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AGW REVISITED PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Though this subject is not one that directly concerns the JREF, I'm very frequently asked if I'll turn my skeptical eye to it. As a year-end fling, I'll give it a try. To wit:

An unfortunate fact is that scientists are just as human as the rest of us, in that they are strongly influenced by the need to be accepted, to kowtow to peer opinion, and to "belong" in the scientific community. Why do I find this "unfortunate"? Because the media and the hoi polloi increasingly depend upon and accept ideas or principles that are proclaimed loudly enough by academics who are often more driven by "politically correct" survival principles than by those given them by Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and Bohr. (Granted, it's reassuring that they're listening to academics at all -- but how to tell the competent from the incompetent?) Religious and other emotional convictions drive scientists, despite what they may think their motivations are.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- a group of thousands of scientists in 194 countries around the world, and recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize -- has issued several comprehensive reports in which they indicate that they have become convinced that "global warming" is and will be seriously destructive to life as we know it, and that Man is the chief cause of it. They say that there is a consensus of scientists who believe we are headed for disaster if we do not stop burning fossil fuels, but a growing number of prominent scientists disagree. Meanwhile, some 32,000 scientists, 9,000 of them PhDs, have signed The Petition Project statement proclaiming that Man is not necessarily the chief cause of warming, that the phenomenon may not exist at all, and that, in any case, warming would not be disastrous.

Happily, science does not depend on consensus. Conclusions are either reached or not, but only after an analysis of evidence as found in nature. It's often been said that once a conclusion is reached, proper scientists set about trying to prove themselves wrong. Failing in that, they arrive at a statement that appears -- based on all available data -- to describe a limited aspect about how the world appears to work. And not all scientists are willing to follow this path. My most excellent friend Martin Gardner once asked a parapsychologist just what sort of evidence would convince him he had erred in coming to a certain conclusion. The parascientist replied that he could not imagine any such situation, thus -- in my opinion -- removing him from the ranks of the scientific discipline rather decidedly.

History supplies us with many examples where scientists were just plain wrong about certain matters, but ultimately discovered the truth through continued research. Science recovers from such situations quite well, though sometimes with minor wounds.

I strongly suspect that The Petition Project may be valid. I base this on my admittedly rudimentary knowledge of the facts about planet Earth. This ball of hot rock and salt water spins on its axis and rotates about the Sun with the expected regularity, though we're aware that lunar tides, solar wind, galactic space dust and geomagnetic storms have cooled the planet by about one centigrade degree in the past 150 years. The myriad of influences that act upon Earth are so many and so variable -- though not capricious -- that I believe we simply cannot formulate an equation into which we enter variables and come up with an answer. A living planet will continually belch, vibrate, fracture, and crumble a bit, and thus defeat an accurate equation. Please note that this my amateur opinion, based on probably insufficient data.

It appears that the Earth is warming, and has continued to warm since the last Ice Age, which ended some 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. But that has not been an even warming. Years of warming followed by years of cooling have left us just a bit warmer than before. This conclusion has been arrived at from data collected at some 1,200+ weather stations in the USA, though bear in mind that there are very few weather stations over the vast oceans that cover 70% of our planet, or on the continents Africa, South America, and especially Antarctica.

We can now record temperatures with much better than the former fraction-of-a-degree accuracy we had just a decade ago, but that temperature change appears to be just about half a degree Centigrade.

Our Earth's atmosphere is approximately 80% nitrogen, 20% oxygen. Just .04% is carbon dioxide -- a "trace" amount. But from that tiny percentage is built all the plants we have on Earth. CO2 is a natural molecule absolutely required for plant life to survive, and in the process of growing, those plants give off oxygen. We -- and all animal life -- consume that oxygen and give off CO2. (No, this is not an example of Intelligent Design.) If that balance is sufficiently disturbed, species either adapt or perish. And the world turns...

Incidentally, we have a convenient phenomenon that contributes to our survival. Doubling the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere will not double the temperature rise, small though it is. The basic principle of what's known as the "greenhouse effect" is quite simple: in a glass-enclosed environment, sunlight enters through the glass and strikes a surface, where it is transformed into longer infrared rays which do not easily reflect back through the glass; they're trapped. and raise the temperature. However, the greenhouse effect as applied to our planet is more complicated. The infrared rays that are reflected back from the Earth are trapped by the greenhouse gases, water vapor and CO2 -- a process that warms those gases and heats the Earth. This effect makes Earth habitable, preventing extremes of temperature. The limit of the influence of CO2 is dictated, not by the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but by the amount of solar radiation reflected back from the Earth. Once all the infrared rays have been "captured" by the greenhouse gases there is no additional increase in carbon dioxide.

Yes, we produce CO2, by burning "fossil fuels" and by simply breathing. And every fossil fuel produces CO2. Some products produce more than others, varying with their chemical composition. Methane gas produces less CO2, wood produces more. But almost paradoxically, when wood burns it produces CO2, and when a tree dies and rots it produces yet more CO2. Oceans are huge storage tanks for CO2, but as they warm up, they hold less of the dissolved gas. They release it into the atmosphere, then more of it is absorbed back into the oceans. And as far as humans are concerned, ten times more people die each year from the effects of cold than die from the heat. This a hugely complex set of variables we are trying to reduce to an equation...

It's easy enough to believe that drought, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes are signs of a coming catastrophe from global warming, but these are normal variations of any climate that we -- and other forms of life -- have survived. Earth has undergone many serious changes in climate, from the Ice Ages to periods of heavily increased plant growth from their high levels of CO2, yet the biosphere has survived. We're adaptable, stubborn, and persistent -- and we have what other life forms don't have: we can manipulate our environment. Show me an Inuit who can survive in his habitat without warm clothing... Humans will continue to infest Earth because we're smart.

In my amateur opinion, more attention to disease control, better hygienic conditions for food production and clean water supplies, as well as controlling the filth that we breathe from fossil fuel use, are problems that should distract us from fretting about baking in Global Warming. From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1891 A Scandal in Bohemia, I quote:

Watson: "This is indeed a mystery," I remarked. "What do you imagine that it means?"

Holmes: I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts...

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written by RandomMike, December 15, 2009
"All the dedicated serious skeptics I've encountered lately have backed the climate scientists on global warming."

1. "I've Encountered" is anecdotal.
2. This article can be considered to be an encounter with a serious skeptic that does Not 'back' the believers in climate change.
3. Skepticism is not about backing your team. You might be confusing the debate with pro sports.

It's refreshing to see Randi come out and say what too many are afraid of saying: namely that many of us harbor doubts. I still don't know if the relationship between the post-industrial revolution pollution output and the slight temp rise is causal or correlation. The Ice Age started and ended without our help. The ice caps have melted and refrozen many times (and the Polar bears managed to survive the last heat wave). Most of the people on both sides of the debate are politically/ideologically motivated. The True Believers of Global Warming sound very similar to religious zealots in their attacks on anyone who dares disagree with them. As a result, many people are still skeptical about the whole thing. This does not make us 'Climate Change Deniers' to be lumped in with Holocaust Deniers. We are simply skeptical about the issue.
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written by Arthur, December 15, 2009
Backing a team? Well I back Climate Scientists to be in the best position to understand the complex science of global warming. And I do so without apology.

RandomMike, you might not know whether the relationship between the post-industrial revolution pollution output and the slight temp rise is causal or correlation.

But based on the data, what do Climate Scientists think?
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written by bcbwilla, December 15, 2009
The Petition Project, really? Engineers, medical scientists, and food scientists are smart people, but are you going to take their word on something as complex as climate science? I would not want a climate scientist to prescribe me medication, just as I would not want a medical doctor to build a climate model.
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written by RandomMike, December 15, 2009
Arthur: Climate scientists are not unified. Even if they were, it would prove nothing. Science is not about consensus. Keep in mind these are the same people who were yelling about global cooling thirty years ago. I am not saying that they are wrong anyway, I am saying that there is a possibility that they are wrong. Einstein was a genius (His name has practically become a synonym for genius) he was also an expert. These facts did not prevent him from spending the latter part of his life attempting to disprove quantum theory. As skeptics, it's our job to point out that every person - every consensus - every theory, may be wrong. I haven't said anything about the likelihood of it, I'm just pointing that out, it's vital to the concept of Science.

Gus: I don't think anyone is saying that there isn't warming. Some people just don't think it's anything to be concerned about.

As George Carlin said:
"Besides, there is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are ****ed. Difference."

We are worried about our habitat, and the habitats of some cute animals. The biosphere will adapt, as it has always done. If you are only using a 'modern' time scale, the change may be unprecedented. However, on a timescale the encompasses everything from the rise of life on earth to now, there are many many examples of this sort of thing happening on a regular basis. Maybe we sparked this one, maybe not.

What matters is not how bad we make each other feel about it, or who to blame. Randi is right in pointing out that lack of clean water, food, medicine, and sanitation for most of the world is far more dire.

Besides, it's all going to be over in 2012 anyway. smilies/tongue.gif
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written by drcollision, December 15, 2009
It would be hard to imagine Randi siding with one of the many similar petition projects against evolution instead of accepting the consensus of biologists.

I suspect part of the problem is that none of us want global warming to be real, whereas evolution is easy to accept absent religion, and part of the problem is that we all think we have first hand experience of Earth's climate that we can apply... "weather is so variable", "the sky seems so big how can we make a difference to it".

Biases can creep up on even the best of us.
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written by KingMerv00, December 15, 2009
I am woefully ignorant of the facts surrounding AGW so I disqualify myself from commenting on its truth or falsity. That being said, I appreciate that Randi feels free enough to state a contoversial opinion in a forum awash in scientists.

Shame on the guy above who suggested Randi has fallen for "scare-mongering". Does that SOUND like Randi to you? Maybe he is wrong, so what? At worst Randi is ignorant. That can be fixed.
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written by Adam_Y, December 15, 2009
The Petition Project, really? Engineers, medical scientists, and food scientists are smart people, but are you going to take their word on something as complex as climate science? I would not want a climate scientist to prescribe me medication, just as I would not want a medical doctor to build a climate model.

Isn't the petition project just a giant appeal to authority? I am an electrical engineer. I have no clue as to whether or not global warming is because I do not have any skill set relevant to climate change. If you were to ask me about energy policy though I would be useful.
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written by bcbwilla, December 15, 2009
RandomMike, the cooling scare of the 70's was a product of the popular media, and NOT the scientific consensus.

See The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus.
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written by RandomMike, December 15, 2009
bcbwilla: Just playing devils advocate. It has yet to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to me that the current scare is not a product of popular media and politics. There is a lot of funding available for scientists who support the man mad global warming theory. Just saying there is a chance they might be wrong.

Of course, it doesn't much matter, I'm not making public policy. Frankly, I don't really care one way or the other. I believe in sustainability because of it's own merits, not because I'm afraid of this one possible danger.

I'm just happy to see Randi speak his mind. We shouldn't get mad at people for being skeptical.
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written by Arthur, December 15, 2009
@Mike "Keep in mind these are the same people who were yelling about global cooling thirty years ago."

They weren't. That was another urban myth. The media made that claim. The vast number of Climate Scientists were predicting global warming, even back in the 1970s.

See this video, 'Anatomy of a myth', to see how that myth spread:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU_AtHkB4Ms

You see, that's why Global Warming Skeptics aren't generally considered serious Skeptics. They are easily taken in by blatant myths like that.
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written by Arthur, December 15, 2009
@"Shame on the guy above who suggested Randi has fallen for "scare-mongering". Does that SOUND like Randi to you? Maybe he is wrong, so what? At worst Randi is ignorant. That can be fixed."

Judging from the tone of the article, it seems that James Randi believes that Climate Scientists came to their conclusions via peer pressure and "twisting facts to suit theories".

This belief is possibly influenced by the recent East Anglia email hack, and the media furore which claimed the emails showed Climate Science doctoring figures. Skeptics (dedicated Skeptics, not "Climate Change Skeptics") debunked this claim as false. There wasn't anything in the years of emails which showed malpractice. On the contrary, the media paraded bad quote mining and blatant misrepresentations of innocuous scientific activity. I have already linked to one such debunking.
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written by RandomMike, December 15, 2009
Thank you Arthur. I stand corrected.

But again, there is a chance the consensus is wrong. Harboring doubts does not make one less serious.
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written by bcbwilla, December 15, 2009
It has yet to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to me that the current scare is not a product of popular media and politics. There is a lot of funding available for scientists who support the man mad global warming theory. Just saying there is a chance they might be wrong.


I agree, they absolutely could be wrong. There is always a chance that any given science is wrong. I was just clearing up the point you made about the 70's ice age because it's a very common (and false) claim made by those trying to cast doubt on climate science.

And sure, scientists get funding for research - so what? If you think there might be some sort of conspiracy, you need evidence other than the fact that it may result in someone's financial gain.

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written by RandomMike, December 15, 2009
"I was just clearing up the point you made about the 70's ice age"
I understand, and I thank you for making me a little less ignorant.

"I agree, they absolutely could be wrong."
That was about the only point I have been seriously trying to make.

No I don't think there is a conspiracy, just pointing out possible motivating forces.

Thanks to satellites, we know that warming is taking place. But I think that the technology to Prove the cause does not exist. Models are not the real thing. The evidence is compelling, and Occams Razor does have something to say about that. The consensus is probably right, however, we must keep in mind the possibilities, and not attack people who remain unconvinced.
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written by bcbwilla, December 15, 2009
RandomMike, thanks for clearing that up. I think we are on the same page now.

Thanks to satellites, we know that warming is taking place. But I think that the technology to Prove the cause does not exist. Models are not the real thing. The evidence is compelling, and Occams Razor does have something to say about that.


It's true that much of climate science utilizes models, but the the effect of greenhouse gases (GHG) has been directly measured. If GHGs are responsible for the warming trend, one would expect a drop in the corresponding longwave radiation escaping to space (because it is being trapped by GHG) as the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere increases. This is a testable prediction which has been confirmed. (See Spectral signatures of climate change in the Earth’s infrared spectrum between 1970 and 2006 for one example.)
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Is the Petition Project Signed by Real Names?
written by ccronin, December 15, 2009
When I use Google to search for 25 randomly selected Petition Project signers I only see them show up as petition signatories in Google search results. I see no results that indicate actual people or scientific authorship. Besides the dubious quality of this petition, it should never have been mentioned here. May I produce a petition of scientists who believe in ghosts and a risen Lord? The number will exceed 32,000 easily.

I also notice that Mr. Randi's commentary does not analyze the actual research that is making up the argument for AGW. Rather it relies on "peer pressure" to substantiate doubt. It's a shame. Had he applied his critical eye as well to climate change research as he does to "woo" he may have had a more informed response. It may have been the same response, of course, but for better reason.

And true, we should not ridicule skeptics of AGW. But we should scorn those who deny a well-supported theory without addressing the science, but rather relying on false understandings of the science.

I continue to thank Mr. Randi for his great life's work, but I implore him to use more care when casting doubt without more care.
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written by Steel Rat, December 15, 2009
Thank you, Randi, for a lucid article. You didn't say "AGW is a hoax", which some people seem to think you're saying. To me, you've said, "It's ok to say we don't know, until we do know."

Oh, and a serious skeptic wouldn't accept an appeal to authority in the form of the IPCC (incidentally, the IPCC doesn't consist of scientists, it consists of politicians. The scientists are assigned by their respective countries to review and analyze the available scientific data, and present their results. Steve McIntyre, maligned by many on this site, was one of those reviewers, as were many so-called "deniers". Many of their objections to the IPCC's conclusions were outright ignored. And many of those objections are directly related to the subjects covered by the East Anglia emails and data.)
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written by The SkepDoc, December 15, 2009
My answer is "I don't know." There's nothing wrong with withholding judgment pending more conclusive evidence.
To quote Richard Feynman, “I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things… It doesn’t frighten me.”
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written by Arthur, December 15, 2009
@"The consensus is probably right, however, we must keep in mind the possibilities, and not attack people who remain unconvinced."

The thing is, Climate Scientists aren't publicly attacking anyone. Rather, they are under pernicious attack themselves. The East Anglia CRU have had their lives and reputations assaulted by people who were not prepared to spend the few seconds it would take to check the facts.

And they were attacked simply for diligently doing their job and presenting evidence that certain people didn't like.

For example, the media and blogosphere claimed a quote from Dr Phil Jones regarding a "trick" to "hide the decline" was the smoking gun for a sinister plot to hide cooling figures. When a cursory glance at the emails reveals he was referring to a banal process of correlating unreliable tree-ring data in the 1950s. It was standard science banter that had nothing to do with global temperatures.

People who tout that kind of thing as evidence that Climate Scientists are hoaxing the public are not Skeptics and don't deserve that title.
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The joke is that "we can fix this."
written by jimgerrish, December 15, 2009
The climate is changing as it has done since the earth began. We can watch it historically, make measurements, collect data, make computer models, but it is a joke to think we can do much of anything to "fix it." Every time humans have tried to "fix" nature, they have ended up making things worse, not better. Australia and the Amazon Basin are replete with examples. We just don't know enough to come up with a solution. However, if the global warming fanatics get us started on cleaning up the filty air and water that surrounds our "civilized" areas, that can only be a good thing. The problem will be to control the fanatics when they gain too much political power, or they make too much money out of the situation and the usual human "corruption" sets in. The best thing rational people can do is continue to collect data, and refuse to contribute money to anyone trying to "fix global warming."
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Climate warming/Climate change?, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Important Points
written by CLamb, December 15, 2009
The important point here is not whether or not there is global warming caused by fossil fuel burning but rather that scientific issues are not decided by democratic decision or concesus of scientists or anyone else. They are decided by facts examined by human reason. What makes it particularly difficult in this case is that experiments testing the theory are very hard or impossible to perform. We can't just take a few hundred planets provide them with atmospheres of various compositions and observe them for several thousand years.

BTW. I'm curious about why the planet wasn't unbearably hot millions of years ago. After all, isn't burning fossil fuel just returning to the atmosphere the carbon which plant life extracted?
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written by skepjeff, December 15, 2009
What disturbs me is the phrase, "Warming will not be disastrous". Tell that to the millions in Pakistan, India, and South America whose river sources will die with the glaciers from which they spring. Tell that to the thousands of parents whose children will die of malaria, dengue fever, and the other tropical scourges whose ranges are increasing as the climate warms. Tell it to the coral reefs that are already dying or in steady decline all over the world, and the ecosystems that rely upon them as habitat. It's easy to think of the atmosphere as too big for puny mankind to influence, yet we once thought that of the oceans, and are now faced with collapsing fisheries and thousand-square-mile "garbage patches" of discarded plastic in every major ocean. I find it hard to believe that we can blithely keep venting gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere without some effect occuring, not to mention all the other crap "advanced" human society pumps out as waste. I do not feel that I have the "data" to judge that AGW is a fact, yet most, if not all, of the changes in the way we live and our use of fuels and materials to combat it if it were, indeed, a fact, are precisely the things we need to be doing anyway. Money, elitism, and racial and economic prejudice are the real source of the intensity of this controversy.
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Disappointing...
written by kdv, December 15, 2009
I too honour James Randi for his life's work. The immense good he has done in raising people's awareness of the vast amount of woo out there and the harm it does to us all deserves every ounce of applause he receives.

However, I too am disappointed by this post. Not because he might question the existence, extent, or effects of AGW, of course. It has rightly been pointed out that there is every right to question any aspect of scientific knowledge, whether a consensus or not. It is how it is done that is important. And here, Randi's piece falls short of the standard I have come to expect, and respect, of him.

Just as example, let's take this sentence:

"In my amateur opinion, more attention to disease control, better hygienic conditions for food production and clean water supplies, as well as controlling the filth that we breathe from fossil fuel use, are problems that should distract us from fretting about baking in Global Warming."

This is a total straw argument, something which Randi has rightly criticised when other have used them in the past. Nobody in the field of climate science has suggested that "baking in GW" is a major risk, at least for humans. ( It might be for things like coral polyps, though ). ( Although something like 40,000 people died as a consequence of a heat wave in Europe a few years back ). (No, I'm not suggesting that the latter was evidence of GW, anthropogenic or otherwise ).

Some of the main concerns about the consequences of GW as expressed by climate scientists are the very things Randi mentions as more important issues. Disease patterns, water availability, and food production are all potential candidates for disastrous changes if GW continues unchecked.

Other of Randi's statements, if not exactly straw men, have no relevance to the issue being discussed that I can see. Yes, CO2 is only a tiny fraction of the atmosphere. So what? It's change being discussed, not the absolute amount. Yes, plants consume CO2 and animals give it off. So what? Not a major factor in climate change, other than the contributions of land clearing in places like Indonesia and the Amazon, which again increase CO2 levels. Yes, there are many, many factors that can affect global climate. Again, so what? Nobody has suggested that all of them need to change to seriously disrupt current conditions. Many factors can influence the risk of having a car crash, so could I use that as a justification for driving while drunk? And is Randi implying that climate scientists don't know that there are many factors involved, or haven't taken it into account? Yes, the world still turns when species perish due to environmental changes, just as it did after the dinosaurs perished. That change was probably good for us. A dinosaur might well have a different opinion.

Randi admits, frankly and honestly, that his understanding of climate science is rudimentary. So is mine. I don't attempt to address the science of the issue, and won't until I have many years of targeted education, not to mention a few satellites and supercomputers in my back room. For the science, I rely on those with the background, just as I would if I needed brain surgery. And if I had a brain tumour, I might well say "I won't get anything done until all brain surgeons agree on the best course of action". But I would probably die waiting.
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written by Steel Rat, December 15, 2009
Do people honestly expect climate not to change? Would 1c cooling be better than 1c warming? Don't thousands more die from cold every year than from heat? This isn't a perfect world, it never will be. Life without modern technology, and yes, fossil fuels, is brutal and short. Whether it warms a couple degrees or cools a couple degrees is basically irrelevant, if all we can think about is trying to "fix" it. Adaptability is the only option, it always has been and always will be.

People fret about sea level rise, yet we haven't even returned to the highest sea levels historically in the last 10000 years. And if you think a slight amount of warming is bad, wait till the next ice age hits. No amount of CO2 can stop it.
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written by flyinlion, December 15, 2009
Randi proves again that he is an expert at setting the stage for a great debate! I'm learning a lot from comments on both sides.
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Skepticism on AGW
written by Dean Fox, December 15, 2009
It really is disappointing to see how many people think they have to post their disappointment with Randi on a perfectly understandable position.

I am old enough to recall government sponsored warnings of the coming ice age. Back in the 1970s I recall reading articles stating with great certainty that this was a coming threat. Not many years later the story was already shifting to global warming.

Today this issue is highly politicized which s a very good reason to start looking at it critically. Further more you have celebrities preaching on it at the UN conference using blatantly distorted and inaccurate data. Even Al Gore who has become the darling of AGW recently was on TV spewing sheer nonsense about the core temperature of the earth. It is clear that many of AGWs biggest most vocal advocates have no understanding of the science behind global climate studies.

But forget politics and Hollywood causes what alarmed me was when people who even dared to question the science were referred to as deniers and people including some scientists started refereeing to any scientists started declaring all "reputable" scientists agreed with the IPCC. This simply is not true and they know it. It also is not in keeping with the ideals of science so what is the motivation for such ridiculous statements? I think that is a fair question.

People on this site respond to Randi declaring what the climate scientist say as if they all say the same thing like some great monolithic body. That also is absurd and completely false. There are many climate scientists who do not agree with AGW or the consensus of the IPCC and I would think people here would know that as well so why make such ridiculous statements?

The science on this issue is not settled, not in the least and it never was. Suggestion that it is or ever was is a lie or a misstatement. Suggestions that the climate scientists are all in agreement is absurd.

So what is wrong with Randi's position? The truth of this issue is we don't really know. The possibilities of sun cycles for example as a cause are worth discussing. Also legitimate questions surrounding if warming is caused by increased C02 or if it is causing increased C02 are relevant based on what we know about Co2 and the oceans.

The jury is out on this issue. In many areas we are not seeing warming. Measurable global temperature rises have not been significant since 1998 and in some places more severe winter weather is becoming apparent so how do we know what is really going on and how do we know it is not entirely natural?

These are legitimate questions that have not been settled. The question is still open for debate.

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written by poobah103, December 15, 2009
It seems to me that, whatever the truth is about global warming, Randi's belief that we should pay "more attention to disease control, better hygienic conditions for food production and clean water supplies, as well as controlling the filth that we breathe from fossil fuel use" seems to be good advice in either case. If AGW *is* real, attention to all those things will only help to mitigate whatever negative effects it will bring with it. If AGW *isn't* real, we'd still be better off for all our troubles.
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written by ianmacm, December 15, 2009
To change the subject slightly, the worst example of political correctness in the academic world in recent years was the hounding of Lawrence Summers for his comments about the role of women in mathematics and science back in 2005.( http://ponyurl.com/kcqahe ) The opponents of Summers played the "I am offended" card as though this overrode all other arguments. Summers did not say that all women are stupid, but did point out the rather obvious fact that most top mathematicians and scientists are men. Summers eventually quit Harvard over the furor. His mistake was to challenge the powerful diversity lobby head on, and even though he considered the remarks fairly mild, he was found guilty of non-PC thinking by a kangaroo court. The same can happen when people question global warming. For example, this Boston Globe opinion piece by Ellen Goodman in 2007 ( http://ponyurl.com/fgeydq ) says:
I would like to say we're at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.

This type of hysterical language gives serious climate change scientists a bad name. People need to be able to open their mouths and say what they are thinking for an open debate to take place. If you disagree with what Randi has said, then say so, but no one has ever won an argument by trying to censor the opposing viewpoint.
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written by UglyLikeMe, December 15, 2009
I appreciate Randi's life work too...

And I also realize this is his very humble, and as stated, amateur opinion of the subject. Why are so many treating this like a mathematical proof, or a paper submitted for peer review?

Are you saying this is like if Randi threw up a new SWIFT claiming significant evidence that ghosts, psychics, and faeries could exist, so being split on the subject is understandable? If that's the case, calm down, the entire Global Warming issue is far too complex for just anyone to examine the evidence and judge for themselves. It is without a doubt NOT an everyman issue, many cannot begin to imagine where to begin understanding it.

Thankfully, Randi has seen fit to give his opinion on the issue, and a little food for thought for those who are both learned on the issue/think they're learned, or accept they really have no clue. For those that are scoffing at this post, you have disappointed me, and not because of your dismissing of Randi's post, or even your position on the issue of Global Warming, but because you prattle off like this is something that everyone should understand, when it just clearly isn't, probably including yourselves as well.
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written by Dooyoowoowoo, December 15, 2009
"Tell that to the thousands of parents whose children will die of malaria,"
Another scare story myth. Malaria was present in the UK in the past (our climate is not noted for its tropical warmth!). What removed it was education and disease control.
No one seems to have the guts to address the root cause of all of mankinds ills, population. It's that that gives the pressure for more carbon fuel usage, tearing down of rainforest to grow palm oil for biofuel(ironic fuel?) and a host of other problems. We give rise to the pressure on Earths eco-system, nothing else. If an animal species outgrows its enviroment it is often culled to prevent starvation or enviromental damage. I'm not suggesting culling humans but it is time to face facts. We have to accept that it is not a right to continue growing in numbers and expect the planet to continue giving all that we take for granted.
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written by Otara, December 15, 2009
I see more heuristics than serious scientific arguments.

Skepticism or caution is fine but saying 'these issues are more important' means you've actually taken a position. And in my view you cant have it both ways, either you're being cautious or you'e taking a position. If you're taking one then you should be able to support it with your own scientific data - and I dont see much of that in that post, just 'gaia of the gaps' arguments.
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written by Arthur, December 15, 2009
Dean Fox wrote: "Back in the 1970s I recall reading articles stating with great certainty that this was a coming threat. Not many years later the story was already shifting to global warming."

This is an urban myth, easy to debunk. So easy in fact it has already been debunked twice in this thread with links. Climate scientists did not predict an ice age in the 1970s. Serious Skeptics should know this, or at least check before they make such an assertion.

And James Randi should have checked the credibility of the Petition Project before invoking it in the debate. Serious Skeptics know that the Petition Project is clearly dubious, and it isn't hard to do some research on the subject.

These are acts of real carelessness from people who should know better. This is the last place I'd expect to hear urban myths and hokey petitions touted as credible science.
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written by latsot, December 15, 2009
I believe we simply cannot formulate an equation into which we enter variables and come up with an answer.


This isn't what climate scientists are trying to do. They are trying to understand more about how the climate works, with equations being one of the tools they use to do this. Others include experiments, other types of model, new ways of measuring the climate's properties, observations of different kinds of thing, examination of new data, new ways to examine existing data etc. Predictions about the climate's future are based on lots of different factors put together in lots of different ways and the answer in each case will have error bars. One of the tricks is to learn where these bars are, how big they are and whether we can do anything to reduce them.

To suggest that the aim is to 'reduce' the complex system of the climate to an equation is leading language and an oversimplification. The hope (or rather, one of the hopes) is that better models, better measurements and increasing understanding of all the factors involved will increase our ability to predict the climate's future and our ability to assess how confident we should be of the results.
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written by Arthur, December 16, 2009
There have been two main scientific objections to AGW. Far from ignoring them, Climate Scientists are well aware of these objections and have been rigorously debating them for years.

The first is 'Solar Forcing'. The second is Cloud Cover.

Solar output as an explanation was touted by Friis-Christenson and Lassen. This had a lot of credibility until the early 2000s, when orbiting satellite data looked at Total Solar Irradiance - the power of the sun outside our atmosphere. Data was closely examined, and scientists including Judith Lean eventually confirmed no increase in solar output. Meaning that the increased temperatures were not a result of solar forcing but were occurring in our own atmosphere, as predicted by AGW.

The other main objection to AGW concerns cloud cover and an idea put forward by Henrik Svensmark. He hypothesized that low atmosphere cloud cover was causing the rise in temperatures. The problem is, this theory relies on increased solar output again, which is not borne out by data. And the satellite data showing a correlation between cloud cover and cosmic rays breaks down in the 1990s. Therefore, this has been rejected by almost all Climate Scientists.

Richard Lindzen at MIT postulates that warmer tropical oceans creates fewer high altitude clouds, meaning more heat escapes the earth's atmosphere, thus allowing for the earth's temperatures to self regulate and remain stable. However, later studies showed that fewer high altitude clouds did not cool down the earth. In contrast, the phenomenon slightly warmed the earth. Lindzen's predictions were wrong.

These are the scientific objections to AGW - and they have been largely rejected when new data has been made available. No other hypothesis beyond AGW has survived. This is why the consensus among climate scientists is that AGW is the cause of radical global warming.

And this consensus has nothing to do with "peer pressure" or "fitting facts to theories", as James Randi seems to imply. Randi is simply wrong and hasn't applied his usual skepticism to the matter.
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written by MadScientist, December 16, 2009
As someone who designs and builds instruments, it would be easy to convince me that humans and the CO2 they release by burning fossil fuels is not contributing to global warming: put out more instruments, and if the globe cools beyond, say, the 1970 mean temperatures while the CO2 continues to increase, then in the absence of a sensible explanation for the cooling (for example, cooling due to airborne debris from a giant space rock impact) I would have to reconsider what I know of global warming.

The survival of the human species is not in question; humans will survive (and if I'm wrong about that, no one will be around to chide me about it). The questions are, will our modern society survive and will we be subjecting others to terrible calamities which we may be able to curtail?

There is no reasonable doubt that the bulk of the increase in the globe's temperature over the past 80 years or so has been due largely to increasing CO2 in the atmosphere and there is no doubt about the threat to agriculture (due to changing weather patterns, especially temperature and rainfall - ignore the scaremongering about "super storms") and there is no doubt about the threat of ocean acidification to marine life.

As for coverage of the oceans, the ocean surface temperature (called 'sea surface temperature') has been measured by satellite for over 30 years and for the past 20 years the instruments and techniques have been refined to provide excellent measurements (verified by a voluntary network of shipboard instruments). Although the means of obtaining such measurements without being anywhere near the object whose temperature is being taken may be obscure to most people, the technique had in fact been invented over 120 years ago. The technological advances necessary to exploit the natural phenomenon in question to the point of being able to remotely measure sea surface temperature is a more recent development though (around the past 40 years).
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written by MadScientist, December 16, 2009
@CLamb: It is not true that experiments cannot be conducted to verify global warming; it has been verified by instrumental measurements which are consistent with the known behavior of CO2 as measured in the laboratory and in large measurement campaigns in the atmosphere.

Actual measurements of many parameters have been used to try to falsify the global warming hypothesis and no such attempt at falsification has succeeded. Measurements have been able to falsify many alternative (not CO2 related) schemes which have been suggested as being responsible for the temperature rises.

As for the early earth being hot, you've got to keep in mind that the earth we know is nothing like it was in the distant past. You'll have to ask an astronomer if the sun was brighter or dimmer in the distant past. While paleoclimatologists will tell you that the earth was indeed warmer in the past and may even show you CO2 concentration higher than today, life was very different on that earth (both plant and animal) - don't imagine that you'd survive it. "The earth was hot and cold in the distant past, so we'll be OK" is a specious argument.
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written by MadScientist, December 16, 2009
@RandomMike: Which consensus? If you mean that the globe is warming and humans are a major contributor, that would be like hoping that biologists will be proven wrong about evolution. So far there is no evidence to the contrary.

