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The Missing Link, Creationism and Climate Change

Posted on 17 July 2010 by gpwayne

Guest post by Graham Wayne

I’ve always thought it rather specious to demand conclusive causative evidence that anthropogenic CO2 causes climate change. Skeptical Science has frequently demonstrated how good a case science can make for anthropogenic climate change (ACC), including a round-up of multiple lines of empirical evidence.

Yet the evidence does not impinge on some arguments. In desperation, I’ve also tried logic – don’t laugh – and it’s hard to know quite how the wheels can come off so fast, except to observe that logic depends on conventions that both sides of a debate must consistently observe. The glorious advantage of the ‘missing link’ argument is, as creationists already know, it presents a perfect, self-reinforcing paradigm of scientific failure, built on the straw foundations of mathematical proofs applied to linear systems; predictable – if not inviolable, processes. The inferential science of observation and rationalisation is demeaned and denied, even though a control Earth to play with is a patently absurd idea. So many arguments depend on the exclusive precepts of classical science; rule and regulation, set in stone (or so they appear to the unwary). Too bad the ecosystem doesn’t work like that.

* * *

William of Ockham’s razor often gets wielded in a dangerous manner. When you apply it properly, you have a fairly standard reductionist chain of inference that leads to anthropogenic climate change, because no other contender is left standing. This isn’t a popular line of reasoning in the climate debate, however, because it lends itself to easily to rebuttals that focus on what you might call a negative proof e.g. ‘it’s what is left’. In fact, science works through many hypotheses in this way, starting with as many ideas as can be generated, before testing them with the ubiquitous razor – truly the cut and thrust of science: last theory standing.

Personally, I don’t have any problem with this rationalisation, although I have read enough science to know that the evidence is very coherent. I was won over by the sheer weight of it; overpowered, actually. Only the cautionary note of scepticism remained: it was theoretically possible that some exotic, as yet undiscovered, causative mechanism was at work, heating up the planet. Theoretically. The weight I assign to this probability is measured by the time we’ve had to postulate, let alone find, such a mechanism. For all the hot air, the denial industry has failed spectacularly to suggest anything that fits all the criteria.

All the criteria. There it is; the catalyst for this article. I’ve been looking for a better way to explain how climate science adds up, and when I read Naomi Oreskes reference to "multiple, independent lines of evidence converging on a single coherent account", I found what I was looking for.

Climate science is a Pandora’s box, out of which come primary questions. These questions, which are fundamental, cannot be un-asked; we asked what would happen to the climate if we artificially increased the proportions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and the answer is important. Science cannot get bored with the question, turn to something more interesting. Nor can it be halted by threat, by intimidation or censure, by propaganda or popular opinion. We are compelled now, as ever, to answer the primary questions that science is asking. And when we consider the sheer scope of potential and observed climate changes and the multi-disciplinary range of investigation, it becomes evident how powerful a paradigm anthropogenic climate change really is, for it is the ‘single coherent account’ that Oreskes identifies so well.

Anthropogenic climate change is not where science starts, thinking to fit the theory to as many phenomena as it can. ACC is where you end up following any single line of enquiry. Only when you reach this destination do you look around, to discover that everyone else has arrived at the same terminus. This is the consensus of climate change: the end point of all journeys for those studying sea level rises, the Arctic, the Antarctic, the glaciers and the ice caps, the changes in precipitation, seasonal periodicity, changes in ocean pH, weather events, droughts and famines, resource management, agriculture – and every effect being studied is occurring simultaneously. (I cannot stress how important I believe this last point to be: nearly all phenomena associated with climate change have occurred in the past – and this is a common argument of course. What rarely gets asked is this: at what point in the history of the earth did all these things happen at the same time, and at the same speed?)

Every discipline that finds itself affected or threatened by climate change reaches the same broad conclusion, the ‘single coherent account’ that is anthropogenic climate change. It is time we stopped pretending there is likely to be another theory, another causative agent, that could be changing the planet’s ecosystem, and owned up. So far, we look rather more like children crying ‘I didn’t touch it...it fell all on its own’, than adults accepting responsibility for what we do. We have a coherent account; let’s match it with actions that are equally coherent, and let’s do it while we can, because we are surely running out of time.

You can catch more of Graham's musings at gpwayne.wordpress.com.

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 115:

  1. Hi Y’all – and thanks for the comments. robhon
    Rather than equating scientists to a flock of birds the more accurate metaphor would be a herd of cats. Each is of its own mind. But when you see all the cats heading is the same direction... THEN you know something is really happening.
    Nice one – wish I’d thought of that. skepticstudent
    While I disagree totally with everything he said, I'm still whirling and dazed trying to figure out what God, Creationism, or Christians have to do with a supposed ACGW.
    I suspect your confusion may be a little exaggerated, but I will expand on one aspect this point: as a business analyst I came to understand that a key skill I had to develop was pattern recognition. The relationship between creationism – and many other arguments like Y2K, ozone holes, 9/11 and others – is the pattern of argument. They all rely on similar techniques, similar chains of inference that never quite connect, similar sleights of hand when confronted with hard evidence, similar attacks on the principles when nothing else will suffice. In this respect, creationists demand something they know they can’t have – absolute proof in the fossil record of a connection between other primates and homo xxx – which they demand so they can claim that without such proofs, the theory can be shown to be inadequate, or flawed, or broken. It is sophistry of course, but many are taken in. (Funny that creationists don’t support the obvious notion that if God was that smart, evolution is what He would invent to save Himself the bother of doing it all by hand). MattJ
    …with such a hard battle ahead of us, we cannot afford to waste time and energy preaching to the choir.
    Actually, one of the most common themes in all military history is the need to maintain morale, especially when you are outnumbered by the baying mob. tobyjoyce
    What Graham is arguing (I think) is that nothing associated with rising temperature in the world today makes sense except in the light of Anthropogenic Global Warming.
    More or less, Toby – to refine my argument a little, I would restate it this way: there is no other theory that satisfactorily addresses every line of investigation related to changes in the climate. All investigations converge, meeting at the same place: ACC. JBowers Hello old bean (JB and I fight the good fight together over at the Guardian from time to time). HumanityRules Referring back to my point about pattern recognition, may I observe that your argument is a ‘standard text’ for denialists – a cliche, in other words, and a very recognisable type of assumed victimhood:
    …[climate science is] driven by political necessity not empirical data.
    Political reaction has always lagged the science. It is the ice melting that drives political action, despite their definition of necessity being the requirement for business as usual – because this paradigm is the most profitable. If you think the "tax and control" arguments have merit, read this post on my blog. You then go on to claim that scientists are being forced, coerced, intimidated etc – the net result being that nobody is investigating other mechanisms that might cause the climate to warm. May I point out that the greatest prize in science right now would, without any doubt at all, go to the man, woman or team who could seriously dent the ACC theory with credible science? And that if they could not find the funding from conventional sources due to some alleged control-freakery or connivance, they would find it readily, and supplied in copious quantities by those who are already spending millions on denialist PR – like Koch, Exxon etc. Ask yourself this: why are so many vested interests spending so much on spin, when they own research facilities and employ many scientists. Where is the fossil fuel funded scientific investigation of these ‘other contenders’? Rhetorical questions, of course. There is no ‘opposing’ science, because science isn’t adversarial. It is competitive, but not between arbitrary paradigms like political opposites. The reason scientists are not spending much time on anything other than GHG cause/effect is – as I said at the start – there is little else credible left to study (notwithstanding the CERN Cloud work, which is interesting and wholly credible because it is good science. Kirkby doesn't seem to be very intimidated, does he?)
