection," it deliberately conflates the two figures. The article [from the ultra-left The Nation] said:
...almost all of the additional petroleum will have to come from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Angola, Libya, Nigeria, Sudan, Kazakhstan and Venezuela... an estimated $20 trillion in new infrastructure will be needed over the next twenty-five years to ensure that sufficient energy is available to satisfy anticipated worldwide demand. [my emphasis]
The expenditures are not comparable. In the petroleum example, all of the money comes from consumers -- voluntarily. Just like the cost of R & D is part of the cost of a new computer.

Compare that situation with the UN's ravenous thirst for more and more money to be taken coercively from U.S. workers. The Engineer-Poet may not understand the difference between 'coercive' and 'voluntary.' But most taxpayers do.

Grover:
Given that RealClimate is at least an open forum for discussion...
heh. Grover probably even believes that fantasy.

Sure, RealClimate is an open forum -- but only for commenters who parrot the Party line on global warming. There are too many internationally recognized scientists who have stated for the record that RealClimate deliberately removes their posts. When their uncomfortable questions don't fit the site's AGW/globaloney agenda, they are deleted. That is not honest. It's propaganda. Honesty requires putting all pro and con arguments out for everyone to see, and to falsify if possible; what's left standing is the truth.

That is the main reason why RealClimate was humiliated in the latest Best Science Blog contest: it is a propaganda site, not a science site. If they want to be known as an actual science site, then Gavin Schmidt [junior protege of the discredited James Hansen] needs to answer some hard questions from well known scientists -- rather than deleting them. The fact that Schmidt routinely deletes uncomfortable questions - and hides out from any honest debate on the subject - tells us all we need to know about whether RealClimate is a science site -- or a propaganda site posing as a science site.
2.4.2008 5:42pm
Curt Fischer:

Smokey: Those getting their climate information from Al Gore would do well to remember what GIGO stands for.


I couldn't agree more. Al Gore is not someone I would indicate as a reliable source of climatological information.

However, Smokey's beloved Prof. Lindzen himself has said:


Global temperature has risen about a degree since the late 19th century; levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by about 30% over the same period; and CO2 should contribute to future warming.


Like Prof. Adler but unlike Prof. Lindzen, I accept that the preponderance of the evidence indicates that a large fraction of the warming to date is anthropogenic. However, this point is utterly immaterial. I'll concede it for the purposes of debate.

EVERYONE agrees that the world is warming. The warming has the potential to change sea levels, temperatures, precipitation patterns, etc. These changes are likely to visit real economic harm on some regions (and possibly benefits on others). The policy challenge is to understand those potential changes and to, in some sense, deal with them.

The cause of the warming, from a policy standpoint, is unimportant. A prudent policy for dealing with the AGW threat would be similarly prudent should the GW prove to be non-A.

CO2 (and methane and N2O) emissions are the principle variable that humans can control. If we decide that prevention is preferred to adaption (itself a matter for further debate, as I posted above), then reducing emissions would be an attractive option.
2.4.2008 5:50pm
Smokey:
Agreed that reducing emissions is a worthy goal. But that's not the actual argument. If it were, the whole world would point to the United States and say, "Look! The U.S. has dramatically reduced smog and other airborne pollutants. If they can do it, so can we!"

But we never hear that, do we? What we hear is, "The U.S. won't sign the Kyoto Protocol! They must be made to sign!!"

As stated upthread, the relevant figures are:

• Emissions worldwide have increased 18.0%
• Emissions from countries that signed Kyoto have increased 21.1%
• Emissions from Kyoto non-signers increased 10.0%
• Emissions from the U.S. increased only 6.6%

What more evidence is needed that Kyoto is an outright scam?

If the UN were at all honest, it would announce to the world that America is doing it right; that the Kyoto Protocol has failed; and that based on the figures above, the United States should determine what measures are necessary for other countries to reduce their atmospheric pollutants.

But of course, Kyoto is all about the money. U.S. taxpayers' money, and how the UN can get its hands on much more of it. After all, the UN needs another revenue stream to replace Saddam's Oil-4-Food scam, and AGW fits the bill perfectly.
2.4.2008 6:45pm
Wondering Willy:
For the record, I'm not Smokey. I'm a relatively new lawyer who was previously a research scientist. I have never seen Smokey post before, as he apparently has never seen me post before. I just happen to agree with him.

Again, the hatred and nastiness directed at the two of us convinces me that many climate change advocates are not mere "where the science goes, I follow" types. They are propogandists. Forgive me if a consensus among such people is not all that convincing.
2.4.2008 6:52pm
Randy R. (mail):
Someone commented on the hatefullness of climate changers. Yet, we who believe the science have been said that we are dupes, stupid, and of course hate America and want to take away everything that is good about it.

About setting aside a 'bit of money' to deal with adaptation. There is a fairly small town in Finland that needs to be relocated because the abandoned mines underneath are causing the town to sink. The cost of relocation exceed a billion dollars.

Imagine having to relocated NYC, which is danger of being swamped because of NYC. It would clearly exceed the several hundred billion that would be needed to combat global warming. that's just one city. Combine that with the drying up of the west, among just one example, and you have to realized that there simply is not enough money in the US to deal with the issue.

Others complain about what is the 'correct' temperature for the world? The world that exists today is primarily one that was build upon the assumption that weather patterns of the last 200 hundred years will be contant. Therefore, any deviation from that will cause untold damage to our built environment worldwide. Entire cities have been build on the assumption of a 'sea level' Any change will dramatically affect any port city.
2.4.2008 7:39pm
Randy R. (mail):
sorry, I meant to say that NYC is in danger of being flooded due to warming.
2.4.2008 7:41pm
Mac (mail):
I'm just waiting for you to say "And behind it all are the JOOOOOZ!"

Engineer-Poet, with that statement, you have lost all credibility. You should apologize to everyone on this post. If you have to resort to this, even you can't believe that you have a valid argument


Steve McIntyre, who has so thoroughly deconstructed Michael Mann's bogus "hockey stick" temperature charts, that the UN/IPCC took the unusual step of removing any mention of them from its publications. To this day, neither Mann nor his mentor, James Hansen, will allow the public archiving of their data or algorithms.

