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December 14, 2009

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My understanding is that there are literally tens of thousands of pages of information to review. And it is also my understanding that "amateur skeptics", like McIntyre, have contributed useful information and uncovered relevant errors in the discussion.

Where I become concerned is when any proponent of an idea locks the door on debate and discussion and begins - as many have - to conduct ad hominem attacks on individuals without addressing the basis of their questions.

Jones' ethically questionable behavior in the e-mails is disappointing (see Monbiot's excellent article). What I would like to be more confident in is that our chosen policy will have the intended effect. I am not happy about spending trillions of dollars on an approach that may not work because the data science relies upon has been "modified".

I wonder if you, too, will suffer the kind of denier invasion that the Bad Astronomer received for his equally well-reasoned comments.

Delingpole wrote in the article:

As Andrew Bolt puts it, this scandal could well be “the greatest in modern science”.

At this point all the Australians, ex Aussies or anyone familiar with the Australian press collapse on the floor in howls of derisive laughter.

At least he can't be accused of making an argument from authority. For more information, googling >andrew bolt idiot< will get you there quickly.

Since you use "denier" twelve times, I doubt anyone expected you to apologize for it. No, I get the feeling that you take pride in insulting "them", so maybe you'll spell out your beliefs on the subject so the rest of us can align our beliefs to yours and avoid being one of "them".

Having seen the ignorance of science of some of the more subtle denier types that were trolling the Bad Astronomy blog, I can safely say that they're pretty much the same as creationists trying to smear evolution. Some of them give the impression of understanding climate science by using the jargon, but then go on to show complete ignorance of the basic proprties of carbon dioxide.

In fact, and I've said this before, if I am about to engage in a discussion about the strength of AGW theory I always first ask the person I am talking to if they think that evolution by natural selection is the strongest theory for the explanation of the existence of man.

If they havent gotten there, they won't get to AGW.

TechSkeptic,
Does that work in reverse too? Can you tell if someone thinks evolution by natural selection is the strongest theory for the explanation of the existence of man by first asking about the strength of AGW theory?

Thank you for commenting on this. It pains me to see this global conspiracy crap on something as obvious as climate change. Sure people who don't bother to look up the facts don't understand the evidence for evolution...but climate change has occurred while we've had the interments to measure it. As an avant gardener I have seen first hand the hardiness zones changing in my area.

One of them,

Nope, the converse is not true. Its why I ask the question first. One brand of AGW deniers simply do not appear to have the facilities to understand any part of science that disagrees with their dogma. The other brand, is far more likely to have genuine skepticism and a real discussion can be had.....sometimes.

When I first heard of SwiftHack, I immediately thought of your RFK Jr. debunkings. Very similar FOIA-related stuff.

As a libertarian, I always cringe with the woo wing of the philosophy.

Mr. Delingpole describes himself as a "libertarian conservative". We call 'em "conservatarians", and I have a hard time differentiating them from straight run-of-the-mill social conservatives, by the way.

I see a lot of "libertarian" thrown around skeptic sites as a code word. Please realize that, for such a small group, we're not all Ayn Rand Objectivists, shills for "big business", the socially-conservative status quo, and we don't all say "to hell with [insert group here], they brought it on themselves".

For me, there's a connection between skepticism and libertarianism. Be skeptical of gov't power, seek spontaneous/dynamic solutions that evolve, etc.

And it particularly bothers me when "libertarians" cherry pick, selectively use information, skew other bits of info to get a desired outcome. That's the thing - you can't always dictate the outcome or know the exact outcome. What you can do is use the best information out there. You hear libertarians spout this when they (we) oppose some government programs, "you can't dictate outcomes". Right.

Just like we can't dictate outcomes here. The info is out there, use it honestly, credibly. You can disagree with some of the politics, maybe the proposed solutions, etc, but please be honest and credible with the info!!!

Same with climate change - there are great gains to be made in positive, proactive individual action. And many libertarians should realize that "believing" in climate change is not submitting to "teh socialists" (gasp) or any way a loss, nor does it have to be an endorsement of another's politics.

I think it makes sense to conserve resources, make better energy-production decisions (for economic and environmental reasons. Or for environmental and economic ones). Plus the concept of stuff like solar power is really cool to me

It just pains this libertarian and skeptic to see people sully the brand "libertarian" (as I understand it), which should be an anti woo philosophy, and turn it into a "conservatarian" or "corportarian" ("libertarian" that kneels to "big business")

Enjoy your site, and happy Flying Spaghetti Monster Month

VikingMoose, it seems to me that what you're describing yourself as is a liberal in the European sense (a group I belong to myself). Libertarians are what we would call ultra-liberals in Europe.

Interestingly, it's possible to be a liberal both in the European and the US sense at the same time, which just goes to show how far to Europe the US political climate is (European liberals are on the right sphere of European politics)

hej Kristjan

maybe - there are enough divergences between what European Liberals see and what I see. We'd disagree on the EU, for instance, and I'm not sure, particularly in the context of the US that single-payor, state funded health insurance is the most efficient way to go, for instance...

Because of those stances, I'd be more in that shade of libertarian.

(for mange år siden boede jeg i danmark - på Frederiksberg)

However, use of knowledge is important, and hiding from facts, the way Mr. Delingpole seems to be, is what I'd see in a social conservative first, not how I view libertarianism.

by the way - do you know "liberator.dk"?

mvh

One Of Them: It’s not an insult to say that a sewer line stinks; it’s a statement of fact. (OK, maybe my choice of analogy is a little insulting…)

From the Denialism blog that Skeptico quoted:

denialism is about tactics that are used to frustrate legitimate discussion, it is not about simply name-calling. It's about how you engage in a debate when you have no data

If you’re insulted by being called a Denier, all you have to do is not use denialist tactics & rhetoric, ie – argue in good faith, and be open to changing your mind if the evidence doesn’t support your preconceived notion. It’s not hard, really.

Copenhagen outcome;
Most definitely a maybe!

Same with climate change - there are great gains to be made in positive, proactive individual action.

I agree with this. But as Libertarian's do we want politicians using government power to run our lives? For example do we want government dictating to us we can no longer buy black colored cars (earlier in the year such a proposal came from California - to fight global warming . . . you see). I prefer red and blue colored cars but should not that be my choice? Or should a politician decide what colored car I can have?

