Sep 10 2013

Arctic Ice Increasing

The worst lies are those that contain a kernel of truth. This might include all instances of lying with statistics, because they may contain true numbers, simply distorted to tell a deceptive story.

Such lying with numbers is rampant within the global warming debate, mostly on the side of the deniers. Their basic strategy is to cherry pick the duration of time over which they choose to view the data – they are mining large data sets to cherry pick streaks that tell the story they want. This can involve looking at trends over one to a few years, instead of decades, or looking at thousands of years to obscure what is happening over decades.

The hypothesis that man-made activity is warming the globe over the last century, however, occurs over decades. Too long or too short a focus misses or obscures the proper time-frame for this trend.

The latest example of this is the claim, virally spreading around the intertubes, that arctic sea ice has increased by 60% in the last year.  This fact this then used to argue that the Earth is not warming, and in fact we may be entering a cooling phase.

It does appear to be true that arctic sea ice increased by about 60% from August 2012 to August 2013. Like all climate, sea ice fluctuates from year to year. The trend over a single year cannot tell us much – it’s just the background noise. If we want to know what the trend in sea ice is over the last few decades, then we need to look at a few decades of data, at least.

Dana Nuccitelli at The Guardian has a nice graphic showing Arctic sea ice trends from 1980 to this year.  In this graph you can see the background fluctuation year to year, but also the clear downward trend overall. Another trend is also apparent – following any year with a record low Arctic ice measurement, the following year is likely to have increased total ice. This is simply regression to the mean. In any fluctuating system, extreme values are likely to be followed more average values.

Arctic sea ice hit a record low in 2012, so it is no surprise that total ice regressed to the mean in 2013. It is absurd to consider this a sign of a long term trend.

Dana previously created a similar graphic showing how global warming deniers focus on cherry-picked short trends in global temperature data to argue for stasis, when the long term data over decades show a clear toward steady warming.

They further exploit extreme years (like the Arctic ice minimum in 2012) to skew the appearance of the data. With global  temperatures, we had an unusually warm year in 1998 due to short term effects, such as El Nino. If you arbitrarily start your graph at 1998, it might look as if global warming has paused in the last decade, and in fact that is what deniers claim.

However, this is just the latest down fluctuation in the last century of up and down fluctuations in the background of a consistent warming trend. Further, 10 of the 12 hottest years on record have still occurred since 1998. The rate of warming has slowed compared to the average rate, but we are not in a cooling trend or a reversal of the overall global warming trend.

Meanwhile, climate scientists are trying to find explanations for the recent slowing in the warming trend to better understand their climate models. Deniers exploit debate over the details of exactly how and why global warming is occurring in order to cast doubt on the bigger picture that we are warming. This is a typical denialist strategy – creationists, for example, misrepresent debate about the details of evolution as if it calls into question the basic fact of evolution.

We do need to have a healthy scientific debate about the details of global warming, its causes and likely effects, and strategies to deal with it. This debate, however, is hampered by those who insist on abusing the data to sow doubt and confusion.

 

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95 responses so far

95 Responses to “Arctic Ice Increasing”

  1. Bruce Woodwardon 10 Sep 2013 at 8:21 am

    Like when Jay wins Science Or Fiction…

  2. jugaon 10 Sep 2013 at 8:55 am

    “10 of the 12 hottest years on record have still occurred since 1998.”

    This statement, or a variation on it, is frequently made as if it proved something. When I was 35 years old, my average height in my most recent decade was greater than my average height in any decade before that. Did that mean I was still growing at 35? It didn’t mean anything and neither does a corresponding statement about temperatures. Let’s assume for a minute that warming has stopped. Might we expect to see 10 of the 12 hottest years occurring since 1998? Of course, but it proves nothing.

    You complain about “deniers” comparing temperatures now with 1998, “an unusually warm year”. You forget that in 1999, those spreading alarm were quite happy to use the temperature in 1998 as proof that temperatures were heading up a hockey stick.

    You say “lying with numbers is rampant within the global warming debate, mostly on the side of the deniers”. Do you have any data to back up your claim that it’s mostly on the side of the deniers? It seems to me both sides are guilty. The fact that those who believe there is a serious problem have not been altogether truthful and have cherry picked data is the main reason some of us are sceptical.

  3. BillyJoe7on 10 Sep 2013 at 9:22 am

    juga,

    You need to criticise what Steven Novella wrote not what he didn’t write!

    SN:
    “Further, 10 of the 12 hottest years on record have still occurred since 1998. The rate of warming has slowed compared to the average rate, but we are not in a cooling trend or a reversal of the overall global warming trend”

    You:
    “It didn’t mean anything and neither does a corresponding statement about temperatures. Let’s assume for a minute that warming has stopped. Might we expect to see 10 of the 12 hottest years occurring since 1998? Of course, but it proves nothing.”

    I hope you see the disconnect.

    juga: “You forget that in 1999, those spreading alarm were quite happy to use the temperature in 1998 as proof that temperatures were heading up a hockey stick”

    I think we’ll need a reference or link for that claim.
    Can you provide one.

  4. ccbowerson 10 Sep 2013 at 9:23 am

    “The fact that those who believe there is a serious problem have not been altogether truthful and have cherry picked data is the main reason some of us are sceptical.”

    Ideological biases are why there is global warming denialism, not because there is some conspiracy of skewing data. There are activists that do cherry pick data, but if you are focusing on them you are failing to look at what really matters – the science. The reason why the “denier” side is by definition guilty of misrepresenting the data more than the “other side” is that the data does not support their position. Given the data from many different angles and the consensus of the science, your skepticism is misplaced. There is room for debate about future warming (among scientists) and what to do about it, but to deny what has occured to this point is denialism not skepticism.

  5. Bruce Woodwardon 10 Sep 2013 at 9:37 am

    Juga,

    I don’t see where Steve has compared averages over decades. You are comparing two data points (Average height from 15 to 25 and Average height from 25 to 35), which is indeed not enough information to project your average height in the next decade with any confidence given no other data.

    I think you actually want to imply that the warming has somehow reached a peak and will now start either levelling out or dropping off. I think you are falling for the exact fallacy that is described above and while someone might have said a similar statement in the 1990s where temperatures were the highest they had ever been you could have very well called foul and stated that we have actually just reached a plateau… just like you are doing now.

    I would also point out that stating people back in 1999 used flawed logic to claim something that now has scientific consensus is what is commonly known as the Fallacy Fallacy. In 1999 their argument was flawed, the science has come a long way since then and you would be hard pressed to find a scientist (or statistician) who has looked at the numbers who would disagree.

  6. BillyJoe7on 10 Sep 2013 at 9:38 am

    SN: “global warming deniers focus on cherry-picked short trends in global temperature data to argue for stasis”

    It’s worse than that.

    Climate deniers cherry pick short term trends in global SURFACE temperatures!
    But more than 90% of the heat goes into the oceans, and there is evidence of warming in the deep ocean layer. And a mechanism for how it got there.

    The bottom line is that the Greenhouse Effect is real. The concentration of CO2 is increasing and therefore the heat content of our planet has to be increasing.
    For a number of reasons it’s just not happening on the surface at present.

  7. oldmanjenkinson 10 Sep 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Of the higher “maths” I understand statistics is one of them. It would appear that for many of the deniers they either overestimate their understanding of the numbers or they suffer from math illiteracy (I highly recommend Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences by Professor John Allen Paulos). Either way they appear in my estimation unable to recognize their illiteracy.

    Climate scientists don’t care (in the big picture) what day to day temperatures are, they are looking at linear trends. Some of the deniers quite possibly don’t accept the age of the earth to begin with. They postulate their findings based upon humanities understanding of time which is very limited. They need to think of things in geological time. Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of years or more.

    The smaller period of time they look at can be significantly skewed one way or the other as the smaller time increments are very sensitive to moderate fluctuations of temperatures. And so they see the 60% increase in arctic sea ice as a “recovery”, but that is but an increase from 1 year, not since the early 80′s.

  8. jreon 10 Sep 2013 at 4:03 pm

    The last 4 commenters have anticipated many of the points I might have made in response to juga.
    I’ll just add this: the primary reason climate scientists were (and are) concerned about rising temperatures is that physics tells us to expect rising temperatures in an atmosphere with increasing IR opacity. When a model is consistently confirmed by observation, it is not guaranteed to be correct, but that’s the way to bet.

    For that reason, it is entirely reasonable to interpret a data series in the light of what we already know about the world. When you were 12 years old, your height had probably set a new record every year of the last ten. An informed observer would have predicted that the trend of increasing height would continue. The same observer would make a different prediction when you were 22.

  9. tmac57on 10 Sep 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Steve,I am encouraged to see that you are engaging directly in this issue.
    Too many skeptical blogs seem to treat AGW as a ‘third rail’ ,as to not alienate their audience (bigfoot is so much less controversial).
    When I first started commenting on the excellent Skeptical Science blog , I was disheartened to find that some of the regular commenters there regarded the term ‘skeptic’ with scorn, not realizing that there were many thousands of people in the skeptic community that were on their side.
    Let’s hope that we can turn that perception around,and bring real skepticism to the discussion,rather than knee jerk cynicism, contrarianism,and conspiracy mongering,and get on to the important discussion of what to do about the looming (and current) environmental problems that we face.

  10. Emily Churchon 10 Sep 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I recently had a debate with a denier who outright admitted that he didn’t believe global warming because he is ideologically opposed to Big Government. With Arctic melting, deniers like him clearly have reason to be worried, with a recent study published in Nature estimating the costs of Arctic melting in the trillions (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v499/n7459/pdf/499401a.pdf). Governments could easily justify spending millions or even billions on abatement in order save the trillions of dollars that inaction would likely cost. Or, maybe we could get our act together and do it on the cheap with a revenue-neutral carbon tax (http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2013/08/climate-policy-canada). It makes so much sense.

  11. ghulseon 10 Sep 2013 at 11:38 pm

    I don’t like the term “deniers” much and I also think there’s plenty of lying with numbers–oversimplification and cherry-picking–on both sides. Clearly we don’t know the extent of the current warming trend or what portion of it is caused by human emissions. There’s no real certainty at all, especially when it comes to various “solutions” being put forth. Sure, we should do what we can to reduce emissions, but we cannot know how effective that will ultimately be. The biggest liars are those who claim certainty in an arena where we simply don’t have much empirical certainty.

  12. BillyJoe7on 11 Sep 2013 at 12:38 am

    ghulse,

    You are fighting a stawman.
    No one is claiming certainty.
    But you need to go where the evidence leads.
    Otherwise you are in denial and the term is appropriate.

  13. Bruce Woodwardon 11 Sep 2013 at 5:09 am

    “The biggest liars are those who claim certainty in an arena where we simply don’t have much empirical certainty.”

