On Anthropogenic Global Warming

Occasionally a thread goes on long enough, and drifts far enough away from its main topic, that it makes sense to shift the evolved topic up to the top level. So let’s tackle the topic of global warming, to which another thread drifted. I should emphasize that I enjoy such drift–it’s indicative that a real conversation is going on.

I admit to not paying much attention to the global warming issue. We all have limits to our attention, and despite the prevalence of the issue, it just hasn’t grabbed my attention for about eight years now (which in this rapidly advancing field of study, leaves me hopelessly behind). But let me say that over the years I’ve slowly drifted from being mildly skeptical to accepting that it’s apparently happening (not that I’m personally losing any sleep over it).*

But accepting that the basic scientific question has been resolved, important policy questions remain: 1) Can we reduce our CO2 emissions sufficiently to significantly reduce warming without severely diminishing our standards of living, and 2) Can we adjust to it without severely diminishing our standard of living?

Whichever of those two we can best do is what we should do.

Notice what assumptions I am rejecting. For one, I am rejecting the assumption that scientific evidence of X is in itself sufficient reason to create a policy to counter X. Scientists often seem to think their findings are sufficient in themselves to dictate what public policies we should have. One of my best friends is a scientist who occasionally says, “I know the science, I can tell you exactly what we ought to do.” But policy analysts haven’t accepted this concept for over half a century now (after dabbling with it as a derivative of Frederick Taylor’s scientific management theories, coupled with the then-popular belief in wide-scale social planning done by intellectual elites). Successfully defining problem X does not tell us what society ought to value. The scientific evidence of problem X is an objective fact, but values are subjective–we can never objectively prove that people “ought” to value non-X.

I am also rejecting the assumption that the fact of a human cause for an environmental problem is in itself sufficient justification for a policy to reverse that human-caused effect. For example, the area I grew up in was formerly part of the Great Black Swamp, which was drained for agriculture. Plug up the field tiles, and it will revert to swamp pretty darn quickly. But I don’t think we ought to do so on a large scale (although restoring parts of it, just because we’d like to have some more swamp, would suit me just fine).

Finally, I reject the assumption that just because problem X will cause severe disruptions to human society, those disruptions in themselves are sufficient justification for a policy to reverse X. If the policy causes greater disruptions, then it may make sense to live with problem X.

Some of the changes proposed to counter AGW I support as a matter of principle irrespective of AGW concerns. Coal has multiple negative environmental and health effects (but of course is also a very inexpensive source of energy), and in general I support the idea of policies that shift us away from relying on coal as our primary energy source.**

But I don’t support a policy of ending globalization and international shipment of food. That means humans either do without the variety of foods we like or grow them all locally. We could produce bananas and caviar here in Michigan, but it would take less energy to import them.

I have heard AGW activists say we have only five years to act before it’s too late. (I have been hearing for several years now, ironically, so I’m not sure if it’s already too late to act or not.) But anyone who thinks China is going to phase out, or even significantly reduce, their fossil fuel use over the next five years is paying absolutely no attention to China’s internal politics and demand for economic development. Any policy that takes as it’s starting point a claim that the world must make radical change within the next five years is a guaranteed loser. Even if true, it’s a truth that will have zero political effect, so it’s a truth engaged in only by the politically naive.

I reiterate that I haven’t been following the issue for a number of years now, so there may be answers to these questions that I am not up to date on. But even if I have missed the answers they are the right questions for the non-knowledgeable to ask. At the time I was paying attention I became familiar with scientists and activists (groups that overlap to some extent) claiming “we can’t afford not to act.” Unfortunately, those claims were being made by people with no economic training, and no ability to conduct a meaningful benefit-cost analysis. As I have seen the claims that Cato affiliated pundits don’t know the science, I am inevitably reminded that the great majority of climate scientists are equally ignorant of economics and policy analysis. We have–the last I knew–an important policy issue whose successful resolution required the knowledge of multiple fields, with few people who were literate across those fields, or willing to carefully listen, or–often–even willing to acknowledge that the other fields might have relevance.

So, does something need to be done right now? Maybe, but it’s not going to be, so what’s the backup plan? And is that plan going to have a better benefit-cost ratio than adaptation? Because we can adapt, without any doubt. The question is whether or not we should make that a major part of our policy response to AGW. And the answer to that is not based on morality, but economics.


* And while I don’t want to get into the particular battle, I will say that in my considered opinion as someone who understands both the scientific process and the policy process, many scientists have behaved more politically than scientifically. They may not–well, certainly have not–behaved with the blunt dishonesty of many of their opponents, but from the beginning there has been a very non-objective vilification of anyone who doesn’t agree, a bit of selective data selection, and the like. I don’t really care if people object to that characterization–the whole issue has become so politicized that it’s damned near impossible to engage in civil and objective discussion of anyone or anything related to it anymore, which is a shame. It’s a testament to the scientific method that it has worked despite the ill-behavior on both sides. Part of what annoys me is the extent to which some folk act as though the “pro-AGW” scientists can do no wrong. Scientists are human, too, even climatologists and physicists. Praise the scientific method, by all means, but get over the starry-eyed hero worship of supposedly god like scientists who unlike mortal men can do no wrong, and who are opposed not by other fallible humans but by the evil minions of Satan. If you don’t think that applies to you, whoever you are, I won’t argue. If you think it doesn’t apply to anyone, I think you’re being willfully blind.

** I emphasize “in general.” That doesn’t equal a commitment to any and every possible policy to shift us away from coal. Finding a way to internalize the negative costs of coal would be ideal. Phasing out coal over the next five years would be idiotic. And of course there are many possible other policies ranging the gamut from supportable to laughable.


About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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64 Responses to On Anthropogenic Global Warming

  1. D.A. Ridgely says:

    … the then-popular belief in wide-scale social planning done by intellectual elites…

  2. ppnl says:

    I agree that the fact of global warming is not itself sufficient reason to counter global warming. And I agree that scientists cannot tell us what we ought to do. Science can help us understand the consequences of our actions. The choice of what to do is a value judgment.

    Much of the risk is difficult to quantify. Even if they could tell exactly how much the global temperature would rise this tells us little about the effect in any given location. There is substantial risk of rapid local catastrophic change. Think of the dust bowl but big. When and where is impossible to predict.

    The Sahara desert is one of the most inhospitable places on the planet but a few thousand years ago it as a lush swamp land. The change appears to have been caused by a tiny change in the axis of the earths rotation. The changes in climate forcing we are causing is large compared to the forcing caused by the wobble in the earths axis. But the effects are hard to quantify. For example we may turn the Sahara back into a swamp while turning much of Europe into a desert. Or not.

    Humans can no doubt adapt to any change in principle. The major impediment to adapting is probably not technological but likely political. Think Arizona and illegal aliens. Now think a major drought in Mexico causing a mass migration. Think potato famine only with a long empty land border rather than an ocean. I would bet you dollars to donuts that even hardcore libertarians would be manning the border. Not pretty but people under stress often aren’t. If there is any risk of human extinction it is from wars caused by the political response to warming.

    Think mass extinctions and invasive species moving where they could not live before. Humans can adapt but many animals cannot. The ones that can may do so at our cost. What value do you place on many thousands of species gone?

    Ocean acidification may be a worse problem than the warming. It’s really hard on creatures that produce calcium. Think coral reefs, clams. Its very good for bacteria blooms and will likely cause massive anoxic zones. World wide anoxic events have happened many times in Earths past. They aren’t pretty. Much of the offshore oil deposits were from those anoxic events. I think that kind of thing may happen at about three times our current co2 levels which we will reach in about 200 years at current production rates. But lesser amounts cause lesser disruptions. For example there is currently a world wide jelly fish bloom and over 400 local anoxic zones have been identified. They seem to be growing year by year.

    About half of the co2 we produce is absorbed rather than staying in the atmosphere. About half of what we produce is from burning coal. Replace coal plants with nuclear and you stop the rise in co2 in its tracks. Cost? Well what we are spending in Iraq would build two or three a month if we could build that fast. Only most of the money could come from private sources rather than government. Mostly government needs to find a way to get out of the way.

    Wind power probably has no long term role. But the total cost of experiments with wind power are trivial compared to what will be spent. I’m prepared to let people find out how bad it is empirically. And who knows I could be wrong.

    Solar power probably does have a future. The only problem is it is regional and only works in day time. Well that’s when peak power demand is so its not all bad. It depends on how cheap you can make it. Massive progress is being made.

    The alcohol from corn is profoundly uneconomical if considered in a vacuum. But its more complex than that. First it forced auto manufacturers to build in a fuel system that can be used for a wide range of fuels. Second if they can produce cellulotic alcohol it not only makes it much cheaper but gives farmers a second market for their field stubble.

    And hell we were just paying them not to grow corn before in order to support the price. Now the complaint is that they can’t grow enough and that drives up the price. There is no pleasing some people.

    But I don’t think alcohol is the way to go. I think we will eventually produce artificial liquid fuels pretty much like what we get from oil. Off peak nuclear power and atmospheric co2 with maybe some spare biomass is all we need. I’m not sure on the time line.

    Enhanced weathering may be used to remove co2 from the atmosphere. If used in the ocean it may directly counter ocean acidification while preserving the oceans ability to absorb co2.

  3. James K says:

    I believe there is essentially no political solution for global warming. Normally I’d prescribe global carbon tax, but good luck getting India and China to sign up to that (getting the US to do it could be pretty tricky too), even the EU is mostly engaged in token reductions. Without a global government to impose a solution (and I’m not keen on that idea, anyway it’s unworkable over foreseeable time frames) a credible and substantive agreement on greenhouse gas abatement will not occur, barring some sort of political miracle.

    If there’s a way out of this (and I really hope there is) it’s technological. If the cost of abandoning the larger sources of carbon emissions becomes cheap enough, then taxing carbon will become politically viable (people are very keen on protecting the environment, so long as it doesn’t cost them much). So what we need to do is pump some money into technology.

    Solar by its self seems a bit anaemic to me, it raises the earth albedo, uses up a lot of land in sunny locations and you have to keep the panel clean to keep them absorbing sunlight. If we can get the cost of sending things into orbit down a bit (space elevators would be ideal) then we could try orbital solar: you’ll get higher-energy photons hitting the panels if you put them up there, and you can have them catching sun for a lot longer if you position them right.

    But in the short run I can only see one technology that can supply us with the power we need to keep civilisation running: nuclear fission. There are an increasing number of environmentalists who realise the importance of nuclear technology, and these fine people need to get their more Luddite brethren to either get into line, or get out of the way. If we replace the world’s coal plants with nuclear reactors, the battle is mostly won. The reduction in lung cancer rates will just be a bonus.

  4. James Hanley says:

    I’ve become a reluctant convert to nuclear power. Three Mile Island was a near catastrophe, and much less well-known was a near catastrophe at the Davis-Besse plant in Toledo, Ohio a few years ago, where boric acid had eaten through six inches of a reactor vessel head, leaving only 3/8″ of steel left at the time it was discovered. Carelessness in safety procedures of the kind that led to the BP oil spill (a cost of our reliance on fossil fuels, obviously) could have a much more significant impact, both environmentally and to human life, in a nuclear reactor situation.

    And the lack of long-term planning for storage of spent fuel rods is highly disturbing. Not just in the U.S. France continues to store all their spent fuel on site.

    But despite the dangers, the facts are that nuclear power has had far less harmful consequences than either coal or oil, even if we count the Chernobyl incident (which can, to some extent, be discounted, as being the product of a communist government run facility), and of course it eliminates emissions that are harmful in numerous ways.

    I don’t like nuclear power, but I think it’s the best of a bad lot now, particularly if we achieve the ability to use fission.

  5. Heidegger says:

    James–I think you mean “fusion” not “fission”.

  6. James Hanley says:


    That is correct. My error.

  7. Jennifer says:

    One sad irony is that, with few exceptions, the countries who will suffer most from the consequences of global warming are the ones who got the least benefit from the industrial age which caused it. Consider rich nations like America — yeah, it would really suck if we lost most of Florida, but at least Floridians face no legal obstacles if they want to leave their state and re-establish a homestead on higher ground; it’s not as though a bunch of gun-toting Georgians and Alabamians will turn them back at the border: “We don’t want you in our land! Stay in yours and drown, assholes.” But where will, for example, the people of Bangladesh, or low-lying Pacific island countries, go when rising ocean levels flood out their lands?

  8. D.A. Ridgely says:

    “… it’s not as though a bunch of gun-toting Georgians and Alabamians will turn them back at the border…”

    Not the English speaking Floridians, anyway.

  9. stuartl says:

    Concerning usable fusion power, in the 1950s it was 5 years away, recently I heard that it was about 100 years away. The slope of the curve does not look promising.

    Since warming seems to be largely linear at this point, there is time to look at various solutions. As an alternative to alternative power sources, several geo-engineering solutions have been proposed. I linked to one proposed by Nathan Myhrvold on the other thread, Ron Bailey has written a few a articles and posts in Reason.

    I suspect that geo-engineering is a more viable approach than carbon taxes/incentives or cap and trade schemes since governments can be pretty good at building things, but are rarely good at putting in place complex policies that encourage some behavior. When the object is to build something, be it a spacecraft, a battleship, or a hammer, government generally succeeds, even though the cost is much higher than it should be. Policies always seem to have unintended side effects.

    But for some reason (esthetic?), the prospect of a geo-engineering solution seems to set off a lot of folk.

  10. stuartl says:

    Scientists often seem to think their findings are sufficient in themselves to dictate what public policies we should have. One of my best friends is a scientist who occasionally says, “I know the science, I can tell you exactly what we ought to do.”

    This begs for:
    Venkman: Back off, Man. I’m a scientist.