Do we want politicians (in California – or any state) to increase the cost of doing business (to fight global warming)resulting in loss of jobs because corporations chose to relocate to a friendly business state. Toyota, Intel, and others left California because the cost of doing business is too high. Who pays the price? Those of us who lose our jobs not some politician who does not want us having black colored cars.

"But as Libertarian's do we want politicians using government power to run our lives?"

That sort of thing drives me bonkers. I'm not a dem, rep or libertarian. Do you have to hate gove't intrusion becuase you are a libertarian? Thats ideology getting in the way of reality.

I'm generally against government intrusion, unless a case can be made for it. Shall we have a mercenary army, or is it OK for that to be a government controlled sector?

Healthcare, the most free market heslthcare system in the world is the most expensive without any health related superiority. Can we examine other methods or is your ideology preventing you from seeing out of that box.

Global warming: I dont like cap and trade, I like carbon tax, I like spending extra money on big energy related research and projects. Governments spend way more on the importnat parts (basic research) and more than venture capital over all. So why wouldnt we use that power, instead of pretending the free market will work since it has done nothing since the 70's when this problem was really starting to be regarded as serious.

Free market is almost always a response to a problem that has already happened. For many things, ipods, food, devices, and all sorts of things its a great system. For things the we need to plan for, maybe it is not. As it look now, china is going to decimate us in the energy market as they gear up to be the largest wind and solar market and producer in the world. Can we notice? Can we try something else?

Why does libertarian ideology always seem stuck?

The real problem is that those proposing this AGW theory have not left us the ability to check their figures. Where we can check them in part it doesn't look pretty.

Accordingly we are right to ignore their findings until proof comes to light.

This calls into question the motivations of those who accept their figures lock stock and barrel..

Why can't you check their figures? Here's a list of climate science journals. Feel free to read what's available online or drop by your local college or university library to check out the print copies (obviously, different colleges subscribe to different journals, so you may have to search around a bit).

Good luck understanding all that, though. The biggest problem with climate science is that it relies on a lot of statistical modeling that is fairly opaque to non-experts--then again, that can be said for a lot of sciences; Physics journals can be pretty dense as well. Unfortunately, the information doesn't simplify well without losing a lot of the underlying explanation. Blogs and layperson sites like RealClimate, and the videos of YouTubers like Potholer54 and Greenman3610 do a good job of explaining things clearly, but without some of the gravitas of the journals and the hard evidence.

Accordingly we are right to ignore their findings until proof comes to light.
Bull. In a situation like this, where simply understanding the science involved requires a degree of expertise and background knowledge not available to most laypeople, the only reasonable position is to provisionally trust the experts, not to "ignore their findings" until they meet the arbitrary standards of "proof" of an uninformed (and incurious) laity. The papers are available if you're willing to do the legwork to obtain and understand them; it's not up to any scientist in any field to spoon-feed you facts and figures until you accept it.

Tom Foss - I suspect that the thought process likely goes something like "given that I am smart, expert opinion that I don't understand is probably wrong. If it were right I'd understand it. Therefore, since most experts are saying the same wrong things, it must be because they're being paid to lie".

All very logical given the assumptions.

In other words, it's basically the same phenomenon Randi has repeatedly described in scientists fooled by parlor tricks.

In response to the title question… I've started to call it Climategategate, the scandalous quote-mining of (ehem) purloined e-mails and the scandalous arguments from ignorance derived from a lack of understanding of the subject matters of those e-mails.

I'm not sure if I came up with the word, but probably not.

Whilst I'm not a climate change denier, I am really, really, REALLY sick of people sticking "gate" on the end of any word whatsoever to indicate a conspiracy.

Can't anyone come up with a more imaginative way of indicating shenanigans than that?

So instead of "Deniergate", I suppose you could say I was a "Gatedenier".

Well the report on the whole thing has been published, this UK Gov page summarises the main findings. They pretty much exonerate the CRU of any mishandling, only noting the Uni as being perhaps remiss in not anticipating the potential effects in some quarters.

http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_technology/s_t_pn32_100331.cfm

Still, its probably a government cover-up to hide the TRUTH! :D

Ps: soz about the text only link, no idea how to make it a clickable one.

Ahhh, that helps, thankee very muchly.

UK Gov CRU report

We need someone to take a critical sceptical look at Peter Taylor's book Chill, where that old chestnut "the Earth is cooling" is rolled out again. I think he is going to turn into another Ian Plimer, but at the moment the AGW deniers are having a field day, roaring like lions. The fact that Taylor in the past believed in using "astral projection" to supposedly gain information about toxic waste, and that his book is being published by a woo woo publisher, not a reputable one, shows that deniers will desperately laud any objector to AGW.

Heres a link to two reviews of Peter Taylor's books, so that any denier's coming here can squirm in embarassment at the fact that he's a woo woo.

http://www.alastairmcintosh.com/articles/2010-Peter-Taylor-Climate-Reviews.htm

...the only reasonable position is to provisionally trust the experts, not to "ignore their findings"...


And here is how religion has enslaved us for thousands of years: Trust the grand priest, he knows better!
Too bad for this website which just felt under the influence of another cult.

Let me see, when I provisionally accept the findings of a great number of people, who are well educated, trained and have accredited qualifications in a particular field; hence knowledgeable and experts in that discipline. That is somehow the same as following a bunch of people who head up an arbitrary construct, and dispense the pronouncements of the their chosen sky daddy solely on their own say so. How is accepting that highly educated people might know more than you on a scientific subject be in any way comparable to the peddlers of unsubstantiated fantasies?

That any person has achieved recognised qualifications in a scientific discipline suggests that at the least that person has been trained in and probably understands scientific methodologies; they know their field. Whereas myself for instance, I do not have the time to exhaustively research every last discipline so that I am fully versed in current thinking on everything. So I find it reasonable to accept the general findings of experts - particularly when there are large numbers of agreeing experts - in their fields, especially where I may not have the time or background to fully understand every nuance of a discipline. I am not going to research the entirety of science, fully acquaint myself with special relativity etc before I accept generally accepted concepts. Nor am I going to disregard everything that I have not exhaustively researched for fear I may be erroneously associated with fictitious superstitions. There is a world of difference between this and following any group that is built on unsubstantiated stories, stories that must simply be believed without ever asking or receiving even the barest of evidence. A world of difference between methodologies that have accurately explained the world we inhabit and, the useless hot air of the religious that just blames it all on god.