    You are being either very ignorant or very bullheaded here and most likely have not read previous comments… as BJ says, you are creating a massive straw man that science cannot knock down… Science is not about being 100% certain about something. The evidence is pointing us in a direction, even hard “facts” like Evolution are still not 100% certain in the eyes of science. All we can say is that the hypothesis that Humans are not causing Global Warming (to oversimplify it) is getting less and less likely.

    As has been said a few times already here, you can bandy the numbers around and try to play with semantics, try to fallacy fallacy people, but the hard core scientists who know their shizzle will tell you that you are most likely wrong and that not only is global warming happening, it is man made and we do need to do something about it as it will at best cost us billions and billions of dollars or at worst extinct us and most life as we know it on this planet. Sure, there is a chance that the climate will correct itself and in 100 years we can look back and laugh, but the likelihood of that happening is becoming vanishingly small.

    This is not a simple subject and there is no magic bullet, it needs discussion, it needs analysis into what the best way forward is, denying it is happening or that it is not our responsibility is your right, but it is our right to follow the evidence and try to find a solution.

  14. Chiliwillyon 11 Sep 2013 at 7:20 am

    Is it not true that an increase in ice mass is consistent with warming temperatures anyway? An average temperature increase that still remains below 0 degrees Celsius means no melting and increased precipitation. Warmer temperatures equals more snow, more ice.

  15. ghulseon 11 Sep 2013 at 9:15 am

    My wife told me this morning that she was going to start walking the dogs so they would stop being so annoying. I said, yeah, right. She immediately took issue with my comment and I had to explain to her that my skepticism was not over whether she would walk the dogs but that the dogs would become less annoying if they were walked.

    Likewise, I express skepticism over the various global warming solutions being proposed and I get a lecture about how hard core scientists know their shizzle. Many folks discuss global warming with the assumption that we can stop global warming. There also lies a faith that government can rescue us from ourselves. That’s the certainty I’m talking about, not that human emissions have contributed to warming.

    And that’s why I don’t like the word “deniers” because it implies that anyone who is not willing to jump on the bandwagon is a denier akin to holocaust deniers. This is an emotionally-charged issue as it is. Beyond the idiotic FoxNews type reporting that one year of normal ice formation is damning evidence against AGW, I don’t see many people really opposing the idea that we’ve entered a warming trend. The conflict has moved to the political arena over what we can/should do about it. Here there is very much a lack of certainty and where we need to have rational discussion and be aware of the political chicanery taking place.

    The idea that a carbon tax can address global warming is simplistic at best. But if you don’t go along, you are a “denier.” We should hurry up and do something while there’s still time. But humans don’t make very good decisions when we act out of fear and before all the facts are in.

  16. Bruce Woodwardon 11 Sep 2013 at 9:42 am

    ghulse,

    “Clearly we don’t know the extent of the current warming trend or what portion of it is caused by human emissions.”

    The science is pretty much agreed that humans are to blame for the majority of the warming and that the warming will be damaging. This is what we were addressing. We face a very real threat and your solution is to sit back and wait for more data when it is pretty much acknowledged that we are at a point where no action will result in a lot of damage. Rather do something than nothing in the very least case.

    And no one here has cast global warming deniers in the same light as holocaust deniers, you are the one doing that. You have then moved the discussion from one of scientific certainty to one of political motives. Disagreeing with a carbon tax is one thing, but saying you don’t think global warming is caused by humans is another.

  17. sonicon 11 Sep 2013 at 9:49 am

    It seems silly to point to one piece of data about a relatively small area as proof of a worldwide phenomena.

    I’m still trying to figure out the whole ‘denial’ thing.

    I read that the temperatures worldwide haven’t gone up for about 17 years (by actual measurements) and that this is not what one would expect if the current models are accurate since they predict quite a bit of warming– especially with the rise in CO2 levels.

    Meanwhile I read about physical things (like a storm or drought) attributed to ‘recent warming’. But there hasn’t been any recent warming.
    So is it denial to claim something is due to recent warming, or is it denial to say there hasn’t been recent warming?

    Is it denial to point to the Arctic ice without mentioning the Antarctic ice?
    Or is it the other way around– if one points to the Antarctic ice only– they are a denialist, but if they just point to the Arctic ice, that is non-denialist.

    If someone looks at the ice at both poles — denialist, or non- denialist?

    Am I using that correctly– non-denialist?

    Oh, and I’m trying to warn Dr. N.– apparently this article will appear in the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. I don’t know if anyone actually reads that– but… well…
    http://www.jpands.org/vol18no3/lindzen.pdf

  18. BillyJoe7on 11 Sep 2013 at 9:59 am

    ghulse,

    If that is the case, then your first post was very badly worded (as was your comment to your wife) and that’s not exactly our (or her) fault is it?

    In any case, you are still fighting a strawman.
    Nobody is claiming certainty in any area, including solutions. Let alone certainty about governments’ resolve to implement solutions (in fact most governments do not treat AGW seriously, pandering instead to public opinion driven by media withvested interests). But the evidence is that we need to try to find solutions and implement them.

    And you follow up with a strawman about who are regarded as climate deniers.
    Climate deniers are not those who do not immediately jump on the bandwagon. They are called climate sceptics. Climate deniers are those who start with their conclusion and then cherry pick data to support that conclusion, while ignoring all the contrary evidence, and persisting in their conclusion in the face of clear evidence of error, even though this is pointed out to them time and again.

    Finally you speak a climate denier when you say “before all the facts are in”.
    The facts will never all be in, and to wait till all the facts are all in, is just an excuse to never take any action, which is what climate deniers are all about. Science works with uncertainties. The data are uncertain. Conclusions based on these data are uncertain. Action taken on the bases of those conclusions are uncertain. That’s science. But to do nothing because of uncertainty means that you are choosing, by default, the most unlikely scenario which is that we have nothing to worry about.
    That, my friend, is denialism.

  19. The Other John Mcon 11 Sep 2013 at 10:06 am

    sonic, why in the world would that article be published in that particular journal, and not, say, a climate-related journal? Did they have physicians/surgeons review the paper instead of actual climate scientists, or any scientists at all? That strikes me as very odd.

  20. Bruce Woodwardon 11 Sep 2013 at 10:24 am

    Sonic

    “I read that the temperatures worldwide haven’t gone up for about 17 years (by actual measurements)”

    Where did you read this? I can’t find any data to support this. Can you supply a source?

  21. BillyJoe7on 11 Sep 2013 at 10:36 am

    Sonic,

    “I read that the temperatures worldwide haven’t gone up for about 17 years”

    Incorrect.
    Global surface air temperatures have risen only slightly, and not statistically significantly, for the past 15 years.
    You have posted this nonsense before and had it corrected.
    Please learn from your errors.

    “that this is not what one would expect if the current models are accurate since they predict quite a bit of warming– especially with the rise in CO2 levels”

    And we do see global warming.
    Just not surface air warming.
    So the models are correct.
    And the physics is undeniable….
    The physics known as the Greenhouse Effect says that as the concentration of CO2 rises, heat will be trapped and temperatures will rise.
    This is not a model. It is an undeniable fact.

    “Meanwhile I read about physical things (like a storm or drought) attributed to ‘recent warming’”

    Nope.
    This is consistent with global warming.

    “But there hasn’t been any recent warming”

    Incorrect.
    Global warming is continuing.
    Stop cherry picking surface air temperatures which have been rising only slightly over the past 15 years because of ENSO, volcanic eruptions, solar mimimum, and other factors.
    Because of ENSO, the heat is going into the deep ocean layers where, on average, more than 90% of the heat goes anyway.

    “is it denial to say there hasn’t been recent warming?”

    Correct.

    “Is it denial to point to the Arctic ice without mentioning the Antarctic ice?”

    Strawman.
    Nobody doesn’t mention the Antarctic.
    And there are good reasons why the Antarctic ice cap is not decreasing like the arctic sea ice.

    “if one points to the Antarctic ice only– they are a denialist”

    Correct.

    “If someone looks at the ice at both poles — denialist, or non- denialist?
    Am I using that correctly– non-denialist?”

    Like always, sonic, you are just confused by the denialist literature you rely on for your information.

    “Oh, and I’m trying to warn Dr. N.– http://www.jpands.org/vol18no3/lindzen.pdf

    Like I said, you are just confused by climate denialist literature.
    Dr. N. has nothing to worry about.
    Lindzen has been corrected time and again about his errors but, like all denialists, he refuses to learn.
    Oh well…

  22. Bruce Woodwardon 11 Sep 2013 at 10:43 am

    That article… wow.

    He starts by invoking a form of Big Government, goes on to blatantly cherry pick “Climate Science is, of course, a huge topic, but here I would like to focus on one topic”. He then goes on some convoluted explanation of why the recent increase is not significant “if the fuzzy areas overlap then it is not significant”… err… doesn’t work like that bud, he then compares daily weather variations to climate change and as a final gotcha he invokes Gowin’s Law.

    I stopped reading there…

  23. Bruce Woodwardon 11 Sep 2013 at 10:45 am

    Godwin’s Law…

  24. BillyJoe7on 11 Sep 2013 at 10:50 am

    Bruce,

    I read it right to the end!
    Yes, that was really stupid.
    Because I think it’s safe to say that I now know less about climate science than before.

  25. The Other John Mcon 11 Sep 2013 at 11:07 am

    I love the article’s neat little trick of presenting two un-labeled graphs, then saying “oh you can’t tell which one is which? Ha! that proves there is no difference and global warming is made-up!!”

    I’ve seen that trick before, but for the life of me I can’t recall where…

  26. Bruce Woodwardon 11 Sep 2013 at 11:16 am

    Well… I want to know what Steve and his Iron Triangle friends are going to do about such damning evidence?

  27. The Other John Mcon 11 Sep 2013 at 11:24 am

    Ha! That Iron Triangle diagram looks like it was made by a third-grader using Word clipart…just sayin…and his diagrams proves what exactly? And….isn’t the author IN the triangle since he is writing/speaking/profiting from public interest and payment for (anti) global warming research?

    First sentence: “Though valuable as a process, science is always problematic as an institution” says the Eminent Scientist.

  28. ghulseon 11 Sep 2013 at 11:25 am

    Billy Joe, you seem very eager to pin a label on me. So be it, I’m a denier. Or should that be all caps: CLIMATE DENIER. I’m the “them” part of “us-versus-them” right?

    For clarification, I know all about science’s degrees of confidence and I completely agree with the IPCC’s position that climate change is probably caused by human emissions.

    Many folks seem to conflate the science part of global warming with its political aspects. Normally we don’t need to take a hard line position when it comes to scientific theory. In this case, we don’t have time to sit back and wait for the evidence to roll in. We have to act right now. But the conversation is more nuanced than some try to make it out to be. There’s plenty of room for debate about what we can do to address global warming—the political side of the argument.

