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Tilting at Windmills

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June 1, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

A BESTIARY OF SKEPTICS....John Quiggin provides a handy summary of Joel Achenbach's recent piece in the Washington Post on global warming skeptics. Here it is:

  • Richard Lindzen, prominent MIT climate scientist, is an irresponsible contrarian, whos prepared to defend an implausible position on the off chance of being right when everyone else is wrong

  • The Competitive Enterprise Institute, well-known Washington thinktank, is a set of industry shills who will say whatever Exxon pays them to say

  • William Gray, respected hurricane expert, is a raving loon who thinks climate change is a conspiracy to bring in world government and compares Al Gore to Hitler (as Achenbach notes, its almost impossible to keep the Nazis out of the discussion in GW-sceptic circles)

  • All these guys know the score as regards the others.

John's summary motivated me to read Achenbach's piece, and I think he has it exactly right: the contrarians come across as obvious shills and buffoons. If you want to watch Achenbach talk about these guys in person, his Bloggingheads.tv conversation with Robert Wright is here.

Kevin Drum 12:16 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (123)

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Comments

Kevin, next, you'll be buying into the liberal lie that smoking causes cancer! There are MANY doctors who have PROVEN this is not true!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on June 1, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Nice idiots roster here.

Posted by: adios on June 1, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Robert Wright and Joel Achenbach -- death match!!

(Was that humiliating or what?)

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on June 1, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

I thought after reading Aschenbbach that he was doing a sort of Stephen Colbert take on it--appearing to take these loons seriously, while chronicling their idiocies in a way that would be obvious to the discerning reader but not to the DeLays of the world. Kind of like some 19th Century playwright sneaking something past the censors.

Posted by: Mimikatz on June 1, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

The shorter point is that, on any given issue, you can find at least a handful of people willing to take any position you can imagine--even the most extreme nutty position. And if there's a powerful industry out there that's invested in the extreme nutty position, those people will be heard.

Posted by: Steve on June 1, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, well-known Washington thinktank, is a set of industry shills who will say whatever Exxon pays them to say

Are you against people earning money? Is it only "pure" if you're a liberal academic receiving federal tax dollars to demostrate the evils of our modern economy? These blowhards expell more CO2 in a year than the average american does in their lifetime, flying to "conferences", plying "ice breakers" through the "arctic", and watching their own "TV interviews" on "plasma televisions".

Posted by: American Hawk on June 1, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, the question is whether or not human activity is causing global warming. The National Review explains why this is not so and liberals are wrong to think so.

"Consider Greenland again. Yes, temperatures there are warmer than they were a decade ago. But many climate scientists think this is the result of a phenomenon called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) - a pattern of slow, repeating changes in the ocean's surface temperatures. The AMO affects both the Atlantic tropics and the regions farther north. When the AMO is in its positive phase, temperatures rise in both places - which should cause more Caribbean hurricanes, and increase the speed at which Greenland's glaciers discharge into the sea. This appears to be just what is happening. "The AMO changed from negative to positive in 1995," Michaels wrote on Tech Central Station. "Since then hurricanes have become very active and glacier output has been accelerating." Is this man's fault? Models suggest that the AMO has been going on for at least 1,400 years. Maybe things would have turned out differently had Charlemagne signed the Kyoto Protocol, but the odds are against it."

Posted by: Al on June 1, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Oh American Chickenhawk, why do you even hit your keyboard, when you're assured that nothing but inanity will fly forth from your nimble little fingers? Kevin (and JA) aren't criticizing CEI for making money, they're criticizing CEI for their corporate-funded obscurantism and disinformation.

And Al, thanks very much for the putting the global warming "debate" to rest. I think we can all rest easy now that you and the geniuses at NR have compellingly proven that it's a non-phenomenon.

Sigh...

Posted by: Everett on June 1, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly, I think we should do the only prudent thing and wait until Miami, New York, Washington, and Boston are underwater. After all our coastal cities are permanently inundated, we can commission a series of studies (perhaps underwritten by Exxon-Mobil from their record profits) to determine if human-induced global warming is responsible.

Then we can commission other, further studies to study the original studies. But we really don't have to do anything until 80% of Florida is under water and most of the sunbelt has become a desert. THEN we can decide whether we want to act.

Posted by: Derelict on June 1, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Also, I have further proof that global warming is not real: it snowed this winter. If global warming were real, we'd all be living in a tropical paradise, rife with life-giving CO2. Thank G*d, that George W. Bush, the Interior Department and America's patriotic extractive industries are working hard to make this happen as soon as possible.

Posted by: Al on June 1, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

So it was okay for Gore to invoke the Nazis in that article, but not Gray?

Posted by: fred on June 1, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Achenbach's piece focuses on the loony outliers, but what to make of guys like Dr. Chris Landsea, who object to the politicization of the research so that the claims that are made go beyond what the science can support? He objects to the politicization and takes a stand:

I am withdrawing because I have come to view the part of the IPCC to which my expertise is relevant as having become politicized. In addition, when I have raised my concerns to the IPCC leadership, their response was simply to dismiss my concerns.

He's by no means a Global Warming Denier, but simply a respected Hurricane scientist who doesn't want to get ahead of the science, unlike many of his colleagues, and wants the community to make verifiable statements to the public. He recognizes that when the claims become too expansive, and go beyond the reach of science into scientific speculation, then that opens the door to possible refutation, and the PR value for the deniers of instances of refutation is immense. Far better to be conservative in pronouncements so that all such statements can be reliable and verifiable.

Posted by: TangoMan on June 1, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

apparently lindzen's colleagues take global warming more seriously than they do him. they're even linking the increase in hurricane activity to global warming.


http://live.psu.edu/story/18074

Posted by: mudwall jackson on June 1, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Whoever said that the leftwing can't smear just as well as the right? This article proves that the left are EXPERTS in smearing.

Posted by: Al on June 1, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, I don't mean to imply that the right engages in smearing. They don't. As everyone knows, the right in this country is as wholesome and pure as the wind-blown snow that, unfortunately and contrary to the best efforts of My President George W. Bush, the Interior Department and America's patriotic extractive industries, still falls in the winter.

Posted by: Al on June 1, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Oceanic currents change temperatures regionally. The balance of temperature globally stays the same -- oceanic current driven changes rob from Peter to pay Paul. However, the net temperature of the globe has risen. That energy has to come from somewhere. Citing regional fluctuations is a non-starter: you have to account for the net global increase.

Don't be stupid.

And, more important, don't be willfully stupid.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on June 1, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

AH and AL must be from Texas,There is somthing strange in the water down there.Hey guys do your shoulders jut up and down when you laugh also.

Posted by: some on June 1, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

apparently lindzen's colleagues take global warming more seriously than they do him. they're even linking the increase in hurricane activity to global warming.

Having sat around at a conference hearing discussions between Lindzen and Kerry Emanuel (MIT; wrote the Science paper linking increased hurricane power to increased ocean temps), I can assure you that this is most definitely not true.

Posted by: matt on June 1, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Let's watch Al demonstrate the Strawman Fallacy:

First, he sets himself in opposition to a weak argument that is only tangentially-related to the discussion at hand, and which nobody involved is arguing, and which no rational person would argue anyway:

    Whoever said that the leftwing can't smear just as well as the right?

Nice set up, Al!

But, while some would be content to defeat that strawman itself - it is so weak, it can hardly support itself - Al does something bold and special; Al decides to go for maximum troll points with his next line, an ad hominem attack:

    This article proves that the left are EXPERTS in smearing.

While the article doesn't "prove" anything like that, he's actually created a fine and tempting taunt; only the very strongest will be able to ignore it and not try to counter his assertion.

And, even more iimportant, Al has once again demonstrated his trademark move: the tu quoque fallacy, in which he attempts to distract and minimize the failings of his own party by claiming his opponents are just as bad.

So, Al, congratulations on a tour-de-force of logical fallacy. You've packed a mighty load of distortions, lies, logical errors and simple troll bait into two short sentences!

Posted by: cleek on June 1, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Far better to be conservative in pronouncements so that all such statements can be reliable and verifiable.

Such a belief assumes that there will always be time to respond and to use the judgments of Science in a rational way. We don't have that luxury. And, in fact, rarely have that luxury: we make decisions based upon partial data all the time. That's life.

There's the suspicion that inaction while we wait for 100% certainty is an end unto itself. Science never provides 100% certainty, so the demand that we wait for such a beast to appear before we act is irrational.

The IPCC consensus is that we face a rise in global temps between 1.5C and 4.5C over the next century. They've pegged that rise at the 95% degree of freedom level. It's been several years, but IIRC that's at 3 standard deviations from the mean on your Bell Shaped Curve. Considering the number of variables at play in climate science, 95% is as assured as you're going to get. If you faced a 95% chance of being eaten by a bear on your ride to work, you'd take a different route.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on June 1, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Oceanic currents change temperatures regionally. The balance of temperature globally stays the same -- oceanic current driven changes rob from Peter to pay Paul. However, the net temperature of the globe has risen. That energy has to come from somewhere. Citing regional fluctuations is a non-starter: you have to account for the net global increase.

