Apr 11 2017

Science and Politics

marchforscienceThe March for Science is coming up on April 22, which has prompted another round of – should science stay out of politics? I think this is a persistent debate because the answer is yes and no, depending on what you mean.

Staying Out of Politics

There are several arguments for why scientists and science organizations should stay out of politics. The first is that politics and ideology can distort science. There are countless historical examples of this. You might call this “motivated research” which is similar to motivated reasoning.

Research can be directly toward an ideological agenda in many ways. Ideology can frame how we ask questions, which questions we think are important, and which research agendas get funding. Political beliefs can also shape how research is conducted, exploiting degrees of freedom and other methods to distort the process of research and the interpretation of results. It can also bias which research gets published and cited.

Every step of the way there is the potential for bias, and if that bias is consistently in one direction it is not difficult to manufacture an entire alternate reality of scientific evidence that supports your agenda. We see this with alternative medicine research in general. We see it with pharmaceutical company research which is much more likely to be favorable to the financial interests of the company. We see cultural biases, such as the uniformly positive studies of acupuncture in China.

There are also researchers with a specific agenda whose results our out of step with the bulk of the scientific community, such as anti-vaccine researchers or anti-GMO researchers.

It is therefore important for scientists to remain objective. They need to value rigor over outcome, and seek the truth for its own sake.

Even if researchers are able to keep their research rigorous and objective, there is a perception problem when scientists become politically outspoken. An outspoken scientist ceases to become just a scientist. In the public’s eye they become a “liberal scientist” or “conservative scientists” or whatever. When they advocate for a position, for example that anthropogenic global warming is real and a problem, some in the public might wonder if that is a scientific opinion of their’s or a political opinion.

It can also be difficult for individual scientists to cleanly separate their ideological and scientific opinions. It is natural for people to think that the evidence supports their position. It is also easy for scientists to present their ideological position as if it is the correct scientific position, because they fail to perceive the line between objective facts and value judgments.

This problem can go deeper, when not just the opinions of one scientist, but the science itself is perceived as being partisan. If it is possible to characterize science in general, or perhaps one scientific position, as being tied to one political party of ideology, it becomes easier to dismiss.

Engaging with Politics

There are several compelling arguments on the other side as well. First, science does not occur in a vacuum. Most of scientific research is publicly funded, which means that politicians have a big say in how that money is doled out. The politics of science funding is therefore unavoidable.

Funding decisions are also not completely objective. They depend on our goals and values. Scientists need to be engaging with the people who are making these decisions, which means they have to address the political questions as well as the scientific.

Beyond funding, science has implications for regulations, of itself and science-based professions and industries. Quality control in science is inherently political.

Further, scientists are often the very people to understand opportunities and threats that face our society. They will understand the potential benefit of new scientific discoveries, and will be critical in understanding how best to invest in and capitalize on those advancements.

They will also often be the first people to raise the warning bells when scientific research uncovers a problem. They have to do more than just say, “Oh, FYI, we’re warming the planet with possible catastrophic consequences. Do what you will.” They need to educate the public and politicians about such issues. They need to confront misconceptions, pseudoscience, fraud, denial, and ideologically motivated distortions of the science.

Finally, scientists are an important voice in our society. If they recuse themselves from the political discussion, that critical voice will be missing from the conversation.

This includes public office. While the percentage of lawyers in Congress has declined from an historic high of 80% in 1850, to about 60% in 1960, and now to about 36%, this is still a plurality. Of the rest, 25% have a business background, and 23% an education in politics or public service. So most politicians come from a very narrow range of career backgrounds. About 7% have a medical background, but scientists did not even make the list.

How can we expect our elected officials to make complex scientific decisions when almost none of them have any science background? We know from many surveys that non-scientists are largely scientifically illiterate (depending on where you draw the line). The typical politician without a science background does not come anywhere near understanding the complex scientific issues on which they vote all the time. It certainly couldn’t hurt to have a little more diversity in Congress.

Reconciling These Positions

So how do we accommodate these valid points on both sides of the issue? It might be tempting to just pick a side and go with it, minimizing or dismissing the points on the other side. I am not saying that the answer to any controversial is always to split the middle. There are frequently asymmetries and sometimes one side is simply wrong. But in this case I do think there are valid points on both sides.

There is no simple formula for navigating these issues, nor one optimal compromise. I think it is important to be aware of the issue and try as best as one can to engage meaningful with politics while remaining objective.

One way to look at it is this: Science has to be political for the reasons I stated above, but should strive to remain non-partisan. The Science March is an excellent example. The March is overtly political. It is a public demonstration of support for science in various ways, and meant to put pressure on politicians. That is political.

However, I do not think the Science March should be either a “liberal” or “conservative” event. It should be non-partisan. It will be tempting for people to mix in their personal political beliefs and confuse that with science advocacy, but that temptation should be resisted.

We want science to have bipartisan support, and we want all politicians to listen to science and scientists.

It is important for science to inform policy. But we also have to recognize that science alone cannot determine policy, because there are also value judgments in the mix. This is where it gets tricky.

I think it’s important for scientists to recognize when they are going beyond objective science and starting to include ideological opinions and value judgments.  This does not mean that scientists should not be involved with politics. Go right ahead. Just don’t confuse science advocacy and political advocacy. Make it clear where the science ends and politics begins.

I also think that individual scientists have to be mindful of their position and goals. A scientist working in the lab but who is not a public figure might have no problems being very political active outside of their job. A science communicator may choose to avoid being too political to keep that from distracting from their science communication. Someone involved in science regulation may need to be vigilantly non-partisan.

It is an interesting conversation that is worth having, and I do think that recent political events and the Science March is prompting this needed discussion.

89 responses so far

89 thoughts on “Science and Politics”

  1. TheGorilla says:

    Dr novella,

    Could you clarify what you mean by differentiating between objective science and ideology, value judgements? The post begins by noting that ideology and politics is inseparable from scientific activity, so when you express concern about activist scientists going out of objective science into values and ideology, what do you mean?

  2. BobbyGvegas says:

    “George Church gives a sneak peek of his March for Science speech”

    https://www.statnews.com/2017/04/11/george-church-march-for-science/

  3. Atlantean Idol says:

    It is also easy for scientists to present their ideological position as if it is the correct scientific position, because they fail to perceive the line between objective facts and value judgments.

    It’s practical to differentiate between a thing in itself and one’s feelings about it and true that many people fail to consistently do so. While value judgements are subjective in the sense they vary by individual personality, culture, etc, a fact and a value judgement of it are part of the same reality, one that for all practical purposes on the macro level may be considered objective.

  4. michaelegnor says:

    David sums up my views:

    https://www.evolutionnews.org/2017/04/march-for-science-is-going-to-be-a-hell-of-a-mess-bring-it-on/

    I like it when scientists are openly political. They are political anyway, and it’s good when they are candid about it.

    Scientists are mostly government contractors, and have the same political interests and biases as most groups who feed at the public trough. Also, scientists skew Left, which is no surprise among an interest group that profits from big government.

    At least the March for Science will show the scientific community for what it is–a politically biased interest group demanding its place at the feeding trough.

    I hope the scientists wear genitalia hats, proudly declare that they are atheists, and call taxpayers “deniers” and “creationists”.

    In other words, I hope the scientists are honest about what they think.

  5. jtraeger says:

    Avoiding ideological biases is always important, but I don’t think that avoiding the March for Science is an effective way to do that (as in your first section). Scientists already have their political biases, and advocating for science funding in the grand scheme of things is not going to have an effect on the positions they currently hold. Attending the event certainly isn’t going to affect their performance in the lab (though perhaps someone could make the case that a psychologist studying political positions in test subjects may somehow be swayed, I’m not sure).

    I am not particularly concerned that demonstrating in the March for Science is going to affect research bias. The only concern is how the public percieves it. And when I weigh the negative outcome of the public seeing science as necessarily against the current administration against the negative outcome of getting massive funding cuts, I’ll easily take the former.