    My point, which is taking me a long time to clarify, and I’m sorry about that, is that I disagree with the general and shrill tone of the debate. Those who aren’t willing to jump on the political solutions bandwagon are being labeled as “deniers.” I don’t see this as very conducive to open dialogue.

    The biggest problem I see is that folks are getting their science from politicians. The IPCC itself is a political organization designed to promote the consensus view. That’s not a problem as long as we recognize the difference between science and politics.

    It’s still possible to have reasonable discussions about climate change. Probably there’s a lot of overlap to our positions. The move towards greener technologies and efforts to reduce carbon emissions are ultimately good things. But realistically there’s nothing out there that comes close as a substitute for the cheap energy we get from fossil fuels. Nuclear energy is probably our best option, but I don’t see a lot of talk about that.

    The carbon tax is often put forth as the answer to all of our problems. But does the carbon tax actually work to reduce emissions? I remain skeptical. Show me some data that shows it will actually work. I haven’t seen it.

  29. Bruce Woodwardon 11 Sep 2013 at 11:45 am

    ghulse,

    I think I see where you are coming from now.

    And I agree that nuclear power is something that really needs to be looked at more closely and needs to be touted as the safer option that it is. I do also think that electric car technology is coming on very strongly now, and that combined with nuclear could solve a lot of our problems… or at least stop them from getting worse.

    As to whether a carbon tax works or not, I would like to see data either way, as I have no idea. I would also like to know if I am being carbon taxed that the money I am paying is actually going towards funding a solution… and that might not be such readily available information from some governments.

  30. Steven Novellaon 11 Sep 2013 at 11:55 am

    There are skeptics and there are deniers. Whey I refer to “deniers” I am referring to the deniers. Deniers are deniers because they engage is a process of denial – lying about evidence, cherry picking evidence, attacking straw men, confusing debate over details with debate over underlying facts, conspiracy mongering about motivations and cover ups, etc.

    I have stated elsewhere my overall opinion of global warming:

    The scientific consensus is that the globe is warming and that is is due to forcing by manmade activity, mostly CO2 and other emissions. Natural cycles and forcing cannot explain the data we are seeing. This is a strong consensus, with a current estimate of confidence of 95% by the IPCC.

    It is also clear that any action will likely take decades to have an impact, and that it already may be too late to avoid devastating consequences. If the 95% possibility turns out to be true, we will have to take action long before we are certain of the models, etc. Sometimes we have to treat a patient early on, and can’t wait until we are certain about the diagnosis (at autopsy). It’s risk vs benefit.

    I also agree that many proposals to fix manmade global warming may be heavy handed, may not work, and may not be cost effective. My point above, in fact, is that we need to stop wasting time debating facts for which there is already a consensus (not stop the science, just pretending there isn’t already a consensus) and start the healthy debate about what interventions will be the most effective and acceptable.

    I personally think we should focus on the win-wins – developing technology that will improve efficiency and provide cheap, renewable energy that will also reduce carbon emissions. Everyone wins (OK, maybe not the oil industry, which is why they should invest in renewables). I’m sure asthmatics in China would like to reduce coal emissions even if there is no global warming.

    We should be developing advanced nuclear reactor technology and building our solar infrastructure. At the very least. These are things we could do now, and are worth the investment – even if you don’t believe in global warming.

  31. ghulseon 11 Sep 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Thanks, Bruce. I appreciate your comments.

    I, too, would be happy to pay a carbon tax if I knew it was going to do some good. As it stands, I don’t have much confidence that it would.

    Electric cars seem an iffy proposition to me. If it’s a plug-in car like the Volt, you’re merely using a different energy source, one that is most likely still based on fossil fuels.

    Scientific American did a study last year on the carbon footprint of a Chevy Volt. It’s a pretty interesting article. It turns out that the manufacturing of the batteries used in the Volt actually uses up a lot of energy. So the Volt comes off the assembly line with more of a carbon deficit than a standard gasoline-powered car. The article concludes that a fuel-efficient gasoline car might be a better environmental choice for now. But like solar panels, the R&D used to manufacture electric cars may eventually yield more efficient technologies down the road and pay big dividends. I merely point this out because the benefits of an electric car are not as cut and dried as they may first appear.

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/09/21/are-chevy-volts-really-cheaper/

  32. ghulseon 11 Sep 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks for the clarification, Dr. Novella. Excellent points!

  33. Calli Arcaleon 11 Sep 2013 at 2:28 pm

    The Other John Mc:

    sonic, why in the world would that article be published in that particular journal, and not, say, a climate-related journal? Did they have physicians/surgeons review the paper instead of actual climate scientists, or any scientists at all? That strikes me as very odd.

    JPANDS isn’t even respectable among physicians/surgeons — it’s notorious for publishing extremely poor work, and describing it that way is frankly being kind. They seem to accept almost anything for publication.

  34. sonicon 11 Sep 2013 at 3:51 pm

    The other John Mc-
    I agree- that article in that publication— I have no idea.
    I note Calli Arcale might have an explanation– it showed up after I started writing this.

    Bruce Woodward
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1996/to:2013

    So the source is the RSS MSU lower trop. global mean.
    You can play with the HADCRUT data there too– I think you’ll find ‘no warming’ or 15 years… that would be surface temps.
    Have fun! It’s a wonderful site.

    BillyJoe7-
    You say the heat has gone to the bottom of the ocean.
    I have heard that too.
    If I am less than 100% certain of that– does that mean I am in ‘denial’?
    Suppose I’m only 70% certain that the ocean bottom is getting hotter and hotter and hotter, year after year. Am I a denier?
    How about 25% sure?
    Is there a cut-off?

    ghulse-
    I believe I agree with you on this.

    Dr. N.-
    If all the IPCC models are running outside the 95% confidence interval (and I think they all are) then what does the 95% confidence mean?
    Am I a denier for asking?
    I understand– there are those who make up their minds and then twist the data to fit the preconceived notions.
    So who is doing that–
    the guy who says- ‘no warming’ and points to every data set we have (RSS, HADCRUT…)

    or the guy who says
    ‘The missing heat is in the unmeasurable oceans bottom’?

    How can I tell?

  35. BillyJoe7on 11 Sep 2013 at 6:03 pm

    ghulse,

    Well, it seems we do largely agree.
    I guess it’s either the way you write or the way I read what you write.
    But the fact that sonic thinks you agrees with him probably means its the way you write.

    And I didn’t call you a denialist, I said you use denialist language…
    Waiting till all the facts are in is a typical denialist’ ploy to encourage us all to do nothing.

    Sonic,

    Please correct your error regarding global warming v surface air temperature.
    If you are correct about there being no global warming, then the Greenhouse Effect is wrong, and you have a lot of explaining to do because you are disagreeing with established fact.
    Please address the reasons I have given why the increase in surface air temperature has slowed.
    Please explain how there can be no global warming when more heat is entering the system than leaving it.

    And it’s interesting that you haven’t tried to defend Lindzen’s article.
    I hope you are embarrassed.

  36. Bruce Woodwardon 12 Sep 2013 at 4:28 am

    Yeah, electric cars are not as green as they make out and is why I said in conjunction with nuclear energy.

    Steve, once again, puts it more eloquently than I ever could. So yeah… what he said.

  37. BillyJoe7on 12 Sep 2013 at 8:19 am

    sonic,

    Please do not misrepresent what I have said.

    “…or the guy who says
    ‘The missing heat is in the unmeasurable oceans bottom’?”

    Two corrections:
    1) I didn’t say it’s unmeasurable.
    2) I didn’t say oceans bottom

    I said the missing heat is in the deep ocean.

    And if you want evidence for this and how it is measured, please read this paper:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50382/full

    Or if you prefer a layman’s interpretation:
    http://earthsky.org/earth/warming-in-deep-ocean-may-be-unprecedented-scientists-say

    Or maybe a video illustration:
    http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2013/09/new-yale-forum-video-examines-key-point-global-includes-oceans-too/

  38. sonicon 12 Sep 2013 at 12:09 pm

    I’m thinking that what is being called ‘denial’ could also be called ‘advocating for a seemingly hopeless position’.
    I’m thinking Linus Pauling and Hoyle and perhaps even Einstein engaged in that activity to some extent.

    Perhaps the denial that is upsetting is if someone is paid to advocate the position.
    But I bet the guy getting paid believes what he says for the most part.

    It seems to me that anyone who is serious about being an advocate will always present cherry picked data.
    There is only so much time in the day and if I am thinking it is important that a particular message get across, I’d present the best case for my position as much as possible.

    Wow– I imagine that I know something so important all life depends on it– yea, … When I talk to you, you’ll be getting the sweetest cherries of them all. So will everyone else I talk to. It is very important the message be delivered. I can see it in my imagination now.

    Weird. Or, wait a second– I’m thinking maybe you would do the same.

    I think that’s what I was messed up about.
    To me all advocacy involves ‘denial’. The advocate boosts his data and invalidates the other’s data- that’s what advocates do.

    In the case of climate science I know there are a number of people who feel that if we don’t do something about it, the climate will become inhospitable to life as we know it.
    And those people are advocates for action, and they cherry pick data to present to the public and some of those people are scientists.
    In fact, the IPCC wants me to believe the majority of the people they talk to about the climate are actually advocates for action.

    Ummm– this is new for me — I will let this brew.

    I wouldn’t even put this up, but Comments might be helpful…

    BillyJoe7-
    Didn’t mean to misquote you—
    Argo. Right?

  39. BillyJoe7on 12 Sep 2013 at 5:42 pm

    sonic,

    How about weighing up the available information and critically examining the arguments for and against and coming to an actual conclusion.
    Not only do you seem incapable of doing so, you seem unwilling to do so.
    I have confronted you with a series of questions which you seem unwilling to address.
    I can only guess at the motivation.

    As for cherry picking….
    Like those confronting questions, the links I provided were for meant for your education, whilst the link you provided served only for amusement – a case study in how an intelligent person can get things so obviously and spectacularly wrong.

  40. sonicon 13 Sep 2013 at 1:36 pm

    A bit more info–

    Here we see the overestimation of climate change by the models–

    http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~shs/Climate%20change/Climate%20model%20results/over%20estimate.pdf

    Over the last 20 years (1993- 2012) the rate of warming has been .14 degree per decade. The models predicted it would be .3– twice the actual rate.
    Over the past 15 years (1998- 2012) the observed rate of warming is .05 degree per decade– the predicted value .21. That four times as high as the actual.
    (this is based on HADCRUT surface data– the RSS troposphere data shows ‘no warming’ over that period).

    This article about the paper includes some interesting quotes–

    http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/09/12/climate-models-wildly-overestimated-global-warming-study-finds

    “This is neither surprising nor particularly troubling to me as a climate scientist,” Melanie Fitzpatrick, a climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told FoxNews.com. “The work of our community is constantly to refine our understanding of the climate system and improve models based on that,” she added.