Don't start science geek. Before you go off on this "net global increase" crap you have document the total heat content of ocean and soils through time. Current errors in these measurements are huge relative to the relatively small change observed in the atmosphere. If the oceans have made an unobserved average temperature drop of even 0.01 degrees C your "observations" are meaningless. It's the "liberal jellyfish huggers" that have kept us from doing the seismic temperature measurements necessary to do a better accounting.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 1, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Hard to say whether this is the real Chickenhawk or an excellent parody. If it's the latter, kudos! You've nailed the perfect mix of ignorance, arrogance, and downright stupidity that Chickenhawk typically demonstrates.

Posted by: Everett Volk on June 1, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

The question is not whether human activity is causing global warming.

The question is: can human activity stop it?

Whether or not Global Warming is anthropogenic, or whether the sun is increasing output, is an academic question.

We KNOW Global Warming is happening. That is not really seriously disputed.

We KNOW that CO2 can affect temperatures, and the CO2 levels are rising due to human activity. This also, is not seriously disputed.

We don't KNOW whether our best efforts at reducing CO2 output will have any impact on Global Warming - given natural sources of greenhouse gases like methane, or volcanic activity, and given uncontrollable inputs like solar output.

But that's okay.

We KNOW that humans CAN reduce our CO2 output, and it's even theoretically possible that, were we to solve our energy needs independent of CO2 production, that we could even divert surplus energy towards reducing atmospheric CO2 content.

The question is - will we bother to try before we become extinct?

The debate is whether it will be too inconvenient to humanity to be worth trying.

Posted by: American Fuck on June 1, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Morons -- the to-be-flooded cities are filled with decadent LIEberals! And Europe going under the new ice age? Great!

None of this with affect me! Not at all! Rove will keep paying me, Al, and America Hawk regardless!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on June 1, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, the question is whether or not human activity is causing global warming. The National Review explains why this is not so and liberals are wrong to think so.

The debate on this has been over for a while:

http://www.heatisonline.org/contentserver/objecthandlers/index.cfm?id=3458&method=full

The National Review article actually concurs human-caused global warming:

Global average temperature has risen by about 1 degree Celsius or less since the late 1800s. No serious person on either side of the global-warming debate questions this. Nor do serious commentators doubt that human activity, by increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, contributes to global warming.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NGIzNWNjYmVhYjE2M2RmNDM2OGM0ODRjN2QwNjE1ODM

And ThinkProgress has a pretty thorough takedown of the National Review article:

http://thinkprogress.org/2006/05/25/national-review-warming/

http://thinkprogress.org/2006/05/30/national-review-think-progress/

http://thinkprogress.org/2006/06/01/bastardizing-hansen/

http://thinkprogress.org/2006/06/01/nr-misrepresents/


Posted by: JJ on June 1, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

And Al, thanks very much for the putting the global warming "debate" to rest. I think we can all rest easy now that you and the geniuses at NR have compellingly proven that it's a non-phenomenon.

And NR's source? Tech Central Station. Sufferin' cats......

Posted by: Gregory on June 1, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Gray was the saddest. I used to take him seriously until I looked up his track record for predicting hurricanes. Throwing darts would give about as good results.

But he was a very serious scientist on how hurricanes formed and behaved, and he really did earn his dues back in the day.

Now he is a sad man trying desperately to be relevant in a world that has passed him by and he no longer understands, or even wants to. I thought this piece on him was somewhat unfair right up tot he point where it is revealed he won't put anything out for peer review. Nail in the coffin for a scientist. He knows his science is junk, he's just hoping it for some unforseen reason turns out right.

Posted by: Mysticdog on June 1, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Of course the real summary is at exxonsecrets.org (which sound more populist than it is)

Its for those who, for whatever reason, want to experience what doing real social networking feels like. You can for example look up some contributors to FOX news recent documentary "Global warming The debate continues", and then map the organization they are tied to, then the others with ties with these organizations, and the organizations these are tied to..

The object of the game may be to get to Sallie Baliunas without your screen becoming clogged with links ;-)

Posted by: dd on June 1, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Don't start science geek. Before you go off on this "net global increase" crap you have document the total heat content of ocean and soils through time. Current errors in these measurements are huge relative to the relatively small change observed in the atmosphere. If the oceans have made an unobserved average temperature drop of even 0.01 degrees C your "observations" are meaningless. It's the "liberal jellyfish huggers" that have kept us from doing the seismic temperature measurements necessary to do a better accounting.

Are you a parody or a troll or an ijut? Do you seriously think scientists haven't monitored sea temps?

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on June 1, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

The CEI's math was off by a factor of one million. Can't those shorthaired sociopaths get anything right?

Oh, I forgot: that's not the point.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on June 1, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

God, what a cesspool Kevin is maintaining.

Posted by: Humble blogger on June 1, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter American Hawk: I will make up things that sound like science but aren't really science in order to create a false sense of doubt in the conclusions of actual scientists, which are that:

1. Global warming is happening,
2. it's caused by an increase in CO2,
3. Humans are increasing the CO2,
4. We're going to have to deal with it somehow.

There's no serious scientific debate on these four points anymore. The only remaining question is how we should deal with it.

Now, you can choose to deal with it by pretending it's not happening. But nature isn't like politics--it's entirely reality-based, and whether you like it or not, the water is coming.

You're allowing comforting myths to supercede reality. You've got this silly idea that nature is cyclical and that things don't change. You seem to be ignoring the fact it's also part of the natural cycle for things to change rapidly, dramatically and irrevocably--or perhaps you missed the mass extinctions of the Cambrian or the Cretaceous? Remember dinosaurs and how they all sort of...went away? You also seem to have this silly idea that humans don't affect the natural environment. I encourage you to head down to Australia and disabuse yourself of these notions. Count some bunnies.

It's time to stop surrounding yourself in comforting myths about the way the world works and acknowledge the way it actually DOES work. Nature is not a mysterious, mystical force of balance or cycles or whatever. It's the sum total of action and reaction, repeated over and over again ad infinitum. Scientists have noticed that a particular human action is generating a particularly huge reaction. Deal with it.

Posted by: theorajones on June 1, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

As usual, the whacko left's response to any and all information that contradicts their beloved world views (and paints them as hypocrits) is to toss ad homenims at the messengers, to wit:

Kevin:Richard Lindzen, prominent MIT climate scientist, is an irresponsible contrarian, whos prepared to defend an implausible position on the off chance of being right when everyone else is wrong

Achenbach had this to say about Lindzen: Of all the skeptics, MIT's Richard Lindzen probably has the most credibility among mainstream scientists, who acknowledge that he's doing serious research on the subject. Lindzen contends that water vapor and clouds, which will increase in a warmer world because of higher rates of evaporation, create "negative feedbacks" that counter the warming trend. "The only reason the models get such a big response is that, in models, the most important greenhouse substances, which are water vapor and clouds, act to take anything man does and make it worse," he says. Observations show otherwise, he says.

Kevin: The Competitive Enterprise Institute, well-known Washington thinktank, is a set of industry shills who will say whatever Exxon pays them to say

from Achenbach: CEI has 28 people on staff, "half a platoon," Smith likes to say. They're in the persuasion business, fighting for the free market. They lobby against government regulations of all kinds. Smith writes articles with titles such as "Eco-Socialism: Threat to Liberty Around the World." These promoters of capitalism don't really operate a commercial enterprise; like any think tank, CEI relies on donations from individuals, foundations and corporations. The most generous sponsors of last year's annual dinner at the Capital Hilton were the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Exxon Mobil, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and Pfizer. Other contributors included General Motors, the American Petroleum Institute, the American Plastics Council, the Chlorine Chemistry Council and Arch Coal. ... Although Smith can be rambling and digressive, he has a team of analysts who know the global warming topic inside and out and can quickly produce the latest nugget of potentially contradictory evidence (Greenland melted faster in the 1920s!). What rankles them most of all is the suggestion that global warming is a problem that must be fixed by the government, top down, through regulations. Let the free market work its genius, they say. Countries with thriving economies will, in the long run, be more adaptive to climate change and will find more technological solutions than countries that hamstring themselves by clamping down on greenhouse emissions.

Kevin: William Gray, respected hurricane expert, is a raving loon who thinks climate change is a conspiracy to bring in world government and compares Al Gore to Hitler (as Achenbach notes, its almost impossible to keep the Nazis out of
the discussion in GW-sceptic circles)

Achenbach: Lindzen says of Gray: "His knowledge of [my] theory is frustratingly poor, but he knows more about hurricanes than anyone in the world. I regard him in his own peculiar way as a national resource."

Kevin, do you wonder why I think you're a moron? You can't even bother to read your own cites! You rely on other whacko lefties to do your reading for you.

Why do you suppose the alarmists are forever refining (tweaking) their models? Because the skeptics keep poking holes in their theories and assumptions!

If you earned a little more money, Kevin, you might be more worried about how the government misspends what it takes from you.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on June 1, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Norman-- You're selectively quoting. There are other quotes in the article supporting what Kevin is saying.

Posted by: JJ on June 1, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

You're allowing comforting myths to supercede reality. You've got this silly idea that nature is . . . . It's time to stop surrounding yourself in comforting myths about the way the world works and acknowledge the way it actually DOES work.

Very good advice. Now if you could only get liberals to follow it as well.

Posted by: TangoMan on June 1, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Norman:

Those quotes aren't Kevin's, they are Achenbach's. If you want to fault Kevin for reprinting them uncritically, that's another issue.

