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What does past climate change tell us about global warming?

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate

Greenhouse gasses, principally CO2, have controlled most ancient climate changes. This time around humans are the cause, mainly by our CO2 emissions.

Climate Myth...

Climate's changed before

Climate is always changing. We have had ice ages and warmer periods when alligators were found in Spitzbergen. Ice ages have occurred in a hundred thousand year cycle for the last 700 thousand years, and there have been previous periods that appear to have been warmer than the present despite CO2 levels being lower than they are now. More recently, we have had the medieval warm period and the little ice age. (Richard Lindzen)

Greenhouse gasses – mainly CO2, but also methane – were involved in most of the climate changes in Earth’s past. When they were reduced, the global climate became colder. When they were increased, the global climate became warmer. When CO2 levels jumped rapidly, the global warming that resulted was highly disruptive and sometimes caused mass extinctions. Humans today are emitting prodigious quantities of CO2, at a rate faster than even the most destructive climate changes in earth's past.

Abrupt vs slow change.

Life flourished in the Eocene, the Cretaceous and other times of high COin the atmosphere because the greenhouse gasses were in balance with the carbon in the oceans and the weathering of rocks. Life, ocean chemistry, and atmospheric gasses had millions of years to adjust to those levels.

Lush Eocene Arctic 50 million years ago

Lush life in the Arctic during the Eocene, 50 million years ago (original art - Stephen C. Quinn, The American Museum of Natural History, N.Y.C)

But there have been several times in Earth’s past when Earth's temperature jumped abruptly, in much the same way as they are doing today. Those times were caused by large and rapid greenhouse gas emissions, just like humans are causing today.

Those abrupt global warming events were almost always highly destructive for life, causing mass extinctions such as at the end of the PermianTriassic, or even mid-Cambrian periods. The symptoms from those events (a big, rapid jump in global temperatures, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification) are all happening today with human-caused climate change.

So yes, the climate has changed before humans, and in most cases scientists know why. In all cases we see the same association between CO2 levels and global temperatures. And past examples of rapid carbon emissions (just like today) were generally highly destructive to life on Earth.

Basic rebuttal written by howardlee

Update July 2015:

Here is a related lecture-video from Denial101x - Making Sense of Climate Science Denial

Last updated on 6 August 2015 by pattimer. View Archives

Printable Version  |  Offline PDF Version  |  Link to this page

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Comments 651 to 700 out of 883:

  1. I give much thanks to all that have helped me broaden my knowledge of global warming and especially how to deal with the denialist I've been debating for almost a year. I've not quite dealt with a denialist as the one I've presented. I agree with you MA Rodger! This denialist is as an exuberant fool relishing the chase. He is not worth a bean.

    Special thanks to Michael for the link to HHoffman et al 2017.

  2. Hi I'm back to seek more debunking knowledge help from you guys.
    I posted the below graph to debunk a denier who was trying to claim that: Now the same frauds, sorry "experts," that were behind global warming have changed their rhetoric and branding to "climate change."
    Various Measurments of Global Temperature

    Next think you know a loud chest pounding denier jumps in with this wall of questions.

    1. Are you even aware as to what instruments were used to measure temperature in your "graph" and what locations were used?
    2. Do you know how "average" temperatures are statistically massaged?
    3. Do you know how "proxy temperatures" are determined?
    4. Why was there not cooling during the Depression, then warming in WW2?
    5. Is it valid to compare temps measured by digital instruments, compared to mercury thermometer instruments, vs "proxy" measurements?
    6. What is the relative accuracy and standard deviation of each temperature measurement method?
    7. Did you know that man accounts for only 4% of all atmospheric Co2, and that total Co2 is only .04 % of atmospheric gases?
    8. Did you know that the relative contribution of "man made" Co2 (that 4%), compared to water vapor , is 1/1,500,000th?
    9. Did you know that ALL of the carbon atoms in your body (as you are an organic organism) was once CO2? That is the carbon cycle; CO2 is as important to life on earth as water and oxygen, yet the left has labeled it a "pollutant".

    My response/question to each of this deniers claims.

    1. Where can I find this information?
    2. Define: "statistically massaged"
    3. Yes
    4. Not sure how to respond due to the wording of the question.
    5. Not sure if this is even worth addressing
    6. Don't know
    7. False - however I don't know where to find good numbers to debunk this myth.
    8. Show me your sources
    9. False

    This denier is a chest pounding denier who will criticize the instruments, claims the numbers are "massaged", make ridiculous claims about the source of the C in our bodies.

