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YouTube video on the empirical evidence for man-made global warming

Posted on 28 February 2010 by John Cook

A common skeptic argument is that there is no empirical evidence for man-made global warming. People who make this claim can't have looked very hard. As most don't have the time to scour through the peer-reviewed scientific literature, the multiple lines of independent evidence for global warming are given here. To make the science even more accessible in this time of multimedia and short attention spans, there is now a YouTube video outlining the empirical evidence for man-made global warming.

The video is by greenman3610, producer of the Climate Crock of the Week series. Also be sure to check out the (more info) link in the right margin where links to all the peer-reviewed papers are provided. This is a powerfully visual way of communicating the science of climate change - I strongly recommend you all view the video, pass it onto your friends (and if you're feeling really energetic, follow the paper links to learn more about the science).

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 156:

  1. Generally sceptics are in denial in respect of man made global warming, and consequent Climate Change because they do not wish to make the costly changes to Industrial activity and our way of life,that are necessary to counter them .At least not during their lifetime! Consequently the debate rages over the issue as to whether Global Warming is taking place or not,thereby neatly sidestepping the basic and undeniable fact that human activity is responsible for a greatly increased level of atmospheric pollution. Regardless of whether this results in Global warming there are many other important reasons why it should be reduced without further debate as to whether the cost of doing so is affordable.At this moment it is clear that an unwillingness to take action for cost reasons is not the only problem .More serious is the likelihood that we may not even know how to!!
    Norman Wells
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  2. Minor correction:

    I think the correct wording of the Richard Feynman quotation at the end of the Youtube video is

    "Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself."
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  3. I thought this was an interesting story related to the "debate" on climate change, Belief In Climate Change Hinges On Worldview.
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  4. pdt:

    Here is the study that Brahan is referring to in that article.
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  5. pdt #3 Feb 28, 2010

    Interesting and relevant article. Here is a short paragraph that caught my attention:

    "This puzzles many climate scientists — but not some social scientists, whose research suggests that facts may not be as important as one's beliefs."

    The implied assumption here is that climate scientists are above it all, i.e. they are super-human.

    Well, they are not. Scientists are all too human. Interesting evidence in this direction in the article is contained in the contention that "People tend to conform their factual beliefs to ones that are consistent with their cultural outlook, their world view,". How true. And how revealing that the "left" seems to be overwhelmingly pro-global warming. It seems to be indeed "a Bolshevik plot"… Although I do not contest that many scientists and non-scientists on the AGW side are honest believers. I knew many honest believers in Communism: most of them ended up in Gulags when the philosophy they promoted prevailed.

    Incidentally, experimental findings "consistent with" a hypothesis are evidence not proof for the hypothesis. Conveniently disregarding this minor nuance is a well established propaganda tool.

    So is the conflation of environment protection, a necessity, with anthropogenic climate change, a theory which has not been proven.

    As for only 2% deniers, just think of the percentage of those who denied the heliocentric system in the times of Giordano Bruno and Galileo...
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  6. 1077,
    i really can't see from what you deduced "The implied assumption here is that climate scientists are above it all, i.e. they are super-human."
    The experiment is conducted with people with no high level knowledge of the various issues (not just climate change). Why should it apply to scientists as well?

    The very possibility of warming due to anthropogenic CO2 has been denied for decades by distinguished scientist. The same happened to Galilei and to all the new theories, it takes time to be accepted untill evidence grows enough.
    I can not see any parallel with the 2% of anti-AGW scientists, there's no alternative theory to be accepted or refuted, they are just the "remains" of the crowd of scientists that once refuted AGW. Given that there are still scientists refuting evolution, plate tectonics, relativity, big bang, quantum mechanics, etc., i can anticipate that a small number of scientists skeptics of AGW are here to stay for ever. Neverthless science will keep going.
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  7. pdt3 feb 28 2010

    Re the article referred to
    Interesting indeed

    How is someone classified who supports Technology and Free Enterprise,but is suspicious of authority and does not trust Industry or Commerce

    What percentage of deniers accept the self evident fact that human activities are increasing atmospheric pollution and support efforts to reduce it regardless of whether or not Global Warming is a consequence .
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  8. 1077 wrote: The implied assumption here is that climate scientists are above it all, i.e. they are super-human.

    An alternative conclusion offered by me (a scientist) is that scientists are skeptical by nature but can become nearly convinced when there is overwhelming data to support a position. My science colleagues are typically more logical and less emotional than the average person. These are the characterists that motivate one to become a scientist in the first place.

    I also promise you that if there is a landmark anti-AGW paper that shows record levels of GHGs are not driving the climate but instead it is caused by X, and then X is shown again and again in the literature to be the primary driver of climate, I and most others will jump ship and be pro-X.
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  9. 1077 at 03:39 AM on 1 March 2010

    Discounting numerical research results without showing the flaws that permit such dismissal will not take us any closer to the realm of facts. Identifying flawed research conclusions in a way that can be assessed via mathematics does move us closer to facts.

    Failure to understand this important distinction is a fundamental difference in worldview between scientists and many members of the public.

    Scientists are not super-human but they practice a particular discipline allowing them to perform intellectual feats that are sometimes quite astounding, superficially transcendent in appearance. Same as a well trained gymnast, or virtuoso concert pianist. We're wonderfully adaptable creatures and are capable of suppressing or rising above many of our grosser features when we concentrate.

    Logical positivism is a useful thing at the phenomenological scale we usually operate on and has taken us a long way from a grubby existence dominated by superstition. It would surely be folly for us to abandon ourselves to emotions and feelings.
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  10. The Warmists say that the world has been warming since 1860. I can't disagree with that. It seems that the world has been warming for ~10,000 years.

    The Warmists also say that the noughties was the hottest decade on record. Can't disagree with that either.

