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Climate Hustle

The contradictory nature of global warming skepticism

Posted on 11 September 2010 by dana1981

A major challenge in conversing with anthropogenic global warming (AGW) skeptics is that they constantly seem to move the goalposts and change their arguments.  As a consequence, they also frequently contradict themselves.  One day they'll argue the current global warming is caused by the Sun, the next that it's "natural cycles", the next that the planet is actually cooling, and the next day they'll say the surface temperature record is unreliable, so we don't even know what the global temperature is.  This is why Skeptical Science has such an extensive skeptic argument list.

It should be obvious that the arguments listed above all contradict each other, yet they're often made by the same skeptics.  As one prominent example, in 2003 physicist and skeptic Fred Singer was arguing that the planet wasn't warming, yet in 2007 he published a book arguing that the planet is warming due to a 1,500-year natural cycle.  You can't have it both ways!

It's a testament to the robustness of the AGW theory that skeptics can't seem to decide what their objection to it is.  If there were a flaw in the theory, then every skeptic would pounce on it and make a consistent argument, rather than the current philosophy which seems to be "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks."

It would behoove AGW skeptics to decide exactly what their objection to the scientific theory is, because then it would be easier to engage in a serious discussion, rather than the current situation where we're basically playing whack-a-mole with the favored skeptic argument of the day, which totally contradicts the favored skeptic argument from yesterday.

Just as one example, you can't argue that the Sun is causing global warming and that climate sensitivity is low.   Solar output has only increased by about 0.1% over the past century, and the way you determine the associated global temperature change is to multiply the change in solar radiative forcing by the climate sensitivity factor.  So they only way you could argue for a significant solar warming would be if climate sensitivity is high.  You just can't have it both ways - if climate sensitivity is low, it's not just low with respect to greenhouse gases, it's also low to solar activity, orbital variations, volcanic emissions, etc.  And if it's low, then the Sun has caused less than 0.1°C of the 0.8°C warming over the past century.  Similarly, arguing for a low climate sensitivity contradicts the climate has changed before argument for the same reason.  If climate sensitivity is low, it will prevent significant climate changes regardless of the cause, whether they be anthropogenic or solar or some other natural forcing.

If you want to argue that the warming is due to a natural cycle, then pick a specific natural cycle and research it.  Make sure there's a scientific basis to your argument.  For example, don't argue that it's due to a 1,500-year cycle when the planet wasn't warming 1,500 years ago!  But most importantly, don't contradict yourself by claiming that the planet isn't warming the next day.  These kinds of flip-flops are common on Anthony Watts' blog, which had a very schizophrenic six month period:

And that's when he's not arguing that the surface temperature record is so contaminated that we don't even know if the planet is warming.  Or that this supposedly unreliable data shows cooling.

But until skeptics start making some consistent arguments, Skeptical Science has set up a page listing all the skeptic arguments that contradict each other in order to make the mole whacking a little easier.

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 326:

  1. Well the lefty, greenies at Deutsche Bank reviewed the suite of skeptic claims about AGW and here is their conclusion:

    http://www.dbcca.com/dbcca/EN/investment-research/investment_research_2355.jsp

    "The paper's clear conclusion is that the primary claims of the skeptics do not undermine the assertion that human-made climate change is already happening and is a serious long term threat. Indeed, the recent publication on the State of the Climate by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), analyzing over thirty indicators, or climate variables, concludes that the Earth is warming and that the past decade was the warmest on record."-Deutsche Bank

    It seems that there are places where a reasoned, scientifically based argument are listened to....
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  2. BP,

    "Just one example. The ARGO fleet happens not to measure any accumulation of heat in the upper 700 m layer of oceans since its large scale deployment started around mid 2003. "

    You are making the same faulty assumptions that Pielke Snr is making. Not only that, but you are also relying on one group's analysis of the data (NODC), and ignoring other (inconvenient?) analyses such as von Shuckmann, PMEL and Hadley. Smacks of confirmation bias to me BP.

    Either the global sea-level data have serious issues, or the Argo-derived OHC data have serious issues, or both have serious issues.

    The planet is in an energy imbalance because of higher concentrations of GHGs, and as a result it is accumulating heat and warming (over the long term). And global SL continue to rise at around + 3 mm/yr (with the expected dips and peaks of course) and global SATs (and MSU data and radiosonde data) show robust long-term warming.
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  3. Mosh,

    Anthony ceaselessly throws a lot of contradictory stuff at the wall to see what sticks. In the minds of his readers, as he must surely understand, nearly everything does stick, no matter that it contradicts what they hailed yesterday. In this case, he is the purveyor of contradictions, rather than the muddled idjit that holds them to be true (probably), but that hardly lets him off the hook, and I think the practise even more turgid than simply swallowing the dichotomies.

    It doesn't matter how carefully he tries to distance himself from the pieces he posts or promotes, or casts himself as someone who 'muses' on these things - his agenda is patently clear and it's what the regulars go there for. Whether or not he endorses any of the stuff he oversees is a pretty meaningless technicality.
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  4. It’s very difficult to have this dialog and “dance around” the difference between skepticism and denialism. Skeptical Science has remained committed to discussing scientific evidence, but ultimately we are stymied when criticism of AGW is rooted in dogma.

    The arguments cited in the original blog (above) are not [self-]contradictory, nor are they correctly described as “skeptical”, if they are in fact “denialist” in origin. While they may appear to contradict one another, they are remarkably self-consistent, as they are all corollaries of the premise that AGW is false.

