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Adding to the Consensus on Global Warming

by Steven Novella, Oct 24 2011

On October 20th Nature News reported on a new analysis of land temperatures by an independent group. They found the same results as previous analyses – since 1950 the earth has warmed by about 0.9 C. The results have yet to be peer-reviewed, but already reports of their analysis are making some waves.

The analysis was designed to be what can be called a consensus study – an independent group is taking a thorough analysis of the data, accounting for prior criticisms, to arrive at a result that everyone can agree on. Prior to announcing the results, in fact, some global warming skeptics stated publicly that they welcome the independent analysis and would stand by the results. PZ Myers reports on Anthony Watts response – initially saying he would accept the study results, but now considering the study to be fatally flawed.

The point of a consensus study is to bring all sides of a scientific controversy together, account for all criticisms of existing data, and then try to specifically address those criticisms so that everyone can agree on the results. This actually does happen at times, although it does seem that there remain holdouts for the view that “loses” when the new data comes out. The consensus data, however, does tend to marginalize the holdouts.

This is the way science is supposed to work – people can argue vehemently about how to interpret the data, with renewed vigor as each new piece of data comes out. But in the end everyone should be basing their opinions on the evidence, or should at least be able to agree that the evidence will ultimately determine the outcome of controversy. Part of the goal of a consensus study is to get all sides to agree on the protocol before hand, that way they cannot legitimately complain once the data comes in. Everyone, in short, has to go all-in and bet their position on the data.

James Randi has learned the value of this procedure – he always gets applicants to the JREF challenge to agree to the protocol prior to obtaining the results. Of course, once the results show they are not psychic, only then do they find flaws in the protocol. We saw the same thing with a large CDC trial on vaccines and adverse neurological outcomes. Sallie Bernard, a believer in the mercury-autism hypothesis, was consulted on the design of the study and agreed to the protocol – until the results came out. When the results were negative (no correlation between vaccines and adverse neurological outcomes) she backpedaled and distanced herself from the study.

Let’s get back to the new climate change data. Prior analysis by NASA, the NOAA, and the UK Climate Research Unit, using different but overlapping data sets, all found the same thing – the famous hockey stick of recent temperature increase. However there has been a lot of criticism of the data – that there are artifacts in the ways in which they adjusted temperatures for time of day and other variables, and accounted for the urban heat island effect – that cities are warmer and are getting bigger. Statistical analysis of the data is complex, creating legitimate concern about the introduction of artifacts into the analysis, but also creating the opportunity to deny the results if you don’t like them.

So a completely independent analysis was in order – part of the replication that is demanding by good science. Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, undertook the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study. They looked at a more complete data set, essentially combining all the data of the three previous analyses, and also devised their own statistical analysis. What they found pretty much exactly matches the prior three studies. They confirmed the hockey stick of temperature rise. As you can see from the chart – the lines overlap almost completely.

This analysis not only confirms that global warming is happening, it confirms the legitimacy of the three prior analyses. Despite all the criticism, the methods used were apparently accurate.

I need to point out that the analysis still has to be peer-reviewed. In addition the researchers are making their methods and data public and more easily accessible than the previous data sets, so we should expect a great of picking over these results. That’s all good. Science needs to be transparent. We will see what the result of peer-review is. If the analysis survives peer-review, then we can also expect that this will strengthen the consensus among scientists that global warming is a real phenomenon.

But we know that this is an ideologically hot topic, and there are those who deny that global warming is happening (while there are others that acknowledge global warming and just deny the degree to which it is man-made, or that current proposals can do anything about it). I don’t expect this data to convert many dissidents – we’ll see. However (again – if it holds up) it will marginalize their view. It will strengthen the consensus. To the degree that science is used to inform political action, a strong consensus on the science is very helpful.

This replication will likely have that effect. How it is translated into political action remains to be seen.

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146 Responses to “Adding to the Consensus on Global Warming”

  1. Somite says:

    One clarification I would add is that no new data was generated by this study. This data was an additional analysis of the data available to everyone. In a way this is more powerful because it demolishes all the “work” by characters like McIntyre and others who dedicate themselves to nag climatologists without contributing anything themselves.

    Before we get the inevitable “we still don’t know if it’s anthropogenic!” response I want to add that that is another separate well studied area and the results and references can be found in the IPCC. This link compares the expected temperatures due to natural forcings only compared to the observed temperature due to the addition of anthropogenic forcings.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-9-2-figure-1.html

    • Donald Prothero says:

      This was the report of the Berkeley group led by physicist Richard Muller, which I discussed in a post back on April 6. Muller started as a “skeptic” of the data produced by NOAA, GISS, and Hadley CRU, so he was funded by the Koch brothers and oil companies to re-examine it. Yet as I pointed out in my previous post, even when he had only 2% of the data analyzed, he could clearly see that the previous studies were right, and there is no question that the world is getting warmer and AGW is real. So rather than being an ideologue, he did his job as a scientist, recognized what the data say, and spoke truth to power–which didn’t make the GOP committee that had called him to testify very happy, nor his oil company backers. And now that the final study is out, Watts and other AGW deniers are reneging on their promise to stand by his results (as PZ Myers pointed out), and are attacking what they don’t want to hear. A classic example of the contrast between a good skeptical scientist, who will change his interpretation when the data are clear, and ideologues like the AGW deniers, who are committed to a position, and will renege on promises, distort data, cherry-pick data, quote out of context, and anything else to defend their position, no matter what the data say.

      • Somite says:

        And still Muller says this in the interview:

        “Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that.”

        Giving an out to deniers even though this has been examined by other groups.

        The correct statement would be that the data so far indicates the sharp increase in temperature is due to anthropogenic forcing.

      • Wrong says:

        Nope. If he didn’t assess it, he doesn’t need to comment on it. Sure, his study gives an out to the deniers, but if he had said that the data indicates something he did not assess, he would be disingenous and intellectually dishonest.

        There are plenty of other studies into the relation of human activity and global warming, so only someone willing to cherry pick can use this “out”. His study was meant to be independant: summarising the results obtained by others wouldn’t have been doing what he set out to do.

      • Somite says:

        I think in the context of a Wall Street Journal interview where they are asking his opinion as a climatologist his answer should reflect the current consensus. He should have prefaced with “my analysis didn’t cover the origin of the warming, but the data so far indicates….”

      • Wrong says:

        Yeah, in that context he probably should do so. But in that case, the Wall Street Journal would also do well to contact the IPCC and ask for their opinion as well. Either way, the message conveyed in interviews with the press should reflect the science.
        A good point you’ve got there.

  2. CountryGirl says:

    Given the widespread corruption in the Warming community and their close connection with massive amounts of money subsidizing their position I am not sure anything these “experts” produce can be trusted.

    The earth is certainly warming but it began long before the anthropogenic factors would have caused it. Before that it was cooling and that too was quite natural and not man caused. Before that a MAJOR warming cycle (larger then our current moderate warming cycle) occurred and clearly the vikings did not have SUV’s. This current global warming cycle is the 33rd since the last ice age and it isn’t particulary warm vs some of the previous cycles. The warming cycles are very nuturing to man and most life forms and is a major factor in our 7 billion population. The cooling cycles are very unforgiving to humans and when the current warming cycle ends (which it surely will) that is when TSHTF. Beware the minimum.

    • Donald Prothero says:

      Country Girl, you’re wrong on every count: 1) The actual temp curves EXACTLY mirror the increase in anthropogenic CO2; 2) climate indeed fluctuates, but as the EPICA cores show, there has NEVER been a warming or extreme level of CO2 during even the warmest part of those cycles as we are seeing now; 3) the “major warming cycle” (“Medieval Warm Period”) was only in the Northern Atlantic region; it was not as warm or as high CO2 as we see now; overall. climate cooled on a worldwide basis then, while today we see worldwide warming; 4) as in point 2 above, the EPICA cores show it is already warmer than ANY interglacial in the past 750,000 years and NOT a natural cycle; 5) maybe warming benefits some people, but melting the ice caps destroys those regions and leads to flooding of low-lying countries, and also decreases our freshwater supply from glaciers and snowmelt, which will be very unpleasant; cooling cycles may not be pleasant for some people in the world, but benefit others (you cannot generalize climatic benefits on a global basis).
      If you bothered to get your information from real climate scientists (98% of whom agree that AGW is real) rather than ideologues with no active research in climate science, then maybe we would take your ideas seriously.

      • Nyar says:

        (you cannot generalize climatic benefits on a global basis).

        Then neither can you generalize climatic detriments on a global basis.

        But anyway, are you sure about the part where you said that melting ice caps will cause the flooding of low lying countries? As I understand it, due to Archimedes’ principle, melting the arctic ice cap will not cause sea level rise and the antarctic ice cap is in no danger of melting.

      • tmac57 says:

        It depends on whether or not the ice is already in the water,or if it is on land (Greenland).

      • Wrong says:

        Or even the Antarctic. But I disagree with Nyar about the generalise climactic detriments on a global basis. Since the flooding is clearly a detriment, that’s kind of an overwhelming negative.

