Feb 25 2014

Krauthammer’s Global Warming Straw Men

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123 responses so far

123 Responses to “Krauthammer’s Global Warming Straw Men”

  1. oldmanjenkinson 25 Feb 2014 at 10:35 am

    Krauthammer, what a lepton. A Psychiatrist does not a Climate Scientist make. His modus operandi has always been straw men. No matter if he is writing a piece such as he did for the topic of this post, or speaking to John Stewart on the Daily show. He seems to feel his MD somehow grants him a broader knowledge base regarding all topics. His is an argument from ignorance and his underlying motive is to muddy the water like the good little political pundit he is. And yes, politicians need to stop using current weather conditions to further their agenda (this includes both republicans and democrats). The devil is in the details and political pundits such as Krauthammer oversimplify the issue to try and “make” their point. There are a lot more subtle nuances and complicated algorithms that real climate scientists use to determine the upswing in rising oceanic temperatures and global temperatures. So for Krauthammer, go ahead and by your ocean front property my friend and enjoy it as the ocean levels continue to rise.

  2. steve12on 25 Feb 2014 at 11:31 am

    Krauthammer wrote a great piece on Thomas Szasz and mental illness denial (even if he didn’t use the word ‘denial’), but he now needs to take that back. According to him, the science is never settled, so who knows? He’s essentially saying that science can’t really convey any truth because of this (until a conservative initiative has consensus on its side, then I’m sure science will fine again).

    It is sad to see a trained person peddle this postmodern nonsense to stay popular among drooling politicos. But there it is.

  3. Bronze Dogon 25 Feb 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Uncertainty about the details does not translate into uncertainty about the big picture – just like uncertainty about precise evolutionary relationships does not call into question the basic fact of evolution.

    This is an annoying one, and I have a counterargument I might use sometime:

    “I haven’t studied climatology or meteorology. Even so, I know enough that I can confidently predict that over the next year, it’s going to be warmer during the summer and colder during the winter. I can’t tell you what days are going to be the hottest and I can’t tell you which days are going to have snow. But even so, do you doubt the accuracy of my prediction? You can make good general predictions if you know about the big cycles and trends without predicting the specific day-by-day noise.”

    Alternatively: “I can look at the game rules, the odds, observe trends, and use that information to predict that a casino is going to make a profit in the long run. I don’t need to be able to predict the exact outcome of each game.”

    I’m not sure what to expect, but I doubt a denier will actually think about it.

  4. Martin Lewitton 26 Feb 2014 at 12:09 am

    Steven, Perhaps you are displaying a believer cognitive strategy. When 7th day adventists come to my door, trying to convince me that I should believe in God, they always lead with Jesus’ love, and God as this this creator we owe our lives to. Some are even familiar with “proofs” for the existence God. But as believers they assume that one you have accepted God and Jesus that you are along for the whole ride, including Satan and all. Somehow I am considered out of bounds when I ask what the proofs are for the existence of Satan, and just how many supernatural beings are there and what are their powers.

    When Krauthammer states: “If climate science is settled, why do its predictions keep changing?”, you accuse him of a denial cognitive strategy. You know darn well that believers assume “the science is settled” means that the predictions, like Satan get to come along free for the ride. Isn’t it a bit deceiving to call him a denier based on a denial cognitive strategy, when the common usage implies that someone is outside the consensus. Krauthammer may have been confused himself, since he like me, probably accepts the consensus standard “Human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures”. If the science is “settled”, why are those who accept the consensus, but question whether the net feedback to CO2 forcing is positive, and the credibility of models with high climate sensitivities are called “deniers” even by those supposedly well informed on the state of the science.

    There is believer strategy throughout most of model based peer review climate science. They are used as paper mills with little to no discussion and assessment of the implications of the model diagnostic literature for their results. They have published correlated errors larger than the phenomenon they are being used to assess, and there is no model independent evidence for net positive feedback to CO2 forcing that is relevant over the time scale of the next few hundred years. Many of the arguments of the skeptics have been confirmed by recent published results. Natural or internal variation was significant contributer both to the mid-century cooling and the rate of “warming” in the 80s and 90s, and the current pause. While believers were attributing most of the warming rate in the 80s and 90s to CO2, the science was more nuanced, when careful it included other anthropogenic forcings, black carbon and especially aerosols which were required to also account for the mid-century cooling. The evidence never supported CO2 being responsible for more than about a third of that warming. The pause may now have been long enough for the levels of warming to be low enough for the anthropogenic forcings to be responsible for most of it. But, this warming seems far less fearsome, relative to natural and internal variation.

    Your definition of denier cognitive strategy mentions attacking accepted science. How do you distinguish it from scientific skepticism? If you can’t, isn’t it just rhetorical flourish to bring it up?

  5. Will Nitschkeon 26 Feb 2014 at 12:44 am

    @ Steven Novella

    Several errors in your article -

    The ‘debate’ is not whether the Earth is warming or cooling or to what extent any particular trend has an anthropogenic component. The issue is whether the trend is ‘dangerous’ or ‘catastrophic’. If it is neither, it is at best a scientific curiosity. By failing to identify the actual issue of debate, much of your article is itself a straw man.

    You assert that Krauthammer uses the same language or arguments of Creationism without attempting a proper argument to support this. We are left to accept or reject your opinion. On that basis your statement is an ad hominem. If you do feel the urge to strongly attack someone, you should present a fully fleshed out argument. Not just your opinion and a few passing remarks.

    The credibility of a scientific field is normally dependent on the ability of the research to make novel predictions. Thousands of papers are published each year on climate science. Most of these are likely to be wrong (as they are found to be wrong in other fields such as medical and nutritional research). It is not very difficult to pick out papers that explain post hoc climate models failures. Such papers cover explanations that range from trade winds to volcanoes to heat shifting into the deep ocean for other reasons, to mysterious solar or atmospheric processes poorly understood and so on. The fact that you can dig up explanations post hoc, particularly when some of these explanations did not even exist months or a few years ago, is not much evidence of anything.

    (The quality of the papers in the field must also be intelligently assessed. Is the claim in the paper supported by empirical data? Or is it a model? Is the data ‘processed’ (generated by the same or another computer model) or ‘observational’ and so on. Does the paper make falsifiable predictions? If so, of what sort are they? Is it merely drawing conclusions from correlations? How well does it fit past observations? And so on.)

    What was also curious about your article is that it focused criticism almost entirely on Krauthhammer rather than, say, the Obama administration, which has tried to equate weather events, droughts, etc., with proof of global warming. This is also unscientific, but you don’t mention it. On your criteria Obama’s is also engaging in climate science denialism. In which case, it is hard to identify who isn’t. A sceptic would identify the sins of both sides, not the side they might perhaps favour politically.

    Anyway, it is not really worth going further into your article. Because you’re conflating global warming with catastrophic (or at least ‘problematical’) global warming, whatever point you wanted to make, you ruined beyond repair.

  6. steve12on 26 Feb 2014 at 1:35 am

    Will:

    Asked you a few Qs on this thread:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/reality-testing-and-metacognitive-failure/

    I’d appreciate a reponse.

  7. rezistnzisfutlon 26 Feb 2014 at 1:38 am

    Will,

    I’m not interested in going 15 rounds with your obvious, and constant, inanities, but I want to correct your own errors.

    First, the article Dr. Novella wrote isn’t in error, you are in error in your proclamation that he is in error. The science surrounding climatology isn’t an is=ought issue, it’s simply an “is” issue. What we do with the information is an entirely separate conversation. If the science is able to determine that actual harm is being caused, that’s merely another set of data, it’s not making any suggestions, proposing a moral argument, or positing a political perspective.

    Second, while it’s true that most science is wrong, it doesn’t mean that they are 100% wrong to where it can be wholly rejected. It simply means that there may be errors present in a specific study, or that a study is eventually superseded by more accurate and complete information. Your other problem is that you’re not understanding, or your just misrepresenting, science itself. Even if single studies have errors or don’t have complete information, when they are added to a body of knowledge in concert with hundreds or thousands of other studies which all support each other, then it’s most likely that the conclusion the evidence is pointing to is correct. Any future modifications will only slightly alter the conclusion, it won’t overturn it. This is where Dr. Novella’s comparison to creationism is accurate, because creationists often think that some damning piece of evidence is going to throw evolution out the window. That’s not going to happen – the most that will happen is that it will change the Theory somewhat to reflect what the new evidence suggests, it won’t negate evolution itself.

    Third, you erroneously assume that models cannot be used as evidence, because what you’re ignoring is that models are based on evidence. Models are merely future projections of past and current trends, and those trends are based on direct, empirical observations. From that, a formula or construct is created to base the model on, and future data can be extrapolated. All models within science envelop multiple scenarios and each scenario has a range of possibilities, so it’s not trying to make specific, single-digit claims. For instance, several climate models have been constructed, based on current climate trends, to reflect multiple alternatives to what climate will likely be by 2050. ALL of them reflect an increase in global temperatures, even the most conservative estimates that account for decreases in greenhouse gas emissions to pre-2000 levels (most likely, we won’t attain that).

    Similar to other science denialists, you think that scientists are too dense not to account for natural outputs of greenhouse gasses. They do. They’re well aware of volcanics, solar events, Earth cycles, and any other phenomena that in any way contributes to greenhouse gasses other than humans. This is why they can make conclusive statements about climate change.

    Furthermore, climatology as a discipline will exist whether climate was warming, cooling, or remaining stationary. The science is not a political or ideological agenda. It just is, just like physics, chemistry, or mathematics. Any discussion on the “oughts” is outside of the science, even if the science can definitively point to what we consider harm (which is another moral value statement that doesn’t have a place in science). While scientists, just like any other human being, have biases and sometimes agendas, science is constructed to minimize those things, and with as much data and the number of studies we have regarding climate change, we can effectively rule out bias as being a large variable.

    Like with most of your statements, you are wrong, seemingly purposefully contrarian, and apparently ignorant of what science is at a fundamental. I can’t tell if you’re just a poe, or a true troll trying to yank Dr. Novella’s chain, but I think most of us see through you and realize most of your posts are simply inane. The only reason I’m posting anything is to clear up the obvious misinformation you seem content to press forward.

  8. steve12on 26 Feb 2014 at 2:19 am

    I mean, wow:

    “Is the claim in the paper supported by empirical data? Or is it a model?”

  9. Bill Openthalton 26 Feb 2014 at 3:30 am

    Arguably, the biggest problem with the “translation” of climate science into the public sphere is the very human assumption that the result will be a catastrophe. We really don’t know that the current temperature is optimal for humans, and in any case, humans are well suited to infest almost any earthly habitat, so it is unlikely the species will go “poof” when the planet is a bit warmer.

    What we know is that tomorrow will not be like today, but then, it has never been.

  10. BBBlueon 26 Feb 2014 at 3:35 am

    p>Here is what I took away from Mr. Krauthammer’s column: Spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is not a good thing. Specific predictions as to the consequences of spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere are fallible and should not be considered settled science.

    My humble intellect chooses not to dissect his comments any further because I want to secure that modest win and build on it. It’s tough trying to be a skeptic and a political conservative, but when a voice that is respected by many conservatives gets a matter of science mostly right, I say let’s accentuate the positive.

  11. Martin Lewitton 26 Feb 2014 at 3:44 am

    Good question steve12. Your skepticism with regard to models is well justified, especially with regards to quantitative issues such as attributing and projecting a phenomenon producing an energy imbalance as small as 0.6W/m^2 globally annually averaged. As was clear to skeptics well before IPCC 4th assessment report, models with sensitivity ranges varying over a factor of two can’t all be right, a few could be close, but all could be wrong. Kiehl explored tried to resolve how all the models could “match” the 20th century climate, publishing shortly after the report, and well before the EPA’s unscientific conclusions. Basically all the models exploited the uncertainty in aerosol forcing to match the 20th century climate, including its mid-century cooling.

    https://www.atmos.washington.edu/2008Q2/591A/Articles/Kiehl_2007GL031383.pdf

    The IPCC AR5 still references Kiehl and shows no reduction in the uncertainty about sensitivity:

    “9.7.3 Climate Sensitivity and Model Performance

    Despite the range in equilibrium sensitivity of 2.1°C to 4.4°C for CMIP3
    models, they reproduce the global surface air temperature anomaly
    of 0.76°C over 1850–2005 to within 25% relative error. The relatively
    small range of historical climate response suggests that there is
    another mechanism, for example a compensating non-GHG forcing,
    present in the historical simulations that counteracts the relatively
    large range in sensitivity obtained from idealized experiments forced
    only by increasing CO2. One possible mechanism is a systematic negative
    correlation across the multi-model ensemble between ECS and
    anthropogenic aerosol forcing (Kiehl, 2007; Knutti, 2008; Anderson et
    al., 2010). A second possible mechanism is a systematic overestimate
    of the mixing between the oceanic mixed layer and the full depth
    ocean underneath (Hansen et al., 2011). However, despite the same
    range of ECS in the CMIP5 models as in the CMIP3 models, there is
    no significant relationship across the CMIP5 ensemble between ECS
    and the 20th-century ERF applied to each individual model (Forster et
    al., 2013). This indicates a lesser role of compensating ERF trends from
    GHGs and aerosols in CMIP5 historical simulations than in CMIP3. Differences
    in ocean heat uptake also do not appreciably affect the spread
    in projected changes in global mean temperature by 2095 (Forster et
    al., 2013).”

    Despite these admissions about the CMIP3 models, their results are still being used in peer review publications. Also before the EPA’s decision, Wentz had published in the journal Science (2007) that NONE of the models reproduced more than one third to one half the precipitation observed with the recent warming. Roesch(2006) found that ALL the models had a correlated positive surface albedo bias that was over 4 times the size of the energy imbalance and approximately the same magnitude as all the anthropogenic CO2 forcing. This was known at the time of AR4 but was only mentioned in the albedo section, and the implications of correlated bias larger than the energy imbalance for other conclusions was not mentioned, despite being brought to the Working Group I authors attentions.

    There is a tremendous amount of other model diagnostic results that could be mentioned, that is almost never discussed when presenting quantitative climate model results.

    Here are a few recent model notes from an article that has received quite a bit of recent play:

    “Here we show that a pronounced strengthening in Pacific trade winds over the past two decades—unprecedented in observations/reanalysis data and not captured by climate models …”

    “No historical or preindustrial simulation ever captures 20-year Pacific wind trends at the magnitude of the recent observed 1992-2011 trade wind acceleration.”

    “Thus both cooling due to external forcing (aerosols) and cooling due to variability in the IPO (which may be internally generated or externally forced) appear to have contributed to the mid-20th Century hiatus in surface warming.”

