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Welcome to Skeptical Science

Posted on 29 April 2021 by John Cook, BaerbelW



Skeptical Science is based on the notion that science by its very nature is skeptical. So what is skepticism? Skepticism is not doubt! Skepticism is the open-minded consideration of something based on the evidence. A skeptic doesn't have a preference for what the truth is, a preferred answer. They want to discover what the truth is based on the balance of all evidence. You look at all the facts before coming to a conclusion. In the case of climate science, our understanding of climate  comes from considering the full body of evidence and being 'skeptical' for well over a century.

In contrast, climate denialism is closed minded. It thinks it knows the truth and wants to interpret the evidence to suit that. It has a preferred answer and wants to look at everything in that light. So it looks at small pieces of the puzzle while neglecting the full picture. Climate 'skeptics' vigorously attack any evidence for man-made global warming yet uncritically embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that supposedly refutes global warming. If you began with a position of climate 'skepticism' then cherry pick the data that supports your view while fighting tooth and nail against any evidence that contradicts that position, that's not genuine scientific skepticism.

If 99 pieces of evidence support an idea and 1 doesn't, a skeptic says 'that idea is probably true'. A denier says 'Ahah, that idea is false'.

Skepticism is a process, denial is a position.

So the approach of Skeptical Science is as follows. It looks at the many climate myths, exposes the techniques and fallacies used to distort the science and then puts them in their proper context by presenting the full picture. The climate myths are listed by popularity (eg - how often each argument appears in online articles) or with fixed numbers you can use for permanent references. For the more organised mind, they're also sorted into taxonomic categories.

Good starting points for newbies

If you're new to the climate debate (or are of the mind that there's no evidence for man-made global warming), a good starting point is Warming Indicators which lays out the evidence that warming is happening and the follow-up article, 10 Human Fingerprints on Climate Change which lays out the evidence that humans are the cause. More detail is available in empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming. Contrary to what you may have heard, the case for man-made global warming doesn't hang on models or theory - it's built on direct measurements of many different parts of the climate, past and present, all pointing to a single, coherent answer.

Another good starting point is the SkS climate graphics page, with each graphic featuring links to informative SkS material. Good introductions to climate science can be found at Global Warming in a Nutshell and The History of Climate Science. You could lose yourself for hours in those pages!

Smart Phone Apps

Note (December 2019)Our apps are currently "out of order" as they unfortunately are no longer maintained. They may still work if already installed but have vanished from the app stores. We are looking into options to make them available again. Please directly use the list of most used climate myths instead for the time being or download PDF versions via zip-files provided here. Thanks!

For smart phone users, the rebuttals to all the skeptic arguments are also available on a number of mobile platforms. The first Skeptical Science app was an iPhone app, released in February 2010. This is updated regularly with the latest content from the website and very accessible in a beautifully designed interface by Shine Technologies. Shine Tech then went on to create a similar Android app which has some extra features missing from the iPhone version. A Nokia app was also created by Jean-François Barsoum (this was one of the 10 finalists in the Calling All Innovators competition).

As well as the list of rebuttals, Skeptical Science also has a blog where the latest research and developments are examined and discussed. Comments are welcome and the level of discussion is of a fairly high quality thanks to a fairly strict Comments Policy. You need to register a user account to post comments. One thing many regulars are not aware of is you can edit your user account details (to get to this page, click on your username in the left margin).

Keep up to date by email, RSS, Facebook or Twitter

To keep up to date on latest additions to the website, sign up to receive new blog posts by email. There's an RSS feed for blog posts and for the engaged commenter, a feed for new user comments. We recommend you follow Skeptical Science on Twitter to keep up with the latest blog posts and other interesting climate links. Blog posts from Skeptical Science and relevant articles from many other reliable sources are also shared in a steady stream via our Facebook page.

About John Cook

For those wondering about who runs Skeptical Science, the website was founded by John Cook, a Research Fellow at the Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University and adjunct faculty at George Mason University. John originally obtained a Bachelor of Science at the University of Queensland, achieving First Class Honours with a major in physics.

John is the author of a number of books and scientific papers including being lead-author of the paper Quantifying the Consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature, which was tweeted by President Obama and was awarded the best paper published in Environmental Research Letters in 2013. In 2014, John won an award for Best Australian Science Writing, published by the University of New South Wales. In the summer of 2016 John finished his PhD in cognitive psychology, researching how people think about climate change.

The SkS Team

There are many more who make invaluable contributions to Skeptical Science with a number of authors who write blog posts, rebuttals and other articles. They contribute by moderating the comments sections, editing and proofreading posts, sharing information with visitors, responding to emails, and providing technical support. There are also many regular commenters whose feedback has helped to improve and hone the website's content. Translators from all over the world have translated selected content into 20 different languages.

In 2011, Skeptical Science won the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge. In May 2016 Skeptical Science received the "Friend of the Planet" award from the National Center of Science Education (NCSE).