        Also, there is another few methods you might want to consider: Water tends to expand at higher temperatures (I do not know the smallest state, I believe it is around 4 degrees, but some confirmation would be nice) and hence, the ocean could expand. Considering the relatively small change in temperature, this isn’t important.

        What is important is that the change in temperature affects the amount of CO2 absorbed into the ocean, potentially increasing the acidity of the ocean, killing marine habitats, reefs, and endangering fish, bad for conservation, bad for people who like to eat fish.

      • Nyar says:

        No you can’t generalize global detriments if you cannot also generalize global benefits. The benefits are: longer growing seasons, more robust plant growth because of CO2, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water so there will be more rainfall to recharge aquifers and reservoirs, heck, even the flooding can be beneficial by providing new habitats for endangered fish and coral reefs.

        As for the antarctic, is anyone actually predicting that the icecap there will melt? Sure, a little ice around the edges will break off and melt, but that happens anyway regardless of warming.

      • Max says:

        And a large asteroid impact could benefit some small animals by wiping out their predators, so it’s not so bad.

      • Wrong says:

        Rubbish. My point isn’t to generalise the benefits or the detriments. But scientists a lot more educated than myself in the subject have analyzed it. I trust their conclusions, in the abscence of controversy: for the most part, the detriments of the warming outweigh the benefits.

        Or are you seriously going to make the claim that AGW is a good thing? Because while I’ve heard it before “We’ll be able to grow bananas in Tasmania”, I’ve never heard it in any way that makes sense. To put it bluntly: the flooding of regions such as Coastal Queensland in Australia, Pacific Islands such as Tuvalu, and the potential damage to regions such as Venice and the low lying areas in Denmark and the Netherlands are not benefits.

        The increased acidity of the ocean killing coral reefs, and exterminating fish, are not benefits.

        The destruction of coastal wetlands and mangroves are not benefits.

        I don’t know if anyone is predicting large scale Antarctic melting, but as tmac very ably pointed out, there are other large bodies of ice on land, such as Greenland, which have already been observed to be melting.

        Now sure, every cloud has it’s silver lining, if you’re willing to look hard enough and lower your standards, but there is a reason global warming is an issue: The likely outcome is more negative than it is positive. If it weren’t it would not be a problem.

        My point is that no-one is generalising, least of all Prothero. A clear risk vs reward analysis has taken place, and so far, it seems that the best option is to attempt to counter or stop Global Warming, rather than to hope that it does less harm than good. Unless of course, you would lay claim to more information on the effects of warming than he does, or indeed, the IPCC does?

        My point at the end of the day is that you are wrong. You are nitpicking with a statement that was never implicitly made, and your point added nothing to the conversation, apart from a tu quoue argument. And if you are also ignorant of Greenland and Antarctica, then your knowledge is clearly incomplete. Before you accuse someone of an unfair generalisation, check that they have generalised something unfairly. Because as far as I can tell, the IPCC has the same conclusion that Prothero is pointing out. If people are displaced, or killed, then that is an issue that should be averted. Unless of course, a better crop season and localised warmness are worth lives and livlihoods.

      • Somite says:

        You have a link for a study that has looked into this?

      • Nyar says:

        @Wrong

        No, you are the one who is wrong. I simply made the argument that if one cannot generalize global benefits of warming, then neither can one generalize global detriments of same warming. To me that seems self evident and uncontroversial.

      • Somite says:

        I meant you Nyar. Do you have a study that has looked into this or are you wildly speculating about positive effects?

      • Wrong says:

        Many ideas are self evident and many appear otherwise. You’ve set up a false standard. You can’t generalise positive effects: Because NEGATIVE effects hurt more, and are more controversial. And make no mistake, for many, AGW will be a NEGATIVE. And, as I summarised, the effects of Global Warming, as far as I see them, are resoundingly negative, so, on the balance, we have a problem.

        And yes, you can make a rule that goes only one way. If we say for science that you have to follow the scientific method, that doesn’t give Creationists the right to say that for religion, you can only analyze it using faith. That’s crazy talk.

        A localised detriment is still a detriment. And if you can see a way in which the angry people who are worse off will be placated by suggesting that there are local advantages elsewhere, and that their suffering is a necessary evil, good for you. But I don’t even see it that way. The localised advantages are far outweighed simply by the sea turning acidic, let alone the changes to weather patterns and destruction of civilised areas.

        Implying something is self evident is not an argument Nyar. I’d summarise that as “I know something which you clearly do not, so I am right and you are not.” If I disagree, then it is not self evident. Moreover, your original point is a pathetic nitpick at an intelligent post. If you seriously think that what you’ve said has added anything to the conversation, then you’re deluded. Hell, you didn’t even understand the Greenland, Antarctic, or Glacial factors (Cheap shot, I know). When things go wrong, people notice. Detriments to people are far more significant than benefits (There’s a study cited on other posts on the risk vs reward assessment to the affect that Loss hurts around twice as much as Gain is enjoyed).

      • CountryGirl says:

        “The actual temp curves EXACTLY mirror the increase in anthropogenic CO2″, except for that pesky period from the mid 40’s to the late 70’s when the temperatures went down while CO2 went up. Oh, and that other pesky period in the late 90’s to the early 2000’s when the temperature dropped while CO2 continued it’s rise.

        Ahh! The ice cores which have provided contradictory information for decades. If in fact the Medieval Warm Period was colder then today it certainly contradicts history of settlements in Iceland Grapes growing in Newfoundland, entire cities being exposed by retreating glaciers in Switzerland, etc. etc.

        “melting the ice caps destroys those regions and leads to flooding of low-lying countries”. The arctic ice cap is mostly sea ice and when it melts does not contibute to seas rising. The evidence shows seas have been MUCH higher throughout the globe numerous times in the past. So far no low lying areas are flooded in spite of the fear mongering.

        Ahhhh! The famous 98% of “scientists” who all agree. But that goes to the widespread corruption in the warmie community doesn’t it? When most scientists are shut out of the discussion and 98% of those allowed to speak on warming agree what does that mean? What are the Warmies afraid of? Truth! Real science! Losing their funding!!!

      • Beelzebud says:

        So consensus is now the same thing as corruption? You’re really reaching here… A small correction for you, too: “The Warmie Community” should read “The Scientific Community”.

        You sound like a creationist whining about the fact that evolution is supported by a vast majority of the experts.

      • CountryGirl says:

        You are unaware of the widespread corruption!! Wait a minute I think it is you who are in denial.

        Mann’s ifamous hocky stick which was an outright fraud. Even when random noise was feed into his model it created a hocky stick. And you never heard of the leaked global warming emails and correspondence that confirmed massive collusion by the so-called scientist to coverup their fraud and suppression of data?
        #

      • Miles says:

        “And you never heard of the leaked global warming emails and correspondence that confirmed massive collusion by the so-called scientist to coverup their fraud and suppression of data?”

        CountryGirl, pretty much everyone is aware of the “climate-gate” incident to which you refer. I suspect especially the people who comment on this blog are likely aware of it. I don’t think you are doing yourself any favors by suggesting those who disagree with you aren’t aware of it. ;)

        Yes, scientists have their on biases, interests, ideologies, and agendas. But so do you. So does everyone.

        Claiming that the findings are incorrect because the people involved were biased, is akin to claiming that all the evidence must be rejected because the evidence was gathered by human beings.

        The question is what evidence most closely reflects observation. Five or six years ago, I would have been with the same crowd of people saying “we don’t know yet, we need more evidence”. But the evidence really has been piling up, year after year.

        As to the other questions of how well we can predict the consequences of such warming, what we can do to change our current path, and whether or not the benefits outweigh the costs, I’m still in the “wait and see” camp. Gathering enough hard evidence to figure out whether or not AGW is real was hard enough, and I think these other questions are even harder to answer. Yes, there have been some studies done and there is “some data” out there if you want to simply jump to a conclusion. But as we all know, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, so I’ll wait for that “extraordinary evidence” before I go advocating for massive reorganizations of society and economies (e.g. “cap and trade”).

      • CountryGirl says:

        Clearly Beelzebud had not heard of the climate gate “incident” ! To you it was an “incident”, like bumping into a co-worker on the way to the water fountain or tripping on a step. But in fact it was so much more then an “incident”; it was proof of thousands of crimes against science by the Warmies. Move along, nothing to see here, just an “incident”.

      • Beelzebud says:

        Don’t claim to speak for me. I have certainly heard of “climategate”. Sorry, but I don’t take your cherry-picked readings of stolen emails as a refutation of science. Try again.

        If “climategate” was “proof of thousands of crimes against science”, then point them out.

        Something tells me you won’t be able to at all, because for you this is just a political pissing contest.

      • CountryGirl says:

        So you are in denial that there were thousands of emails admitting fraud and censorship to create the appearance of a consensus. It would also appear that you believe that if the emails were stolen it absolves all the fraud.

      • Max says:

        Clearly CountryGirl had not heard that at least six committees found no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct, or thinks they’re in on the conspiracy.

        Have British scientists sued anyone for libel yet?

    • itzac says:

      This study was specifically funded by people with a financial interest in disproving Climate Change, that is, The Koch brothers. There were a number of other financial backers as well, including Bill Gates.

