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Is there a case against human caused global warming in the peer-reviewed literature? Part 2

Posted on 9 November 2011 by Jim Powell

Science advances through the peer-reviewed primary literature. Peer-review is not perfect, but it is the best system humans have invented for uncovering and correcting errors. In science, the truth will out.

Part 1 of this series of posts introduced a database of more than 115 climate skeptics and the peer-reviewed papers each has published as recorded in the Web of Science. The database is located here. I have now added the journal for each publication. You will find the papers organized by journal here.

Some conclusions emerge from reading this set of abstracts, and in some cases the entire paper, which can be done in an hour or two.

  1. 70% of those listed have no scientific publications that deny or cast substantial doubt on global warming. This list includes such outspoken and media-promoted skeptics as Joe Bastardi, Freeman Dyson, Bjorn Lomborg, Christopher Monckton, Jo Nova, Ian Plimer, Matt Ridley, and S. Fred Singer. Why don't they write up their argument and submit it to a scientific journal?   


  2. None of the papers provides the “killer argument,” the one devastating fact that would falsify human-caused global warming. The best they can do is claim that sensitivity is low, which they have been unable to substantiate and which much evidence contradicts. If as the skeptics claim, human-caused global warming is wrong, why can’t they show it is wrong? 


  3. None of the papers explains the observed, concomitant rise in fossil fuel emissions, atmospheric CO2, and global temperatures. Attempts in some papers to blame the the sun are falsified because as temperature has risen, solar activity has remained about the same, or even declined. 


  4. The skeptics have no better theory, or indeed any theory, to explain all of the observational evidence of man-made global warming.


  5. Many papers, particularly the earlier ones, suggest improvements in the IPCC’s procedures, in the way temperature data are collected, etc. They imply that once those improvements have been made, the case for human-caused global warming might be weakened. Instead that case has grown stronger.  


  6. A true scientific skeptic must be prepared to change his or her mind as new evidence comes in. But as far as I am able to tell from these papers, in spite of the continuing rise in global temperature; heat records; extreme weather of all sorts; melting glaciers, ice caps, and sea ice; sea level rise; migrating species, and the like, no skeptic who wrote in the first half of the 1990s has since accepted human-caused global warming. To be a climate skeptic is to remain a skeptic. 


  7. Richard Muller says, "The skeptics raised valid points and everybody should have been a skeptic two years ago. And now we have confidence that the temperature rise that had previously been reported had been done without bias.” To me, this makes him a skeptic. See this other quotes here.  But his publication of the BEST results may indicate that we should no longer consider him one. 


  8. In a 1990 paper, Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT argued that because the observed global temperature rise to that year had been less than predicted, the sensitivity of global temperature to rising CO2 must be less than expected. Therefore, he wrote in 1990, “The current state of our understanding of climate hardly justifies a consensus over the response of climate to the small increase in downward flux caused by a doubling of CO2.” In spite of all the evidence mentioned in item 6, 21 years later, in a paper titled, “On the observational determination of climate sensitivity and its implications,” Lindzen and Choi conclude, “The results imply that the models are exaggerating climate sensitivity.” In that 21 year period, atmospheric CO2 concentration rose from 354 to 389 ppm and the global mean temperature anomaly rose from about +0.2 to about +0.6°C. Moreover, if the sensitivity is as low as Lindzen has been saying for more than two decades, what caused the observed temperature rise? 


  9. Skeptics feel no compunction about making emphatic statements on subjects far afield from their expertise, in some cases, literally. Astrophysicists write about polar bears; those with no expertise in computer modeling denounce  climate models.

These peer-reviewed papers by skeptics offer no reason to doubt that global warming is real, caused by humans, and dangerous. Despite ample opportunity, climate skeptics have failed to present any coherent alternative to the theory that carbon emissions are the primary driver of observed warming. That is why 100 national and international scientific organizations have issued statements accepting human-caused global warming, and not a single such organization has issued a statement of denial. 

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Comments 51 to 55 out of 55:

  1. Good to see that the poopdreck list has been thoroughly trashed! Sadly "the most desperate" (comment 48) covers pretty much every denier on the planet...
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  2. Hi,

    Other papers where scientists disagree about the dangerous anthropogenic global warming hypothesis can be found at the website for the United States Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (Minority Page).

    See
    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=d6d95751-802a-23ad-4496-7ec7e1641f2f

    Well documented and linked, it lists more than 1000 international scientists.

    Cheers,

    Fred
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    Response:

    To further compliment muoncounter's sage advice below, you need to Meet The Denominator to gain the context that you lack: well-documented and linked, it reveals that even a paltry 1,000+ nay-saying scientists are no match for the millions that lie in the Denominator.  If you wish to pursue this, take it there.  Cheers, DB.

  3. Fred#52:

    This post is about a case in peer-reviewed literature, not the efforts of Marc Morano to compile a list of WUWT links, clippings from little known newspapers and fringe, unscientific blog posts. No soap.
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  4. Marc Morano's garbage is as far as one can get from a compilation of scientific litterature. Anyone willing to be taken on a ride by a political operative deserves what they'll get. Morano is so pathetically illiterate in matters of science that nothing coming from him is worth any consideration.
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  5. 52, Fred,

    Thanks for that link. I can't stop laughing!

    Their credentials and laughable quotes are absolutely precious. It's just amazing to me how well-educated but sadly over-confident people can express such amazing ignorance in a field that is, sadly, outside of their area of expertise but, even more sadly, in which they clearly have not taken the time to achieve even a college level understanding, let alone any right to make such political and unscientific statements.

    Still laughing. Thanks. That will help me sleep better tonight, knowing that it is really now only the utterly foolish who fail to understand and continue to deny climate change.
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  6. Fred #52,

    A few month ago, for a different online forum, I examined a slightly earlier version ("More Than 650 ...") of Sen. Inhofe's presentation of that Marc Morano document. I examined just the first 23 scientist quotations given by Inhofe/Morano, and wrote:

    "What I'm going to do first is concentrate on one single category of elementary error, and show how frequently it appears in this anti-AGW document.

    The category is: AGW theory strawmen

    One of the elementary things a competent AGW critic needs to do is to at least correctly understand the AGW theory. I mean, isn't it fairly basic that when one is going to criticize a scientific theory, one ought first to understand what that theory says, and doesn't say?

    However, over and over and over in anti-AGW blogs I see folks supposing that AGW says "such-and-such", and then attacking that "such-and-such" -- but apparently without understanding that the AGW theory actually does not include the "such-and-such"!

    This is the rhetorical strawman device in action: Setting up something that is weaker (the "strawman") than the opponent's actual argument, then proceeding to demolish that instead of addressing the opponent's actual position.

    Now, it's not so unusual to see strawmen erected in great abundance in blog comments by the general public, but one would think that professional scientists would do better at avoiding that and sticking to the actual subject instead of some distortion. Further, one would expect that when a US senator collects statements by scientists, supposedly "debunking" the AGW theory, he would have his staff comb over the statements to be quoted, making sure that each one was a valid criticism, not a strawman attack, before publishing the quotes.

    But the document released by Inhofe does contain many "strawmen", each of which should not have been presented by someone who actually understood the AGW theory (and wanted to present a valid argument rather than an invalid argument).

    Here, I'll list some for you, showing how each one refers to an AGW strawman rather than the real, correct AGW theory. The quotes are from the Inhofe document.

    . . .

    That makes it 9 whole [strawmen] and 3 partials of 23."

    Yes, I easily found that half of the quotations that Inhofe/Morano led off with attacked rhetorical strawmen rather than actual AGW theory.
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