Btw calling the folks you don't agree with a cult does not magically make their findings evaporate.

When proxima gets sick, she just self-diagnoses. Why would you provisionally trust the grand priest of the hospital?! There's no way proxima will fall under the influence of this cult of Medicine.

When proxima's car breaks down, he works on it himself. Why would you provisionally trust the grand priest of the auto shop? Proxima is far too smart to be suckered into Mechanicism.

Proxima does all her own plumbing and wiring, regardless of what the safety inspectors say. Grand priests, all of them!

Proxima doesn't call tech support! Proxima never listens to the weatherman! Proxima has no need for an accountant! Proxima has never used an encyclopedia! Expertise is just faith! All disciplines are cults! Proxima is the last free person!

I see your point, now see mine:
This blog does a very good job at debunking fake science and at fighting all those gurus. But nobody, however well educated or well intentioned is immune to group-think.

The cult-like attitude I'm denouncing here is the unconditional shielding of a group of people (the AGW grand-priests) from any criticisms and the demonization of all their opponents (you know, those cryto-libertarians-bible-thumpers and their appointed pseudo-scientists worshipping the sun).

What I learnt during my scientific education is that scientists are like any other group of people. Some are decent and honest people, some become full of themselves and prone to all kind of corruptions... and some can't resist forces outside the field of science: politic, finance, academic circles.

I was once like you two who were kind enough too answer my post, paralysed by the wide-scale implications of the AGW theory. So I tried to see if I could do something in my field of expertise and began to read a lot of literature on the subject. It took me a while (I was not so bright) but I finally realized I had joined a FREAKING CULT without realizing it !!!

Al right, we all know I won't exorcize you in a single post. All I ask is that you let a very little place for doubt to exist in that matter.

Thank you for reading and please excuse my poor grasp of the English language.

Here's what you missed in your science education: while some individual scientists may be swayed one way or another by personal politics, ideology, and corruption, the scientific process is specifically designed to weed out those biases. The consequence is that when you look at the general consensus in any field, those individual differences and biases largely cancel out; processes like peer review and independent replication smooth out the wrinkles and human errors. The result is that the general consensus in any one field represents the best available scientific knowledge on the subject. It will change to adapt to changes in our understanding about the world, and we'll refine our models as we gather more evidence, but any time there is a clear consensus of a vast majority of experts in a variety of scientific fields, you can be pretty sure that that's the best available information, the most solid position to take.

And while such a consensus doesn't exist for, say, quantum gravity or the likelihood of extraterrestrial intelligence, such a consensus does clearly exist for anthropogenic global warming. The preponderance of evidence, and consequently the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, agree both that the Earth is warming at an alarming rate, and that it's being driven by human activity. Those denying either or both of those claims are relegated to the fringe, with only distortions and discredited arguments as support.

The other thing you missed in your scientific education: reading a lot of literature on the subject does not make you an expert. In fact, it's not the quantity of reading you do, it's the quality. And if you'd been reading the climate journals instead of popular media, you'd see the vast credibility gap between the climate scientists and the AGW denialists.

But go ahead, please present evidence for your claim that AGW is a "FREAKING CULT." I'm particularly curious how this evidence will overturn basic observable facts.

OK
Science is not made by consensus. If it was the earth would still be flat, we would still use armilliaire spheres to describe the movement of the sun and the planets, germs would appear spontaneously out of nowhere, measure of time would be unaffected by changing referentials, continents would not move, ulcers would be caused by stress...etc.
In each of those cases, the "consensus" fought the truth with mountains of peer reviewed papers during douzains if not hundreds of years.

I agree that consensus is "statistically" the best bet, but that doesn't mean it's unfailable.
It takes a single man, a single experience, a single observation to destroy a consensus.

As for the carbocentric theory: How do you explain that all along the geological ages, CO2 levels never matched the temperature curves. If it had, how come we had "recent" ice ages where the CO2 concentration was ten times the amount we have now (and even hundreds of times if you go back far enough). I agree there is some kind of relationship since when temperature augments, CO2 levels rise (and not the other way around).
How come earth's historical temperature was above what we have today 90% of the time! Talk about today's unprecedented levels.
You can check my assertions in the literature, they even constitute the consensus on the subject.

Finally: Have you read the damn emails yourself or do you prefer to swallow the small digest you found in the popular press?
Weren't you scandalized by the way the CRU team used to treat the peer review process? ... i.e, choosing the reviewers for their papers as well as the ad-hoc reviewers for their opponents, threatening editors and last but not least retaining crucial datas for review by independent party: what those emails describe is the exact opposite of what the peer-review process is supposed to be.

Science is not made by consensus. If it was the earth would still be flat, we would still use armilliaire spheres to describe the movement of the sun and the planets, germs would appear spontaneously out of nowhere, measure of time would be unaffected by changing referentials, continents would not move, ulcers would be caused by stress...etc.

Um, no. Each of the situations you're describing went in exactly the same way: there was a consensus position based on available evidence, new evidence was discovered which forced a change in position, and the consensus changed accordingly. Scientists follow where the evidence leads, which is precisely why scientists today recognize the curvature of the Earth, the heliocentricity of the solar system, the germ theory of disease, and so forth. In all of those cases, there was some position based on available evidence which was later revised in light of new evidence.

In none of those situations was there a group of scientists with absolutely no evidence standing around claiming that everyone else was running a cult.

In each of those cases, the "consensus" fought the truth with mountains of peer reviewed papers during douzains if not hundreds of years.

No, in fact, they didn't. And with this quote, you prove that you don't have a clue what "peer review" means. In fact, in each of those cases, the consensus changed when the evidence was found to warrant a change in position. In many of those cases, a small fringe group denied the evidence and claimed persecution and marginalization by the allegedly cultlike majority--such as modern-day flat-earthers, opponents of Pasteur's theories, and the cranks who write into Scientific American claiming to be able to disprove Einstein--but because those cranks didn't have any evidence on their sides, they were never able to gain a foothold in the literature once the consensus had shifted to reflect the new evidence.

