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Ivar Giaever - Nobel Winning Physicist and Climate Pseudoscientist

Posted on 12 July 2012 by dana1981

We often see scientists from non-climate fields who believe they have sufficient expertise to understand climate science despite having done minimal research on the subject; William Happer, Fritz Vahrenholt, and Bob Carter, for example.  As he admits in his own words, Nobel Prize winning physicist Ivar Giaever fits this mould perfectly:

"I am not really terribly interested in global warming.  Like most physicists I don't think much about it.  But in 2008 I was in a panel here about global warming and I had to learn something about it.  And I spent a day or so - half a day maybe on Google, and I was horrified by what I learned.  And I'm going to try to explain to you why that was the case."

That quote comes from a presentation Giaever gave to the 62nd Meeting of Nobel Laureates in 2012, for some unknown reason on the subject of climate change.  As Giaever notes at the beginning of his talk, he has become more famous for his contrarian views on global warming than for his Nobel Prize, which have made him something of a darling to the climate contrarian movement and climate denial enablers.

In this post we will examine the claims made by Giaever in his talk, and show that his contrarian climate opinions come from a position of extreme ignorance on the subject, as Giaever admits.  Giaever personifies the classic stereotype of the physicist who thinks he understands all scientific fields of study:

xkcd physicistsCartoon from xkcd which describes the behavior of Ivar Giaever to a 'T'

Accuracy of the Surface Temperature Record

In his talk, Giaever spent a lot of time criticizing Al Gore and Rajendra Pachauri (IPCC chairman) for winning the Nobel Peace Prize for - according to Giaever - 'making the global surface temperature record famous' (Figure 1).

surface temp record 

Figure 1: Various global surface and lower troposphere temperature data sets.

Giaever proceeded to question the accuracy of the surface temperature record, ultimately asking:

"How can you measure the average temperature of the Earth?  I don't think that's possible."

Unfortunately this simply displays an ignorance regarding the surface temperature record, whose accuracy has been confirmed time and time again, and which is also consistent with lower troposphere temperature measurements, as illustrated in Figure 1. 

Glenn Tramblyn has answered Giaever's question in great detail in his four part series Of Averages & Anomalies, and Kevin C also had an excellent and detailed post on recent temperature measurements in The GLOBAL global warming signal.  The answers to these questions are out there for those who are willing to spend more than a few hours on Google searches, and it is not constructive to give presentations on subjects without first doing such basic research.  We are again left wondering why Giaever was asked to give a presentation to Nobel Laureates on a subject on which he has no expertise and has not done even the most basic research.

The Significance of the Observed Global Warming

Giaever also disputed the significance of the measured 0.8°C average global surface warming over the past 130 years, comparing it to a human fever and the temperature at which he had to maintain tissue for cell growth during his own biophysical experiments, also showing the following slide:

Giaever small temp change slide

Giaever does not seem to know how to put the observed 0.8°C global surface temperature change in proper context.  It may sound small in comparison to the absolute global temperature in Kelvin, or in comparison to changes in human body temperatures, but it is a very large change in global surface temperature, especially over a period as brief as 130 years (Figure 2).

holocene temps

Figure 2: Eight records of local temperature variability on multi-centennial scales throughout the course of the Holocene, and an average of these (thick dark line) over the past 12,000 years, plotted with respect to the mid 20th century average temperature.  The global average temperature in 2004 is also indicated. (Source)

In addition to this rapid surface warming, the global oceans have also been accumulating heat at an incredible rate - the equivalent of more than two Hiroshima "Little Boy" atomic bomb detonations per second, every second over a the past half century.  Presumably a physicist of Giaever's stature would appreciate the magnitude of this global energy accumulation.

As a physicist, Giaever should also understand that seemingly small objects and quantities can have large effects, but instead he seems to rely on incorrect "common sense" perceptions which are based on ignorance of the subject at hand.

CO2 vs. Water Vapor

As another example of this behavior, Giaever proceeds to demonstrate that he also does not understand the role of the greenhouse effect in climate change.

"Water vapor is a much much stronger green[house] gas than the CO2.  If you look out of the window you see the sky, you see the clouds, and you don't see the CO2."

Needless to say, the second sentence above represents a very bizarre argument.  Giaever is either arguing that CO2 is a visible gas (it is not) and the fact that you can't see it means there is too little in the atmosphere to have a significant warming effect, or that only visible gases can warm the planet, or some other similarly misinformed assertion. 

That clouds are visible to the human eye and CO2 isn't simply is not relevant to the greenhouse effect and global warming.  It's also worth noting that like CO2, water vapor is not visible - clouds are condensed water droplets, not water vapor.

Additionally, water vapor does not drive climate change.  There is a lot of it in the atmosphere, so it is the largest single contributor to the greenhouse effect.  However, water vapor cannot initiate a warming event.  Unlike external forcings such as CO2, which can be added to the atmosphere through various processes (like fossil fuel combustion), the level of water vapor in the atmosphere is a function of temperature. Water vapor is brought into the atmosphere via evaporation - the rate depends on the temperature of the ocean and air. If extra water is added to the atmosphere, it condenses and falls as rain or snow within a week or two. As Lacis et al. (2010) showed, as summarized by NASA (emphasis added):

"Because carbon dioxide accounts for 80% of the non-condensing GHG forcing in the current climate atmosphere, atmospheric carbon dioxide therefore qualifies as the principal control knob that governs the temperature of Earth."

Climate Myth Whack-a-Mole

Giaever continues ticking off the most common climate myths, going from arguing that it may not even be warming, to claiming the warming is insignificant, to asserting the warming is caused by water vapor, and ultimately that the warming is indeed caused by human influences:

"Is it possible that all the paved roads and cut down forests are the cause of "global warming", not CO2?  But nobody talks about that." 

Climate scientists do of course investigate and discuss the effects of deforestation and urban influences.  The 2007 IPCC report discusses the influences of deforestation on climate in great detail, for example here and here, and devotes a section to policies aimed at reducing deforestation here. The United Nations has also implemented the Collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) to address the effects of deforestation on climate change. In short, by claiming that nobody has considered the effects of deforestation on climate, Giaever once again demonstrates that he simply has not done his homework.

The IPCC report also discusses the influences of urban heat islands and land use effects here and here, for example.  Giaever then claims that one person has talked about these effects - US Secretary of Energy and fellow Nobel Laureate Steven Chu, who suggested paining roofs white to offset some warming, though he does not discuss Chu in a very flattering light.

"[Chu has] been bought by the global warming people, and he's now helping Obama trying to make green energy in the United States."

In the presentation in question, Chu described the potential effects of the white roof proposal as follows:

"Making roads and roofs a paler color could have the equivalent effect of taking every car in the world off the road for 11 years"

Chu discusses white roofs as a geoengineering possibility in response to greenhouse gas-caused climate change, as a way to offset a small portion of the global warming our fossil fuel combustion and associated carbon emissions are causing.

Failure to do Homework Earns a Failing Grade

At this point we're 9 minutes into Giaever's 32-minute presentation, and he begins comparing climate science to religion.  Yet based on his arguments in those first 9 minutes, it's clear that Giaever has not done even the most basic climate research, so how can he possibly make such a radical determination?

While Giaever is certainly a highly accomplished physicist, that does not automatically make him a climate expert as well.  As Giaever himself has admitted, he has spent very little time researching the subject, and it shows.  He simply bounces from one climate myth to the next, demonstrating a lack of understanding of Climate Science 101, and then insults the entire scientific field by comparing it to a religion, bringing life to the xkcd cartoon at the top of this post.

Memo to climate contrarians - expertise comes from actually researching a subject.  There is a reason why scientists who have researched climate change in the most depth are also the most likely to be convinced that global warming is human-caused (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Distribution of the number of researchers convinced by the evidence of anthropogenic climate change (green) and unconvinced by the evidence (red) with a given number of total climate publications (Anderegg 2010).

