JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



The Skeptics Handbook

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About the Skeptics Handbook

The Skeptics Handbook is officially launched. It’s been quietly circulating by word of mouth since late July 2008 when it was sent to a few key Australian politicians, and the producers of 60 minutes. The most up to date version is on my Global Warming page.
Skeptics Handbook

The Handbook gives policy makers a strategy to cut through the endless irrelevant details of the debate. There are many points where the science of Global Warming is open to challenge (that’s how science works), but debating each one becomes an endless path of swapping tit for tat detail. If you enjoy that kind of stimulating discussion, go for it, but that’s not what this is about.

I want to lift the debate above the mud-slinging, pathetic ad hominem attacks, and specious argument by authority. The basic rules of logic and reasoning have been known since the Greeks. Educated adults ought to do better. Maybe one day, national curriculums will too.

“Use a surgical strike, rather than a scattergun approach”.

As a delegate to the UNFCCC conference in Bali 2007 it was obvious that skeptics need to be organized. The problem was not a lack of material, but rather too much to choose from. The handbook focuses on the only points that matter. Less is more.

If you want to add a link to the handbook, please link to the Global Warming page http://joannenova.com.au/wp/global-warming/, not directly to the pdf file, because it will change and grow as the news, weather or feedback warrants it. Obviously if someone can produce empirical evidence that adding extra carbon dioxide, above current atmospheric concentrations, measurably affects our climate, I’m all ears; I’ll update the handbook and change my mind.

What else would a scientist do?

Links to sources used in the Skeptics Handbook are here.

UPDATE: Feb 20 2012 -- For the petty ad hom minds who are looking for smears… I wrote the Skeptics Handbook entirely unfunded and independently. I offered it as a free PDF purely out of patriotic duty and professional concern. Those who do “science by vested-interests” presumably will become skeptics now right? (lol).

UPDATE: Feb 22 2012 — The “best” attempt to debunk the Handbook was by John Cook of un-skepticalscience. It took him two years with the help of UWA and 4 or 5 professors, and I explained why he was wrong on every point in just 4 days.

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193 comments to About the Skeptics Handbook

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    Having read this book, it is a must for every person to have one on hand as it guides and collates the fictional radical green myths with positive and factual answers that these fools may or may not understand or choose hide from reality that has turned on their bulldust.

    Joanne has done a first class job with this, deserves full credit for her research, a truly great FREE publication to help save the world from these government funded environment vandals and climate change fiction pedlars.

    Mal Davies
    Editor SOS-NEWS
    http://www.sosnews.org


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    Anne-Kit Littler

    Thank you for your brilliant book, Joanne! I am a business owner and a mum living in Perth, WA and I have been following the Anthropogenic Global Warming “debate” ever since I read Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear” a few years ago. It was his “Author’s Message” at the end of the novel that opened my eyes: I had never met a climate sceptic before; didn’t know they existed! Needless to say I became one myself pretty quickly, ’cause it all makes sense once you hear the truth! “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32)

    I have been appalled at the vicious “ad hominem” attacks on sceptics or even just people asking questions, as well as the blatant censorship that exists in the media and scientific publications.

    As people are starting to realise what impending carbon taxation will cost us all I am cautiously optimistic that the tide may be turning and we may start to see some common sense coming back. I have been able to use information and wording from your Handbook on several blogs and it makes it so much easier to be able to simply cut and paste your references and questions, rather than having to write it from scratch and from memory each time. Thanks again, and keep up the good work!


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    Jim herman

    Good blog! We as sceptics do need to get organized. My feeling is that we need simple ways to get the message to the masses. With that thought I have created a business card that is simple and to the point. It is titled “Why I Am an AGW Skeptic” (Note the American spelling). It has the four points you make. The amazing thing is the apathetic response I get from most people. They are more involved with their own life to care. These people won’t care until carbon taxes and regulations have a very negative impact on their lives. Again, we really do need to get organized.

    Keep up the good work.


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    Richard Parsons

    I found the Sceptics Handbook a very valuable document which sets out the arguments clearly and concisely. The problem as I see it, is to break through the True Believer wall and get the message out that the story of AGW is not as cut and dried as it is made out to be by most of the media, the environmentalists and the top politicians. Somehow, people of influence(particularly in business, the media and politicians)must be persuaded to speak out publicly and be convinced of the need for an informed local debate among the scientists of differing viewpoints and without the hype surrounding the big international talkfests. There is a lot of information available on the internet, indicating that the science is by no means settled, and this needs to be known by the public before we go rushing into expensive, Garnaut type carbon emission cuts which could be worse than useless.


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    Jim Hawes

    I have been teaching science (Physics, Chemistry and Biology) at high school and undergraduate University level for more than 40 years. I mailed copies of page 3 of the handbook to three academics (I won’t call them scientists) working in the Climate Research Institute at UNSW and all vocal climate alarmists with the ear of the media. I asked each if they could refute, with empirical evidence, any of the four points made on that page. One did not reply, another sent some brief handwritten arguments and the third simply scribbled “false” on each of the four points and finished with this classic ad hominem attack “Jim, please come and take some basic science courses. Its not right that a teacher should be so ill-informed on some of these important matters”. I think the increasing voice of sceptics are getting the alarmists rattled if that’s the best they can do.


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    Geoff H.

    Thank you for your booklet, it is well put together document and should answer questions for people that don’t want to get bogged down in overly technical discussions on subjects even the scientists disagree on.

    May I make a suggestion without any prejudice:
    Can you include a disclaimer of any vested interests in energy, oil or coal or support from these industries?

    Professor Robert Carter, amongst many others, includes a disclaimer on their website. It could be a hedge against the doubters and alarmists that have access to sites such as ExxonSecrets and other Greenpeace sites that “expose” any sceptic sites or people.

    Geoff


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    John Sloan

    Hi Joanne,
    Thank you for providing a definitive document that we can use to defuse those perceptions
    presented by those who have an agenda to push, and those who are totally ignorant of how they are being manipulated to achieve this agenda. I will be sending it to many who have reservations with the political rhetoric and who, like the majority of us, are not aware of the science associated with the subject.
    Regards
    John


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    John Nicol

    The Skepics Guide is an excellent “book” and I look forward to the promised additions to it. Concentrating on the science of the non-effect of carbon dioxide is cetainly the correct focus.

    I have a report at: http://www.ruralsoft.com.au/ClimateChange.doc which may also be of interest to you as would papers by Jack Barrett (ex Professor of Chemistry at Imperial College, London and Heinze Hug, a German spectroscopist well represented on the web. Perhaps you are already aware of these.

    I would be interested to know more of your own background as you seem to have condensed the scientific arguments and focus in a most appropriate style.

    John Nicol PhD (Physics)


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    JeffT

    Joanne has done a service for the average person in the street by producing an understandable handbook to answer questions to the scenarios confronting people daily on Climate Change.

    May I make a suggestion (without prejudice of course).
    Could Joanne add a page to the booklet to disclaim any links to Big Oil, coal producers and industries that may be looked upon as polluters. Professor Bob Carter has this form of declaration on his website.

    After seeing the types of attacks on A.G.W. dissenters from sites such as ExxonSecrets at el, it may be prudent to do so.


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    Gordon Evans

    I am a degreed, career geoscientist and environmental consultant and am presently Environmental Manager for a major American university system. Jim Hawes wrote that a supposed climate expert chastised him for not understanding basic science. Perhaps the shoe is on the other foot.

    As a geoscienctist and environmetal steward, I have closely studied the data for close to a decade and can find no convincing evidence that greenhouse gas emissions are a significant cause of warming.

    Recently, I spoke with a well-experienced colleague who has degrees in mathematics (BS), earth and planetary science (BS, MS) and geophysics (PhD) from top tier U.S. universities. This gentleman has embarassed numerous teams of environmental modelers in court cases and has discovered flaws in various environmental models that are routinely used by regulatory bodies. However, he is too busy with leading a productive life to pay much attention to the global warming debate. When I asked him about a link between CO2 and global warming, it took him about one minute, arguing from scientific principles, to state that there is no way that CO2 can be having a significant effect. That is a common response from geoscientists, physicists, and planetary scientists who have no direct involvement in the geopolitics of climate change and thus do not view the world through the alarmist lens.

    Take away the politics, and the science does not support the assertions by alarmists. While we cannot know individual motives, it is clear that climate is one of the best funded areas of modern science. Those who have a vested interest in research funding are having a difficult time staying objective and resisting the pressures to align the “science” to fit the “religion” of anthropogenic global warming.


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    Excelent blog and design. I wish good luck from Kredit


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    ross nolan

    Good condensation of the rebuttal argument and wise advice about getting bogged in extraneous ‘data’ — I questioned Prof David Karoly at the Melb Uni public lecture “bees, trees and global warming” when he presented (quickly) graphs showing sea surface temperature that showed a big dip in the 1940-50 period -he answered that ‘volcanic eruptions between 1960 and 1970 reduced insolation (less sunlight) and skated on — the question period was terminated and I went to him and got him to put up his power point again and forced the issue that it was 20 years before –his ‘answer’ was that they changed the way of taking water temperatures on ships at that time (!) — I suggested to him that it was intellectually dishonest to present data that he knew was unreliable as his proof . He came over as doctrinaire rather than convincing and has received a lot of kudos in the press of late (and is described as a former skeptic ) the lag/lead ’cause or effect’ of Co2 on warming also embarrased him and he grudgingly conceded that as a fact — Andrew Bolt has been about the only mainstream journo prepared to defend the counterview and to call for some rigorous fact based defence of the thesis –the whole concept of ‘global average temperature’ is itself so nebulous given the seasonal,latitudinal,diurnal etc etc cycles involved — if it is hotter in Melbourne now it is because it was hotter in Alice Springs two days ago and the highs are now slipping lower giving us more Easterlies and Northerlies /NE than before –measuring air temperature at a place tells little about the place itself . The temperature lapse rate and atmospheric stability also determine if there is vertical mixing which brings upper air to ground level and takes the hot air near ground to altitude -if moist enough condensation and release of latent heat plus shielding by cloud cover occurrs –that is the big unknown in climate models . Glider pilot for forty plus years with some study of meteorology . regards.