  6. Gotchaye says:

    This seems to me to ignore the main problem facing most scientists I know re: the interaction of science advocacy and politics. It’s one thing to say that we shouldn’t let partisanship influence science (everyone believes this already) and that it’d be nice if our public debates were more informed by science. But what about when one political party appears to be much better than another on science, generally?

    It’s my impression that a large majority of American scientists would say that the Democrats are better than the Republicans on science in many ways that aren’t really ideological. For example, many would say that the Democrats are better about coming up with evidence-based policy, regardless of the aims of their policy; that they don’t abuse science or just truth nearly as much when making their case to the public; and that they have more respect for appropriate expert opinion. True or not, and I don’t see that this is a great place to have a fight about it, the position such scientists find themselves in is that they think that the supposedly non-partisan things you want science advocates to be encouraging in politics are not actually non-partisan.

    This is a problem because if you actually do want to encourage scientific thinking and respect for science in politics, you have to do this the same way that you encourage anything in politics. You’ve got to reward the politicians and parties that do a better job. Politicians respond best to political incentives. Everyone’s happy paying lip service to critical thinking and evidence-based policy, but you’re not giving politicians much reason to listen to you unless you organize against the ones doing a particularly bad job of it.

    This is what I’ve seen people worry or get excited about when it comes to the March for Science. It seems to me that a lot of people who are excited about it are excited about organizing against a particular political party that they see as anti-science. People who worry about it don’t really disagree with that judgment but they’re worried about a backlash where standing up to this anti-science party will just make them more anti-science.

  7. Gotchaye says:

    TheGorilla:

    I think the concern is something like Neil deGrasse Tyson slipping from “Here are some Mars facts, and you can trust me because I’m a scientist.” to “It would be good policy to fund a colony on Mars, and you can trust me because I’m a scientist.” Science by itself doesn’t determine what’s good policy, and it’s easy to end up leaning on scientific authority to back a value judgment.

  8. bend says:

    Dr. Egnor,
    “I hope the scientists…proudly declare that they are atheists…” While scientists are more likely to be atheists, about half of them do believe in God or “higher power.” Moreover, religious participation is almost the same between scientists and the general public, with about 20% of both groups attending regular worship services.
    And while the group leans left, it does to nowhere near the extend that does credentialed experts in, oh, say English literature. In fact, at Universities, the various STEM departments are among the most conservative on campus. Of the many scientists I know (colleagues and acquaintances) I can say that most are left of center (though not very left), many are right of center (but not very right) and none are happy with Trump.
    Finally, when it comes to criticizing those who feed from the public trough, I’d counsel you to beware the leaven of the pharisees. Half of my funding comes from public institutions and half from private companies while more than 64% of every dollar spent on healthcare comes from the government. You may not think that this is optimal, but if you’re a practicing surgeon, then you have your face buried neck deep in the same trough from which I’m nibbling.
    Thanks for letting me set you straight.

  9. MosBen says:

    Gotchaye, it get a bit more fuzzy when someone like Tyson is saying that periodically planet-wide events happen which cause mass extinctions. By being limited to this planet, humans are vulnerable to these events, therefore we should strive to colonize other planets/systems/etc.

    Or to take it in another direction, scientists in a particular field are likely in a good position to have informed opinions on which avenues of research are most promising. It’s a very small step from that to saying which avenues should be funded. I think that it’s fine to suggest that scientist should be very careful when approaching that line, but I think that it’s just as much an issue for the lay audience to be smart in interpreting a scientist who intends to be apolitical and nudges a toe across the line and give them some slack.

  10. BBBlue says:

    MosBen- Mike Tyson would say: “Pairweodically pwanet-wide events happen which cozzz mass extinctshuns.”

  11. yrdbrd says:

    Egnore: you went to medical school but mistake cat ears for genitalia?

  12. cozying says:

    I think it’s really important that we remember that rallies are not always perceived the way that they are intended.

    Sam Harris spoke out against the women’s march, and one of its head organizers, Linda Sarsour. He claimed that the left is siding with the Islamists and was angry that the women’s march had people celebrating the veil and had an Islamist influence in it. He turned out to be wrong.

    The problem with this is that none of this secret-Islamist influence came across in the mainstream media. Most of the world perceived the women’s march as just a vague/general movement celebrating women and maybe speaking out against Trump. It didn’t have any really clear goals or objectives, it was just about women’s rights, you could argue, but even the official website has many different stated goals. Then the reality was all sorts of different people on the street coming together.

    We also have to remember that it was right after a controversial election season, which an openly misogynistic male won the election vs a woman. That context matters and speaks to the masses of people all over the world protesting/marching vaguely.

    I don’t think the march for science will be as big. But I do think it’s going to be well received by the mainstream media. People like Egnor will laugh at the compilations on their alternative news websites of the most outrageous moments and feel happy. But the majority of the world will see people standing up for free speech, science communication, truth and education.

    It’s especially relevant because the White House is running campaigns of deliberate dishonestly and deception. Never in modern history have we had anything like this happen in this country. Where the White House briefing room is used to mislead the public to this degree.

    I can’t really see how if you are a scientist, or interested in critical thinking or free speech, you can justify staying home on such a day and keeping out of politics. Especially since the current administration has taken steps to muzzle the scientists they disagree with. Maybe another march in a previous year you could make those arguments, but not in the current climate.

  13. Lightnotheat says:

    Agree with cozying that, whatever the pitfalls, the march for science should definitely be supported at least this time, simply because Trump is the most anti-science president we’ve had in many decades.

  14. cozying says:

    Yeah there is just too much at stake and a lot going on this time.

    It’s foolish to ignore some of the relevant current political details like:
    -The March for science is taking place during the Trump era.
    -In Washington D.C.
    -The Trump administration has profoundly anti-scientific positions on a variety of issues for example: pharmaceutical deregulation, climate change, basic statistical data etc.
    -Just a few months in the Trump administration has already worked to directly attack various federal agencies and muzzle them from speaking out about climate change science.
    -More broadly, the Trump administration has a troubled relationship with truth. Going so far as advocating against objective reality and presenting alternative facts.

    Yes it’s political to promote science today in America. This is due to the fact that he current administration is hostile towards expertise, truth and objective reality. Look at his appointments, Rick Perry for energy secretary, a position previously held by Nobel laureates. The people in prominent positions in the White House itself, have no relevant experience. It’s embarrassing. You should feel motivated to support the march for science just based on the fact that the person running the department in charge of nuclear reactors, and the nation’s nuclear weapons has no relevant physics background. If we don’t speak up, what’s next?

    Just remember Rick Perry at the energy department.

  15. Ivan Grozny says:

    It’s nothing short of remarkable that Steve Novella is unable to accept that maybe, just maybe, religious devotion to “saving the planet” by some scientists, together with the incentives to exaggerate the problem in order to make yourself more important, funded and admired, could possibly distort the climate science.

    Here is what one wise man, Dwight Eisenhower said in his farewell address, jsut after the cannonical critiuquue of the “military industrial complex” that liberals love so much:

    “Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

    In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

  16. Ivan -Nice straw man. I never said anything of the sort, that it is not possible for incentives and ideology to distort science in general or climate science in particular. Never said it or even implied it.

    I have, many times, discussed how perverse incentives distort science and how ideology can frame and bias science. It is not my position that climate change is impervious to this.

    Rather, it is my position that the science of climate change is convincing and compelling. Even if there is some bias here and there, there is a robust consensus built on rigorous evidence, the kind that transcends bias.

    You seem to be assuming that because there could be bias, there therefore is bias (an unsupported conclusion that just happens to align with your own ideological bias).

  17. MosBen says:

    And, of course, the SGU has covered studies attempting to determine if bias is a significant factor in climate science research, and there’s just not evidence of widespread bias.