As for the carbocentric theory: How do you explain that all along the geological ages, CO2 levels never matched the temperature curves.
I'm an interested layperson, so I wouldn't explain that. I'd let the experts do it. But to make it simple: CO2 isn't the only greenhouse gas or potential cause of temperature changes. It just happens to be the primary one now.
If it had, how come we had "recent" ice ages where the CO2 concentration was ten times the amount we have now (and even hundreds of times if you go back far enough).
Again, CO2 isn't the only driver of climate change. During the times you're obliquely referencing, the solar output was lower.
I agree there is some kind of relationship since when temperature augments, CO2 levels rise (and not the other way around).
Actually, it's both. Rising temperatures cause oceans and other carbon sinks to be able to hold less CO2, releasing it into the atmosphere. And the CO2 in the atmosphere traps heat near the surface, increasing warming. It's a feedback loop; they're often involved in climate changes. For instance, ice ages often happen when changes in solar output or orbit cause the icecaps to expand. The expanding icecaps increases the Earth's albedo (because white ice reflects more sunlight), which causes more sunlight to be reflected back into space. This causes less sunlight to heat the Earth, which cools it further, which allows ice to expand more, and so forth. When things are stable, the climate is fairly stable, and a stable climate can withstand minor changes in different directions. But when one of those changes kicks off a feedback loop, you can end up with the sort of radical climate changes you see in past ice ages and warming periods.
How come earth's historical temperature was above what we have today 90% of the time!
I'd like to see a source cited for this, but I won't hold my breath. No one is arguing that the climate hasn't changed before, or that humans and CO2 are the only causes of climate change. Yes, there have been radical changes in climate in the past, because the climate is sensitive to various forcings, such as changing greenhouse gas levels. These radical changes have led to mass extinctions and major changes in what areas of land are livable. The world made it through okay, the species who were around for it often didn't. As a member of a species living now, adapted to a particular range of climates and accustomed to a particular variety of living species for food, I'd prefer not to see mass extinctions caused by major climate change.

Yes, things have been different in the past. That's not an argument for doing nothing now. If things get too different, we're going to have a hard time surviving it.

Finally: Have you read the damn emails yourself or do you prefer to swallow the small digest you found in the popular press?
Frankly, I don't give a damn. The obvious evidence from a wide variety of sources isn't invalidated by a few snarky e-mails from scientists at one research institution.
Weren't you scandalized by the way the CRU team used to treat the peer review process?
No, and neither was the independent group assigned to investigate the CRU team for any wrongdoing. Sounds like I'm not the one who "swallowed...the popular press."

So, let's recap: you claim that AGW proponents represent a cult, and imply that there's no evidence for AGW. Your method of supporting your claim is to attempt to poke holes in the AGW models, to misunderstand what AGW proponents are actually claiming, and to seize upon apparent (but exonerated) corruption in one research team out of thousands. If you had any positive evidence to contradict the overwhelming preponderance of evidence suggesting AGW, I assume you would have provided it. Instead, you resort to the same fallacious tactics as Creationists and Denialists of every other stripe.

Cultist, exorcise thyself.

About the CO2 driving the climate all the time except when CO2 concentration is 20 times higher than today and we are ... in the middle of an ice age:
Suddenly, the AGW theorists say it's all about of the Sun which was quite weak at that time (see your link). So which it is? At 7000ppm CO2 isn't the main driving force behind the climate but it is today at 380ppm. Hint: We can safely bet that the solar output was not 20 times lower than what it is today.


About past temperatures being much higher than today's, here are consensual datas going back to the extinction of the dinosaurs:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:65_Myr_Climate_Change.png

But to make it simple: CO2 isn't the only greenhouse gas or potential cause of temperature changes. It just happens to be the primary one now

CO2 the "primary greenhouse gas"? The same CO2 which represent 0.038% of our atmosphere or did you mean vaporous H2O which amounts to 95% of all the greenhouse gases?
By the way, how much of this CO2 do we humans emit? Oh yeah! 5% including agriculture. And figure that 57% of those 5% are immediately (5 years) absorbed by the biosphere (Fear for the coming ocean acidification!).

I'll spare you the calculus for all greenhouse gases (CFCs, CH4, N2O, CO2, H2O) using IPCC's rates of relative contribution to the greenhouse effect:
The Human activity roughly affects the greenhouse effect by 0.3%

We are talking about peanuts!!!

And wait! We have already seen that greenhouse gases are just one of the parameters affecting the climate: Without going back to the Milankovitch cycles or the very long term "young sun" variations in solar irradiance, we have the oceanic cycles (with BIGGGG effects and HUUGGGE temporal inertia), sporadic volcanic activity, short term solar cycles in irradiance and magnetic activity.
What do you think is left of the human contribution to climate change? Only local effect in urban agglomerations... just where we install our thermometers and monitoring weather stations.

So here comes the rabbit out of the hat:
The famous feedback effect that melts the poles, messes up with the albedo, transforms Siberia into an open sky natural gas generator, stops the Gulf Stream, sends the UK into a new ice age (oops), spreads the Sahara from Cape-town to Moscow, melts the Himalayas in the blink of an eye, transform the Amazonian forest in in golf course, creates new beach fronts from Paris to Berlin, doubles the number of hurricanes, droughts and floods...
Well, you see the pattern: This is the end of the world.

Let me offer the ultimate scientific explanation for Global Warming:
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.
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The merciless competition for research budgets.

Cultist, exorcise thyself.

Well, that's what I'm trying to tell you since the beginning: I did :-)

You know I was on the other side, I was skeptical, not of climate change itself but the AGW bit. However I eventually realised that I was merely arguing from incredulity, how could mere humans be having such a huge effect in such a small time? I had no more credible reason to doubt the findings of the majority of climate scientists than I did to doubt those scientists supporting evolution. The best I could muster was non scientific excuses like governments manufacturing reasons for taxation, and that the climate scientists were just repeating the preferred mantra so as to get grant monies. I noted that the bulk of denial seems to revolve around accusations of mainstream conspiracy, and playing the poor underdog fighting a quasi religious dogma card but curiously short on scientific reasons. I realised that this was not sufficient grounds to sweep aside the great body of pro-AGW evidence amassed so far.