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    pH

    Joanne,
    Excellent book – if only the folks at CSIRO would read it – they seem convinced that we are all going to be swamped by rising sea levels. I’ve recently gained employment @ CSIRO & my impression is that they are unwilling to start questioning the (non)evidence of AGW as ego’s and funding will be lost. It will be interesting if our next CEO (Dr Megan Clark – formerly of BHP) has any counter opinion on the subject.

    Regards,


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    Eric Smith

    Fantastic resource. I have created a basic (and incomplete) website with links to skeptic arguments.

    This is the business page which clearly shows the biggest environmental groups in the world are run by big business and finance. AGW represents the biggest investment opportunity in history.

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sealed/gw/business.htm


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    Joanne,

    Excellent work!

    I don’t know about other people, but I am finding it increasing difficult to hold a debate with alarmists. They simply refuse to discuss any issues in any form. Maybe they think that if they continue to block their ears and put their heads in the sand then we will all give up? … no chance!

    True science will ultimately win the day.


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    ian hilliar

    Brilliant! I know what you mean about the problem being “not lack of material, but rather too much to choose from”.You have done a great service for science, for yourself, and for all of us.Now we’ve got to make them pull their fingers out of their ears,open their eyes and start to see reason. Most difficult, regards


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    Jim Herman

    Gordon Evans (post #10) stated about one his colleagues: “…he is too busy with leading a productive life to pay much attention to the global warming debate.” This is the main problem that we skeptics face. Our lives are not negatively impacted by the AGW alarmists.

    Here in the U.S.A. the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing very serious “cap and trade” programs that will have a very negative impact on the economy. It will put most small businesses out of business, and this includes small farms and ranches. It will cause the cost of food and energy to skyrocket. The average person’s life style will go from “leading a productive life” to “barely keeping our heads above water.”

    Somehow we need to get to these people to take a more active roll. We really need to get more organized. The “Skeptics Handbook” is the first, and to date the only, guide and reference that has a real chance of making a difference. Let’s get it into the hands of everone possible.


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    John Mc

    I would like to know the names satellites that measure the earths temperature. Do they measure the earths surface temperature or the temperature in space around them? Where can the graphs on page 6 of the sceptics handbook showing the global, northern hemisphere,and southern hemisphere temperatures be verified? The book is a darn good read, political correctness in all its forms is a lie and global warming appears to be the biggest con of the millenium.

    Good question. I’ll be posting a blog with the links to the sources of graphs and information soon on this site. Jonova


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    Richard Henderson

    Excellent work. I will print it out shortly and have it to hand when guests start discussing the subject. Nicely summarised and not to scientificy :-)
    I think there may be a typo; I have heard the term “mark to market” in reference to the current financial problems. (p14)
    Look forward to reading all the other stuff on your site.


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  • #

    I just heard about your article on Anthony Watt’s blog. I’m very pleased to find a good introductory article because there are so few. I’ll be adding it, err, your site, to my climate index page.

    The lack of good pages led me to write an introductory essay myself, see Science, Method, Climatology, and Forgetting the Basics at http://wermenh.com/climate/science.html

    My target audience is both people who haven’t seen much beyond Gore’s movie and scientists who have forgotten the importance of scientific method. It’s really very strange that I can use the same text for both!

    A goal was to take a neutral stance, and present a little about both sides of a couple hypotheses. The field is way too big to cover everything at once, so I aimed to show an important subset and that the science isn’t settled.

    And hopefully get some people thinking and over to your site.


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    Geoff Larsen

    Congratulations on a nice website & the 1st draft of “The Skeptics Handbook”. Your surgical strike approach is the right one.

    Re point 1; stick to the 4 points that matter. Can I suggest a 5th point? These points must relate to actual observations of weather & climate processes and as you say “the only thing that matters here is whether adding more CO2 to the atmosphere will make the world
    much warmer”. That is, the debate must be framed correctly.

    The 5th point I would add is that recent ongoing analysis of satellite data by Spencer & his colleagues (see his website below) suggest that climate sensitivity has been grossly overstated. Probably a statement to this effect together with one of his graphs* plus a link to his website would suffice(* I suggest the sensitivity chart near the top of the link, mapping future warming against year, for “Models v Observation based ‘estimate” would be best.

    http://www.weatherquestions.com/Global-warming-natural-PDO.htm

    When I debate AGW with people I emphasise 3 things: -
    1. Current AGW theory relies on the proposition that positive feedback to the original warming radiative forcing, increases the warming to an extent that around 2/3 of the theorised total warming comes from this positive feedback. E.g. for a CO2 doubling; radiative forcing = 1 C; positive feedback = 2 C. Most people I speak to are surprised & unaware of this
    2. The AGW argument that they have not found any cause, other than CO2, for the warming observed in the 1980’s & 1990’s, & therefore it must be CO2, is poor science. For a very complex system it only takes one insight, from someone from stage left, to tear down this argument.
    3. As quoted from Spencer in his book “Climate Confusion”, in relation to clouds, p74, “Everyone agrees that clouds are a wild card in global warming projections”. That the IPPC AR4 could come to the conclusions it did, given the current uncertainties in the literature w.r.t .clouds, is astounding. Spencer believes the earth has a natural thermostat that moderates warming or cooling caused by forcing; i.e. feedback is negative. Spencer’s work suggests the climate sensitivity is of the order of 0.5 C or 1/6 of the IPPC 3 C figure (range 1.5 C-4.5 C).


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    John Philip

    Point 1 The Greenhouse Signature is missing.

    Not according to this recent paper …

    Consistency of modelled and observed temperature trends in the tropical troposphere … available here https://publicaffairs.llnl.gov/news/news_releases/2008/NR-08-10-05-article.pdf

    Extract ‘Our results contradict a recent claim that all simulated temperature trends in the tropical troposphere and in tropical lapse rates are inconsistent with observations. This claim was based on use of older radiosonde and satellite datasets, and on two methodological errors: the neglect of observational trend uncertainties introduced by interannual climate variability, and application of an inappropriate statistical ‘consistency test’

    Point 2 CO2 increases lag behind temperature increases.

    Labelled by the UK Royal Society as ‘Misleading Argument No 3′

    http://royalsociety.org/page.asp?tip=1&id=6231

    See also

    http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2006/12/22/231145/76
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-lags-temperature.htm
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/co2-in-ice-cores/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/the-lag-between-temp-and-co2/
    http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn11659

    Point 3 Satellite data shows that the world has not warmed since 2001, even though carbon dioxide increased.

    The same data shows that 7-8 year trends of low or negative increases have occurred many times in the record and yet average global temperatures are now 0.5C warmer than in the seventies, Certainly most observations since 2001 are above the long term trend line, which is not the most convincing evidence for a significant levelling off or cooling.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:1978/to:2009/plot/uah/trend

    Point 4 The carbon that’s already up in the atmosphere absorbs most of the light that it can. CO2 only ‘soaks up’ its favourite wavelengths of light and it’s close to saturation point.

    A red herring: it’s the absorption in the thin upper atmosphere that is significant for the greenhouse effect, and CO2 is not saturated in that region. See http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/a-saturated-gassy-argument/

    The effect of increasing CO2 on the planet’s radiation budget is calculated using line-by-line radiative transfer codes, not a trivial exercise, but can be done with an uncertainty level of about 5%. See this paper. http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/1998/98GL01908.shtml

    So the real question is how much this extra radiative forcing is increasing the temperature of the Earth? Most studies, both from climate models and observations give a result in the range 1.5C to 4.5C for a doubling of CO2 – clustering around 3C. See section 9.6 of the IPCC AR4 WG1 report for a discussion and references.

    More than half of the Petition Project signatories are engineers rather than scientists, the remainder include doctors, dentists and chiropractors. when Scientific American magazine contacted some of the actual climate researchers on the list it found, rather alarmingly, that some had never heard of the petition.

    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2008/07/petitioning-on-climate-part-1.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_petition#Signatories

    cheers.


    [Thanks John, it's good to see a different point of view with constructive comments. This is helpful. I'll deal with each point as soon as I can.

    Point 1 The Missing Hotspot (or Signature) Has it been found?
    The paper you mention is Santer et al. See my answer here .

    The basic explanation of the Hot spot is here for people to comment on.
    Other answers are coming. Thanks for you patience. JoNova]


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    John Philip

    You’re welcome. I would consider carefully whether you really wish to cite the Petition. I forgot to mention that the organisers felt the need to include a completely bogus scientific ‘paper’ with their mailing. It used the font and layout of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences but was in fact written by Art Robinson, who has never worked in climate science and contained a large number of misleading errors.

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Oregon_Institute_of_Science_and_Medicine#Case_Study:_The_Oregon_Petition

    The NAS was obliged to issue a press release …”"The NAS Council would like to make it clear that this petition has nothing to do with the National Academy of Sciences and that the manuscript was not published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or in any other peer-reviewed journal,…The petition does not reflect the conclusions of expert reports of the Academy….greenhouse warming poses a potential threat sufficient to merit prompt responses. Investment in mitigation measures acts as insurance protection against the great uncertainties and the possibility of dramatic surprises”


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    Arie Brand

    I only saw your four core points against the global warming thesis yesterday in the article “Rising above the Mudslinging” (why that “holier than thou” title?). Not being a scientist myself I can only try to track down what has been said in ‘the other camp’ about them. Today I limit myself to point 2 regarding the lag between temperature rise and CO2 levels, as shown in the ice core proxies. I am not, as said, a scientist but I can read and it seems to me that Eric Steig with his lead contribution to the discussion on Realclimate.org on the 27th of April last year provided a pretty good answer to your argument. He is an isotope geochemist at the University of Washington and this topic seems to be one of his main research interests. Here is the address (sorry for its length – it might be useless -but there is a search function there):

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?s=eric+steig+ice+cores&submit=Search&qt=&q=&cx=009744842749537478185%3Ahwbuiarvsbo&client=google-coop-np&cof=GALT%3A808080%3BGL%3A1%3BDIV%3A34374A%3BVLC%3AAA8610%3BAH%3Aleft%3BBGC%3AFFFFFF%3BLBGC%3AFFFFFF%3BALC%3A66AA55%3BLC%3A66AA55%3BT%3A000000%3BGFNT%3A66AA55%3BGIMP%3A66AA55%3BFORID%3A11%3B&searchdatabase=site


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    Eric Smith

    Arie Brand:

    The complexity of the arguments in your link very clearly shows that whatever the eventual truth of the matter, the contention that the science is settled or almost so is absolutely untrue. It also demonstrates that the non expert is at the mercy of others to interpret and translate the truth from the numbers. There are a million issues like this one, not one or two.