      Further, every one of the scientists involved would have agreed with you this time last year. These are YOUR heroes. YOUR poster boys. If anyone in the history of the world has ever had a reason to fudge the data to support their position, it’s these guys. And yet they found the data supported the consensus view.

      If anyone can rightly be called Cimate Skeptics, it’s Richard Muller and his team. You, on the other, are a denier of the rankest sort.

      • Wrong says:

        Agreed. Anyone who can start from the position of denial, and being funded by denial, and upon analysis of the evidence, recant their original position is the epitome of scientific skepticism.

        Anyone who decides to take their information from corporate interests and political ideagogues has ignored science to listen to where the money actually is: accusing scientists of corruption when you take your information from those who’s very career is a popularity contest amongst the people, a large amount of whom are scientifically illiterate, and the Oil interests, who are making money out of selling oil.
        It’s a stupid position to take, and a stupid source. If you don’t know about the scientific consensus, don’t comment on it. If your only counter to it is “Conspiracy”, then PROVE IT. Get a degree in climate science, and prove them wrong. If you’re correct, then you’ll get a Nobel prize. But something tells me that saying “Corruption” and “Conspiracy” are easier than thinking for yourself.

      • Miles says:

        Agreed. Anyone who can start from the position of denial, and being funded by denial, and upon analysis of the evidence, recant their original position is the epitome of scientific skepticism.

        Hmmmm. It’s good that you are willing to give Muller credit for being honest. But I’m not a fan of how you substitute the word “skeptical”, with “denial”.

        The last time I checked, science depends on a rigorous amount of skepticism. It is good that some scientists are more difficult to satisfy and are willing to go put in a lot of work to try and prove another theory wrong. Being highly critical of theories and models, and doing good science to try and falsify them, is how we end up with good models and theories.

        I find it curious that you assign a negative connotation such as “denial” to Muller, as if he is simply denying some obvious fact of reality.

        Being a skeptic doesn’t just mean being skeptical of the things that you don’t like (e.g. religion, psychic powers, etc.). It means being skeptical of all beliefs equally.

        Considering yourself skeptical of faith healing but Muller “in denial” of AGW (until he is satisfied by the evidence) is unfair, and suggests to me that you are pandering to your own ideology. I’m not intending to sound hypocritical – I have biases of my own. But just like science, it is good to have people disagree with you; it’s a natural check on your own biases. ;)

      • Wrong says:

        I’m not suggesting anything of the sort, sorry if my language suggested that. What I mean is: Muller (Who I admire), started from the position of disbelieving the consensus and the science (Which I would term denying the consensus, or disbelieving [Though belief has very little to do with the large body of documented evidence]) and was funded by groups with an interest in denying the consensus, and then changed his mind upon reviewing the facts, which is the exact thing a skeptical scientist should do.

        And no, I’m not biased here. I did not at first believe Global Warming, then I was uncertain if it was anthropogenic, and then I was uncertain of the effects. The consensus and the work of the IPCC convinces me. If you can find a way to be “Skeptical” in the face of an expert consensus in a field in which you are not an expert, you are no longer being skeptical. You are in Denial. A consensus of educated persons, Experts in fact, is something that carries a lot of weight. If you have a conflicting view and some evidence, rather than just a doubt of the evidence, then go ahead.

        But accusing me of being unskeptical in this manner is both rude and, dare I say, wrong. If you disagree with the consensus amongst Climatologists about AGW, you are likely wrong. If you disagree with Biologists about Germ Theory, or Evolution, Immunologists and the FDA about Vaccines, you are likely wrong. That’s it.

        I never mentioned faith healing, that’s a pointless straw man. And yes, I believe anyone who disagrees with an expert consensus is in denial. That’s different from being a denialist or a cynic in my mind. But if your mind can be changed by logical analysis of the evidence, then you are behaving skeptically.

        Yes, you do sound Hypocritical. And especially so when you accuse me of an idealogy and bias without proof. The solutions to AGW are alarmingly socialist: I am not a fan of socialism. I don’t subscribe to any particular Ideaology, although I am sympathetic towards Libertarians, Liberals and “Greens”. And being interested in being paid well after training hard, I’m also a fan of Capitalism. There, is that my biases exposed and considered? As a minimum wage student living in an extensively mortgaged house owned by a parent who is earning barely enough to keep it, thinking that I might need to derive a way of transport like an electric car does not thrill me.

        Fuck you, there-I’m happy to have people disagree with me, as long as they have GOOD reason to. If they have no point, no evidence, relying on stupid strawmen and assumptions, then I’m not considering them a benefit to my thoughts or processes. I’m just going to consider them an idiot. And that’s how I work.

        “Being a skeptic doesn’t just mean being skeptical of the things that you don’t like (e.g. religion, psychic powers, etc.). It means being skeptical of all beliefs equally. ”
        Does not mean denying all beliefs. That’s cynicism. I do like Religion. It means I’d have an afterlife. But I’m skeptical of it because it has no basis in fact. And it’s a strawman, since I am already skeptical of these things, but most skeptics, myself included, are already skeptical of AGW-DENIERS and their motives-The Koch brothers aren’t funding this out of altruism.

        Finally, I didn’t say anything about Muller being bad in: “The last time I checked, science depends on a rigorous amount of skepticism. It is good that some scientists are more difficult to satisfy and are willing to go put in a lot of work to try and prove another theory wrong. Being highly critical of theories and models, and doing good science to try and falsify them, is how we end up with good models and theories.” He was skeptical, and he lent his weight to the consensus after analysing the facts. I’m glad he did. And it helps the scientific process. I said as much originally. Unless of course, you think that I believe that the only good theory is the popular or first one. Both Straw Men.

        In the end, accusing someone of bias and unscientific nature after misunderstanding their language just speaks to the low nature of your intellect, and not mine.

      • Canman says:

        By “these guys”, do you include Bill Gates? He seems to be very concerned about climate change and trying to advance nuclear technology. He’s skeptical about the economics of solar. I say good for him!

      • CountryGirl says:

        Ahh! Those Koch brothers, the bastards! And Bill Gates (who’s only crime seems to be that he was more successful then Apple and thus earned the hatred of the ever tolerant left).

        A “denier of the rankest sort” or a skeptic??? I guess it depends on your biases.

    • Max says:

      Speaking of corruption, when the Perry administration was accused of censoring a report on the coastal environment, they defended their decision by saying the report contained “information… that we disagree with” and the chapter on the impacts of rising sea levels was “inconsistent with current Agency policy.”
      http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/10/scientists_confront_perry_admi.html

      Commission spokesman Andy Saenz denied the claims of scientific censorship, saying, “Why would we include things we don’t agree with? That’s ridiculous. We were looking at not including very controversial things that are unsettled science. Using a word like censorship is very powerful. It isn’t censorship to accurately report in our document what we believe. That’s being responsible. That’s being accurate.”
      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/20/us-climate-change-texas-idUSTRE79J0DW20111020

      • Wrong says:

        That’s very… unsettling. I’m concerned that censorship occurs in the name of beliefs and preconcieved policy and conceptions. What happened to that thing in peer review?

  3. peter says:

    “Given the widespread corruption in the Warming community and their close connection with massive amounts of money subsidizing their position I am not sure anything these “experts” produce can be trusted.”

    If you try to defend a position that in light of the data has become untenable, at least try some more original arguments than the by now over and over disproved arguments of any conspiracy by scientists convinced by the facts.
    This mantra is similar and on the same level as any of the conspiracy theories relating to 9/11 and the antivaxxer groups. It is a continuum of idiocy.

    • CountryGirl says:

      An “original arguement” may indeed please you but I am perfectly happy with the correct arguement that makes you very uncomfortable. How you can continue to support those people once their lies and deceit were exposed I cannot understand. Your position is “on the same level as any of the conspiracy theories relating to 9/11 and the antivaxxer groups. It is a continuum of idiocy.”

    • Somite says:

      And the problem is that it is not just Countrygirl. High ranking GOP policymakers share her view on AGW and the EPA.

      • CountryGirl says:

        Don’t I wish! The high rankiong GOP and DEMs have proven to be completely incompetent. They are all complicit in destroying the U.S. and plunging us into a great depression.

    • CountryGirl says:

      Oh! You must be kidding!!! The EPA! You cite the EPA and their actions as proof of anything other then that they have been taken over by left wing Marxist/socialist!! You really have stepped into it. The EPA’s agenda today is to destroy the economy of the U.S. NOT to save anything.

      • Somite says:

        Do you have any evidence for this? Any concrete example will do.

      • tmac57 says:

        This make about the 3rd time that you have made this bald assertion CG.It is time to put up or shut up.Where is your evidence?

      • Beelzebud says:

        Marxist/socialist? The EPA’s agenda is to “destroy the economy of the U.S.”?

        It’s amazing that we live in “the information age” and have people this ignorant. The only thing to be “stepped in” in this little exchange was the sewer of bullshit that you just spewed out.

      • You Americans wouldn’t recogniser a socialist if one bit you in the bum :-). We’re sceptics – we go with the science. Or are you convinced that all those biologists are accepting/investigating evolution because of fiscal corruption. :-)

      • Miles says:

        “You Americans wouldn’t recogniser a socialist if one bit you in the bum.”