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2106.html

    Even if the model physics with all its discretization, approximation and parameterization was right, previous unknowns in the data can invalidate or set the models back. Here is a new result showing that prior assumptions of the models were wrong by more than 6W/m^2 globally and annually averaged. This is more than 6 times the 0.75W/m^2 energy imbalance of the 90s, and about 10 times the current estimate of the energy imbalance.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2012GL053757/abstract

    Occasionally, we get refreshing acknowledgements of the implications of non-linear dynamics. Knutti and Heggerl state in their 2008 review article in Nature Geoscience:

    “The concept of radiative forcing is of rather limited use for forcings with strongly varying vertical or spatial distributions.”

    and this:

    “There is a difference in the sensitivity to radiative forcing for different forcing mechanisms, which has been phrased as their ‘efficacy’”

  12. Steven Novellaon 26 Feb 2014 at 9:52 am

    Martin – I linked to an entire article about the demarcation problem between skepticism and denial. Obviously I am aware of this issue. Read the link if you are interested.

    I am not just using “denialist” as a rhetorical strategy. I spelled out specific logical fallacies used as part of the typical denialist tactics. If you think I am wrong, then address my specific points.

    You are also not accurately characterizing my post. I went out of my way to be fair to Krauthammer. I specifically used the term “global warming dissident” up front because I recognize that not all skepticism about all the claims of global warming constitutes denial.

    I specifically acknowledge that politicians over-simplify, abuse the science, and that Krauthammer had a fair point to make against Obama, and even went as far to say that if he stuck to these points I would have had no problem with his article.

    What I did focus on was his specific logical strategies, which are both flawed and very typical of denialism.

    You wrote: “You know darn well that believers assume “the science is settled” means that the predictions, like Satan get to come along free for the ride.”

    No, I don’t. That is the very point of contention. And you should not generalize about “believers.” You are, in fact, doing exactly what you are complaining about. I acknowledge that not all “dissidents” deny the entire spectrum of climate change claims, but also not all “believers” accept the entire spectrum. In this very article I specifically state that we are highly confident about the basic facts – the globe is warming partly due to human forcing – but uncertain about the specifics and predicting the future. I also acknowledged that politicians, advocates, and the media gloss over the complexity and uncertainty to make easy points. It goes both ways.

    But – those who have reservations about the predictions of global warming alarmists have a tough time, because actual dedicated deniers pretend to be such rational dissidents, but then will deny the basic facts of climate change when given a chance.

    I get the feeling that you need to read my article again, and see what I actually wrote.

  13. Steven Novellaon 26 Feb 2014 at 10:01 am

    Will – “The ‘debate’ is not whether the Earth is warming or cooling or to what extent any particular trend has an anthropogenic component.”

    Reality – You don’t get to decide what “the” debate is. It has many aspects, and there are demonstrably those who claim that the earth is not warming or that it is a natural and not man-made trend. Besides, my article was not primarily about the debate – it was about the cognitive strategies employed by Krauthammer.

    Will – “You assert that Krauthammer uses the same language or arguments of Creationism without attempting a proper argument to support this.”

    Reality – I wrote: “If evolution is settled science, then why are scientists always changing their construction of the tree of life, and why can’t they predict the future course of evolution? Same fallacy.”

    Will – “The fact that you can dig up explanations post hoc, particularly when some of these explanations did not even exist months or a few years ago, is not much evidence of anything.”

    Reality – ” I also don’t think we have fully answered this question – this is one of those details that will be complex to understand, and new data is likely to shed further light.
    Krauthammer, however, is happy to rely upon the notion of a pause, which is so far from settled science it is not even true, rather than the far more robust data supporting the basic fact of climate change.”

    Will – “What was also curious about your article is that it focused criticism almost entirely on Krauthhammer rather than, say, the Obama administration, which has tried to equate weather events, droughts, etc., with proof of global warming. This is also unscientific, but you don’t mention it.”

    Reality – “OK – he has a point here. Politicians and the media are likely to discuss individual weather events in terms of their relationship to global climate change. This is certainly not scientific – we cannot know the relationship between any specific drought, hurricane, or weather pattern to the long term trend of global warming.”

    It’s almost as if you didn’t even read my article, or that your motivated reasoning to be a contrarian is so overwhelming it has impaired your reading comprehension.

  14. steve12on 26 Feb 2014 at 10:02 am

    “Good question steve12. Your skepticism with regard to models is well justified, ”

    That was sarcasm Martin. I think rezistnzisfutl addressed this specifically above. Will demonstrates that he doesn’t understand, in a general sense, what models are for in science.

    And this is a major theme for some posters: the pratttling:understanding ratio is unfavorable.

  15. Martin Lewitton 26 Feb 2014 at 11:04 am

    Steven, I am going back and reading your article again, and taking better note of some of your points. I am in a bit of a rush and may not be able to fully assess them until later tonight, but I initially I am concerned about some of your excursions where I think it can be argued that you exceeded the level of certainty in the science.

    “Likewise, that the earth is warming, and that this warming is at least partly due to forcing from human industrial activity, is now a well-established scientific fact.” You would be on safer ground to say the climate is warming, because whether the or globe is warming is depends on the time scale, it may not be currently warming, “the pause”. The high confidence would be that because of industrial activity, it is warmer than it otherwise would have been. We have both GHGs and black carbon a work here.

    “That the globe is, overall, warming due to forcing from increased greenhouse gasses is a highly confident conclusion.” Putting aside the pause, it would be a surprise if this was not the case, but nowhere near the shocker of something bringing evolution into doubt. Given the non-linear dynamic nature of the climate, if we found that the additional GHGs had a roughly neutral effect because of more efficient radiation at higher altitudes in the troposhere, and a more accelerated water cycle than expected, it would be a surprise but not earth shaking. The final verdict might be that most of the polar amplification is attributable to black carbon. We thought the ice/abedo feedback from the Arctic melting would be highly positive, and that has not turned out to be the case, the net effect appears to be neutral, with open water radiating about as much energy in the longwave as was gained in the short wave.

    “Calling something an established scientific fact means that it is reasonable to proceed with that fact as a premise, for further research or for policy.” Further research is justified but seems a low standard to jump from theory and hypothesis to “fact”. Changes in research “policy” is justified, but going beyond what was already making sense in other policies, requires that the magnitude and nature of the effects, positive and negative, be “well established”. You aren’t claiming the “precautionary principle” is science rather than politics or subjective values are you?

    “The oceans have continued to warm, and scientists believe we are simply in a phase where most of the extra heat in the earth system is going into the oceans, rather than surface temperatures. You have to look at the whole picture, not just the slice that makes your point. Further, a recent study suggests that when the recent trade winds are taken into consideration, this accounts for the discrepancy between climate models and surface temperatures.” There is some support for the hyopthesis that the deep ocean has continued to warm, and model support for a mechanism that can account for the lack of surface warming but that is based on only one model, and the actual deep ocean data coverage is not of high enough quality to establish it. The trade winds may account for why the models are wrong, but not for how they matched the climate over the course of the 20th century while being wrong.

    “Krauthammer, however, is happy to rely upon the notion of a pause, which is so far from settled science it is not even true, rather than the far more robust data supporting the basic fact of climate change.” The hypothesis of a pause is very alive in the science. You can’t establish that “it is not even true” There is a lot of active research on it. Yes, there is Meehl and Trenberths proposal that the warming has continued and the missing heat is in the deep ocean. There is the Cowtan and Way paper that claims there is no pause, but rewrites a bit of the earlier history. So what is there in the ocean if there isn’t missing heat? The fact remains that in the data sets that were used to track the warming, there is a pause that is the subject of research.

    I don’t know yet how much of your assessment of Krauthammer’s cognitive strategy relies upon the extent to which you though he was questioning elements of the science you thought reached the level of established fact, that I have question. I’ll look at that later, and would appreciate any thoughts you have in the meantime.

  16. hardnoseon 26 Feb 2014 at 11:17 am

    Climate change deniers want to believe that we can continue trashing the earth without consequences. So they manage to convince themselves that what they want to believe is true.

    I don’t think it matters if there are increased regulations or new technologies, as long as the population continues to explode, and developing nations are encouraged to become industrialized.

    We don’t need GMOs to feed an exploding population, we need a population that doesn’t constantly explode.

  17. Martin Lewitton 26 Feb 2014 at 11:20 am

    Clarification: “a mechanism that can account for the lack of surface warming” should be “a mechanism that can account for the lack of upper ocean warming”

    On the trade winds, I thought your cursory statement, was as if the research had settled something about the models, rather than making clear how wrong they were in the way they were “matching” the 20th century climate. Yes, the PDO explains “the pause”, which may or may not exist, as well as the mid-century cooling and the rates of warming earlierr in the century and in the 80s and 90s.

  18. Bill Openthalton 26 Feb 2014 at 11:31 am

    hardnose –

    Why not lead by example and jump off a cliff? That would be only one waffling, farting, belching and breathing human less, but we have to start somewhere. Who knows, you might start a trend and become famous as the saviour of humanity :-) .

  19. Steven Novellaon 26 Feb 2014 at 11:40 am

    Martin,

    My point was that Krauthammer is arguing against prematurely using a scientific conclusion as if it is settled, but he refers to the pause as if it is well established. The existence and implications (even if we are in a pause, as I stated that is not the same thing as no global warming – we are not regressing to the baseline) of the pause are far less settled than global warming itself.

    I also wrote: “I also don’t think we have fully answered this question – this is one of those details that will be complex to understand, and new data is likely to shed further light.”

    So, I don’t think I am overselling our current confidence.

    Regarding the analogy to evolution, I wrote: “(I would not say it is as solid as evolution, but it’s north of 95% certain, which is comfortably in “fact” territory.)”

    In any case, labels such as “fact” are always going to be arbitrary cutoffs. I gave my operational definition – it is well established enough to act upon. That is not the same as certain, and I specifically stated it does not mean “impervious to challenge.”

    Regarding the precautionary principle – I wrote several paragraphs about this, making an analogy to treating patients prior to scientific certainty. I think I spelled out the relationship quite well, but if you think it needs further clarification, let me know.

  20. Will Nitschkeon 26 Feb 2014 at 4:02 pm

    @ Steve Novella

    “Reality – You don’t get to decide what “the” debate is.”

    Unfortunately neither do you. Do you have any evidence to support your claim that you know what the debate is about? I am aware of two surveys of results which I am happy to discuss with you, concerning the views of climate sceptics. Where did you obtain your information from?

    “It has many aspects, and there are demonstrably those who claim that the earth is not warming or that it is a natural and not man-made trend. Besides, my article was not primarily about the debate – it was about the cognitive strategies employed by Krauthammer.”

    “Reality – I wrote: “If evolution is settled science, then why are scientists always changing their construction of the tree of life, and why can’t they predict the future course of evolution? Same fallacy.””

    “Settled science” is of course a political term not a scientific one. It is used for political or advocacy purposes and if my memory serves me correctly, it was Al Gore who first widely employed it. It’s perfectly reasonable for Krauthammer’s to mock the phrase and perfectly unreasonable for you to attack Krauthammer for doing so. Science obviously is never completely settled, although certain aspects of certain scientific claims are more settled than others. You used an example that is reasonably well established and whose central claim has not been challenged in 155 years. But what is the central claim of climate science? If you are going to argue along such lines you are required to clarify what you think that is. Instead you employed the rhetorical trick of a false analogy.

    For example, why not reference cosmology as your analogy? What is the central claim of cosmology? What gets you to decide what that is? The theory of gravity has not substantially changed since I was born but other aspects of cosmology have gone through several “revolutions” over the course of my life. Black holes, dark matter, dark energy and so on. Why do you get to choose what you think Krauthammer is denying? Is he denying radiative transfer models? If so, what is your evidence for this? Or is he denying issues of reasonable scientific debate? Which, by the way, include concerns over measurement accuracy and bias in long term temperature trends.

    “Krauthammer, however, is happy to rely upon the notion of a pause, which is so far from settled science it is not even true, rather than the far more robust data supporting the basic fact of climate change.””

    If you define a ‘pause’ as an absence of a statistically significant trend in atmospheric warming over 1-2 decades, then you are incorrect. This was and and has been the definition of global warming right up until the most recent IPCC report. And as far as I am aware, it still largely is. It is perfectly reasonable to question this point. If you want to argue that the definition should be changed, then spell this out very explicitly and attempt a justification. Don’t gloss over this point and call people like Krauthammer names because they are skeptical of these sorts of ‘tactics.’ This is a politically loaded subject and this may surprise you, but even scientists have political views that may influence how they interpret their findings.

    “It’s almost as if you didn’t even read my article, or that your motivated reasoning to be a contrarian is so overwhelming it has impaired your reading comprehension.”

    You have the unfortunate habit of calling people names or insulting them when you cannot adequately defend a position. This tactic might ‘cheer the troops’ so to speak, but it gives me an unfair advantage by virtue of the fact that it reflects poorly on you. I would rather we focus on the quality of the arguments than waste time on name calling.

  21. roundthedebateon 26 Feb 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Something I have noticed in this discussion so far is the absence of any discussion regarding geo engineering. This is the behemoth in the room that is not taken into account when all of these studies are conducted. What models have any of us seen that includes geo engineering as a mitigation for whatever i.e. lack of rain the land overheating, etc.?
    If I am wrong please bring it to light.
    We are massively geo engineering at this time.

  22. Steven Novellaon 26 Feb 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Will – here’s a test of your reading comprehension. Please point out exactly where I called Krauthammer a name. You have now accused me of having a “habit” of calling people names or insulting them. That is a prevarication.

    What I do is characterize their arguments or behavior. I rarely characterize people. You apparently cannot tell the difference.

    Regarding the arguments above – Krauthammer opened by referring to Barack Obama referring to climate change as settled. I did not defend Obama. I stated: “To be fair, Krauthammer is talking about the politics of climate change as much as the science, and politicians often open the door to criticism by overstating the case or glossing over complexity and nuance.”

    But – a reasonable interpretation of what Obama stated is that the basic fact of anthropogenic global warming is settled. Krauthammer criticizing Obama’s statement is therefore aimed at this basic fact, not downstream effects or future predictions or things that are less settled. If Krauthammer was not criticizing accepting the basic fact that the globe is warming as settled, then it is he who should have clarified. Either he meant to criticize the basic fact, or he failed to clarify – either way, the result was that his argument was a straw man. As I explained – saying that it is settled that the globe is warming does not meant that everything about global warming is settled. And – doubt about specific predictions does not cast doubt on the more fundamental fact.

    You have yet to address any of my actual points. You are better at creating straw men than Krauthammer.

  23. Will Nitschkeon 26 Feb 2014 at 5:54 pm

    @ Steven Novella

    “What I do is characterize their arguments or behavior. I rarely characterize people. You apparently cannot tell the difference.”

    This is a wonderful example of where you deny you are doing something while actually doing it. To assert that I have a failure of comprehension skills, is simply to assert in a pompous way that I am stupid. I couldn’t care less if you call me stupid or in what manner you call me stupid. I’m just amused that when you call me stupid, you simultaneously deny you just called me stupid. Is this some form of insult denialism? ;-)

    “You have yet to address any of my actual points. You are better at creating straw men than Krauthammer.”