    Below are his favorite statements:

    It is odd indeed when the AGW crowd claims the high ground of "science", then immediately violates every basic premise of actual science:
    1. A hypothesis in not "proven" until the null hypothesis is refuted.
    2. real science welcomes further debate, experimentation, and examination of the hypothesis- cults do not.
    3. real science does not require falsification of data and statistical analysis
    4. real science is indifferent to the conclusions- cults have a very vested interest in outcomes
    5. in real science, those questioning a hypothesis are welcomed, rather than silenced or labeled "deniers".
    6. in real science, action is not taken to "remedy" a problem until a hypothesis is proven
    7. in real science, rarely is there one single cause of natural phenomenon. In the AGW cult, the "villain" or cause of all problems is CO2.

    I am stunned at the minds of people like this!

  3. TVC15 @652 ,

    I am sure you are not really stunned by his* intellectual incompetence ~ but he has enough intelligence to display (via Motivated Reasoning) a barrage of Gish Gallop and rhetorical waffle.

    *almost certainly he is a male ~  since women usually have more sense than to lose themselves in the quagmire of climate denialism.   Prof. Curry excepted: she does a fine job of vagueness and "could-possibly-be" and unjustified sophistry and "confusionism" smoke&mirrors.  In person, I have only ever met one woman who was an extreme denialist ~ she was an elderly geologist (retired).   A few other women seemed to be of the "Yes Dear" type, just going along with their husband's delusions.   ;-)

    TVC15 , in replying to the "intelligent idiot" you mentioned, you have two reasons for engaging with him.   One is to present commonsense factual science to the observers/readers [of course he himself is impervious to reason]  . . .  and the second reason is that you find it intellectually stimulating and fun.

    Plck out and attack one or two of his weaknesses.   Exposing him there, will by association throw doubt on his other points.   Readers will be thinking: a falsehood in one area means he could be a liar in most areas.   But always it should be fun for you (though sometimes partly a chore also).

  4. TVC15 ,

    you have replied to me on the wrong thread.  Perhaps a moderator could move your post into slot #654 in this thread.

    TVC15 , you should be amused when your denier says he is an MD and Engineer.   There are quite a few denialists who claim to be (and possibly are) engineers ~ some of the worst crackpot climate ideas come from ostensible engineers.   ( I myself know a post-doctorate researcher in a biological field, who is a member-in-good-standing of his local Flat Earth Society.   In the end, it is only the real physical evidence which counts. )

    To misquote Alexander Pope : "A little learning is a dangerous thing . . . and many engineers know just enough science to be dangerous."

    If his "MD" you mention is some sort of Medical doctorate, then we are getting into deeper waters ~ and Medical researchers should know better than to apply the confounding-factor-laden biomedical field to the hard-science field of climatology.

    Simply, I don't think it's worth pursuing the instrumentation question.   He's trying to distract you down into a rabbit hole.   Myself, I'd point out to him (and the readers) that thousands of highly-expert scientists have spent decades assessing/ analysing/ cross-checking the various instrumentation aspects of temperatures.   If your denier friend has some definite evidence of gross error . . . then he should frankly point it out, and also publish his findings to the whole world, so that the enormous pyramid of mainstream science comes tumbling down.   But so far, there has been no sign of that happening !


    As for the "methodological note" you mention, it is to be found in a rather low-ranking journal, and (judging by the Extract**) it contains a considerable amount of taurine excrement [ usually abbreviated to: BS ].   Actually, I did skim through the body of the "note", and it wasn't nearly as bad as I had expected ~ but it was mostly to do with causation/correlation in a general way and really had little relevance to climate science.   However, the Extract itself mentioned "Popperian" and was largely an attack on the IPCC & mainstream science . . . and I suspect its raison d'etre was simply to be read by & cited by denialists [who wouldn't ever read the body of the note, and wouldn't care a jot for understanding Popper].

    ** The warning sign here is "Popperian".   With apologies for my mixed metaphor ~ but when Popper or Popperian occurs in a paragraph about climate, then your ears should prick up, and you become hyper-suspicious that you are being handed a plateful of BS.

    Popper's philosophy has its virtuous aspects within certain limited circumstances, but little of that is relevant to climate science.   "Popper" and "Popperian" are often these days quoted by denialists who have little real interest in (or knowledge of) the philosophy of science ~ all that these denialists want is a trendy-sounding cudgel to knock real scientists on the head with . . . however inappropriate it may be.   They just want "the optics of it" (if I may use a modern ugly phrase).