  11. Matty says:

    Are you sure refugee Americans wouldn’t be turned back with violence. I heard a radio programme recently about growing conflict between families who were moved to Texas after hurricane Katrina and the ‘natives’. When it comes to a crisis I suspect not only will most people support Us against Them but Us will get progressively smaller. My nation first, my state first, my town first, my family first…

    The conversation seems to be drifting again. To return to the first topic I agree with pretty much everything Dr Hanley wrote but would add that adaptation is likely to be a matter of small scale efforts adding together than major ideas like geoengineering.

  12. ppnl says:

    James Hanley,

    It will be 50 years before a commercially viable fusion plant is possible at the very least. It may be much longer depending on how ITER works out. It requires massive international government involvement with massive amounts of money. And it isn’t clear what advantages it will have on the next generation of fission plants.

    Davis-Besse was not a near thing as it was only operating at 9% power. But it should have revealed the problem with the valve that failed. The difference at TMI was that they didn’t diagnose the problem correctly and they were operating at 97% power. Poor control design caused them to make some bad assumptions that they couldn’t break out of. Even so one of the first things that happened was that the control rods were inserted which limited the scope of the accident and gave them the time to work the problem. TMI-1 is still in operation and in 2009 received a 20 year extension on its operating license.

    Modern reactors are designed with a negative power coefficient so that they can’t melt down even assuming perverse intent of the operators.

    Long term storage of nuclear waste is a bad idea. Yucca mountain is a waste of money.
    Nuclear fuel is about 3% U235 with the rest is U238. Only the U235 can be burned in the reactor. But even spent fuel cells still contain about 1% u235. Throwing it away is a waste. The problem is that it also contains plutonium which causes fear of nuclear weapon proliferation if it is reprocessed.

    Well the next generation of plants will be able to burn the waste from the previous generation without isotopic separation. It will not only burn the u235 but also the u238, plutonium and most of the radioactive waste products. The much smaller volume of waste will be less radioactive then the original uranium ore in just a few hundred years. A prototype of this kind of plant was in operation in the Clinton years. He shut it down. Bastard.

    It turns out that on site storage is the one best way.

  13. ppnl says:

    James K,

    “Solar by its self seems a bit anaemic to me, it raises the earth albedo…”

    Let me guess, you have read SuperFreakonomics. Read here:


    And the total change in albedo if we got all our power from solar would be trivial even making the worst assumptions.

    Orbital solar is a pipe dream. It may have some applications for delivering power to space crafts. I just don’t think it will ever be used to deliver power to the earths surface.

    Space elevators will never be practical and will never be safe enough to allow.

    If we show that we can address global warming at a profit then India and China will follow.

  14. Heidegger says:

    What should the temperature be? How much CO2 should be in the atmosphere? Computer models forecasting five day weather have an accuracy rate of 32%. Is any sane human being going to have panic attacks because computer models say temperatures may rise less than one degree in fifty years? The arctic ice melting is entirely within the range of what should occur given the cyclical wind patterns and currents. And every single time global warming has EVER occurred it, it happened BEFORE an increase of CO2—(photosynthesis). We’re talking in excess of 600 warming/cooling cycles. Don’t think the Vikings were cruising around in carbon spewing hydroplanes during the Medieval Warm Period (800-1200).

  15. James K says:


    Space elevators will never be practical and will never be safe enough to allow.

    Never is a strong word. If materials science advances much further (and with nanotechnology coming into its own I would bet against that) then cables that are light and strong enough will be possible. And if it becomes possible, someone will do it. Do you think China will care that much about safety? It’s not like rockets and space shuttles are all that safe either. And if China does it, the US will have to or you might as well just put China in charge of space.

    As to orbital solar transmitting to ground, I’m sure I heard of a California company that wanted to try it. Probably a hare-brained scheme, but you never know. And in any case, if we can get space elevators running we can probably move some of our industry into orbit anyway.

    But all that’s more long-term anyway, and speculative besides. For now fission is what we have, get some of the political barriers out of the way and we can pave the way to a zero-carbon future.

  16. matty says:

    Heideger, you may be right that the predictions are wrong but without sources for your claims we are reduced to playing dueling ‘experts’ which is great fun but gets us no closer to understanding the evidence for and against. As for your starter question about the right temperature, the issue is not that the climate should be x but that change in any direction is likely to lead to changes in other things some of which we might not like.

  17. Michael Heath says:

    James states:

    Can we reduce our CO2 emissions sufficiently to significantly reduce warming without severely diminishing our standards of living

    Yes and we’ve got economists who predict the nominal cost to do so. 2007 IPCC report :

    In 2050, global average macro-economic costs for mitigation towards stabilisation between 710 and 445ppm CO2-eq are between a 1% gain and 5.5% decrease of global GDP. This corresponds to slowing average annual global GDP growth by less than 0.12 percentage points.

    However I’ve also seen economists warn this cost will go up the longer we procrastinate. One economist, Nicholas Stern, doubled his projection in the late-2000s given our procrastination (to 2%).

    James states:

    Can we adjust to it without severely diminishing our standard of living?

    Actually we can improve our standard of living if we begin acting fairly quickly. However we are approaching some milestones that will negatively affect some people even if started turning on a dime now.

    James states:

    I admit to not paying much attention to the global warming issue.

    I suggest at a minimum studying the IPCC 2007 report (Executive Summary). While that’s the minimum I instead recommend a book that describes the physics of climate change while elaborating on the findings contained within the IPCC science section of the 2007 report so the reader actually understands the synthesis findings that are presented – it’s a quick easy read and highly informative. While it’s a bit outdated not so much it’s worth passing on since the physics haven’t changed and that’s what beginners really require. That book is <a href=" http://www.amazon.com/Climate-Crisis-Introductory-Guide-Change/dp/0521732557/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284074750&sr=8-1 The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change . One can stay caught up with daily findings by skimming ScienceDaily.com’s global warming section about once a week.

    James states:

    I am rejecting the assumption that scientific evidence of X is in itself sufficient reason to create a policy to counter X.

    I pedantically agree, however and it’s an enormous however; no single scientific topic has generated so much misinformation. Greenwashing now far surpasses denialism and it is far more insidious in my opinion. For example, a lot of greenwashers argue we stall and we can use geo-engineering methods to mitigate warming if it gets too bad. That sounds reasonable to people ignorant of the science but to those of us who are well-informed most remedies present a horrifying prospect that is as effective as putting one’s head in a hole in the ground. That’s because temp. is not the only anomaly we’re facing, which is normally what these prescriptions aim to mitigate, instead for example we are already experiencing an increase in ocean acidification which is already threatening our food chain which is not caused by temp. increases but instead from the ocean absorbing the most of our CO2 emissions. Ocean acidification is a major threat to ocean fauna with some damage already occurring from subject animals with calcium carbonate aren’t able to develop their shells. That’s decreasing their populations along with their ability to survive as a species and the animals that eat them.

    We can’t have productive policy debates unless we have a basic understanding of the science well beyond what you display here. I don’t mean to be insulting, this debate is being held in a paradigm way more sophisticated for example than the one between science and creationists, with far more at stake. When I initially entered into this climate change domain I was way too gullible when reading some policy prescriptions in spite of battle scars in the evolution wars because I lacked the perspective to detect the absurdity of the far more sophisticated greenwashing arguments given their misrepresenting and/or misframing the facts far better than the creationists (far more money is at stake and the denialists use highly-paid hacks – e.g., Richard Lindzen from MIT who distinguished himself as Congress’s favorite denlialist that smoking doesn’t cause cancer prior to moving onto to obfuscating climate science for a fee.

    James states:

    Scientists often seem to think their findings are sufficient in themselves to dictate what public policies we should have.

    I follow several scientists in this discipline and don’t encounter such behavior. I do encounter a frustration that people aren’t taking this topic seriously enough and frustration at how the science is misrepresented in the media, even the New York Times.

    Certainly there are some scientists getting involved in policy prescription debates. I even read a book by one, NASA’s James Hansen. But I had no problem distinguishing the difference between the science he reported and his arguments on what to do – which expanded my perspective of what to do. Given the lack of policy analysts who lack an understanding of climate science and the pressing urgency of this matter, I welcome scientists getting involved in the policy debates – especially since there are so few people involved in this aspect that understand how to present honest cogent arguments that aren’t misleading in order to make an arguable point at the expense of another arguable point.

    James states:

    Coal has multiple negative environmental and health effects (but of course is also a very inexpensive source of energy), and in general I support the idea of policies that shift us away from relying on coal as our primary energy source.**

    From an empirical perspective moving away from coal as quickly as possible is by far the single biggest benefit we can do, even if switch to another greenhouse gas emitter but at a far less onerous rate (natural gas). It’s also presents the single biggest future threat given the continued growth of countries like China and India who are continually and rapidly increasing their capacity to consume coal. If we only focused on coal we’d dramatically improve our situation.

    Dr. James Hansen does an outstanding job making the case against coal in his book Storms of My Grandchildren (and a compelling but not altogether convincing case for nuclear power). This is a no brainer if one understands the science, which is why it’s so frustrating to see us risk human civilization as its now established for dozens of dollars of extra costs per year to maintain the huge negative externality the coal industry and its consumers currently avoid.

    James states:

    I am rejecting the assumption that scientific evidence of X is in itself sufficient reason to create a policy to counter X. […] Successfully defining problem X does not tell us what society ought to value. The scientific evidence of problem X is an objective fact, but values are subjective–we can never objectively prove that people “ought” to value non-X.

    I agree with you abstractly but the known effects of climate change would be catastrophic to humanity because its effects would flood our coastal areas and cause mass extinction events which will (it’s already started), not might, threaten our food supply. We are already observing a migration of climate occurring faster than territary flora and fauna can migrate.

    I do concur with you though James from this perspective. I have and to some degree still do consider policy prescriptions only prior to understanding the science. Therefore, my policy prescription is to get people up to speed on the science so we get on the same page in terms of urgency, and avoid greenwashing attempts to stall mitigation efforts that would also provide little to no utility.

    James states:

    If the policy causes greater disruptions, then it may make sense to live with problem X.

    Again from an abstract perspective knowing nothing about what climate scientists predict this is fine and dandy, e.g., should we re-route that river or not to prevent a flood? However this is a unique challenge and if you got up to speed on the predictions – why they are justifiably confidently held, the effects AGW will have on the globe, and what economists are modeling on the effects because of these changes. This wouldn’t be a primary topic on this matter unless you agree we should lose our coasts and most of those cities and live with a vastly depleted food supply and all the violence that comes with a loss of food and water. Mass extinction events are exactly what’s happened in every major paleoclimate change event that occurred, even the ones that were far slower than the one we now encounter (the faster the change the higher the extinction rate).

    James states:

    I don’t support a policy of ending globalization and international shipment of food. That means humans either do without the variety of foods we like or grow them all locally. We could produce bananas and caviar here in Michigan, but it would take less energy to import them.

    These all sound like strawmen when it comes to mitigation. Mitigation is a fairly simple task, we need to start with transforming electrical power from coal to non-carbon or less-carbon intense sources. We have sufficient time to get vehicles transformed from oil to electric or some other non-carbon emitting source as long as we continue to increase miles per gallon. There are conservation things we can do, but we don’t need to compromise our life-style, we can innovate our way of this. But if we don’t attack coal it’s non-starter, that’s a key.

    Progressivism run amuck could generate some idiotic policies which wouldn’t mitigate global warming much, but I don’t see such folks with political power. Instead I see a bunch of illiterates; some of whom are denialists out of political expediency or character defects (the GOP) and others who blindly accept the science and are therefore incapable of prioritizing and discarding bad initiatives (most Dems but not all).

    I think the real key is two-fold right now: We need to become educated on the science of climate change, where it’s easier to come to grips with it at many levels. Even the students who wouldn’t even consider taking high school physics can understand the necessary points properly taught. The other key is we are running out of time when it comes to taking on coal. We need to recognize that our temperatures reflect only a small fraction of the marginal increase in energy stored and therefore even if we start now, we will be continue to realize the negative effects of this stored energy as it amplifies the affects of future emissions. (The Arctic is not coming back soon, which is increasing the albedo effect, which is an amplifying effect that will increase temps even if we immediately reduced CO2 emissions. The albedo effect is that less ice means a more dark surface which asorbs more heat rather than reflecting it like white ice does.)

    James states:

    I have heard AGW activists say we have only five years to act before it’s too late.

    This is a strawman where you should be better than that James; there are all sorts of yahoos out there. What do the scientists say about when it’s too late and are our policy plans sufficient to support their predictions?

    James states:

    But anyone who thinks China is going to phase out, or even significantly reduce, their fossil fuel use over the next five years is paying absolutely no attention to China’s internal politics and demand for economic development.

    I have not heard the five year number so I can’t comment on that. I do know that the key country is not China, they’re supportive of change and in fact have a strategic plan that is already being implemented though awaiting our committment prior to really gearing it up. The real key is the U.S. where our denial and procrastination is in my not at all humble opinion our biggest failure as a nation in our history – with no close second.

    I think it’s imperative people understand China’s perspective, which is a perspective with which I concur. Global warming is the result of the Industrial Revolution that benefited primarily Western Civilization and Japan. The creators of this situation given that our emissions remain in the earth’s energy budget for years were added primarily by the U.K., Germany, Japan, and the U.S. India and China now have an excellent opportunity to become developed countries with large middle classes where they are now being asked to stifle their progress by not enjoying the same energy source we used at cheap prices which avoids externalities, coal and oil (for vehicles). They’ve expressed support for moving away from coal quickly but only if trade policies are put in place where they’re not punished (I can’t recall their policy on vehicles where that industry is and will be a booming one for many years).

    The problem isn’t politically naivety regarding China or anything on this topic for that matter. It’s a lack of cognizance on the science, how we got to this point, and understanding what is prescriptively feasible and optimal.

    James states:

    At the time I was paying attention I became familiar with scientists and activists (groups that overlap to some extent) claiming “we can’t afford not to act.”