    What points haven’t I addressed? Asserting I haven’t addressed your points is rhetorical flourish. My central criticism of your article was that it presented a straw man and I spent some time focusing on that. In a second response I fleshed this out further. You have been unresponsive to that criticism.

    (If you want me to tear your article apart line by line, we can go through that process as well. Although not everything in it is objectionable. But what is the point if your premise is wrong?)

    When you argue that to deny the science is settled, is some flavour of denialism, it is critical you define what you mean by that. This is because the political debate is not over esoteric points relating to warming trends, radiative transfer or ocean heat exchange. It is clearly and obviously related to whether global warming will be problematical. This is so utterly self evident I should not have to explain it to you. Because you fail – and I suspect intentionally – to provide clear definitions of what scientific debates are ‘settled’ and which are not, you feel you have a free hand to attack individuals who disagree with your impressions of the subject matter. Someone who does not share your opinion is therefore, by default, a denier. You can avoid this pitfall by specifying clearly what issues you consider are settled, and how you feel they inform the public debate. If you go down that path, you will discover that the issues are not as simplistic as you have presented them here.

    Footnote: It is problematical to point to one study, very recent, based on a model, and then chide Krauthammer for failing to look at the big picture. Krauthammer if he was so inclined could dig up another study that reached opposite conclusions studying the same phenomena only a few years earlier. So the situation is rather murky, is it not? (And your second link is in fact, only an opinion piece, not even a paper.) Aren’t you rather careful in other fields to be cautious about citing individual studies, especially if they are new? Is there a cognitive bias in operation here?

  24. Steven Novellaon 26 Feb 2014 at 7:52 pm

    So then, no, you can’t give an example where I called Krauthammer a name. Because I didn’t. Criticizing an argument or a process is not name calling. It may be unflattering, but that does not make it name calling.

    You apparently cannot tell the difference, as you just demonstrated. That is not the equivalent of saying you are an idiot. But, accusing me falsely of name calling is your “rhetorical flourish.” It is a low debating tactic.

    You still fail to engage with what I actually wrote, including my later responses to you. I just carefully explained the logical sequence:

    Obama stated that global warming is settled. I think this clearly refers to the fact that global warming is occurring.

    Krauthammer attacks this, unfairly characterizing it as stating that the science is “impervious to challenge.” That is a straw man. He then launches into discussions about some of the specific predictions of climate change, which are clearly not settled, but that is not what Obama was likely talking about. He generated the confusion, and that is what I am criticizing. I never stated what I thought Krauthammer’s position on global warming is, other than to quote him directly, because he does not clarify it. The ambiguity is all his – again, this is typical of a strategy of doubt and confusion.

    My criticisms are not based on any premise about Krauthammer’s position. It is based upon how he is attacking others, with confusion and straw men.

    So your premise, that my premise is wrong, is wrong. (I even specifically stated that if Krauthammer stuck to criticizing political overreach on global warming I would have no problem with it.)

  25. Will Nitschkeon 26 Feb 2014 at 8:16 pm

    @ Steven Novella

    OK, let’s try to unmuddle this post.

    “It may be unflattering, but that does not make it name calling.”

    A semantic game which I half expected; You can be “unflattering” to someone by calling them fat. If you do it to someone walking in the street, you’re insulting them. If your doctor does it to you and is presenting an argument for why that situation is bad, then that is not necessarily an insult. However, you have the tendency to simply make very generalised remarks about denialism, inability to read/comprehend, etc. Because they are generalised attacks, they cannot be defended. That’s simply being insulting. Again I don’t mind if you insult me but at least be honest about what you’re doing.

    “You still fail to engage with what I actually wrote…”

    I’m not spending time on that because it’s a minor point of criticism which is avoiding my main criticism. You have the tendency to focus on what you think you can defend, as opposed to what is most important. But let’s spend a moment on this anyway…

    “Krauthammer attacks this, unfairly characterizing it as stating that the science is “impervious to challenge.” That is a straw man.”

    This is not a straw man because Krauthammer is a politician discussing a political argument. His opponents, i.e., the Obama administration, view any and all weather events as proof of global warming. (Or at least his science advisor is notorious for making such exaggerated claims.) In that sense – the correct sense – their interpretation of the science is impervious to challenge. The actual science, whatever you think that may be, is a separate matter.

    But again, this is a rather minor point of contention I only observed in passing. The major problem with your article is that you are asserting that Krauthammer is using a “denialist” tactic because some of the arguments he uses are the same as those used by creationists. This is merely an ad hominem. It doesn’t matter if person X uses an argument used by person Y who you dislike. It doesn’t matter if Steven Novella smokes the same cigars as those personally favoured by Pol Pot. And so on. The question is, is the argument correct or not?

    If we were in some alternative universe and Krauthammer was defending some young fellow by the name of Einstein against the Newtonians would his argument now be invalid? Since the answer must be ‘no’ there must be something else you are objecting to, besides the form of his argument.

  26. Will Nitschkeon 26 Feb 2014 at 11:01 pm

    @ Steven Novella

    Just briefly, because you have been attempting to sidestep my primary criticism of your piece, I wish to restate it. The failure of your article is your premise that there is this one thing, something, called “climate change”. This “thing” is beyond scientific dispute because the science is settled or 95% settled, or something like that. Now, you don’t define what you think this is. Obviously climate science is a very complex field consisting of hundreds of claims and millions of facts to digest. When a “climate change denier” denies climate change, you don’t define what you mean by this or what you think you mean by this. Hence, any criticism of any aspect of climate change science is, possibly, depending on your opinion or mood at the time, engaging in denialism. Since you leave this all up in the air you are therefore free to insult anyone you wish to insult.

    AIDS denial is not like this. The claim is clear and specific: the HIV virus does not cause AIDS.
    Anti-vax denialism is not like this. The claim is clear and specific: vaccines cause autism in children.

    Let me refer back to my earlier example. If I express skepticism of dark energy and offer an argument for this skepticism, does this make me a cosmology denier? Or an anti-science crank?

    Unless you define your terms and we’re all clear on (a) what you think is being denied and (b) why you are so confident that there is strong evidence for (a), all that your piece does is act as cheerleading for the political side that Krauthammer is critical of.

  27. steve12on 26 Feb 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Will Nitschke:

    I’ll leave this alone after this. Will, you talked all kinds of nonsense on this thread:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/reality-testing-and-metacognitive-failure/

    When I asked you to back up your words by discussing specifics in the literature with me, you refused to answer and ran away to this thread (a topic on which you are also an expert, it turns out).

    So essentially, when someone calls you on your BS in a way you can’t BS through, you split.

    Good strategy…..

  28. DrJoeinCAon 26 Feb 2014 at 11:49 pm

    Testimony of Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, before the Senate yesterday:

    “There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years. If there were such a proof it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists.
    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states: “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

    ““Extremely likely” is not a scientific term but rather a judgment, as in a court of law. The IPCC defines “extremely likely” as a “95-100% probability”. But upon further examination it is clear that these numbers are not the result of any mathematical calculation or statistical analysis. They have been “invented” as a construct within the IPCC report to express “expert judgment”, as determined by the IPCC contributors.”

  29. Davdoodleson 27 Feb 2014 at 12:33 am

    “To assert that I have a failure of comprehension skills, is simply to assert in a pompous way that I am stupid.”

    All signs point to both.
    .

  30. rezistnzisfutlon 27 Feb 2014 at 1:21 am

    DrJoe,

    There is no 100% certainty in science, only confidence levels and likelihoods. All science is provisional. You will find no scientist who will speak of certainties, and to attempt to quantify many lines of data and evidence across multiple scientific disciplines, degrees of confidence is all that can be said about it. A “judgement” is the best anyone can express.

    Also, I would not regard a founder of Greenpeace to be authoritative on any matters of science. His use of the word “proof” is evidence of that. While that by itself doesn’t negate his point, the fact that the glut of evidence to the contrary of his conclusion does. My guess is that the reason he was quoted is to give the appearance that, if anyone would be motivated for AGW, it would be a founding member of Greenpeace, and if that person of all people is saying that humans aren’t a (primary) cause of climate change, then he must be correct. Which is, of course, merely another form of Appeal to Authority.

    When it comes to human contribution to climate change, there is little doubt within the scientific community that it exists. The mere fact that “light” carbons in the atmosphere alone attests to this, and that’s only one line of evidence. Calculations to determine the level of involvement directly and indirectly contributing to climate change is something calculated in freshman geology and geography classes, so there is little dispute about human involvement. Attempting to drill down to the nearest percent is something like Moving the Goalposts, and criticizing language used by IPCC and the like is an exercise in semantics as well as a red herring.

    In other words, you have not disputed anything.

  31. BBBlueon 27 Feb 2014 at 2:32 am

    Forgive my interruption, but I have come here in hopes of refining my understanding of the subject in order to gently guide some deniers I know in the direction of a more reasoned understanding.

    I contend that “global warming”, “climate change”, and “settled science” are unfortunate terms that often confuse the issue. A positive correlation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global heat content is a more apt description, correct? The fact that human activity is clearly a significant contributor to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and the related increase in global heat content is what we are talking about when stating that the case to be made for “global warming” or “climate change” is only slightly less compelling than that made for evolution, is it not?

    From a layperson’s perspective, I think scientists in general have done an equally bad job in educating the public as to the distinction between the facts of evolution and the forces that drive it as they have in explaining the rise in global heat content and its effects on climate. How does one explain to a suspicious and semi or totally science-illiterate person that an increase in heat content does not necessarily mean next summer will warmer? Blaming humans for every severe weather event is not the best way to initiate that conversation.

    The public is often lectured by smug politicians whose motives are, by the very nature of their profession, suspect. Mr. Krauthammer has chosen to ally himself with politicians and political pundits as he has sought a second or perhaps third career, so I too, am curious about how much of his medical training has survived contamination, but dammit, he said that spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere was not a good thing, and I counted that as a victory for the truth that overshadowed his subsequent nod to Conservative political values.

    While I can appreciate the fine points of the disagreement between Messrs. Novella and Nitchke, I am willing to forgive a bit of intellectual sloppiness and sacrifice a small measure of short-term skeptical purity if, in the end, the point is made that fossil fuels begat atmospheric carbon dioxide which begat a range of possibilities, many of which most humans would find disagreeable, if not dangerous to their personal existence.

    Is there nothing positive to take away from Mr. Krauthammer’s column, nothing to build on? Perhaps not in the narrow confines of a skeptic’s blog, but I for one see an opportunity to turn the other cheek and take full advantage of what truth there was in his comments.

  32. rezistnzisfutlon 27 Feb 2014 at 4:11 am

    BBBlue,

    While the conversation to what the primary driver for climate change is, CO2 does take center stage, though there are other agents like methane (which leads to a positive feedback where the higher temperatures get, the more methane is released from sequestration, and the higher temps get again, etc).

    So, while the conversation about the driver for climate change is CO2, the evidence we gather that points to CO2 being the primary culprit is multitudinous.

    As far as what terms to use, I’m not sure what else we could use that would be better or more clear. Climate change is what is typically used in the scientific community because the study of climate isn’t confined to the global scale, and most study is done on more local areas. We also need to keep in mind that there are multiple disciplines that aggregate into what evidence we have – climatology is only one that studies it directly (which itself draws on other disciplines).

    I’m not sure I agree that scientists have done a bad job communicating with the public. The very nature of modern science makes it an authoritative establishment, typically coming from institutions and groups (the days of single scientists making grand discoveries pretty much on their own is over). People tend to be suspicious of organizations and institutions. Also, popular culture doesn’t help with sensationalist movies and TV shows that often portray scientists, technology, and those who employ those things as dubious and not to be trusted, using them in harmful and covert ways. Think of shows like X-Files or movies like Jurassic Park. Unfortunately, the most education people get on education is on television and in movies. Even many of the so-called documentaries these days are rife with pseudoscience and conspiracy theories (think Ancient Aliens or Ghost Hunters).

    As for what takeaway we have for Krauthammer’s article, we can only use it as an example of fallacious thinking and motivated reasoning. Again, not sure what else we can use it for other than a learning moment, but I do think it’s important that there are voices out there to set the record straight. Imagine if people like that were the only voices out there and their claims were left unchallenged. There would likely be many people who, without anyone saying otherwise, would accept his statements as truth.

    Considering that scientists make up only a tiny fraction of society, and the vast majority of society is scientifically illiterate who are more easily swayed by memes, soundbites, and bullet talking points, when trying to explain complex subjects like evolutionary biology or the physics of climate change, most people switch off. What can we do about that? Science communication is an ongoing problem. We simply cannot boil complex science down to one or two sentences. Heck, it often takes semesters worth of coursework to get a basic understanding of much of the material.

    For myself, I think that, at times, the best we can do is set the record straight, correct misinformation and factual inaccuracies, and point out logical fallacies. At least that stuff is then on the record and the pundits and politicians who have their own motives aren’t spreading misinformation unchallenged.

  33. grabulaon 27 Feb 2014 at 6:46 am

    “So essentially, when someone calls you on your BS in a way you can’t BS through, you split.”

    I’m actually impressed Will came back after it was fairly obvious, and pointed out by Dr Novella that he obviously hadn’t read the article.

    That dodgyness is unimpressive though. Will’s managed to build strawmen throughout this entire ‘discussion’ a term I loosely use since Will appears to be having both sides of his conversation. It’s intellectually lazy and disingenuous.

  34. SteveAon 27 Feb 2014 at 9:27 am

    Will N: “When a “climate change denier” denies climate change, you don’t define what you mean by this or what you think you mean by this.”

    The claim is clear and specific: human activity has no effect on the climate.

  35. Fair Persuasionon 27 Feb 2014 at 12:52 pm

    In legal parlance, “settle” is a word of equivocal meaning. When President Obama said the debate is settled, its meaning references connections, context, circumstances of his political speech.

  36. DrJoeinCAon 27 Feb 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Rezist: Just a note about where the “95%” certainty came from as used by SN. It is neither a “confidence level” nor a “level of probability.” Saying science is not “100%” certain about anything but then saying that science is “95%” certain about global warming is misleading at best.

    Same as “human involvement” and “human contribution” do not mean human cause.

  37. Ekkoon 27 Feb 2014 at 1:28 pm

    “The major problem with your article is that you are asserting that Krauthammer is using a “denialist” tactic because some of the arguments he uses are the same as those used by creationists. This is merely an ad hominem.”

    No, it isn’t an ad hominem at all. The mutually shared errors in logic were clearly explained.

    “Calling something an established scientific fact means that it is reasonable to proceed with that fact as a premise, for further research or for policy. It does not mean “static, impervious to challenge.” That is the straw man. Both evolution deniers and climate change deniers use this tactic to misinterpret scientific confidence as an anti-scientific resistance to new evidence or arguments.”

    This misunderstanding comes up frequently with people who deny anthropogenic global warming, especially in reference to scientific consensus. “Science isn’t done by consensus” “Appeals to authority are unscientific” Etc. Etc. Completely misunderstanding that a consensus in science is not set in stone but is based on mountains of evidence that come first.

