It will come as no surprise to those who read my blog, that I fully accept the scientific consensus on climate change. The question is why? And what would cause me to change my mind. No matter what your position on this issue, I think everyone can agree that people who are unwilling to change their mind, no matter what, are irrational. It is for that reason that from now on, anyone who wishes to challenge the scientific consensus on climate change here on this blog MUST clearly state:
- Why they don’t accept the conclusions arrived at by the overwhelming majority of scientists.
- Why they think the vast majority of scientists are wrong.
- What would change their mind and make them accept anthropogenic global warming and why they chose those criteria.
It seems only fair that I also answer these questions.
Clearly if I wish to claim rationality (and I do) it must be possible for my mind to be changed, and it is. But in order to understand how my mind can be changed, one needs to understand why I so readily accept the consensus.
The most basic reason is that I accept mainstream scientific opinions. I trust the scientific method, and the conclusions it arrives at. I understand that these conclusions wont be right all the time (science has and will make mistakes), but far more often than not, science will get things right. Especially when a consensus exists.
The vast majority of scientists, the IPCC the National Academies of Science from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA, the American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geological Society of London, the Geological Society of America, the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, thousands of peer-reviewed journals, and even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists [UPDATE: As was pointed out in the comments, the AAPG position statement is noncommittal], all agree that climate change is not a political concoction or a scientific hoax, but very real and is caused by our greenhouse gas emissions. In fact no scientific body of national or international standing is known to reject the basic findings of the human influence on the recent climate. If that isn’t a consensus I don’t know what is.
But isn’t that just a fallacious appeal to authority?
It isn’t necessarily fallacious to consider that thousands of climate scientists writing in peer reviewed journals might know more than you do about such a complex subject. Of course, this one is a little tricky for newbies, and I’m sure I got it wrong myself initially. Nizkor is one of the many sites that tries to explain it:
…a person who is a legitimate expert is more likely to be right than wrong when making considered claims within her area of expertise. In a sense, the claim is being accepted because it is reasonable to believe that the expert has tested the claim and found it to be reliable. So, if the expert has found it to be reliable, then it is reasonable to accept it as being true.
What we have here is trust in the scientific method. And we trust it because we have reason to believe it works – just look around you. (You’re reading this on a computer aren’t you?) And on a blog that promotes science and the scientific method, I’d have to be pretty perverse, or have a very good reason, to oppose thousands of peer reviewed scientific papers. Note that what we should have is trust in science. This is not the same as faith... Faith is belief without evidence, while trust is acceptance of something based on what we have experienced before – ie what has worked and what has been right. In other words, trust of the scientific method is based on evidence that it works. Claiming that trust and faith are the same thing is the fallacy of equivocation that I have written about before.
I’d say that makes a strong case for accepting the scientific consensus. And in many ways we use this logic on a daily basis. When we need to understand something complex, we look to expert opinion. When we get sick, we go to the doctor. If it is particularly serious we go see a specialist. When our car breaks down we take it to a mechanic, when our computers aren’t working right we take them to a technician. The list goes on, but we intuitively understand that expertise matters, and not everyone’s opinion is equally valid.
The case is further strengthened when you realize that successful challenged to scientific orthodoxy, have virtually always come from WITHIN the scientific community. The current cohort of deniers are decidedly not scientific. Instead of publishing research in the peer-reviewed literature, they resort to standard denialism tactics:
- Selectivity (cherry-picking)
- Fake experts
- Impossible expectations (also known as moving goalposts)
- General fallacies of logic.
I would add a sixth: continuing to repeat arguments long after they have been debunked, and a seventh: Misrepresentation and bald-faced lies about the conclusions of recent peer-reviewed research.
These are not the tactics of people with legitimate criticisms of the science, but rather the tactics of people more interested in obfuscation, than honest debate of the subject. And these tactics wont change my mind.
So what will? That is the easy part. Show me substantial legitimate debate within the scientific community, and I’ll change my mind. Show me legitimate debate and I’ll agree that the consensus is no more. What constitutes legitimate debate? Op-eds, blog posts, and other writings in non-scientific sources are most certainly not legitimate scientific debate.
So what is? First and foremost any legitimate criticism of the science must withstand basic scientific scrutiny, and in that regard must pass the minimum standard of peer-review. But as “one swallow does not a spring make“, one peer-review paper doesn’t signify a significant debate. Their are literally mountains of papers providing supporting evidence (from many different angles) for anthropogenic global warming; one paper cannot stand against all of that. At best a single paper will provide the beginnings of debate, but as John Mashey informs us:
Peer-review only says “We didn’t find obvious errors in a quick review and this might be worth reading”. Passing peer-review does not prove correctness or importance. Not being able to get papers through peer-review should be a major red flag for the reader. Scientists with new major results do not just write OpEds or web pages, or publish them in Energy&Environment or Journal for Scientific Exploration. They send their results to Science, Nature, or other credible journals…
The publication cycle of the most credible peer-reviewed journals is long enough that a non-expert should be prepared to be wary of any paper only 1-2 years old, especially if it has novel implications counter to mainstream established science.
This is especially true if the papers aren’t cited much. Good papers with interesting ideas get cited frequently. The ideas presented are built upon by scientists, and scrutinized by others. By contrast, ideas that lead to a dead end are not cited much as the scientific community quickly moves on. This has happened in regards to climate change. Take Richard Lindzen’s “Iris” hypothesis for example.
It originally attracted interest, but did not gain widespread scientific support, as substantial conflicting evidence existed. There may still be some interest, but this paper did not suddenly invalidate AGW as some wanted to think.
In other words it was a false start, and wasn’t substantial debate.
A substantial debate would require several papers, over the course of at least one year (preferably longer) that withstand the significant scrutiny that would be applied to them. A good indication of such debate would be if one or more of the major scientific societies (NAS, AAAS, the Royal Society, etc) revised their position statement on the issue and acknowledged the debate. This would be a clear signal that the consensus no longer exists, but it would not be an invalidation of AGW. It would merely indicate that science if no longer sure of the issue. To refute AGW we would want to see an overwhelming majority of scientists agree that human activities are not causing the climate to warm.
Yes I have set the bar very high for those that wish to change my mind on climate change, but there is a very good reason for that. Carl Sagan was known for saying “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.
I don’t see accepting a mainstream scientific position that is supported by an overwhelming majority of the worlds scientists as an extraordinary claim. On the other hand people who take the opposite side and are opposed to the mainstream scientific position are most certainly making an extraordinary claim. A claim which requires extraordinary evidence to back it up, and so far that evidence has been anything but extraordinary.
Hi Dan: you covered a lot of ground in that post, let me pick up on a couple of points. I can see your reasoning and agree that what generally gets left out of the argument is how much is agreed on by the proponents of AGW and the skeptics (and I use that word – skeptic – in a very specific context).
I have been able to distill my basic argument down to 3 simple points which I think form the basis of AGW.
1) We are responsible for all – not part but all – of the recent CO2 released (and by recent I mean since we were able to get a good record of atmospheric CO2 concentration).
2) CO2 will absorb and then re-emit long wave radiation.
3) An object that receives more longwave radiation will warm (or cool less quickly).
The first is a simple exercise in logic. The next two are physical realities. The acceptance of these basic facts is what I feel is required for a person to make it out of the denialist camp into the skeptic.
Now, I can’t see how number 1 could be wrong. I suppose that either 2 or 3 could be wrong, but we would need to rewrite a lot of our understanding of physics for that to happen and if it does, we have bigger problems than AGW.
Thus I don’t see me being convinced that our basic AGW theory is wrong. Where I could be convinced that my “beliefs” are wrong is in the area of feedbacks and other mechanisms.
The area of feedbacks is where (in my opinion) the real interesting work starts. It is basically agreed that a doubling of CO2 will cause a 1.2C warming, but to get more we need feedbacks. Are there negative feedbacks that will dominate? It does not appear to be so, but I am willing to listen to that argument.
There is also the chance that the addition of CO2 will cause other unknown and unexpected (the unknown unknowns) mechanisms that may cause cooling (e.g. Lindzen’s iris) but I have yet to see any evidence on that.
I like your sixth point about resurrecting old myths. I call the people involved in that activity necromancers for obvious reasons.
Are you aware of the Dunning Kruger effect. Possible explains a great deal.
That is basically my view as well. The only real logical way to discredit AGW at this point (given what we know) is to make a convincing case that climate sensitivity is far lower than we currently accept. Anything else requires to claim (and provide evidence for) that a great deal of what science knows (in climatology and other disciplines) be wrong.
Unfortunately that isn’t an easy thing to prove. A recent paper in Nature shows that a climate sensitivity greater than 1.5 °C has probably been a robust feature of the Earth’s climate system over the past 420 million years. And of course these measurements of sensitivity (including those used by the IPCC) exclude some long term feedbacks. This is the reason why Hansen’s estimate of climate sensitivity (which does include these long term feedbacks) is so much higher (6k) than the best estimate arrived at by the IPCC (3k).
Sigh, never say never! Just when you thought it was safe to go into a physics journal again, Drs Gerlich and Tscheuschner have published an article on why the greenhouse is wrong (ht to Paul at Celestial Junk).