In his talk, Giaever complained that he had become famous for his climate contrarianism, which he claimed indicated that dissenting opinions on the subject are not welcome.  On the contrary, Giaever has been criticized for repeating long-debunked climate myths which he could have easily learned about through a little bit of research - by perusing the Skeptical Science database, for example, where we have debunked all of his Googled climate misconceptions. 

Instead, Giaever has used his position of scientific authority as a Nobel Laureate to misinform people about a subject on which he has not even done the most basic research.  That is not how a good scientist should behave, and that is why Giaever has rightfully and deservedly been criticized.  Giaever finishes his talk by proclaiming

"Is climate change pseudoscience? If I’m going to answer the question, the answer is: absolutely."

The problem is that Giaever has not done his homework, which is why he gets the wrong answer, and his presentation deserves a failing grade.  Ironically, Giaever defines "pseudoscience" as only seeking evidence to confirm one's desired hypothesis, which is precisely how Giaever himself has behaved with respect to climate science.

Listening to Giaever's opinions on climate science is equivalent to giving your dentist a pamphlet on heart surgery and asking him to crack your chest open.  While climate science has a basis in phyiscs (and many other scientific fields of study), it is an entirely different subject, whose basics Giaever could undoubtedly grasp if he were willing to put the time in to do his homework. 

But individual scientists (even Nobel Laureates) suffer from cognitive biases like anyone else. That's why we don't rely on indvidual scientists or individual papers to draw conclusions about climate change. The only way to get an accurate picture is through the work of many scientists, peer reviewed and scrutinized over decades and tested against multiple lines of evidence.  Giaever demonstrates how far cognitive bias - reinforced by a few hours of Googling - can lead anyone to the wrong conclusions, and also proves that no individual's opinion, regardless of his credentials, can replace the full body of climate science evidence.

Note: for climate-related talks at the same conference made by Nobel Laureates who have actually researched the topics in their presentations, see these videos of Paul Crutzen and Mario Molina.

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 118:

  1. @47/49...JoeRG Maybe it's the sun or I am getting old and thick, but I keep getting 25% in my head and not 29%... What am I missing?
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  2. JoeRG, The 12% figure is the average albedo over the entire surface, ocean included, so 270K will be the average surface temperature. When you cool the average surface temperature from 289K to 270K you are bound to significantly increase ice coverage over land and ocean, so the albedo will have to increase significantly as well. As for the rest of your argument, it appears that you are arguing that sea surface temperature must be higher than land temperature, but your argument is not correct. While the differential absorption in the ocean will affect the vertical profile, the sea surface temperature, which is relevant to sea ice formation, is set purely by the incoming solar radiation. You can go through a detailed model with layers, but the crux is that at equilibrium, whatever solar energy that is not absorbed by the top layer must be balanced by heat flux of an equal magnitude from the deeper ocean, so it is no different from the case where all of the solar energy is absorbed at the surface. Your last point doesn't really prove anything, as during the day the land the temperature is much higher than the ocean,
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  3. JoeRG @47, you are ignoring the points raised in my post @40 and in my calculation @42. Had you paid attention you would notice that your argument does not fly. Using the formula corrected for an albedo of 0.3, the expected mean surface temperature would be 151 K; corrected to 0.1 albedo (less than the moons) the result would be 162 K, still equal to a reduction in global mean temperature of >120 K. I notice in your 59 that you continue to assume the existence of liquid oceans for heat transport, but liquid water cannot exist in a vacuum at Earth surface temperatures. Therefore with no vacuum, the Ocean must either boil away, or be frozen. In either event it will not longer contribute to heat transport; and in the later event it will massively increase albedo so that albedo is likely to be above 0.3. Even if you allow your model to be unphysical by retaining liquid oceans, you are neglecting the fact that bare rock has a much higher albedo than does grassland, which has a higher albedo than forest. In fact, observations have shown the Sahara (with effectively no clouds) to have the same albedo as the Amazon (with a massive cloud cover). Further, with any decline in global mean temperature, sea ice extent will increase, increasing albedo. Your assumption that albedo will decrease, is therefore dubious at best even in an unphysical model. Finally, even if the albedo were to decline to 0.1 (less than the Moon's albedo, so certainly a generous assumption) and with retained heat transport, global mean surface temperature would decline by about 20 C, more than enough to initiate a massive glaciation such as at the Last Glacial Maximum, and probably enough to initiate snowball Earth. In other words, any low albedo condition is dynamically unstable with cooling.
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  4. Flakmeister @51: 29% of surface is solid. Only for this the 270K can be valid. The other 71% are oceans where the regular blackbody equation cannot be used - as explained, there is a huge difference between SW and LW, but the blackbody equation requires that both are similar. IanC @52: The albedo increase would be true for land, but not for the oceans. There the average equilibrium temperature would be between 280k and 300k. Remember, that you cannot use the cloud albedo to reduce the incomming radiation and that you require much more energy to reach the required surface temperature to re-radiate the same amount of it beacuse heat transport in water works as well to the depths, not only to the top. Tom Curtis @53: Your argument in @40 is wrong, because with the IR transparent atmosphere you have alredy the most effective state of re-radiation, means that nothing at all will be blocket and you get 255K. How did you come to the conclusion that the re-radiation would be even more effective without an atmosphere when there is already nothing that can hinder radiation to go out in this fully transparent atmosphere? Highly illogical and physically an impossibility. Your equation in @42 is of course wrong. The Stefan-Boltzmann-Equation for the equilibrium temperature is: T= (P/(A*[sigma]))^.25 where for P (1-a)*(TSI/4) is to use what already covers the surface of an orb including day/night. Otherwise the 255K were wrong and no energy budget would work. As well, you ignore that water has an anomaly, what means that the highest pressure always guarantees liquid water at 4°C (pure), respectively at about 0°..-2°C (salinity level dependent). High pressure also lowers the freezing point of water (which is naturally the lower the higher salinity is). The deeper you get the temperature will always converge to the respecting temperature, depending on the salinity of course. So, there is no chance to "boil away" or, in the other case, for a deep freeze. Without an atmosphere the water will be lost anyway, but by evaporation. But, if we speak about equilibrium temperatures of the current state (and exactly this matters), this is not of importance. Even if the albedo of the solid content is higher than this of the oceans, this counts only for 29% of surface and does not matter at all for the oceans. Finally, in your last passage you again ignore the cooling of clouds (what is an amount of ~80W/m² according to Trenberth's energy budget) as well as the radiative behavior of water, what never can be like this of a black/gray body.
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  5. JoeRG @54, I concluded that radiative cooling would be more efficient not because of the lack of the atmosphere per se, but because of the absence of heat distribution that follows from the lack of an atmosphere. If you have a planetary body tide locked to the sun, and with no atmosphere or ocean, than the side facing the sun will rise to a very great temperature. Assume the body is at the distance of the Earth from the Sun, and has an albedo of 0.11. Then the side facing the moon will receive an average insolation of 1368*0.89/2 W/m^2, or 608.9 W/m^2. Converting that to a black body temperature, we have (608.9/s)^0.25 where s equals the Stefan-Boltzmann constant, which equal 321.9 degrees K. Ignoring geothermal energy and the background radiation for simplicity, the temperature of the other side of the body will be 0 K, which means we have a global mean temperature of (321.9 +0)/2 K, or 160.95 K. For comparison, the mean surface temperature of the moon at the equator is 220 K, and that at 85 north is 130 K, which means the global means surface temperature of the moon is around 180 K. As can be seen, the formula does much better at predicting the surface temperatures of airless planets than does the standard equation for planets with atmospheres. That equation makes the simplifying assumption that all points on the globe have the same surface temperature - an assumption that is not too much of a distortion on the Earth, but would be absurd on the Earth with no atmosphere as it is on the Moon. Please do me the favour of actually looking at the Lunar temperature data and telling me how you reconcile that data with your predicted lunar temperature (using the standard formula for planets with atmospheres) of 270 degrees K. If you cannot reconcile the data, and as that is at minimum 20 K above the mean temperature for the Moon's equator, then you should recognize that your theory has been falsified,and admit it.
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  6. JoeRG @54 cont.:
    "As well, you ignore that water has an anomaly, what means that the highest pressure always guarantees liquid water at 4°C (pure), respectively at about 0°..-2°C (salinity level dependent). High pressure also lowers the freezing point of water (which is naturally the lower the higher salinity is)."
    (My emphasis) I find this defense of your claims utterly baffling. Water at the surface of the Ocean with no atmosphere is not under "the highest pressure", it is under no pressure. And because of that it boils while freezing. Because of that,it does not matter if the water remains liquid in the ocean depths. Either those depths will become the surface as the water above it progressively boils away; or the surface will become ice covered, thereby preventing the ocean from boiling but also insulating the surface from warmer liquid water beneath the ice and massively increasing the planetary albedo. Equally puzzling is your claim that:
    "in your last passage you again ignore the cooling of clouds (what is an amount of ~80W/m² according to Trenberth's energy budget) as well as the radiative behavior of water, what never can be like this of a black/gray body."
    First I note that anything that is neither a black body nor a grey body is perfectly reflective by definition. That is certainly not the case of water, and were it the case its albedo would be 1. Second, in my final comment of the post in question I supposed the Albedo of the Earth to be 0.1. A reduction in albedo from 0.3 to 0.1 represents a 70 W/m^2 warming effect due to reduced albedo, and by hypothesis the only reduction in albedo is the clouds. How then have I ignored them? Worse for you, according to Trenberth the surface itself reflect 23 of 184 W/m^2 of incident radiation. In other words it has an albedo of 0.125 If, then, we where to assume no increase in albedo due to extended ice sheets of sea ice; and no increase in albedo due to loss of vegetation, we should assume an albedo for the Earth of 0.125. To do otherwise is to assume that while the clouds no longer contribute to the Earth's albedo, the incident sunlight at the surface (and hence the reflected sunlight at the surface) does not increase. So, rather than ignoring significant factors in my final calculation, I have been excessively generous to your assumptions.
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  7. So Giæver is holding a presentation in front of Nobel Laureates based on information that he found by googling? Was the conference held on the day that takes place between very late March and very early April?
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  8. JoeRG, The Stefan Boltzmann (SB) law, S=εσT^4, describes the emission, not absorption of radiation. It holds over ocean as well as land. Note that it is true regardless of the source of the energy: it can be absorbed solar radiation, or it could be energy transported from below. The fact that solar radiation can penetrate deeper down does not invalidate the SB law. To elaborate on my post @52, suppose the ocean to consist of a thin surface layer and the deeper layer, the energy absorbed by the layer is (1-α)*f*S_0 + S_T where S_0 is the solar radiation, α is the albedo, f is the fraction of solar radiation absorbed by the surface, and S_T is the energy transported from the deeper layer. The energy leaving the surface layer is simply εσT^4. At equilibrium we have: eq1: (1-α)*f*S_0 + S_T= εσT^4. Whatever solar energy that is not absorbed by the surface layer must be absorbed in the deeper layer. At equilibrium it must be balanced by the energy transported to the surface layer, and hence the energy balance in the deep layer requires that eq2: (1-α)*(1-f)*S_0=S_T Combining the two equations by eliminating S_T yields: eq3: (1-α)*S_0 = εσT^4 Which is the exact same equation for the surface. Using α=0.08 as the albedo, and emissivity ε of 0.984 yields T = 273, right at freezing temperature. Source for emissivity.
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  9. I realize that the whole conversation on what the Earth's global mean temperature would be like follows from one of Dr Giaever's comments, but at this point it seems to me that it's not really pertinent to this post any further. ----- On topic: Dr Giaever's comment
    I am not really terribly interested in global warming. Like most physicists I don't think much about it.
    is yet another mystifying one. As far as I can tell, what we know about global warming stems in no small part from knowing the radiative physics of greenhouse gases. Other important findings in climate science which relate to global warming also come out of physics, particularly atmospheric physics.