    So it isn’t troubling to a climate scientist that the predictions have been off by a double– or even four times. Oh, and it isn’t surprising, either.
    I am not surprised at the climate scientists comment. I know the science is undeveloped and they are yet to make any accurate predictions. I know the real scientists will continue to work until they get better models.

    So, if you are surprised that the models are wildly off and that a climate scientist wouldn’t be at all surprised by this– where have you been getting your information?
    (continued)

  41. sonicon 13 Sep 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Perhaps the information comes from a source like this–

    The ‘consensus’ paper of Cook?
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/consensus-on-changing-climate-just-pr-campaign/story-e6frg6zo-1226718828707

    A pr campaign run by advocates–

    A quote from the article–

    Cook explained the paper’s purpose was to establish the existence of a consensus:
    “It’s essential that the public understands that there’s a scientific consensus on AGW. So (Skeptical Science activists) Jim Powell, Dana (Nuccitelli) and I have been working on something over the last few months that we hope will have a game-changing impact on the public perception of consensus. Basically, we hope to establish that not only is there a consensus, there is a strengthening consensus.”
    These comments strongly suggest the project was not a scientific investigation to determine the extent of agreement on global warming but a public relations exercise. If that is what it was, then it was successful, but its headline-grabbing impact was possible only by drawing a veil over the precise methodology used…

    As Mike Hulme, founder of the Tyndall Centre, Britain’s national climate research institute, put it: “The (Cook et al) article is poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed (and it) obscures the complexities of the climate issue.” The paper is, on close examination, a damp squib.

    So the ‘skeptical science’ guys are called out for a public relations exercise masquerading as a scientific investigation.

    Somehow I am reminded of James Hansen and his ‘climate dice’. There is no evidence to indicate there is more ‘extreme weather’ now than in any time past. But getting people to search the global for anomalous weather and calling that ‘climate change’
    Cherries jubilee, anyone?

  42. BillyJoe7on 13 Sep 2013 at 6:13 pm

    sonic,

    You’re doing it again!
    You’re confusing global warming with global surface air temperature warming.
    Please stop.

    And please address my questions…

    Do you accept the Greenhouse Effect?
    Do you accept the implications of the Greenhouse Effect?
    Do you accept that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing?
    Do you accept that this means the system is warming?
    Do you accept that there is more heat entering the system than leaving it?
    Do you accept that this means the system is warming?
    Do you accept that there are reasons why this extra warming is not going into the surface air?
    Do you accept that if this extra heat is not going into the surface air that it must be going elsewhere?
    Do you accept that there is evidence that this extra heat is in the deep oceans?
    Do you accept that there is a mechanism by which this can occur?

    This basic science needs to be assimilated before you go any further, otherwise you’re just wasting everyone’s time including your own.

  43. BillyJoe7on 14 Sep 2013 at 1:15 am

    Oh I forgot…

    Do you accept that >90% of the extra heat goes into the oceans?
    Do you accept that <5% of the extra heat goes into the surface air?
    Do you accept that this balance is affected by climate variables such as ENSO, volcanic activity, and the solar cycle?

  44. tmac57on 14 Sep 2013 at 10:39 am

    Also,some of the extra energy being added to earth’s system,is going in to the melting of ice sheets and glaciers instead of heating the atmosphere.

    Here is a good discussion of the ongoing science to account for the energy that we know is being trapped by the greenhouse effect:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Kevin-Trenberth-travesty-cant-account-for-the-lack-of-warming.htm

  45. BillyJoe7on 15 Sep 2013 at 1:54 am

    tmac,

    That article is more about a climate scientist defending himself against the “climate gate” accusations/misrepresentations/misinterpretations.

    Here are the percentages:

    Atmosphere: 2.3%
    Land: 2.1%
    Ice: 2.1%
    Oceans: 94.5%

    So all the hullabaloo is about the 2.3% going into the atmosphere which we know can be swamped by the cooling effects of solar minimums, volcanic eruptions, and ENSO, all of which have been cooling the surface air over the past fifteen years.

    The point is that The Geenhouse Effect is real. It is also an established fact that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing. Therefore, there has to be warming. Over the past fifteen years, it has not been in the atmosphere and we know why (the negative influences mentioned above). Therefore it has to be elsewhere. Some is in ice which is being heated by the warming oceans and we have, as evidence, the falling summer minimums in the extent and thickness of the Arctic ice sheet. The rest must be in the oceans and there is now evidence from Argo that this is, in fact, happening (in the deep ocean layer). And there is also a mechanism through which this can occur. In fact ENSO is a manifestation of the heat swapping that occurs between the atmosphere and the oceans.

  46. tmac57on 15 Sep 2013 at 10:31 am

    BJ7- Yes,I know what the article is about,and I am fully on your side in this discussion.
    If you look at the advanced tab portion of that article it pretty much says what you just stated.
    Trenberth was opportunistically misquoted by people who did not want to acknowledge that we know that the heat energy is out of balance and rising,but that more work needed to be done to get a full accounting of where it is going to better understand the dynamics of AGW.
    The Argo system is going a long way to help reconcile those uncertainties.

  47. sonicon 16 Sep 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I find it odd that Dana N. (who co-authored the paper that shows the ‘climate consensus’) says that ‘humans cause warming’ is what they found. It turns out I’m a ‘climate change denier’ if I agree with him about that. (I have problems with the paper and how it was done and so forth… but the findings that were published indicate there is a consensus that ‘humans cause warming’ which I know there is a consensus for– and I’m fairly certain it is true, as well.

    How odd– I’m a ‘climate change denier’ for agreeing with the guy who did the study as to what the actual consensus is. Amazing!

    BillyJoe7-
    To answer your questions-
    yes, not sure (what implications?), yes, not necessarily (there are things other than CO2 that make for the climate), not sure, if more heat enters than leaves- energy has to go someplace, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?.

    Last three questions-
    ?,?,?

    Given your premise– the system is warming– then clearly the energy must go somewhere. But I’m not sure of the premise because the actual measurements are not so clear about that. (claimed effect size is much smaller than error of measurement).

    Questions for you-
    1) How many years of model predictions diverging from measurements would it take for you to consider the possibility that the models aren’t accurate?

    2) Why does Freeman Dyson think the models are no good? (If it’s ‘physics’ after all…)
    http://blog.nj.com/njv_paul_mulshine/2013/04/climatologists_are_no_einstein.html

    3) How many predictions have there been that the Arctic would be ice free by now?
    3a) What do you think of those predictions and the people who made them?

    4) What exactly worries you about the earth getting warmer?

    5) Given–
    “The Germans are spending about $110 billion on subsidies for these solar panels,” said Lomborg. “The net effect of all those investments will be to postpone global warming by 37 hours by the end of the century.”

    Do you think the subsidies should continue?

    6) If the Arctic ice sheet gets smaller and larger in a cycle (and it seems it does) is it problematic to take a part of that cycle (just the up or down part) and draw a straight line on the graph?

    tmac57-
    Yes, I agree with you- the ARGO system will go a long way to help reconcile uncertainties.

  48. BillyJoe7on 17 Sep 2013 at 7:26 am

    sonic,

    There is no point in replicating a previous post.
    I’ve already replied to your comments about the Nuccitelli paper.
    In typical fashion you have ignored my reply to your comments and simply repeated your comments.
    For the life of me I can’t understand what sort of satisfaction you get out of this strategy.

    Answers to my questions…
    You have agreed with two of them, you are unsure about another two, and you have no clue about the remaining nine.
    Seems to me you have some learning to do.

    That there is warming is not the premise, it is the conclusion.
    Here are the premises:
    1) The Greenhouse Effect is real.
    2) The concentration of CO2 is increasing.
    Here is the conclusion:
    3) The system is warming.

    “(The) claimed effect size is much smaller than error of measurement”

    What you seem not understand is that this does not allow you to say that the effect size is zero.
    You must accept the effect size.
    You must accept the error of measurement.
    AND you must come to a conclusion based on both.
    If you do not do so, you are making the entirely unsubstantiated claim that the effect size is actually zero.
    No. Can. Do.

    Answers to your questions…
    We have not even discussed models. We are been discussing basic physics and evidence.
    Who cares what Freeman Dyson thinks.
    I challenge you to quote any climate scientist who has claimed the artic would be ice free by now.
    And, in any case, who cares what any individual climate scientist might have been (mis)quoted as saying some time in the past.
    Wait a minute…are you asking me what worries me about the system warming? And here I thought you were in denial of warming. Are you now accepting that warming is happening but think that it’s nothing to worry about? Is that the straw your clasping now?
    And we’ve never discussed solutions, let alone solar panel subsidies.

    Finally artic sea ice…
    The facts are that, over the past 40 years, the artic sea ice extent has decreased by 50%, and the artic sea ice thickness has deceased by 50%. Of course, superimposed on this accelerating downward trend line there is the six monthly upswing of the winter maximum and the six monthly downswing of the summer minimum.
    Congratulations if you’ve cherry picked a couple of those to fool yourself that artic sea ice is recovering.

  49. BillyJoe7on 17 Sep 2013 at 6:03 pm

    On Freeman Dyson.

    “I think any good scientist ought to be a skeptic”

    Of course.
    Except climate deniers have usurped the word.
    It has become an oxymoron in climate science circles.

    “I just think they (climate scientists) don’t understand the climate”

    Who cares what he “thinks” of experts outside his own area of expertise.
    Dyson has no standing in climate science.

    “global temperatures were flat between 2000 and 2010 — even though we humans poured record amounts of CO-2 into the atmosphere during that decade”

    False.
    First of all, 10 years is too short a time interval unless you also account for climate variables. Which he doesn’t. Climate scientists have evidence that the heat in the system is increasing as expected from the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. But of course, Dyson is talking about global surfcace air temperatures not global temperatures. But even global surface air temperatures weren’t flat, they just haven’t risen as fast as previously, and climate scientists know the reason for that – the aforementioned climate variables.
    In other words, Dyson is just as ignorant about climate science as you are.

    “”It’s certainly true that carbon dioxide is good for vegetation,” Dyson said. “About 15 percent of agricultural yields are due to CO-2 we put in the atmosphere. From that point of view, it’s a real plus to burn coal and oil”

    The ignorance burns.

    ” most journalists are content to repeat that mantra about “consensus” among climate scientists”

    What planet does he come from?
    For the most part, journalists are falling over themselves denying the undeniable and opinionating that there nothing to worry about.