I from what I have seen it lookes like more of their initial paper that Eli took an initial look at, but Arthur Smith did the real smack-down on in Archive. However that is only based on the abstract, I have not taken a look at the whole paper yet.
As I remarked over at Paul’s, if they are right, then we have larger problems than AGW to worry about since a lot of what we thought isn’t so anymore in many more areas than AGW.
John, let’s take a look at your point about the rise in CO2 over the past 50 years. I agree that the source, as best we now know, is human activity. And I host the CO2 Rise FAQ that gives the gory details on why we think this.
Is it impossible to disprove? No. Extremely unlikely, but it could be done. So we’re still in science. To disprove human activity as the source for the rise, what someone would have to do is a) find some other source that was also depleted in 13C, and devoid of 14C, that was large enough and find a large sink that was sucking up the anthropogenic CO2.
They’d have to find both, since we do know that human activity releases a lot of CO2 to the atmosphere. And it would be a big plus if that sink could somehow distinguish between the CO2 released by human activity and that other (currently unknown) source.
That’s the research program if someone wanted to scientifically support a claim that the rise is not human activity. I notice the extreme absence of folks making that claim who are even attempting such research. Over in real science, in the 1990s some people (Pieter Tans is one name to look up) started investigating exactly what the sinks were, and discovered that the ocean was not as large a sink as previously thought — land was also fairly important. It isn’t that we can’t learn new things that cause us to revise our opinions.
Robert: my argument is not based on the isotope ratio (although I think it is a good point). Instead it is based on the fact that we produce about twice as much CO2 as ends up in the atmosphere.
My analogy is to consider a bank account. There are a number of people who can deposit or withdraw money from the account (representing the different sources and sinks in the system). At the start of the year the account level is $100 (representing the CO2 level in the atmosphere). Over the year we put in $7. At the end of the year, the level in the account is $103. What would the level be if we did not put our $7 in.
So that firmly established that we are currently increasing the CO2 concentration. To show that the anthropogenic contribution is not significant you would need to come up with a system where the anthropogenic production somehow suppresses a natural source (in a way that “natural” co2 production will not). Right now that seems a bit far-fetched.
This seems to be true of much of the theory behind AGW. What upsets me is people that propose inappropriate tests to determine if AGW is right or wrong, and then complain when it is pointed out why such tests are inappropriate, claiming that somehow this means that AGW can’t be invalidated. It can, but only with appropriate tests of its validity.
That is why I wrote this post. I have been accused several times of being a crank, which Nature defined over 100 years ago as “a man who cannot be turned.” And while ‘turning’ me isn’t easy (for good reason), I wanted to outline exactly what it would take for me (a non expert who could be fooled by convincing sounding but flawed arguments) to change my mind.
Ultimately your analogy can only take you so far as the carbon cycle is far more complex. And I think that leads to you and Robert’s disagreement. Fortunately it seems as though it is a minor one.
As for the Gerlich and Tscheuschner paper, your assessment seems correct. For this paper to be correct much of our understanding of the natural world will have to be incorrect. While that is a possibility, it is a very remote possibility, especially given what is already known about Gerlich and Tscheuschner’s work.
I also hope Gerlich and Tscheuschner have cut out this little bit from their paper “there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet”
That is of course absolute rubbish. One could claim that average surface temperature isn’t a useful measure, or that the methods currently used are flawed for some reason, but to claim it cannot even be measured is absurd.
Dan: I was going to be linking over to this post of yours in my latest, but had lost my reference. I think you have a good point and made it well.
On some inappropriate tests, see my blog on Tuesday :-)
And, yes, the division between John and me is minor. The thing being that the increase being half what humans have released gives a good correlation, but doesn’t nail down causation. If there were a sink pulling out all of what we release, and some other source had materialized to supply what we see, we could get the current result. This is extremely unlikely. It’s made even more unlikely when you look into the isotopes of carbon (which we did starting in the 1950s — it isn’t new technology) involved. So, I could be convinced that the rise was not anthropogenic. But none of those who make that claim do the work to produce evidence. So, like you, I go with the consensus.
Hi Dan and Robert: Good discussion and Robert, I have visited your site a couple of times in the past and I have liked it very much.
However I am still going to stand by my point. Robert, consider this response to your proposed scenario. Unless the sink you propose can differentiate between a CO2 molecule from anthropogenic sources and a CO2 molecule from a “natural” source, then we are no further ahead since the anthropogenic CO2 molecules are displacing sink capacity that could have been taken up with “natural” CO2. Thus without the anthropogenic contribution the sink would have taken up the source you propose and thus there would be no increase.
Dan: Yup, I realize that there are a large numbers of sources and sinks in the carbon cycle and that we don’t know them all. However I argue that based on the numbers that is not necessary. We have good production records for how much CO2 we produce from burning fossil fuels and we have good records that show that about 1/2 of what we produce ends up in the atmosphere. As long as we are producing more than shows up in the atmosphere, we have to be responsible for the increase (in the sense of the word that without the anthropogenic contribution there would be no increase).
This goes back to my bank account analogy. It does not matter how many people put in or take out money, if we put in $7 and the account is only $3 ahead at the end, then what would be the balance if we did not put our $7 in.
Please point out any error in my logic since I use this argument a lot in some very skeptical sites.
I think the main issue you have is that your analogy shows a good correlation, but is weak on causation. Though I’ll grant you that causation is a perfectly reasonable assumption given what we know and what would be required for your analogy not to indicate causation. It reminds me of this:
Thanks. It always nice to be told my arguments are well made by people who I respect. It means that I am likely on the right track… or that we’ve both lost our marbles:) I look forward to your post on Tuesday.
Hi Dan: I am still having trouble seeing the flaw in my argument. I see that there is a correlation, but I don’t think I am using that specific fact in my argument.
What I am saying is that if we produce a CO2 molecule it must end up in either the atmosphere where it will increase levels or end up in a sink where it takes the place of another CO2 molecule that would have been removed but now isn’t. In any event, the effect is the same in that the atmospheric CO2 levels rise.
Or am I missing something”?
I disagree. I think you are using correlation as the main thrust of your argument. You are basically saying we know we emit CO2, and the atmospheric concentrations are increasing by roughly half of the amount we emit, thus we are responsible for the increase. But that is only (an extremely rational) correlation, not causation. Robert’s isotope argument provides good evidence for causation. Think of it as looking at the bank statements in your analogy. They give us an idea as to where the extra money in our account came from, and thus provide evidence for causation. Add that your your analogy and I think it would be much stronger.
But after re-reading all your comments I think I know where my issue really lies. It stems from this:
I can see a few ways that it could be wrong (though they are all extremely unlikely), and Robert even provides an example of how you could be wrong. Which again is very remote. In science nothing is ever concrete, and we must always accept that we may be wrong, no matter how overwhelmingly sportive the evidence may be.
I suspect you are well aware of this and fully agree with it, but your original comment implies differently. Either way I don’t think we really have a disagreement here.
Can you name one falsifiable prediction which would run counter to our intuition? I can’t. That’s why I remain a skeptic.
You need to elaborate some Geoff. There are plenty of counter-intuitive things out there, all of which involved falsifying what intuition said. Intuition said that: the earth is flat, the continents don’t move, the stars and planets move but the earth does not, light is infinitely fast, and so on. Reality says otherwise.
I, like Robert, am not really sure what you mean by a “falsifiable prediction which would run counter to our intuition?“.
But if you are referring to something which would disprove AGW, then you haven’t looked very hard.
Off the top of my head I can think of several discoveries which would disprove climate change, or at the very least cast doubt on it. A few have even be been discussed here in the comments.
But perhaps the most likely discovery which would cast doubt on AGW would be the discovery of a large negative feedback that counter acts the warming effect of our GHG emissions. Of course such a self-regulating climatic system seems unlikely given the paleoclimatic history of the planet. As Wallace Broecker famously said:
So yes AGW can be invalidated, one just needs to use appropriate tests. Deniers on the other hand propose test which they know (or ought to know) are inadequate (many, many examples can be found by looking through my archives) then complain when it is explained to them why such tests aren’t adequate, and (falsely) claim that this means that AGW cannot be invalidated.
Anyone have any thoughts on this frothing rant from the chaps at the NIPCC?
Unless this most recent version is drastically different from previous versions, it is nothing more than denier talking points. All of which have been debunked, and non of which are supported by the science.
It is standard denialism tactics. In short it is a pile of toss.
That link Scruffy goes to a blog ran by two doctors and a lawyer and is not about the science of AGW.
Do you have anything that is? Say something which debunks one of the points made in
Jerry, what point do you think is made in section 6 (about oceans, particularly sea surface temperature) that is both true and meaningful? What evidence would persuade you that they are wrong on that point? Reading it lead to my ‘not even wrong’ post to my blog, which is why you’ll have to point to what you think is true and meaningful.
Dan: It probably won;t go anywhere so please delete if you feel that it is cluttering up your site, but here goes.
Jerry: OK, I took a very quick read through your link and I have some comments on it.
The first section looks at temperature records.
In Figure, they use Keigwin’s Sargasso sea data. I did not read the correction they used for potential salinity changes, could you point it out to me. After all Keigwin is very careful in his paper to say that only 2/3 of the isotope signal is cause by temperature changes with the other 1/3 being caused by changes in salinity.