There is no funding to maintain Skeptical Science other than Paypal donations to cover hosting & domain expenses. John Cook has no affiliations with any organisations or political groups other than academic institutions such as Monash University. Skeptical Science is strictly a labour of love. The website design was created by Wendy Cook.

Update April 2021 - An interactive version of The Story of Skeptical Science

For the 2020 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) John Cook and Bärbel Winkler submited an abstract to session SY043 - Communication of Science - Practice, Research and Reflection convened by Heidi Roop, Priyanka Kushwaha, Kristin Timm and Erin Leckey. It seemed a good fit to submit "The Story of Skeptical Science" to, something we had also done earlier in 2020 for a comparable session at the European Geosciences Union (virtual) meeting. The EGU-presentation consisted of a "display" - basically a PDF created from a PPTX-presentation accompanied by a live chat-session. At AGU it was an "eLightning" session, which was a combination of a 3 minute talk and an interactive "iPoster". So, while the content is basically the same, the format of the presentation is completely different. You can check it out yourself here or by clicking on the poster's screenshot. If the iPoster doesn't load, you can try this "mock up" PPSX-version instead.


As the presentation shows, Skeptical Science has evolved from a small blog into a community of intelligent, engaged people with a commitment to science and our climate since its creation in 2007. Many of the contributors are working scientists who have many published scientific papers to their name. All the work is done as volunteers and a running joke among the author community is that we are being paid peanuts and they haven't even been delivered yet!

In August 2017 we published a series of posts to highlight SkS' 10th birthday. This series of short articles gives a good overview of how SkS evolved from a one-author-blog to the global volunteer effort it is today.

Note: to access the earlier version of this post and to read the comments posted until April 2015 please check out Newcomers start here

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Comments 51 to 71 out of 71:

  1. Thermodynamics appears to be the basic truth. The inherent increase in entropy in any closed system (cycle?) predicts the eventual end point of everything,  as well as each step, along the way to the end of everything.

    Let us be content to work together and solve a simple problem as opposed to trying to solve something we cannot solve as evidenced by the many posts herewith. 

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  2. Crobbin58, coal is not only well known to be fossilized peat swamps types of layers but, if sliced thin enough, will reveal the cells of algae, fungi and other organisms. Depending on when it formed the coal will contain spores (more ancient) or pollen (after the rise of angiosperms). It is as fossil a carbon containing fuel as it gets, there is no controversy about it.

    As for oil, there has been hypotheses put forth by proponents of abiogenic oil but no significant quantity of oil that could be identified as abiogenic has ever been found. Petroleum geologists know how to find oil, and a major tool is biostratigraphic correlation. The weight of the evidence does not support the idea that any large amount of oil can be created in abiotic fashion.

    The statement "hydrocarbons are now considered to be naturally produced by chemical reactions under high pressures and temperatures inside the earth and not by decay of plants and animals" is false. It is entirely false for coal, and the consensus among petroleum geologist is overwhelmingly in favor of biogenic oil, because of the ways they can find it. The vey fact that we are quite good at finding oil, coal and many other products of geologic activity is proof that we are not "intellectually incompetent" to imagine what has happened.

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  3. I have added a link to a paper that states that there is an inverse relationship between solar activity and warming. Reduced activity causes atmospheric shrinking and the increased density causes warming (Just like the coolant circulating around in your refrigerator). Attached is the link.

    Has this paper been adequately rebutted. If the paper has substance the inverse relationship suggested here between solar activity and warming would explain why no correlation has been observed.

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] You might like to look at further discussion here or here. It is also "published" in a sham journal. (Detail here)

  4. Gribble @53 ,

    you refer to a paper by Nikolov & Zeller (2016).   Essentially, N & Z have performed a "curve-fitting exercise", and have not used basic physics.  Their ideas are pseudo-science.

    Similar ideas were put forward by Gerlich & Tscheuschner ["G &T"] about a decade ago, and were shot down in flames.  [Refer to discussion at "Science of Doom" and elsewhere.]   Also check SkS's Most Used Climate Myths number #63 , accessed via top left corner of this page (mostly about G & T , see "intermediate version" with well over a 1000 comments, though all prior to 2015, and largely concerning thermodynamic laws ~ a fertile area of misunderstanding, especially by people who repeatedly confuse semantics with physics).

    You should also note some publication of ideas by "Volokin & ReLlez" [= Nikolov and Zeller spelt backwards].

    (B)  Is there an inverse relationship between solar activity and [global] warming?   The short answer is: No .

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  5. climate denialism is closed minded. It thinks it knows the truth and wants to interpret the evidence to suit that. It has a preferred answer and wants to look at everything in that light.

    John, you might want to reconsider this language on the newby page. This is a mind reading claim, something one expects from a zealot rather than a scientist.

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  6. JasonChen @55 ,

    the 3 sentences you quote are a succinct summary of the "denialist" mindset.   The words derive from a decade or more of close study of the speech & actions of a large number of "denialists" (i.e. not deriving from a few minutes of stage-show telepathy ).

    And not just from study by John Cook, but also by a considerable number of psychologists and by (informally) a vast number of everyday citizens.