        To generalize all Americans as having the same amount of knowledge because they live within the same political borders is not an attitude befitting a skeptic. I doubt you would assume that Brian Dunning for example, knows nothing about socialism because he is American.

        CountryGirl may or may not know anything about socialism or Marxism, but whether or not she is American has nothing to do with it.

      • Beelzebud says:

        Oh hey look, links to political blogs. That settles it, folks.

      • tmac57 says:

        If that’s the kind of tripe that you regularly use to keep ‘informed’ then it’s now wonder you spew out the steady stream of demagoguery that you do.

      • Considering some of the people who are called socialist on your political sites – like Obama… Plus I was exaggerating for effect. Don’t sceptics have a sense of humour.

      • Miles says:

        @Guerilla surgeon:

        Nice try, but I don’t buy it. Your defense isn’t even consistent.

        First you suggest that you had a valid reason to generalize all Americans by saying:

        “Considering some of the people who are called socialist on your political sites – like Obama…”

        As if the fact that “some” people say certain things, it’s okay to generalize.

        Then you suggest that you didn’t really mean what you were saying and that it was just an innocent attempt at humor:

        “Plus I was exaggerating for effect. Don’t sceptics have a sense of humour.”

        Well, which one is it? I don’t buy either explanation. You were caught making a prejudiced argument, and now you are trying to downplay it. I’m not claiming that you are some kind of “evil” person that hates America or anything just because you got a bit carried away, but a simple apology couldn’t hurt either. ;)

      • CountryGirl says:

        As expected the sources I provided were not quite “pure” enough for you. But of course I knew that is what you would say because that is all you have. To quote another poster above (Miles) “Claiming that the findings are incorrect because the people involved were biased, is akin to claiming that all the evidence must be rejected because the evidence was gathered by human beings.”

      • Beelzebud says:

        Your sources are rejected because they are simply blogs with information distorted and regurgitated from other sources that aren’t credited. If you put more stock in the words printed on random blogs, over the entire field of climatology, then I’m not sure what to tell you.

      • Miles says:

        Your sources are rejected because they are simply blogs with information distorted and regurgitated from other sources that aren’t credited.

        I have a different perspective. This is a case of probability and time management, not whether blogs are qualified to discuss valid evidence.

        We don’t appeal to authorities or consensus groups simply because they are inherently correct. We do so because none of us have the time or motivation to evaluate every claim everywhere using empirical reasoning. We all have to take shortcuts. So we simply say things like “a majority of the experts believe x” and just go with it, because it is impossible to seriously evaluate every claim.

        Experts and majorities are subject to biases, ideology and group think, just like every human being. But we are making a statement of probability that those factors are or are not significantly affecting the outcome.

        At this stage, you both are just talking past each other: “My source is valid and yours is not because it’s ideological.” “No, YOUR source is invalid because it is ideological, not mine! My source has more experts!”

        If you want to have a more interesting debate, I suggest asking each other to describe what kind of evidence you would accept as making a valid criticism of your own positions.

        CG, what evidence would you find personally convincing that the case for AGW is strong, despite the obvious biases made public of the IPCC?

        Everyone else, what kind of evidence would you find compelling enough to question the accuracy of AGW claims?

        That is a much more interesting conversation than “You’re biased!” “No, YOU’RE biased!”

        If that question isn’t very interesting to you, then I don’t see the point of having a debate in the first place, unless you are entertained by arguing. If that is the case, I apologize for wasting your time with this comment. ;)

      • Beelzebud says:

        Well Miles this is fairly simple for me. I’m not a climatologist. So the best information I can get about the climate is from the experts.

        Every serious study done by experts has validated the data, including the Berkeley group.

        I’ll take their information over the non-sourced information on a wordpress blog.

        When a climatologist expresses doubts based on evidence, I’ll listen, but so far the only scientists I see still openly denying the facts aren’t even in the field. Frankly I don’t care what a few theoretical physicists, engineers, and economists think about climate science. They aren’t the experts.

        I often wonder what the reaction would be in the field of string theory, if a climatologist declared the entire field a “hoax”.

      • Miles says:

        Beelzebud, I pretty much agree with all of that. It’s good that you would be willing to listen to another climatologist with a dissenting opinion. We’ll see if CountryGirl produces the goods.

        As a side note, when you said:

        “I don’t care what a few theoretical physicists, engineers, and economists think about climate science. They aren’t the experts.”

        I just want to be clear that we are specifically talking about AGW and that you aren’t applying this rule of thumb to every climate-related question.

        For example, the likely effects of instituting various government policies to affect greenhouse gas production is very much a question that is within the realm of expertise of the economist. I hope you would agree with that.

      • Beelzebud says:

        Miles, I’m fine with letting the economists have their say about economics, but their opinion about the validity of the research is meaningless, because they aren’t climatologists. Their place is not to declare science right or wrong.

      • Miles says:

        “Miles, I’m fine with letting the economists have their say about economics, but their opinion about the validity of the research is meaningless, because they aren’t climatologists. Their place is not to declare science right or wrong.”

        I have such a hard time supporting or not supporting this. An “opinion about the value of research” is not “meaningless”. An opinion, no matter who is making it, has value based on the opinion itself and who is listening to the opinion.

        I’m trying not to seem like I’m being too nit-picky about semantics, but subtly different views can make huge differences.

        Science is a process, not a country club. The validity of scientific research is not determined by who is in the club and who isn’t. It’s determined by how well the process was performed. Yes, being a climatologist does make it more likely that you are better at process than those who aren’t. Yes, that does count for something. But it doesn’t mean that anyone who isn’t part of the club is inherently incapable of following the process.

        The history of science has several examples of individual people making valid scientific discoveries that are outside their normal field of study. Those discoveries aren’t any less valid than the others.

        Again, I agree with your that the “experts” can be given more consideration that “non-experts” when there is a dispute. I’m not arguing that. But to suggest that non-experts and simply not allowed to participate in the process of science, is inherently an anti-science attitude.

      • CountryGirl says:

        Clearly we are in another of the many naturally occurring global warming cycles. It began on schedule as predicted, i.e. when the last global cooling ended, and it began before any significant CO2 was generated by humans (about 1850). There is a theory that was postulated that perhaps this current global warming was caused in some part by human activity. So far just a theory with no proof. However that is where science took a sharp left hand turn. For scientists there are millions of dollars at stake, grants, salaries, more prestigious positions if somehow this global warming theory can elevated to a higher level then simply a theory. Politicians and special interests all over the globe have benefited from this theory and if they can by hook or by crook make enough people buy into it they can become rich, enjoy far greater power and take over governments and entire continents. This opportunity may never come again, well at least not in their lifetime so they intend to ride this horse into the ground. With the vast array of power hungry pigs feeding at the trough of AGW they will do what it takes to make it so and science be damned. In my opinion the burden of proof is on those who support this theory and not on those who do not. This isn’t just a run of the mill claim this is the big Kahuna of wild ass claims and it requires BIG PROOF. But what have they given us?? They stack other lesser theories on top of each other and insist they are proof. The censor all opposing views and discredit and even fire scientists who fail to toe the line. They conspire to hide information that does not support their claims and have succeeded in making Pope Urban VIII look incredibly fair in his treatment of Galileo. In fact I don’t think the AGW community can be rehabilitated and they must all be discarded and we should begin again with new people, new research and find some actual proof. I also think that in the future any collusion by the UN, politicians and business will (and should) make all results null and void.

      • Beelzebud says:

        CountryGirl, ‘Round these parts, we call that there a conspiracy theory! A really simple minded one at that.

      • CountryGirl says:

        What I stated were the indisputable facts. If they add up to a conspiracy theory in your opinion then so be it.

      • tmac57 says:

        “In fact I don’t think the AGW community can be rehabilitated and they must all be discarded (sounds ominously threatening)and we should begin again with new people (be sure and dispose of the bodies throughly), new research and find some actual proof. ”
        Right,and if they came to the exact same conclusion,you and the other deniers would be howling that “their science is flawed”,and that they apparently ‘drank the Koolaid’ cause we didn’t get the results we wanted.
        When you start from the position that you can’t possible be wrong,then there is no where to go.Muller and BEST team at least ENTERTAINED the notion that they could be wrong,and found out that indeed they were.Deal with it!

      • Miles, not only no sense of humour, but po-faced as well. You’re making a bit much out of a throwaway remark, so no apology, no retreat, no surrender :-). Lighten up.

  4. BillG says:

    Steven, as the data solidifies on AGW, any remains of authentic skepticism lies in what – if any – can be done?

    As you know and not unlike medicine, it’s risk vs benefit – short of purging the majority of the population, any current data on a panacea is weak.

    • Somite says:

      Not so in this case. The uncertainty is so high that risk should be assumed to be high. The things that can be done, like alternative energy and conservation would only benefit society and create jobs. It would be no more costly than the current fossil fuel system; only that it would be a different and larger group of people that will financially benefit from it.

      • CountryGirl says:

        What alternative energy? There is no viable “alternative energy”. It has all been a series of frauds who’s only purpose has been to extract enormous sums of money from American taxpayers. There is no alternative that shows any promise. There are a 100 little things that can be fairly useful on an individual basis but on a commercial scale it is all 100% BS. Go ahead, take the challenge and name the alternative energy that shows any promise of replacing the cheap energy from fossil fuels, hydro and nuclear.