    “Computers are great for analyzing what happened in the past, he said, but not so good at figuring out what will happen in the future”

    If you start at some point in the past and use computer models to show what should have happened, it turns out that the models are extremely accurate. So what does that say about the models’ ability to go on predicting accurately into the future? Moreover, the limited evidence we do have, using appropriate time intervals (which means 30 years, not 10 years), or using shorter time intervals and accounting for the influence of climate variables which, over the long term, equate to zero, is that the models are very accurate indeed.
    You just need to know the science of climate change which you and Dyson clearly do not.

  50. sonicon 19 Sep 2013 at 12:02 am

    BillyJoe7-
    I don’t know that more heat is entering the system than leaving it.
    Since I don’t know that, the rest of the answers I don’t know either as they all rest on that premise.
    Just to clear that up.

    Your argument about the system warming is false as the two premises do not necessarily lead to the conclusion.
    The greenhouse gas effect could be real without CO2 leading to increase in temperature.
    For example- if the sun produced no light at all, I don’t think the earth would warm regardless of the CO2 concentrations.
    Right?

    I believe the expert for arguing for the reality of something based on small effect size is Dean Radin. Right? ;-)

    Got to love the politicians–

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/10313261/EU-policy-on-climate-change-is-right-even-if-science-was-wrong-says-commissioner.html

    Do you know the phrase ‘cover your ass’? :-)

    I asked about Dyson because I have been assured repeatedly by you and others that the models are ‘physics’.
    But when I look for what physicists say I get more like this-

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/05/the-truth-about-greenhouse-gases

    That’s seems about right to me…

    Oh- regarding the Arctic ice free-
    http://www.350.org/sites/all/files/science-factsheet-updated2011.pdf

    I wonder who funds that website. Do you know?

    And you are thinking the models are accurate? Wow…

  51. The Other John Mcon 19 Sep 2013 at 7:52 am

    Sonic, a bit of polite advice: please please please read some primary sources regarding climate science. Sticking with secondary and tertiary sources, where someone is interpreting someone else’s interpretation of the primary source (like FoxNews, the Telegraph, blogs, etc.) is like playing the telephone game. Just skip all that shit and go to the source yourself.

    You seem like a smart person who could read and understand the direct sources, or at least wise enough to ask for help in understanding from qualified persons who know what they are talking about (i.e., people that actually study climate science, not just write about it).

    You are getting lost in irrelevant details like who is funding what, what political orientation this person or that person is, whether someone is a popular and well-known talking head, etc. These can be important to consider, but science, above all else, is about listening to what the empirical data and observations of reality are telling us. Please take a direct look, with your own eyes, at those data, think about it, and then honestly ask yourself what story it is telling us.

  52. BillyJoe7on 19 Sep 2013 at 8:18 am

    The models are based on physics and observations.
    Climate science is a soft science.
    Meaning that climate scientists have to work with lots of uncertainty.
    That is hard.
    But that doesn’t mean you give up?
    Working in hard science, Dyson has it easy by comparison.
    He should shut up and appreciate what they are trying to do.
    He should also try to learn from the experts in an area where he has no expertise.

    The sun is not producing no light, so what is your point?
    There are roughly eleven year solar cycles, but they are cycles, and in the long run the effect is zero.
    Subtract the present cooling effect of the solar minimum from the observed surface air temperatures reveals the warming effect of rising CO2 levels.

    Forget about Dean Radin, he is irrelevant here, and please address my argument.
    Of climate scientist say an effect size is x with error bars of 2x, it is a fallacy to say the effect size is zero.
    You know this right?

    Please don’t misrepresent politicians as being in support of the predictions of climate change experts.
    The first act of our newly elected goverment here in Australia was to abolish the climate commission and to repeal the carbon tax. Our PM is on record as calling climate change bv||$#!+

  53. BillyJoe7on 19 Sep 2013 at 8:44 am

    Your references.

    “Got to love the politicians–
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/10313261/EU-policy-on-climate-change-is-right-even-if-science-was-wrong-says-commissioner.html

    Please tell me you don’t seriously want me to comment on this.

    “http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/05/the-truth-about-greenhouse-gases
    That’s seems about right to me”

    Wow, just wow.
    Firstly, here we have yet another physicist talking outside his area of expertise.
    More Importantly, that article is full of long discredited misinformation, misrepresentations, and misunderstandings.
    If that seems right to you then it seems to me you have no right to be.
    Okay, bad joke (though not as bad as that article!)

    “Oh- regarding the Arctic ice free-
    http://www.350.org/sites/all/files/science-factsheet-updated2011.pdf

    I specifically asked for a link to a climate scientist saying that the arctic will be free of ice by 2013.
    I assume you looked everywhere desperately trying to find such a link and couldn’t find one, so you link to some unidentified blogger’s blogpost misinforming us that climate scientists say the arctic will be ice free by 2013.
    The closest I could find was a climate scientist who said that IF the present trend continues, then the arctic COULD be ice free by 2016 plus or minus 3 years.
    If that is the bloggers reference, then he has simply misquoted that climate scientist, because his prediction will not be wrong until the arctic is not ice free by 2019.
    But so what if the is wrong?
    Most climate scientists say there is a lot of uncertainty but that the arctic could be ice free by as early as 2040.

  54. sonicon 19 Sep 2013 at 4:26 pm

    The Other John Mc-
    That’s excellent advice.
    I have read quite a bit of the science from the science papers– but there is no doubt I’ve missed much and there is much I don’t know.

    Here’s a quick version of the story I get–

    1) the earth is warmer now than it was in 1850– the end of the ‘little ice age’.
    2) the CO2 content of the atmosphere is rising– in part due to humans use of fossil fuels and actions like deforestation and such
    3) The earth will probably continue to warm (we are coming off a local minimum–the little ice age) and the paleo data suggests the earth has been warmer than it is now for much of its existence.
    4) Continued use of fossil fuels and such will probably increase the warming to some extent.

    Am I getting a similar reading as you do?

  55. sonicon 19 Sep 2013 at 4:27 pm

    BillyJoe7-

    Thank-you for the answers you gave– now how about these?
    1) How many years of model predictions diverging from measurements would it take for you to consider the possibility that the models aren’t accurate?
    3) How many predictions have there been that the Arctic would be ice free by now?
    3a) What do you think of those predictions and the people who made them?
    4) What exactly worries you about the earth getting warmer?

    I ask the first question so that I can understand how certain you are.
    I ask the third question to see if false reporting upsets you (and note there is no ‘scientist’ in the question)
    I ask the fourth question because I would like to know how serious this is for you.

    You claim Happer doesn’t know what he is talking about and his piece is filled with mistakes. Perhaps if you could be a bit more specific in your claims– I found an error, but nothing gross.
    That would be helpful.

    My point about the sun is that you are claiming something is logically true when it isn’t.

    Regarding uncertainty-
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n10/full/ngeo1580.html

    “For the decade considered [2000-2010], the average imbalance is 0.6 = 340.2 − 239.7 − 99.9 Wm2 when these TOA fluxes are constrained to the best estimate ocean heat content (OHC) observations since 2005 (refs 13,14). This small imbalance is over two orders of magnitude smaller than the individual components that define it and smaller than the error of each individual flux. The combined uncertainty on the net TOA flux determined from CERES is ±4 Wm2(95% confidence) due largely to instrument calibration errors12,15. Thus the sum of current satellite-derived fluxes cannot determine the net TOA radiation imbalance with the accuracy needed to track such small imbalances associated with forced climate change11.”

    Thus I am uncertain.

  56. The Other John Mcon 20 Sep 2013 at 8:59 am

    #sonic,

    1) the earth is warmer now than it was in 1850– the end of the ‘little ice age’.

    Not just since 1850, here’s two millenia of data from 10 different temp reconstructions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png

    2) the CO2 content of the atmosphere is rising– in part due to humans use of fossil fuels and actions like deforestation and such

    Not just “in part”, but more accurate word to use here is “primarily”

    3) The earth will probably continue to warm (we are coming off a local minimum–the little ice age) and the paleo data suggests the earth has been warmer than it is now for much of its existence.

    Not just “probably” but “very likely” will continue to warm…cite me some paleo data. And even if true, does that imply global warming isn’t occuring, isn’t human caused, or isn’t likely to cause serious problems for humanity or other life on earth?

    4) Continued use of fossil fuels and such will probably increase the warming to some extent.

    Not just to “some” extent.

    See the floppy, loose, waffly language you are using? It’s not in accord with what actual climate science is telling us. I know you are trying to be appropriately skeptical, and want to use soft language when you are unsure, but that is not what climate science, or climate scientists, are saying. If you would like to disagree with them, try doing so with some actual climate data…show them why they are wrong, I’m sure they would be happy to listen.

  57. BillyJoe7on 20 Sep 2013 at 9:46 am

    sonic,

    “Regarding uncertainty….[link to the extract of a single paper]…Thus I am uncertain”

    So let’s get this straight…
    As a result of reading the extract of a single paper you are uncertain!
    Well, congratulations.

    “My point about the sun is that you are claiming something is logically true when it isn’t”

    Oh I see, I should have said…given that our universe exists, and given that within this universe there is a galaxy called the Milky Way galaxy, and given that within this galaxy there is a solar system in which there is a planet called earth revolving around a sun, and given that….and given that….and given that…
    Well, excuse me.

    “You claim Happer doesn’t know what he is talking about and his piece is filled with mistakes. Perhaps if you could be a bit more specific in your claims”

    Let me get this straight…
    You spend a second or two linking to fairly long article and you expect me to spend some considerable amount of my time writing a rebuttal which would be at least as long as the article itself?
    And what, have all my efforts rewarded with a one line dismissal if previous experience is anything to go by?
    Nice try.
    Well, I tell you what…you go through that article line by line and provide a link to a paper that supports each claim the author is making and I will provide links that demonstrate why those claims are false.

    “1) How many years of model predictions diverging from measurements would it take for you to consider the possibility that the models aren’t accurate?”
    Please provide a link to your claim.

    “3) How many predictions have there been that the Arctic would be ice free by now?”
    Why would I know or care.
    I’m only interested in what climate scientists say.
    And amused by what climate deniers misunderstand or misinterpret or lie about.

    “3a) What do you think of those predictions and the people who made them?”
    I simply pay no attention to them, unless some idiot uses them as an argument against climate scientists.

    “4) What exactly worries you about the earth getting warmer?”
    I never worry. It’s a useless exercise.

    “I ask the first question so that I can understand how certain you are.”
    The important question is how certain climate scientists are.

    “I ask the third question to see if false reporting upsets you”
    It takes lot to upset me.
    False reporting is simply a fact of life that I’ve long become accustomed to.

    “and note there is no ‘scientist’ in the question”
    Yes I know.
    Funny isn’t it, we’re talking about climate science and you’re concerned about what some reporter or radio shock jock is blathering on about.