    If it is presumed that AGW is false, then ipso facto: a) any argument that appears to support AGW must be wrong, and b) any argument that appears either to disprove AGW, or to offer an alternative explanation, is not only deemed worthy of serious consideration, but is usually presumed to be valid. This is one reason why I’m reluctant to refer to denialists as “skeptics”. Bona fide skeptics should be equally skeptical of all hypotheses of climate change, not just toward a single hypothesis they happen not to like (i.e. AGW).

    Denialists occasionally have served a useful role in the scientific method, by questioning the validity of certain evidence. Regardless of their intent, their criticisms have ultimately strengthened the support for AGW. For example, Anthony Watts’ criticisms of the quality of surface weather stations motivated Menne et al. (2010) to re-assess the data, which has strengthened our confidence that the warming documented by these stations is real. If Anthony Watts were a skeptic, he would either acknowledge this conclusion or present evidence to the contrary. To the best of my knowledge, he has done neither. At the same time, he continues to infer--without any corroborating evidence--that these suspect stations would produce a large artificial positive bias. It’s far more credible to me that arguments such as these are intended more to create doubt and confusion than to get at the truth.

    AGW is a testable hypothesis. The scientific evidence either supports it or not…. and the available evidence supports it. Unfortunately, the fundamental premise of AGW Denialism—that AGW is false--is not itself falsifiable, which is what makes it a premise, not an hypothesis. In fact, it can’t be a valid hypothesis, as it represents nothing more than the negation of AGW.

    As the fundamental underlying presumption of AGW Denialism remains unshaken, AGW Denialists will rarely admit to being wrong about anything... ever!!! They simply move on to the next argument, or “move the goal posts”, as noted by archiesteel Eventually, they get back to recycling old arguments. It would be nice if Denialists would admit to being wrong from time to time, but the best we can hope for in most circumstances is that they simply stop talking (or posting), notwithstanding that they occasionally—even if rarely—actually make a useful contribution to scientific understanding.
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  5. CoalGeologist, for what it's worth, Watts has been promising for a couple of years now to submit a paper that re-examines the temperature record based on the surfascestations project. Hitherto, his publications (not peer-reviewed) have pointed out the problems but not crunched the numbers. Apparently, the paper is soon to be submitted. But you're right that he has made all sorts of pronouncements without doing a proper, comprehensive analysis, or even a half-arsed one.

    I think surfacestations.org is a good project, minus the rhetoric, and hope that his paper gets published.
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  6. @BP: "That being said I ask you why should so called skeptics be consistent among them?"

    It's fine if they're not consistent with each other; it's when they start not being consistent with *themselves* that there's a problem.

    The rest of your post is a big logical fallacy which is just a pretext to push your ideas about ARGO and ocean acidification yet again. It is off-topic, and false: the fact there exists apparent contradictions in research is irrelevant to the fact that denialists often contradict themselves.
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  7. BP #50

    This seems to be the appropriate thread to bring this up again, given it's about the behaviour of so-called sceptics. The accusation against you of possible scientific fraud is actually quite serious. Why should we take anything you say seriously until you've dealt with it? Answer: we shouldn't. You devalue your contribution by leaving things like this hanging. Cop outs aren't good enough - you were asked to perform an elementary statistica procedure on data that you had analysed, but you refused. If you don't know how to deal with it, pass your processed data on to someone else to do it for you.
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  8. Hey David Walters! I can't find the link but I remember that a few years back those leftie Greenies from The Pentagon were saying that Global Warming was a bigger threat to global security than terrorism! Yeah, but what would they know eh?
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  9. Actually, here we are-those Greenies over at The Pentagon are looking to rank Global Warming as a major destabilizing force:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/31/pentagon-ranks-global-warming-destabilising-force
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  10. Well gee, Eric, call me crazy, but the neutron counts seem to be inversely proportional to sunspot numbers. So when sunspot numbers are higher (which has historically correlated with warmer temperatures) neutron counts are lower-& vice versa. So I'm not surprised that record low sunspot numbers would bring about record high neutron counts-but it doesn't change the fact that it is sunspot numbers that directly correlate to Total Solar Irradiance &, therefore, energy reaching Earth-not the neutron count. Seriously, Eric, if you're going to show graphs that "prove" your point, make sure they do first-as your graph actually just reinforces the anti-skeptic argument even further.
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  11. Berényi Péter @50:

    You state that "Genuine skepticism is never settled and considers its subject from all possible (and impossible) angles, that's only natural."

    This is nonsensical. Skepticism represents an approach to science. It's not something that can, itself, be "settled". I, for example, am an ardent skeptic by nature. My usual approach to any conclusion is that "It's wrong.". This does not imply, however, that I am incapable of changing my mind... only that I'm more predisposed than most to doubt established conclusions. I don't believe, however, that my willingness to admit being wrong is very typical.

    Skepticism can lead to formulation of skeptical hypotheses, but these must be testable if they are to be regarded as scientific hypotheses. I'm afraid that in most skeptical arguments, the hypothesis being tested is not very clearly articulated.

    You are correct to ask why skeptics should be required to be consistent in their arguments if scientists are allowed to disagree among themselves. This is a valid point if, and only if skeptical hypotheses are refutable. The entire structure of science is built upon proposing new hypotheses, testing them, and progressively improving our understanding. A good deal of the frustration that that many people have with pseudo-skeptics is that we can't ever seem to make any progress. The same arguments keep coming up again and again and again...

    Let's use your ocean warming argument as an example... (which should not be debated here, but elsewhere in SkS).... If there were relatively new scientific evidence of "Robust warming of the global upper ocean", would your (presumed) hypothesis be falsifiable?

    Finally, as a scientist, I find your references to a "scare" and your use of the term "debunk" to be extremely offensive. If you have these sorts of views, I wish you'd leave them off these pages.