    When the Warmists say that the primary driver of Global warming is radiative forcing caused by rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations their arguments are unconvincing. The idea that CO2 concentration drives temperature does not fit the facts on any timescale.

    Yet Warmists reject contrary scientific papers "ex cathedra" even when those papers show a better agreement with observations than theirs do. This approach no longer works because the fallibility of the Hockey Team has been exposed.

    ProfMandia (@8) please get ready to jump ship. The Svensmark, Friis-Christensen 1997 paper sounds pretty weird but so did "Plate Tectonics" when it was first put forward. Likewise, Lindzen & Choi 2009 (ERBE experiment) puts forward an explanation for the failure of the GCMs that predicted a sharp rise in global temperature.
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  11. gallopingcamel at 06:55 AM on 1 March, 2010

    You should hang on to your ticket, book dinner and leave your luggage in your stateroom.

    Skeptical Science summary on Svensmark, Friis-Christensen 1997

    While there was good correlation between cosmic radiation and temperature prior to 1970, the correlation breaks down sharply after 1970. The analysis concludes that "between 1970 and 1985 the cosmic ray flux, although still behaving similarly to the temperature, in fact lags it and cannot be the cause of its rise. Thus changes in the cosmic ray flux cannot be responsible for more than 15% of the temperature increase"

    ...

    There are other problems proving the causality link between cosmic rays and cloud formation. One of the key proofs of Svensmark's cosmic ray theory is the high correlation between low cloud cover and cosmic rays. However, the correlation broke down in 1991 (Laut 2003). At that point, cloud cover began to lags cosmic ray trends by over 6 months while cloud formation should occur within several days (Yu 2000). The correlation completely breaks down in 1994.


    Could cosmic rays be causing global warming?

    Real Climagte summary on Lindzen & Choi 2009

    --LC09 misinterpret air-sea interactions in the tropics

    The main changes in tropical SST and radiative fluxes at TOA are associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and are not necessarily indicative of forced variability in a closed system. ENSO events cause strong and robust exchanges of energy between the ocean and atmosphere, and tropics and subtropics. Yet LC09 treat the tropical atmosphere as a closed and deterministic system in which variations in clouds are driven solely by SST. In fact, the system is known to be considerably more complex and changes in the flow of energy arise from ocean heat exchange through evaporation, latent heat release in precipitation, and redistribution of that heat through atmospheric winds. These changes can be an order of magnitude larger than variability in TOA fluxes, and their effects are teleconnected globally. It is therefore not possible to quantify the cloud feedback with a purely local analysis.

    --More robust methods show no discrepancies between models and observations

    In TFOW, we compute correlations and regressions between tropical SSTs and top-of-atmosphere (TOA) longwave, shortwave and net radiation using a variety of methods. LC09 found the observed behavior to be opposite from that of 11 atmospheric models forced by the same SSTs and conclude that the models display much higher climate sensitivity than is inferred from ERBE. However, in our analysis comparing these relationships with models, we are unable to find any systematic model bias. More importantly, the nature of these relationships in models bears no relationship to simulated sensitivity. That is, the metric developed by LC09 is entirely ineffective as a proxy for simulated sensitivity.

    --LC09 have compared observations to models prescribed with incomplete forcings

    The AMIP configuration in the model simulations used by LC09 have incomplete forcings. The AMIP protocol started off a test only of how an atmospheric model reacts to changes in ocean temperatures, and so models often only use the ocean temperature change when doing these kinds of experiments. However, over the period of this comparison, many elements – greenhouse gases, aerosols, the sun and specifically, volcanoes changed the radiative fluxes, and this needs to be taken into account. Some models did this in these experiments, but not all of them.

    For instance, the dominant source of variability in the reflected solar flux arises from aerosols associated with the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June of 1991 yet all but 2 model simulations examined by LC09 omit such forcings entirely. Other radiative species are absent from the models altogether. It is thus obviously inappropriate to expect such model simulations to replicate observed variability in TOA fluxes.


    --LC09 incorrectly compute the climate sensitivity

    By not allowing for the black body radiation (the Planck function) in their feedback parameter, LC09 underestimate climate sensitivity. Using the correct equations, LC09 should obtain a feedback parameter and climate sensitivity of -0.125 and 0.82 K, respectively, rather than their values of -1.1 and 0.5 K. In contrast, TFOW results yield a positive feedback parameter and greater sensitivity estimate, though we also caution that this approach is not a valid technique for estimating sensitivity, as a closed and therefore global domain is essential (though not by itself sufficient). Lastly, LC09 fail to account for variability in forcings in estimating sensitivity.

    Lindzen and Choi Unraveled
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  12. Before anything, it was and is not my intent or endeavor to insult or even put down anyone. Just to express my modest opinion. And, as strange as it may seem, I am keenly aware that I have been and still can be wrong.

    #6. Ricardo:

    The only way climate scientists can be puzzled by “polls [which] show that fewer Americans say they believe humans are making the planet dangerously warmer, despite a raft of scientific reports that say otherwise” (paragraph preceding in the text the one I quoted in my previous post) is that they believe in the absolute ability of individuals in their profession to transgress normal human behavior. Your question “Why should it apply to scientists as well?” is rather revealing for an unjustified complex of superiority. Note that I am purposefully avoiding other terms which are more derogatory and which could easily apply. Being a scientist is just a profession like many others, requiring some more education than others. And it can be a dangerous one for the common sense, since a lot of education can make one blind at realities that fall outside that education. Examples are numerous in the history. Assuming that more education automatically confers common sense is a fallacy that lead more than one otherwise intelligent person to horribly wrong results.