By the way, "0.04% CO2" may sound small, but it isn't - that's still about 1,700 billion tons of CO2. The bulk of the atmosphere (~99%, 21&#xox;ygen, 78&#xni;trogen) is almost transparent to the infrared. (There are extremely weak absorptions which we can measure by pointing an instrument on the ground towards the sun.) So as far as trapping of outgoing infrared energy goes, water (whether gas, or solid/liquid as in clouds) and carbon dioxide pretty much account for very close to 100% of the trapped energy. All the other infrared absorbing gases in the atmosphere have a cumulative effect which is less than 5% of the effect of CO2.
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Modern Dilema
written by WilliamSatire, December 16, 2009
I've a fairly high IQ (I'm not bragging - just trying to put into my context - I've no personal skills whatsoever, and only bath every other day...)

So, I'm pretty intelligent and I have to admit that I haven't a clue what's going on with Climate Change

Here's the only facts I can contribute:

1. Carl Sagan's Cosmos was made in 1978/79, and I remember him banging on about warming and not cooling - suggesting that if we are not careful we could end up like Venus. This seems to backup the 1970s global cooling myth highlighted elsewhere.

2. Randi clearly marked his opinions. Only after a few hours people have put their own spin on them in the comments - this has to be a clue into, and evidence on, how people interpret leaders from 2,000 years ago. I'm reminded of the Life of Brian.

3. We can "wait and see" on lots of things, but if you apply that to a ticking bomb, you are screwed. So the way I see all this situation is: There is a room in which there may or may not be a ticking time bomb. A lot of respected bomb room experts think there's a bomb in there, and some others are not. People have a lot of money riding on the bomb not being there, and so seem to muddy opinion. All of us will be affected by bomb going off. All of us will be affected by cost of bomb disposal. Opinion is also divded on the blast radius of the bomb (i.e. if we'll be affected by it exploding)

4. I've evidence that when more reasonable people just want to see the evidence (see Jack of Kent), people have a go and shout denier. How can you shout denier at someone who's not come to their own conclusions?

I'm non the wiser...
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Doubt is good...
written by Michieux, December 16, 2009
I find it odd how the debate skirts around the idea that perhaps we're overpopulating ourselves into a corner. In any case, I find the way humans treat each other and all living things, as well as the environment to be abhorrent. That's why my wife and I chose not to reproduce. Our thought is that the planet's trajectory vis-à-vis being life sustaining was set a long time ago, and that the opportunity for altering that course in favor of life has long since passed. Whatever happens, it will all come out in the wash, won't it?
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written by Throckmorton, December 16, 2009
written by Dooyoowoowoo, December 15, 2009
"Tell that to the thousands of parents whose children will die of malaria,"
Another scare story myth. Malaria was present in the UK in the past (our climate is not noted for its tropical warmth!). What removed it was education and disease control.
No one seems to have the guts to address the root cause of all of mankinds ills, population. It's that that gives the pressure for more carbon fuel usage, tearing down of rainforest to grow palm oil for biofuel(ironic fuel?) and a host of other problems. We give rise to the pressure on Earths eco-system, nothing else. If an animal species outgrows its enviroment it is often culled to prevent starvation or enviromental damage. I'm not suggesting culling humans but it is time to face facts. We have to accept that it is not a right to continue growing in numbers and expect the planet to continue giving all that we take for granted.


THIS is the truest post on this page. Notice how nobody argued against it, or said "we need more data!"?? The main problem is that bringing up control of population growth is political suicide for leaders. Randi's "more attention" problems are also all helped by limiting population growth.
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written by OldProf, December 16, 2009
written by bcbwilla, December 15, 2009

It has yet to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to me that the current scare is not a product of popular media and politics. There is a lot of funding available for scientists who support the man mad global warming theory. Just saying there is a chance they might be wrong.


Statements like this make me want to cry. Go and look up the average income for a scientist. It is much, much less than a typical lawyer, accountant, doctor, dentist, and even an auto worker a few years ago. The typical science geek is driven by a desire to understand their little piece of the universe. Whatever funding that they can get just helps that goal.
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A Related Issue:
written by Rustylizard, December 16, 2009
Current data indicates a global warming trend, and CO2 is one of many factors (some perhaps unknown). We don’t have a wealth of long term historical data and lack a reliable, dynamic formula for prediction. I have no firm convictions, but I live by the sea, so swimming lessons might prove useful.

But slowing our consumption of fossil fuels would be desirable, and not just to prepare for the worst case scenario. In my own lifetime, a huge proportion of the world’s oil reserves have been consumed (much of it squandered). In 1970, it was estimated we had over 500 years of coal reserves; today, that estimate has been reduced by half. Swelled by world population growth and increased standards of living, fuel consumption grows.

Shouldn’t we be thinking about leaving some reserves to future generations? We talk of the next forty or fifty years, or the next two to three hundred as if that was all that matters. Hopefully, our species will be around for a lot longer than that. Can’t we leave them something?
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The myth of global cooling, Lowly rated comment [Show]
This is Pseudo-Skepticism, Randi
written by MoonShark, December 16, 2009
Two problems:
1. "I strongly suspect that The Petition Project may be valid."
Really?? Did you even look at the website? They have slacked severely on the scientific rigor.

-- No information on who received the mailing and why (just "U.S. scientists"). Was it randomized? Who knows.
-- It was distributed with a letter telling people how to decide. Granted, that's normal for petitions, but this often gets treated as a SURVEY or POLL, which is another animal entirely.
-- It was distributed with a supposed "review" of scientific literature by a "think tank" in Oregon, not a university or science journal.
-- They give no independent method for verifying signers' credentials. We're supposed to take their word on it?
-- Most of those "credentials" are at best tangential to climatology anyway.
-- They give no details on their methodology for verifying that the signers even actually exist. How do we know they haven't been scammed?
-- The petition statement itself claims there is "no evidence" for AGW, which is a simple argument from ignorance.

2. "Holmes: I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data"
A cursory search for "climate" on any broad academic research database yields a wealth of varied papers in support of the fact of warming. I've looked multiple times a year for the past 3 years and never come across an "opposition" paper in an unbiased search. The only "skeptic" papers I've seen were linked to me by, surprise, conspiracy theorist pseudo-skeptics. Have you looked at a research database? Again, this is an argument from ignorance.

Despite the "my amateur opinion" caveat, I expect much better, Randi smilies/sad.gif
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Why I won't be donating to the JREF this year
written by John Huntington, December 16, 2009
Just sent this email to Randi:
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Why I Will Not be Donating to the JREF this Year
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 2009 10:59:20 -0500
From: John Huntington
To: James Randi

I was at my computer today considering where to put my year-end charitable donations. I had solicitations from at least four skeptical
organizations, and was struggling to decide where to put my money. And so, I took a break and checked my Google reader, and saw PZ Myers'
posting on your foray into climate science. After reading your post in full, I removed the JREF from my donation list.

I have been to every TAM except the last one, and what I always valued about the JREF and its meetings was hearing about a wide variety of
subjects from people who have vast experience in those fields. I always enjoyed your talks and writings about bringing your considerable
experience and expertise in magic, deception, and related fields to those without that experience--like scientists. And I enjoyed hearing
about science from scientists.

But, frankly, as a retired magician, I don't particularly value your opinion on the incredibly complex issue of climate change. Of course, I
could just ignore your posting, but you are the heart and soul and the public face of the JREF, and I think you are doing damage by straying so
far afield from your areas of expertise. I think a far more interesting use of your time would have been to do some digging on the Petition
Project itself, applying your vast wealth of knowledge and experience on human motivations and deception to that group, which seems to have
questionable origins.

This episode has further confirmed my feeling that the JREF has lost its focus, and this is why I will not be investing in it this year.

John Huntington
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What is the perfect temperature?, Lowly rated comment [Show]
The mission
written by andre, December 16, 2009
Sure there is climate science and there is a mission to save the earth. Can that be the same?

Maybe not, as Tom Wigley thought in 1997 and why would it be different now?

Some quotes:

Dear ..

I was very disturbed by your recent letter, and your attempt to get
others to endorse it. Not only do I disagree with the content of
this letter, but I also believe that you have severely distorted the
IPCC "view" when you say that "the latest IPCC assessment makes a
convincing economic case for immediate control of emissions." In contrast
to the one-sided opinion expressed in your letter, IPCC WGIII SAR and TP3
review the literature and the issues in a balanced way presenting
arguments in support of both "immediate control" and the spectrum of more
cost-effective options...

Your approach of trying to gain scientific credibility for your personal
views by asking people to endorse your letter is reprehensible. No
scientist who wishes to maintain respect in the community should ever
endorse any statement unless they have examined the issue fully
themselves. You are asking people to prostitute themselves by doing just
this! I fear that some will endorse your letter, in the mistaken belief
that you are making a balanced and knowledgeable assessment of the science
-- when, in fact, you are presenting a flawed view that neither accords
with IPCC nor with the bulk of the scientific and economic literature on
the subject...


...When scientists color the science with their own PERSONAL views or make
categorical statements without presenting the evidence for such
statements, they have a clear responsibility to state that that is what
they are doing. You have failed to do so. Indeed, what you are doing is,
in my view, a form of dishonesty more subtle but no less egregious than
the statements made by the greenhouse skeptics, Michaels, Singer et al. I
find this extremely disturbing.

Tom Wigley
...


Could that be the general tendency? Putting science second in favor of the 'see-how-superior-we are-fighting-off-the-big-enemy-and-save-the-world'?

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written by Def-Star, December 16, 2009
I can't tell you how disappointed I am with this blog post. Not once did you address any real bit of science behind global warming. You belittled the scientists as being emotional, peer-pressured, religiously and financially motivated. Since when did you become a conspiracy theorist?

You gave your inexpert opionion on climatology as good enough reason for you. You make an assumption that "disease control, better hygienic conditions for food production and clean water supplies" doesn't get enough attention. And in the same breath, "as well as controlling the filth that we breathe from fossil fuel use...should distract us from fretting about baking in Global Warming." Are you serious? Global Warming more than anything is putting our attention on this.

You should have published this tripe at the Huffington Post. Next time, find an expert.
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written by Lukas, December 16, 2009
Maybe it isn't bad that Randi is wrong at times. He is not the pope after all. Carl Sagan was famously wrong about his predictions of catastrophic impacts for the Kuwaiti oil fires (as was pointed out by tobacco industry shill and AGW denier Fred Singer at the time). Yes, this opinion piece is disappointing, but I hope Randi will eventually educate himself by talking to real experts on the matter.
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written by Olowkow, December 16, 2009
Meanwhile, some 32,000 scientists, 9,000 of them PhDs, have signed The Petition Project statement proclaiming that Man is not necessarily the chief cause of warming, that the phenomenon may not exist at all, and that, in any case, warming would not be disastrous.


Appeal to "letters after their names" and titles. "Valid"? How? What field are these guys in? Lots of scientists believe in god too. Many "scientists" have a nasty habit of thinking they are experts in everything once they get their title even though they focus on a tiny portion of one discipline throughout their career.
"Proclamations" don't hack it for me. Sorry, Randi, I'll go with the climate experts, until some fraud is proven.
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written by GeekGoddess, December 16, 2009
Really.

Not donating to the JREF and its mission, after years of admiration, attending TAMs, and the like, because you disagree with Randi on one topic? One that he admits "I don't known" when discussing? Dismissing all the positive contributions because you don't like one thing?

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Shermer's eSkeptic on the petition
written by mmills, December 16, 2009
Oops, Randi.
You should have read this over at your pal, Michael Shermer's site:
http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/08-11-12
"... through his Global Warming Petition Project, Arthur Robinson has solicited the opinions of the wrong group of people in the wrong way and drawn the wrong conclusions about any possible consensus among relevant and qualified scientists regarding the hypothesis of human-caused global warming. His petition is unqualified to deliver answers about a consensus in which the public is interested."

I think your post will benefit the science deniers.
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written by MoonShark, December 16, 2009
@GeekGoddess: The JREF builds its reputation as a skeptic organization. I've seen videos of Randi using his skeptic powers to pick apart some pretty hairy stuff. The fact that he can't do the same for this laughable "Petition Project" is a depressing indicator of the critical thinking skills in use by today's JREF.

However, I suspect Phil Plait will say something about it again soon.
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written by mmills, December 16, 2009
Unfortuantely, my guess is, Randi will try to save face by stating:

"I was a bit hasty when I posted my global warming denial piece today. What I really meant to say was that questions are left unanswered and maybe we should "teach the controversy."

Uh oh.
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written by jhuntington, December 16, 2009
written by GeekGoddess, December 16, 2009
Really.
Not donating to the JREF and its mission, after years of admiration, attending TAMs, and the like, because you disagree with Randi on one topic? One that he admits "I don't known" when discussing? Dismissing all the positive contributions because you don't like one thing?


Please see my last sentence, with my emphasis added:
This episode has further confirmed my feeling that the JREF has lost its focus, and this is why I will not be investing in it this year.


Really. This to me is another sign of the long, slow decline of the JREF. It's sad, because the organization has done so much but I can't support it at this point (pending Mr. Randi's upcoming post). I'm hoping Mr. Grothe will take the organization in a new direction--perhaps back to its roots.

John
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written by Lukas, December 16, 2009
Really. This to me is another sign of the long, slow decline of the JREF. It's sad, because the organization has done so much but I can't support it at this point (pending Mr. Randi's upcoming post). I'm hoping Mr. Grothe will take the organization in a new direction--perhaps back to its roots.


I have to admit I haven't been following the JREF much, but what does this "decline" refer to? I am glad that there is a big visible preference of a skeptical organization out there, and I think skepticism definitely includes skeptical evaluation of important scientific issues like AGW, scientific vs "alternative" (quack) medicine, and such. Debunking the obvious frauds like UFOs and psychics just gets a little old after a while. The problem with Randi's article here is not that he tackles the issue of AGW, but that he doesn't do a good job of skeptical investigation. He mainly argues from ignorance, and mistakes the Oregon Petition as serious scientific criticism rather than what it really is, political advocacy.
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written by rwpikul, December 16, 2009
It was asked if a +1 degree or -1 degree shift is better.

To begin with, it is important to note that we are at +0.7 from the 20th century mean already. Thus the question is actually asking is +1.7 or -0.3 better.

Right now, there is a not insignificant number of rice crop failures in South-East Asia because it gets too hot. Going up another degree means that those failures will become far more common.

One Chinese report gives a rather worrying forecast: At a total shift of +2 degrees, Chinese food production drops 38%. At +2, only one major region increases food production capacity, Siberia. I think everyone here can see what those two things add up to.

+1 degree also gets us about half way to the temperature where the solubility of CO2 in the ocean drops below the concentration. When that happens, we start talking about shifts of +15 degrees and a return to conditions that wiped out every mammal larger than a rat.
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Urban Myths?
written by Dean Fox, December 16, 2009
Arthur Wrote: "Dean Fox wrote: "Back in the 1970s I recall reading articles stating with great certainty that this was a coming threat. Not many years later the story was already shifting to global warming."

This is an urban myth, easy to debunk. So easy in fact it has already been debunked twice in this thread with links. Climate scientists did not predict an ice age in the 1970s. Serious Skeptics should know this, or at least check before they make such an assertion.

And James Randi should have checked the credibility of the Petition Project before invoking it in the debate. Serious Skeptics know that the Petition Project is clearly dubious, and it isn't hard to do some research on the subject.

These are acts of real carelessness from people who should know better. This is the last place I'd expect to hear urban myths and hokey petitions touted as credible science."



Oh boy sir where to begin with arrogance such as yours.

Before making further replies such as this you may want to consider actually READING what people have written. Pleas point out where I stated there was a "scientific consensus" concerning the coming ice age in what I actually wrote above? IN fact where did I mention scientists in reference to the articles I most certainly do remember reading? Well?

The fact is I do remember reading articles I am not making this up. Articles were printed in several magazines, journals and news papers all anyone has to do is go visit a large enough LIBRARY, (remember those?) and look it up. Anyone who does this at say a major university that has a library of a few million volumes will find that I am not wrong and there were articles exactly as I said. People can determine the value and relevance of what they find for themselves I was merely stating that I remember those articles. It was discussed for some time then dropped because the data was obvious that the earth was warming for a period. To suggest that what I actually said is an urban myth is either misinformed, a misunderstanding or a lie.

More important than who wrote what article back in the 1970s however is that there are many scientists today who do not agree with the consensus opinion on AGW. You can try to paint them all with a broad brush suggesting they are all somehow compromised but critical thinking should suggest that is a bit absurd. It is not really possible that all scientists, meteorologist and climatologists who do not agree with AGW are somehow bought off or have a hidden agenda anymore than it is reasonable or possible to suggest that all scientists who are in agreement with the consensus opinion on AGW are somehow compromised by politics or PC.

Let's try to at least be accurate here, if you want to address me and my posts then address what I wrote in them. If I am factually wrong on salient point fine, please show me where but do not try to do a redirect to a point I never made.


Thank you.


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Cyncism is not a form of Skepticism
written by rc_moore@cvaas.org, December 16, 2009
Fortunately Mr. Randi has not unleashed this sort of logic on the existence of God, as his next post could be one of religious conversion....

Objections to Randi's position have been duly noted here and elsewhere, and they are not new -- and neither is Randi's cynicism disguised as skepticism. The logical fallacies are numerous in his post, and easy to identify, should someone wish to play a game of AWG-denial Bingo.

For myself, a person who reads each issue of Science and Nature, cataloging with growing sadness each independently documented report of the catastrophe we are leaving as our gift to future generations. There is more to AWG than a slightly warmer planet, as each new bit of research verifies. There is the saturation of our oceans with CO2, killing the coral reefs, the foundation of ocean life. There is the release of greenhouse gases other than C02, such as methane.

And there is the fundamental fact that the chemistry of our planet spent 300 million+ years locking away carbon so that life could flourish, and in a few centuries we will most likely have unleashed a much it back into the atmosphere. We have no idea how much life we will lose in the process. To dismiss this with the example of Inuits wearing warm clothing is a cruelty aimed at future generations akin to pointing to a few surviving Jews from the Holocaust as evidence genocide is not so bad after all.

I apologize for both the anthropomorphizing and the Nazi analogy.

I shared a meal with Mr. Randi last year, and he once again stressed to those in attendance about the danger of scientists being fooled by dishonest magicians. In this post we see a magician being fooled by dishonest scientists.

We also see evidence of something else I have warned about -- the dangers of Celebrity Skepticism:

from a comment by bosshog:

"I have been excoriated on this and other sites for being "skeptical" of AGW.
Thank you for your rational thinking on the subject.Mr Randi. I feel vindicated"

The commenter has been vindicated in a matter of science by a few affirming words by a magician. I think the illogic of this is self-revealing. But Mr. Randi is a celebrity, and his words will make politicians like James Inhofe ("God controls the weather") very happy, as they give him a few more nails to through on the road to progress.

Skeptics have created their own Gods (Randi, Dawkins, Myers, etc) who can only fall in the long run. As skeptics, we lack the faith to ignore it, and will attack with sharpened knives. We need to be true skeptics -- skeptical of woo of all kinds, including the woo that accompanies any idolatry.
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written by H.H., December 16, 2009
Bosshog wrote:
I have been excoriated on this and other sites for being "skeptical" of AGW.
Thank you for your rational thinking on the subject.Mr Randi. I feel vindicated
And that right there is why Randi's statement is so damaging. It vindicates every denier who thinks they are being "skeptical" by unreasonably rejecting the scientific consensus and promoting the idea that a legitimate controversy still exists. Randi, as a leader in the skeptic movement, you have a duty to inform yourself. A duty which you clearly failed to fulfill in this case. The Petition Project? Really? Why "strongly suspect" it's valid when you could have just checked into it and find that it wasn't? A total failure of responsibility here. I'm strongly disappointed.

And for everyone who still doubts the reality of man-made global warming, just make me one promise. 30 years from now when a generation of people are asking why we didn't do anything, why we ignored the warnings of scientists, I want you to stand up and take full responsibility. You look them in the eyes and explain how you weren't convinced. That you had doubts. That you failed to act. Don't you dare try to back-peddle or blame the media or politicians. Don't say scientists were split or that you couldn't make an informed decision. Don't excuse yourself in any way. When the time comes, if you are wrong, take responsibility for your actions (or lack of them). Somehow I have a feeling 30 years from now we won't be able to find anyone who will admit to having been a denier.
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written by Peristarkawan, December 16, 2009
Not to be a nut, but does anybody have an answer for my conjecture for an unusual renewable energy source: lightning. I imagine lightning-rod towers with huge capacitors to capture the lightning energy and bleed it slowly into the grid or batteries so that it can be used. Are there any materials that could be used for such a device or would any conceivable material disintegrate?


Interesting question. Let's see, according to Wikipedia, the average lightning strike delivers 500 MJ, and the area that gets the most lightning, which is in the Congo, receives 158 lightning strikes per square km per year. That comes out to about 2.5 kW per square km, assuming 100% efficiency, enough to power about 40 light bulbs. For comparison, wind turbines covering the same area will produce 300 MW or more, if the area has favorable wind. So collecting energy from lightning doesn't appear to be economically feasible.

It seems there may be some specialized uses, however: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...ing_energy
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written by rc_moore@cvaas.org, December 16, 2009
H.H. wrote:

"Somehow I have a feeling 30 years from now we won't be able to find anyone who will admit to having been a denier. "

I have yet to meet anyone who voted for George Bush (especially the second time, when his administration's incompetence was quite clear), willing to apologize for it.

You are quite right: those most willing to bet the future based upon dogma are also those most difficult to find when the future arrives. I think this is called "cowardice in one's convictions".
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Have I seen the light?
written by Dean Fox, December 16, 2009
"And for everyone who still doubts the reality of man-made global warming, just make me one promise. 30 years from now when a generation of people are asking why we didn't do anything, why we ignored the warnings of scientists, I want you to stand up and take full responsibility. You look them in the eyes and explain how you weren't convinced. That you had doubts. That you failed to act. Don't you dare try to back-peddle or blame the media or politicians. Don't say scientists were split or that you couldn't make an informed decision. Don't excuse yourself in any way. When the time comes, if you are wrong, take responsibility for your actions (or lack of them). Somehow I have a feeling 30 years from now we won't be able to find anyone who will admit to having been a denier."


Why is it that some of you here sound like fire and brimstone hell and damnation preachers?

Things like this post are actually the primary reason that I am still somewhat skeptical of this. The zealotry and outright spooky conformity on this issue just bothers me and it also bothers me how sharply this is divided along political lines.

Regardless of who is right or wrong it should not be this way and certainly not from people who want to come on here and pretend to be rational.


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..., Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by rc_moore@cvaas.org, December 16, 2009
Achura said:

"And what about you? Will you stand up and assume your responsibility of acting irresponsibly causing the world industrial civilization to collapse (Maurice Strong's golden dream!)if there are some absurd taxes imposed over CO2 emissions? And only for fixing a NO problem? What will you do if finally this cooling trend last the 65-90 years astronomers are predicting. Are you going to refund the losses from your own pocket, or will simply shift the blame onto others? (as it is usual in warmaholics)."

You are assuming an equivalence between the two positions that just does not exist. Any actions taking in response to global climate change can be changed as new data and circumstances change. No one is a proposing continuous re-evaluation of options should not be performed as new data is available.

But you must understand -- global warming denial, if wrong, it a catastrophic, irreversible course of action! If wrong in the future, I would gladly admit it and modify my position. But my position will be modifiable. The position of global warming deniers will not.
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I told you so..., Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by NoSacredCow, December 16, 2009
Well just as Mr Randi pointed out there are people posting here that are reading into it what they wish to see.

For Mr Randi's post I saw a fairly evenhanded look at the situation. His overall summation is we don't know and he admittedly doesn't. Being the skeptic that he is I was a little disappointed that he didn't mention the manner in which those signatures were collected for the Petition Project. (yes there were PhDs but many of those from outside the sphere of study and a number of scientists who were added to the list without their knowledge.)

My personal take is that the global warming crowd should have treated the whole thing as dealing with pollutants (CO2 being one of them). That would have left a lot less wiggle room for the doubters. Yes pollution is bad, any questions?

I personally find a problem with doomsday predictors the same way I feel when the medical community tells you that stopping [Fill in the blank] will add 5 years to your life expectancy. Well first they would have to know what my life expectancy is. It could be tomorrow. Quitting today ain't gonna do jack.

but that's just my opinion and to me, that's all that matters. smilies/wink.gif
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written by davewyman, December 16, 2009
Dean Fox wrote:

"Why is it that some of you here sound like fire and brimstone hell and damnation preachers?

"Things like this post are actually the primary reason that I am still somewhat skeptical of this."

Why is it "some" posts like this one make you skeptical, while the overwhelming posts - unlike this one - don't convince you?

Your thought process here is about as logical as Mr. Randi's.

"The zealotry and outright spooky conformity on this issue just bothers me"

Conformity? Randi claims there's a lack of consensus. You claim it, too - that opinion is divided by political party.

And why should conformity in itself be spooky? Is it spooky to think that when we turn on the tap water will flow out of it? Is it spooky to believe the Moon circles the Earth? No.
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written by Lukas, December 16, 2009
bigdoggy:
There is no evidence for AGW and for that reason alone no skeptic should believe it.

I know it's easy to miss the evidence, but there is in fact a little obscure group of scientists called "IPCC" who collected and summarized it: http://www.ipcc.ch/


If you think that sea levels are rising you should be able to point to where this is occurring, and have it checked, otherwise you are believing in a fantasy.

There is in fact a little-known web encyclopedia that might provide some starting points for your research: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...level_rise

IPCC and the church have exactly the same amount of verifiable evidence for their claims, ie NONE.

It is easy to miss the subtle difference between the Church and the IPCC, but one minor distinction is the amount of scientific papers reviewed in the bible, compared to the number in the IPCC reports. (Hint: One of them cites 0 scientific papers, the other one about 21,000. Guess which one is which...)
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written by H.H., December 16, 2009
Dean Fox:
Why is it that some of you here sound like fire and brimstone hell and damnation preachers?

Things like this post are actually the primary reason that I am still somewhat skeptical of this. The zealotry and outright spooky conformity on this issue just bothers me and it also bothers me how sharply this is divided along political lines.
Asking people to take responsibility for the consequences of their positions is "zealotry" now? There are actual environmental consequences to be faced as the globe warms, not the empty threats of "hell and damnation preachers." And I didn't say you'd have to answer to a fictional deity, just other people. Funny how my asking you to accept moral responsibility if you are wrong is now somehow to blame for you being wrong. "Well, gee, I would have taken GW seriously if it wasn't for all those zealots encouraging me to do so! It's all their fault!"
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Petition Project
written by JerryM, December 16, 2009
I'm disappointed that James Randi of all people would use something so thoroughly dismissed as the Oregon Petition as an argument for his skepticism of AGW.

http://debunking.pbworks.com/Oregon-Petition
http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/2009/07/12/what-if-the-oregon-petition-names-were-real/

He may plead ignorance of the science on the AGW side, but as a professional skeptic he should be able to recognize the tactics used by the opponents. How he can give credence to the Oregon Petition while knowing the same tactic was used by the Discovery Institute regarding evolution is beyond me.

If his point was to call for:

"more attention to disease control, better hygienic conditions for food production and clean water supplies, as well as controlling the filth that we breathe from fossil fuel use..."


He could have easily written an article about sustainability and how it does not need a 100% agreement on AGW, making the whole question on AGW moot.

So, again I'm sitting here wondering how the great James Randi of all people would want a 100% proof from science, a fallacy I'm sure he's well aware of being used to justify things like anti-vaccination and anti-evolution.

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written by ianmacm, December 16, 2009
Thought for the day from General George S. Patton:
"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking."
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written by davewyman, December 16, 2009
It, too, am disappointed with Mr. Randi. He's a skeptic, yet he's not particularly skeptical of the unfounded claims of the Petition Project?

The Los Angeles Times printed photographs of the change in some of the world's glaciers over the past decades - view the commentary, with a link to the photos, http://www.latimes.com/news/op...2358.story. And an article about the rapid melting of a glacier in China is http://www.latimes.com/news/na...2275.story

And the scientific evidence, despite Mr. Randi's skepticism, is overwhelming.
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written by NoSacredCow, December 16, 2009
Let's equate the finality of the gloabal warming predictors to an Atheist saying they know unequivocally that there is no "god".

Even I as an atheist cannot say it. But the lack of evidence leads me to believe so until proven otherwise.

Now how many hurricanes did we have this year? (versus predicted) When they get that right I might be a little quicker to jump when someone gives me the doom and gloom climate prediction. The modelling just doesn't seem to be up to snuff. (and I could be wrong...)
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written by latsot, December 16, 2009
Let's judge Randi on his response to these criticisms, rather than just his initial statement. I agree that it seems like he's failed to apply appropriate skepticism to this issue, but if there's one thing that has characterised Randi during the decade or so I've been reading his stuff, it's his willingness to accept that he might have been wrong.

Randi, the charge isn't (or probably shouldn't be) that you are wrong about AGW, but that you have misapplied your skepticism. The Petition Project isn't a good reason to doubt the scientific consensus. Neither is personal ignorance about the science or personal belief about the potential consequences.

I'd rather wait to see what Randi has to say about criticisms like this before condemning him, but I have to admit to some feelings of disquiet.
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written by Johan, December 16, 2009
As a JREF member, I feel deeply disappointed by this post.

Yes, everything can and should be questioned. That does not mean every opinion has equal weight. Even if they are supported by thousands of self-proclaimed 'scientists' (and it should be noted that anyone can sign that petition, as evidenced by the availability of many completely fictional signatories).

The arguments brought forth by mr Randi in this post are not scientifically sound. I will not list the many obvious errors here as others have already started. I'm disappointed that mr Randi did a post on a technical subject that he admittedly does not understand, without consulting with someone who does understand it. I do not expect someone to post an article on JREF about astrology, claiming that 'the position of Jupiter at our birth probably has some effect on our personality since it is as big as a sun' anymore than I expect someone to claim that we need not worry much about carbon dioxide emissions because our atmosphere contains only a 'trace' amount of carbon dioxide.

Regarding the 'growing' number of signatories to that infamous petition, let me cite from Wikipedia:
"Scientific American took a random sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition —- one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages."
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The problem with this global warming thing...
written by Griz, December 16, 2009
...is that you don't know who you can trust. Someone above said correctly that we should be listening to climate scientists, the experts, not other scientists, activists, actors, and authors. But how do you know who is speaking objectively. All those folks have some vested interest in the whole controversy, especially the climate scientists. As scientists, they should ideally sacrifice their personal interests in the pursuit of truth, but in reality few people will do that.

So for my part, I keep going back to the same place: I don't know whether AGW is real or whether it really is the crisis that it's often made out to be, but why wouldn't we want to clean up our environment? Why wouldn't we want to reduce the amount of pollutants we put into our one and only planet? Seems like the right thing to do regardless of whether or not AGW is real and a danger.

The answer: money. The people polluting our world are doing it for the sake of greed. Does anyone really think that's justifiable?
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written by Dacks, December 16, 2009
First post on this blog - Randi, you are being bamboozled! Remember, smart people are the easiest to trick. AGW is real: the IPCC has been collating climate data for almost twenty years and each report they produce shows that not only do warming trends continue, but that things are changing at a faster rate than previously thought. This sentiment is expressed over and over by the scientists, who each monitor their own little piece of the world.

Understanding the science behind AGW is a daunting task, but here is one basic idea to contemplate: CO2 levels before the industrial revolution were about 280 ppm. The level now is 387 ppm and rising. You might expect that the additional CO2 traps additional heat, and that is exactly what is confirmed by thousands of studies. Randi, please give this a little more thought!
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written by Lukas, December 16, 2009
NoSacredCow:

Let's equate the finality of the gloabal warming predictors to an Atheist saying they know unequivocally that there is no "god".


First of all, nobody is claiming that we know anything with absolute certainty. You should read the IPCC report, all the statements there are qualified with terms like "very likely" (>90% in their terminology), and there are several different scenarios. Yes, there is a chance that it won't warm much, and that everything will be nice and dandy, even if we don't do much to curb carbon emissions. No, this isn't very likely, according to the best available science today. Do you want to gamble on this?


Now how many hurricanes did we have this year? (versus predicted) When they get that right I might be a little quicker to jump when someone gives me the doom and gloom climate prediction. The modelling just doesn't seem to be up to snuff. (and I could be wrong...)


