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Climate Hustle

Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier?

Posted on 30 May 2011 by John Cook

The ABC Drum have just published my article Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier? Right now, there are no comments but I imagine the discussion will get fierce shortly so be sure to keep an eye on it (expect to see all the traits of denial I describe rear their ugly head in the comments and be quick to point them out). An excerpt:

In the charged discussions about climate, the words skeptic and denier are often thrown around. But what do these words mean?

Consider the following definitions. Genuine skeptics consider all the evidence in their search for the truth. Deniers, on the other hand, refuse to accept any evidence that conflicts with their pre-determined views.

So here's one way to tell if you're a genuine skeptic or a climate denier.

Read full article... Science and our book Climate Change Denial have been popping up elsewhere in the media over the last few weeks. My co-author Haydn and I appeared on Robyn William's Science Show a few weeks ago - you can listen to streaming audio or download the interview in mp3 format. The Science Show webpage also has a transcript of the whole interview.

On the morning of the Sydney book launch, I did an interview with John Stanley from the Sydney commercial radio station 2UE. You can listen to an mp3 of the interview here. Many thanks to 2UE for letting me republish the interview here on Skeptical Science and thanks to John just for having the interview - I wonder how many angry emails he received from 2UE listeners afterwards.

After our Sydney and Canberra book launches (more on that in a future post), Haydn and I returned to Sydney to record an interview with James Valentine at ABC 702. This interview gave us the opportunity to do something I've been looking forward to for a while - respond to talk-back callers. Sure enough, the first caller was a geologist enquiring about past climate change!

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Comments 201 to 250 out of 488:

  1. Eric (skeptic) at 00:48 AM on 3 June, 2011

    The variable price of electricity depending of demand is a great idea. FF subsidies are another thing I'm sure we agree to ban. I don't think that alone can balance the externality problem of GHG emissions, though.

    Good to know you admit the existence of some government. I've had less productive debates in the past. Paraphrasing Einstein, the solution to a problem should be as simple as possible, but not simpler than that.
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  2. Jigoro Kano at 01:11 AM on 3 June, 2011 says

    Redistributive taxes (money) is most certainly theft.

    What's your suggestion for a mitigation policy? (forgive me if I missed it in some previous post of yours. I did not follow your whole conversation.)
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  3. 200, Jigoro Kano,

    This is wandering way OT (Mods: Where does this discussion belong, if anywhere?), and the moderators will end it very quickly, but breifly:

    Redistributive taxes (money) is most certainly theft.
    Redistribution is a difficult thing to argue about. To take an extreme point of view, who is better served by the trillions that go into defense? The poorest 10%-30% of society really could care less if they are ruled by a healthy democracy or a despotic authoritarian regime. In any case, they are still poor and struggling to live day to day. In contrast, even the very, very wealthy benefit from the U.S. Social Security system, because without it the social structure and economic system of the U.S. is unsteady and unpredictable, and any effects on those who benefit directly from S.S. would ultimately undermine the positions of the wealthy (and funding for S.S. comes most directly from the poor and middle class).

    So in the end, all of that money spend on national defense really only serves to support anyone who sees an advantage in the current system. Obviously it's something we all want to do (unless you're very poor), but demanding that the costs be distributed evenly is more than unfair, because the benefits of the expense are far from evenly distributed.

    My point is simply that an argument about redistribution of wealth is a Pandora's Box, and to me in the end it's just another excuse for inaction. It's yet another flavor of denial, although I'll admit that those sentiments are probably the root cause for most cases of denial.

    Making gas more expensive (carbon tax) will at best make us all poorer...
    No. Quite simply, no.

    There are many aspects of society for which there is no direct cause and effect, such as public education, the common defense, and pollution control. Left to a free market system, every one of those priority initiatives would fail.

    Similarly, weaning our society from a fossil fuel infrastructure is not going to happen all by itself until the economic pressures are deadly. It's just like social security. It's too late to start saving when you're 60, but it's human nature to do so more often than not.

    And we have two reasons now that we need to act sooner rather than later: dropping fossil fuel resource availability, and climate change.

    Making gas more expensive now will force investment in the future at a time that is appropriate, rather than when it's too late. It's far more complex than a mere redistribution of wealth, or perception that making a particular resource more expensive will make everyone more poor (in the short term).
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  4. Eric(skeptic) @197:

    1) I did not argue for property rights with unlimited taxation. The US has quite strict limitations on taxation within the Constitution, and significant restrictions on changing the constitution. But any tax that is

    a) Constitutional;
    b) Can pass both houses of Congress; and
    c) Is not vetoed by the by the President

    is built into the contract of any property rights in the US. If people purchasing property rights wish thereby to purchase exemption from normal laws, present or future, then they need to negotiate that when they purchase the property. If they do not, then claiming exemption based on faulty philosophy is just an attempt to welsh on their deal. Of course, if they don't like that restriction on their property rights, they can always indulge their libertarian right to sell up and go elsewhere.