This bears repeating. Almost the entire premise of AGW lies on Mike Mann's theory of what the climate temperatures were long ago. When asked for this info, the "consensus" of climatologists was that it could not be done with reasonable accuracy. ONLY Mike Mann said he could do it and, to this day, he will not release his taxpayer funded study so that others can review his data.

So, Randy R, where does that leave your theory? Why won't Mann release his data? Who will not stand up to scientific scrutiny? Who must just accept data "on faith". You need to go to Church and learn a little about religion. Maybe, just take some courses in comparative religion. The similarities between AGW and a Messianic religion is just stunning. It even has a savior, Al Gore. Albeit, a dubious one who burns carbon like crazy and says it's OK because he buys carbon credits, themselves of extremely dubious value and not proven at all. However, convenient for him, esp. as he owns a big stake in the carbon credit company so he is just paying himself. Not to mention all of the Hollywood celeb et al, who can continue with their current lifestyle and just give Al money for credits. Sheesh, if I am rich, give me a religion like this one.

Randy R
Both deniers tend to be very conservative and/or religious. Both are skeptical of scientists. Both wouldn't care a hoot about it but for one reason -- it upsets their world view.

I am with Harry. Haven't seen the inside of a church in quite awhile. Maybe you need to do a scientific study of those opposed to AGW and their religious beliefs. Otherwise, you are just guessing and making it up.
You are acting on a belief, not fact.

As for restriction of liberty under Bush, you know, I just haven't felt the need to call someone in a terrorist country in a long while. However, I do have to change light bulbs and let me tell you how much fun politicians are going to have when people figure out they have to change all of their light fixures to make them take the flourescent light bulbs and it will be against the law to buy, make or sell any other kind. What this group wants to do is going to cost everyone a fortune and change everyone's life.

Ramdy R

Both exploit and disingenuously find fissures in the scientific community. As we know, scientists rarely say something is proved, but rather, say that all other things are unprovable. So the deniers say, See! Even the scientists admit that they can't prove evolution or climate change! There is always some degree of disagreement regarding details or processes, of course, but the deniers will exploit these disagreements and conflage them to appear much bigger than they really are. Then they disengenously say, See! Even the supporters can't agree!


and you said,

Both claim simplistic refutations, such as Harry Eager's silly experiment, or the comment that if one fossil is found out of sequence, the entire theory of evolution collapses. These sort of things appeal to idiots who don't know anything, but don't fool people actually educated in the matter. But they obviously are playing to the idiots anyway.



Randy R, see my post above re Einstein and, also, ulcers. You do not grasp the scientific method. If one fossil is out of sequence, it will be back to the drawing board, at least and until, that one fossil can be explained. THAT is science.

Engineer-poet
Eh? Looks to me like climate change-induced droughts in Australia and the US southeast is driving up the cost of those necessities.

OF course, how silly of me. Never is the history of the world have there been droughts like in Georgia and Åustrailia. I guess the Anazasi Indians who left my area around 1100 ad due to drought were just being alarmists.

This is the problem. Every time any weather event happens now, it's AGW! Like it never happened before. Unless, it's cold, then it's not worth mentioning. Besides, which is it. Is AGW going to cause rain and flooding or drought? Or both so you are covered both ways. The latter, I suspect.

Thanks to all for the pointers to the blogs. I will bookmark them a appreciate the information.

Thanks to all for the factual information. And, you are right, Smokey, this discussion has taken quite a turn from last year. I do have hope that science is winning over hype. Let us pray our politicians get the message before they ruin us.
2.4.2008 7:51pm
Colin (mail):
The similarities between AGW and a Messianic religion is just stunning. It even has a savior, Al Gore.

I spare almost no attention whatsoever for the climate change debate; my private obsession with debunking creationism consumes whatever part of my brain would otherwise be engaged by the discussion.

Looking over this thread, however, I cannot overlook the disproportionate representation of absolutely insane comments like Mac's among the skeptics. You have no idea how quickly and completely you discredit yourself with that hyperpartisan gibberish.
2.4.2008 8:23pm
Smokey:
Colin:

Since you're obviously so qualified to make a medical diagnosis, we should probably listen to you...

...NOT.

You have absolutely nothing to add to the discussion, except your own lame, unsupported, partisan opinion. There's a word for that: hypocrite.

When you have some actual science to discuss, wake us for that.

'K? thx bye
2.4.2008 10:24pm
Brian K (mail):
Thanks smokey, harry, willy, and mac,

i needed a good laugh today and i certainly got one from your most recent posts. you guys are ridiculous and most of you are hypocrites to boot. i have certainly lost respect for the one of you that i had respected before this.

thanks again guys!
2.5.2008 1:17am
Grover Gardner (mail):
Come on, Brian--these guys are the modern day Cressidas!
2.5.2008 1:53am
Michael B (mail):
Brian K,

Another ad hominem indulgence in defense of "science". Shocked, I'm shocked ... But the ad hom award of the thread still has to go to "Engineer-Poet" for his "Joooooz" comment. Then again, as long as "science" is being defended ... anything - and everything - goes, or so it seems.

-----------------------------------

In that "anything and everything" mold, this link nicely illustrates the history of scare mongering during the 20th century, it begins as follows:

"It was five years before the turn of the century and major media were warning of disastrous climate change. Page six of The New York Times was headlined with the serious concerns of “geologists.” Only the president at the time wasn’t Bill Clinton; it was Grover Cleveland. And the Times wasn’t warning about global warming – it was telling readers the looming dangers of a new ice age."

[...]

"Those concerns lasted well into the late 1920s. But when the earth’s surface warmed less than half a degree, newspapers and magazines responded with stories about the new threat. Once again the Times was out in front, cautioning “the earth is steadily growing warmer.”

"After a while, that second phase of climate cautions began to fade. By 1954, Fortune magazine was warming to another cooling trend and ran an article titled “Climate – the Heat May Be Off.” As the United States and the old Soviet Union faced off, the media joined them with reports of a more dangerous Cold War of Man vs. Nature.

"The New York Times ran warming stories into the late 1950s, but it too came around to the new fears. Just three decades ago, in 1975, the paper reported: “A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable.”" (This latter cooling, previously noted herein, directly upthread.)