    (BTW... Have you ever considered that accusations of a "scare" is itself a "scare"?)
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  12. Re: Marcus (60)

    I couldn't find an exact match for your Pentagon reference but this should be a pretty good match.

    Pages 44-48 are most pertinent.

    The Yooper
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  13. archiesteel (#45): Clouds are correlated with neutron count: http://rspa.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/462/2068/1221.full but are a complex situation, the albedo change depends on what is underneath, the warm low tops may emit more IR to space than what is underneath, see http://www.eas.gatech.edu/files/Webster1981a.pdf

    The most prominent effect of increases in nuclei is the increase in water vapor removal, see
    http://md1.csa.com/partners/viewrecord.php?requester=gs&collection=TRD&recid=0120419EN&q=&uid=789815111&setcookie=yes
    for example. This is more important than clouds since it will have pretty much the same effect planet-wide whereas the clouds themselves will not.
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  14. Marcus says "sunspot numbers that directly correlate to Total Solar Irradiance". See my previous post, it is a weather and sensitivity argument. TSI is a small incoming energy change like you say but really being used as a red herring for a larger number of solar effects which modulate WV and back radiation.
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  15. Steven Mosher @47
    Nice try but no dice. It is Watts' site. He has a point of view. He has made it very clear. YOU could tell me his point of view.

    He doesn't post these contradictory things and say "Well this contradicts what we looked at last month - more research needed."- He post them all as PROOF that AGW isn't happening, or doesn't matter or whatever.

    Perhaps you have spent so much time at sites specializing in sophistry that has become your method of debating?

    You have a very small pedantic point "Anthony Watts, did not say each of those things, in his own words." But he posted and agreed with those points - so what is the difference in reality?
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  16. A few of points Eric. Firstly, as has been pointed out to you, there is no upward-or downward trend in neutron counts (neutron counts in 1965 were about as high as 2008) & certainly seem to have no correlation to delta T-as the neutron count is clearly cyclical in nature, yet delta T is linear.
    Secondly, I've yet to see a single paper which shows a clear downward trend in global cloud cover-over the last 3 to 5 decades-in order to blame it-& not CO2 emissions-on recent global warming.
    Thirdly, as was shown by the CERES satellite studies earlier this decade, the *net* effect of cloud cover is almost zero-as albedo effects from clouds are almost completely canceled out by their IR-trapping ability.
    Fourthly, if reduced cloud cover/reduced albedo were the *real* cause of accelerated warming, then one would expect to see little to no change in stratospheric temperatures (or, at best, a modest warming of the stratosphere). Yet instead we see a consistent decline in stratospheric temperatures-something which can only be adequately be explained by trapping of IR radiation by GHG's.

    So what we're left with is the simple fact that whilst there is a strong correlation between CO2 & delta T & an historically strong correlation between sunspot numbers per cycle & delta T, you instead choose to dispute these correlations by using some "out of left field" explanation that relies solely on a factor that has no upward or downward trend to speak of & which even its proponents admit has a *non-linear* effect on cloud cover (for the record, Lindzen & Choi have actually shown that increased global temperatures can also reduce cloud cover in certain regions of the planet-the so-called Iris Effect). So wheras sunspot numbers are in fact a *major* element of climate, you instead throw up a red herring with neutron counts-which from any standpoint seem to be having a very *miniscule* effect on global climate.
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  17. Barry:

    "barry at 09:33 AM on 12 September, 2010
    Mosh,

    "Anthony ceaselessly throws a lot of contradictory stuff at the wall to see what sticks. In the minds of his readers, as he must surely understand, nearly everything does stick, no matter that it contradicts what they hailed yesterday. In this case, he is the purveyor of contradictions, rather than the muddled idjit that holds them to be true (probably), but that hardly lets him off the hook, and I think the practise even more turgid than simply swallowing the dichotomies."

    Well wrong. Most people do not understand how content gets staged for WUWT, how it gets approved and what the editorial criteria are. If Gavin wants to post there, he can. Same with Mann or Jones or you. The theme of the blog is What's up with That? in this case scientist A says X, scientist B says NOT X. what's up with that? well, a fun conversation is WHAT. Pieces are slected because they are new, unusual, puzzling, contradictory. What you want is for somebody else, some authority, to settle the controversy. Anthony is happy to let his readers try. blood sport. Since I see it from the inside, since I myself have scheduled articles for publication I can tell you how I picked them. I picked the articles that I thought would start good debates. That means stuff on the edge, stuff making claims not heard before, or revisions of old positions. Watts as Purveyor of contradictions? ok fine.
    But that was NOT the claim made in the piece. NOT the claims made. This blog writer claims that sceptics contradicted themselves ( and he Picked some of my favorite examples, there are more) BUT he failed to sustain that prove that case in the case of WUWT. Sloppy thinking, sloppy reading, sloppy citatation. F

    "It doesn't matter how carefully he tries to distance himself from the pieces he posts or promotes, or casts himself as someone who 'muses' on these things - his agenda is patently clear and it's what the regulars go there for. Whether or not he endorses any of the stuff he oversees is a pretty meaningless technicality."

    To the claim made in this piece "A major challenge in conversing with anthropogenic global warming (AGW) skeptics is that they constantly seem to move the goalposts and change their arguments. " My point is this.
    The citations of Watts posting articles published by science journals DOES NOT make a case for Watt's contradiction. It fails miserably to show Watts changing HIS argument. It is watts, showing other people arguing from different sides of the question.