You seem to be relying on the same tired old canards that the denial camp rolls out over and over. If all you've got is incredulity and allegations of money over science then you really need to step back and examine how credible your position is, do you have good solid grounds to doubt the scientific consensus?

Suddenly, the AGW theorists say it's all about of the Sun which was quite weak at that time (see your link). So which it is? At 7000ppm CO2 isn't the main driving force behind the climate but it is today at 380ppm. Hint: We can safely bet that the solar output was not 20 times lower than what it is today.
Why can you "safely bet" that? Any data?

Your question "which is it" is disingenuous at best and profoundly ignorant at worst. Solar output has fluctuated in the past, triggering feedback loops causing climate change in the past. It's not causing the current climate change, because there haven't been any significant changes in solar output. So this time, a different one of the many factors affecting global climate--atmospheric accumulation of previously sequestered CO2--is driving climate change.

You seem to be arguing that if X caused Y in the past, then X must always cause Y, and only X can cause Y. This is like saying that because a broken starter kept my car from starting last year, then the reason it's not starting this year must be because of a broken starter, and if the mechanic says that it's because of a dead battery or a broken gas line, he's lying or being inconsistent. The climate is a complex balance of many factors. By pulling carbon out of the ground and burning it for a hundred damn years, we've changed that balance. How hard is that to understand?

About past temperatures being much higher than today's, here are consensual datas going back to the extinction of the dinosaurs:
Who's disputing this? Yes, things were different in the Paleozoic period. Notice that we evolved in that last bit there. You know, the bit where it's a lot cooler than it was in the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.

No one is arguing that the world won't be able to weather the storm. The Earth will be here, pretty much no matter what we do to it. And life will keep on living and adapting, because that's what life does. But large-scale climate changes can lead to large-scale extinctions, and for all our intellect, we're a very young species adapted to a very thin range of climates and sentimentally attached to things like coastal cities. No one's arguing that we're going to destroy the world through global warming; what we very well might do is make the world really damn sucky to live on.

CO2 the "primary greenhouse gas"? The same CO2 which represent 0.038% of our atmosphere or did you mean vaporous H2O which amounts to 95% of all the greenhouse gases?
No, I said "CO2 isn't the only greenhouse gas or potential cause of temperature changes. It just happens to be the primary one now." One there referred primarily to the more recent clause "cause of temperature changes." There are two big reasons for this: first, it's the feedback loop problem again. Rising CO2 levels trap more heat at the surface, which causes more water to evaporate into the atmosphere. Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas on the planet, and this evaporation amplifies the effects of small changes in CO2 levels. The other is that CO2 is what's changing, because we're changing it. Water evaporates and condenses, carbon dioxide is emitted and absorbed, but we've gone and dredged up carbon that has been buried for millions of years and released it into the atmosphere. And shockingly enough, the climate is moving in the direction it was at millions of years ago. Crazy how that works out, isn't it?
By the way, how much of this CO2 do we humans emit? Oh yeah! 5% including agriculture. And figure that 57% of those 5% are immediately (5 years) absorbed by the biosphere (Fear for the coming ocean acidification!).
You're just like a neverending stream of denialist canards, aren't you?
I'll spare you the calculus for all greenhouse gases (CFCs, CH4, N2O, CO2, H2O) using IPCC's rates of relative contribution to the greenhouse effect: The Human activity roughly affects the greenhouse effect by 0.3%

We are talking about peanuts!!!


I suspect you're "sparing me the calculus" because you're pulling it out of your backside.

Here's the thing about percents: they're only meaningful when you consider the actual numbers that they're percentages of. For instance, .3% of the US National Debt is about 40 billion dollars. It's "peanuts!!!" compared to the National Debt, but pretty significant compared to my annual paycheck. 0.3% of the water on Earth accounts for all underground wells and aquifers, and is about ten times more than all the water in all the world's lakes and rivers. That's "peanuts!!!" compared to the total amount of water on Earth, but it's enough to support every single freshwater organism ten times over. 0.3% of Earth's history is about 150 times longer than humans have existed. It's "peanuts!!!" compared to the age of the Earth and the lifespan of some other genuses, but it's fairly personally significant to me.

And yeah, even a change of .3%--assuming your figures are meaningful, which I don't--is "peanuts!!!" compared to all the gases on the planet, and the climate change that has occurred in the last hundred years is, as you showed before, "peanuts!!!" compared to changes in the past. And yet, it's already enough to change the chemical properties of the oceans, shrink the icecaps, sink islands, increase the range of various tropical organisms and diseases, and have a variety of other deleterious effects on the world's ecosystems.

What do you think is left of the human contribution to climate change? Only local effect in urban agglomerations... just where we install our thermometers and monitoring weather stations.
The heat island effect and unreliable temperature data canards? I do believe that's denialist bingo!

But you're absolutely right, we only install thermometers and monitoring stations in urban areas, like that bustling metropolis of space.

Well, you see the pattern: This is the end of the world.
Yes, I see the pattern: the actual effect which accounts for the complexities of the system and explains the vast majority of your simplistic complaints is something you handwave away as inconvenient for your state of denial, and so you exaggerate it all into a strawman position that no one takes, the better to dismiss it. You don't have evidence, and you don't seem to be able to grasp the point that the world is complicated, so it's much easier to ignore the evidence and pretend that scientists are all unreasonable chicken littles.
Let me offer the ultimate scientific explanation for Global Warming:

The merciless competition for research budgets.


Yes, that's clearly it. Just as evolution is the product of a vast conspiracy of Darwinist atheists vying for grant money, AGW research is just a ploy to get research grants. Who funds these grants is a mystery, since it's certainly not the multibillionaire, multinational oil and gas and car and industrial corporations who would all have a vested interest in discrediting AGW but apparently can't gather any evidence to support that position despite having ample access to money and, according to you, having the facts on their side. Clearly it's more lucrative for climate scientists to compete for a few thousand dollars from their university or the NSF or some other overburdened grant-funding body with limited funds that must be portioned out only to the most promising research projects each year, than to work for industrial organizations with bottomless wallets. And we know this is true because there's no evidence for such a conspiracy (how diabolically clever of them!) and because scientists have a long history of colluding with each other on a global scale to falsify data for thirty-five years with no significant dissent.