I don't think any credible scientist predicted a precise number of hurricanes for 2009, but I might be wrong. In any case, the IPCC report is very clear about the uncertainty in these kind of predictions, here is a quote from chapter 10 of the most recent IPCC report from 2007:

Tropical Cyclones (Hurricanes and Typhoons)
Results from embedded high-resolution models and global models, ranging in grid spacing from 100 km to 9 km, project a likely increase of peak wind intensities and notably, where analysed, increased near-storm precipitation in future tropical cyclones. Most recent published modelling studies investigating tropical storm frequency simulate a decrease in the overall number of storms, though there is less confidence in these projections and in the projected decrease of relatively weak storms in most basins, with an increase in the numbers of the most intense tropical cyclones.


Note that "likely" here means >66%, so there is considerable uncertainty. I know that some media outlets like to link every strong hurricane to AGW, but this is not the fault of the science or the IPCC.
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written by NoSacredCow, December 16, 2009
Lukas

I was talking about the posters here not the IPCC reports. Still what you're saying sounds a lot to me like Pascal's Wager. (like as I call them "Just in Case Christians")

And I live in South Florida. (just a few blocks from the JREF office asa matter of fact) Every year the National Hurricane Center makes predictions for the number of hurricanes to be prepared for. So far their batting average has to be about .000 (I'm being facetious in the average I don't have the figures in front of me but they have never been correct in my number of years living down here.

I'm not here to debate the validity of AGW. I believe there is some credibility. However ome of the posters on this thread are quite rabid about it. That is what I was ascribing to.
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The Arctic sea ice is BUILDING, Lowly rated comment [Show]
I'm disappointed in this post, which is not even-handed
written by stevekelner, December 16, 2009
For the record, one major survey of qualified scientists this year found that 97% believed in anthropogenic global warming: http://tinyurl.com/ygwj2ac. Interestingly, the farther away you went from pure climate scientists, the higher the degree of skepticism, e.g., meteorologists (who study weather, not climate, after all) had the highest rate of doubt. This suggests that the more you know, the more certain you are - a decent scientific viewpoint.
I did not find this post even-handed; after prefacing it with the obvious truth that scientists are human and fallible, Randi promptly referred to the IPCC, and then claimed that "growing number of prominent scientists disagree," implying that the Petition Project is a legitimate test of this, even though they are not comparable groups. Then he successively pulls out exactly the same points that conservative climate deniers or skeptics (take your pick) tend to pick: CO2 isn't that bad, there isn't that much, it doesn't have that much of an effect, we'll survive, and it's all part of natural cycles, and don't we have bigger things to worry about?
This is not even-handed, this is an explicit attempt to cast doubt on the AGW hypothesis by an admitted amateur who nevertheless has a lot of respect in the scientific community. While there are many legitimate points here, they are exclusively used to downgrade the importance or even the likelihood of AGW. A legitimately even-handed response would point out that, for example, there is compelling evidence that CO2 levels in prehistory appear linked to temperature levels, and indeed that it doesn't take much of a push over the tipping point to render Earth a much different place -- whether a few of us survive or not. I suggest some reading of realclimate dot org for those interested in what climate scientists are really debating.
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sea-level rise rate
written by LovleAnjel, December 16, 2009
@bigdoggy

Sea-level is rising at a rate of about 40cm/100 yrs in the 10,000 Islands in Southwest Florida. That rate will be too fast for the oyster reefs and mangrove islands to keep up with, and the islands in that area will eventually drown. I did my master's research on this.
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IARC-JAXA is not an anti-AGW Org
written by MoonShark, December 16, 2009
@laursaurus: I don't think your source says what you think it does. From the IARC-JAXA "about" page:
Previous researches suggest that a future temperature rise over the Arctic would lead cold wave and aridity to the mid-latitude region and threaten human life. Development of Arctic research is an urgent global requirement to prevent global warming.


Why do you cite September '07 and '09, but not '08? Why not some other months too? Are you cherry-picking?
https://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/welcome/overview.htm
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written by MadScientist, December 16, 2009
@CLamb: Sorry, misread part of your earlier post. The fossil fuel CO2 currently being released was not always in the atmosphere. CO2 is generated within the earth by decomposition of carbonate minerals and released via volcanoes over very long periods of time. Plants convert that CO2 to wood, which may be buried for whatever reason (such as a large volcanic eruption). At some point in history there was a very large release of CO2 over tens of thousands of years, so historic CO2 in the atmosphere was at some point higher than today. It took millions of years for natural processes to bring that CO2 back down to what we now call the "pre-industrial level" of about 0.028%. This is why some people advocate planting trees, then cutting them down, optionally charking them, and burying them - the process is a somewhat hastened process of what occurs in nature over many thousands of years. The charking is recommended because charcoal is not readily available for organisms to convert to CO2 whereas plain old wood in the presence of a little moisture can be converted to methane and CO2 by numerous microorganisms.
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Randi reveals himself finally... as a joke
written by gbc, December 16, 2009
...and lazy self-interest triumphs. The deniers are a study in psychology and Randi is now one of them.
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written by Lukas, December 16, 2009
laursaurus: Two months from 2007 and 2009 do not make a trend. Obviously, this doesn't show that you are wrong, but at least you seem to disagree with NASA about the interpretation of their data: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/ear...min09.html

U.S. satellite measurements show Arctic sea ice extent in 2009 – the area of the Arctic Ocean covered by floating ice – was the third lowest since satellite measurements were first made in 1979. The ice area at minimum was an increase from the past two years, but still well below the average for the past 30 years.

[...]

"Our three decades of continuous satellite measurements show a rapid decline of about 11.6 percent per decade," Comiso [Josefino Comiso, a sea ice expert at NASA Goddard] said. Arctic sea ice has declined about 34 percent since measurements were first made in the late 1970s.

The four lowest ice extents on record have occurred between 2005 and 2009, with the record minimum reached during a dramatic drop in ice cover in 2007 that was exacerbated by unusual polar winds.

Several recent studies based on data from NASA’s ICESat and QuikScat satellites have shown that, in addition to shrinking geographic ice coverage, the amount of multi-year ice cover – thicker ice that survives more than one summer -- has been declining in recent years.
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written by Otara, December 16, 2009
"The problem with this global warming thing...
written by Griz, December 16, 2009
...is that you don't know who you can trust. Someone above said correctly that we should be listening to climate scientists, the experts, not other scientists, activists, actors, and authors. But how do you know who is speaking objectively. All those folks have some vested interest in the whole controversy, especially the climate scientists."

You could say the same thing about evolutionary theory proponents. Everyone has some vested interest, thats why people are expected to supply credible scientific alternatives rather than simply picking holes in theories.

As far as emotion goes, Id expect to see similar levels of reaction if Randi said there were two sides to the argument with evolution vs creation or any other theory considered to have strong scientific support, and Ive seen creationists using them.

Ultimately they are not fundamentally arguments about the science and in practise are not useful ways to evaluate the validity of scientific positions.
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written by Otara, December 16, 2009
Sorry what I meant is Ive seen the 'oo you're using emotion so your argument must be weak' thing by creationists. In itself its a useless heuristic because it can as easily occur when your own position is ridiculous as when its perfectly sensible..
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written by MoonShark, December 16, 2009
Phil Plait said on a BA post update that Randi will post a followup tonight.

And also "try not to fly off the handle, mmmmkay?". Heh smilies/tongue.gif
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AGW is a fishy business --fish know better. , Lowly rated comment [Show]
Here's the graph
written by laursaurus, December 16, 2009
@laursaurus: I don't think your source says what you think it does

@MoonShark
sorry about that incomplete link. Isn't it a red flag that they're looking for data to support their hypothesis? or at best, fear-mongering to attract funding? How does researching the Arctic prevent Global Warming? That doesn't make any sense nor does it sound like the scientific process.
Here is the graft with all the data from Jan 2002-Dec 2009 http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/e...extent.htm
Isn't seeing the sea ice build good news? Phil Jones is secretly hoping for the worst so he will be proven right. Would an objective scientist or concerned environmentalist feel this way?
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written by MoonShark, December 16, 2009
@Achuara: The JREF president is a solar denier by your standards smilies/tongue.gif

Also the use of fish as temperature proxy is interesting, in the same way tree rings can be a useful proxy. Or any other biomarker (with technical caveats in mind). But I don't see how the sinusoidal fluxuations you cite and an overall warming trend are mutually exclusive.

Then again, we're already a decade into the forecast you posted, and so far it's been wrong; the general trend for the past 10 years has been one of warmth (assuming you don't fallaciously start with the outlier of 199smilies/cool.gif.
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Fish may know better, but they only live a few years...
written by LovleAnjel, December 16, 2009
@Achuara

From the study you cited:

"The concept of generating forecasts of anthropogenic climate change and consequent changes in fish production is beyond the scope of this study. However, there is a clear link between fish production and climate, so projecting future climate changes is of importance. Not only can climate be used to forecast commercial fish yields, but also it may be possible to estimate general changes in biological production on the global scale. It is therefore important to maintain databases on routine fisheries data and climate indices in the long term, in order to track these critical processes."

They're laying the groundwork for predicting the success of commercial fisheries on the basis of climate data, and for using it as a proxy for oceanic productivity. They are not saying anything about climate change or AGW.
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written by MoonShark, December 16, 2009
^That's 1998, sorry; comments system interpreted the number 8 and close-parenthesis as a smiley.
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This is really disappointing, Mr. Randi
written by mslongjr, December 16, 2009
After reading through this essay several times, the thing that sticks in my craw the most is what looks like a big fat double-standard, followed by an argument from ignorance.

Mr. Randi warns us against science-by-consensus in reference to the apparent consensus of climatologists in favor of the AGW hypothesis; and then he urges us to find plausible cause for denial in the apparent consensus of thousands of non-specialist scientists (and physicians and, well, anybody who can stick a few letters after his name) in the form of a petition on a web site.

And this is after Mr. Randi has spent the better part of his life warning us that people with letters after their names are easily fooled and easily led, especially where the subject isn't their field of specialization. If feels like the application of a double-standard that contradicts one of Mr. Randi's oldest rules of thumb for evaluating alleged expert opinion.

I understand being suspicious of the politicization of the global warming movement, but in this essay Randi shows no apparent awareness of or skepticism towards the politics of the denial movement which he favors.

I would be sympathetic if Mr. Randi chose to say, "I don't understand the science here, so I will focus on matters I think I do understand." But he doesn't; he argues from his own limited knowledge that the climatologists can't possibly know what they're talking about. In much the same way that ID advocates argue that the eye is too complicated to understand, he argues that climate change is too complicated to understand.

What I would like to see is a thoughtful essay about how to apply informed skepticism to a topic that is well outside the scope of one's personal knowledge; this is something ordinary people have to do all the time in a democracy. The current essay doesn't seem to me to be a good example.
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written by MoonShark, December 16, 2009
@laursaurus:
Here is the graft with all the data from Jan 2002-Dec 2009 http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/e...extent.htm
Isn't seeing the sea ice build good news?

Maybe you are just bad at reading graphs? This is climate, so it's long-term trends that matter. 2007, 2008, and 2009 as a group clearly show the smallest summer sea ice extent for the decade. In fact summer 2007 and 2008 seem to be the greatest anomalies on the graph; it's striking how much summer ice has disappeared in those recent cycles.

I don't think you can base anything off this single graph without a more rigorous understanding of what caused the severe dip for 2007 and the slow return (though not back to the decade average) in '08 and '09. I doubt it's a simple system at all. What training do you have that would lead me to think you have any idea what you're doing with this freely-available data?

Isn't it a red flag that they're looking for data to support their hypothesis?

They almost certainly made that webpage AFTER analyzing a fair amount of data. Plus, AGW is not "their hypothesis" -- IARC was founded in 1997. The AGW idea is many decades old. Why don't you hound an older organization? Sheesh.
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written by Lukas, December 16, 2009
NoSacredCow:

Still what you're saying sounds a lot to me like Pascal's Wager. (like as I call them "Just in Case Christians")

I know Pascal's Wager, but I think there is a crucial difference. If we had 90% scientific certainty that some particular God exists, then the analogy would work, but obviously we don't.

Let me try a different analogy that illustrates the problem much better, I think: Let's say we observe some asteroid near earth, and scientists figure out that there is a 90% chance of a catastrophic collision with Earth. Let's also assume that we would have technology that would likely reduce this probability, but would cost a lot of money, and that scientists predict that if we wait another 20 years it might be too late to do anything. What would you do? Bet on the 10% chance that it might miss?
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The AGW idea is much older than people think.
written by stevekelner, December 16, 2009
I see one point stated repeatedly that even I know is wrong, but it illustrates the challenge of interpreting this. People are saying "what about that ice age we were getting in the 1970s?" Thus implying that if they were wrong before, they're wrong now. This is fallacious for two reasons. First, it assumes we haven't learned anything in the last thirty years, when in fact there has been vastly more information gathered through superior means and analyzed in superior ways, with more computer power brought to bear. Second, that was based on the Earth's long-term cycles. If normal patterns indicate cooling and warmth occurs anyway, that actually supports AGW rather than denying it. It means that despite the natural cycles that climate denier/skeptics (I'm trying to be fair) love to cite, the Earth is still appearing to get warmer, which gives extra oomph. And that ignores the pollution issues - there's reason to believe that AGW was slowed a bit by older forms of pollution.
By the by, folks, Svante Arrhenius proposed what is now called AGW in 1896. That's right, the idea is over 110 years old. So if it's a conspiracy, it's not a new one!
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written by Airtime, December 16, 2009
I have great respect and affection for Randi, and take his opinions seriously. He's always been a good thinker,
We're all arguing the details, and attacking each other for our opinions.
However, maybe we can agree on some of these points:
Warming has been happening for quite a while now.
At least some of it is anthropogenic..how much is a moot point. We have to agree to disagree on how much.
With Glaciers and other ice already melting, and seas expanding with the temp rise, there are going to be big problems in low lying areas.
There have been warming events before, minor ones, in the last few thousand years. On the good side they were times of plenty, with good crops in higher latitudes, whereas cold spells were times of famine.
Rising CO2 levels are causing the oceans to become more acidic which seems certain to devastate our coral reefs and krill, which is bound to have very undesirable consequences, so we need to get CO2 levels down if only for that reason.
Shuffling money around the planet seems (to me) unlikely to achieve this.
Technology does seem to be the answer, and I think resources should be spent encouraging us all to get solar panels onto our roofs, and take the pressure off the coal fired power stations.
Similarly electric cars, solar charged at home and at work, should be encouraged for commuting, with low registration fees and other incentives.
Technology is improving exponentially,and rapidly becoming cheaper, and in developed countries has been accompanied by lower birthrates, so improving technology in poorer countries (which should happen eventually anyway) may eventually get the world population decreasing, which would be a great help.
There are grounds for optimism, but there are also big problems to be solved.
We need to pull together.

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written by MacDonald, December 16, 2009
NoSacredCow: "Every year the National Hurricane Center makes predictions for the number of hurricanes to be prepared for. So far their batting average has to be about .000"

What happens any given year is weather, not climate
Predicting the weather is notoriously dodgy.

Climate is a very different problem.

The accuracy or inaccuracy of weather predictions has no bearing on climate models.
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written by ESAtkinson, December 16, 2009
Over at Pharyngula, they are ahaving a fit about this issue. I quess by their standards I am a "God Denialist."
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Their preferred sport: hiding the decline
written by Achuara, December 16, 2009
@MoonShark,

Discover magazine blog! If you wanted me to laugh why didn’t you refer me to Real Climate instead? It is just too bad that the article by Phil Plait in there is from February 2008 when David Hathway and Plait were still smiling about predictions we were doing about the sun’s anomalous activity and the probability we’d see a new Dalton Minimum –prediction that is about to hit the bull’s eye.

But if you cannot read and interpret a graph I guess I cannot do anything to help you. There is no worse blind than the one who refuses to see. But I will make a try: The thin solid line represent recorded temperature anomalies since 1861 –no modeling, no proxys, no foul playing. Just observed FACTS.

Said that, can you see warming and cooling trends represented by the dashed line in a sinusoid of about 55 year long? And the black thick line is a projection (I don’t like the term “prediction”) of future temperatures from 1999 up to 2099. I guess you are getting your temp data from people like our friends at CRU, so I will remain sceptic until there is a urgently needed revision on surface temperature records. smilies/wink.gif

Today came news from Russia: Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data. Cherry picking of the warmest ones, dismissing 75% of their surface stations that showed some cooling –“hiding the decline,” perhaps?). It looks as it has been their preferred sport lately… smilies/grin.gif
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Overiding Moral Authority
written by Dean Fox, December 16, 2009
Demanding that posters on this forum make some sort of public decree if they are wrong is ridiculous. Posting a preachy propaganda piece outlining a worst case scenario and suggesting it is the fault of anyone who does not agree in full or part with a “consensus” point of view is zealotry.

Again I have to repeat what I actually said as opposed to what someone wants to tell me I said. I wrote that things like a post on here that are preachy and tend to paint people with a broad brush make me a bit skeptical of AGW. This is not just an issue to some and if you are not 100% on board the rhetoric is bizarre. I think that is a legitimate statement but I never said I rejected anything completely I just reject the kook fringe on all sides and from my perspective the number of kooks on one side of this issue seem to heavily outweigh those on the other. The conference in Copenhagen demonstrates that very well.

I also asked what would you have ME do? Why does it matter to any of you if I am a fully fledged tried and true believer in AGW? Why does this matter to YOU what possible difference could my opinion make? I am not in any position to impose my will on anyone, I am not an elected official nor do I plan to be I am just some guy with a few opinions that posts them once in awhile. Strong reaction just because I have a perceived differing opinion seems misguided at best and possibly an indication of near religious devotion to a cause.

The tendency of some to take this so seriously and start laying out worst case scenarios and laying the blame for them at the feet of others for simply stating an opinion on a website is beyond absurd and the language being used by some here is not that of rational debate. And yes I say blame because if someone is going to suggest that just because others were not 100% on board that they need to explain themselves to the world then they are suggesting blame. It is very irrational but it is what has been done here.

Lastly I now see that taking the consensus side on AGW is being declared to be the moral position by at least one person here. That is very curious indeed. I wonder why is that the moral position? What makes it moral to want to address AGW? Where does that moral authority come from? It seems like the adaptation of religious terminology to be frank. Do more of you now understand why this bothers me?

But let’s see if anyone can rationally explain where the moral authority comes from to declare one position on this issue moral while the others apparently are not. I would be very interested in where that moral authority is coming from and who appointed some of you the arbiters of that authority.
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written by NoSacredCow, December 16, 2009
Well said Dean.
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written by NoSacredCow, December 16, 2009
MacDonald.
NoSacredCow: "Every year the National Hurricane Center makes predictions for the number of hurricanes to be prepared for. So far their batting average has to be about .000"
What happens any given year is weather, not climate
Predicting the weather is notoriously dodgy.
Climate is a very different problem.
The accuracy or inaccuracy of weather predictions has no bearing on climate models.


You took it out of context in repsonse to another poster. Which is the other poster did not respond.

Umm and climate does affect weather. (to put it very simply)
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written by NoSacredCow, December 16, 2009
correction typo:
You took it out of context in repsonse to another poster. Which is the other poster did not respond.


Which is why why the other poster did not respond.

[I understand from response to my previous comments that sarcasm does not translate well on this site and will heretofore refrain from using said rhetorical device in the future.]
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written by MadScientist, December 16, 2009
Unlike my namesake, the other John Huntington, I will continue to support the JREF. I don't withdraw support for people or organizations simply because I do not agree on some things; I would find it miraculous (and creepy) if I ever met someone with whom I agree on everything. If an organization I support isn't being run quite the way I wish, I'd get involved in running it rather than sit on the sidelines throwing stones. I don't expect things to change to favor what I imagine and without my involvement because I don't believe in psychic abilities and change requires the involvement of people who wish to change things.
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written by Mark P, December 16, 2009
There are several reasons why I doubt the effect of CO2 on global warming. The need many proponents feel to exaggerate is one of them:

The East Anglia CRU have had their lives and reputations assaulted by people who were not prepared to spend the few seconds it would take to check the facts.


Had their lives assaulted? Really? Are you sure on that? A few fairly nasty blog posts and you have to cry to mummy! Since when do real scientists think having their findings challenged is an "assault"?

Not that they didn't deserve some stick. Those e-mails show warmers ensuring their opponents cannot publish in the major journals (and hence lowering their reputations). Why is it OK for warmers to do this, but not their opponents?

But really my main issue is the total lack of predictive ability of the current state of climate science. They make predictions which turn out to be false.

"Arctic will melt soon". Believed by most people. Not true, as it happens. In the last couple of years the Arctic has actually put on a serious amount of ice. It might melt in our life-times, it might not. We really don't know yet. (And the whole polar bear thing is silly. Their population is dependent on how much hunting is done and how many seals are available. The temperature is irrelevant.)

"The rate of heating will accelerate". Except the last 10 years have been a plateau.

"It's never been hotter". Patently false. I live in a country (NZ) where the vegetation is clearly suited to a hotter climate. It must have been warmer in the recent geological past or the Kauri would never have grown as far south as it did. Most countries have similar proof of warmer times, if you look.

When predictions fail, the science is poor.
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written by Otara, December 16, 2009
"I think that is a legitimate statement but I never said I rejected anything completely I just reject the kook fringe on all sides and from my perspective the number of kooks on one side of this issue seem to heavily outweigh those on the other."

This again is not a valid way to evaluate the potential legitimacy of a scientific theory though - its a heuristic rather than true scepticism.

If a large meteor is coming to hit the earth, you can be quite certain you will see nutjob city turning out and hysteria galore, it will still be worth listening to the astronomers as well.

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AGW skepticism is warrented. Here's why.
written by fyngyrz, December 16, 2009
Science - The path from theorem to theory, more to the point - requires that we come up with ideas, which then lead to predictions of the result of experiments in the realm of the idea. These predictions, if borne out, validate the theorem and then we have a theory with laws (that is, rules we can use to predict.) If they don't, they falsify the theorem and we don't have a theory, and we get to try again, hopefully with more information at hand.

Now, the problem with the AGW theorem is that the models which are making the predictions, are not matching the actual results. These climate models never worked well at both the poles and the mid-latitudes; they failed to predict the current long-lasting stall; the rates of rise predicted don't match, when rise actually does occur; and so what we have here is a theorem that is not producing rules that we can use to predict its notional basis.

Now, the issues that the theorem deals with are issues of great potential concern: waters rising, temperatures changing in what we think might be an unfriendly manner, and of course the degree, if any, to which we ourselves may be responsible for this.

But sit back, look at the *science*, that is to say, the success of the theorem at hand to generate successful predictions, and ask yourself: Is it time to use this as a basis for major decision making?

To put it into perspective, If I proposed a theorem that said dollar bills could survive in a chemical environment for 4 hours, but when this assertion is tested, some bills did, and some bills didn't... would you be ready to commit to putting *your* money in the jar for 4 hours, or would you want to wait until the theory correctly predicted which bills survived, and which did not, and then check over your bills, before you did anything as committal-heavy as putting your liquidity at stake?

The AGW theorem has inputs of concern. No question. At this time, it makes very poor predictions. Also no question (references on request.) Yet we are being asked to accept it as if it were a tested, validated theory; to act upon predictions, even though many have demonstrably failed to date; to accept as useful law, ideas that have not stood up under real world conditions.

This is why a skeptical viewpoint is appropriate at this time. It is also why a scientist who is not a climatologist can evaluate the science from outside, as can an informed layman, without great familiarity with the climate.

The questions to ask are: Does the the theorem give rise to testable predictions? If yes, and that seems to be the case here, then the next question is, are the results compatible with the predictions made? The answer here is presently no -- we have this stall in temperature rise; we have the failure of the models to predict across all latitudes; we have sea level changes that don't match the predicted results.

Given this situation, we reasonably can, and we should, ask the proponents of the AGW theorem to go back to the workbench and refine those predictions. When they get it right (and they may yet do so), that is the time to get behind policy decisions that use the science -- because when the predictions work, then it *is* science, in the sense that now, finally, one has a theory.
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written by sailor, December 16, 2009
I cannot imagine much to add to this, except rather extreme surprise that Randi would consider the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists were in some kind of group think "correctness" leading them down the garden path, while at the same time thinking there is likely validity in The Petition Project, which as many in the comments have shown to be highly suspect with the the most cursory internet search.

Maybe Randi does not realize his enormous influence, if he did I think he might have been a tad more careful about this particular post.

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written by sailor, December 16, 2009
Oh by the way re-hurricanes, it was an El Nino year, this usually means a decrease in Atlantic hurricanes, though it can increase Pacific ones, so I guess it depends on which hurricane data the poster was commenting on.
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This is a test, right?
written by JerryM, December 16, 2009
Wait a minute...

James Randi is testing us. He's trying to show the woo-peddlers that if he uses fallacious reasoning, his supporters/followers/flock will call him on it.


Or, or, it's an attempt to collate all the arguments for and against in one big ass thread, so he can use that in his book!


Or, he's trying to show that being wrong on something doesn't mean you're wrong on everything - it's ok to be wrong. Sometimes. Just don't make a habit out of it.


So Mr Randi, I forgive you being wrong, or using us. Please acknowledge your reasoning was flawed, so we can move on?

Thank you.
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Your Opinion vs. Scientific Experts
written by Scott A Mandia, December 16, 2009
Randi, please tell me that you are joking with this opinion piece. Please!

If not, read my Website which brings real science to the general public. I have tried to make it easy to follow without sacrificing the scientific rigor.

http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/

Maybe you should begin with my debunking of the Petition Project:

http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/global_warming_denial_machine.html#Oregon_Petition
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De-Trended
written by John Sandlin, December 16, 2009
@Achuara: You seem like an expert on these graphs, what does the term detrended mean on them? They've labeled their graphs "Figure 9.1 The future fluctuations of detrended Global temperature anomaly (top) and "zonal" form of Atmospheric Circulation Index (bottom)".

That detrended seems to imply that your contention for what the graph means isn't necessarily true.

jbs
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El Niño year? WRONG
written by Achuara, December 16, 2009
@sailor:
Oh by the way re-hurricanes, it was an El Nino year, this usually means a decrease in Atlantic hurricanes, though...

La Niña ended around May and a very mild El Niño tried to emerge around August, when the hurricane season was well advanced and only 3 or 4 tropical storms in the bag. But then, by November 17 the Pacific Ocean was not yet warm enough to form a real El Niño --actually it was cooling as this image from WeatherUnderground (taken from NOAA I guess) shows:



So what happened to hurricanes in 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006? What Ryan Maue says about decreasing ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) in the climatic system:



Hurricane activity and Cyclone Energy is in its lowest point in 30 years. Models have not projected this with any accuracy. Models are not good tools for predicting or projecting anything. They are only good for feeding modelers and their families (and politician's dreams of power).
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Detrending series
written by Achuara, December 16, 2009
@John Sandlin,

Wikipedia (not a trustable source, though) has this definition (that I see quite correct):

"In stochastic processes, chaos theory and time series analysis, detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) is a method for determining the statistical self-affinity of a signal. It is useful for analysing time series that appear to be long-memory processes (diverging correlation time, e.g. power-law decaying autocorrelation function) or 1/f noise.

The obtained exponent is similar to the Hurst exponent, except that DFA may also be applied to signals whose underlying statistics (such as mean and variance) or dynamics are non-stationary (changing with time). It is related to measures based upon spectral techniques such as autocorrelation and Fourier transform."

Get it? Detrended series are more trustable than raw ones. smilies/wink.gif
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written by Lukas, December 16, 2009
John Sandlin:

@Achuara: You seem like an expert on these graphs, what does the term detrended mean on them? They've labeled their graphs "Figure 9.1 The future fluctuations of detrended Global temperature anomaly (top) and "zonal" form of Atmospheric Circulation Index (bottom)".


This is answered in section 2 of that paper:

The averaged surface air temperature anomaly (dT) is widely recognised to be the most important index characterising the global climate changes including "global warming" (Bell et al. 1998; Anisimov and Polyakov 1999).

[...]

Global dT is known to have an ascending linear trend 1861-1999 with the increment of 0.059 [degrees Celsius] per 10 years (Sonechkin 199smilies/cool.gif.


So what they do to "de-trend" the data is subtract that linear warming trend (which makes sense, because they want to remove large-scale global trends and extract local variations). So yes, this study explicitly says that global average temperatures are getting warmer.
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written by Achuara, December 16, 2009
@Scott Mandia,

Your website is a well known mudslinging snake pit. Falling constantly in the very obsolete link "Big Oil-Paid Liars", "Tobacco style-liars", etc, and the unbelievable absurd argument of Willi Soon not publishing in "respected peer reviewd journals". Actually, Soon, Robinson and Baliunas did publish their paper in Climate Research in 2003, a respected peer reviewed journal when Hans Von Storch was its editor! And von Storch is no sceptic as far as I know, but a honest scientist that has lots of doubts about AGW. And one doubt von Storch and Zorita don't have is that the Hockey Stick is as false as an eleven dollar bill. BTW, that paper ended von Storch 10-year career as Climate Research editor. That's the power the AWG fraudsters have on the peer reviewed literature.

Then comes along ClimateGate and now YOU know something we always KNEW: Sceptic scientist had their access to Science and Nature (and most other accomplice journals) blocked by the gang at CRU/NASA/GISS/NOAA. They confessed it and felt proud of having managed to get away with it! That fact was implied in the Wegman Report when it uncovers the gang of 42 reviewers that blocked access to inconvenient papers while easing their own papers into publishing. Corruption at its purest state. You should take down your website. It is a shame for science.
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Petition Project suggests The Wisdom of Crowds ?
written by Bernie Hutchins, December 16, 2009

Bravo to James Randi, as always.

In his 2004 book THE WISDOM OF CROWDS, James Surowiecki suggests that if we are really looking for truth, we should assemble smart people from varying disciplines, not just self-certified experts. I think the petition projects and similar do this in part. In any event, I would choose James Randi above all others to chair such an assembly!

Someone above referenced a paper by Whittenberger in a 2008 issue of Michael Shermer’s SKEPTIC magazine that was critical of the “petition project”. I believe that the follow-up letters to the editor regarding the value of Whittenberger’s analysis were generally negative, including my letter which was published in Spring 2009. Here is my text:

***********************************************

Global Warming Science is not a democracy

While certainly imperfect, the "survey" by Robinson did in fact seem to offer some screening so as to involve persons with better than average analytical thinking skills, and 31,000 is an impressive level of participation. This we must compare to the numerous flat declarations that "the science is settled" by Al Gore and company.

Perhaps most prominently on the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) side was the 2004 essay in SCIENCE by historian Naomi Oreskes, who searched for about 928 scientific articles and found 0% (!) disagreement with the AGW proposition. That is consensus in the extreme of unanimity. Later exposed as contrived in the scope of the search and disingenuous in interpretation of the 928 papers (likely not carefully read!), this "essay" was at least as suspect as Robinson's recent petition.

Further, why does Whittenberger suppose that mere mathematicians and engineers (etc.) am not worthy of being heard on the subject of global warming? Climate science is one of those areas where cross-disciplinary skills are not only desirable, but required. Assuming a (contextual) validity to the e-mail he cites from Robinson to Kessler, Robinson would be quite wrong to suggest that climate science is simple. We know extremely little about the mechanisms, the variables involved, and certainly the measured data are of limited reliability.

Help from mathematicians (the statistics of principal component analysis) might have prevented the embarrassing "Hockey Stick" incident that left global warming proponents with egg on their faces. Help from physicists could remind the climate scientists that the second law of thermodynamics is not just a theory. And engineers? Well engineers have talents to look at mechanisms of a wide variety of complexity to see if they make sense. They are by training inclined to find the weak points, if not outright flaws in theories, measurement methodology, and models. They know, as a daily reality, that theory and practices am usually separate issues. But in any case, science is not a democracy. We need to listen to the scientists (on each side) directly, and not to the people who count them and try to fit their work to a particular agenda.

--Bernie Hutchins, berniehutchins@yahoo.com
******************************************************* ******

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written by Lukas, December 16, 2009
Achuara:

Actually, Soon, Robinson and Baliunas did publish their paper in Climate Research in 2003, a respected peer reviewed journal when Hans Von Storch was its editor! And von Storch is no sceptic as far as I know, but a honest scientist that has lots of doubts about AGW. And one doubt von Storch and Zorita don't have is that the Hockey Stick is as false as an eleven dollar bill. BTW, that paper ended von Storch 10-year career as Climate Research editor. That's the power the AWG fraudsters have on the peer reviewed literature.


This is a terrible misrepresentation of the facts surrounding the Soon/Baliunas paper and Hans von Storch (who really has some doubts about the AGW consensus, especially the "hockey stick"). Here is von Storch in his own words, the reason why he resigned from the editor-in-chief post at Climate Research: http://coast.gkss.de/G/Mitarbe...r.2003.htm

After a conflict with the publisher Otto Kinne of Inter-Research I stepped down on 28. July 2003 as Editor-in-Chief of Climate Research; the reason was that I as newly appointed Editor-in-Chief wanted to make public that the publication of the Soon & Baliunas article was an error, and that the review process at Climate Research would be changed in order to avoid similar failures. The review process had utterly failed; important questions have not been asked, as was documented by a comment in EOS by Mann and several coauthors. (The problem is not whether the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the 20th century, or if Mann's hockey stick is realistic; the problem is that the methodological basis for such a conclusion was simply not given.) It was not the first time that the process had failed, but it was the most severe case. However, my authority as Editor-in-Chief did obviously not cover the publication of an editorial spelling out the problem. The publisher declined the publication, and I cancelled my task as Editor-in-Chief immediately on 28 July 2003.