    You can however make the case that you made. That Anthony tends to amplify contradictory science or tries to create confusion, or any other such case. but that was not the claim made here. The evidence cited doesnt support the claim ( the singer example is MUCH better). As such, I would have given it an F as an old lecturer in rhetoric. Nice thesis, bad evidence. You cant rescue it by changing the thesis. By trying to, you show yourself even less capable of forceful argument.
    Since I believe in AGW I like to insist that we NOT be stupid or wrong or careless or lazy when criticizing skeptics. and that we correct our own bad arguments whenever they pop up
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  18. "actually thoughtfull at 13:10 PM on 12 September, 2010
    Steven Mosher @47
    Nice try but no dice. It is Watts' site. He has a point of view. He has made it very clear. YOU could tell me his point of view."

    If you want to know Watts point of view i will hazard a guess at it from talking to him. Its a point of view that makes the articles he posted consistent rather than contradictory.

    1. GHGs DO have a warming effect. he believes this.
    2. The effect is much smaller than the IPCC holds.
    3. the variations we see are the result of
    A. GHGs (small)
    B. "natural cycles" see PDO etc
    C. some unknown sun spot mechanism ( the svensmark effect perhaps)
    D. corrupt record
    E. you name it.

    So, of course he is going to post articles that downplay A (spenser) and play up
    B and C and D and E. But the writer of this blog made a charge about contradictions. There is no contradiction here. However, There is a 'contradiction' of sorts when Anthony BOTH questions the temperature data and THEN with basil argues that sunspots are correlated with it. cant have it both ways. So there is evidence in the record of that BUT this writer at this blog didnt take the time to ferret that out. I'm more interested in the strong arguments against particular positions than the weak ones.


    "He doesn't post these contradictory things and say "Well this contradicts what we looked at last month - more research needed."- He post them all as PROOF that AGW isn't happening, or doesn't matter or whatever. "

    Seriously he posts them as Proof? no he posts them as proof that the science is not settled. And he doesnt post them all. he doesnt even select them all. And when he posts walt meier whats the point of that? Let me give you a clue. Controversy drives traffic. having spent some time at the editorial desk at WUWT I can tell you how I picked stuff. I picked stuff that was contradictory if I could find it. Purely and simply to see how the commenters would fight it out. I picked articles that contradicted what someone had written before. so your critique is that anthony doesnt write: 'more research needed?" that's a tautology nearly. You would actually write so boringly? You'd make a better case by saying that Anthony sows doubt. Just saying. sharpen your skills.

    "Perhaps you have spent so much time at sites specializing in sophistry that has become your method of debating? "

    Actually, the sophists were great teachers. I admire their skill and scepticism. In general they did know how to make better arguments. That was the craft.So while I may eschew their relativism i do admire their ability to actually use the right evidence. As for your theory of infection, it doesnt hold up. You would need evidence of what I was like BEFORE visiting these horrible sites and then evidence afterwards to make such a case. do you even consider the kind of evidence you need to support an argument before making it? i think not.

    "You have a very small pedantic point "Anthony Watts, did not say each of those things, in his own words." But he posted and agreed with those points - so what is the difference in reality?"

    The difference is this. you actually dont have Watts arguing that the SUN and only the SUN is to blame. If you did, then you might have a case, if anthony then claims that PDO and ONLY PDO was to blame and then if he claimed that CFC were soley responsible.. but if you actually read the papers you can see that the characterization below is wrong and doesnt demonstrate a contradiction.

    "June 2009: global warming was blamed on the sun
    July 2009: it turned out global warming was caused by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation
    September 2009: back to the sun
    December 2009: no wait, it turns out CFCs are the major culprit
    January 2010: hello, we're back to El Niño as the major driver of climate
    "

    And dont forget he does point out contrary positions by trenberth for example.
    All of this falls under the rubric of the science is less settled than certain people claim ( the settled science meme was so stupid for our side to start, bad idea)

    basically, if you want to be effective with people who don't already agree with you then you had better take some lessons in rhetoric.
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  19. Steve I think you are missing my point on Watts. He is the Rush Limbaugh of climate change. Rush will tell you all day long he loves America (science for Watts). But you watch his actions, listens to what he says and you realize: he hates America (science). His actions are antithetical to the success of science (America).

    The net effect - the gestalt if Rush is he hates America. He wants to see it fail, he wants to see it burn -this drives "ratings" (traffic for Watts).

    As many, many people have pointed out - Watts has done no science. He cherry picks. Look at his articles on Arctic ice extent (in March), comparing the temperature for first 3 weeks of June (infinitely small data sets to show the trend he desires). Every time I chase a claim back to that site - I find massive cherry picks, broken logic or wishful thinking (sometimes a not-very-entertaining mixture of all three).

    If this is how you want to communicate in the internet age - go for it. But don't try to peddle it as science. I am not buying that, and no one familiar with the scientific method will buy it. If you want to say he is whoring for traffic - we can agree on that.
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  20. Mosh,

    I've nothing to add to what you said that would be more than quibbles. So let me ask you as an insider: why is it that there are hardly any articles posted there that introduce novel technologies, hypotheses or any cutting edge science, that do not carry the implicit message that AGW is wrong/exaggerated/too difficult to explain?

    If WUWT were even halfway a neutral platform for weather/climate science that was novel, I'd have no argument with you. But the overall tone, the vast majority of posts, the sniping at the mainstream (by Anthony and others who post) - there's just no argument about the thrust of the polemic there, and what purpose the web site serves. Watts' one-sided preoccupation with 'anonymous cowards' - which doesn't apply when 'JeffID' posts, or when anyone comments in line with the polemic - is but one example. Occasional reasonable posts don't even the balance. The damage is done. Even reasonable postings there by 'skeptics' (like Spencer on the greenhouse effect) get mobbed.

    Is it that stuff that isn't anti-AGW hardly ever gets submitted there? Has Anthony invited the likes of Gavin Schmidt etc?