    Galilei was opposed by the establishment. It is not beyond belief that pope Urban VIII, the consummate self-serving politician, knew that Galileo was right; may be that’s why a harsher punishment was not applied to the aging scientist. The AGW is establishment policy today. Otherwise much fewer countries would have sent representatives to Copenhagen and Nobel Prizes would hardly be given to politicians are super-governmental organizations supporting AGW. NOAA, IPCC etc. are governmental organizations, i.e. they do represent the establishment and scientists working for them must be mindful about keeping their jobs. One cannot expect all to be heroes. Thus, being a “denier” today is equivalent to bucking the establishment, just as Galileo did and a (very) few others before him. AGW does not have the seasoning of the established theories you mention. It may reach that status, that’s why I am rather a skeptic than a denier, but it is not there yet.

    #8. ProfMandia:

    May I respectfully disagree with your contention that your “science colleagues are typically more logical and less emotional than the average person”. That’s what the intuitive reality should be. But my experience with academics is that frequently (if not typically) they tend to be more argumentative than the average person and sometimes they tend to create a contorted and often distorted logic. Not always a bad thing as counterintuitive observations help progress. But this is not unlike nitro-glycerin that needs to be handled with utmost care. I have experienced some academics becoming extremely emotional in order to support a point of view. This is understandable, as they invest a considerable amount of time and effort in developing a position.

    Appreciate your open mindedness in accepting X. Such a paper may or may not come. Until then however, I remain a true skeptic as most of the evidence for AGW I have seen is statistical in nature. And as an engineer turned financial analyst, I am way too aware how incomplete, erroneous and harmful such statistical analysis can be. Let me mention as an example the ubiquitous MPT (Modern Portfolio Theory) elaborated by Dr. Markowitz in the 50’s and improved by a few others. It makes assumptions like normal distribution of returns, lack of discontinuity in the data etc. which are absolutely necessary for a mathematical treatment of the subject. But they are also inconsistent with reality and thus make the theory only a first approximation of the real world. Result is a faulty risk control which gave us the current financial mess (as a proximate cause since other more fundamental causes also exist). I could go on with this parallel but I have already occupied more space than I deserve.
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  13. Its quite amusing to find at about 4 mins into the video a reference to the same Harries et al (2006) paper that @garythompson "disproved" at American Thinker.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/American-Thinker-claims-to-have-disproven-global-warming.html
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  14. 1077 at 07:12 AM on 1 March 2010

    May I offer, that to be a skeptic you must offer specific arguments in support of your skepticism?

    The fact that AGW is used as the basis for forming public policy is not an argument against scientific results. A numerical offering showing specific problems with a specific scientific finding would be an argument. "I don't believe it" is not skepticism.

    Similarly, saying you are a skeptical because statistics are employed in the research case for AGW is not actually skepticism. A skeptical case would be to identify specific problems with specific research findings supporting AGW. Again, "I don't believe it" is not an argument.

    The Lindzen and Choi paper cited by gallopingcamel is an instance of a skeptical approach to AGW. It fails, but it's an argument.
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  15. #9 doug_bostrom

    Wonderful post. I answered it partially before I had a chance to see it.

    Just one remark: It would surely be an equal folly for us to abandon our emotions and feelings (or common sense) and act in a rash way based on theories just because they look intellectually satisfying at a certain point in time.

    As for mathematical rebukes in the field of climatology, I am not able to provide any: not my field but I care about it because it impacts economic and political decisions that influence my life and that of my children and beyond. Such mathematical rebukes of entrenched orthodoxy exist however in the field of finance with which I made a parallel in my previous post. And yes, people are not only entitled but obligated to intervene in the economic and political decisions in the world of finance, even if they are not in possession of the tools required to refute prevailing theories. Common sense does count.
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  16. This video is a mixture of fact and and silliness . I recommend as a counter-point MIT's Richard Lindzen's talk at CIE : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmGiiNQ0yHQ . While there are many ways to show how small the perhaps 0.3% change in mean temperature has been over the last century , I so like his comparison with Boston's spring climate , I extracted it to http://cosy.com/Science/Lindzenlineplot800.gif . In general , the ecological arguments are patent BS -- and many have been thoroughly shown to be just that . Listen to this interview with Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner , http://itsrainmakingtime.com/2010/nilsaxelmorner/ , who spent his life studying sea level , was involved with the IPCC and effectively indicts its report on sea level change . Show me global maps of the change in the 0c contour over the seasons over the last half century and then we can start discussing the reality of animals and plants drastically reacting to a change in mean temperature which is just a "just noticeable difference" for humans in psychophysical experiments .

    What personally , raises my hackles is the , as stated in the video - wrong - assertion that without the green house effect we would be 33c colder . Far more realistic , and mathematically tractable , is that we are about 9c warmer than a gray ( flat spectrum ) body in our orbit . And that's the last discussion of quantitative physics in the video . Tyndall is mentioned , but Stefan , Boltzmann and Kirchhoff which are the names actually associated with the equations which produce those numbers are not . The effect of the minor changes in our mean temperature from the minor changes in our planet's spectrum from CO2 can be calculated , but you won't find that from the alarmists because it's too small to be anything from beneficial .

    Finally , you will never see recognition that CO2 is the anabolic half of the respiratory cycle of life and therefore even the bit of carbon we are restoring to the biosphere from previous lush epochs is provably increasing green plant growth around the planet . If anything you will see absurd attempts to dismiss this grade school fact that all life , including each of us , is over 90% CO2 + H2O combined by sunlight .

    I must say John Cook presents more actual evidence than other alarmist sites , but still not the quantitative physics without which you do not have science , you have children at play .
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  17. 1077:

    Economic models and theory are vastly different than physical models and theories. Physics is "rational and logical" - people are not. Therefore, ecomonic models will never be as stable as those in physics.
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  18. 1077 at 07:24 AM on 1 March 2010

    From my perspective I'm concerned we're failing to act in a way that is rash, heh!