    All too easy (for the half-alert reader of Popper) to fall into a semantic jungle, instead of keeping focus on the physical realities of this universe.

    TVC15 , don't let the denialist lead the dance.   Aim for his weak points (which he has tried to conceal).

    Another apology ~ this time for my own long waffle: but there are some gems scattered through it !

  5. Hi Electric!
    I am a bit perplexed as to how I responded to you in the wrong thread??? My apologies to the mods.

    Thank you for the feedback! It's much appreciated.

    I've cornered this denier in the past with respect to his flagrant ignorance sounding where the carbon in our bodies originated. He ran far away. I find it amusing he's back as if he's forgotten. LOL

    I did a search on the author of that open resource paper I linked in the wrong thread and came up with a few hits. Thus why I wanted to hear what others thought about the credibility of that paper.

    Thank you so much for your responses. I often debunk the denialists with the information I find on this site. I love this site and am spreading the knowledge I gain from it as well as from the comment section.

    I am muchb more skilled at debunking the creationists, however human caused climate change denialists are just as amusing. :)

  6. TVC15 @652,

    The usual response I would give to the various accusations using 'Global Warming has been converted into Climate Change because of <some cover-up>' is to point to the name of the UN IPCC which was formed in 1988. So any genuine reason for converting from the term Global Warming to Climate Change would have to pre-date 1988. Most do not.

    The 4% of CO2 attributable to anthropogenic sources has in the past been an account of gross annual emissions which annually were back-in-the-day 6Gt(C) anthro, 60Gt(C) ocean, 100Gt(C) biosphere. Of course, the net emissions yield a 100% anthro as the oceans & biosphere absrob as well as emit (& as they absorb 55% of the anthro emissions, you could say the anthro percentage is 220%).

    The pre-industrial CO2 levels wer 280ppm and they are now 409ppm. So an actual percentage of of today's atmospheric CO2 would be 46% anthro.

    The relative contribution of CO2 to Earth's greenhouse effect (New Scientist has a page on it as probably does SkS if we were to look) is somewhere between 26% (the effect with only CO2) and 15% (the drop in the effect if CO2 were removed). Call it 20% and with water vapour 50%.

    But the 1-in-1,500,000 quoted by the denialist troll is the anthro contribution from CO2 relative to water vapour. If the GHE is 33ºC and half is water vapour, while anthro CO2 forcing is roughly 2Wm^-2, with ECS=3ºC for 3.7Wm^-2. So CO2(anthro) equates to (3 x 2 / 3.7)/(33/2)=0.098 or 1-in-10.

  7. Correction to #656,

    The ECS=3ºC of course includes feedbacks. Without them the CO2 forcing would be 1ºC per doubling. So it reduces to 1-in-30.

  8. TVC15 , if you have past experience in debunking creationists, then you may well have come across the [science journalist] you-tuber Potholer54 who has done many videos on the same subject area.

    Maybe you are not aware that Potholer54 has done 40+ videos on climate science denialism.  Most of them are around 10 minutes long; some more like 15 minutes.   But I heartily recommend them.   He is meticulous in shooting down the denialists' claims & in demonstrating their falsehoods.   He gives his references ~ and he is careful to base his comments on the evidence as determined by peer-reviewed papers in reputable scientific journals (in other words, he does does not act as a talking head spouting his own opinions . . . unlike most you-tubers).

    You will find Potholer54 very useful, because he is skilfully attacking many of the prominent "public denialists", and his videos will cover many of the points that you will wish to use in debating denialists.   He doesn't cover everything ~ but you will find him a very easygoing method of gaining climate scientific knowledge, both directly and indirectly.

    Yet there's more ~ his videos are done in a humorous style (which I find very entertaining).

  9. Thanks MA Rodger and Electric,

    I've been watching Global Weirding with Katharine Hayhoe on YouTube.

    I've never heard of Potholer54 I will indeed check him out!

    MA Rodger and Electric I appreciate all the new things I'm learning from you both!

  10. I searched this site and came across this page.

    Global warming theory isn't falsifiable

    However it's not like the other myth pages as it does not explain the myth.