I note that the use both radiosonds as well as MSU for atmospheric temperatures. They did not show the error bars for the radiosond. In regards to the MSU work, I see they use UAH data, but I don’t see RSS mentioned. Even more important, I did not see any reference to Fu mentioned at all. You have to admit that is a pretty significant oversight – wouldn’t you say?
If you look closely at Figure 7 and Figure 8 in the report, they don’t look much like each other. Until you realize that what the authors did is to report Figure 7 as the total change over 40 years and to report Figure 8 as the change in C/decade.
In Figure 10, they show the runs of a number of GCM’s. The GCM are all showing a positive warming for the 100 to 50 mb range, yet non of the runs of the models that I have seen predict that.
And what about their reference to stomatal density on page 23 where they say “Higher levels of CO2 cause plants to produce fewer leaf stomatal pores per unit area of leaf
surface, and to open those pores less widely [Woodward 1987; Morison 1987].” Any reason why they did not reference Reid since he is 15 years more recent than the work they cite?
Anyway, those are just based on the papers I happen to have on my computers. If you make it worth my while by actually responding, we can take a close look at the whole paper.
What I find funny is that if you look at the whole publication, they admit that we are responsible for increases in CO2, they admit that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. If this is the best that they can do, it makes you wonder what the argument is about!
I am aware that the denialism blog isn’t written by climate scientists. The reason I linked to them is because they have complied a reasonably thorough list of standard denialsim tactics. These tactics apply to all fields of science, including climate science, and highlight how those who are more interested in obfuscation than honest debate conduct themselves. [UPDATE: In a recent column for the Guardian Mark Hoofnagle of the denialism blog has applied his standard denialism tactics to climate change (and creationism as a bonus). It is well worth a read.]
‘not even wrong‘ seems like a very appropriate response to this paper. I might have to ‘steal’ this and use it some time in the future.
Don’t worry your comment is both safe and appreciated.
Now on to the meat of the matter: the NIPPC report itself.
I just have a few things to say.
The main author is Fred Singer. A man who used to lobby for the tobacco industry claiming that cigarettes really aren’t that bad for your health. He also denied that CFCs were responsible for ozone depletion and questioned the link between melanoma and UV radiation.
He also used to claim that the earth was not warming, but has recently changed his mind and now claims that it is warming and and such warming episodes are unstoppable, natural and happen every 1500 years. As Marcus Brigstocke puts it, thats like saying:
Now while none of this means that Fred Singer isn’t being truthful here, it does mean that anything he claims is a hard pill to swallow. Especially if it goes against mainstream science.
But on to the actual report. It starts out by asking a simple question:
Now obviously the answer to such a question is yes, but the fact that NIPCC positions itself as that second opinion is absurd. We have plenty of second opinions of the IPCC. One only needs to look at what the National Academies of Science of 35 countries have to say. Or one can look at the 97 percent of climatologists who agree with the consensus.
Relying on the NIPCC for a second opinion is like asking your mailman whether or not you should get surgery.
As for the specific chapters, the claims are nothing more than regurgitated denier talking points. Real Climate provides a good debunking. As do the links contained in my comment policy.
I would just like to point out a few additional things.
On Sea level rise:
Contrary to what the NIPCC claims, two recent papers indicate that the IPCC underestimated the predicted sea level rise expected by 2100.
They say that a 80 centimetre to 1 metre rise by 2100 is a low estimate that doesn’t include the collapse of major ice sheets.That wording wasn’t as accurate as it should have been, as William Connolley (and here) points out. The studies predict as much as 80cm to 2m sea level rise until 2100, which is still higher than the IPCC estimate.
On CO2 as a benefit:
It is also curious that they seem content with dismissing the effects of ocean acidification based solely on a paper that is more than 10 years old, while ignoring the recent research in that area that indicates that acidification is indeed a very serious problem.
But the real question is why I would accept the conclusions of the NIPCC over those of the IPCC and the worlds scientific institutions and those who devote their lives to understanding the climate system. I can’t think of a single reason.
As I suspected, when faced with someone (or in this case 3 people) who were willing to actually look at the science Jerry left! Typical!
On the other hand, thanks for the opportunity to dig into an article. I haven;t had such fun since Jim and I looked at Jaworowski
I am willing to give Jerry a little more time to make his position clear. But his response, or lack thereof should be telling.
Your Jaworowski post instantly reminded me of George’s Monbiot Christopher Booker prize. Here is the current front runner.
Oh and speaking of cranks, I was digging around the International Journal of Modern Physics B (the journal that published Gerlich and Tscheuschner), I found this:
Now as you can see here, Gerlich and Tscheuschner’s paper is published under the review section. The statement above makes it seem as if review papers are not peer-reviewed, meaning that Gerlich and Tscheuschner likely hasn’t undergone any peer-review. Instead it seems as if it was selected by one or more editors who may or may not be able to ascertain the paper’s validity, much like the non-peer reviewed garbage written by Monckton in APS’s Physics & Society.
If that is the case, it sure would explain a lot.
Chapter 6 is I agree less focused than it could be, though they are just raising issues that they suggest are not discussed in the ipcc report so might be given some leeway – the earlier parts are MUCH clearer. The points with regard to the poor references may well be valid, and seem odd as you describe them yes, but I can’t judge. I’m not a climatologist but have done a fair bit of research in my time. I personally don’t think this disqualifies me from an opinion – in doing research one has to form opinions almost all the time on the work of others without totally understanding/replicating it. But some think I should in this case be quiet and listen to the IPCC, in which case they should stop reading now I guess.
I was curious as to which parts you would go for first. It seems very strange to me that you would even bother to pick holes in the parts about sea acidification, sea levels, salinity, a graph of the GCMs, stomatal density etc. These points are of course not irrelevant, but certainly seem secondary to those made on the main issue here, which is very simple: whether and over what timescale human generated CO2 is going to cause a measurable increase in the temperature.
Whether this increase – once quantified – will be disadvantageous/catastrophic/advantageous to humans and life on earth secondary also. At one point, the report uses these words:
“This mismatch of observed and calculated
fingerprints clearly falsifies the hypothesis of
anthropogenic global warming (AGW).”
And if I were in your shoes, I would go straight to this section and describe precisely how they are wrong. And I would certainly concentrate on the earlier sections 2, 3 and 4.
My personal view is that to answer this main question, it seems that one needs to know the natural variation in temperature due to the combined effect of
1) internal changes due to the climate system not being in equilibrium
2) external forcings
3) errors in our measurement of the global temperature (eg. sea temp in chap 6).
One cannot even begin say a signal has been detected until the magnitude of other signals and the noise in our measurement process are known.
I don’t see anyone can do anything even close to this. The massive errors in the projections of the gcms with observed temperatures suggest that there are unaccounted for deviations in temperature that are about as large as the effect we are trying to measure.
And given that a large change in atmospheric CO2 concentration has ALREADY occurred and its effect is not detectable in observations, I conclude that any future changes, if they are going to change the temperature in a measurable (and damaging) way, will do so only via discontinuities in the system, sudden jumps or “tipping points”. But the idea that these and their consequences can be predicted accurately in such a complex and poorly understood system is absurd.
One or two other random points. As for the debunking on realclimate, I find this comment absolutely ridiculous, and this is exactly the kind of comment that means I can’t take anything Gavin Schmidt says seriously.
“…reviewing this would be a herculean task (which is presumably the point – if you can’t convince people with actual science, bludgeon them).”
Given how many times sceptic commenters everywhere (including this site) are told to “read the IPCC report” which is far, far bigger, this is just a pointless and stupid comment showing he is not approaching this issue in a manner which deserves my time. But I will nevertheless read the debunking in more detail at some point.
And your comment John
“they admit that we are responsible for increases in CO2, they admit that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. If this is the best that they can do, it makes you wonder what the argument is about!”
Well, what is the problem with agreeing that there is some increase in temperature but that it is not significant? I really don’t understand what the problem with this is – who says this issue is black and white and that you either think we’re all going to be barbequed or that CO2 has no effect? Do you deny the possibility of a position between these extremes?
And finally Dan, I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy consensus arguments. What was that quote from one of the founding fathers? Something like “Control a man’s income and you will control his mind.”
Jerry, what ‘issue’ do you think they ‘raised’ in ch 6? What evidence persuaded you that the IPCC did not address the science on SST properly?
And no, I’m not going to grant them any leeway — any more than I’ll grant it to anybody else who claims to be issuing a scientific report. If they’re talking science, they have to put some substance on the table. As ch 6 is so short, it provides the best opportunity for serious discussion. It isn’t like someone forced them to write that chapter. They consider it as meaningful as any other chapter (else why include it at all).
So, again, what substance do you think they put forward in Ch 6? What evidence would persuade you that they’re wrong about it?
It’s odd, though, to see you reference income. The fossil fuel industry is one of the world’s major employers. Singer (and, likely, other of the authors), has been receiving funding from that industry for years. By your own standard, you should be pretty skeptical of what he and company have to say.
The difference is that the IPCC’s conclusions are explicitly endorsed by many highly respected scientific institutions, and implicitly endorsed by virtually all others, while the NIPCC is little more that denier talking points that have already been debunked.