    As to common sense, intervening in a process where one does not have command of the facts necessary to make useful decisions does not seem like common sense.

    I'm afraid that for most of us we're going to need to take a statistical snapshot of what researchers are telling us-- look at where the bulk of their results point-- and base our input for decision making on that signal. It's the best we can do.

    I don't think there's much doubt that powerful actors are working to influence our perspective on this issue. If there's any benefit to be derived from that, it lies in the bright spotlight of attention we see focused on any apparent serious discrepancies in our understanding of our climate system and the subsequent arguments that come of such potentially disruptive findings. So far nothing has emerged that has survived the unusually public scrutiny being applied to this field of research.

    As this process has unfolded we also seem to have eliminated most if not all robust counters to the fundamental physical argument underlying AGW even as we have seen a mounting body of evidence indirectly supporting the basic premise. If there's an elephant in the room that's going to squash the fairly basic physics predicting a warming ocean-atmosphere system it must be very well camouflaged indeed.

    I think it's also helpful to remember that if there's any human emotion seriously afflicting scientists, it's our old friend "ambition", working in effective concert with plain old curiosity. Such discrepancies as do emerge in our predictions with regard to climate are a tantalizing goal for explanation because of these two basic human drives. Inexplicable behavior in the face of an established theory is the subject of compulsive fascination not only because of its very "wrongness", but also due to the scientific prestige that would accompany such a finding.
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  19. gallopingcamel, I tend to agree with you. Increasing atmospheric water vapour is what actually results in increased warming with water vapour supposedly being very responsive to CO2 forcing. The amount of water vapour in the atmosphere is related to the temperature of the atmosphere. It suggests that whilst the warming that has occurred since the last ice age due to, or leading to, a corresponding ongoing increase in atmospheric water vapour, CO2 data indicates that the increase in CO2 was not matching the increase in water vapour, and it was only in recent years when CO2 levels accelerated that the ratio of water vapour to CO2 stopped increasing with CO2 levels apparently increasing at a faster rate than water vapour. If water vapour is as responsive to such CO2 forcing as is claimed, then it must have been just as, if not more responsive, to various natural changes that have occurred in the past.
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  20. 1077,
    it's astonishing tha you can write "is rather revealing for an unjustified complex of superiority" on one side and on the other side re-writing history "it is not beyond belief that pope Urban VIII, the consummate self-serving politician, knew that Galileo was right".
    Maybe you do not remember history and Galileo's story and should check back otherwise you'd not compare the Inquisition to today's "establishment". Also, after half a century of United Nations is it still so hard to accept that almost all the countries in the world gather here and then? Does it look like the time of Pope Urban VII?

    From what you write it seems that for you common people and scientists are at the same level even in the highly specialized arena of climatology. I guess this applies to any other scientific, technological, political, cultural, etc., sectors of humkan knowledge. Oh sure, I have a complex of superiority ...

    You missed the point of that paper, it's not about who's better, who is smart enough. But you know, it comes as no surprise given that we all know that there's a foundamental cultural bias in accepting "unconvenient" science.

    So please, leave all those things aside and talk about science.
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  21. #14. doug_bostrom

    I read the exchange between you and gallopingcamel. The specifics are above my head.

    But the very existence of a difference in opinion, as you admit exists, is an indication to me, poor slob caught in my own profession’s controversies, that the conclusion of AGW’ists is not enough of a basis for sweeping life changing economic action.

    So let the controversy continue! And let us not drift into a totalitarian society by using sometimes honest sometimes paid scientists as excuse. Because that’s what appears to be going on here. And that concerns everybody, climatologist or not.

    Incidentally, the mater is a global one. A friend in France reccommended that I read L'imposture climatique : Ou La fausse écologie by Claude Allègre (not translated so far). Before buying the book I was perusing the comments on Amazon.fr. The book seems to have run into a massive AGW’ist resistance. You would most likely join the “one star crowd” there. Interestingly however, the arguments concentrate on what IMHO is a malevolent and ubiquitous conflation of ecology and climatology (I must say a brilliant dirty trick used extensively by Al Gore and his acolytes), on political arguments concerning the French President and GIEC (Groupe intergouvernemental d'experts sur l'évolution du climat), hair splitting on references to a publication by the American Meteorological Society on Oct. 19, 2009, etc... The AGW lobby is certainly active and unforgiving. A rebuttal by a certain Sylvestre Huet on his blog called Sciences to Mr. Allègre is quoted. I would like to see what Mr. Allègre has to say to that rebuttal before I spend the money. Have you heard of this Mr. Allègre?
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  22. #17 doug_bostrom

    Yes, "ambition" is a powerful motivator. In the academic world it is the equivalent of "power" in politics. And according to Hegel, power is the ultimate motivator of human action. At leas he got this right.

    I suspect we could have a very intesting conversation if we ever met... which is highly improbable.
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  23. #17. ProfMandia

    You wrote: "Economic models and theory are vastly different than physical models and theories. Physics is "rational and logical" - people are not. Therefore, ecomonic models will never be as stable as those in physics."

    Perfectly correct!

    Benoit Mandelbrot was employed by IBM and a few others to distiguish with his fractal geometry approach between noise in electrical circuits and the tru physical phenomena going on. Stimulated by his success, and probably by the potential pay-off, Prof. Mandelbrot launched into the financial world working for a number of well known institutions. He demolishes brilliantly the Modern Potfolio Theory (MPT) but admits honestly and meekly that his theory needs a lot more work before it can produce a practicable approach to the world of economics and finance. To me, the world of climatology lies, as far as mathematical complexity, somewhere between electrical circuits and economics. And I doubt that climatologists have found a solution reliable enough to put my life in their hands.
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  24. 1077 at 08:27 AM on 1 March, 2010

    Some concepts do not fit into the space occupied by differences of opinion, unless one is prepared to delve so far into philosophy as to be a lost man when trying to live in the world we inhabit and at the same time scrupulously account for philosophical uncertainties.