      • Beelzebud says:

        That’s what scientific research is for. Only an uninformed blowhard expects the answers to be simple and easily solved.

      • CountryGirl says:

        We have been researching and subsidizing PV for well over 50 years and the promised breakthrough in cost or efficiency has simply not materialized. I assume you believe is we just put another half a trillion into it the laws of physics will really change this time.

      • tmac57 says:

        From Wikipedia:
        “Solar cells and energy payback

        The energy payback time, defined as the recovery time required for generating the energy spent for manufacturing a modern photovoltaic module is typically from 1 to 4 years[9][10] depending on the module type and location. Generally, thin-film technologies – despite having comparatively low conversion efficiencies – achieve significantly shorter energy payback times than conventional systems (often < 1 year).[11] With a typical lifetime of 20 to 30 years, this means that modern solar cells are net energy producers, i.e. they generate significantly more energy over their lifetime than the energy expended in producing them.[9][12][13]

        Crystalline silicon devices are approaching the theoretical limiting efficiency of 29%[14] and achieve an energy payback period of 1–2 years.[9][15]"

        and there has been steady progress over the last 35 to 40 years:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PVeff%28rev110901%29.jpg

      • CountryGirl says:

        Oh please! Payback in 1-4 years. I thought scientists were competent in math. This isn’t a difficult problem. Calculate the true costs, factor in the cost of money (for you scientists that means interest paid on the loan to buy the system), calculate the cost/value of the energy produced, exclude all subsidies and mandates (unless you like living a lie) and compute. The simple fact is at today’s cost for a PV system placed in the most optimal location in the world when compared with energy produced by hydro or fossil fuel the payback period is NEVER. The system NEVER pays for itself. Not even close and certainly not 1-4 years.

      • tmac57 says:

        More unsubstantiated assertions from CG.Just keep repeating the lies,some people will always accept them,and some of us prefer evidence.

      • Miles says:

        “..some of us prefer evidence…”

        Ahhhhhh, evidence. The best friend of the rational mind. The golden ticket of the modern intellectual. After all, where would science be without evidence? The value of evidence is undeniable. The power of evidence is absolutely bewitching. Yet for all the inescapable good that evidence has done for mankind, it does have one unfortunate flaw: sometimes it’s wrong.

      • tmac57 says:

        “sometimes it’s wrong.”
        That’s right,but when you don’t ‘show your work’ how can anyone be expected to believe that there is any basis for what you are asserting.In other words “Why should I just take their word for it”.

      • Miles says:

        “That’s right,but when you don’t ‘show your work’ how can anyone be expected to believe that there is any basis for what you are asserting.In other words “Why should I just take their word for it”.

        Oh I agree with you 100%. I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise. I share your perspective that CountryGirl isn’t doing a very good job building a persuasive argument. I have the same criticism of most of her opponents though.

        If there is one thing that I’m good at bringing to a discussion, it is that data can be very tricky. Sometimes it is illuminating, sometimes data is meaningless. Sometimes it can help you build a reliable model of reality. Other times it can outright lie to you.

        Using science as a tool to build accurate models of reality is a great deal more difficult than I think many scientists often fail to appreciate, let alone many of the participants here. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with looking at data through red-shifted optics and drawing your own conclusion from it; such subjective interpretations of the facts of reality are necessarily for basic survival. I do object to the use of coercion on such grounds as “I have data!”.

        F.A. Hayek made a distinction between “science” and what he called “scientism”. It can be quite challenging for even the gifted of mind to distinguish between the two.

      • tmac57 says:

        I already pay a competitive price for 100% wind energy in my state (Texas). So inroads are already being made.Solar energy has grown worldwide at 40% per year for the last decade,and innovation is proceeding at a very fast pace in a wide variety of promising other technologies.
        No, it won’t happen over night,but it is, and will happen.Will it be enough,and will it be done in time? That question remains to be answered.

      • CountryGirl says:

        You may think you pay a competitive price for windpower but in fact the taxpayers pay more then half of the cost in dierect and indirect subsidies. Also since wind is so undependable to the extent wind provides electricity there must be a fossil fuel fired generator kept on-line at all times just in case the wind does not blow hard enough. Wind power is impractical on a commercial scale.

      • tmac57 says:

        Fossil fuels also receive subsidies:

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-29/fossil-fuel-subsidies-are-12-times-support-for-renewables-study-shows.html

        “One of the reasons the clean energy sector is starved of funding is because mainstream investors worry that renewable energy only works with direct government support,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance. “This analysis shows that the global direct subsidy for fossil fuels is around ten times the subsidy for renewables.”

        On a per unit basis, alternatives may be being subsidized at a higher rate,but that doesn’t take into account the environmental and health costs associated with petroleum and coal (especially coal) use.Add to that the potential unknown costs associated to rising CO2 levels,and alternative energy looks like a bargain in the long run.
        And I fully understand the need for a base energy production to maintain power throughout low solar or wind periods (although these two tend to be opposite each other). But, for every megawatt that these alternatives produce,that is one less megawatt that is produced by CO2 and air polluting sources.

      • Somite says:

        Everything you need to know about subsidies in one graph. In brief, a lot more money has gone into oil than into renewables.

      • CountryGirl says:

        In a parallel universe we can call a tax deduction a subsidy on the same par with an outright gift of money to alternative energy companies and customers. Do you even know what a subsidy is??? I am skeptical…

      • CountryGirl says:

        No one seems capable of identifying a viable alternative energy. Viable being defined first of all as not needing a subsidy to make it mariginaly affordable and it would be nice if it at least provided more energy in it’s useable life cycle then it took to manufacture it. This excludes PV and commercial wind power.

    • Wrong says:

      Even so, the use of some fossil fuels, primarily oil, is untenable, the price is increasing, and the useable quantities are being depleted. I hope that the point where alternatives become more viable than continuing on the current use of oil occurs sooner rather than later…

      • Canman says:

        The problem with oil and other fossil fuels is that they are not running out anytime soon. Dr. Muller points out in his book, “Science for Future Presidents”, that if the price of oil gets high enough, it becomes economical to make it from coal, like the Germans did in WW2. If the US wants to cut it’s use, Peter Huber points out that the rest of the world will be delighted to buy it at a lower price.

      • Wrong says:

        True. Supplies such as Coal does have a large source. Thanks for the info on the Coal Cracking, I didn’t know about that before.
        And that is likely to be more viable sooner. Well, I guess that hope of mine is dead. Time to hope for future planning and prudent decisions…. Yeah, I’m hoping that’s a lot more likely than it sounds.

      • Canman says:

        I tend to take a cornucopian veiw. I think the prospects look pretty good for bio and nano technology. I hope the Luddites don’t squash them. While i’m skeptical of planning, I think geoenineering

      • Canman says:

        COMMENT FAIL **

        While I’m skeptical of planning, I think geoengineering should be discussed and not just as an emergency measure.

    • tmac57 says:

      A panacea would be the wrong approach in any case.A diversified approach using wind,solar,hydrothermal,hydro,nuclear,bio-mass,etc.etc. including things that haven’t even been dreamed of yet,would give us a more sustainable and diversified system,that would be less vulnerable to the capricious market and political forces that currently plague us.Putting all of your eggs into one or two baskets,sets you up for problem in the future.

  5. Troy Jordan says:

    I find it ironic that a skeptic blog with which I agree on virtually every other claim not supported by convincing evidence so easily buys into the AGW hypothesis, especially the “A” aspect. Its proponents, as illustrated in the comments in this blog, are frequently arrogantly dismissive of differing opinions suggesting that the science is not so settled as they believe. This attitude does not engender respect for their point of view. There are numerous peer-reviewed papers by well respected scientists who cast doubt on the so-called consensus. One of those is Professor Pielke. Here is one of his current blog posts. If you are open minded you will find it interesting.
    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/candid-comments-from-global-warming-climate-scientists/

    • Somite says:

      All it takes is to chose your sources wisely. In all subjects it is better to refer to primary literature for data and the best interpretation. If your best source is an ideological blog with an agenda likely your opinion won’t match reality, like in this case.

      • Troy Jordan says:

        Thank you for making my point. You either did not read Pielke’s comments or chose not to respond to them. Rather, you resort to the sophomoric tactic of calling a noted climate scientist an “idealogue”. This is how you and many others choose to deal with those who do not agree with the “consensus”.

    • tmac57 says:

      From Pielke’s blog:

      Main Conclusions:

      “Humans are significantly altering the global climate, but in a variety of diverse ways beyond the radiative effect of carbon dioxide. The IPCC assessments have been too conservative in recognizing the importance of these human climate forcings as they alter regional and global climate. These assessments have also not communicated the inability of the models to accurately forecast the spread of possibilities of future climate. The forecasts, therefore, do not provide any skill in quantifying the impact of different mitigation strategies on the actual climate response
      that would occur.”

      At least he doesn’t deny that humans are causing climate changes,including our contribution via CO2 release.The deniers repeatedly say that climate change is all due to natural cycles,and that there is no way that humans are having any effect.

