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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 51 to 100 out of 156:

  1. A little more on the birds and the bees.

    "The facts we know beyond a doubt about global warming"

    Anything can be a fact I you wish it to be. The large meta analyses (and this video) suggest changing seasons are a product of global warming.
    It's interesting that many of the papers that make up the data for this grand analyses and statement often come to a different conclusion.
    As mentioned above the data is predominantly European (with some N American). When you look at the European papers many link the changes in season timing with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), this is a natural process that introduces variation into the European climate. I could list a whole load of papers here but I suggest you just do a Google Scholar search for "Phenology NAO" yourself.
    Spring comes earlier when the NAO is positive and later when negative. The problem for separating global warming from NAO is that the NAO index has had a positive trend over the past 30 years. See here

    So as long as you ignore all other possible explanations for this phenomenon then yes its obvious that global warming has advanced the onset of spring.
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  2. 50.Charlie A at 14:05 PM on 1 March, 2010

    "you are ignoring the most significant problem"

    I'm not ignoring the possibility that seasonal variation maybe manmade or natural or a little bit of both, if that is what you mean.
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  3. #49 GallopingCamel "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."

    I find it interesting that other approaches to using actual measured data to estimate climate sensitivity come out in the same sort of range as L&C09. Will Eschenbach last June put forth a hypothesis about the diurnal cloud formation in the tropics. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/14/the-thermostat-hypothesis/

    I'm not positive, but I believe this came out of his work with satellite measured temperatures and from noting how station-keeping and in particular time-of-day of the equatorial crossing affected the measured temperatures.

    He has recently further expanded this hypothesis to check some of the resulting predictions of climate sensitivity variations with latitude band, and variations with the fraction of ocean at any given latitude. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/28/sense-and-sensitivity/

    He references and compares his values to those calculated by Sherwood Idso using 8 different methods to estimate sensitivity: http://www.warwickhughes.com/papers/idso98.htm

    Finally, there is a relatively unknown paper at palisad.com that uses the annual variation in temperature (12.5C in N. hemisphere, 5 C in SH) to estimated climate sensitivity: http://www.palisad.com/co2/eb/eb.html . This is a relatively short, easily readable paper that I highly recommend, although I cannot personally say whether or not his argument is error free. It does, however, point to a method of verification that is available today, using existing observations.

    So we have several different methods, looking at a variety of measured data that come up with estimates of climate sensitivity much lower than the IPCC consensus.

    ==================

    Unfortunately, too often, the AGW debate degenerates into strawman arguments, rather than looking at the serious scientific differences that do exist.

    Lindzen, Eschenbach, Spencer, Pielke (both of them) are examples of sceptics whose ideas should be seriously looked at and challenged.
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  4. HumanityRules at 14:07 PM, what goes for the NAO, also applies to the PDO, or IPO, and the IOD, the Indian Ocean Dipole. What makes the IOD research interesting is that some, perhaps much, in relation to Australia at least, of what had originally been attributed to El-Nino may actually have been due to the IOD, make El-Nino somewhat less powerful than currently accepted.
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  5. Oops I forgot the link to Testing the AGW Hypothesis at
    http://www.palisad.com/co2/eb/eb.html

    Testing the AGW Hypothesis
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  6. Charlie A at 14:29 PM on 1 March, 2010

    Lindzen, Spencer and Pielke Sr. have all mounted carefully constructed alternative explanations for various phenomena associated AGW and all of these have been found wanting after the serious consideration they deserved.

    Eschenbach is another matter. He's published a number of articles in E&E but he also is seen as frequently publishing political commentary on AGW.

    Eschenbach's opening shot (an E&E item on sea level) did not stand up and since then he's been criticized for playing fast and loose with both data and accusations of fraud; all in all he seems like a magnet for controversy as opposed to a productive researcher bent on expanding our envelope of knowledge.

    Sea-level Rise at tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean islands
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  7. "all in all he seems like a magnet for controversy as opposed to a productive researcher bent on expanding our envelope of knowledge."

    I think that the history of climate science will be much kinder to him than your description. He and Lindzen are moving the science ahead by inventing methods to validate and test various assumptions about climate sensitivity.

    OTOH, I'll bet that the blogs that you read speak favorably of MBH98 and other hockey sticks as being a series of independent studies that confirm each others results. Again, we will have to let time and history do their thing.

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

    Thanks for the link to Church & White 2005. I had studied their well known 2007 paper, but had not seen the 2005 one. Not knowing the backstory to the Eschenbach E&E sea level paper, I found this interesting.

    After reading your comments, I was surprised to find that C&W 2005 is "consistent with" Eschenbach.

    C&W quotes Es. as saying Tuvalu 1978-1998 sea level rise was 0.07mm/yr, range of -1 to +0.5. Church and White for that period come up with 1978 to 2001 sea level rate of rise of 0.8 ± 1.9 mm yr-1. Which is consistent with Eschenbach, particularly since his analysis ended in 1998, an El Nino year that would be expected to have lower local sea level. (Both of the above are local sea level, before the GIA which averages +0.3mm/yr upward adjustment worldwide, but I don't know the specific level in that area)

    I like Church's writing style. The section on Tuvalu starts at the bottom of page 16. It clearly shows the sort of difficulties that have to be overcome to get reasonable data. His paper has some very important info about the relative movement between the two tide gauge benchmarks and the sinking of one of them.
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  8. Hi all,

    Wow, was not expecting the confusion over such a well thought out video. IMHO it needs some tweaks, but for a lay person I am not sure how it can be causing confusion. There sadly seems to be confusion between the formal definitions and practice of "hypothesis" and "theory", and some misunderstandings about the scientific method. That is, in science one cant prove anything. Those lucky mathematicians, however, can.