Still, it bears repeating, each situation needs to be evaluated on its own merits.
2.5.2008 2:10am
Brian K (mail):
damn, i forgot to add you, michael, to my list. you need to post more often to keep me laughing.
2.5.2008 2:26am
Brian K (mail):
Grover,

I don't get that reference. I've seen it twice today on two separate blogs used both times in the same context. A quick google search turned up nothing but toyota cars and wikepedia was gave a description of some ancient mythical person. (if you haven't notices medieval lit is not my strong suit). what does it mean?
2.5.2008 2:32am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"But the ad hom award of the thread still has to go to "Engineer-Poet" for his 'Joooooz' comment."

Really? Mmmmm, I kinda thought linking to another commentor's personal information took home the bacon in that department. A new low for the VC.
2.5.2008 2:35am
Grover Gardner (mail):
Brian, go directly to Wikipedia and look up both Cressida and Cassandra. Cassandra famously puts in a cameo appearance in Shakespeare's "Troilus and Cressida."
2.5.2008 2:48am
Grover Gardner (mail):
The reference was ironic. Smokey informed us that poor Cassandra "predicted doom and gloom, and everyone believed her. But she was always wrong. Cressida told the truth -- but no one paid any attention." It's actually the other way around. Cassandra scorned Apollo's advances, so he gave her the gift of prophecy--with the added curse of never being believed. Cressida, on the other hand, is considered the achetypally inconstant female.
2.5.2008 2:54am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"archetypally"
2.5.2008 2:57am
Brian K (mail):
ahhh...i got it now. thanks grover.
2.5.2008 3:57am
Colin (mail):
Smokey, I'm not sure what your comment about a "medical diagnosis" is supposed to mean. Is being the messiah a diagnosable condition? I hope it's not contagious; it appears to be terminal. As for hypocrisy, I don't think you're right. I'm not making a substantive comment on the global warming debate--I'm very upfront with my ignorance on the matter, and I don't take a position on the matter, make decisions predicated on a position, or urge any other person to take a position. My interest is in how laypeople interact with issues that involve science, law, and politics.

But a thread like this puts me in the position of choosing which side to credit. To oversimplify the discussion so far, I see Chris Bell citing the world's most prestigious scientific bodies and their apparent support for "AGW." I also see Mac's farcical, but apparently serious, characterization of climate change activists as religious faithful, and Al Gore as the focus of religious devotion. Chris Bell may be wrong; perhaps those academies aren't prestigious, or they don't reflect the general opinions of their members. Or the academies and their members might be wrong. But his citation to the balance of serious, professional scientists means much more to me than Mac's nearly content-free partisan rant, or Harry Eager's backyard experimentation.
2.5.2008 11:11am
Deoxy (mail):
People often dismiss individual arguments and evidence against their preferred position without considering the cumulative weight of the other side's points. It's a very easy fallacy to fall into.

So, just generate enough crap, and "cumulative weight" of all that crap means that we can't look at each individual piec of crap and disregard it? That once there's enough "evidence", even it's it's ALL bogus, , the "cumulative weight" needs to be "considered"?

That's a "fallacy" I'm happy to fall into, and I'll give that "cumulative weight" all the "consideration" it deserves: NONE.

EVERY piece of evidenc must hold up individually, or it is not evidence at all.
2.5.2008 12:29pm
Mac (mail):
Colon and Brian K,

I am being farcical, eh? Fine. However, neither of you offered one, not one actual fact refute to anything I said including a rationale for Mike Mann not revealing his data so it can be peer reviewed. And, you have science on your side?

And, Brian K, I am disappointed in you. There is clearly a gross lack of understanding of the scientific method expressed here by Randy R and others. You should be able to recognize that.

Given that no one offered any factual information to refute what I said, but instead just made ad hominum attacks, I think I will take that to mean the science is on my side.

Deoxy, you are absolutely correct when you said,

EVERY piece of evidenc must hold up individually, or it is not evidence at all..

Anyone who says anything different is operating on belief and faith, not science.
2.5.2008 1:17pm
Michael B (mail):
"I also see Mac's farcical, but apparently serious, characterization of climate change activists as religious faithful, and Al Gore as the focus of religious devotion." Colin

Not at all. Al Gore receives a sacral type of status in far too many quarters, a status wherein criticism is considered out of bounds and somehow "inappropriate." In Bali Gore opened his speech with "We, the human species ..." and he wasn't thinking of democratically informed support when he spoke those words, he was conceiving an over-arching righteousness and something on the order of a manichean script. And there's no doubt who the guys in the white hats are in that script.

Hence the mockings and laughter and sneers forwarded in support of that righteousness and that manichean script. Hence skeptics about any or all aspects of the debate are very often categorically lumped in with out-and-out deniers. Hence to ask perfectly reasonable and responsible and rationally and empirically based questions is to be ignored at best, itself telling, or demonized as worst. Religious veneration in the formal sense of the term? No, but the sacral qualities are there, as are the manichean scripts and their ad hoc revisions.
2.5.2008 1:28pm
Smokey:
Folks, we can see exactly what's happening here: the dwindling contingent of Al Gore's True Believers can not prove their case - so they argue based on their subjective, internalized "feelings." They actually seem to believe that their emotionally-based opinions will convince everyone else to toe the AGW/globaloney line. As noted above, it is not working. More and more people are expressing a healthy skepticism.

Colin complains about "... Mac's nearly content-free partisan rant, or Harry Eager's backyard experimentation." But those folks actually did something. They provided content in the form of citations [unlike Colin, Brian K and Grover - whose googled interest in mythology clearly explains his AGW belief system], and performed experiments -- unlike the Gorebot's people, who listen and obey when Fat Albert instructs his unquestioning acolytes what and what not to believe.

I challenge the True Believers once again: prove your religious belief in AGW! It is the duty of those putting forth a hypothesis to prove it; it is the duty of other scientists to follow the Scientific Method by poking holes in the hypothesis. Scientists have done that exceedingly well, thoroughly deconstructing the AGW/global warming hypothesis. The gorons' unsupported personal opinions [eg, that no scientists bought into the global cooling scare in the '70's] do not count. Prove your hypothesis! Or, at the very least, provide plenty of strong, empirical evidence that it exists - with reputable citations. Refute my 6:45 pm post - again, with citations from credible sources.

There is my challenge: Prove that human activities are causing - or will cause - statistically significant global warming.