Debunking the same points over and over again is incredibly time consuming, which is why I changed my comment policy to help prevent this. The feeling expressed by Gavin is one that I have personally felt on several occasions, and is likely very common for people who see vast numbers of previously debunked talking point repeated as as fact, over and over again.
The mere fact that they continue to repeat the same fully debunked claims should be enough of a red flag to anyone that the NIPCC intellectually bankrupt.
I am however pleased that you are at least willing to look at the RC wiki for more detailed debunkings.
And just like that, you dismiss the overwhelming majority of scientific opinion. One wonders why you don’t apply the same logic to Singer, who as Robert points out is dependent on fossil fuel interests for his income (and notoriety). The same goes for the Heartland Institute.
But lets ignore that, and the other transgressions made by Singer and Heartland that significantly reduce their credibility. Do you actually believe that speaking out against the consensus would be a threat to a scientists income? The oil industry is quite wealthy, and given that they are willing to fund absolute cranks, I am positive that they would be willing to fund the serious scientific research of a scientist who’s work cast doubt on AGW.
And then there is Richard Lindzen, a scientists who has vastly increased his income, and fame solely because his contrarian views on climate change. That kind of defeats your argument right there.
But just in case you haven’t been yet convinced Have you any idea how difficult it is for a tenured professor to be let go? There are plenty of safeguards in place at academic institutions to virtually eliminate this type of bias. Not to mention the fact that US governmental scientists were working under the Bush administration for 8 years and a Republican controlled congress for even longer, both of which don’t exactly see eye to eye with the scientific consensus, and in fact muzzled people like NASA GISS’s Hansen. Are seriously asking me to believe that under these conditions US government scientists would have lost their income if they had questioned the consensus?
Do you have any evidence to back up your claim that dissenting scientists would have their income threatened if they published research that was critical of the consensus?
And yet given all of this you seem content to ignore the truly overwhelming majority of the experts, while accepting what Singer has to say on the issue.
Why the double standard?
And you have yet to provide a convincing answer as to why I would accept the conclusions of the NIPCC over those of the IPCC and the world’s scientific institutions and those who devote their lives to understanding the climate system. As I said before, I can’t think of a single reason.
In chapter 6, for example they discuss the change in the mechanism by which sea surface temperature was measured. My understanding is that this is not anywhere in the IPCC report – if I’m wrong, then I’m wrong and please let me know. But I like I said, I kind of agree – the reasons why this chapter seems less focused than the others are not clear to me. But if we’re discounting entire documents on such issues, the IPCC reports are already burning in the trash pile considering their temperature predictions/projections for the last decade.
Ok, I wish I had just said “I don’t buy consensus arguments”, which I don’t. I regard it as circumstantial rather than direct evidence. You’re 100% right that is applies to both sides for individuals – I could try to explain what I mean, but I frankly find attacking the credibility of the players somewhat pointless (although, let’s face it, fun) compared to attacked what they actually say. So if I can retract that last comment, I do.
So might we pretend we don’t know who wrote this report and then can someone tell me why I should not believe what is in sections 2, 3 and 4?
Or can someone tell me why me own analysis is wrong? ie.
“My personal view is that to answer this main question, it seems that one needs to know the natural variation in temperature due to the combined effect of
1) internal changes due to the climate system not being in equilibrium
2) external forcings
3) errors in our measurement of the global temperature (eg. sea temp in chap 6).
One cannot even begin say a signal has been detected until the magnitude of other signals and the noise in our measurement process are known.
I don’t see anyone can do anything even close to this. The massive errors in the projections of the gcms with observed temperatures suggest that there are unaccounted for deviations in temperature that are about as large as the effect we are trying to measure.
And given that a large change in atmospheric CO2 concentration has ALREADY occurred and its effect is not detectable in observations, I conclude that any future changes, if they are going to change the temperature in a measurable (and damaging) way, will do so only via discontinuities in the system, sudden jumps or “tipping points”. But the idea that these and their consequences can be predicted accurately in such a complex and poorly understood system is absurd.”
Since how you arrived at your understanding is one of the questions at hand, looks like a good point.
First: you say they ‘discuss’ the mechanisms of SST measurement. It’s an odd sort of discussion that includes absolutely no citations, nor anything quantitative:
You find this persuasive. They assert that something can be readily computed, and then never show the computation. Nor provide any citation to where it did get computed. Nor do they tell you the magnitude of the effect. But, absent all of this, you believe that they are correct, and that the magnitude is large enough to invalidate what is considered the case by the rest of science. Even though they don’t tell you the magnitude of the effect they believe at any point.
Second side is, you have conclusions about what the IPCC report does or does not say, and condemn them for what you think — but you’ve obviously not read the report. See ch. 3 at http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/wg1-report.html for the discussion. In particular, section 126.96.36.199 and appendix 3.b.3. (the latter is in the supplementary material link at the web site).
In spite of it being only a matter of seconds for me to search on ‘sea surface temperature’ in ch 3 and 5 (I started with 5, so it took a little longer), to find those discussions and the fact that they were supported by a couple of dozen citations to the professional literature, NIPCC concluded
They lied. And you believed the lie. You even believe quantitative conclusions for NIPCC where they don’t make a quantitative statement.
Trashing reports because they lie in such a trivial way that a non-expert can find the lie in a few seconds (ok, it might take a non-expert a few minutes, but not many) — yes, I’m fine with that. Now before you complain again about what IPCC does or does not say — READ THE REPORT YOURSELF! Urban legend reporting is not your friend.
Rob – I’m sorry, but I don’t think your response to me is fair. Like I said twice already, I don’t think that chapter is very clear, and would be keen to ask someone why this is so. I’d be prepared to personally defend the sections 2,3 and 4 which contain the main points, but not this one really without more information.
But I wouldn’t take this too far. For starters, to suggest that the statement you quote is a “lie” that a non-expert can easily track down in a few seconds in simply not true. I mean, are you saying that the NIPCC report is saying that SST is not discussed at all in the IPCC report? – that is absurd. Everyone can see that SST is discussed there.
Or maybe you are saying that it is clear that the specific SST issues they raise were discussed in the IPCC reports and that they know perfectly well that these issues were in fact discussed but want to just lie outright to the reader.
If you aer saying wither of these, then that would not then be about science or even honesty – the primary characteristic required for them to write something so self-defeating would be stupidity. And they are not this. The response from you in normal circumstances might be a request for clarification – ascertain exactly what is they are trying to say. But in climate science, I suggest that normal procedure went out the window some time ago.
And you say “You find this persuasive. They assert that something can be readily computed, and then never show the computation. Nor provide any citation to where it did get computed. Nor do they tell you the magnitude of the effect.”
I tell you what, I’ll go into detail to answer that if you’ll defend every word of the FAQ 3.1 in IPCC chapter 3, which says numerous things like
“Confi rmation of global warming comes from warming of the oceans,rising sea levels, glaciers melting, sea ic e retreating in the Arctic and diminished snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere.”
(without any calculations, references or anything) all of which I find every bit as vague – and some so simplified as to be simply ridiculous – as you find some of those in chapter 6 in NIPCC.
Robert’s response to you was exceedingly fair. You made some specific claims about what was said in the NIPCC chapter 6, and why you accept them. Robert called out out on them.
Exactly what did the IPCC say about temperature trends on a decadal time scale? Because the models they use don’t have that kind of resolution. And you better not be using 1998 as your baseline! Not to mention that there is a immense difference between an model turning out to be flawed (and I am not saying the IPCC models are), and lying as blatantly as the NIPCC does.
As Robert said, you should read the IPCC report for yourself. It has been twisted and distorted beyond all recognition at many places, including the NIPCC. It really is the least one should do before discounting the mainstream scientific opinion on the subject.
I am sorry, but that is simply not true. A quick look at the instrumental record confirms that.
As for your analysis it is mostly on track, but your conclusion that ‘I don’t see anyone can do anything even close to this‘ is way of base. the IPCC wg1 addresses this in Chapter 9 called Understanding and Attributing Climate Change.
I already provided you with links that do a thorough job of debunking the claims made in those chapters. You said you would read them, but it appears you haven’t yet done so. Thus Your claims rings hollow.
Jerry: It’s fair to talk about chapter 6 as long as you keep using it for one of your points — your later comment
If you’re going to keep citing it, it’s still relevant.
Plus, your original invitation (see above) was for any point made in the document. Ch 6 is no less a part of the document than any other chapter.
Now, as to the lie they tell … I don’t believe in playing mind reader. Why they lied, I don’t know or care. But they did. That, I do care about. I gave you the quote of their lie, a paragraph that is at least partly what their ‘these problems’ is referring to, and the relevant sections of the IPCC report which, in fact, and contrary to NIPCC’s claim, shows that such problems were indeed considered.
You demonstrate yourself how it is that such lies can pass through their 23 authors:
You’re willing to discount the evidence I give you because the evidence conflicts with your presumption about the authors. Since you won’t think less of them for their lie, why would it be stupid of them to lie? You’re their audience, not me.
What ‘normal circumstances’ do you have in mind? Offhand, if someone tells me lies, I’m hard pressed to think of a circumstance in which I keep talking to them. Car mechanic tells me that I need to buy 6 spark plugs for my 4 cylinder car, I go to a different mechanic, not ask questions. Someone tells me that some group says X, I go see what that group actually does say — doesn’t matter if it’s a running club, a political party, or what. If the group does not say X, the person telling me so lied and I’m probably done talking to them. Life’s too short, and there are too many honest people, to spend a lot of time with and on lies.