    2) I did defend the remarks you left out, and quite strenuously. In particular, I quoted them; I indicated their significance; and I defended the basic principle they appealed to. The only thing I did not do was defend Hansen's particular view of the facts, although I did show he had good (but not conclusive) reasons for those views.

    Your only response to my defence has been a conjured outrage at supposed, but non-existent insults; and now a misrepresentation of the view expressed which amounts to an obvious straw man.

    Specifically, it is a crime against humanity if you:

    a) Know that your actions have the forseeable consequence of hundreds of premature deaths;

    b) and propagate, or pay to be propagated information which you know to be false or misleading;

    c) with the intention that the false or misleading information will result in no effective action being taken to prevent our actions which will lead to the mass deaths; and

    d) As a result the deaths eventuate.

    The bona fides (or lack of them) of the organisations you pay to propagate the information known by you to be false or misleading is irrelevant. What is relevant is the knowledge and motivations of the persons who may have committed a crime, not of other parties.

    I note that the requirement of (d) is arguable, and I suspect that Hansen would argue that it is not necessary. Some might think that (b) and (c) are unnecessary, but that would only be due to insufficient thought. Manufacturing cars, for example, more or less guarantees a large number of deaths. Society is aware of that cost, and accepts it as being necessary for the health of the society. Therefore GM is not guilty of a crime against humanity just because it manufactures cars. Neither would Exxon be guilty of a crime if it openly refined and sold oil products while being very clear about the future costs.

    But once you attempt to take the choice to accept the cost away from society by deceiving the people, and/or their representatives, the full moral responsibility of any subsequent deaths become yours. Further, the issue of knowledge of the probable deaths, the false or misleading nature of the information, and the intent to deceive are essential features for the crime to be a crime, for only by making them essential features can free speech be preserved.

    I will note that if you take a strong libertarian stance on property rights such that society cannot prohibit the refining and sale of oil products, or place any restriction there-on, the issue of deception disappears. Because society cannot choose to prevent the deaths by restricting the property rights, the sole responsibility for the deaths becomes that of the holder of the property rights.

    Of course, Libertarians, as always will want to eat their cake and keep it to, and logic be dammned. That has always been their way.
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  5. Sphaerica@196

    "WUWT is not a good place to start, it's a travesty of misinformation, misrepresentation, conspiracy theories, vitriolic anger, and quite simply time wasting."

    I disagree with you on this. Not with your accurate description of what is to be found at WUWT but that it is not a good place for the uneducated seeker of knowledge to look for information. People who are genuinely interested in learning will immediately recognize WUWT for what it is and go in search of science. When they discover RC or SkS (perhaps from a WUWT rant) the contrast in tone and content will be shocking. It is then pretty clear who has logic on their side and who has ideology.
    I know because that is how I got here.
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  6. Scaddemp @ 178,
    You say “How come it looks a lot less terrible complex non-linear if you assume that climate will conform to known physics and is thus a function of total forcings?”.

    A couple of clarifications might be in order. The first is “knowing” all the physics, and the definition of “forcings”. An example might be the physics of natural convection are “known”, to a high degree. How they might apply in various situations, known & unknown, is another matter. As far as “forcings” go, it could range from a complex model including gas, fluid & thermo dynamics, to a simple constant coefficient linear equation, with a first order lag. So you might want to refine what your term means.

    Your other question,
    “If the warming is coming from some natural cycle, then where is that energy coming from ie - how is 1st Law maintained?”.

    I’m not sure of you phrasing, but there are at least a couple of primary energy sources to the earth, solar & if I remember my geology correctly, internal natural radioactivity. As far as the earth’s surface properties, you might look at it as a energy dance, of many participants, involving conduction, convection, radiation with the land masses, ocean & atmosphere. Some participants may more faster then others, in many patterns. Humans are late comers to the ball, and while we may know some of the steps (physics), we just may not know it all.
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  7. Jigoro Kano @200, the obligation to pay lawful taxes was a condition of purchase of every property in the Western World. Arguing after that purchase that a condition of purchase is "theft" indicates that you entered the contract fraudulently. If you think that you should not need to pay tax, the correct course of action is to explicitly renegotiate your property rights, and good luck with that. In the meantime, protestations that taxation is theft is just an elaborate con game by the well off to shirk their obligations.
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  8. Regarding carbon taxes, cap and trade, etc: might I suggest moving that entire discussion to the CO2 limits will harm the economy thread?
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    Moderator Response: Yes, everybody, please do so.
  9. Jigoro Kano, I also find it utterly risible that people claim that public transport is inefficient because it requires subsidies to operate, while completely ignoring that users of private transport never pay the full cost of the roads they use. If you were serious about eliminating public subsidies of transport, you would place the road system up for tender; and only permit its expansion by voluntarily negotiated purchases of land (not state resumption of land). You would then allow the successful tenderer to charge what they liked for use of their roads.