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  2. 50.chriscanaris I'd have to agree with that. Young scientist might have the far reaching dreams but that is in no way represented by what they do. It's only those with a long CV, a good track record and plenty on grounding that can afford the pleasures of testing orthodoxy. All the rest are grinding out the results that are easily publishable. That's all that real matters to younger scientists unfortunately. You don't need a conspiracy to generate a concensus especially when there is an influential body pushing for it.
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  3. ChrisCanaris - you bring up some good points about the real-world of science. Many scientists spend their careers testing out minor, but interesting hypothesis - "warmer water will increase dolphin populations" - etc. And I do think climate science is unique in 2 ways - there are DEEP pockets wanting it to be false - the extractive energy business, the most profitable business on the planet and all of us want this sentence lifted! It sucks - it is hard to think about - every trip to the store in a motor vehicle is also a guilt trip (will my CO2 be the final bit that pushes us over some tipping point...?) But let me ask you this - when all is said and done - would you rather have the reputation of Darwin, Einstein or ChrisCanaris (and I mean you no disrespect whatsoever). The ego drive of great scientists (and some not-great scientists) is sufficient motivation to create the hypothesis,beg/borrow/steal for funding and create results that prove something great/new/interesting. At this point, with the stakes so high, if the skeptics had ANYTHING, anything at all, they would put a proposal in front of Exxon or BP and get funded in a heartbeat (not to say they wouldn't be funded by NSF or other government research funding arms - but even if they weren't, they have a plan B that you probably don't have in say, Australian drug research). To the best of my knowledge the skeptics have come up with: pick at the edges of the some of the data, where the data is inconclusive or COULD be interpreted in a less warming way; attack the methods of the science done so far (Mann, Jones, etc) and; the exact size of the positive feedbacks isn't yet known. As I said to HR - where are the big ideas that are lacking funding? I would have egg on my face, I would be embarrassed at my support of AGW - but I also commit right now to personally thanking the Principal Investigator who shows that AGW is false, and that there is a BETTER, valid comprehensive world view that explains everything we are seeing now and doesn't hold the AGW sentence over our head. What are the chances I will publicly eat humble pie and recognize the greatness of a skeptic scientist (due to accomplishing the above)?
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  4. "What are the chances I will publicly eat humble pie and recognize the greatness of a skeptic scientist (due to accomplishing the above)?" I don't know. But I too will bow down on my arthritic knees and kiss the ground this super clever person walks on. But wishful thinking hasn't yet won a lottery for me, I'm afraid.
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  5. Graham @ 16 Thanks for turning your attention to my comments. You suggest that many of my arguments are sceptical as opposed to denier positions. For the record, as I have often stated on this blog, I believe that pumping ever increasing CO2 in the atmosphere exposes us to substantial risks and is an activity better avoided if at all possible. However, CBW @ 18 asserts re CAWG: This is a denier question, not a skeptical one. It creates a straw man that allows the denier camp to label its "opponents" as crazy alarmists out to stop all human progress. He adds: The probability of catastrophe requires you to define what you consider to be a catastrophe and propose something that might bring it about. Then you can try to compute a probability. I thought I had given a reasonable definition of catastrophe: that increasing atmospheric CO2 levels would set in train a concatenation of positive feedbacks with far reaching adverse consequences. Perhaps I should have said something on the lines of 'ever increasing adverse consequences beyond our capacity to control or mitigate.' As matters currently stand, I just don't know whether the evidence exists to predict such an outcome confidently. Equally, I can well understand many of us not wanting to wait and find ourselves embroiled in a worst case scenario. Consequently, I would happily support moves to make vehicles more energy efficient, public transport better, power generation much less fossil fuel dependent, and the like. However, you can see the problems with labels such as 'sceptic,' 'denialist,' 'warmist,' and the like which do very little to facilitate communication. I would add 'creationist' to the list - those who believe that God created the world and humanity include very many people who are very comfortable with the notion that he used evolutionary processes to attain his end. I find myself very much in sympathy with HR @ 36 who writes: Reducing human society (and human beings) to simple carbon emitters is part of the problem of the approach of climate science and environmentalism in general. You reduce humanity to the role of polluter. HR @ 49 adds: Still far worse to global human health is malnourishment and lack of access to resources in general. Again, I couldn't agree more. Any solution to environmental problems must take into account the dignity and legitimate aspirations of each and every human being on this planet. Each and every death through malnutrition, HIV, TB, malaria, crime, or unsafe work environments is one death too many whether it occurs in Sydney or Calcutta. You speak of 'climate colonialism.'I should add that have just returned from a visit to Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as the locals still prefer to call it) - my son just married a local lass. The contrast with Sydney resonated powerfully with my recollections of my childhood years in Ghana where the poverty was far greater. I would be greatly saddened to see the good citizens of Saigon including my newly acquired Vietnamese family denied the right to aspire to (if not attain)a higher standard of living. Much the same applies to the good folk I left behind in Accra where my mother ran a medical practice in the midst of a typically African area - we lived above her surgery and not in an expat ghetto. Neither Accra nor Saigon would have any hope of coping with climate change or any other crisis if deprived of basic infrastructure (Accra has open sewers though, irony of ironies, Ghana boasts a nuclear reactor). The poorer the society, the greater its adverse environmental impact and its carbon footprint (think of all the charcoal stoves in Accra). In Accra, malaria remains endemic - there is no drainage system and the most families live in single room dwellings. Kwashiorkor, the disease that has come to epitomise chronic protein insufficiency, is a Ghanaian word. The third world's almighty dummy spit at Copenhagen thus comes as no surprise - there is an almighty disconnect between its priorities and those of the prosperous Anglo-Euro-sphere.
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  6. John D, the only person showing a penchant for ignoring the facts is *you*. Even if the levels of yield increase achieved at the Horsham FACE trial were sustainable, the issue of decreased levels of protein, water-soluble carbohydrate, zinc & iron would still be of vital importance from a nutritional point of view. A roughly 1% to 5% decline in protein content (in g/kg) means that animals & humans will need to consume 1% to 5% more grain in order to ensure that they get their minimum daily dose of protein. This represents an on-cost to consumers. Of course, achieving these increased yields, even in the short-term, would require a significant (+25%) increase in nitrogen-which means an increased cost to the farmer. So, if nothing else, the FACE trial seems to indicate that primary produce will come at a much higher price under an enhanced CO2 environment. That said, the Horsham trial really doesn't deal with a number of other issues-such as the future impacts of acclimation, the potential for increased competition from weeds, the potential for increases in plant pests & diseases, changes in hydrology, the effects of warming on senescence, & the potential for an increase in extreme weather events-such as droughts & floods. Any one of these factors alone could significantly reduce the long-term yields of wheat crops-yet all of them are predicted to be a problem in an enhanced CO2 world. Also, if you need to know why nitrogen & water are limiting factors in plant metabolism, then I fear your knowledge of plant biology is extremely limited. Photosynthesis is a process primarily driven by enzymes & other nitrogen rich molecules. Water, of course, is a primary constituent of photosynthesis-but is also a key substrate for the majority of the plant's cellular processes & makes up a large proportion of the plant's Wet Weight. Starve a plant of either nitrogen or-moreso-water, & its unlikely that any amount of increased CO2 will result in improved yields. Indeed, the plant is almost certain to DIE before it yields ANYTHING-which is why droughts are such a big issue for farmers!