Posted by: dnc on June 1, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

The skeptics keep poking holes in their theories and assumptions!

Not true. Science Magazine analyzed 928 peer-reviewed scientific papers on global warming published between 1993 and 2003. None challenged the scientific consensus the earths temperature is rising due to human activity:

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686

Posted by: JJ on June 1, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

The scientific debate is over. The public debate will lag the professional discussion, but I see clear signs that it is changing as well. In brief, the predictions that the skeptics made have not been seen. The genuine anomalies in the data (such as the discordance between ground-based and satellite temperature measurements) have been resolved in favor of a consistent observed warming trend. The rapid increase in computing speed has produced more sophisticated and accurate models, and the quality of the data has also improved.

Ten years ago I would have said (and did say) that the premise of human-induced climate change was solid, the data on warming trends suggestive, and that the magnitude of the effect was model-dependent and subject to major uncertainties from feedback issues. Since then the underlying science has been getting nothing but firmer. Human activity is changing the atmosphere and climate. The real action in the climate study field now is investigating whether the magnitude of global climate change has actually been underestimated.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk,

For the last 10 or 15 years the heat content of the planet is well constrained by observations. It's increasing. None of this data is based upon ATOC -- which by the way can't hurt jellyfish or whales. For the ocean it's mostly based upon satellite altimetry and autonomous floats.

Try the following paper:

http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2005/HansenNazarenkoR.html

Executive summary here:

http://www.realclimate.org/figure2_hansen05.jpg

Posted by: B on June 1, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

yes, Norman you're the perfect man to lecture all us "whacko", "morons" and "alarmists" about "ad hominems".

Posted by: cleek on June 1, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

About climate change, the non-believers are not going away any time soon for that very reason. It is a very worrying trend the last couple of decades that faith-based opionions receive more attention than they deserve.

It really doesn't matter if it's economics, international relations, AIDS, drug use, pregnancy, etc., etc. but most clearly apparent when science is involved. The scientific process is clearly not understood and not wanted to be understood. To them it's actually not a valid form of argument.

If you operate in a faith-based world, any contrary evidence that undermines your faith is ignored or disparaged.

The fact that a particularly influential faction operates in this way within one of only two politically effective parties in the US is a phenomenon with very worrying consequences for the whole world -- and not least with global warming and its potentially lethality. We have the richest and most capably adaptive society. All over the world millions will die from the outcome of our (and others) global pollution before anything we all do produces results.

The faithful will hang on to their beliefs, and their enablers in the shadows behind.

Posted by: notthere on June 1, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

To some people "sound science" means acoustics. In other words, does it sound good?

If it doesn't jibe with their preconceived notions, it can't be true.

Posted by: JJ on June 1, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

I know Dr. Gray and he is neither a crank nor a buffoon. He is not an expert in climate change and in my opinion should keep his mouth shut on the issue, but a little skepticsm on 'consensus science' is a good thing.

SCIENCE BY NAME CALLING IS NOT HELPFUL!

Posted by: NeilS on June 1, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

...Why do you suppose the alarmists are forever refining (tweaking) their models? Because the skeptics keep poking holes in their theories and assumptions!....

Posted by: Norman Rogers on June 1, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

This, of course, is a perfect example of faith argument. It ignores the relative novelty of the science, its learning curve, and that all complicated models are continually being "tweaked". For computer or aeronautical design, economics, the weather, the environment. The fact that their are a number of models out there, even though they vary in prediction, is a strength. That they broadly agree should be taken seriously. Anybody know of any respected model that says this aberration is going to turn around in the next "three, five, eight years"?

It ignores that scientists are by nature skeptics who hypothesize and test theories, put them in the public scientific view where jealous and competitive fellow scientists will be only too happy to show you to be a fool and flat wrong, but who, at the same time, are restrained by the fact that they can't make a fool of themselves in the process; argument must be substantive and specific.

A constraint that Norman Rogers, American Hawk, Al and their ilk do not similarly feel.

Posted by: notthere on June 1, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum,

It's a mistake to sneer at these guys with such finality, Lindzen and Gray. They're right about numerical models-- any modeler will tell you that models are always wrong, by definition, and that what a model shoots for is a closer approximation of what might really exist. Whether these empirical, actual-data guys are right or wrong, they have a place in science, which becomes nothing but bullshit where it starts to work on "consensus." It seems that Lindzen/Gray get a little hot under the collar, according to Achenbach, but that doesn't distinguish them from a lot of the people who think the numerical models are right, as far as I can see. If they are contrarians, remember that real science doesn't happen without contrarians.

There probably isn't a way to de-politicize this topic and calm everybody down, given the potential cost of being wrong on the Lindzen-Gray side. It may be that hysteria is the correct policy. It seems to me, however, that accepting or endorsing the demonization of these guys doesn't help your thinking here. There's a fair chance they're right, and there is no doubt that they are approaching the problem in a more scientific manner than Al Gore is, which is understandable since Al's strong suit is not science. I've got a feeling this opinion won't be too well received here, but I recommend that, just for laughs, you do an experiment and assume that Lindzen and Gray are honest and have half a chance of being right, and read the article again to see if it's the sort of thing that is going to be helpful in the long run.

Posted by: quinnat on June 1, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

There's a fair chance they're right

There's practically no chance they're right. This debate has been working itself out for years.
And again I point to the 928 peer-reviewed scientific papers on global warming published between 1993 and 2003, with none of them challenging the scientific consensus the earths temperature is rising due to human activity.

Further, there are all the signature studies, a number of them not relying on models, showing that humans are the origins of warming:

http://www.heatisonline.org/contentserver/objecthandlers/index.cfm?id=3458&method=full

Also, when Bush commissioned a panel of NAS scientists to study the issue (one of them Richard Lindzen), the first sentence of their summary report read: "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise."

http://www.heatisonline.org/contentserver/objecthandlers/index.cfm?id=3713&method=full

Normally, scientists like qualifiers, statements of uncertainty, etc. But reread that sentence. It's pretty direct. And the draft of the newest IPCC report is supposed to have removed even more uncertainty from the little there was left. And the IPCC is supposed to have one of the most rigorous peer review processes ever devised (This is by design, because it takes place under considerable political controversy).

Posted by: JJ on June 1, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

I want to say that the real rift in the Republican Party is not libertarians v Christian conservatives but globalists v anti-globalists.

But it occurs to me that while the Jacksonians may now find themselves at odds with the Wilsonians over immigration, they hopped aboard the SS Neocon not only because of WMD but because "democracy promotion" is apparently part of some broader Christian mission today (who knew?).

At the same time, what becomes of a GOP that cannot even acknowledge the reality of climate change, let alone the need for cooperative international action, as well as a big push for energy independence.

You wonder if the base (or at least some of it) is actually ahead of the elites and the hired guns and the talk radio demagogues on this. You wonder if that would in part explain why Rudolph Giuliani can have the lead among Bush's base (yes Bush's base) in polls for the 2008 GOP nomination, not John McCain (see the March Hotline/Diageo poll for more about that).

Posted by: Linus on June 1, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

quinnat: There's a fair chance they're right, and there is no doubt that they are approaching the problem in a more scientific manner than Al Gore is, which is understandable since Al's strong suit is not science.

There is very little chance that Gray and Lindzen are right. RealClimate.org describes a recent paper by Gray as having "far more wrong with the paper than we have the patience to detail" and containing "fundamental misconceptions on the physics of climate that underlie most of Gray's pronouncements on climate change and its causes."

RealClimate.org also notes that Lindzen's major predictions based on his theories of "natural variability" causing global warming have been refuted by empirical evidence, which instead supports the anthropogenic hypothesis.

And given that Gray began that same paper with a quote from Republican Senator Inhofe calling global warming the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated" and concluded with a quote from a spokeperson for the Society of Petroleum Geologists praising Michael Crichton's science fiction novel State of Fear (in which environmentalists dynamite Antarctica as part of this supposed hoax) as having "the absolute ring of truth", and given that Lindzen recently wrote an op-ed for the far-right editorial page of the Wall Street Journal full of baseless and unsubstantiated accusations that climate scientists (not environmentalists, but climate scientists) are deliberately and dishonestly using "scare tactics" and "alarmism" to get more funding, there is little basis for claiming that these two individuals are "approaching the problem in a more scientific manner than Al Gore".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 1, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

If they are contrarians, remember that real science doesn't happen without contrarians...

...read the article again to see if it's the sort of thing that is going to be helpful in the long run.

Posted by: quinnat on June 1, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Science has nothing to do with being contrarian. Discovery has to do with having an insight that is then followed up with scientific enquiry and method and produced for criticism among one's peers.

Gray offers 50 years of experience and the seat of his pants. Hardly science. He ignores tens of thousands of years of knowledge derived from sediments and ice core samples. He doensn't attempt to address scientific method in terms of climate change.

In Achenbach's article there is not much on Richard Lindzen but try this:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=222

for his assumptions that are a little off base and why. Or google him for other critical articles.

Contrarianism for contrarian's sake is dangerous demagoguic play that delays accurate and needed decision making. Something, it seems Exxon and other corporations are willling to pay for.