  38. steve12on 27 Feb 2014 at 1:52 pm

    DrJoe:

    Do you accept that smoking causes cancer?

  39. DrJoeinCAon 27 Feb 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Steve12: Yes. Not the only cause, but sure.

  40. steve12on 27 Feb 2014 at 2:08 pm

    DrJoe:

    OK. What’s the difference between involvement/contribution and cause here:

    >“human involvement” and “human contribution” do not mean human cause.

  41. DrJoeinCAon 27 Feb 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Steve: It means that humans can contribute to climate change to some degree but do not necessarily “cause” it. And that there will be climate change with or without humans.

    Same as smoking can be a cause of cancer, but one can have cancer without having smoked. And one can smoke and not have cancer.

  42. steve12on 27 Feb 2014 at 3:03 pm

    “It means that humans can contribute to climate change to some degree but do not necessarily “cause” it. And that there will be climate change with or without humans.”

    Any effect almost always has multiple causes. I think it’s more correct to say that you think warming has multiple causes, and that humans are one of those causes. Because I see no distinction between contribution and cause here.

  43. DrJoeinCAon 27 Feb 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Steve: You got it. Climate change will happen with or without humans, and the extent of the human contribution is not known.

  44. Ekkoon 27 Feb 2014 at 3:37 pm

    “Climate change will happen with or without humans, and the extent of the human contribution is not known.”
    You forgot to add “not known by myself, as I have not ever actually bothered to read the details of what the science says”. The human contribution is quite well known.

  45. steve12on 27 Feb 2014 at 3:41 pm

    ” Climate change will happen with or without humans, and the extent of the human contribution is not known.”

    1. Non-human factors are causing the planet to warm
    2. Humans are causing the planet to warm
    3. We don’t know the relative contributions of 1 and 2.

    What work do you think comes the closest to characterizing the contributions of 1 and 2?

  46. roundthedebateon 27 Feb 2014 at 5:13 pm

    who amongst you/ us are climate scientists?
    CO2 does what in water (oceans; carbonic acid)?
    How can you all pussy foot around the fact that chemistry is at work here.
    Natural climate change can take millions of years: nothing in the fossil record indicates that any mass extinction event that we know about, took less than 70 thousand years to play out. There is some assumption that this was due to climate disruption and of all the extinction events this was the fastest.
    Speed forward to today and tell me how much green house gas humans have put into the atmosphere raising the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 in a very little amount of time?
    CO2 and methane are the gases that are very abundant on this planet. So there will always be the need to delicately balance the amount of these gases if we do not want to cause what we are know beginning to see.

  47. rezistnzisfutlon 27 Feb 2014 at 5:57 pm

    I’m a climate scientist, as in a hydrogeologist – climate is a key component to my job as it deals directly with temperature, humidity, precipitation levels, and snow/ice pack.

    What we are seeing today is an increase that’s far higher than expected, as well as much higher concentrations of light carbon-12 in the atmosphere (the carbon associated with the burning of organic materials) than we should expect with just natural occurrences. As I’d mentioned before, there are multiple lines of evidence not only that temperatures are rising globally, but that humans are a major contributor to it. The evidence is rather incontrovertible and it takes some nimble mental gymnastics and a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance to outright deny physics and chemistry.

    DrJoe, yes, climate will change with or without humans, but that is a red herring – we are talking about what humans are doing to contribute to it.

    Often, the conversation focuses on the humans causes and what we can do to mitigate for them. But what is often ignored and left to management and regulatory agencies to handle is, what do we do about the results of climate change. For instance, many semi-arid areas of the western US are becoming hotter and drier, with local aquifers not recharging like they used to. We’re also seeing drastic decreases in snowpack which is essential not only for spring snowmelt, but for offsetting late summer dryness. Furthermore, many plants and trees rely on the snowpack to provide a steady release of water over a longer period of time, so without the snowpack these kinds of flora are less prone to cultivate, and often die off completely. This results in many riparian and arboreal areas drying up and becoming essential dry grasslands and even deserts. Forest fires are more prevalent, leading to the positive feedback of carbon release from trees being burned, to massive pine beetle die offs because they have a longer breeding cycle.

    So, when there are changes to climate, there are resulting consequences that must be dealt with. There is less water to go around. Aquifers cannot sustain areas like they used to, agriculture has to cut back, and there is more runoff rather than snowpack during wet seasons which means more water runs into the oceans and less water is retained for local areas.

  48. rezistnzisfutlon 27 Feb 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Saying science is not “100%” certain about anything but then saying that science is “95%” certain about global warming is misleading at best.

    Why? Only ideologues and religious zealots view the world in terms of certainty. The fact of the matter is, there is never complete certainty, and science is no exception. However, there can be high levels of confidence, and there is nothing wrong with that. Furthermore, the confidence being referred to isn’t binary – it isn’t 95% certain that it’s happening and 5% uncertain that it’s happening. The small percentage of uncertainty is allowing for changes or additions of data. Also, there will always be detractors. Even Theory of Evolution has its detractors within the biological community, granted the ones I’ve heard of are creationists who are committed to their religious beliefs.

    So, again you are misunderstanding certain fundamentals of science. Science doesn’t have to be 100% about anything to function well. The proof of that is in the pudding with all of the things we have these days that result from science. None of those things have 100% certainty to the, but they still work.

  49. DrJoeinCAon 27 Feb 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Rezist: Are you saying that when one says with “95% certainty” something is happening you are not referring to a real number? Where did that number come from? Why not 85%? Of course, science is not 100%, but when you give out a number like 95% without foundation, it makes it seem sort of Algoreish. And when you say 95%, people think almost 100% certainty. I just question why 95%.

    There has been climate change for the last many billion years with extremes of temperature from the Ice Age to hotter than we are now. Since humanity has not been around for all those billions of years and since those temperature extremes have been far beyond what they are now, I’m just wondering what the contribution of humanity is to the current climate change and, as a followup, how much changing how we do things would affect climate change.

    Just asking the questions. No answers, just questions.

  50. rezistnzisfutlon 27 Feb 2014 at 6:40 pm

    So, you’re JAQing off, gotcha. That seems pretty apparent actually.

    95% certain something is happening and having 95% consensus are two different things. 95% is a high confidence level for any scientific endeavor. Again, it’s not as binary as you seem to think – it’s not “we’re 95% sure it’s happening, but 5% not sure it’s happening”. They’re giving their level of confidence that the data they are presented with is accurate, that the models predicting past and future events are representative of real data, and that the vast majority of studies from multiple disciplines support each other. Any uncertainty that exists will be regarding variations of data, not a complete rejection of a consensus or a 180 degree reversal. Also, part of that confidence level is what will happen in the future, which is what the models predict – the thing is, we cannot hold 100% certainty when predicting the future, and that’s the basis of the IPCC recommendations. On the other hand, multiple scenarios have been created that give conservative to liberal estimates based on a variety of factors and actions.

    Yes, climate change has happened frequently throughout history. So? At those times, humans weren’t around to contribute to it. This is yet again another red herring. The question isn’t about natural processes that we have little control over, it’s about our contributions that we do have control over. Plus, we’re talking about the science here, not what we should or shouldn’t do (the is/ought fallacy). The science only produces data, it’s not making moral or value judgements. So in that regard, you’re correct, climate change will occur in one regard or another anyway. However, what the data is clear about is that humans have a large impact on climate.

    But it’s not just about how we should mitigate the change itself, but how we can better manage resources in the future. This is probably the most important aspect of climatology. If we can predict what temperatures, water usage, snowpack, and aquifer drawdown/recharge will be for the next 10-20 years in a certain region, we can make better decisions on how to control the resource so that we don’t overuse it and run out before that time, or give too much for one use, leaving little for other uses.

  51. Ekkoon 27 Feb 2014 at 6:45 pm

    DrJoe,
    That was quite a rapid shift from: “the extent of the human contribution is not known.” to “just asking questions.” Are you familiar with the acronym JAQing off?
    If you are genuinely interested in answers to those questions, one wonders why you haven’t availed yourself of the wonderful plethora of information available at your fingertips in this day and age before now.
    Start here: http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/report/WG1AR5_SPM_FINAL.pdf

  52. roundthedebateon 27 Feb 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Exactly; it is high time to stop mincing words and get to the part about adaptation. And actually it does not take a scientist to quantify the higher temperatures we are experiencing even at night.
    Some of us want to be the fly in the ointment just for a reaction. sure we can let our tempers get the best of us when confronted with the ‘devil’s advocates’ where no amount of reason or evidence will convince the being that we are in the midst of something incredibly big.
    The big question and what causes all of the concern and angst is, will we, as a species, be here when the average global temperatures rise more than 2 degrees Celsius?
    I see Cycads and Dinosaurs what do you all see?
    The acidification of the ocean and the fact we are losing the sea ice that reflects the infra red is a direct response to the addition of carbon dioxide. There is a feed back effect that will take place that we do not know much about. That is the only real question remaining in this debate.
    If even you are a climate denier you will still have to adapt to a warmer, dryer world and so will all of our systems.
    I believe the drought in California is a direct symptom of how the jet stream has been weakened or removed completely. We do not experience cloud cover or the coastal fog we used to get. The temperature differentials between the air and the ocean are coming into equilibrium thus there is reduced wind and evaporation. Please somebody critique this simplistic model and tell me I am wrong.

  53. DrJoeinCAon 27 Feb 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Ekko: Yep, humans contribute to climate change in the last 100 years.

  54. DrJoeinCAon 27 Feb 2014 at 11:08 pm

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/climate-change-murder-rape

    “Global Warming Will Cause 180,000 More Rapes by 2099″

    And the hits keep on comin’.

  55. rezistnzisfutlon 27 Feb 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Yea, that “study” looks almost like it was done as a joke…

  56. sonicon 27 Feb 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Here is Obama’s quote in context-
    “But we have to act with more urgency because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air…
    The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require some tough choices along the way.
    But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. ”

    So Obama misrepresents climate science and claims his actions are justified due to this misrepresentation.

    Charles K. attempts to correct the situation.

    The straw man in this room is that Charles K. is using a ‘creationist’ argument.

  57. steve12on 28 Feb 2014 at 12:32 am

    DrJoe: I think you missed my Q above. Curious as to your answer.

  58. DrJoeinCAon 28 Feb 2014 at 2:05 am

    Steve 12: I haven’t seen anything that gives a figure for how much humans contribute to climate change nor how an alteration in human behavior would affect climate change. Too much hysteria in general. I accept that non-human factors are responsible for the extremes of climate change in the first multi-billion years. Humans have kicked in some responsibility during the past couple hundred. I let it go at that.

  59. Bruceon 28 Feb 2014 at 3:47 am

    “Just asking the questions. No answers, just questions.”

    Aside from what Ekko said, ie stop JAQing off…

    I would turn this on you, can you prove that humans are not responsible? As a skeptic you should be challenging your own position, you should be asking questions of yourself instead of posting inane rubbish showing how you can use statistics badly.

  60. Will Nitschkeon 28 Feb 2014 at 3:53 am

    The bottom line is this:

    The political commentator Krauthammer discusses droughts, hurricanes, extreme tornado activity and so on, because, self evidently, he is being critical of the claim that global warming is problematical.

    Global warming may or may not be problematical. But that is not the focus of Steven Novella’s piece. Steven wants to attack the logical form of Krauthammer’s arguments.

    In order to do this (rather mysteriously) Steven Novella concludes that Krauthammer is being critical of this claim instead -

    “Likewise, that the earth is warming, and that this warming is at least partly due to forcing from human industrial activity, is now a well-established scientific fact.”

    Which sets up the straw man in Steven’s piece. Steven then follows on with various misdirections.

    Now, if you want to advocate, then by all means advocate. But don’t advocate and hide behind a sceptical mask pretending to be objective. If you have to distort a position in order to attack it, you’re not being honest with yourself.

  61. Steven Novellaon 28 Feb 2014 at 7:36 am

    If Krauthammer accepts that AGW is real, but solely disagrees with the political overreach, then he should have clarified that. I even stated that if he did that, I would have no problem. He didn’t. He attacked AGW in general. I didn’t criticize his criticism of the overreach. I said, “OK, he has a point here.” Did you read that line?

    Bringing up the pause is a standard AGW denial strategy for arguing that warming is not even happening. You can’t ignore the context of this debate.

    He also wrote: “Climate-change proponents have made their cause a matter of fealty and faith. For folks who pretend to be brave carriers of the scientific ethic, there’s more than a tinge of religion in their jeremiads.”

    He says “climate-change proponents” – not overreach or overselling climate change, not even climate change hysterics. “Climate change proponents.” Calling accepting the scientific consensus “faith” is a creationist strategy.

    The full Obama quote is still most consistent with the interpretation that the fact that industrial CO2 is forcing climate change is “settled science”. He says “climate change is a fact.” talking about reducing CO2. (And I agree, “settled science” is a bad term, I never use it myself, and I acknowledged that “To be fair, Krauthammer is talking about the politics of climate change as much as the science, and politicians often open the door to criticism by overstating the case or glossing over complexity and nuance.”)

    So – who is guilty of misdirection? By not even acknowledging the very deliberate caveats I put into my piece specifically to account for the false accusations you are making, you lose all credibility.

    We can legitimately argue about what Krauthammer’s position actually is – precisely because he did not clarify. But I am taking him at his word when he says “climate change proponents.”

    Again, the way that he references the “pause” is meant to call into question the fact of climate change (not just the implications for weather or any of the other derivative claims).

    In the end Krauthammer is guilty of exactly what he was criticizing in others – glossing over nuance in order to make a polemic case. Just like Will is doing here (and to a lesser degree Sonic).

  62. grabulaon 28 Feb 2014 at 7:44 am

    drjoe, I think you’re being purposefully obtuse:

    “There has been climate change for the last many billion years with extremes of temperature from the Ice Age to hotter than we are now. Since humanity has not been around for all those billions of years and since those temperature extremes have been far beyond what they are now, I’m just wondering what the contribution of humanity is to the current climate change and, as a followup, how much changing how we do things would affect climate change.”

    It’s the compression of time that the change is currently occurring in compared to no observably comparable change throughout climate history, going as far back as we can look. The overwhelming evidence is that natural processes do lead to climate change over long periods of time and no where near as fast as things appear to be changing, according to several different disciplines of science, since the industrial period.

    The problem I have with climate change deniers in general is that they seem to have a hard time grasping the science behind the whole thing. This thread is a great example. Will Nitschke can’t be bothered to actually read the article above before making a complete ass of himself (yes Will, that’s an ad hominem), and then coming back for more. Drjoe flip flops on how extreme his denialism goes and either really doesn’t understand the science – in which case why would he bother commenting here, or more obviously, is being disingenious for what? To look obtuse? I just don’t get it.