  18. Lightnotheat says:

    Also Grozny, I don’t hear you say “It’s nothing short of remarkable that Steve Novella is unable to accept that maybe, just maybe, funding of research by companies like Monsanto, together with the incentives to minimimize the problem in order to maximize profits, could possibly distort the GMO science.” One of the clearest signs of motivated reasoning is when the argument you use in one case is abandoned in another. Since a “GMOs are safe” scientific consensus doesn’t conflict with your libertarian ideology, you would have us trust the consensus and not worry about bias in that case, but we should be very vigilant about bias when it comes to climate change.

  19. RickK says:

    It’s nothing short of remarkable that Ivan Grozny is unable to accept that maybe, just maybe, that enormous profits and tens of thousands of dependent jobs don’t provide incentives to minimize or discredit the premise that the planet is warming at a historically unusual rate and that human activity is a major factor.

    It is nothing short of remarkable that Ivan Grozny joins the conspiracy theorists who believe that somehow a bunch of academic scientists can wield more power to sway public opinion than the massive global corporations whose livelihoods depend on the continued expansion of fossil fuel usage.

    It is nothing short of remarkable that Ivan Grozny can look at temperature data, migrating species, dying coral reefs, unstable permafrost, and the recently opened Northwest Passage shipping lanes, and still insist that nothing is wrong and scientists are making the whole thing up for their own benefit.

    It is nothing short of remarkable that Ivan Grozny seems to equate climate research with “solitary inventors” tinkering in their shops. Big science needs big funding. But perhaps Ivan believes that research funded by profit-minded corporations will be less biased than funding approved by elected government officials. If so, it would be nothing short of remarkable.

  20. Johnny says:

    Steve, you are probably aware of that Nature in the past have endorsed presidential candidates in the American elections. They endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012, and Clinton in 2016. I understand that this is something that the SGU and other skeptical outlets and skeptical organizations would never do, as the skeptical movement tries to be politically non-partisan, and I respect and support that.

    I wonder, do you have an opinion on that Nature makes such explicit political endorsements? Nature is after all the world’s most cited scientific journal and well-respected within the world of science. So I presume those endorsements in some way represent the journal as a whole, rather than being the opinion of just one person.

    (Trump being declared the jackass of the year on the SGU is not necessarily an endorsement of his opponent.)

  21. Ivan Grozny says:

    “I have, many times, discussed how perverse incentives distort science and how ideology can frame and bias science. It is not my position that climate change is impervious to this.”

    But that did not preclude you from dismissing any such claims by opponents as “conspiracy theorizing”, as you did at least 20 times in discussions with me and others here.

    “Rather, it is my position that the science of climate change is convincing and compelling. ”

    You know next to nothing about climate science (no shame), as I witnessed first-hand many times here on your blog. You simply parrot the scientists or organizations that proclaim alarmist messages you agree with as “facts” (“97 percent trick” and similar).

    “You seem to be assuming that because there could be bias, there therefore is bias (an unsupported conclusion that just happens to align with your own ideological bias).”

    If the funding for one field of research increases by a factor of 100 or more (as happened with climate research in recent decades), and further funding depends critically on there being a problem, it’s clear that there would be a very strong adverse selection – that the people with strong alarmist bias or-and people with no scruples will tend to gradually drive out others from the field. Because they are better for universities. That’s what Eisenhower warned against, and that’s what got 1000 times worst since his warming. The main thing, often more important than your expertize when applying for university jobs is “whether you can attract outside grants”. This is the case to some degree even in social sciences where I operate but infinitely more so in “climate science”. So, of course, there will be a strong pressure for conformism and incentives for strongly biased people to dominate the field. And what is more important – the strong pressure on people who disagree to conform, or to minimize and qualify their reservations as much as possible, because their views and behaviours are bad for business.

  22. michaelegnor says:

    [If the funding for one field of research increases by a factor of 100 or more (as happened with climate research in recent decades), and further funding depends critically on there being a problem, it’s clear that there would be a very strong adverse selection – that the people with strong alarmist bias or-and people with no scruples will tend to gradually drive out others from the field…]

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Scientists are human, and if you dangle money and power, they’ll bite at it like starving dogs. There is absolutely no reason to impute herculean honesty or integrity to the scientific profession. In my experience, scientists are no more brave or honest than anyone, actually less so.

    We should get the government out of science funding. And we should apply the same criteria and laws to science that we apply to finance. There should be a SEC for science.

    If you hide/massage/misrepresent your data, you go to prison. 90% of climate scientists would be in nice climate-controlled federal prisons, where they belong.

  23. MosBen says:

    Ivan, but again, worry about potential bias impacting climate science findings is not something that only the people who deny the climate science consensus think or worry about. It would indeed be troubling if there were pressures on scientists to publish only research which supported AGW and scientists then compromised their research to conform to this pressure. But this would be an effect that we could study and explore. But when researchers have tried to find this effect it doesn’t exist in a significant way. Even if we granted your premises, and I don’t think that we do, you still need to show that the research is in FACT compromised, not simply assume that it is. There’s good evidence to show that the research is reliable. You’ve presented no evidence that it’s not.

  24. michaelegnor says:

    MosBen:

    [It would indeed be troubling if there were pressures on scientists to publish only research which supported AGW… But when researchers have tried to find this effect it doesn’t exist in a significant way.]

    You lie. What bullsh*t. Of course there’s massive pressure on scientists to toe the line on AGW.

    It’s particularly insulting to be lied to so blatantly.

  25. edamame says:

    Egnor you drastically underestimate how much your average scientist would like to overthrow the dominant paradigm in their field. That is the one surefire way to accolades, Sweden, National Academies, Professorships, etc.. This is why Einstein is revered.

    If the data strongly countervail the dominant theory, it’s not like it will be kept under wraps. lol You have zero practical knowledge of how science actually works. Rather, you are spouting deluded conspiratorial nonsense that is not even a caricature, because a caricature has some basis in truth. Data falsification is called scientific misconduct, because it is universally unacceptable.

    Don’t mistake scientific dismissal of crackpot ideas (e.g., intelligent design) as a flaw in science. Indeed, it is a great example of science working exactly as it should. You just can’t handle the burden of evidence, so cry like a baby that the process is unfair.

    Grow up.

  26. Lightnotheat says:

    And once again Ivan and Michael, you have not explained why bias is not something to be concerned about when it comes to scientific consensus that aligns with your idology. Over and over and over again you avoid answering this point about how you use an argument when it supports your ideologically-driven position, and discard it when it doesn’t.

  27. zorrobandito says:

    Where’s hardnose? He sick?

  28. MosBen says:

    Egnor, I think that my post was clear, but in case it wasn’t, my point was not that there is or isn’t pressure, but that the question of bias in climate science research has been studied and doesn’t appear to be a significant factor. It’s not sufficient to claim that there is pressure to conform on AGW, you must show that the research itself is flawed or has been unduly influenced by this pressure. Neither you nor Ivan have done so, and the research into this question that we have does not support your position.

  29. Atlantean Idol says:

    Does anyone here know what word count flags a comment for moderation? At 12:55 p.m. today I posted a 380 word comment that is currently awaiting moderation.

  30. Atlantean Idol says:

    Let’s try posting in two parts:

    The perverse incentive structures driving disbursement of government funding have been well-studied in the field of Public Choice economics. Gordon Tulloch et. al. mathematically demonstrated that government misallocation of resources is unavoidable even in direct democracy (see Weath, Poverty and Politics for a good summary of Tulloch’s contributions to the field).