      • Troy Jordan says:

        Your comments are completely irrelevant to the post. Did you read his comments? If not, please do so that you can respond to it.

      • Wrong says:

        Wait, what? How is that less dismissive? He just read your source, and commented on it. That’s pretty relevant.

        And, as he pointed out, Pielke rejects the term “Climate Skeptic”, as he believes that the effects on our atmosphere are undoubtedly human caused, but believes that the issue is more complex than simply greenhouse emmissions, particularly CO2.
        Which is something tmac57 pointed out. Are you now saying out of hand that his comment is completely irrelevant? Because that’s a far more unsupported assertion than those you decried in your original post. I enjoyed reading the work of Pielke there, it was interesting, nuanced and clever. And even though he did not agree with the mechanism of AGW, he still believes that it is 1) happening and 2) anthropogenic.

      • Mark says:

        This may turn out to be the real situation (ie Pielke’s view) – perhaps it is the economists and (some) politicians who have been keen to grab onto the very convenient carbon dioxide theories.

      • tmac57 says:

        Most climate scientists believe that CO2 is responsible for the warming during the last century.Pielke seems to accept the role of CO2 and that humans are adding to it,but thinks that climate scientists have not accounted for all of the climate forcings that are playing a role.
        Now given that,what does that have to do with economists or politicians? You seem to be grasping for some boogey man that is skewing climate science for some nefarious purposes.Climate scientists can be right,wrong,or somewhere in between,depending upon the data that they are using,and how they interpret it.That is what the debate should be about,and this political nonsense and conspiracy mongering that has taken place around this issue,has been an obstruction to getting to the bottom of what should be a question of science,and not what a bunch of partisan politicians,economists or blowhard pundits thinks.

      • Mark says:

        No bogey-men, and I can’t imagine a conspiracy associated with this. It’s just that I think there is perhaps a ‘whole new economy’ which can be based on this carbon trading, and bankers, politicians and economists can all see some personal benefits there.

        Of course, I could be entirely wrong, they may have changed their spots and be pursuing this purely for the good of all humanity.

      • tmac57 says:

        Let’s be clear Mark.There is a branch of science concerned with climate.
        1.Are you questioning their results based off of their ideology?
        2.Do you think that they are representing what they honestly believe to be the objective facts?

        What economists,politicians and pundits say about what to do about climate change,has nothing what-so-ever to do with the objective question of if it is happening,and what the causes are.
        You are contributing to muddying the waters of the scientific question,and that is a damaging distraction,because it unduly influences non-scientists into camps of people based on their biases,and fails to give them a chance to evaluate the question based on the merits of the science alone.

      • Mark says:

        Tmac, I must respectfully disagree with your stance here: Economists and politicians CAN unduly affect the direction science takes. It would be naive to think otherwise.

        Rare is the scientist who (today) can just go out and research his favourite topic. He must, at some stage, seek funding. This funding is rarely long-term, so he needs to pursue issues which will continue to attract funding (or employment, as the case may be).

        This is in no way meant to reflect negatively on the integrity of those scientists, it is natural and normal to pursue research in this way.

        But CO2 just seems (to me) to be a too convenient and simple marker to measure and tax, so in my suspicious mind I worry that the science gets skewed towards a ‘wanted’ result.

        It worries me that some scientists strongly question the ‘mainstream view’, but must we dismiss their statements because they are not ‘climate scientists’? That is a trade which is really in its infancy; perhaps they should not at this stage so readily dismiss the questions and criticisms of ‘outsiders’.

        Is the topic deemed ‘non-debatable’? Should we simply accept that the climate scientists are pure and flawless scientists, motivated only by a desire to save the planet, whilst the critics are but base, evil schemers?

        Opinions on motivation must inevitably come into play here.

        So, in answer to your questions (if I correctly interpret the first):
        1. Yes
        2. Yes

      • tmac57 says:

        Mark,so if I understand your position,it is entirely possible that conservative and Libertarian politicians are likely to be affecting some of the research and funding of climate scientists.Is that a fair statement?

      • tmac57 says:

        addendum-I meant to say conservative and Libertarian economists and politicians.

      • Somite says:

        Contrarian scientists are dismissed when they don’t produce any data or publications. There is no peer reviewed paper that substantially challenges the notion that there is warming and it is caused by anthropogenic gases.

      • Mark says:

        “…it is entirely possible that conservative and Libertarian economists and politicians are likely to be affecting some of the research and funding of climate scientists…..”

        Tmac – quite possible, and in some cases, very likely.

        Very few people are completely immune to external influence, and more so on either side of this particular debate.

        I may be interpreting statements wrongly, but it is an oft implicated concept that our “mainstream” climate scientitst would not be in any way influenced by the external politics and economics in play here.

      • tmac57 says:

        Mark,you said:”It’s just that I think there is perhaps a ‘whole new economy’ which can be based on this carbon trading, and bankers, politicians and economists can all see some personal benefits there. ”
        This raises a question in my mind.How do you think the bankers,politicians and economists that benefit from the ‘old economy’ (think fossil fuels) are benefiting from not accepting AGW?
        You seem to consistently skew toward the stance that most of the undue bias and influence money in this debate is coming from the AGW community.
        That neither passes the ‘smell test’ nor the observed facts of where the money trail is leading behind the most organized and vocal of the AGW skeptical groups.
        Do a little research if you are truly interested in getting to the bottom of this question,and I think that you will find that the people behind most of the AGW doubting,are self-interested players that couldn’t care less what the objective science has to say.

      • Mark says:

        Tmac, I don’t doubt for moment that there are a (perhaps significant) number of the AGW doubters who are influenced by self interest, or monetary connections to ‘old economy’ (fossil fuels) companies.

        But, likewise, proponents of CO2 driven AGW are also operating under various influences.

        So I’m not touting any conspiracy theories, just explaining my difficulties in accepting as fact statements, theories and models.

        That is not a criticism of those statements and theories, but more an insight into my own thought processes.

        Friends of mine (who I consider intelligent and clear thinking) think I’m weird for not simply accepting the majority viewpoint, but I find I am far more widely read on this topic than they are. They have simply chosen to accept the statements of ‘experts’ and this approach in this instance at least doesn’t sit well with me.

        And I have a few other friends (including a physicist and some engineers) who don’t accept the mainstream AGW theories and who, like me, seem to furiously read up on the topic.

        In my case, in the future there may be perhaps some sort of a mental ‘tripping point’ involved, where I see enough to accept the theories, but until then CO2 driven AGW is only up there in my mind by a ‘process of elimination’ …. “Something is warming the planet, so what can it be?”

        An essay on historical research (covering theories, counter theories, studies over the years) such as the one on “Changing Sun, Changing Climate” http://www.aip.org/history/climate/solar.htm is extremely valuable in showing how theories have been thoroughly examined over time. (I like essays and books like this, there should be more of them!)

        You may be pleased to see that the conclusion reached in the essay was that greenhouse gases are recently overwhelming/outweighing the solar effects.

      • tmac57 says:

        I did read the ENTIRE piece,and I did find it interesting (thanks),but I am not a climate scientist,and am not qualified to judge what he said,and he said a lot.So instead of going through each comment and trying to find a another reliable source to compare with and evaluate,I thought that it would be helpful to see what his overall assessment of the climate science was,and that’s why I posted the Main Conclusions off of his blog.It seems sort of odd that that would irritate you,considering that it was your idea for me to investigate Piele’s blog to educate myself.

      • tmac57 says:

        I did stumble across this blog piece about Dr. Pielke while looking for something else today:

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/pielke-sr-sks-dialogue-final-summary.html

        There are multiple links to additional articles concerning Dr. Pielke’s views as well.

        P.S. “If you are open minded you will find it interesting.” ;)

      • Mark says:

        Thanks Tmac,

        Re: http://www.skepticalscience.com/pielke-sr-sks-dialogue-final-summary.html

        An excellent article, very well argued. I very much like the measured tone and systematic debate on that page. I will certainly spend more time there.

        I’ll also point out the charts at #15 from Rob Painting apparently disprove my comment below (#7) that Trenberth had simply assumed and modelled deep ocean warming.

        Heating of the oceans is a far more significant matter in my mind – water absorbs energy at a wide range of wavelengths, is capable of storing vast amounts of energy with minimal temperature rise (ie a thermal capacity of 75.33 joules/mole/per degrees kelvin vs CO2 at 39.64). (and there is a lot of it!)

      • Mark says:

        Heating of the oceans is a far more significant matter in my mind – water absorbs energy at a wide range of wavelengths, is capable of storing vast amounts of energy with minimal temperature rise (ie a thermal capacity of 75.33 joules/mole/per degrees kelvin vs CO2 at 39.64).

        But, I still have a little trouble imagining atmospheric CO2 driving GW, given the respective volumes of the two substances on the planet

        1,338,000,000 x 10^9 tonnes of water vs a total 42,748 x 10^9 tonnes of CO2 ,
        (0.0032% by weight!!)

        And only 775 x 10^9 tonnes (1.8%) of the CO2 is atmospheric).