    That is empirically correct if you assume you don’t want mass devastation to human populations, economic devastation, and enormous foreign policy challenges. Every person I’ve encountered that minimized such pronouncements as overly alarmist clearly were not literate on the science. That’s not to say there aren’t so-called alarmists who are also ignorant or leveraging this issue for some progressive political ambitions. But the weakness of a subset of an alarmist group doesn’t change reality – it is what it is. Should we procrastinate merely because of some bad actors in spite of the fact that the major tenants of the science and its attendant major predictions are not controversial in the climate science community and held with high confidence and small margins of error? (My framing here is what is peer-accepted, there is an even worse case prediction called The Venus Syndrome which is not peer-accepted. Not because it’s been rejected but instead lacks convincing evidence where this model is relatively new and just beginning to be studied. Some of its predictions are coming true –methane emissions from methane hydrates in sea sediment, and the physics behind the hypothesis are sound. It just lacks our having a sufficient enough understanding of conditions to predict an outcome with confidence. Hansen spends a chapter making his case for its veracity, I found it compelling but convincing not because I disagreed with him but instead because he concedes more evidence is required for confidence).

    James states:

    Unfortunately, those claims were being made by people with no economic training, and no ability to conduct a meaningful benefit-cost analysis.

    And yet such studies exist; again, I recommend starting with the IPCC summary reports. Here’s a mere 18 page Executive Summary for policy makers Climate Change 2007: Mitigation of Climate Change . Personally if I had to start over on this topic I’d skip the summary science report by the IPCC I linked to previously and instead read “The Climate Crisis” book I recommended above and the short summary. I also highly recommend getting a RSS feed into your reader-aggregator (I love Google Reader) for ScienceDaily.com’s section on global warming. If you don’t use an aggregator, the site itself is very easy to browse through a lot of articles quickly and all the articles are very short. Reading these short PR releases from the actual scientists who are publishing (or their PR firm) on ScienceDaily.com’s article list is a great way to stay appraised with the development of the theory.

    James states:

    So, does something need to be done right now?

    Actually we’re years late which has cost billions already (according to economists) and where delay only increases the cost and the odds of devastation for at least some human populations.

    James states:

    I am inevitably reminded that the great majority of climate scientists are equally ignorant of economics and policy analysis.

    In spite of my formal education being comprised of a lot of economics and very little in science, I’ve gravitated to the science and can’t make good recommendations on the economics-aspect of this issue. I am scrounging around trying to find a book with an economic-policy angle. Hansen’s book covered this somewhat but he is a scientist with no background in economics so that was more about just getting some new ideas in my face I hadn’t encountered before – there were no convincing sales jobs to be had there nor was it a primary feature of the book – it was interesting though.

    James states:

    Because we can adapt, without any doubt.

    At a ruinous cost if bounced against the peer-accepted theory, which is also confidently held while enjoying continuous observational validation since the 1950s. Given the existence of The Venus Syndrome and the fact its physics are solid though we’re not at all confident the conditions are present for it to happen (essentially the planet can’t sustain life as we know it and certainly nowhere near capable of sustaining human life if true), we can already falsify your statement that there is no doubt we can survive – there is legitimate doubt from respected scientists with a record of being right on their predictions that we can’t survive if we continue on our ‘business as usual’ path.

    James states:

    The question is whether or not we should make that a major part of our policy response to AGW. And the answer to that is not based on morality, but economics.

    Yes, but we need to understand the implications. I’ve seen peer-reviewed models that show Florida pretty much under water in a couple of centuries and our fisheries depleted even if we manage them well but if ignore climate – we lose the natural food chain. My point is that when we look at the cost of mitigation which is entirely affordable when discarding with all the whacko prescriptions; ‘yes’ to mitigation is the biggest no-brainer one can imagine given the cost of business as usual – there is no argument. That’s what’s so frustrating about this whole endeavor – people want to argue prescriptions without first understanding the implications of climate change which is required in order to evaluate the costs of action relative to the costs of inaction.

  18. buddyglass says:

    Without looking up numbers, I seem to recall the majority of CO2 emissions come from burning coal. If that’s true, then how much warming happens is mostly related to how much coal we burn, which is influenced by how much coal exists that we can easily extract. If that value is less than what we thought, then warming is less of an issue because economics will at some point dictate we move to other power sources purely due to cost pressure. That said, this post is interesting:


  19. Michael Heath says:


    how much warming happens is mostly related to how much coal we burn, which is influenced by how much coal exists that we can easily extract.

    There is easily available and more than ample supply of coal to cause catastrophic warming, e.g., mass extinction events and ocean level increases in the tens of meters.


    . . . warming is less of an issue because economics will at some point dictate we move to other power sources purely due to cost pressure.

    Warming is the entire issue. That’s because we have ample supply of coal and the coal industry and its consumers have effectively avoided nearly the entire cost of consuming coal in its pricing (its externalities). There is no correct market signal to redirect electrical energy producers to switch from coal nor will there be unless we see some policy changes. E.g., a carbon tax that pushes those externalities back into the supply chain for coal so its price reflects its true price would be one possible prescription.

    Personally I’m a proponent of a ‘fee and dividend’ which is more in line with my being a fan of Milton Friedman’s work where I believe the dividend incentive to consumers would result in a far faster transformation from coal than either a carbon tax or ‘cap and trade’. However the prescription choices are relatively unimportant in a world nearly all people do not understand what science is predicting which creates a gravely flawed context in terms of debating these matters. Speed is far more important than nailing a perfect policy prescription. Gen. George Patton’s admonition applies here, “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week” [possibly paraphrased since it’s off the top of my head].

  20. Heidegger says:

    Matty–will do. We’ll probably still be in a battle of experts, but at least you’ll know my sources. And don’t forget, CO2 represents less than 3% of all greenhouses gases.

    James Hanley–I’m in your corner. Steel cage, no holds barred, Hanley vs. Heath—Vegas odds have you scoring a TKO in the 5th round–do not capitulate! Am betting my house and Steinway grand on you. You have very, very sound arguments–Heath’s logical trickery can be easily defeated–facts will always prevail, and they are in abundance on the side that AGW is a hoax. For inspiration for the fight of the century, remember, Kasparov crushed Deep Blue 1st (1996–still love to play those matches!). Viel Glück!

  21. buddyglass says:

    When quoting me, you omitted the part that was the whole crux of my post: “If that value is less than what we thought…”

    If there is drastically less (cheaply extractable) coal than we thought, then warming isn’t as much of an issue. Which is the point that guy’s blog post was making. Grist’s blog, by the way, is devoted to environmentalism- he would most certainly join you in supporting a carbon tax.

  22. buddyglass says:

    The corollary, by the way, to there being drastically less (cheaply extractable) coal than we thought would be that the global economy is going to hell in a hand basket in the near future.

  23. Chris says:

    Heidegger cracks me up. He may have attributed a position to James (that AGW is a hoax) that is pretty much the opposite of what James, quite explicitly, stated, and he may try to derail or at least sidetrack every conversation he enters, but his entertainment value far exceeds his trollish harmfulness.

    I just wish he’d say why he picked “Heidegger” as an alias.

  24. James Hanley says:

    Chris–Yeah, Heidegger’s vision of my argument is not quite congruent with how I see it myself. If he’s in “my” corner, I wonder what the hell corner I’m actually in, because I’m certainly not there beside him.

    And it’s not remotely plausible to say I’m ahead of Heath, because he’s made reasonable responses to all my points, and I’ve yet to make a response to his. To put it in football terms, my post was the kickoff, and Heath’s response was the first drive (and who in their right mind could deny that it was a scoring drive–surely a field goal at the minimum). Now he’s kicked it back off to me, but as I’ve already admitted to not following the issue closely in recent years (and unfortunately I simply won’t have time in the next year, at least, to read up on it, as I have a lot of other projects going), it’s like I’m on the field with the practice squad.

    I’m not sure what game Mr. Heidegger is watching, but it’s not the one on the field. Perhaps he’s a referee? (Hey, Ref! If you had another eye you’d be a cyclops!)

    Now, to speak to Mr. Heidegger directly:

    Computer models forecasting five day weather have an accuracy rate of 32%

    Even I know when you’re making arguments from the populist denialist literature, with no basis in any kind of meaningful thought. Climate scientists aren’t predicting what days it will rain in the year 2052. They’re predicting the increase over average in temperatures, and 5 day forecasts are in fact really damn good at that. It’s extremely rare for the National Weather Service to say, “We’re going to have unseasonably warm weather in Boston,” and then not have unseasonably warm weather. The “can’t predict tomorrow’s” weather herring is as red as the University of Nebraska’s football jerseys.

    (In case no one noticed, football season is here. Hooray, now I can stop the pretense that I actually consider baseball to maybe, possibly, be something resembling a real sport. Take that, George Will!)

  25. ppnl says:

    Yes never is a strong word. But imagine Tarzan trying to design an intercontinental transportation system using really tall trees and really strong vines. Never is applicable. Worse it is an application of the wrong kind of technology. But then Tarzan could never have imagined the internal combustion engine.

    You may be able to construct materials with the tensile strength to support the static structure. I doubt it but maybe. That’s just the first of a long list of profoundly difficult problems to solve.

    And if it fails it could wrap itself around the earth three times.

  26. ppnl says:

    “And don’t forget, CO2 represents less than 3% of all greenhouses gases. ”

    Um, what? You aren’t comparing it to water are you? There is a factoid in there but it is profoundly misleading and actually makes exactly the opposite point you are likely to want.

  27. Michael Heath says:

    Actually I don’t see myself as an opponent of your James. Merely a player looking to recruit another. As an ex-football player (High School and adult leagues), I do respond well to getting roughed-up and assume, usually wrong, others respond in a similar manner.

  28. James Hanley says:


    Oh, actually I don’t see us that way, either. But apparently Heidegger does, so I just wanted to point out that if in fact we were, the score wouldn’t be what he thinks it is. *grin*

  29. Heidegger says:

    Mr. Heath, not checkmate or check, but you’ve definitely lost a rook. Or in a football analogy, you’ve been sacked in the end zone for a 2-point safety. You said, “I’ve seen peer-reviewed models that show Florida pretty much under water in a couple of centuries…” Please, please, please let me see who these scientists were that “peer reviewed” this. The inbred Prince of Dolts, Prince Charles, has recently stated that we have less than 7–SEVEN years to survive as a species! Why bother with any of these “remedies” that would totally destroy the economies of every developed nation on earth?

    Projections of possible future scenarios from unproven computer models of climate are not acceptable substitutes for real world data obtained through unbiased and rigorous scientific investigation.

    Open Letter to Secretary-General of United Nations

    His Excellency Ban Ki Moon

    Secretary-General, United Nations

    New York, NY

    United States of America

    8 December 2009

    Dear Secretary-General,

    Climate change science is in a period of ‘negative discovery’ – the more we learn about this exceptionally complex and rapidly evolving field the more we realize how little we know. Truly, the science is NOT settled.

    Therefore, there is no sound reason to impose expensive and restrictive public policy decisions on the peoples of the Earth without first providing convincing evidence that human activities are causing dangerous climate change beyond that resulting from natural causes. Before any precipitate action is taken, we must have solid observational data demonstrating that recent changes in climate differ substantially from changes observed in the past and are well in excess of normal variations caused by solar cycles, ocean currents, changes in the Earth’s orbital parameters and other natural phenomena.

    We the undersigned, being qualified in climate-related scientific disciplines, challenge the UNFCCC and supporters of the United Nations Climate Change Conference to produce convincing OBSERVATIONAL EVIDENCE for their claims of dangerous human-caused global warming and other changes in climate. Projections of possible future scenarios from unproven computer models of climate are not acceptable substitutes for real world data obtained through unbiased and rigorous scientific investigation.

    Specifically, we challenge supporters of the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused climate change to demonstrate that:

    1.Variations in global climate in the last hundred years are significantly outside the natural range experienced in previous centuries;

    2.Humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’ (GHG) are having a dangerous impact on global climate;

    3.Computer-based models can meaningfully replicate the impact of all of the natural factors that may significantly influence climate;

    4.Sea levels are rising dangerously at a rate that has accelerated with increasing human GHG emissions, thereby threatening small islands and coastal communities;

    5.The incidence of malaria is increasing due to recent climate changes;

    6.Human society and natural ecosystems cannot adapt to foreseeable climate change as they have done in the past;

    7.Worldwide glacier retreat, and sea ice melting in Polar Regions , is unusual and related to increases in human GHG emissions;

    8.Polar bears and other Arctic and Antarctic wildlife are unable to adapt to anticipated local climate change effects, independent of the causes of those changes;

    9.Hurricanes, other tropical cyclones and associated extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency;

    10.Data recorded by ground-based stations are a reliable indicator of surface temperature trends.

    It is not the responsibility of ‘climate realist’ scientists to prove that dangerous human-caused climate change is not happening. Rather, it is those who propose that it is, and promote the allocation of massive investments to solve the supposed ‘problem’, who have the obligation to convincingly demonstrate that recent climate change is not of mostly natural origin and, if we do nothing, catastrophic change will ensue. To date, this they have utterly failed to do so.

    Signed by:
    1.Habibullo I. Abdussamatov, Dr. Sci., mathematician and astrophysicist, Head of the Russian-Ukrainian Astrometria project on the board of the Russian segment of the ISS, Head of Space Research Laboratory at the Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia

    2.Göran Ahlgren, docent organisk kemi, general secretary of the Stockholm Initiative, Professor of Organic Chemistry, Stockholm, Sweden

    3.Syun-Ichi Akasofu, PhD, Professor of Physics, Emeritus and Founding Director, International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, U.S.A.

    4.J.R. Alexander, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Civil Engineering, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Member, UN Scientific and Technical Committee on Natural Disasters, 1994-2000, Pretoria, South Africa.