    Governments are strongly incentivized to milk crises, real or fabricated, for all they’re worth to expand their power. This is true not only for national governments, but also for wannabe global governments such as the U.N. See pages 19-34 of the Durban plan:

    http://unfccc.int/files/adaptation/application/pdf/mechanical_light_editing.pdf

    This is why the UNFCCC’s mandate to the IPCC is to study only man’s contribution to global warming over and above any natural variation and report any concomitant risks, but not benefits. It’s why their assessment’s summaries for policymakers misrepresent the bulk of IPCC research on actual greenhouse gas sensitivity. There isn’t anything close to a consensus even within the IPCC on such sensitivity:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11191-013-9647-9

  31. Atlantean Idol says:

    Part 2:

    The IPCC is not only not a scientific consensus (not that science operates by consensus anyway) it’s not even much of a scientific organization. See IPCC Exposed by Donna Laframboise for a tour of that sausage factory.

    you still need to show that the research is in FACT compromised

    See McKitrick and McIntyre’s exposure of latter-day Lysenko Michael Mann and ClimateGate:

    http://www.rossmckitrick.com/uploads/4/8/0/8/4808045/stattered.consensus.ch2.pdf

    For those who would counter that ClimateGate doesn’t undermine the broader AGW hypothesis, the industrial era comprises as much warming over the period of 1910 to 1940 as it does 1970 on as shown by Arctic surface temperatures (where we would expect the most continuous warming under the AGW hypothesis:

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/1520-0442%282003%29016%3C2067%3AVATOAT%3E2.0.CO%3B2

    That CO2 is an infrared absorbing gas at atmospheric concentrations already near full temperature saturation is a scientific fact. That Earth’s climate has positive and negative feedback systems is also a scientific fact. Climate computer models unjustifiably biased toward positive feedbacks and greenhouse sensitivity are not science, they are the excretions of both pseudoscientific advocacy groups and unscrupulous scientists who are, economically speaking, government catamites. The systemic corruption of climate catastrophism is a perfect example of why government should stay out of science and, for that matter, the entire intellectual sphere.

  32. Lightnotheat says:

    Again and again and again, Dr. Novella and others lay out the broad and deep trove of evidence in favor of AGW, and again and again and again, Atlantean Idol et al reply with cherry picked evidence and arguments about bias that they don’t apply in other cases.

  33. bachfiend says:

    Atlanten Idol,

    Atmospheric CO2 doesn’t saturate as an infrared radiation absorber. That’s a lie propagated by the AGW denial industry.

    CO2 does saturate if you use a tube of fixed length and vary the CO2 level within the tube. If you raise the CO2 level within the tube (which will have the same CO2 concentration at every point along the tube) and shine a beam of infrared light of one of the frequencies that CO2 absorbs, then eventually you’ll reach a CO2 level at which you won’t be able to ‘see’ the infrared source at the other end of the tube.

    But the CO2 level within the atmosphere with increasing altitude isn’t constant. Even with a constant atmospheric level of 400 ppmv (which is relating the CO2 level to the other gases in the atmosphere), the absolute CO2 level drops with decreasing atmospheric pressure and increasing altitude, so there’s fewer CO2 molecules per unit volume. So eventually, the absolute CO2 level will drop to below the saturation concentration for that wavelength of infrared radiation.

    And when a CO2 molecule absorbs a photon of IR light (if it doesn’t pass the kinetic energy to other gas molecules) it will re-emit the photon. In any direction, including downwards, which is how greenhouse gases retain heat within the Earth system. It’s only the photons being re-emitted upwards that allow the Earth to rid itself of the heat from the sun.

    The path a photon of infrared light takes through the atmosphere is a very zigzag one. It’s only at the tropopause (at the boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere does the absolute CO2 level drop sufficiently to allow IR light to freely pass, and the temperature there is around minus 18 degrees Celsius (the temperature of the Earth predicted by the Stefan-Boltzmann law for an Earth without greenhouse gases).

    Increasing the atmospheric CO2 level increases the height of the tropopause, so there’s more layers of troposphere to block IR radiation. Which means that the temperature at the Earth’s surface must be increasing.

    AGW deniers use the analogy of curtains on a window – if you have one set of curtains on a window it might stop 90% of the light coming from outside. Adding another set might bring the figure to 99%. Adding a third will bring it up to virtually 100%, and adding any more will have no effect.

    The true analogy is sheets on a bed on a cold night (in an unseated room). The top sheet will have the temperature of the room. If you keep on piling on sheets, the temperature of the bottom sheet (and you!) will continually increase. Until you’re uncomfortably overheated. Increasing atmospheric CO2 levels and raising the height of the tropopause is reflected in the analogy of adding sheets to a bed and rising the thickness of the sheets.

    You correctly note that there are negative feedbacks with increasing CO2 levels as well as positive ones. The problem is that there are many, many more positive feedbacks than negative ones. Such as warming oceans releasing dissolved CO2. Melting tundra releasing methane. Drying forests releasing CO2. Melting ice caps and snow fields decreasing albedo. Warming increasing atmospheric water vapour.

    Care to list the negative feedbacks?

  34. BillyJoe7 says:

    Not sure if this has happened before.

    The blogs three climate deniers on the same thread exhibiting all three major characteristics of climate denial:

    CHERRY-PICKING the data to fall in line with pre-conceived conclusions based on ideology
    Misunderstanding consensus which simply means reaching conclusions based on ALL THE EVIDENCE.
    Ignoring corrections to their misinformation and simply repeating them over and over and over.

    It’s getting boring…

    “Come on girl
    Let’s sneak out of this party
    It’s getting boring
    There’s more to life than this

    It’s still early morning
    We could go down to the harbor
    And jump between the boats
    And see the sun come up”

    Bjork

  35. Ivan Grozny says:

    Mos Ben,

    Although, of course, there is a tremendous pressure on scientists to conform, the problem is even more complicated and ominous than that. Most of the funding for “climate change” is not devoted to understanding climate – for the science proper – but rather for building newer and newer computer models and for designing mitigation and adaptation strategies. Virtually zero funds go in understanding how weather and climate work (to study natural climate variability).

    Moreover ,”climate science” as a discipline did not exist 30 years ago – there was meteorology, there was oceanography, there were all sorts of climate and weather related applied disciplines but not an overarching “climate science”. It was created for political and funding purposes, as an umbrella for the environmentalist agenda of mobilizing public opinion against the newest fake catastrophe and for milking the taxpayer. Climate science mantra belongs to the grant bonanza for scientists, many of which have zero to do with climate science proper. Climate issues are included even in social science projects, routinely, as the surest ways to signal virtue and relevance of your “research” for “saving the planet”.

    As Schopenhauer said: “Science is misused, from the side of the state as a tool, from the other side as a means of gain. . . Who can really believe that truth also will thereby come to light, just as a by-product ?”

  36. michaelegnor says:

    “[Climate science] was created for political and funding purposes, as an umbrella for the environmentalist agenda of mobilizing public opinion against the newest fake catastrophe and for milking the taxpayer.”

    Precisely.

  37. michaelegnor says:

    Fake catastrophe mongering has been a mainstay of science for a couple of centuries, starting with Malthusianism, then with eugenics, DDT hysteria, the Population Bomb of the 1960’s, global cooling, and now global warming.

    The fake science death toll, from famine enabled by Malthusian neglect (Ireland in the 1840’s and India in the 1880’s), to eugenics (USA and Nazis), DDT hysteria (60 million unnecessary deaths from malaria), forced abortions and female genocide (100 million missing girls in Asia), and the toll of poor people killed and stunted by AGW greenie ideology keeps rising.

    Fake science is lethal.

  38. BillyJoe7 says:

    What a crock.

    Politicians in general have been in denial of climate change for over three decades and have only recently been forced by the weight of evidence and the pressure of shifting public opinion to pay lip service and very little else to climate change.

    “I could bring my little ghetto blaster”

    Bjork

  39. bachfiend says:

    Ivan,

    ‘Moreover, ‘climate science’ as a discipline did not exist 30 years ago’.

    So James Croll (1821-1890) wasn’t a climate scientist? He developed a theory that glaciations were due to variations in the Earth’s orbit starting his considerations around 1864, later extended by Milankovitch during World War I.