Everyone will be able to tell from your answer whether you have proof -- or if you're prevaricating as usual.
2.5.2008 1:28pm
Brian K (mail):
There is clearly a gross lack of understanding of the scientific method expressed here by Randy R and others. You should be able to recognize that.
I do, but there is a lot of that going around. not least of which from smokey, whom i noticed you haven't taken issue with. and don't think my list was meant to be all inclusive. i have no desire to read through all of the comments again searching for people who said something stupid...i don't have all day.

neither of you offered one, not one actual fact refute to anything I said including a rationale for Mike Mann not revealing his data so it can be peer reviewed.
why do i need to? which of my arguments have i rested on his research?

and just to be clear, because i think it is not, my loss of respect for you has nothing to do your position on global warming.
2.5.2008 1:37pm
Brian K (mail):
Smokey,

big talk for a man who can't even explain why his own data contradicts itself.

but thanks again for the laugh!
2.5.2008 1:39pm
lucia (mail) (www):
Grover Gardner

Come on, Brian--these guys are the modern day Cressidas!


Wow! That may be the oddest rebuttal I've read on an AGW thread ever.

Do you mean your skeptic opponents in argument resemble a noble born Trojan teenager who is treated like chattel and sent over to enemy oppressors for no fault of her own, but merely to spare an Anator, adult male from captivity? (In true poetic justices, Anator later betrays Troy.)

Do you mean the Cressida, who is literally handed over by her lover Troillus? The Troillus who verbally pledges his love but does nothing tangible to help her avoid her fate? (Help her flee? Stage a rescue? Nope.)

Do you mean the Cressida, who in the Shakespeare version is forced to submit to kisses from all the Greeks (Lord knows what was expected of real woman sent off into enemy soldiers, and the script permits this scene to be quite repugnant with respect toward the Greek men's behavior. That's how the Chicago Shakespeare theater stages it. )

Do you mean the Cressida, who, though not entirely in control of her destiny, faced with the possibility of being constantly forced to 'kiss' many men, makes the best of it and picks one? She picks Diomedes, the Greek, who in response to the truly feeble Troillus's empty words said that he would treat her well of his own volition-- not as a pledge to Troillus. The Greek Diomedes who the does, indeed treat her well?

In other words, is your defense of AGW that the skeptics have the same good sense as the teenager Cressida who woke up, smelled the coffee, saw Troillus was a weak lying bastard who was never going to save her from anything, and then chose Diomedes, the mensch?

Honestly, I don't see why you are resorting to defending the theory of AGW through obscure literary allusion.

Why don't you just stick with the science?
2.5.2008 1:52pm
Brian K (mail):
Mac,

I think you are under the mistaken assumption that people here actually care about the science. most do not. i'll leave you to decide if you belong in this category.

I can spend all day explaining to harry what is wrong with his "experiment" but it won't do any good, he'll make the same claim next time. I and many other commentators have pointed out numerous flaws in smokey's logic and data, but he ignores them, shifts to ad hominem attacks and makes the same claims in future posts. have you noticed how he's virtually the only person to mention al gore? michaels entire argument, and part of yours, is based on a logical fallacy. the warming of the sun has been debunked elsewhere but that doesn't stop people from making that claim. randy and many commentators above who claim we'd have to live in caves or the like are guilty of exaggerating their respective sides but correcting them, as i've tried to do in the past, does no good.

Given that no one offered any factual information to refute what I said, but instead just made ad hominum attacks, I think I will take that to mean the science is on my side.
this is exactly what i'm talking about.
2.5.2008 1:58pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Honestly, I don't see why you are resorting to defending the theory of AGW through obscure literary allusion."

I'm not. Read the whole thread, lucia.
2.5.2008 2:03pm
Colin (mail):
Mac,

However, neither of you offered one, not one actual fact refute to anything I said including a rationale for Mike Mann not revealing his data so it can be peer reviewed. And, you have science on your side? However, neither of you offered one, not one actual fact refute to anything I said including a rationale for Mike Mann not revealing his data so it can be peer reviewed. And, you have science on your side?

I’m not sure that you’re reading what I’m writing. I have not challenged your substantive claims, nor have I made any of my own. I haven’t explicitly chosen a side, although I’m sure it’s clear enough that I’m very dubious of your fellow travelers. (This is, as an aside, largely a function of the overlap between the methods of creationists and the methods of “AGW” deniers.) My point was that your bizarre and ultra-partisan claims discredit you, because they are unserious and unsupported. You may have valid substantive claims in addition to your insane accusations of religious devotion, but the fact that you cannot (or do not) discriminate between rational and irrational allegations makes me less willing to sift through your assertions to weed out the ones that aren’t a waste of everyone’s time. This compares poorly with the people you’re challenging, at least on this thread, who make fewer irrational asides and present themselves and their arguments more seriously and soberly.

When people are presented with competing claims of scientific merit and don’t have the time or resources to verify everyone’s allegations de novo, the conflict becomes a battle of credibility. You squander your credibility when you froth at the mouth.

Michael,

I’ve followed your contributions to this thread without what you unfailingly characterize as sneers or dismissiveness. I thought your point about the media’s reaction to prior cooling concerns was well-put, and that you appropriately limited your comments to the media’s reaction rather than claiming that a consensus of the scientific community shared those cooling concerns. Your latest comment is somewhat beneath you, however. You insist that Al Gore “a sacral type of status in far too many quarters,” which is an extreme claim with no support that I’ve ever seen. What support you try to offer is badly mischaracterized. You cite Gore’s own words—certainly not proof of whether he’s worshipped by environmentalists—and then badly misconstrue them. You say that he opened his speech with, “We the human species,” and imply that this was inappropriate because he was claiming support from the human species for his agenda. This is not the case, though; I looked up the speech, and his opening line was, “We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilization…” This is a descriptive claim of an oncoming threat facing the entire species, not a claim to speak for the species’ preferred policies, ethical or moral imperatives, or state of knowledge.