    RealClimate has a post on "The Co2 problem in 6 easy steps".

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/08/the-co2-problem-in-6-easy-steps/

    For those people rolling out the predictable trace gas argument against CO2. Think about this, CO2 concentration is measured in ppmv, while CFC concentrations are measured in ppt (two order of magnitude less than CO2). Now consider that increasing CFCs (in ppt) was and is a critical catalyst in causing the ozone hole in the Stratosphere above Antarctica. The analogy is not perfect, of course, but I hope that is gives some context.

    Now before someone tries to blame the ozone hole on GCRs (they are responsible for everything you know, sarcasm): Consider this first.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/search?q=cosmic+rays (despite the sarcasm the posts are very informative)

    Also, the latest nail in the coffin (there are simply have too many nails for this coffin) for the CGR hypothesis and cloud cover.
    Calogovic, J., C. Albert, F. Arnold, J. Beer, L. Desorgher, and E. O. Flueckiger (2010), Sudden cosmic ray decreases: No change of global cloud cover, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L03802, doi:10.1029/2009GL041327.


    People should also seriously consider Dr. Alley's talk presented at the AGU last year:

    http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/richard-alley-the-biggest-control-knob-carbon-dioxide-in-earths-climate-history/

    And don't get me started on the politicized pseudo science of Eschenbach and Watts. Doug's synthesis @ 56 of the work by Pielke (not a climate scientist), Spencer and Lindzen is spot on.

    There are no silver bullets here folks. The hypothesis that is put forth by those in denial is that we can dramatically increase GHGs in an incredibly short time and for their to be no negative impact on the biosphere (atmosphere, oceans and cryosphere). Well, empirical evidence and other observational data (across many independent disciplines) are showing, and have been showing that this hypothesis is failing badly.

    Start praying that climate sensitivity for doubling CO2 is +1.5- 2.0 C.
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  9. Charlie A at 17:03 PM on 1 March, 2010

    Eschenbach may be "consistent with" Church & White, but that's not any sort of validation, as Eschenbach's numbers were faulty; the resemblance appears strictly coincidental. Here's the section you're referring to:

    Eschenbach (2004a, b) quotes (but does not substantiate) a "best estimate" of the rate of rise of 0.07 mm yr-1, apparently based on an analysis of Mitchell et al. (2001) for the period 1977-1998, with the “likely” (but, again, unsubstantiated) range of -1 to 0.5 mm yr-1 based on surrounding gauges and an estimate of ocean thermal expansion."
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  10. There was an entire event with the Center for American Progress at the beginning of February on the topic of the Science of Climate Change. I podcasted about it at Climate Files Radio. The video is on the CAP website.

    http://www.americanprogress.org/events/2010/02/climatescience.html

    Chris Fields was part of that presentation too.
    Some of their initial points about how we know climate change is happening:

    * Average ground temperatures are going up
    * Ocean temperatures are going up
    * Sea ice cover is decreasing
    * Mountain glaciers and permafrost are melting
    * Sea level is rising
    * A lot of plant and animal species are moving
    * Arctic sea ice is retreating
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  11. From Albatross above -- The Richard Alley talk is also great. I put that in a podcast too!

    This stuff is all out there for the skeptics to watch and listen to. The problem is they don't.
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  12. While we are on Al Gore, here is his latest op-ed from the New York Times:

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/02/27/al-gore-in-new-york-times-we-can%e2%80%99t-wish-away-climate-change/
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  13. Whereas science is based on logic, the video is entirely structured on emotional appeal. If the science is so robust, why depend on images of people being swept down flood zones?

    The part about changes in IR detected by satellite over 30 years is also quite curious. If greenhouse gases are known to have increased as measured on the ground, why does it come as a surprise that there would be an increased absorption at the corresponding wavelengths? This is just another way of measuring the same thing, (i.e., atmospheric concentration levels). And yet, in the video it is presented as evidence as proof that these gases are causing climate change. Why is it OK for alarmists to be so sloppy in their presentations?
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    Response: "If greenhouse gases are known to have increased as measured on the ground, why does it come as a surprise that there would be an increased absorption at the corresponding wavelengths?"

    There is no surprise. The main point of Harries 2001 and the other papers that compare satellite measurements of outgoing longwave radiation since the 1970s is that there is a close match between simulated results and observed results. The only surprise is for skeptics who argue that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas, that the CO2 effect is saturated, that CO2 effect is weak because it's a trace gas and various other arguments that deny that increasing CO2 also causes an increased greenhouse effect.