    Secondly, RealClimate can be described as a science site only in the respect that it is run by scientists but is in reality a campaigning organisation. It’s ‘owner’, a certain Michael Mann is an extremely controversial figure who’s research methods were found to be incorrect whether by incompetence or deliberate falsification by an independent expert committee. The fact that his friends have defended him is a predictable phenomenon observed in every court in the world.


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    Arie Brand

    1.
    For Eric Smith:

    “The complexity of the arguments in your link very clearly shows that whatever the eventual truth of the matter, the contention that the science is settled or almost so is absolutely untrue. It also demonstrates that the non expert is at the mercy of others to interpret and translate the truth from the numbers. There are a million issues like this one, not one or two.”

    The proposition that the complexity of a scientific argument argues against the credence you can give to it is new to me. Reality is complex, wouldn’t theories about it reflect this?

    “Secondly, RealClimate can be described as a science site only in the respect that it is run by scientists but is in reality a campaigning organisation.”

    Well, that “campaigning” character is not very obvious to me. But, anyway, the real question here seems to me whether the extra-scientific intentions of these gentlemen (if any) interfere with what they present qua science. If you have evidence it does I would like to see it.

    “It’s ‘owner’, a certain Michael Mann is an extremely controversial figure who’s (sic) research methods were found to be incorrect whether by incompetence or deliberate falsification by an independent expert committee. The fact that his friends have defended him is a predictable phenomenon observed in every court in the world.”

    There is a whole group of scientists running this site not just Michael Mann. He was also only one of three authors of the original “controversial” article but for some reason he is always singled out.

    Yes I know about the Wegman-report. But I also know that earlier that same year, 2006, there was a much more broadly based report on the same matter by a twelve member panel, including a statistician (Professor Peter Bloomfield of North Carolina State University), of the (US) National Academy of Science. I will call it, after the chairman of the panel (Professor Gerald North) the North-report.

    The North-report then came to conclusions that neither point to deliberate falsification on the side of Mann et al. nor to gross incompetence. It said, inter alia:

    “As part of their statistical methods, Mann et al. used a type of principal component analysis that tends to bias the shape of the reconstructions. A description of this effect is given in Chapter 9. In practice, this method, though not recommended, does not appear to unduly influence reconstructions of hemispheric mean temperature; reconstructions performed without using principal component analysis are qualitatively similar to the original curves presented by Mann et al. (Crowley and Lowry 2000, Huybers 2005, D’Arrigo et al. 2006, Hegerl et al. 2006).”

    And:

    “The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes the additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and documentation of the spatial coherence of recent warming described above (Cook et al. 2004, Moberg et al. 2005, Rutherford et al. 2005, D’Arrigo et al. 2006, Osborn and Briffa 2006, Wahl and Ammann in press), and also the pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators described in previous chapters (e.g., Thompson et al. in press). Based on the analyses presented in the original papers by Mann et al. and this newer supporting evidence, the committee finds it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium.”

    As to the charge that Mann et al. had ‘cherry picked’ the data to fit a pre-conceived graph, the NYT of the 22nd of June 2006, after having observed that the report constituted in general a vindication of Mann et al (as did the “Boston Globe” of that date), also reported that the statistical expert of the North-committee, Professor Bloomfield whom I mentioned above, stated during the press conference following the release of the report; “I saw nothing that spoke to me of any manipulation” and that his impression was that the study was “an honest attempt to construct a data analysis procedure.”

    Are you telling me that these people were all biased friends of Mann et al.?

    And, incidentally, the Wegman report, drawn up by a much smaller statistical subcommittee of the Academy, was much less onerous than it is generally portrayed. Wegman et al. did not deny that the hockey stick graph could possibly give a valid indication of the change in temperature over the last millennium – they merely denied that this graph was adequately supported by Mann et al.’s original statistical analysis. In this context part of Professor Wegman’s oral testimony before the House committee on Energy and Commerce is revealing: “I am baffled by the claim that the incorrect method doesn’t matter because the answer is correct anyway. Method wrong + Answer correct=Bad science.” (It has been argued that the Wegman committee merely showed that Mann et al.’s analysis could produce spurious results, not that it actually did).

    The outside world was, however, not so much interested in Mann et al’s competence as statisticians, but in the validity of their result. Wegman et al. do not seem to have had a particular quarrel with the latter bit. And, as the North committee remarked, other methods had led to a roughly similar result.

    I am baffled by the vilification of particularly Mann before and after these reports and, what is more to the point, about the strident assertions that “the hockey stick had been broken” or, as that wit of “Climate Audit”, Benny Peiser, asserted, that it had been turned into a boomerang – yes for him.


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    Arie Wrote: “The proposition that the complexity of a scientific argument argues against the credence you can give to it is new to me. Reality is complex, wouldn’t theories about it reflect this?”

    Occam’s Razor suggests that all else being equal, the simplest answer trumps the more complex. If something is simple, it doesn’t mean it is correct, but a highly complex answer is always more suspect – there are many more angles where it could be wrong.

    The most powerful theories in science are the simplest ones. JoNova


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    Arie Brand

    “Reality is complex” I wrote “wouldn’t theories about it reflect this ?”. I understand that classical physics is a lot simpler than the modern version which is far more complex but comes, as physicists believe, yet better to grips with “reality”. The razor should not lead to a ‘sancta simplicitas’.

    Incidentally I don’t see that simple competitor of what Steig came up with. Perhaps I have missed something.


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    Geoff Larsen

    Arie Bland

    Well since you bought up the “Hockey Stick” graph of Mann et al you certainly opened up a whole can of worms! The methodology used in these papers is so flawed it defies description.
    You are aware that Mann & al just published another “Hockey Stick”paper in PNAS “Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia”?

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2008/09/02/0805721105.abstract

    It’s trumpeted, as to be expected, by Gavin Schmidt & his colleagues at Realclimate

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/09/progress-in-millennial-reconstructions/langswitch_lang/de

    Now Steve McIntyre on his blog website, Climateaudit, has started dissecting this paper. However what particularly caught my eye was this series of posts by a separate blogger called Jeff ID.

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/hockey-stick-temperature-distortion-posts/

    In a nutshell Jeff demonstrates, in a relatively easy to understand series of posts, how the selective sorting & selection of proxies in the calibration period of the last 100 years, corresponding to a period of rising temperatures, and charting the “temperatures” of these selected sorted proxies over 1000 years or longer, distorts the relative “temperature” scales in each of the 2 periods (calibration & non calibration). The handle of the series (i.e. 100- 1,000 years ago) has a compressed “temperature” scale relative to the blade (calibration period) of the “hockey stick” (i.e. 0-100 years ago). Then with no shame they tack an instrumental temperature series onto the blade of the stick (just to accentual the HS further).

    This observation, BTW, is not new. Von Storch et al showed this effect in their Science 2004 paper, “Reconstructing Past Climate from Noisy Data”, in relation to the earlier papers.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/306/5696/679

    “Empirical reconstructions of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) temperature in the past millennium based on multiproxy records depict small-amplitude variations followed by a clear warming trend in the past two centuries. We use a coupled atmosphere-ocean model simulation of the past 1000 years as a surrogate climate to test the skill of these methods, particularly at multidecadal and centennial time scales. Idealized proxy records are represented by simulated grid-point temperature, degraded with statistical noise. The centennial variability of the NH temperature is underestimated by the regression-based methods applied here, suggesting that past variations may have been at least a factor of 2 larger than indicated by empirical reconstructions”.

    The difference is that Jeff shows it in a clear & unambiguous way which IMO is irrefutable. To fully understand how bad it is, read through the whole series, from oldest 1st. This distortion of the scale is not the only problem. Also this methodology is not restricted to the Mann et al reconstructions. Any reconstruction which relies on sorting & selection within the calibration period will display this. The methodology is flawed.

    Does the demolition of the “hockey stick” mean CAGW is not real? No, however it weakens it somewhat. This IMO is why advocates of CAGW have such a problem letting these flawed papers go; that & ego & the cliques which have been formed. Try and comment on this issue on Realclimate or Tamino and you’re censored. This is a no go zone. I find it difficult to believe anything Gavin Schmidt & his Realclimate colleagues say when he promotes these highly flawed papers.


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    Eric Smith

    Arie Brand:

    “The proposition that the complexity of a scientific argument argues against the credence you can give to it is new to me. Reality is complex, wouldn’t theories about it reflect this?”

    Let me be more specific. Scientific debates in this field are often characterised by statements like “X interprets the data as being caused by A, wheras to me it is clearly B”. There is fundamental disagreement in mumerous aspects of climate science as can be seen in every discussion between experts. That makes sense because it is universally true in smaller, contentious and complex subject areas.

    “Well, that “campaigning” character is not very obvious to me”.

    It is to me in the often extremely aggressive and contemptuous tone of the debates from the ‘management’ of the site.

    As far as the North report is concerned, you are not acting as an unbiased observer, you are deliberately choosing imformation to win the argument This is what it actually said.

    “Based on the analyses presented in the original papers by Mann et al. (1998, 1999) and this newer supporting evidence, the committee finds it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium.

    However, the substantial uncertainties currently present in the quantitative assessment of large-scale surface temperature changes prior to about A.D. 1600 lower our confidence in this conclusion compared to the high level of confidence we place in the Little Ice Age cooling and 20th century warming. Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium” because the uncertainties inherent in temperature reconstructions for individual years and decades are larger than those for longer time periods, and because not all of the available proxies record temperature information on such short timescales. We also question some of the statistical choices made in the original papers by Dr. Mann and his colleagues. However, our reservations with some aspects of the original papers by Mann et al. should not be construed as evidence that our committee does not believe that the climate is warming, and will continue to warm, as a result of human activities.”

    That is a devastating rejection of Mann’s work. This is worse.