Posted by: notthere on June 1, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

The problem isn't one of appearances quinnat. It is one of results. Scientists are used to, and they respect, skeptical inquiry. We stop listening to contrarians when it becomes clear that they are simply not listening to Mother Nature. I'm a theoretical astronomer (stellar and solar models), and there are classic examples in my discipline. When quasars were discovered in the 1960s, there were some prominent contrarians (e.g. Arp) who simply did not believe that extreme objects like these - gigantic black holes at tremendous distances - could exist. Their objections were taken seriously, and extensive tests of alternate theories were undertaken. The net results of the alternatives always came up negative. Quasars really are incredibly bright and incredibly far away. People stopped listening to Arp because it became apparent that there was simply nothing that would convince him of this.

Lindzen is, unfortunately, approaching this category. He has done some extremely well-regarded and solid work in the past. His recent skeptical work (e.g. on the IRIS hypothesis) has been convincingly countered in the literature. Rather than moving on, he's digging in - e.g. showing signs of becoming precisely the sort of scientist that people stop listening to.

Gray makes claims that have fundamental physical flaws. And there is a difference between pointing to a specific flaw in numerical models and breezily asserting that they're just wrong.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

1. Global warming is happening,
2. it's caused by an increase in CO2,
3. Humans are increasing the CO2,

These statements are all literally true, but they create a false impression by omitting the crucial additional fact that a substantial fraction of observed global warming--perhaps half or more--may be due to natural climate variability rather than human activities. The amount of global warming caused by natural variability is important because it limits our ability to reduce global warming by reducing human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Science for all purposes are bunk. Only word of GOD rules. As such global warming theory is bunk The second coming of Jesus Christ theory (as noted in the bible) is proven and fact, and must be materialized.

Posted by: Left Behind Advocate on June 1, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Don P posting as "GOP" wrote: ... the crucial additional fact that a substantial fraction of observed global warming--perhaps half or more--may be due to natural climate variability rather than human activities." (Emphasis added.)

This is typical of the scripted, programmed right-wing Republican crap that you regurgitate in every one of your comments on this subject, and is a perfect example of why no one who reads these pages takes your comments seriously.

In your own words you assert that some unknown, unspecified "natural climate variability" "MAY" play some undetermined role in observed global warming, and then you call this a "fact". It is NOT a fact, as your own use of the word "MAY" indicates. It is nothing but conjecture, completely unsupported by evidence.

And it is not even an honest conjecture any more, since it is not only unsupported by evidence, but contradicted by the evidence. Multiple scientific studies (which I have repeatedly cited and quoted in comments here) since the IPCC TAR have shown that NO known "natural variability" can explain the observed warming of the Earth, nor is there any need to invoke any such speculative, unspecified, unidentified, hypothetical "natural variability" to explain it, since it is sufficiently and fully explained by anthropogenic causes, principally the burning of fossil fuels which increases atmospheric concentrations of CO2.

Both the IPCC and the National Academy of Sciences have concluded that human activities, principally the burning of fossil fuels, are increasing the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and other "greenhouse gases", and that this is causing the Earth to warm, and the Earth's climate to change in response to that anthropogenic warming.

That is a fact that your deliberately dishonest right-wing Republican obfuscation cannot change or obscure, no matter how arrogantly or belligerently or repetitiously you regurgitate it.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 1, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum,

I don't know about you, but my faith in global warming is rising rapidly. I thought it was sort of like predicting the chance of snow on Friday, only a little further into the future, but it turns out it's like an incredibly bright and far off black hole, or a Michael Crichton book report, or thousands of years of sedimentary peer review, of which perhaps half or more is pressure-cooked by political controversy. A lot of people seem to have invested in it, and that's pretty good proof that it's going to happen.

The recommendation stands to cut these poor weather geezers some slack, especially the guy who's getting dissed for his pride in flying into hurricains. Always a wise policy to back away from a lynching, even if it is peer-reviewed.

Posted by: quinnat on June 1, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

the never ending war...

Pentagon: Iraq Insurgency Strong Into 2007

Posted by: yancy on June 1, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

This is typical of the scripted, programmed right-wing Republican crap ...

You're a lying moron.

In your own words you assert that some unknown, unspecified "natural climate variability" "MAY" play some undetermined role in observed global warming,

Natural climate variability is natural climate variablity. As I said, the scientific consensus is that natural climate variability may be a substantial cause of observed global warming, contributing perhaps half of that warming.

and then you call this a "fact".

It is a fact that the scientific consensus is that natural climate variability may contribute substantially to global warming.

For example, the National Academy of Sciences statement on climate science noted:

"the changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability."

Note the qualifiers regarding the contribution of human activities: "likely" (not certainly), "mostly" (not completely).

And it is not even an honest conjecture any more, since it is not only unsupported by evidence, but contradicted by the evidence.

Complete and utter nonsense. There are obviously many natural mechanisms that influence climate. All climate change prior to large-scale human activity was caused by natural mechanisms.

Multiple scientific studies (which I have repeatedly cited and quoted in comments here) since the IPCC TAR have shown that NO known "natural variability" can explain the observed warming of the Earth,

You have provided no such evidence. And your claim is irrelevant anyway, since I did not claim that all observed warming may be due to natural variability, but a substantial fraction of observed warming.

Both the IPCC and the National Academy of Sciences have concluded that human activities, principally the burning of fossil fuels, are increasing the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and other "greenhouse gases", and that this is causing the Earth to warm, and the Earth's climate to change in response to that anthropogenic warming.

Neither the IPCC nor the National Academy of Sciences have concluded that human activities have definitely caused even most of the observed warming, let alone all of the observed warming.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Models involving only natural forcings can't explain the temperature record. The upper plausible range is of order 1/3 of the effect. And there is the problem that changes in the atmosphere have predictable physical effects. You'd have to explain why pumping CO2 into the atmosphere didn't matter, rather than explaining why it does.

This is, in any case, not really relevant to the question at hand. We can make a substantial difference, and the uncontrolled experiment that we're doing on the Earth is having a definite impact.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Fever swamp.

Posted by: Humble blogger on June 1, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Don P, posting again as "GOP" with a fake email address to hide his real identity, once again demonstrates that he has nothing to offer but arrogant, belligerent, utterly empty regurgitation of scripted programmed right-wing Republican propaganda, lies, misrepresentations of the scientific consensus, and similar bullshit.

He is nothing but a bullshit artist who likes to impress himself with his ability to waste people's time with his thoroughly dishonest, idiotic rubbish.

The overwhelming scientific consensus, as stated by both the IPCC and the National Academy of Sciences, as well as a joint statement by the equivalent national scientific academies of numerous other countries, is that human activities, principally the burning of fossil fuels, are increasing the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and that this is causing the Earth to warm, and causing the Earth's climate to change in response to that warming.

No amount of obfuscation, subject changing, misrepresentation of the scientific consensus by selective quoting that deliberately omits the main points of a statement, or other grossly dishonest behavior that pervades your every comment can hide that reality.

Don P: You have provided no such evidence.

You are a liar and a laughable fraud. This is the same old, tired old, long time tactic that (among other forms of blatant and egregious dishonesty) has convinced numerous commenters here that engaging in discussion with you is a waste of time. Whenever anyone presents evidence that conclusively demostrates that you are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, you just pretend the evidence was never posted and say you are "still waiting for it". You are nothing but a clown. Your comments here are nothing but a target of derision and contempt by educated, thoughtful and honest commenters, and rightfully so.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 1, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

marc,

Models involving only natural forcings can't explain the temperature record. The upper plausible range is of order 1/3 of the effect.

One-third of observed global warming is obviously a substantial fraction of that warming. Of course, there is uncertainty about the accuracy of the models also. This is why the IPCC TAR concludes only that "most" (not all) of observed warming of the past 50 years is "likely" (not certainly) to have been caused by an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The IPCC defines "likely" as 66-90% probability. So, according to the IPCC TAR, there is as much as a 34% chance that not even "most" (let alone all) of the observed global warming has been caused by natural mechanisms rather than human activities.

This is, in any case, not really relevant to the question at hand. We can make a substantial difference, and the uncontrolled experiment that we're doing on the Earth is having a definite impact.

On the contrary, the relative contributions to global warming of natural mechanisms vs. human activities is vitally important to the question of what we can and should do in response. The greater the contribution from natural mechanisms, the less our ability to mitigate global warming by changing our activities is likely to be. The more limited we are in our ability to mitigate global warming, the more important policies of adaptation become.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

You are a liar and a laughable fraud.

You're a lying moron.

Still waiting for your "evidence." Unsubstantiated assertions are not evidence.

By the way, the text of yours in bold above does not contradict anything I have said, so I have no idea what the point of it is supposed to be.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Marc wrote: Models involving only natural forcings can't explain the temperature record.

You know what you are talking about. I must warn you from sad experience that you are wasting your no doubt valuable time responding to Don P a.k.a. "GOP".

I choose my words carefully and precisely when I tell you that he is a bullshit artist who is only interested in impressing himself with his ability to waste people's time by drawing them into extended exchanges in which they encounter nothing from him but willful ignorance and deliberate dishonesty, all in the interest of dragging out long, pointless arguments for the sake of argument.

When you find him lying to you about what you yourself have written earlier in the thread, you'll know what I mean.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 1, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

In my post of 7:39pm, make the last sentence in the first paragraph:

So, according to the IPCC TAR, there is as much as a 34% chance that not even "most" (let alone all) of the observed global warming has been caused by human activities rather than natural mechanisms.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

Don P wrote: Still waiting for your "evidence."