  14. @Norman Wells
    "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 ."
    There are other important causes. And if the reasons behind the current warming is mostly natural and we will spend most a funds of the CCS?
    And how do we take measures against the transgression of the sea?
    If AGW theory will be proven based on the dynamic ecology ...
    And for me, for example, variability p.CO2 determined on ice core - based on population ecology - it is extremely unlikely because practically it is impossible to enter in the Lotka-Volterra Model.
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  15. #28
    "It happened before with Big Tobacco, it is happening now with Big Oil and Coal"

    You forget Big Eugenics. And Big Communism. And even Big Nazism (an ofshoot of social darwinism and eugenics). These all came from academia.

    References: Richard Pipes (Harvard, communism), Weikart (german social darwininsm and eugenics). Strange how the AGW movement never mention these, always only smoking.
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  16. Charlie A (@55),

    Thanks for a very interesting link. The trouble with the IPCC and AGW Alarmists in general is that they overstate the importance of their evidence and deny all contrary findings. They could use a little clarity and humility:

    No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.....Albert Einstein
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  17. This is a pretty good film which covers the basics - here are a few add-on notes:

    1) CO2 at the mid-tropopause has the most effect on global temperatures - much as ozone in the stratosphere has the most effect on surface ultraviolet levels. It's a height-dependent phenomenon:

    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/1998Q4/211/absorption.gif

    2) The difference with water vapor is that it rains out of the atmosphere (half life ~ weeks). CO2 stays in the atmosphere for far longer (half life ~ 100 years) - hence, CO2 is called a forcing, and the increase in water vapor that results from that forcing is called a feedback.

    This becomes more important when you look at global redistribution of water vapor by the atmospheric circulation. Shifts in precipitation and evaporation are simultaneously creating droughts in the subtropical regions (due to Hadley Cell expansion) and flooding in the jet stream-dominated mid-latitudes (where warm moist air mixes with cold dry fronts).

    Result: record-breaking droughts in some regions, and record-breaking flooding in others (one in 500 year snowstorms, one in 1000 year floods - these may soon be the norms).

    3) So much for CO2 and H2O - what about the temperature data? Here, note that the Triana satellite could have been launched a decade ago, and would have given an unambiguous measurement of the Earth's radiation balance from a suitably distant location (recall the height-dependent radiative transfer issues?).

    Similar problems arise in efforts to understand how warming is affecting the oceans - and not only does spotty data coverage make it difficult to compare today's deep ocean circulation to that of say, 200 years ago, it also provides skeptics with "doubt" to harp on.

    I don't see any climate skeptics lobbying for more data collection, though - more proof, if any was needed, that Lindzen & Michaels & friends are pursuing some kind of political or economic agenda, but definitely not a scientific one.

    4) The film does a great job explaining how the "canary in the coal mine" approach can be used to get empirical evidence for warming - the loss of sea ice, the change in migratory patterns, unusual insect outbreaks, etc. A few more specific examples include pine beetles in Canada, West Nile virus in North America, malaria in Africa - there are plenty of papers on each topic.

    In all cases, there are many complicating factors, but this is empirical evidence. Predicting a biological response is far more difficult than predicting a physical temperature increase - but once it happens, it's pretty obvious. If the canary gets sick or dies, something must be going on.

    What does the skeptic say in response? "Naw, the canary just died of old age, or had a heart attack - now, get down in that mine!"
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  18. Charlie A @#55 - interesting article, but the time scale for everything in it is _one year_. Short term is weather, long term is climate; it's an interesting look at seasonal variation, but says nothing at all about long term effects of higher IR retention, water vapor feedback, and the like.

    Take a look at http://www.skepticalscience.com/Is-CO2-a-pollutant.html for a graph of underlying changes. I will note my dissatisfaction with the graph scaling, which makes a 60% rise look like x10, but the point holds - we're changing the baseline energy balance, and that will modify the climate.
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  19. #66:

    You are invoking the Galileo Gambit.

    The IPCC 2007 reports are actually quite conservative. Already GHG emissions, ice melt, and sea level rise are at the upper bounds of predictions. The IPCC was not alarming enough, IMO.

    Despite strong political reasons for them not to endorse, the following countries endorsed the IPCC 2007 reports because the science was undeniable:

    United States of America - Fossil fuel-based economy, strong lobby efforts opposed to regulating fossil fuel emissions

    Saudi Arabia - World's largest producer/exporter of oil

    China - Rapidly industrializing using coal-fired power plants

    India - Rapidly industrializing using coal-fired power plants

    The IPCC WGI Report (2007) concluded: “Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

    130 countries endorsed the reports, and since 2007, no scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion.
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  20. thingadonta wrote:

    "You forget Big Eugenics. And Big Communism. And even Big Nazism (an ofshoot of social darwinism and eugenics). These all came from academia. "

    Eugenics and Nazism were driven by pseudo-scientists like Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Julius Rosenberg, who were not academics, though admittedly its crackpot agenda came from academics. You have to be pretty bitter and twisted to compare the charlatans of eugenics to the geophysicists and oceanographers who make up today's climate scientists.

    Big Communism had Lysenkoism, where a "friend of Stalin" was able to use superior political clout to dominate a scientific discipline. For "poitical" today we have the media clout utilised by deniers (the friends of Fox News).

    If you recall, Nazism was accompanied by a massive flight of sceintists from Germany and Europe. Somehow they did not find the alleged utopia of scientism very congenial.