    “One significant part of the controversy on this issue is related to data access. The collection, compilation, and calibration of paleoclimatic proxy data represent a substantial investment of time and resources, often by large teams of researchers. The committee recognizes that access to research data is a complicated, discipline-dependent issue, and that access to computer models and methods is especially challenging because intellectual property rights must be considered.

    Our view is that all research benefits from full and open access to published datasets and that a clear explanation of analytical methods is mandatory. Peers should have access to the information needed to reproduce published results, so that increased confidence in the outcome of the study can be generated inside and outside the scientific community. Paleoclimate research would benefit if individual researchers, professional societies, journal editors, and funding agencies continued their efforts to ensure that existing open access practices are followed.”

    Plausible is not a strong word and the fact that it may have been warmer than in the last 1000 years does not lead to the conclusion that human created Co2 is responsible for the warming that is apparently being detected.

    So thank you Arie for directing us to that information.


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    Arie Brand

    Eric Smith:

    I am familiar with the passage you quoted – in fact I expected you to bring it up. To argue that it amounts to a “devastating rejection” of Mann et al’s work is wishful thinking. On an earlier occasion I wrote regarding this: “To provide this all with a shred of evidence the purveyors of this nonsense have seized on a particular statement in the North as well as the Wegman report, namely that one could not have confidence in Mann et al.’s suggestion that it was likely that the nineties were the hottest decade of the millennium and 1998 the hottest year. The argument of the North committee here was that the data didn’t allow such precise indications from year to year and the Wegman-committee stated in general that such an assertion was not supported by the statistical method used by Mann et al.
    It is clear that we are dealing here with a subsidiary thesis and that this does not detract from the claim by the North committee, that, overall, the graph provides a plausible indication of the changes in the average global temperature during the last millennium (one may add that the North committee was super-cautious here because if it is ‘plausible’ that the last few decades were the hottest in the millennium why wouldn’t it be ‘likely’ (the word used by Mann et al.) that the decade and year that according to the thermometer were the hottest of these decades would also be the hottest in the millennium?).”

    It is clear that those who judged the report before ClimateAudit and its hangers on managed to create a certain impression of it saw it as a vindication of Mann et al. I have already referred to statements in the New York Times and the Boston Globe. At round about the same time Roger Pielke Jr. who, as you no doubt know, claims to occupy a position somewhere in between the camps, wrote in his blog Prometheus: “My reading of the summary of the report and parts of the text is that the NAS has rendered a near-complete vindication for the work of Mann et al. They (sic) report does acknowledge that there are perhaps greater uncertainties in temperature reconstructions, reducing Mann et al.’s claim of warmest decade/year in 1,000 years down to 400. Nonetheless, I see nothing in the report that suggests that Mann’s research is significantly flawed, nor any calls for release of his data or algorithms, though the report does say in very general terms that such release is a good idea.” I am not a climate scientist, but my reading of the section that deals with criticisms of Mann et al.’s work (starting at p. 105) is that while these critiques raise some interesting points, they are minor issues, and the committee find’s Mann et al.’s original conclusion to be “plausible.” I’d bet that the word “plausible” will be oft invoked as one of the take home messages of the report.”

    As regards the release of data: this whole affair was highly politicised and Mann et al. refused, in my view rightly, to bow to political pressure and the peremptory demands of McIntyre and McKitrick.

    Realclimate must be branded a ‘campaigning site” you say because of the moderators’ “extremely aggressive and contemptuous tone”. Well, I have a different impression of it. May I, further more, point out that your own tone in talking about these scientists is not exactly charitable?


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    Arie Brand

    Geoff Larsen:

    I took issue with Eric Smith’s statement regarding the work of that “independent committee” because it seemed to distort the record. Firstly there were two committees that year and their judgment of Mann’s work was not as negative as Eric originally suggested (and has claimed again in his most recent letter).

    I am not going to make any statements myself as to the merits or demerits of Mann et al’s work. I am not a climatologist – are you?

    But what do you mean by being “censored” when you want to state your own opinions on their work on Tamino’s site or Realclimate. Do they simply suppress your letter or distort it? Receiving heavy flak on it is of course not the same as being “censored”.


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    Eric Smith

    Arie Brand:

    “To provide this all with a shred of evidence the purveyors of this nonsense ”

    Good example of the aggressive and contemptuous language seen at RealClimate.

    “before ClimateAudit and its hangers on”

    That too.

    What we have here is a massive difference of opinion as to what these reports say. Very similar to the disagreements about the science.

    “this whole affair was highly politicised ”

    I see. In what sense was it politicised more than it has been by putting politicians in charge of the process (the IPCC) ? The IPCC is a branch of the UN, the body that told us that according to the best scientific evidence, H5N1 would have a catastrophic and devastating effect with up to 150 million people dying.

    By the way. I am British and am approaching this from what in American terms would be the far left. For me, Obama is a dangerous right wing extremist lke Bush. The problem is that naive individuals who think of themselves left wing have been conned into believing that Al Gore and Tony Blair (the global climate tsar) are anti establishment revolutionaries when in reality, they are nothing more than corpoate lackeys.

    This is my AGW business page.

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sealed/gw/business.htm


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    Excellent answer to the ‘How to talk to a climate skeptic’ nonsense.

    Now posted and linked to on my blog:

    http://climateresearchnews.com/2008/10/how-to-talk-to-a-climate-alarmist-the-skeptics-handbook/


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    Arie Brand

    Eric Smith:

    As you know the resistance against the whole global warming thesis has come genrally from the right, especially in the US, and ‘ulterior motives’ seem to me far more tangible there than in the case of the scientists cooperating for the IPCC reports.


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    Eric Smith

    “As you know the resistance against the whole global warming thesis has come genrally from the right, especially in the US, and ‘ulterior motives’ seem to me far more tangible there than in the case of the scientists cooperating for the IPCC reports.”

    Yes, the remnants of the original oil company funding which is unfortunate. Now it is an American political issue with Al Gore, an oil company front being hailed as a hero because he isn’t George Bush (and the stolen election).

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sealed/gw/gore.htm

    However the money is now totally on the other foot. The IPCC is self preserving, politicians seem to have an agenda, the scientists have careers and the media want to sensationalise everything. There are indications that scientists, not only in the climate field are frightened to voice an opinion on this matter.

    Jeffrey Marque, editor of Physics & Society, published by the American Physical Society said

    There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution

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

    AGW is the biggest single investment opportunity in history. Full speed globalisation in the east means that everyone wins except the environment which will suffer because manufacturing will not only move to the unregulated third world, there will be billion(s) of new consumers.

    Africa will follow Russia and parts of South America into wealth because there is oil there too.

    Here is a view of the corporate angle.

    Opposing Views on Global Warming: The Corporate Climate Coup

    by Prof. David F. Noble – York University, Toronto, Canada

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=5568


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    Geoff Larsen

    Arie Brand

    “I am not going to make any statements myself as to the merits or demerits of Mann et al’s work. I am not a climatologist – are you?”

    Well you’re doing a pretty good job of defending his work. How can you make a judgment about what other people write about Mann’ et al’s work when you don’t have a position, even if it’s neutral; and your position certainly isn’t neutral? This after all is a science site, is it not?

    Now what has the competence or otherwise of the criticism I leveled at Mann & his colleagues, and the links I provided to back this up (including by the way to a paper by a well known climatologist, Hans von Storch), got to do with me being a climatologist or not? The skills required are those in mathematics & statistics. It doesn’t matter whether this faulty methodology is applied in paleoclimatology, medicine or whatever branch of science. It is wrong, period.

    “But what do you mean by being “censored” when you want to state your own opinions on their work on Tamino’s site or Realclimate. Do they simply suppress your letter or distort it? Receiving heavy flak on it is of course not the same as being “censored”.”

    By being censored I mean you write a comment, on topic, non aggressively but asking a difficult question & it doesn’t get through moderation. I haven’t kept a copy of my posts but Jeff ID did his.

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/blocked-from-real-climate-and-tamino/#comments

    This is not uncommon as related by many commenters on other blogs, particularly in regard to Realclimate over a long period of time.


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    Arie Brand

    “Well you’re doing a pretty good job of defending his work. How can you make a judgment about what other people write about Mann’ et al’s work when you don’t have a position, even if it’s neutral; and your position certainly isn’t neutral? This after all is a science site, is it not”

    As I said before I took issue with the way Eric portrayed the contents of the reporting about Mann et al. in 2006. It is quite possible to give a fair summary of a report without judging it or the person(s) reported on. The contents of these reports have been widely misreported. That irked me.

    I asked about your qualifications because I know that particularly Tamino is fed up with the dilettantism of many who have espoused the ‘sceptics’case. He tends to treat their contributions as spam. I don’t know whether yours fall into that category.


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    It’s not a coincidence that skeptics don’t care what anyone’s qualifications are. Anyone with a good point or a good question is welcome to speak. Real scientists care about evidence, not about degrees, title’s or the number of ‘experts’.

    If Tamino is fed up, he can offer evidence and the skeptics will be silenced.

    Those who attack qualifications expose their own underdeveloped grasp of logic and reasoning – and usually also their lack of evidence.
    – JoNova


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    Hi Jo!
    Your booklet is very good. Great presentation and communication.
    I have two questions about the last page:

    “An Emissions Trading Scheme is bad solution” – missing “a”?

    “A veteran believer in greenhouse gases from 1990-2007″
    What was it that ‘converted’ you from believer to skeptic?


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    Sid Smith

    Jo,
    Loved the Sceptics handbook. Just a note. the Latin phrase at the bottom of page 13 box 6.1 Computer models.

    “Argumentum ad ignoratiam” should be Argumentum ad ignorantium” Assuming of course you meant Argument from ignoarnce or argument by lack of imagination.


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    Arie Brand

    1. Joanna said: “It’s not a coincidence that skeptics don’t care what anyone’s qualifications are. Anyone with a good point or a good question is welcome to speak. Real scientists care about evidence, not about degrees, title’s or the number of ‘experts’.
    If Tamino is fed up, he can offer evidence and the skeptics will be silenced.
    Those who attack qualifications expose their own underdeveloped grasp of logic and reasoning – and usually also their lack of evidence.”
    - JoNova

    Joanna what is that fictitious individual, the ‘intelligent layperson’ going to do? There are many competing claims out there the judgment of which is frequently beyond his own competence. To take an example from daily life: if he has intestinal trouble his (medically unqualified) neighbour might give him a plausible and seemingly well informed account of it but, if he is really the ‘intelligent layperson’, s/he will seek the explanation of his doctor. S/he has to rely on trust that is closely linked to influence and prestige.