What is there in that line, or anywhere else, that supports the bizarre claim that environmentalists worship Al Gore? I think it shows a great lack of self-awareness to defend those clownish statements in one breath and complain about “mockings and laughter and sneers” in the next. Please, tell us what the “sacral qualities” are that are ascribed to Al Gore. All I’ve seen you identify is the tendency to dismiss the arguments of skeptics, which is certainly a tendency the skeptics share with regards to the majoritarian claims. See, for example, the first paragraph of Smokey’s post, immediately following your own. One would imagine, from reading that post, that there was no body of scientific literature whatsoever supporting the claims of those who believe in AGW. Even I know that’s not the case; Smokey hasn’t engaged that literature, he’s simply ignored it and, as creationists do, announced that his opinions are the only valid facts supported by empirical evidence and that all who disagree are religious zealots.

Please bear in mind that not liking Al Gore or his fans or his policy in no way supports the assertion that he is a “messiah” figure. Nor is such a claim necessary to make your substantive arguments. Unlike Smokey, I do not believe that AGW skeptics are religious zealots, fools, or mere partisans simply because of their position on this issue. But if one can’t dig that case out of a particular skeptic’s statements without carefully filtering out all of the nonsense shibboleths and party rallying cries, how much attention will it really receive? How much does it deserve? Once a person announces that he’s unable or unwilling to restrict his statements to rational arguments, is it worth the time and effort to do the filtering yourself, when there are competing talking heads who don’t froth at the mouth? I don’t think so. It becomes problematic for AGW skeptics, then, when they are disproportionately irrational.

lucia,

I believe Grover Gardner was just teasing Smokey about having confused Cassandra and Cresseida.
2.5.2008 2:26pm
Smokey:
Brian K:

Allow me to set you straight. You stated above that...
"climate change deniers... exploit and disingenuously find fissures in the scientific community."
But that is exactly what you are guilty of doing.

I've posted numerous charts, graphs and .pdf files in the course of this discussion. You have not. The fact that you believe that you might have discovered one minor discrepancy between two charts -- produced by two different scientists -- means nothing, unless you have contacted one or both of them and requested their explanation of what you believe is a discrepancy. Have you done that? Didn't think so. Disingenuous, indeed.

If I had produced one or both charts, then I would be happy to provide you with the data behind the charts; there is always much more information used in producing graphics than that provided. That's the reason, in fact, that visual aids are used.

It is hardly an admirable tactic to try and blame the person who provides a link, for every single data point in the link that you might assume is a mistake -- especially when you could have easily contacted the authors to resolve what you believe is an error. More likely than not, the authors can explain why you are mistaken. Either the fear of that explanation, or laziness, precludes you from doing it right.

Rather, you respond as if their chart was produced by me. Furthermore, one minor error - if it even is, in fact, an error - does not negate 4,500 years of temperature reconstructions. Small errors crop up continually in most such scientific publications. Without giving the authors an opportunity to explain where you're mistaken, you assume they are totally in error. That tactic is - how shall we say - disingenuous, no?

So, if I may translate your arguments:

"Blah, blah... I believe... blah, blah..."

Because as you yourself stated above:
...which of my arguments have i rested on his any research? [FIFY]


Exactly.
2.5.2008 2:47pm
Smokey:
Colon:

Your rambling on about the overlap between creationists and the methods of “AGW” deniers, your constant religious inferences throughout your posts, and your rants about "creationists" indicate that you have, um... "issues." Fine, I hope you resolve them [and FWIW, I'm an engineer, not a "creationist." I think Darwin was right. Does that make it all better for you?].

As Mac correctly pointed out, "neither of you offered one, not one actual fact to refute anything I said..." Acolytes in the Holy Gorebot's Church of the True Believer shy away from offering verifiable facts; you are no exception. Therefore, allow me to once again issue my challenge:

Prove that human activities are causing - or will cause - statistically significant global warming.

As lucia said, Why don't you just stick with the science? The answer to that is clear: the crowd pushing AGW has little in the way of empirical science; computer models are their false god.

If you have proof of AGW, show it.
2.5.2008 3:11pm
lucia (mail) (www):
I believe Grover Gardner was just teasing Smokey about having confused Cassandra and Cresseida.


Ah! Well, then at least Grover's snippy remark makes some sense. I now transfer the prize for "first introduction of obscure anologies to Cressida in climate wars thread" to Smokey.

Grover, could you please hand him the small Oscar sized statue or a beautiful, but ill treated Trojan woman whose name starts with "C"?
2.5.2008 3:18pm
Colin (mail):
Smokey, I didn't mean to imply that you are a creationist. I don't know what the overlap is between actual creationists and AGW skeptics. My comments go to the overlap in tactics, not beliefs. These include the cherrypicking of individual scientists who have reached ideologically acceptable conclusions, the general rejection of consensus as a meaningful tool, and the blanket characterization of the opposition as mere ideologues operating entirely on faith.

Nor, for the third time, am I challenging what substantive claims you make. I have not pointed to "verifiable facts" outside the thread and I don't intend to, because they are not germane to my observations. My comments are not about the scientific accuracy of your assertions. I'm arguing, instead, that saying things like "Acolytes in the Holy Gorebot's Church of the True Believer" keeps people from taking you seriously. Painting a smile on your face and wearing floppy shoes will get you treated like a clown, no matter how many charts you have stuffed in the trunk of your tiny clown car.
2.5.2008 3:34pm
Smokey:
Thank you for the Oscar! "They really, really love me!"

But I don't deserve my Oscar for the reference - which I just was told about [as hearsay from a friend - I guess maybe he mixed up his C's]. Greek mythology isn't my thing; deconstructing AGW/globaloney is.

Now, if the goron contingent can prove - or at the very least, provide strong empirical evidence that human activities are causing - or will cause - statistically significant global warming, let's see it. We're still waiting.

While we wait, check out this site, which shows the method used for temperature records. Maybe most of the putative temperature rise wasn't caused by SUV's or animal farts -- but by sun baked asphalt, BBQ pits and hot air-conditioner exhaust.
2.5.2008 3:38pm
Brian K (mail):
Smokey,

Allow me to set you straight. You stated above that...

"climate change deniers... exploit and disingenuously find fissures in the scientific community."


I don't know who said this, but it sure wasn't me. and you wonder why i don't take you seriously...