  11. TVC15, please comment in the threads of the posts you are commenting about. I will respond to your comment there.

  12. TVC15 @652: Re. your denier's Gish Gallop list of 9 points: The tricky thing is that parts of these statements contain bits of truth. For example, point 9:

    9. Did you know that ALL of the carbon atoms in your body (as you are an organic organism) was once CO2? That is the carbon cycle; CO2 is as important to life on earth as water and oxygen

    This is true, but so what. He's using just enough sciencey stuff to show that he can be "trusted" and then he draws illogical conclusions. Here he concludes that since CO2 is such an important building block of all life on earth it can't possibly be a "pollutant". Water, as he points out, is also a fundamental necessity, but you can still drown in the stuff. Too much of it all at once can destroy your house. The dose makes the poison.

    Anyway, be careful of just labeling his statements as "False!" Instead, be mindful of where his misdirection lies and point out, for the sake of the lurkers in the conversation, his flawed logic. Acknowledge things he says which are correct (this will also show the lurkers that you are reasonable) but then show where he is trying to be misleading.

  13. David Kirtley @662

    I told the denier this: 

    I find it amusing as well that you don't understand that the Carbon found in carbon based life is not from CO2. You should know that Carbon is very abundant on Earth and of the 92 naturally occurring elements (except for elements 43 and 61), only six of these elements make up some 99% of all living tissue. Ever heard of CHNOPS?

    You might want to look up where elements originate.

  14. TVC15 @663. I'm not following you. The elements originate in stars. The Earth was made of "star stuff." But I usually eat plants and animals, not rocks.

    Plants take in CO2 from the atmosphere, photosyntesize, and build the stuff of plant tissue from that. Animals, including me, eat plants. Other animals, including me, eat animals which ate plants. We transform the plant/animal material into the stuff of our animal bodies. All that carbon origianlly came from the atmosphere.

  15. Hi David @ 663,

    This denier loves to say that the Carbon in our bodies *orginated* from CO2.  This is not accurate.

    The building blocks of life come from elements and elements orginated from stars.

    Origin of Life’s Building Blocks in Carbon- and Nitrogen-Rich Surface Hydrothermal Vents

    As I pointed out to this denier show me where CO2 is mentioned in this paper as being how carbon based life originated.

    Origin of organic compounds on the primitive earth and in meteorites.

    I hope this helps to clarify.

  16. LOL now the deniers are using this article to claim global warming is a hoax!

    Big U-turn: Key melting Greenland glacier is growing again

  17. Sorry, TVC15, that doesn't clarify it. Yes, ultimately all carbon on earth comes from stars. We both agree about this. But the origins of life are not relevant here. I don't know what chemical pathways led to the origin of life, or if this involved CO2 or not. But today, right now, my everyday existance depends on atmospheric CO2.

    The question is: where did the carbon in my body come from? If you follow the trail it is clear that the carbon in my body came from the food I ate: plants and animals. Those animals get that carbon from the plants they eat. And all plants get that carbon from the CO2 floating in the air.

    None of this is inaccurate or controversial. It's Biology 101. Yes, you can follow the trail back to the ultimate origin of the element carbon inside the nuclear furnaces of stars. But why? The question is about life on Earth now.

    Your denier has stated some true facts about the carbon cycle and then tried to use this to draw an invalid conclusion about whether CO2 can be classified as a pollutant. Now you, by focusing on the ultimate origin of carbon in stars and now bringing in info about the origins of life, have totally missed the real misinformation that he is trying to push.

  18. David@667,

    I don't follow how what I posted does not clarify?

    In fact when I challenged the denier with what I posted here he stopped posting over and over the same manta that CO2 is a basic building block of life. No CO2 is not a basic building block of life.

    Then he came back with the Carbon in carbon based life originated from CO2.

    He stopped spreading his misinformation after I debunked both of his inaccurate statements.

  19. @668 : let it slide, TVC15 .

    In the end, it's rather futile to debate the origin of metabolic carbon ~ since the terrestrial carbon cycle moves C around continuously [not counting fossil carbon]. As David Kirtley says, its ultimate origin is from some distant stellar source, pre-dating our own sun.

    If anything, one might say that lifeform C in evolutionary terms originated from lipids and/or carbonates/bicarbonates in the primordial ocean.   And there can be other arguments too . . . all getting a bit Angels on a pinhead.   But your denier friend wasn't entirely wrong in his point about carbon ~ though it certainly was a pointless point he made.

    I hope you've had time to enjoy a few of the Potholer54 videos on climate science.   He has five [FIVE] on the asinine antics of the eloquent Lord Monckton ~ quite amusing to see the "error-prone Viscount" [unquote] shoot himself in the foot repeatedly.