    5.Jock Allison, PhD, ONZM, formerly Ministry of Agriculture Regional Research Director, Dunedin, New Zealand

    6.Bjarne Andresen, PhD, dr. scient, physicist, published and presents on the impossibility of a “global temperature”, Professor, The Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

    7.Timothy F. Ball, PhD, environmental consultant and former climatology professor, University of Winnipeg, Member, Science Advisory Board, ICSC, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

    8.Douglas W. Barr, BS (Meteorology, University of Chicago), BS and MS (Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota), Barr Engineering Co. (environmental issues and water resources), Minnesota, U.S.A.

    9.Romuald Bartnik, PhD (Organic Chemistry), Professor Emeritus, Former chairman of the Department of Organic and Applied Chemistry, climate work in cooperation with Department of Hydrology and Geological Museum, University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland

    10.Colin Barton, B.Sc., PhD, Earth Science, Principal research scientist (retd), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

    11.Joe Bastardi, BSc, (Meteorology, Pennsylvania State), meteorologist, State College, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

    12.Ernst-Georg Beck, Dipl. Biol. (University of Freiburg), Biologist, Freiburg, Germany

    13.David Bellamy, OBE, English botanist, author, broadcaster, environmental campaigner, Hon. Professor of Botany (Geography), University of Nottingham, Hon. Prof. Faculty of Engineering and Physical Systems, Central Queensland University, Hon. Prof. of Adult and Continuing Education, University of Durham, United Nations Environment Program Global 500 Award Winner, Dutch Order of The Golden Ark, Bishop Auckland County, Durham, U.K.

    14.M. I. Bhat, Professor & Head, Department of Geology & Geophysics, University of Kashmir, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

    15.Ian R. Bock, BSc, PhD, DSc, Biological sciences (retired), Ringkobing, Denmark

    16.Sonja A. Boehmer-Christiansen, PhD, Reader Emeritus, Dept. of Geography, Hull University, Editor – Energy&Environment, Multi-Science (www.multi-science.co.uk), Hull, United Kingdom

    17.Atholl Sutherland Brown, PhD (Geology, Princeton University), Regional Geology, Tectonics and Mineral Deposits, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

    18.Stephen C. Brown, PhD (Environmental Science, State University of New York), District Agriculture Agent, Assistant Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Ground Penetrating Radar Glacier research, Palmer, Alaska, U.S.A.

    19.James Buckee, D.Phil. (Oxon), focus on stellar atmospheres, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

    20.Dan Carruthers, M.Sc., Arctic Animal Behavioural Ecologist, wildlife biology consultant specializing in animal ecology in Arctic and Subarctic regions, Alberta, Canada

    21.Robert M. Carter, PhD, Professor, Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

    22.Dr. Arthur V. Chadwick, PhD, Geologist, dendrochronology (analyzing tree rings to determine past climate) lecturing, Southwestern Adventist University, Keene, Texas, U.S.A.

    23.George V. Chilingar, PhD, Member, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow President, Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, U.S.A. Section, Emeritus Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

    24.Ian D. Clark, PhD, Professor (isotope hydrogeology and paleoclimatology), Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    25.Charles A. Clough, BS (Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology), MS (Atmospheric Science, Texas Tech University), former (to 2006) Chief of the US Army Atmospheric Effects Team at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland; now residing in Bel Air, Maryland, U.S.A.

    26.Paul Copper, BSc, MSc, PhD, DIC, FRSC, Professor Emeritus, Department of Earth Sciences, Laurentian University Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

    27.Piers Corbyn, MSc (Physics (Imperial College London)), ARCS, FRAS, FRMetS, astrophysicist (Queen Mary College, London), consultant, founder WeatherAction long range forecasters, London, United Kingdom

    28.Allan Cortese, meteorological researcher and spotter for the National Weather Service, retired computer professional, Billerica, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

    29.Richard S. Courtney, PhD, energy and environmental consultant, IPCC expert reviewer, Falmouth, Cornwall, United Kingdom

    30.Susan Crockford, PhD (Zoology/Evolutionary Biology/Archaeozoology), Adjunct Professor (Anthropology/Faculty of Graduate Studies), University of Victoria, Victoria, British Colombia, Canada

    31.(Claude Culross, PhD (Organic Chemistry), retired, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.A.

    32.Joseph D’Aleo, BS, MS (Meteorology, University of Wisconsin), Doctoral Studies (NYU), Executive Director – ICECAP (International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project), Fellow of the AMS, College Professor Climatology/Meteorology, First Director of Meteorology The Weather Channel, Hudson, New Hampshire, U.S.A.

    33.Chris R. de Freitas, PhD, Climate Scientist, School of Environment, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

    34.Willem de Lange, MSc (Hons), DPhil (Computer and Earth Sciences), Senior Lecturer in Earth and Ocean Sciences, Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand

    35.James DeMeo, PhD (University of Kansas 1986, Earth/Climate Science), now in Private Research, Ashland, Oregon, U.S.A.

    36.David Deming, PhD (Geophysics), Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, U.S.A.

    37.James E Dent; B.Sc., FCIWEM, C.Met, FRMetS, C.Env., Independent Consultant, Member of WMO OPACHE Group on Flood Warning, Hadleigh, Suffolk, England

    38.Robert W. Durrenberger, PhD, former Arizona State Climatologist and President of the American Association of State Climatologists, Professor Emeritus of Geography, Arizona State University; Sun City, Arizona, U.S.A.

    39.Don J. Easterbrook, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Geology, Western Washington, University, Bellingham, Washington, U.S.A.

    40.Per Engene, MSc, Biologist, Bø i Telemark, Norway, Co-author The Climate. Science and Politics (2009)

    41.Robert H. Essenhigh, PhD, E.G. Bailey Professor of Energy Conversion, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.

    42.David Evans, PhD (EE), MSc (Stat), MSc (EE), MA (Math), BE (EE), BSc, mathematician, carbon accountant and modeler, computer and electrical engineer and head of ‘Science Speak’, Scientific Advisory Panel member – Australian Climate Science Coalition, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

    43.Sören Floderus, PhD (Physical Geography (Uppsala University)), coastal-environment specialization, Copenhagen, Denmark

    44.Louis Fowler, BS (Mathematics), MA (Physics), 33 years in environmental measurements (Ambient Air Quality Measurements), Austin, Texas, U.S.A.

    45.Stewart Franks, PhD, Professor, Hydroclimatologist, University of Newcastle, Australia

    46.Gordon Fulks, PhD (Physics, University of Chicago), cosmic radiation, solar wind, electromagnetic and geophysical phenomena, Corbett, Oregon, U.S.A.

    47.R. W. Gauldie, PhD, Research Professor, Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, School of Ocean Earth Sciences and Technology, University of Hawai’i at Manoa (Retired), U.S.A.

    48.David G. Gee, Professor of Geology (Emeritus), Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Villavagen 16, Uppsala, Sweden

    49.Lee C. Gerhard, PhD, Senior Scientist Emeritus, University of Kansas, past director and state geologist, Kansas Geological Survey, U.S.A.

    50.Gerhard Gerlich, Dr.rer.nat. (Mathematical Physics: Magnetohydrodynamics) habil. (Real Measure Manifolds), Professor, Institut für Mathematische Physik, Technische Universität Carolo-Wilhelmina zu Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany, Co-author of “Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics”, Int.J.Mod.Phys.,2009

    51.Albrecht Glatzle, PhD, ScAgr, Agro-Biologist and Gerente ejecutivo, Tropical pasture research and land use management, Director científico de INTTAS, Loma Plata, Paraguay

    52.Fred Goldberg, PhD, Adj Professor, Royal Institute of Technology (Mech, Eng.), Secretary General KTH International Climate Seminar 2006 and Climate analyst and member of NIPCC, Lidingö, Sweden

    53.Wayne Goodfellow, PhD (Earth Science), Ocean Evolution, Paleoenvironments, Adjunct Professor, Senior Research Scientist, University of Ottawa, Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    54.Thomas B. Gray, MS, Meteorology, Retired, USAF, Yachats, Oregon, U.S.A.

    55.Vincent Gray, PhD, New Zealand Climate Coalition, expert reviewer for the IPCC, author of The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of Climate Change 2001, Wellington, New Zealand

    56.William M. Gray, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Head of the Tropical Meteorology Project, Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S.A.

    57.Kenneth P. Green, M.Sc. (Biology, University of San Diego) and a Doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, U.S.A.

    58.Charles B. Hammons, PhD (Applied Mathematics), systems/software engineering, modeling & simulation, design, Consultant, Coyle, Oklahoma, U.S.A.

    59.William Happer, PhD, Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics (research focus is interaction of light and matter, a key mechanism for global warming and cooling), Princeton University; Former Director, Office of Energy Research (now Office of Science), US Department of Energy (supervised climate change research), Member – National Academy of Sciences of the USA, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society; Princeton, NJ, USA.

    60.Howard Hayden, PhD, Emeritus Professor (Physics), University of Connecticut, The Energy Advocate, Connecticut, U.S.A.

    61.Ross Hays, Atmospheric Scientist, NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, Palestine, Texas, U.S.A.

    62.James A. Heimbach, Jr., BA Physics (Franklin and Marshall College), Master’s and PhD in Meteorology (Oklahoma University), Prof. Emeritus of Atmospheric Sciences (University of North Carolina at Asheville), Springvale, Maine, U.S.A.

    63.Ole Humlum, PhD, Professor, Department of Physical Geography, Institute of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

    64.Craig D. Idso, PhD, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, Tempe, Arizona, U.S.A.

    65.Sherwood B. Idso, PhD, President, Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, Tempe, Arizona, U.S.A.

    66.Terri Jackson, MSc MPhil., Director, Independent Climate Research Group, Northern Ireland and London (Founder of the Energy Group at the Institute of Physics, London), U.K.

    67.Albert F. Jacobs, Geol.Drs., P. Geol., Calgary, Alberta, Canada

    68.Zbigniew Jaworowski, PhD, DSc, professor of natural sciences, Senior Science Adviser of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection, researcher on ice core CO2 records, Warsaw, Poland.

    69.Terrell Johnson, B.S. (Zoology), M.S. (Wildlife & Range Resources, Air & Water Quality), Principal Environmental Engineer, Certified Wildlife Biologist, Green River, Wyoming, U.S.A.

    70.Bill Kappel, BS (Physical Science-Geology), BS (Meteorology), Storm Analysis, Climatology, Operation Forecasting, Vice President/Senior Meteorologist, Applied Weather Associates, LLC, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, U.S.A.

    71.Wibjörn Karlén, MSc (quaternary sciences), PhD (physical geography), Professor emeritus, Stockholm University, Department of Social and Economic Geography, Geografiska Annaler Ser. A, Uppsala, Sweden

    72.Olavi Kärner, Ph.D., Extraordinary Research Associate; Dept. of Atmospheric Physics, Tartu Observatory, Toravere, Estonia

    73.David Kear, PhD, FRSNZ, CMG, geologist, former Director-General of NZ Dept. of Scientific & Industrial Research, Whakatane, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

    74.Madhav L. Khandekar, PhD, consultant meteorologist, (former) Research Scientist, Environment Canada, Editor “Climate Research” (03-05), Editorial Board Member “Natural Hazards, IPCC Expert Reviewer 2007, Unionville, Ontario, Canada

    75.Leonid F. Khilyuk, PhD, Science Secretary, Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, Professor of Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

    76.William Kininmonth MSc, MAdmin, former head of Australia’s National Climate Centre and a consultant to the World Meteorological organization’s Commission for Climatology, Kew, Victoria, Australia

    77.Gary Kubat, BS (Atmospheric Science), MS (Atmospheric Science), professional meteorologist last 18 years, O’Fallon, Illinois, U.S.A.

    78.Roar Larsen, Dr.ing.(PhD), Chief Scientist, SINTEF (Trondheim, Norway), Adjunct Professor, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

    79.Douglas Leahey, PhD, meteorologist and air-quality consultant, President – Friends of Science, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

    80.Jay Lehr, BEng (Princeton), PhD (environmental science and ground water hydrology), Science Director, The Heartland Institute, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

    81.Edward Liebsch, BS (Earth Science & Chemistry), MS (Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University), Senior Air Quality Scientist, HDR Inc., Maple Grove, MN, U.S.A.

    82.Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology, Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

    83.Peter Link, BS, MS, PhD (Geology, Climatology), Geol/Paleoclimatology, retired, Active in Geol-paleoclimatology, Tulsa University and Industry, Evergreen, Colorado, U.S.A.

    84.Anthony R. Lupo, Ph.D., Professor of Atmospheric Science, Department of Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A.

    85.Horst Malberg, PhD, former director of Institute of Meteorology, Free University of Berlin, Germany

    86.Björn Malmgren, PhD, Professor Emeritus in Marine Geology, Paleoclimate Science, Goteborg University, retired, Norrtälje, Sweden

    87.Fred Michel, PhD, Director, Institute of Environmental Sciences, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    88.Ferenc Mark Miskolczi, PhD, atmospheric physicist, formerly of NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, U.S.A.

    89.Asmunn Moene, PhD, MSc (Meteorology), former head of the Forecasting Centre, Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway

    90.Cdr. M. R. Morgan, PhD, FRMetS, climate consultant, former Director in marine meteorology policy and planning in DND Canada, NATO and World Meteorological Organization and later a research scientist in global climatology at Exeter University, UK, now residing in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

    91.Nils-Axel Mörner, PhD (Sea Level Changes and Climate), Emeritus Professor of Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

    92.Robert Neff, M.S. (Meteorology, St Louis University), Weather Officer, USAF; Contractor support to NASA Meteorology Satellites, Retired, Camp Springs, Maryland, U.S.A.

    93.John Nicol, PhD, Physics, (Retired) James Cook University, Chairman – Australian Climate Science Coalition, Brisbane, Australia

    94.Ingemar Nordin, PhD, professor in philosophy of science (including a focus on “Climate research, philosophical and sociological aspects of a politicised research area”), Linköpings University, Sweden.

    95.David Nowell, M.Sc., Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, former chairman of the NATO Meteorological Group, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    96.James J. O’Brien, PhD, Emeritus Professor, Meteorology and Oceanography, Florida State University, Florida, U.S.A.