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  7. The problem, Chris (#54), is that a significant proportion of the West's per capita energy consumption (&, hence, CO2 footprint) is the result of waste. Inefficient use of private vehicles, wasteful lighting on the street & in office buildings, poorly insulated homes with inefficient heaters & air-con units....& the list goes on. Western Nations are also much better placed to supply more of their electricity from non-fossil fuel based sources (such as hydro, geothermal, landfill & sewerage gas, solar (PV & thermal) & Wind)-yet instead our political leaders want to demand that the 3rd world cut back on the energy they need simply need to achieve economic parity with the West, rather than ask their citizens to make even the most reasonable cuts to their consumption. No wonder the developing world spat the dummy!
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  8. John D (#46), what matters is that, unless you can show a *trend*, then the numbers you've shown us are utterly irrelevant. If you look solely at peak cloud cover the period you've shown then, for all but a few brief years, you're looking at levels of 67%-68%. Since 2000, there has been no significant increase or decrease in cloud cover, yet global temperatures have still risen by around +0.12 degrees (in spite of solar minimums unseen since the 19th century). Now, from my albeit brief reading of the subject, part of the mechanism of cloud formation is believed to be the interaction of cosmic rays with the atmosphere. According to the best hypotheses I've seen, when solar output is high, cloud levels tend to fall-as the sun's output shields the Earth from Cosmic Rays. When the sun's output is low, then cloud cover tends to rise. Now, isn't it *convenient* that the 13 years you've focused on happen to coincide with a rise in sunspot numbers for the previous solar cycle (around 1989-2000). I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a cyclical rise & fall in cloud cover which is inversely proportional to changes in sunspot numbers-certainly not something that can explain the consistent rise in temperatures of the last 60 years. This is what comes of trying to find a "trend" in a very small amount of data.
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  9. Most respectable religions admit that you cannot prove the existence of God, and in fact one's belief is a matter of faith. And even in the case of science as applied, for instance, to aerospace (i.e., Space Shuttles and commercial aircraft) your flight survival is ultimately a matter of personal faith and chance. The inability to recognize this distinction signals fanaticism and at best ignorance.
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  10. Earlier post... "CBW at 07:15 AM on 18 July, 2010 RSVP, your "correction" to gpwayne's sentence was wrong. Period. The sentence was about radiation, not heat flow." If radiation is not heatflow, can you please explain what it is? ...plus a little food for thought... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_space The current black body temperature of this photon radiation is about 3 K (−270 °C; −454 °F). Some regions of outer space can contain highly energetic particles that have a much higher temperature than the CMB.
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  11. chriscanaris at 16:38 PM on 18 July, 2010 HumanityRules at 10:50 AM on 18 July, 2010 Each of you is presenting a woeful account of science and science careers – rather like the “grumpy old men” programme we have on TV! Addressing a couple of things: (i) chriscanaris – I gather you may be speaking from Australia where things are a little different from the UK. But I’ve just chatted with a Australian colleague, and I don’t think things are that different! In the UK you certainly don’t need a first class Honours degree “to get past Honours into a Masters/PhD stream”. You can do a PhD with a second class degree (a 2.1. is the requirement) and a Masters with a 2.2. In fact a Masters is a way of returning to the PhD stream. Two of our recent PhD students entered this way – they messed up their final exams, didn’t get a 2.1 and so did a Masters to return to their chosen career plan. It would be a dismal system that didn’t have the flexibility to ensure that excellent and dedicated individuals are able to pursue their goals. (ii) With respect, your comments about “honours projects” are simply silly. You seem to be attempting to create the impression that a scientist is locked into some conformist enterprise from the very point of his/her final year undergraduate degree project. Not only is that not true but it presents a rather dismal picture of youngsters and their motivations. Every final year project I’ve been engaged in either at first or second hand is an exploration to find out something new, to explore a hypothesis, to test a reagent, or help develop a new assay and so on. One might well find that the observations are incompatible with the particular hypothesis of the supervisor…so what…that’s life. Either way, one graduates and moves on with the next thing. Student’s are not mice that are cowed into conformism by their final year undergraduate experience! (iii) I don’t agree with your comments about PhD’s either. You may or may not do groundbreaking research (it doesn’t really matter – after all one can’t prejudge the success of a project else it wouldn’t be science). You’re not so much “dependent on the goodwill of your supervisor for financial support” as on the structures in place in the department (whether university graduate school, or research institute or industry) to ensure that students are adequately supported. If you happen not to like the project you’re doing, or don’t get on with the supervisor, or it turns out he doesn’t have the facilities to do what you want, then you can go somewhere else. Young scientists are not little mice that have to do what they’re told (things are somewhat less free in Japan and China, but at least in Japan efforts are being made to reduce the rigid academic hierarchies since these are recognised to be counter-productive). (iv) As for your comments about postdocs and publishing – we’ll they simply don’t accord with my experience either. All your comments about having to do this and that and the other can be boiled down to one sentence; “to succeed you have to work hard, be quite good at what you do, and be productive”. That’s life isn’t it chris? Why should life as a scientist be any different. As my PhD supervisor said to me many times “it isn’t supposed to be easy”! In publishing you certainly don’t “have to be careful not to upset a potential reviewer”. As with all aspects of science the criterion is “get it right”. If your work is sound it doesn’t matter if it might upset “a potential reviewer”. If you consider that there is a potential reviewer who might take exception to your work then you request that the editor doesn’t send your paper to that individual; or you request that the editor takes into account a potential conflict of interest. That’s part of the job of an editor. Neither s/he nor the scientist submitting the paper is a little mouse that has to conform to the curious Kafkaesque edifice that you and HR seem to be attempting to portray! (v) HR, you comment on an apparent “culling of mid career scientists”. What do you mean by that specifically? There’s no question that in the present economic climate many scientists are and will continue to lose their jobs (unemployment pretty much everywhere is rising; I wouldn’t say that my job is completely secure!). The pharmaceutical industry is closing down entire research and development centres (e.g. Merck closed down its UK neuroscience research centre in the UK a few years ago, and GSK has just shut down a huge research centre near London). What else does one expect? If you are speaking more generally, it would be helpful to know what you’re referring to. I would say that science does have some peculiar career aspects. For academic science probably the greatest “culling” occurs around the time a researcher is coming to the end of his/her first or second postdoc and realizes that s/he is unlikely to get a permanent position. There is also a significant mid-late career shift where “at the bench” scientists move towards more administrative or teaching roles. Otherwise it’s not clear what you’re referring to specifically….