    I might brush up my rhetoric and post on the nature of the debate. Minus characterizations of Anthony's contribution, do you think he'd allow me to post an article a bit like the one here? Would he let me do that under a pseudonym, like JeffID?

    An off-topic question for you, as you were there - why did the analysis of good stations via the surfacestations project stop happening at climateaudit? I thought that was an excellent demonstration of transparency and collegial investigation between 'skeptics' and and others (like John V). I've long wondered about that.

    Cheers,

    barry.
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  21. dana1981 #31
    "Or we can realize that at some point, when there is overwhelming scientific evidence against a certain concept, it's time to acknowledge that it's incorrect and move on."

    If you are so ready to "move on", why are you writing about what other people think, instead of making sound recommendations based on "overwhelming scientific evidence"?

    I am still waiting to see an article at this website that maps positive predictions based on the alternative formulas "humanity" is expected to adopt. Is'nt the science good enough?
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  22. Steven Mosher @67,

    "Most people do not understand how content gets staged for WUWT, how it gets approved and what the editorial criteria are."

    Well, going by Steven Goddard's posts the editorial criteria are not at all high at WUWT. Are you permitted to share what the "editorial criteria" are? I like you use of the word "staged"...very revealing ;)

    There are contradictions at WUWT Steven, and you are probably going to regret standing by Anthony on that, because anyone here can go to the website and identify the myriad of contradictions there. You gave one example. Here is another. Anthony is only too happy to highlight regional cold snaps, but when it comes to warming, the surface data are allegedly corrupted and can allegedly not be trusted. So in Anthony's world the station data are good enough for him to highlight cold snaps (gotta keep people thinking that the planet is not warming), but not not good for anything else. And not to mention that the long-term trends in global temperatures (not regional) derived from the RSS MSU and Radiosonde (RATPAC)data are in very good agreement with the various SAT datasets.

    You also say that he accepts the theory of the radiative forcing of GHGs, then why does he have posts on his site which are effectively challenging that theory (e.g., Goddard's posts on Venus)?

    In a warming planet it is expected that the Arctic sea ice (and land ice) will reduce in extent. That is in fact what we are observing, but Anthony goes to great lengths to assure/convince readers that the Arctic sea ice is doing just fine. That is a contradiction in logic.

    Anthony claims to have a "science" blog. Well having posts by the likes of Monckton, Goddard, Smith and D'Aleo and others is contrary to what one would expect on a science blog. So yet another contradiction.

    We are going to double CO2, so going by what you said concerning his understanding of the climate science, Anthony should then accept that we can expect at least 1 C of warming associated with doubling CO2, and consequently the long-term trends in global SATs should be positive as the radiative forcing from elevated GHGs continues to slowly increase. Yet, he spends an awful lot of time and effort on invoking a myriad of reasons as to why that should not happen and to show why the planet is not warming [including cherry-picking short-term windows to avoid obtaining statistically significant warming (thanks to Lindzen)]. That is a huge contradiction right there.

    I challenge people reading this to go to WUWT and highlight for you Steve ALL the contradictions (and logical fallacies) that have been made in recent years at WUWT. It will require lot of work and but I hope that people are up to the task.

    While they are at it they can also document the misinformation and distortion of the scientific literature and misinformation made by guest posters.

    As for the science being settled, well that is a whole different story. What does that mean, and to what aspects of climate science does it apply? Some things are settled, others are close and others are not (e.g., clouds and aerosols). The radiative forcing of GHGs and the greenhouse effect are settled, although many of Anthony's readers have a hard time even accepting the theory of the greenhouse effect. The fact that humans are increasing GHGs is settled (isotopes and all that). Milankovitch cycles...settled, it is not referred to as a theory for nothing. IMHO, the only really important issue left up for debate is climate sensitivity (transient and long term, very important to distinguish between the two), and even there a huge number of independent studies converge over a fairly narrow range.

    Also, you here have acknowledged that Anthony "plays up" other factors/drivers-- what you did not say is that their role in modulating global temperatures are well understood and have been quantified and which have been shown to be either be of only short-term importance and/or have a minimal impact globally.

    Anyhow, I'm sure that you feel obliged to defend Anthony and Charles, but maybe it is time for the sake of your own reputation, to distance yourself from the folks at WUWT.
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  23. I read WUWT frequently, to see what anti-AGW folks are saying. The vast majority of posts ARE anti-AGW and nearly all comments are. To hide behind, "I'm just quoting someone else," is a bit underhanded. WUWT's true slant was revealed on July 14th of this year when it posted Monckton's request that readers contact John Abraham's employer "to instigate a disciplinary inquiry." This invitation to harassment puts the lie to the claim that WUWT is really interested scientific arguments about AGW.
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  24. It seems to me that these people use scraps of 'science' in copious amounts to obscure why they are "skeptics".
    They're really afraid of losing their way of life.
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  25. Hello all. First of all let me apologise. I don't get as much time to surf the net as I would like, so I confess I haven't read all the replies yet (but I will do later). However, let me respond to at least one I did read so far. When I said "who hold the faith" I didn't mean it in a sarcastic way. I merely meant that you have the belief that a positive feedback will occur - and warming will be exceptional. Sorry if it was taken in a way I didn't intend. I should have phrased it better. I'll read all the replies later and come back.