The fact that you believe that you might have discovered one minor discrepancy between two charts -- produced by two different scientists -- means nothing, unless you have contacted one or both of them and requested their explanation of what you believe is a discrepancy. Have you done that? Didn't think so. Disingenuous, indeed.
have you? you're the one that is holding up those charts as definitive proof that global warming isn't happening. the fact that you haven't done so only shows that you aren't interested in science at all. at least one of those two charts is blatantly false...this fact doesn't appear to bother you one bit because both reach the conclusion that you want them to. that's not science, it is ideology.
2.5.2008 3:40pm
Smokey:
Brian K:
you're the one that is holding up those charts as definitive proof that global warming isn't happening.
Are some folks are just dense? This is the last time I'm going to explain this:

The one who puts forth the hypothesis is the one obligated to defend it - or at least provide strong empirical evidence for their stated hypothesis. The job of other scientists is to falsify, if possible, the original hypothesis. Please stop turning this issue on its head.

I have made no hypothesis -- I am questioning the AGW hypothesis. Defend the AGW hypothesis [with credible references] if you are able. Using solid evidence, logically refute those scientists questioning AGW, if you can. That's how real science works.

As shown in this link, the temperature record purports to prove global warming is increasing, but the methods used to record temperatures are so questionable that they must be discarded. A large part of the temperature rise is an artifact.

The assumed warming is based largely on these same surface station records [measured in tenths of a degree, no less!].

However, the rapid growth in urban areas [the U.S. has absorbed 100,000,000 people since the 1970's] has injected a large artificial upward bias into the temperature record. When urban heat islands are removed from the temperature record, the amount of actual warming is significantly less. [Try selling those carbon credits if people knew the actual temperature rise has been 0.2 degrees C over the past century]. Especially when you look at where we are today, compared with where we have been historically.

Having worked in one of the largest calibration/metrology labs in the country for 30 years, I can confidently state that had we used the methods shown in the link above, our data would have been rejected out of hand. Yet surface station records are one of the central supports of the AGW conjecture.

If anyone can defend the current datalogging, I would love to have a discussion about it.
2.5.2008 4:37pm
Brian K (mail):
sure smokey, whatever you say. you can't even correctly attribute quotes and i'm supposed to believe that you know how science works? it is clear that you do not.

"I have made no hypothesis"
yes you have. you have made the hypothesis that the earth is not warming and, if it is warming, that it is not caused by mankind. you then provided evidence in the form of charts to prove your point. i pointed out that your charts are severely flawed.

what you are trying to do in this most recent post is a giant exercise in question begging. we might as well assume that the earth is warming and require you to disprove. so go on, disprove it.
2.5.2008 5:30pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Brian, maybe you could, but you haven't. Shrug.

The hole in the backyard is just a demonstration, designed to bring into question an assumption of the AGW panicmongers.

If you don't see it, you don't see it. I could have given a (borrowed) quantum mechanical explanation of why carbon dioxide is not an all-purpose heat soak, but I guess you wouldn't get that either.
2.5.2008 6:51pm
Smokey:
Brian K:

I must have cut 'n' pasted a comment next to yours. I was on my way out at the time & in too much of a hurry. My apologies.

Regarding your assertion that I have made a hypothesis, in fact I have not. A hypothesis is "an interpretation of a practical situation or condition taken as the ground for action." That's what those putting forth the AGW hypothesis have done [see An Inconvenient Truth]. They demand action [in the form of literally tens of $trillions of U.S. taxpayers' dollars, for starters].

I do understand why someone would want to claim I have made a hypothesis, since the AGW hypothesis is failing. The purpose of my arguments have been to assist in demolishing the AGW hypothesis through pointed questioning. That is why those pushing AGW run away from answering questions from AGW skeptics. They refuse to respond to our numerous citations refuting AGW, without providing their own. It's as if the links we have posted don't exist to the AGW crowd [unless someone finds a minor nit to pick -- indicating that people are reading the links -- but they will not answer, or even acknowledge their content.

Those who have bought into AGW lock, stock and barrel have made up their minds; with their minds closed tight, facts will not sway them. I have repeatedly stated that I will change my mind if anyone provides proof, or strong empirical evidence, that AGW in fact causes a significant portion of the Earth's natural temperature fluctuation. But to date, the data coming in has falsified much of the putative temperature increase. We may well be heading toward a significantly cooler planet.

My effort has been to deconstruct the Gore/Mann/Hansen hypotheses: that human activity [AGW] is significantly warming the planet. Questioning of that hypothesis is proper and expected. Stating that their hypothesis is invalid does not create a new hypothesis.

Attempting to turn the scientific method around 180 degrees based on ipse dixit is a lame tactic. The hypothesis has been put forth that human activity is the primary cause of global warming. Based on the literature, I do not agree with that hypothesis. I haven't set out any new theory of my own. [BTW, you're not a scientist, are you? Just curious.]

The undeniable fact that Hansen and Mann still refuse to publicly archive their 100% taxpayer-funded data and methodology is extremely strong evidence that they have something major to hide. Rather than play George Orwell games [black is white, up is down, evil is good - and anyone questioning a hypothesis must be made to prove a negative], why not just write to James Hansen and Michael Mann, and demand to know exactly why they refuse to publicly archive all of their climate data and methodology?
2.5.2008 6:53pm
Mac (mail):
Thank you Smokey,


I don't think Brian K is going to "get" it re how science works. There are many scientists who seriously question Mann's work. In science, you fight it out. You do not call the other side names and say, "The debate is over". That is faith, not science.

Colin,
I am going, one more time, to say it only takers one to disprove a theory. AGW is a hypothesis, at this point. It is a long way from being a Theory. And Colin, the very language AGW's believers use i.e. calling those who disagree with them "deniers" is a faith based name. It has no place in science. Hence, my reference to Al Gore and a messianic religion.

I don't think either one of you have ever heard a hellfire and damnation sermon.. The comparison to Al Gore is valid.

Also, many scientists differ with AGW, not just a few. It is a very open debate.
If Al Gore is so certain that the facts are on his side, why is it he has NEVER debated a scientist? He should be eager to debate a real scientist, but he won't. Again, who are the one's avoiding scientific debate? Doesn't that make you wonder just a little?

Why is it that only Mann thinks he can tell what the temperature was 1000- 2000 years ago within .1 degrees (that's point one degree) based on tree rings? Why are you so eager to believe that this one guy got it right and everyone else who said it was not possible, got it wrong? You both are arguing for consensus, but are ignoring the fact that there is NO consensus on Mann's underlying ability to determine temperature. Everyone else said it could not be done. You are arguing that we should "believe" (that word again) that AGW is a fact because of a hypothetical consensus. But, you have no problem with the fact that there is NO consensus for Mann's claims of accuracy.
And if the AGW crowd have "science on their side, why won't Gore ever debate a scientist? Gore was supposed to debate Lomborg last year, but Gore withdrew from the debate the day before it was to happen.
Neither of you are even a little skeptical about this?