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  12. Marcus @ 57: I think for once we are in complete agreement :-). I must say that very little gets wasted in Accra or Saigon. No one can afford it. Individual family incomes often depend on recycling what the rich throw away. We could certainly do with far less wastage in Sydney. Our annual New Year pyrotechnics are very pretty but extraordinarily wasteful and irritate me no end. Not only do they generate lots of smoke and CO2 but also huge quantities of CO2 from traffic jams which tie up the whole City and harbour-side. Yes, I know I sound like Scrooge or a Pacific Islander Methodist minister but they happen to be one of my pet peeves. However, a switchover to a non fossil fuel energy economy presents its own challenges. Nuclear is a dirty word in many quarters and I notice you avoid mentioning it (I don't necessarily advocate it). Bio-fuels are also problematic (I note they also don't feature on your list). Wind Farms have generated a large groundswell of opposition which I don't think is orchestrated by the FF industry as best as I can tell. As for hydroelectric, try building a new dam anywhere in Australia with a Green Party which rose to prominence through its opposition to the damming of the Franklin River (now a world heritage site and deservedly so). That leaves landfill, geothermal, photovoltaic, and solar thermal at least in Australia. Australia, however, has a huge economic investment in the sale of fossil fuel to China on which much of its prosperity in the near future depends. The cheapness of our fossil fuels are a strong disincentive to weaning ourselves off our dependence particularly on coal. A bit of a cleft stick or perhaps a challenge for us all. I think it's time I tackled Blueprint Germany (courtesy of Dr Volker Oschman and John Cook on 28/06/10). My sojourn in Vietnam has distracted me from following up some of my reading. On another topic, I'm happy to see HR posting away - I think our fears that this site would become boring and anti-intellectual have proved unfounded.
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  13. RSVP at 20:48 PM on 18 July, 2010 "Most respectable religions admit that you cannot prove the existence of God, and in fact one's belief is a matter of faith. And even in the case of science as applied, for instance, to aerospace (i.e., Space Shuttles and commercial aircraft) your flight survival is ultimately a matter of personal faith and chance. The inability to recognize this distinction signals fanaticism and at best ignorance." eh? Did you really mean to say your second sentence RSVP? Your first and last sentences are interesting. As you say a fundamental element of "respectable religions" is that these are faith-based. Of course that doesn't mean that the heirarchies of these religions don't recognise real world realities (most "respectable religions" recognise and have commented on, the dangers inherent in unconstrained burning of fossil fuels), even if some of these may subsume scientific evidence in favour of ideologies (e.g. the deplorable views on condom use in relation to AIDS prevention by some elements of the Catholic Church). But the most outspoken antiscience "religious" groups are the fundamentalist "Christian" (one might prefer "pseudochristian"!) groups in the US (and also quite highly represented in Australia oddly). These are generally antiscience when it comes to global warming. What's interesting about these groups in relation to your comment, is that these have such a timid grasp on their views that they attempt to eliminate the concept of "faith" (in the religious sense) for a pseudoscientific "reality". Thus the dismal fallacies of creation "science" in which dull pretences that geological and biological structures can be understood in relation to a 6000 year old Earth. The timid proponents and their followers have to be fed an infant storybook version of science in order to satisfy their essential absence of faith.... I guess that's what you may mean by "fanatacism and at best ignorance". But surely that's what we should be continually opposing...which is why this website is rather good wouldn't you say?
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  14. chris @ 61 Alas, I could tell you many a story about corruption and nepotism in academia but that would merely reinforce your perception of me as a grumpy old man. I realised long ago that I was temperamentally unsuited to a career in research. I bear no grudges about my limitations. I much prefer working with patients - each person comprises a unique 'clinical trial' with an 'n' of 1. And better than any clinical trial - the unique privilege of attempting to make someone's life more bearable. And yes, you have to work every bit as hard often struggling with people's intractable difficulties and the uncertainties these pose. To each his own.
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  15. Chris "But surely that's what we should be continually opposing...which is why this website is rather good wouldn't you say?" I agree, and barring fanatics, one way to "win" an argument is convincing people that what they were telling you is what you've been telling them all along.
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  16. Chris Canaris (#62). I think that the anti-wind-farms thing is a bit of a NIMBY thing-though its amazing how many farmers & small towns are quite happy with their wind-farms *after* they're built (they're good additional income for farmers & they're often tourist draw-cards too). There has been a low-level anti-wind farm campaign by elements of the FF lobby-largely based on memes regarding habitat destruction & bird deaths. As to hydro-power, I wasn't referring to large-scale dam construction like that which dominates the landscape of Tasmania. I was using the broad term Hydro to refer to various forms of tidal energy, Osmotic Potential Energy & so-called Micro-Hydro/Run-of-the-River schemes. Outside of that, algal biomass, waste bio-gas, solar, co-generation & geothermal remain as viable alternatives, alongside demand management. I personally think that the solutions are less difficult than we sometimes imagine-but I'm glad we agree in regards to energy efficiency!
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  17. As most sciences are gathering information and explaining phenomena on earth it is not surprising Global Climate Change appears on many lines of inquiry. Humanities, on the other hand, have trouble with the concept as there is but a very few examples of climate changes during the existence of civilization. Another group who may have trouble with the concept is the engineering sciences, as they are so obsessed with precision, and ACC is not very precise, f.e. because of possible mitigation and adaptation measures done by us. (classification - general science, easy blue)
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  18. HR, regarding Oxfam: "It seems their intention now is to drag us all down the worst possible conditions rather than dream for a better life for all." It seems you're misunderstanding them. You can visit their site (http://www.oxfam.org) for more accurate information.
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  19. #51: "those who are already spending millions on denialist PR – like Koch, Exxon etc. Ask yourself this: why are so many vested interests spending so much on spin, when they own research facilities and employ many scientists. Where is the fossil fuel funded scientific investigation of these ‘other contenders’? Rhetorical questions, of course. There is no ‘opposing’ science, because science isn’t adversarial. It is competitive, but not between arbitrary paradigms like political opposites." Oil company interests (and I used to be one) were indeed in the business of opposing science - at the most insidious of levels - science education. In short, oil companies funding the National Science Teachers Association were expecting behind-the-scenes influence on educational policy decisions. Reaction to this tidbit becoming public in the UK was heated, but did not get all that much publicity beyond the blogosphere in the US. I was an NSTA member at the time; there was a petition circulating amongst member teachers urging against NSTA to stop accepting such funds with strings attached. Exxon's policy changed (at least publicly) in 2007.