I withdrew also als editor because I learned during the conflict that CR editors used different scales for judging the validity of an article. Some editors considered the problem of the Soon & Baliunas paper as merely a problem of "opinion", while it was really a problem of severe methodological flaws. Thus, I decided that I had to disconnect from that journal, which I had served proudly for about 10 years.

Today I am not longer related to the journal Climate Research in any way. Only the review process of those manuscripts, for which I initiated the review process, will be completed by me. After that I will be completely detached.

Three more editors withdrew namely Clare Goodess, Mitsuru Ando and Shardul Argawala. In mid September 2003 Andrew Comrie resigned as well.
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Earth's ancient temperature
written by Scott G, December 16, 2009
@CLamb, a couple other folks gave some detailed CO2 data which I won't repeat. Also keep in mind that the sun was substantially cooler in its earlier existence. One hypotehsis is that Earth was nearly entirely covered in ice due to a positive feedback mechanism on on cooling (Snowball Earth) at one point until a supervolcano or other activity increased the CO2 and other greenhouse gas ratio enough to heat it up again. The hypothesis is not without its problems, but it can explain why a substantially higher quantity of GHGs in the atmosphere would not have led to an overheated planet (a la Venus) in the past.

@jimgerrish - I do not think it is a joke that we can fix this. While we cannot necessarily stop the ages-long fluctuation of Earth's climate, we can certainly stop hastening the process (and perhaps pushing it overboard). The ecosystem seems nicely balanced for keeping itself in check in the absence of external influences. I count human excesses as external in this case.

General disclaimer: I am not, alas, an atmospheric scientist (although I do have a physics degree and have taken atmospheric classes, which places me significantly far from expert!). I do, however, trust in the scientific process and find it very difficult to believe, given the general competitiveness of scientists, that there is some sort of global peer-pressure thing going on which is forcing real scientists to sign on to AGW against their better judgments.
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@ Achuara - and those who think the East Anglia email flap proves fraud
written by stevekelner, December 16, 2009
The Associated Press did an "exhaustive" analysis of 1,073 emails, and found no evidence of fraud, no evidence that skeptics were blocked, and absolutely no evidence that the science of climate change was faked. Some had the ugly tone you might expect from angry people who don't like other people, but they are human beings, and they're as entitled to random dislikes as everyone else.
http://tinyurl.com/yav8ujv
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We must believe Associated Press TOO?, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by Scud_1373, December 16, 2009
Wait... what? James Randi rejects the peer reviewed work of hundreds of thousands of scientists, the National Academies, NASA, NOAA, the Pentagon... every scientific organization with national or international standing, using the "here's a list of scientists that don't believe" argument stolen out of the Creationist handbook?

What kind of bizarro world is this?
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To Randi
written by Chris Jackson, December 16, 2009
With all due respect, the whole Petition Project is transparently suspicious. I must underline the word ‘transparently’, because even a precursory internet investigation reveals numerous defects in the signatories and motivation underneath the petition. There are copious signs of people whose attitudes towards science are based on religious or political influences. Take for example the organization that sponsored the petition, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine presided over by a certain Dr. Arthur Robinson. Dr. Robinson is also a signatory to the Dissent from Darwinism petition put forward by the Discovery Institute, and is apparently also skeptical of natural selection as a medium for biological change over time. I’m not automatically disregarding and dismissing the man for any particular opinions that he might hold – but it does reveal how much his political and religious views shape his views of science. He is apparently a devout Conservative Christian who distains anything that he even remotely views as a ‘Secular-Leftist’ cause.

His name can be found within the petition:
http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/scientists/

A quick look at the homepage of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine gives a glimpse of how politically-shaped the organization’s conception of science is: http://www.oism.org/s32p28.htm

I’ll pick out a few noteworthy quotes from various pages on the website:

“The level of political and secular humanist indoctrination in American public schools has risen so high that it is very difficult for any child attending public school to emerge with an understanding of historical and religious truth.”

“Teach your children to teach themselves and to acquire superior knowledge as did many of America's most outstanding citizens in the days before socialism in education.”

“The social and religious environment in most schools in America has deteriorated to a level of evil such that it is a threat to the spiritual, moral, and mental health of each child who is forced to participate in it.”


I had to speculate, I would say that the Petition Project is a prime example of manufactured dissent, much like the Dissent from Darwinism. It has nothing to do with actual scientific dissent.
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To Randi (cont.)
written by Chris Jackson, December 16, 2009
What are the exact motivations of groups and people who ardently claim that climate change is fraudulent?

Perhaps it is cognitive dissonance – some people are so adverse to the political and economic ramifications of human-induced climate change being real that they passionately convince themselves that it is false. They may imagine that there is a vigorous debate over the quality of the research behind climate change, or perhaps they may convince themselves that the entire field of data is an outright scam. The opinions of these individuals are probably then further hardened by how environmentalism is widely promoted by individuals of a different political stripe – Al Gore, for instance.

I am increasingly getting the sense that individuals who ardently view anthropogenic climate change as a hoax are completely preoccupied with their dislike of Al Gore, environmentalists, and ‘the Left’ in general. These individuals interpret the whole issue of anthropogenic climate change as a hoax pulled off by political activists desperate for an excuse to raise taxes and spend them on all manner of projects. Perhaps many environmental activists are indeed infected with an irrational ideology – Greenpeace for instance, which advocates all manner of specious beliefs that ignore or reject science.

But even so, that does not speak to the authenticity of human-induced climate change. In the end though, this whole paradigm is dangerous, because it constitutes ignoring reality. No matter what our inclinations are, no matter what our preferences are, and no matter what our preconceptions are, we should be dedicated to knowing the truth and reality behind any phenomena. Facts come first, and science is the finest tool we have as a species for uncovering those facts. On this particular topic, the scientific community has successfully gathered consensus. The dissent of a relative minority of people exhibiting maverick behavior – and seemingly driven by a desire to discredit the data rather than read the data – means little in comparison.

Consensus is certainly not the final word on any matter, but it is also not a creature to be ignored. Consensus should be disputed when there is significant evidence to do so. It should not be treated with innate suspicion by default. Suspicion that is cast towards scientific consensus that is politically or religiously motivated, as we see in the petitions above, should be disregarded. Keep in mind that consensus is by definition built on evidence and agreement between a vast number of professionals within a field.

I have to disagree with your stated view that consensus is driven by political correctness and peer pressure, and not by evidence. That is precisely the argument advocated by Ben Stein in his ‘Expelled’ documentary. Scientists are a fractious and garrulous lot – if they have a reason to agree or disagree, they tend to make it known within their community. Scientists are not push-over pansies. Dissenting views are always welcome in the field of science, but not in the irrational capacity as we see here. Peer-reviewed science is a dynamic discipline and is open to fractious disagreement, so long as it remains professional and based on evidence. There may be disagreement on the exact details of climate change. However, the fact that it is occurring and that it is human-induced is a matter largely settled.
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To Randi (cont.)
written by Chris Jackson, December 16, 2009
By the way Randi,

I'm a 21 year old admirer.

Thank you for long career combating superstition and stupidity. You have done an immense deal to teach me the importance of appreciating reality.

But I have to totally disagree with you on this one.
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written by Puppycow, December 16, 2009
The 9/11 "Truthers" have a petition too.
So do the creationists.
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written by Achuara, December 16, 2009
@Scud:

Wait... what? James Randi rejects the peer reviewed work of hundreds of thousands of scientists, the National Academies, NASA, NOAA, the Pentagon... every scientific organization with national or international standing, using the "here's a list of scientists that don't believe" argument stolen out of the Creationist handbook?
What kind of bizarro world is this?

The Appeal to Authority Falacy is not permitted in Randi's website. You should know that the Consensus argument is not valid in the Scientific Debate. Science is not a Democracy where the weight of opinions is worth more than the weight of reason. Science is a tyranny ruled by facts stemming from observations. And AWG is lacking solid science from all four sides.

As it is attributed to Julian Huxley: "Reality has the nasty habit of destroying the most beautiful theories", or another version, "A terrible thing has happened: a fact has killed a nice theory".
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Peter Sinclair
written by Puppycow, December 16, 2009
If, like me, one suffers from Eyes Glazing Over when confronted with a stack of journal studies, but nonetheless wants to learn enough about AGW to have an informed opinion, Peter Sinclair's videos are an excellent intro.

http://www.youtube.com/user/greenman3610
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written by davewyman, December 16, 2009
@Achuara:

"The Appeal to Authority Falacy [sic] is not permitted in Randi's website."

Fail. An appeal to authority is an unfair argument when no supporting evidence is offered. You've simply created a straw man because, in the case of climate change, there is plenty of evidence offered up for consideration. So those who think dramatic changes in the global climate are real aren't relying on the consensus of authorities - they are relying on the evidence presented by the scientific method.

Frankly, no amount of evidence will satisfy you or your fellow true believers who are overwhelmingly right wing and religious fundamentalists.

What specifically WOULD you accept as evidence of global warming? What evidence science could uncover would you accept as proof that climate change is real? I think the answer is already clear - no amount of evidence would satisfy you. But if I'm wrong, prove me wrong. What would you accept as evidence proving climate change?

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written by Steel Rat, December 16, 2009
What specifically WOULD you accept as evidence of global warming? What evidence science could uncover would you accept as proof that climate change is real? I think the answer is already clear - no amount of evidence would satisfy you. But if I'm wrong, prove me wrong. What would you accept as evidence proving climate change?


What evidence is there that CO2 is actually causing all or most of the warming since the LIA? What evidence is there that tree rings make good thermometers? And if some trees make good thermometers, why toss out similar trees without explanation? Why overweight a handful of trees which show a warming signal while disregarding hundreds more which do not?

This is how the CRU and associates were attempting to do away with the MWP, thus making modern warming "unprecedented". This is the problem the CRU emails have to overcome with respect to potential fraud. Temperatures we're seeing now are most likely a return to the Holocene "average", and don't appear to be unprecedented during this interglacial. Thus, the decline that was hidden shows that "treemometers" don't calibrate well to actual thermometers, which then throws any use of them as such into question for past temperature information. That's the crux of the problem exposed by Steve McIntyre at http://climateaudit.org

If you're at all curious, you can go there and see his code and methods for yourself, and prove him wrong. So far no one has been able to do that. Instead they insult him.

If you can show me that today's temps are unprecedented for this interglacial, or for the previous interglacials since the ice age cycles started, and that CO2 is causation and not just loose correlation, then perhaps I'll believe.

I have no political axe to grind, I don't affiliate myself with any political faction. I'm an atheist. I don't believe aliens are visiting this planet. I don't believe in power vortices in Sedona, AZ. I don't believe Sylvia Brown and her ilk are anything but con artists. So just show me...
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written by davewyman, December 16, 2009
"If you can show me that today's temps are unprecedented for this interglacial, or for the previous interglacials since the ice age cycles started, and that CO2 is causation and not just loose correlation, then perhaps I'll believe."

I appreciate your thoughts. You didn't answer my question, though. Instead, you questioned evidence presented so far by those who have researched the issue, which has nothing to do with my question.

Again, the question: What scientific evidence would make you think climate change is real? Your "Perhaps I'll believe" simply proves my point, at least for now - you won't accept any evidence.
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written by davewyman, December 16, 2009
My apologies - I thought I was replying above to Achuara. Like Achuara, though, Steel Rat is unable to say what evidence it would take to show global warming is real.
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written by davewyman, December 16, 2009
Achuara wrote:

"Today came news from Russia: Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data."

So it's OK for YOU to appeal to authority, but then a little later you claim it's wrong for others to do so (even though they haven't). Why should anyone trust what you say?

Have you read the actual Russian article? Apparently not.

I have. There is no claim of tampered evidence.

So you have misstated what's in the article, as well as fallen victim to the very fallacy you inaccurately ascribe to others.

In point of fact, the claim of the IEA article - whatever that organization may be - is that not enough weather stations were sampled; there is no claim that any tampering of evidence occurred.

Beyond that, the article - by one N. A. Pivarova - itself distorts the facts. Pivarova claims that the records of only 1500 weather stations have been sampled by scientists, even though 5,000 such weather stations could be utilized.

In fact, records from 5,000 weather stations have been sampled, but only a subset of these records - 1,500 of them - have been released to the public, because international approvals to release the remaining 3,500 records have not yet been secured.

Read about it here: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/co...208a.html
.
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Part 1
written by Michael R, December 16, 2009
"What specifically WOULD you accept as evidence of global warming? What evidence science could uncover would you accept as proof that climate change is real? I think the answer is already clear - no amount of evidence would satisfy you. But if I'm wrong, prove me wrong. What would you accept as evidence proving climate change?"


You have asked two separate questions and interrelated them. Your answer in this post:
My apologies - I thought I was replying above to Achuara. Like Achuara, though, Steel Rat is unable to say what evidence it would take to show global warming is real.


Shows exactly the same problem. Global warming (the Earth's global average temperature increasing) and Climate Change (Local and or global climate effects changing, temperature, ocean levels etc etc) are not the same thing - though AGW proponents have a habit of using them interchangeably.

In addition many, as you seem to have done so through the lack of being specific, have used doubt about one as a justification for doubt about the other.

To make matters worse, what the argument is about is AGW not Global warming, which is a subset of Global Warming which in turn is a subset of Climate Change. If you want an answer to your question that actually means anything, consider clarifying it first.

Yes we have seen evidence of climate change. Yes there is probability that AGW has assisted in some of the warming experienced over the last 50 years. What is in debate is how much warming has occured due to AGW and whether or not this warming will lead to "catastrophic climate change".

If you were to ask me what evidence I would accept that shows that AGW is real and will lead to catastrophic climate change, my answer would be that I would like to see ANY clear evidence that it will happen. Show me that the Earth is responding largely in the negative to AGW. Give me any data you can find to support this hypotheseis and I will reassess my opinions. What i get over and over again, is not evidence to support AGW but evidence to support Climate change - and then that validation is carried over to also apparently be convinced of AGW.

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Part 2
written by Michael R, December 16, 2009
What exactly do i mean? I will put it simply - Melting Glaciers do not prove AGW. Increasing/Decreasing temperatures do not prove AGW. Increasing/Decreasing Sea Ice do not prove AGW. Hurricanes and the like do not prove AGW. What they do prove is Climate Change happens.

AGW theory relies on connecting the warming to GreenHouse gasses, and relies heavily on proving that the warming is unnatural. In other words, if it could be proven that the vast majority of warming occured is entirely natural, AGW flies out the window. In order to determine whether it is not natural (and consequently not precedented) we were shown the iconic Hockey Stick graph (in more than one incarnation). The problem is the data that went into that stick is small in comparison to other data showing different. This means that this Hockey Stick of temperatures is also theory with unfortunately not enough sound evidence to prove its accurate. In fact the very fact that the same data, when continued on through the latter 20th century diverges from actual temperatures means either the data used in the stick is wrong, or the actual temperature record is wrong. I Think it is safer to assume that the actual temperature record is more accurate? Which would mean the data that went into the reconstruction has issues, meaning the entire history it shows is suspect.

In addition to that, the documents leaked and referred to as "Climategate" undermine the trust in the scientists involved. This unfortunately has the effect that it won't matter what those scientists proclaim (true or otherwise) they cannot be trusted with data that is supposed to be the evidence basing the "biggest issue to the world".

There is more issues with this theory - Ocean Level Monitoring in Tuvalu shows, plotted at monthly averages for the last 10 years, no trend up or down in sea levels. Data from the nineties in the same place purportedly showed the same - no trend - however that data has apparently been lost. Either way, for the last decade, sea levels have not risen in Tuvalu - and this is the country that has their minister crying over Sea Level Rise.

Honestly, if you took away the IPCC report and looked at Actual sea level data - there would never have been a crisis. Add to that the issues with homogenisation of temperature series, missing stations from the coldest areas of the coldest areas of the world, and over dramatisations of catastrophic climate change - I am sorry but there are too many issues with the "evidence" to say its "Settled" and do so with a straight face.

I would be interested to know two things myself, seeing you asked a question -
1) How much evidence can you find of AGW and catastrophic climate change can you find that is not linked to the scientists involved in the "Climategate" Affairs?
2) How is it that the scientific premise - indeed the moral code is that it is required that scientists be objective when the only people being objective are the "sceptics"? (Because if the level of issues with the evidence does not cause you to be hesitant then Climate Change is no longer science to you it is belief. Only belief has the problem of being unable to be countered by reason and evidence).
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This is a simple matter of trusting the scientific method
written by Chris Jackson, December 16, 2009
Looking at all of the posts here, I’ve decided to state exactly why I endorse scientific consensus on this matter. And yes – there is scientific consensus. Frankly, the arguments that I hear from individuals who claim that climate change is a fraud reminds me too much of the fallacious arguments that I have observed across historical case studies of denialism and contrarianism. These mind-frames have nothing to do with rational skepticism, and are frail imitations at best with completely different origins.

Rational skepticism is about maximizing your potential to understand objective reality. I’m not skeptical for the pure sake of being skeptical – I just want to be correct, and there is a lot of woo out there. Denialism and contrarianism in contrast are both centered on evading objective reality. They have no desire to understand, only to debunk.

For example, let’s look at cigarettes and their link to lung cancer. It is now widely accepted that smoking will dramatically increase the probability of developing lung cancer. Smoking won’t necessarily lead to a one-hundred percent probability of cancer, but the persistent introduction of mutagenic substances into the body over a long period of time will strongly increase the odds of a cancerous mutation. Now, there was once a time when cigarettes were not scientifically linked to lung cancer. Under the conditions of that time period, I suppose it would have been fine to have a healthy tentative skepticism – a sort of null hypothesis that accepts the possibility of a link but does not wholly endorse the idea. That kind of attitude is actually ideal.

However, as research led to discoveries that there was a causal link, you can bet that all along the way there were loud voices for one or another reason arguing that the data was irrelevant or wrong. Perhaps some voices were driven by vested commercial interests. Perhaps some voices were influenced by cognitive dissonance – they were psychologically unwilling to cope with ramifications of cigarette smoking being linked to cancer because of the consequences that it would have on their lifestyles. Or perhaps they could not accept that a distinctly American product was dangerous. Perhaps they had an innate distrust of people who accepted the research as being true (i.e. “the liberals are pushing it, so it must be their latest scam”).

For one reason or another, people seemed to reject the reality that was revealed through exhaustive scientific research. I’ll repeat that – they ignored reality. They rejected scientific consensus as bunk for all the wrong reasons. I could give numerous examples of the same behavior – AIDS/HIV denialism in South Africa under Mbeki, the Discovery Institute, denialism about the carcinogenic hazards of second-hand smoking, and so on. Groups like these have all sorts of meta-analyses, data chucks, and arguments that would prove their point to a layperson’s eyes. Are they right? No. They are more influenced more by political and social attitudes than by scientific methodology and a desire to understand objective reality. Their attitude was that scientists were all wrong – and these guys way over there in the corner with palpable political and religious motivations behind their research were the ones who were correct. That should be a bright red flag to any rational skeptic’s eyes.
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This is a simple matter of trusting the scientific method (cont.)
written by Chris Jackson, December 16, 2009
Then I look at denialism of climate change, and I see the same currents of thought. Take for example Penn Jillette, whose opinion on climate change did not go very far beyond saying that Al Gore was full of shit. I like Penn as human being, but I think he is utterly wrong on the reality of human-induced climate change. Letting one’s political attitudes skew one’s attitudes of science is a dangerous recipe for abdicating reality.

As I said earlier, individuals who ardently view anthropogenic climate change as a hoax seem to be completely preoccupied with their dislike of Al Gore, environmentalists, and ‘the Left’ in general. No matter how intelligent a person is, they don’t actually want to analyze the issue and accept the possibility. They instead project their own paradigm onto the issue and disregard what science has to say.

It is fine to reject consensus in principle, and it is even encouraged, if you have the evidence to do so. Darwin did it. So did Einstein. So did most of the great names of science. It is wrong to reject consensus due to contrarianism or rejection of the scientific method. It is wrong to reject consensus due to political or religious influences, as we see in the cases of Dissent from Darwinism and the Petition Project.

Perhaps there are actually valid reasons for being skeptical of human-induced climate change, since there is a lot of misinformation out there – or information that is confusing and contradictory. However, I should underline that this matter should have nothing to do with belief, per say. For me, it is a matter of trust in the scientific community and the scientific method on an aggregate scale that has given us a picture of our climate changing.

The whole irony of the matter is that I don’t really know climate change is real – I’m not a climatologist. I don’t know for a fact that climate change is real any more than I have direct experience of evolution that would prove to me that evolution is real. I have not directly analyzed the mountains of data that flow through peer-reviewed journals. However, I have good reason to trust the professional integrity of the scientific community, the self-correcting power of peer review, and the decades of research. Individual scientists can be dishonest, but the overall system has honesty built-in.

In summary, after scientific consensus has been successfully gathered, the negative hypothesis of “I don’t think that this is real” seems like shaky grounds to me. Especially more so when the stakes are so high, and the consequences are so great in ignoring the ramifications of climate change. It is actually intellectually irresponsible.
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written by davewyman, December 16, 2009
"my answer would be that I would like to see ANY clear evidence that it will happen. Show me that the Earth is responding largely in the negative to AGW."

Another fail. I asked what evidence would suffice to prove that AGW/global warming/climate change - call it what you want, but I'll accept AGW - is a threat. And

"ANY clear evidence" isn't an answer, it's an evasion. What, specifically, Michael R, would convince you?

In addition, the scientific research doesn't indicate "that the Earth is responding largely in the negative to AGW." The evidence shows that AGW is contributing the global warming/climate change. Even if we could control AGW, global warming/climate change will continue to occur, perhaps for centuries. That doesn't mean the AGW isn't occurring, or that we shouldn't try to reduce the rate of global warming that's occurring because of AGW.
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written by Michael R, December 16, 2009
Another fail. I asked what evidence would suffice to prove that AGW/global warming/climate change - call it what you want, but I'll accept AGW - is a threat. And


If you dont accept the answer then dont ask the question. You ignored the entirety of the post for your opinion that it "fails". Way to win an argument. Do you want to jump and down with your finger in yours and scream so you don't hear the response? It will make it easier to maintain your opinion that way. You have even managed to completely ignore the fact that that you actually asked two separate qestions, or three if you count this reply - and they cant be answered in one simple statement. In addition - you CHANGED the question in the reply. Want to be more evasive?

What are you, like 10? Grow Up.
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written by BillyJoe, December 16, 2009
Randi:
"Please note that this my amateur opinion, based on probably insufficient data."
Please note that the views of an amateur based on insufficient data should be totally and completely ignored.

This on top of his comments relating to evolution the last time I visited Swift has convinced me that Randi is no longer worth listening to. He has lost his skepticism and his edge and it's very sad to see.
A friend needs to tap him on the shoulder.

BillyJoe
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The petition project? Really?
written by voidifremoved, December 17, 2009
Please. The petition project - which, lest we forget, has roots in the "smoking does not cause cancer" tobacco lobby and was based originally on fraudulent presentation - contains fake names, dead people, duplicates, people with no qualifications, people misrepresenting their qualifications, corporations, people who have since changed their opinion etc etc etc.

Even the *tiniest* amount of due diligence on this one would show you that it is not to be trusted.

The number of actual, actively publishing climate scientists on that list (ie. the ones who know what they're talking about and are actively working to advance human understanding) is so small as to be practically non-existent.

Also, this statement:

> a growing number of prominent scientists disagree.

Bears no relation to actual studies of scientific opinion which have found precisely the reverse.
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So that means the rising sea levels are where?
written by bigdoggy, December 17, 2009
Hey Lukas,
You called me out on saying that anyone who says the sea levels are rising should be able to show the evidence. You sarcastically pointed to the IPCC report. Instead of pointing at the evidence. I've read the IPCC report and it doesn't have any evidence. Why don't you simply say where it's rising? Is it the Maldives? No, it isn't rising there. You know what, I can see the sea level myself and it's the same now as it's always been. Thousands of years ago it was lower and you could walk across the straits of Dover to France. Does anyone remember that? No because it takes lifetimes and if the average sea does rise or fall (as is normal over long periods) then each generation will only see what they see, as it's always been. And anyway, it isn't rising at the minute because if it was you global warming loonies would be shouting about it. At the minute you can only shout about the possibility. Please answer this post Lukas, if you have a shred of evidence for AGW, otherwise you just sound like a tit.
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Regarding Sea Level Rise
written by sandlinj, December 17, 2009
Here is one document relevant to sea level rise. The argument shouldn't be if it is happening, it is. But whether it's due to climate change.

http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/?src=/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/428.htm
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written by GeekGoddess, December 17, 2009
written by MadScientist, December 16, 2009
Unlike my namesake, the other John Huntington, I will continue to support the JREF. I don't withdraw support for people or organizations simply because I do not agree on some things; I would find it miraculous (and creepy) if I ever met someone with whom I agree on everything. If an organization I support isn't being run quite the way I wish, I'd get involved in running it rather than sit on the sidelines throwing stones. I don't expect things to change to favor what I imagine and without my involvement because I don't believe in psychic abilities and change requires the involvement of people who wish to change things.


Well said. Forty years of work, one of the founders of skepticism, and he's being reviled because of one topic?
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Disappointed
written by BrainUser, December 17, 2009
Consensus is an important aspect of science.

A hypothesis is formed, tested, improved, then given to peers for verification. When they and others are satisfied they make it a working theory and continue to refine it into a theory with more and more testing.

A round earth was, at first, criticized but eventually the evidence piled up and it was accepted by the scientific community with the wherewithal to discern such things. Many other significant scientific understanding have gone successfully through this same process. In each case there was a vocal minority. In a very few cases the consensus was wrong for a time but eventually the data was indisputable and it came around.

There is enormous value in consensus when that consensus comes from a field's leading scientists. Much like the consensus on evolution which, of course, has much stronger evidence, but the concept is there.

Climate science may be in its infancy but the process should work the same. And the way I read it, the vast majority of the most respected scientists say that global warming is occurring and we are having an impact. I'm disappointed James Randy would ignore this well-tested process. Contrary evidence has been considered and the vast majority of the most knowledgeable scientists on the subject say that, when ALL the evidence is added up, even those pieces that point away from warming, it equals a sum effect.

I support this org, and still will, but its mission is clouded when an entire body of scientists is doubted in favor of conspiracy proponents.
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FACTUAL EVIDENCE S needed, not GIGO ASSUMPTIONS
written by Achuara, December 17, 2009
@davewyman

What specifically WOULD you accept as evidence of global warming? What evidence science could uncover would you accept as proof that climate change is real?


Point ONE:/b] The appeal to authority fallacy is fully functional here because AGWers have not provided the tiniest piece of EVIDENCE for sustaining their HYPOTHESIS. It has been already falsified many times but religious AGWers still claim “they have evidence”. They are simply mistaking ASSUMPTIONS for evidence. They call “evidence” computer models projections. They are simply their programmer’s opinion. Let’s define it once and for all: GIGO. Models have been failing to project (not to mention “predict”) the last ten years plateau and decline in temperatures as shown in this IPCC AR4 graph has observed temperatures added showing the decline.



They have failed to prove any acceleration increase in sea levels. Actually, sea level increase rate was an average of 2.4 mm/year during the last 300 years, and has progressively reduced to 1.75 and 1.4 mm/year. That’s FACTUAL EVIDENCE.

I need no evidence to know and accept that climate changes, and does it continuously, in fact, it does it four times every year. And has been changing since Earth’s was created as ALL geological and paleoclimatic evidences show.

I have all evidences needed to know that the Earth’s temperatures have risen since the Little Ice Age, and all necessary evidences to know that during the 20th Century temperatures went up 4 times and down another four times, including the present temperature decline, while CO2 levels have risen in a lineal way, which PROVES its lack of correlation with temperatures, that is, that CO2 increases causes temperature increases as claimed by the AGWer’s hypothesis.

I would accept AGW Hypothesis could be right IF someone showed me that CO2 has the ability to increase surface temperatures more than 0.4 W/m2 with a doubling of its atmospheric concentration. Someone that proves to me that CO2 has not logarithmic properties when increasing its concentration levels as shown in Australian astronomer David Archibald’s graph:



Someone who can prove that during the last glacial termination CO2 DID NOT[7B] increase between 600-800 years after temperatures increased, as demonstrated by Monnin et al, (2000), a peer reviewed study published in Science and not refuted until yesterday, which proves that CO2/temperatures correlation is 100% inverse to IPCC and warmers claims, that is, temperatures rise first, CO2 levels follow.

If you can provide me with SOME FACTUAL EVIDENCE, not ASSUMPTIONS, PROJECTIONS, CLAIMS, or press releases, then I will admit AGW is real. Meanwhile, enjoy a proof of why the forcing theory as by the IPCC idea is completely flawed:

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The rising sea levels are in Florida.
written by LovleAnjel, December 17, 2009
@bigdoggy

Perhaps you missed my earlier post. Sea-level in Florida, a non-tectonic setting, is currently rising at the rate of 40 cm per 100 years.
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If there is consensus, it is not science
written by Achuara, December 17, 2009
@BrainUser
Consensus is an important aspect of science.


Rubbish! Consensus is only a political matter. If there is consensus it is not science, if it is science, there is no consensus.

As stated previously, science is not a democracy. The brute force of opinions do not override the weight of the truth. Claiming "consensus" and sticking to it to prove something is tantamount to Lysenkoism.
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written by Steel Rat, December 17, 2009
I appreciate your thoughts. You didn't answer my question, though. Instead, you questioned evidence presented so far by those who have researched the issue, which has nothing to do with my question.

Again, the question: What scientific evidence would make you think climate change is real? Your "Perhaps I'll believe" simply proves my point, at least for now - you won't accept any evidence.


I thought I was pretty plain. How else would you like me to phrase it?
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written by Steel Rat, December 17, 2009
Perhaps you missed my earlier post. Sea-level in Florida, a non-tectonic setting, is currently rising at the rate of 40 cm per 100 years.


You made some assertions without evidence. Are we supposed to just agree with what you're saying? Since you did your thesis on this, can you tell us whether "sea levels" are rising equally all over? Are they declining in some places?
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written by LovleAnjel, December 17, 2009
@ Steel Rat

It was requested that someone give sea-level rise numbers at a single location. I specifically studied Southwest Florida, so I put forth the number. Give me time, I can dig up the figures, graphs, ect., scan them and send them to you, along with all of the references (this was pre-everything-on-the-intertoobs age, so all of this is paper-copy somewhere in my files).
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written by LovleAnjel, December 17, 2009
@Steel Rat

Local apparent sea-level rise depends on tectonics as much as sea-level rise rate. If the coast is in an active tectonic setting, the land may itself be rising, causing an apparent steady or even falling sea-level even though global average sea-level is rising. For example, much of the Scandanavian peninsula is experiencing isostatic rebound from the last glaciation, so there sea-level appears to be falling, because the land is rising faster than the sea is. That doesn't mean the global average sea-level is not rising, it just means you have to consider lots of data from lots of places, as well as confounding factors like isostasy and tectonics.

Studying global average sea-level changes was beyond the scope of my master's, which is why I made no statement about it.
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Sea levels steady rising -not accelerating
written by Achuara, December 17, 2009
@sandlinj

Your link to the IPCC page say this at the bottom:

Recent studies (see Sections 2.3.3, 2.3.4) suggest that the 19th century was unusually cold on the global average, and that an increase in solar output may have had a moderate influence on warming in the early 20th century (Section 12.4.3.3). This warming might have produced some thermal expansion and could have been responsible for the onset of glacier recession in the early 20th century (e.g., Dowdeswell et al., 1997), thus providing a possible explanation of an acceleration in sea level rise commencing before major industrialisation.

However, the entire claim by the IPCC is based on MODELS (GIGO).

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Russian temps "massaged".
written by Achuara, December 17, 2009
@davewuman:
"Have you read the actual Russian article? Apparently not.

I have. There is no claim of tampered evidence."

You have read MET webpage and apparently not the Russian Institute statement. If you read Russian you can find it here: http://www.iea.ru/article/kiot...2.2009.pdf or have it translated by a friend or Google.

Как делается потепление.
Случай России.
Автор: Н.А.Пивоварова
Редакция: А.Н.Илларионов

(signed A.H. Illiaronov)

From Bloomberg:

Russia Institute Says U.K. Tweaked Data to Exaggerate Warming
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/...ZVxxSVzSVQ
By Maria Kolesnikova

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The Moscow institute founded by a former adviser to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the U.K. government manipulated Russian climate data to make a bolder case for global warming than warranted.

Researchers at the Hadley Centre, the climate change research arm of the Met Office, Britain’s national weather service, “purposefully rejected temperature data for 40 percent of our country’s territory,” or about one-eighth of the world’s landmass, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis said in a report posted on its Web site yesterday.