Feel free to drop us a line when you come back to Earth!

And we know this is true because there's no evidence for such a conspiracy (how diabolically clever of them!) and because scientists have a long history of colluding with each other on a global scale to falsify data for thirty-five years with no significant dissent.

I think it's that conspiracy mindset of woos that demonstrates that cynicism and naivete are not mutually exclusive:

They think the world operates according to the rules of movie conspiracies. Because you know, in movies, you don't need logistics: Some bad guy says "jump" and all the pieces just happen fall into place Because The Script Says So.

Wake up, proxima. This is the information age. Science gets done because of the decentralization and transparency.

Conspiracy theorists can't handle the idea that no one can exert massive control over information like they could in the olden days, so they manufacture some magical central authority that is immune to real world rules of logistics and secrecy. They can't handle the unpredictable nature of scientific discovery, so they live in a fantasy world where the universe is strictly limited to their imagination.

It's the same sad story with every other form of woo. Believers in psychics can't handle the thought that we have alternative explanations they were unable to imagine for themselves, so they make up conspiracies of alleged cover-ups to explain failures on their part.

Especially love the invocation of the heat island effect, proxima, by the way. Because it's not like we have multiple satellites with far infrared sensors that have been gathering data for several decades from all over the world.

Wow!
I think you failed to suspect me of nazi sympathies. Tell me, on which side is the sectarian attitude here?

Anyway, back to the subject:

Why can you "safely bet" that? Any data?

I can safely bet that the young sun wasn't 20 times weaker than it is today because any star showing a such range of variations is about to go nova or something equally catastrophic. If you absolutely want the data, it's around 30% weaker than today for the "solar constant" although analysis of meteoritic fragments would show an higher magnetic activity.

Your question "which is it" is disingenuous at best and profoundly ignorant at worst. Solar output has fluctuated in the past, triggering feedback loops causing climate change in the past. It's not causing the current climate change, because there haven't been any significant changes in solar output.

Here we are. The same old argument of the solar constant when nobody denies the fact that it doesn't change much at the opposite of solar magnetic activity which according to some would have certain effects on cloud cover, albedo and GMT. But I guess you would range those scientists in the category of cultists.

So this time, a different one of the many factors affecting global climate--atmospheric accumulation of previously sequestered CO2--is driving climate change.

I don't understand. Are you saying that today climate is driven by CO2 at 380ppm and a 1400W/m² solar constant... but a totally different process was driving the climate back when CO2 was at 7000ppm and solar output at 1000W/m² ?
Don't you have a famous formula that links CO2 concentration and solar constant to Global Mean Temperature?
How come this physical process is working now but not then? Granted the initial conditions were different but a physical principle can't be substituted by an other principle when it's convenient.

Relax. In fact I agree with at least one of your statements: The climate system is much more complex that some are claiming.
So why make the anthropogenic CO2 the alpha and the omega of today's climate and the associated feedbacks always go in the sense of worsening the situation?
It is common knowledge that any system with positive feedback ends up diverging. The history of the earth has proved, until now, that this endless positive feedback never occurred.

You seem to be arguing that if X caused Y in the past, then X must always cause Y, and only X can cause Y.

No. I'm saying that a theory describing a physical phenomenon works at any point in time and space. It just doesn't cease to apply because some initial parameters have barely changed.
If it does stop to work it means it's bogus or still at the draft stage.

Who's disputing this? Yes, things were different in the Paleozoic period.

You did, and here is your exact quote:

I'd like to see a source cited for this, but I won't hold my breath.

If someone else is reading, that was about higher temperatures in historical data.

But large-scale climate changes can lead to large-scale extinctions

I am not denying climate change, just its cause(s) and probably its magnitude.
And by the way, I have no love at all for an economy based on the inconsiderate use of hydrocarbons or miraculous green energy sources.


Rising CO2 levels trap more heat at the surface, which causes more water to evaporate into the atmosphere. Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas on the planet, and this evaporation amplifies the effects of small changes in CO2 levels.

Assuming CO2 traps as much heat and evaporates as much water (that traps more heat that evaporates more water, etc...), one could argue that much of that water will result in more clouds, higher albedo, less energy trapped, less heat, etc...
It reminds me of Lindzen's famous Iris Effect (don't bother, he's another quack).
Damn CO2 causing more heat and less heat at the same time! No wonder people are going nuts.

The other is that CO2 is what's changing, because we're changing it.

Granted. But does that necessary imply that that CO2 is the sole and the principal driver? No.
One might suspect CO2 is doing something, that's all. The temperature records we have so far do not allow an accurate correlation, much less to tell if CO2 is the main culprit.
There are other potential guilty parties that could claim the crime or a share of guilt.
And I should say "future crime" because not much has been done yet. So far, it's still about projections constructed around the carbocentric theory.

I suspect you're "sparing me the calculus" because you're pulling it out of your backside.

No, because someone else did it.
Take IPCC's ratios for GHGs, multiply by IPCC's ratios for human share in these emissions, multiply by IPCC's ratios for GHG's relative importance, shake everything and voilà!
A little less than 0.3% for human contribution to greenhouse effect.
It's huge in absolute quantities, but I maintain that's still peanuts when compared to the whole GHG phenomenon.

You don't have evidence, and you don't seem to be able to grasp the point that the world is complicated, so it's much easier to ignore the evidence and pretend that scientists are all unreasonable chicken littles.

Correction: You are the one denying the world is complicated with the assertion that it's all about human CO2. You are the one daring to predict the future with your uncomplicated models.
As for the charge of proof, it is yours to make (your side).

The heat island effect

What's wrong with the urban heat island effect? It clearly exists and I do not understand why you suddenly jump at its mention.
Could it be a code word, a canard like you say?

Same thing for the "merciless competition for research budgets": that statement was meant to be humorous and I thought it was understandable in the context I was using it. My bad, but I'm willing to take the blame because I think there's at least a part of truth there.