    Naomi Oreskes has a excellent talk on how the deniers are using "Big Tobacco" tactics, called "The American Denial of Global Warming". Keep a look out for her book on denialism - it will come out later this year.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio&eurl=http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.asp?showID=13459
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  21. gallopingcamel said

    "The trouble with the IPCC and AGW Alarmists in general is that they overstate the importance of their evidence and deny all contrary findings. "

    Er, very poor wording. What does "overstating the evidence" mean. I suppose Darwin overstated the evidence for Evolution, and he did not get everything right. He even believed in blended inheritance, but it did not stop biologists for accepting his theory.

    Your philosophy of science is pretty old hat. Falsification is a great tool like Occam's Razor to distringuish good from bad science. But scientists never throw out a theory instantaneously when contrary evidence appears. Gravity alone could never explain the orbit of Mercury until Einstein came along, but scientists still used Newton's Laws for centuries.

    As Thomas Kuhn explains, for long periods a theory will co-exist with contrary evidence until a "paradigm shift" occurs that encompasses old and new theories. Climatology has built up the "climate change" paradigm and it is supported by myriad separate pieces of evidence. It will take a major paradigm shift to change it.
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  22. KR at 03:22 AM on 2 March, 2010
    "Charlie A @#55 - interesting article, but the time scale for everything in it is _one year_. Short term is weather, long term is climate; it's an interesting look at seasonal variation, but says nothing at all about long term effects of higher IR retention, water vapor feedback, and the like."

    You appear to misunderstand the hypothesis. Willis Eschenbach is analyzing changes in the daily pattern of cloud formation that work as a negative feedback. Looking at daily changes for a period of exactly one year is the appropriate interval for evaluating this diurnal change. See http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/14/the-thermostat-hypothesis/
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  23. Cloud feedback effects during the course of fossil-fueled global warming are linked to the topics of water vapor feedbacks, the precipitation/evaporation ratios, and again are very height-dependent. This means that clouds are a confounding factor and a source of uncertainty, true enough.

    The water vapor effect itself is pretty obvious, and is most pronounced in clear-sky conditions. See for example

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/11/1110_051110_warming.html

    A more robust test was the effect of Pinatubo's cooling aerosols on global water vapor:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/296/5568/727

    As a result of the added water vapor, the natural variability found in ocean basins - the fluctuations such as ENSO, NAO, and the AO, and the resulting effects on global wind patterns, etc. - might be amplified, leading to more extreme weather patterns - again, this is due (in mid-latitudes) to factors like the jet stream and dry cold fronts mixing with warm Pacific Ocean air - resulting in "once in 500 years" accumulations of snow.

    I hope everyone realizes that these "1 in 1000" claims about flooding, drought, etc. are all based on pre-fossil fuel era estimates during the last few centuries - "1 in 10" might be more realistic for future projections.

    Ref:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;317/5835/233

    Wentz et. al 2007 Science "How Much More Rain Will Global Warming Bring?"

    "Climate models and satellite observations both indicate that the total amount of water in the atmosphere will increase at a rate of 7% per kelvin of surface warming. However, the climate models predict that global precipitation will increase at a much slower rate of 1 to 3% per kelvin. A recent analysis of satellite observations does not support this prediction of a muted response of precipitation to global warming. Rather, the observations suggest that precipitation and total atmospheric water have increased at about the same rate over the past two decades."
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  24. Hello Bob Armstrong

    Every text book on climate physics and Earth sciences that I own derive the 33 C number directly from Boltzmann-Kirchoff as per #35 Riccardo above.

    I recommend Piexoto and Oort Physics of climate, a tough book, but you can handle it. :+)

    As per radiative forcing of carbon dioxide, we can experiment by removing much of it from the atmosphere and observing how cold the Earth gets. In fact this experiment has been tried 2.35 billion years ago and several times between 750 and 590 million years ago. Both times the Earth froze over solid. The temperature actually got much colder than merely -33 C from present and achieved about -50 degrees C or about 65 C below present. The reason for this is obvious and I'm sure you see it right away. Once the Earth freezes substantially, it becomes a white object and reflects (rather than absorbs) most of the short wave solar radiation.

    What is really interesting is that the way out of this dilemma, was carbon dioxide emitted by volcanoes into the atmosphere. At these cold temperatures, there was no water vapor in the atmosphere and therefore no silicate rock weathering to extract the carbon dioxide (also of course the rocks were buried under snow and ice anyway). The gas built up until there was enough to raise Earth's temperature sufficient to melt some of the ice back revealing darker water. Then things took off and the Earth became a hot house because of all the excess carbon dioxide. This is really interesting stuff and again I recommend Berner's The Phanerozoic Carbon cycle.

    This reality defeats several denier arguments in one go (H2O is the strongest greenhouse gas, atmospheric CO2 is saturated, CO2 is not a GHG, CO2 is a weak GHG, and so on). And it is not theory, not modeling, not economics (holy cow*, no) but good old fashion geology and observation.

    Also, as I am a skeptic in the John Cook sense of the word, i.e., really, I want to point out that there is no evidence that addressing global warming would harm the economy. This is a common false assumption of deniers. So the argument that we should not address AGW because it might hurt the economy is a red herring.

    Hope this helps.