“The systemic selection of data” by British researchers has exaggerated warming in Russia by 0.64 degree Centigrade, the institute said. Analyzing data for the whole world in the same way could lead to a “significant” overestimation of global warming during the 20th century, the Russian research group said in the report.

The report was edited by Andrei Illarionov, who founded the Institute of Economic Analysis in 1994 to study “the connections between economic growth, economic freedom and political freedoms,” according to its Web site. Illarionov, who is also a senior fellow at the Washington-based Cato Institute, was the Kremlin’s senior economic adviser during Putin’s first term as president. A vocal opponent of the Kyoto protocol, Illarionov quit in 2005 to protest what he said was the state’s increasing role in the economy.

‘Impossible’ Claim

Illarionov’s institute said its conclusions were based on data made public by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia in Norwich to quell growing criticism over leaked e-mails that appeared to show that some British researchers tweaked or suppressed statistics to silence detractors. In the e-mails, researchers exchanged comments about withholding data from critics seeking to discredit their work.

The Met Office refuted the Russian criticism, saying it would be “impossible” to manipulate the data.

(Not impossible for Phil Jones and his merry bedfellows)

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written by davewyman, December 17, 2009
Steel Rat wrote:

"I thought I was pretty plain. How else would you like me to phrase it?"

OK, here's how: Instead of saying "perhaps I'll believe," I'd like you to state unequivocally what would prove to you that CO2 is the causation and not just loose correlation of AGW/climate change/global warming.

For example, if the amount of CO2 were dramatically reduced in the next three decades, and the rate of global warming and climate change slowed, so that glaciers didn't melt as quickly, sea levels rose less slowly, polar ice melted more slowly, the permafrost in Alaska stayed frostier longer each year, and then humans again began putting as much CO2 into the atmosphere over the next several decades, and glaciers started to melt at their former rates, and sea levels began rising again, and polar ice melted faster, and permafrost in Alaska began turning to mud again, then would you think AWG was real?

A yes or no answer would suffice, but feel free to elaborate.
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I still don't understand why it matters all that much...
written by Griz, December 17, 2009
...do those who do not accept AGW suggest that we should dump more CO2 into the atmosphere? Or just stay at the same amount we're dumping now? Why would anyone want to pollute more? Answer: money. So what's the controversy?
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-=-
written by Diverted Chrome, December 17, 2009
This is a thoughtful essay but it does not seem Randi-like to take the position that no evidence is enough (the cited petition is old news, long debunked). Nor does it involve any real science to reach conclusions. James, when people are convinced, as you suggest, that science doesn't have answers, guess where they turn? Which is better? You of all people should know that science isn't about a final conclusion, but is ongoing. (On the other hand, if Randi wasn't swayed by Dr. Plait then who am I to speak? I've followed the evidence yay/nay for climate change for 25 years and read over a dozen books on the subject but do not hold a doctorate).

Randi, please explain the difference between evidence for man-induced climate change and evidence for evolutionary theory (which is only slightly older)? Why the double standard? Teach the global warming controversy!

There is enough evidence to make conclusions that best fit. Conclusions are based on a high degree, but not 100% certainty. Still, no competing hypothesis has survived; we keep coming back to induced climate change because it best answers the question: What is the mechanism behind the changes we observe that are not attributed to purely natural processes?

As at least one poster points out, the elephant in the room is that we've made too many of our species and are reaching the sustainability limits of the planet, yet everyone shoves that issue under the carpet.
Do the math (you can easily substitute something other than carbon problem, ex. Randi's areas of concern). Let's say you and all your friends are able to severely reduce your carbon output by 20% because you have nuclear/solar power and were able to procure a 2015 model hybrid vehicle, etc. But, each of you that did so have neighbors on both sides that decide it's okay to have 8 kids each. Those 16 extra humans all want the lifestyle that carbon usage provides. The net outcome is always a sharp increase in pollutants unless the real problem is addressed. This is particularly true in less educated regions and developing nations. Therefore, is the a large part of the solution education and better birth control standards? You can see how organized religion is a factor.

Sustainability demands similar if not the same solutions, regardless of AGW veracity.

@MichaelR
"Melting Glaciers do not prove AGW"
A 100-year glacial melt-off cycle is simply not the same as a 1000-year cycle. Whats your explanation for coral bleaching?

@bigdoggy
"Does anyone remember that? No because it takes lifetimes"
Let's apply this to glacial ablation. In the past, it took more than several lifetimes. Not so, this time round. What's your explanation for the sudden speed?
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written by davewyman, December 17, 2009
Achuara wrote:

"You have read MET webpage and apparently not the Russian Institute statement."

When I said I'd read the article - actually there are a couple of relevant articles linked from the main IEA webpage - I meant the article, not the rehash by a biased organization, as you have provided.

By the way, claiming the original article has merit because it was edited by Andrei Illarionov is another attempt by you to appeal to authority, the very practice you denigrated above.

The best you have done is come up with an article about another article.

I stand by my claim that the article linked to by the IEA doesn't claim that data was tampered with.
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A working link please...
written by Achuara, December 17, 2009
@davewylman

I understand that you don’t read Russian, because the pdf I linked you to was the actual document by Ilarionov, the founder and president of the Institute of Economic Analysis that made the statement of tampered temperature. The PDF contains all you need to swallow your wrong ideas about “biased organization”.

So let’s see what is the article you did read where they say there is no evidence of tampering with temperature records. Put your money where your mouth is. We need a working link.
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Consensus
written by BrainUser, December 17, 2009
>Consensus is only a political matter. If there is consensus it is not science, if it is science, there is no consensus.<

Rubbish. Consensus AMONG SCIENTISTS in their area is a powerful verification tool for what constitutes truth in that area.

SCIENTIFIC consensus forms around theories with the best repeatable and verifiable data.
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Some of it is bullshit, but not all of it
written by Steve Packard, December 17, 2009
This is an especially difficult subject because clearly the notion of global warming cannot be rejected outright. It's easier to deal with something that is either right or wrong, yes or no. In this case, it's much more complicated.

As far as consensus goes and the "scientists" and "science" goes, lets consider that there is definitely a political issue here. True, science should not be influenced by politics, but "shouldn't" does not mean "doesn't." Much of the policy made and statements made to the public are not right from the research scientists, but are filtered through politicians, political appointees, interest groups and so on.

Do most people get their data from peer reviewed journals? Is the primary source of data for the media the raw statistical numbers?

No. It's Al Gore. And while Al Gore may quote scientists and science, he's been shown to be less than totally objective in who he chooses. The data that you hear about from Al Gore or Greenpeace or whomever is almost universally cherry-picked to support their given side of the argument and that is a problem. You can make two completely different cases for things without lying outright if you take the extremes of the data and estimates.

That's not to say that the earth is not warming (it certainly is) or that mankind does not play some role in it (we certainly do).

The question is how much will it warm and how much of a role does mankind play and also can anything be done to change things and if so, by how much?

On these questions I have a simple answer: I don't know. While I'm certain that the notion that humanity faces extinction in a few years because of climate change is bull, how much there will be or what it all means I simply don't know.

There's another side to it though, which gets lost in the reporting: the scientists and the research does not know. You can look at the projections and see what they say, but realize that they are only projections and the error on them is quite huge. There are factors that nobody can predict. A couple of volcanic eruptions, a major change in forestation or an economic downturn could make all the projections need revision.

Attempts to predict the severity of a winter or summer ahead of time generally fail. We thought we had the El Nino/La Nina cycle figured out but as it turns out, predictions have failed to accurately reflect reality. The global atmosphere and climate are the quintessential chaotic, difficult to predict system.

All that can really be said is that it has gotten warmer in the past century, that it will probably continue to get warmer and that human activity does not help the situation and contributes at least something and likely something significant to it. Not enough certainty to that statement for you? Tough luck.


I've argued before that this as a policy issue can be tackled without the need for certain and universally agreed upon projections. The biggest sources of greenhouse gasses are things like coal combustion, fossil fuel recovery, waste burning and things like that. These sources also produce other enviornmental effects which nobody has any doubt are negative. Therefore, even if you take global warming off the table, you still have much of the same picture. Coal combustion is filthy and a bad thing with or without global warming. And, with or without global warming, we should reduce it and ideally stop doing it all together.

Which, by the way, comes down to the other side of this issue, which is the practical and technical considerations of achieving the reductions. Right now, it's seen as a reason to build more windmills and solar farms, which don't close a single fossil fuel plant, cost billions and produce less energy than a good sized locomotive. THAT is 100% bullshit.
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Go Randy!
written by Jefoid, December 17, 2009
An excellent summary of the debate as it stands today. I am mystified by the number of people who claim that of all the arguments in scientific inquiry, the question of AGW is somehow "settled". (I'm talking to you, Al.) Randy, FTW!
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written by Michael R, December 17, 2009
A 100-year glacial melt-off cycle is simply not the same as a 1000-year cycle. Whats your explanation for coral bleaching?


Coral bleaching's main cause is linked primarily to higher temperatures in the ocean and there is believed to be links with "Ocean Acidification".

In relation to higher temperatures, the oceans temperatures have increased slightly over the last 100 years. Considering however that the Planet has been warming (prior to us having any apparent CO2 effect) from the last ice age, stating that "the oceans are warming" therefore we are responsible is the same dis associative argument that I was initially complaining about - that is the climate change in general is being used to "justify" and provide "Evidence for" AGW.

As for the second link (ocean acidification) I could spend a field day on this one, but to summarise, the fear of ocean acidification is another one of those "overstated" and apparent consequences of CO2 rise. Just in the case of "ocean levels rising by 20 feet" in the movie by wonderful Al Gore, (of which no scientists, including IPCC scientists predict anything of the sort within the next few hundred years) Ocean acidification has been the fall back for warmists who are struggling with the fact that many other real world observations have not been following the models suggestions.

“Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.179 to 8.104.”

Putting asside the fact that in 1751 we were able to measure ocean acidification to 3 decimal places....*cough*.... at that rate of acidification it would take 3 to 4 thousand years to reach the "zomg acid ocean" stage.

In addition, we have (as I live in Australia) people who study the great barrier reef - the prime and largest example of coral and the base of the largest fears of coral bleaching - and have produced results (one of the most recent in June this year)that do not conform with conventional "zomg coral bleaching" ideas.

Finally, you used an example whos results are prrof of 1) temperature change and 2) that we are emitting more CO2. You did not touch on evidence for AGW, so what exactly was the point?
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written by Steel Rat, December 17, 2009
Local apparent sea-level rise depends on tectonics as much as sea-level rise rate. If the coast is in an active tectonic setting, the land may itself be rising, causing an apparent steady or even falling sea-level even though global average sea-level is rising. For example, much of the Scandanavian peninsula is experiencing isostatic rebound from the last glaciation, so there sea-level appears to be falling, because the land is rising faster than the sea is. That doesn't mean the global average sea-level is not rising, it just means you have to consider lots of data from lots of places, as well as confounding factors like isostasy and tectonics.


Yes, I understand that. But it's also true that all oceans ("seas"), don't rise or fall equally. Making an average and calling it global doesn't really work.
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Sad to see Randi embrace these arguments
written by Aaron, December 17, 2009
I love the work Randi and the JREF have done. But this is just wrong based on the science. A previous comment I tried to leave was not published. I hope it was some technical error and not anyone at the JREF deleting a comment.

The Petition Project is not valid. It was circulated using documents meant to look like National Academy of Sciences materials that weren't. Further, climate contrarians have no explanation for why the troposphere -- where all the extra carbon dioxide is settling -- is heating up and expanding.

I hope Randi responds to all the comments here.

I've written up a post detailing more objections here: http://aaronhuertas.com/2009/1...-warming/.
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I have incontrovertible evidence that AGW is false...
written by Human Person Jr, December 17, 2009
It's right here in my desk.

Hang on, it's right here, it'll just take a minute to find it. I'm still looking.

Oh my dear, sweet, non-existent Jesus, I accidentally threw it out.

Oh well, you can trust me. AGW is false. I had the proof. You can believe me. I'm a nice guy. C'mon, don't be like that. No, really, for real, it's false.

This, in effect, is what the high priests in the church of AGW are saying, this very day. And you want to dog out James Randi? What fools!

I'm not the one living off the government teat. I don't NEED to prove AGW is false. The priests need to prove it's TRUE. When they do, I'll be glad to go along with the power grab, the money grab, and sainthood for Mr. Greenjeans Al Gore.
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written by Soapy Sam, December 17, 2009
Boy. How can mankind still be in doubt, when we have so many experts on this website alone, all absolutely sure of the facts and only the two opinions between 'em?
I guess the only two people in the whole world who don't know the answers are me and ole Randi.

Way to go , JR. Everyone has an opinion. Some people are sure their opinion is right, some are unsure. Now how hard is that to get our heads around?

Eventually we may find out. Meanwhile, not fouling our only nest seems like a smart idea.
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written by Steel Rat, December 17, 2009
Eventually we may find out. Meanwhile, not fouling our only nest seems like a smart idea.


I agree. Good thing CO2 isn't a pollutant.
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written by davewyman, December 17, 2009
Achuara wrote:

I understand that you don’t read Russian, because the pdf I linked you to was the actual document by Ilarionov, the founder and president of the Institute of Economic Analysis that made the statement of tampered temperature. The PDF contains all you need to swallow your wrong ideas about “biased organization”.

So let’s see what is the article you did read where they say there is no evidence of tampering with temperature records. Put your money where your mouth is. We need a working link.

You enjoy twisting reality, don't you? I made no claim the IEA article claimed there was no tampering of evidence regarding AGW. YOU did. :-) This is what YOU wrote:

"Today came news from Russia: Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data."

I wrote that the article, contrary to your assertion, made no claim of evidence tampering. I didn't write - except in your mind - that the article claimed there is no evidence of tampering. There's a difference, but you aren't able, for whatever reason, to discern it.

So, you want the link? Here you go:

http://www.iea.ru/article/kiot...2.2009.pdf

Run it through a translator: the word "tampering" isn't there, despite your claim. The article does claim reports from too few weather station have been sampled, but it doesn't claim any tampering of data, as you falsely insinuate.

The article is the second linked to on the current main IEA web page, found here: http://www.iea.ru/

That wasn't so difficult, was it? Pay up.
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written by davewyman, December 17, 2009
Well, Steel Rat - I'm waiting for your answer to my question.
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written by Achuara, December 17, 2009
@davewyman:

You must have been smoking hard stuff. If you scroll up will fnd my post where I posted this:

"You have read MET webpage and apparently not the Russian Institute statement. If you read Russian you can find it here: http://www.iea.ru/article/kiot...2.2009.pdf or have it translated by a friend or Google."

Как делается потепление.
Случай России.
Автор: Н.А.Пивоварова
Редакция: А.Н.Илларионов


So you hadn't read it when you said:

"So it's OK for YOU to appeal to authority, but then a little later you claim it's wrong for others to do so (even though they haven't). Why should anyone trust what you say?

Have you read the actual Russian article? Apparently not.
I have. There is no claim of tampered evidence."


Because I suspected you hadn't read the article, as you don't read Russian, I gave you the link and told you to have it translated. Did you understand the translation? (Google, Babylon, Live Search?). I guess not. So here is an explanation of what Illarionov said. This is a summary of what the pdf document said, and while there was no explicitly expressed the word "tampering", the meaning is implicit:

The Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Rosgidromet). Currently GU "RIHMI-WDC supports open access database, including the temperature records of 476 ground-based weather stations in Russia.

Of the approximately 1500 weather stations for which data were published by the Hadley Center, only 121 stations are located in Russia. There should have been some particularly good reason for which HadCRUT preferred to use the data for only 121 Russian stations and not use the data for at least another 355 available stations in Russia.

To calculate the global and regional temperatures in the climatology and Meteorology traditionally uses a grid of cells with the geographic coordinates of the 5 degrees in latitude X 5 degrees of longitude. Using this method, Russia is composed of 152 Cells.

(continues below)
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I gave you the link ;-)
written by Achuara, December 17, 2009
(continues from above post)

Hadley Center in their calculations used only the data for 90 cells (or 59,2% of the total). It turns out that about 40% of the country was not included in the calculations of the global temperature, but this is not due to lack of meteorological stations and observations in this territory, but for some other reason.

The stations located, for example, north of 70ºN parallel is a unique source of data for its cell grid. However of 23 such stations Hadley Center used data from only 10 stations while data from 13 stations was not used.

Next is a plot of the temps of 6 of these stations from 1930 till now that were not used. The plot for all stations is VERY FLAT.

Even a cursory glance at the series of temperatures at the stations not included in Calculations draws attention to the lack of a clearly pronounced warming trend, so well known from the many Publications of the Hadley Center. Vast areas of Russia with coordinates 50-55 degrees north latitude and 70-90 degrees east longitude. On this immense territory are located 16 active weather stations, none of which were included in the calculations. The adjacent vast territory, stretching a half thousand kilometers with coordinates 85-90 degrees east longitude and 50-65 degrees north latitude. No meteorological stations located here were included in the sample of the Hadley Center.

It is not easy to find a rational explanation for such a selective approach. Although a working hypothesis, perhaps, can be formulated. Analyzing the temperature trends obtained according to the weather station, located in the cells with coordinates 65-70° N and 35-40° E. and not included by HadCRUT, it is difficult to get rid of impression that in general they do not show any significant warming trend in second half of the 20th - early 21 century.

On the other hand, the Hadley Center's staff sometimes used in their calculations data for several or even all stations located within one cell, even when they are relatively close to each other.

It would seem that the priority for inclusion in the sample for calculations of global temperature should be given to stations which started meteorological observations in the 19 century, and namely they should be included in the calculations to the fullest. However, as we see, Not all stations with long-term series of observations were included in the calculations. For example, out of 82 stations, started work in the 19th century, 55 stations were included in the calculation, and 27 stations (32.9%) - not. Of the 63 stations, that start observations in the first 30 years of the 20th century, almost half - 31 stations - were not included.

Weather stations Uchur has a long and almost continuous series meteorological observations from 1940, the station Toko - an intermittent series of observations from 1946 and continuous - only since 1957, however, the trend towards warming in the 20th century was more pronounced according to the station Toko. In the calculations of global temperature HadCRUT predictably uses the data solely for the station Toko.

I hope you can understand how you can manage your data (without faking any) to get the results you want. That's why Mark Twain said: "There are lies, dammned lies, and statistics". That's what Hadley did and that's what Illarionov denounces.
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Lubos Motl's opinion on this thread
written by Achuara, December 17, 2009
A brief excerpt from Lubos Motl blog "The Reference Frame", talking about "consensus" and science:

http://motls.blogspot.com/2009...dless.html

I don't want to be skeptical for the sake of being skeptical, either. But in the same way, I don't want to be a "slick mainstream believer" for the sake of being a "slick mainstream believer". By being a slick mainstream believer of Carroll's type, you may think that you maximize your chances of being right, but you can still be wrong. Climate change seems to be an obvious example. And the history of science shows hundreds of additional big examples when this strategy to "maximize the odds of being right" led to wrong results. Consensus just doesn't work in science, especially not if it becomes a frequent part of the methodology. As Feynman has defined it, science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

This quote due to Feynman is no typo. It is not irrelevant, either.

The actual scientists who are doing real science always have to doubt "experts". The outsiders and laymen sometimes have to adopt the opinions of others, preferably of the people who are better experts than they are. But the latter step should never be confused with science itself. Adopting other people's opinions according to predetermined fixed algorithms is not a part of the scientific method. Science is never about the copying of opinions, and the number of copies of an opinion can never serve as an enhanced scientific argument in favor of a hypothesis.

The original hockey stick graph paper, which is now agreed by Carroll to have been wrong, shows very clearly why and how the consensus science reasoning doesn't work. The trick was invented by one person - Michael Mann - who convinced two co-authors to add their names to a paper even though they didn't help to invent the basic flawed methodology and they have probably never quite believed it.


Read what he said before about James Randi, and Phil Plait, and everything in between.
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written by davewyman, December 17, 2009
Achuara wrote:

"Because I suspected you hadn't read the article, as you don't read Russian, I gave you the link"

Sorry, Charlie - I told you I read the story. And when you asked for a link, I gave it to you.

So now you've had to prostrate yourself in abject submission before me with you admission that "tampering" isn't in any article you or I have read on the IEA website.

Or as Mark Twain also said, "A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar."

Even so, you're trying to weasel your way out of your misrepresentation by claiming that "tampering" is somehow "implicit" in the article.

Money quote (worth about half a ruble) from the article: "There should have been some particularly good reason for which HadCRUT preferred to use the data for only 121 Russian stations and not use the data for at least another 355 available stations in Russia. "

Perhaps there is a good reason, and perhaps not. But there's nothing implicit anywhere in that sentence, or in the two posts you made quoting from the article, that states evidence was tampered with. There's an assertion that evidence was left out of a report, but not that it was tampered with - except, perhaps, in your mind. ;-)

If you want to, mosey over to the MET web page to learn that records on the weather come from more than one organization. Poke around and you might find this:
"As soon as we have all permissions in place we will release the remaining station records — around 5,000 in total — that make up the full land temperature record."

And there's your "good reason."

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written by LovleAnjel, December 18, 2009
Yes, I understand that. But it's also true that all oceans ("seas"), don't rise or fall equally. Making an average and calling it global doesn't really work.


Despite the fact that they have different names and we draw lines through them on maps, the oceans are all interconnected and water cycles through them constantly, albeit very slowly. This means that you can take a global average of sea-level changes, and it does mean something. I dare anyone to say that the sea-level rise since the last glacial maximum (~80m)wasn't "real" because scientists "make an average and [call] it global".
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Comment wasn't deleted
written by Aaron, December 18, 2009
Jeff Wagg was kind enough to send me a message explaining that there has been a software problem on the blog and that my comment wasn't deleted. From my end, the system said my comment was “awaiting moderation” and then I never saw it published, a pattern that’s quite common for comments getting deleted. I should have simply described what I saw instead of ascribing motivation to the moderators at JREF.
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written by Steel Rat, December 18, 2009
OK, here's how: Instead of saying "perhaps I'll believe," I'd like you to state unequivocally what would prove to you that CO2 is the causation and not just loose correlation of AGW/climate change/global warming.

For example, if the amount of CO2 were dramatically reduced in the next three decades, and the rate of global warming and climate change slowed, so that glaciers didn't melt as quickly, sea levels rose less slowly, polar ice melted more slowly, the permafrost in Alaska stayed frostier longer each year, and then humans again began putting as much CO2 into the atmosphere over the next several decades, and glaciers started to melt at their former rates, and sea levels began rising again, and polar ice melted faster, and permafrost in Alaska began turning to mud again, then would you think AWG was real?

A yes or no answer would suffice, but feel free to elaborate.


Sorry, I didn't see your reply on the email notifications.

I would have to say no, because all of those things can and do happen without dramatic changes in CO2.

Statements like "rate of global warming and climate change slowed" are specious. the phrase "climate change" has no real meaning. You need to be specific. And when you put both in one sentence, well, you're really all over the place.

So let me ask you a question. What evidence would prove to you that what we're seeing isn't unprecedented within the last 5000 years?
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@griz
written by Steel Rat, December 18, 2009
...do those who do not accept AGW suggest that we should dump more CO2 into the atmosphere? Or just stay at the same amount we're dumping now? Why would anyone want to pollute more? Answer: money. So what's the controversy?


If you think CO2 is a pollutant, then you should just stop breathing, like right now.

We can turn your answer around and ask "why would anyone want to control what each individual person does?" The answer: Money. So what's the controversy?
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written by Steel Rat, December 18, 2009
Despite the fact that they have different names and we draw lines through them on maps, the oceans are all interconnected and water cycles through them constantly, albeit very slowly. This means that you can take a global average of sea-level changes, and it does mean something. I dare anyone to say that the sea-level rise since the last glacial maximum (~80m)wasn't "real" because scientists "make an average and [call] it global".


You're comparing apples and oranges. You've also straw-manned my argument, making it seem as if I've drawn lines around the borders of oceans and called them separate. You also didn't answer my rebuttal, that ocean waters do not rise equally, not accounting for tectonic activity.

And since you've done a thesis on this, you'll also know that levels were higher within the last 5000 years than they are now. Much higher. Do you dispute that?
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written by davewyman, December 18, 2009
Steel Rate wrote:

"So let me ask you a question. What evidence would prove to you that what we're seeing isn't unprecedented within the last 5000 years?"

Why don't you answer my question first?

Thanks for revealing your true colors. You are incapable of even imagining a scenario that would prove AGW. I.e., your mind is closed.

I've had creationists tell me that they don't believe in evolution, in part, because the fossil record is so incomplete. When I've asked them if they would give credence to evolution if all the related fossil remains of, say, humans were discovered, the answer has been "no."

You have shown yourself to be made of the same cloth as my creationist acquaintances. For you, as for them, no evidence would ever suffice to change your mind, even as you claim the evidence isn't there.

You remind me of Holocaust deniers who overlook the mountains of evidence - testimony from victims and victimizers alike, the photographs, the liberators of extermination camps, etc. - who seize on any one piece of suspect evidence to discredit all the rest of the evidence.

"You need to be specific"

I offered several quantifiable specifics to play with: the size of glaciers, change in permafrost in Alaska, increased discharge of CO2 and decreases in discharge of CO2, etc.

You've got a closed mind on the subject, though, so the best you can do weasel out of answering questions that call your own mind-set into question. I'm sure you can't see that, but the rest of us here can now. That you can't use your imagination to come up with theoretical proof of AGW demonstrates how abjectly weak your position is. In admitting your inability to imagine possibilities, you've surrendered your credibility and don't even know it.

Unlike you, Steel Rat, I'm going to answer your question to me, which is:

"What evidence would prove to you that what we're seeing isn't unprecedented within the last 5000 years?"

If we humans were to keep pumping CO2 into the atmosphere for the next several decades, and global temperatures drop by, say, .07 degrees C, and glaciers in Africa, in the Sierra Nevada in California, etc., grow instead of recede, if permafrost stayed permanently frosty, and if sea levels fall rather than rise over the course of several decades, that would be ample demonstration the AGW was not a factor in global warming/climate change or whatever it is you want to call the changes in the environment we currently see.

Or, if we could curtail CO2 output to negligible amounts in the next few decades, and saw no change in the rate of what's currently happening - e.g. the Palisade Glacier in the Sierra Nevada Mountains continues to shrink - over the course of many more decades, that would offer serious evidence that AGW is not and has not seriously effected the environment of the world.

Could I be convinced that the evolution of the species is a fallacious theory? For example, could I be convinced that a supernatural entity - a god - created life and directed the way it looks, from microbes to blue whales? Sure. Show me some supernatural acts and I'm there. Let amputees grow limbs, let the seas part, let the dead be raised, show me a man on a white horse descend from the heavens, move a mountain; make a man appear from dust, pull out a rib and from it fashion a woman. Until then, I'll go with the evidence at hand for evolution.

Could I be convinced the Holocaust is a hoax? Demonstrate thousands of eyewitness accounts have been faked for more than six decades, and that the massive amounts of film of concentration camps was doctored, and I would be convinced. Until then, I'll rely on the preponderance of evidence offered up by those eyewitness accounts and by the photographs.

And with AGW/climate change/global warming - whatever you want to call the change in our world environment - I'll go, for now, with what I see as the preponderance of evidence. I could be wrong, though, and I can imagine how I could be wrong.

You've admitted, though, that you can't even imagine a scenario that would prove your position incorrect. For whatever reason, your ability to use your imagination - to image you're wrong, for example - is crippled.

Because you've admitted that your mind is closed even to the contemplation of divergent possibilities, it's difficult to take you seriously.
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Condolences
written by chiller, December 18, 2009
Mr. Randi,
Sorry to hear about your recent illness, and even more sorry to see that the damage has extended to your spine. Best wishes for your recovery.
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I gave you the link Davey boy!
written by Achuara, December 18, 2009
@davegyman,
Davey boy, you really wouldn’t see a cow even if you were stuck in an elevator with it. I knew you were unable to read Russian, but wasn’t aware that you had difficulty with English too.

Delingpole http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/n...news story.


Delingpole (I myself too) had taken the news from the Russian Novosti agency: http://en.rian.ru/papers/20091216/157260660.html that were the first ones to use the term: “tampered”. It is not my invention as you are claiming. This is what Novosti agency said, and I agree with their interpretation of Illarionov statement.

Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.


Delingpole adds what by now is quite evident to those who’ve read the emails and the CODES:

“What the Russians are suggesting here, in other words, is that the entire global temperature record used by the IPCC to inform world government policy is a crock.

The data and methodology that CRU used to produce the record should be available so that we can see whether it can be independently replicated and confirmed. The same for GISS, NOAA, UAH, etc. Once the data and methodology is “out there” then let’s let the chips fall where they may. Why would any real “scientist” object to completely independent verification? Perhaps this provides a clue:

At 09:41 AM 2/2/2005, Phil Jones wrote:

Mike, I presume congratulations are in order – so congrats etc !

Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better this time ! And don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.

Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who’ll say we must adhere to it![/qote]

Why an honest scientist that has not TAMPERED with data would want to HIDE behind anything? Once we’ve cleared the garbage out of the field we may resume with climate science as it should have been carried since the days of Hubert Lamb.
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written by davewyman, December 18, 2009
Achuara wrote:

"Delingpole (I myself too) had taken the news from the Russian Novosti agency: http://en.rian.ru/papers/20091216/157260660.html that were the first ones to use the term: “tampered”. It is not my invention as you are claiming. This is what Novosti agency said, and I agree with their interpretation of Illarionov statement."

But you didn't attribute the charge of tampering to the Novosti agency. Your unattributed sentence reads thusly:

"Today came news from Russia: Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data."


So you plagiarized the comment, trying to make it sound as if you wrote it. It figures.

None-the-less, I didn't write that you invented the claim that data was tampereed with. Instead, I wrote you asserted evidence tampering. I also pointed you to the the original article, on the IEA webpage, which never used the word "tampering."

We've seen you've already had to admit the word "tampering" wasn't in the article. So now you're on your knees again, admitting that you took "tampering" not from the IEA article, not even from what might be "implicit" in the article, but from a second hand source.

Can you not look at yourself and see what you're doing? Everyone else here can.

And now your trying to put words in my mouth that have only come out of your own.

Meanwhile, you make yet another feeble appeal to authority by citying "Delingpole," who writes:

"“What the Russians are suggesting here"

Which Russians? Oh, an already-biased Russian think tank, which is headed by a member of the U.S. based Cato Institute. Those Russians.

We can't know what the Russians are suggesting, because Mr. Delinpole doesn't show us what these Russians actually wrote. Why not simply quote what the original article said? Because to do so would show no such "suggestion" was made.

Here's something else Mr. Delingpole wrote that is a misrepresentation of what's in the original IEA article: "Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. "

The article under question, however, doesn't say anything about "analysts," though Mr Delinpole writes as if it were so. There is but one author of the piece, N.A., Pivovarova, and one editor, Mr. Illarionov. And no mention of "analysts."

And since you've already failed to understand your own use of the Appeal to Authority Fallacy (not to mention your misspelling "falacy"), it's not a surprise to anyone here that you have now resorted to an argumentum ad hominem with the way you address me.
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written by davewyman, December 18, 2009
Hmmm..........perhaps I've been intemperate with my remarks to Achuara. If so, and I think so, I apologize. And I give you, Achuara, the last words, if you wish them.
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written by Steel Rat, December 18, 2009
Why don't you answer my question first?

Thanks for revealing your true colors. You are incapable of even imagining a scenario that would prove AGW. I.e., your mind is closed.


I did answer your question the first time.

Just because the very vague scenario you provided is insufficient doesn't mean my mind is closed.

If we humans were to keep pumping CO2 into the atmosphere for the next several decades, and global temperatures drop by, say, .07 degrees C, and glaciers in Africa, in the Sierra Nevada in California, etc., grow instead of recede, if permafrost stayed permanently frosty, and if sea levels fall rather than rise over the course of several decades, that would be ample demonstration the AGW was not a factor in global warming/climate change or whatever it is you want to call the changes in the environment we currently see.

Or, if we could curtail CO2 output to negligible amounts in the next few decades, and saw no change in the rate of what's currently happening - e.g. the Palisade Glacier in the Sierra Nevada Mountains continues to shrink - over the course of many more decades, that would offer serious evidence that AGW is not and has not seriously effected the environment of the world.


You seem stuck on on a few glaciers. Don't you know that some glaciers have been advancing for the last century or so? Don't you know that glaciers recede mostly due to lack of precipitation, and not due to ambient air temperature? There is no direct link between human CO2 output and glacier behavior, or sea level rise (or fall). Ocean temperatures are not regulated by air temperatures, it's the other way around. That's why ocean heat content is a truer measure of "global warming" than air temperature over land.

Could I be convinced that the evolution of the species is a fallacious theory?
...
Could I be convinced the Holocaust is a hoax?


Why bring these up? I never mentioned them. Do you assume because I am skeptical of AGW that I automatically doubt everything? I sure hope not, that would be an extreme logical fallacy.