    AGW deniers, I find, are just either ill informed or delusional or both (as with Michael Egnor).

  40. BillyJoe7 says:

    ME,

    “Fake catastrophe mongering”

    Fake accusations of catastrophe mongering is more like it. Climate catastrophism is the an extreme position of a minority. Climate scientists are simply sounding the warning against the adverse effects of climate change.
    It is amusing to see one extremist railing against another extremist.

    “Malthusianism” – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population#/media/File%3APopulation_curve.svg

    “eugenics” – the misapplication of science by a minority.

    “DDT hysteria” – yes, hysteria by those who see the reaction to problems with DDT as one of hysteria.

    “Population Bomb” – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population#/media/File%3APopulation_curve.svg

    “global cooling” – debunked a thosand times but endlessly repeated none the less by climate deniers. It was actually a minority opinion that was against the mainstream consensus view that the globe was warming.

    “forced abortions and female genocide” – this is politics not science.

    “Fake science is lethal” – science ignorance and denial is lethal

  41. BillyJoe7 says:

    …hmmm, that link brings you to a wiki page but then you have to wait for a few seconds for the appropriate graph to load. Weird.

  42. bachfiend says:

    BillyJoe,

    I like reading comments from AGW deniers. Occasionally (rarely) I learn something I didn’t know before.

    The trouble is that the AGW deniers who come to Neurologica to comment are the dregs of the AGW denial community, making arguments that wouldn’t pass muster on an AGW denial website.

    And as a result, they’re usually anonymous. Atlantean Idol. Ivan Grozny (I assume that’s a pseudonym, since it was Ivan the Terrible’s real name). Michael Egnor comments under his real name, but then again – he has to. His comments are so incredibly stupid, no one would bother reading them were it not for the fact that everyone else is fascinated how someone could be intelligent enough to become a neurosurgeon, but so ignorant about virtually everything else.

  43. TheGorilla says:

    Obviously the only conclusion that can come from scientists having constraints based on funding and academia politics is that all science is wrong. I don’t understand why these small minded folks are stopping at climate change when our very computers are make believe.

  44. Sophie says:

    After his defense of Milo, and support of gamergate, is anyone at all surprised that Atlantean Idol is a climate change denier?

  45. Atlantean Idol says:

    Multi part post:

  46. mumadadd says:

    “starting with Malthusianism, then with eugenics, DDT hysteria”

    Goddamit, I thought I’d come away relatively unscathed from this round of the Michael Egnor drinking game… Three shots, down the hatch.

  47. bachfiend says:

    ‘Multi part post:’

    First time Atlantean Idol has written something that makes sense. His last comment is ‘multi part’. It consists of 3 parts (words).

  48. Willy says:

    Mumadadd: It is ALWAYS dangerous to play a drinking game with Dr. Egnor’s posts. He can rack ’em up faster than you can pour when he’s on a roll.

  49. michaelegnor says:

    [“Climate scientists are simply sounding the warning against the adverse effects of climate change.”]

    ‘Scientists are simply sounding the warning against the adverse effects of overpopulation’.

    ‘Scientists are simply sounding the warning against the adverse effects of proliferation of substandard humans.’

    ‘Scientists are simply sounding the warning against the adverse effects of pesticides.’

    ‘ Scientists are simply sounding the warning against the adverse effects of global cooling.’

    ‘Climate scientists are simply sounding the warning against the adverse effects of climate change.’

    Same tune. Minor tweaks in lyrics, every few decades.

    Same bullsh*t.

  50. Willy says:

    It is hard to imagine how a person who can function in today’s society can be as poorly educated and unaware as Dr. Egnor is. He seems to think that pointing out errors in history is somehow a condemnation of virtually all human inquiry. Consider how the (Dr. Egnor’s) Church, guided by the “Holy Spirit”, has fouled things up in its two millennia (a VERY brief look):
    –The execution of Bruno
    –The persecution of Galileo
    –Execution of Joan of Arc
    –Indulgences
    –the Inquisition
    –burning of “witches”
    –participation in and silence regarding the slave trade
    –formalized persecution of Jews
    –ignoring, and being complicit with, Hitler
    –widespread child abuse by priests and cover-up of same
    And, in Dr. Egnor’s mind: recognizing climate change.
    My oh my! How can an institution that has the one true Supreme Being as its leader be so misguided?
    Michael Egnor: a legend in his own mind, but a blot on humanity in the minds of thinkers everywhere.

    Same bullsh*t minus the minor tweaks.

    Hey, Doc, I hope you enjoy the goofy priest in his “sacred robes” tomorrow, sprinkling “holy water”, all the while muttering Latin incantations. Imagine the good the money that supports the finery of the Church might do instead of being spent on ostentation and glitz.

  51. michaelegnor says:

    @Willy,

    [“Consider how the (Dr. Egnor’s) Church, guided by the “Holy Spirit”, has fouled things up in its two millennia…”]

    Reciprocity, Willy. You attack my religion, because I attack yours.

    Happy Easter to all, by the way!

  52. Sophie says:

    Egnor,
    I think Willy’s point is that after 2000 years we can see a non-divine, very humanly-fallible pattern. The people who wrote these scared texts didn’t know about anything outside their immediate geographical area, they also fabricated historical details that many people still believe, like how the Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt. Meanwhile centuries of archeological evidence shows otherwise.

    Ever check out the graphs? Over population is a very real thing. 60 years ago the world had less than half the current numbers. Scientists are justified in pointing out that this is a problem. Economists and political scientists have long noticed that overpopulation leads directly to poverty, political instability and things like totalitarianism. GMOs are the only reason we are able to feed (most of) the people we got, showing that science is literally the only way to go.

    Following classic Christian doctrine would lead us away from birth control and condoms, and lead directly to more overpopulation.

  53. Willy says:

    I have no religion and I’m not “attacking” yours, Dr. Egnor. I am just noting your hypocrisy. Something about a plank in one’s eye…

  54. michaelegnor says:

    Willy:

    A man with “no religion” is always a deeply pious man. Irreligious piety is worship of self, pleasure, science, whatever.

    All men worship. It’s the distinguishing trait of our species. The only difference among us is what we worship.

  55. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    ‘All men worship. It’s the distinguishing trait of our species. The only difference among us is what we worship’.

    And women?

    No – not all humans worship. Some theory accepted as a consensus of science could be wrong or incomplete. There’s no assumption of infallibility unlike in your religion.

  56. michaelegnor says:

    “There’s no assumption of infallibility…” is an assumption of infallibility- the assumption of infallible empiricism in science, which is dogma and has little to do with real science, which is a very ideological dogmatic enterprise. A very human enterprise.

    Your denial of dogmatism is dogma, and has little connection to the reality of science.

  57. Willy says:

    Dr. Egnor said: “A man with “no religion” is always a deeply pious man. Irreligious piety is worship of self, pleasure, science, whatever.”

    Horsepuckey! You can repeat empty tropes all you like; it doesn’t make them true.

    Try thinking for yourself, and, while you are at it, try to understand why you aren’t bothered by the truly stupid and horribly EVIL things your church has done over the millennia, but are instead wound up in a blind frenzy of misguided hatred and ignorance (egnorance?) over “science”. Science, the means by which humans try to understand our world.

  58. edamame says:

    Egnor is losing his edge. Denial of infallibility is now a bad thing. lol What other epistemic virtues can you impart. Refusing to do experiments?

  59. Willy says:

    edamame: Dr. Egnor didn’t ever have an ‘edge”.

  60. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    I’ve had to read your word salad several times to sort of get what you’re trying to say.

    ‘…the assumption of infallible empiricism in science, which is dogma and has little to do with real science, which is a very ideological dogmatic exercise’. No. There’s no assumption of infallible empiricism in science. Experiments, studies, observations could be wrong. Variables could be bad controlled for. There could be fraud involved. Replication is a necessary, vital part of science.