    Influence and prestige are universally the ‘relief mechanisms’ which make the coordination of social action via linguistic means (that is means that are prone to misunderstanding and disagreement) less onerous.

    The German sociologist/philosopher Juergen Habermas has provided a good account of this. If I may quote from my book on him (The Force of Reason 1990): “Habermas asserts that new steering media, functioning as relief mechanisms for communicative action via purely linguistic means, come about when influence and prestige are generalised. These new steering media are …either based on the ‘condensation’ of shared understanding, via linguistic means, or on its replacement.
    The term ‘condensation’ stands here for the hierarchisation of validity claims, which is made possible by value generalisation. A clear example is the greater weight which is, in due course, given to the words of the man or woman with a generally recognised professional reputation, as compared to the claims of one who does not have this reputation. Another form of the hierarchisation of validity claims is made possible by what Parsons called the value commitments of group members. This provides the basis for moral leadership.
    The generalisation of prestige and influence is dependent on, first, the differentiation of cultural value spheres entailed by value generalisation. A scientific reputation, for instance, can only be established when the cognitive sphere has been differentiated, moral leadership when the moral-practical sphere has become clearly separate. Both kinds of influence also require for their generalisation the coming about of a public sphere which depends on new communication technologies (printing press, electronic media etc.)”

    Implicit in what you said, Joanna, is the idea that we are all equally capable to judge what Habermas calls validity claims. This is simply not so. In daily life we have to take a lot of things beyond our own narrow circle of competence on trust. And that is where influence and prestige come in.

    A good example is provided by Spencer’s recent disquisitions. I haven’t the competence to judge them and I am convinced that the great majority of ‘sceptics’ who have embraced his view haven’t either. What is the ‘intelligent layperson’ going to do? He can look at arguments pro and contra but since these mostly escape him he will have to rely on trust – trust in a professional and personal reputation. Raymond Pierrehumbert has endeavoured to show that Spencer is cooking the books – again – to arrive at the graphs he concocted. He shows what he claims to be the correct way to plot the same data. It sounds reasonable what he says but, really, I have to take him on trust, the trust generated by influence and prestige. Pierrehumbert is a professor of geophysical science at a prestigious university (Chicago). He needed a professional reputation to arrive at that post and he has a professional reputation to lose. Spencer, by contrast, has made a now generally acknowledged big booboo in the past with the graph that was in 1997 published triumphantly in the Wallstreet Journal and which purported to show that the world was cooling instead of warming. He and his fellow author allowed this graph to figure for years on the websites of ‘sceptics’ before they too acknowledged that it was fallacious. So, reputation for reputation, Pierrehumbert seems to have the edge.

    Yes in the Republic of Letters everyone is equal, in the sense that everyone can have his say. But this does not mean that everyone deserves the same trust.


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    Arie, Thanks for your comments. They are so apt I will write a blog just to reply. I understand your dilemma. If you trawl realclimate, or climateaudit, within minutes you’ll be drowned in scientific detail.

    How to decide:
    Qualifications trump non-qualifications
    But evidence trumps qualifications.

    The professor with a model that ‘proves’ the air is warming is no match for a five year old with a thermometer that says it isn’t. By evidence I mean exactly what I refer too in the Skeptics Handbook.
    See the new post “What is evidence” to comment on it. http://joannenova.com.au/2008/10/30/what-is-evidence/


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    Geoff Larsen

    Arie Brand

    “A good example is provided by Spencer’s recent disquisitions. I haven’t the competence to judge them and I am convinced that the great majority of ‘skeptics’ who have embraced his view haven’t either. What is the ‘intelligent layperson’ going to do? He can look at arguments pro
    and contra but since these mostly escape him he will have to rely on trust – trust in a professional and personal reputation”.

    This is a very dangerous way to make judgment. When an issue becomes so politicized; when people become so entrenched in positions; when statements are made by scientists that could potentially be perceived as being evidence against the “prevailing wisdom”& are consequently couched in very placatory terms (Keenlyside & Josh Willis come to mind); when biases on both sides are so rampant; professional and personal reputations count for naught.

    People’s professional & personal reputations are in the eye of the beholder Arlie & I’m sure you’re a gentlemen & we could have a nice chat over a coffee but your biases are evident when you state “I haven’t the competence to judge them (Spencer’s recent disquisions)” & then you go on to slur him.

    At least those of us who have a background in science, and I’m an industrial chemist by training (retired), do have an ability, to varying degrees, to read scientific papers and sort out the wheat from the chafe & some of the worst papers I have read in climatology have been by so called scientists with so called professional & personal reputations.

    IMO Spencer’s hypothesis cannot be dismissed lightly & the work in this area of cloud processes & its interaction with ocean heat flow variations should IMO be more highly funded. They are evidence based. But it’s difficult isn’t it when the risk is that our knowledge may be increased to such an extent that it conflicts with the current CAGW dogma? You know, isn’t the science settled?

    You compare Roy Spencer with Raymond Pierrehumbert. Those of us that have an interest in actually studying the science, looking at the evidence, & have at least a “modicum” of scientific ability to follow the arguments can look at the following links regarding the “debate” between the two gentlemen and make a judgment as to their respective merits. Ask yourselves to what degree are their arguments evidence based?

    Spencer & Braswell’s paper in question is “Potential Biases in Feedback Diagnosis from Observational Data: A Simple Model Description” to appear in the November 1, 2008 issue of Journal of Climate. Here’s the original blog article on Roger Pielke’s (Senior) blog, Climate Science (22 April 2008).

    http://climatesci.org/2008/04/22/internal-radiative-forcing-and-the-illusion-of-a-sensitive-climate-system-by-roy-spencer/

    Here’s Realclimate’s Raymond Pierrehumbert’s condescending “rebuttal” 21 May 2008

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/how-to-cook-a-graph-in-three-easy-lessons/

    Here are Roy Spencer’s 2 rebuttals on Roger Pielke’s (Senior) blog, Climate Science,(22 May 2008 & 23 May 2008).

    http://climatesci.org/2008/05/22/a-response-to-ray-pierrehumbert%E2%80%99s-real-climate-post-of-may-21-2008-by-roy-spencer/

    http://climatesci.org/2008/05/23/follow-up-to-the-response-to-ray-pierrehumberts-real-climate-post-by-roy-spencer/

    Here’s another person’s comparison of both sides of the debate, Lubos Motl. Now keep in mind that Lubos is an ardent sceptic of CAGW & he’s no doubt biased towards Spencer, however he does in my opinion tease out the differences between Spencer & Pierrehumbert very nicely. I recommend that if anyone reads any of the arguments they at least take a few minutes to read this one.

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2008/05/realclimate-vs-roy-spencer-non-feedback.html

    IMO Spencer’s ideas are powerful. Whether they are correct or not, time will tell. One thing for sure reputations will count for nought as to the resolution of this scientific debate & in the long run evidence will trump all..


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    Arie Brand

    Geoff, my background is in social geography/sociology/ anthropology. Long ago I did, at the University of Amsterdam, units (plus the appropriate exams)in physical geography, cartography and climatology/meteorology. I do not pretend however that that gives me the ability to properly judge what is going on in climatology today. At most it gave me a nose for separating the serious stuff from the bs. I am also helped in this task by a long career in academe in three different countries. I am retired, like you.

    Now with all possible respect for you what exactly has industrial chemistry to do with climatology? This question is all the more pertinent because your original training in your subject must be far behind you.

    This brings me to a point that has long bothered me. I might be wrong but it seems to me that the field of ‘sceptics’ is thronged with people who have a scientific background in something or other, but very often not in the ‘atmospheric sciences’ or even a field germane to it. Abstruse questions in physics and mathematics are left to the experts in the field. This discretion cannot be observed in the field of climatology.

    In a way that is understandable because the climate is of concern to all of us and we are asked, as citizens, to cooperate and if need be to make sacrifices in the endeavour to ameliorate possible effects of global warming. Nevertheless a bit more modesty among all those instant experts would be appropriate.

    You talk about me ‘slurring’ Spencer. If pointing to a booboo that he has had to acknowledge himself amounts to ‘slurring’ for you I must leave you to your idiosyncratic choice of words. As I must leave you to the hyperbole in your description of Mann’s methodology as ‘flawed beyond description’.

    It is of course understandable that in a field where everyone wants to have a say some, like you, would maintain that reputation counts for nothing. For the time being I will keep taking it into account as people do in any other field of human endeavour.

    Thanks for your references.


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    Arie Brand

    Incidentally,Geoff, re your last reference on Motl (a gent whose conceit is only surpassed by his bile)you might be interested in the following:

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2007/06/lubos-explains-it-not-greenhouse-effect.html


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    Clive Foster

    Great handbook. Pretty much what I’d have written myself if I were a decent writer.

    One thing I would add is a simple computation of the effect on insolation in watts per square metre of atmospheric CO2 levels. This is necessary to deal with critics who ignore the fact that there is only a finite amount of solar and re-radiated energy in the CO2 bands and, to a first approximation, it matters little where in the atmosphere its absorbed. 50W / sq m of energy has a finite heating effect and when its gone its gone. Suggestions that absorption in the thin higher atmosphere is important and CO2 concentrations there are still too low for absorption to be near saturation are more than a little shaky given that there is no sensible mechanism proposed to get the absorbed energy back down to the surface.

    I suggest that 20%, 50% and 80% absorption in the CO2 bands would be sensible as its virtually impossible to get below 20% or above 80% in whole earth atmosphere terms. There is no point in getting involved in the vexed question of exactly where the band edges are at very high absorption levels. The computation is more complex than it seems at first sight because low absorption means more solar energy at the surface and less absorption in the atmosphere so the surface gets warmer but the atmosphere is colder leading to more convection cooling of the surface. Its a moot point as to whether the complex calculation is of any benefit given the small changes involved. Total solar heating about 285° absolute, atmospheric/greenhouse enhancement about 35° absolute and, according to my HP65 around 1982, maximum possible CO2 contribution around 5° absolute if memory serves me right. For 2 or 3 % change I think a simple linear fit will do for starters.