You've admitted, though, that you can't even imagine a scenario that would prove your position incorrect. For whatever reason, your ability to use your imagination - to image you're wrong, for example - is crippled.

Because you've admitted that your mind is closed even to the contemplation of divergent possibilities, it's difficult to take you seriously.


Lol, if you want to believe that, well, bully for you. But I answered your question. I can be convinced, with honest and open science. You seemed to have a problem with the word "perhaps". Sorry, but that's the way it is.
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written by davewyman, December 18, 2009
Steel Rat wrote:

"You seem stuck on on a few glaciers. Don't you know that some glaciers have been advancing for the last century or so?"

Nice try, but it shows why you aren't capable of accepting the preponderance of evidence. Yes, I know some glaciers have been advancing; however, the simultaneous melt-back of glaciers around the world is unprecedented, occurring simultaneously in Africa, Asia, South and North America, and Europe, the West Antarctic ice sheets, and in Greenland. In the case of glaciers in the tropical Andes, temperature changes and humidity are considered the main reasons for glacier retreat during the latter half of the last century. We're not talking about getting "stuck on a few glaciers."

Yet you pick a known condition - that some glaciers are advancing (although in some cases more slowly) - and from it extrapolate that a massive retreat of glaciers around the world isn't happening.

As for your wondering if I think you are a contrarian about everything, I don't know that, and I suspect it's not so. I do know that - as in the example of the glaciers, above - you operate in the same way those do who deny the theory of evolution is valid and who deny the Holocaust occurred. You deny the preponderance of evidence, including the evidence that global warming is causing the melting of glaciers world wide. You can't be convinced of even that one obvious fact, with honest and open science that proves it.

It's not me who has the problem with the word "perhaps," it's you.
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@davewyman
written by Steel Rat, December 19, 2009
Well, I just replied with several links to journal articles, and it got eaten up. It's hard to provide references when the spam filters on the site don't allow posts through with multiple links. This has been pointed out in many of the comments in many Swift articles, but no one seems to be administering the spam queue (if there is one).

At any rate, you're wrong about Greenland and West Antarctica and probably most of the glaciers you're referring to as far as them being affected by human CO2 emissions. Here is one link about Greenland: http://www.cs.aue.auc.dk/~sp/M...ge2004.pdf

I'd provide more, but...
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written by davewyman, December 19, 2009
Steel Rat,

Perhaps I've been a bit too intense with my responses. If so, I apologize.

Meanwhile, as to the one link provided: it's five years old and we know what's happened with temperatures on earth in the meantime.

And here's a link to a NYT piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01...8gree.html

Note that whatever the reason, the ice is melting in Greenland. From the article:

"there is no significant debate on the long-term picture anymore. Should greenhouse-gas emissions follow anything close to a “business as usual” rise, the resulting warming and ice loss at both ends of the earth would cause coasts to retreat for centuries."

Thus the conclusion of the article you point to - that there are great variations in temperature in Greenland - is made moot by the subsequent observations of a massive amount of ice melt.
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written by Steel Rat, December 19, 2009
davewyman,

Wow, even 5 years is too long ago for you?

And you're going to take an NYT article over peer-reviewed papers? What's wrong with this picture?

Here's one on Greenland that's less than 4 years old: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/...TINDEX=20&

I noticed that the article you sent talks mainly about the peripheral ice, not the main mass of the Greenland ice sheet, which has apparently been growing. It also states, as the articles I've linked to states, that there was "quick" melt in the 1920s, and again in the 1980s, but that recovery had occurred both times. Looks clearly cyclical to me.

Note that whatever the reason, the ice is melting in Greenland.


Don't you think it's important to know the correct reasons? If it's mainly caused by ocean temperatures, then there's absolutely nothing that can be done about it. People with beachfront property should be prepared to a return to sea levels seen during warmer times in this interglacial.

Again, I see nothing unprecedented.
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written by Steel Rat, December 19, 2009
Meanwhile, as to the one link provided: it's five years old and we know what's happened with temperatures on earth in the meantime.


Well, some of us do. They've gotten cooler or stayed fairly static. And we're just about at the average for US temps since 1895: http://www.worldclimatereport....s_fig3.gif (the graphic uses data from NCDC)

Of course, I don't think an average is particularly useful.
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James Randi is the biggest liar and fraud of them all...
written by drkrull, December 19, 2009


Looks like your website is under attack from supernatural forces...


http://dyn.politico.com/member...id=3449994


you really need to add comment moderation to your blasphemy...

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written by BillyJoe, December 19, 2009
steel rat,

If you think CO2 is a pollutant, then you should just stop breathing, like right now.
Acidification of ther ocean. smilies/wink.gif

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by rwpikul, December 19, 2009
Steel Rat:

You mean the graphic from the energy industry PR firm New Hope Environmental Services uses data cherry picked from the NCDC. They're using the fact that the US had a cold winter last year and a cool summer this year to obscure the facts that globally 2008 was tied for 8th warmest year on record, and 2009 thus far has been the 5th warmest, (which will knock 2008 to 9th in a couple of weeks).

Here are some links not to a PR firm:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/index.php?report=global&year=2008&month=ann
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/
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written by davewyman, December 19, 2009
Steel Rat wrote:

"And you're going to take an NYT article over peer-reviewed papers? What's wrong with this picture? "

Steel Rat, you'll accept some peer-reviewed papers, but not others - just the ones that you think (in this case erroneously) back up your beliefs.

I didn't reject the conclusion of the research paper to which you linked. I did write that, in the intervening years, events have shown that ice in Greenland is melting, and I supplied you with a NYT piece.

Is there some reason you would reject a NYT piece on its face? Or do you simply think a research paper written four years earlier is more valid than an updated news report?

And you haven't addressed the issue of the unusual recession of glaciers around the world, from in my home state, California, to the Himalaya Mountains, and mountains on the African, Asian and European continents, as well as ice in Greenland and the Arctic.

I read the article you linked to. Again, it's a few years old, and it doesn't contradict the possibility of AGW. And if you would follow one of the links listed on that web page, you would find yourself here: http://www.pnas.org/content/10...l.pdf+html. This website presents a paper written under the auspices of of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences; the paper refers back to the one to which you linked, to help this more recent article it make it's own points.

Here are a couple of relevant quotes:

"warming at the periphery lowers ice altitude, increasing surface temperature and causing a positive feedback that is expected to exhibit a critical threshold beyond which there is ongoing net mass loss and the GIS [Greenland Ice Sheet] shrinks radically or eventually disappears."

and

"recent observations show the surface mass balance is declining and contributing to net mass loss from the GIS that is accelerating."

Observations about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are more depressing.

Perhaps I'm like you, and I cherry-pick my own information to present. It seems, though, that you have a habit of picking outdated information, as well as extrapolating a general conclusion from a single piece of evidence; that's not the way the scientific method works. That you do this explains, in my mind, why you are unable to admit what the preponderance of evidence suggests.
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written by Steel Rat, December 20, 2009
You mean the graphic from the energy industry PR firm New Hope Environmental Services uses data cherry picked from the NCDC. They're using the fact that the US had a cold winter last year and a cool summer this year to obscure the facts that globally 2008 was tied for 8th warmest year on record, and 2009 thus far has been the 5th warmest, (which will knock 2008 to 9th in a couple of weeks).


This doesn't look different to me: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/...&id=110-00

Look at the long term mean. Flat as a pancake.

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written by Steel Rat, December 20, 2009
@davewyman

Nothing you mentioned says human industrial CO2 is the cause of any glacier or ice sheet problems.

If you're not going to accept the peer-reviewed evidence I provide, then I guess there's no point in this debate.
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written by equinox, December 20, 2009
Randi,

Well Said. I agree 100%. There are too many variables to know if AGW is true. And given the recent events related to some of the scientists human character, it is fair to say some of the data and research is questionable. In the MIT Debate some of the words used to describe these scientists work was "unethical" and "inappropriate".

I champion your efforts. In my mind, I've considered you to be a practical scientists in the way you approach a problem and find a viable solution. You're an inspiration to me. Keep up the good work and don't be deterred or discouraged by any of the negative feedback you received about your wise comments on GW.

Oddly enough, a similar thing happened to me out on the AtheistNexus social site in the "Atheists Who Love Science" forum and the "Evironmental Atheists" forum. I was advocating good science and asking that we proceed with caution given the recent events with climategate, and I received quite a fury.

All the Best!

Equinox
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written by Steel Rat, December 20, 2009
Well Said. I agree 100%. There are too many variables to know if AGW is true. And given the recent events related to some of the scientists human character, it is fair to say some of the data and research is questionable. In the MIT Debate some of the words used to describe these scientists work was "unethical" and "inappropriate".


There is a lot of excellent research out there. Unfortunately so many of the abstracts seem compelled to come to conclusions not supported by the research.

As for the Climategate emails, the field of research that has been compromised is that which would tell us whether modern warming is unprecedented. As a result, we end up with The Most Influential Tree in the World.
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written by equinox, December 20, 2009
I hear you, Steel Rat...I'm on board...
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written by davewyman, December 20, 2009
Steel Rat wrote:


"Nothing you mentioned says human industrial CO2 is the cause of any glacier or ice sheet problems.

"If you're not going to accept the peer-reviewed evidence I provide, then I guess there's no point in this debate."

Well finally - you've admitted to glacier and ice sheet problems. That's progress, Steel Rat.

And if you're not going to accept the peer-reviewed evidence I provode, then I guess there's no point in this debate, too. The difference, of course, is that your evidence is outdated. It's as if you pointed to predictions by physiologists that human couldn't climb Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen to show that it can't be done, while overlooking the new evidence that people have done just that repeatedly over the past few decades.

I certainly accept the peer-reviewed articles you've linked to. They've become somewhat outdated as new peer-reviewed evidence has surfaced.
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written by Steel Rat, December 20, 2009
And if you're not going to accept the peer-reviewed evidence I provode, then I guess there's no point in this debate, too. The difference, of course, is that your evidence is outdated. It's as if you pointed to predictions by physiologists that human couldn't climb Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen to show that it can't be done, while overlooking the new evidence that people have done just that repeatedly over the past few decades.

I certainly accept the peer-reviewed articles you've linked to. They've become somewhat outdated as new peer-reviewed evidence has surfaced.


Which peer-reviewed evidence did you provide? I only saw your NYT article.

If you consider 4 years to be outdated, then you need to speak to the IPCC, who are still clinging onto the totally debunked Hockey Stick circa 1998.

Well finally - you've admitted to glacier and ice sheet problems. That's progress, Steel Rat.


Clinging on to every word, aren't we. "Problem" is a relative term. The problem, for me, is figuring out what's really happening, not that melting is a problem, or that advance is a problem. Too much of either might be a "problem", but again, we haven't seen anything unprecedented for this interlgacial.
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Glacier straightening up
written by Achuara, December 20, 2009
I think it is time to straighten up the glacier issue and put it in the context it deserves. This is a graph by the IPCC showing how glaciers have developed since the 16th Century. Most of them began retreating around the 17th Century. Man’s influence ZERO. NATURAL CAUSES: 100%



Then, there is the matter of how many glaciers are in the world and how many are under supervision by the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS - http://www.geo.unizh.ch/wgms/fog.html).

They have a database of 58,585 glaciers, and when you download the data into an Excel spreadsheet and sort them you get the following data. The image is a snapshot of my spreadsheet with the statistics summarized:



So:

RETREATING: 8,691 – 14.84%
ADVANCING: 1,180 –-- 2%
STATIONARY: 10,621—10.25%
UNCERTAIN: 38,093 – 65%

NO RETREATING: -- 77.25%
STATIONARY + ADVANCING: -- 12.25%
.

Now keep moving.
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written by Steel Rat, December 20, 2009
@ Achuara

Obviously you're funded by big oil and right-wing think tanks. That data doesn't say what you think it does. /sarc
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written by Achuara, December 20, 2009
@steelrat:

I wish I was funded by big oil. It would help a lot to my $200 dollar retirment pension...

I have been waiting for Exxon check for 15 years now. I guess they lost my address or they've lost interest in funding sceptics in view that they are now funding Oxfam, Greenpeace, WWF, Friends of the Earth, and their ilk. smilies/grin.gif
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@Achuara
written by stevekelner, December 20, 2009
I shouldn't even get into this, but...Achuara, that graph is actually one of the more striking proofs of global warming - and potentially AGW - I've seen. If I'm reading this correctly (and if I'm not, I'm sure you'll tell me) -- downward means glacial shortening -- the graphs begin to decline more visibly in the 19th century - when the Industrial Revolution started major burning of fossil fuels, especially coal - and then drop like a rock in the 20th. You can argue that this is all due to natural causes (though I'm not sure why, with this speed), but in any case it does nothing to persuade me that AGW is wrong. The shape of the graph is quite striking! Because there is mild shrinkage starting in the 16th century doesn't obviate the possibility that it is dropping faster now, especially since orbit-based predictions suggest we should be going through cooling.
By the way, your comment on Exxon funding "green" organizations makes no sense, even as an attempt as a joke. There is no doubt that they are funding anti-global-warming organizations, a point which people seem hesitant to point out.
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Equinox on AtheistNexus
written by laursaurus, December 20, 2009
@equinox What a brilliant, reasonable discussion in the forum. I felt a little sneaky visiting over there, as a google search turns up a blog regarding the site warning: "no theists allowed!" (oops! hope letting that slip out doesn't get me kicked off here.) Wow, it came to a shockingly abrupt halt when the zero-tolerance, AGW true-believing moderator extinguished the thread with an admonishment to take your "denier BS somewhere else". This week has been an eye-opening experience.When self-proclaimed skeptics embrace an ideology, things get quite ugly.Poor Randi had the audacity to express his skepticism of another doomsday forecast. Why was he expected to abandon his critical-thinking process for just this particular subject? Of all the previous skeptical discussions I've encountered on climate change, this has been uniquely one-sided.
"There is nothing worse than group-think.......and all my friends agree with me!" smilies/wink.gif smilies/wink.gif
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Glaciers come and go, what's new?
written by Achuara, December 20, 2009
@stevekelner,

You make emphasis on the acceleration since 1900, but leave out an explanation for the decline before that date. Do you have one? I would like to hear it. One reason for the accelerating glacier retreat can be found in the evident increase in solar activity since the 1850s. If you examine well the graph you’ll see there are glaciers that are presently advancing as the Franz Joseph, New Zealand, the Argentire in France; Hansbreen, Svalbaard; Engebreen, Norway, Grindelvard, Switzerland.

The graph doesn’t include advancing glaciers in South America as the Pio XI Chile, Perito Moreno, Argentina, most glaciers in Antarctica, Alaska (lots!), Himalaya, etc. Perhaps they are absent because the graph was made by the IPCC and you know how IPCCers are used to spin the data or “hide the decline”.

I have reports of BP, Dutch/Shell, and other oil companies (including Exxon that funds the Woods Hole and other non sceptic institutions), are funding the Greens. You have another opinion, and perhaps you have the evidence, but that is part of the propaganda we are used to.
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This fast?
written by stevekelner, December 20, 2009
My point was only that this graph does nothing to undermine the AGW argument, let alone Global Warming in general. You seem to agree with that. A few glaciers advancing does not override most glaciers shrinking; we would expect some areas to cool as weather patterns change in any case. (The reverse also being true, of course, were cooling taking place). I don't need to "explain" the decline before that date, since that isn't my point. Changes in the slope require explanation. The whole question is whether we are having an effect on climate. We could be countering it (which I believe is the latest thinking, since otherwise we would be going into a new ice age), or we could be accelerating it, or we could be having no effect, the last of which seems the least likely to me.
As for funding, oil companies can perfectly well fund applicable research institutions (calling the Woods Hole a "non sceptic institution" is rather an insult to "the world's largest private, nonprofit ocean research, engineering and education organization," don't you think?) at the same time as they fund places like the American Enterprise Institute. Both are for PR purposes: one to make them look less like the polluters they are, and the other to undermine research that goes ways they don't like. Exxon funds the AEI to the tune of a quarter-million each year for the last few years; the organizations they funded in 2008 are here: http://tinyurl.com/nztmxz. I don't see Woods Hole. So before you refer to "propaganda," take a look at this and Media Matters. And cite evidence of your "reports" of the Greens being funded, please.
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written by davewyman, December 20, 2009
Achuara,

Where specifically did your data for your spreadsheet come from?

When I click on the link you provided, there's another link to the "Preliminary mass balance data for the years 2006 and 2007"

Looking at the report, I see this:

"The average mass balance of the glaciers with available long-term observation series around the world continues to decrease, with tentative figures indicating a further thickness reduction of 1.3 and 0.7 metres water equivalent (m w.e.) during the hydrological years 2006 and 2007, respectively. The new data continues the global trend in accelerated ice loss over the past few decades and brings the cumulative average thickness loss of the reference glaciers since 1980 at almost 11.3 m w.e. (see Figures 1 and 2). All so far reported tentative mass balance values for the two observation periods are given in Table 3."

And your chart shows accelerated rates of retreat for glaciers corresponding to increased levels of CO2 - how does this help your case?

"One reason for the accelerating glacier retreat can be found in the evident increase in solar activity since the 1850s."

My limited reading about solar activity, including sunspots, shows that increased warming of Earth in the past 40 years is much greater than the warming expected from known or suspected effects coming from the Sun.
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written by BillyJoe, December 20, 2009
stevekelner is correct, of course.

Those graphs offer clear support for AGW.

The cause of the decline before the 1900s could certainly be due to natural causes, and most likely are due to natural causes. Support for AGW doesn't mean you deny natural causes for climate change. In fact supporters of AGW do accept natural causes because there is evidence and mechanisms for natural causes of climate change. But they claim that some of the change cannot be due to natural causes thereby confirming AGW.

Those graphs clearly support that proposition.
So thanks for that.

BJ
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written by rwpikul, December 21, 2009
@Steel Rat:

Did you miss the bit where I pointed out that your PR firm was cherry picking by using data for just the US? For the past couple of years, Canada and the US have been cool, while pretty much the rest of the world has been warm. You should know this if you have read the NCDC reports.

Or did you just miss that the graph you linked to is titled "National (Contiguous U.S.) Temperature"?


You should also know that the 'hockey stick' is neither as important as some denialists seem to think, (the biggest smoking gun is stratospheric cooling[1]), nor has it been debunked. Mining geologist Steve McIntyre basically screwed up his reanalysis of Mann's papers, claiming that different criteria for selecting proxy series should be used then ignoring that his criteria said to use twice as many. When McIntyre's reanalysis is done properly, you get a graph nearly identical to Mann's. Furthermore, reconstructions using completely different data sources, or only using tree ring proxies for short term variation, result in pretty much the same temperature history. In all cases, any "medieval warm period" is no warmer than the early 1980s.


[1] To explain: While the lower atmosphere and surface have been getting warmer, the upper atmosphere has been getting cooler. This is exactly what you would expect for an increased greenhouse effect, and pretty much nothing else.
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written by rwpikul, December 21, 2009
Oops, missed a bit:

No shit that the long term mean is flat as a pancake, given that it's a reference value and not a trend line. (It's literally the mean of the whole 115 years of data.)
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The Calf Path 1
written by kyengineer, December 21, 2009
I appreciate Randi's remarks on JREF about AGW. But, overall, the "debate" in the blogs and posts is disappointing for the demonstrated broad lack of understanding of the scientific method by a broad cross-section of bloggers. A lot of people have made up their minds and their heads are firmly in the sand, with their asses sticking up like the good targets they are. But it should be noted that some of Randi's bloggers demonstrate awareness and thoughfulness that is completely lacking in the political and media arena and, it seems to me, the thoughtful people are the skeptics -- not the True Believers.

I would think that, in general, the audience of JREF and the Swift blog would be self-selected for a higher level of education and intelligence but, apparently, this is not enough to preclude all of the bias, prejudice, political posturing, and logical fallacies, etc.

The very definition of science is SKEPTICISM. Certainty has no place. Belief has no place, at all.

I, for one, have never said that there is zero chance of AGW. You cannot prove a negative. You can, however, find that probabilities are so low as to be insignificant. And, when there are other probabilities that are higher, it might be better to devote your time and effort (and Trillions of Dollars) to investigating them.

I will cite one example (out of many) that the "AGW, Revisited" blog reveals about the logical fallacies in the various posts (rather than bore the reader with more citations, data, and charts):

"They" is a problem, here. This pronoun is one of the flaws in all of the arguments because it introduces the ad hominem fallacy. If "they" are climate scientists, they may or may not be a pretty questionable lot but there are demonstrable charlatans in the pack. There wasn't any such profession at all just 30 or so years ago. And, even today, there is a lot of uncertainty about what constitutes climate science. About 200 years ago, there was a new science, Naturalism, which included a wide range of naturists, biologists, geologists, and others that did not pretend to be able to control any of the natural order -- but aspired to understand it. "They" included Linnaeus, Lyell, Darwin, Mendel, Mendeleev, and a thousand others who agonized over their data and theories their entire lives -- always with doubt. They were derided by many self-appointed scholars but they were dogged and persistent. "They", then, were more humble than "they", now.

If "they" are the AGW skeptics, the attack is against any and all people who have any questions or doubt about any part of the AGW argument. "They" covers a lot of ground. The arguments raised against The Petition Project are an excellent example of lumping all of "them" into one big "they" and claiming that only the approved and certified "They", the so-called climate scientists, can be heard. I am particularly disappointed by the people that seem compelled to deny their qualifications to have an opinion (even Randi did this) by announcing that they are not "climate scientists". I, for one, do not accept this ducking of responsibility and this politically-correct elevation of a dubious, very small, and very egotistical population of academics as the only people who are allowed to speak, to have an opinion, or to raise arguments. In fact, I think this calls all of "climate science" into question. Until these self-appointed sycophants to the media and government kings can withstand the test of skepticism, they do not deserve the honorific of "scientist".

It didn't require a "clothing scientist" to say, "The emperor has no clothes!"

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The Calf Path 2
written by kyengineer, December 21, 2009
Climate scientists, today, are clearly a new order of grant and public-funding seeking lobbyists. There is no commercial application for their hypothetical claims. It is all public money (and I include charitable donations from private trusts and corporations -- another form of tax support). And, until "they" can make it rain in the Sahara dependably for 1000 years and turn it green, there is little likelihood of any commercial application. Of course, there are very smart crooks who can make billions from "carbon credits" but that is a phantom "product" and a government Ponzi scheme worthy of Bernie Madoff (and Al Gore). Until "they" can demonstrate a reliable and practical means of terraforming Mars, there is little opportunity for real benefit to mankind. And, when someone does invent a means to terraform Mars, it will be biologists, geologists, chemists, physicists, and engineers who do the job (and their science is testable!), not "climate scientists". Your taxes and mine are their bread and butter. This introduces a degree of doubt about "their" motives (this is not an ad hominem attack any more than questioning the motives of Big Oil).

I will cite one other issue that is apparent in the blogs - hubris. Most people have no understanding of large numbers (as a physicist and engineer, I would humbly claim to understand more than most). They (there's that pesky word, again) think that a million or a billion (or in today's politics, trillion) is a large number. Ten-to-the-twentieth-power has no meaning but, in most people's minds, it must be just a bigger kind of trillion? For example, the average depth of the oceans of Planet Earth is about 12,250 feet (3.72E+03 meters). The volume of the oceans is about 4.79E+19 cubic feet (1.36E+18 cubic meters). The mass of the oceans is about 2.99E+21 pounds (or 1.36E+21 kilograms). That's 1,360,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg and a lot of zeros! Changing the temperature of such enormous masses requires a lot of net heat gain or net heat loss over a very long time and would be highly chaotic (see "Chaos" by James Gleich) -- and this doesn't take any atmosphere, land mass, orbital, or solar variation into account, which adds orders of magnitude to the problem set. It would seem that global climate changes might occur over very long periods of time with many swings -- millenia, at least, not decades -- and this is supported by "paleoclimatological" evidence. TV is not a good medium for conveyance of large-number science, yet TV sound-bites appear to be the level of most people's understanding.

Alexander Pope said, "A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring." [1711, Pope, Essay on Criticism l. 215]). It is even more true, today, as a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, particularly when combined with hubris.

Scientists worthy of the name would support a very long term study of the data, not a rush to judgment or to spend the wealth of nations.

We are in danger of starting a new Calf Path -- and may have, already.
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@kyengineer
written by stevekelner, December 21, 2009
Well, speaking of hubris, perhaps I can apply some of my professional skill in thematic analysis to what you say, because I don't think the pro-AGW camp are immune to hubris. Your statements seem to include the following statements and implications:
* Climate scientists as a group "may or may not be a pretty questionable lot" BUT there are "charlatans" and as a whole they are less humble than "Naturalists." (For a physicist, I think you haven't read enough history of science, but never mind.) Implication: they're not trustworthy.
* Because people question whether dentists, MDs, non-Earth scientists and the fictitious names in the Petition Project might be qualified to have an informed opinion, "this calls all of 'climate science' into question." A double implied criticism there, with the quotation marks around climate science. Pragmatically speaking, the credibility or lack thereof on the part of the Petition Project says nothing about the validity of climate science, only on the signers of the Petition Project. Implication: climate scientists are dodgy because they are arrogant, and the Petition Project is legitimate because they have doubts. Willingness to critique on the basis of facts (and identifying those who know them) is rather central to science, in my experience as a scientist. Otherwise, "creation scientists" have an opinion equal to anthropologists, and after all they doubt evolution. Does this make them more humble?
* Until climate scientists do something that makes money, and because they are funded by taxes, they can provide "little opportunity for real benefit to mankind." Astonishing set of assumptions here: that you have to make money to be of benefit to mankind (Newton, Einstein, and Feynman were all professors, last I looked), and taking taxes renders you incapable of providing benefit to mankind. Some might argue you are more compromised by taking funding from oil companies with a specific axe to grind, a point you pass by.
* Finally: Earth is big and complicated, therefore it throws everything they study into doubt. While this sounds plausible, it implies (again) that climate scientists are doubtful charlatans. I rather suspect they are fully aware of complexity in their fields, which, by the way, includes a vast range of scientists in different fields, including physicists like yourself. As a social scientist, myself, I'm rather more used to complicated issues that can only be approached statistically than most physicists. The answer to high complexity is actually very simple in principle: if the change is big enough, it can be reasonably assumed not to be accidental. Furthermore, if there is convergence from a wide range of different sources of data, it can be reasonably assumed not to be accidental. This is precisely what is being contended.
Given the complexity of the field, I think it puts rather more emphasis on the few who are actively in this field, then the many who are not well acquainted with it. You seem to feel you can tar them with a single brush. Seems a bit overstated to me.
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written by davewyman, December 21, 2009
"it seems to me, the thoughtful people are the skeptics -- not the True Believers."

Considering the rest of your post, this is not surprising.

"If "they" are climate scientists, they may or may not be a pretty questionable lot but there are demonstrable charlatans in the pack."

Uh, huh. Sure. Name some charlatans.

"If "they" are the AGW skeptics, the attack is against any and all people who have any questions or doubt about any part of the AGW argument."

What attacks? And why would an "attack" against one be an attack against all?

Additionally, an ad hominem argument is not, by definition, a fallacy.
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written by davewyman, December 21, 2009
"There wasn't any such profession at all just 30 or so years ago. And, even today, there is a lot of uncertainty about what constitutes climate science."

OK. But then:

"Climate scientists, today, are clearly a new order of grant and public-funding seeking lobbyists."

First, you can't define climate science. Then you define a climate scientist. Consistency isn't exactly your forte, is it?

You're a physicist and engineer? Doubtful. As an obvious troll, you've earned failing marks.

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written by Achuara, December 21, 2009
@davewyman,

I got the spreadsheet about three years ago when the guys at AGMS were complaining about their lack of funding that had prevented them to update their database that was from 2005, and predicted they would have to stop monitoring glaciers for good.

Now I have seen they got some funding and have revamped their site and changed everything. So I don't know where they moved the files. The entire spreadsheet I got in 2005 in Excel format is 3 Mbytes. I have a version of advancing glaciers in html (222 kb) and in Excel (94 kb) that I can upload to a server and give you the link to download. Which ones would you like?

The comment that makes relates to the relatively small list of glaciers they monitor (they don’t monitor all glaciers because it is a task out of reach even by the IPCC). And, as all organizations that depend on the AGW scare to get funding they will always exaggerate a little. Very human. No funding and they would have to go and look for a common job in a bank or in a grocery store.

And your chart shows accelerated rates of retreat for glaciers corresponding to increased levels of CO2 - how does this help your case?


The increased rates of retreat ALSO correlates with many other factors that people blinded by the “reductionistic” habit of considering only CO2 as the exclusive factor will always overlook or simply dismiss. There a many cosmic and solar factors that correlate so closely with climate changes on Earth, that when you see three, four or five cosmic and solar cycles showing the same thing, then you know you have something worth of investigating.

Some factors: Jovian cycles, solar system barycenter variations, different solar cycles, many nested inside longer ones. It is not about TSI so the “expected” warming expressed by people as David Harthaway and friends is irrelevant. To increase your knowledge of solar influence on Earth’s climate system you should try to take a look at the website one of my friends, the late Finnish astrophysicist and astronomer Timo Niroma (passed away three months ago) left for all of us interested I the sun’s effect on Earth’s climate:

http://www.personal.eunet.fi/pp/tilmari/

From there you can navigate his site where there is so much information that will make you dizzy. It is worth of seeing if not just for the sake of curiosity.
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written by davewyman, December 21, 2009
"I have a version of advancing glaciers in html (222 kb) and in Excel (94 kb) that I can upload to a server and give you the link to download."

So, no original source to link to? Why does this not surprise me?

"The late Finnish astrophysicist and astronomer Timo Niroma"

This, finally, explains a lot about you, Steel Rat.

Classic from Timo: "And I have a prediction, based on my sunspot theory, that the global warming, if there is any, will reverse about 2025."
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ARSCHLOCH
written by Achuara, December 21, 2009
Why it doesn’t surprise me that you revealed yourself as an arschloch?? that will always resort to dismiss others with a stupid and extremely offensive sarcasm.

It shouldn’t surprise you the absence of a link, of course, because they are doing a sloppy work. The ancient database has been erased (“hide the decline” maybe?) because it is not any longer in the WGMS site. All data has been transferred to NSDIC (or course, who else?).

So starting from this link: World Glacier Inventory [url= http://www.geo.unizh.ch/wgms/w...s/wgi.html I found a link at the bottom:

WGI-data can be downloaded from the NSIDC-site.
[url= http://nsidc.org/data/glacier_...index.html

I landed there and I tried to make a query but the query page is a sloppy one with a message as this one:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Step 1. Select Search Options
You can search the inventory in a variety of ways.

String Search

Glacier name OR Glacier number


This search will return only those records that exactly match your entry. If no glacier name or number is specified, the search includes all glacier names or numbers. Not all glaciers have names, but all glaciers have numbers.

OR

Geographic Search

If no latitude or longitude is specified, the search defaults to the full geographical range.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When sending a blank search to get the entire database (all glaciers) they give an error message:

“You need to constrain your search!
Access to entire data set available by ftp;”


I don’t know and don’t care about their ftp address, and I am not an experienced hacker.

Finally I got a huge file with these kind of data, but no number indicating glacier’s status (1 to 5 from retreating to surge). If you want that kind of data, YOU make your own query and get back here and tell I am a liar. In the meantime I leave telling you are an arschloch. I have not time to waste with people that believe that I would forge a data file with tens of thousands of glacier data. Only an arschloch can believe that, as other arschloch believe the CRU emails were hacked or faked, instead of having been left inadvertently in an ftp server where a whistleblower in CRU sent them out. Why did he send if FIRST to Real Climate instead of McIntyre??

The top part of the sloppy database, several thousand lines long:

#You requested data where: data_contributor LIKE 'WGMS'
#glacier_num, glacier_name, lat, lon, coordinates
RC1M005G035, , -33.0688, -70.1023,
F4N01165C13, PICHETTES W, 44.9920, 6.3430, 498633
F4N01165D03, HOMME (DE L'), 45.0052, 6.3383, 498758
F4N01162B02, DEMOISELLES, 45.1723, 6.1520, 332634
F4N01162B03, COCHETTE N, 45.1708, 6.1335, 332604
Etc, etc, etc,

Adieu, you are nobody
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written by davewyman, December 21, 2009
"I leave telling you are an arschloch. I have not time to waste with people that believe that I would forge a data file with tens of thousands of glacier data."

I didn't say you forged anything. LInking to something that wasn't as advertised just seemed to match your style.

Thanks for descending into name calling; it's good to discover your true colors.
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written by Steel Rat, December 21, 2009
@davewyman,

"The late Finnish astrophysicist and astronomer Timo Niroma"

This, finally, explains a lot about you, Steel Rat.


That wasn't me. I'm done with this "discussion."
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Let's do a bit of math.
written by rwpikul, December 21, 2009
@kyengineer:

You point out the amount of thermal mass that warming effects will have to deal with.

Well, let's look at what it will take to heat that mass by a few degrees.

Water has a heat capacity of about 4.2 J/g*K, admittedly this is for pure water so it will be a bit high. But, we will use 5 J/g*K to both allow for the slightly higher density of salt water and to make the math easier.