    97.Peter Oliver, BSc (Geology), BSc (Hons, Geochemistry & Geophysics), MSc (Geochemistry), PhD (Geology), specialized in NZ quaternary glaciations, Geochemistry and Paleomagnetism, previously research scientist for the NZ Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Upper Hutt, New Zealand

    98.Cliff Ollier, D.Sc., Professor Emeritus (School of Earth and Environment), Research Fellow, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, W.A., Australia

    99.Garth W. Paltridge, BSc Hons (Qld), MSc, PhD (Melb), DSc (Qld), Emeritus Professor, Honorary Research Fellow and former Director of the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Visiting Fellow, RSBS, ANU, Canberra, ACT, Australia

    100.R. Timothy Patterson, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Earth Sciences (paleoclimatology), Carleton University, Chair – International Climate Science Coalition, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    101.Alfred H. Pekarek, PhD, Associate Professor of Geology, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, U.S.A.

    102.Ian Plimer, PhD, Professor of Mining Geology, The University of Adelaide; Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Australia

    103.Daniel Joseph Pounder, BS (Meteorology, University of Oklahoma), MS (Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign); Weather Forecasting, Meteorologist, WILL AM/FM/TV, the public broadcasting station of the University of Illinois, Urbana, U.S.A.

    104.Brian Pratt, PhD, Professor of Geology (Sedimentology), University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

    105.Harry N.A. Priem, PhD, Professor (retired) Utrecht University, isotope and planetary geology, Past-President Royal Netherlands Society of Geology and Mining, former President of the Royal Geological and Mining Society of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    106.Tom Quirk, MSc (Melbourne), D Phil, MA (Oxford), SMP (Harvard), Member of the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Australian Climate Science Coalition, Member Board Institute of Public Affairs, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

    107.George A. Reilly, PhD (Geology), Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

    108.Robert G. Roper, PhD, DSc (University of Adelaide, South Australia), Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

    109.Arthur Rorsch, PhD, Emeritus Professor, Molecular Genetics, Leiden University, retired member board Netherlands Organization Applied Research TNO, Leiden, The Netherlands

    110.Curt Rose, BA, MA (University of Western Ontario), MA, PhD (Clark University), Professor Emeritus, Department of Environmental Studies and Geography, Bishop’s University, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

    111.Rob Scagel, MSc (forest microclimate specialist), Principal Consultant – Pacific Phytometric Consultants, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

    112.Clive Schaupmeyer, B.Sc., M.Sc., Professional Agrologist (awarded an Alberta “Distinguished Agrologist”), 40 years of weather and climate studies with respect to crops, Coaldale, Alberta, Canada

    113.Bruce Schwoegler, BS (Meteorology and Naval Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Chief Technology Officer, MySky Communications Inc, meteorologist, science writer and principal/co-founder of MySky, Lakeville, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

    114.John Shade, BS (Physics), MS (Atmospheric Physics), MS (Applied Statistics), Industrial Statistics Consultant, GDP, Dunfermline, Scotland, United Kingdom

    115.Gary Sharp, PhD, Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study, Salinas, California, U.S.A.

    116.Thomas P. Sheahen, PhD (Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology), specialist in renewable energy, research and publication (Applied Optics) in modeling and measurement of absorption of infrared radiation by atmospheric CO2, Oakland, Maryland, U.S.A.

    117.Paavo Siitam, M.Sc., agronomist and chemist, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada

    118.L. Graham Smith, PhD, Associate Professor of Geography, specialising in Resource Management, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.

    119.Roy W. Spencer, PhD, climatologist, Principal Research Scientist, Earth System Science Center, The University of Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama, U.S.A.

    120.Walter Starck, PhD (Biological Oceanography), marine biologist (specialization in coral reefs and fisheries), author, photographer, Townsville, Australia

    121.Peter Stilbs, TeknD, Professor of Physical Chemistry, Research Leader, School of Chemical Science and Engineering, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), member of American Chemical Society and life member of American Physical Society, Chair of “Global Warming – Scientific Controversies in Climate Variability”, International seminar meeting at KTH, 2006, Stockholm, Sweden

    122.Arlin Super, PhD (Meteorology), former Professor of Meteorology at Montana State University, retired Research Meteorologist, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, U.S.A.

    123.George H. Taylor, B.A. (Mathematics, U.C. Santa Barbara), M.S. (Meteorology, University of Utah), Certified Consulting Meteorologist, Applied Climate Services, LLC, Former State Climatologist (Oregon), President, American Association of State Climatologists (1998-2000), Corvallis, Oregon, U.S.A.

    124.Mitchell Taylor, PhD, Biologist (Polar Bear Specialist), Wildlife Research Section, Department of Environment, Igloolik, Nunavut, Canada

    125.Hendrik Tennekes, PhD, former director of research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, Arnhem, The Netherlands

    126.Frank Tipler, PhD, Professor of Mathematical Physics, astrophysics, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.

    127.Edward M. Tomlinson, MS (Meteorology), Ph.D. (Meteorology, University of Utah), President, Applied Weather Associates, LLC (leader in extreme rainfall storm analyses), 21 years US Air Force in meteorology (Air Weather Service), Monument, Colorado, U.S.A.

    128.Ralf D. Tscheuschner, Dr.rer.nat. (Theoretical physics: Quantum Theory), Freelance Lecturer and Researcher in Physics and Applied Informatics, Hamburg, Germany. Co-author of “Falsification of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics, Int.J.Mod.Phys. 2009

    129.Gerrit J. van der Lingen, PhD (Utrecht University), geologist and paleoclimatologist, climate change consultant, Geoscience Research and Investigations, Christchurch, New Zealand

    130.A.J. (Tom) van Loon, PhD, Professor of Geology (Quaternary Geology), Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland; former President of the European Association of Science Editors

    131.Gösta Walin, PhD in Theoretical physics, Professor emeritus in oceanography, Earth Science Center, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden

    132.Neil Waterhouse, PhD (Physics, Thermal, Precise Temperature Measurement), retired, National Research Council, Bell Northern Research, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    133.Anthony Watts, 25-year broadcast meteorology veteran and currently chief meteorologist for KPAY-AM radio. In 1987, he founded ItWorks, which supplies custom weather stations, Internet servers, weather graphics content, and broadcast video equipment. In 2007, Watts founded SurfaceStations.org, a Web site devoted to photographing and documenting the quality of weather stations across the U.S., U.S.A.

    134.Charles L. Wax, PhD (physical geography: climatology, LSU), State Climatologist – Mississippi, past President of the American Association of State Climatologists, Professor, Department of Geosciences, Mississippi State University, U.S.A.

    135.James Weeg, BS (Geology), MS (Environmental Science), Professional Geologist/hydrologist, Advent Environmental Inc, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, U.S.A.

    136.Forese-Carlo Wezel, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Stratigraphy (global and Mediterranean geology, mass biotic extinctions and paleoclimatology), University of Urbino, Urbino, Italy

    137.Boris Winterhalter, PhD, senior marine researcher (retired), Geological Survey of Finland, former adjunct professor in marine geology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

    138.David E. Wojick, PhD, PE, energy and environmental consultant, Technical Advisory Board member – Climate Science Coalition of America, Star Tannery, Virginia, U.S.A.

    139.Raphael Wust, PhD, Adj Sen. Lecturer, Marine Geology/Sedimentology, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

    140.Stan Zlochen, BS (Atmospheric Science), MS (Atmospheric Science), USAF (retired), Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A.

    141.Dr. Bob Zybach, PhD (Oregon State University (OSU), Environmental Sciences Program), MAIS (OSU, Forest Ecology, Cultural Anthropology, Historical Archaeology), BS (OSU College of Forestry), President, NW Maps Co., Program Manager, Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project, Inc., Cottage Grove, Oregon, U.S.A.

  30. James Hanley says:

    Projections of possible future scenarios from unproven computer models of climate are not acceptable substitutes for real world data obtained through unbiased and rigorous scientific investigation.

    Wrong again. When the real world data would require a large number of experiments comparing a heated earth to a non-heated earth, the computer models are a vastly superior methodological approach.

    And while all computer models have limitations, they’re not exactly unproven, because they can be calibrated to, and tested against, historical records.

    The only one’s who’s getting sacked in the endzone here is you. Each statement you’ve made so far is demonstrably wrong.

  31. Heidegger says:

    No, Mr. Hanley you’re wrong. The quote you just used, was from the body of the letter. For some reason, it came out as being part of my response which is certainly not the case. If you had scrolled down, you would have immediately realized the error—it was part of third paragraph of the letter composed by the 140 scientists that was sent to the UN to demonstrably assert that the science of global warming is not a “settled” issue.

    As far as your other points, again, they’re quite off the mark. Just a few examples– computer models predicted that 2007 would be a warmest ever recorded–guess what? It was 0.7 degrees Celsius colder than average. And 2008 was supposed to be milder and warmer than average and of course, it was the coldest and snowiest in years. 2009 was predicted, based on computer models, to be in the top five hottest years on record—not so—slightly below, globally, average. Why such blind faith in computer models? So you look out your window and see a tornadic funnel forming yet the computer model says it’s 10 miles away—are you going to believe the real world data–your eyes—or the computer? And I am very disappointed that you caved so easily to Mr. Heath. Admittedly, he is a very formidable opponent who knows his stuff, but when someone tries to tell you the sun revolves around the earth, you could do a lot better.

    I suspect that you, thinking those were my words–“Projections of possible future scenarios from unproven computer models of climate are not acceptable…” reflexively reacted into your attack mode, and tried to discredit any credibility those words might have. I would be very interested to hear your challenges to the ten points of disagreement made by the 140 signatories of the letter to the UN.

  32. Mark Boggs says:


    The year 2007 tied for second warmest in the period of instrumental data, behind the record warmth of 2005, in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) analysis. 2007 tied 1998, which had leapt a remarkable 0.2°C above the prior record with the help of the “El Niño of the century”. The unusual warmth in 2007 is noteworthy because it occurs at a time when solar irradiance is at a minimum and the equatorial Pacific Ocean is in the cool phase of its natural El Niño-La Niña cycle.

    Figure 1 shows 2007 temperature anomalies relative to the 1951-1980 base period mean. The global mean temperature anomaly, 0.57°C (about 1°F) warmer than the 1951-1980 mean, continues the strong warming trend of the past thirty years that has been confidently attributed to the effect of increasing human-made greenhouse gases (GHGs) (Hansen et al. 2007). The eight warmest years in the GISS record have all occurred since 1998, and the 14 warmest years in the record have all occurred since 1990.

    And I’m no scientist and have a vague understanding of the idea of AGW, I’m often astounded by the stupidity of the idea that, because it’s really cold where someone lives means that AGW is disproved. Oh, and that Al Gore is fat.

    But seriously, extremely cold weather and global warming are not mutually exclusive events, as I understand it.



  33. Heidegger says:

    Hello Mark–this is the perfect example of the extreme difficulty in debating this subject. I would assume you, and just about every other person on this website are of the “warming” persuasion. That, in itself is a bit of a mathematical/statistical anomaly, but being the skunk at the garden party on this site–thoroughly detested–I still always find it interesting to hear these folks chime with their opinions on the subjects of the day. Isn’t it interesting that you and I came up with polar (pun unintended) opposites regarding weather statistics and this is just one year!!

    From the Boston Globe,

    “THE STARK headline appeared just over a year ago. “2007 to be ‘warmest on record,’ ” BBC News reported on Jan. 4, 2007. Citing experts in the British government’s Meteorological Office, the story announced that “the world is likely to experience the warmest year on record in 2007,” surpassing the all-time high reached in 1998.

    In South America, for example, the start of winter last year was one of the coldest ever observed. According to Eugenio Hackbart, chief meteorologist of the MetSul Weather Center in Brazil, “a brutal cold wave brought record low temperatures, widespread frost, snow, and major energy disruption.” In Buenos Aires, it snowed for the first time in 89 years, while in Peru the cold was so intense that hundreds of people died and the government declared a state of emergency in 14 of the country’s 24 provinces. In August, Chile’s agriculture minister lamented “the toughest winter we have seen in the past 50 years,” which caused losses of at least $200 million in destroyed….

  34. Matty says:

    Isn’t it interesting that you and I came up with polar (pun unintended) opposites regarding weather statistics and this is just one year!!

    The key difference is that we can see where Mark’s statistics came from (NASA) whereas yours are simply asserted (again references are good). An interesting point, given your distrust of computer modelling is where NASA claim to ave the data from, I don’t fault anyone for missing this since it is in a graph title not the main article but.

    Annual surface temperature anomaly relative to 1951-1980 mean, based on surface air measurements at meteorological stations and ship and satellite measurements of sea surface temperature. (emphasis added)

    Your response I’m sorry to say suggests you didn’t read his comment closely enough. When someone argues that cold weather in some places at some times is compatible with a rise in the *average annual temperature* you don’t refute that by coming up with examples of cold weather in particular times and places.

    Still, Al Gore is not exactly skinny.

  35. Michael Enquist says:

    Matty’s on target, whereas Heidegger (Heidegger, a boozy begger) fell into the very trap that the article Mark links to talks about: Weather is not climate.

    I, personally, don’t know if the items requested in the open letter to the UNSG have been addressed, but I do agree with their point that the science is not “settled.” Science is never “settled.” Anyone using that term is talking politically, not scientifically.

    What does this paper mean wrt AGW?


  36. James Hanley says:


    I am not wrong just because the paragraph came from a letter to the Secretary General of the UN.

    I think it’s amusing how you cling to the un-peer reviewed letter as proof of your position while dismissing the body of peer-reviewed evidence that is out there.

    As to the Prince Charles quote, you got it wrong. He didn’t say we have seven years to survive as a species. He said we have seven years to save the planet. His is the type of hyperbole I was talking about in my post. His statement is stupid enough in itself, but that doesn’t justify your misrepresenting it to make it sound even more stupid.