There you go again spewing your signature line of bullshit. You are not "still waiting" for anything. A few threads ago, I posted links to numerous scientific studies, with quotes, with direct citations to the original peer-reviewed publications, on this very subject, and you were completely unable to respond to a single one of them -- except with bullshit, misrepresentations and lies.

As I long ago learned, there is no point in discussing anything with you, since you are pathologically dishonest and your only purpose is to waste people's time with your bullshit.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 1, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist to Marc,

You know what you are talking about.

Did you miss the part where he states that, under current models, as much as a third of observed global warming is caused by natural mechanisms rather than human activities?

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

God, what a cesspool Kevin is maintaining.
Posted by: Humble blogger on June 1, 2006

Fever swamp.
Posted by: Humble blogger on June 1, 2006

Care to state your point, sir?

Posted by: JJ on June 1, 2006 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

There you go again spewing your signature line of bullshit.

You're a lying moron.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

I read the Achenbach article, watched the bloggingheads.tv diavlog (LOVE those--Kevin, you should get on sometime), and read the Wash Post on-line discussion. Achenbach handles the give-and-take really well, and he has a great grasp of the science, ideas, politics and history behind this. Excellent work.

Posted by: vaughan on June 1, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Don P wrote: So, according to the IPCC TAR ...

You like to refer to the IPCC's Third Assessment Report -- always deliberately misrepresenting it, of course -- because it is out of date. You like to ignore all the science that has been done since the TAR that has completely blown away the caveats of the TAR and established beyond sane question that the currently observed warming, which is rapid, accelerating, and unprecedented in human history, is certainly and unequivocally the result of human activities.

You are a fraud and you are nothing but a waste of time.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 1, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

You like to refer to the IPCC's Third Assessment Report -- always deliberately misrepresenting it

I haven't misrepresented it at all. The IPCC TAR clearly states that "most [not all] of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely [not certainly] to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations" where "likely," is quantified as 66-90% probability.

You like to ignore all the science that has been done since the TAR that has completely blown away the caveats of the TAR

Tee hee hee. There is no science that has "completely blown away the caveats of the TAR" except in your fevered imagination.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

You are a fraud and you are nothing but a waste of time.

You're a lying moron.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Don P wrote: "... natural climate variability may be a substantial cause of observed global warming, contributing perhaps half of that warming."

Marc replied to this unsupportable claim: "Models involving only natural forcings can't explain the temperature record. The upper plausible range is of order 1/3 of the effect."

Don P, exactly as I predicted he would, then lied about what Marc had written: "... he states that, under current models, as much as a third of observed global warming is caused by natural mechanisms rather than human activities?"

Marc did not say that any part of the observed warming "is caused by" natural mechanisms. He said that the "upper plausible range" of any conjectured natural mechanism is on the order of one third -- and he said this to contradict your blatantly false and completely unsupported claim that the "scientific consensus" is that natural mechanisms may be causing "half" of the observed warming.

You are a blatantly and absurdly dishonest crackpot, lying to people about their own comments! Is it any wonder that no one who has read many of your comments here thinks of you as anything but a clown?

You should change your handle to Bozo, or better yet, Pennywise.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 1, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

I like the representation that MIT put up about the probabilities in the last IPCC report, incorporating the possibility that some of it might be natural variability:

http://web.mit.edu/globalchange/www/wheel.degC.html

Roulette anyone?

Posted by: JJ on June 1, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK


The Fourth Assessment Report will be out soon, and it does indeed remove the caveats on which GOP is relying. The combination of continued warming, the reconciliation of satellite and ground data and lots more research across the board has convinced most real sceptics, as opposed to the deniers reported in Achenbach's piece.

Posted by: John Quiggin on June 1, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Don P wrote: There is no science that has "completely blown away the caveats of the TAR"

You are a willfully ignorant and intellectually slovenly liar.


Global Warming Fastest for 20,000 Years - and it is Mankind's Fault
by Steve Connor
May 4, 2006
The Independent / UK

Excerpt:

[...] according to a draft report by the world's leading climate scientists ... there is now overwhelming evidence to show that the Earth's climate is undergoing dramatic transformation because of human activity.

A draft copy of the report by a working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases are at the highest for at least 650,000 years.

It predicts that global average temperatures this century will rise by between 2C and 4.5C as a result of the doubling of carbon dioxide levels caused by man-made emissions.

These temperatures could increase by a further 1.5C as a result of "positive feedbacks" in the climate resulting from the melting of sea ice, thawing permafrost and the acidification of the oceans.

The draft report will become the fourth assessment by the IPCC since it was established in 1988 and was meant to be confidential until the final version is ready for publication next year.

[...]

"There is widespread evidence of anthropogenic warming of the climate system in temperature observations taken at the surface, in the free atmosphere and in the oceans," it says.

"It is very likely that greenhouse gas forcing has been the dominant cause of the observed global warming over the past 50 years.

"And it is likely that greenhouse gases alone would have caused more warming than has been observed during this period, with some warming offset by cooling from natural and other anthropogenic factors."

So not only does the IPCC's draft of its upcoming Fourth Assessment Report conclude that there is "overwhelming evidence to show that the Earth's climate is undergoing dramatic transformation because of human activity", and that "greenhouse gas forcing has been the dominant cause of the observed global warming over the past 50 years", it concludes that the warming caused by human activities would have been even greater if it had not been "offset by cooling from natural and other anthropogenic factors."

You are completely full of shit.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 1, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, yes, and Don P will now post a comment that he is "stil waiting" for me to post the scientific evidence that I posted in the previous comment. He is so predictable.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 1, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

When discussing natural causes of climate change, its important to distinguish two things. First, no one doubts that they exist; the geologic column is evidence enough that the Earth has been much warmer (and colder) in the past. The question is whether they are causing large effects now, and the evidence for this (more crucial) issue is far weaker than the evidence for human-induced climate change.

We understand the underlying mechanism for why temperature rises when you add CO2 to the atmosphere. The most commonly invoked natural cause (solar variability) is superficially appealing, but we have detailed information on the actual changes in the energy received from the Sun since the 1970s, and these changes are quite small (less than 0.1%). So to get big climate changes from the Sun, you have to invoke poorly understood indirect effects. For example, changes in UV radiation (which are more closely tied to solar variability than visible light) may interact with the Earth's atmosphere in a way that amplifies the effect. You can invoke indirect gauges of solar activity in the distant past (which is far more uncertain than the data used in temperature reconstructions) and claim correlations with changes in temperature in the distant past, implying that there is some poorly known physical effect that makes solar changes more important in the past. But it is hard to get around the evidence that the Sun hasn't been changing much recently, and the climate has. The more data that accumulates, the less room there is for a large natural fraction - and the estimates of 1/3 are definitely on the high (but possible) side.

More to the point, we're seeing a lot of lines of evidence that the future warming is underestimated by the current models, which is exactly what you'd expect from intellectually conservative workers in the field. e.g. even if the natural signal is present and significant, the net effect is a change that is getting amplified.

I'm a bit mystified why a component of natural variability is an argument to do nothing, because I think the logic goes the other way. If increasing global temperatures are a problem, and we control less of this problem than we thought...

That implies we need to make larger cuts in emissions to overcome natural trends working against us.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

I nver expected to say this, but Norman is (mostly) correct, and Kevin isn't. I have a different take on Joel Achenbach's story at CapitalistImperialistPig. The story is not about anthropogenic global warming, about which Achenbach appears to be a believer, but about the skeptics, one skeptic in particular.

I believe Achenbach's story is mostly about Bill Gray, and he's portrayed not as a "raving loon" (which he isn't) but a somewhat tragic figure whose science has left him behind (which he also is, in my opinion). CEI is in their for comic relief, but also to show the dead hand of Exxon moving spectrally among the cast of characters. Achenbach has rather explicitly used Shakespearian imagery (the piece is called The Tempest, and Gray is portrayed as howling into the gale like some latter day Lear.

Your caricature (and Quiggin's) does a distinct disservice to Achenbach's brilliant story as well as to the figures portrayed.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on June 1, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

exactly as I predicted he would, then lied about what Marc had written

I didn't lie about what he said. You're a lying moron.

Marc did not say that any part of the observed warming "is caused by" natural mechanisms.

I didn't say he did. I said that he said that models indicate that "as much as a third" is caused by natural mechanisms. "As much as a third" obviously includes anything from zero to a third.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

John Quiggin,

The Fourth Assessment Report will be out soon, and it does indeed remove the caveats on which GOP is relying.

No it doesn't. The caveats are there for a reason. They reflect the large scientific uncertainties regarding the relative contributions to global warming of natural vs. human causes.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

Consistent with your long history of posting lengthy pieces that not only do not support your claims, but actually contradict them, I guess you missed the following statement in the news article you quote:

"It is very likely that greenhouse gas forcing has been the dominant cause of the observed global warming over the past 50 years."

Note the qualifiers "very likely" and "dominant." Do you understand what these words mean? "Dominant cause" does not mean "only cause." "Very likely" does not mean "certainly." In fact, the deliberate use of the phrase "dominant cause" rather than "sole cause" or "only cause" obviously implies that there are other causes in addition to the human cause of greenhouse gas emissions--namely, natural causes.