    Stay nice!
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  26. Just a quick reply to Dana at 46: Oh I fully appreciate the physics behind CO2 warming. In fact, talk to many sceptics and they'll be the same (that's why I am 'disappointed' in the panel on the left). My 'problem' is that we don't know if the positive feedbacks will overcome the negative ones. We DON'T know!
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  27. Jeff T, that's a little unfair. WUWT clearly is interested in the scientific arguments. I read it often too. It's far more polite than most, and clearly the contributors WANT to get at the science - they simply don't believe that warming will result (I am sceptical myself, because we don't KNOW it will).
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  28. There's a good website that shows up the contradictions and hypocrisy of Watts and his followers, here :

    Wott's Up With That ?
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  29. barry wrote : "...Watts has been promising for a couple of years now to submit a paper that re-examines the temperature record based on the surfascestations project. Hitherto, his publications (not peer-reviewed) have pointed out the problems but not crunched the numbers. Apparently, the paper is soon to be submitted."


    Funnily enough, Dr Pielke Sr claims that too :


    Our paper on siting quality issues with respect to multi-decadal surface temperature trends is nearly complete.


    I wonder what the problem could be ?
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  30. Re: Baz (76)
    "My 'problem' is that we don't know if the positive feedbacks will overcome the negative ones. We DON'T know!"

    Where to begin...

    IF positive feedbacks were overcoming negative ones, then we would expect to see indicators of a warming world, right?

    And we would then expect to see a warming signal in the data, right?

    We would also like to see a physical response by millennial repositories of ice located around the world, right? Like these, maybe:

    Glacier visual evidence 1
    Glacier visual evidence 2
    Glacier visual evidence 3

    This becomes tedious. Much further evidence regarding yearly multi-gigatonnal mass loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet, The West Antarctica Ice Sheet and even the East Antarctica Ice Sheet exists elsewhere on this site alone. Multiple examples exist that demonstrate that the warming forcings have been, and continue to this day, exceeding the negatives by quite a bit. There is no "If" or "We DON'T know!"

    So to pretend that "We DON'T know!" becomes a specious argument refuted by simply opening one's eyes and looking at the totality of the available evidence. I have a higher opinion of you than that, based on reading some of your comments.

    Perhaps I missed some emoticon thingy (Poe's Law). If so, deepest apologies.

    The Yooper
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  31. Marcus (#66), on your first point, no linear trend in neutron counts, the effect of neutron counts on clouds is highly nonlinear, see my first link in #63. You also claim "delta T is linear" while neutron counts are cyclical. Delta T is not linear thanks to many natural internal and external factors, but the lack of cycles in delta T is a valid point. More on that later.

    On your second point, the highly nonlinear relationship between clouds and neutron count along with other nonlinear relationships between clouds and other natural factors particularly ocean current cycles will eliminate the possibility of a linear change in clouds.

    Your third point, the "net effect" of clouds is zero, is a red herring. In my second link in #63, the effect of clouds varies mainly according to what's underneath them. What you didn't address is the lowering of water vapor by GCR-induced clouds. Global average water vapor depends mainly on sea surface temperature and the annual cycle. Local water vapor is diurnal and there are many local factors. Here's one paper on water vapor:
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0442%281996%29009%3C0427%3AIVOUTW%3E2.0.CO%3B2


    In it the 1983, 1987 and 1992 El Nino peaks show up clearly. The 1987 peak is suppressed even though the El Nino was strong than in 1992. A plausible reason for that is the uptake of excess water vapor by GCR nuclei in 1987. There could be other reasons for the difference as well. The sea surface temperature dominates and the neutron count effect, being nonlinear, will only show up at some latitudes under some conditions.

    The rest of the time and space, the cloud effect from GCR might not have much affect. Other effects come from UV (various including ozone) and other magnetic effects other than GCR. Although complex it is not useful to say since there is no linear trend in the past we have to ignore them or consider them to be random fluctuations. The reason is that since they influence weather nonlinearly they influence sensitivity to CO2 and will do so differently as CO2 warming increases. The also have and will easily override CO2 warming and may make it moot at some point in the future.
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  32. Marcus@58
    Try here as well:
    http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/09/08/deutsche-climate-threat/
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  33. Baz @77 - if you are used to posting/reading at WUWT you might think "We just DON'T know" is a valid statement.

    However, this site is dedicated to an honest scientific debate, and very knowledgeable people post and comment here regularly. And of course the key - all posts here refer back to the peer-reviewed science that is the gold standard for scientific knowledge.

    Statements like "We just DON'T know" may be valid for you and your pet mouse. But not for the poster/comment writers on this site. So please, ask a question or two about what YOU don't know and follow through on the reading you are directed to.

    You too can KNOW what is happening to our physical world, and why (and know where there is some uncertainty too - no where near as much as the ideological propaganda coming out of sites like WUWT would have you believe, but some around the edges - thus the need for more research).
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  34. Eric: "The also have and will easily override CO2 warming and may make it moot at some point in the future."

    That is opinion (one that is biased against AGW theory) and not fact.

    You failed to address the point that there has been no increase in GCR or neutron count. Ergo, this cannot be the cause for the current increase in temperature.

    Most of your argument is simply an attempt at obfuscating the issue. It is not too different from Baz's "we simply don't know," i.e. an argument against the possibility of knowing due to the complexity of the system.

    This misses the point, however, that we *do* know an increasing amount of energy is being redirected downwards by AGG in the atmosphere, as shown by satellite and ground-based observations.

    Learning more and making more precise analysis is a good thing, and in that sense you are contributing to the debate. However, to claim that AGW isn't happening because we don't know the workings of all the minute details is an incredibly dangerous way of thinking. It's like ingesting a toxin and claiming that you may not die because we don't understand all the inner workings of the body's immune response...
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  35. Dana1981,

    I have read your post again carefully, and the examples from WUWT that you cite are under the label of 'flip-flopping', not contradiction. I concur with you labeling them as that. DOn;t be intimidated by the uncritical WUWT followers-- you have a solid case, that is very easily supported by even a cursory perusal of WUWT.