    However, where opinion does count, differences in opinion like so many things exist along a continuum; different opinions can roughly be ascribed some measure of utility. The trick here is to discern where on the continuum differences lie relative to one another.

    Let me add, I'm disappointed that your post seems to slide into the realm of attributing motivations into which neither you nor I have productive insight.
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  25. #18 doug_bostrom

    Apologies for the typo in my Post Nr. 22: It should have been #18 doug_bostrom rather than #17 doug_bostrom.
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  26. #24. doug_bostrom

    You wrote: "Let me add, I'm disappointed that your post seems to slide into the realm of attributing motivations into which neither you nor I have productive insight."

    Would appreciate if you elaborated a bit. From a strictly scientific point of view, you are undoubtedly correct that the realm of motivations has no business being invoked. But for me, as a non-climatologist, these motivations, which I see everywhere, are the alpha and omega of the entire controversy. Otherwise I would have no reason whatever to get involved; anymore than I did not get involved into a controversy about an apparent falsification of results in a research about ostracodes which a very good friend specializing in that field shared with me. There it was a pure matter of ambition.

    And trust me, I am not dreaming when I drill down to motivations, where every breathing, thinking human being can and should have productive insights. The choice is living in a totalitarian system. It may make no difference in some people's mind but it does in mine.
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  27. 1077 at 09:10 AM on 1 March 2010

    I'm sorry but I can only walk with you to the edge of the wilderness, I can't follow you in. Other than funding inspirational public spaces and the like, in my book commitment of public will needs to be based on things that can be described with numbers.
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  28. 1077 (#12) said

    "Galilei was opposed by the establishment. It is not beyond belief that pope Urban VIII, the consummate self-serving politician, knew that Galileo was right; may be that’s why a harsher punishment was not applied to the aging scientist. The AGW is establishment policy today."

    That is stating it exactly backwards. Galileo was a scientist. The Catholic Church was quite happy for him to play with his telescopes, as long as he did not challenge their teaching authority. They were content for him to use the Copernican Theory as a "calculating device" as long as he did not insist it was "true" i.e. corresponding to the facts.

    The economic powers like the ones who contribute so much to Senator Imhofe would be quite content for climate scientists to play with their models and theories, as long as they did not try to upset the economic apple-cart. It happened before with Big Tobacco, it is happening now with Big Oil and Coal.

    Big Tobacco used every argument about scientific truth - there are many theories, scientists differ, there's a "controversy", not all the evidence is in, its a global conspriacy, a few anti-free-market scientists are lying.. ultimately they failed.

    The message to climate scientists now from the sconomic powers is "Stay in your labs, stay off public platforms, we'll tell you when you're needed. If not, we'll break you" Only someone who is very blind can fail to see who the real "establishment" is in this fight.
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  29. Anyone here do a scientific experiment for hire (aka professional scientist)? I thought not. I'm not talking some canned lab exercise in college.

    It is really hard, under the best of circumstances with controls, with nothing riding on the outcome. Time and time again folks that have had their hands in the dirt have made very persuasive cases that it is extremely unlikely anyone could possibly have a handle around climate change. A very complex non-linear system with inputs and outputs not well characterized? Unpredictable in theory and practice.

    When astronomers say a solar eclipse will happen at a given place at a given time, and tour operators take money from people expecting to see the eclipse, and the eclipse occurs. That is a powerful demonstration of the theory.

    When climate change folks continue to make WAG after WAG that doesn't pan out, base their entire argument on very noisy incomplete data, and end every argument with the world-is-coming-to-an-end ... it is easy to dismiss them.

    Very very easy. They have cried wolf like waaaaaaaaaaaay too often by now.

    In fact, why do climate change folks have to whine and moan about nobody appreciating their latest end of the world pronouncement at all? When a nuclear physicist says you can split the atom, and Hiroshima gets incinerated by a big honking bomb ... there is little doubt the physicist is on to something.

    So here is MY challenge. Show data, unequivocable, that increased temperatures on earth (say 2F) over 100 years will definitely lead to the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it.

    I'm not talking WAGs ... show me exactly precisely how my summer day 2F hotter (on average) is suddenly going to destroy the planet.

    Show that mankind is completely incapable of adapting to this change. As well as all other species, cockroaches included.

    Watson and Crick won a Nobel Prize for a one page paper on DNA. A true breakthrough. That is how science works.
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  30. #27. doug_bostrom

    Appreciate your honesty. The wilderness produced by the human psyche is as real as the physical environment that you attempt to describe with numbers. And is as important. This comes form an engineer who left engineering and is now waist-deep in economics.

    Beware: ivory towers are used by the real humans in the wilderness for purposes that the ivory tower inhabitants may find quite disgusting.

    Humanity will overcome this too. Malthus predicted extinction 200 years ago or so. The premises were different, but philosophically the thinking process waas the same. He was wrong and the solution was and will continue to be technology. But the road was not and will not be smooth. The size and gravity of the roughness is not predetermined (as Marx thought) but did and will depend on our decisions (as Karl Popper demonstrated).

    Enjoyed the exchange with you very much.
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  31. 1077:
    To quote your initial post:
    "And how revealing that the "left" seems to be overwhelmingly pro-global warming. It seems to be indeed "a Bolshevik plot"
    And another:
    " these motivations, which I see everywhere, are the alpha and omega of the entire controversy."