    JasonChen, you should educate yourself about the powerful influence of Motivated Reasoning on the human mind ~ on the human mind that is preferring to follow its emotional bias rather than striving for an objective scientific assessment of the situation.

    You are welcome to suggest an amended wording, and to suggest alternative analysis of the behavior of those who reject the overwhelming amount of evidence regarding anthropogenic climate change.

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  7. Is there anyone here who might be able to tell me about Dr. Rex Fleming (fomerly with NOAA). He seems to have defected from the ranks of serious climate researchers and apparently claims that warm temperatures cause CO2 increases and not the other way around. Obviously this is hooey, but it seems to have made him the new darling of the denier crowd. I can't find any papers he's written that were published in peer reviewed journals and Fleming claims he's being censored. What's up with this guy? I'd like to debunk those who quote him. Thanks.

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  8. Persephone @57 ,

    A starting point would be to check the 1st August comments by the knowledgeable poster MA Rodger — to be found on Climate Change Myth No. 21  [see the numbered Most Used Myths at top left of this page].

    Check the thread's comments Page 3 , and his comments @108, 109, 110.

    Dr Fleming, Dr Salby, and various others, are just part of the churn of "this week's hero" for Denialists of science.   Interesting to watch them come & go,  as they recycle "Points Refuted A Thousand Times" [ = PRATTs ].    PRATT itself being a delightful acronym du jour ?

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  9. (Disclaimer; I'm still reading but) I have not came across answers to the following:

    1. What is in it for the deniers? (Why fight so hard to misinform, or fight so emotionally against scientifically proven facts?) I can't see the return for the effort? 

    2. How can Global Warming / Climate change be a global conspiracy (haven't read this statement here)? Does anyone really think all the countries will agree on this and nothing else? (Image the lunch order at the UN... ;-) )

    (Do not take science as gospel, but then use the scientific process to disprove it, right?)

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  10. TungstenX @59 ,

    Being presently at leisure and well fed and well coffeed** . . . I shall have a stab at replying to your questions #1 and #2.

    [ **coffeed not to be confused with covfefed. Excuse American joke. ]

    #2.  Yes, it's a bit of a stretch to make a global AGW conspiracy.  But all things are possible to the Conspiracist mind !

    Firstly, you go back to 1896 and influence the Swedish scientist Arrhenius and his CO2 global warming calculations.  [ check V ]

    Then jump forward 40 years to the 1930's and influence the British engineer/scientist Callendar and his analyses on global temperatures & radiative absorption of CO2.  [ check V ]

    Then forward to 1956, to influence the Canadian scientist Plass, with his similar findings on "climatic change".  [ check V ]

    Then to the 1960's 1970's 1980's ... through up to today, as you influence & control thousands then millions of American / European / Japanese / and other international scientists, in a hundred nations and in thousands of universities / military laboratories / and other organisations.  You get them to fabricate & falsify decades & terabytes of data, and get them to integrate ALL previous physics - seamlessly - into the modern pseudo-science of climatology, in a devilishly meticulous and clever manner.  All without any whistleblowers, ever.  [ check V ]

    Then you bribe Russian & Canadian Eskimoes, Lapplanders, and Himalayan mountain-dwellers to report extensive ongoing ice-melt.  Also without whistleblowers.  [ check V ]

    Then you bribe countless mariners, harbormasters, and other coastal dwellers ~ to report rising sea levels for a century.  Again, no whistleblowers about this.  [ check V ]

    All easily done, whilst keeping your tinfoil hat on.


    BTW, TungstenX : all or most countries agree on quite a number of international issues, actually.  They needn't be in perfectly harmonious synchrony re AGW ~ but they should aim to achieve minimal fossil fuel usage by around 2050 (preferably nett zero CO2 emission by then, or sooner of course.)

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  11. TungstenX:

    I'll offer my opinion on the second question first. Climate change science over the last couple hundred years, involving >90% of scientists, isn't a conspiracy; that nutty idea is just a hook to hang highly motivated objections upon.

    "What's in it for deniers?": Simply delaying regulations by a few years is immensely profitable for fossil fuel companies; the tobacco industry managed decades of delay by induced doubt and demands for 'sound science' that came down to 'nothing will ever be evidence enough'. And that delay translated into money. Others appear driven by ideology; objecting not so much to the science as to the government oversight required to addressing a 'Tragedy of the Commons' scenario.

    In my very personal opinion, climate deniers fall into four major groups: Loons (pet theories unsupported by evidence, many are emeritus physics professors), lobbyists (objecting for pay, often the very same lobbyists who previously objected to tobacco regulations), ideologues (such as libertarians, against any regulation whatsoever), and opportunists (because it's professionally better to be a frequent Congressional witness than, say, just another 2nd-3rd rate climate scientist), with varying mixes thereof.

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  12. (continued)

    TungstenX, you ask #1. What is in it for the deniers?

    I could respond on this (with another large coffee to help) . . . but the basic answer is: "emotional reasons".   And yes, there's nothing in it, for the deniers' grandchildren.  Excepting a load of unpleasant consequences for the grandchildren and their descendants.