  37. Michael Heath says:

    We can parse out the sources of forcings that are causing a net positive increase in energy since the start of the Industrial Age (1750 onward). Here’s a handy graph that was used in IPCC 2007 AR4 report: http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/pdf/TAR-06.PDF (The source is NASA/GISS).

    Around 2006 it netted out to about an additional 1.5 Watts per sq. meter. Our interglacial average prior to this is about 240 Watts per sq. meter. A 1.5 – 2 watt energy imbalance is sufficient to change the climate given our planet’s given climate sensitivity.

    A recent finding that requires modification to this model is that black soot on snow increases radiative forcing more than calculated in this graph.

    Solar irradiance can be misleading. This graph shows the total net anomaly from 1750 – 2005 has show it slightly contributing to warming though nowhere near as big a factor as human-emitted greenhouse gases. If you look at solar irradiance anomalies merely for the last couple of decades they are actually creating a negative forcing (cooling) powerful enough that if you stripped out all anthropogenic positive and negative forcings, the solar insolation cycle would result in our marching towards the next ice age albeit slowly and in spite of the fact the sun itself is slowing growing brighter contributing to very long-term warming all other forcings being equal.

  38. Michael Heath says:

    The last two peer-reviewed statistically significant surveys of American climate scientists showed more than 97% of them accepted the fact that the climate is warming and that warming is directly attributable to human activity. The first was in Jan-2009 and the latter earlier this year.

    As a constant skimmer of all peer-reviewed work of climate change, I rarely encounter new findings that reveal previous predictions were an over-estimatation. Instead nearly all of new findings I’ve encountered that modify previous predictions reveal those predictions were underestimates.

    A recent modification that previous models’ predictions were an overestimate illustrates the general reticence of sound scientific methodology in its synthesis reports. We just recently discovered that melting in Greenland and Antarctica due to climate change is happening at half the rate previously predicted (1). However, what is critically important to note is that scientists did not model-in ice cap melting from Greenland and Antarctica in their predictions of sea level rise in their synthesis reports such as the 2007 IPCC report because they were not confident in those models.

    Therefore the synthesis reports’ continue to underestimate sea level rise in spite of this new finding because we are confident that a significant amount of future sea level rise will come from Greenland and Antarctica ice caps melting, but those remain unincorporated in the predictions given the lack of confidence in the models. Both land masses respective melting already contribute to sea level rise now though the current biggest contributor is from warming oceans that increases the volume of the oceans.

    I’m not sure why anyone would waste their time reading what Heidigger writes.

    1) This finding is not yet independently validated: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100906085152.htm

  39. Heidegger says:

    ppnl, don’t know if “comparing” is the right word but yes, water vapor in the in the troposphere contributes to around 95% of the greenhouse effect, CO2 around 5%. In the stratosphere, however, the greenhouse contribution of CO2 is about 80%, and about 20% water. The composition of greenhouse gases in the troposphere is of much more importance and significance to earth’s temperatures than the stratosphere, as I’m sure you know. Without the greenhouse contribution of water vapor, the earth’s temperature would be about 58 degrees cooler. The total atmospheric concentration of CO2–man made and natural sources is a mere 3.2%–just man made is about .001%. In other words, if you grounded all planes, trains, and automobiles and shut every factory and every other man made source of human CO2 emission the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere would be barely detectable. Hence, the reluctance of the “warmers” to include water vapor as a contributing factor in the greenhouse effect.
    Not sure what “factoid” you’re referring to that makes this profoundly misleading. Please let me know.

  40. ppnl says:


    Yes you pretty much nailed the factoid just as I suspected. Water vapor is a climate feedback mechanism not a climate forcing mechanism. If we were to dedicate our entire industrial power to injecting water vapor into the atmosphere we couldn’t make much difference. And what ever difference we did make would disappear in about a week after we stopped. That’s simply because the average atmospheric residence time for water is a matter of days or weeks.

    The residence time of c02 is hundreds of years. So inject more co2 into the atmosphere and warm the climate a little. That will cause more water vapor to remain in the atmosphere causing even more warming. Feedback. Most of the warming was immediately caused by water vapor but the root cause is the co2.

    This is a very old abuse of factoid and even most denialists stay away from it.

  41. Heidegger says:

    Here we go again, ppnl. You are obviously way more up to speed with this subject–am trying to cram as much info as possible–it’s VERY complex–am getting things like this: “The workings: thermal equilibrium for an Earth without an atmosphere:
    The sun behaves approximately like a black body of radius rs=6.599 x 105 Km, at a temperature of Ts=5,783 K. The radiative flux at the sun’s surface is given by the expression σTs4, where σ is the Stefan-Boltzmann Constant (5.6704 x 10-8 Wm2K4). Flux refers to radiation per unit area. Thus, at the Earth’s distance from the sun, res=1.496 x 108 Km, this flux is reduced by the factor (rs/res)2. The Earth’s disk has a cross section, acs=πre2, where re is the Earth’s radius (6.378 x 103 Km), and thus intercepts acsσTs4(rs/res)2 radiation from the sun. In order to balance this intercepted radiation, the Earth would warm to a temperature Te, where σTe44πre2 = acsσTs4(rs/res)2. This leads to a solution Te=272 K.

    Clouds, which obviously require an atmosphere, and other features of the Earth reflect 31% of the incident radiation. Taking this into account reduces Te to 255 K.

    I’m sure this must make perfect sense to you, but at this point, I’m far from your level of understanding on this subject. Then there is this: “Correct Timing is Everything – Also for CO2 in the Air

    Guest Editorial by Tom V. Segalstad
    Associate Professor of Resource and Environmental Geology
    The University of Oslo, Norway

    Volume 12, Number 31: 5 August 2009

    In a paper recently published in the international peer-reviewed journal Energy & Fuels, Dr. Robert H. Essenhigh (2009), Professor of Energy Conversion at The Ohio State University, addresses the residence time (RT) of anthropogenic CO2 in the air. He finds that the RT for bulk atmospheric CO2, the molecule 12CO2, is ~5 years, in good agreement with other cited sources (Segalstad, 1998), while the RT for the trace molecule 14CO2 is ~16 years. Both of these residence times are much shorter than what is claimed by the IPCC. The rising concentration of atmospheric CO2 in the last century is not consistent with supply from anthropogenic sources. Such anthropogenic sources account for less than 5% of the present atmosphere, compared to the major input/output from natural sources (~95%). Hence, anthropogenic CO2 is too small to be a significant or relevant factor in the global warming process, particularly when comparing with the far more potent greenhouse gas water vapor. The rising atmospheric CO2 is the outcome of rising temperature rather than vice versa. Correspondingly, Dr. Essenhigh concludes that the politically driven target of capture and sequestration of carbon from combustion sources would be a major and pointless waste of physical and financial resources.”

    Five years, and you’re saying hundreds of years. Indeed , it seems climate science is “violent” and “chaotic”. We can’t even agree on whether 2007 was in fact, a very hot year or a below average year. For that matter, their is even fierce debate on what the mean temperature for the earth is in any given year. How about this (would love to hear your reponse):

    The Science of Global Warming
    in Perspective

    History of AGW Fraud. For most of the twentieth century, scientists were unconcerned about global warming, because carbon dioxide saturates (saturation explained below) and cannot do more heating. Whatever CO2 did in the past, adding more CO2 cannot change anything. But then global warming was dug up by environmentalists, and rationalizers took another look at the science and said, maybe saturation does not occur at the top of the atmosphere. As time went on, every element of the science was contrived to promote global warming alarmism.
    History of AGW Fraud, by Marc Sheppard

    Total Energy. Absorption of radiation by so-called greenhouse gasses only moves energy around; it does not increase the total energy on the planet. Rate of escape into space determines the total energy; and greenhouse gasses have no influence over rate of escape into space. Radiation goes around the greenhouse gasses, not through them, to cool the planet.

    Rate of Cooling. If heat were being trapped, the air would not cool so fast at night. It cools by radiation going around the greenhouse gasses, not through them—and as easily during the day as at night.

    Ice Ages. Ice ages occur every 100,000 years. The next one is scheduled to begin now. Oceans and temperatures rise before the ice ages begin. These are ocean temperatures measured through sea shell isotopes being used as a proxy for global (atmospheric) temperatures. Warm oceans precede ice ages, and warm oceans increase precipitation. So precipitation increases before ice ages, contrary to some claims.

    Temperature Equilibrium. Equilibrium of temperature was not accounted for by climatologists. Equilibrium fixes the net-equivalent temperature of the atmosphere at that point where the rate of energy leaving the planet equals energy entering from the sun. It means humans cannot alter the net-equivalent temperature of the atmosphere.

    Zone of Emission Fraud. Climatologists replace equilibrium with a fake zone of emissions, about five kilometers up and -19°C to explain how the right amount of energy leaves the planet. There is no such zone and there is no way to keep radiation from being emitted from other parts of the atmosphere at different temperatures. Zone of Emission Fraud

    Temperature Gradient. The gradient of temperatures in the atmosphere is the signature of radiation going around the greenhouse gasses, not through them.

    Physics Contrived. Equations for calculating heat in the atmosphere do not apply for saturation. But to pretend otherwise, a fudge factor was contrived for fake calculations. The so-called settled science is nothing but a fudge factor.

    Contradictions. Humans did not create enough supposed temperature increase in the past to point to the amount of temperature increase alarmists want to show for the future. But alarmists made the leap anyway, which resulted in Contradictions in the Fudge Factor.

    Temperature Measurements Falsified. After all the claims of unquestionable science, the end result is based on one point only—thermometer measurements—because there is no physics which can resolve the complexities. Climategate files show what had already been established by critics: The temperature increase is fake. Satellite measurements show very little temperature increase (due to warming oceans, not CO2), but the satellite data was adjusted to fit the fake thermometer data. Fake Temperature Measurements

    Second Climategate: An investigation shows NCDC and GISS faking temperature measurements to show an artificial increase.

    Fake Remedies. S. Fred Singer, Atmospheric Scientist:
    Certainly, the remedies invoked to “fight” AGW are a cruel hoax — mainly a tax burden on low-income households who will pay more for electricity, food, transportation, and other necessities of life. Article

    Concept Analogy. Here’s an analogy which conceptualizes the main issue, and it’s a scientific exactitude, not a joke: To claim that carbon dioxide is a heat trapping gas is like setting a jar of pickles on the kitchen table and saying it absorbs heat, therefore it heats the kitchen; and if you remove the jar of pickles, the kitchen will be as cold as the outdoors. What it means is heat going into carbon dioxide comes from the environment and goes into the environment. It isn’t an addition of heat, and it has nothing to do with the rate of heat escaping into space. Narrative on Absurdities

    No Scientifically Valid Mechanism for CO2 Creating Global Warming. CO2 saturates absorbing the limited radiation available to it in about ten meters (Heinz Hug). An increase in CO2 only shortens the distance, which is not an increase in temperature. Since scientists know this, a fake mechanism is contrived for the top of the troposphere based on thin spectrum shoulders. But again, an increase in CO2 only shortens the distance radiation travels, which does nothing significant to increase the temperature. And there is no way to get heat from the top of the troposphere, which is very cold, to ground level. And since this is also known, some climatologists revert back to the near-earth analysis. They can’t figure out where it is happening, but it has to be happening, god said so.
    None Dare Call It Fraud — Paul Driessen

    Arctic Ice. The first thing fakes point to when criticized is ice melting over the Arctic. Ice melts over the Arctic about once a century or more. A miniscule temperature increase in the atmosphere has no ability to melt Arctic ice; only warm ocean currents melt Arctic ice.

    Faulty Logic: Media types keep saying the physics is beyond question: More CO2 will block more radiation. Wrong. Radiation goes around greenhouse gasses like a river, not through them like a window. It’s like a River, not a Window

    Disputed Zone. Only a miniscule fraction of the CO2 is in question to the increase in heat, as shown in the yellow zone below. And it is up high in the atmosphere, not at ground level. There is no mechanism for getting heat at the top of the troposphere to ground level. See The Disputed Area.

    If the atmosphere were entirely nitrogen and oxygen with no so-called greenhouse gasses, the top of the troposphere would be slightly colder, and the near-surface would be almost the same temperature, because radiation goes around the greenhouse gasses. Even the first 10% of the greenhouse gasses did not create much heat, because the atmosphere functions like a river, not a window.

    Nature shows that greenhouse gasses do nothing, because precipitation has been increasing, and any heating of the atmosphere due to greenhouse gasses would have decreased precipitation. Increased snow and ice over the centers of Antarctica and Greenland have caused oceans to stop rising over the past few years.

    CO2 does not accumulate for centuries. The claim is that half of the CO2 humans put in the air goes into the oceans. That’s 4.3 GTC/Y. In 1970, humans produced 4.3 GTC/Y. Before 1970, oceans should have been removing more than humans were adding. It’s oceans warming and releasing more that has been causing the recent increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. See 30% Fraud.

    Oceans determine humidity.
    Water vapor swamps carbon dioxide.
    Greenhouse gasses do almost nothing.

    Humidity Fraud

    There was 5 times as much CO2 in the air during the dinosaur years, and 20 times as much before that, because oceans absorb CO2 and tie it up as calcium carbonate in coral reefs gradually forming limestone. There is now 1/3 as much CO2 in the air as plants need to grow on. Words

    Thirty one thousand scientists signed a petition saying humans are not the cause of global warming. External Link
    See some of them here.

    Climate is controlled by the oceans, not the atmosphere.
    The oceans have 1,000 times more heat capacity than the atmosphere. It means oceans can heat the air far more than air can heat the oceans. And it means carbon dioxide is not heating the oceans. Solar and geothermal energy heat the oceans.

  42. Chris says:

    Can someone please teach Heidegger what a link is?

  43. D.A. Ridgely says:

    [Insert “missing link” joke here.]

  44. Heidegger says:

    Chris, sorry–you’re right—way too much space taken up.