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  20. HumanityRules at 13:40 PM on 18 July, 2010 “I try objectively to think about my field of science and how ideas compete, ego's clash and petty personnal rivalries work through. And then I look at climate science and see what's going on there and honestly try to ask myself whether this is just the same thing only exposed to full public scutiny. Honestly I see no connection between the two things it's bizarre to try to fit the tactics of both sides into your own field of science, try it. I'd go back to my original comment there is a dynamic going on here that does not exist in other fields of science.” (i) I can look at my own scientific field (broadly medically-related biophysics) and see on a lesser scale some of the efforts to misrepresent the science that are so astonishingly and brazenly apparent in relation to climate science. It’s obvious that every science subject whose findings clash with powerful interests will gather a “deadweight” of misrepresentation. In my field this might be efforts by the pharmaceutical industry to hide data showing adverse side effects (e.g. GSK on the side effects of paroxetine in children; earlier efforts by the industry to misrepresent evidence for increased risk of Reyes syndrome in kids taking aspirin; sadly lots of examples), and to induce efforts at selective publishing of data to support preferred outcomes (e.g. drug efficacies) etc. (ii) This is fairly widespread isn’t it? The attempts to misrepresent evolutionary and geological science by fundamentalist pseudoreligious groups are obvious (not to mention their less well know attempts to misrepresent the science on homosexuality). The efforts to take collective action to reduce CFC emissions was strongly opposed by relevant chemical industries and some of the individuals that attempted to misrepresent that science and its implications are doing the same with climate science. It would be naïve not to recognise that these nefarious things go on….science is a rather dangerous enterprise since it uncovers truths whose implications may threaten vested interests. (iii) How do we deal with this? In my field the relevant quality journals now make efforts to identify potential conflicts of interests and these have to be stated upfront by scientists submitting papers. In the US all drug trials involving the National Institutes of Health (NIH) must be publically deposited, and publically funded research (NIH, and NASA, NOAA etc in climate science) must be published as open access. Likewise with research funded by the Wellcome Trust and other research charities in the UK. Otherwise we focus on the science and make every effort to highlight the misrepresentations (as on this excellent web site). (iv) Where I think that your presentation is fundamentally false is in the implication that all of the political nonsense and blogospheric misrepresentation is part of the science. It isn’t. Scientists are getting on with their research and finding stuff out. Your picture of an arena where ”rival ideas compete, ego's clash and petty personnal rivalries work through” is a fair one. On top of that there are some astonishing things going on…but it’s not the climate scientists that are pursuing fanatical attacks on the integrity of scientists, or setting up crude political inquisitions in an attempt to sully scientists whose work they don’t happen to like, or organise conferences to pursue a pretence that there is an “alternative” approach to the science (creationists do this too), or set up websites to attempt to spread scientific “ideas” that border on the moronic, or who organise groups of thugs to harass scientists and their institutions. You may find it convenient to consider that this rubbish is a representation of climate science. But take way all the nonsense (it will happen one day just as the misrepresenters of the science on cigarette smoking or CFC’s drifted away once it was either convenient to do so or impossible to pursue the deceits) and climate science will be bubbling away just as it is now – including a fundamental source of crucial knowledge on the response of the natural world to massively enhanced greenhouse gas concentrations.
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  21. chriscanris @ 55: "I thought I had given a reasonable definition of catastrophe: that increasing atmospheric CO2 levels would set in train a concatenation of positive feedbacks with far reaching adverse consequences. Perhaps I should have said something on the lines of 'ever increasing adverse consequences beyond our capacity to control or mitigate.'" No, that's not a definition because it is entirely vague. "As matters currently stand, I just don't know whether the evidence exists to predict such an outcome confidently." That's because you haven't defined an outcome in specific enough terms to predict anything. "X% of the Greenland ice sheet melts by the year Y," is specific. "Global agricultural output falls by Z% by the year W," is another. "Really really terrible things happen," is not. You could at least try to calculate a probability for the two former scenarios. The latter is just a straw man conjured up by the deniers. RSVP: Heat flow is a process by which thermal energy is transferred from one object to another because of a difference in temperature. Radiation is a phenomenon by which any object at > 0 degrees K will give up its energy. Heat flow requires a delta-T, radiation only requires a T > 0. HumanityRules writes: "Reducing human society (and human beings) to simple carbon emitters is part of the problem of the approach of climate science and environmentalism in general. You reduce humanity to the role of polluter." Nobody is doing that reduction except within the minds of the deniers. Human progress isn't going to end because we control the amount of carbon we dump into the atmosphere. Human society has confronted numerous environmental challenges throughout its history, and this is just one more. When lead emitted by car exhaust was coating the planet in a toxic metal, human society was not reduced to "lead emitters." And we changed what we were doing in a way that made the world cleaner without bringing an end to all transportation. When industry was dumping tons of toxic chemicals into rivers, lakes, and the oceans, or burying it in ways that would leak into groundwater, human activity was not reduced to "toxic chemical emitter." And we changed what we were doing in a way that made the world cleaner without bringing an end to all industry. There are numerous other examples of similar societal self-regulation that have made the world cleaner and more healthy for everyone, and yet we still enjoy our fabulous standard of living. But people opposed every single step of that history with the claim that it would raise prices and destroy competitiveness and none of it was really necessary because there was no danger anyway. The AGW situation is no different. You can either include the true costs of an activity in its price, or you can hide the costs and pay in another way.
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  22. CBW "Radiation is a phenomenon by which any object at > 0 degrees K will give up its energy." I appreciate your getting back to this question given the multiple threads going on here... Taking a red hot iron plug inside an "ideal" insulator such as a glass thermos with reflective surfaces. Does it radiate? Or put the same plug into an iron box at the same temperature. Does it radiate in there? The answer of course is no. This is similar to standing waves if it isnt in any event the same thing. So heat does not transfer unless it has a cooler place to go, whether by radiation, conduction or convection, all this pointing to the initial statement that the "greenhouse" effect is a self limiting process.
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  23. Marcus at 19:52 PM, your rather pessimistic outlook underestimates what gains have been made to date addressing some of your concerns, and the ability of the scientists and other experts working on improving plant genetics and other techniques that increase productivity, not only in cropping but in all areas of agricultural food production. Already improved farming practices are allowing those implementing the latest techniques to dramatically reduce their usage of nitrogen fertilisers by adding legumes into their cropping cycle. Not only does the legumes fix nitrogen into the soil for the crops to follow, but the legumes provide an income as well. The use of GPS guidance has not only reduced soil compaction, but the accurate placement of both seed and fertiliser has reduced usage of fertiliser by ensuring the correct amount is being placed where it will be readily and fully available to the plant with minimum losses. These challenges ahead are not providing a brick wall for agricultural related scientists to bang their heads on, but rather an opportunity with a wall full of doors to be opened as they continue to unlock plant genetics, as process barely started, rather than one that has been exhausted as many seem to think given all the barriers they see as apparently permanent limitations.
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  24. John D, as someone who actually WORKS in the field of Agricultural Science, I consider myself very well placed to see the potential for science to improve agricultural yields into the future-so please DON'T INSULT MY INTELLIGENCE! I'm also in a good vantage point to see how climate change has already partly undone the good works of the last 40 years, & how it has the potential to retard future progress. What I certainly DON'T SEE is this ludicrous UTOPIAN VISION of an enhanced CO2 world which you keep trying to paint. A vision based solely on ONE highly EQUIVOCAL trial in Horsham-a trial which even the investigators are reluctant to put a positive spin on. Every other researcher in this field, worth the name, has predicted significant declines in yield as a result of climate change & long-term decline in the *QUALITY* of agricultural produce as the result of increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Yes, these problems can be partly mitigated via a series of fixes, but these fixes will come at A HIGH COST-for farmers & consumers alike. Yet it sounds like you'd rather that cost be paid by us rather than suggest that the Fossil Fuel industry lose even a dollar as a result of cutting our production of CO2 emissions. The point that I've been trying to make, but which you've consistently failed to grasp, is that greater yield increases can be achieved-in the ABSENCE of an enhanced CO2 environment-by improved crop practices than can be achieved by increasing CO2 alone-& without the cost of reduced nutritional value. If anything, in spite of your ongoing attempts to paint a blindly optimistic picture of the future, an enhanced CO2 world will be more of a hindrance to the long-term viability of agriculture than a help. This isn't my own personal pessimism I'm expressing, I'm mostly expressing the pessimism of people who actually WORK ON THE LAND-people who're even more concerned about climate change than I am. Perhaps you ought to spend time talking to them instead of thinking you automatically know everything?