    Deniers - denialists - call them what you will - come in several categories.

    Group A ... the 0.1 percenters who got very rich on oil & coal, and who wish to keep it that way.  When your personal wealth is 20 billion$ . . . then something inside you dies a (big) little, when you think you might gradually be reduced to only 10 billion$ .   Life can be hard, sometimes.   So, by covert means, you finance tame thinktanks & strategic propagandists & astroturfers & Heartland institutes & GWPF's etcetera . . . to create a public sense of unease and doubt about the facts.  And/or suspicion of scientists.  And you don't stop at untruths & half-untruths.  All to achieve political paralysis on climate issues.

    If you are especially unethical, you would more directly manipulate/suborn politicians ~ but fortunately this has never yet occurred ( I gather).

    Group B ... the clientele of Group A.  Meaning the professional propagandists.  Some of whom spent decades in a rear-guard battle denying the tobacco/cancer link.  They know they are being "exceedingly economical" with the truth about AGW.  But they don't care.  It's a business, like being a defense attorney ~ no matter that you are defending someone who's guilty as sin.  Just use Doublethink, to calm your conscience (if any).

    Group C ... the unthinking reactionaries.  They see the (social) world is changing and they don't like change (for various emotional reasons).  They are easy meat for the propagandists ~ easily gullible that all changes must be bad for them socially & financially.  Change ~ to renewable energy ~ must be resisted, because it is a change.  And/or it's a start to a slippery slope.

    Many of these people are angry people.  Angry that their life is not perfect.  Pleased to find a scapegoat, like the issue of AGW / climate change, which can be "denied" and resisted.

    Group D ... the scientific crackpots, who hold that CO2 has little or no effect on climate.  And that modern scientists are clueless.  Essentially, the crackpots are an intellectually-insane subgroup of Group C.

    Group E ... the tinfoil hatter Conspiracists.  Fearful of the Illuminati, of World Marxists, or whoever.  Also angry.  Also a subgroup of Group C and often overlapping with Group D.

    TungstenX , perhaps you can define other groups to add here !

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  13. Thank you Eclectic & KR. It seems that the (m)asses falls in the group that doesn't like/fear change (and usually the same ppl that blames everyone else for their situation).

    Btw, I've got one for the list, told to me: "It was Margaret Thatcher that first came up with the concept of Global Warming to get support for her breaking up the (coal mine) unions in the 1980's"

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  14. TungstenX @63 ,

    Margaret Thatcher was very much an economic conservative, and pushed for privatisation of Britain's coal mines in the early 1980's.  Hence her big clash with the unions 1984/85 ~ where she was victorious.  Over the next decade or two, most of the mines closed (being uneconomic) . . . and Northern England became an older version of West Virginia, as Americans might say.  So Thatcher was rather "the opposite" in coal policy, compared with a more recent US President's ideas.

    Thatcher's passionate interest in environmental conservatism (her major speeches to world leaders in 1988/89) seems to have developed subsequent to her coal-mining victory.  So no, I'd have to disagree with the suggestion of her using the AGW/environmental concerns as a lever against the coal miners' union.

    Thatcher had a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry (according to Wiki, she was the first British Prime Minister to have a science degree) ~ so she was no novice or dummy in matters of science.  And her strong advocacy for world action against climate change, is apparently completely genuine (just as it should be, for a true conservative).

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  15. TungstenX@63

    I offer the following points to supplement the responses from Eclectic and KR:

    1. In Eclectic's@62 list of groups I would add a group between B and C. This group likes to benefit from fossil fuels more than they care about understanding how harmful it is for them to benefit that way. That makes them like the A and B, but they are not super rich because of it or paid by the super rich to create misleading marketing for their benefit. I personally believe this is the largest group. And they are obviously easy to impress with misleading marketing. And they are propaganda foot-soldiers, readily repeating the nonsense they like.
    2. The CBC News website article "How 'organized climate change denial' shapes public opinion on global warming" may help you understand why there are still so many deniers and delayers regarding climate science (because of the required corrections of developed popular and profitable activities that it has exposed).
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  16. TungstenX,

    As you read the CBC article I refered to, pay attention to the mentions of John Cook, the same John Cook who authored this "Welcome to Skeptical Science".

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  17. As this is your first post, Skeptical Science respectfully reminds you to please follow our comments policy. Thank You!

    I believe I am following your comments policy - please let me know if otherwise.

    My comment is a question.  Have you performed a review of the following: the 'Perspective' paper in Nature Climate Change, 'Taking climate model evaluation to the next level', by Veronika Eyring and others? I have performed a fair amount of modelling but not in climate change. I generally understand her point (taken from the abstract - the article was only available for purchase on-line) of weighting heavier the model results that best match the data as opposed to the results from models that are poorer matches to the data. However, I have not seen a review of her paper and technique. Also I have not seen any application of her proposed technique to the combining of modelling results from groups of climate change models.  I would appreciate  your opinion and review and reference to any other reviews that have been made of her paper.  Thank you.

