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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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?
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.)
“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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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).
“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.
“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.”
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.
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?
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.
“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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?