    At least that the second is accurate. Let me see, you discussed the alpha, but left out the motivations of the omega? And why would you concern yourself to look at the disinformation that is being intentionally spread by Big Oil, Coal or conservatives?
    I think you would save yourself some typing if you just came out and said that your political bias affects your outlook and your hubris leads you to think that you are smarter than the experts.
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  32. #29. doug_bostrom

    You write: "The economic powers like the ones who contribute so much to Senator Imhofe would be quite content for climate scientists to play with their models and theories, as long as they did not try to upset the economic apple-cart."

    My answer: Quite likely. But how about the economic powers driving Al Gore?

    Your attempt to reversse my analogy with Galileo falls rather flat. Sorry not to be unable to follow your logic.
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  33. ProfMandia at 04:46 AM on 1 March, 2010

    I also promise you that if there is a landmark anti-AGW paper that shows record levels of GHGs are not driving the climate but instead it is caused by X, and then X is shown again and again in the literature to be the primary driver of climate, I and most others will jump ship and be pro-X.
    ----------------------------------------------
    You think so? The psychological theory of "dissonance" says people will dig in even harder.

    Since there is no "definitive" paper SHOWING that GHGs drive anything, there won't be any "definitive" paper showing they don't.

    But once again this shows the chip on the shoulder of AGW. Like the burden of skeptics is to show where AGW fails. Sorry. Skeptic is the default. It is up to the AGW community to show why their theory explains more than normal variance.

    And telling folks to wade through peer-reviewed wallpaper is just a cop-out.

    Present your data. One sentence or graphic per paper linked. No nebulous abstract that someone wrote to make a living. Include all the anomalous data.

    Start with, CO2 is rising (this should be easy). And end with "if China isn't on board none of this matters anyway".
    0 0
    Response: "Since there is no "definitive" paper SHOWING that GHGs drive anything"

    There are a number of papers showing that greenhouse gases trap heat which causes radiative forcing which drives climate.

    Harries 2001, Griggs 2004, Chen 2007 all find less radiation escaping out to space at the wavelengths that greenhouse gases absorb energy. Eg - greenhouse gases trapping heat.

    Wang 2009, Philipona 2004, Evans 2006 provide additional independent confirmation of this result, using surface measurements to find more longwave energy returning back to the Earth's surface. Evans 2006 is particularly interesting because it looks at the longwave spectrum to quantify the individual contribution of each greenhouse gas.

    "...telling folks to wade through peer-reviewed wallpaper is just a cop-out. Present your data.  One sentence or graphic per paper linked"

    This is good advice. In fact, so good that I have already attempted to do this on multiple occasions to the point where I'm waiting for people to start complaining I'm being repetitive. I first attempted to document the independent lines of evidence that humans are causing global warming last October with Empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming. I wrote a similar article last December, this time with bullet point lists and one sentence per paper linked, in What happened to the evidence for man-made global warming? Then last week, and I thought maybe I was pushing the repetitiveness at this point, I summarised all the science in Senator Inhofe's attempt to distract us from the scientific realities of global warming.

    However, your comment has demonstrated that people are still failing to recognise the many independent lines of empirical evidence for man-made global warming so I will probably need to resummarize all the scientific evidence every month or so.
  34. 32. milestone55

    You got it wrong on two accounts:

    1. My outlook and experience affects my political bias, not the other way around.

    2. I do not think that I am smarter than the experts in climatology. But I am one of the many "experts" in my field, meaning that I know more in my field than the average person does. But I am far from knowing everything even less in a deffinitive and incontrovertible manner. Therefore I am keenly aware of how little I and all the so called experts really know. So my real position is the anthitesis of hubris.

    Gauss used to compare the knowledge of an individual to a sphere floating in the infinity of knowledge available. If the knowledge grows with the radius of the sphere, the contact with what that individual does not know grows with the square of the radius.
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  35. Bob Armstrong,
    actually there are good reasons why Boltzmann and Kirchhoff are not mentioned. Tyndall studied the absorption of "radiant heat" in the 50s of 19th century and first proved the effect in his famous paper in 1961. It was a purely experimental paper and Tyndall did not apply his findings to the earth system. Afterall Kirchhoff had just published it's law (1859) and Boltzman was a young student. Arrhenius, often cited with Tyndall, first applied it to the earth in 1989 (pag. 255, you'll find the Stefan-Boltzman law).

    As for the 9 °C, where does this number come from? Kirchhoff and Boltzman teach us that it is 33 °C, you should be more specific. It apperas that you are comparing a so called grey atmosphere to an optically thick one. It's not this situation that the 33 °C refers to; the comparison is with a transparent atmosphere (optically equivalent to no atmosphere at all).

    The changes in the absorption spectrum of the atmosphere due to increasing CO2 are surely minor, something like a few W/m^2. Unfortunately it turns out that the climate system is quite sensitive to minor changes, like the ones that caused the glacial cycles. Bad luck indeed.

    Plant growth can increase if supported by the right temperature, the right amount of nutrients and the right amount a distribution of water. In some cases it worked, in others not. But the concentration in the atmosphere in clearly increasing, maybe they are not good enough. Bad luck, again.

    Morner is well known, not least for using a few selected tide gauges instead of performing the full analysis required to infer global sea level rise. We can just infer how much sea level will increase in the next century, but not much doubt that it's increasing now.

    In the end, i see many reasons to be worried about warming, none to ignore it.
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  36. #34. oracle2world

    Sounds rather logical and solid to me... But after all I wrote today on this website no one will be surprised.

    Kudos to John Cook that he did not censor all this as he did with one of my previous postings. He might be off on Sundays? Neh! That was under the belt and I apologise right here and now!
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  37. As a lay person I just cannot buy into the idea that man made CO2 is the cause of climate change. The climate fluctuated many times long before industrialization.