By the way, to be a scientist is to be skeptical. It is not, should not be a criticism. That it is in this debate just illustrates how little AGW believers have in common with science.
2.5.2008 7:04pm
Mac (mail):
Smokey,

Sorry, I repeated some of your points as I was posting while you were. Maybe the repetition will do some of our friends some good, though.
2.5.2008 7:09pm
Colin (mail):
You are arguing that we should "believe" (that word again) that AGW is a fact because of a hypothetical consensus.

Am I? Have I? Are you sure you didn't just make that part up?
2.5.2008 7:48pm
Mac (mail):
Colin,
You are the one who wrote the following.

My comments go to the overlap in tactics, not beliefs. These include the cherrypicking of individual scientists who have reached ideologically acceptable conclusions, the general rejection of consensus as a meaningful tool, and the blanket characterization of the opposition as mere ideologues operating entirely on faith.



I am directly quoting your own words, so NO, I didn't make it up.
2.5.2008 8:07pm
TokyoTom (mail):
Great post, Jon. I've just put up a link to it at my own humble blog.

I think that there are many Austrians who understand WHY there might be a climate change problem to which man contributes, as the atmosphere is an open-access resource, in which there are no clear or enforceable property rights that rein in externalities or that give parties with differing preferences an ability to engage in meaingful transactions that reflect those preferences.

But, flawed human beings that we are, we have difficulty truly keeping our minds open (subconscious dismissal of inconsistent data is a cognitive rule) and we easily fall into tribal modes of conflict that provide us with great satisfaction in disagreeing with those evil "others" while circling the wagons (and counting coup) with our brothers in arms.

These influences are, of course, very much in evidence in this thread.

Congratulations for not letting these cognitive traps get the better of you.
2.6.2008 7:34am
Michael B (mail):
"I thought your point about the media’s reaction to prior cooling concerns was well-put, and that you appropriately limited your comments to the media’s reaction rather than claiming that a consensus of the scientific community shared those cooling concerns." Colin

I didn't limit my comments in the manner depicted. I didn't claim a consensus, but I certainly rebuffed the contrary idea that concerns about the earlier cooling scare had little or nothing to do with science and scientists as well, as noted directly upthread. Iow, I countered the nearly total absolution of scientists, during that earlier period, that was being bestowed by others. Iow, you're right, I was not the one who forwarded the manichean script, others did when they forwarded their obfuscations and apologies in defense of the scientists of the day who lent credence to those stories of global cooling.

And I didn't say Gore was being "worshipped," a word which carries connotations I wouldn't apply and made a point of saying as much, I said he carries a certain sacral quality or cache among large swaths of AGW proponents, including the large and prominent contingent of more exciteable alarmists, Gore being a leading alarmist and presumptive himself.

Decidedly, we disagree about Gore's Bali speech. "We the human species ..." does have something of the air of a latent totalitarian quality to it, a "totalizing quality," to recall Mussolini's formulation for selling some of his own ideological and social initiatives.
2.6.2008 8:39am
Colin (mail):
Mac,

You are arguing that we should "believe" (that word again) that AGW is a fact because of a hypothetical consensus. . . . You are the one who wrote the following. . . . “the general rejection of consensus as a meaningful tool.” I am directly quoting your own words, so NO, I didn't make it up.

There is a substantial, meaningful difference between the argument “that we should ‘believe’ (that word again) that AGW is a fact because of a hypothetical consensus”—your words—and accepting consensus “as a meaningful tool”—my words. If you accept that general relativity is a useful scientific concept, despite not having done the math yourself, you’re using consensus as a meaningful tool. Eliding the difference between the two phrasings is another signal that you’re just having with a little partisan rant, and not seriously analyzing the issue. Nor, I should point out, did you quote my words originally; I haven’t said you should “believe” anything. I said people won’t take you seriously if you clown around and make things up.

Michael,

And I didn't say Gore was being "worshipped," a word which carries connotations I wouldn't apply and made a point of saying as much, I said he carries a certain sacral quality or cache among large swaths of AGW proponents, including the large and prominent contingent of more exciteable alarmists, Gore being a leading alarmist and presumptive himself.

I’m not sure that I’d call him “presumptive,” but as that seems to be your default dismissal of anyone who disagrees with you, we can probably ignore the sneer as superfluous. As for the rest, as long as you keep diluting your prior statements, you’ll eventually get to a serious, defensible comment. “A certain sacral quality” is an essentially meaningless, but important-sounding phrase: a “Michaelism,” I think they call it these days. “Cache” sounds about right, except that you mean “cachet.” A “cache” is a hiding place or a store of something, especially if hidden. “Cachet” is the approval of others. Pro tip: the ‘t’ is silent.
2.6.2008 10:54am
Mac (mail):
Michael B,

You are quite right, of course, re the totalitarian aspect of Al Gore. I didn't want to mention that as I was getting enough grief about the messianic aspect of his message and demeanor. However, your comparison to Mussolini (and there are many others) is correct.

I am afraid that in addition to a complete lack of knowledge of the more extreme religious manifestations there is also a complete lack of knowledge of history and dictators on the part of Brian K and Colin and others. Given the sorry state of education in this country today, that does not come as a surprise.

I, however, give up. Colin, it seems continues to talk in circles and seems to think brilliance lies in defining cache vs. cachet.

When AGW is completely discredited as was the great global cooling scare, these same people will claim they knew it all along.

Tokyo Tom,

Austrians????
2.6.2008 2:21pm
Brian K (mail):
I wasn't going to post again because i didn't see a point in it, but this one was just too good to let go.

I am afraid that in addition to a complete lack of knowledge of the more extreme religious manifestations there is also a complete lack of knowledge of history and dictators on the part of Brian K and Colin and others.

and

As for restriction of liberty under Bush, you know, I just haven't felt the need to call someone in a terrorist country in a long while.

so you have no problems with government imposed restrictions on our liberties but you do have a problem with speech? I'm ashamed to say that I used to have some respect for you.
2.6.2008 3:08pm
Mac (mail):
BRIAN,
I have no idea what you are talking about. I do wish you would learn to argue the issues instead of playing "gotcha". And, I wish you could learn that it is perfectly OK to have respect for people with whom you disagree.