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  10. Composer99@ 59: Given it was my lack of understanding of the temperature of an airless Earth (hey, I know about the *rocks*, not the black body temperature!) that was the proximate cause of the thread drift, I apologize. That said, I've learned a HUGE amount from that bit of drift, and I suppose the mods felt it was at least tangentially related to the OP. As always, I learn heaps here. I agree with your assessment, of Dr. Giaever's somewhat stunning admission of ignorance of the subject, then going off on what really amounted to a rant about it, speaking authoritatively on a subject he himself professed little interest in. It was that, and the aforementioned reference to his having done perfunctory "reasearch" on the GoogleBox that intially put me off anything else he had to say. Sadly for those of us who actually do want to engage in a scientific, rational discussion of this whole AGW topic, all it tales is one Nobel laureate to spew, then we (our) job of refutation of it just gets mearsureably that much more difficult. Though the thread did stray a bit, much was imparted in the ensuing discussion, much of which put the lie to a number of incorrect assertions Dr. Giaever posited. I believe that, over all, all our knowledge bases were increased, and we all have a few more "tools" in our toolkit to blunt the deniers' campaign against rational, fact- and data-based climate science.
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  11. Tom, if I have offended you, I truly apologize. I never meant to do so. @55: For a radiative energy budget on TOA the heat distribution of the atmosphere does not play an important role. Remember that we speak about a (radiative) fully transparent atmosphere where no radiation upwards get lost. It transports the energy to a different location where it will be radiated, but due to the small heat capacity compared to water the effect is not that large. The heat distribution of the oceans is far more important and happens even if no atmosphere is present. Your model and equation require a system which is without any heat distribution downwards below the ground (and backwards). This of course happens (nearly) on the moon. There you have a layer (the uppermost 2 cm of dust) that works as a heat shield. If you would go down only one meter, the temperature is stable independently from the surface temperature. So, heat distribution plays no role at all. But, does this happen on Earth? Obviously not. The thermal conductivity of the Earth surface ist much higher, especially if you look at the oceans. But even for solid ground it is neither comparable to the moon. Therefore another variable must be taken into account: time. No energy will be transmitted in zero time, therefore the rotation as a function of time is also a part to be considered. @56: The missing air pressure is compensated at about 1m depth. Besides, the boiling while freezing will end at the moment when the resulting water vapor forms an adequate atmosphere with the appropriate pressure by itself - and it will, because of the gravitation the water get not lost, except you have a source that blows it away. So, all about the boiling while freezing or an atmosphereless earth can only be purely hypothetical. A final question regarding your last passage: Do we compare the equilibrium temperature of the atmosphereless planet with the equ. temp. for the radiative balance on TOA? If so, why is it feasible to use the amount of radiation which results from a reduction of an atmospheric effect (clouds) - or did I just misunderstood your comment? To do otherwise is to assume that while the clouds no longer contribute to the Earth's albedo, the incident sunlight at the surface (and hence the reflected sunlight at the surface) does not increase. IanC, yes I had it wrong about SB, sorry for that. If you assume a thin layer of water for the outgoing radiation, you should be aware that the absorption for the SW is about 1/10 to 1/100 of the emission of LW - depending on the frequency, of course. So, to be able to radiate the same amount of incoming radiation it is necessary that the uppermost layer must receive the required energy from the deeper layers. This takes time and assumed that the oceanic currents are running, most of the energy disperses. So, the energy balance will be given, but with a different temperature distribution and therefore with a higher average temperature. That's why we see larger differences in net radiation over sea than over land.
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  12. Joe RG @61, in reverse order:
    "Do we compare the equilibrium temperature of the atmosphereless planet with the equ. temp. for the radiative balance on TOA? If so, why is it feasible to use the amount of radiation which results from a reduction of an atmospheric effect (clouds) - or did I just misunderstood your comment?"
    Consider the following diagram: From that diagram it is possible to determine the albedo of the Earth's surface. It is the reflected short wave radiation from the surface (23 W/m^2) divided by the incoming short wave radiation that actually strikes the surface (184 W/m^2). That is, it is 0.125, about 10% greater than the Moon's albedo. If you remove the atmosphere entirely, the full 341 W/m^2 of incoming solar radiation will strike the surface of the Earth. It must do so because there are no clouds to reflect the radiation, and no atmosphere to absorb it. The result would be that 42.6 W/m^2 will be reflected. So, Even if we assume that the plants continue to grow with no atmosphere so that the land albedo is not increased; Even if we assume that sea ice extent does not expand, and no ice sheets form on land; and Even if we assume the extremes in temperature on the Earth's surface do not increase, and indeed that the surface has a uniform temperature, the mean global surface temperature would fall from 288 K to 270 K; ie, four times the current best estimate of the difference in temperature between the holocene and the last glacial maximum. That represents your best case scenario; and given that it is obvious that sea ice will extend and that albedo will rise rapidly. *****
    "The missing air pressure is compensated at about 1m depth. Besides, the boiling while freezing will end at the moment when the resulting water vapor forms an adequate atmosphere with the appropriate pressure by itself - and it will, because of the gravitation the water get not lost, except you have a source that blows it away."
    If you don't mind my saying so, you need to think things through. First, the boiling (or rapidly evaporating) surface will drastically cool the surface, thereby rapidly cooling the oceans. The result is that the oceans will gain a crust of ice far quicker than simple considerations of temperature alone would suggest. Secondly, one meter of ice will stop the boiling, but it will also massively increase albedo. Further, It would strongly insulate the surface from retained heat in the ocean, thus preventing significant transfer of heat from the tropics to the poles at the surface. If it did not so insulate the surface, the Ocean would freeze completely very quickly, for ice has a very low emissivity for visible light (and hence a high albedo) but a very high emissivity for IR radiation. Thirdly, there are regions of the globe (most notably in the Arctic Circle) in which sunlight is insufficient to melt ice without the assistance of transported heat from the tropics. That means that any H2O atmosphere that starts to form from the boiling of the oceans at the tropics (due to low pressure) will precipitate out as frost in the arctic regions, thereby forming ice sheets over land, and increasing the depth of the sea ice over sea. This process may be stopped when sufficient water has boiled away to lower sea level significantly below the level of the ice sheets so that gravity can prevent the water vapour from being blown toward the very low pressure regions over the poles. To do that, however, sea level would need to fall by thousands of meters, giving Earth an ice age more intense than any it has experience in the past, including during Snow Ball Earth episodes. The consequence is that for all intents and purposes the albedo of Earth will rise to that of dirty ice (dirty because of ejecta from volcanoes). Even assuming equal temperatures over the globe, that results in a predicted temperature of around 186 K (albedo of 0.8 assumed). This is close to the best case for you assuming any remotely physical scenario. There would be a small greenhouse effect due to the very thin H2O, CO2, and O2/O3 atmosphere sustained by sublimation from Ice, dissassociation of H from H2O by UV light, and volcanism; but it would not raise the temperature by much. More later.
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  13. A quick correction to my preceding post. In the event of the Earth's atmsophere's being removed, there is likely to be areas of naked rock in the tropics as frost condensing there will be remelted during summer noon times and precipitate out elsewhere. That means the Earth's albedo will likely be closer to 0.6 than 0.8, with an estimated GMST of 245 K. Again, the actual temperature is likely to be substantially below this because of uneven surface temperatures.
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  14. Tom @62: Thanks for the explanations. It's true that I assumed the model that you call "best case scenario". Surely you wonder why I did so. The question for me was: what do I want to compare? Well, I compared the model of the full transparent but cloudy atmosphere with the atmospereless situation under the same conditions on ground. If I want to know the pure radiative effect of the atmosphere it didn't made any sense for me to assume different ground conditions. That's why I came to the 270K, but up from the 255K for the transparent atmosphere with cloud albedo. And again I have to say that the radiative behavior of water changes the average temperature upwards due to the energy dispersion that already happens with the current state. Therefore I do not expect a large change in albedo, at least not for the oceans. Changing ground albedo results in differing conditions which make the comparison irrelevant. To the boiling water situation: From my point of view the resulting atmosphere of (mostly) water vapor will be adequate dense because the solar power is strong enough so that the frozen water sublimates as to see on comets. The gravitation of earth on the other hand is strong enough to protect the water from blowing away. Finally, this initiates a similar greenhouse effect like on Venus because water is almost transparent for short waves but it blocks (nearly all) long waves. This changes the conditions completely to an overheated planet.
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  15. JoeRG @64, the problem is that we are discussing Vroomie's where he takes Giaever to task for saying that an atmosphere less Earth would be only around 35 K colder than it currently is. It is possible to suggest that Vroomie was nitpicking, and that Giaever clearly meant only a situation with no condensible GHG, or no condensible GHG plus water vapour. If the former, Giaever's attempted claim was correct, though his expression of it was not. However, once we accept Vroomie's criticism as the basis of discussion, as we have, we are discussing the difference between an atmosphere less Earth and one merely with no condensible GHG. If you want to consider only the radiative effects of the atmosphere, it is th later model you must consider, not the former. So, if you consider the former, you must consider more than radiative effects. Re: boiling water - comets at Earth's orbit will sublimate ice so that sunlight would certainly be strong enough to sublimate ice on an atmosphere less Earth if it where to perpendicular to the surface. If it where tangential to the surface, in contrast it would not warm the ice at all, and would result in no sublimation. So, the question is, are there portions of the Earth where, due to angle of incidence the sunlight is never strong enough to cause significant sublimation. The answer is yes, anywhere inside the arctic or antarctic circle, and probably anywhere outside the tropics. The result is that, in the event of no regular atmosphere, the water vapour atmosphere over the poles would necessarily be very thin, so that any thicker atmosphere that formed in the tropics would blow to the poles where the water vapour would precipitate as frost. Therefore a thick water vapour atmosphere is unsustainable in these conditions.
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  16. With tongue firmly in cheek, and full credit to Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and to "Jeremy" on Realclimate for pointing this out: The Life Cycle of Physicists
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  17. Ah, this is a pity... I had to suffer through the whole video and argue with sceptics about his ridiculous claims all by myself, because I did not find this website in time... For me this shows that either Nobelpreis can sometimes be given to the wrong persons, or Nobelpreis really says nothing about the winner's personal scientific integrity.
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  18. Needs a place on the page "Climate Misinformers"?