    You seem to have defined ‘real’ science as ‘a very ideological dogmatic exercise’. You haven’t just redefined science to include pseudosciences such as Intelligent Science (which is definitely ideological, dogmatic and just wrong) as ‘real’ science, instead of just science?

    Edamame,

    I don’t think Egnor ever had an ‘edge’.

  61. michaelegnor says:

    [Science, the means by which humans try to understand our world.]

    In other words, science is your religion.

  62. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    ‘In other words, science is your religion’.

    No it isn’t. Religion is belief without evidence. Science is accepting something as being provisionally true, provided there’s adequate evidence.

    There’s nothing in your religion that will convince you that the supposed resurrection you’ve just celebrated was anything but myth. There’s nothing, because there’s no evidence that it actually happened, including Matthew’s mysterious darkness in the middle of the day, the earthquakes and the mass resurrection of Jewish saints, which strangely no one noticed. Infallibility?

  63. MosBen says:

    aaaaaaand, scene! I hope you have all enjoyed this one act play written and produced by Dr. Michael Egnor titled “False Equivalence”.

  64. Willy says:

    Dr. Egnor:..grasps nothing, comprehends nothing, lives in a world of fantasy.

    C’mon, Mikey, where do you even begin to assume that science is a “religion”??? Your very profession owes everything to science and technology, yet you belittle these things. Tell us, Mikey, how much of what you practice every day comes from the “truth” of the Bible? Does your surgery drive out “demons”?

    Thanks a lot, Dr. Egnor, for demonstrating to so very clearly that an advanced education doesn’t make one intelligent or wise. Michael Egnor—repeating tropes he doesn’t even understand.

    Say “hey” to Jonny Wells, the man that thinks a Korean rip-off artist is (was) a “man of God”. I’m betting that, deep down, you recognize that Wells has been deluded. You just don’t have the heuvos to disagree with a fellow “ID” mate. CHICKEN-SHIT!!!!!!!

  65. michaelegnor says:

    @Willy:

    [Say “hey” to Jonny Wells, the man that thinks a Korean rip-off artist is (was) a “man of God”.]

    You atheists have a Korean soul-mate too [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Jong-un]–an atheist who hates Christianity as much as you do. He likes your lefty politics too.

    Jonathan is a much nicer guy.

    You’d think that after a century of communism that you atheists would be gun-shy about guilt-by-association.

  66. RickK says:

    “You’d think that after a century of communism that you atheists would be gun-shy about guilt-by-association.”

    You’d think that you’d be gun-shy about bringing up NKorea’s state sponsored religion, with its regular worship, iconography, supernaturalist and dogmatism. But I guess the residents of Pyongyang were well-trained to believe the fantastical back in the days it was called “The Jerusalem of the East”. Yeah, Christianity did Korea a big service. Talk about guilt by association.

    But let’s get back to the part where you were trashing science. I always find that so entertaining coming from a neurosurgeon.

  67. michaelegnor says:

    [But let’s get back to the part where you were trashing science.]

    I trash fake science and metaphysical naturalism, not good science.

    Good science: most science, including astrophysics, physics, most biology, chemistry, medicine, etc.

    Fake science: Malthusian hysteria, eugenic genocide, pesticide hysteria, global warming hysteria, …

    Fake science drives out good science. You do an enormous disservice to good science when you shill for the fake stuff.

    [I always find that so entertaining coming from a neurosurgeon.]

    Neurosurgeons do seem to have a proclivity for shooting our mouths off about science and stuff (e.g. Ben Carson). We are no doubt an egotistical bunch–goes with the day job.

    A deeper reason for our skepticism about “consensus” science (ie fake science) is that we deal with the real world in a very unforgiving way every day, and fake science kills. We don’t have a lot of patience for b.s.

  68. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    “A deeper reason for our skepticism about ‘consensus’ science (ie fake science) is that we deal with the real world in an unforgiving way every day, and fake science kills”.

    To be able to take a real skeptical view of any field of science, you do actually need to understand its claims and the evidence for it, instead of your rejecting it out of complete ignorance and for ideological reasons.

    And for the record, despite your repeated claims, and my repeated corrections, DDT has never been banned for malaria control. The 2001 Stockholm Convention banned the use of persistent organic pesticides (including DDT) once ratified by a sufficient number of countries. An exception to the ban is its use in disease control – including malaria.

    So; DDT in agriculture – no (and insect pests develop resistance anyway). DDT use in malaria control (including spraying of internal walls, in which mosquito resistance to DDT isn’t such a problem) – yes, yes, yes.

  69. Willy says:

    Dr. Egnor: Do you have ANY idea how childish your Kim Jung Un reference is? ANY IDEA?

    You support “good science”! ROFLMFAO! May I interpret “good” to mean “something you approve of and that fits your ideology”? I certainly can’t interpret it to mean that you have any specific knowledge that allows you a valid reason to dispute whatever you think “bad” science is.

  70. MosBen says:

    I’m still waiting for Ivan or Egnor to show some evidence not just that climate scientists are under pressure to support AGW, but that that pressure has IN FACT undermined the research that has been conducted. It’s not just enough to say that it is possible that pressure to support AGW could have influenced the body of evidence that we have, therefore we should throw out the conclusions of most experts in the field. Nobody’s stopping you from proving your case. We’re just saying that gesturing at the possibility that the research is unreliable isn’t the same thing.

  71. Willy says:

    Another candidate for most pathetic comment herein: “Neurosurgeons do seem to have a proclivity for shooting our mouths off about science and stuff (e.g. Ben Carson). We are no doubt an egotistical bunch–goes with the day job.”

    Areya really so damned self-absorbed and self-impressed that you think your profession is “special” with respect to being critical and/or focused on the importance of being correct and factually accurate?? Gawd, I am thankful I don’t have to put up with you in everyday life. I think you put the “K” in “Kwality”.

  72. bachfiend says:

    Willy,

    I once had a physician tutor who noted that surgeons are skilled with their hands, but not great thinkers.

    Surgeons achieve their best results when they don’t think too much. When they follow established protocols of treatment and rely on the consensus of experts as to what is the most effective treatment.

    It’s ironic that Egnor is so opposed to consensus in science, whereas it’s an important part of medicine.

    Egnor certainly isn’t a good thinker.

  73. Willy says:

    bachfiend: Amen!

  74. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] Good science: most science, including astrophysics, physics, most biology, chemistry, medicine, etc.
    Fake science: Malthusian hysteria, eugenic genocide, pesticide hysteria, global warming hysteria, …

    Eh…?

    Study of pesticides: chemistry and biology
    Study of climate: physics and chemistry

  75. Geekoid says:

    The right politicized science. It’s done. What is happening now is a defense of science against theses anti-science claims. Science should just inform,. but when politician attack it with baseless accusation what is suppose to happen? just let the lies take over?

  76. Geekoid says:

    michaelegnor –

    “Fake catastrophe mongering has been a mainstay of science for a couple of centuries, ”

    Nope. Don’t confuse changing course because of new data with faking.

    “starting with Malthusianism, ”

    Which was correct, but using scientific methods people found more and more ways to improve crop yields, it has been forestalled.

    “then with eugenics,”

    I”m not sure what you mean here. are you confusing eugenic the science with eugenics the politics?

    ” DDT hysteria,”

    DDT is endocrine-disrupting, and bugs can become immune. While I do agree we moved to far way from it in some areas, the fact of the matter is that was a political decision, not a science one.

    “the Population Bomb of the 1960’s,”

    Never considered science, even at the time. It was an alarmist book written by 2 people, not a scientific study

    “global cooling, ”

    Never was science.

    “and now global warming.”

    Which is real and provable

    “The fake science death toll, from famine enabled by Malthusian neglect (Ireland in the 1840’s and India in the 1880’s), ”

    Those where not due to the “Malthusian neglect”

    to eugenics (USA and Nazis), DDT hysteria (60 million unnecessary deaths from malaria), forced abortions and female genocide (100 million missing girls in Asia), and the toll of poor people killed and stunted by AGW greenie ideology keeps rising.