    I did some similar calculations and computer modelling when I was concerned with long range thermal imaging back in the 1980′s as part of investigations into differences between experimental results and predictions made by the LOWTRAN atmospheric model. It proved adequate to use single variate calculations with fixed differentials. I suspect that this approach would work here too if you took a sensible value for surface / atmosphere temperature difference and did the relative temperature calculation for 50% absorption then used the same differential to assess the net temperature changes.


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    Arie,
    It’s not that some of us ‘say’ reputation counts for nothing. In scientific reasoning it does count for nothing. We’ve known that since greek and roman times. Argument from authority, argumentum ad verecundiam is fallacious reasoning.

    Nothing anyone says will change the temperature, no matter how many doctorates they have. The global weather is what it is.

    And it’s not just skeptics who conveniently use that rule.
    Al Gore is not as qualified as you.
    JoNova


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    Arie Brand

    “Argument from authority, argumentum ad verecundiam is fallacious reasoning.”

    I am aware of that Joanne. And if I had caught Pierrehumbert doing so it would for me have detracted from his … reputation. I was merely talking about a practical problem. How can an outsider choose between two accounts of a matter with which he is unfamiliar. He chooses that which seems to have the greatest authority, not that which is argued from authority.It is again the choice between the account of one’s medical specialist and that of the knowledgeable neighbour who likes to leaf through medical encyclopedias. If you claim that the reference to argumentum ad verecundiam would make you unable to choose I wish you good health.


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    I read about your guide on Paul Bigg’s site, so I posted a link to it for our readers as well. http://gmroper.mu.nu/global_warming_-_dealing_with_fanatics

    Here’s the first response from a person well known to us as a nutcase on global warming. http://www.markyork.blogspot.com/

    “I don’t know Woody? Beacuse you are an idiot? That’s what Dr. House would say. I see you and your ilk circling the drain. Problem is, ignorance is genetic.

    “Hey! We’ll just herd you all into pens like cattle and feed you ergot-laced water from troths. It may work.”

    What a surprise! But, he often does offer “scientific” proof by providing a link to realclimate.com. You know, those guys work for NASA and wouldn’t lie or act crazy, like calling for the arrest and prosecution of business executives for the high crime of emitting carbon.

    Thanks for the book, but to argue effectively with those who climbed on board Al Gore’s global warming wagon, you need a book on psychlogy rather than climate.


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    TheoRichel

    I’d rather mail you privately but I see nop topion. I am a journalist from the Netherlands ( see http://www.richel.org/resume ) who makes two environmentally critical websites at http://www.groenerekenkamer.nl and http://www.klimatosoof.nl (everything in Dutch though). I am impressed by your Handbook, is it allright if I translate it into Dutch and put it on my site (and the updates of course)?


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    Geoff Larsen

    Jo

    “argumentum ad verecundiam”

    A cousin of this is “argumentum ad hominem”.

    From Wikipedia

    “The ad hominem fallacy is an informal logical fallacy, formally known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: “argument at the person”), where a participant argues that a belief is incorrect because of some failure or flaw in the person making the argument. The most general structure of this argument runs something like the following:”

    Person A claims that P
    Person B claims that there is something objectionable about person A
    Therefore, P is false.
    This is a fallacy because the truth or falsity of the claim is not necessarily related to the personal qualities of the claimant.

    Example:

    Protagonist: I think that Isaac Newton is the greatest scientist that ever lived.
    Antagonist: You studied music in school! You don’t know anything about science! ”

    See a few examples on this tread.


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    Arie Brand

    Geoff you wrote:

    “Those of us that have an interest in actually studying the science, looking at the evidence, & have at least a “modicum” of scientific ability to follow the arguments … ”

    I did nothing more than asking how a background in industrial chemistry could give you that ability as far as the ‘atmospheric sciences’ are concerned. And that is then called ‘ad hominem’. Well O.K., I will take your ability in this field for granted and hope to profit from it by an answer to the following question:

    As you know Yahoo puts from time to time a problem on the net and then publishes what it judges to be the best answer. Recently it asked who, in the controversy between Pierrehumbert and Spencer, was right. It published the following answer:

    “Best Answer – Chosen by Asker

    Ray Pierrehumbert shows how Roy Spenser cooked his data. The most charitable explanation is that Spenser does not understand scientific integrity very well. Sadly, this is part of a pattern of misrepresentation rather than an an isolated incident. In his blog, http://www.weatherquestions.com/Roy-Spen… Spenser erroneously equates the absorption cross section of CO2 with it’s geometrical cross section and compounds the error by assigning the same cross sections to CO2 and N2. As I have pointed out in prior posts, the absorption cross cross for CO2 is much larger.
    http://sg.answers.yahoo.com/question/ind
    It may be understandable for a novice to make this error, but is inexcusable coming from a so-called expert. An expert does not make rookie errors. I apprehend that Spenser’s errors are a deliberate attempt at deception rather than a reflection of his true understanding of the topic.”

    What do you think? Does this man have a point?


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    Arie,
    “Does the man have a point?”

    Not about global warming.

    If Roy Spencer made an error, that doesn’t change the weather. Why keep researching people instead of the science and evidence? Ad hom will never prove anything.

    Are you hoping to find an analysis from a Monk with a Nobel Peace Prize in climate science who lives on donations from The Wilderness Society so you’ll know who to trust to do your thinking for you? :-)

    You only need a high school education to read a temperature graph. You’re a bright guy doing diligent cross checking. You don’t need to read all the scientific detail to know that no one has offered any proof yet that isn’t just a lab theory or a computer model.

    Ask the right question – about the evidence, not the people – and you’ll rise above the fray.

    JoNova


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    Arie Brand

    Joanne, you continuously imply that the record is straightforward and that even a five year old with a thermometer could establish what’s what. Quite apart from the general point that establishing what is a fact and what is evidence requires pre-existing theory (vide Popper)the record, even on apparently simple things such as temperature readings, doesn’t appear to this layman to be straightforward at all. As you know there has been a lot to do about the question whether global warming has stopped in the last ten years or not. When I look at statements by the World Meteorological Society and NASA I don’t see any acknowledgment that it has. And when I consult the graphs presented by Tamino at http://tamino.wordpress.com/2007/08/ I see a graphic confirmation that it hasn’t. Nevertheless, quite a few people, probably including you, claim that it has. So the question who is a reliable witness in this and other controversial matters is quite pertinent – as the high school advice ‘to do your own thinking’ is not.

    Meanwhile the question I asked Geoff Larsen still hasn’t been answered. And about that monk: do you know where I can find him?


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    Geoff Larsen

    Arie Brand

    On your link, d/dx + d/d, takes Spencer to task for this statement: -
    “The role of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere’s greenhouse effect is relatively small, due to the fact that CO2 is a ‘trace gas’ — only 38 out of every 100,000 molecules of air are carbon dioxide. It takes a full five years of human greenhouse gas emissions to add 1 molecule of CO2 to every 100,000 molecules of air.”

    Personally I think that this statement would be better not said, or amended, although Spencer has probably got the more potent greenhouse gases of water vapour (& clouds), for comparison, in mind. I would personally disagree with him on this point. Nevertheless this is a distraction & is irrelevant to what this debate is about.

    Spencer does not dispute the radiative absorption properties of CO2 & other greenhouse gases. This is not his expertise.

    His issue is on the subject of feedbacks which in the models explain approximately 2/3 of the expected warming from a doubling of CO2.

    Now to the evidence.

    IPPC: Key feedbacks; Water vapour = positive; Lapse Rate = negative; High & Low Clouds = positive.

    Spenser: Evidence- recent observations## indicate Key Feedbacks; Water vapour + Lapse Rate + High Clouds = slightly positive; Low Cloud = negative; Feedback Parameter estimate = approx. 5.4 W m^-2 K ^-1, equals overall negative feedback & low climate sensitivity (Oct 8 Research Update-see his blog).

    ## Oceanic values of total radiative (reflected SW {solar} plus emitted IR) flux changes measured by NASA’s CERES instrument on the Terra satellite, and the corresponding troposphere temperature measurements made by the AMSU instrument on the NOAA-15 satellite.

    As Spencer says “This is actually somewhat consistent with the IPCC AR4 report which admitted that feedbacks related to low cloud behaviour were the most uncertain in the models”. (One on my key observations on reading through the literature) e.g. see: -

    http://irina.eas.gatech.edu/EAS_spring2006/Stephens2005.pdf
    “..different assumptions about the (climate) system produces very different conclusions about the magnitude and sign of feedbacks.”

    http://www-pcmdi.llnl.gov/wgne2007/presentations/Oral-Presentations/thurs/WGNE_Bony.pdf
    “Cloud feedbacks have been confirmed as the primary source of
    climate sensitivity uncertainty.
    • The SW response of clouds is the most uncertain.
    • Recent studies point to low-level clouds as a primary culprit”.

    Spencer’s key insight IMO was to ask this question: -
    “To what extent are climatic variations in clouds caused by temperature change (feedback), versus temperature change being the result of cloud variations? “

    Ray Pierrehumbert criticises this as follows: -
    ”In Spencer and Braswell (2008), and to an even greater extent in his blog article, Spencer tries to introduce the rather peculiar notion of “internal radiative forcing” as distinct from cloud or water vapor feedback. He goes so far as to say that the IPCC is biased against “internal radiative forcing,” in favor of treating cloud effects as feedback. Just what does he mean by this notion? And what, if any, difference does it make to the way IPCC models are formulated? The answer to the latter question is easy: none, since the concept of feedbacks is just something used to try to make sense of what a model does, and does not actually enter into the formulation of the model itself.”