I can safely bet that the young sun wasn't 20 times weaker than it is today because any star showing a such range of variations is about to go nova or something equally catastrophic.
The sun itself doesn't have to be weaker or stronger to drastically change the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth and causes warming. Fluctuations in Earth's orbit, albedo, atmospheric content, and so forth all impact how much sunlight is available for warmth. Overall solar output is certainly unlikely to change by that degree under normal circumstances; how much of the tiny fraction (peanuts!!!) of that output that ever reaches Earth is available for warming, however, is quite variable.
The same old argument of the solar constant when nobody denies the fact that it doesn't change much at the opposite of solar magnetic activity which according to some would have certain effects on cloud cover, albedo and GMT. But I guess you would range those scientists in the category of cultists.
Sorry, this must be a language barrier issue this time, because that doesn't even make grammatical sense.
I don't understand. Are you saying that today climate is driven by CO2 at 380ppm and a 1400W/m² solar constant... but a totally different process was driving the climate back when CO2 was at 7000ppm and solar output at 1000W/m² ?
No, at this point I'm saying that you're either quite dense, or intentionally obtuse. There are lots of things that influence global climate, and they're all linked to one another. If there's a change in solar output, then it will cause changes in the percentages of various atmospheric greenhouse gases, changes in ice cover (which influences albedo), changes in weather patterns, and so forth. But then, even if the solar output stays constant, changing the percentage of one atmospheric greenhouse gas can cause other greenhouse gas proportions to change in turn, which can then influence the amount of heat that gets trapped near the surface, which can change the amount of ice cover (which influences albedo), which can further change the amount of sunlight available for warming, and so forth. Changing one parameter causes others to change as well. It's not a "totally different process." The climate is a single complex system, and you can achieve similar effects by changing different parameters.

For instance, my body temperature is one system. If I'm cold in the winter, I can keep myself warm by turning up the heat in my apartment, or by wearing a sweater or using an extra blanket, or by doing vigorous exercise. I can achieve similar results by making different changes because of how the system works.

How come this physical process is working now but not then? Granted the initial conditions were different but a physical principle can't be substituted by an other principle when it's convenient.
The physical process has been working the same way the whole time. You can't pluck two numbers out of a complex system with a wide variety of influential factors and think you can come up with a meaningful conclusion. Okay, the amount of atmospheric CO2 was higher--what were the proportions of the other greenhouse gases? What was the albedo? What was the Earth's orbit like? What was available for sequestering? What kinds of organisms existed, and how did they use those gases? What was the atmospheric composition? You're picking up two pieces from a hundred-piece puzzle and wondering why you don't see a complete picture.
So why make the anthropogenic CO2 the alpha and the omega of today's climate and the associated feedbacks always go in the sense of worsening the situation?
Because that's what the evidence implicates.
It is common knowledge that any system with positive feedback ends up diverging.
It is common knowledge that "common knowledge" is absolutely worthless when it comes to scientific discussion. How about evidence? Evidence is nice.
The history of the earth has proved, until now, that this endless positive feedback never occurred.
Wait, are you claiming that positive feedback loops in climate don't exist? So, what, the Ice Ages were just really long winters?
No. I'm saying that a theory describing a physical phenomenon works at any point in time and space. It just doesn't cease to apply because some initial parameters have barely changed. If it does stop to work it means it's bogus or still at the draft stage.
Your terms here--"barely" in particular--betray the argument from personal incredulity that DarthCynic discussed above. You can't possibly imagine how a comparatively small change can cause larger changes, therefore the theory must be wrong.
You did, and here is your exact quote:
No, I asked for a source for your claim that "earth's historical temperature was above what we have today 90% of the time." You provided a graph of temperatures going back 65 million years. The Earth is 4.54 billion years old, which means your graph represents 1.4% of Earth's history. Are you telling me that you can accurately extrapolate the remaining 98.6% of historical temperature data, in order to come up with your "90%" figure?

None of which is really significant. Okay, the Earth has been hotter in the past. So what? That neither suggests that the current warming trend is natural nor that it's a good thing, nor that we should just kick back and invest in shorts. If you were some early Devonian marine animal, you might be justifiably thrilled to see the climate heading back in the right direction, since that nasty Ordovician mass extinction killed off so many of your buddies. But you're a human being, which means you developed in the relatively recent Pleistocene, when temperatures were a lot cooler. Massive climate change may not be so great for you, you non-ocean-dwelling-nautiloid organism.

I am not denying climate change, just its cause(s) and probably its magnitude.
And you're doing so from a position of no evidence, based on your expertise from doing a little reading. This, of course, makes you more qualified than any of the relevant scientists, because they're all involved in a conspiracy.
Assuming CO2 traps as much heat and evaporates as much water (that traps more heat that evaporates more water, etc...), one could argue that much of that water will result in more clouds, higher albedo, less energy trapped, less heat, etc...
One could argue that, sure. One could also realize basic things like, that clouds absorb heat, that clouds don't block ultraviolet light, that not all clouds are white, that clouds don't necessarily correspond to where the sun is at any given moment, and so forth. One could also examine the evidence to see if this scenario is likely, and if the potential cooling effect of increased cloud cover is enough to offset the warming effects. And what do you know, it seems that it apparently isn't, and in fact, that clouds can help trap heat near the surface. Reflectiveness goes both ways, I guess.
Damn CO2 causing more heat and less heat at the same time! No wonder people are going nuts.
Damn people thinking that "one could argue" is equivalent to "this is what the evidence says"! No wonder people think denialists are nuts.
Granted. But does that necessary imply that that CO2 is the sole and the principal driver? No.
You're right. It's the evidence which implies that anthropogenic CO2 is the principal driver.
One might suspect CO2 is doing something, that's all. The temperature records we have so far do not allow an accurate correlation, much less to tell if CO2 is the main culprit.
Still on about the allegedly unreliable temperature data. Sounds like the perfectionist fallacy to me: it's not perfect, therefore it's useless.
A little less than 0.3% for human contribution to greenhouse effect. It's huge in absolute quantities, but I maintain that's still peanuts when compared to the whole GHG phenomenon.
Gosh, who do I believe, the vast majority of relevant scientists who say that this apparently small proportion has a significant effect and have the evidence to back up that claim, or some guy on the Internet with no evidence and a bunch of fallacious arguments, who apparently has a feeling that .3% is just too small?
Correction: You are the one denying the world is complicated with the assertion that it's all about human CO2. You are the one daring to predict the future with your uncomplicated models.
That straw man of yours is looking a little threadbare at this point. You might want to give him a rest for a bit.
As for the charge of proof, it is yours to make (your side).
The climate scientists have presented the evidence. It is overwhelming, conclusive, and undeniable. If you wish to claim that CO2 is not a major driver of climate change, or that human-generated CO2 must not be the culprit, or that something else is causing the climate change, or that the models are wrong, or that the changes are not severe, or that there exists a conspiracy among scientists worldwide to promote a fictional warming crisis, then it's up to you to support your claims with evidence. Trying to poke holes and seek out anomalies in the existing theory doesn't provide any support for any of your nebulous alternate hypotheses.
What's wrong with the urban heat island effect? It clearly exists and I do not understand why you suddenly jump at its mention. Could it be a code word, a canard like you say?
No, the canard is claiming that it leads to unreliable temperature data.
Same thing for the "merciless competition for research budgets": that statement was meant to be humorous and I thought it was understandable in the context I was using it. My bad, but I'm willing to take the blame because I think there's at least a part of truth there.
Ah yes, "it was just a joke, which is why I gave no indication of it being humorous. But no, seriously, it's true though." If I had a nickel...
[prox]:We can safely bet that the solar output was not 20 times lower than what it is today. [Foss]:Why can you "safely bet" that? Any data? [Prox]:I can safely bet that the young sun wasn't 20 times weaker than it is today because any star showing a such range of variations is about to go nova or something equally catastrophic. If you absolutely want the data, it's around 30% weaker than today. [Foss]:The sun itself doesn't have to be weaker or stronger to drastically change the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth and causes warming. Fluctuations in Earth's orbit...