    Of course, nobody sane would accept any such system. They'ld much rather accept their hidden subsidies and then complain about the inefficiencies of public transport.
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  10. J. Bob,
    I have some to add to your response to Scaddemp on where the energy is coming from. The primary energy source is the sun, with very little attributed from interenal radiation. The energy emitted from the sun has not changed appreciably, however, the amount reaching and absorbed by the surface may. It is not a question of an energy source, rather of an energy filter (clouds) and energy absorber (albedo).
    The other question that is not being asked is what natural processes (if any) will work to alleviate the additional heat. The most efficient means of removing added heat is to move it to the area which will result in the greatest removal, in our case, the poles.
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  11. DB @ 192
    My comment to #2 was solely to the last phrase.
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  12. Jigoro @ 200

    Let's make sure we have the facts straight here. You have started by speaking specifically about the US, but have then taken the global financial information for a $370B multinational conglomerate and presented tax information in a way that makes it seem like these are US taxes.

    US income tax to Exxon: $1.2B
    Non-US income tax: $21.1B

    US Sales tax to Exxon: $6.2B
    Non-US Sales tax: $22.4B

    See Page F-59

    And the Headquarters? $2 million in income tax.
    Everything is in the subsidiaries, not the parent.
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  13. Jigoro, Ganesha, Tom Curtis, etc. - Please, can we move the 'taxation' discussions to the CO2 limits will harm the economy thread? They are completely OT when discussing deniers vs. skeptics, which is the current topic.
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  14. 212, Tom Curtis,

    That's an excellent point, even as it relates to the redistribution of wealth issue. The beneficiaries of publicly funded interstate highway and rail systems are inevitably the very wealthy. While we may not enjoy the selection as much, people could very, very easily live a good life style using more locally produced goods, which require less roads and rail infrastructure.

    Certainly, our current society depends on those two, but by far, the beneficiaries are the extremely wealthy who then accumulate more wealth than they otherwise could.

    So a "fair" tax on roads and rail really should be on a per-use basis (in which case the small, local businessman would be far more competitive, and the consumers would have a better choice, and free market forces would include that hidden expense of long-distance-transportation infrastructure... but the wealthy would never stand for such a thing).
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  15. 216, KR,

    Sorry, I just saw your response to where this properly belongs.

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  16. There is Skeptic and Denier but we are missing the third category: Idiot. When Spencer shows on his web site how global warming works and how it does not violate the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics there are still people who cannot grasp basic physics.

    What's the best method of dealing with that group?
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    [DB] "we are missing the third category: idiot."

    Please, let's not go there (but I feel your pain).  That somehow "clouds cause ENSO" evokes your perjorative label quite quickly, however.

  17. KR - Sorry, you are correct. I'll repost there and maybe a kindly mod can delete this post and my post @ 215?
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  18. 209, J. Bob,
    Humans are late comers to the ball, and while we may know some of the steps (physics), we just may not know it all.
    You see, this is the problem in a nutshell. Modern science, and most people here, do in fact know a whole lot more than you know yourself, or think we know.

    That's the problem, and another flavor of denial. You think there's this gaping hole in our knowledge, and we're conveniently ignoring our ignorance, because you and others like you are not bothering to fill in the gaps in your own understanding of climate physics.

    So do everyone a favor, instead of responding with an outraged diatribe, stop posting comments, and start reading. Every posted comment is a missed opportunity to learn more, and there is a huge, huge wealth of knowledge (knowledge = things we know) out there to be consumed.

    You are not a skeptic if you say "we don't know."
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  19. Sphaerica @ 196
    You read an awful lot into the words I typed in reply to Tom Curtis. What you wrote tended to ramble and is not typical of most of your writing.

    "The day I meet an actual skeptic, I'll let you know. Until then, IMO, anyone who thinks they are a skeptic needs to wake up and admit to themselves that they are a denier (yourself included). Until they do so, they are closed to the truth, avoiding the actual facts and science, and fooling themselves by clinging to a belief in what they'd like to be true."

    Can you explain this? I think you are saying that a skeptic is automatically a denier.
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  20. Mods,

    I reposted my comment 217 to the thread suggested by KR. You may replace it with a {moved to} link if you wish.
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  21. 222, apiratelooksat50,
    Can you explain this? I think you are saying that a skeptic is automatically a denier.
    Pretty much, yes. Or, more specifically, I'm saying that everyone that I've met who labels themselves as a skeptic is in fact a denier. A real skeptic wouldn't for one moment be worried about their label, or arguing a position. They'd be studying and learning, because the amount of knowledge that it takes to move from "skeptic" to "knowing" is vast.