  20. Hi Electric @669,

    Yes a agree it's a pointless point but that denier keep trying to use it to prove CO2 is good for the planet which of course it's true, but only when the balance is not offset.

    Most of this deniers tactics are what both you and David pointed out...they are sprinkled with some facts but the conclusion he draws from these facts is misleading which is what I try to point out to the bystanders reading his chest beating comments.

  21. @669,

    Forgot to mention that yes I've enjoyed Potholer54! Thanks for informing me about his videos.

  22. TVC15 @668: "No CO2 is not a basic building block of life."

    Is Carbon a basic building block of life?

  23. David @672

    I think you must have misread what I posted. The denier I battle is the one who keeps trying to claim the CO2 is a basic building block of life. Thus why I pointed out to him the 6 known elements that are the building blocks of life. Recall I asked him if he's ever heard of CHNOPS?

  24. TVC15 @673 So, where does the carbon in all life forms come from?

  25. David @674

    From space. :)

    Delivery of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur to the silicate Earth by a giant impact

    Where Did Carbon Come From For Life on Earth?

  26. TVC15 @675, "From space. :)" 


    But why stop there? Why not say it originated in the Big Bang. That, too, would be true. But is such a statement in any way meaningful? Not really.

    Your denier used a true statement about the world and then used it to obfuscate about our current problem with CO2 increasing in the atmosphere.

    You are using similar obfuscation by jumping back to the primordial origin of life to talk about the elemental building blocks of all life.

    But the denier wasn't talking about that, he was talking about how life operates here and now: "Did you know that ALL of the carbon atoms in your body (as you are an organic organism) was once CO2?"  

    Do you not accept that the carbon in your body came from the CO2 in the atmosphere?

  27. David Kirtley @676,

    You say of carbon, "Why not say it originated in the Big Bang. That, too, would be true." Actually it wouldn't. Atoms did not form until the universe cooled enough and that would have been at the time the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation appeared. This is some 400,000 years after the big bang. And surely those first atoms were hydrogen and would need to be converted into carbon by nuclear processes within stars, a process requiring a good deal further time.

    As for "ALL of the carbon atoms in your body" being converted from CO2 by plant photosyntheses and then consumed by the animal as food, this would quite a recent process as C3 photosynthesis (the oldest form) didn't begin creating an oxygen atmosphere until perhaps 2 billion years ago. (That a plant does not rely solely on photosynthesis to obtain carbon is a bit too big a pedantic step but worthy of noting.) In the "here & now," that the vast majority of higher animal carbon content is the result of photosynthesis and thus derives from CO2. But ALL the carbon? And if it were, why would that prevent a surplus of CO2 being labelled a "pollutant"? -  that being the point the denialist troll was making.

  28. David@ 676

     No I don't accept that all the Carbon atoms in Carbon based life were once CO2. 

    The Carbon in carbon based life could also come from methane.

    A German-British team led by researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz and the University of Heidelberg, recently discovered that methane in plants is produced from the amino acid methionine, which all living organisms need for the building of proteins.

  29. David@676

    I forgot to link the discovery.

    At the methane source of plants

  30. TVC:

    All carbon in life is fixed by plants via photosynthesis.  A miniscule amount of methane might be incoporated into life but the methane came from carbon dioxide fixed by plants.  This is well known.  

    I suggest you hang your arguments on another point.  There are many clear points where your denier is incorrect.

  31. MA Rodger @677: I stand corrected. I went too far back in time.

    TVC15, the reason I am belaboring this is because if I were one of your friends watching this conversation from the sidelines and I saw you merely declare: "False" in response to the denier's statement which contains at least a nugget of factual information, I would not have been impressed. Most people have a basic understanding that the material in their body comes from the food they eat and that this ultimately comes from plants which get their material from CO2 and water. So most people would have recognized that the denier had made some true statements when he said: "Did you know that ALL of the carbon atoms in your body (as you are an organic organism) was once CO2? That is the carbon cycle; CO2 is as important to life on earth as water and oxygen".  Your denier then makes a false conclusion from these basic facts that CO2 can't be a pollutant: "yet the left has labeled it a 'pollutant'."  You should have shown that this conclusion is false, and doesn't follow from the previous factual information. Instead you attacked the other end of his argument, spinning out irrelevant information about the ultimate origin of elements, or the fact that not ALL (every single atom of carbon) in lifeforms comes from CO2.