That’s lies. Mistakes, or at least things I think are mistakes, are a different matter. NIPCC also says, and it’s important to their argument, that buoys measure temperatures at 10 cm. It’s actually 1 meter (c.f. the IPCC section I’ve already referred you to). As such, the differences between buoy and ship are much reduced from what they describe.
Or, as I devoted some time to over at my blog, the front page of the co2sceptics (now ‘co2realists’) web site. As I titled it, their analysis was misleading, but could have been an honest mistake. I emailed them before the blog post. They failed to respond (except, perhaps, by renaming the site). So honest mistake is a lot less likely. Too bad.
Back to Dan’s original point — what evidence would change your mind? Well, you’re demonstrating that no evidence will change your mind about the source you chose. For me, well, I gave a positive example early on. The negative being, sources that lie will not change my mind.
Given where this discussion is headed I think you need to answer the questions I asked at the beginning of this post:
OK, I hereby stop citing it. I only did it the first time because it had just been mentioned, and then copied and pasted it again the second time without thinking it. I’m pretty sure you agree that there is noise in temperature measuring process.
There are other sources of error in the temperature record could cite, but unfortunately they are from rather well-known people who I’m guessing you don’t have much time for. I don’t really want to disuss people, i want to discuss the points I raised earler, or sections 2,3 or 4.
I don’t really want to discuss chapter 6. It clearly is quite complex and not something I know much about. And it is not the reason I have strong doubts about AGW. I can’t really be much clearer than that – I’m not even really disagreeing with you. Like I said earlier and am now saying for the fourth time in this thread, I don’t think that it is very clear and so don’t understand why I have to defend it.
Yes, I said the whole report first, but that was an opening gambit while I was wondering if anyone would respond and what they would say – I’M NOT SAYING THAT NOW.
If you’re saying that you discount the rest of it because they “lied” in chapter 6, then if you think that then that does seem reasonable, ok.
But pretend that I wrote sections 2,3 and 4 and that I have no history of lying or being funded by the oil industry.
Dan – I don’t want to answer your questions 1 and 2. I have answers sure, but it’s not something that will involve us exchanging information, it can only descent into slanging.
What would convince me? Something inexplicable without it. I didn’t choose those criteria – getting a handle of the magnitude of the noise sources in a signal and separating the signal from it and the other cycles contained within is hardly novel.
This was tried in a large number of GCMs. The NIPCC document suggests they’re not worth much and I agree. None of them (or certainly very few of them) are close over the last 10 years. If you answer is that this can only be tested on multi-decadal timescales, then that is tantamount to stopping the debate as we’ll just have to postpone this for 30 years won’t we?
Let’s take another specific point that I have a problem with then.
“And given that a large change in atmospheric CO2 concentration has ALREADY occurred and its effect is not detectable in observations”
“I am sorry, but that is simply not true. A quick look at the instrumental record confirms that.”
A quick look at the temperature record confirms nothing to me. We all know that the temperature has risen in the last 100 years. That doesn’t prove anything.
Jerry the point of questions 1 and 2 are to determine of your approach to climate science is consistent with your approach to science in general. Or if you have misconceptions about the state of scientific opinion in the subject, or other general misconceptions of how a consensus develops. That you refuse to answer the questions is telling.
I never claimed it did prove anything, I am fully aware that correlation doesn’t equal causation. But you clearly said that no effect is detectable in observations. The warming trend is clearly a detectable effect (as is stratospheric cooling). As for causation, I have already pointed you to the appropriate chapter in the most recent IPCC that deals with attribution of the observed warming trend. Read it if you want evidence (not proof, that is a mathematical concept), that we are responsible for the recent warming trend.
Jerry you plainly said you accept certain aspects of the NIPCC chapter 6, and where called on it. At least admit you were mistaken, rather than try to weasel your way out of the corner you backed yourself into.
As for the other chapters I have given you plenty of links that debunk them. But you just ignore them.
But what exactly do you want to discuss about the earlier chapters?
Why they are still attempting to discredit the hockey stick (published over 10 years ago), when real science has moved to newer and better proxy reconstructions, and the new reconstructions fall withing the error bounds of the original hockey stick.
Or Maybe you want to discuss the fact that in the paleoclimate record CO2 doesn’t lead it lags? Despite the fact that this is fully acknowledged in the scientific literature, and this is only evidence of the existence of positive feedbacks and in no way undermines AGW.
Or as you have already alluded to, that the models don’t match observations but only if you use inadequate tests. And don’t you dare hindcast the model!
Or maybe you wish to talk about the urban heat island effect and other massive errors in the instrumental record, that somehow scientist devoted to looking at the issue haven’t realize existed and thus corrected.
Or maybe you wish to talk about how its all a natural cycle despite us not finding any natural forcing that can explain the warming trend, or that it is all caused by the sun, despite all trends being opposite in order to for the sun to be responsible for the current change in climate.
Take your pick.
Oh and as for your criteria of “getting a handle of the magnitude of the noise sources in a signal and separating the signal from it and the other cycles contained within” If you bothered to read the IPCC you would see that this criteria has been met.
Jerry: The issue at hand about ch 6 is quite simple. NIPCC bore false witness, a point readily estalished in at most a few minutes with jr. high reading skills. Nothing there about the people involved. The names could be stripped off of the NIPCC chapter, and of the IPCC report, and still, one would conclude that (what turned out to be) the NIPCC lied.
As to the technical issues involved in ch 6, I have very bad news for you. It is probably the simplest section, technically, of the entire report. That was one of the reasons, in addition to its brevity, that I picked it. I’m going to start talking about SST and its measurement over at my blog.
Remember it was you, not me, who raised where people’s incomes came from. And that, aside from pointing out that by your criterion, you should be much more skeptical of your source, I didn’t mention it again.
For your hypothetical question, there are many directions I might go. None are the kind of thing you want, so I’ll leave it there.
I’ll pose and answer a different hypothetical question: “Suppose that Jerry wanted to learn about climate, what readily available sources could he turn to?”
Richard Alley’s The Two Mile Time Machine
David Archer Understanding the Forecast
— neither of which needs anything beyond algebra.
Wallace and Hobbs Atmospheric Science: An Introductory Survey
Pickard and Emery Descriptive Physical Oceanography
— which move the math required up to only multivariate calculus.
Washington and Parkinson Introduction to three-dimensional climate modeling
— for which you’ll want to have gotten through, and understood, at least a first course in partial differential equations. Also be a good idea to have a good grasp of thermodynamics/statistical mechanics, a passing knowledge of quantum mechanics (for the radiative transfer) and a decent knowledge of fluid mechanics (for quite a lot, including turbulence).
Or, where you have questions about science, I have a regular post for comments at my blog called question place. Note, however, that ‘what about NIPCC’ is not a science question. ‘what about’ seldom makes for a question at all.
I want to pick up on something else you said earlier:
Since you wont answer the questions I asked you I can only guess at what is going on in your mind, and why you think you know better than those who spend their lives studding the issue.
And while technically what you say is true, it doesn’t then follow that it is rational to disagree with a consensus. Direct evidence is available for those who wish to examine the issue in more depth. For the rest of us, it is perfectly rational to accept the position of mainstream science.
Instead you seem content to accept statements (see my previous comment) that have been thoroughly debunked over and over again, from a source that has been shown to be dishonest. And that is most certainly not rational.
What would make *me* change my mind (at least, about whether warming was really going on or not?)
a) I’d look at the equivalent of Figure 1.9, p 119 of IPCC AR4 WG II, Chapter 1, and if the bottom red boxes weren’t 90% plus, but were 50%, I’d think warming might have stopped.
b) I’d see if the UofToronto folks stopped worrying about kudzu’s Northward motion towards Canada, and their maps starting showing kudzu retreating. Nobody *wants* kudzu around.
c) I’d see if the pine & spruce beetles lately chewing up British Columbia started dieing off more regularly due to coldspells, like they used to. Nobody *wants* pine beetles.
Plants, animals, birds and insects don’t read thermometers, haven’t heard about UHI, gridding, statistics, or physics … but as per IPCC and other references, they’re moving poleward or uphill, with the most mobile in the lead.
Anyway, a lot of us spend a lot of time on IPCC WG I … but WG II actually has some of the most compelling evidence of warming, i.e., especially the biological evidence.
Where did you go? We were just starting to have fun
@ John Mashey
I’d say that is a pretty convincing (but not unassailable) case for warming. The question now becomes what is the cause of such warming. Personally I find the IPCC does a good job of this (though I’ll admit I don’t understand all the details), and given that pretty much every single scientific institution says basically the same thing, I feel pretty confident in accepting the conclusions of the IPCC.
Yes; the point is that some people spend a lot of time emphasizing noise rather than signal, and generating obfuscation via statistical dancing, enough to confuse many others.
I just claim that on the first part of the consensus (that warming is real), it might be useful to
– first talk about the biological effects, or some of my other favorites, like the Swiss glacier records, difficult to cherry-pick.
– then talk about temperature calculations as one way to summarize the massively-observed effects.