Once again, your own sources contradict you.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

marc,

When discussing natural causes of climate change, its important to distinguish two things. First, no one doubts that they exist; the geologic column is evidence enough that the Earth has been much warmer (and colder) in the past.

Yes. I made this point a short time ago.

The question is whether they are causing large effects now, and the evidence for this (more crucial) issue is far weaker than the evidence for human-induced climate change.

The evidence on the relative contributions to global warming of human vs. natural causes is inconclusive. There are large uncertainties. That is why the IPCC, the NAS, and reputable scientists are careful to note only that the evidence indicates that human causes are "likely" to have caused "most" observed warming, not that they have definitely caused all of it. Distorting the careful and nuanced statements of climate scientists regarding the complex and uncertain nature of the causes of global warming is dishonest and irresponsible.

We understand the underlying mechanism for why temperature rises when you add CO2 to the atmosphere.

Yes, we do. But this raises yet another area of serious uncertainty, climate sensitivity. We don't know with any reliability how much temperatures will change for a given change in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

The most commonly invoked natural cause (solar variability) is superficially appealing, but we have detailed information on the actual changes in the energy received from the Sun since the 1970s, and these changes are quite small (less than 0.1%). So to get big climate changes from the Sun, you have to invoke poorly understood indirect effects. For example, changes in UV radiation (which are more closely tied to solar variability than visible light) may interact with the Earth's atmosphere in a way that amplifies the effect. You can invoke indirect gauges of solar activity in the distant past (which is far more uncertain than the data used in temperature reconstructions) and claim correlations with changes in temperature in the distant past, implying that there is some poorly known physical effect that makes solar changes more important in the past. But it is hard to get around the evidence that the Sun hasn't been changing much recently, and the climate has. The more data that accumulates, the less room there is for a large natural fraction - and the estimates of 1/3 are definitely on the high (but possible) side.

Solar variability is just one of many natural mechanisms influencing climate. The scientific uncertainty regarding the relative contribution of natural vs. human mechanisms to observed warming is reflected in the cautious and nuanced statements on the issue made by the IPCC and NAS.

I'm a bit mystified why a component of natural variability is an argument to do nothing,

It's not an argument to do nothing, but it is important to the proper policy response. The more global warming is caused by natural mechanisms, the less it can be mitigated by reducing human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, and the more important policies of adaptation become.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

You are completely full of shit.

You're a lying moron.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

The scientific uncertainty regarding the relative contribution of natural vs. human mechanisms to observed warming is reflected in the cautious and nuanced statements on the issue made by the IPCC and NAS.

This is completely unconvincing.

"Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise."

http://www.heatisonline.org/contentserver/objecthandlers/index.cfm?id=3713&method=full

You usually don't get direct statements like this out of scientists. It sounds quite the opposite of "cautious and nuanced". And this report was published five years ago. The case since then is even stronger.

It's hard not to surmise that you have some sort of ideological investment in it being "cautious and nuanced".

Posted by: JJ on June 1, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Marc
"The question is whether they are causing large effects now, and the evidence for this (more crucial) issue is far weaker than the evidence for human-induced climate change.

Don P
The evidence on the relative contributions to global warming of human vs. natural causes is inconclusive. There are large uncertainties. That is why the IPCC, the NAS, and reputable scientists are careful to note only that the evidence indicates that human causes are "likely" to have caused "most" observed warming, not that they have definitely caused all of it. Distorting the careful and nuanced statements of climate scientists regarding the complex and uncertain nature of the causes of global warming is dishonest and irresponsible."

This isn't a good picture of where the science actually is. We can quantify the direct effects of CO2 changes quite precisely; see chapter 6 of the IPCC report. For a graphical illustration,
see

http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/slides/06.01.htm

Notice that the scientific reliability of greenhouse gas forcing is high, and that of natural sources of variability is low.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Another nice graphic on natural as opposed to human-induced climate change, again from the IPCC:

http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/slides/large/05.18.jpg

By the way, it is likely that the difference between human-induced only and the data around 1950 may be due to an underestimate of the cooling effect of air pollution, which would reduce the role of natural causes even more than in the IPCC report.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

Note the qualifiers "very likely" and "dominant." Do you understand what these words mean? "Dominant cause" does not mean "only cause." "Very likely" does not mean "certainly." In fact, the deliberate use of the phrase "dominant cause" rather than "sole cause" or "only cause" obviously implies that there are other causes in addition to the human cause of greenhouse gas emissions--namely, natural causes.

The words are there for clarity. There are a dozen or so major forcings in the atmosphere that push the temps up and down. There isn't a linear relationship.

Note: that doesn't mean that the effect of the forcings aren't quantifiable. The other forcings can and do fluctuate, but green house gases are the dominant ones to speak about because they're the forcings that have been changing. And they've been increasing. And they are the product of human activity. It's important to emphasize that scientists have isolated the major forcings and have measured them. The other forcings just aren't up to moving the huge freight train which is the atmosphere.


I think I ought to add here that even if the forcings were independent of human activity that wouldn't be a call to stand down in the fight against global warming. People don't cause all diseases, and we practice medicine. People don't cause floods, and we build levees. The issue of a human cause is actually irrelevant: if we want the globe to resemble in 100 years the one we live in today, we'll have to act regardless of the source of the change.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on June 1, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

JJ,

This is completely unconvincing.

Translation: JJ is unconvinced. I think the IPCC and NAS can live with that.

"Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise."

Yes. And the point of this quote is....what? Are you under the false impression that this statement denies that there are natural causes of global warming, in addition to the human ones?

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

I wrote: Marc did not say that any part of the observed warming "is caused by" natural mechanisms.

Don P, posting as "GOP", replied: I didn't say he did.

Here's what Don P wrote about what Marc wrote: "... he states that, under current models, as much as a third of observed global warming IS CAUSED BY natural mechanisms" (EMPHASIS added.)

Don P is a pathetic, pathological liar. He posts something and then two posts later he blatantly LIES about what he himself posted only minutes earlier, despite the fact that anyone can simply scroll up the page and see what he wrote and see that he is lying about it. It's unbelievable. It's no wonder that everyone who is familiar with his behavior here considers him an asshole.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 1, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

In addition to being a pathetic, pathologically insane liar, Don P is, as his handle "GOP" suggests, a slavish regurgitator of right-wing Republican propaganda.

That's why he consistently ignores the clear statements by the IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, the national scientific academies of numerous other countries, and other respected scientific bodies that there is overwhelming evidence that human activities, principally the burning of fossil fuels, are increasing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, and that this is the cause of the observed global warming, and that there is no known "natural cause" or combination of "natural causes" which can explain the observed warming, nor is any such speculative cause needed, since the observed warming is fully explained by the anthropogenic GHG forcing.

That's why he prefers to selectively and misleadingly quote the five year old IPCC TAR, exaggerating the importance of the caveats and uncertainties expressed in that assessment, while completely ignoring the large amount of science conducted since then, which, as reflected in the leaked draft of the upcoming fourth IPCC assessment report, has eliminated those uncertainties and established beyond sane question that human activities are responsible for the rapid, severe and accelerating warming of the Earth that is being observed today.

That's why he is pretending that there is uncertainty when there is none.

That's why he's arguing that we should focus on adaptation rather than prevention.

Because all of these are the scripted, programmed talking points of the far-right Republican Party, which serve the interests of its financial backers in the fossil fuel industry.

Don P is a liar and a shill and a mental slave, and a deliberate, malicious waster of people's time.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 1, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

marc,

This isn't a good picture of where the science actually is.

Yes it is. The IPCC and NAS statements are the best picture we have of the state of climate science and the opinions of climate scientists.

We can quantify the direct effects of CO2 changes quite precisely; see chapter 6 of the IPCC report. For a graphical illustration,
seehttp://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/slides/06.01.htm

No, we cannot "quantify" it. In case you missed it, the chart shows estimates of past temperature forcing from various natural and human causes. The estimate in each case is accompanied by a line representing a likely range of values. As you can see, for most causes, the range of likely values is greater that the magnitude of the estimate, which is as clear an illustration as any of the large uncertainties involved in attribution.

The IPCC TAR estimate of climate sensitivity (the relationship between changes in CO2 concentration and changes in temperature) is similarly uncertain. That is why the IPCC's range for the likely temperature increase from a doubling of CO2 concentration is so wide (the high end is three times the low end.)

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey Davis wrote: People don't cause all diseases, and we practice medicine. People don't cause floods, and we build levees.

Ultra-rich CEOs of fossil fuel corporations make hundreds of millions of dollars and the corporations they run make hundres of billions of dollars selling oil and coal and natural gas, and we are NOT going to reduce our burning of those fuels, regardless of the effects on the Earth's climate or on human well-being, if it would even slightly cut into their profits.

At least not if Exxon-Mobil, the Republican Party, and their propaganda-regurgitating mental slaves like Don P a.k.a. "GOP" have anything to say about it.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 1, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

Don P is a pathetic, pathological liar.

SecularAnimist is a lying moron.

Here's what GOP wrote about what Marc wrote: "... he states that, under current models, as much as a third of observed global warming IS CAUSED BY natural mechanisms" (EMPHASIS added.)