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  19. Appeal to authority happens from both sides. SkepticalScience itself did a study and wrote an article about a 97% consensus among climate scientists about global warming. On the flip side, opposers of AGW point to people like Lindzen, Frietas, Dyson, Giaver, etc ( admittedly I don't know all the scientists who have dissenting opinions, but that's not the point).

    Appeal to authority ultimately doesn't reveal to us how nature is actually behaving. The debates about "well so and so won a Nobel Prize and he thinks blah blah so it must be false" or "there are this many scientists who believe that whatever is true. how many do you have" are pointless.

    Just stick to predictions vs observations. What are the predictions of AGW and compare it observations. If it disagrees with observations then there's something wrong with the underlying hypotheses. If it agrees then AGW is strengthened. That's all there is to it. Sorry for the rant, but I see appeal to authority alot and this happens in other fields as well.

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  20. Kind of interesting: The clear evidence that the writer of this article is a pseudo-climate-scientist ... or even just a pseudo-scientist is the use of an ad hominem attack against Ivar. It gets worse immediately because Ivar's credibililty as a thinker is attacked. Is it not understood that "climate science" is not the product of a University-awarded degree in "climate science?" Indeed, when you hear the neighbor's kid is getting his undergraduate degree in "climate science" don't you role your eyes (at least to yourself)? I do, because if there is one very likely scam degree it would be one so named - "climate science." The truth is, that the true science is being discerned by collections of disciplines that include physicists, chemical engineers, biologists, and so on. So the idea of summarily attempting to invalidate the credibility to reason of someone whose boots you are unlikely be able to fill yourselves is just shit. Sorry. By doing so, you really just smeared feces all over your own petty faces. You can't make the data go away and the data is the basis of reasoning if you pretend to science at all. Instead, by using ad hominem is the opening, and then pretending that the complexity of the data "goes your way" you simply undermine your own blog. I can't help you there.

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  21. Ivar Giaever:

    "But in 2008 I was in a panel here about global warming and I had to learn something about it. And I spent a day or so - half a day maybe on Google, and I was horrified by what I learned."

    Nephre @70:

    "The truth is, that the true science is being discerned by collections of disciplines that include physicists, chemical engineers, biologists, and so on.  So the idea of summarily attempting to invalidate the credibility to reason of someone ... is just shit."

    I don't no about you, but I think spending just half a day (or perhaps a whole day) googling a topic, and then using the results of whatever blog posts you found in that google search to dismiss the work of thousands of scientists is an excellent example of "summarily attempting to invalidate the credibility of someone".  So if Nephre is consistent (which they won't be) they will consider Giaever's foray into climate science as "just shit".

    Well who could disagree with that assessment?

    What is more important, however, is that the OP did not "summarilly attempt to invalidate" Giaever.  Rather, it went in detail through the claims and in detail rebutted them.  And the rebutals were not based on half a day on google, but (given that the author was Dana) a detailed knowledge of climate science built up by years reading climate science papers, IPCC reports, books and (I am sure) the occasional blogpost.  The fact is that on Climate Science, Giaever by his own admission is completely inexpert.  He lacks relevant domain knowledge and familliarity with the relevant literature.  Dana can reasonably claim to be an expert on the topic.  Nephre, however, is quite happy to summarilly summarily attempt to invalidate the credibility to reason of someone whose boots they are unlikely be able to fill themselves, without for a moment actually engaging with the relevant evidence.

    We know what Nephre's conclusion would be - if there were any consistency in their reasoning.  Unfortunately there is not.  It is just more pointless denier crap.

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  22. This is more perpetuation of the fallacy that science is the province of professional scientists, and that without professional standing in a given speciality, one may not dispute "the experts." The experts in a field have greater standing, but that standing does not convey immunity to criticism, and it does not convey rectitude.

    Part of the problem is the use of hyperbole by those who are not scientists and do not understand the science to which they refer: calling climate change "the greatest threat to humanity" for example. It is a threat, certainly, but calling it the "greatest threat" is not a quantifiably verifiable risk assessment.

    The attractors of climate change models are huge, ranging from little to no impact to catastrophic impacts. Each point in that four dimensional attractor has an associated probability, and none of the probabilities are much greater than zero. And no one can ever gather enough information with enough precision to claim "we will be at this point fifty years from now." And no climate scientist would make such a claim.

    What the climate scientist will say is that the highest probabilities (which are still often less than 1%) are that temperatures will increase and sea levels will rise, and we should make policy decisions accordingly. 

    It is the pseudo-intellect who takes this kind of statement and projects on it the certainty of holy writ. I agree with Giaever to the extent that many climate change advocates are remind me of religious fanatics. They are as much an embarassment to science as deniers.

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  23. Andy Robinson please clarify your statement. If you are seriously arguing that the science shows the probability that oceans will rise and temperatures will increase is less than 0.01 you seriously need to do some reading.

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  24. Andy Robinson - You might want to read through the appropriate SkS thread on chaotic behavior, and learn a bit about 'boundary condition'  versus 'initial value' problems, before (incorrectly) invoking some kind of chaos based uncertainty. Your comment in that regard is nonsensical - starting with your assertion that there are exactly four variables. 

    The probabilities of sea level rise and temperature increase are 100%, as due to our fossil fuel emissions we've already committed to increases in both. The only uncertainties are how we respond, on what rate/time scale those changes will occur, and whether we act to limit their extent. 

    Overall, your comment is much akin to Giaever's - great certainty, based in apparently little background understanding. There is no reason an intelligent layman can't become quite familiar with the basics of climate change - but it takes rather more than the day and a half that Giaever devoted to it before pontificating. 

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  25. What I find most interesting about Andy Robinson's screed is the claim that:

    "What the climate scientist will say is that the highest probabilities (which are still often less than 1%) are that temperatures will increase and sea levels will rise, and we should make policy decisions accordingly."

    (My emphasis)

    There is a funny thing about probabilities.  The more vague the statement, the higher the probability that it is true.  Conversely, the more precise the statement, the less the probability that it is true.  Indeed, the only statements for which absolutely precise statements have probabilities of 1 are those which are mathematical (or tautological) truths.

    Thus, the probability that the correct answer to 2 + 2 is 4 is precisely 1.  But if we seek the answer to 2 + 2 + e, where e is a normally distrubuted variable with mean (μ) = 0 and standard deviation of σ, then no matter what the value of σ, the probability that the answer is precisely 4 equals zero.  That is because the probability of a given range of values for e is the area under the Probability Density Function of e, and if the area has a width of zero (ie a precise numerical value) the area is zero.  This is true even though 4 is the modal value for the sum 2 + 2 + e.  Conversely, as the range gets larger, the probability gets larger, regardless of the value of σ.  That is because for two ranges, such that the second is larger than but includes the first, necessarilly the area under the curve of the PDF of the second equals that of the first plus the area of its range that does not overlap with the first.  These properties of probabilities apply even when e has some more obscure distribution, unless (almost impossibly), the distribution consists of a finite number of singular values.

    The first of these properties is almost irrelevant in science.  That is because values are always quoted to a finite number of significant figures.  Thus if our answer is quoted to one significant figure, the response 4 actually indicates that value lies in the range 3.5-4.5, which can have an arbitrarilly high probability depending on the value of σ.  However, the second is always true.  If statements are vague enough, they always have a high probability.

    With these mathematical facts in mind, let us consider Robinson's claim.   We can note that it is a tautology that sea level will either rise, or it will fall, or that it will stay the same.  Ergo the probability that it will rise, or fall or stay the same is 1.  It follows that if the probability that it will rise higher than the probability that it will fall, and/or that it will stay the same, then the probability that it will rise is equal to or greater than 1/3.  That is, because of the vagueness of the claims Robinson puts in the "climate scientists" mouth, his quantification in parentheses necessarilly contradicts the statement that the "climate scientist" is supposed to indicate that a given possibility has the highest probability.  Robinson in fact neatly demonstrates that he understands neither probabilities nor science; and ergo that his screed is merely a pointless diatribe.  

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    [PS] Please avoid inflammatory remarks as per comments policy.

  26. Giaever has made a new address to the Lindau Nobel Laureate 2015 meeting.

    Here is a link to the video:

    Giaever on Climate Change

    Here is a link to my rebuttal of his speech:

    Rebuttal of Giaever Speech

    His speech is full of poorly researched data which does not represent what he says it does.

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  27. braintic @76.

    The room and the match anaolgy, "Iian Samson's problem" (at 27 mins in the video) is new to me. I found no internet comment so I did a quick back-of-the-envelop calculation.