Nice tactic of deflection.
Here we are talking about a point in time that doesn't fit the carbocentrist hypothesis. So you claim it is because the sun was weaker. I answer it could not be that weak. You ask for data. I give you data. Then you say it's not because the sun was weak but because of orbit variations or albedo or atmospheric composition.
Make up your mind!

I know you have handy web pages that answers the question for you.
Please, give me any other skepticalscience.com url that proves any contradiction to AGW is a "canard".

[Prox]: The same old argument of the solar constant when nobody denies the fact that it doesn't change much at the opposite of solar magnetic activity which according to some would have certain effects on cloud cover, albedo and GMT. But I guess you would range those scientists in the category of cultists. [Foss]: Sorry, this must be a language barrier issue this time, because that doesn't even make grammatical sense.

Too bad it makes perfect scientific sense (sorry for my grammar). Are you denying the existence of the sun's magnetosphere and its influence?
Yeah, I know there is not a line for it in AGW theory. it's all about: "the Sun? yes, we looked at it and we found no significant variation in the solar irradiance that would explain anything". Too bad AGW opponents are not talking about the solar constant here.

[Prox]: I don't understand. Are you saying that today climate is driven by CO2 at 380ppm and a 1400W/m² solar constant... but a totally different process was driving the climate back when CO2 was at 7000ppm and solar output at 1000W/m² ? [Foss]: No, at this point I'm saying that you're either quite dense, or intentionally obtuse. There are lots of things that influence global climate, and they're all linked to one another.

Sure! Lots of influences. Except when your one-size-fits-all theory says it's all about human carbon emissions and their cortège of pesky never-ending positive feedback loops.

According to you it is a well known fact that the only modifying factor of significance during the past 200 years has been carbon emissions. All other probable causes have been taken into account and deemed negligible so far as to explain the "temperature anomaly".

[Prox]: It is common knowledge that any system with positive feedback ends up diverging. [Foss]: It is common knowledge that "common knowledge" is absolutely worthless when it comes to scientific discussion. How about evidence? Evidence is nice.

It is common knowledge because it's a mathematical theorem.
A system with unchecked positive feedback is akin to an explosion.

Wait, are you claiming that positive feedback loops in climate don't exist? So, what, the Ice Ages were just really long winters?

No. I claim that negative feedbacks have been demonstrated (theorized, measured, published) and that AGW proponents are dismissing those effects as "canards" or voodoo science.

Your terms here--"barely" in particular--betray the argument from personal incredulity that DarthCynic discussed above. You can't possibly imagine how a comparatively small change can cause larger changes, therefore the theory must be wrong.

Back at you.
You are quick to dismiss any possible cause other that your favorite human emissions that could throw off-balance climate's semi-chaotic system:
small periodic solar excitation, small magnetic variations, small cosmic radiations perturbations, small iris effect, etc...

You provided a graph of temperatures going back 65 million years. The Earth is 4.54 billion years old, which means your graph represents 1.4% of Earth's history.

The point is today's temperatures are hardly unprecedented and there is no need to go back to the dinosaurs to refute one of AGW's theory central arguments: Similar or higher temperatures have been unequivocally documented during recent human history.

I guess such proofs are called "canards" in your New-speak.

One could also examine the evidence to see if this scenario is likely, and if the potential cooling effect of increased cloud cover is enough to offset the warming effects.

It's been done, document yourself.
However I must reluctantly admit "nothing can offset the warming effects": That's one of the postulate of your religion.

Hell, not even reality can keep up with the warming that has been predicted. It's a travesty!

You're right. It's the evidence which implies that anthropogenic CO2 is the principal driver.

Show me the unequivocal proof!!!

Still on about the allegedly unreliable temperature data. Sounds like the perfectionist fallacy to me: it's not perfect, therefore it's useless.

What?
Do you want to talk about the grandiose claims that have been debunked and the numerous scandals that bloodied the nose of the AGW community?
Got your hokey stick with you?

Gosh, who do I believe, the vast majority of relevant scientists who say that this apparently small proportion has a significant effect and have the evidence to back up that claim, or some guy on the Internet with no evidence and a bunch of fallacious arguments, who apparently has a feeling that .3% is just too small?

I must be dreaming: You are not denying the "0.3% human contribution to greenhouse effect" anymore.
But you are still absolutely certain that the Earth can't take it.

Well, I am not so categoric: I don't know although, I'm not that worried.

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