What part of "as much as a third" don't you understand?

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

the IPPC is a summary report of a large body of scientific work. You didn't accurately characterize it - honestly, it seems as if you're arguing for arguments sake. ***Of course*** we can quantify the direct impact of injecting CO2 into the atmosphere with very high precision. In fact, this is the single best known ingredient in the climate models! It relies on laboratory measurements and quantum mechanics. The uncertainties are in the feedback, and these are significantly reduced since the last IPCC report.

Note that there is nothing in the known natural forcing agents that generates the spike in temperature seen over the last 25 years. That's why the debate is over, and the role of natural variability, although real, is secondary. You can say it is too expensive to fix, or you can say warming is a good thing - I'd disagree with both, but they're actual subjects of debate. Claiming that natural events absolve us of changing the climate, however, is just unsupportable...

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

there is overwhelming evidence that human activities, principally the burning of fossil fuels, are increasing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, and that this is the cause of the observed global warming,

No, there is strong evidence that human activities (such as burning fossil fuels) are "likely" (not certainly) to have caused "most" (not all) of the observed global warming. This is the assessment of the IPCC and the NAS. You cannot ignore their assessment just because you don't like it.

Don P is a liar and a shill and a mental slave

SecularAnimist is a lying moron.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Are you under the false impression that this statement denies that there are natural causes of global warming, in addition to the human ones?

So this is where you're placing all your bets? That it's 99% natural? (I can't believe I'm having a discussion this glib.)

There is a place for you on the wheel, although it's very small:
http://web.mit.edu/globalchange/www/wheel.degC.html

Of course, the science that this is based on is couple years old. The new IPCC wheel would make your sliver a bit thinner.

Of course if you really want to go sophist on the whole thing, cherry pick your science, make it all Richard Lindzen all the time, you could make your slice a little thicker and increase your odds...

Posted by: JJ on June 1, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: lami on June 1, 2006 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Marc,

the IPPC is a summary report of a large body of scientific work. You didn't accurately characterize it "

Yes, I did. I even quoted the IPCC's statement summarizing its position on the causes of global warming. You keep pretending that the qualifiers in that carefully-worded statement ("likely," "most") aren't there. You're the one who is misrepresenting the position of the IPCC.

***Of course*** we can quantify the direct impact of injecting CO2 into the atmosphere with very high precision.

This statement is just total nonsense. It is precisely because we cannot "quantify" the effect on temperature of a given increase in CO2 concentration that the IPCC provides a range of estimated temperature increases rather than a single number.

Note that there is nothing in the known natural forcing agents that generates the spike in temperature seen over the last 25 years.

There are plenty of known natural forcing agents that together could generate a substantial fraction of the observed warming. You yourself just claimed that such natural causes could plausibly account for up to 30% of observed warming (there is in fact no consensus on the likely upper limit, and it could be significantly higher than 30%). Are you now denying this claim?

That's why the debate is over, and the role of natural variability, although real, is secondary.

No, the debate is over only on the specific question of whether human activity is contributing to global warming. It almost certainly is. But the debate over the magnitude of that contribution, over the magnitude of the contributions from natural mechanisms, over the magnitude of likely future temperature increases, over the environmental effects of different ranges and distributions of temperature increases, over the proper policy responses to global warming, and over most other aspects of global warming is only just beginning.

You can say it is too expensive to fix,

I haven't said that. I don't know whether it's "too expensive to fix" (or even what that vague statement is supposed to mean, exactly.) There are two broad categories of response to global warming: mitigation and adaptation. The IPCC TAR contains a detailed discussion of each category. It is not at all clear whether the focus should be on mitigation or adaptation, or on what specific policies should be adopted.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

JJ,

So this is where you're placing all your bets? That it's 99% natural?

No, I'm pointing out to you that the consensus opinion of climate scientists is that there is a significant probability (up to 34%, as estimated by the IPCC) that human activities are not even responsible for "most" observed warming, let alone all of it.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

"***Of course*** we can quantify the direct impact of injecting CO2 into the atmosphere with very high precision.

This statement is just total nonsense. It is precisely because we cannot "quantify" the effect on temperature of a given increase in CO2 concentration that the IPCC provides a range of estimated temperature increases rather than a single number."

I'm done; this is just silly. I distinguished between direct effects (very reliable) and feedback that could modify the impact of CO2 (pretty well constrained, but not as rock-solid as the change induced by CO2 itself).

And the biggest argument against natural forcing, and the reason for the quoted upper bound on it, is precisely that we can't identify obvious natural agents that have been misbehaving over the last 25 years. An upper bound is not the same as a detection.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey Davis,

The words are there for clarity. There are a dozen or so major forcings in the atmosphere that push the temps up and down.

That's right. There are many other mechanisms that affect climate, in addition to CO2 concentration. And the contributions of those other mechanisms are not accurately known. It's complicated. There are many uncertainties.

Note: that doesn't mean that the effect of the forcings aren't quantifiable. The other forcings can and do fluctuate, but green house gases are the dominant ones to speak about because they're the forcings that have been changing.

All forcings need to be studied further to get a better idea of their relative contributions to climate change. You can't just focus on CO2. As I said, the higher the contribution to global warming from natural mechanisms, the less able we are to limit or control it by manipulating anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The less able we are to mitigate global warming, the more important policies of adaptation will be.

It's important to emphasize that scientists have isolated the major forcings and have measured them.

No, scientists have not "measured" them. Scientists have estimated them. And those estimates cover a broad range of likely values. See the chart Marc provided earlier for more detailed information.

Posted by: GOP on June 1, 2006 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'm pointing out to you that the consensus opinion of climate scientists is that there is a significant probability (up to 34%, as estimated by the IPCC) that human activities are not even responsible for "most" observed warming, let alone all of it.

OK, so that's a couple slots on the roulette wheel. But even if it turns out to be, say, a 4 degree F rise, that is a significant and unprecedented climatic change (at least as far as human civilization goes).

And then there's the rest of the slots on the wheel. And those don't look good. You've probably heard the IPCC's projections. One thing I've noticed is that conservatives are really loath to talk about the risks having to do with the climate.

I understand that conservatives (counter-intuitively) like taking risks. It goes with the spirit of capitalism. But risks with your own assets is one thing. Risks with everyone else's assets is something else altogether. I guess I'm just not keen on gambling with my childrens' and grandchildrens' future world.

Posted by: JJ on June 1, 2006 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose the thing I'm concerned about (understatement) is will we ever know, to the satisfaction of certain vested interests, enough to take sufficient action on this problem. Or by the time we take action, will it be large enough and timely enough.

If you look at the behavior of folks like ExxonMobile, it's hard to have faith. I think they're unlikely to do the right thing without the government taking action, as it's had to do in the past. As a rule, companies answer to shareholders, they don't suddenly grow a halo and start acting in the interest of the public.

Posted by: JJ on June 2, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

In case anyone believes SecularAnimist is anything other than a stark raving lunatic on this issue, I refer them to this post, in which SecularAnimist claims that unless we "immediately" (yes, immediately!) reduce the burning of fossil fuels by "90%" (yes, 90%!), then we don't even have a "HOPE" (not even a hope!) of preventing the "end of human civilization" and perhaps "the extinction of ALL life on earth with the possible exception of some extraordinarily hardy bacteria."

This is the ranting and raving of a madman, someone beliefs are completely disconnected from any semblance of reason or evidence.

Posted by: GOP on June 2, 2006 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

...This is the ranting and raving of a madman, someone beliefs are completely disconnected from any semblance of reason or evidence.

Posted by: GOP on June 2, 2006 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly. You could apply that description directly and perfectly to yourself as you've taken the polar opposite belief.

Due to fossil fuel and timber burning, the CO2 build up has been accelerating over the last 150 years and, without corrective policies, is set for greater acceleration the next 50 years. With that comes heat. And I didn't see anyone mention that aerosols/airborne particulants have helped lower the amount of sunlight reaching the ground so slowing both ground and ocean warming. Operative word "slowing". And with accelerating global warming which natural process is this coming from?

I just can't wait for your exposition of why accelerating global warming (although it correlates to CO2 levels) is a natural process, and why this doesn't matter and why mother earth will make everything come right without lifting a finger, etc., etc? Or there's nothing to be done.

You are so full of unadulterated swill! As ever it's all for the attention.

And are you talking 4 F or 4 C?

Forget it. Who cares?

Posted by: notthere on June 2, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

GOP --
Not only are you a pathological attention seeker you totally lack a constructive imagination, don't you. Do you have any friends?

Posted by: notthere on June 2, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

Due to fossil fuel and timber burning, the CO2 build up has been accelerating over the last 150 years and, without corrective policies, is set for greater acceleration the next 50 years.

No one has mentioned that India and China are just coming online. We're not just seeing steady emissions--they are continually accelerating.

Posted by: JJ on June 2, 2006 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

then we don't even have a "HOPE" (not even a hope!) of preventing the "end of human civilization" and perhaps "the extinction of ALL life on earth with the possible exception of some extraordinarily hardy bacteria."

A tad extreme, but though the proximate result of global warming may simply be drought, flooding, and reduction of species, who knows what the secondary results might be? People thought the Civil War would last a couple of months. Volunteers in 1914 thought that if they didn't hurry up and get into uniform that they'd miss the action. I'm sure your expectations for George W were different from what you got.