    Speaking of mixed memories, I had a very interesting experience last week. While cruising around in my little motor boat, I pushed the button on the boom box–had Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in the CD slot, and then, gloriously, there was that full orchestral A-major declaration to open this insanely beautiful symphony and as you well know, Beethoven does miraculous wonders and variations with this ingenious melody but as I looked over at the boom box, I realized—- it wasn’t even on. Did I experience an auditory hallucination of some sort or was this music so deeply ingrained in my brain that it no longer required me to “hear” it? Perhaps I tricked some area of the brain to set in motion the auditory events which, in any case, played the most vibrant, energetic 7th I’ve ever heard.

  45. Heidegger says:

    Or sausage link.

  46. Heidegger says:

    DAR—-I seem to remember you commented or maybe even reviewed the movie, “Barfly” a while ago–one of the greatest, sublime, moments in movie history occurred in this movie–Henry goes back to his dark, dingy, borderline uninhabitable room in that hotel and turns on his cassette player and what comes out is the most out of this world beautiful 2nd movt. of Mozart’s 25th piano concerto and Henry, with profound existential angst written all over his face, gradually breaks down with a smile, an acceptance, a love—this music trumps everything one can experience in this life….well, my opinion at least.

  47. Chris says:

    Heidegger, the technical term for that is a tall tale.

    By the way, does it ever embarrass you that, as you’ve basically admitted to doing in this discussion, and as you have so clearly done in many previous, you have a habit of stating your position, and then after it becomes clear that others know what they’re talking about, you spend hours on Google trying to find reasons for holding that position? In addition to making you look like an ignorant fool who mindlessly parrots conservative talking points (it doesn’t help that your Google research leads you to right wing propaganda almost exclusively), but like a dishonest jerk as well.

  48. James K says:

    Heidegger, you may find this site useful, it carries a list of html code, which includes how to create links. I keep it bookmarked for when I want to link to something.

  49. Heidegger says:

    Chris, is there an unwritten code that a pseudo-intellectual such as yourself, has to be a horse’s ass? Or perhaps I should say, you are every other inch, a gentlemen. A most dour, cynical, thoroughly unpleasant human being with the charm and charisma of a rotting, noxious, soulless corpse. May your atheistic hereafter greet you with open arms, and welcome you into eternal nothingness….you infect and diminish everything that breathes life.

  50. James Hanley says:

    OK, folks, we’re standing on the doorstep, at least, of violating the comments policy. Let’s all take a deep breath.

    Heidegger, I think if you look at your last comment you’ll see that it goes far beyond what Chris said to you in terms of offensiveness. Chris specifically wrote about your style of commenting, and how it made you appear to others, which is within the bound of legitimate critique. But you made directly personal comments that are like a tree right on the property line, with the branches hanging well over.

    Between your ridiculously lengthy cut-and-paste comments, your irrelevant comments, and your perpetual tendency to outright errors, I don’t particularly enjoy your presence here, but you haven’t directly done anything ban-worthy. But with personal insults you’ve made my watch-list.

  51. Heideegger says:


    Ouch. That’s painful to read. I want to offer you a sincere, heartfelt apology. That was so over the top, unnecessary and unwarranted–I have no idea what the hell got over me to write such cruel words and for that, am deeply sorry.

    So, I extend my hand to you in friendship and as a gesture to express my sincere apologies.

    Hey, you’re probably right, in any case. I’m way, way, over my head on this website among such very intellectually accomplished folks and unquestionably reside at the very bottom of the intellectual totem pole here—shall forthwith cease making any future posts and comments which will undoubtedly bring many smiles to all at The One Best Way!

    All the best, H

  52. Michael Heath says:

    This ScienceDaily.com article has a leader in the geoengineering field of introducing sulfer dioxides buttressing my earlier point that successfully implementing current geoengineering solutions doesn’t allow us to avoid dealing with the root cause of global warming. Instead it’s a mere containment measure rather than a permanent corrective action (in the parlance of how world class manufacturers analyze and approach defects which warming certainly is).

    The whole article (short) is well worth a read. I don’t present his geo-engineering solution in my below blockquote, that’s the subject of the article; I’m merely noting his reservations about the limitations and concerns that come with geoengineering solutions and an illuminating example for James regarding how much easier policy prescriptions become when you understand the physics, findings, and predictions within the AGW theory.

    The existence of editorializing within this article is not representative of most ScienceDaily.com articles which normally stick pretty close to the PR version of the peer-reviewed work being published. I do encounter this more in the field of climate scientist where it’s my speculation that these scientists feel compelled to add some editorialized framing to their articles given how denialism and greenwashing dominate the media and a defective framing of the science is increasing the probability of human catastrophe.

  53. Michael Heath says:

    Love a preview or edit function James. Here’s the blockquoted text I meant to add to the above comment post:

    [ University of Calgary climate scientist David] Keith, a director in the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy and a Schulich School of Engineering professor [and a] a global leader in investigating this topic [geoengineering by way of sulfur dioxide], says that geoengineering, or engineering the climate on a global scale, is an imperfect science.
    “It cannot offset the risks that come from increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If we don’t halt man-made CO2 emissions, no amount of climate engineering can eliminate the problems — massive emissions reductions are still necessary.”
    Nevertheless, Keith believes that research on geoengineering technologies, their effectiveness and environmental impacts needs to be expanded.
    “I think the stakes are simply too high at this point to think that ignorance is a good policy.”
    [Qualified recommendation of two novel approaches to introducinging sulfer dioxide to the atmosphere – reason for article and well worth reading in full] “A downside of both these new ideas is they would do something that nature has never seen before. It’s easier to think of new ideas than to understand their effectiveness and environmental risks,” says Keith.
    Sulfates also have unwanted side-effects, ranging from reducing the electricity output from certain solar power systems, to speeding up the chemical process that breaks down the ozone layer.
    “This is not an argument to do it, only an indication that risk, not cost, will be the deciding issue,” he adds. [James – this buttresses my previous point that once you understand the risks, most well-thought out unbiased policy prescriptions at their highest level are relatively easy go/no-go decisions. “Highest level not being about execution which can be difficult (who pays by country/person) but whether it’s a worthy goal or not, e.g., moving off coal ASAP, avoiding increased extinction rates.]
    [. . .]
    Keith stresses that whether geoengineering technology is ever used, it shouldn’t be seen as a reason not to reduce man-made greenhouse gas emissions now accumulating in the atmosphere.
    “Seat belts reduce the risk of being injured in accidents. But having a seat belt doesn’t mean you should drive drunk at 100 miles an hour,” he says. [I don’t find this particularly analogous.]

  54. ppnl says:


    Dude, you really need to stop copying and pasting massive crap. If you have an argument you want to make then show that you understand it by making it yourself. At the very least post a link. But a few points that I can pull from this mess…

    Atmospheric residence time is a complex issue. There is an irrelevant factoid in there but its complex. In order to see it consider a simple model. Say you have a large bucket with a small hole in the bottom. Now say water is pouring into the bucket at a certain rate and draining out the hole in the bottom. The higher the water level in the bucket the more pressure at the bottom and the faster it drains out. At some point the rate water enters the bucket equals the rate that it leaves and the bucket is in equilibrium.

    The residence time of a water molecule in the bucket tells us how fast the water level in the bucket will return to equilibrium if it is pushed out by adding extra water.

    But lets say you periodically dip a large glass of water out of the bucket and then pour it back a short time later. This effectively reduces the residence time of water in the bucket by large amount. But this is a bogus figure that tells us nothing about the equilibrium of the bucket because you are just cycling the same water out in back in. You need to consider the water and glass as the same reservoir or you get nonsense answers.

    Arguments about the short residence time of co2 are based on the same problem. Massive amounts of co2 are being cycled in and out of the atmosphere from seasonal plant growth and death and from the surface of the ocean. But this is cyclical and has no effect on the atmospheric equilibrium.

    The “co2 is in saturation” is probably the oldest factoid out there. The first suggestion that co2 could warm the earth is over a hundred years old. It was countered with this saturation argument but that argument was fairly quickly countered. T

  55. ppnl says:

    Aww crap. Premature post. Anyway…

    The “co2 is in saturation” is probably the oldest factoid out there. The first suggestion that co2 could warm the earth is over a hundred years old. It was countered with this saturation argument but that argument was fairly quickly countered. To understand how consider another simple model.

    Say you have a spherical cow floating in empty space. It generates a set amount internally and radiates it away as IR. The temperature of the cow increases until the amount of IR it radiates is equal to the amount of heat it generates.

    Now we place a blanket around the cow to block the IR. That makes the cow heat up. But if the blanket blocks all IR then adding a second blanket can’t heat the cow more right?

    Wrong. The problem is that the first blanket heats up and starts to radiate. The amount radiated is the same as with no blanket it just preserves a higher core temp. A second blanket will allow an even higher core temp.

    If you have ever seen Predator there is a scene where Arnie covers himself with mud to mask his IR to escape the predator. Nonsense. The mud would quickly reach skin temp and radiate the same IR. His best bet may have been to stay in the water where excess heat could be conducted away.

  56. Michael Enquist says:

    Here’s something interesting:

    Top American Scientist Quits APS over ‘Global Warming Scam’

    Read more at Suite101: Top American Scientist Quits APS over ‘Global Warming Scam’ http://www.suite101.com/content/top-american-scientist-quits-aps-over–global-warming-scam-a295057#ixzz11xEeZeSf

  57. Michael Heath says:

    Dr. Lewis’ arguments were falsified years ago, especially his attempt to rebut Dr. Mann’s work which has been independently validated by many different studies. In fact Dr. Lewis’ arguments reveals an astonishing amount of ignorance regarding the basic physics underlying the climate, e.g., using one non-polar geographical location’s proxy observations to extrapolate an argument for the entire globe’s climate is a piss-poor argument that doesn’t even meet the definition of peer-reviewed science, let alone peer-accepted. The fact he quit is not news.

    The real news on this particular subject is that most people do not realize that slightly more than 97% of practicing publishing American climate scientists support the peer-accepted theory of anthropogenic global warming where the skeptics are mostly older scientists still clinging to theories falsified in the past forty or so years or people who make a living serving denialist special interest groups, e.g., Richard Lindzen who first gained notoriety attempting to cast doubt cigarette smoke was a carcinogen and now gets paid by denialists to misconstrue the scientific findings regarding the climate. In addition most of the public is not are aware of the fact how badly the media, including the New York Times, presents fallacy of balance arguments in their articles regarding the efficacy of the theory. “He said, she said” is not how one accurately reports scientific matters.

    The Washington Post’s editorial section, which rarely gets the science right on global warming, is on firm footing in presenting Dr. Mann’s argument given the persecution of Virginia state government Attorney General towards the scientific community, in general and especially climate scientists. Especially given that the VA AG is buttressing his justification on falsified premises.

  58. Michael Enquist says:

    Michael Heath,

    Thanks. The only other discussions of this that I was able to find were completely politically polarized, either crowing that his resignation was a nail in the coffin of the myth of AGW, or saying that Dr. Lewis was either senile, on the payroll for big oil or both.

    You wrote, “The real news on this particular subject is that most people do not realize that slightly more than 97% of practicing publishing American climate scientists support the peer-accepted theory of anthropogenic global warming…”

    This one sentence carries a lot of weight.

    In science, it should not matter how many scientists agree or disagree with an idea, however, a proxy indicator for the validity of a scientific idea is how many scientists agree with it. While you are an intelligent guy and have obviously been researching both the science and the politics of AGW, you are not one of those 97% of climatologists, so why should we even care about your opinion on this issue? But since I am a biologist, not a climatologist, even when I read the papers, I don’t really know how to judge their validity. I have to rely on the fact that an overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed work supports the idea of AGW, without being able to assess that work myself.

    Why don’t most folks know that 97% of climatologists agree that AGW is a real phenomenon? Is it really valid to blame the MSM? The very MSM that the right claims is the mouthpiece of the left? We hear all the time about how the MSM thinks including a dissenting voice makes their reporting valid, even though the dissent represents a non-scientific, minority opinion, and by doing so, they give more weight to the dissent that it “deserves.” But so what? When has the MSM not done that? Dissent exists, even if entirely politically motivated, so the MSM needs to do their job of reporting what exists. If the MSM evaluates the claims, they are not reporting, they are editorializing, and they lose their value as an objective source of news.

    Related to that is this idea that Michael Heath, Greg Laden, or Mike the Mad Biologist (or whoever on the other side) is well-informed, but all you folks who rely on the MSM are being led astray. Since that comes up whatever the political hot-potato, then why do we need the MSM at all? The MSM seem to never get it right, per the AGW crowd, or the deniers or the same-gender marriage supporters, or the same-gender marriage deniers, or the historical revisionists, or the peaceniks, or the 2nd Amendment defenders or detractors. So where is an honest inquirer to turn for objective reporting of contentious issues? (Please don’t say HuffPo)

    (a guest just arrived, so I have to go)
    to be continued

  59. Michael Heath says:

    Michael Enquist states:

    Related to that is this idea that Michael Heath, Greg Laden, or Mike the Mad Biologist (or whoever on the other side) is well-informed, but all you folks who rely on the MSM are being led astray. […] So where is an honest inquirer to turn for objective reporting of contentious issues? (Please don’t say HuffPo)

    I initially surmised you’re making a rhetorical point rather than actually asserting that you’ve somehow magically divined who I rely on when it comes to understanding science in general and the theory of AGW specifically. Was I initially correct or do you really believe you know where I get my information? The fact you answer assuming I’ll state “Huffpro” makes me now believe you’ve convinced yourself you have certain magical powers which can some divinely discern my sources.

    For the record my introduction to climate science was in a science course at Michigan State University in 1986 in environmental science. Since then I’ve read several books published by practicing climate scientists, most recently the book published by Dr. James Hansen while I’m close to completing “The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change”, which is a tutorial explaining and expanding upon the 2007 synthesis report published the U.N.’s IPCC. I’ve also read the all the IPCC executive summaries, I believe they’ve published four to date, along with the scientific portion of the IPCC reports though not the policy portions.