  63. steve12on 28 Feb 2014 at 10:05 am

    Dr. Joe

    “I haven’t seen anything that gives a figure for how much humans contribute to climate change nor how an alteration in human behavior would affect climate change. ”

    Then what is your opinion based on? Clearly there is some work you find compelling and other work you don’t. My original question was simply which is which?

    “Too much hysteria in general.”

    But I’m talking about the science. What specific issues or problems in the research have lead you to your conclusions?

    “I accept that non-human factors are responsible for the extremes of climate change in the first multi-billion years. Humans have kicked in some responsibility during the past couple hundred. I let it go at that.”

    I’m confused….

  64. steve12on 28 Feb 2014 at 10:09 am

    Will = Coward

    a. I never said that I was above name calling

    b. Will talks a big game until he encounters someone who can discuss the lit directly, then he runs to other threads and ignores that person. Makes for a great discussion: he either lectures you or runs away.

  65. sonicon 28 Feb 2014 at 10:18 am

    Obama’s examples of ‘climate change’ are things the models do not predict- (Calif will get wetter, not drier) for example.

    If the science is so settled, then why are the examples exactly the opposite of what climate science says and what the data show?

    Ekko-
    What is the human contribution?
    You say it is ‘well known’.
    For example, How many degrees of warming has man contributed since 2001?

  66. The Other John Mcon 28 Feb 2014 at 10:53 am

    sonic, that’s why we’re not going to political leaders for our science (try going to the scientists doing the research!). what are the scientists saying?

    people have already spent a fair amount of time discussing why the term “settled science” is silly…try reading some of the above I think you’ll see

  67. DrJoeinCAon 28 Feb 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Steve 12: Science has not quantified the human contribution to climate change. And science has not quantified how a change in the human contribution would affect the climate.

    We assume there is a human contribution in the last 100 years. There’s 5 billion people here after all. How could they not have an effect? But the question is how much of an effect. What difference does the last 100 years make over the multi-billion years of climate change? Is it enough to say we “have to do something” in the next 6 months or else we are all doomed? Can we do anything or should we do anything to slow/reverse the normal history of climate change?

    We don’t know the answers.

  68. roundthedebateon 28 Feb 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Why does Krauthammer get any credibility with any of us; he is just a talking head that regurgitate think tank drivel (talk about biased, I suppose by definition the fossil fuel industry would have to be biased to justify it’s existence).
    The scientists and those that understand the science have their back against the wall when they are interviewed by the talking heads. The ‘certainty’ question is a perfect example of how to distort the scientific process where a 100 % certainty is not attainable and really not necessary to go forward with the scientific investigation.
    Scientists deal with data and have a difficult time expressing a concept with criteria being driven by percent certainty. So when you all want to really get into the data and the observations that back that data up then we really will have a debate.
    Again I have to thank the moderator for allowing us to express our opinions and views here.

  69. Ekkoon 28 Feb 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Sonic – have you or haven’t you read the most recent IPCC summary report? For example, section D: Detection and Attribution of Climate Change?

  70. steve12on 28 Feb 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Dr. Joe:

    “Science has not quantified the human contribution to climate change. And science has not quantified how a change in the human contribution would affect the climate.”

    I think we’re not communicating here. I’m not so much asking for a reiteration as much as a rebuttal. You’ve based your objection to work saying humans are the primary cause of warming on something, right?

    I’m asking you specifically: what is it about this literature that you think it wrong? I mean, you can’t object to something you don’t know or understand, right? So what is your specific objection to the literature that says humans are primarily responsible for this warming?

  71. Bruceon 28 Feb 2014 at 2:21 pm

    I saw this tweeted by Prof Brian Cox and thought it described one of our recent regular commenters quite well:

    http://thepaperthinhymn.com/2010/01/26/how-to-speak-post-modernism/

  72. DrJoeinCAon 28 Feb 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Steve12: What warming are you referring to? As I said several times, warming has occurred on a much larger scale for billions of years before humans were present. So we can dismiss any human involvement there, right?

    If you’re talking about the last 50 or 100 years, I’m not aware of any literature that says that humans are “primarily responsible” for warming during this period. We’ve been in a warming trend anyway. There is literature that says humans “very likely” contribute to some elements of climate change. Sure. That would be expected since there are 5 billion humans hanging around living and breathing and consuming. But considering the last 50-100 years’ changes versus the billions of years of climate change and the climate change that is independent of human contribution doesn’t seem productive to me.

    Practically, I ask what the difference in climate change would be if humans changed their behavior or numbers. Will that cause the seas to stop rising as what’s-his-name promised 6 years ago? Will that cause a reversal or ceasing of climate change? Will a change in human behavior have any effect at all and, if so, what would that effect be?

  73. steve12on 28 Feb 2014 at 2:56 pm

    DrJoe – so you’ve read a good amount of the literature on AGW, and you would say a fair summarization of the climate science community is this:

    “If you’re talking about the last 50 or 100 years, I’m not aware of any literature that says that humans are “primarily responsible” for warming during this period.”

  74. sonicon 28 Feb 2014 at 3:20 pm

    The Other John Mc-
    The politician in this case is spending 100′s of billions of dollars.
    His reasons have nothing to do with climate science- while claiming they do.
    Clearly it isn’t ‘settled science’ that is driving him– so why not call him on it?

    roundthedebate-
    Krauthammer gets credibility because what he is saying is accurate.
    It is Obama that is making false claims about what the science says.
    If you are spending 100′s of billions for false reasons– well, ‘the science is settled, no debate’ sounds like a rallying cry that one would want to promote.

    Ekko-
    I have looked at the chapter in question- you made a claim, I’m asking you to back it.
    How many degrees of warming can be attributed to human activity since 2000?

  75. Steven Novellaon 28 Feb 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Dr. Joe – the billions of years gambit is a misdirection.

    No one denies that climate changes over long periods of time. There is nothing special about the current climate.

    Except – we have built our civilization around the current climate and it would kinda suck if things change rapidly, flooding coastal cities, moving farming zones, etc.

    Also, the rapidity with which the climate is changing can be a problem. We already put a great deal of stress on the other species on this planet, adding climate change is likely to accelerate the mass extinction we’re causing.

    I think we know enough to conclude that putting more and more CO2 into the atmosphere is probably not a good thing. Hey, if we can have sustainable energy, reduce dependence on foreign all, improve efficiency, reduce pollution – and reduce CO2 emissions, then why not. Those all seem like good things.

    We should dispense with the false dichotomy of thinking that either you accept climate change as natural and/or no problem at all, or we have to hysterically dismantle our economy in a mad panic.

    How about we just shift some of our efforts into accelerating the development of sustainable energy and more efficient use of electricity. Where’s the downside there?

  76. juleson 28 Feb 2014 at 4:02 pm

    The scientists studying AGW are up against fluid behavior described by the Napier-Stokes differential equations which describe fluid flow, heat transfer and diffusion. For all but the simplist cases these equations are not linear, they are chaotic. Weather, climate, life, heating, heat transfer, fluid transport, solar radiation, galactic radiation, magnetic fields, chemical reactions, Coriolis forces, albedo, absorbtion specrums and a countless other factors affect this. All of these intertwining phenomenon are chugging out chaos on all cylinders. To state with full confidence that global warming is happening, is caused by humans, and is catastrophic is hubris of the highest order. To question that position is reasonable.

    How do we get to the position where AGW theory is considered a “consensus”? I will propose a modest answer to this question for your consideration. Given that: 1) people are naturally sympathetic to the environment, and 2) people have egos and want to be seen and understood as being a good person, and that 3) the natural solution to a catastrophic AGW would be trillions of dollars international taxes and governmental control of all power (and just about everything else); government organizations, most scientists, and thier egos will take the path of self interest, perhaps without even knowing it.

  77. Ekkoon 28 Feb 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Sonic,
    My claim was that human contributions to climate change are well-known. They are summarized in the report I linked earlier. Total anthropogenic radiative forcings, for example are laid out in a chart for you.

    Here is another chart summarizing human contributions, complete with links to all the studies it summarizes: http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php?g=57

    Now, if you have some specific question on warming (surface? ocean?) for some short term trend period that you are interested in, there might be specific studies that could answer that for you. I’m not a climate scientist myself, but perhaps it is figure 8 in this one?
    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/4/044022/pdf/1748-9326_6_4_044022.pdf

  78. wamcconnellon 28 Feb 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Jesus Freaks or Climate Freaks? Take Your Pick

    As one who attended high school and college in the 1970’s, my friends and I often encountered devotees of the Christian religion whom we mockingly called Jesus freaks. Because they were generally a humble, friendly lot, I often discussed religious beliefs and doctrine with them. I happen to agree with many Christian tenets. The problem I had with Jesus freaks was their tendency to resort to threats and fear tactics when their religious rationale failed them. In the decades since, a religious faction has arisen that employs many of the zealous tactics of the Jesus freaks, but without their humility. These new religious zealots I call climate freaks.

    After Hurricane Agnes devastated the Middle Atlantic region in June of 1972, a Jesus freak leveraged his plea for my religious conversion by reciting a Bible verse from the Book of Matthew16: “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.” This was accompanied by a warning that Agnes was just the beginning of the wrath of floods to follow. Thus, Hurricane Agnes combined with the Biblical foretelling of a flood was wielded by this particular Jesus freak as a threat to convince me to adopt his religion as my own.

    After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in September of 2005, climate freaks were just as strident to strike fear into the hearts of skeptics and non-believers. Consider this ominous divination from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., climate freak and attorney for the National Resources Defense Council, “For they that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.”2 With this prophecy, the nephew of a former President predicted that global warming induced hurricanes shall rain down floods upon the planet in retribution for America’s sinful fossil fuel dependence. Kennedy added, “Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children.”1 Someone should clue climate freak Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. that we’ve heard it all before from the Jesus freaks.

    Jesus freaks warned us to repent of our ways or we would pay as a nation, as conveyed in verse nine from Matthew, chapter twenty-four, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations….” Climate freaks say, “Katrina slammed its full force against the country blamed most widely for global warming—the United States.”3 Unless we repent as a nation we are on “the fast track to climate hell,”4 according to Ross Gelbspan, author and well known climate freak. Gelbspan’s mantra was joined by Germany’s Environmental Minister Jurgen Tritten, who seethed: “When reason finally pays a visit to climate-polluter headquarters, the international community has to be prepared to hand America a worked-out proposal for the future of international climate protection.”5

    I sometimes chided my Jesus freak friends, reminding them that God needed to keep his plagues straight. Will God’s wrath take the form of a flood or a drought, water or fire? Why won’t he make up his mind? This is important, I would explain, because the two afflictions are mutually exclusive: a flood being the opposite of a drought in my understanding of the terms. It ends up my understanding is naïve according to my conversant. “One should not trifle with God’s wrath,” he replied.

    Climate freaks have a similar problem and solution; when it’s a really, really hot day it’s global warming. When it’s an unusually cold winter, well, that too is global warming. They can’t decide if climate change will cause floods or droughts, dramatic warming or drastic cooling, but they know “the goblins’ll git you if’n you don’t watch out.” In fact, they’ll use the whole gambit, as Gelbspan did when he ranted, “We had a two-foot snowfall in Los Angeles in January. We had 37 inches of rain in one day in Mumbai, India. We had this horrendous heat wave with 120 degrees in Arizona. We have the Missouri River just about empty because of a prolonged drought. All of these, including the intensity of hurricanes, are signatures of the warming of the planet.”4

    The fallback position of the Jesus freak was, in effect, the Lord works in mysterious ways. When attempting to explain global warming-caused cooling, the fallback position of Time Magazine’s Brian Walsh is that global warming causes “all manner of complex disruptions,”15 or, in effect, the climate acts in mysterious ways, and mere mortals have no business questioning prophesies of climate freaks.

    Not all the foreboding signs are as bold as floods, droughts and earthquakes. Some are subtle. During my youth, I remember a particularly warm spat in February when buds opened and leaves sprouted on shrubbery. Watch out, I was warned. “The Bible says, ‘Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.’”8 Untimely figs9 are a sign of the approaching Rapture.

    Not to be outdone, climate freaks have a parallel warning. “Early Spring Caused by Global Warming” shouts Digital Journal.12 “Climate change is to blame, the timing is all wrong and biologists are worried,” worries author Bob Ewing. And well he should worry; Bob and his biologist buddies have misread God’s Fourth Vial of Wrath,13 crediting human beings for God’s work, and that has angered the Jealous God. God’s punishment: global warming, no doubt. Thanks, Bob.

    When really frustrated with a reluctant convert, a Jesus freak might quote from Revelations chapter six, verse seventeen, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”17 With that threat, the forewarned is supposed to quake in fear and accept religion. Likewise, climate freaks threaten doubters. Instead of the wrath of God, columnist, climate freak David Roberts prefers military tribunals. He says, “When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.”7 Recall that the Nuremberg trials sentenced war criminals to hanging, firing squads, and life imprisonment. Roberts sounds more angry than even the Lord of Vengeance.

    Our exhaling of carbon dioxide is akin to original sin in the mind of a climate freak. Climate Messiah, Al Gore chisels his own commandment for carbon dioxide polluters: “Let the polluter pay.”10 Since we all produce carbon dioxide when we breathe, we’re all polluters and we’ll all have to pay Al’s “CO2 tax.” What happens if we’re too poor and we don’t have the money to pay this tax? Nuremberg sentences for that too, for sure. After our executions, we’ll be shipped down to climate hell, handed a snow shovel, and forced to clear sidewalks for all eternity.

    The senator’s prophesy continues, “Or we can whirl blindly on, behaving as if one day there will be no children to inherit our legacy.”11 Almost as though the Apostle Paul was cued to Al Gore’s portentous prophecy, he wrote to the Ephesians, “Henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”14 Is Paul, the once blinded Saul of Tarsus, warning us against charlatans and false prophets, or is he leveraging our children by anchoring mystical religious claptrap to our most cherished hopes? Both climate freaks and Jesus freaks love to add weight to their threats by tossing in the children.

    As we have seen, climate freaks and Jesus freaks have much in common, but they differ in a few particularly definitive characteristics. Climate freaks tend to be elitist, arrogant, and condescending, while Jesus freaks tend to be humble, kind, and uplifting. Though I find fault with both factions, I would cast my lot with the Jesus freaks any day, particularly if it’s my last.

  79. DrJoeinCAon 28 Feb 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Steven Novella: No downside to improving efficiency and sustainable energy at all. My problem is with the argument that “if we don’t do it and do it soon, we’re doomed.” I don’t see any basis for that thinking.

  80. sonicon 28 Feb 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Ekko-
    I looked at the graphs and such from the IPCC. They don’t answer the question well.

    If the contribution is well known– how much since 2001 shouldn’t be such a problem– in that time we have had the best data collection ever, we have had more people studying this than ever, billions of dollars have been spent studying this since 2001–
    How much warming has humanity caused sine 2001?

    Your links are to studies that involve model comparisons to model comparisons and data adjustments without explanation- all of which is questionable given the models don’t match the data well.
    And none of them answer the question I posed.