    Tony Noerpel

    *I’m a Yankee fan. I hope you hear Phil Rizzuto’s voice here. :+)
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  25. Feynman also said this, most applicable to the tobacco-funded cancer denialists as well as to the petroleum-funded climate denialists:

    "I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they're missing something essential..."

    Here we the various front groups financed by fossil fuel interests - they publish papers in fake journals, they hold bogus conferences, they issue press releases - but behind the shell, there's zero substance. Why not?

    "...there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school--we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty - a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid - not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked - to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated."

    (A good clue to whether this rule is being followed, by the way, is the ease of reconstructing the experimental method from the published paper)

    "Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can - if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong - to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it."

    This notion doesn't work with marketing - imagine a car salesman keeping a list of his company's recalls, accidents, and lawsuits on hand for customer inspection. Since the fossil fuel PR lobby consists of clever marketers hired by the CEOs to sell a certain idea, they are of course not going to adhere to this rule, nor will they encourage their pet "experts" to do so, either.

    Have climate scientists always held to this standard? Nope - sometimes, they've used 'tricks' to push the very real global warming story - such as truncating some tree ring datasets when they diverged from the trend line. Compared to the blatant manipulation of data by denialists, that's fairly minor.

    Regardless, even if you ignored all tree ring data, you'd still come up with the same basic conclusion: doubling the atmospheric CO2 has a significant effect on climate.

    Reference:
    http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm
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  26. P.S. Feyman also said this:

    "As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts."

    What does that mean? I once came across a 1940s era geology textbook, which devoted a page, no more, to the "thoroughly discredited notion of plate tectonics."

    A marketer would say, "Aha! Thus, you must also disbelieve the climate science experts at the IPCC! Gotcha!"

    Well, no. What you must do is look under the hood - under the shell - to see if there is any real substance, or if it's all just a facade.

    To do that, you need some familiarity with physics, chemistry, biology, some mathematics - not too much - and then you can follow the arguments and judge for yourself.

    If you don't do this, at least a little, then you're just listening, jaws agape, to the pronouncements of the high priests - who know how to impress their unwashed masses with mumbo jumbo.
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  27. #75 ike solem at 06:10 AM on 2 March, 2010
    quoting Feynman, Cargo Cult Science, Caltech's 1974 commencement address:
    "Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can - if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong - to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it."

    From the video Climate Denial with Peter Sinclair - Crock of the Week (7:02), see above:
    "Altogether this study looked at more than twenty nine thousand (>29,500) sets of physical and biological data. Of those almost 90% were changes in the direction consistent with global warming (expected as a response to warming..)"

    Now, what about of those (more than 10%, >2950) physical and biological datasets showing changes in a direction _inconsistent_ with global warming?

    If climate science would follow Feynman's advice, the peer reviewed literature should have numerous such publications.

    A pointer to the list? Anyone?

    .
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  28. I think that the difference between a scientific paper and a video on the web is clear enough.
    Feyman quote does not mean that you should expect to find in any paper the whole list of other papers which do not support your findings. With the passing of time it would be enormous and it would include papers proved wrong. Clearly the meaning is that in a scientific paper one should expect to find a crical assessment of current the status of science.
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  29. I just wanted to have a look at a score of those contradictory physical and biological datasets the speaker was taking about. Out three thousand it should not be too difficult to show some.
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  30. Berényi Péter,
    i can only suggest to read the paper itself.
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  31. Berényi Péter,
    I forgot the supplementary material.
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  32. Charlie A - The posting you link to (not a peer-reviewed article, incidentally; I would be interested in any that address this issue) sets up several strawman arguments:

    "The consequence of a variable albedo, which is primarily topographically dependent, is that it can either amplify or attenuate the variability in the incident solar energy, as perihelion shifts through the seasons. This, and not anything related to greenhouse gas forcing, is the primary amplification effect seen in the ice core data. "

    Neither high seasonal variation nor solar cycles invalidate slow global warming. See the section on "It's the sun", http://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming.htm for more discussion.

    "Earth responds rapidly to changes in forcing... A slow response is necessary to support the common prediction of AGW that there's pent up warming that hasn't occurred yet, but will later. This claim is often used to counter the observations of skeptics who point out that predicted temperature increases are notably absent."

    Just about every data set known shows that temp increases are occurring, at rates on the high end of the IPCC estimates. See http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm for the extremely high ocean warming levels, and the skeptical denials of warming.

    "...hemispheric asymmetry..." - White argues that hemispheric asymmetry causes problems in measuring (?), predicting (?) global warming temps; he's not really clear. Limited thermal exchange between hemispheres only effect would be somewhat different relative regional rates of AGW, not the total lack thereof that he argues for.

    One of the worst is this: "If the surface power increases by 2.88 W/m², the corresponding temperature increase is only 0.55°C and not the 3°C predicted by the AGW hypothesis." Here he confuses average power with integrated energy. If the power rate to the surface increases, the _accumulated energy_ is what will affect temperatures. This is a complete howler.

    Finally, in bold bright glowing red, he indicates his motives: "...trillions of dollars we are poised to spend on CO2 mitigation will have no effect, other than to drag down the worlds economy and impede the goal of energy independence."