    “I ask the fourth question because I would like to know how serious this is for you”
    I’m always interested in the truth.
    And I’m amused by those who cannot tell the difference between truth and lies, truth and misunderstanding, truth and self promotion….
    Well, a bit sad for them as well.

  58. sonicon 20 Sep 2013 at 4:08 pm

    The Other John Mac-
    The graph you sent me to doesn’t include the ‘error bars’ for the graph.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/ipcc2007/fig614.html

    With the error bars in place, it is clear that the MWP has not been ruled out by use of tree ring proxies.
    There are 100′s of studies using various proxies that indicate the MWP was real and world-wide.
    Do you know about those?

    How much CO2 do humans produce per year? How much have the concentrations raised? Do the two equate? I don’t know.
    It seems that CO2 concentrations have varied a great deal over the history of earth– I’m quite sure not all of those changes were due to human activity, so a better quantification than I have seen would be helpful.

    Here is the paleo data–
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Five_Myr_Climate_Change.svg

    (This graph doesn’t have error bars either, but I think you can understand my statement about this being a ‘cooler’ period. based on this graph. Look down the page for the ’65 million years graph’ for further evidence of long term cooling.)

    I would note that life has done very well in times when the earth was apparently warmer than it is now.

    I don’t know what an increase in CO2 will do to the atmosphere. It seems it should lead to increased temps, but I don’t know how much. Does anybody?

  59. sonicon 20 Sep 2013 at 4:08 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    I gave you my reason for uncertainty– a peer reviewed article co-authored by numerous climate scientists.
    Do you think the work is mistaken?
    Do you think other climate scientists disagree with the assessment?

    You say you listen to ‘climate scientists’, but when I give you a bunch you ignore them. How certain are you of the calculations they refer to? Are there other climate scientist who are more certain? Which ones?

    You made what appeared to be a logical argument that wasn’t. Get over it. :-)

    Regarding Happer– I think I see the problem. He makes statements that I would consider ‘questionable’ and you probably see them as ‘certainly wrong’ or something like that. OK. I have way more doubt about this stuff than you do- let’s leave it at that for now as the issue is better addressed by the first part of this reply.

    I asked-
    “How many years of model predictions diverging from measurements would it take for you to consider the possibility that the models aren’t accurate?”
    There is no claim there.
    You can answer the question now.

    Of all the things you have read about that might happen if the globe warms, which one or ones interest you enough to care enough to think that something should be done about it?

  60. BillyJoe7on 21 Sep 2013 at 3:37 am

    The MWP.

    Even using the upper limit of the error bars in sonic’s referenced graph, the MWP doesn’t reach the height of today’s actual observed atmospheric temperature. The graph in his link is obscured by details printed on the graph.
    Here are a series of clearer graphs:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/36/13252.full.pdf?with-ds=yes

    The relevant graphs are on pages 11 to 22 of 27
    If you cherry pick one of these graphs and obscure the details at the top, you can convince yourself that the MWP was warmer than the present. But you have to cheat to do so. All the other graphs show that present observed temperatures are higher than the MWP. Even more so if you look at combined land and sea temperatures

    Here is what actual climate scientists say:
    During the MWP, in some areas, temperatures may have been higher than today’s temperatures, but other areas were much cooler, even approaching temperatures during the Little Ice Age. But the global average MWP temperature was lower than global average temperature today and probably no higher than during the mid 20th century.

    Most climate deniers cherry pick their graphs to show that the MWP was warmer than today, and that is bad enough, but their intention in doing so is to try to pursuade those ignorant of climate science that, if natural cycles could have produced the MWP, then they could also be responsible for today’s high temperatures. But the natural causes of the high temperatures during the MWP are known and they are not operating today. And the cause of today’s high temperatures are also know and they are not natural, they are anthropogenic.

    In other words, climate deniers fail on two fronts in relation to MWP.
    Unfortunately, they have won on one important front…
    …they have fooled a lot of even relatively intelligent people like sonic. ):

  61. BillyJoe7on 21 Sep 2013 at 3:51 am

    “How much CO2 do humans produce per year? How much have the concentrations raised? Do the two equate? I don’t know”

    Humans produce 26 gigatons of CO2 per year.
    The concentration of CO2 has increassed from 285ppm in 1940 to 400ppm this year.
    The two don’t equate because vegetation and the oceans absorb about 40% of human produced CO2
    Don’t mention it |:

  62. BillyJoe7on 21 Sep 2013 at 4:05 am

    “Look down the page for the ’65 million years graph’ for further evidence of long term cooling”

    …until about 1940, when there has been evidence of gradual warming.
    And the cause is increased CO2 emissions by humans.
    There seems to be no other explanation.

    “I would note that life has done very well in times when the earth was apparently warmer than it is now”

    Apparently humans did very well during the Stone Age?

    “I don’t know what an increase in CO2 will do to the atmosphere. It seems it should lead to increased temps, but I don’t know how much. Does anybody?”

    The best estimate is that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to between 2 to 4.5 degree centigrade rise in global average temperature in the long run.

  63. BillyJoe7on 21 Sep 2013 at 4:29 am

    “I gave you my reason for uncertainty– a peer reviewed article co-authored by numerous climate scientists.
    Do you think the work is mistaken?
    Do you think other climate scientists disagree with the assessment?”

    All you have me is a link to an abstract.

    “You made what appeared to be a logical argument that wasn’t”

    I think we can take it as given that the universe exists and that the sun is shining.
    In other words, you made a refutation that could be used against every logical argument ever made.
    If you don’t think so, please provide an example of a logical argument that is immune to your refutation.

    “Regarding Happer– I think I see the problem. He makes statements that I would consider ‘questionable’ and you probably see them as ‘certainly wrong’ or something like that. OK. I have way more doubt about this stuff than you do.”

    There are degrees of certainty and uncertainty and Happer is almost certainly wrong.
    And your level of uncertainty about this stuff is unjustified, based on the amount of evidence available.

    “I asked-“How many years of model predictions diverging from measurements would it take for you to consider the possibility that the models aren’t accurate?” There is no claim there.”

    There are two claims:
    That the models predictions are diverging from measurements.
    That the models are not accurate.
    Your problem is that you are cherry picking time intervals.
    Because of natural variability, climate scientist consider that the minimum time interval necessary to see a meaningful trend is 30 years.

    “Of all the things you have read about that might happen if the globe warms, which one or ones interest you enough to care enough to think that something should be done about it?”

    If my globe warms it will burn my fingers, so the obvious thing is to turn it off and let it cool (:
    Really, sonic, you’re still failing basic climate science and knowledge.
    Let’s take it step by step shall we.

  64. sonicon 23 Sep 2013 at 5:44 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    I asked questions of “the other” and you answer. That’s OK, but it would be nice if you would answer the questions I asked you first… Anyway–

    Human production of CO2–
    The IEA suggests humans put out 30.5 in 2010 and 31.6 in 2011.
    The Tyndall Centre suggest 33.5 for 2010 and the CDIAC says 33.6 for 2010.
    You say 26 per year. Which year? Where did that number come from?

    I said “… life has done very well in times when the earth was apparently warmer than it is now.”
    You ask– “apparently humans did very well during the Stone Age?”
    Ah, the good old days. I could tell you stories– but what would be the point. You’d just call them anecdotes anyway… :-)
    Did you see my point about how we are on a cool spot and likely going to get hotter based on the graph I linked to?

    Here is a logical argument-
    If A is true, then B is true.
    A is true.
    Conclusion– B is true.
    I don’t think the conclusion hinges on the state of the sun at all.

    “How many years of model predictions diverging from measurements would it take for you to consider the possibility that the models aren’t accurate?”
    There is no claim there. It is a question about the falsifiability of the models.
    Let me ask the question this way–
    Is it possible to falsify the current climate models? If so, would a divergence between predicted values and actual values be a tool of falsification?
    If so, how far off for how long would it take?
    You say 30 years is enough for a trend. Turn that an into an answer to my question– what would falsify the models?

    Re- MWP.
    Thanks for the link to the newer paper.

    I asked if ‘the other’ was aware of the 100′s of papers that indicate the MWP was real and worldwide.
    You can find those papers here–
    http://www.co2science.org/data/mwp/mwpp.php

    Here is a news story about a recent paper that seems to bring the MWP back-
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/07/10/global_warming_undermined_by_study_of_climate_change/
    (A link to the paper is in the article)

    I don’t know. I’m not sure the situation is settled. about the MWP. Are you?

  65. Mlemaon 24 Sep 2013 at 3:34 am

    sonic, you may believe that the research on the ikaite record shows that AGW is not happening, but that’s not what the researchers who did the study believe:

    http://asnews.syr.edu/newsevents_2012/releases/ikaite_crystals_climate_STATEMENT.html

    “Other statements, such as the study “throws doubt on orthodoxies around global warming, ‘completely misrepresent our conclusions. Our study does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend.’”

  66. Bruce Woodwardon 24 Sep 2013 at 7:03 am

    This was all over the news yesterday:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24204323

    Interesting to see the 11,300 year graph, not one I have seen before. The article is pretty good, sums up where some of the previous errors may have come from and why certain elements of warming might have slowed, but the ultimate conclusion is still the same.

  67. tomdmeyeron 24 Sep 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Does anyone know why Nuccitelli’s chart starts at 1980? I’m Devil’s Advocating but, mightn’t that be a peak year of sea ice?

  68. sonicon 24 Sep 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Mlema,
    I said that human activity causes warming–
    The study has to do with if there was an MWP and if the phenomena was worldwide- not if AGW is real.
    It’s been known for sometime that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that implies the production of that gas will lead to warming. Should we stop all use of any fossil fuel because of that?
    What if they had made that decision in 1890?

    See, it really does depend on the costs and benefits…

    My thinking is that those who only talk costs and downplay any benefits and advocate for political action should be seen as advocates based on science– not ‘objective’ scientists. (James Hansen, for example).
    And those who only talk about benefits and downplay the risks and advocate for no political action should be seen as advocates based on science- not ‘objective’ scientists or ‘deniers’.

    I like advocates. They do a very good job of arguing the merits of a position. I just don’t like it when they claim to be ‘objective’ when they are clearly not.

    I might read National Review or Mother Jones. But I know I’m reading an advocacy piece when I do.
    Ya know what I mean?

    Bruce-
    Yes, Pachauri denies the evidence that there is a slowdown in temperature increase.
    Apparently we are parsing heavily here– after all, the report he is working on seems to place the slowdown in temperature increases as a ‘central piece’ of the report.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24173504

  69. BillyJoe7on 25 Sep 2013 at 8:50 am

    sonic,

    I pulled the 26 out of my head. Seems I misremembered, so kill me. But i’ll go with 30 to 33 if that’s the figure. The point is that the calculations have been done, with, of course, a margin of error, as you knew all along despite you asking the question.