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  25. RSVP: "Taking a red hot iron plug inside an "ideal" insulator such as a glass thermos with reflective surfaces. Does it radiate?" Yes. "Or put the same plug into an iron box at the same temperature. Does it radiate in there?" Yes. "So heat does not transfer unless it has a cooler place to go..." Again, you are conflating heat flow and radiation.
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  26. RSVP - Your red hot plug will radiate at the same rate (based upon temperature) in either location. The only difference in the two scenarios you pose is whether an equal amount of radiation comes back. Sorry to be pushing this, but this particular argument is closely related to the horrible G&T paper attempting to disprove the greenhouse gas relationship by denying major parts of radiative theory. I know I'm a bit touchy about this particular error - I suspect I'm not the only one. I would strongly recommend this link on thermal radiation, as well as this link on radiative equilibrium. Objects radiate in proportion to their temperature, in fact related to temperature by the 4th power, over their emissivity spectra. Heat and changes thereof are due to the net energy flow via radiation, conduction, convection, etc.; radiation is part of that net flow. Please don't confuse the various components for the sum.
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  27. Anthropogenic climate change is not where science starts, thinking to fit the theory to as many phenomena as it can. ACC is where you end up following any single line of enquiry. This is not the case. In fact ACC and urgent need for political action was the starting point and scientists were recrutited to serve this end. You should respect history. Excerpts from Margaret Mead’s keynote to the conference Atmosphere: Endangered and Endangering, North Carolina, Oct. 26-29, 1975 "At this conference we are proposing that, before there is a corresponding attempt to develop a “law of the air,” the scientific community advise the United Nations (and individual, powerful nation states or aggregations of weaker states) and attempt to arrive at some overview of what is presently known about hazards to the atmosphere from manmade interventions" "I have asked a group of atmospheric specialists to meet here to consider how the very real threats to humankind and life on this planet can be stated with crediblity and persuasiveness before the present society of nations begins to enact laws of the air, or plan for “international environmental impact statements.”" "What we need from scientists are estimates, presented with sufficient conservatism and plausibility but at the same time as free as possible from internal disagreements that can be exploited by political interests, that will allow us to start building a system of artificial but effective warnings, warnings which will parallel the instincts of animals" It was in 1975, when Newsweek published this article. That is, at a time when according to a US National Academy of Sciences report "Not only are the basic scientific questions [about climate] largely unanswered, but in many cases we do not yet know enough to pose the key questions". Therefore it is not true that science came first and led to inevitable conclusions, just the opposite. There were the conclusions stated by a cultural anthropologist and climate science was asked to support them. That's what happened.
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  28. CBW @ 75 "Taking a red hot iron plug inside an "ideal" insulator such as a glass thermos with reflective surfaces. Does it radiate?" It can only radiate as far as the internal boundaries of the thermos whose reflective surfaces would prevent further outward radiation. "Or put the same plug into an iron box at the same temperature. Does it radiate in there?" Yes it does radiate but any radiation outward is counterbalanced by radiation inward resulting in a zero energy transfer between the plug and iron bar. This would apply particularly if you placed the iron box inside a perfect insulator. However, if the iron bar were placed in a vacuum, the added heat from the inserted plug cause more net heat to radiate into the vacuum. I think RSVP may be concerned with energy gradients.
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  29. PS CBW @ 71 'That's because you haven't defined an outcome in specific enough terms to predict anything.' I don't think even the IPCC would aspire to such precision. Moreover, even if you did make a prediction on the lines of, 'x% of the Greenland icecap will melt by the year y,' the good citizens of Greenland might think that's fine and dandy while the burghers of New Orleans might be struggling to hold back the rising tide. It depends on your point of view.
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  30. "It's only those with a long CV, a good track record and plenty on grounding that can afford the pleasures of testing orthodoxy. All the rest are grinding out the results that are easily publishable." This bears no resemblance to the science world I know. If you want to make your mark, you have to get something published that will be cited. Lots of papers that noone cites, gets you nowhere. You dont actually sit down and say, "I am going to bring down AGW". You do experiments/observations of real world and compare them to theories - especially your own versus orthodoxy. The advice I give the young is go into new, preferably well funded fields for PhD, and particularly into those where there is new instrument/analysis emerging for examining reality. Its the easiest way to make your mark.
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  31. BP "In fact ACC and urgent need for political action was the starting point and scientists were recrutited to serve this end. You should respect history." And so should you. Atmospheric scientists already existed in 1975. As of now the scientific origins of the theory are coming up for a 200 birthday party. In 1975 what were the atmospheric problems that we knew about? Acid rain, particulates, the effect of CFCs on the ozone layer spring to my mind. And whaddya know? We've dealt with those without plunging the world into economic and social chaos.
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  32. Beranyi, that is just a complete load of absolute codswallop & proves that you're now just scraping the bottom of the barrel to try & undermine the science of climate change. To suggest an anthropologist pushed the entire scientific community into supporting her views is a load of total bunkum. In fact, much of the evidence for the role of Greenhouse gases in controlling the climate were developed long before this conference that you refer to. Indeed, how can you even be sure that she is talking about AGW? Given the threats our atmosphere was being exposed to at the time, she was most likely referring to things like Acid Rain, particulate pollution & Ozone depletion.
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  33. #71 CBW Human society has confronted numerous environmental challenges throughout its history, and this is just one more. Yes. And it's always struck me that "skeptics" love to talk about humanity's adaptability...until it comes to climate mitigation efforts, at which point there's virtually no question of adaptation; basically, society will collapse, and we'll return to the Stone Age and be forced to eat bracken and fronds. It's funny how often people offer this grim rhetoric as a cheery response to "doomsayers." As for the claim that climatology is somehow "different" from other sciences because it's "politicized," I'm sure the lung cancer researchers whose careful work was attacked for decades by industry shills would have a different view. So would a lot of virologists and evolutionary biologists, I suspect.
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  34. #77 Berenyi Peter There were the conclusions stated by a cultural anthropologist and climate science was asked to support them. That's what happened. I hardly know what to say, except that this is a particularly sad example of what the overriding need to deny or downplay AGW can do to the the critical faculties of otherwise intelligent people. I suppose Margaret Mead was behind this, too?
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  35. #77: "What we need from scientists are estimates, presented with sufficient conservatism and plausibility but at the same time as free as possible from internal disagreements that can be exploited by political interests," How amazingly prescient was Ms. Meade! She foresaw the difficulties in which we now find ourselves. Nothing in the quote you present supports your point. Meade calls for scientific advice prior to making policy: "before there is a corresponding attempt to develop a “law of the air,” the scientific community advise the United Nations" And the article title is "The Cooling World." Mid 70s; remember all that concern about falling temperatures?