    The ratio of atmosphere to the room is a little bigger than you calculate. Taking the troposphere as 80% of the full atmosphere yields a gas content of 3 x 1016 rooms. The analogy's use of CO2 levels increased by cars alone is a bit curious, but this is usually considered as 10% of the total CO2 emissions, thus perhaps causing +0.22ppm/year.

    That leaves the match. Perhaps Giaever uses giant matches, but the usual sort, the sort used by marchstick model makers weigh 0.11g. With 50% carbon content that puts the answer at one match every 3½ years not 20 years, a significant difference.

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  28. I'm not sure what you are saying in your last sentence.

    I didn't say "one match every 20 years".

    I said one match every minute FOR 20 years.

    Further, when carbon burns to give carbon dioxide, it combines with oxygen from the air, so it picks up mass. The molecular weight of carbon is 12. The molecular weight of carbon dioxide is 44, with the extra mass coming from an external source. So you have to multiply your estimated mass of carbon dioxide by 44/12.

    Re the ratio of atmosphere to room size - yes I was considering volume instead of quantity of air, so that calculation would be out somewhat.

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  29. braintic @78.

    The "one match every 3½ years not 20 years" concerns the one match in the room to raise the CO2 level.

    A comparison without getting too confusing. I am saying the room is bigger than your estimate (your room 30% the size of mine) and my match estimate works out smaller (my carbon content estimate for a standard sized matchstick 0.055g(C) to your 0.093g(C)).

    This still leaves the size of matchstick that Giaever is working to. If he estimates the air in the room and atmosphere correctly, his match would be very big indeed at 0.3g(C), even bigger than a large kitchen match (0.34g per item, so carbon content 0.17g(C) each).

    As for your strike rate, that would increase with the smaller matches from 1.3 matches/person/minute to 2.3. But note that only represents the carbon from car exhaust pipes that remains in the atmosphere. If this mass striking of matches is carried out in the open air, much of the released carbon would be absorbed by oceans and biosphere. We would have to strike 5 matches/person/minute to achieve the same rate of carbon release that car exhaust pipes do.

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  30. Kind of like a Biologist who spends all his life studying biology and then decides that he knows whether or not God exists and why people believe in God around the world.

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  31. Crask,

    One doesn't need a degree to know that there is no god.

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  32. From 1940 to 1970, the world industrialized nations produced far larger amount of CO2 than before due to the rapid economic growth.
    However, the global temperature did not increase during the period(Figure 1).
    How do you explain this?

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] This is offtopic here. Please see co2 temperature correlation. Climate responds to net forcings not just CO2. See the graph of net forcings versus temperature at bottom of article and make any comment on that topic, not here.

  33. It seems that climate change denialism is one of the few fields where prominent scientists are accepted as credible, even when they have no climate expertise.  Another physics Nobel laureate, William Shockley, began to express unfounded, racist views late in his career, and was condemned as having no expertise to support his views, despite his obvious brilliance as a physicist.  So why are physicists, geologists, or even folks with PhDs in the liberal arts taken seriously as climate scientists, just because they have an advanced degree or an award that in no way relates to climate science?  Could it be that they are celebrated and publicized by prominent deniers?

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  34. It's called "going Emeritus". Many, many examples.

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  35. Everyone including me uses Confirmation Bias, usually unknowingly using 'facts' to prove their usually already decided PoV (for some perceived conscious or subconscious advantage); and we confabulate arguments to justify this; I'm a scientist, but admitedly not in the field of Climate but did study some at University.

    Ask yourselves:

    1.Why are there so many sites 'proving' either side?

    2.Whose making money out of this? (apart from the big guy in this)

    3.Why does there have to be a so called consensus?

    (you don't really hear that much about other areas of science except maybe evolution)

    4.Why is there so much cyberbulling on this subject?

    5.Either way skepticism is the way of science; chilax peops!

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  36. Well to answer your questions,

    1/ I would say the following: Firstly, in looking at the problem, the proposed solutions (ways to encourage reduction in emissions), involve international treaties, government legislation, changes to taxes, plus for added measure guilt about fun activities. These are anathema to portion of population, particularly in US, who hate anything to do with gov'mt. Furthermore, early proponents of climate action (eg Al Gore) was from wrong tribe. Climate action would also involve loss of shareholder value for some powerful companies.

    So what happens is a mass of misinformation sites being created. This in turn, drives the creation of sites like this by people sick of it, but concerned at affect on electorate.

    2/ This question seems odd. You propose that people only act because there is money to made? There is no place for concern about environment, our fellow planet-dwellers, or future generations? Is money the only thing that would motivate you? Surely not!

    3/ There doesnt. The point about proving concensus is to counter the argument "that there is no concensus". A consensus doesnt prove the science is right but the only rational path for policy however is to be guided by concensus, particularly if it is strong.

    4/ Because the stakes are mind-boggling high? What do you consider as cyber-bullying?

    5/ Couldnt agree more about the way of science. However, I am not chilaxed about governments ignoring the science because solutions to the problem are unpalatable.

    Just a thought - if you are in science, do think social/government action in areas touched by your subject should be on the basis of consensus position as expressed in peer-reviewed journals, - or from uninformed, politically driven amateurs doing "blog science"?

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  37. The Holocene Temperature Variations chart included in this article clearly confirms Ivar Giaver's conclusions and debunks the authors claim. The average temperature over the last 6000 years has been in a gradual decline and has not varied more than 0.5 degrees Celcius. Where is the Global warming? It is natural for climate to change as it has for millions of years. The theory of global warming is completely debunked by this chart.  In addition, recent revelations about NOAA temperature measurements on a global scale show that they have been artificially adding to the temperatures recorded to show a warming trend.  It appears they have been averaging the temperatures up to prove this theory.  

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    Moderator Response:

    [TD] There is an arrow pointing to 2004. And there is a small graph embedded in the top right of that graph, magnifying the recent data.

    [JH] Sloganeering snipped. 

  38. "Where is the Global warming?"

    Right here:

    Here's your warming


    And Here:

    Here's your warming

    "It is natural for climate to change as it has for millions of years"

    So many fallacies, so little time...

    FYI, the Earth's climate only changes in response to warming or cooling forcings. No known natural forcing fits the fingerprints of observed warming except anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

    And this gem:

    "There is less than a 1-in-27 million chance that Earth's record hot streak is natural"

    Lol.  Let's see what else you got:

    "The theory of global warming is completely debunked by this chart"

    Nope.  You smear the difference between a scientific hypothesis and a scientific theory.

    Occasionally, scientific ideas (such as biological evolution) are written off with the putdown "it's just a theory." This slur is misleading and conflates two separate meanings of the word theory: in common usage, the word theory means just a hunch, but in science, a theory is a powerful explanation for a broad set of observations. To be accepted by the scientific community, a theory (in the scientific sense of the word) must be strongly supported by many different lines of evidence. So biological evolution is a theory (it is a well-supported, widely accepted, and powerful explanation for the diversity of life on Earth), but it is not "just" a theory.


    Words with both technical and everyday meanings often cause confusion. Even scientists sometimes use the word theory when they really mean hypothesis or even just a hunch. Many technical fields have similar vocabulary problems — for example, both the terms work in physics and ego in psychology have specific meanings in their technical fields that differ from their common uses. However, context and a little background knowledge are usually sufficient to figure out which meaning is intended.