    Have you found the answer anywhere yet?

  81. sonicon 28 Feb 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Why is it OK for a politician to misrepresent climate science as Obama clearly did in the speech I quoted?

  82. Ekkoon 28 Feb 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Hi sonic! I found it for you!
    Here you go: http://thingsbreak.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/improved-constraints-on-21st-century-warming-derived-using-160-years-of-temperature-observations.pdf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Attribution_of_global_warming_%E2%80%93_simulation_of_20th_century_global_mean_temperatures_(with_and_without_human_influences)_compared_to_observations_(NASA).png

    You claim that “billions of dollars have been spent studying this since 2001″. Can you please back that up now with some evidence? Thanks!

  83. Ekkoon 28 Feb 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Whoops! I almost forgot this: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-9-2-figure-1.html
    I look forward to your in-depth analysis of why their models are wrong as well!

  84. Hosson 28 Feb 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Sonic
    “Why is it OK for a politician to misrepresent climate science as Obama clearly did in the speech I quoted?”

    Many commenters and Dr N have stated very clearly, several times, that the criticism against Obama for misrepresenting the science is valid. Why are you suggesting otherwise?

    I’m not sure if Obama’s understanding is off, if he’s trying to knowingly manipulate the populace(for some unknown motive), or I whatever other reason it maybe. Speculation into motives without evidence is just a excercise in motivated reasoning.

    I’d love to see Obama correct the factual errors he made and for him to stop misrepresenting science.

    Unfortunately fallacious statements like Obama’s are used as straw men by global warming deniers and global warming “skeptics”. Let me repeat that again because its important. Statements like Obama’s are used as straw men by global warming deniers and global warming “skeptics”.

  85. BillyJoe7on 28 Feb 2014 at 11:24 pm

    sonic,

    As a rubber duck, you’re a classic.

    “How much warming has humanity caused sine 2001?”
    Great cherry picked question from an old cherry pickin’ climate denier.

    “Why is it OK for a politician to misrepresent climate science as Obama clearly did in the speech I quoted?”
    Why is it okay for you to keep beating your wife?

    “the models don’t match the data well”
    Which is quite strange given the models are actually based on the data.
    Of course, if you cherry pick the data….

    “Krauthammer gets credibility because what he is saying is accurate”
    Said by a true cherry picker of another cherry picker.

    And the merry-go-round keeps turning.

  86. Will Nitschkeon 01 Mar 2014 at 3:34 am

    @ Steven Novella

    “If Krauthammer accepts that AGW is real, but solely disagrees with the political overreach, then he should have clarified that. I even stated that if he did that, I would have no problem. He didn’t. He attacked AGW in general. I didn’t criticize his criticism of the overreach. I said, “OK, he has a point
    here.” Did you read that line?”

    So now you are attacking him for what he didn’t say but what you felt he should have said? This line of argumentation is absurd. Would you care to quote where Krauthammer is claiming to deny the things that you are asserting he is denying, i.e., the “basic science” ? (See my previous comment.)

    Fundamentally this is your problem: You’ve put words in Krauthammer’s mouth. Complaining he should have said things he didn’t say is getting rather ridiculous. Since you are asserting he is denying “basic” scientific facts, cite where he does this. Otherwise, you’ve created a straw man and your piece is a misdirection.

    “Bringing up the pause is a standard AGW denial strategy for arguing that warming is not even happening. You can’t ignore the context of this debate.”

    There are now between a half dozen to a dozen scientific papers and articles in the scientific literature discussing “the pause”. Could you clarify what you mean by this? Is the UK Met Office in denial? Are the champions of the AGW movement in denial because they discuss “the pause” ? This is an especially curious statement to make, because it seems to be a form of denialism in itself. As I stated earlier -

    “If you define a ‘pause’ as an absence of a statistically significant trend in atmospheric warming over 1-2 decades, then you are incorrect. This was and and has been the definition of global warming right up until the most recent IPCC report. And as far as I am aware, it still largely is. It is perfectly reasonable to question this point.”

    “He also wrote: “Climate-change proponents have made their cause a matter of fealty and faith. For folks who pretend to be brave carriers of the scientific ethic, there’s more than a tinge of religion in their jeremiads.”
    He says “climate-change proponents” – not overreach or overselling climate change, not even climate change hysterics. “Climate change proponents.” Calling accepting the scientific consensus “faith” is a creationist strategy.”

    The misdirection in your above claim is to assert that the “scientific consensus” is equivalent to whatever climate activists claim to be true. Your argument is logically fallacious because you are misrepresenting in a rather sneaky way. Krauthammer is critical of hysterical global warming claims. You imply in the above that all claims, including hysterical claims, are part of the “scientific consensus”. This is clearly a ridiculous line of argument to attempt, although you seem to be attempting it, unless you have badly worded what you meant to claim.

    “So – who is guilty of misdirection? By not even acknowledging the very deliberate caveats I put into my piece specifically to account for the false accusations you are making, you lose all credibility.”

    See the above. Steven, you continue to misdirect even in your rebuttal which is very poor form.

    “In the end Krauthammer is guilty of exactly what he was criticizing in others – glossing over nuance in order to make a polemic case. Just like Will is doing here (and to a lesser degree Sonic).”

    So Steven you are attacking Krauthammer for not “clarifying” his argument, yet you seem happy enough to put words into his mouth, asserting he is a denier of “basic scientific facts” of climate change. Please cite where he does this? Krauthammer is operating in the political sphere discussing self evidently, political issues. You are the one putting words into his mouth. It is not unreasonable to complain that Krauthammer is ambiguous to those unfamiliar with the political and social context (although his position is not ambiguous to me), however you engage in the far greater sin of accusing him of asserting claims he did not make. This is the straw man, and this is why you are misdirecting.

  87. Will Nitschkeon 01 Mar 2014 at 4:35 am

    @ Steven Novella

    Imagine for a moment that we are in alternative reality. Krauthammer is a 1930′s version of himself. He is being critical of the eugenics movement of the time. (I use this as the basis for the scenario because you have used evolutionary theory several times in this discussion.) Krauthammer mocks claims that black men are less intelligent than white men. He mocks another claim that Jews are a species of ‘parasites’. He mocks a third claim that South Americans are sub human. (Please note the silliness of some of the actual claims that the 21st century Krauthammer is mocking.)

    What does the Steven Novella of the 1930′s do? First he interjects that there is a well established “scientific consensus” in relation evolutionary theory. He accuses 1930′s Krauthammer of being a denialist of the “basic science” of the theory of evolution. He also points out that Creationists use arguments of a similar style to that of Krauthammer.

    When 1930′s Steven Novella is called out, Steven complains that Krauthammer failed to *clarify* that he did in fact endorse the “basic science” of evolutionary theory. Why is this so important? I don’t know. But I can speculate. Perhaps to the Steven Novella of this period, the prestige and reputation of “science” is paramount. Or perhaps he secretly endorses the arguments of the eugenicists. Or perhaps he views any criticism of the scientific establishment in the here and now, to more serious than the risk of science itself falling into disrepute in the long term.

  88. grabulaon 01 Mar 2014 at 6:14 am

    Will Nitschke

    “yet you seem happy enough to put words into his mouth, ”

    You’re killing it in the irony department right now. Dr. Novella has literally addressed every complaint of yours directly, yet you continue to dance around his questions of you. It’s fairly obvious you aren’t reading what’s being written in the article or in these comments. What is it you think you can accomplish with this sort of blatant disregard? I get sincere individuals trying to understand something but you’re entire goal seems to be attacking Dr. Novella by moving goalposts and making strawmen.

    What’s the point?

  89. Steven Novellaon 01 Mar 2014 at 7:28 am

    grabula – you are right on target. Will twists everything I write out if all recognition, and ignores my actual points. It is a good first hand example of motivated reasoning.

    But let’s give it another go.

    Will says that I don’t explain why I accuse Krauthammer of denying the basic facts of global warming, rather than just the hysterical overreach, and then (falsely) addresses the points that I did make. The cognitive dissonance must be deafening.

    I did not say, as Will claims, that discussing the pause is a denialist strategy. I said that referring to the pause in order to cast doubt on the fact of warming is a denialist strategy. I also said this has to be put into context – which is the fact that Krauthammer is a conservative columnist and the conservatives have been using the pause to deny the basic fact of global warming. That is so obviously the context of Krauthammer’s discussion that if he meant something else, he should have clarified. And yes – it is sometimes legitimate to criticize people for what they did not say if their omission creates confusion or makes it impossible to infer their true position.

    To use Will’s own example, if a 1930s Krauthammer were using creationist talking points that exploit eugenics to attack evolution, and he were a columnist for the political party championing creationism, and yet he never said anything to the effect of, “To be clear, I accept the science of evolution, just not the abuse of eugenics,” then I would criticize him for that, and I don’t think it would be reasonable to assume that this was his position.

    Will then completely dodges my other point, that referring to “climate change proponents,” without further clarifications, sounds like a reference to those who accept climate change.

    In the end, Krauthammer managed to push several climate change denial buttons, but left himself a sliver of plausible deniability for his apologists. Context matters, form matters – he is a conservative pundit. If he really has a more moderate position, then absolutely he should have clarified.

    Do you honestly think the average reader of that column will come away with the opinion that Krauthammer accepts AGW? At the very least he wrote it in such a way that conservatives who do deny AGW will read it and feel he is on their side.

  90. steve12on 01 Mar 2014 at 9:40 am

    DrJOe,

    Did you respond to my Q above? MAybe I’m missing it?

  91. tmac57on 01 Mar 2014 at 10:05 am

    What is it you think you can accomplish with this sort of blatant disregard?

    In my opinion…attention form Dr. Novella.
    This is much like a previous (maybe the same?) troll/contrarian that haunted this blog making insulting comments using pompous and arcane language that was nearly impossible to parse,but when ultimately called out on it admitted that he was doing it to get Steve’s attention (as an experiment,if I recall correctly).

  92. DrJoeinCAon 01 Mar 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Steve12: Re-post below if you missed it.

    What warming are you referring to? As I said several times, warming has occurred on a much larger scale for billions of years before humans were present. So we can dismiss any human involvement there, right?

    If you’re talking about the last 50 or 100 years, I’m not aware of any literature that says that humans are “primarily responsible” for warming during this period. We’ve been in a warming trend anyway. There is literature that says humans “very likely” contribute to some elements of climate change. Sure. That would be expected since there are 5 billion humans hanging around living and breathing and consuming. But considering the last 50-100 years’ changes versus the billions of years of climate change and the climate change that is independent of human contribution doesn’t seem productive to me.

  93. sonicon 01 Mar 2014 at 12:29 pm

    ecco-
    This link doesn’t answer the question exactly, but it does show the problem–

    Improved constraints on 21st-century warming derived using 160 years of temperature observations

    ” Our estimate of greenhouse-gas-attributable warming is lower than that derived using only 1900–1999
    observations. Our analysis also leads to a relatively low and tightly-constrained estimate of Transient Climate Response of 1.3–1.8°C, and relatively low projections of 21st-century warming under the Representative Concentration Pathways.”

    The TCR is often thought to be more like 3. How much warming humans cause is directly related to that number– and there isn’t large agreement as to what it is. For example- If the goal is to keep the temps from raising 2 degree, then I believe a TCR of 1.3- 1.8 means we need not do anything. Check me on that.

    I think if you check the temps have been on a downslope since 2001– a cherry picked date. I’ll bet you’ll find plenty of human emmissions over that period. That’s the beauty of that cherry- it is so opposite of what seems to be predicted.

    Regarding ‘billions spent’–
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/legislative_reports/fcce-report-to-congress.pdf

    Indicates 22.598 billion from the US government for ‘climate’ stuff.
    including-
    “The Budget provides nearly $2.7 billion for USGCRP programs, an increase of $147 million (6 percent) above the FY 2013 enacted level.”

    That’s billions spent. Other governments spend similarly–

    Hoss-
    Obama is making a call for action based on a misrepresentation of the climate science.
    I’ve noticed the alarmists have gotten fairly shrill- claiming the number of rapes will go up, hurricanes will worsen, all hell will break loose!!! and the ‘debate is settled’. The demand for censorship and/or punishment for anyone who questions is getting stronger.

    That’s the political aspect of this that has hindered any rational conversation on this topic.

    BillyJoe7-
    Thank-you for your in-depth analysis.
    What’s your thought on a TCR under 2?

  94. tmac57on 01 Mar 2014 at 12:33 pm

    DrJoeinCA- Apparently you are unaware of the IPCC’s AR5 report then?

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/ipcc-ar5-human-caused-global-warming-confidence.html

  95. BillyJoe7on 01 Mar 2014 at 3:39 pm

    sonic,

    “Thank-you for your in-depth analysis”

    Thank you for forgetting the many threads and probably several hundred in depth exchanges we’ve had on this topic. But it’s always the same old story with climate deniers such as yourself. The name of the game has never changed. The first and last strategy is cherry picking – with loads of misunderstanding, misrepresenting, and misquoting in between.
    And now you’ve raised cherry picking to the level of imbecility…

    “I think if you check the temps have been on a downslope since 2001– a cherry picked date. I’ll bet you’ll find plenty of human emmissions over that period. That’s the beauty of that cherry- it is so opposite of what seems to be predicted”

    Quite apart from your misrepresentation (“the temps have been on a downslope since 2001″), if you can’t see the complete inanity of that statement regarding cherry picking, you are not worth the time and energy to respond to.

  96. Bruceon 01 Mar 2014 at 6:33 pm

    “Thank you for forgetting the many threads and probably several hundred in depth exchanges we’ve had on this topic. ”

    I don’t know how you do it.

  97. sonicon 02 Mar 2014 at 8:43 am

    BillyJoe7-
    What do you think of a TCR under 2?

  98. steve12on 02 Mar 2014 at 11:06 am

    Dr Joe:
    “Steve12: Re-post below if you missed it.”

    I saw that one. I replied with this statement:

    DrJoe – so you’ve read a good amount of the literature on AGW, and you would say a fair summarization of the climate science community is this:

    “If you’re talking about the last 50 or 100 years, I’m not aware of any literature that says that humans are “primarily responsible” for warming during this period.”

  99. BBBlueon 02 Mar 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks rezistnzisfutl, for taking the time-

    As far as what terms to use, I’m not sure what else we could use that would be better or more clear. Climate change is what is typically used in the scientific community because the study of climate isn’t confined to the global scale, and most study is done on more local areas.

    “Climate change” is a consequence and as to the evidence, one cannot be as confident in predicting specific consequences as they can be in describing the occurrence of increased anthropogenic CO2, the fundamental physics of the greenhouse effect, and heat content on a global scale. It’s the understanding of the underlying principles that has the greatest power to persuade, at least for me, not whether local predictions come true.