Michael B., Colin and Brian K,

I thought you might be interested in this. I just stumbled across it.


In a new book, David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith take the appeal to experts somewhat further and argue that in order to deal with climate change we need to replace liberal democracy with an authoritarianism of scientific expertise. They write in a recent op-ed:
Liberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the USA, unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens...

There must be open minds to look critically at liberal democracy. Reform must involve the adoption of structures to act quickly regardless of some perceived liberties...

We are going to have to look how authoritarian decisions based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse emissions.
On their book page they write:
[T]he authors conclude that an authoritarian form of government is necessary, but this will be governance by experts and not by those who seek power.



Well, folks, it is already getting pretty blatant, isn't it? And, you worry about the Patriot Act? This should scare the hell out of you.

You can find the book on the major on-line retailers and find out about the authors from there.

It looks like you are right on, Michael. This should remove all doubt the intentions of the AGW crowd. It won't, but it should.
2.6.2008 6:17pm
Mac (mail):
The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy

Sorry, this is the title of the book.
2.6.2008 6:19pm
Colin (mail):
I do, in fact, think that's interesting. Much like your own comments, the book you cite appears to be the overblown, ridiculous, and unserious ranting of a fringe element; even if the authors make good points, somewhere deep in the text, it seems unlikely that it will be worth most readers' time to filter it out of the dross. Thank you for demonstrating that there are ridiculous figures on both sides of the debate, although I doubt that anyone, anywhere, was unaware of that.
2.6.2008 7:10pm
Brian K (mail):
And, I wish you could learn that it is perfectly OK to have respect for people with whom you disagree.

I can't recall a time when I ever agreed with you, but i thought you made good points and stated them well.

it is your ridiculous mischaracterization of mine and others arguments, your assumption that i support beliefs that i've given no indication that i support, your not so thinly veiled insults, the extreme one sidedness of your criticisms, etc. that caused the loss of respect. and yes, part of it did come about because of your ridiculous claim as to why it is okay to have the government spy on its own citizens.

(and yes, i already know i am not a saint and that i have my own flaws. although not the ones you seem to think i have.)
2.6.2008 7:54pm
Smokey:
Since January 2007, the planet has cooled .63C. That is equivalent to the entire warming of the 20th century.

If the planet's temperature gone up .63 degree, instead of down .63 degree, does anyone doubt that the media would have kept deathly quiet about it -- like they have since these latest numbers came out?

Can you say A-G-E-N-D-A?

I knew that you could!
2.6.2008 8:12pm
Smokey:
doubt = think.

sorry.
2.6.2008 8:14pm
TokyoTom (mail):
Mac, thanks for the question. "Austrians" is shorthand for the school of libertarian economic and political thinking spearheaded by Hayek and Mises, and my comment here was adapted from a post on my blog over on at the Ludwig von Mises Institute site:

But I could have just as easily written more broadly of economists and those who understand the "tragedy of the commons" paradigm.

By the way, Roger Pielke, Jr. has a recent post up on the Shearman and Smith book and on a Shearman editorial, which he titled "The Authoritarianism of Experts". My comments to Roger (that I cross-posted at Mises) were as follows:

Roger, perhaps a more appropriate and fairer title would have been "the naivete of experts".

David Shearman sees a problem that he thinks needs urgent action (on which he might be absolutely right), but he despairs when he sees the nations of the world - and primarily the wealthy Western democracies - dawdling, and suggests that it is liberal democracy itself that is at fault. Is he wrong to be frustrated? I'd say not. However, Shearman clearly misunderstand the reasons for the delay, which lie not with the nature of democracy or its supposed deficiencies vis-a-vis an authoritarian order, but simply with the nature of our interaction with the atmosphere.

Simply, the problem is a classic tragedy of the commons resulting from the incentives that face multiple users of a resource that none of them own and from which they cannot easily exclude others. The current lack of process has nothing at all to do with the political structure of any of the countries of the world, but rather with the diffiiculty that all nations face in reaching a shared understanding of the problem and in negotiating an enforceable agreement of how to balance potential collective future gains and future costs in controlling emissions of and bringing down atmospheric levels of GHGs. Even if all the countries of the world were authoritarian, they would still have the same difficulty in reaching a joint decision, and none of Shearman's wishful thinking would make things any different.

Of course, form of government matters in various ways, all of which cut against Dr. Shearman. Like the natural world, governments themselves are a form of commons in which different interest groups compete. While the Western governments are still plagued by rent-seeking from powerful insiders and elites who more or less effectively manipulate politicians and bureacucrats to obtain gains, authoritarian systems are orders of magnitude worse. Pollution problems in dictatorships are much worse, because the elites can live by fiat and have very little effective check from others in terms of property rights or laws/regulations. , and Shearman should be embarrassed to wish any of that kind of corruption on anyone.

But perhaps Shearman has a slight glimpse of the real problem, which is that there are no effective owners of the atmosphere, and thus no one (or even a few) who can say hey! I like the world's thermostat right where it is, any I'm willing to suffer the consequences of paying more for sequestration, conservation or different energy sources.

Instead, we are stuck with the twin problems of international negotiations between a multiplicity of governments that have different interests (with no one from the future voting) and, across all nations, domestic struggles between interest groups to persuade government to choose the policies that benefit their interest group the most.

Shearman's not wrong to speak out, but he needs to do a little more reading on externalities and prinsoners' dilemmas.


In short, I agree with Jon that, due to the absence of clear and enforceable property rights, we face very real and serious problems relating to development, the growth of markets and man's impact on ecosystems and natural resources. Questioning motives is a good thing, but it behooves one to also consider whether those one disagrees with have a legitmate cause for concern.
2.6.2008 10:25pm
Michael B (mail):
"The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy"

Yes, amusing and unsurprising in the least.

It's a single book among thousands of books published on the topic, so I wouldn't overly leverage a single title. Otoh it does reflect the latent authoritarian and totalitarian impulses among those presumptives. Reminds, if only fleetingly, of Carl Schmidt.
2.7.2008 8:45am