    NONE OF THAT IS SCIENCE. It’s all political implementation. Learn the difference.

  77. Geekoid says:

    michaelegnor –
    ” AGW greenie ideology”

    Lets talk about that.

    anthropomorphic global warming (AGW) is a fact.

    In fact, it’s so simply even you could devise a test.

    1) Visible light strikes the earth Testable? Yes. Tested? Yes. Could anyone devise a test? Yes

    2) Visible light has nothing for CO2 to absorb, so it pass right on through. Testable? Yes. Tested? Yes. Could anyone devise a test? Yes

    3) When visible light strike an object, IR is generated. Testable? Yes. Tested? Yes. Could anyone devise a test? Yes

    4) Green house gasses, such as CO2, absorb energy(heat) from IR. Testable? Yes. Tested? Yes. Could anyone devise a test? Yes

    5) Humans produce more CO2(and other green house gasses) then can be absorbed through the cycle. Testable? Yes. Tested? Yes. Could anyone devise a test? Yes

    Each one of those has been tested, a lot. You notice deniers don’t actual address the facts of AGW? Don’t have a test that shows those facts to be false?
    So now you have to answer:
    Why do you think trapping more energy(heat) in the lower atmosphere does not impact the climate?

  78. Atlantean Idol says:

    bachfiend,

    Your blanket analogy is inaccurate. If increasing CO2 layered in the upper atmosphere as you describe and warmed the planet proportionally, Earth would have cooked long ago when the CO2 level was an order of magnitude higher. There is little correlation between CO2 and temperature over geologic time. There was an ice age in the Ordovician period when CO2 was at least 2000 ppm and possibly as high as 8000 (there’s a high degree of uncertainty in CO2 estimates for the early Phanerozoic eon). Through the Cretaceous period, by contrast, CO2 plummeted while temperature remained near its ceiling of 25C. This pattern is completely consistent with saturation at ~1000 ppm.

  79. Atlantean Idol says:

    A better analogy for the greenhouse effect is a dam. The height of the dam represents CO2 level and the reservoir behind the dam represents incoming solar radiation. Just as flow through the dam must remain constant in order to stabilize the level of the reservoir, emitted radiation from the Earth has to balance incoming radiation from the sun in accordance with the Stefan-Boltzmann law. The higher the dam, the greater the pressure toward its base. Pressure in this analogy may be thought of as temperature. The relationship between radiation and temperature in the Stefan-Boltzmann equation is inversely non-linear:

    R=esT^4 (e is emissivity or albedo in this case and s is a physical constant).

    Nothing you wrote above contradicts the fact the atmospheric dose response between CO2 and temperature is quasi-logarithmic: each additional molecule of CO2 contributes less warming than the previous one. Dr. Denis Rancourt created a simple CO2 model of climate using simultaneous Stefan-Boltzmann equations (one for the surface and each level of the atmosphere) that predicts 1.2C warming for a doubling of CO2. This is in line with the more conservative projections of the General Circulation models (more on those below).

    https://archive.org/details/RadiationPhysicsConstraintsOnGlobalWarmingCo2IncreaseHasLittleEffect

    Lord Christopher Monckton mathematically demonstrated that CO2 is much closer to full temperature saturation than the IPCC initially assumed:

    http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/monckton.cfm

  80. Atlantean Idol says:

    You correctly note that absolute CO2 level declines with altitude. This makes for a readily testable hypothesis: If CO2 were the primary driver of global warming we would expect to see the greatest warming in the equatorial troposphere where absolute CO2 concentration is highest. Recent satellite data shows little evidence of such a hotspot:

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Upper-troposphere-vs-tropical-SST-sat-vs-CMIP5.png

    The ratio of the number of positive feedbacks to negatives is irrelevant; what matters is their relative magnitudes. Ocean outgassing is actually evidence against CO2 temperature forcing; Vostok ice core data show that over the Milankovitch cycle temperature increases have actually preceded increases in CO2. The length of this lag is consistent with known ocean outgassing rates.

    https://i0.wp.com/www.euanmearns.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/vostok_temperature_co2.png

    The poles receive solar radiation at such an indirect angle that their feedback is negligible. The average coastal annual Antarctic temperature is -10C. Levels of warming projected by even the most aggressive IPCC models would not melt the ice caps. The same applies to tundra. Regional forest aridity is canceled out by increased humidity elsewhere. Warming increases water vapor capacity, not retention; increases in water vapor eventually precipitate out.

    Negative feedbacks include ocean absorption of both CO2 and heat, as well as the fertilizer feedback. Higher CO2 concentrations allow plants to breath with fewer open stomata, which reduces their water requirements. This accounts for the global greening we see in satellite images over the past thirty years:

    https://www.csiro.au/~/media/News-releases/2013/Deserts-greening/sat-data.png

    The fertilizer effect varies by metabolic type (C3, C4 and CAM), but the overall effect is universally positive. Greater biomass will of course, absorb more CO2, though this has diminishing returns and the climate isn’t especially sensitive to CO2 anyway, as the geological record shows.
    One of the most important feedback mechanisms, both positive and negative, is cloud formation. Clouds in the lower atmosphere absorb a certain amount of radiation reflected from the surface, but clouds in the upper atmosphere, cirrus especially, reflect much more radiation than they absorb. Solar activity may play an important role in cirrus cloud formation by modulating the cosmic ray excitation around which such clouds nucleate.

    IPCC models utterly fail to account for the propagation of cloud error. The intra-model autocorrelation is such that by 50 years out their true 90% confidence interval is 28C! If you view nothing else on this post, check out this presentation by Dr. Patrick Frank:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THg6vGGRpvA

    No statistically literate person can possibly take the IPCC models seriously after viewing this. It hardly comes as any surprise, therefore, that the hundreds of IPCC models failed to predict the warming plateau over the past 20 years. Steve Milloy defines junk science as ” faulty scientific data and analysis used to advance special interests and hidden agendas.” The agenda of the IPCC and alarmist climate science is partially environmentalist despotism, but primarily preservation of funding. The persistent bias of their models in favor of CO2 sensitivity is prima facie evidence of their deeper bias fomented by their funding structure.

  81. Atlantean Idol says:

    (These character limits are annoying)

    You correctly note that absolute CO2 level declines with altitude. This makes for a readily testable hypothesis: If CO2 were the primary driver of global warming we would expect to see the greatest warming in the equatorial troposphere where absolute CO2 concentration is highest. Recent satellite data shows little evidence of such a hotspot:

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Upper-troposphere-vs-tropical-SST-sat-vs-CMIP5.png

    The ratio of the number of positive feedbacks to negatives is irrelevant; what matters is their relative magnitudes. Ocean outgassing is actually evidence against CO2 temperature forcing; Vostok ice core data show that over the Milankovitch cycle temperature increases have actually preceded increases in CO2. The length of this lag is consistent with known ocean outgassing rates.

    https://i0.wp.com/www.euanmearns.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/vostok_temperature_co2.png
    The poles receive solar radiation at such an indirect angle that their feedback is negligible. The average coastal annual Antarctic temperature is -10C. Levels of warming projected by even the most aggressive IPCC models would not melt the ice caps. The same applies to tundra. Regional forest aridity is canceled out by increased humidity elsewhere. Warming increases water vapor capacity, not retention; increases in water vapor eventually precipitate out.