    My Google Reader has subscriptions to all the global warming noted articles published by ScienceDaily.com, which reports on peer-reviewed science as its published. That resource provides me with greatest wealth of summarized findings and general perspective by far. I also follow a number of climate scientists who blog such as blogs like RealClimate.org. RealClimate distinguishes itself in both providing perspective on recently published peer-reviewed articles and explaining why the rare peer-reviewed challenge to the consensus view is almost always rejected by the climate science community (almost always due to a fatally defective lack of fealty to the fundamentals of doing an experiment or developing representational statistical models). Lastly some climate science research centers have excellent resources for laymen. I find myself in NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) website and the U. of Colorado’s NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Data Center) at least a handful of times a month each.

    Dr. Joe Romm’s “Climate Progress” blog is by far the best resource I’ve discovered for covering the denialist community and countering with what the peer-reviewed literature has to say about their claims. Claims are which almost never based on peer-reviewed work, e.g., Chris Monckton, WattsUpWithThat, or accurately representative of that work when its rarely cited.

    And yes, I do subscribe to RSS feeds from some mainstream media sources, but those media sources usually publish articles well after I’ve read what the actual scientific community has published and how they’ve responded. The value-add for me in monitoring what The Washington Post, the English papers, or the New York Times reports is merely to inform myself on how the actual science is being presented to the public, not to inform me on the actual science.

    So Michael Enquist, where is the ‘honest inquirers’ to turn for objective reporting? I’d argue the actual climate science community itself where they do a fine job of presenting: their peer-reviewed work, synthesis reports, tutorials in the forms of books, websites, and PowerPoint presentations, their perspective on what is being published, how denialists work to misinform others, and how the media is performing explaining the actual science. It only takes me a few minutes a day to review all the ScienceDaily.com articles publishes which are related to global warming.

  60. Michael Enquist says:

    @ Michael Heath,

    You were correct in your first assumption. The reference to Huffington Post was meant to be humor/satire. I should have included a smiley. What happened is that I put too many points into my post and that distracted us both from what I wanted to focus on:

    I’m glad you listed the places you learn about AGW. What it shows me is that you are at best a tertiary source for information and opinion about AGW. That puts you into a closer proximity to the actual information about AGW than most people who express their opinions about it as if they knew the “Truth,” but for me, I would never expect anyone to believe what I say about a scientific issue where I collected the information from a dedicated, but popular source such as ScienceDigest or a book I could get at Barnes and Noble. I’m not saying you claimed we should believe what you say about AGW – you did refer us to your sources in your earlier posts.

    When it comes to scientific issues, I find I need to be much more circumspect than most others are willing to be, especially when it comes to politically charged scientific topics. I feel that my understanding of evolution is sufficient to speak intelligently about it because I am a biologist and I have read and can understand the work of evolutionary biologists. (But evolution is an easy one, because there is the scientific theory of evolution on one side, and on the other, nothing.)

    When it comes to climate science, however, I just cannot bring myself to state that I “know” it until I have the same level of understanding as I do for evolution. But my degree is in biology and I worked with the concepts of biology every day when I was in the biotech industry, and evolutionary science is a topic in biology. It is completely outside of my experience with science to agree with the idea that I, or anyone, could educate themselves to the point of being able to know the facts about AGW by reading ScienceDigest a few minutes a day.

    The IPCC report is a perfect instance of what I mean. For me to say I agree with the report, I would have to read the entire thing, cover to cover. I would have to research the qualifications of the people involved, their methodology in preparing the report and I’d have to read each citation, in context, and evaluate those scientific papers to which it refers. After about four to six months of full-time work, I would be able to say that I had satisfied myself as to the accuracy of the work, but even after that depth of investigation, I would not expect anyone to rely on my opinion about it because, among other things, I am NOT a climatologist.

    That’s just looking at the science side of the report. To evaluate the policy recommendations included or that refer back to it, I would have to apply the same level of research in the economics, industry, politics and social science aspects of what those policy recommendations require.

    How many people have applied this level of scrutiny to the issue of AGW? The tiniest fraction of a percent. And yet liberals and conservatives, alike, act as if they KNOW the TRUTH™ about AGW, and they stick with their assertion even after I, a nearly total noob, show the shallowness of their understanding with just a few questions. Doing so almost always gets me into hot water, and results in accusations that I MUST be one of the evil others (false prophet of AGW or AGW-denier, as the case may be).

    I guess I shouldn’t have picked Socrates as a hero in my early adulthood. But I can’t put the genie back in the bottle. I can’t unlearn what I’ve learned, or suspend my ethics to make bold assertions about issues I have not investigated myself.

    But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe climate science is easier to understand than biology and subscribing to an RSS feed would be sufficient for me to be able to gain enough knowledge about AGW to turn thumbs up or thumbs down to whatever policy the government decides to put in place to deal with it. (This is me using a semi-satirical tone again.) But I don’t think so.

    So how do people do it? How do they assert their opinions as if they were life and death certain about issues that they don’t really understand at all?

  61. Michael Heath says:

    Michael Enquist,

    While I realize the scientific process is imperfect with ample observations of defective assertions making it past the peer-reviewed filter and where we always hold all explanatory models provisionally, we can still observe the results of the process used to develop the theory of AGW and gain some confidence on whether there is reason to suspect the confidence asserted for a peer-consensus view is over-stated or to accept what the relevant experts such as the NOAA assert as “undeniable”(1).

    From that perspective as fellow laymen, I would argue you are focusing too much on what either of does can’t understand as well as climate scientists and not enough on the acceptance and confidence of the results within the relevant scientific communities, their known unknowns and how those unknowns challenge the theory if it all, and their current debates. While I’m not a scientist or a climate expert I am an expert on process and can assess the quality of processes. Given a background in business I’m also extremely sensitive to the defectiveness of ‘paralysis by analysis’ where I’ve consistently observed there is no paralysis within the climate science community on the physics (with some notable exceptions), the strength and breadth of the observations, how those observations reconcile to past warming events, and the predictive power we now have. The exceptions are ice sheet melt rates in Greenland, warming effects on Antarctica, and the physics of worst-case scenarios which are dependent on amplifying feedback effects we can’t predict with precision yet though we know they exist (e.g., albedo effect of the Arctic ice melting, permafrost melting and the resulting release of stored methane from ocean-floor sediments).

    When it comes to the theory of AGW, the core assertion consensuses are: measurable and held with high confidence with relatively small margins of error, peer-accepted w/few if any respected and qualified skeptics, no recent published articles challenging this view that can withstand post-publication scrutiny, independently validated by several different research groups using a plethora of different approaches from a number of different scientific disciplines, e.g., the rate of ocean acidification given observed human-caused emissions corresponds as predicted to the rate of temp. increases observed in the atmosphere, at ground-level, and within the oceans where all these observations are also validated by paleoclimatic observations that allow us to predict what should have happened given our current set of radiation forcing anamolies and in fact what has actually occurred, which also corresponds to the predicted rate of increase of ocean levels currently observed.

    So I’d argue your skepticism in a field where you are not an expert is defectively focused on personally understanding that which takes a decade or more to intimately understand when we have an even more powerful approach to assessing the validity that is far superior to any one person’s individual strengths and weaknesses– the results as filtered through the scientific process and understood and held by an entire community.

    The real controversy in the climate scientist community is not about the validity of AGW nor is it really about the effects of global warming on Antarctica and Greenland since the community concedes those two remain unknowns where Greenland will amplify warming we don’t just don’t know how much and even if Antarctica remained stable it would not overwhelm the rate of sea level rise and increased flora and fauna extinction rates*. These two unknowns along with evaporation of methane sediment on the ocean floor instead make it difficult to assert with confidence worst case scenarios though the physics support worst case scenarios as legitimate concerns while methane emissions from the ocean floor has recently begun as predicted. Instead the general overriding debate is the degree we should all be alarmists. This is an aspect the media has both avoided and most people don’t even realize is the debate within the relevant scientific community. I think this graph explains the disconnect between what the media communicates is the controversy and what is being debated within the scientific community: http://climateprogress.org/2010/02/25/max-boykoff-media-balance-deniers-contrarian-climate-change/ . From the climate science community’s perspective, the last IPCC report is an underestimation of catastrophe given the known risks not included given the lack of precision in predicting their results.

    The time to shit or get off the pot was in the 1990s. All we’ve done since then has been to increase the predicted level of catastrophe, increased our confidence in our predictions, and decreased the margins of error for these predictions while of course better understanding the basic physics and flesh-out our perspective and collect new findings.

    1) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/07/100728-global-warming-noaa-climate-hottest-decade-science-environment/

    *The last IPCC report’s predictions on sea level rise did not include increases that will occur given the melting occurring on the Greenland ice sheet at increasingly fast rates nor any modeling effects from Antarctica where observations also show warming in its adjacent oceans. This is due to a lack of confidence in the models’ predictive power for these two phenomena because of the complexity of what needs to be understand, our lack of fully understanding that complexity, and then modeling these two areas. It should be clear though that the paleoclimate data does validate Greenland and Antarctica can and should have large impacts on sea levels. This avoidance in the IPCC report significantly understates synthesis predictions of sea-level rise from what we can confidently predict they will be. The paradox and conundrum is that by adding in these two factors’ current predictions you greatly decrease the confidence level and increase the margin of error of what is predicted for sea level rise though the expected rise would be more accurate to what the climate science believe it will be. So the community decided not to incorporate ocean level rise from ice melts in these areas in the 2007 report given the prediction up to 2090 without these factors should still be alarming enough though people blithely disregard it, I think because the media is comparing the actual science to the red herring of denialism.

  62. Michael Enquist says:

    Michael Heath,

    I have been looking for ways to express my ideas about why even subscribing to RSS feeds is too complicated to sort out the AGW problem.

    One has to do with the process that you say you understand. I understand the process very well also – That is why I check each step! Coming from a QC and QA background, I have learned from personal experience that the shortcute people take when confronted with complicated choices are not necessarily good approximations of the truth.

    This exerpt from a paper related to the book, “Nudge” explains what I mean:

    Free markets often solve the key problems of decision making by giving people an incentive to make good products and to sell them at the right price. … But sometimes incentive conflicts arise. Consider a simple case. Two friends go for a weekly lunch and each chooses his own meal and pays for what he eats. The restaurant serves their food and keeps their money. No conflicts here. Now suppose they decide to take turns paying for each other’s lunch. Each now has an incentive to order something more expensive on the weeks that the other is paying, and vice versa.

    Many markets (and choice architecture systems) are replete with incentive conflicts. Perhaps the most notorious is the U.S. health care system. The patient receives the health care services that are chosen by his physician and paid for by the insurance company, with intermediaries from equipment manufacturers to drug companies to malpractice lawyers extract part of the original cost. Different intermediaries have different incentives, and the results may not be ideal for either patients or doctors. Of course, this point is obvious to anyone who thinks about these problems. But as usual, it is possible to elaborate and enrich the standard analysis by remembering that the agents in the economy are Humans. To be sure, even mindless Humans demand less when they notice that the price has gone up, but only if they are paying enough attention to notice the change in price.

    The most important modification that must be made to a standard analysis of incentives is salience. Are choosers aware of the incentives they face? In free markets, the answer is usually yes, but in important cases the answer is no. Consider the example of members of an urban family deciding whether to buy a car. Suppose their choices are to take taxis and public transportation or to spend ten thousand dollars to buy a used car, which they can park on the street in front of their home. The only salient costs of owning this car will be the stops at the gas station, occasional repair bills, and a yearly insurance bill. The opportunity cost of the ten thousand dollars is likely to be neglected. (In other words, once they purchase the car, they tend to forget about the ten thousand dollars and stop treating it as money that could have been spent on something else.) In contrast, every time the family uses a taxi the cost will be in their face, with the meter clicking every few blocks. So a behavioral analysis of the incentives of car ownership will predict that people will underweight the opportunity costs of car ownership, and possibly other less salient aspects such as depreciation, and may overweight the very salient costs of using a taxi. An analysis of choice architecture systems must make similar adjustments.


    AGW is an issue that has all of the problems listed above:

    Incentive conflicts: Caused by the “tragedy of the commons” among other things.

    Salience: The costs of continuing to produce GHGs are far removed from the benefits of producing them, and the benefits of reducing production of GHGs are far removed from the costs. Not only that, the cost of truly understanding the scope of the problems change caused by AGW is existential depression and despair against the possibility that we can actually DO anything about it.

    Cassandra didn’t need to be cursed by Apollo into not being believed when she told the truth; the mere fact that she told the truth and the truth was bad was enough for the Trojans to reject her message.

  63. Michael Enquist says:


    “People also need feedback on how they’re doing. People need to know explicitly what the benefits are of what they are being asked to do. People are not interested in concepts such as “saving the planet” or “doing it for their grandchildren”. People want impacts that are concrete, immediate and personal to them. They need to see how it’s benefiting them. If they are being asked to make – what they see in their terms, at least – as a sacrifice, they need to see what the benefit is to them.”

    “We shouldn’t be surprised that people see climate change as remote and impersonal to them. We shouldn’t be talking about how our lives will become somehow poorer through climate change, but instead be talking about it could help us to become healthier, happier and enable us to live in a better environment.”

    Prof David Uzzell, Professor of Environmental Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, quoted here:


  64. Michael Enquist says:

    Michael Heath, writing at Dispatches:

    “The trait most of his liberal guests have is that they suffer from vacuousness coupled to understandings that don’t reach beyond mere talking points, e.g., they accept the theory of anthropogenic global warming because Science does. That’s fine for most people but not if you are expected to debate the veracity of the topic on national TV with people representing a whole cottage industry whose developed a whole set of falsehoods. Arianna Huffington and Cornel West would be Exhibits A and B.”

    This is exactly what I’m talking aobut! I don’t want to be one of these kinds of folks.

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