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  36. RSVP at 05:22 AM on 19 July, 2010 "Taking a red hot iron plug inside an "ideal" insulator such as a glass thermos with reflective surfaces. Does it radiate? Or put the same plug into an iron box at the same temperature. Does it radiate in there?" "The answer of course is no. . . ." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * If this has been posted before or if it's obvious I'm a non-professional, my sincere apologies. I'll give my answer in Plainspeak. Concerning the thermos, with a reflective glass surface, I can think of two reasons why it should radiate. 1) The glass has to be connected to the rest of the thermos. Therefore, conduction. 2) The glass is not a perfect reflective device, I doubt anything would be. Therefore, it will radiate. Me thinks the answer is yes.
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  37. Just to add my 2c to BP's rather strange comment about the alleged Margaret Mead conspiracy (appart from the offensive insinuation that social scientists have nothing of value to contribute to society - many objects and institutions you use on a daily basis demonstrate that this is not the case) This just confirms my preconception that if you press a climate sceptic on their ideas, no matter how superficially plausible they seem, keep at it long enough, and the ideas will degenerate into a frustrated mass of crackpot conspiracy theory in the end.
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  38. Berényi Péter:
    In fact ACC and urgent need for political action was the starting point and scientists were recrutited to serve this end. You should respect history.
    Your argument mirrors those who claim Gore started it all to line his pockets, or Thatcher kicked it off at the UN as part of her strategy to strangle the mining unions. And as Muoncounter points out, the investigations at that time - which encompassed particulates and other forms of pollution - were as interested in the potential cooling effects as heating. And why do you ignore the actual history of climate change science - some significant dates I listed in comment #2? Before patronising me, perhaps some research might be in order: Spencer Weart's history of climate change science
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  39. Berényi Péter: "In fact ACC and urgent need for political action was the starting point and scientists were recrutited to serve this end. You should respect history." In "Science as a Contact Sport", Stephen Schneider gives an account of his recruitment by Margaret Mead into the sinister conspiracy to use global warming to undermine the American Way of Life.... ... except it was much more innocuous. In 1975, Mead was President of the AAAS, interested in a broad range of issues. One of the things she did was hold a conference called "The Atmosphere: Endangered and Endangering". The star of the show was James Lovelock and his newly-published Gaia hypothesis. Lovelock argued for the resilience of life, Schneider and James Holdren were the "Young Turks" pointing out that even a large proportion of the human race could suffer from climate catasprophes. Schneider quotes some helpful advice Mead gives him in the book. He tells the story of the scientific detour into "global cooling". A very great amount of what we now call "climate science" was already being donein 1975(data gathering, modeling), and Mead had only a transient (but important) influence. BP will have to do better than a couple of speeches to prove that particular conspiracy theory. The problem with conspiracy theorists is the less evidence they find, the more convinced they are about the cunning malevolence of their adversaries.
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  40. #81 adelady at 11:24 AM on 19 July, 2010 In 1975 what were the atmospheric problems that we knew about? Acid rain, particulates, the effect of CFCs on the ozone layer spring to my mind. Yes. Don't forget the the cooling world, about to cause epic crop failures in the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and the U.S.S.R. in ten years with soaring food prices and world wide famine. That problem was solved indeed, at least for the time being, even if it is not known how. And whaddya know? We've dealt with those without plunging the world into economic and social chaos. As for the other problems you have mentioned, they were solved by eliminating the Soviet Empire (including the GDR) with its unregulated industrial emissions. That is, at that time, it was enough to plung half of the world into economic and social chaos. But all is not lost. In the meantime communist China with even nastier emissions was built up as the monster of the day by exporting our jobs to state sponsored slave labor and our pollutions to communist burocratic regulators there.
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  41. #66 Marcus. Questions about wind power are not confined to NIMBYism. The big issue with wind turbines is extreme variability of output which is not necessarily spacialy smoothed - ie if the wind is not blowing here, it may not be blowing there either. They need to be backed by something else. Hydro is good if available. Otherwise the main option currently is open cycle gas turbines which are less efficient than CCGT. The saving of CO2 emissions may be less in reality than might be thought because of the higher inefficiency in ramping up and down the fossil fuel burners that back them. There are some good charts of Australian wind farm output here: OZ-ENERGY-ANALYSIS.ORG The project is developing models of the Australian electricity grid to determine the feasibility/limits of wind power. It should be worth following developments.
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  42. BP #90 I suggest that you steer away from social commentary, and stick to the technical sounding stuff which is less easy to see through. "As for the other problems [e.g. acid rain, and ozone depletion] mentioned, they were solved by eliminating the Soviet Empire (including the GDR) with its unregulated industrial emissions. That is, at that time, it was enough to plung half of the world into economic and social chaos." This is astoundingly incorrect and refuted from things I remember from School level geography lessons in the 1980s. I fail to see how the collapse of the USSR could have solved the North American acid rain problem, or the Scandinavian problem for that matter (prevailing winds over Europe are Westerly, it was largely Western European emissions causing the problems in Scandinavia. I suppose that Soviet acid rain would end up in the boreal forests of Siberia, not a place I learned much about in school. As for the ozone hole, this required large scale international regulation, just like solving the CO2 problem requires. Any reduction in production of CFCs in the USSR due to economic collapse would have only had a small impact relative to American, Western European and Asian production. Thanks for the giggles though ;)
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  43. scaddenp @ 80: If you want to make your mark, you have to get something published that will be cited. Lots of papers that no-one cites, gets you nowhere. Easy - you cite your own papers and get others in your lab to cite them in turn. Alternatively, you submit the same research project with minor variations on the theme to multiple journals (you're not supposed to do this but I've seen it happen with my own eyes). The world of science is no different from the outside world - a mixture of hard working honest individuals, mediocrities, scoundrels, and all shades in between.
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  44. "The world of science is no different from the outside world - a mixture of hard working honest individuals, mediocrities, scoundrels, and all shades in between." True to a degree, but I'd say more regard for truth than average because learning a science discipline requires learning how not to fool yourself. As to your "system", I've heard of those ploys in the US academic system where apparently there are administrators who blindly look at citation indices but I wonder if it still works. However, I cannot see how you make your name in science without truly publishing something that is cited in honesty by those who you have never met. A me-too paper will never do this.
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  45. Berenyi Peter wrote: "Yes. Don't forget the the cooling world, about to cause epic crop failures in the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and the U.S.S.R. in ten years with soaring food prices and world wide famine." The man who made the cooling prediction was Stephen Schneider, though it was somewhat less apocalyptic. In his recent book he writes (p. 43): "By 1973, I was convinced that the Rasool-Scheidner calculation couldn't be right ... in my opinion the best guess of climate sensitivity was between 1.5 and 3.5 degrees Celsius, which I published in the Journal of Atmospheric Science in a paper called "On the Carbon Dioxide Climate Confusion"." So by 1975, scientists knew that the global cooling prediction was based on false premises. So like good scientists, they altered their predictions in accordance with the developing facts. It may have taken a bit longer to percolate through the media, but that is not "science". There was plenty of other reason to be concerned about the Soviet Union in the early 1970s. Communist agriculture having failed miserably, the Soviets were buying up grain all around the world, driving up grain prices. Another tip in Soviet grain production would worsen things considerably. These problems eased over time, along with concerns about nuclear winter, another worry of the later 1970s, when there were those arguing that a nuclear war was "winnable". And who exactly is plunging the world into economic chaos? BP, isn't that a bit apocalyptic? The longer the delay before reasonable action is taken the greater the chaos will be. The delayers and deniers are the guilty ones, the same ones who tried to prevent action on ozone layer depletion.