    The article isn't science - it's a discussion of extremely short term variability (see weather versus climate) used to support a political view.
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  33. 74.Tony Noerpel at 05:24 AM on 2 March, 2010

    "This reality defeats several denier arguments in one go (H2O is the strongest greenhouse gas, atmospheric CO2 is saturated, CO2 is not a GHG, CO2 is a weak GHG, and so on). And it is not theory, not modeling, not economics (holy cow*, no) but good old fashion geology and observation."

    I just wonder whether good old fashioned observation can determine cause and effect. You can observe that CO2 levels rise and global temps rise but that simple observation can't tell you which is causing which or if in fact they are even related.

    % of women in the workforce has risen alongside global temps for the later part of the 20th century. Is it worth writing up this observation. I do think its wrong to say this doesn't rely of theory and modelling.
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  34. HumanityRules,
    i hope you don't really think that scientists are so silly to say CO2 rises, temperature rises too, so it must be it. Never heard about detection and attribution?
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  35. RE:#83 HumanityRules

    Your wanderings about observations...

    Just watched Dr. Alley's talk then.


    He discusses in the context of Earth's climate history that from our present understanding of the science that they are indeed closely related, and from the closing slides he states:


    -If higher CO2 warms, Earth's climate history makes sense, with CO2 having caused or amplified the main changes
    -There isn't at present any plausible alternative to this
    -If higher CO2 does not warm, we must explain how radiation physics is so wrong, and how a lot of really inexplicable climate events happened over the Earth's history.
    -Higher CO2 may be a forcing or a feedback-a CO2 molecule in the air is radiatively active regardless how it got there.
    -Paleoclimatic data shows climate sensitivity similar in values in modern models (~3C for doubled CO2)...



    Cheers for the recommendation Albatross and shellinaya!
    I'll spread the word

    p.s all this talk about Feynman, he was a great communicator of science, same with Sagan. Climate Science really needs people just like that.
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  36. re:70tobyjoyce.
    Your summary rebutall misses a lot of history.

    "You have to be pretty bitter and twisted to compare the charlatans of eugenics to the geophysicists and oceanographers who make up today's climate scientists"

    I disagree. Eugenics was mainstream. There was a very long history and gestation period from late 19th century right through the early-mid 20th century. You claim it was driven by just a few charlatans. No, this is defnintely not the case. It was endorsed by a "consensus" of a number of international sceintific organisations/agencies (an old trick-get all the heads of scientific organisations to endorse something to make it look more like a 'consensus', and join in the funding rout). Weikart eg traces its development in Germany right up to WW1 and WW2, many of the books Hitler etc read were eugencicists from the mainstream scientific establishment. You will lose this argument if you contend its wasnt a major scientific-'based' movement (Im not referring to the data, but the distortion/misinterpretation of the data), it is one of the blackspots of modern science.

    Communism admittedly, was not so much based on any kind of hard science research. But its origins were in 'radical intellectualism' of the late 19th century (read Pipes excellent books on the subject).

    Even though nazism yes was accomapnied by a masive flight of scientists, it was from 'science' and scientists who were responsible for most of its policies in the first place. As Richard Evans points out, the eg concentration camps and gas vans (which started with the intellectually disabled-ie the social darwinists origins) were simply putting into practice what the eugencisits and social darwiminists within the mainstream scientific establishment had said and believed for decades (read his excellent books on the history of the third recih recently published). If you think the 'ideas' weren't entrenched within science, you need to read more history. It wasnt a 'few crackpots'.

    Anyway if we continue this thread it will be deleted, as it isnt about hard data, but people keep bringing up smoking and eg Big Tobacco, where they fail to see the very bony skeletons in the cupboard of the history of scientific research perversions/distortions as well.

    I also dont think that Gary Thompson is 'eyeballing graphs' as claimed in the above article, you can see form his discussion above he is looking at the hard evidence. If this cricitism fails and he does looks at the fine print, the next AGW claim might be that he is just 'picking on small details whilst ignoring the big picture'. The reason skeptics pick on small details, is that these have the potential, in rare cases, to overthrow/undermine/ etc the big picture claims, much like Einstein and Mercury's orbital fine print.

    I feel sorry for Gary, I think most of the mainstream climate sceintists' bias is just too strong, they dont see in the graphs, when push comes to shove, what is actually there, and prefer to see only the models. Gary is looking at the hard data, the other papers look at the wonderful models.

    But he is using the right approach, science will overcome in the end. The 'X' that people are referring to above in what is causing the earths warming is the earths long term ocean-atmosphere-land sensitivity to the sun- on the centuriens time scale, well established before the last few decades of AGW, and which will be re-validated again. Trace gases have a trace effect.

    I think the sun will eventually be restored to the centre of climate science, where it belongs, and trace gases will be put back to the periphery where they belong. (Just thought I'd throw that in, with regard to which side people think the hisory of sceince and sun fits into things. AGW is definitely claiming to be on the earth at the cnetre side of things, which doesnt have a very good record.)
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  37. 67.ike solem at 02:37 AM on 2 March, 2010

    "West Nile virus in North America, malaria in Africa - there are plenty of papers on each topic"

    There are some papers on these topics. Not all link to global warming. It is extremely contentious to say these are proof of global warming.