    We have all seen the headlines mocking climate change predictions every time one is wrong, and it’s easy to write off such comments as the product of an ignorant popular media or based on a particular political agenda. I suppose it may be fair to say that it’s not the fault of scientists if people don’t listen or try to educate themselves on the subject, and maybe the popular media actively filters out any discussion of the boring fundamentals; it’s just frustrating to see the attention given to relatively minor details take away from the big picture. Someone say hats?

    I understand that some people may say “So what, just because GHG and heat content are increasing, pH of the oceans are decreasing, etc., doesn’t mean we need to be worried about it”, but if you get people to accept that those things are really happening, they are more likely to be open to evidence that supports the possibility of negative consequences.

    .but I do think it’s important that there are voices out there to set the record straight.

    Sure it is, I agree, but I think a better balance can be achieved by showing a little charity towards those who represent a net gain for the truth among a group whose primary source of information comes from deniers. I suppose within the skeptical blogosphere, Dr. Novella’s comments were just fine and dandy, perhaps even his obligation to his readers, but outside of that context, critics of Mr. Krauthammer may have missed an opportunity by focusing on his mistakes rather praising him for a nod towards the truth.

    .and the vast majority of society is scientifically illiterate who are more easily swayed by memes, soundbites, and bullet talking points, when trying to explain complex subjects like evolutionary biology or the physics of climate change, most people switch off. What can we do about that?

    Make it simple. Aren’t the basic facts related to anthropogenic CO2 and the greenhouse effect easier to understand than an explanation of climate change models and why predictions of local effects are uncertain? Don’t place so much weight on trumpeting dire environmental consequences or blame climate change for every severe weather event as some politicians and political activists are wont to do, rather, keep pounding away at the fundamentals and emphasize long-term trends based on empirical evidence rather than models, and concede the fact that specific predictions are often a bit too uncertain to be convincing. And when someone within the political spectrum often associated with climate change deniers throws you a bone, accept it with relish and get what you can out of it rather than complain about there not being enough meat on it.

  100. BillyJoe7on 02 Mar 2014 at 3:54 pm

    sonic,

    You don’t get to set the agenda here, and your question is off topic for this thread.
    And when are you going to stop beating your wife.

  101. Will Nitschkeon 02 Mar 2014 at 5:25 pm

    @ Steven Novella

    “Will then completely dodges my other point, that referring to “climate change proponents,” without further clarifications, sounds like a reference to those who accept climate change.”

    I am not “dodging” points. I’m happy to discuss in depth anything you wish to debate. However, I want to focus right now on the core failing of your piece and up until now you have been avoiding that. Less rhetoric in your defence and more substance would be more effective.

    “In the end, Krauthammer managed to push several climate change denial buttons, but left himself a sliver of plausible deniability for his apologists. Context matters, form matters – he is a conservative pundit. If he really has a more moderate position, then absolutely he should have clarified.”

    OK, so Steven your objection is that he is “pushing buttons”. We are starting to get to the real reasons for your dislike of Krauthammer. You don’t like the *tone* of his piece. But is this justification for labelling him a denier? Now, I don’t happen to like the apologist tone of your piece, but this is irrelevant to whether you present logical arguments or not. Or have misdirected or not. Next you point out that he is a “conservative pundit.” What is the relevance of this other than to fall back on an Ad hominem tactic yet again? Many of those he opposes are socialist activists. What is the relevance of that? For someone who views himself as an expert in logical argument you are very quick to present fallacious reasoning. The point here is if it’s your intent to mention someone’s political, social or racial credentials, include in your argument why this affects the claim you are opposing. Otherwise you are poisoning the well.

    “Do you honestly think the average reader of that column will come away with the opinion that Krauthammer accepts AGW? At the very least he wrote it in such a way that conservatives who do deny AGW will read it and feel he is on their side.”

    There is little more I can add here other than to point you to my previous comments as you continue stubbornly to insist on sticking to a fallacious line of criticism. (However, admittedly, you may not have worked out any other type of defence as yet.) Therefore, it’s about mood, feeling, tone and what Krauthammer failed to write… This is so open ended a criticism you are free to label anyone you wish, as a denier of whatever you believe. It’s a very low standard.

    If I pull up a claim from an MD that US citizens on the west cost of the US will suffer radiation poisoning from the Fukushima disaster*, then following on from your justifications, you are free to call me a “physics denier”. Firstly, maybe I wrote the article in a tone you didn’t approve of. And secondly, I failed to clarify that I accept the research work of Ernest Rutherford, et al. This is because such a piece would encourage and motivate those who are in denial about the dangers and risks of nuclear energy…

    Steven I’d feel more comfortable if you were less worried about tone and ends and means justifications, and more worried about truth.

    *Actual claim found on Greenpeace website.

  102. BillyJoe7on 02 Mar 2014 at 10:30 pm

    This site needs an irony meter.

  103. rezistnzisfutlon 02 Mar 2014 at 11:36 pm

    BBBlue,

    Something that is working against us is science reporting, which has grown abysmal in the past couple of decades. This, I think, is where you may be getting the impression that scientists are placing “so much weight on trumpeting dire environmental consequences or blame climate change for every severe weather event as some politicians and political activists are wont to do…” Can you give an example of where actual scientists are doing this en mass? When it comes to educating the public, I would wager that most scientists are mostly interested in purveying accurate and timely information rather than imparting some sort of moral code or justice. A good example of this is with GMOs – currently, activists, and to a lesser degree politicians and the media, have driven the narrative, with scientists falling a distant last place. What scientists have to say simply isn’t as compelling as emotionally-driven speech.

    If anyone is going to have an understanding of climate change, and evolution for that matter, they have to understand certain fundamentals of the science first. Heck, they have to have some understanding of science in the first place. When a layperson thinks that the conclusions formed within science is every bit as valid as their favorite pundit (and perhaps less trustworthy depending on their own level of conspiratorial thinking), then giving them facts and statistics is pointless. Without understanding why CO2 increases in the atmosphere is an issue, or that an increased level of carbon-12 over the past 100 years is an indicator of human intervention, it will likely be lost on them. They simply aren’t interested in knowing the underlying principles.

    Explaining these things to them without some basis of understanding in physics is like trying to explain genetics without first explaining and demonstrating Mendel’s Laws first. Complex science cannot be boiled down into a meme – this is why most denialists are incorrect about science, because they try to do this very thing, but unfortunately they are all too often successful in convincing laypeople because their strawmen of science is far easier to understand and emotionally compelling.

    One of the issues I see, in the US at least, is a reduced interest, and trust, in science. Some of this is understandable, but much of it comes from a cultural and societal de-emphasis in STEM. How many times have we seen blog entries and opinion pieces denigrating education? How many time have we seen it where people think education is a waste of time? If people devalue the virtues of knowledge, learning, and truth, what can we do?

    Simplifying things for the public would be great, if we could actually simplify the science in a way that gives people a clear, accurate understanding of it. I’ve often run into situations where an evolution denier, for instance, challenges me to “prove” evolution (“prove” already indicating a lack of understanding of the fundamentals of science), but without going back to the basics of science, physics, chemistry, and biology first, they’ll switch off.

    As far as “showing charity” to those who represent at least part of the truth, why should we give them a free pass on the parts that aren’t true? It’s fine to challenge concepts when there is a good faith effort to actually learn what is being challenged, but that’s not what’s going on most of the time. Most people who are “just asking questions” are only interested in their agenda. So, while I’ll be happy to explain to them what it is they’re asking about, I also realize that they aren’t really interested in knowing about it. The best we can do is correct their factual errors and misinformation for the sake of those who may be reading on the sidelines (which is why I don’t engage people in debate on PMs).

    Don’t get me wrong, I think showing charity is a good thing, and giving people the benefit of the doubt when starting out should be a default position, but that’s not what Krauthammer is doing. He knows exactly what his position is, and he’s intentionally misrepresenting because he has an agenda. I don’t think he’s merely mistaken.

    When it comes to the science making predictions, climatology is no different than any other discipline. It’s going to make predictions with levels of confidence assigned to them. This is why we typically see many different predictions based on different scenarios. No climate scientist is going to claim any certainty on the issue, just like in any other discipline (which is why people like DrJoe are in error and display a gross misunderstanding of science).

  104. Will Nitschkeon 03 Mar 2014 at 12:09 am

    @ Steven Novella

    Here is my full list of the main problems with your piece. I have cited your text where is useful to do so.

    “The language [of Krauthammer] above is virtually identical to that used by creationists to attack the position that evolution is a “settled fact” of science.”

    Ad hominem. If X uses the same argument as Y and X is bad, Y must be bad. Also known as poisoning the well. If an argument is fallacious explain why it is fallacious instead.

    “In both cases (evolution and climate change) there is a core scientific claim that is well-established, with less and less certain details about that basic fact.”

    Misdirection. The political debate is over whether global warming is problematical. It is not over esoteric basic physical facts. I.e., theories of radiative transfer. The three paragraphs that follow indulge extensively in this misdirection. This is why a straw man is setup.

    “Calling something an established scientific fact means that it is reasonable to proceed with that fact as a premise, for further research or for policy.”

    The above is also a misdirection but worth highlighting. Note the swift move from arguing that the basic scientific facts are not in dispute but to the assumption that the basic scientific facts inform or determine political policy. This is like arguing that the basic scientific fact that radiation is dangerous should decide nuclear energy policy. (Coal mining is also dangerous, and so on.)

    “If evolution is settled science, then why are scientists always changing their construction of the tree of life, and why can’t they predict the future course of evolution? Same fallacy.”

    False analogy. Climate scientists make predictions. Evolutionary biologists do not predict what forms life will evolve into next, and also explain why this is not possible.

    “Krauthammer, however, is happy to rely upon the notion of a pause, which is so far from settled science it is not even true, rather than the far more robust data supporting the basic fact of climate change.”

    This is an error of fact. If the rate of global warming is defined at the change in global atmospheric temperature – which has been the accepted definition of the IPCC since its formation – then there is indeed a ‘pause’. The ‘pause’ is now being widely discussed in the scientific literature.

    There is also a further misrepresentation. Steven concludes that the answer to the ‘pause’ is that the heat has been transferred into the deep ocean. This explanation remains speculative at this point in time. The misinterpretation comes into play when Steven implies it is also an established scientific fact.

    The rest of the piece indulges in a ‘denialism’ discussion. One has to be careful when using this word, which is used too readily here. Name calling and labelling is a common activist tactic to delegitimize an intellectual opponent. If you label someone a denier but can’t demonstrate what scientific facts are being denied, then it’s not unreasonable to assume you are playing this type of rhetorical game.

    In the comments section you offered these additional reasons for labelling Krauthammer a denier: He is a conservative, and, he didn’t *explicitly* endorse basic scientific facts, such as stating that CO2 is a warming gas or that the atmosphere has warmed up to the end of the 20th century. In other words he earns the denier label for what he didn’t write as opposed to what he did write.

    Finally, you wrap your piece by adopting the view that strong political policy decisions are required. How you get from basic scientific facts to this position, is left as a mystery for the reader to ponder.

  105. steve12on 03 Mar 2014 at 12:24 am

    So many things wrong with Will’s understanding of science – but an example:

    “False analogy. Climate scientists make predictions. Evolutionary biologists do not predict what forms life will evolve into next, and also explain why this is not possible.”‘

    All theories make predictions. Those predictions don’t have to be things that haven’t happened yet! This is a confusion of the what prediction is colloquially and what it means in science.

    In a general sense, evolution makes predictions about allele frequencies, genetics, etc. ALL of these things have already happened – the prediction in these cases are how well the theory accounts for (i.e., predicts) the data.

  106. BillyJoe7on 03 Mar 2014 at 8:16 am

    Will,

    “Ad hominem. If X uses the same argument as Y and X is bad, Y must be bad. Also known as poisoning the well. If an argument is fallacious explain why it is fallacious instead.”

    It is not an “ad hominem” and it is not “poisoning the well”. Why? Because your statement: “If X uses the same argument as Y and X is bad, Y must be bad” is incorrect.
    Here it is stated correctly: “If X uses the same argument as Y and the argumenty X uses is bad, then the argument Y uses must be bad”.
    See, no “ad hominem” and no “poisoning the well”.

    “The political debate is over whether global warming is problematical”

    No. That is a scientific question. The political debate is about what to do about it.

    “Note the swift move from arguing that the basic scientific facts are not in dispute but to the assumption that the basic scientific facts inform or determine political policy. ”

    Note the swift move from science informing political policy to science determining political policy.
    Science should inform political policy and it should inform whether political policy is likely to work.

    “Climate scientists make predictions. Evolutionary biologists do not predict what forms life will evolve into next”

    Evolutionary biologists make all sorts of predictions. For example, they have predicted, and continue to predict, what sort of fossils will be found in which layers of sediment. One fossil out of place and out goes evolutionary theory (not exactly true but close enough).

    “the rate of global warming is defined at the change in global atmospheric temperature”

    Incorrect. Global warming means…wait for it…warming of the globe. Near surface atmosheric warming is less that 3% of the total. More than 92% of the warming goes into the oceans. Climate deniers almost never talk about global warming. When they talk about what they call “global warming”, they are almost always talking about “near surface atmospheric warming”.
    (Sonic’s been making this mistake for three years and he’s still at it!)

    “The ‘pause’ is now being widely discussed in the scientific literature”

    Yes, the pause in warming of the near surface atmosheric temperatures is being widely discussed in the scientific literature. And it is being discussed in order to point out that it is only the near surface atmospheric temperature (less than 3% of the total) where there is a pause. And to point out that trends in surface atmospheric temperatures must be based on at least 30 years of the record, if not the entire record.

    “Steven concludes that the answer to the ‘pause’ is that the heat has been transferred into the deep ocean”

    Of course it is….
    The co2 in the atmosphere is rising. The Greenhouse Effect is an indisputable scientific fact. Therefore, global temperatures must be rising. A minimum of thirty years of surface air temperature records is required to see a trend in surface air temperatures. The trend in running thirty years averages is inexorably upward. The so called “pause” in the surface air temperatures over the last fifteen years is easily explained by climate variables like ENSO. The existence of these known climate variables is why rolling thirty year averages are necesasary to see a trend. In fact, one of these climate variables, ENSO, transfers heat between the surface air and the deep ocean. Fancy that! And now confirmation of these climate change realities is being confirmed by deep ocean measurements.

    “If you label someone a denier but can’t demonstrate what scientific facts are being denied..”

    A climate denier even denies that the scientiifc facts have been pointed out!
    They continue to talk as if the pause in ‘surface air temperatures’ means a pause in ‘global temperatures’. No matter how many times that error is pointed out. They continue to talk about 15 year trends when 30 years is the minimum requirement. They continue to cherry pick and, when this is pointed out to them, they glorify in the cherry picking. Like it’s a big joke. (like our friend sonic recently).
    Do you recognise yourself?
    Or is this part of your denial?

    “In other words he earns the denier label for what he didn’t write as opposed to what he did write.”