Looks like Peter Sinclair is using similar logic to you in his latest Climate Denial Crock of the Week.
Given all of that, plus the references you provided, it takes a special kind of person to continue to deny that warming is indeed taking place.
Dan, Robert, John etc.
I would like to see how you get on debating the science of AGW when you can’t just say “you can’t comment, you haven’t read the reports”. This applies to me, and so there is little I can say in response to this argument.
This argument will not work with Jeff Glassman.
Maybe you’d like to show you have other arrows in your quiver?
Interesting that you’re not satisfied with quoting liars, even after the fact is made obvious, but have to lie yourself.
In any case, it’s far from clear that Glassman has read the reports himself. But he does do what you like — tell you what the IPCC said or does, without ever bothering to tell you where they said what he claims; and, of course, to attribute bad things to the IPCC while doing so. Since you’re not honest enough to see read what they say, he’s quite safe, as are NIPCC and anybody else who tells you what you want to hear.
There’s no point in arguing with me – I conceded. I’m simply not going to read more than the odd section of such a huge report and make no apologies for this – and if you say that disqualifies me from comment, then there’s not much I can say.
But I’m afraid I still think your “argument” is simply posturing. Constantly referring someone back to, say, the axioms of Set Theory to settle an argument is one thing – they’re rock solid.
Doing so with the IPCC report, which uses the hockey stick as it’s icon then discards it next time around, is riddled with phrases like “is likely to”, has admissions that there is more work to be done etc. (at the very least! I’m being kind to it) just doesn’t make any sense.
And you can easily prove your suggestions that Dr Glassman hasn’t really read the reports and has said they contain things that they don’t by pointing this out in the comments section of RSJ.
Hmm, thats the second time in the past few days that someone links to that article by Glassman, here is what I said the first time around:
As for your comments on the IPCC. what they show (even if you do not realize it), is that the IPCC is conducting itself in a responsible manner. The TAR, used the Mann 98 hockey stick, as it was the only proxy climate reconstruction available*. When the AR4 was written, there were many newer proxies available and thus hose were used. But this is really a minor point because the newer reconstructions all lie within the Mann 98 hockey stick error bounds.
And as for the IPCC saying things like ‘is likely to’ (which they define in the report) is exactly what you want a scientific publications to do. Science is never certain, and it would be wholly inappropriate for the IPCC to ignore that. Of course just because we aren’t 100% certain about something doesn’t mean we can’t act. Especially when the IPCC says ‘It is very likely (90%) that human activities are causing global warming’.
And even more curious is the fact that you openly admit to not knowing the science, yet you seem to have no problem opining that the IPCC and the rest of the scientific community are wrong, while a small band of contrarians(which have been shown to be anything but honest brokers) are worth listening to. That is curious indeed.
*note that despite claims to the contrary the hockey stick was not central in the IPCC’s claims that human GHG emissions are causing warming. They arrived at that conclusion years before TAR and Mann 98
I just realized that you left a comment on Glassman’s site. I am sure you will find a more receptive response there than you did here, but I notice you were quite dishonest (as is Glassman in his response to you).
Really is that what we were doing? Given the number of comment you posted here, your claim is hard to justify. If I wanted to shut you up, I would have simply banned you from commenting. I have done no such thing.
All that was done was pointing out why the NIPCC wasn’t an honest broker in the debate, and pointed you to sources that are accepted by the scientific community. If you were truly interested in discussing the science you would have read them, and responded to it if you felt it was necessary. You did no such thing.
Your claim is an obvious lie.
You then said:
That is also a lie. My original point, was that since every single scientific society (as well as the IPCC) accepts that our GHG emissions are causing global warming, it is rational for me as a non-expert to accept it as well. The ‘debate’ we had with you was pointing out why the NIPCC is clearly dishonest, and shouldn’t be relied as an accurate source. I then provided many sources which contradict (or flat out debunk) the claims made in the NIPCC. That you reduce all of this to “the IPCC said it so it must be true” is telling.
My opinion is, and remains, that you are hiding behind the IPCC report. That might be misplaced but you can only say it is a “lie” if you know that I know that you are not doing this. You know no such thing and so using such language says more about you than me.
The flashing-red phrase in your response was:
“Of course just because we aren’t 100% certain about something doesn’t mean we can’t act.”
Firstly, the fundamentaln question is, as I said earlier, very simple: whether and over what timescale human generated CO2 is going to cause a measurable increase in the temperature. The actions to take in response to establishing this one way or the other,a nd many of your other points, are strictly off the point.
Secondly, why is that sentance there at all? You seem to be saying even if you’re wrong we should do something. So, you’re not certain that you are right? How does this fit in with posts with titles like
“Global warming deniers getting stupider”
“How to assassinate the truth. The Gravityloss blog has an excellent post on how deniers can, and do, effectively assassinate the truth.”
“Deniers aren’t skeptical, they are gullible”
As Dr Glassman has said, there would be no climate crisis without the IPCC. So demonstrating that their report and models are fundamentally flawed would end the climate crisis. He has attempted this in language as clear as can be. If you know where and why he is wrong, why not do the climate community a service and point this out on his site. I’m sure he’ll be glad to find any flaws in his reasoning.
Jerry, read what I said in my post. The whole thing would stand even if the IPCC did not exist. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of those seriously looking at the issue have arrived at the same conclusions, hence the consensus. That has precious little to do with the IPCC; it is a position that has been accepted by an ever growing number of scientists for over 4 decades. In fact I only mentioned the IPCC once in my entire post (as part of a long list of scientific societies that accept the consensus), that you continue to insist that my entire point is the “IPCC said it so it must be true” means either that either you simply aren’t able to grasp my argument or are unwilling. Neither speak very highly of you so I suggest you take the time to read and understand my argument honestly.
Stop repeating yourself. I already answered this question, but for my readers sake I will answer it again. The fact is that there already exists a measurable increase in temperature, and several attribution studies have attributed this increase mainly to our GHG emissions. As for what to expect in the future, that depends on what happens to our emission levels. Here is a simple graphic from the Hadley Centre describing what they expect to happen.
Another place to start would be looking at the different estimates of climate sensitivity. The IPCC gives a rage of 1.5k-4.5k with a best guess of 3k, but cannot exclude higher values. Newer estimates which take into account more variables are as high as 6k.
All of that should give you a decent answer to your question. If you want more detail you would need to delve into the scientific literature.
Please re-read what I write, because I cannot accept that anyone reading my comment would honestly come up with that conclusion. That sentence was in the middle of of a paragraph explaining that science in NEVER certain. That shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who has even a modest understanding of the scientific method.
And yes that means I am not 100% sure I am correct. In fact I would say that you should be extra skeptical of anyone claiming complete certitude.
The point I was trying to make, is that given that nothing is ever 100% certain, it is irrational to demand that we be 100% certain on climate change before action, as you seemed to imply when yo criticized the IPCC for using the term ‘likely’.
If he said that then he is lying, and that would be the second lie about the IPCC you have accepted uncritically in this ‘debate’ alone. The IPCC is nothing more than a massive literature review. In other words it doesn’t do new science. Don’t believe me go read it.
The ‘climate crisis’ exists because of our GHG emissions, it would exist regardless of whether or not the IPCC existed, at best one could say that the IPCC made us (the general public) aware of the issue. And given that every relevant scientific society has published statements warning us that our GHG emissions are going to cause warming, if the IPCC didn’t make us aware, some other scientific report would have (perhaps by the NAS, AAAS, or the many other scientific societies that I linked to above. We could have even listened to the Bush administration [UPDATE: here is another report (warming large PDF) issued by the Bush administration. Actually it’s four! See no IPCC required]. Glassman’s point is obviously wrong. And you accepted it without even bothering to subject it to a small amount of critical thinking.
As for why his post on the IPCC models isn’t worth much, read what I wrote above. Even without any knowledge of climate models, anyone can understand the fact he doesn’t explain the magnitudes of the effects of the flaws he identifies. Are they significant, or not? Glassman doesn’t really say. Thus it doesn’t really tell us much.
The only quantitative part of his post has to do with cosmic rays effects on climate (see my comment above for links debunking the cosmic ray theory). It is very curious that he accepts the cosmic ray theory when the link between cosmic rays and cloud cover is yet to be confirmed, and that no correlation between cosmic rays and global temperatures exists over the last 30 years of global warming, yet doesn’t buy the GHG theory of warming despite mountains of evidence supporting it.
BTW, did you ever read the links I provided that debunked the claims made by the NIPCC as you promised?
Surely someone interested in ‘moving closer to the truth’, would at least read the material the other side cites.
One last thing in regards to Glassman. Given what you have written here, I doubt very much that you actually understand most of the points made by Glassman (I’ll admit that many of them are above my head), and their implications.
So I am curious as to why you seem to accept his conclusions over those of the vast majority of scientists who agree with the consensus?
Jerry: Your whines about others mentioning the IPCC would be much more credible if you didn’t cite sources that spend most of their time attacking the IPCC. And, in the case of your choosing the NIPCC, and Glassman, lying about what the IPCC actually does say and do. If your sources lies about IPCC, the proper refutation is the IPCC report in its own words. For me, it’s actually more work to go to the IPCC reports.