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  18. Carol @67 ,

    it would be helpful if you gave some indications of your initial thoughts based on your own general knowledge of modelling.  And on what practical benefits might be expected from an examination of Eyring's ideas.  [ Like you, I have only read the paper's Abstract and some minimal commentary. ]

    Pragmatically, climate models seek to assess climate sensitivity (transient and equilibrium).  As you will find elsewhere in SkepticalScience articles, the paleo climate evidence points to an ECS of around 3 degrees for CO2 doubling.  And the modern historical evidence (planetary surface temperatures during the past 150 years) shows a rise of nearly 1K for a CO2 rise of "halfway to doubling" ~ which indicates a Transient CS of nearly 2K . . . and presumably an ECS close to 3K , as well.

    As Greta Thunberg might say :- We should be putting on our running shoes in dealing with the global warming, regardless of whether the latest cimate models come up with an ECS of 2.5 or 5 degrees.  ( The latter figure does seem surprisingly high, and may as critics suggest, derive from inaccurate cloud factors. )

    2.5 degrees is quite bad enough !

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  19. carol.l.dona @67,

    The paper you cite is available on-line - Eyring et al (2019) 'Taking climate model evaluation to the next level'. Its message is that the increased number and complexity of models will require better evaluation of the models or we will be drowned in a wider spread of model results.

    "The growing number and complexity of models, the expanding suite of outputs they produce, the multitude of downstream applications and the growing availability of observational datasets drive a need for more routine and systematic evaluation, utilizing a comprehensive set of existing model performance metrics and diagnostics. Newly developed CMIP evaluation tools [18,19] will ultimately enhance our ability to identify model errors, to investigate their causes and to quantify and potentially reduce projection uncertainties.

    "In this Perspective, we summarize key advances since AR5 and key scientific opportunities for improving climate model analyses that will be assessed in the AR6. Our focus is on gaps in the understanding of systematic errors, the development of CMIP model evaluation tools, emergent constraints and weighting methods. We also address the need for more user- and policy-oriented model evaluation at the regional scale required for impact studies. Finally, we discuss how the scientific community might provide more robust climate model information and more tightly constrained model projections."

    I cannot see any meaty reviews of the paper, nothing more than describing what it is about (eg here). I also note it has alrady been cited 14 times according to Google Scholar.

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  20. Sorry if this has been discussed above.  I scanned the earlier posts but may have missed it.

    A commenter in our local newspaper cited a posting by Wrightstone in which he (Wrightstone) claims to have used a program called MAGICC Climate Simulator to show that even if CO2 emissions were cut to zero, the change in global temperature increase would be negligible.  Does anyone have a link regarding this?

    My gut feeling is that Wrightstone has set the input into the program to produce the results he wants and then uses the fact that the program was produced by a government lab to give credibility to his calculations.

    The link to Wrightstone's calculations is

    Thanks for any help you can give.

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  21. Markovnikov, if you enter the name "Wrightstone" in the search box [top left], you get a couple of entries for April 2019.

    The second one ( 27th April) takes you to a recent lengthy piece by Willard MacDonald, discussing the extensive disinformational propaganda by Wrightstone.

    It sounds like Wrightstone is someone who can't even lie straight in bed.  So I think you will be completely wasting your time if you are trying to understand whatever mathematics he is proposing.  It is the same case with Monckton ~ who generates specious (and ultimately wrong) grand calculations "showing how the world's scientists are all wrong".   Every year or two, it's a new doozy.

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  22. "Climate 'skeptics' vigorously attack any evidence for man-made global warming yet uncritically embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that supposedly refutes global warming."

    That's a bit severe. Other sciences don't have vast political implications as climate science does. Hence, little need for the general public to be concerned about the work of chemists and physicists. Many climate skeptics DO NOT "vigorously attack any evidence....". And many do NOT "uncritically embrace any argument....". So, describing all climate skeptics this way isn't helpful nor will it convince skeptics that non skeptics are playing fair. It's also the fact that not all skeptics are deniers which seems to be the belief of this blog. I find it also severe that this site implies all skeptics are fools and ignorant.

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  23. Would it be better to say: "Climate 'skeptics' come in a diversity of forms including people who vigorously attack any evidence for man-made global warming and people who uncritically embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that supposedly refutes global warming."?

    However it is stated: People resisting expanded awareness and improved understanding and its application to help develop sustainable improvements for the benefit of the future of humanity, including making rapid corrections to limit the harm done by harmful unsustainable but popular and profitable developments like the burning of fossil fuels and mass deforestation that are the major causes of human-induced global warming and the related climate changes - are a serious problem that humanity has to over-come, the sooner the better for the future of humanity (even if the corrections are a set-back for current day people who have harmfully over-developed perceptions of personal status - the Richest being Less Richest).

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  24. Much better description of climate skeptics.