Now, let us look at a 5 km column of water with an upper surface area of 1 m^2, this has a volume of:

5000 m * 1 m^2 = 5000 m^3

Seawater has a density of between 1.025 and 1.030 g/cm^3, but as we have already more than allowed for that, we will use 1 g/cm^3, (or 1 Mg/m^3):

5000 m^3 * 1 Mg/m^3 = 5 Gg

Increasing this temperature by 3 K will thus take:

5 Gg * 5 J/g*K *3 K = 75 GJ

Quite a bit of energy, but let us look at the power requirements.

To do this in an hour will take:

75 GJ / 3600 s = 20.8 MW

In a day:

20.8 MW / 24 hr = 868 kW

In a year:

868 kW / 365.25 days = 2.38 kW

In a decade:

2.38 kW / 10 a = 238 W (NB: This is about the average amount of solar radiation reaching 1 m^2 of the Earth's surface.)

In a century:

238 W / 10 decades = 23.8 W

Not as big as it seemed at first, is it? And that is using assumptions that will cause it to be an overestimate.
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written by Achuara, December 22, 2009
@rwpikul,

Thank God you are not an Aeronautical Engineer designing 747 Jumbos, or an architect building skyscrapers! You’d be contributing to reduce population explosion.

Your error was that if you need 20.8 MW in ONE hour, in 24 hours you will need 24 times more, meaning you must MULTIPLAY by 24, not DIVIDE by 24.

Your idea revamped:

In one hour:

75 GJ / 3600 s = 20.8 MW

In a day:

20.8 MW * 24 hr = 499.2 MW

In a year:

499.2 x 365.25 = 183,332.8 MW

In a decade: 183,332.8 * 10 = 1,833,328.0 MW

1,833,328 MW/10 a = 183,332.8 KW

183,332.8 KW * 10 decades = 1,833,328 KW

NOW compare: 23.8 W ----------versus---------- 1,833,328 KW

The difference is so many orders of magnitude that I really don’t want calculate them.

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written by BillyJoe, December 22, 2009
Achuara,

Thank God you are not an Aeronautical Engineer designing 747 Jumbos, or an architect building skyscrapers! You’d be contributing to reduce population explosion...Your error was that if you need 20.8 MW in ONE hour, in 24 hours you will need 24 times more, meaning you must MULTIPLAY by 24, not DIVIDE by 24.

How embarrassing for you.

I will invite you to re-read rwpicul's post again.
Carefully this time.
You can then post a retraction. smilies/wink.gif

(Hint: rwpicul's maths is correct)

regards,
BillyJoe
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I was going to let this drop, but....
written by Chris Jackson, December 22, 2009
Climate scientists, today, are clearly a new order of grant and public-funding seeking lobbyists. There is no commercial application for their hypothetical claims. It is all public money (and I include charitable donations from private trusts and corporations -- another form of tax support). And, until "they" can make it rain in the Sahara dependably for 1000 years and turn it green, there is little likelihood of any commercial application. Of course, there are very smart crooks who can make billions from "carbon credits" but that is a phantom "product" and a government Ponzi scheme worthy of Bernie Madoff (and Al Gore). Until "they" can demonstrate a reliable and practical means of terraforming Mars, there is little opportunity for real benefit to mankind. And, when someone does invent a means to terraform Mars, it will be biologists, geologists, chemists, physicists, and engineers who do the job (and their science is testable!), not "climate scientists". Your taxes and mine are their bread and butter. This introduces a degree of doubt about "their" motives (this is not an ad hominem attack any more than questioning the motives of Big Oil)


My friend, I hate to interject here, but by making this sweeping judgmental statement about each and every climate scientist, aren’t you contradicting your previous statement about the importance of not lazily categorizing massive groups of people in a two-dimensional fashion?

You seem to be quite willing to do so when it suits your political assumptions.

I thought you actually had an excellent point when you made that earlier lesson. It is unfortunate to see a person fall into the same logical trap so soon after they addressed the importance of seeing
people as individuals rather than as a faceless collective with hive-mind motives.

I, for one, do not accept this ducking of responsibility and this politically-correct elevation of a dubious, very small, and very egotistical population of academics as the only people who are allowed to speak, to have an opinion, or to raise arguments. In fact, I think this calls all of "climate science" into question. Until these self-appointed sycophants to the media and government kings can withstand the test of skepticism, they do not deserve the honorific of "scientist".


Yeah – who needs scientists and experts anyway? We don’t need scholars for anything. We don’t need to listen to people who spend their lives studying subjects. We don’t need doctors. Those damn elitists and their undemocratic conception of what defines ‘expertise’ should be ejected out of the country. I’ll make up my own damn mind about how to conduct surgery on my ingrown toenail. I’ll write my own damn book on evolutionary biology and the origin of species, based on my own damn experiences. Who needs years of specialized studying anyway?

Ok – to be serious – I think you have an excessively egalitarian conception of science and knowledge. Certainly, we should all avoid the fallacy of arguing from authority, but I don’t see the point in treating climate scientists as a faceless group of snobby divas who are out to raise taxes and burn public money.

On the question at hand – is human-induced global warming real – I’m not intrinsically loyal to one answer or the other. I just want to know the truth based on the facts, and I want to make a tentative judgment based on what data we can gather. That is the attitude of a rational skeptic.

For the time being, I think it is valid. I’ll repeat what I said earlier that this matter should have nothing to do with belief, per say. It should have nothing to do with political orientation, or ideas injected into us from media outlets or our peers. Our egos should remain outside of the equation. It would be unwise to become too emotionally invested in one answer or the other, lest it will blind a person to any potential evidence that arises, as well as the overall truth. For me, it is a matter of trust in the scientific community and the scientific method on an aggregate scale that has given us a picture of our climate changing. It is just a tentative judgment.

If you release a progressively higher amount of greenhouse gases into a finite space, and simultaneously decimate greenhouse gas sinks within that finite space – such as trees – you will observe an overall gradual warming within that space. Greenhouse gases by themselves are actually harmless and even play an essential role in the earth’s ecology; it is the excessive production of them that is the problem.

I wish that it were untrue, since I find the economic ramifications to be unappealing. But I will not let cognitive dissonance obstruct my analysis. Consensus can be overturned, or can adapt to new data – but I have to totally disagree with this variety of scornful distrust of science and scientists that I keep observing. It has nothing to do with pure rational skepticism.
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You can view the odds on global warming year-by-year at the well-known event-prediction site, Intrade.com
written by RogerKni, December 23, 2009
I'm afraid this thread has grown cold, but here's the info. for those who are still around. Anyone may re-post it elsewhere.

The well-known Dublin-based event-prediction website http://www.intrade.com takes bets on whether 2010 will be the hottest year on record. Ditto for 2011. It also takes bets on whether any or all of the years 2010-2014 will be one of the five warmest years on record. (The GISS temperature database is used to settle bets.)

The odds on that site (arrived at via a bid/ask market among participants) have a good track record of being right about elections and other events. Currently the odds on 2009 being one of the five warmest years on record are 90 to 10. You can visit the site to see how the odds are shaping up for the years ahead. (However, bets for future years have just been posted, so volume is low at the moment.) Click on:

Markets -->
Climate & Weather -->
Global Temperature -->
Will Global Average Temperatures for 2010-2011 be THE warmest on record? (Click on the + sign) -->
OR
Will Global Average Temperatures for 2009-2014 be AMONG FIVE warmest on record?
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written by rwpikul, December 23, 2009
@Achuara

Basic physics: Power is Energy divided by Time, or if you prefer, Energy is Power times Time

Let's check your math by back-calculating:

499.2 MW * 24 hr * 3600 s/hr = 43.1 TW * s = 43.1 TJ
183,332.8 MW * 365.25 d * 24 hr/d * 3600 s/hr = 5.79 EJ

As you might be able to tell, these are not the same. JSYK, if you were to add 43 TJ to 5000 m^3 of water you would get steam, 5 EJ and you're talking plasma.

(BTW: Don't go randomly adding sigfigs, you are working with numbers that have been rounded.)

Now, lets look at some of my numbers:

868 kW * 24 hr * 3600 s/hr = 75.0 GW * s = 75.0 GJ
2.38 kW * 365.25 d * 24 hr/d * 3600 s/hr = 75.1 GJ

Yes, there's a bit of round-off error. However, a difference of 1 in the final significant digit is not a concern. I admit to having been a little loose with units, properly I should have used a form like:

X * hr/s * 3600 s/hr

But that's ugly and most people who would have no problem with that will also know to assume it in time scaling.


Remember: If you want a specific amount of energy, longer times mean lower power.
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written by mbolton1984, December 25, 2009
The double-standard some of the people who are "skeptical" of anthropogenic global warming have unwittingly created is quite laughable. One poster believes the science that hypothesizes Earth has experienced multiple warming and cooling periods, uses that theory to support his argument for being skeptical of AGW, yet turns his nose up at climate scientists in support of anthropogenic global warming-even though their data is based on some of the same research as the scientists who have hypothesized Earth's warming and cooling periods.

I implore you AGW skeptics, please, do some research, check your sources, and understand the data. Do not scream in support and drink in Mr. Randi's "refreshing" view on AGW. The man admittedly knows little about climate science. He's an amazing and brilliant skeptic, but Mr. Randi is not infallible. He is human... remember?

I agree with another poster, drcollision. None of us want global warming to be real. I most definitely wish it wasn't real. I also wish there was an afterlife. However, what does the evidence show in both cases? Not the answer we want, of course.

There are a multitude of phenomena that could effect the temperature of our planet. Of course we humans do not understand them all. And there could be any number of phenomena effecting our planet at this moment that no one would have ever imagined able to. Burning fossil fuels may not be the only factor contributing to the rise of Earth's temperature, but I guarantee you it's not helping anything. So why not do something about it?
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Chemical & Engineering News article, “Global Warming and Climate Change,” Dec. 21, 2009
written by RogerKni, December 26, 2009
Chemical & Engineering News has a new article, “Global Warming and Climate Change,” dated Dec. 21, 2009. It's over 20 pages long and does a smooth and professional job of providing an overview of many of the issues. (It would need to be twice as long to cover most of them. I hope there will be a sequel.) Here's the link:

http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/87/8751cover.html
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written by RogerKni, December 26, 2009
oops -- here's that link again, this time "clickable":

http://pubs.acs.org/cen/covers...cover.html
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Chemical & Engineering article.........
written by laursaurus, December 26, 2009
@RogerKni
Bravo!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for that link. It has to be the most balanced article ever and it gets even better. The science is laid out in a coherent, comprehensive manner.
The AGW believers who formed their opinion after "educating themselves", will cite RealClimate.org without fail. It never dawns on them that this is nothing more than a blog run by the same activist scientists who authored the Climategate Emails. They will parrot back their talking points, such as the huge amount of peer-reviewed papers confirming CAGW. But RC is a blog, not a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The climate scientists who run the site are promoting their biased opinions. The articles are free to take pot shots at the peer-reviewed published papers from the skeptics, completely avoiding the established rebuttal process where their objections are also peer-reviewed for validity prior to publishing them in the journal. It's a mirror image of Climate Audit or Watts Up with That, which belong to the global warming skeptics.
I applaud the authors in this article for explaining the legitimate points of disagreement about the science. AGW proponents rely on dismissing their opponents as "deniers" and "conspiracy theorists". There is an enormous amount of science that is not anywhere near being settled. It doesn't go far enough explaining how the emails revealed the corruption in this formally obscure area of science. Probably this is a good thing, as hopefully the proponents and undecided readers won't reject this excellent piece as denier propaganda. It does a nearly perfect job of explaining who believes what and why, in a remarkably unbiased manner.
Thanks again! I'm hoping for a sequel, too!
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written by rwpikul, December 27, 2009
That article is a bit too he said/she said for my tastes. It leaves off things like how minor most of the scientists behind the NIPCC report are, and how most of them do not have any background in climate research. When S. Fred Singer is one of the top scientists behind a report, it's not exactly good for its credibility. The NIPCC is also from the Heartland Institute, which has been already caught in flat-out lies on this issue.

As for RealClimate: Yes it is a blog, a blog that points to the peer reviewed literature to back up what is said. That's one of the reasons people are sent there, because the posts will not only note what is said and make a response but will link to what is being criticized and to the papers showing exactly why.
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you might be right or you might be wrong but at least you thinking
written by Brother Calem, December 28, 2009
From memory I cant ever remember a consensus where dissent was banned and attacked where the consensus was eventually proved correct..

The flat earth consensus was very wide spread among the main stream it was the minority sceptics that were proven right.. if you check your history Gallilaio stood alone, I agree there were men before him but he was the noted exception to the consensus of his time and he stood alone.

Maybe for the first time in recorded history, that the mainstream authoritarian consensus will be correct,

Strangely they have put their reputation on the line over the weather !!!!

Maybe persecuting all dissent or question this time will prove to be the best course of action.

If nothing happens and the temperate just it ups and down like it has since the last Ice age, no more or maybe less will the experts humbly apologies and return the billions of dollars ... hehhehehe no I dont think so either - as they are disproved the anger and belligerence from them and the true believers will increace

the next decade will possibly destroy the respect for science and its methods, banning all dissent or questioning has a very high price to pay if you are wrong.

Maybe the weather is not something we should be certain about.... we should leave the door open for an embarrassed "Ooop well I thought I was right" We should make room for Randi and his kind of critical thinking, they may just be the only ones left with any creditability left when this panic all die down in ten years or so !!

Please take note of the claims.. every thing seem to be caused by global warming now days - "compensate us NOW"

The cave men were right during the Ice Age, the planet did warm up and it was caused by men.... the women are innocent

I fear the unquestioning stance brings in question the skeptical credentials of many.

in the rush to jump onto a populist bandwagon you have forgotten to listen and rationally evaluate the claims.

NO other area of science makes absolute decorations of TRUTH, just the people who watch the weather ????

Be afraid be very afraid .......

Not even gravity is spoken of in terms of absolute fact, the questioning and testing is continuing, but not so with the weather, this is now uncontested absolute final fact.... the inner scientist in all of you should be disgusted with this consensus.

And you lot pock fun at the blind faith of the snake oil salesman... shame on you shame!!!!

"I am so skeptical, I suspect the sincerity of sceptics"
"I don't follow the flock out of blind submission, but out of a deep abiding sense of community" Ewe to Ram

After the present religious world threats are we looking forward to ECO terrorists silencing the infidel nonbelivers

and so the hysteria of official truth begins ..........

Viva James Randi defender of logical truth....
you might be right or you might be wrong but at least you thinking rather joining the flock
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written by davewyman, December 28, 2009
Reading a post like the one above makes it abundantly clear what rational thought is up against.
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written by MacDonald, December 28, 2009
@Brother Calem: "if you check your history Gallilaio stood alone"

Not a useful comparison. There were only a handful of people in the world worthy of the name scientist in Galileo's time and that wasn't where his opposition came. He was opposed by the church. The current debate is nothing like that.

"Maybe for the first time in recorded history, that the mainstream authoritarian consensus will be correct,"

Evolution is mainstream scientific consensus. Seems like a more apt comparison here.

"Strangely they have put their reputation on the line over the weather !!!! "


Conflating weather with climate not a useful thing to do here. They are very different things.

"Maybe the weather is not something we should be certain about."

Of course nobody should be certain of the weather ... or the climate.
If you actually look at what the AGW people are claiming, it's all probabilities, like good climate science would be. Nobody is saying they are certain exactly what will happen, the only place they are talking about being in any way certain is with regard to the pattern of data leading up to the present, which shows a warming trend and shows a correlation with human activity. That correlation is not absolute proof of causation, but it is stronger than any counter-evidence currently on the table.

I find it amazing that people can actually think this is just some scientific kerfuffle created by some climatologists protecting their reputations.

The most profitable corporations on the entire planet are the oil companies.
Their profits for the next few decades are contigent on extracting as much petroleum as possible form the earths crust. If people actually take AGW seriously, it will seriously cut into those profits.
The trillions of dollars riding on this (decades worth of profit) absolutely dwarf concerns about a few scientific reputations and a few research grants.

No, rather than Galileo, the current situation is most reminiscent of the conflict between the scientists getting the word out on the health effects of tobacco versus a disinformation campaign funded by the rich tobacco interests.

You're not some noble skeptic fighting the evil eco-terrorists,
you've just been punked by the disinformation campaign backed by the oil/coal interests.

The AGW doubt campaign smacks more of the Discovery Institute or the tobacco lobby than science.
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written by rwpikul, December 29, 2009
Comparing the AGW denialist groups to the tobacco lobby is very apt.

When you actually look at what organizations and people are involved, you see a lot of the same names.
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Sea Levels Rise in Florida! But not elsewhere
written by bigdoggy, December 29, 2009
@ LovleAnjel
Sorry I missed your post but what is the point of talking about your thesis here? If you studied tectonic and non-tectonic sea rises due to land moving and not, as you admit, global sea levels why mention it? ARE THE LAND MOVEMENTS DUE TO 4X4s? This is a discussion about AGW, for which there is NO EVIDENCE. There may even be a slowing of the NATURAL sea rise that's been happening SINCE THE LAST ICE AGE. This topic generates quite a bit of heat itself but there shouldn't be a discussion at all unless it's to discuss either the facts, or to express opinions about how we should approach the implications of these facts. With AGW there are NO FACTS, only people talking out of their methane factories.
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written by davewyman, December 29, 2009
"This is a discussion about AGW, for which there is NO EVIDENCE. "

Yet again, reading a post like the one above makes it abundantly clear what rational thought is up against.
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Rational thought
written by bigdoggy, December 29, 2009
Yes, rational thought is once again up against people who argue from a position of no evidence. As with religion, pointing out the lack of evidence simply leads to replies that are ad hominem attacks on those who point it out. The believers don't like being asked for the evidence because they don't have it. Ideally, their response would be to show the evidence but, since they can't, they just shake their heads as if the person asking 'just doesn't get it'. I'll put my rational thought up against that of anyone who doesn't follow the scientific method.
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written by Airtime, December 30, 2009
" rational thought is once again up against people who argue from a position of no evidence. As with religion, pointing out the lack of evidence simply leads to replies that are ad hominem attacks on those who point it out. The believers don't like being asked for the evidence because they don't have it. Ideally, their response would be to show the evidence but, since they can't, they just shake their heads as if the person asking 'just doesn't get it'."

Nicely expressed!
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uncertainty in climate science
written by laursaurus, December 31, 2009

Wow! This is brilliant and informative. This guys has read everything the IPPC has published. The science is explained very well. No talk of conspiracy, scandal, or socialism. Much of the discussion refers to the actual IPPC Third Assessment Report and the Summary for Policy Makers.
"Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus." Michael Crichton
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Of course, Crichton hated science
written by stevekelner, December 31, 2009
Michael Crichton's view of science is perhaps not ideal; there is a constant thread of dislike and distrust of science, technology, and "progress" throughout all his books, going right back to The Andromeda Strain. And he cherry-picked information for State of Fear, his anti-Global Warming novel. I don't disagree with the assertion that reproducible results are key; but one must not reflexively reject consensus, either. Some of the greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they created consensus so rapidly.
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Sensitivity to Initial Conditions
written by NicoleTedesco, January 03, 2010
We have understood, since the time of Konrad Lorentz, that our climate is really, really sensitive to any kind of change (the "butterfly effect"). Allowing for the accuracy of the estimates of historically recent warming trends, we just might have been in a position of triggering a warming feedback cycle which Randi mentions in his article. What I strongly object to is the utterly unfounded conclusion that we can do anything at all about this trend once it has been set in motion! If a tiny push can move a chaotic system into a particular direction, there is absolutely no reason to believe the opposite "push" can bring it back! This the very definition of a "chaotic" or "complex" system which tends to characterize natural systems of all kinds.
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Irreverisble System
written by NicoleTedesco, January 03, 2010
See also, the Wikipedia entry for "irreversibility" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreversibility).
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written by davewyman, January 03, 2010
>If a tiny push can move a chaotic system into a particular direction, there is absolutely no reason to believe the opposite "push" can bring it back! This the very definition of a "chaotic" or "complex" system which tends to characterize natural systems of all kinds.<

I fail to see the logic of this. If a tiny push can move a chaotic system in one direction, a tiny push should be able to move it in another direction. If this were not possible, then the antecedent "push" shouldn't work, either - and you're postulating, Nicole, that a tiny push can make a difference.
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written by NicoleTedesco, January 03, 2010
davewyman,

I fail to see the logic of this. If a tiny push can move a chaotic system in one direction, a tiny push should be able to move it in another direction. If this were not possible, then the antecedent "push" shouldn't work, either - and you're postulating, Nicole, that a tiny push can make a difference.


Absolutely and utterly wrong. That is not the way to look at it. You would have to understand a little of the kind of mathematics involved, but let's say this: chaotic systems tend to be guided by mathematics that are irreversible. Chaotic systems also tend not to be deterministic. This can, though not necessarily, mean any combination the following: there may be no telling what makes a chaotic system move one way or the other (non-deterministic), the same function which moves a chaotic system in one direction is not applicable in moving it in the other direction (irreversible) or if a general tendency exists to nudge the system into some direction, that nudge may be extremely small (the "butterfly effect" or "sensitivity to initial conditions).

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall / Humpty Dumpty had a great fall / All the King's horses / And all of the King's men / Couldn't put poor Humpty back together again."

The weather is a lot like that.
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Current History
written by NicoleTedesco, January 03, 2010
When comparing the climate records of the last 150 years to ice core samples and an estimate of climate tendencies over the last hundreds of millions of years we don't yet know whether or not our climate may have already been on the verge of a shift in general temperature. In the chaotic system known as this planet's climate, all the current data may be telling us is no more than the planet may have been "looking for an excuse" -- any excuse at all -- to shift its general temperate. Even allowing for the veracity of all of the generally accepted data that 1) the planet is indeed experiencing a general warming trend and 2) human carbon dioxide emissions precipitated this trend, we still don't know if it may have triggered itself if the Industrial Revolution had never have happened albeit perhaps decades from now (or even sooner).

This is the core meaning of "sensitivity to initial conditions".
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Another Image for Humpty Dumpty
written by NicoleTedesco, January 03, 2010
To further my point, reconsider the "Humpty Dumpty" picture but think of poor Humpty sitting so precariously on the edge of the wall a fly landing on him would be enough to push him over. A random fly does land, and Humpty falls. Certainly it was that particular fly which pushed the careless Humpty over, but if it wasn't that fly it would have been another at some point, or even not a fly at all but a bee or perhaps a fallen leaf from a nearby tree...

You get the picture.
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Don't Get Me Wrong
written by NicoleTedesco, January 03, 2010
Don't get me wrong: I am not saying that the current warming trend could not be reversed by reducing our carbon emissions. What I am saying is that we do not deserve to have an a priori reason to believe this is so! Once the warming trend is triggered, ice sheets reverse and reflect less sunlight, water warms up and stops absorbing as much of the natural carbon dioxide emissions as it used to, the cloud layer thins (or thickens, this is still very much an open question) and reflects less sunlight, desertification increases and so on. These processes, once started, may run away on their own even if we were to suddenly disappear off the planet and reduce our GHG gas emissions to zero. The point is that we truly don't know how to best cool our planet back down, let alone stop this runaway process once it has started.
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written by davewyman, January 03, 2010
"chaotic systems tend to be guided by mathematics that are irreversible."

That word - "tend" - gives the game away, doesn't it?

If you assume, after the fact, that your readers have to understand a little of the mathematics involved, then you should have mentioned this in the first place. But you didn't, did you? Too late now, Nicole. And if you think you have to prove your position with specialized knowledge most readers are familiar with, then there isn't much point in producing that knowledge.

But since you quoted wikipedia, I will, too:

"Since the fundamental laws of physics are all time-reversible, the irreversibility of thermodynamics must be statistical in nature, that is, that it must be merely highly unlikely, but not impossible, that a system will lower in entropy."

In any event, you're wrong in your assumptions, and so your conclusion fail. For example, you're wrong to conclude that the unprecedented pumping of CO2 is a "tiny" push. it is not. While you assert the weather is a lot like Humpty Dumpty, the amounts of CO2 we're pumping into the atmosphere are not. Our human decisions to change our actions are not the same as the changes in weather.

Furthermore, whether or not we pump more or less CO2 into the atmosphere, it is already a given than climate change will occur, in ways that a majority of humans will agree are going to be detrimental to our existence. It is not a given, though, that we humans are incapable of slowing that process with a major reduction of CO2 emissions.

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Agreed: Entropy Reversal is Not Impossible
written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
davewyman,

In any event, you're wrong in your assumptions, and so your conclusion fail. For example, you're wrong to conclude that the unprecedented pumping of CO2 is a "tiny" push. it is not. While you assert the weather is a lot like Humpty Dumpty, the amounts of CO2 we're pumping into the atmosphere are not. Our human decisions to change our actions are not the same as the changes in weather.


First of all, in a simple forum I am not going to launch into full pedagogy regarding mathematics, physics and complex systems. (Unfortunately I giving that time honored but hated command, "I leave that as an exercise for the reader.")

Second, regarding entropy: though it is not impossible for entropy to reverse itself -- heck the Uncertainty Principle is not kind to absolutes of any kind -- the statistical probability for entropy reversal leaves room for one or two events in the lifetime of this Universe. Let's just say that for all practical purposes entropy is irreversible.

Third, though in principle most physical laws are reversible it turns out that at the scale of the non-quantum, or "classical" world (the world of our experience) we experience the arrow of time and indeed the Universe as a whole becomes irreversible. Quantum systems, on the other hand, are understood to be completely reversible and in fact quantum computing is fully dependent upon this fact. Why, on the other hand, the classical Universe has entropy is still a relatively open question (pun intended).

The Earth's climate and daily weather belong primarily to the "classical" world of physics.
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Regarding "Tiny Pushes"
written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
Human CO2 pumping is great or tiny, depending on your point of view. Compared to early Earth volcanic activity, what we do is utterly negligible. Compared to the camp fires of a few tens of millions of homo sapiens roaming the planet, it certainly is significant.

I understand that the rate of CO2 production in modern history is unprecedented in the history of the human race. I also understand there is plenty of evidence for global warming that has occurred at the same time as our unprecedented CO2 output. Putting aside "correlation is not the same thing as causation", I also understand that studies of other planets in this solar system -- Venus in particular (thank you, Dr. Carl Sagan) -- have led us to understand the role that CO2 can have in utterly changing the climate of a planet. What is still unknown is the precise role CO2 emissions has on a complex planet such as ours that contain liquid water and (more importantly) life in abundance.

Once upon a time it seemed that Earth was almost completely covered by ice. Given what we know about climate feedback cycles, one of the big mysteries is why this "Snowball Earth" did not remain frozen. A leading candidate for breaking that cycle is the impact of aerobic marine life. (Hooray for carbon dioxide!) In the very early stages of Earth's life volcanism and other processes had left this planet very much hotter than it is today. Call "extreme heat" the "natural" condition of this planet. How was that cycle broken? The leading candidate for that cycle breaker was, again, life on this planet and its first occurrence (in particular, anaerobic marine life).

The biological systems of this planet interact in very complex ways with the water systems of this planet, which turn act in very complex ways with the other physical systems. Though one can say that there is a general tendency for CO2 to greatly heat up any planet (Venus, Mars), the degree to which it does on Earth is not quite fully understood. Earth is not as simple a physical system as Venus or Mars. The Earth's climate system is much better described in terms of complexity and chaos. There is obviously an advantage in this chaos (or we wouldn't be here): chaotic systems are dynamic systems and dynamic systems are very conducive to problem solving. The F-16 aircraft, for instance, cannot fly very well. In fact its flight dynamics make it slightly unstable. This slight instability, teetering on stability, makes for an aircraft which is unpredictable to the aircraft pilot. Saving the day are flight computers which constantly compensate for the aircraft's instability. The result is a highly prized, adaptive and maneuverable aircraft. Chaotic/dynamic systems are really good at optimization or solving problems that more predictable systems cannot. (Keep in mind that the solitary rock, doing nothing, "being right twice a day", is an archetype of a very predictable system.)

No, it is fully appropriate to label the Earth's climate as "chaotic". Given a chaotic system it is fully appropriate to assume that the system is governed by some mixture of properties known to chaotic systems such as irreversibility, unpredictability and sensitivity to initial conditions. The open question is the degree to which these properties prevail in today's system, which of course was not the same as yesterday's system and will not be the same as tomorrow's system. Typical of chaotic systems, the properties which describe it are constantly changing! This is why climate computer modeling is the only good way we have of modeling this system and why simpler, steady-state, continuous differential equations are mostly inadequate.

So, to what degree does irreversibility rule the day in today's Earthly climate? I don't know, but I do know it is a property. The burden of proof lies with those who say the weighting factor on irreversibility is zero (i.e., it is totally reversible).
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Climate Change Will Occur
written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
davewyman,

Furthermore, whether or not we pump more or less CO2 into the atmosphere, it is already a given than climate change will occur, in ways that a majority of humans will agree are going to be detrimental to our existence. It is not a given, though, that we humans are incapable of slowing that process with a major reduction of CO2 emissions.


Dave, I utterly agree with you! The big open question is what we can actually do about it. Moving billions, if not trillions of dollars into carbon reduction schemes without adequate scientific and engineering experiments is however, unconscionable in my view because as far as we currently know reducing our carbon emissions may simply be "good money after bad" now that the "cat is out of the bag" (another great visual representation of the concept of entropy). In the mean time people are suffering and dying of causes we know darned well how to solve with the money we have today. In this I am 100% in agreement with James Randi.
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written by rwpikul, January 04, 2010
@NicoleTedesco

I suggest you take a little time and look up the actual emission numbers: Volcanoes emit between 130 and 230 million tonnes of CO2 per year, humans put out about 27 billion tonnes per year[1].

Your appeals to chaotic systems are also flawed: While a chaotic system is extremely sensitive to initial conditions, this sensitivity does not extend to gross shifts in the system's overall distribution, (although it might change where the system eventually leaves chaotic behaviour). However, the addition of a forcing condition, (e.g. placing a chaotically wobbling top on a slope), will indeed cause a non-chaotic shift in the overall behaviour of the system. (Not that this isn't a moot point because it's weather that is chaotic, rather than climate.)

As for the net cost of dealing with the problem: The serious estimates are that we lose a few years worth of growth over the next half century, and the solutions are something we were going to have to do even if AGW wasn't happening. There is a finite supply of fossil carbon, new natural oil is only slowly being produced, (and our use exceeded the production rate over a century ago), and mineral coal essentially stopped being produced when the termite evolved.

[1] http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/haza...ex.php#CO2
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written by davewyman, January 04, 2010
"First of all, in a simple forum I am not going to launch into full pedagogy regarding mathematics, physics and complex systems. (Unfortunately I giving that time honored but hated command, "I leave that as an exercise for the reader.") "

Except that you did exactly that, when you amplified your original comments with calls to mathematics and wikipedia.

Essentially, you've kept moving the goal posts. If you feel you can't make your position understood by the great unwashed, unless they have special knowledge to which you claim to be privy, then it's rather pointless to have made your original comment, and pointless to keep elaborating on it. Lending credence to what you have to say is pointless, since you have admittedly found it impossible to explain what you're claiming.

"Let's just say that for all practical purposes entropy is irreversible."

Fine. This is a meaningless diversion, though, when it comes to the questions of whether or not climate change is real, whether, if it is real, it's influenced by what humans do in this world, and what can be done about it if humans are in fact a causative agent.
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written by davewyman, January 04, 2010
> In the mean time people are suffering and dying of causes we know darned well how to solve with the money we have today. In this I am 100% in agreement with James Randi.<

This is a laudable concept in the abstract, less so when you're a polar bear without an iceberg, or an Inuit with enough thawed permafrost underfoot to allow your home to sink into the mud.

Why study Lou Gerhig's Disease if coronary disease causes more deaths? Why study a rare form of cancer over another more common variety? Why fill a pothole on a residential street when a highway needs to be widened for increased traffic loads?

Why spend money on a dinner in a restaurant when there are so many poor people who could use your discretionary income to keep from starving? Why build a spare bedroom when you could donate money to build homes for the homeless?

You think money should be spent for problems we can solve today. The polar bear and the Eskimo think otherwise. So do lots of scientists and lay people.

You think it's unconscionable to spend money on something you believe has not been proved scientifically (to your satisfaction). There are others who think not spending that money risks consequences so dreadful that it dwarfs the suffering and dying of causes we know - scientifically - how to solve.

Surely you don't believe we should stop funding research on Lou Gerhig's Disease, or rare forms of cancer, you don't think we should let potholes go unfilled, and you aren't going to give up dinner out once in a while. Thus while I think your sentiments are noble in the abstract, they don't stand up under the crush of reality. where discerning what's right and wrong is open to interpretation, even if the facts of an issue are not.



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written by davewyman, January 04, 2010
"What is still unknown is the precise role CO2 emissions has on a complex planet such as ours that contain liquid water and (more importantly) life in abundance."