    But my point is also that it is possible to be in the "knowing" camp (without labeling what it is that you would know) when you have studied enough. Then you are no longer a skeptic, because you believe in whatever the facts point toward.

    The denier inevitably tries state or imply that there are gray areas, things we don't know, random elements, too much margin for error, etc., etc. But it's all nonsense. We have more than enough knowledge, and more than enough understanding of exactly what the margins of error are.

    The problem is probably more than a little in the definition of "skeptic." A real skeptic is someone who isn't sure, and so is open minded and trying to learn more. The definition of a skeptic used by deniers, to apply to themselves as individuals, is someone who doesn't believe in what mainstream climate science is saying, but don't themselves have actual knowledge to refute it (or, rather, they think they do, but they've stopped learning themselves short of what they need to have a viable position).

    The real skeptic is skeptical about the science, and so needs to learn more.

    The faux skeptic is skeptical about the foggy common man's understanding of the science, and how it was derived by the real scientists, and then stops there and spends all of his time getting angry, absorbing other faux skeptical bits of non-information from other faux skeptics, and then posting comments on blogs to express their personal outrage based on their own ignorant faux skepticism.
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  22. Alexandre, the externalities of GHG are a very broad topic. I am for examining the externalities that include: farming practices and productivity, domestic reforestation, foreign aid priorities, positive and negative contributions to ocean uptake, ongoing emssions (not punitive damages for past emssions), and all other parts of the emission equation. Then we would have to delve into the much stickier issue of the cost (and benefits) of those emissions. Not an easy task in a room full of scientists, never mind in a room full of politicians.

    Tom (207) thanks for spelling it out in 2 a, b, and c. Those are unfortunately not answered in Hansen's short portion of testimony on that topic. I asked more specifically for 2b and an explanation of the part of Hansen's testimony that you posted. Does "funding textbooks" have some other meaning than "giving money to CATO" and if not, does "giving money to CATO" in conjunction with the "internal state of mind" allegation of 2a constitute a crime against humanity? I agree with the "intentional" part of 2c (they did what they did with the intention to protect their property rights).
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  23. 222, apiratelooksat50,

    Or, more briefly, I have no respect for anyone who takes the time to label themselves a skeptic. If they feel they have to actually justify their stance with labels, then they don't have as justifiable stance, and more importantly, they aren't trying to educate themselves, they're just trying to sway others towards their opinion on matters (because without proper education, it's only opinion, not knowledge).
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  24. 219, MichaelM,

    You should note that one of the people who has been posting on this very thread falls vehemently into the category you actually named, i.e. he thinks that greenhouse gas theory contradicts the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, and steadfastly clings to that position in spite of all of the facts (many of which he simply does not properly understand, and so dismisses due to a simple failure/lack of adequate abstract thinking and sufficient background knowledge).

    *Rolls eyes, stifles a cough, and stumbles off mumbling that there are some people who are just hopelessly lost*
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    [DB] For clarity's sake (and I hope to someday meet the semimythical Clarity & pray she's worth the wait), the individual you refer to has chosen to opt-out of participating in discussions at SkS.

  25. Eric(skeptic) @225, I do not know the details of the funding of textbook Hansen refers to, so cannot comment. The issue of giving money to Cato per se is irrelevant. Let us assume that all Cato publications have that minimum level of intellectual integrity that the authors believe what they write, and that it fairly represents the subject matter. Then the Cato authors cannot be guilty of crimes against humanity on this basis because clause (b) is false of them.

    Let us further suppose that the CEO of a fossil fuel corporation knows that climate change is real, and that it will bring about mass deaths. We suppose that they further know that the opinions of the Cato authors are false or misleading, but that they fund them anyway in order to delay action on carbon emissions, thus maximising their short term profits at the expense of hundreds of thousands of premature deaths decades from now. In that case, they are guilty of a crime against humanity by funding Cato, even though the Cato authors are not guilty of any crime by publishing.

    Let us further suppose there is a third party who funds Cato because, either they believe all that Cato authors write, or they believe some part of it while disagreeing on the issue of climate change, but believe the overall production of Cato is worthwhile. Again they are not guilty of a crime by funding Cato because they do not satisfy clause (b).

    I do not think I can be clearer than that; and doubt I lacked clarity in either of my previous two posts on this issue.
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  26. 228, Tom Curtis,
    I do not think I can be clearer than that; and doubt I lacked clarity in either of my previous two posts on this issue.

    Your first posts were more than clear, and Eric's gross misrepresentation of your position in his post 197 -- which purposely chose just the right words to make your position seem preposterous -- is a perfect example of very bad behavior, and one that I think requires an apology.