    Now regarding "mass deforestation" - now we're my area of expertise. I've been a forester for 47 years. It's not just deforestation that is a problem but possibly even more so- really bad forestry pracitices which lower the health of the forest which reduces carbon sequestration. I suggest that the vast majority of "forestry" is abusive. I've been arguing FOR imporved forestry practices all that time with immense resistance. Also, in the name of producing "clean and green" energy- forests are being destroyed to install solar "farms". About 3,000 acres of forest in tiny Massachusetts, where I live, have been converted to solar "farms" in the past several years. Not only are the trees cut- but they need to bulldoze the site to level it for the panels. Doing so releases much of the soil carbon. And, let's remember that forests produce oxygen in addition to sequestering carbon. I think we all like oxygen. And, the forests produce ecosystem services. I'm not saying this shouldn't happen- but at least those promoting solar "farms" where there now are forests shouldn't pretend this conversion is totally "clean and green". An honest evaluation of the tradeoffs is necessary.

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  25. JoeZ @74 , the USDA Forest Service states that the Massachusetts forest land comprises 3.0 million acres.   Of which your figure of 3,000 acres would represent around 0.1%

    . . . so I guess the real questions are ~ how much further is a planned expansion of solar farms going to go, and will any extra PV developments be done in an intelligent and considerate manner.  And in tradeoffs (and drawing a long bow), what effect on the forests & timberlands of Massachusetts would come from a regional climate warming of around 4 degreesF over about 100 years?   (We can reasonably assume 4*F would kill off the maple syrup industry.  But what forest/tree-species changes ~ good or bad ~ would be likely to occur?)

    Tradeoffs are a ripe area for argument !

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  26. Eclectic @ 75. It's .1% now but the state will soon be passing a bill requiring the state to have no carbon emissions by 2050. Currently, solar only produces a few percent of the power grid so many more acres of forest will be converted. How many? I wish I knew. I keep asking the legislators, state agencies, and enviro groups but they don't reply. It's a fair question, right? A solar "farm" was built next to my neighborhood several years ago. That land has gone from forest, to fields, to gravel mine- but much of the mined ground had returned to forest without help from anyone- now turned into a solar "farm" on bare sand. Local zoning here did not requier soil restoration first.  And so I'll be accused of being a NIMBY- but nah, I don't like them anywhere: I also ask if any legislators or enviro leaders would like a big, ugly solar "farm" next to their house- in this densely populated state- so far, no takers.

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  27. JoeZ , the world is changing, and not just Massachusetts will see changes (some bad, maybe some good).  And it's probably be too late to save the Maple Syrup industry, anyway.

    Things will get worse for the southerly states, especially.  I wouldn't like to see your own state forests altered ~ in tree species (or insect pests).  Nor a few million climate refugees settling in Boston and the hinterlands.

    Would you be prepared to sacrifice 10% of woodlands to PV panels and windmills, in order to save the rest from major alteration?  Not an easy decision ~ particularly in view of the uncertainties.  One thing's for sure: we can't just close our eyes and carry on with "business-as-usual".

    We've dawdled too long . . . and now we need all hands to the pumps.

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  28. JoeZ,

    Regions like Massachusetts can get all of their energy from Hydro-power in Canada, just north of them. There is a massive potential up there. And not promoting its development and buying it at a price that is beneficial to "Canadians" is the sort of harmful Negative -Sum Competitive behaviour that the likes of Trump pursue. Negative-Sum Game Playing is pursuits of perceptions of superiority relative to others that actually make everyone, including the perceived winner, worse off.

    All that is required is for people to realize that Internationalism is the Future, not the unrealistic and incorrect beliefs in American Exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny and the related foolish attitude of America First Competing to Win Any Way That Can Be Gotten Away With in pursuit of a return to those beliefs about Increased Personal Wealth being Proof of the Providence of God, and any failure being blamed on Those Infidels.

    A lot can be learned by reading the knowledge shared by people like Jeffrey D. Sacks. His most recent set of knowledge sharing, through the past decade, is quite comprehensive. He provides evidence-based understanding of what is going on. And all of it is built on the expanding awareness and understanding of Sustainable Development, developments that will provide lasting improvements for humanity.

    The key is understanding the need to constantly achieve and improve on:

    • Economic Growth - Measured as Improvement of life circumstances which is understood to not be measured by GDP. A more accurate indication is elimination of poverty.
    • Social Inclusion - Understanding and accepting a robust diversity of ways of being human.
    • Environmental Sustainability - The total actions of the entire global population being less than the understood sustainable planetary impact boundaries. Each nation doing what is best suited in their region.

    Achieving what is required requires Good Governance, not limited government focused on building the military might to "be balanced with perceived military threats" or the more troubling belief that a nation's best future is achieved by being the "potentially most harmful pursuer of perceptions of superiority on the planet"

    Expanded awareness and understanding directed towards helping develop sustainable improvements for the future of humanity leads to the clear understanding of the need for collaborative altruism to govern and limit the powerful tendency for people to be divisively Individualistic and harmfully Tribal.