    False. He earns the denier label for what he didn’t write AS WELL AS for what he did write. After all, he can hardly write about what he is in denial of. If, in your denialist mind, “global temperatures” means “near surface air temperatures”, you are hardly going to write about deep ocean temperatures, climate variables, ENSO, and thirty year running averages.

  107. sonicon 03 Mar 2014 at 9:57 am

    The burning of oil, coal, and gas is done to create heat. With the heat comes smoke.
    Pretty much everyone knows that too much smoke and too much heat will kill them. It is not hard to convince someone that they could make a room unlivable by burning oil in it, for example. On the other hand, we do make fires in our houses on a regular basis and it helps us survive.

    Is what we are doing making the house nicer to live in, or are we smoking ourselves out?

    There is a link to a paper that suggests the TCR is less than 2.
    For arguments sake, let’s say that is correct.

    If the TCR is below 2, I think it will be argued we are making the house more comfortable. One benefit of increased CO2– better plant growth. This is needed to feed people, so an increased CO2 might be just what we need. One thing driving increased emissions is people who don’t have electricity getting electricity. That’s a benefit for them.
    I don’t want to live in the cities in China right now. But people are moving into the cities… I think much of Tennessee and I know Los Angeles was like that at times in the past. And London too.

    I guess things worked out in the long run.

    Here is an example of the thinking that goes with TCR of 4 or more–
    http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/02/the-fateful-collision-floods-catastrophe-and-climate-denial/

    “If you’re too busy to read the evidence presented below, here’s the bottom line: On a planet 4 C hotter than baseline, all we can prepare for is human extinction.
    Could that happen? McPherson quotes professor of climatology Mark Maslin:
    We are already planning for a 4°C world because that is where we are heading. I do not know of any scientists who do not believe that.”

    So I’m thinking TCR below 2 means benefits greater than costs for CO2 levels up to 600, while they are thinking human extinction because they have a TCR of 4 plus.

    It might be that if we allow people in places who don’t have electricity to get it, we will all benefit from the efforts.
    It might mean we will go extinct.

    I think that’s what this is largely about.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/jun/23/fossilfuels.climatechange

    “James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.”

    I’m thinking I have a question about something that isn’t known well– there are plenty of similar studies indicating a lower response to CO2 than current models suggest– in fact, the IPCC will tell you that the models are running too hot-
    it sounds like he thinks I’m actively causing the extinction of the human race by bringing it up.

    It’s surreal.

  108. Will Nitschkeon 03 Mar 2014 at 4:32 pm

    @ Steven Novella

    Unless you wish to respond further I will make these concluding remarks. Let’s call your style of analysis the Steven Novella Semi-skeptical Method ™. Let’s see how well it works applied to the above piece. ;-)

    Steven uses the common strategy of misdirection, popular among climate activists. He invokes a straw man by asserting that the debate is over basic scientific facts, rather than such things as climate model accuracy, climate sensitivity for a doubling of CO2, complex hypothesised feedback mechanisms, rates of warming acceleration, and other issues of significant scientific discussion and which are critical to political policy determination. While he qualifies his argument in various places it is clear he uses the standard tactics of ‘climate advocacy’. Further to this, Steven Novella fails to state in his piece that he is *not* a climate advocate. (Note how he complains that Krauthammer does not ‘balance’ his argument by including speculative alternative perspectives. This is also a common strategy used by advocacy groups to ‘muddy the waters’.)

    Given these factors, we can establish by the tone of his piece and also *by reading between the lines*, that Steven Novella is a global warming advocate. QED.

    Steven, your method is brilliant. Bold conclusions, and little to no evidence required. I can apply it to any complex debate I may have an emotional investment in. But it’s all very kafkaesque isn’t it?

  109. grabulaon 04 Mar 2014 at 7:37 am

    Will Nitschke, your method is not brilliant, it’s transparent. My hope is that Dr. Novella has decided this isn’t going anywhere and has just moved on. You can only beat a dead horse so much. He’s effectively addressed everything in very specific terms you have thrown at him and you’ve missed the target with every post. In fact, you’ve spent the whole time talking past Dr. Novella and wasting your time. You’ve absolutely presented nothing of substance to support your stance, and you’re obviously very fond of krauthammer and probably his anti-climate change stance.

    Please work harder next time. I suggest reading the article completely before commenting – out of the gate your post was ridiculous and was very obviously made before you bothered to read the article. Feel free to scroll up and read it again if you feel I’m wrong. You followed that with several posts continuing to indicate you weren’t reading the article or Dr. Novellas’ responses and failing to address his very specific claims and queries.

    I’m not even a smart guy but you’re transparent motivations are obvious even to me.

  110. Steven Novellaon 04 Mar 2014 at 7:50 am

    Will – grabula nailed it. We were going around in circles because your characterization of what I wrote and the discussion is just disconnected from reality. I see that other commenters have already deconstructed your distortions well enough.

  111. Will Nitschkeon 04 Mar 2014 at 4:22 pm

    @ Steven Novella

    “Will – grabula nailed it. We were going around in circles because your characterization of what I wrote and the discussion is just disconnected from reality. I see that other commenters have already deconstructed your distortions well enough.”

    Steven you have the tendency to point vaguely at a lot of low grade and frankly silly comments, and declare that the ‘rebuttal’ in to be found *somewhere* in that noise. If you are in fact capable of defending your position why not do it succinctly yourself? (The quality is generally so low that it is not worth my time wading through the dross in order to find the one or two clever or intelligent comments to be had, which is why I don’t read them.)

    But I did read Gabula’s post because you directed me to it, and as per usual I did not find a single reasoned argument. Only in that sense did he”nail” your defence.

    Finally, there has been “no going around in circles”. In a rational discussion one side does not unilaterally declare themselves the winner as you have done. The arguments stand or fall on their merits. If I had to limit myself to one critical flaw in your piece it would be the straw man of pretending that the debate is over “basic scientific facts.” Were you to concede this point, the sand castle you’ve constructed would dissolve immediately. And it’s not an argument you can possibly defend. At the end of the day the delegitimisation tactic backfires. You can’t call people “deniers” when you’re unable to identify a single scientific fact being denied.

    The fact that you are familiar with fallacious types of arguments unfortunately means, at least in this case, that you are able to present a more clever type of fallacious argument than most of your followers. That is all.

  112. Steven Novellaon 04 Mar 2014 at 5:27 pm

    BillyJoe7 already deconstructed most of your distortions. I have already given you succinct answers to your charges. They did not have any effect, which is why we are going around in circles. You keep coming back to your premise without ever addressing my points.

    Since you can’t be bothered to actually engage in the discussion by reading comments, here it is again.

    Krauthammer assumes that when Obama says the science is settled he is talking about downstream implications of global warming and specific manifestations. A more reasonable (and certainly more charitable) interpretation is that Obama is talking about the science for which there is a robust consensus – that the globe is warming due to human activity.

    It is Krauthammer who generates confusion in terms of the various aspects of global warming claims. He is trying to say the the science is not settled, and then refers to political rhetoric (rather than scientists), then to the pause, which is frequently used by global warming deniers to argue that warming is not happening. He refers to “global warming proponents” without in any way clarifying, leaving the only reasonable interpretation as any belief in the reality of AGW.

    You are insisting, without evidence, that Krauthammer is talking ONLY about political overreach, and not AT ALL about global warming due to human activity.

    Keep in mind that it is a common denialist strategy, that has been pointed out many times, to be squirrelly about what exactly they are talking about, to give themselves plausible deniability. Krauthammer is clearly trying to create doubt about the basic facts of AGW but is vague enough that if pressed he can deny it.

    In this context, not clarifying at all about exactly what parts of global warming he accepts, and what the implications of the “pause” actually are, etc. is not a point in his defense. It’s all just part of the doubt and confusion.

  113. Will Nitschkeon 04 Mar 2014 at 7:13 pm

    @ Steven Novella

    “A more reasonable (and certainly more charitable) interpretation is that Obama is talking about the science for which there is a robust consensus – that the globe is warming due to human activity.”

    In which case Krauthammer’s piece is justified. You don’t get from very general and basic scientific facts to the determination that a particular political outcome is essential. You continue to duck this point, which is why your argument fails. When will you address this? Humans cause warming is little more than vague gibberish. Butterfly wings cause hurricanes, and so on. It’s not a simplistic all or nothing decision as you’ve presented it. The argument is, do humans cause dangerous or at least problematical levels of global warming and if so, what options are available, and are the options better or worse than the problem? These are very complex questions. Failing to address the actual argument is a straw man and your piece studiously indulges in this misdirection. You are failing to address my argument my continually ducking this question, which you are even doing now.

    A common advocacy strategy is to engage in delegitimization. By labelling critics or those with opposing points of views “deniers” you hope the burden of providing reasoned arguments is reduced or eliminated. Your claim that Krauthammer was denying basic and relatively non consequential, i.e., neutral, scientific facts is a construction in your mind, not in Krauthammer’s article. Yes, “physics deniers” might take heart in his article and use it reinforce their belief system that radiation does not behave the way we all know it behaves. (Funny how their mobile phones still work, eh?) Seriously, this is the group you are worried about? I doubt it. Should Krauthammer’s tone have been less mocking? Should he have recited the fact that basic (and largely irrelevant) scientific facts were in fact facts? Or was the tone useful in putting on notice those who distort, exaggerate and who have a long track of being wrong on certain issues and claims? Well, that’s a judgement call. You don’t get to call someone a “denier” because you don’t like someone’s tone.

    If I’m critical of psychoanalytics then I’m also’ muddying the waters’ aren’t I? The broader field of psychology may fall into disrepute or my arguments might be subpoenaed by psychology denialists. What an extraordinarily cowardly position to defend.

    At any rate you did not address my arguments. Instead you largely restated your own position.

  114. grabulaon 05 Mar 2014 at 1:41 am

    Will – I was considering trying to deconstruct your last couple of posts but I’m coming to the decision you’re just talking to get a response. You commit so many hypocrisies that many occur in the same post, or even the same paragraph. If you can’t see it rereading through you’re own posts than I suspect you’re just trolling.

  115. The Other John Mcon 05 Mar 2014 at 9:08 am

    Will: “Humans cause warming is little more than vague gibberish.”

    What the f are you talking about. Do you literally know nothing of climate science? It ain’t vague gibberish. Maybe in your own head, but that doesn’t make it so for the rest of humanity.

    In the orignial post, hundreds of comments ago, Dr. N provided the core of his argument:

    “What I consider a legitimate position is to honestly and correctly characterize how confident and robust the scientific consensus is on any particular issue. For a highly robust consensus, minority or dissenting opinions have to be put into their proper context.” Krauthammer, it is argued (very convincingly), failed to take this legitimate position and gave considerable undue weight to fringe positions and ideas.

    Which part of this particular quote by Dr. Novella do you find disagreeable? Stick to THIS quote as it succintly captures the core of the argument, stop dancing around to other topics and whack-ass theories about skeptical activism.

  116. Steven Novellaon 05 Mar 2014 at 10:21 am

    Will is a troll, in behavior, regardless of his intent.

    For example, he writes: “You don’t get from very general and basic scientific facts to the determination that a particular political outcome is essential. You continue to duck this point, which is why your argument fails. When will you address this? ”

    But I have already addressed it multiple times. In my original post I wrote:
    “In fact, if Krauthhammer had stuck to the point of political abuse of climate change, he could have had a reasonable column that did not stray into science denial.”

    I clarified multiple times that Krauthammer did not just criticize what he perceives as political abuse or overreach of AGW claims, but the content of his criticism strayed clearly into casting doubt on AGW itself (citing the pause, referring to AGW proponents without clarification, making analogies to the religious faithful, and misinterpreting Obama’s reference to settled science).

    Will, apparently, can’t be bothered to read what other people write, and then makes pronouncements on what they have not written.

  117. Will Nitschkeon 07 Mar 2014 at 3:45 am

    @ Steven Novella

    “Will is a troll, in behavior, regardless of his intent.”

    You do love your ad hominem…

    “But I have already addressed it multiple times.”

    What you are citing has little to do with my main criticism, which I spelt out in some depth multiple time and which anyone can read and decide for themselves. The major problem with your piece has nothing much to do with what Krauthammer did and everything to do with what you did, which was to leap from very general and largely neutral scientific facts to the conclusion that a very specific political policy outcome was required. You indulged in three paragraphs of this misdirection. Then moved into name calling mode. This is the main ingredient of a typical advocacy based argument as opposed to a reason based argument.

    I don’t call people names Steven, simply because I disagree with their point of view. However, I do have to say you are remarkably disingenuous in your attempts at defending yourself and in your rebuttals. I’m reading very high volumes of rhetoric, very low volumes of quality argumentation.

  118. grabulaon 07 Mar 2014 at 4:14 am

    @Will

    What you are citing has little to do with anything being addressed here, which has been spelt out in some depth multiple time and which anyone can read and decide for themselves. The major problem with your posts has nothing much to do with what Dr. Novella did and everything to do with what you did, which was to leap from very general and largely unscientific facts to the conclusion that a very specific political policy outcome was required. You indulged in several empty posts of this misdirection. Then moved into name calling mode. This is the main ingredient of a typical advocacy based argument as opposed to a reason based argument.

    I do have to say you are remarkably disingenuous in your attempts at defending yourself and in your rebuttals. I’m reading very high volumes of rhetoric, very low volumes of quality argumentation.

  119. Bruceon 07 Mar 2014 at 4:23 am

    “I don’t call people names Steven”

    What you do is heavily imply your intellectual superiority and continually belittle anyone here who disagrees with you.

  120. Will Nitschkeon 07 Mar 2014 at 4:35 am

    @ Bruce

    “What you do is heavily imply your intellectual superiority and continually belittle anyone here who disagrees with you.”

    Partly true, but that’s not name calling.

    I don’t belittle people who are not my intellectual equal, I ignore them. One does not joust with jesters.

    Although if I were you I would be more concerned about Steven’s failure to address criticism. All he has done so far is continually restate his position. Now he is even, somewhat bizarrely, extensively citing himself. Further to this, if you are going to present a rhetorical argument rather than a reasoned one, never call someone names. You sabotage even the rhetorical argument. I think Steven’s labelled me a half dozen different ways so far. I’m not familiar with all their meanings but I think they roughly translate into ‘you suck’. ;-)

  121. Bruceon 07 Mar 2014 at 4:38 am

    No,

    They roughly translate at “You suck at logical arguments”

  122. grabulaon 07 Mar 2014 at 4:40 am

    @Will N

    Bruce Said “They roughly translate at “You suck at logical arguments”

    I don’t think it’s a rough translation. Will N’s posts could be a beginners guide to logical fallacies. He hasn’t found anyone here his ‘intellectual equal’ yet, if you get my meaning.

  123. BillyJoe7on 07 Mar 2014 at 6:30 am

    With a hat tip to grabula….

    Will: “I don’t belittle people who are not my intellectual equal, I ignore them”

    Well, you can’t belittle people who are you intellectual superiors so I guess you HAVE to ignore them.

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