    Below is a generalized sequence of steps taken to establish a scientific theory:

    1. Choose and define the natural phenomenon that you want to figure out and explain.
    2. Collect information (data) about this phenomena by going where the phenomena occur and making observations. Or, try to replicate this phenomena by means of a test (experiment) under controlled conditions (usually in a laboratory) that eliminates interference's from environmental conditions.
    3. After collecting a lot of data, look for patterns in the data. Attempt to explain these patterns by making a provisional explanation, called a hypothesis.
    4. Test the hypothesis by collecting more data to see if the hypothesis continues to show the assumed pattern. If the data does not support the hypothesis, it must be changed, or rejected in favor of a better one. In collecting data, one must NOT ignore data that contradicts the hypothesis in favor of only supportive data. (That is called "cherry-picking" and is commonly used by pseudo-scientists attempting to scam people unfamiliar with the scientific method. A good example of this fraud is shown by the so-called "creationists," who start out with a pre-conceived conclusion - a geologically young, 6,000 year old earth, and then cherry-pick only evidence that supports their views, while ignoring or rejecting overwhelming evidence of a much older earth.)
    5. If a refined hypothesis survives all attacks on it and is the best existing explanation for a particular phenomenon, it is then elevated to the status of a theory.
    6. A theory is subject to modification and even rejection if there is overwhelming evidence that disproves it and/or supports another, better theory. Therefore, a theory is not an eternal or perpetual truth.

    For a good discussion of science terminology (especially for the "Evidence, not Proof" bit), see here.

    FYI: Anthropogenic climate change (ACC)/anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is not a hypothesis. It is a robust theory, referred to as "settled fact" by scientists.

    Per the National Academies of Science, science advisors to Congress and the Office of the Presidency since Lincoln, in their 2010 publication Advancing The Science Of Climate Change (p. 22):

    "Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small.

    Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts.

    This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities."

    And note that the above National Academies paper is available for free download after a free registration. No purchase necessary. And the quote is from page 22.

    "Settled facts"... Just rollsssss off the tongue...

    Back to you.  Be warned, I'm just getting warmed up.

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  39. Well, the first thing I noticed about idliedtke's post is that there is a complete ignorance of the meaning of "BP" in the graphic in question. That's "Before Present", where "Present" is the standard geological 1950. So the graph ends in 1950. There is the phrase "mid-20th century" in the caption, which where I come from also means some time around 1950.

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  40. I believe there are very smart people on both sides of the isle here, however I believe there's some missing logic on the global warming side.

    I have seen the statement that
    Ivar Giaever is not fit to address the issue because its not his field of expertise.

    Is it true that science has such a standard?  Can a person with extensive knowledge in one field dabble in another's?  Is it even possible that he may have an opinion that becomes the authority in another field of expertise?  Sure, if we are all prepared to change our minds on Darwin.

    Charlse Darwin was not a doctor, biologist, zoologist, nor veteranarian, but an expert Geologist.  Now are we going to throw out 100 years of internal medicine over our bias?

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  41. magellan. The amount of domain knowledge required to make a contribution to a field has gone up exponentially since Darwin. While it is indeed possible for people to make contributions outside their field, it takes considerably more work than 1/2 a days googling. The criticism of Giaever is not so much that he is outside his field, but - as demostrated above if you read the article carefully - that he didnt bother to gain any the requirisite background before making uninformed remarks.

    The standard in science for making a contribution to a field, is to publish new insights in a peer-reviewed journal. Instead he is trying to make statements from an authority position (that he doesnt actually have), in support of an ideologically-driven agenda (ie his involvement with Heartland). In science palance, he has "gone emeritus". Not the first and wont be the last.

    I have no time for ideologically-driven thinkers of left or right. Thinking that goes from " Proposition A would require Action B which is contrary to my political values; ergo Proposition A is wrong" is demonstrating the failure of education in critical thinking.

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  42. Magellan @90 , it is a strawman argument to say that: "Ivar Giaever is not fit to address the issue because its [sic] not his field of expertise".   And I'd love to know who are the "very smart people on both sides of the isle [sic] here".   And which island are you referring to?

    Magellan, you entirely miss the point about criticism of Giaever.  It is irrelevant which "field of expertise" he previously came from.

    Giaever's incompetent assessment of climate science is being criticized because

    (A) He got it wrong.  And got it wrong bigly !

    (B) He had the hubris to think that a few hours of googling  the topic of climate science would gain him enough knowledge to make a worthwhile contribution to the public discussion.

    (C) He had the arrogance to think that a few hours' reading on non-specialist websites would qualify him to declare that all the experts were wrong.

    (D) At the age of 83 , he had the chutzpah to lecture a formal gathering of Nobel Laureates (and also of many bright young scientists) about how science is done properly — while at the same time demonstrating his own failure to think logically about science!   What an embarrassing performance in front of the young scientists (not to mention in front of the Laureates).   Truly cringeworthy stuff !

    (E) And he had the lack of insight to recognize the above.

    ~ Magellan, possibly you do not recognize/comprehend Scaddenp's euphemism of "Gone Emeritus" about Giaever.   "Gone Emeritus" is a term used about some retired professors or retired eminent scientists — it represents a pathological fusion of hubris & mild senile dementia.   It shows itself as wacky beliefs and/or a maverick's disregard of the evidence base of mainstream science.

    If Giaever were 50 or 60 years younger, then scientists would simply call him a silly young fool.  Yet still have some hope that he would come to his senses as he got a bit older.

    Magellan, possibly you are not aware of the insidiously corrupting effects of small amounts of money or other inducement.   Money etc that Giaever receives from propaganda organizations (e.g. his payments from the Heartland Institute in his role as an apologist for Big Tobacco) might not appear to you as very much or very likely to influence a famous/wealthy person to any great degree.   But psychologists' experiments show that a small amount (such as $25,000*) can be more effective than a large amount (say $500,000) in maintaining & entrenching a person's adherence to a particular line of thinking.   So for rather small amounts, the propaganda paymasters get very good value for money!!


    [ * I mention this figure because it is an example: of a sum paid to the science-denier Richard Lindzen by Peabody Energy.   I have not seen the size of the payments / stipends / gratuities / subsidies received by Judith Curry or her like, from paymasters such as Heartland, the GWPF, or under-the-counter industry slush funds. ]

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  43. magellan @90, before Darwin went to Cambridge, he studied to become a doctor for two years at Edinburgh.  While he neglected his formal studies, he hung out with scientists, and most of his extra curricular studies was in biology.  He was a member of the Plinian Society, and a regular companion of Robert Edmond Grant, a biologist.  It was at the Plinian Society that he made his first two original contributions to science, both in the field of biology.

    At Cambridge, he again neglected his formal studies, but became closely attached to a group of scientists.  The closest of those attachments was to John Stevens Henslow, who was best known as a botanist.  The attachment was so close that Darwin's nickname at Cambridge was "he who walk's with Henslow".  It was on Henslow's reccomendation that Darwin was offered a position on the Beagle.

    Darwin's interest in geology came late at Cambridge, and mostly consisted of a walking tour of Wales with Adam Sedgwick.  That education in geology was expanded on by reading Lyell's "Principles of Geology" while onboard the Beagle.

    As you can see, you have the facts regarding Darwin exactly reversed.  It was biology that he had more extensively studied when he first came on board the Beagle, an area in which he had already made two, minor discoveries.  It is unlikely that his late interest in geology would have much influenced Henslow's recommendation, given that the recommendation was made while Darwin was still touring Wales (and hence before Henslow could assess what he had learnt thereby).

    This is often forgotten because Darwin's most initially celebrated accomplishments were in the field of geology - first in the form of a detailed description of the effects of an earthquake on local sea level in South America, and then, most famously, in his description of who coral atolls are formed, and what explains their distribution.

    But following those acheivements, he was heavilly involved in classifying his biological finds; and then published a major contribution to biological systematics in two volumes before turning to witting The Origen of Species.

    Your argument would be better if reversed, but even then it would be wrong, for by the time Darwin made his geological contributions, he had accompanied Sedgwik on the tour of Wales (as a result of which, and possibly other tours, Sedgwick discovered the Cambrian); and read Lyell's Principles while carefully comparing those principles to geological phenomenon around the world.