    There is a high likelihood that many people who resist learning about and accepting the developing constantly improving understanding of climate science are motivated by a harmful developed personal interest. They resist understanding that they really should change their mind and give up undeserved perceptions of prosperity and opportunity.

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  29. One Planet Forever #78

    Here in Mass. the enviros don't want hydropower from Canada. I think it's a great idea. And, the enviros in NH and Maine also fought to stop it because of the need for new high tension lines. Regarding American Exceptionalism- it's now a powerful force- more than ever with Trump and he's likely to win again.  Regarding economic growth- isn't it Nepal that has a "happiness index" instead of a GNP? In 77, Ecletic suggested sacrificing 10% of the landscape for wind and solar. Good  theory. But the reality is most people don't want it next to their homes. As I always say- I've asked the enviros and legislators in this state if THEY want it next to THEIR homes. Never got a favorable reply. So, we need to understand that what's theoretical and what's the reality of what people will accept and be willing to pay for may not be the same. I suggest  that when the media publishes scare stories and we see Greta Thunberg making demands on world leaders- that doesn't help the cause of having a carbon emissions free world.

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  30. In my comment @78, I was of course meaning Jeffrey D. Sachs. Automated assistance like Autocorrecting can be helpful, but I need to spend more time being sure it "corrected correctly".

    In addition to the massive potential for 'non-intermittent' hydro-power generation in Canada to provide the energy used in Massachusetts, and other states in the region, there is substantial potential for off-shore wind energy generation in that region. And there is potential for non-intermittent tidal power from locations like the Bay of Fundy.

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  31. JoeZ @79,

    I support Enviro's who push for 'reduction of energy consumption First - then the least harmful and most sustainable production of that reduced amount of energy'.

    And I would add that it is undeniably harmfully foolish to believe that 'competition for perceptions of superiority relative to others any way that can be gotten away with' will produce better results than 'collaborative competitions to see who can be most helpful at developing solutions to sustainably improve the collective global future of humanity'.

    History is full of proof that divisive individualism and the Negative-Sum Game Playing of Me Firstism only develops harmful failures that Collaborative Altruism (Internationalism pursuing things like Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals) has to correct and clean up after before it can make more Progress towards the required sustainable Improving future for humanity.

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  32. Note for readers, who must have sensed JoeZ  (Massachusetts forester "of 47 years") expressing a peculiar degree of resistance to establishment of renewables power generation in Massachusetts :-

    Joseph Zorzin (a forester of 47 years) has posted a comment in WUWT  (Feb 15) giving his personal anecdotal negation of the recent study in Nature Sustainability  (the paper Chia et al., 2020 ).   The Chia et al., 2020  study is based on satellite assessments showing a mixed picture of world greening and world browning during the two decades of this current century.

    I won't go into details of Chia et al., 2020  for that would be more off-topic.

    Still, we should be aware of the emotional background, where commenters seem to be favoring "business as usual" instead of zero-emissions policy.

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Please note that cyber stalking is explicitly forbidden by comment policy. Please desist immediately.

  33. Correction  : the paper is Chi Chen et al., 2020

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  34. Eclectic @82

    Gee, I'm trying to be nice here and not antagonize people with any climate skepticism I may have- but I see that Eclectic has dug up something from me in another forum. Maybe he should stick to what I say here. We could all spy on everything people say eleswhere then maybe get points for it- but it's not productive.

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] I have censored that comment for breach of comments policy.

  35. You're welcome, JoeZ @84.   I am frequently lurking and/or posting on SkS  and WUWT  . . . so really it was only a minor co-incidence (and not Divine retribution) that you were exposed.  

    Your second sentence was rather ambiguous ~ it is almost as though you're saying you are presenting mutually-opposed opinions in two different forums [or "fora", if you live in Boston  ;-)   ].     But (pending any denial from you) I will take it that  wasn't what you meant . . . in which case :- why would you object anyone reading the available totality of your opinions?

    But - cutting to the Chase - I myself (and almost all readers at SkS  ) greatly welcome any climate skepticism that you can present.

    So far, however, you have not expressed any valid points of climate skepticism.  And before you reply, please consult your English dictionary for the precise meaning of skepticism ~ for skepticism does not mean the contrarianism  and/or science-denialism  which you find everywhere at WUWT ! . . . with the honorable exception of WUWT  comments by the very few there who are intellectually sane e.g. by Stokes, Mosher, and a couple of others not yet banned.   [WUWT  is a marvellous study in Motivated Reasoning ~ where otherwise-intelligent people repeatedly maintain the craziest concepts . . . and revel in the little echo-chamber where they can angrily vent their outrage & denial of reality.]

    So, JoeZ , please present your skepticism about the evidence found in mainstream climate science.  But I must warn you that Professors Lindzen, Svensmark & other denialists . . . have thus far entirely failed to find any evidence to invalidate the modern science.

    Good luck, JoeZ ~ I sincerely hope you can uncover the "killer" evidence which will send all the world's scientists rushing back to the collective drawing-board.   It will be a great relief to everyone, to learn that "AGW" is grossly wrong and there's no "climate emergency" whatsoever.