    Does any of that information about the origins of carbon or other sources of carbon in lifeforms say anything about the denier's false conclusion about CO2 as a pollutant? No.

    I'm sorry if all of this seems like I'm attacking you. I'm sure you mean well and want to communicate the science well. But too often these online conversations with deniers devolve into shouting matches which don't do any good for the ones listening in on the sidelines.

    All I'm really saying is, ignore the denier and aim past him to get the correct information to those on the sidelines.

  32. @680 & @681
    Thank you both and all points well taken and understood by me.

    I greatly appreciate the feedback of how I handled this denier and the angle I took.

  33. My the denialist is trying to debunk this link I posted.

    "You actually believe that one can parse individual contributions to "climate" change so precisely and then assign (with similar precision) relative contributions from man and "natural" causes?"

    "That is priceless. So I guess the fact that we are in a 50-75 year solar minimum cooling phase is lost to you then? Should we not be concerned about that large burning gas ball in the sky, now that we "know" that the only thing that really matters is CO2?"

  34. TVC - you are wasting your time with this idiot. Your graphic is based on some fundimental physical assumptions, especially the conservation of energy. From this we deduce that changing the radiative balance will change climate. Measuring individual contributions to the radiative balance does indeed yield that diagram. It is possible to construe a possible downward trend in solar, but he thinks a change of 0.1W/m2 is significant then why isnt change of 3.7W/m2 (GHG) even more significant. The claim "that we "know" that the only thing that really matters is CO2?" is strawman. Reading any of the references associated with the diagram shows that all the causes contribute and are accounted for - but that CO2 is the most important for current climate change. He is not interested in examining the evidence. He needs to supply evidence that refutes the methodology or finding of those papers. I doubt you get him to read any of them.

    His comments present not one shred of evidence in reply. It is scoffs from personal incredulity based on wilful ignorance. You will not make any impact on someone who chooses not to understand.

  35. @684 scaddenp

    Thanks scaddenp.  He's the same denier who says CO2 is a basic building block of life. *rolled eyes*

    The other denier I'm dealing with uses odd angles to come at me with.


    "I guess you see only what you want to see.

    Past Century's Global Temperature Change Is Fastest On Record

    Past Century's Global Temperature Change Is Fastest On Record

    It's not the fastest on record.

    24 times in the last 100,000 years, the climate has fluctuated by as much as 20°F in a matter of years or decades.

    78 times in the last 100,000 years, the climate has fluctuated by smaller amounts 4°F-6°F in a matter of years or decades.

    Explain how 1.4°F over 140 years — 14 decades — is faster than that.

    If I had to list every alarmist claim by NASA, or NPR, or National Geographic or the IPCC, I'd be here the rest of my life."

    It's a new form of cherry picking combined with a Gish Gallop.


  36. I have a question about the EPIC ice core data showing that the climate for the seven prior interglacials.  The second denier I'm dealing with is stating:

    "The reason it was 14.4°F warmer in Greenland than it is now is because during the last Inter-Glacial Period, the average global temperature was 73.7°F and not the current 58.4°F."


    When I disclosed that the the EPICA ice core data (which covers back to eight previous interglacials) doesn't manage the 4.3°C to 8.3°C relative to today for seven prior interglacials.

    He comes back with this: "Um, those are the temperature changes in the Antarctic, not the average global temperature."

    My understanding of the EPICA Ice Core datas main objective is to obtain full documentation of the climatic and atmospheric record archived in Antarctic ice by drilling and analyzing two ice cores and comparing these with their Greenland counterparts (GRIP and GISP). Evaluation of these records will provide information about the natural climate variability and mechanisms of rapid climatic changes during the last glacial epoch.

    What game is this denier tyring to play with me?


  37. Can you guys tell me where this graph originated from? A denier is trying to use it to claim that there's no correlation between earth's CO2 levels and climate change in either direction (warmer or colder). And that's true over earth's 4+ billion year history.

    Geological Timescale: CO2 Concentration v. Temperature Fluctuations


  38. @TVC15:

    You should pose your question about the source of a graph to the denier who posted it. 

  39. TVC15 - I would say likely it is from here. The graphic itself has the source references for its data. In denier space, this usually goes with arguments that CO2 isnt related temperature - ignoring all the other drivers of climate.