    Actually, we are in a hot spot on most graphs.
    The global temperatures during the MWP were cooler than the global temperatures since about 1950, according to climate scientists and the graphs I linked to. If you do cherry pick find a graph that seems to say otherwise, it’s probably because they are using data applying to only one region on Earth and extrapolating from that single region to the entire globe. For example, I remember one graph where the information about the MWP was obtained purely from ice cores in Greenland!

    Even the paleo climate graphs are misrepresented by climate deniers. Most of these graphs represent temperatures at about 150 year intervals ending in about 1850, which makes it look, to an inexperienced non climate scientist, as if the temperatures are now at their lowest in human history. Sometimes the temperatures over the past 150 years is tacked onto the end but the baselines don’t match.

    I’m going to stick my neck out and say that you haven’t even read those hundreds of articles on the MWP on that website you linked to, let alone analysed them. And you’re wasting your time asking me to waste my time reading and analysing all those articles. But, of course, you don’t expect me to, it was just a tactic you’ve employed before to fend off criticism – go read these hundred articles.

    The point about the models is that, taken over appropriate time intervals of thirty years, the models are accurately predicting the observed trend in global temperatures. So the question about how long and how far they need to diverge from observations is irrelevant a this point in time.

  70. BillyJoe7on 25 Sep 2013 at 8:55 am

    …anyway, this thread has slipped off the front page and I can’t be bothered searching through the archives.
    I expect there will be another thread soon about the fifth IPPC report due out on 27th Sep 2013.

  71. sonicon 25 Sep 2013 at 11:38 am

    BillyJoe7-
    The thing with the CO2– I think 26 comes from 2000 or so– I was hoping for better numbers than I have. No big deal.

    Actually, you have told me the models are not falsifiable in practice.
    Given that, the question becomes- should we try to stop the heat, or should we try to figure out how to mitigate the effect?

    And that leads back to the question of what effect you want to mitigate.

    But that could be taken up another time.

    And you are right- I have not read all those papers. I have read a few, enough to know that there is plenty of evidence the MWP was real and worldwide.
    But maybe it wasn’t.
    And so I was suggesting it is an open question– at least it is for me…

  72. BillyJoe7on 25 Sep 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Actually, all I have said is that the models have not been falsified, not that they can’t be.

    And, in a sense, everything is an open question.
    But I just think you lack perspective on HOW open you should be on most questions.
    You lack proportion.
    And this applies to almost all topics on which you comment.
    And I think this is because you give too much credence to fringe views.

  73. Mlemaon 25 Sep 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Sonic,
    I’m sorry. I guess I was reading the article on ikaite and forgot that you had linked to the article on tree rings.

    “Should we stop all use of any fossil fuel because of that?”
    extremism

    “What if they had made that decision in 1890?”
    alarmist

    Your description of advocacy vs science seem pretty fair to me. Based on it, I would say i fall into the first category and you fall into the second.

    If AGW is not that big of a deal, is it still wise that we do nothing to change how we generate energy? What about the environmental cost? How is political action on this issue equivalent to euthanasia?

    I think acid rain might be a good example of how science and politics have to work together to deal with problems that are created by the collective activity individuals. In the 70s and 80′s sulfuric acid rain was destroying the forests and rivers of the northeast US. Through cap and trade type regulation, the problem has been largely mitigated. However, we still have have problems with sulfuric acid rain, and now we have nitric acid rain as well.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=acid-rain-caused-by-nitrogen-emissions

    what can we do? There ARE things we can do. Individually and collectively.
    http://www.epa.gov/acidrain/reducing/index.html

    To me, the current body politic absolutely supports fossil fuel, with safety and environmental regulations that are, unfortunately, not strictly enforced. What would be so bad about using political action to allow development of alternatives? Fossil fuel has not developed ABSENT of politics. Doing NOTHING to reduce co2 emissions is equivalent to doing SOMETHING to increase them. Because our governments are critical to the status quo, and critical to change.

    Since I’m unwilling to change my position based on the science, if you want to try to change my position based on the costs and benefits of political change, feel free. But really, more than anything, I’m interested in the euthanasia comparison. If you would elucidate….

    thanks

  74. brotherjohnon 27 Sep 2013 at 10:06 am

    Juga:
    “You complain about “deniers” comparing temperatures now with 1998, “an unusually warm year”. You forget that in 1999, those spreading alarm were quite happy to use the temperature in 1998 as proof that temperatures were heading up a hockey stick.”

    Umm, no. Those spreading alarm were, and still are, using the hockey stick as proof that temperatures were heading up a hockey stick.

  75. sonicon 27 Sep 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Here is an article where a climate scientist makes the points I’m trying to make-

    http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/energy-and-climate/climate-scientists-must-not-act-as-policy-advocates/

    teasers-
    “As a climate scientist, I’m under pressure to be a political advocate.”
    and
    “I believe advocacy by climate scientists has damaged trust in the science. We risk our credibility, our reputation for objectivity, if we are not absolutely neutral. At the very least, it leaves us open to criticism. I find much climate scepticism is driven by a belief that environmental activism has influenced how scientists gather and interpret evidence.”

    Mlema–
    I think we actually agree on most all of this–
    I’m not sure what euthanasia comparison you are referring to.

  76. tmac57on 27 Sep 2013 at 1:48 pm

    sonic-What does it mean to be “absolutely neutral” on the evidence concerning climate science?
    If the evidence that a particular scientists evaluates points to a very strong conclusion that it is AGW in their learned opinion,then should they remain neutral on the conclusion that it is most likely AGW?

  77. BillyJoe7on 27 Sep 2013 at 5:15 pm

    sonic,

    On the other hand, the first comment says how I feel on the issue:

    “I couldn’t disagree more. We are all in this mess because energy policy decisions world-wide are being made by people who are ignorant of science. Those who understand the peril of climate change, air pollution, ocean acidification, and resource depletion have an obligation to use their knowledge, training, and experience to influence the general public and lead-from-the-rear politicians”

    The worst thing scientists can do is to become robots, simply churning out undigested facts.
    It’s also impossible, because scientists are actually human beings, believe it or not.
    And is it really acceptable for scientists to discover the hole in the ozone layer, or the cause of acid rain and simply put it out there for everyone to ignore?
    In my opinion, it is not acceptable, and it is not acceptable to expect them to do so.
    Of course, on the subject of climate change, this attitude suits the fossil fuel industry who bankroll the spread of doubt in the community and the resultant political inaction that we have seen over the past few decades. And those pesky scientist, threaten to ruin everything.

    (Interestingly, the only reference the author makes is to a person well known for his climate denialism)

  78. BillyJoe7on 27 Sep 2013 at 5:26 pm

    “We risk our credibility, our reputation for objectivity, if we are not absolutely neutral”

    By this criterion, Steven Novella has lost all credibility.
    He must be absolutely neutral on the subject of complementary and alternative medicine.

  79. Mlemaon 27 Sep 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Sonic, again my apologies. Not euthanasia, but eugenics. Did i dream that? i thought I remembered you comparing political action on climate change to eugenics.
    perhaps whatever brain problem caused me to use the word euthanasia also caused me to create that memory. if so – I’m sorry. If you DID compare it to eugenics, THAT is what I was wondering about.

    but whatever. I know we agree there’s much that can be done to mitigate the environmental consequences of fossil fuel. i guess we just don’t agree that the government needs to be involved. You think not, I think so. Politics is where we enact those beliefs – so – either way the government is going to be involved= to encourage, or, prevent change. I also believe the current energy model is failing and we can either be proactive in transitioning to a more sustainable system, or suffer through the expense and discriminatory effects of a slow (or maybe eventually a quick) death.

  80. sonicon 28 Sep 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Mlema-
    I’m not against government involvement. I am against the claim that we must do ‘x’ because ‘science says so’.

    Once ‘science says’ becomes political- determined by a ‘consensus’- then the results will be political as well.
    Look at the IPCC process. 100′s of government lackeys- I mean officials- meet and go over the paper line by line, word by word, arguing what is politically expedient to be published.
    And then this is called science.

    I think that too many people live in cities- isolated from the farms.
    It seems they can’t recognize bull excrement at all. :-)

    Perhaps you can help me– try to find the answer to this question–

    “At what level of CO2 do plants grow fast enough that we could supply enough energy for 7-9 billion people using biomass?”

    I believe another example of politicians doing ‘x’ because ‘science says so’, is eugenics. That’s probably the comparison I made.
    I do get a bit inflammatory and extremist and alarmist from time to time.
    But you did such an exquisite job of pointing that out earlier.

    Thanks, I needed that.

  81. Canuck57on 28 Sep 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Steven:

    I appreciate your article as I too have never been comfortable with the many climate arguments using 1-10 year trends. Even 50 – 100 year trends are not the best when it comes to anything geological or meteorological.

    However, this week I learned (right after I read that story on the Arctic ice growing by 60% in one year) that US scientists are now calling for a cooling trend for the next 50 years, and much of this came as a result of this Arctic ice news story.

    What is going on here? Is there something in the science that is not be revealed to us, or is this merely wishful thinking based on data that is really too recent to judge?

  82. Mlemaon 28 Sep 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Sonic, perhaps I was a bit too reactionary and righteous. I tend to be that way from time to time.

    I’ll just tell you how I feel. First, a little embarrassed to admit, but I didn’t really know anything about the IPCC before seeing it on this site. It just wasn’t on my radar. That’s one thing I like about this site – i can learn things. And you’re right, that consensus survey was NOT scientific. Who cares what an economist has to say on the science?

    Many years ago I had a professor who taught about AGW. He made predictions about the consequences of higher co2. It looks to me like all these predictions are coming to pass. So, there you have it: I admit i am completely unobjective. I see the ice caps and glaciers are melting, and we’re seeing die off and rapid migration of numerous species. Ocean life is being even more rapidly affected. I’ve never heard any predictions about higher co2 being good for increasing biomass to feed people. You can’t just increase co2 to increase biomass – there are other limiting factors. Water availability and soil nutrients also limit growth, and/or nutritional value. Hard to tell about water availability, but it seems that in general AGW means less. Melted glaciers don’t provide spring run off. In the most highly populated areas of the world, run off is critical for irrigation and hydroelectric power.
    I guess we could have a discussion about whether or not we really need higher co2 to feed the world. What I see is that at this point in time we have plenty of food. Countries like India have millions of hungry people, and piles of rotting food. Just like US.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/08/business/global/a-failed-food-system-in-india-prompts-an-intense-review.html?pagewanted=all
    and in many cases just improving current farming practices can help

    and here I went off on a number of other problems of the world’s human population and what’s happening to ocean life etc. etc etc and decided against a gigantic diatribe.

    So your question about enough co2 to feed all the earth’s people – I just think we have enough and we might ensure that that continues if we go about making life better for people in other ways – which tends to reduce the number of children people have.

    thanks again

  83. BillyJoe7on 29 Sep 2013 at 2:45 am

    Regarding advocacy by scientists.