The social fabric in the tropics is rancid enough already. Expand those conditions north and south. And exacerbate them. Do you think the US won't get into any wars to contain the ensuing strife? Do you think that none of the enemies we make doing that will bring violence within our borders?

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on June 2, 2006 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

The cranks above all evade the core physical stimulis of CO2 absorption of IR rays (hence the name global warming) - the first clear scientific prediction of which came in a 1896 paper by Svante Arrhenius! (Jerk Stossel is making more trouble with his idiotic new book - see great harsh take-down by David Sirota.)

Posted by: some jerk off the street on June 2, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Marc wrote: honestly, it seems as if you're arguing for arguments sake [...] I'm done; this is just silly.

At last you see the light. This is the essential nature of Don P (posting recently as "GOP"): argument for the sake of argument.

He is a fake, a phony, a sophist, a bullshit artist, a deliberate and malicious waster of people's time.

He comes here with his willful ignorance, his belligerent dishonesty, his distortions and misrepresentations, his shameless fallacies, and his puerile, empty rhetorical maneuvers that were old and stale and tired when USENET was young and blogs had not been invented (e.g. "I'm still waiting" for references or evidence that you've already posted which he wants to ignore, or "What part of X don't you understand" when you point out that he has grossly misrepresented the plain meaning of the IPCC or NAS statements) to pick fights, piss people off enough that they want to argue with him, and then impress himself with his ability to deliberately waste their time with bullshit.

That's why every single person who has ever engaged in discussion with this incorrigible boor in these threads has ultimately concluded that yes, he is arguing for the sake of argument, and yes, it is silly to waste time on him, and we're done.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 2, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, so core physical stimulis. I corrected your spelling and did a Google search:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=%22core+physical+stimulus%22


Congratulations! You have invented a new phrase. It appears no where else on the entire Internet.

But I think it might be from a Star Trek episode. Isn't that when Data's positronic brain needed to do a core dump because the gravitational polarity reverser experienced a time shift anomaly related to the positively charged ionic nanites?

Yeah. And 1896. Good year for wine! I wonder if they had put all the scientific studies from back then in a cask they'd improve with age?

Posted by: JJ on June 2, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

OK-- I misunderstood what you were saying. Yes, CO2 absorbs IR rays. I think just about everyone on this thread accepts that. Most of the debate has been whether this is the whole story, and that debate is now in its last throes (inside political circles, anyway). Many on the right are arguing that it isn't the whole story, grasping for whatever arguments they can find.

And for the record, Star Trek is cool.

And yes it looks like that guy Arrhenius is one of the ones who came up with the theory of the Greenhouse Effect. Check out these sites for science that's much more on the cutting edge: www.realclimate.org, www.heatisonline.org...

Posted by: JJ on June 2, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. I haven't seen such a pointless display of name-calling in years. Who let the 3rd graders into the internet? Are you a shill, GOP? I'm a scientist. I work in R&D at a mid-size company in Illinois.

For a structured take-down of all the denialist talking points on global climate change,
surf here. To read what real, honest scientists are saying about climate change, visit
Real Climate.

Posted by: John P on June 2, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

notthere,

I just can't wait for your exposition of why accelerating global warming (although it correlates to CO2 levels) is a natural process,

Huh? My "exposition" of "why" it's a natural process? What a bizarre statement. Asking "why" it's a natural process is like asking "why" any other natural phenomenon exists. The question is completely irrelevant.

Here's the National Academy of Sciences again, in its report Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions

"it is not known how much of the temperature rise to date is the result of human activities."

What part of this crystal clear statement don't you understand?

Posted by: GOP on June 2, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Chris Mooney has your number:

Most of all, global-warming sceptics delight in highlighting scientific uncertainty. Climate models, they say, are oversimplifications of physical processes, meaning that we cant know how accurate their projections may be. Similarly, note the sceptics, scientists cant say precisely what percentage of the current warming trend is attributable to human greenhouse gas emissions, as opposed to natural variability. For these and other reasons, the sceptics conclude, the alleged scientific consensus on human-caused global warming is shaky at best. Further, they argue and this is crucial the case for political action to reduce emissions is weak.
... But there is an inconsistency here thats seldom remarked upon. Where are the global-warming sceptics who, despite their qualms about the science, support taking action now to curb the threat of global warming just in case it does turn out to be a major danger? Where are the sceptics who, despite their personal dissenting opinions, nevertheless acknowledge that as a general rule, politicians faced with tough decisions should rely on mainstream scientific opinion rather than far-out perspectives?
That such individuals are rare or non-existent tells us something. Not only do those in the global-warming sceptic camp have political commitments that overlay their scientific ones; they also have a muddled view of how science-based decisions should be made.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-climate_change_debate/2579.jsp

Posted by: JJ on June 2, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

GOP --
Your assinine ignorance is bottomless.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, rain, volcanoes, earthquakes. All natural phenomena. All explainable. Not necessarily predictable as to timing and degree. But they will happen and we know why. That's what science, for which you have no understanding or respect, is for and has a solid record of improving on.

http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/02/this-is-just-natural-cycle.html

Thanks for the unintelligent and circular reply.

Posted by: notthere on June 2, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

notthere to GOP (Don P aka GOP/Atheist/e1):

Not only are you a pathological attention seeker you totally lack a constructive imagination, don't you. Do you have any friends?

I would bet good money he has no friends.

Posted by: obscure on June 2, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

notthere/BB/Pale Rider/obscure/PaulB/Apollo13,

Your assinine ignorance is bottomless.

Your stupidity is limitless.

Again, what part of....

"it is not known how much of the temperature rise to date is the result of human activities."

....don't you understand?

Posted by: GOP on June 2, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

JJ,

Chris Mooney has your number

I rather doubt that Chris Mooney considers the IPCC and the NAS to be "global-warming sceptics." The NAS and IPCC agree that it is NOT KNOWN how much of the observed warming is due to human activities rather than natural mechanisms.

Posted by: GOP on June 2, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Don P, the lying sack of shit who posts as "GOP", wrote:

Here's the National Academy of Sciences again, in its report Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions

"it is not known how much of the temperature rise to date is the result of human activities."

Here are the two sentences that immediately precede that sentence in the report -- which Don P deliberately omitted when he selectively and misleadingly quoted that "crystal clear statement" -- exactly as he has done on previous occasions when citing the NAS report:

The Earth's surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century, and surface temperatures have risen at a substantially greater rate than average in the past two decades. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely because of human activities, for the most part.

Here's the first paragraph of the Summary from that same report:

Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability. Human-induced warming and associated sea level rises are expected to continue through the 21st century.

As strong as those statements of the NAS report are in asserting that human activities are causing the Earth to warm and altering the climate, it is nonetheless important to note that that NAS report, like the Third Assessment Report (TAR) of the IPCC, was released in 2001, five years ago, and thus does not reflect changes in the scientific consensus over the past five years as a result of all the new science that has been done in that time. The caveats and uncertainties expressed in these five year old reports no longer exist, as reflected in the recently leaked draft of the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC due to be published next year.

So, here we have Don P, as usual, selectively and misleadingly quoting outdated reports to support his false claims of scientific uncertainties about the role of anthropogenic global warming in climate change.

As JJ noted above in his post quoting Chris Mooney, this behavior of deliberately creating a false impression that there is scientific uncertaintly about the role of anthropogenic global warming in climate change is nothing but the standard, boilerplate, scripted, programmed propaganda of politically-motivated opponents of any effort to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.

Don P is a fake, a phony, a liar, a shill, and slavish regurgitator of right-wing propaganda, and a deliberate, malicious waster of people's time. His blatant dishonesty invariably results in his ignominious defeat in arguments about this subject, but that doesn't stop him from coming back again and again to re-regurgitate the same old scripted lies.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 2, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

Here is the sentence you quoted in bold, which you apparently think is somehow inconsistent with what I have said:

"The changes observed over the last several decades are likely because of human activities, for the most part."

Since the qualifiers "likely" and "for the most part" (or "mostly") are precisely the expressions of uncertainty and doubt that I have been drawing attention to, it's hard to know what your point is.

You do know what "likely" means, don't you? Hint: It does not mean "certainly." In fact, the IPCC defines its use of "likely" more specifically, to mean 66-90% probability. You do know what "for the most part" means, don't you? Hint: It does not mean "totally" or "completely." The reason the NAS and the IPCC qualify their statements in this way is because, as the NAS says, "it is not known how much of the temperature rise to date is the result of human activities."

But then, as your "We're all gonna die!" rant I linked to earlier proves, you are just stark raving mad on the issue of global warming, so expecting you to understand even the clearest expressions of doubt and uncertainty by climate scientists is hopeless.

Posted by: GOP on June 2, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Don P, if you want to continue to embarrass yourself with your transparent distortions, misrepresentations, fallacies, regurgitation of scripted right-wing propaganda, and various other pathetic forms of dishonesty, go ahead. From here on, you are just wasting your own time.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 2, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: On the new IPCC Report:

The draft IPCC report concludes that the burning of fossil fuels and other forms of pollution caused by human activities have "contributed substantially to the observed warming over the last 50 years".

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/996115.stm

See also:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,,1719607,00.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4761804.stm

Posted by: JJ on June 3, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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