Again, you allow yourself to move the goalposts when you use the word "precise." I have a feeling you will never be satisfied with any degree of precision.


"Compared to early Earth volcanic activity, what we do is utterly negligible."

Perhaps, in comparison, this is true. It has nothing to do with whether or not CO2 emissions are having a profound effect now.


"The burden of proof lies with those who say the weighting factor on irreversibility is zero (i.e., it is totally reversible)."

This is a red herring. The question of what to do about climate change/global warming - whatever you want to call it - revolves around mitigation, not total reversibility.
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Volcanism versus Industrialism
written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
rwpikul,

I suggest you take a little time and look up the actual emission numbers: Volcanoes emit between 130 and 230 million tonnes of CO2 per year, humans put out about 27 billion tonnes per year...


Indeed I agree with you. However I allow for the possibility of the precariously poised Humpty Dumpty needing only a tiny, little extra push.
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Weather versus Climate
written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
rwpikul,

Your appeals to chaotic systems are also flawed: While a chaotic system is extremely sensitive to initial conditions, this sensitivity does not extend to gross shifts in the system's overall distribution, (although it might change where the system eventually leaves chaotic behaviour). However, the addition of a forcing condition, (e.g. placing a chaotically wobbling top on a slope), will indeed cause a non-chaotic shift in the overall behaviour of the system. (Not that this isn't a moot point because it's weather that is chaotic, rather than climate.)


I agree with you more than you seem to realize. Indeed the scale of temperature history we are treating as significant in this discussion is the temperature rise that has occurred during the Industrial Revolution, which is not that significant compared to the scale of time between ice ages. From a time period aspect alone (leaving all other factors aside for the moment), the claimed significance is certainly not enough to justify treating industrial temperature changes as "significant" in the sense of known climate patterns (e.g., ice age cycles).
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Cost Benefit Analysis
written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
rwpikul,

As for the net cost of dealing with the problem: The serious estimates are that we lose a few years worth of growth over the next half century, and the solutions are something we were going to have to do even if AGW wasn't happening. There is a finite supply of fossil carbon, new natural oil is only slowly being produced, (and our use exceeded the production rate over a century ago), and mineral coal essentially stopped being produced when the termite evolved.


Again, I agree with you more than you realize. What I am rejecting is fear mongering and moving forward worthy goals as you mentioned using hyperbole and fear as this will tend to warp the judgment of the fearful and those who must play into the fears of the fearful (the politician or even the business owner). I get it--really, really get it--that there are many more reasons to cut carbon emissions, cut our use of fossil fuels, vastly improve energy use efficiency, improve the efficiency of use of other natural resources, and so on if human society is to continue to scale successfully. I also understand Al Gore's point that he wrote about years ago in "Earth in the Balance" that indeed, motivating an entire society to focus on a specific cause is a net economic opportunity, something which both Gore and Bill Clinton remind us of today. However, I reject the use of hyperbole and fear to drive this motivation because I assert that such forms of motivation lead to more mistakes more often than is necessary.
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Possible Fear-Motivated Mistakes
written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
davewyman,

"First of all, in a simple forum I am not going to launch into full pedagogy regarding mathematics, physics and complex systems. (Unfortunately I giving that time honored but hated command, "I leave that as an exercise for the reader.") "


Except that you did exactly that, when you amplified your original comments with calls to mathematics and wikipedia.


I agree. This is why I tried to explain myself a little better in subsequent postings.
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written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
davewyman,

"Let's just say that for all practical purposes entropy is irreversible."


Fine. This is a meaningless diversion, though, when it comes to the questions of whether or not climate change is real, whether, if it is real, it's influenced by what humans do in this world, and what can be done about it if humans are in fact a causative agent.


No it is not. The climate of this planet has everything in the world (pun intended) to do with thermodynamics and entropy and its discussion serves my purpose to support the idea that we must admit the possibility that the way to reverse a climatic pattern may not be a simple reversal of the process that triggered it.

Don't get me wrong, gang -- I don't mind reducing our carbon emissions. I don't mind reducing our reliance upon fossil fuels. I don't mind improving our energy consumption efficiency. What I mind is the use of hyperbole and pseudoscience to generate fear. While today's suggestions for improvement may be laudable, "doable" and even advantageous, I fear the the fear cycle can get so out of hand that tomorrow's propositions can end up doing more harm than good in the long run.

I am not a "climate change" denier, only that I strive to appreciate how much certainty exists in the modeling of the problem at hand and not just in terms of what caused the current problem, but also the certainty regarding its extent and--more germane--the certainty concerning any potential solutions. I understand that we humans are flawed creatures and can easily stir ourselves into utterly destructive frenzies. I want to avoid such frenzy by, perhaps, taking some of the fuel out of the fire (puns abound, here--can't help myself).
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Cost/Benefit Analysis (I mean it this time)
written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
davewyman,

This is a laudable concept in the abstract, less so when you're a polar bear without an iceberg, or an Inuit with enough thawed permafrost underfoot to allow your home to sink into the mud.


I agree with you, in the abstract. In the end how much time, energy and money we spend to avoid which potential failures is a matter of cost/benefit analysis. Morality, ethics and human "intuition" drives the line-in-the-sand while cold hearted mathematics helps us determine whether or not that line ought to be or even can be crossed.

Someone I am dealing with professionally now has a new version of a brand name medical device that can save the lives of hundreds of additional children in the United States alone (over the old version of the device)...if only the current set of investors can quit arguing amongst themselves and fund the darned thing to completion! Golly! Hundreds of children per year are dying because they have problems. What to do? Don't they know this is important? Of course they do, but their arguing is triggered by real financial concerns they have as an investment group. In paring back their current investment volume, they end up making strategic decisions of which medical devices to fund and, in the end, which human lives to save. They only have so much money to go around, it's not like it was for them in the "old days" prior to the current economic issues in this country. Which lives to save? How to spend the current resources we have? In practice life does have a monetary value, and it can be measured under each individual circumstance. The health and welfare of polar bears also has a monetary value that can be measured. I guarantee everything that humans care about has a monetary value that can be measured under each circumstance that the "thing" is in jeopardy.

I want to avoid a fear-action scenario in which we lose our sense of cost and benefits and jump to saving things we should not, or try to save things in ways that simply don't get the job done, just for the sake of "doing something". I want to avoid the trashing of prudent cost/benefit analysis which, in the end, could completely destroy the financial systems we rely upon to fix the problems we face as humans. I want to avoid the medical device investors from having to face the parents of all of the children (and perhaps the children themselves) whose lives could be saved today by all of the devices they could fund. I want to avoid a scenario in which they react to naked human emotion and try to do too much with what they have and, in the end, not be able to fund any device to completion at all. From a climate perspective I wish us to avoid a similar loss of rationality.
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written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
davewyman,

"What is still unknown is the precise role CO2 emissions has on a complex planet such as ours that contain liquid water and (more importantly) life in abundance."


Again, you allow yourself to move the goalposts when you use the word "precise." I have a feeling you will never be satisfied with any degree of precision.


On the contrary, I am always happy with any degree of precision that is honest. Precision however, like any variable used in any cost/benefit analysis, says nothing about what the "line in the sand" is beyond which action ought to or ought not be taken.

I am happy, by the way, with most private efforts to reduce use or improve efficiency in one thing or another. I am an avid investor in many alternative energy companies, companies that improve energy efficiency use and so on. I am also quite happy running the risk that the market consisting of tens of millions of free-will potential customers may fail me on one or more of these investments for any number of reasons. I would be extremely uncomfortable however if I new that one of my investments would succeed because of some fear cycle generated the politics necessary to force any market to accept one of my products. I don't want to be another oil company that has customers buying my product because they have no choice. I don't want to have anything to do with producing products that are purchased because of political consideration that make no sense in the great Cost/Benefit game because at some point that scenario will come back to bite me in a very big way. If I invest in an alternative energy company, or a company which produces an efficiency product, I want to know the market will accept that product not out of fear, or because of the existence of implied political force born out of fear, but because the product made sense to each and every customer.

I hope a little disclosure here can inform you of where I am coming from so that my arguments can make a little more sense. Without the ability to edit (append only, for all practical purposes), writing here is fraught with various risks. I do apologize if I have not been more clear.
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Why not?
written by stevekelner, January 04, 2010
NicoleTedesco wrote:
I want to know the market will accept that product not out of fear, or because of the existence of implied political force born out of fear, but because the product made sense to each and every customer.


I understand not wanting people to buy out of false or manufactured fear, but legitimate fear is perfectly reasonable as a motivator. (Full disclosure: I'm a motivational psychologist.) If buying a product will keep me and my family safer, that does make sense. Why do people buy Volvos? Or get the extra air-bag package (as I did on our Toyota)? Or plug up their power sockets with toddlers in the house?
Seems to me that the problematic part of this debate is that the cost/benefit ratio is not yet manageable into small and reliable numbers with a narrow deviation, and even so the problems are global, which magnifies even a minor effect into major problems. (E.g., moving fertile zones a few hundred miles north would have major political implications.)
The potential cost is so vast as to stagger the imagination - and we don't know if incremental improvement will make any difference. If we are past a tipping point - and we won't even know until well after it happens - then minor energy efficiencies will be just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. If we are not near a tipping point or the effects of warming are much lower than the current estimate, then even incremental improvements can make a significant difference.
In any case, it makes sense to do what you know you can; the question is whether it will be enough, and whether we will have enough certainty soon enough to avoid a tipping point.
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Making Your Way to The Lifeboats
written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
stevekelner,

In any case, it makes sense to do what you know you can; the question is whether it will be enough, and whether we will have enough certainty soon enough to avoid a tipping point.


Completely agree with your points, well said! I just want to avoid us going too far out of fear and end up destroying the very socio-economic systems that we depend upon to help us fix the problems at hand.

More science, less fear please.
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Tipping Point?
written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
My other point what that we don't know if we have already passed the a tipping point in this chaotic system. Given the potential irreversibility characteristics of the the climate of this planet there is no a prior reason to not suspect that we may already have though I am not saying that I possess any degree of certainty at all regarding whether or not we already have. If that is the case then the money we are spending now on carbon reductions may be best spent on other things. Given the uncertainty however regarding "tipping point" status, I am not above some measure of harm avoidance at this time. What I don't want to do is spend ourselves into oblivion when the case for fear-level spending has by no means been made.
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No Black and White
written by NicoleTedesco, January 04, 2010
To further clarify my position I do not tend to see decision-making like this in black-and-white terms. To me there is no need to make a "spend it all here or there" kind of decision. Humanity has many resources to bear on this problem and others. There is a cost-benefit trade-off map associated with every problem and solution. This and my academic and professional experience motivates me to see our potential spending preferences in terms of a portfolio of spending positions to be managed in a rational, statistical manner.

Assume you have gobs of cash to invest. Do you put all of your money in one investment or another? If you are smart you would not. You would estimate your chances for pay-off, and the estimated pay-off amounts, of each investment position and you would distribute your cash accordingly. If you are wiser still you would hedge your bets by making sure your portfolio is diverse enough to reduce your total overall risk. The absolute wrong thing for you to do is to become so emotionally tied to one investment that you spend all of your money there to the detriment of the others. It would also be foolish of you to become so emotionally embittered by an investment that it keeps you from recognizing evidence that tells you that it could still be worth your time.

More science, less fear. I want to maintain a balanced portfolio of solutions and not make the foolish mistake of working against rational management principles.
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written by davewyman, January 04, 2010
Nicole, I think you area indeed making yourself more clear and I don't find your latest comments to contradict current scientific knowledge or common sense.
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written by rwpikul, January 05, 2010
@NicoleTedesco

First of all, you don't have to make a separate comment for each paragraph
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written by rwpikul, January 05, 2010
(Fscking accidental clicks, let's try this again.)

@NicoleTedesco

First of all, you don't have to make a separate comment for each paragraph. One comment covering all the points is enough.

Looking back, I will concede that I misread your comment about volcanoes. It's problem was not that it was wrong, but that it was irrelevant. The current situation is one of volcanic activity being part of a steady-state system, and having no significant impact on atmospheric carbon levels. Besides, our current emission rates outdo even supervolcanoes once you consider that we are producing a constant flow.


Now, your position seems to be a mix of the denialist stages of "we can't really control it" and "trying would cost too much", combined with a bit of "it's not really going to be that bad."

Let's start with the magnitude of the problem: At +2 degrees, we are talking massive failures in the South and South-East Asian rice crops, (localized failures due to high temperatures are a regular occurrence already). Large reductions in the flow of the Indus river, and current treaties put the impact exclusively on Pakistan even though 5/6 of its water comes from India. Serious impacts on Central American food production, while worsening existing problems in the south-west US, (if you think the illegal immigration problem is bad now...). About the only country that gains is Russia, as Siberia significantly increases its food production capacity, although that becomes an issue when you remember two things about China: China still claims Siberia as being rightly part of its territory and at +2, Chinese food production drops by over 30%, (add that to the size of the Chinese population and see what comes out the other end).

Global warming is not a curiosity, it's not an inconvenience, it's a serious problem with the real potential to trigger not one, but two wars between nuclear armed states even with an increase considered 'acceptable'. At +3, even assuming that there is no runaway, (which would take a miracle, at that would make the oceans a CO2 source), you are looking at things like a massive pile of bodies along the US-Mexico border and all of Africa aflame with water wars, (when given the choice of fighting or starving, human societies have always chosen to fight). If a runaway occurs, well, the last time the Earth reached +15 every mammal larger than a rat went extinct.


I've already pointed out what the cost would be like, and it's not the apocalypse that the oil and coal interests would have you believe. Sure, those that rely on digging carbon out of the ground and pumping it into the air are going to hurt, but the smart ones will simply shift what they are doing, (it's not like they have to stop overnight). Heck, most of the skills and resources needed to build and run large-scale biomass sourced Fischer-Tropsch plants are the same as needed to build and run oil refineries.

Moreover, the sooner we do things, the less the cost. This is because earlier action can be more gentle. For instance, instead of having to replace all the fossil fuel power plants in a few years, starting early lets you replace them one at at time because each one you replace slows the impact and gains you a slightly later deadline.


As for "we might already be beyond the tipping point and stopping it would be impossible." Is that possibility actually a reason not to try? If we are beyond the tipping point for global warming, then we are screwed no matter what we do. If we are not, then we can still prevent it.
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Separate Paragraphs
written by NicoleTedesco, January 05, 2010
rwpikul,

First of all, you don't have to make a separate comment for each paragraph. One comment covering all the points is enough.


Sorry for the separate paragraphs. Without the ability to edit I tend to think of certain thoughts in separate chunks that I can pre-edit to some degree. (Also, if you can't tell I have a little bit of a case of logorrhea.)

In general, in terms of your claims of potential costs for global warming, I get it. Thinking more like an actuary and portfolio manager, I also need to have a position or two which balances out the case where we are wrong. I don't mind at all leading a rational sociological charge that will eventually drive markets to place greater value in petroleum alternatives, increased energy efficiency and so on. Gore had me convinced of that long ago regardless of the veracity of global warming claims. As an investor working on a very large portfolio I am actually banking on this very thing! Really, I and my investors have everything to gain financially by you being right and much to lose otherwise. For instance my portfolio is significantly weighted in water resources, large scale water management projects and water management products which depend on the global warming scenario you mentioned above being correct. At the same time I would be remiss if I didn't have a smaller position or two that hedges against the possibility that we are mistaken. The big decision I have to make every day in balancing this portfolio is what the weighting vector looks like across these positions. Money is at stake here and so are the livelihoods of my investors, the principles and employees of my portfolio companies and of course myself. For utterly selfish reasons, I get it.

That being said my investors and me have much to lose if the market responds to these technologies, natural resources and massive scale projects for all the wrong reasons. One way this can happen is through a fear cycle which triggers too much investment in these areas too quickly. This can create an unsustainable bubble which would burst in our faces, severely compromising everyone's ability to invest in other very important technologies in other parts of this portfolio such as heart muscle prosthetics or other life-saving technologies, projects and resources.

While the costs of not reacting accordingly to the possible threat of global warming are quite high, these costs are not infinite. Nor is the certainty of these scenarios 100%. Global warming could be real, but not greatly affected by human activity (roughly, medium probability). Global warming could be real and definitely affected by human activity (high probability). Global warming could be anthropogenic in nature but we may no longer be able to do anything to positively affect the trend (medium-low probability). There is also a small possibility that there is no global warming trend. There are many positions in this game, each with its own statistical weight in the total probability vector. Bets must be hedged, precisely because so much is at stake (lives, money, attention, energy). The pace of remediation must be tempered, not just because catastrophic economic bubbles may burst forth at precisely the wrong times but even just for the very human reason that all human activity must be allowed to be scaled in appropriate time frames. Businesses that grow too quickly are exposed to failure almost as sure as companies that grow too slowly. There are so many reasons to avoid fear mongering, precisely because so much is at stake. One way to avoid fear is to understand the spectrum of possibilities before us. Assuming anthropogenic global warming is more certain than death or taxes, assuming that we ought to through overwhelming resources at specific potential solutions that must be executed in excruciatingly short periods of time and assuming no cost is too great is a recipe for disaster.

Perhaps I am spitting in to the wind. Perhaps I am just one member of a small number of mutant humans who have the capacity to think in this way that helps to avoid fear and operate as close to possible to a rational optimal solution set. My academic training is in physics. I have been a professional engineer for 25+ years. I have been a venture capitalist for six. Perhaps in these and in many other ways I do not have anything near a "normal" human life experience, but at least perhaps other can learn from me. Perhaps, on the other hand, I am only dreaming and human beings will run their heads into the wall and make things much worse before they can get better. History tends to run this way. [sigh]
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written by davewyman, January 05, 2010
"I have a little bit of a case of logorrhea"

No need to minimize your accomplishments along these lines. smilies/cheesy.gif


"Assuming anthropogenic global warming is more certain than death or taxes, assuming that we ought to through overwhelming resources at specific potential solutions that must be executed in excruciatingly short periods of time and assuming no cost is too great is a recipe for disaster."

Your logorrhea let you take quite a while to construct a straw-man argument. Thinking evidence points toward AGW is not the same as assuming we need to through [sic] "overwhelming resources" in "excruciatingly short periods of time." No one, other than you, I think, assumes that "no cost is too great."

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Read My Fingers
written by NicoleTedesco, January 05, 2010
Read what I am writing instead of just skimming it. I am not saying reality is the straw man that I set up. In fact, I placed that straw man there to make my point: if we act as though that straw man were real, we are all in for serious trouble! I want to avoid a fear escalation process that juices people into acting as though it were true! It is that fear, the fear of the mob, which is well-founded in my opinion. There exists plenty of human history to support that possibility. Avoiding that is what I am hoping to accomplish in my own way.
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Simple enough
written by stevekelner, January 05, 2010
Then let's talk about a reasonable array of actions. Speaking in the abstract leads us to say things like "let's not panic" and "let's do something," neither of which are helpful. I, too, am a business person working in talent management, so am accustomed to the kind of thinking VCs do, but as a psychologist and researcher may be more accustomed to fuzzy and hard-to-manage data!

I think we would agree that unless we see urgent need, we shouldn't devote all our resources to one thing, but that's a very unlikely scenario in any case. Even if we are in crisis, we might do things like pumping carbon into the upper atmosphere AND shifting heavily to windpower AND dedicating resources to oceanic carbon sequestration...you get the idea.

Right now, it seems to me we need to do three things regardless of the likelihood of AGW:
1. Do more research (the scientist's default answer), but also improve the measuring tools. The Bush Administration killed off one of the satellites we needed; we should invest in more things like that, which are relatively minor expenses but produce vastly more data.
2. From the VC/PE perspective, we had a boom-and-bust in solar tech when oil prices went up and down, and this, I think, represents the kind "fear factor" you were thinking of, Nicole. But we should still be helping entrepreneurs who are tackling (1) cleantech, (2) alternative power (both home and industrial use) sources, (3) carbon sequestration, and (4) battery technology at the very least, because even if AGW is a myth, there are practical and business benefits to all the above. Perhaps biotech as well in a couple of realms, including climate-resistant foodstuffs!
3. From the government investment perspective, perhaps we should look into ways to push back against AGW-driving effects in natural ways. The Discovery Channel did an interesting program where they were trying to come up with things like rapid-planting of trees (like dropping seedlings from planes!) for far faster reforestation. Things like that. A relatively small amount of investment in researching what can be done might yield major benefits if we stumble across a silver bullet for a given issue.
How's that for a starting place? I'm leaving out the obvious issues around pollution controls and whatnot, because those are already being discussed, and I'd rather focus on more optimistic approaches anyway.
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written by NicoleTedesco, January 05, 2010
stevekelner: lovely, wonderful suggestions, all!
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written by davewyman, January 05, 2010
"Read what I am writing instead of just skimming it."

Insulting me won't help you.

"I want to avoid a fear escalation process that juices people into acting as though it were true! It is that fear, the fear of the mob, which is well-founded in my opinion."

1) AGW may be true, the evidence points to it being true.

2) You're right, you're expressing an opinion.
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One More Thought
written by kyengineer, January 05, 2010
I predict the attempt to form a "Climate Protection Agency" or CPA.

The EPA will have a cow.

Now, THAT I'd like to see.
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Can't post too many links
written by stevekelner, January 05, 2010
I just had a couple of messages sent to my home email that are not being posted here, because as I understand it, if you have too many links it is screened out. I don't know if it is moderated or not. But I wanted to respond to the one referring to Crichton - whose I don't know, because this system apparently doesn't manage to include names (sigh). With all due respect to the late Michael Crichton, he is a far better polemicist than a scientist, and his theme throughout his career has been (contrary to what he would have you believe in his speech) anti-science and anti-technology. Fundamentally, his view can be summed up as "there are things man was not meant to know" combined with "when we try to meddle with them, we can only produce disaster." It goes right back to The Andromeda Strain. Appropriate caution is one thing; criticizing science as a profession is another. Especially when you confuse a thriller novel designed to tell a story with reality.
His book on global warming, State of Fear, was every inch a political book, cherry-picking data with full knowledge that he was slanting the information, and getting some things ridiculously wrong. How do I know? Because he consulted with the scientists at RealClimate.org, and he specifically used concepts and data they explained were suspect (besides making some serious boners). You can use false premises as fiction, certainly, but that's not how the book was marketed, and indeed Crichton even spoke to Congress about global warming. Why? He had no real credentials; he had just done enough research for verisimilitude. He was in fact invited by an anti-AGW Congressman - no doubt because he was a famous AGW critic with a veneer of science. What was that about politicization of science? If he had any integrity, he wouldn't have appeared, but recommended some real researchers. He knew many on both sides of the debate, after all!
The folks at RealClimate have an extensive, detailed and footnoted criticism (actually two) of State of Fear. You can go there and search for his name; they have a page of links, too.
Whether or not AGW is debatable, Crichton is not. He was selling his own political point, adroitly using the media he has long-since mastered (remember, he's a bestseller who has worked extensively with movies and TV very successfully) to try and make everyone researching AGW look like political schemers. Neat trick.
Don't get me wrong - I love many of his books, despite the anti-science thread. But this was sleazy.
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The Muse Censors?
written by kyengineer, January 05, 2010
It seems that my last post had too many links to back up my opinions. Here it is without links. Google for yourself.

CONSENSUS VERSUS INFLUENCE

There is “scientific consensus”. The simplistic statement that “if there is consensus, it is not science” is simply laughable. This is the definition of “peer review”. A science article with a new hypothesis gets a very skeptical review by many reviewers before publishing. Honorable scientific journals do not reject new hypotheses simply because they are new or they contradict the status quo. It may be difficult to get a new theory into the mainstream but it can be done and has been done.

If you haven't read Micheal Crichton's address to Cal Tech, “Aliens Cause Global Warming”, you should. Crichton famously said that “the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus” and he is right that you can't take a “straw poll” and decide if an hypothesis should be published or buried – just as the AGW crowd at East Anglia has done! However, he does not address the real-world process of scientific testing, peer review, criticism, trail-and-error, follow-up research, supporting papers, verifiable new predictions or failures, and gradual acceptance or rejection of a new theory, which definitely requires a broad consensus that is often very hard-won. The only problem with Crichton's formulation is that while consensus has nothing to do with the development of new science, it has everything to do with verification, testing, and acceptance of new theories.

AGW is consensus before proof.

What cannot be tolerated is censorship. Tom Bethell points out that Wikipedia has met its own Climategate. Everyone uses Wikipedia to some degree. But all of the technical people I know do not trust it without independent confirmation because of the open forum access to edit articles. In the best case, this editing is improvement. In the worst case, and definitely in the case of AGW, it is censorship of the worst kind. To paraphrase Crichton, censored science is not science.

["missing links" - Sorry, I couldn't resist.]

In short, AGW is not good science. It may be, someday. We'd better not bet the farm on it.
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The Muse Censors, Again
written by kyengineer, January 05, 2010
Actually, this post should come first, but in the "thread" of censoring links, it is anachronistic. Google at will (actually, I don't "google"; I recommend Yahoo, for now.)

*********************

No one is paying me for my opinion (no Big Oil or little oil money for that matter, darn it). So I only write what I like and only if I think I have something to contribute. I suspect Randi does the same. The Holidays, my family, (that's Christmas to the politically correct crowd) and a bad cold were more important than this AGW thread.

But I am very much encouraged by the responses I have read. I don't agree with them all. But I detect some critical thinking. That's good. Here's a few thoughts to broaden the picture (and it's pretty broad already).

Climatology Degrees

There is no "American Climatology Society". There is no definition of climatology on The American Meteorological Society web site. There is no career in climatology listed but there is a description of a bachelors' degree in “Atmospheric Science”. Under “careers” there is only meteorologist. There is a link to a NOAA website with an essay on climatology – published in 1921! There is no actual link to any “online climatology degree” on the various online college web sites but there is the promise of such degrees if you have: “a bachelors’ degree in environmental science or in geography; in addition to this you must have completed systematic studies in subjects like, mathematics, chemistry and climate.” Campusexplorer.com does not list a degree program in climatology but, under Natural Sciences and Meteorology, there a number of “areas” listed (Atmospheric Chemistry and Climatology, Atmospheric Physics and Dynamics, General Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, Meteorology, and Other) and there are NO hits or links for “ Atmospheric Chemistry and Climatology”. There is one link under “Other” – UCLA – but no description of a degree program. Because I can't prove a negative – and because I am sure that someone, somewhere, has created some kind of “climatology degree” – you may find some contrary evidence. Overall, it is apparent that the academic community does not know what to do with climatology at this point. And I'm pretty sure that meteorologists do not want to be outclassed by a new specialization that claims their turf and it is my opinion that they should reject this new usurper.


The point is that scientists don't know what to do with “climatology”. It is not an ad hominem attack to point out that “climate scientists”, whatever the definition of their “discipline”, are in the business of promoting their specialization and funding of their claimed expertise because this is the sum total of all they have done or propose to do! At this point, there is no firm basis for such a broad set of claims for a new field of science that is actually composed of a dozen other fields of science and which have much longer track records for sound scientific methods. It is not arguable that climatologists are not lobbyists. Follow the money. I would cite personal experience with the EPA (both state and federal levels) which, just after the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)in 1970, assumed total authority over what they called “environmental science” and environmental engineering”. There were no such degrees at the time. It took 20+ years, plus massive lobbying and grant-funding leverage, to get the colleges and universities to create degree programs that are mostly a hodgepodge of other science's disciplines. Most civil engineers will tell you (in private) that a great number of the bureaucrats that work for the EPA do not know engineering. But they know how to regulate engineering. Same with climatologists. They are working on it.
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written by rwpikul, January 06, 2010
@NicoleTedesco

You claim to get it but you clearly don't.

The argument for acting now is so that we DON'T have to expend overwhelming resources in an excruciatingly short period of time. The sooner action is taken, the easier that action can be and the more time it gains to do further actions.

Consider an output limit of 5000, and a current rate of 100/a. If you wait 50 years to act, you have to go from 100 to 0 all at once. If you reduce it by just 1 per year, you only have to do a sudden drop of 10, and that's after 90 years. Reduce it by 1.1 per year, and you never have a sharp drop.


Oh: Actually the potential costs, as far as humanity is concerned, are infinite. A runaway has a good chance of not just wiping out human society but humanity itself. We do not want temperatures matching those of the Eocene maximum.
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Not Acting? I am Tired of Being Insulted Here
written by NicoleTedesco, January 06, 2010
Let me tell you why this is my final post on this particular thread: apparently certain people are reading only what they want to read of what I write. I would not normally respond anymore, period, to such nonsense but JREF is related to an overall rationalist mission and this kind of misunderstanding gets to the core of why people like James Randi would devote at least three decades of their lives and careers to it.

rwpikul,

You claim to get it but you clearly don't.

The argument for acting now is so that we DON'T have to expend overwhelming resources in an excruciatingly short period of time. The sooner action is taken, the easier that action can be and the more time it gains to do further actions.


You claim to be reading me but you are clearly not bothering to and instead you are "reading" what you merely want to see. I don't get it? Are you insinuating I am not acting? What did I just write? What? Did you actually bother to read anything I wrote? I am acting in much more concrete ways that you will probably do so in your life time. I am shifting millions of dollars -- and of course risking my own family's financial well being on these bets -- into concrete solutions to potential problems that may indeed be ready to plague humanity. I am also in a position to encourage others to do the same in very, very concrete steps. No where did I say reasonable action ought not be taken. In fact, I claimed the opposite you insulting fool! I am not even going to write what I am claiming again because, clearly if you do read it you are going to completely ignore the point.

To all other readers other than this character, I will write no more on this subject in this particular discussion thread as it has reached an age where clearly the conversation is about to degenerate. I encourage you to read whatever has already been written by whomever (and much as been written), but do not bother to comment yourself as you will probably fall into the same trap as I just have.

Good riddance, thread.
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written by rwpikul, January 06, 2010
@NicoleTedesco

Your posts have been little more than the standard excuses for not acting, argued against a strawman that you would know to be utter BS is you were actually involved in action.
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written by davewyman, January 06, 2010
"I am shifting millions of dollars -- and of course risking my own family's financial well being on these bets -- into concrete solutions to potential problems that may indeed be ready to plague humanity. I am also in a position to encourage others to do the same in very, very concrete steps."

Yeah, sure you are.


"insulting fool!...the conversation is about to degenerate."

You need only look in the mirror to see your own culpability. And don't pretend you're not lurking here, to see what follows. ;-) We know you're here.
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written by Potty Training, February 26, 2010
Holmes: I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts...


Love it! I have never seen a quote so fitting. Some people think this whole thing is made up and silly... the same people still believe we have yet to actually put a man on the moon smilies/wink.gif lol
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Simple Really
written by nickmh, December 30, 2010
The easiest way to understand why we are being lead astray by Weather Witch doctors is...

Assign the Earth's climate system an energy budget very similar to a household finances budget.

Income deposited, expenses & savings deducted.

There are elements to the household budget...
Utilities, fuel for car/s, school costs, weekly expense allowance, food, insurances etc. The total income of the household must be distributed amongst these elements. In some weeks savings are made, and therefore money is available to be distributed to other areas, such as savings. Some weeks income is increased. The household may be treated to entertainment.

When these elements become variable, i.e. their value is not known, the household budget is disorganised, unpredictable and unworkable. You can't accurately put money asside to allow for future expense and/or developments.

You have to buy property, buy cars, make career decisions, make educational decisions for the kids, know when to spend and what on, when to save and where to put the savings. All based on unkowns that effect every member of the household.

The planet also has a budget, and energy budget. Some years we have good income, more Sunlight, some years not so much, less sunlight. Some years volcanoes distribute their energy, eruptions.

This sunlight must be distributed amongst all the elements. Photosyntesis for plants, Evaporation of the oceans, Warming of oceans, cooling of the oceans, warming and cooling of the lower, mid and upper atmosphere. Some sunlight is absorbed by elements that make up the atmosphere, Co2, Methane etc. Some of the energy is spent making clouds etc.

Now imagine if all the values of these elements of your budget are constantly being argued about, Co2, Methane, amount of sunlight into the system, cloud formation, warming and cooling of the oceans. This means no one in the house knows, FOR SURE!, what all the elements of the budget are, and what their value is, and how they effect other elements of the budget.

When unknowns outnumber knowns how is a rational decision made? IT ISN'T! Decisions end up being made based on what is beleived, felt, and speculated about.

Good luck with that.

Humans have embarked on beleif based exercises throughout history, Stonehenge, Easter Island, Inquisition, most religous wars are based on beleif. Explorers didn't sail far because they beleived the world was flat for for gawds sake and they'd fall off.

This is the state of our knowledge of the climate system and we are making society (Household) altering decisions based on a truckload of unkowns.

Are you serious? Understand What is going on first! We'll chat when it's sorted.
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Not quite that simple
written by MacDonald, December 30, 2010
The problem with your budget analogy is that all of that carbon represented by fossil fuels has been locked up in a bank vault since before there were mammals or flowering plants.
We know it worked pretty well for giant ferns, amphibians, and insects, we're not so sure how it will work out for us or the food sources we depend on.
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