    But until I see your genuine evidence, I shall have to remain . . . skeptical.

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  36. Moderator, my apology for making post #82.   There was no uncivilized intent, nor do I have any interest in whatever names or pseudonyms which JoeZ chooses to use here or elsewhere on the web.  It is all about his "ideas".

    I was wishing to make a couple of points, which I thought would be of interest to readers :-

    (A)  The very recent scientific paper Chi Chen et al., 2020  (in Nature Sustainability  ) , which was a satellite-based worldwide study, giving a mixed picture of world greening and world browning during the the two decades of this current century.   The picture is complex, and I won't go into detail in this thread ~ but it does support the idea that the definite (sum-total) world greening effect in the latter part of the 20th Century  . . . has eased/slowed to a lower level of growth (discounting human tree-planting activities, etcetera) and is partly counterbalanced by a browning effect in some regions.

    (B)  When I said that JoeZ was "exposed" ~ it meant simply that his unscientific attitude was exposed by his own comments in the broader context.  Unscientific, in that he summarily dismissed the worldwide satellite study by Chi Chen et al.,  . . . because it clashed with JoeZ's personal anecdotal experience in his own neck of the woods  [literally!] , where he has (casually) observed "no browning" of note.   Clearly, such an attitude is a proverbial 1000 miles away from true skepticism.

    But I wish JoeZ well, and I hope he will choose to take some steps, on that 1000 mile journey.

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  37. Our Welcome Post was updated with a mention of the presentation "The Story of Skeptical Science" created for the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union.

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  38. I just now updated our Welcome Page to include the interactive version of "The Story of Skeptical Science" created for the 2020 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Enjoy!

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  39. Hi thanks for the great website and all the work behind it. I just have a simple question, inspired by the 4 Hiroshimas calculation. I'd like to complete the following sentence (or one like it) if possible: "The energy absorbed by the earth as a result of radiative forcing by the CO2 emitted when you boil a kettle of water is X times the energy used by kettle, spread over Y years."

    My thought was that this would be easy to work out from the global TPES which seems to be about 6x10^21 J/annum and the forcing rate which seems to be about 8x10^21 J/annum, given that CO2 hangs around in the atmosphere for 30-50 years .... then I realized that I was playing with numbers I don't really know how to handle. I'd be eternally grateful if someone could advise me on the calculation and on whether the result might be easier to imagine than all those Hiroshimas. 

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  40. garyjenkins @89,
    Your 'kettle' question would be quite straightforward but for two complications which to overcome require assumptions to be made.

    (1) The means of boiling this kettle can be more-or-less carbon intense. Thus that jolly swagman of song may be boiling his billie over a fire made of driftwood from the billabong and thus be seen as carbon-neutral. Or perhaps there is coal lying about nearby which the swagman could use which would lead to a particularly carbon-intense outcome.
    In the past I considered a similar question to the one you pose and, assuming the kettle was powered by UK electricity, I found the accumulating AGW energy would equal the FF energy in roughly a year. The energy-mix of the electricity generation wold impact this result, gas requiring 18 months for the AGW to equal the kettle's electric, coal requiring just 9 months.
    (2) Also, and more difficult, there is the need to account for the level of atmospheric CO2 and how long it "hangs around," or indeed when in time this kettle is being boiled as CO2 forcing is logarithmic not linear so the result will alter with differeing atmospheric ppm CO2. And a final consideration - are AGW forcings accounted with-or-without feedbacks? Perhaps that is a consideratio too far.

    The SKS graphic below (from this SKS post) is useful in setting the scene for your kettle question. (The 2005 AGW forcing given appears to be actually the CO2 forcing which for 2005 is 1.6Wm^-2 according to the Global Carbon Project.) The values in the graphic give a ratio AGW Forcing-to-Energy Production of roughly 50:1, pretty-much identical to the ratio of 2005 CO2 emissions to accumulative total emissions provided by the GCP data.

    SKS Global Energy Inputs
    This then sort-of supports the one-kettle-per-year result.

    However, with CO2 being slowly drawn down out of the atmosphere following its emission, perhaps the ratio of 2005 CO2 emissions to accumulated-by-2005 atmospheric burden should be used, this roughly halving the ratio. Thus immediately following emission of the CO2, the rate woud be perhaps two-kettle-per-year.
    I note you say "CO2 hangs around in the atmosphere for 30-50 years" but it hangs round longer than that. Rougly, 30-50 years is how long it takes half of it to be drawn down. After 100 years perhaps 33% remains, 1,000 years perhaps 20% and it is tens-of-thousands of years before it is benothinged. And integrated over that full period, the accumulative count of AGW in kettles would be rather large (perhaps 100 kettles in 100 years, 300 in 1,000, maybe above 5,000 kettles before it is all gone) but the rate of kettles-per-year becomes smaller and smaller and the resulting global warming will thus diminish.

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  41. M A Rodger @90

    Very helpful, thank you. I'll use your numbers in the thing I'm writing. And I've just found a paper that agrees with what you say.

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