    Here is a story about Professor Elizabeth Loftus:

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lawreport/the-memory-wars/4982084

    She is an expert on memory and, as a result of her work, she realised memories are often faulty, and that false memories could easily by implanted. This led her to question the veracity of eye witness testimony and the veracity of repressed memory, thinking that perhaps the recovered memories were actually implanted during the psychotherapeutic process. She discovered that indeed was what often happened. She further discovered that hundreds of innocent people had been convicted – and are still being convicted – on the basis of both faulty memory and implanted memory. She has become an advocate for these innocent people (no doubt she also gets paid well for her time and expertise).

    But the point is, should she have remained “absolutely neutral” regarding the legal ramifications of the scientifc facts that she has discovered, or did she do the right thing and become an advocate for change in the legal system and an advocate for innocent people?

    For me the answer is so obvious it hardly needs stating.

  84. BillyJoe7on 29 Sep 2013 at 2:52 am

    “At what level of CO2 do plants grow fast enough that we could supply enough energy for 7-9 billion people using biomass?”

    In an artificial environment where all other variables such as temperature, humidity, water and nutrient supply, and insect pests are controlled for it seems plants grow faster up to about 1000ppm, although there is a plateauing at much lower levels. Needless to say, these variables are not controlled for in the plants’ natural environment, so let’s just say that it’s a whole lot more complicated than that.

  85. BillyJoe7on 29 Sep 2013 at 3:05 am

    Mlema,

    ” that consensus survey was NOT scientific”

    The purpose of the survey was to attempt to correct the public’s perception about what climate scientists believe regarding AGW (if indeed the public did need correcting and, of course, the authors already knew from previous surveys that the public did need correcting – surveys have repeatedly revealed that the public believe climate scientists are about evenly divided regarding AGW). The survey, like others before it, demonstrated that 97% of climate scientists – as assessed through their papers – believe that AGW is happening. This was further confirmed by asking the authors to rate themselves and roughly the same percentage agreed with AGW.

  86. BillyJoe7on 29 Sep 2013 at 3:09 am

    …but it seems that, unlike sonic, you have been relying on the consensus of experts on climate change for your information about climate change.
    What a novel idea!

  87. sonicon 30 Sep 2013 at 12:29 am

    Mlema-
    I’m the one who is making statements that attack the norm.

    I know that the earth has warmed. I’m almost positive that people’s activities make for more warming. I am not a big fan of fossil fuels– my personal usage is very small– and that’s on purpose. I have and continue to give money to buy land that can be run in an ecologically correct manner (Nature Conservancy).

    Where I live there are a number of over 100 degree days every summer. I don’t mind a few– but I’m not very excited at the possibility there will be a whole lot more of them in the future.

    I know how to feed everyone within 10 miles of where I live without use of one drop of fossil fuels if need be. I know how to improve the soil, I know where the empty lots are, I know how to do all that needs to be done without any power equipment or trucks or …
    That’s because I think I might have to and am completely willing to do so if it is necessary.

    What I don’t like is a government that can’t be questioned. And I don’t trust science that can’t be questioned. And I don’t want a government run by zealots that can’t be questioned.

    So I question the science– like I do any other science. And the response is zealotry and veiled threats and name calling.
    But the science isn’t that good- and you can quote Freeman Dyson on that if you want to.

    And consensus is politics- not science.

    And I will stop my rant now.

    I hope I haven’t upset you too much.

  88. sonicon 30 Sep 2013 at 12:30 am

    BillyJoe7-
    You ask-
    Did the lady do the right thing?

    Look, it’s fine with me if she wants to be a science based advocate– I think it is great.

    I don’t think she is an ‘objective’ researcher on this subject anymore, however.
    I think it would be harder to admit she was wrong after taking mounds of money and altering the lives of numerous people arguing one way than it would be if she had not engaged in those activities- and that difficulty makes her less objective than she might be otherwise.

    I’m not saying she ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’. I am saying that once one becomes a spokesman for a certain view, we can stop pretending that person is objective.
    Of course there is nothing wrong with being something other than objective- as far as I know.

    I’m not an expert in ‘right and wrong’.
    Are you thinking there is something wrong with being something other than objective?

  89. BillyJoe7on 30 Sep 2013 at 7:11 am

    sonic,

    You think that a person cannot both objective and an advocate?

    I would agree that it would be difficult, but certainly not impossible, especially if the scientist is aware of the difficulties and takes them into account.

    In any case, to dismiss the objectivity of this particular scientist just because she advocates for those who have been wronged by the justice system when the objective scientific evidence that she has accumulated is that they were wronged is, in my opinion, an untenable position. You would need to substantiate your claim to make it tenable and, of course, you have done no such thing.

    Similarly, to accuse climate scientists of a lack of objectivity now that they are advocates of a political solution to climate change requires that you substantiate the accusation that they are no longer objective. In other words, put meat on the bones of your argument.

    In reality, everyone is an advocate of some sort or another.
    In reality, no one can be completely objective.
    But to say that no one can successfully strive to do both…

    Is it possible for Steven Novella to remain objective about CAM when he has taken up an advocacy position in relation to CAM. Should we now stop listening to him when talks about CAM because, as a result of his objective assessment of CAM, he has become an advocate for medicine without CAM?

  90. BillyJoe7on 30 Sep 2013 at 7:21 am

    sonic,

    “And consensus is politics- not science.”

    In fact, consensus is an integral and vitally important part of science.
    Here are some examples of consensus activity in science:

    Peer review.
    Text books on science.
    The table of elements.
    The standard model in quantum physics.
    Protocols in medicine.
    Standard operating procedures in surgery.
    Modern evolutionary theory.
    The consensus on climate change by climate scientists.

  91. sonicon 30 Sep 2013 at 3:58 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    You ask if a person can be an advocate and objective at the same time.
    That is a good question and is at the heart of the issue.

    objective means-
    ‘expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations’.

    It seems ‘objective’ is a bit of a sliding scale in practice– it is possible to be more or less objective- right?
    For example– I think one can advocate that NaCl is the chemical formula for table salt without getting too emotionally involved.

    But once one gets into ‘saving the world’ or ‘righting an intolerable wrong’ or ‘saving mankind’ or any other cause that engages one emotionally…
    I don’t think the same level of detachment is possible- or even appropriate.

    Let’s suppose that if humans keep using plastics the ocean will fill with the stuff and kill all ocean life and this will in turn kill all human life. Let’s say that’s what current evidence suggests- for the sake of argument.

    Here is an objective look–
    Current data suggest all ocean life and all human life will end if humans keep using plastic.

    If someone says–
    ‘we must stop using plastic’- that person is not objective. He is putting his personal feelings about ocean life and/or human life in charge- and demanding action.

    See, the idea that people need to exist at all is only a personal feeling based on prejudice.
    Any conclusion based on the idea that human life matters at all, or that it is not OK to suffer or to cause others to suffer… any idea like that is personal feeling informed by prejudice.

    It seems a certain level of detachment about the fate of one’s fellow humans becomes psychopathic- devoid of empathy.
    As I said– I’m not sure that level of detachment is appropriate.

    I think it better to recognize that people do become advocates and to treat the claims the same way one treats all claims from advocates.
    Doesn’t mean they are wrong- doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be listened to- just means they are not the ‘objective’ portrayer of facts.

    It’s a big deal– but it isn’t about people being good or bad. It’s just how people are.

    He is some meat on the bones regarding the situation with ‘climate science’ and the IPCC–
    http://judithcurry.com/2013/09/28/ipcc-diagnosis-permanent-paradigm-paralysis/

    “Diagnosis: paradigm paralysis, caused by motivated reasoning, oversimplification, and consensus seeking; worsened and made permanent by a vicious positive feedback effect at the climate science-policy interface.”

    Read the thing. She is giving a nice version of what I think has gone on without the ranting aspects I often get into.

  92. SteveAon 30 Sep 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Sonic: “If someone says– ‘we must stop using plastic’- that person is not objective. He is putting his personal feelings about ocean life and/or human life in charge- and demanding action.
    See, the idea that people need to exist at all is only a personal feeling based on prejudice.
    Any conclusion based on the idea that human life matters at all, or that it is not OK to suffer or to cause others to suffer… any idea like that is personal feeling informed by prejudice.”

    So, by this reasoning, anyone who begs for their life (for example, the person held hostage by the psychotic gunman) is prejudiced in favour of living. Anyone not in favour of torture is prejudiced against…what? Pain-inflicting type persons?

    ‘Prejudice’ is such a loaded word. I wonder why you decided to keep repeating it? Oh yes, I see now…

    Getting back to your plastics analogy. Don’t you think that the people who manufacture/sell/use plastic would rather be alive than dead? Where is the prejudice here?

    Worst analogy…ever.

    And to cap it all. There is absolutely nothing in your argument that would preclude an ‘advocate’ from being ‘objective’.

  93. sonicon 30 Sep 2013 at 11:55 pm

    SteveA-
    I noted that a person can be both an advocate and objective– a person advocating NaCl is table salt was the example.
    I also noted that when it comes to if people live or die or if people suffer– objectivity tends to go out the window.

    Any preference for life over death is prejudice– unless you think you have the experience or knowledge about death to properly judge.
    We pre-judge that we would rather be alive than dead.

    There is nothing in the universe outside of the feelings of humans that make humans desirable in any way.
    Therefore- any feeling, decision or action that is based on the desirability of human existence in any form is based on personal feelings and is therefore less than objective.

    Does that clear things up?

  94. BillyJoe7on 01 Oct 2013 at 4:50 pm

    sonic,

    “Does that clear things up?”

    Yes, you are an armchair philosopher with no standng in the real world.

    “Any preference for life over death is prejudice– unless you think you have the experience or knowledge about death to properly judge.
    We pre-judge that we would rather be alive than dead.”

    I’m not een going to comment on this philosophical dodge.

  95. BillyJoe7on 01 Oct 2013 at 5:05 pm

    sonic,

    I see you’ve linked to Judith Curry yet again.

    My impression is that you are so immersed in climate denialist literature, that you don’t even recognise it for what it is. Like all climate deniers, you cherry picking authors and articles, and your tactics in doing so mimic exactly those of climate deniers:

    1) You provide a link to a cherry picked author and article.
    2) I go the trouble of reading that link.
    3) I go to the further trouble of analysing and rebutting the misinformation contained in that link.
    4) You completely ignore my analysis and rebuttal.
    5) You simply provide a link to another cherry picked author and article
    6) I jump off your merry-go-round
    7) Months later you link back to the same debunked article or author.

    If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and ducks like a quack….

    Anyway, Steven Novella has a new post up where he seems to be channelling my own impressions about climate change (:
    Enjoy!

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