    I found the following somewhere on the net, and if its correct. Then to suggest that its man made CO2 is the problem, is laughable....

    Imagine walking through 1 km of atmosphere.

    Let’s walk along that 1,000 metres of air to see what it’s made of.

    The first 770 meters is Nitrogen.

    The next 210 meters is Oxygen.

    That’s 980 meters of the 1 kilometer. 20 meters to go.

    The next 10 meters is water vapour. 10 meters left.

    9 meters is Argon. Just 1 more meter.

    A few gases make up the first bit of that last meter.

    The last 38 centimeters of the kilometer is Carbon Dioxide (CO2) -
    a bit over one foot.

    97% of that is produced by nature -
    vegetation and soils 53%, the oceans 44%.

    3% is what human activity puts into the atmosphere. That’s only 11 centimeters out of our journey of one kilometer! About half an inch.

    And of those 11 millimeters Australia puts in only 1.5% or 0.17 of a millimetre! - less than the thickness of a hair along a kilometer long road.
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  38. oracle2world wrote:

    Since there is no "definitive" paper SHOWING that GHGs drive anything

    It begins with:

    Svante Arrhenius "On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air Upon the Temperature of the Ground", Philosophical Magazine 1896(41): 237-76

    continues with:

    IPCC WGI (pick any of a number of papers here)

    and of course, John Cook on this site has shown many papers that continue the "proof", not the least of which is the superb summary in this very recent post.

    And what does the "other side" have to offer? Nothing that refutes the multiple lines of evidence for AGW nor any substantiated alternative explanation. In fact, it is this last point that is the foundation of this site. John Cook essentially tears down all arguments against the prevailing scientific consensus.

    As the late Carl Sagan often said, "Extraordinay claims require extraordinary evidence." It is the opinion of most experts that there is extraordinary evidence for AGW. Where is your extraordinary evidence for an alternative argument?
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  39. #38 miekol:

    And the 99% that is not CO2 does NOTHING to stop outgoing LW radiation so it is radiatively "not there".

    Analogy: You have 99% of your money in a foreign currency that is not accepted nor exchangeable in the country you are in right now. The other 1% is in an accepted currency. Which currency is going to matter now? Which is useless?

    Bad pun alert: does this make cents?
    0 0
  40. I meant 99% that is not GHG.
    0 0
  41. miekol,
    it's surprising indeed. For this reason it took decades to accept the idea that such a small amount may indeed be important.
    But unfortunately not always small things have small effect. A few tenth of a micron of aluminium reflects almost all the IR and a tenth of millimiter of black paper absorbs both visible and IR. One has to put the numbers and see what the outcome is.
    This is what Arrhenius did a century ago. Many were surprised and just a few belived him, not Ångström for sure. But later he turned out to be quite right, anthropogenic emissions were sizable, CO2 was increasing (less than what it should) and the absorption was strong enough to warm the planet.
    Many things in science are unbelievable, untill you take a closer look.
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  42. 1077 at 10:19 AM on 1 March, 2010

    You're confusing me with somebody else; I did not write that.

    miekol at 10:58 AM on 1 March, 2010

    You should read this:

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

    Takes just a few hours and you'll have a better idea of what's going on.

    As to thinking of the proportionality of atmospheric constituents, remember that C0 is also found naturally occurring in our air, in tiny amounts. How much of a change in that proportion are we able to tolerate? Remember, the system we inhabit is not engineered, it has not been made with reserve strength.
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  43. miekol 37#

    Much as I agree with the spirit of your post, the analogy you are quoting is faulty. The atmosphere in reality is not stratified but mixed. The mixture is not homogeneous and is highly variable. The small increase of an infinetisimal component can have dramatic effects.

    In all due respect to ProfMandia #38 his analogy with the currency is a bit silly. A better analogy would be to poisoning a living body: a very small amount of poison may go unnoticed; a larger amount may create discomfort but not kill; there is a certain minimum amount required, depending on the size of the living organism, its nature and the nature of the poison for the effect to be lethal.

    The fallacy of the CO2 supporters is that they are unable to demonstrate in a conclusive and incontrovertible way that the increase of humanly produced CO2, whatever it is, is indeed lethal under the real, very complex circumstances of the earth atmosphere. The opposite is not demonstrated either though. Read also oracle2world's very good post under #29.
    0 0
    Response: I must confess, I have a personal aversion to analogies and metaphors - people seem to spend more time arguing over whether the metaphor fits the physical reality. So I prefer direct discussion of the physical reality. But I'm aware that metaphors can be useful in explaining complex subjects so I will try to overcome my stuffy purism and get on the metaphor bandwagon.

    Nevertheless, the question of whether such a tiny amount of CO2 could have such a dramatic effect on climate doesn't need to be addressed by metaphors. The effect has been directly measured by Evans 2006 which looks at the spectrum of downward infrared radiation (eg - infrared energy that is trapped by greenhouse gases and sent back down to the Earth's surface) and quantifies the individual contribution of each greenhouse gas.

    Evans 2006 and a number of other papers provide a number of independent lines of evidence that CO2 is trapping heat. Following on from this, a number of papers examining different periods of Earth's history and all find consistent results that our climate is highly sensitive to changes to the planet's energy balance. In other words, when we add heat to the climate, positive feedbacks amplify the warming. Lastly, many, many papers look at the impact of warming temperatures and the result is the net negative impacts of global warming on humanity far outweight the positive benefits.

    All the peer-reviewed research conclusively shows that increasing CO2 has strong negative impacts on humanity. It's a complex subject and it's the kind of thing that you can't prove on the back of a napkin - it required a lot of research and data to get to where we are now. But if you take in the full picture of what the peer-review science is telling us, to me the most persuasive element that humans are causing global warming which has negative impacts on humanity is the fact that independent measurements all paint the same picture.
  44. doug_bostrom #42

    Apologies for my error. An engineer should be more careful... but I left engineering so may be I will be excused.