  82. Atlantean Idol says:

    Negative feedbacks include ocean absorption of both CO2 and heat, as well as the fertilizer feedback. Higher CO2 concentrations allow plants to breath with fewer open stomata, which reduces their water requirements. This accounts for the global greening we see in satellite images over the past thirty years:

    https://www.csiro.au/~/media/News-releases/2013/Deserts-greening/sat-data.png

    The fertilizer effect varies by metabolic type (C3, C4 and CAM), but the overall effect is universally positive. Greater biomass will of course, absorb more CO2, though this has diminishing returns and the climate isn’t especially sensitive to CO2 anyway, as the geological record shows.
    One of the most important feedback mechanisms, both positive and negative, is cloud formation. Clouds in the lower atmosphere absorb a certain amount of radiation reflected from the surface, but clouds in the upper atmosphere, cirrus especially, reflect much more radiation than they absorb. Solar activity may play an important role in cirrus cloud formation by modulating the cosmic ray excitation around which such clouds nucleate.

  83. Atlantean Idol says:

    IPCC models utterly fail to account for the propagation of cloud error. The intra-model autocorrelation is such that by 50 years out their true 90% confidence interval is 28C! If you view nothing else on this post, check out this presentation by Dr. Patrick Frank:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THg6vGGRpvA

    No statistically literate person can possibly take the IPCC models seriously after viewing this. It hardly comes as any surprise, therefore, that the hundreds of IPCC models failed to predict the warming plateau over the past 20 years. Steve Milloy defines junk science as ” faulty scientific data and analysis used to advance special interests and hidden agendas.” The agenda of the IPCC and alarmist climate science is partially environmentalist despotism, but primarily preservation of funding. The persistent bias of their models in favor of CO2 sensitivity is prima facie evidence of their deeper bias fomented by their funding structure.

  84. bachfiend says:

    Atlanten Idol,

    I’ll try to answer your points in order. Beforehand, I should point out that climate is driven by solar input (which depends on solar output and albedo) and heat emission (which depends on greenhouse gases).

    The position of the continents have varied over geological times. Oceans absorb more heat from the sun than land (the albedo is lower). Having more ocean near the equator means it’s warmer. Having more land near the equator means it’s colder. Regardless of CO2 levels, which can be every high if it’s otherwise cold due to a high albedo.

    You’ve then stated that saturation occurs at 1000 ppm(v?), which is over twice the current level.

    Agreed; warming due to increasing CO2 is approximately semi-logarithmic. Increasing from 0 to 270 ppmv causes 33 Kelvin warming. Doubling it again will cause a further 1.9 to 2.9 Kelvin warming.

    The poles are warming faster than the equator (which is where the positive feedback from decreasing albedo will come from). Albedo tends to be higher in the equatorial regions due to clouds.

    The increase in atmospheric CO2 levels with deglaciations resulting from the Milankovitch cycles is well known to climate scientists, and doesn’t falsify AGW.

    No one thinks that the poles are going to become ice free year round (global temperatures would have to be 30 Kelvin warmer), just September or perhaps Summer ice free in the Arctic, which is an ocean surrounded by land. Again, this is where one of the positive feedbacks from decreasing albedo is going to come from. And it’s irrelevant that Arctic tundra will freeze again in the northern winter. When it melts in the northern summer, nothing is going to cause released methane to return.

    ‘No statistically literate person can possibly take the IPCC models seriously after viewing this. It hardly comes as any surprise, therefore, that the hundreds of IPCC models failed to predict the warming plateau over the past 20 years’.

    I’m not surprised that a statistically illiterate person such as you would make such a statement (someone who thinks it’s appropriate to cherry pick doubtful data concerning deaths due to climate disasters comparing two 5 year periods 100 years apart).

    The global warming ‘pause’ was manufactured by AGW deniers no earlier than 2005, by cherry picking as a starting point 1998, marked by an abnormally strong El Niño event (which increases global temperatures by 1 Kelvin) and ‘officially’ ending it in 2012, which was marked by a moderate La Niña event, causing cooling.

    Predictions are made ahead of time, not afterwards, which is ‘postdiction’.

    The last few years have shown increasing warming, so your statement is a lie, a lie, a LIE. You’re absolutely dishonest.

  85. edamame says:

    In the past week, I’ve gone from agnostic about the march to pro-march. I am not sure if I will march or just go to lab that day, but I appreciate the support that science is receiving from the public, especially nonscientists. My wife has convinced me that in 20 years I will probably look back and regret not going. Still not enough to make me actually want to go, but something to think about. Probably not a major regret….

  86. Atlantean Idol says:

    The position of the continents have varied over geological times. Oceans absorb more heat from the sun than land (the albedo is lower). Having more ocean near the equator means it’s warmer. Having more land near the equator means it’s colder. Regardless of CO2 levels, which can be every high if it’s otherwise cold due to a high albedo.

    Correct. The current continental configuration is a major constraint on temperature, which is frigid by geological standards.

    Increasing from 0 to 270 ppmv causes 33 Kelvin warming.

    Incorrect. The 33K warming you refer to is the difference between observed temperature and the theoretical temperature of an atmosphere-free Earth. The total atmospheric greenhouse effect is actually much greater, closer to 60K. This is offset by atmospheric cooling effects such as cloud albedo, evaporation, and convection.

  87. bachfiend says:

    Atlanten Idol,

    ‘The total atmospheric greenhouse effect is actually much greater, closer to 60K’. Are you actually trying to make the case for AGW for me instead of trying to disprove it.

    ‘The current continental configuration is a major constraint on temperature, which is frigid by geological standards’.

    The Antarctic began to freeze over around 30 million years ago when India collided with Asia throwing up the Himalayas. Weathering of new exposed rock caused a progressive drop in atmospheric CO2 levels and subsequent global cooling. Circumantarctic ocean currents also isolated the Antarctic increasing the freezing.

    The Arctic froze around 3 million years ago, possibly due to South and North America colliding changing Atlantic currents and bringing more warmer water to the Arctic, which evaporated, increasing precipitation – including snow – which increased albedo causing a positive leading to more ice and permanent summer ice.

    This was the start of the current Ice Age, with ice and snow at both poles during summer.

    Humans evolved during the current Ice Age. If humans, and the crops and domestic animals we use, had evolved during the icefree Eocene, then we’d do fine. But we didn’t. The current climate is what we evolved to be adapted to.

    How warm could it get? The Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum 55 MYA, due to a natural release of greenhouse gases of similar magnitude to that we’d achieve if we burn all known reserves of fossil fuels, but over 25,000 years instead of the current centuries, resulted in a worrying 7 Kelvin of warming.

    Are you trying to make the case for AGW? And what is your response to my other comments?

  88. pat_b says:

    Dr. Novella, I think you’re missing a large criticism of the March for Science:

    http://www.latinorebels.com/2017/03/14/the-march-for-science-cant-figure-out-how-to-handle-diversity/

    “The organizers responded that they were listening to “complaints” about diversity, but they have struggled to proactively redress the serious scientific criticisms about their approach. By the 21 January they published a diversity statement that excluded disability. As pressure mounted from underrepresented scientists maligned by the march organizers’ “apolitical” stance, on January 25, the MfS organizers announced a “diversity committee and diversity steering committee” but did not immediately provide further details. Scientists were especially concerned that the organizers were not connecting with other longer-established activist groups with a better appreciation how other social justice issues impact on underrepresented scientists’ professional and personal communities.”

    “The pushback to the diversity statement from the public came thick and fast at the same time as other high-profile scientists disavowed the idea of a science march. On January 30, Harvard University cognitive scientist Professor Steven Pinker said that a commitment to diversity “compromises its goals with anti-science PC/identity politics/hard-left rhetoric.” Over two million people interacted and responded to Professor Pinker’s tweet. Many scientists took a strong stance in solidarity of diversity. MfS was notably silent.”

    “From its history, to its contribution to the oppression of minority groups, to issues of inequity that tip the scale against the success of minorities and White women, it is important to keep pushing the march organizers to proactively represent the full rubric of humanity that is engaged with the pursuit of science. Diversity is invaluable to scientific innovation. Any march for science needs to own and address the politics of science, and be prepared to lead us into a more inclusive future, rather than retracing the missteps of the past.”

    And so forth.

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