    A good old fashioned scientific arguement broke out over the publication of this article suggesting no link between malaria and global warming

    Climate change and the resurgence of malaria in the East African highlands Hay et al
    Nature 415, 905-909 (21 February 2002) doi:10.1038/415905a Letter

    Primarily malaria is a disease of poverty. Countries with sufficient resourses and the will to tackle the problem have made huge in roads into controlling the disease. It is a huge get out clause to those governments and international bodies failing in this process to blame it all on global warming.
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  38. It seems that the world has been warming for ~10,000 years.


    Based on? I've looked at a Vostok reconstruction, a Greenland reconstruction, and a Borehole reconstruction for the relevant time span. All of them show that the world stopped warming (after the end of the last glacial maximum) about 11,000 years ago.
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  39. I'm afraid thingadonta is basically correct about eugenics. It was not only fairly mainstream (it was discussed in the scientific literature) but it's basically mainstream today, except people just don't call it eugenics. For example, what is pre-natal testing for Down Syndrome, with almost certain abortion of test-positive fetuses?
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  40. This article is the best nears concerning AGW I have seen in a long time! FINALLY, the environmental science 'community' has figured out the difference between persuading the public and persuading fellow scientists!
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  41. Saying that scientists are above bias, is equivalent to Mid-Westerners saying they don't have an accent like the other regions of the US have.
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  42. gallopingcamel at 00:29 AM on 2 March, 2010

    Please consider, there's a difference between "denial" and "argumentation." The "denying" you refer to is traceable to effective argumentation, arguments of practical value because they are based on numerical results, not opinions. Thus calling it "denying" is a misnomer.

    thingadonta at 10:50 AM on 2 March, 2010

    Gary Thompson himself describe his method as based partly on "eyeballing."

    Karl_from_Wylie at 12:01 PM on 2 March, 2010

    Bias forces erroneous conclusions that are not consistent with observations and extensions. I'm sure you can name some examples.
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  43. Our "skeptic" friends have somehow managed to swerve discussion here into Marx and the Communists, Hitler and the Nazis. That's a poor climate for improved understanding, no doubt about it.

    For folks who may have wandered into this discussion and are wondering what the heck is going on, here's some background reading behind Climate Crock's video:

    Dr. Spencer Weart's "Discovery of Global Warming

    A very few happy hours spent reading Dr. Weart's fascinating history will save endless additional hours of confusion.

    For the more ideologically inclined, here's what Weart recounts of Nazis and Communists when speaking of the emergence of such organizations as the IPCC:


    Most people were scarcely aware that these international initiatives all relied on a key historical development — the world-wide advance of democracy. It is too easy to overlook the obvious fact that international organizations govern themselves in a democratic fashion, with vigorous free debate and votes in councils. Often, as in the IPCC, decisions are made by a negotiated consensus in a spirit of equality, mutual accommodation, and commitment to the community process (these are seldom celebrated but essential components of the democratic political culture). If we tried to make a diagram of the organizations that deal with climate change, we would not draw an authoritarian tree of hierarchical command, but a spaghetti tangle of cross-linked, quasi-independent committees.

    It is an important but little-known rule that such organizations were created mainly by governments that felt comfortable with such mechanisms at home, that is, democratic governments. Nations like Nazi Germany, Communist China, and the former Soviet Union did little to create international organizations (aside from front groups under their own thumb), and participated in them awkwardly. Happily, the number of nations under democratic governance increased dramatically during the 20th century, and by the end of the century they were predominant. Therefore democratically based international institutions proliferated, exerting an ever stronger influence in world affairs.(44) This was visible in all areas of human endeavor, but it often came first in science, internationally minded since its origins. The democratization of international politics was the scarcely noticed foundation upon which the IPCC and its fellow organizations took their stand.
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  44. As expected, someone tried to stand Feynman on his head:

    Berényi Péter
    "Now, what about of those (more than 10%, >2950) physical and biological datasets showing changes in a direction _inconsistent_ with global warming?"

    Let's say I count all the species in an ecosystem, then come back and do it again ten and twenty years later. I find that 90% of the species show declines, and that new warm-weather species have shown up as well. Now, there is another 10% that is absolutely unchanged - they're unfazed by the changed conditions. The data is right there in the paper - but people publish their summary conclusions!

    If you were to take that 10% in isolation, and claim that since these 10% were stable, there was no ecological response to warming - well, that would be called scientific fraud - deliberate removal of data in order to prove your point. However, this is precisely what front groups like Idso's Exxon-sponsore co2science.org do - selectively chose temperature data that agrees with their PR line.

    Berényi Péter: "If climate science would follow Feynman's advice, the peer reviewed literature should have numerous such publications."

    If you look at 100 indicator species - our coal mine canaries - and 90 of them show changes in distribution consistent with climate model projections - well, what do you think that means? Please note, evaporation and precipitation changes are just as important as temperature changes when in comes to ecosystem responses.

    What the climate denialist tends to do is then pick the 10 species that show no change for more careful & detailed study - while not publishing their initial results - but in any case, just read the papers that report that 90% trend, look in the datasets, and you'll find that 10% you are looking for.

    HumanityRules is also confused on this topic. What people are saying about malaria is that as the climate changes such that the host mosquito has more favorable conditions, you will need to take more steps to combat malaria, or you will suffer more disease outbreaks. This is a regional issue - and of course, mosquito netting, anti-malarial drugs and public sanitation are needed to fight malaria - under any circumstances.