    I bookmarked the http://www.aip.org/history/climate/
    link and, given the few hours you mention, I will get to it some time, probably on another weekend
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  45. 1077 at 11:50 AM. Certainly the atmosphere is well mixed, but water vapour must rise from the surface to the upper levels in order to complete the water cycle, whilst CO2 must descend to the surface in order to complete its cycle. I understand how and why water vapour rises, but what is it that drives CO2 to the surface in order to sustain both plant and animal life? Whatever it is, the mechanism is not operating efficiently enough as most plants are only existing on a fraction of the CO2 they require for optimum growth.
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  46. #29 oracle2world:

    No scientists are stating end of the world consequences. The issue is that climate change is happening faster than our ability to adapt. This is clearly discussed in the IPCC WGII reports, Global Climate Change – Impacts in the United States (U.S. Global Change Research Program), Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate (CCSP, 2008), among others.

    Furthermore, emissions, ice melt, and sea-level rise are already occurring faster than the IPCC projections.

    I also discuss the likely consequences of following a business as usual approach to GHG emissions in my blog post How to Talk to a Conservative about Climate Change v.2. These consequences include:

    1) China and India pass the US as economic superpowers
    2) Increased immigration
    3) Higher food costs
    4) Greater government subsidies (higher taxes)
    5) Higher insurance rates
    6) Increased authoritarian governments
    7) Increased terrorism
    8) Nuclear proliferation
    9) Regional and global wars between countries with nuclear weapons

    Several high-level US military reports are linked there also. These reports paint a gloomy picture.
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  47. "Birds and bees don't have a political agenda, at least we think not."

    But then the birds and the bees don't write the papers.

    I have a question about "Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change". Are 90% of data sets showing a response to climate change?

    They are quoted as saying from >29,000 data sets 90% are moving in a direction consistent with a warming climate. This report is based on data from 80 other papers. These 80 reports are listed in the supplementary data. >28,000 of these data sets come from a single paper,this one, which looks at a large amount of data from Europe.

    So what did this paper find?

    "Our results showed that 78% of all leafing, flowering and fruiting records advanced (30% significantly) and only 3% were significantly delayed".

    Other measures (farmer activity and leaf browning) were more ambiguous, but let’s ignore this

    So 30% of data sets show a significant trend in the direction expected for warming. How does 30% become 90%? Well the paper in the video only looks at data with significant trends. It throws away 67% of the data from the European study and compares 30% to 3%.

    So as the video says do 29,000 data sets show 90% are changing in the direction consistent with global warming? Yes if you ignore most of those data sets. No if you look at all the data. I don't know how the NASA paper got published, it's a slight of hand, or maybe this video is just wrongly interrupting the results.

    Even if we accept what is said in this video what does this mean? Is this a catastrophe? Are birds flying upside down (and into vehicles) and is the land stripped of all life? Spring is coming earlier to Europe (by maybe 7.5 days). This does not induce a great deal of fear in me. Should I be frightened?
    0 0
  48. ProfMandia -- It may be true that no scientists are stating end of the world consequences, but they are reporting truly amazing consequences.

    You linked to the CSGCRP Impacts in the US. That report tells us that the electrical grid is seeing frequent, severe disturbances related to climate change:

    "The number of incidents caused by extreme weather has increased tenfold since 1992. The portion of all events
    that are caused by weather-related phenomena has more than tripled from about 20 percent in the early 1990s
    to about 65 percent in recent years."

    See p58 of http://downloads.globalchange.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/energy.pdf .

    I am thankful that scientists have brought to our attention that our electrical grid is failing 20 times more often now than in 1992. I corresponded with the author of the reference for this, and he assures me that he based his info on a peer reviewed article. I consulted the author of that peer reviewed article and found that it was unpublished, but her peers in the research think tank had looked at it and agreed.
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  49. doug_bostrom (@11) and some subsequent posts,
    This is tough for me; I find myself agreeing with you!

    I am not arguing that that solar activity is the main factor affecting global temperature. However, there is a correlation over the last 400 years between the number of sunspots and climate. Svensmark & Friis-Christensen 1997 suggest that terrestrial cosmic ray intensity is high when there are few sunspots leading to more cloudiness. More cloudiness reflects more solar energy leading to lower temperatures. This idea also links long term climate changes to the sun's motion relative to the spiral arms of our galaxy.

    Like you I have not yet convinced that cosmic rays have a major influence planet wide cloud formation, although I am used to observing this effect in the laboratory (I work with 1 GeV electrons). It is a testable hypothesis so someone may already have the proof or disproof.

    With regard to Lindzen & Choi 2009, Kevin Trenberth and his associates criticized the paper but I suspect that Richard Lindzen is much more respected among real scientists than the Hockey Team.

    L&C09 accepts the basic premise that CO2 is a Greenhouse Gas but suggests that the forcing co-efficient is about six times lower than the values used in the many Climate Models referenced by the IPCC.

    If L&C09 is good science, CO2 is a much smaller contributor to "Global Warming" than the IPCC would have us believe.
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  50. #47 Humanity Rules -- you are ignoring the most significant problem. Are these 30% or 78% or 90% or whatever percentage of indicators show seasonal advance, advancing in response to a natural warming trend ongoing since the end of the last ice age, or are they responding to anthropogenic global warming or even more specifically to anthropogenic global warming in response to anthropogenic CO2.

    Or put more simply .... are we worried about a natural trend, a natural trend + unknown % additional manmade trend, or shall we blame ALL warming on anthropogenic CO2 ?
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