    Roy Spencer retorts: -
    “Ray is quite simply wrong — and the reviewers of our paper (Piers Forster and Isaac Held) agree with me. It matters a great deal whether radiative fluctuations are the result of feedback on surface temperature, versus the myriad other variables that control cloudiness. Piers Forster was honest enough to admit that their neglect of the internal variability term in Eq. 3 of “The Climate Sensitivity and its Components Diagnosed from Earth Radiation Budget Data” (Forster and Gregory, J. Climate, 2006) was incorrect, and that it indeed can not be neglected in feedback diagnosis efforts using observational data. He also stated that the climate modeling community needs to be made aware of this.“

    Arie a question for you. What is your opinion of Ray’s last sentence in the paragraph above? Does it make intrinsic sense to you?


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    Alexi Tekhasski

    Allow me to jump in here, regarding the question of “forcings” and “feedbacks” in climate models. Ray is right on mark when he says, “What difference does it make to way IPCC models are formulated?”, but he obviously is wrong in the last sentence. Obviously, it makes a substantial difference in reality.
    I has recently examined internals of NCAR CAM-3 model, and found surprising (for me) formulations. Before that I was under a false impression that climate models utilize a direct numerical approach to model atmospheric behavior, where all dynamic fields (temps, pressure, velocity, concentrations, etc) would form a self-feeding closed system that evolves naturally and self defines every instant individual variable of the system. I was dead wrong.
    It appears that the climate models are artificially split into two major components, a mechanical “dynamic core” in a form of ideal non-viscous fluid, and a “forcing” part that represents “physics” and external energy fluxes. The “forcing” drives the ideal eternally-moving media, and the media produces “feedbacks”, such as local spot temperatures and corresponding excess (or deficit) of evaporation. In contrast, the CO2 is considered as “well mixed” component of atmosphere that cannot change significantly over the natural climatological time step. Therefore, combined with radiation physics of opaque media with a feedback-determined temperature (and cloud) profile, concentration of CO2 is considered as “forcing” that, over time, “drives” the climate into some new state.
    In my understanding, the problem with IPCC recipe is that while local vertical temperature profiles are directly calculated in “dynamic core” and therefore are classified as “feedback”, the cloudness is incorporated by hands using some “parameterized” model that is tuned to produce average cloudness of 62%, and hence is a part of “forcing”. In reality, the cloudness varies on hourly basis. As result, the real cloudness is neither “feedback” nor “forcing”, and therefore does not fit into the official IPCC recipe for climate model partitioning. More, playing with MODTRAN radiation code, one can determine that changes in cloudness are usually about 50x more potent in causing radiative imbalance than the whole doubling of CO2. These facts obviously cause major discomfort for modelers and confusion to climate “physicists” as Ray. So, yes, the Roy’s “internal radiative forcing” from clouds “does not actually enter into the formulation of the model itself”, and this is the problem. IMO, the whole idea of partitioning into “forcings” and “feedbacks” is internally wrong: in a distributed continuous system such as an atmosphere that is inherently turbulent in its nature, there always will be essential components that would violate any artificial scheme of separation of scales, and the model would fall apart.


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    Arie Brand,
    Indeed “the question who is a reliable witness” is important.
    One person who is certainly not a reliable witness is the blogger who you quote in your post. Recently, statistics expert Ian Joliffe complained that Tamino had misrepresented his work, see
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/08/10/open-thread-5-2/#comment-21873

    You are clearly quite confused, and by your own admission not a scientist. A useful tip is to get information direct from the primary source, not from anonymous bloggers like Tamino and Rabett who distort and twist the data to suit their own agendas. Regarding the lack of warming over the last ten years you can see it clearly at
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.C.lrg.gif
    (this is NASA data, contradicting your statement in #55)
    or at figure 7 of
    http://www.remss.com/msu/msu_data_description.html
    (satellite data).

    Jo is absolutely right, it is simple – just look at the primary data and use your own brain. You don’t have to be an expert in climate science, all you need is basic numeracy and logic skills.


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    Jo, this is absolutely great material. You say, ‘Here’s the campaign slogan for that kind of government: “Vote for us, we confuse cause and
    effect, mix up issues, and solve problems by tackling something else instead.”’

    Sounds a lot like this:

    “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”
    — Marx (Groucho)

    The politicization of climate will turn out to be the biggest embarrassment “science” has endured since the time of Kepler, Copernicus, and Galileo, when the “consensus” had it that the Sun revolved around the Earth.


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    Sam Nelson

    Hi Joanne,

    Here’s one for you.

    The world’s premier oceanographic intitutes have recently issued a joint paper detailing the rate of increased carbon loading of the waters in the ocean. These studies are much simpler than climate modelling and produced an alarming finding that the pH of the oceans are increasing rapidly. The rate of increase is sufficient to prevent the formation of carbonate shells on sea creatures that are the base of the Antarctic and Arctic food chains within 50 years.

    The speed of this effect is linked with global warming. If the globe heats less than is expected from current projections then the acidification of the oceans will simply proceed at a greater pace because cooler water absorbs CO2 faster.

    The only solution is to minimize carbon emissions.

    There are wonderful inventions out there for tackling the problem such as inflatable windmills that can harvest the jet stream uninterruptibly, low-cost inflatable cars build from space programme textiles that can travel 2000+km on one battery charge, and a number of technologies for inexpensively scrubbing CO2 from smoke stacks and turning it into concrete, etc… I could go on.

    Why on Earth is an ETS a threat it can make these technologies proliferate more quickly?

    Is it merely because we are attached to the status quo or is it that we lack imagination?


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    Hi Sam,

    The oceans hold about 38,000 GT of carbon. We’re adding about 8 Gt per year to the atmosphere, some of which is absorbed in the oceans. So we’re increasing total ocean carbon by less than 0.01% per annum.

    I need more than just another committee report to convince me I need to worry about acidification. Have they actually measured the ocean’s Ph, or just ‘calculated it’?

    When you refer to a study as being “less complex than climate models” (which fail spectacularly) it’s not high praise. If acidification is a threat, then we should focus on that. Someone get us some empirical evidence.

    Why is an ETS a Threat? Any new tax lets bankers, lawyers, politicians, con men and crooks slice more money from the people who are building, making, healing or teaching etc. Those new technologies sound great, but $100m on a wind farm could have been used to restore vision to 151,000 blind children (costing 27 pounds per child).


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    Gerardo

    Jo, your handbook is a true jewel. I wish a powerful communicator like you would someday take on the task of explaining to the world why governments–all governments–are inherently EVIL and UNNECESSARY.

    There is abundance of irrefutable arguments and evidence in websites such as http://www.mises.org but the ONE capable of translating a body of logical thinking into plain language is still hidden somewhere…


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    GaryL

    Regarding ocean acidification from CO2; it turns out that at least three species of ocean phytoplankton known as cocolithophores love increased CO2 levels. The little critters build carbonate shells and thus rapidly “fix” oceanic CO2 as described here:

    http://www.physorg.com/news128613620.html

    Not surprisingly, earlier experiments trumpeting the dangers of ocean acidification used hydrochloric acid as an ‘analog’ for acidification as suggested to result from increased carbonation. No wonder the microorganisms objected! Yet another example of sloppy science and gross assumptions being used to “discover” the dangers of incresed carbon dioxide. When one actually does the experiment correctly using realistic conditions, the results may be surprising and certainly not what the models predict…


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    J Davies

    The images included in this document are not very clear E.G. series of graphs on page 6. I cannot see a source for original or higher resolution images that may be more readable.


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    Regarding page 6. I would like to have better resolution and links to sources. I’ve updated the handbook again (version 1.5) to make the first graph larger. I’ve dropped the second graph because the original data set at UAH was here and appears to have gone, but you can see the original graph from that data set here. The third graph is a junkscience.com graph which is regularly updated from original sources. The source links are all listed on each graph here. Hope that helps.


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    Tim

    Wow, that is one of the most well written, easy to understaind books on this topic I’ve ever read. I’ve been arguing many of the same points in your book and it is going to be a great resource for me in the future. Thank-you for offering it online!


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    Jan

    You are looking for a alternative theory for the climate changes on Earth.

    Here the head points of the theories of the danish Space Physicist Henrik Svensmark and his team:
    - Cosmic radiation changes in strength after the location around the Milky Way
    - In time of every 100 mio years we pass an area in the Milky Way with high cosmic radiation.
    - Changes in the magnetic field of the Sun is regulating the cosmic radiation hitting Earth.
    - Cosmic radiation is generating the lower clouds surrounding Earth.
    - Clouds is regulating the temperature on Earth by reflecting the heat radiation of the Sun.
    - The temperature is regulating the amount of co2 on Earth.
    - At high cosmic radiation many lower clouds is generated on earth.
    - With many clouds it is getting colder and an ice age occurs.
    - In this century we are on the top of low cosmic radiation.
    - It is now hot before it is getting very cold.

    See the video:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-676877750160320048&ei=5fnfSJmSD4auiAL8pbyaCw&q=the+cloud+mystery

    See also the information:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henrik_Svensmark
    http://www.thecloudmystery.com
    http://www.science27.com/Earth/index.htm


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    I’ve put up a page of the original linksto sources of data found in the Skeptics Handbook. There’s also pages that stand out as being great summaries.

    Thanks for all the great comments.

    Thanks too Jan – Yes I am aware of the Sunspot Solar Magnetic Theory. It’s very compelling isn’t it? I’ve put a few links you may find interesting on the solar-magnetic theory (see the bottom of the Links page).


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    bugs

    “finished with this classic ad hominem attack “Jim, please come and take some basic science courses. Its not right that a teacher should be so ill-informed on some of these important matters”.”

    LOL.

    That’s not an ad hominem. That’s some good advice!


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    Bill Marsh

    Interesting reading. I would suggest that in the area of ‘predictive models’ you might explore the fact that the climate system is mathematically a ‘complex, non-linear, chaotic system’ (even the IPCC agrees with this statement. The implications of non-linear, chaotic systems are that, unless you know the initial state of every variable and the exact functioning of every process affecting the system you cannot skilfully predict the future state of that system. Further, any attempt at predicting the future state of a chaotic system without knowing the initial state (even if you understand a majority of them) can result in wildly erroneous predictions, even in the short term. Although I suppose that is a difficult concept to grasp for the ‘average’ person. I would expect that no scientist is going to tell you that they (the scientific community) understand all the variables and all the processes that affect the climate system.


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    Hey! While searching for Blogs about msu financial aid I found your site he Skeptics Handbook | JoNova. Thank you for the effort you have put in.