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  44. Magellan @90 and Tom Curtis

    We often see scientists from non-climate fields who believe they have sufficient expertise to understand climate science despite having done minimal research on the subject; William Happer, Fritz Vahrenholt, and Bob Carter, for example.

    What bothered me the most isn’t that they are from other fields or did minimal research; that could be a plus for having a different perspective. What bothered me the most is that nobody actually doing the research was able to convince nobel laureates on this topic of global warming. These guys are not idiots. It seems that with some good convincing presentations you should be able to get them all to fall in line. If you are not able to explain or convince another scientist and a Nobel laureate, it raises very very serious concerns that climate scientists don’t really have any substantive evidence. Why would any trained scientist remain unconvinced if you present him with the data and a good argument? 

    For instance, if he questions how you can even get an average temperature, the correct response should be. Here is how the scientists did it. Here are the considerations.  How we took the averages. Here are the questions and discussions. Here are the criticisms of this method. Here is what we finally settled on. This is the correlation and this is the causation. Remember he is a physicist. He is used to just doing an experiment to verify his theories. Climate scientists don’t have that luxury. They have to use some other method. They are in the same league as Darwin. And you know how evolution debate went. Almost parallel climate science. A consensus of Darwinian evolution. Finally giving way to accepting a minority view. My own understanding of evolution is now. Yes. There is evolution (not the current definition, undefined for me). No. It is not Darwinian. It is not random.   Likewise, a concensus of catastrophic man-made global warming.  Giving way to a minority view. My own understanding of global warming is: Yes. There is global warming (as partially due to natural variabilit). No. It is not catastrophic. It is only partially man-made. Probably not significant. Pollution is probably more of a pressing problem.

    I am not a scientist. I have come to my own conclusions by watching the various discussions on the internet. My belief is that from a starting point of zero knowledge on any scientific topic and using the scientific method you should be able to get to the truth logically. I also believe that if a scientist is unable to convince me logically by means of the scientific method, I remain unconvinced. No need of any consensus.

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  45. ATC,

    Most scientists follow the path you outline and agree with the consensus.  Trump is unable to find a scientific advisor becasue no-one will support his climate program.

    It is not a surprise that 1 or 2% of scientists have preconcieved notions that prevent them from accepting the consensus.  No-one would care what Happer thinks about most anything if he was not a denier.  The same for Curry, Vahrenvolt, Carter and Spencer.  They get their name in the newspaper regularly, get to write OP-Eds for the Wall Street Journal and get paid to testify to congress simply because they are deniers.  Many are tempted just by the fame not to mention the money.

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  46. Atc,

    To me, your post has too many contradictions. How can you be swayed by somebody smart supposedly not being convinced by a coherent scientific argument while at the same time not being bothered that they may have done only minimal research? That is contradictory. One can not assess how convincing the science is by doing only minimal research. If one has objections, the obvious thing to do is to epxplore whether these objections have been the subject of study. Giaever apparently doesn't think that he could be wrong, and it's not worth his time to look deeper. That is not a very rigorous way to go about any subject for a scientist.  

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  47. ATC @94 , you might benefit from watching the video recording of Dr Giaever addressing a meeting composed of Nobel Laureates & bright young scientists, where he states that (from a cold start) he researched online to gather views & evidence on AGW . . . and he spent only half a day or so gathering information.  On the strength of that, he started lecturing the expert climate scientists on how they were all doing it wrong.  The video is quite painful to watch, as Giaever (in full lecturing pontification mode) tells the audience how to do science — while himself demonstrating the exact opposite of good scientific thinking.

    It must have been an absolutely cringeworthy experience, for the poor audience.   But possibly the audience was able to tolerate the debacle — by remembering how sometimes even the most distinguished savants can deteriorate into "going Emeritus". [ NB — the cartoon in post #66, by poster KR ].

    Somewhat younger scientists (such as Spencer and Lindzen) appear to have their rational abilities severely compromised by old-fashioned religious concepts (concepts which are condemned by modern religious figures such as the Pope).

    Some scientists, such as Dr Koonin, exhibit similar irrationality about AGW science — but their psychological motivation is less clear (to me).

    Nevertheless, Atc, with or without obvious causation of their intellectual dysfunction, there is an interesting tiny minority of practising "scientists" who are in full denial of the facts of climate change.   Whether influenced by monetary inducement (or the ego-boosting inducements of fame/celebrity in newsprint or the invitations to address Congressional/Senatorial committees) or for reasons of extremist religious attitudes, or from having a perverted contrariness of personality . . . or for a mixture of these reasons . . . we find such people existing !!

    Atc, I am slightly surprised that you have not observed such human frailties around you, in your life up till now.   The existence of such people, does in no way indicate that there must be some merit in what they say.  You can even find intelligent Flat-Earthers !!

    Atc, please educate yourself to at least a moderate level of climate science knowledge.   You will very soon see why the mainstream consensus position is held by (very close to) 100% of climate scientists.  And as you progress through life, I hope you will come to recognize that there will always be a minority of crazies who can never be convinced by truth and logic.

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  48. Micheal @95,

    If you are new to the field, why would you start out by agreeing with the consensus. You should start out by disagreeing and then slowly answer the questions you have. If you were a scientist, the first thing you normally do is to survey the literature to see what’s written about the topic. Usually if the topic is mature and settled, you should be able to find a survey paper usually done by a senior scientist in that field; this paper summarizes the current findings and put it in historical timeline ; you would find at the end of the paper a list of references. That way, you can trace when, what, who to see how an idea developed. 

    The insinuation of someone working for money is equally applicable to both sides of the aisle. Do you really think there would be any research money if global warming was not viewed as man-made and catastrophic? It has to be man-made CO2 in order to target the fossil-fuel companies so that the green energy companies have a chance. It has to be catastrophic in order for you to make the investments now. Why pay more for electricity unless you think it is catastrophic if you don’t? Missing either one and you go nowhere. 

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB]  "If you are new to the field, why would you start out by agreeing with the consensus. You should start out by disagreeing and then slowly answer the questions you have"

    On the contrary, a real skeptic would refrain from forming any opinion on the subject until they had learned enough to actually understand their limitations.

  49. Philippe @96,

    It seems like a contradiction. But I have a habit of reading about geniuses. The way they solve problems is definitely not the way we do it.

    Gauss. When he was 10, his math teacher asked the class to add 1 to 100. Instead of adding one number at a time he did the following in his head
    1 +2+.... +50
    100+ 51
    101 +. ... 101. 50 times.
    He wrote down only the answer 5050.

    Richard Feymann. When asked how is it that you solve your problems, he replied I already see the answer. What you see me doing is actually me working backwards to answer.

    I am pretty sure Giaever is in the same class of geniuses.

    This is the real reason I am bothered with this whole climate science thing. When you have people of this caliber asking questions that are not being answered, this definitely has my attention.

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  50. Atc @95 , on the question of money — the remuneration of 200 deniers by fossil fuel companies, and the remuneration of 20,000 scientists by governments & universities . . . is an apples & oranges comparison.  And is somewhat off-topic for this thread.  Even further off-topic, are crazy conspiracy theories.

    If you were new to the field of Earth's geography, why would you not start investigating it by commencing from the mainstream consensus scientific position (= Round Earth) — why would you commence with the Old Testament position of Flat Earth.  Really, Atc, you have made a very strange suggestion.

    And why would you wish to pay more for electricity in future years (as coal-burning power generation becomes increasingly more expensive than wind or solar) ??   Quite apart from the other aspects !

    Howzabout we get back to the science.  Also check out my post #92 on Giaever (which also touches briefly on the psychology of money payments).

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