    The NPR article was on the Marcott 2013 paper, extensively discussed here. Put Marcott into the search box on top right. A criticism is that the methodology may not capture high frequency temperature change. The usual denier take is to point major spikes in the NH temperature record (eg Younger Dryas) associated with exit from glacials. There is some evidence of similar, anti-phased events, in SH record. These proxies to indeed indicate very rapid temperature change but I am not aware of evidence for a global temperature change of that speed as opposed to regional change. Mechanism is disputed, but is associated with end of glacial periods so relevance to present climate is doubtful to say least.

  40. @ 688 John,

    I found that this denier took it from wattsupwiththat blog site. (a blog site known for climate denialist propaganda)

    I also found this in searching more about that graph.

    Can we make better graphs of global temperature history?

  41. Berner authored those first graphics at the RC link.  Here's the same image, with his comments about the overall correlation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperatures over geologic time:



    Of course, the Royer graphic also corrects for the Faint Young Sun and ocean pH changes over the same geologic timeframe, with the result of strengthening the correlation between those CO2 levels and global temperatures over geologic time:


  42. @691 Daniel


  43. @689 scaddenp

    Much appreciated!

  44. TVC15:

    Generally speaking, when a climate science denier is shoveling pseudo-science poppycock, always aggressively demand that they document the source(s). WUWT itself is not an acceptable source. 

  45. This is the craziest Gish Gallop I've ever seen. Yes it's one of the deniers I deal with.

    Please refute the facts, instead of simply launching emotional diatribes.

    1. Is CO2 not .04% of atmospheric gases?

    2. Is man made CO2 not 5% of atmospheric CO2?

    3. Does water vapor not absorb IR energy over bandwidths 30X that of CO2?

    4. Is water vapor not .4-1% of atmospheric gases?

    5. Can one accurately compare over time temperature measurements estimated or measured by four different methods?

    6. Why don't the "temperature plots vs time" show the error bars for the methods used for temp measurement? (comparing "proxy temps" to digital, satellite proxies, and mercury thermometer measurements should immediately disqualify any scientific comparison).

    7. Why did temps not fall in the Great Depression when CO2 production fell 60%? (atmospheric CO2 has a half life of 3 years, not the very long periods suggested)

    8. Why did temps fall in ww2? Was the Battle of the Bulge and Stalingrad fought in tropical climates?

    9. How can the 1930s be the hottest decade on record when the AGW crowd says temps have continually increased since then?

    10. Why has Miami and New York not flooded?

    11. Why has there not been worldwide droughts?

    12. What happened to the "times without snow"? Tell that to everyone in the US this year.

    13. Why are temps falling?

    14. Are we not at the beginning of a prolonged solar minimum, similar to the Mauder minimum?

    15. Why did the earth not end and temps reach the boiling point of water when CO2 levels were 10X what they are now?

    16. What is the contribution of solar activity and sun spots to temps?

    17. What is the contribution of the orbit of the earth around the sun?

    18. What is the contribution of volcanic activity?

    19 If the "warming" models from 20 years ago are wrong, why are they correct now?

    20 How did they measure multiple temp points at remote areas of the ocean and polar regions 200 years ago?

    21. Have all the locations of temps measured over time been consistent geographic points? (Of course not- there has not been one consistent data point until the last twenty years).

    22. Why were temps warmer during the Roman Empire when CO2 levels were half what they are today?

    CO2 provides all the carbon that is the building blocks for ALL ORGANIC LIFE on this planet. Every carbon atom in your body that makes up all of the carbon compounds in your body were once CO2. It is not surprising that the death cult of AGW would seek to reduce or eliminate a molecule equally important as water or oxygen for life on earth.

    The "optimal" CO2 for plant growth is 900-1100 ppm. We need a lot MORE CO2, not less. Due to higher CO2 levels, plant life has increased over the last 30 years, providing a greening of the planet and higher crop production. Do you want to reduce plant life and cause famines?

  46. Since it looks to me like all the above are readily answerable and mostly from our myths section, I would assume that your denier has not the slightest interest in the correct answer and very much doubt they would take the time to read it anyway. Aside from the strawmen like "what happened to time without snow" -sure sign someone has never opened IPCC report.

    I'd repeat, you cant reason someone out of something they werent reasoned into. If this is an online public argument, then post links to the answers here (we can help if you cant find them), so observers can see he is an idiot, but be assured that reply wont change the mind of someone who's position is based on identity. If it is someone you know, then I would recommend Katherine Hayhoe TED talk for more effective way to talk, but I suspect you are way past point where person is capable of hearing anything you say.