    In any event, posts such as those teach us with whom we can expect an open and honest discourse in the future, versus those with whom we can expect a tactics-filled waste of time and energy.
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  27. 227, DB,

    For what it's worth, I knew Clarity in college. She was great to have around when you needed to get things done, but she really wasn't much fun (or rather, she got in the way of having fun -- there are points in my life when I wish she hadn't been around).

    On opting out... why am I not surprised. He was very comfortable in his own venue, where unscientific declarations and ideological diatribes could continue unchecked, as long as they followed the denial party line. That an environment such as this, and a need to both support what you say, stick to the subject at hand, and avoid the netherworld denial nonsense, would be intractably uncomfortable to him is not a surprise.
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  28. Eric the Red @ 213

    Amen to your 1st paragraph.
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  29. Eric (skeptic) at 02:45 AM on 3 June, 2011

    Much of the consequences of emissions is fairly known. I wonder to what extent you are aware of what's known.

    But are you saying that we can only do something about this when every consequence is exhaustively researched, determined and proven?

    That's a certain path for inaction. On this rationale, the 19th century English law limiting coal burning (and with its harmful urban smoke) would still be waiting for further research to calculate how many lungs were affected by it, and how many pounds each case would mean. The same for automotive emissions.

    Sorry, people have to make decisions with limited knowledge. This is always the case. Maybe further discussion would belong to the "It's not bad" thread.
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  30. Eric(skeptic): "The tobacco analogy is too stretched and now broken." No, maybe in terms of generic funding of Cato specifically, but if specific instances of funding other groups or programs within Cato that relate to climate disinformation occur (not saying that they have definitely occurred, but I think it would be likely), the analogy would be exact. Exxon has their scientists tell them the truth, then proceed to fund the deceiving of the public.

    As a side interest, that was a pretty interesting article, as I had no idea that at least some at Cato agreed with Jim Hansen about "confiscating property":

    "Negative externalities are costs that are not borne by the party in charge of the process that creates them. For example, the owner of a smoke-spewing factory does not fully bear the costs associated with the smoke, stench, and health risks his factory produces; many of those costs are foisted onto the factory’s neighbors. When conduct involves negative externalities,participants will tend to engage in that conduct to an excessive degree, for they bear the full benefits, but not the full costs,of their activities. Quite often, then, government intervention(e.g., taxing the cost-creating behavior or limiting the amount permitted) may be desirable as a means of ensuring that the cost-creator does not engage to an excessive degree in the conduct at issue."

    Maybe they're more reasonable than I thought...
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  31. Sphaerica @ 221 says,
    “So do everyone a favor, instead of responding with an outraged diatribe, stop posting comments, and start reading.”.

    Outraged diatribe? Am I missing something?

    I’ve posted some personal analysis above, to back up my opinion, have you?
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  32. 234, J. Bob,
    I’ve posted some personal analysis above, to back up my opinion, have you?

    Hah, hah.

    Spare me the rhetorical attempt to start a fight, and the insinuation that I have nothing to say, because I'm not saying what you want to hear and the way you want to hear it.

    Pertaining to science, and (-SNIP-) the ignorance Eric expressed in his post #213... and this is a perfect, perfect example of exactly what I'm saying... you don't understand the issues and science on the most basic of levels, yet you feel you have the ability to (-SNIP-)[declare] the truth of something that is incontrovertibly, flat out wrong, and ill-conceived to boot.

    Specifically (from Eric's comments, of which you (-SNIP-) approve):
    The primary energy source is the sun, with very little attributed from interenal radiation.

    No, the only energy source is the sun, and yet the comment about "very little attributed" in this context causes a clear violation of the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. The earth receives on average 240 W/m2 from the sun, but is at a temperature which radiates (and this has been measured) about 390 W/m2. So where is the other 150 W/m2 coming from, and how do you possibly agree with the descriptor "very little" to describe 150 of 390 (almost half).

    It is not a question of an energy source, rather of an energy filter (clouds) and energy absorber (albedo).
    Albedo refers to reflection (lack of absorption), but that minor quibble aside, how do either of these mechanisms increase the temperature of the planet? Each can only decrease it. And what is an "energy filter," other than absorption by the atmosphere, and what is the scientific rationale for limiting such an effect to clouds, or even attributing the lions share to clouds? What does this actually mean, anyway? After the radiation is "filtered" where does it go? It just vanishes?

    The statement is flat out wrong in so many ways that it would take pages to explain. But in a nutshell, it's not a question of some artificial "filter" concept or albedo (another well measured quantity), but of... hold on, you're not going to like this... greenhouse gas radiation.