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  46. “Climate science is a Pandora’s box, out of which come primary questions. These questions, which are fundamental, cannot be un-asked; we asked what would happen to the climate if we artificially increased the proportions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and the answer is important.” I agreed. For example, rate of temperature changes, and effects - including ecosystems. In Poland, on the Discovery Word was repeated once more movies of LIA (2005)and “Mean on Earth” (2009). Professor of Earth Sciences, Peter deMenocal (Columbia University) in the second film, says: "Imagine that (ie if the last Neanderthal died) following H. E. - D. - O.; occurred regularly every 5-6 thousand. years, with increasing vehemence - unimaginable speed: over 10 years the Earth's temperature changed suddenly circa 10 degrees. During a single generation, the climate changed abruptly and completely [... - now we can "count" on barely one and a few tenths of a degree at the time of our lives] ... " P.S. I recommend the latest work - deMenocal - Africa on the Edge, 2008: my conclusion from reading this work: it's not cool ALWAYS warming increases the area of deserts throughout the world - not only in Africa. Then, in the movie "Mean on Earth," followed by "rolling over" the science of 180 degrees: it is cool and more violent (do not know the reasons) led to the extinction of Neanderthal and megafauna (most likely we do not met a Neanderthal?), Man (culture Clovis) here just a little "help" ... ... And so many lines of evidence was proving, that: the Holocene warming killed of “our cousin”... " (write books, moreover, so still), eh ... It saved the Eemian, which is on the way to total annihilation, mankind. Although it is very difficult to compare, we can conclude that the time: never, even now, humanity does not grow so fast. In the film, the LIA, in turn, Professor deMenocal says - “We do not know what are the possibilities of hidden cycles of nature ... LIA was a time of climate instability, unexpected changes in regularity without - seemingly - logic.” - James Massachele, Rutgers University: "From 1000 to 1400 the world lived in an atmosphere of 2 to 4 degrees warmer than in the dark Middle Ages. MWP has come - the time of PROSPERITY (...)." - Thomas Gale Moore, Stamford University: "Crops were good, faster in the spring dry up wetlands, disappeared the mosquitoes do not spread malaria and other diseases have been fewer.” Maritime climate prevailed in Europe. “It is better distributed rainfall in the season guarantee high yields. During warming, the number of peasants in Europe increased from 40 to 60 million. Russia, China, North America - have seen similar changes." "The French nobility was displeased that the English wine market displace their products ..." "There is a theory that the Vikings gave the misleading name of Greenland to attract settlers - in fact, they were surprised [...] by the lush greenery sprouting fjords." - Prof. Henri Grissino-Mayer, University of Tennessee: "There were growing green plants and even trees - the name may correspond to reality." - Rie Oldenburg Narsaq museum curator: "fine grass grow even in the high mountains - Greenland must have been a PARADISE for them. [...!!!]". - Lloyd D. Keigwin: "LIA has changed the lives of many societies. New York Bay Harword frozen for 5 weeks. Eskimos sailed up to Scotland, half a meter of snow fell in New England in June and July, there has been a year, which is remembered as the year without a summer. Cooling changed the course of history.” "LIA is part of a repeated cycle - a phenomenon which may be repeated. Belies that the climate is something permanent. Humanity is incredibly sensitive to even small temperature drops. " - Richard Seager Universyty Columbia: "In the early fourteenth century, cooled off in just 10 years. The temperature was about 2 degrees lower than today's temperatures. " - Teofilo F. Ruiz - medieval historian from UCLA. At the beginning of the LIA, from 1315 - 1320 the year in 6 years 1.5 million people died of starvation in Europe. During the first five years in the spring occurred a long time, weeks, continuous rain, then floods and other violent phenomena in unprecedented scale, and after that period: long drought. Between 1371 and 1791 in France there were 111 famines.” - “Cattle: sheep and cows, have remained in the stables of over 6 months. Cows, after such winters were so weak, that it was out of the factory to pasture” - Finn Lynge Norse Grenland Expert. - Prof. Wallace S. Broecker Columbia University - “... a study of carbon-14 show that initially 80% of the food came from the land of Vikings. LIA harbored mainly in the sea. But when the sea started to freeze and farther cod began to move south ...” Or even from these facts, not important questions arise - "... what would happen ... "- clean "denial’s - denier camp” ?
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  47. chriscanaris @78: "It can only radiate as far as the internal boundaries of the thermos whose reflective surfaces would prevent further outward radiation." That's irrelevant to the discussion at hand. It doesn't matter if the radiation travels a millimeter or a light-year, the plug radiates just the same, based only on its temperature. "However, if the iron bar were placed in a vacuum, the added heat from the inserted plug cause more net heat to radiate into the vacuum." You're making the same mistake as RSVP, and confusing radiation with heat flow. A box at temperature T radiates the same whether the plug is inside or not, or whether the box is in vacuum, inside a perfect insulator, or underwater. @79: "It depends on your point of view." I agree 100%. That's my point. You have to define what you mean by "catastrophic" or it is meaningless. That's why the deniers' attempts to recast AGW as "Catastrophic AGW" is so disingenuous--they're trying to build a straw man that they can then shoot down with arguments about how AGW will be good for the (~60,000) residents of Greenland. To call something catastrophic you have to define what you consider to be a catastrophe and then, and only then, can you discuss the probability of it happening.
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  48. CBW and Chriscanaris: I live in Florida (USA). I suggest that if the sea level rises enough in 100 years that Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the rest of eastern Florida have to be evacuated that is "catastrophic" for me. This is millions of residents from Miami alone. We do not have to worry about Bangladesh (or Tuvalu, which is substantially gone today). Current mainstream forecasts are 1-2 meters of sea level rise by 2100 (90 years). This is substantially more than was forecast in the 2007 IPCC report. With 2 meters sea level rise, Miami will have to be evacuated. Of course we can all move to North Dakota. Chris, what do you think? I am 50 years old. If the action has to occur in my lifetime we are more likely OK. Too bad for my high school students. I also note that heat stress has caused severe crop failure this year in Russia, but maybe it would have been record heat without AGW..
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  49. Berényi Péter wrote : "Therefore it is not true that science came first and led to inevitable conclusions, just the opposite. There were the conclusions stated by a cultural anthropologist and climate science was asked to support them. That's what happened." Like seemingly all so-called skeptics, you see something which is very, very different from what anyone else seems to see - certainly a lot different than what I see and I notice that others feel the same. You see a call to try to understand what effects man will have on the atmosphere (because, as you quoted NAS, no-one knew for sure at that time what the future held), with a determination to decide in advance what the result of those studies was to be ? I'm sure we see the same words but you have interpreted them in such a way that I don't recognise as being the same sentences you posted. How do you do that ? How does so-called skepticism make one person see something so at variance with everyone else ? I'm baffled.
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  50. Off topic, but I quoted Stephen Schneider above, since I am reading his book "Science as a Contact Sport". I am saddened to read on Climate Progress that he has just died. He was a distinguished man and a great scientist. Remembering Stephen Schneider
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