    Is there anything to say about the devastation of the British Columbia forests by pine beetles, their growth spurred on by dry summers and warm winters?

    http://mpb.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/map_e.html

    Again, this is just a canary in the coal mine approach - a dead bird doesn't tell you precisely what gas is down in the mine - methane? hydrogen sulfide? - but it is a strong line of evidence to add to the instrument record, the paleoclimate record, and the climate model results.

    At this point, rational people would be well along the way to dropping their reliance on fossil fuel combustion as an energy source and replacing it with a broad mix of CO2-neutral technologies. This is what plants do, using sunlight to make fuel from air and water and then burning that fuel at night for energy...

    Here's another appropriate Feynman quote, on a childhood conversation with his father on energy:

    He would say, "It moves because the sun is shining," if he wanted to give the same lesson. I would say "No. What has that to do with the sun shining? It moved because I wound up the springs."
    "And why, my friend, are you able to move to wind up this spring?"
    "I eat."
    "What, my friend, do you eat?"
    "I eat plants."
    "And how do they grow?"
    "They grow because the sun is shining."
    And it is the same with the dog. What about gasoline? Accumulated energy of the sun which is captured by plants and preserved in the ground. Other examples all end with the sun.
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  45. .
    #93 doug_bostrum

    Bias allows one to include non-peer reviewed prognostications where it shouldn't. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/garnaut-caught-in-climate-panels-himalayan-glacier-mistake/story-e6frg6nf-1225826894899

    Bias motivates one to write "awful emails" to skeptics when refusing their request for infomation. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/british-scientist-in-climate-row-admits-awful-emails-20100302-pfgd.html

    Bias leads one to the conclusion that Global warming led the golden tree frogs into extinction. http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/03/global-warming-didnt-kill-the-go.html

    Bias motivates one to attempt to exclude certain folks that disagree with one's conclusions from the peer-review process.
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  46. #93 Doug
    Your right, I dont want to go into 20th century social history either, but people keep bringing up smoking and oil and coal antagonism to research, which is just as relevant as biased mistakes of other antagonisms of the 20th century. People like Mr Rigour Al Gore and Pachmari and co. have no understanding whatsoever of the dangers of intellectual distortion, so they just revert in a tight place back to 'voodoo' and 'smoking'. One needs to see both sides.

    As for dead canaries in coal mines, the statament itself carries all one needs to know-canaries dont usually live in coal mines, they arent adapted to them, they have no biological exposure or history to them(unlike eg natural warmings) so how can one use this cruel analogy with anything to do with climate change? I suppose if we say a fish dies out of water then they might get stressed if water temperature changes.
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  47. Karl_from_Wylie at 15:32 PM on 2 March, 2010

    Oh, I don't at all doubt you'll find the occasional example of bias, particularly when it comes to notionally private communications which we must remember are after not scientific publications.

    If fringe issues possibly affected by bias are all that one has to offer as an argument against the plethora of noncontroversial research results including robust predictions based on well understood and basic physical effects which cannot be ascribed to bias, that's not a sufficiently robust argument to justify ignoring what appears to be a very significant risk.

    If this were a matter of debate at a dinner table over small stakes, emphasizing picayune matters such as hurt feelings over ungraciously expressed refusals to cooperate in time wasting or inappropriate citations buried in the middle of hundreds of pages of reliable information would be more understandable. But we're seeing desperate tactical rhetoric based on examples you cite employed in public debate over a matter of immediate urgency. People hoping to improve outcomes should identify research problems of real significance, if such exist. Instead, we hear nothing but iota, distractions.

    Why does argument over this matter converge over and over again on trivia and even ridiculous analogies? Communists? Nazis? That's all? Are there not important gaps in our understanding of climate science? What are they?
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  48. 1077,
    If you're still reading, as an engineer-turned-financial analyst, you seem like the ideal person to ask this question of:

    Is there a market (such as spread-betting) where those (such as myself) with an "opinion" on the debate can take a financial position?
    ...and where the sum-total of the offered-odds approaches unity, and dealing costs are the same as regular stock-transactions.

    I have some serious doubts about anybody's ability to model non-linear systems as complex as climate on the timescales that seemed to be proposed for "global warming".
    So where can people go to "put their money where their mouth is" ?

    As a practising scientist, I cannot afford to bet much on this, and probably shouldn't.
    But I think a general awareness of how the odds are really evaluated, by people who are well positioned to know, and motivated by financial loss or gain if they get it wrong, would add clarity to the debate.
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  49. .

    #97 doug_bostrom

    Private emails provide unfiltered insights into men who want massive amounts of money. It also reveals their biases.

    Additionally, it was my understanding that IPCC's 2007 report was NOT a "private communication".

    If I produced a report for my boss requesting massive funding and flaws are found in parts of my analysis, it would not be viewed as "picayune matter"

    Climate scientists must play by the rules they set for themselves.
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  50. Karl_from_Wylie at 16:52 PM on 2 March, 2010

    Which man are you thinking of, who wants "massive amounts of money?" Any names come to mind?

    Regarding the IPCC report being a private communication I'm sorry, I did not write with sufficient clarity and you have misunderstood what I wrote. Let me spell it out: in email or other written communications between two persons such as one of the examples you cited, you are more likely to see biases revealed. Clear enough?
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