    The other question that is not being asked is what natural processes (if any) will work to alleviate the additional heat.
    What do you mean not being asked? What makes you think all aspects of the climate system are not being studied? This is just made-up garbage like you see at WUWT, with no foundation whatsoever... and it is flat out wrong.

    But in a nutshell, the negative lapse rate feedback and anthropogenic aerosols appear to be the two main negative feedbacks which are or will keep warming in check, and the day that fossil fuel consumption slows, so do the aerosols, and the warming will actually get even worse.
    The most efficient means of removing added heat is to move it to the area which will result in the greatest removal, in our case, the poles.
    This is also foolish nonsense. Heat is only removed from the system through radiation. What would make the poles better at radiating heat? What is even the point of a statement like this... that the fact that a warming planet warms most at the poles is going to cool the planet?

    This is exactly the kind of half-baked science that exemplifies what I'm saying, that self-proclaimed skeptics are perfectly happy with taking the science and logic only 1/4 (1/10th? 1/100th?) of the way to a conclusion, and then stop there, and to assume that professional scientists have not already taken this a hundred times further than you have, and arrived at and published logical, supportable conclusions that you cannot refute with mere whimsical half-thinking on blog comments.

    Go study.
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    Moderator Response: [e] Please try and tone down the inflammatory bits, especially the implication of religiosity
  33. 234, J. Bob, and 213, Eric,

    Just one more point on this statement:
    The most efficient means of removing added heat is to move it to the area which will result in the greatest removal, in our case, the poles.

    This is tantalizingly funny, because you're right in being so wrong. The way to remove added heat is to move it in an area which will result in the greatest removal, in our case, the upper atmosphere.

    This is how the negative lapse rate feedback works. As the atmosphere warms, the higher layers get warmer, even though density does not change (i.e. less atmosphere higher up), although the warmer atmosphere will expand some. This results in the upper layers being warmer, and therefore radiating more, but without dense, intervening gas there to re-absorb and re-emit (some back down) as occurs at lower altitudes.

    Hence, with the upper atmosphere warmer, a warmer earth radiates more, and keeps cool. The negative lapse rate feedback defeats the greenhouse effect by bypassing the greenhouse gases.

    So you are right, in a way. You're just thinking in two dimensions (i.e. surface of the earth) instead of three, and purposely ignoring the important mechanisms (radiation) because they are repugnant to you.

    Still, all of this has been thought out more thoroughly by better educated minds than ours. I didn't think of this stuff, I just read it.

    Because I study, instead of just making stuff up to match my preferred conclusions.
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  34. Sphaerica:

    "Specifically (from Eric's comments, of which you faithfully approve):
    The primary energy source is the sun, with very little attributed from interenal radiation.

    No, the only energy source is the sun, and yet the comment about "very little attributed" in this context causes a clear violation of the 1st Law of Thermodynamics"

    I assumed the internal radiation bit was in reference to radioactive decay within the earth itself ...
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  35. Sphaerica,
    Besides being snide, you can be very wrong also. Internal radiation contributed about 0.02% to the Earth's surface. I would call that very little.
    The incoming solar radiation is about 340, not 240 W/m2. Unless you were referring to the net incoming radiation, which is 240, but that is balanced by the net outgoing radiation which is also 240. Here is a graphic which might help you inderstand better.
    You seem to be confused on clouds and albedo also. Starting from a cloudless sky, then clouds can only decrease the incoming radiation. Any change from the current situation will either increase or decrease the incoming radiation, depending on the change. Then there is the added issue of smog. BTW, the radiation is reflected back to space. Where else would it go?
    Besides the minor issue of reflectance when talking about albedo, any change from the present could either increae or decrease the reflected radiation at the surface.
    You are ignoring the even larger mechanism for removing heat; evaporation. Of course you did get the part right about moving it to the upper atmosphere. Funny how you do not think that warm water in a cool atmosphere will radiate heat to the atmosphere more efficiently than in a warm atmosphere. Maybe it is just a coincidence that the North Atlantic is warmer during the warmer years. Maybe you should study more, instead of telling others.
    The even funnier part is that you think you know everything about the Earth's climate when even the best and brightest among us admit otherwise. Maybe you should read your posts thoroughly before submitting and realize some of what you say is ridiculous.
    0 0
  36. 237, dhogaza,

    Hmpph. You may be right. Something that bizarre never even occurred to me. I thought it was a backhanded slap against GHG theory (i.e. "internal radiation"), but in retrospect, now I'm not even sure.

    Maybe by "energy source is the sun" he didn't even mean "the sun", but rather "the son".
    0 0

    [DB] Does that mean I can go on driving my tricked-out Jupiter 8?