  47. TVC15 , welcome to the world of crazy Gish Gallops.  Don't bother to reply on every point ~ just select a few, e.g. :-

    1.  On your skin, a very thin smear of suncream chemicals causes a major reduction in sunburn.  A big change, from a very small dose.

    13.  Thermometer readings vary slightly from year to year, but the Earth is still warming because excess heat is still coming in (through the excess Greenhouse effect) and the oceans are still building up heat since they absorb around 93% of the excess incoming heat ~ that's why the world's ice is continuing to melt.  No cooling and no pause in melting!

    14.  If it does ever happen to come, a prolonged solar minimum (just like the Maunder Minimum) will cause a cooling of about 0.3 degreesC [ about 0.5 degreesF ].  Since the world's warming is continuing at approx 0.15 degreesC per decade, that means it will take only 20 years of Greehouse warming to cancel the effect of the solar minimum (if it comes at all).  And then the warming will just continue to get worse.  Nope, there's no hope to be gotten from a grand solar minimum.  

    15.  In the distant past, when CO2 was much higher, the sun's radiation level was significantly LOWER. (Over the long term, our sun gets 1% hotter per every 150 million years approx.).  If you want to see oceans boil, come back in a few bilion years' time!

    22.  All else being the same, more CO2 is helpful to most plants ~ but in the real world, more CO2 leads to more droughts, more floods, and hotter & more prolonged heat waves : so plants suffer damage and produce less crop-yield.  Not good for humans.

    TVC15 , tell 'im to go away and educate himself and not spout the rubbish he's been giving us.

  48. @696 scaddenp @697 Eclectic

    You guys are great!  I see most of his silly Gish Gallops can be addressed from the Myth Section here on Skeptical Science.   

    Thank you both so much for all the wonderful information you provide me with in order to debunk these deniers. I have learned so much from you all and I am honored to be able to interact with people who know what they're talking about! 

  49. TVC15 @695,

    Correcting someone who refuses to be corrected is a bit of an up-hill struggle. I'm sure we have been over his (2) before (although @652 it was 4%). Why would the denialist consider that just 5% of atmospheric CO2 is down to anthropogenic causes? That would be just 20ppm. Where did the other 110ppm come from? That's 860Gt of CO2 so the source should be quite evident.

    And his (7), the poor fool appears to be confusing the average length-of-stay of an individual CO2 molecule in the atmosphere with the length-of-stay of an increased CO2 concentration. On the latter, the 'half-life' is perhaps 100 years but there is a long tail in that the last fifth will remain in the atmosphere for many thousands of years. After just three years, an injection of CO2 into the atmosphere would have reduced by less than 5%. (When we consider this, we talk of the Atmospheric Fraction, the amount CO2 rises each year relative to the anthropogenic emissions. The Af is roughly 45% but implying 55% has been sequestrated into oceans/biosphere. But the 55% is actually the sum of all those tiny percentage reductions for all the years since human emissions began as a percentage of just one year's emissions.)

    And back upthread @683, you quote presumably the same denialist source insisting that "the fact that we are in a 50-75 year solar minimum cooling phase". I did a quick 11-year averaging of TSI data which stretches back to 1976. The weak Sunspot Cycle has resulted in TSI dropping by 0.25Wm^-2 which needs converting from a discal projection to a global value and adjusted for albedo, yielding 0.04Wm^-2. That is about the same as one year of AGW so if there is a full Maunder Minimum on the way, its impact is yet to show up in the TSI data.

  50. @ 699 MA Rodger,

    Indeed it's been a huge up-hill struggle in my attempts to find a way around deniers.

    I appreciate all the new insights I'm gaining from this site.  I am so thankful this site exits!

    Here is another poor fool making these claims and trying to tell me I'm wrong for stating that analysis of past climates shows that greenhouse gasses, principally CO2, have controlled most ancient climate changes.

    "Proof that CO2 does not drive climate change is to be found during the Ordovician-Silurian and the Jurassic-Cretaceous periods (approx 450 and 150 million years ago, respectively) when CO2 levels were greater than 4,000 ppm and about 2,000 ppm, respectively. If the IPCC AGW/ACC theory is correct, there should have been runaway greenhouse gas-induced global warming during those periods but instead there was glaciation.

    Current CO2 level is slightly more than 400 ppm. Compare at will."

    I'm not sure how to respond as I came up with nothing when I search for Ordovician-Silurian on this site.

    Thank you for the great responses!


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