      • Mark says:

        For the sake of completeness:
        There is on average (widely fuctuating) a total of 12,900 x 10^9 tonnes of water vapour in the earth’s atmosphere compared with 775 x 10^9 tonnes of CO2.

      • Somite says:

        Of course this doesn’t take into account that the forcing of each could be different and that they are additive. No matter how much water vapor there is adding CO2 will make it worse.

      • tmac57 says:

        It’s also hard to imagine 600 to 860 milligrams of matter being converted to the energy equivalent of 13 to 18 thousand tons of TNT,but yet it was.
        Also hard to imagine the path of a 50 caliber bullet being affected by a mere breeze of air,but it happens.

      • tmac57 says:

        Concerning water vapor,it is easily exchanged in the water cycle,making it a volatile forcing,but CO2 persists for very long periods of time in the atmosphere.Once it’s there,it is very difficult to remove it,so every day that we add more,the more watts per meter are being added above and beyond what was there the day before.

      • Mark says:

        My thinking – a lot of that shorter wave energy from the sun is reaching the oceans (covering 71% of the earth’s surface). As it penetrates, at some stage this energy is absorbed and then, at some later stage, re-emitted at a longer wavelength.

        It seems to me a lot more of this re-emitted energy will be trapped in that water, which absorbs over a much wider range of wavelengths, and is more prevalent by a factor of 1,726,451 times, than will be trapped in that small quantity of atmospheric CO2.

        And then, there are the complicating effects of clouds: more water vapour in the atmosphere will = more clouds(?). From Allan, Meteorol. Appl. 18: 324–333 (2011) “Consistent with previous results (Ramanathan et al., 1989; Su et al., 2010), the cloud radiative cooling effect through reflection of short wave radiation is found to dominate over the long wave heating effect, resulting in a net cooling of the climate system of −21 Wm−2.”

      • Somite says:

        Is there a point to listing unverified possible complicating factors? Temperature can be readily measured directly.

      • Mark says:

        There is little doubt that the temperature has in fact risen over recent decades (the levelling out of the last decade aside).

        I guess I am seeking (hopelessly perhaps) to understand whether the global temperature is going to keep increasing in the future.

        I guess that is the real issue under discussion.

      • CountryGirl says:

        Temperatures will continue to increase in this current global warming cycle until the next global cooling cycle begins. This may have already happened (the recent 10 years of cooling) it may happen in a decade or two or maybe by the end of the century. But just as we did not and could not create or prevent this global warming we will be unable to have any effect on the global cooling either.

      • Max says:

        What recent 10 years of cooling? 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record.
        http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2010-warmest-year.html

        There’s a graph on that page.

      • Mark says:

        Hi Countrygirl,

        Thanks for your summary. It would be nice if everything was really so clear-cut and it was just a matter of making the statements.

        But what do you think drives these changes? Solar fluctuations?

        In pursuit of information I found a great essay on “Changing Sun, Changing Climate” which nicely covers the recent history of the study of solar fluctuations.

        http://www.aip.org/history/climate/solar.htm

        Though note that the conclusion in the essay there is that greenhouse gases are recently overwhelming/outweighing the solar effects.

    • Max says:

      Looks like the same trick Creationists pull when they point to a debate among biologists about some details of evolution like punctuated equilibrium, and conclude that because scientists don’t fully understand or agree on everything, they must not understand or agree on anything.

  6. Mark says:

    Beelzebub, Miles,

    I’m surprised that economists are considered in your team selection line-up but physicists are out.

    This is primarily a matter of physics.

    My issues arise from the fact I’ve had a bit to do with heating and drying systems, and dealing with the thermal capacity of water, and quantities of materials. I don’t know enough about it (I’m no physicist) but the relative quantities of matter involved, plus the particular spectrums of absorption of those molecules, worry me greatly.

    My main worry is that CO2 may be only a “marker” and the issue is far more complicated. If this is the case, abatement programs may still (accidently) be the correct response, but sequestration programs will not help.

    The climate scientists relying heavily on their models, which are presumably accurate enough on the physics side, but, models necessarily make a lot of assumptions, and are usually endlessly rubbery. I have also had a lot of dealing with manufacturing and economic models, and found the main purpose of model was usually to find out which variables had to be changed to get the desired result.

    A fine example of that was given recently when Trenberth “proved” the missing heat was hiding in the deepest parts of the ocean (in spite of there being no record of it’s actually getting down there). This would appear to be simply a case of finding the hiding place (the only possible only hiding place, where the hell else could it be?), then accounting for that in the model.

    • Wrong says:

      True, it’s a matter of physics. Applied physics. You don’t get a theoretical physcicist to design a house, you get an architect and an engineer. They’re the ones qualified in the specifics. Same with Climate change. Since in the end, it’s all a matter of mathematics, you could be mistaken for thinking mathemeticians are the answer, since mathematics defines the physics, but the mathemetician knows even less about the specifics. You need an expert in the specific field. A related one is not good enough. The model stuff was what was analyzed by the Berkley study. Presumably they concurred.
      I’m interested in this Trenberth stuff, and will have to look it up. Thanks for that info.

      • Mark says:

        Fair enough, but I still think in this case, perhaps the opinions of physicists should carry a little more weight those of economists.

    • Wrong says:

      The Daily Mail isn’t exactly a respected source. It seems like an article by the rag in an attempt to upstage respected outlets like the Guardian the the Independant. It isn’t even properly proofread, at the end, they mistake Curry for Muller and switch the pronouns. Somehow, I’d prefer the whole thing in Curry’s terms, not theirs, which seem far to interested in paraphasing. Also, there have been cases before when looking at such data, and localising it to specific sections, such as a decade, where other factors have changed the outcome, such as Solar Cycles (Some cycles are hotter than others etc). I’d be interested how this turns out.

    • tmac57 says:

      What ever Curry said to the reporter for the Daily Mail,we will never know for sure,but this is what she is saying on her blog now:
      http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/30/mail-on-best/

      I won’t include any quotes so as not to be accused of cherry picking,but while it is apparent that she is still skeptical of AGW,she seems to be taking more of a wait and see attitude on the BEST paper.And that would be the reasonable thing to do,if you are coming from that viewpoint.So,just ignore the Daily Mail piece,and take her at her own word I guess.

      • Wrong says:

        Thanks. It’s much better to read someone’s actual opinion rather than a pathetic attempt at controversy by a tabloid.

  7. Phea says:

    There is a book called, “World On The Edge” by Lester R. Brown, that is available as a free PDF download. It explains AGW along with a number of other problems very well. I’m a bit skeptical about his proposed solutions being workable, or even possible, but he lays out the problems we face in an easy to understand format.

    http://www.earth-policy.org/books/wote

  8. Markx says:

    Interesting paper here by Takuro Kobashi et al

    http://www.leif.org/EOS/2011GL049444.pdf

    High variability of Greenland surface temperature over the past 4000 years estimated from trapped air in an ice core.

    I can’t comment on the methodology, but if correct the three charts in Figure 1 are very interesting.

    The first is for a period of the previous 170 years, and looks disastrous in terms of a warming planet.

    The second goes back 1000 years, past the medieval warm period, and is enough to raise an eyebrow.

    The third goes back 4000 years, and makes it appear we are just getting back to normal.

    Certainly worth a look.

  9. Phea says:

    The debate regarding AGW reminds me of an old “blonde” joke…
    1st blonds “Those are deer tracks.”
    2nd blonde, “No, those are elk tracks.”
    Then the train hit them…..

  10. Markx says:

    Not sure about the blonde joke Phea, apparently BOTH were wrong.
    With AGW, for sure, SOMEONE’S gotta be right!

  11. Phea says:

    You’re right Markx, I guess the question is: Does it matter?
    Perhaps the joke should be:
    “That’s a steam locomotive”.
    “No, that’s a diesel-electric”.
    Then the train hit ‘em…

    • Markx says:

      To take the analogy a little further – perhaps if they’d correctly read the schedule (and this is why records are important, but must be correctly interpreted to be useful) there never was going to be a train crash, if they stood to one side and the train was right on schedule.

      (This in relation to the Greenland data, instead of a disastrous crash, this uptick may be part of normal scheduling, (see the third chart)).

      Many of my friends counter with that approach “It doesn’t matter; we need to cut back on burning fossil fuels anyway”.

      This may or may not be true, but I see the potential of a greater harm in that we may all by helping in setting up a “fake economy” which will inevitably simply deliver even more funds into the hands of the (now infamous) 1%.

      In short, while they are watching the train, expecting trouble, they get run over by a truck going through on the level crossing!

      And I’m not just sitting and hoping there, I just can’t conceive how something which is such a tiny proportion of the whole can drive the system to the extent proposed. (and that’s without going into the complexities of increasing cloud cover, or that increasingly higher concentrations of CO2 have far less incremental absorption of the long wave energy in those ‘wavelength windows’ in question).

      • Somite says:

        This seems to be a problem for you only, not for climatologists. Large volume systems that are regulated by small amounts of an active compound are well characterized in nature. A similar system to a greenhouse atmosphere is buffering described by the Henderson-Hasselbach equation.

  12. Markx says:

    Somite, that is true…. (me, and probably a few other miscreants).