  37. Eric, 340 is what comes in. The earth's (average) albedo is 0.7. 340 * 0.7 = 238. This is what the surface of the earth sees, and what defines the temperature of the planet (minus greenhouse gases).
    ...which might help you inderstand better.
    You've got to be kidding me. You actually said that?
    ...any change from the present could either increae or decrease the reflected radiation at the surface.
    Yes, obviously. Sorry if I didn't go ahead and write 50 pages explaining every single detail of where you were or weren't wrong. But exactly where is this imagined change in albedo coming from, anyway?
    You are ignoring the even larger mechanism for removing heat; evaporation.
    Even larger? Trenberth's energy budget, which was derived from observations, attributes 17 W/m2 to convection (thermals), 80 W/m2 to evapotranspiration/latent heat, and 390 to radiation. How does 80 compared to 390 become "the even larger mechanism?"

    But even then, evaporation can only get it from the surface higher into the atmosphere. The only way for the planet to shed heat is through radiation.
    Funny how you do not think...

    Don't be foolish. The mechanism is far more complex than that. And don't play games by putting words into my mouth to try to make me look stupid. Again, I already wrote too much dismantling your ridiculous "insight." Backtracking now to try to make yourself look smart just looks desperate.
    The even funnier part is that you think you know everything about the Earth's climate...
    No, I simply no more than self proclaimed skeptics who make such pronouncements not only about people who comment on blogs, but also about professional climate scientists (as you have done).
    Maybe you should read your posts thoroughly before submitting and realize some of what you say is ridiculous.

    Sage words.

    My main point stands. There are almost no skeptics, only deniers, and they adopt that position long before they understand the science well enough to justify it.

    Thank you for providing a live demonstration for the audience at home and here in the studio.
    0 0
  38. 238, Eric,

    I missed this bit.
    BTW, the radiation is reflected back to space. Where else would it go?

    Presumably you are referring to your "filter" effect. I didn't realize that was just another name for albedo, and I'm unsure why you separated the two (or did you, I'm all confused by your own personal climate science terminology).

    So, yes, if your "filter" is a mirror which reflects energy back into space, you're right, but what's your point? That the sun's energy can be reflected? Wait, that's it! What were we thinking? You've figured it all out. The earth is warming because of the "filter effect" being turned down.

    Or is your "filter" what I took it to mean based on the normal use of the word in English, something that traps something on the way through, such as trapping the energy of radiation in the atmosphere and preventing it from reaching the surface? But of course that would warm the atmosphere, and it would still have to get back out into space (maybe through evaporation? haha, that's a joke, by the way).

    I don't know. I'm all confused by your grand skeptic's science. Maybe I need to go study more, like you said.

    Let me go google some books on the "earth's energy filter," and how moving heat around to the poles will save us from global warming, and how those foolish climate scientists were too dang silly to think of and research something so obvious.
    0 0
  39. Bob,
    You may want to read up on RC. They had a nice series on albedo changes over the past couple millenia.
    Interesting how you glossed over the part where you used net incoming radiation, but gross outgoing during your snide attack.
    Are you dismissing all the work on cloud cover that has been occuring during the past decade? Maybe you should read up on some of it. There is a good correlation between increasing temperature and cloud cover, although admittedly mechanisms are only suggestive.
    I am sure the audience has gained entertainment value through your posts. Not sure what you meant about pronouncements. I do not doubt that you know more than self-proclaimed skeptics, it shows in your posts. What also shows is your belief that you are absolutely right, while others are misled. SO I will ask you this question, which I think you asked of someone else (although I could be mistaken), "what would it take for you to completely switch your position?"
    0 0
  40. 242, Eric,

    I'll ignore all of the condescending cr@p that implies that you actually understand the science. It's neither he nor there. Suffice it to say that your demonstrated understanding of the subject matter is not up to par.

    On pronouncements, your words: "The other question that is not being asked is..."

    My interpretation of this was that you feel climate science is somehow lacking by not pursuing all avenues, and in particular the one where you feel lies an excuse to ignore the rest of climate science, a magic bullet that will stand everything on its head and demonstrate why the warming won't ever be "that bad."

    If I misunderstood, I apologize, but it certainly looked (looks) like a backhanded slap at climate science and scientists. Again, if it wasn't, I apologize, but I'll blame my reaction on the tendency of deniers to frequently do exactly that -- impugn the science and the scientists at every turn, because presumably in their wisdom they know better.

    ...your belief that you are absolutely right...
    No, my understanding, not belief, and not that I am "right," but rather that I understand the science and the facts as they currently stand.

    This is a common denier problem, equating every position with a "belief" (or opinion), because ultimately that's what denial positions amount to, so I imagine it's hard to imagine anything else. But it's not a "belief," any more than I believe in multiplication or I believe that the boiling point of water at 1 atmopshere is 100˚C.