    What they also do not point out at WUWT is that many of these factors are oscillations (PDO, ENSO, AMO, solar cycle etc.) and while some of them can certainly modulate global temperatures on a short to intermediate term, they are now essentially noise superimposed on a long-term warming trend arising from enhanced GHG forcing. Those internal climate modes cannot alone explain the marked warming that the globe has seen, nor can they explain the planetary energy imbalance.

    The hypothesis at WUWT and by most skeptics is to throw out a myriad of (often weak) hypotheses and see what sticks. While all of WUWT's arguments may not be contradictory, there are certainly many logical fallacies, contradictions and flip flopping going on.

    I find it laughable that Mosher claims Anthony believes that some kind of hitherto undiscovered "Svensmark effect" exists that will counter the increasing radiative forcing of higher GHGs. What is remarkable about that statement is that if the stated effect is/was indeed so important/critical, why is it not detectable or not manifested itself in the data? Sounds more like wishful thinking than science to me.

    Anthony certainly has a lot of unscientific posts in the "you name it category"

    I would like to know what the connections are, if any, between WUWT and FoS. Maybe Steven Mosher can help in that regard?
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  36. Dana1981,

    More contradictions can be found here (and in some of the in-line links):

    http://climatewtf.blogspot.com/2010/03/contradictions.html
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  37. #81: "The rest of the time and space, the cloud effect from GCR might not have much affect."

    But the GCR->clouds => cooling is the core the Svensmark argument. Are you saying that might not have much effect?

    "and other magnetic effects other than GCR. Although complex it is not useful to say since there is no linear trend in the past we have to ignore them or consider them to be random fluctuations. "

    What does that mean? Magnetic effects (ie, solar and interplanetary field strength are fundamental parts of the GCR model. What are the other magnetic effects, linear or otherwise, on climate?
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  38. archiesteel (#84), I'm not obfuscating, just trying not to oversimplify. I have never argued against AGW ever and argued for it many times at other forums. What I am arguing about since my first post on this thread is oversimplifications and unsupported extrapolations on the part of CAGW advocates. One of those is that temperature is increasing linearly or greater in large part to CO2. Regardless of the linear CO2 increase, temperature is not increasing linearly nor is it "accelerating". Another is that sensitivity to CO2 warming is a constant, it certainly is not. It is controlled by weather which in turn is externally controlled to some extent.

    Essentially what happens is the small warming from CO2 creates a temperature increase and the potential of a water vapor increase. What happens with water vapor is controlled by evaporation (increasing, but nonlinear) and weather (anything but linear). The evenness of water vapor determines the amount of increased back radiation (more = more). That's all that really matters, not clouds (except as weather), not the ideal and local C-C relationship (not applicable). The evenness of water vapor depends on things like UV (more UV = less even).

    muoncounter (#87), yes, although low (warm) cloud tops are generally cooling the more important effect of increased GCR is less water vapor and more uneven water vapor. Other magnetic effects like this http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6X1W-4636620-5&_user=10&_coverDate=12%2F31%2F2002&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=332603dbc7afa1ed28d75a9191d575f3&searchtype=a are linked seasonally to NAO. For example last winter's strongly negative AO and NAO and low solar activity are probably linked. One of the primary climate sensitivity results is more uneven water vapor. The presence of these external factors is why paleo studies can't bound sensitivity unless these factors are also measured through proxies.
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  39. "Regardless of the linear CO2 increase, temperature is not increasing linearly nor is it "accelerating"."

    What time frame are you using to make that assertion? Looking a temperature graph that goes to the beginning of the 20th century makes it clear the temperature increase is indeed accelerating. We also know that, during this time period, the only factor that has consistently gone up (and not followed a cycle) is CO2 concentration.

    We understand the mechanics CO2 plays in the atmosphere, and you even claim that you believe AGW is happening. I guess I'm just trying to see your point. It seems to me you're focusing on small areas of uncertainty in order to discredit the potential threat caused by man-made climate change, but perhaps I'm wrong...
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  40. #88: "the more important effect of increased GCR is less water vapor and more uneven water vapor."
    How do cosmic rays reduce water vapor? If water vapor is reduced by cloud formation, the GCR=>clouds science is far from settled.

    The 2002 article you cite discusses geomagnetic variability; that is the earth's magnetic field:
    "We have suggested a link of processes generated by geomagnetic forcing that is followed by dramatic shifts in the atmospheric circulation patterns."

    If so, there is a long geomagnetic record in the seafloor; was there any attempt to correlate the two over the long term?

    The magnetic field affecting GCR flux is the solar/interplanetary field, which is not the same as the geomagnetic field.
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  41. #61 CoalGeologist at 11:48 AM on 12 September, 2010
    Finally, as a scientist, I find your references to a "scare" and your use of the term "debunk" to be extremely offensive.

    Sorry for that. With the debunk thing I was just paraphrasing dana1981, the author of the article above.

    As for scare some people, like the late James Jay Lee are already scared out of their mind.

    "That means stopping the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies!"
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  42. @BP

    References to James Jay Lee are a sure sign you're not interested in the science, but rather the political side of the debate.

    The point is not to scare people, the goal is to have a good idea of the potential risks we are facing so we can attempt to mitigate them. That is the reasonable thing to do.

    What is *not* reasonable is to tarry in taking action by claiming that we do not know enough, arguing there's no more warming (when looking at very short time frames) or trying to find a plethora of unlikely scenarios to explain something that's rather straightforward.