My knowledge of the science comes from reading the scientific literature and talking to the people doing it. So, for SST, it’s from personal discussion with Dick Reynolds and Nick Rayner and .. quite a long list really, plus the scientific papers of theirs and many others. An interesting contrast being that NIPCC cites almost none of these people (perhaps absolutely none, their citation list was quite short), while IPCC cites all of them, including some relatively obscure (even for science) papers.
Dan: In some senses, it’s reassuring to see the lies and the liars propagating them. If there were anything substantially wrong with the science, they’d be attacking that. Instead, they’re lying, and in particularly lazy, stupid ways — ways that anyone who takes the least bit of effort can see are lies. They’re banking on nobody ever looking up the truth. And there are distressingly many who, like Jerry, won’t. But the more I see them lying, the more confident I am the science is solid.
It is comforting to know that this is the best they can do, and I agree that this should give us confidence, but on the flip side it is depressing to see that so many are swayed by these bunk arguments.
You might want to read this.
(Some of) Dan’s comments relying on the IPCC – only to Jerry and only from this thread alone.
“the real question is why I would accept the conclusions of the NIPCC over those of the IPCC and the worlds scientific institutions and those who devote their lives to understanding the climate system. I can’t think of a single reason”
“the IPCC’s conclusions are explicitly endorsed by many highly respected scientific institutions, and implicitly endorsed by virtually all others,”
“why I would accept the conclusions of the NIPCC over those of the IPCC and the world’s scientific institutions”
“As Robert said, you should read the IPCC report for yourself.”
“the IPCC wg1 addresses this in Chapter 9 called Understanding and Attributing Climate Change.”
“If you bothered to read the IPCC you would see that this criteria has been met.”
“As for causation, I have already pointed you to the appropriate chapter in the most recent IPCC that deals with attribution of the observed warming trend.”
I did indeed say that your only argument was really “IPCC said it so it must be true”. And I stand by this statement, as I will explain.
You argue that there is no real debate going on and that everyone should agree with the “consensus” in this post, as well as in numerous other places on the site, for example.
You say here for example “…why I so readily accept the consensus. The most basic reason is that I accept mainstream scientific opinions. I trust the scientific method, and the conclusions it arrives at.”
First of all, I already said that I don’t buy consensus arguments, and I’m not alone. But, ignoring that, what is this consensus of which you speak? You say all this without ever defining what the consensus is. On this post you try:
The questions that were put to determine the 97% figure you quote and link to were, shall we say, somewhat less scientific than one might hope. These were
1. When compared with pre-1800 levels, do you think mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?
Less politely, I would say these are almost completely useless. The first talks of a number of global mean temperatures, talks of temperatures during a time in which no’one of those questioned were alive, and asks if these unspecified but numerous values of the global mean temperature have “generally” changed. I don’t know what that means.
The second asks what people “think”. I also “trust the scientific method”. Agree with you 100%. But this is not that – it is not worthless but vastly short of a validation one would require in normal circumstances. For starters, if what people thought was enough to go on, double-blind experiments in medicine would not exist.
(Incidentally, the 97% refers to a very specific band of researchers which is not a random sample of the population – those publishing on “climate change” (one of the 2 criteria for the 97% requires this) are, I’m almost sure, more likely to agree that “climate change” exists and worth actually publishing on, as publishing a paper that suggests climate change does not exist is a reactionary publication only).
Was the 97% quote just a highlight in the hope no’one would read the link, and really if pushed you’ll change your argument say that the peer-reviewed literature is what is important.
If so, then this cannot be falsified. No’one can write anything that falsifies all the peer-reviewed literature on climate change – you have AT LEAST specify which ones and collate their information and check that despite maybe having the same or similar conclusions that they don’t contradict each other, for example. Or had this kind of thing not crossed your mind?
The IPCC reports are such a document. They do exactly this. And you relied upon them at least seven times JUST TO ME ON THIS THREAD ALONE – as my list in the previous post shows. You also this in a quote to someone else:-
“The question now becomes what is the cause of such warming. Personally I find the IPCC does a good job of this (though I’ll admit I don’t understand all the details), and given that pretty much every single scientific institution says basically the same thing, I feel pretty confident in accepting the conclusions of the IPCC.”
From this, I concluded that the IPCC represent the consensus of which you so often speak.
Hence, I stand by my comment “IPCC said it so it must be true” as I was treating the IPCC and the “consensus” interchangeably. If this is not to your liking, then please point out the document that does define the consensus, as one must exist – you can’t just assert that almost everyone agrees to something unless you actually say what it is.
Or, if those two questions suitably define the consensus in your view, please point this out.
What of the other societies you link to, maybe these others which also endorse the consensus have some document of something of use? Do they in fact endorse the “consensus” independently of the IPCC?
Well, no. These 8 links are:
the American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geological Society of London, the Geological Society of America, the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, thousands of peer-reviewed journals, and even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists,
1. This one says “…(IPCC) reported that recent regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases, have already affected many physical and biological systems (McCarthy et al. 2001)” and “..the report by the IPCC stated that the global mean temperature…”.
2. This one states the issue without proper references, but does say “With such projections, there are many sources of scientific uncertainty, but none are known that could make the impact of climate change inconsequential. Given the uncertainty in climate projections, there can be surprises that may cause more dramatic disruptions than anticipated from the most probable model projections.” This is hardly a ringing endorsement of the consensus.
3. Direct quote – “the conclusions in this statement reflect the scientific consensus represented by, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Joint National Academies statement ……”
4. Direct quote – “The most authoritative assessment of climate change in the near future is provided by the Inter-Governmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC)..”
5. Again, this states the problem main, and does say “..the consequences of global climate change include: (1) rising sea level, (2) significant alteration of global and regional climatic patterns with an impact on water availability, (3) fundamental changes in global temperature distribution, (4) melting of polar ice, and (5) major changes in the distribution of plant and animal species. While the precise magnitude and rate of climate change cannot be predicted with absolute certainty, significant change will affect the planet and stress its inhabitants.”
6. Direct quote – “CMOS endorses the process of periodic climate science assessment carried out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and supports the conclusion, in its Third Assessment Report, which states that the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.
7. Direct quote – “The scientific consensus is clearly expressed in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”
So, 4 of the 7 explicitly say that the IPCC document is the most authoritative, (1) uses the IPCC as one of two main sources, and (2) and (6) simply state their view ie. that they think humans have had a contribution to the climate (without any actual references at all).
Aren’t there 8 links there? Oh yes, the last doesn’t even agree with you. Two direct quotes:
“Although the AAPG membership is divided on the degree of influence that anthropogenic CO2 has on recent and potential global temperature increases, the AAPG believes that expansion of scientific climate research into the basic controls on climate is important. This research should be undertaken by appropriate federal agencies involved in climate research and their associated grant and contract programs.”
“Certain climate simulation models predict that the warming trend will continue, as reported through NAS, AGU, AAAS, and AMS. AAPG respects these scientific opinions but wants to add that the current climate warming projections could fall within well-documented natural variations in past climate and observed temperature data. These data do not necessarily support the maximum case scenarios forecast in some models. To be predictive, any model of future climate should also accurately model known climate and greenhouse gas variations recorded in the geologic history of the past 200,000 years.
So, you referred to some statements earlier in this thread as a “lie” when I suggested misunderstanding would be more appropriate. What word would you use describe this, your suggestion that the AAPG agrees with the consensus when it actually explicitly states that it doesn’t? This link is the most egregious of all your statements on this page.
In your last post, in an attempt to pretend that you don’t just rely on the consensus argument, you simply restate the AGW conjecture as from the Hadley centre. But how is this “the consensus” – show me where the societites you mentioned in the post all agree to this? How do you suppose to speak for the consensus by just pulling this out of thin air?
The one thing of substance (ie. evidence, not restating the problem) that you do you mention attribution studies. Oddly, you don’t reference which ones you mean – what could they be? In this post you point someone to attribution studies.
And say this
“The answer is complex and not easily simplified so that a layperson can understand it. But if you insist on the one line answer it would be attribution studies. In fact the first two IPCC reports were completed before comprehensive attributions studies were completed, and thus while anthropogenic causes were seen as more likely explanation for the warming trend (due to several less concrete lines of evidence) they clearly state that the observed warming could be explained by natural variability.
If you truly wanted to know what the attribution studies say, and why there results have such a high degree of confidence, you would have read the IPCC chapter dealing with attribution. That is where your answer lies.”
So I presume the attribution studies you refer to are the ones in the IPCC report as you say above. Of course, you don’t mean that you have your own list of attribution studies different to those in the IPCC report as then one might legitimately ask (as you’ve asked me several times) why you disagree with the IPCC and ask on what basis you think you can choose a better list of attribution studies than them?
So, why did you not mention that these attribution studies of which you speak are in the IPCC report? Is it because this would directly contradict your statement that the case for AGW has “precious little” to do with the IPCC?