    I had enough trouble in chemistry class years ago with the Henderson-Hasselbach equation, I suspect my attempting to apply it to atmospheric warming may be futile.

    BUT … is there no comment at all on the 4000 year Greenland surface temperature chart?

    Does it not prompt even a single thought as to the cause of a dozen or so temperature spikes all much greater than the current tiny blip?

  13. Markx says:

    Further:

    WHAT IS WRONG
    WITH THE IPCC?
    Proposals for a Radical Reform
    Ross McKitrick

    http://www.rossmckitrick.com/uploads/4/8/0/8/4808045/mckitrick-ipcc_reforms.pdf

    Professor Ross McKitrick

    Ross R. McKitrick is Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. He is a Senior Fellow of the Fraser Institute and a member of the Academic Advisory Council of The Global Warming Policy Foundation. His academic research is in the areas of environmental economics and climate change. He was an Expert Reviewer for Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the Fourth Assessment Report.

  14. Markx says:

    Further, from ‘so called’ “Climategate 2″ emails:

    “….. “Hey, forest decline was a stupid lie, so climate change must be too.” What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural fluctuation? They’ll kill us probably…”

    So the science is settled, eh? I’ve read a lot of the emails, the debate within rages as much as does the debate out here.

    The main gist of ‘the science’ under debate is how to ‘fit’ old data,(AND it’s myriad of problems and uncertainties), new research to generate new data which fits, and how to tweak models.

    So far, I’ve not seen one discussion regarding the physics of it all.

  15. Nestor says:

    For those that seem to think B.E.S.T. IS best…

    http://climate.n0gw.net/BEST_Data_Quality_Problems.pdf

    Of the 39028 sites listed in the data.txt file, arbitrarily counting only sites with 60 months of data or more, 34 had temperature blips of greater
    than +/- 50 degrees C, 215 greater than +/- 40 C, 592 greater than +/- 30 C, and 1404 greater than +/- 20 C. That is quite a large number of faulty temperature records, considering that this kind of error is something that is so easy to check for. A couple hours work is all it took to find these numbers.

    In the engineering world, this kind of error is not acceptable. It is an indication of poor quality control. Statistical algorithms were run on the data without subsequent checks on the results. Coding errors obviously existed that would have been caught with just a cursory examination of a few site temperature plots. That the BEST team felt the quality of their work, though preliminary, was adequate for public display is disconcerting.

  16. Markx says:

    I enjoy this site, with it’s interesting topics and the measured tone of the discussions which develop.

    But I am a little surprised that few of the skeptical minds out there have any further comment on the recently released climate emails (2nd batch, so called climategate II).

    At the very least they imply there is an agenda being followed, and physics and records are being “fudged”.

    below:

    Email 4195 Phil Jones to Johns, Tim; Folland, Chris cc Smith, Doug; Johns, Tim
    Tim, Chris, I hope you’re not right about the lack of warming lasting till about 2020.
    …..
    MacCracken to Phil Jones:
    In any case, if the sulfate hypothesis is right, then your prediction of warming might end up being wrong.

    I think we have been too readily explaining the slow changes over past decade as a result of variability–that explanation is wearing thin. I would just suggest, as a backup to your prediction, that you also do some checking on the sulfate issue, just so you might have a quantified explanation in case the prediction is wrong.

    ….
    Mike Hulme to arnell, white, livermore, kovats, parry, nichollsr, jenkins, d.viner
    (On Socio-economic assumptions) Jan 2007
    Dear Fast-trackers, ….. Solution 1: fudge the issue. Just accept that we are Fast-trackers and can therefore get away with anything. The best thing may be to take IS92d-type assumptions for S550 and stick with IS92a assumptions for S750. From the socio-economics perspective this is incorrect and we miss an interesting issue in thinking about the effects that climate policy has on future world
    growth. But it will give us something to work with.

    …..
    Colin Harpham” to P.Jones

    Phil,

    ……I will press on with trying to work out why the temperature needs a ‘fudge factor’ along with the poorer modelling for winter.

    …….
    from: Milind Kandlikar to James Risbey Sep 2004 cc Suraje Dessai, Mike Hulme, andrea.saltelli@jrc.it, Roger Pielke, Jeroen van der Sluijs

    Dear Suraje et al.,
    The modified draft with Roger’s and Jeroen’s comments looks tight.
    There is a broader confusion in my mind on the issue on the role and utility of “tuning” in GCMs.

    In engineering it is routine to fit your models to observations – this assumes that the model has the right physics, but model parameters need to be determined using some form of parameter estimation……

    With GCMs the issue is different. Tuning may be a way to fudge the physics. For example, understanding of clouds or aerosols is far from complete…

    ……

  17. Markx says:

    date: Fri, 18 May 2007 14:48:14 -0700 (PDT)
    from: “Tim Barnett”
    subject: Re: 5AR runs next iteration- reply by 26th
    to: “Gabi Hegerl”

    ….the actual forcing data is a must. right now we have some famous models that all agree surprisely well with 20th obs, but whose forcing is really different. clearly, some tuning or very good luck involved. I doubt the modeling world will be able to get away with this much longer….so let’s preempt any potential problems.

    • Somite says:

      You forgot to also quote the response. This is the same problem as usual with deniers. You are quoting experts out of context without the benefit of expertise. These are the conversations of individuals that are trying to obtain the best result or criticizing a competitor’s work. We simply do not have the expertise to understand if a criticism is valid or not. That is what publishing accomplishes.

      http://foia2011.org/index.php?id=2586

      Hi Tim et al,

      I had a quick response from my perspective at GFDL on Tim’s comments
      earlier on the tuning vs good luck of modeling groups.

      > the actual forcing data is a must. right now we have some
      > famous models that all agree surprisely well with 20th obs, but
      > whose forcing is really
      > different. clearly, some tuning or very good luck involved. I doubt
      > the modeling world will be able to get away with this much
      > longer….so let’s preempt any potential problems.

      At GFDL, we were generally aware, during the coupled model development
      process, of the model’s equilibrium climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling.
      I have a plot on my door showing values of 2.6 to 4.6 at various
      stages of development. However this was not used as means of tuning
      the model or in choosing a model. Also we did not run more
      than historical scenarios with
      more than one model and then choose between them. In fact we ran
      historical scenarios with our two pre-tuned models (tuned on their
      performance at simulating present day climate) and reported on
      them both.

      Although our “All forcing” model agrees pretty well with obs over the
      20th century (Knutson et al. J. CLimate, 2006), we did not include
      any indirect aerosol forcing, as that
      part of the model is still under development. Some estimates are that
      this “missing forcing” is quite substantial, so when it is
      included in future experiments, we may well obtain worse agreement than
      shown in our current All-Forcing runs.

      — Tom Knutson

      • Markx says:

        Does that extra information answer the concern?

        In my opinion it simply obfuscates the issue.
        Surely he simply goes on to say that while one model is not tuned by sensitivity to CO2 , it IS tuned to match known 20th century data.

        His second model, All Forcing (but not really) manages to match the known 20th century data, but by excluding the biggest forcing component, aerosols. (ie, the historical data would be cooler than that calculated by the model).

        For sure, they seem to need to deal with some issues. As the man said.

        Or am I mistaken in my understanding?

      • tmac57 says:

        Aerosols have both positive and negative forcings,but overall,they are negative…cooling more than warming.Therefore,observed temperatures would likely be higher,if the air were cleaner.That means that Co2,probably is warming more than what we thought.

      • Markx says:

        But is not the issue here how well the model matches the data?

      • tmac57 says:

        Markx-This is not an area of my expertise,but I would like to invite you to visit the Skeptical Science blog http://www.skepticalscience.com/
        They have a new thread about so called Climategate II going,and they have expertise that can address your question,and they are very respectful and polite,as long as you follow their comment policy.

      • Somite says:

        There are several problems with this approach.

        1) Inaccurate models do not help the deniers – global warming is an empirical observation. It is happening. If we can’t model how fast or how severe it will be it is cause of MORE concern because we can not predict outcomes.

        2) Like I previously discussed we don’t have the expertise to evaluate these high level unpublished, non-reviewed comments that could be wrong or worse, irrelevant.

        3) We don’t have the context. These comments are 5 years old. A lifetime of progress in modeling. I’d like to know what are the latest thoughts on these.

        4) Going back to point 2. It seems to me you are “mistaken in your understanding”. From my non-expert reading it seems they created models that match current conditions and ran them backwards to see how they matched historical data and reported their results. All par for the course when developing models of any kind.

      • Markx says:

        On point 4, correct, that is how I see it too.

        But to make it match, they had to ‘tune’ them, in oneo case in an unsted manner, in the other, bey excluding aerosol forcings.

        So back to the original comment: “…clearly, some tuning or very good luck involved. I doubt the modeling world will be able to get away with this much longer…”.

        Indeed, I hope things have improved.

      • Markx says:

        apologies – sent too soon:

        On point 4, correct, that is how I see it too.
        But to make it match, they had to ‘tune’ them, in one case in an unstated manner, in the other, by excluding aerosol forcings.

        So back to the original comment: “…clearly, some tuning or very good luck involved. I doubt the modelling world will be able to get away with this much longer…”.

        Indeed, I hope things have improved.