    "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst" is still one of the fundamental laws of survival...
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  43. Wow Eric, that's weak-even for you. Delta T might fluctuate on a year to year basis, but there is still a LINEAR TREND over a multi-decade time frame (of roughly +0.16 degrees per decade). By contrast, there is absolutely NO EVIDENCE that neutron counts have any underlying positive or negative trend-which is what would be needed if they were to be having any long-term impact on temperatures. The "trend-line" is pretty close to y=0x-which is effectively a horizontal line.
    Also, in what way is the *fact* that clouds both trap outgoing Long-Wave radiation & reflect incoming short-wave radiation a "red herring"? Its completely relevant & also seriously damages your entire premise-which is probably why you're trying to call it a red herring. The reality is that, as much as you try to obfuscate, the link between clouds & the long-term global warming of the last 60 years is extremely tenuous-if not completely non-existent, yet you'd prefer to accept this idea, rather than the much stronger AGW theory-simply because the former sits well with your so-called "skeptical" outlook.
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  44. archiesteel (#89), sensitivity is the largest area of uncertainty, not the smallest. Temperature accelerates and decelerates in time scales of multiple years, decades and centuries. To assume a constant sensitivity and assign a linear temperature increase to a linear CO2 increase is difficult at any of those time scales although decade averages (2000's > 1990's > 1980's) works at the moment (http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_Aug_101.gif)

    muoncounter (#90) I have seen proxies for meridional versus zonal jet, so it would be interesting if someone has tried to correlate that to either geomagnetic changes or GCR changes (I realize those are different) or UV changes since I believe there are proxies for that as well.

    Marcus (#93), not a linear trend but a poorly fitted linear model. So poorly fitted it is quite obvious when placed side by side like barry did (#32). When the model has sensitivity changes over the course of years and decades, those need to be explained. A linear fit to CO2 would have a much lower slope and is pretty much linear from the physics (back radiation increases). The extra slope alleged to be WV feedback is produced by highly nonlinear processes and cannot be extrapolated (i.e. weather changes as the world warms). The "clouds" themselves (papers linked from #90) are a highly nonlinear dependency and in light of other terrestrial influences the correlation disappears over recent decades.
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  45. barry@55 said,

    CoalGeologist, for what it's worth, Watts has been promising for a couple of years now to submit a paper that re-examines the temperature record based on the surfascestations project. Hitherto, his publications (not peer-reviewed) have pointed out the problems but not crunched the numbers. Apparently, the paper is soon to be submitted. But you're right that he has made all sorts of pronouncements without doing a proper, comprehensive analysis, or even a half-arsed one.

    I think surfacestations.org is a good project, minus the rhetoric, and hope that his paper gets published.


    IMO, Barry is being a bit too kind to Watts and Co.

    If Watts and Co. were serious, they would have been crunching numbers from the get-go, adding data from each new surface temperature station as as soon as it was surveyed. There is simply no good reason to procrastinate on the data crunching until their "survey" is entirely complete.

    The temperature gridding/averaging process is not all that difficult conceptually -- basically it's a tedious programming slog. It's a straightforward task that any reasonably talented science/compsci/engineering undergraduate student could tackle.

    The surfacestations project was established over 3 years ago. It is quite telling that after over 3 years, the surfacestations folks still have not completed a straightforward number crunching task that a smart college student could easily do in, say, three weeks!
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  46. @Eric

    "Sensitivity is the largest area of uncertainty"

    Be that as it may, the degree of uncertainty with regards to CO2 sensitivity is relatively small. Considering the potentially catastrophic effects of AGW, and how politically-motivated contrarians use uncertainty as a tool to delay any action to mitigate it, I wonder what point is served by focusing so much on uncertainty values.
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  47. Great post.

    The "skeptics" are trying to demolish the edifice of AGW, and will chip away wherever they can. An army of eager beavers hacking away at granite with toothpicks, slapping each other on the back and cheering when any piece of dust is dislodged. Don Quixote had nothing on them.

    Their endeavour and bravery are to be admired!
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  48. Perhaps I can re-hash the point. What if this blue line http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcrut3/diagnostics/global/nh+sh/ doesn't continue upward? Just suppose, for a minute, that this blue line carries on reasonably straight, or even heads down - just suppose. For how long would it have to go straight (or down) for man-made warming to be falsified?

    As I've said, I'm sceptical that what we're doing (our experiment with the atmosphere) will result in warming temperatures - and I'll tell you why. It's that blue line. Oh yes, I used to be a believer in warming. Hell, I used to be a member of Greenpeace. But just a few years back I couldn't equate that with that blue line. Admittedly, I came off the warming horse early, but what of some of you? For how long does that blue line have to go straight or fall, for you to question the very subject this site is based on?
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  49. Baz #98

    There's nothing a priori which distinguishes the terminal bump in that graph from the 4 other bumps since 1950. Claiming otherwise is wishful thinking, not based on any logically derived scientific or mathematical theory. I wonder what the effect the recent solar minimum which corresponds to the terminal would have had if it weren't for the counterbalancing effect of industrial CO2 emissions?

    Nice try, but it looks to me like your post is the standard so-called sceptic approach of misdirection, and failure to consider all of the available evidence.
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  50. Baz,

    I suggested a way for you to do this analysis up the thread #38. As you've obviously not done that, here's the results.

    According this method, with heating on a trend of 0.2 degrees per decade and noise with a standard deviation of 0.2 degrees on the annual data, you can expect:
    1) 18% of decades will have a negative slope
    2) 5% of 15 year time slices will have a negative slope
    3) 0.2% of 20 year timeslices will have a negative slope

    So, a decreasing trend over ten years is reasonably likely and can be expected. A decreasing trend over 15 years can be expected one year in twenty. A decreasing trend over twenty years is very unlikely and would, for me, falisfy AGW unless there are known reasons for the decline eg major vulcanism.

    Why not repeat this simple analysis yourself? You'd find it far more convincing than reading blogs.
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