[ScruffyDan: for those readers interested in brevity I am going to respond to Jerry’s summary in-line. For those that want the full, long winded response read the comment bellow]]
I could go on. But in summary:
One of the links you use to demonstrate your case for the consensus explicitly states that the consensus might be wrong. Given how often you have used the word “lie” here, I’d like an admission that this link is misleading or an explanation of how it supports your case. [SD: You are correct, the AAPG’s position is noncommittal and that has been corrected in the original post]
Your argument of consensus which uses the IPCC to define it is at least vaguely coherent and falsifiable in that people can then have something in which to poke holes. In this case, you must defend the IPCC if you are to maintain your position – as Dr Glassman has very clearly outlines where the IPCC documents are deficient, you have every opportunity to point this out.
[SD: You are confusing the fact that a consensus exists with specifics of the IPCC. The two are separate issues; you have to treat them as such.
But even more curious is that according to you I have to defend the IPCC. Me, a non expert? Show me obvious errors, (Glassman’s errors are anything but obvious, and as I pointed out above don’t really cast doubt on the IPCC), such as the obvious lies pointed out to you in the NIPCC, and I may change my tune (of the IPCC, not the science in general). If the science in the IPCC report is to be challenged it will come from within the scientific community. If Galssman is so sure his theories will disprove the IPCC then he should submit them to a reputable paper, instead of posting them to blogger.
I am not an expert, and as I clearly state at the beginning of my post, that means that I will accept the mainstream scientific position. That is what has to change for my opinion on the matter to change]
Your recent argument that the consensus has “precious little” to do with the IPCC is confused, circular, inconsistent and frankly ridiculous.
[SD:As I said the information in the IPCC was first published elsewhere (think thousands of studies published in reputable journals), it would exist even if the IPCC did not. Not to mention that the fact that other scientific organization cite the IPCC in their position statements doesn’t remove the independence of those statements. And if that wasn’t enough, some of the most alarming reports (concerning North America at least) were released by the Bush administrations (though they did try to bury them). As I said the case for AGW would be just as strong (though perhaps more difficult for the interested layperson to follow) without the IPCC.]
My suggestion is that the reason it is so hard to state the clear reasons why AGW is true is that none exist. Prove me wrong by pointing out the document which you will stand by and in which holes can be found.
[SD: I have pointed you to several sources, but you have plainly stated that you refuse to read them. And why do I have to stand by one document? Science doesn’t stand still, a very thorough and comprehensive report (TAR for example), will become outdated as the science moves forward. But again I must ask why you want me to stand by a document. As I said above my opinion on this matter is aligned with the mainstream scientific opinion. If you want to change my mind you need to show me that a mismatch exists.]
Finally, remembering where we started, in all the words written to me, no’one has either told me what is wrong with chapters 2,3 and 4, nor have they tackled the part where AGW theory is explicitly falsified [SD: Actually that is not rue. I provided you with a few sources debunking the NIPCC. You said would look at the links I provided, yet clearly you have done no such thing.], nor have they pointed out the oft-mentioned “lies” on Dr Glassman’s site.
[SD: I never mentioned that what Glassman said was lies, I just explained why it really doesn’t tell us anything. I did, however, point out that Glassman’s response to your comment on his site was dishonest (but that different than a lie), and that if he said what you claimed he said (I didn’t bother to check) about the IPCC then he was lying.]
[SD: At the end of the day, the root cause of our disagreement is that you seem incapable of distinguishing real experts, from fake experts, and thus don’t weight both ‘sides’ accordingly.]
[SD: UPDATE: I have to revise my last statement. The root cause of our disagreement seems to be that you insist that the consensus be a document such as the IPCC. That is plainly false.
The consensus doesn’t exist because of a single document, it exists because thousands of scientists studying the issue have arrived at similar conclusions. I provided many links in order to make this as clear as possible.
Consensuses exist in many areas of science. I am not aware of an IPCC style document for evolution, yet that doesn’t mean there isn’t a consensus on this issue.]
What exactly is you point about the fact that I mentioned the IPCC in response to your comments? As Robert points out ‘Your whines about others mentioning the IPCC would be much more credible if you didn’t cite sources that spend most of their time attacking the IPCC. If your sources lies about IPCC, the proper refutation is the IPCC report in its own words.‘
That being said the main thrust of this post doesn’t in any way depend on the IPCC, as I explain above. If you want to continue this line of reasoning you need to at least respond to what I say, rather than repeat yourself over and over again.
This is one of only two points you bring up in your latest comment that has any merit. The rest are just repetition.
I suppose, I should have defined the consensus better, though I thought it was pretty obvious. Apparently not. The consensus does not equal the IPCC or any other single document as you imply (more on this bellow). But i’ll define it as best I can in order to be as clear as possible:
The survey asks a different question, but is very informative as to what the differing segments of the scientific community and the public at large accept. As for your comment that the 97% isn’t a random sample that really isn’t an issue. First if all it may be a random sample of climatologists that are actively publishing (though there are some indications that they chose to specifically include some known contrarians, thus possibly biasing the result making that 97% a low estimate). The reason I highlight this is specifically because it is these people who are most qualified to comment on climate change. The fact that 97% agree is telling. A random sample of the population (or even of scientists in general) would hardly be an indication of expert opinion on the matter.
In attacking the survey I get the feeling that you are now (after how many comments?) deciding to challenge the notion of the consensus. But you aren’t doing a very good job of it. Obviously the survey alone is not indicative of any consensus, and I never claimed it was. Your suggestion that this is the case is nothing more than a straw man. The argument for consensus is supported by A) the fact pretty much every single relevant scientific society agrees either explicitly or implicitly with the consensus (I’ll get you the issue you raised on this in a bit), and none of them flat out disagree. B) The literature reviews done on the subject, which show an almost unanimous agreement with the basic consensus.
Again you state that you don’t buy consensus arguments, but it doesn’t then follow that it is rational to disagree with a consensus. Direct evidence is available for those who wish to examine the issue in more depth, which you have refused to do. For the rest of us, it is perfectly rational to accept the position of mainstream science.
Jerry I addressed this fact in my post stating that ‘any legitimate criticism of the science must withstand basic scientific scrutiny, and in that regard must pass the minimum standard of peer-review. But as “one swallow does not a spring make“, one peer-review paper doesn’t signify a significant debate. Their are literally mountains of papers providing supporting evidence (from many different angles) for anthropogenic global warming; one paper cannot stand against all of that. At best a single paper will at best provide the beginnings of debate‘. But that is the challenge facing anyone who wishes to disprove AGW.
Please don’t bring up issues that I have already addressed, especially if you aren’t adding anything I missed.
If that is true then you need to refine your language. The two are most certainly not the same thing. Surely you can see why that is.
Why must one exist? The consensus doesn’t exist because of a single document, it exists because thousands of scientists studying the issue have arrived at similar conclusions. I provided many links in order to make this as clear as possible.
Consensuses exist in many areas of science. I am not aware of an IPCC style document for evolution, yet that doesn’t mean there isn’t a consensus on this issue.
In regards to the issue you raised with the AAPG positions statement (your second valid point), you are correct. It isn’t a supportive statement rather it is noncommittal. This error arose because the list of position statements was created by me for a different purpose and simply copied it into this post. I should have removed the link to the AAPG position statement. The original post has now been corrected.
As for the rest of the scientific organizations I cite (There are more than eight. You ignored the position statement of the 21 National Academies of Science, howver even my list isn’t complete, currently there are 32 Academies of Science that are signatories), the fact that they mention the IPCC as an authoritative source, doesn’t exclude independence. Do you have any idea how such position statements are arrived at? If the IPCC’s main conclusions weren’t supported by the science these scientific organizations wouldn’t a) cite the IPCC as an authoritative and accurate source, b) agree with the IPCC’s conclusions. You seem to imply that they just accept whatever the IPCC concludes when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Alright Jerry, you need to pay closer attention to what I wrote, I am getting tired of you taking my responses wildly out of context. The Hadley center graphic I posted was specifically another response to your ‘fundamental question’ of the range of changes we can expect from GHG emissions. It has NOTHING to do with proving the consensus exists.
Well the IPCC report is probably the best summary of the scientific literature on the subject, so that is why I mention it (and link to it in my comment policy).
Please read what I wrote in the comments above, it directly addresses the problem with your argument. But for the sake of my readers I will repeat myself again. Everything the IPCC says on the subject comes from elsewhere; there isn’t really any new information in the IPCC. It is just a summary of the existing publications. I use the IPCC chapter on the issue, because it is the best starting place. Those that want more information can look at the literature cited, and keep up to date with the latest science.
The fact that the IPCC is an authoritative and concise review of the scientific literature on the subject, and thus gets cited frequently, does not in any way mean that the argument of those who cite it can be said to solely depend on the IPCC.
The bottom line is that all the attribution data would still exist and point to our GHG emissions even if the IPCC did not exist. Your ‘revelation’ doesn’t in any way contradict what I said.
A few more things. First if you want to continue this discussion then you need to respond to the questions I ask you and the points I raise. As it stands now you are mostly just talking past me, and repeating yourself.
Secondly, you need to refine your points into a cohesive argument, you are wandering all over the place. I have tried to respond to the scatter shot of seemingly unrelated points you raise, but your lack of focus is turning this into a convoluted mess. If you want to continue I am going to require that you put some effort into making coherent refined arguments that are as concise as possible, I will no longer allow your shatter shot approach.
Were you unable to meet my demands?
Found the comments very informative.
Kudos to all who took the time to engage with poor old Jerry.
Glad something productive came from the comment sections:)