    It's an understanding of the science, the facts, and the conclusions drawn by scientists, and an understanding of what can be wrong and how likely it is to be wrong, and why it is or isn't likely.

    ...what would it take for you to completely switch your position?
    As I just got finished saying, I don't have a "position," I have an understanding of the science. Nothing is going to suddenly appear that reverses it all in one fell swoop. That's a typical denier dream, that "this [paper/idea/observation/discovery] is the final nail in the AGW coffin!"

    That's the Lindzen Iris effect, and Spencer's cloud feedback interpretation, and Svensmark's GCRs. It's all nonsense.

    So anything that adjusts the science by increments... a study here that points to lower climate sensitivity, a study there that identifies an as yet unconsidered negative feedback, another study there that better quantifies the cloud feedbacks. That will "change my position," by increments, over time, because "my position" is whatever the current state of climate science points towards.

    To be honest, my "position" is already constantly changing, because the science is constantly changing.

    Unfortunately, all of the reputable and worthy papers that I've seen in the past year have been worse, not better, with respect to climate change. The only papers I've seen that make the situation look better have turned out to be flawed (or misinterpreted and misrepresented by deniers).

    So I guess the best answer to the question you are really asking, "what would it take for me to think that climate change will not happen, or will not be worth mitigating" is probably years and years of cumulative research which ultimately (and very surprisingly) reverse much of what we understand today.
    0 0
  41. 242, Eric,
    Interesting how you glossed over the part where you used net incoming radiation, but gross outgoing
    I don't know what you are talking about here. 240 in, 240 out at TOA. 517 in at the surface, 517 out (from the surface, to the atmosphere or space).

    I obviously didn't sit and reiterate all of Trenberth's numbers (did I need to?), but I don't know what you mean by glossing over "net incoming" and "gross outgoing" because I really didn't go anywhere with any of that, and don't know why I should have.
    0 0
  42. Eric(skeptic) - firstly I would like saw that I have valued your contribution here and wouldnt call you a denialist or pseudo-skeptic at all. Your respect for facts is refreshing.

    A couple of things though. How happy are you with content of Michaels "Climate of Extremes" (funded by Cato)?

    "I defend libertarian principles having carefully studied the lack of direct evidence for CAGW" CAGW is somewhat poorly defined. Is "CAGW" that same as likely predicted effects of climate change as reported in AR4?
    0 0
  43. J Bob. "Forcings" is well-defined term for anything externality that affects the energy balance. Aerosols, solar, GHG, albedo. No forcing, no climate change. Just weather. Claims of "its just to complicated" it just denial in the face of evidence that climate (not weather) is well accounted for by just those forcing. Explain how increasing energy input to surface by 2W/m2 is NOT going to cause more temperature rise.

    Likewise, even weather must be accounted for in terms of known energy flows. Internal energy flow from earth is measured in milliwatts, from sun in hundreds of watts so lets just stick with things that vary solar. Now, if current warming is heating due to say movement of energy from atmosphere to oceans, then why dont oceans cool. etc. etc.
    0 0
  44. All,


    is not the nature of the climate debate.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise is a denier, not a skeptic.
    0 0

    [DB]  All I got is dis.

  45. Sphaerica @235,

    I take it that’s a (can’t or won’t) no.
    0 0
  46. 248, J. Bob,

    What the heck are you talking about?

    Phrase a direct question, and I'll answer it.
    0 0
  47. 248, J. Bob,

    By the way, trying to bait people, or seed the implication that somehow "my dad is bigger than your dad" is a waste of everyone's time. My willingness or unwillingness to debate you an any particular issue doesn't make climate science any less true.
    0 0
  48. Sphaerica - A lovely illustration of an incorrect view.
    0 0
  49. scaddenp @ 246 says,
    "Forcings" is well-defined term for anything externality that affects the energy balance. Aerosols, solar, GHG, albedo. No forcing, no climate change. Just weather.”.

    So your saying, when the sun goes down, and the earth’s surface cools, that’s climate. Or when the earth’s NH is tilted away from the sun, in winter, that’s also climate.
    Guess one learns something every day, or season.

    You also say “Now, if current warming is heating due to say movement of energy from atmosphere to oceans, then why dont oceans cool. etc.”.
    They do.
    0 0
  50. I think the real problem is with the word 'skeptic' itself.

    We often see people like Bob saying - if you were a skeptic you'd keep an open mind and continue seeking information.

    But the writing of self-described 'skeptics' is often much more in the doubting, distrustful, disbelieving, cynical, suspicious meanings given for the word 'skeptical' in a thesaurus rather than the questioning, open-minded meaning in common use by scientists.

    I don't know that there is any easy way to deal with this, but it's worth bearing in mind. When someone claims skepticism, are they seeking insight or information or are they exercising a habitual approach of doubt and suspicion?
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