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    cmb

    61Joanne Nova:
    November 25th, 2008 at 2:18 am
    Hi Sam,

    The oceans hold about 38,000 GT of carbon. We’re adding about 8 Gt per year to the atmosphere, some of which is absorbed in the oceans. So we’re increasing total ocean carbon by less than 0.01% per annum.

    -For that, you need a source.

    I need more than just another committee report to convince me I need to worry about acidification. Have they actually measured the ocean’s Ph, or just ‘calculated it’?

    – It’s easy to find pH (that’s how you capitalize that) measurements out there. Why not simply do that?

    When you refer to a study as being “less complex than climate models” (which fail spectacularly) it’s not high praise. If acidification is a threat, then we should focus on that. Someone get us some empirical evidence.

    – Easily found.

    One additional quote:

    Obviously if someone can produce empirical evidence that adding extra carbon dioxide, above current atmospheric concentrations, measurably affects our climate, I’m all ears; I’ll update the handbook and change my mind.

    – Here it is.

    http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/sounder_tutorial/gif/SPECTRA.GIF

    Those 2 ‘vampire teeth’ at either end labeled “CO2″ represent radiant energy that is checking into Earth’s atmosphere, but is not checking out. It’s staying as heat. Since the depths of the teeth do not go to zero, those bands are not saturated and further C02 will scavenge additional energy. =)


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    GaryL

    “Those 2 ‘vampire teeth’ at either end labeled “CO2″ represent radiant energy that is checking into Earth’s atmosphere, but is not checking out. It’s staying as heat. Since the depths of the teeth do not go to zero, those bands are not saturated and further C02 will scavenge additional energy. =)”

    The linked graph simply tells us that the earth’s atmosphere is opaque to emission at wavelengths corresponding to absorption by CO2, H2O etc. and thus is actually a fair representation of an absorption spectrum. The units are in equivalent K (for a black body emitter) rather than %transmittance or better yet Absorbance so it is not meaningful to say the bands are not saturated since the “depths of the teeth do not go to zero”. The percent transmittance at these wavelengths is actually very close to zero as shown for example here:

    http://www.everythingweather.com/atmospheric-radiation/absorption.shtml

    http://www.atmos.umd.edu/~owen/CHPI/IMAGES/transir.html

    With the exception of simple scattering, a substance does not absorb and re-emit radiation at the same wavelength. Rather, either internal cascade relaxation occurs or collisional energy transfer to another molecule occurs – resulting in loss of the absorbed energy at very different wavelengths than those absorbed. Thus the radiant energy “checking in” has a multitude of pathways for “checking out”. These include lower energy infrared, microwave and the like. This energy can be radiated to space just as easily as it can be absorbed by the earth’s surface.

    Since the path-length of the atmospheric column is so large and the IR extinction of CO2 is high, very little IR energy escapes absorption by CO2 at the appropriate wavelengths, at the concentrations historically present in the atmosphere. Increases of many percent or even doublings thus have little additional net effect on the overall energy absorbed in the atmosphere at the wavelengths in question.

    Joanne has done an excellent job of explaining this in her Handbook and obfuscations such as presented in the proceeding post serve only to perpetuate the misconceptions so prevalent on the subject.


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    Alexi Tekhasski

    Let me add some more to this. “cmb” wrote:

    “Those 2 ‘vampire teeth’ at either end labeled “CO2″ represent radiant energy that is checking into Earth’s atmosphere, but is not checking out. It’s staying as heat. Since the depths of the teeth do not go to zero, those bands are not saturated and further C02 will scavenge additional energy. =)”

    I am sorry, but your interpretation of your chart is completely wrong. The two “teeth” represent “emission temperature” for these narrow bands, around 600cm-1, and 2300cm-1. They represent radiant energy that is “checking out”, contrary to your wrong interpretation. Contrary to your further explanation, the depth of these “teeth” does not go to zero because the temperature of atmosphere (where its opacity ends for these bands) is not zero, and never will be, even if CO2 would increase 10-fold. The depth in that particular chart will follow the temperature of “effective emission layer” for these bands, and temperature of atmosphere does go down, and then goes up, and could be almost anything if the global atmospheric circulation pattern would change for any reason. Therefore, the depth of teeth is not a measure of saturation or non-saturation. Actually, these bands ARE saturated; what is not saturated is the sides of those bands. You should study more carefully your own AGW science, for example as presented here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/a-saturated-gassy-argument-part-ii

    Effect of increasing concentration of CO2 is really hard to evaluate without explicit integration of the Schwartzchild equations line by line, with resolution about 0.001 cm-1, and along particular atmospheric profile of temperature and GH gas concentrations. This is not an easy task, and involves quite a few assumptions and guesses, from amount of molecular water in clouds, to actual temperature and density profile, which varies with the pace of weather. Therefore, I am very skeptical when calculations for a statistical “standard US atmosphere” are presented as a quantitative proof of “radiative forcing”.

    I hope this post would partially clear your confusion, Mr/Mrs. “cmb”.


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    Clive Foster

    One of the infuriating things about the whole Global Warming due to CO2 “debate” is the way people continually refer to plots and models in the abstract without putting real power figures in to the relative magnitude of the effects clear. The common excuse is that such calculations are very complex and difficult. This is not so where a simple energy budget estimate will suffice.

    If changes are small errors due to assuming any variation has straight line linearity will also be small and its safe to assume that everything else going on is acceptably close to linearity too. Under such assumptions brutally simple calculations give a reasonable estimate of the effect of CO2 in terms of an equivalent increase in solar radiation at ground level. This gives the energy budget for any CO2 induced changes under any specified conditions and provides direct comparison with the solar radiation heating the earth in the first place. Having made the calculations its clear that the CO2 contribution is in fact small compared to the solar energy contribution so ex post facto justifying the brutally simple approach.

    I chose to make the calculation for a 1 m2 area of the earths surface assuming the solar spectrum to be a 5777°K black body, surface temperature 293°K (approx. 20°C or “normal”) at a surface insolation of 1000 W/m2 for a 12 hour day and estimated the net extra heating contribution from CO2 over an absorption band saturation range from 20% to 80%. After subtracting losses due to CO2 absorption of incoming solar radiation the calculation gives a net CO2 contribution varing from approximately 7 to 21 W/m2 which is small compared to the solar insolation level. This is approximately 1.4 % change relative to the assumed solar insolation so the predicted first order temperature changes will be around 4°K. Naturally increased temperatures will slightly warm the atmosphere, as will absorbed incoming solar radiation, slightly increasing the atmosphere to surface radiation contribution but the whole thing soon fizzles out. Clearly with this level of energy driver any attempt to postulate large, increasing, changes is as futile as Zenos demonstration that fleet footed Achilles can never overtake a tortoise.

    For an open atmosphere 20% to 80% absorption band variation is valid because the centre peaks come up very fast at low concentrations but the edges increase very slowly once most of the band is filled requiring unreasonably high concentrations for significant increases. There is a certain elasticity in defining exactly where the band edges are and how important the different bands are. For the results quoted I chose to use only the 14 to 16 µm absorption band and to assume that CO2 is responsible for all absorption effect therin. Best estimate of the simplification error is around 2%, certainly less than 5%, and to do better you really need to take water vapour effects into account which seriously complicates matters for little gain.

    The method I used was a simple earth surface equivalent grey body substitution assuming radiation balance for a stable temperature over a 12 hour daylight / 12 hours darkness cycle. Radiation balance, where surface emission over 24 hours equals incident radiation over 12 hours, requires an approximately 92% black grey body. Given this its easy to calculate the power levels involved in the usual manner. The temperature against power plot is assumed linear from 0°K to 293°K and changes due to the CO2 contribution can be added, subtracted or spilt about the 293°K point as needed. Because all other atmospheric effects are assumed linearly constant over this range the absorption from incoming solar radiation has to be subtracted as its not taken into account.

    Although this type of calculation is exceedingly effective at estimating power budgets and variation range for a specific situation its not a model and there are serious difficulties if you try to expand it into one. In the days when I was involved with thermal imaging I used this approach to fit calculations onto a HP67 calculator (no PC then, not even a BEEB) and proved it to be unreasonably effective. Often more accurate than proper models.

    Clive


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    cmb

    GaryL:
    January 7th, 2009 at 12:40 pm
    “Those 2 ‘vampire teeth’ at either end labeled “CO2″ represent radiant energy that is checking into Earth’s atmosphere, but is not checking out. It’s staying as heat. Since the depths of the teeth do not go to zero, those bands are not saturated and further C02 will scavenge additional energy. =)”

    The linked graph simply tells us that the earth’s atmosphere is opaque to emission at wavelengths corresponding to absorption by CO2, H2O etc. and thus is actually a fair representation of an absorption spectrum. The units are in equivalent K (for a black body emitter) rather than %transmittance or better yet Absorbance so it is not meaningful to say the bands are not saturated since the “depths of the teeth do not go to zero”. The percent transmittance at these wavelengths is actually very close to zero as shown for example here:

    http://www.everythingweather.com/atmospheric-radiation/absorption.shtml

    http://www.atmos.umd.edu/~owen/CHPI/IMAGES/transir.html

    – You are correct, I committed an oversimplification. Increased CO2 will not drive the ‘teeth’ lower than ambient temps in any case, it will simply widen them due to the mechanics of absorption in the upper atmosphere – once again resulting in increased energy retention.

    With the exception of simple scattering, a substance does not absorb and re-emit radiation at the same wavelength. Rather, either internal cascade relaxation occurs or collisional energy transfer to another molecule occurs – resulting in loss of the absorbed energy at very different wavelengths than those absorbed. Thus the radiant energy “checking in” has a multitude of pathways for “checking out”. These include lower energy infrared, microwave and the like. This energy can be radiated to space just as easily as it can be absorbed by the earth’s surface.

    – It would be, but for the fraction that is being absorbed and re-emitted, the energy involved (which, coming from the surface, was effectively 100% oriented toward space) is now randomized in direction (in other words, approximately half is turned back toward the surface).

    Since the path-length of the atmospheric column is so large and the IR extinction of CO2 is high, very little IR energy escapes absorption by CO2 at the appropriate wavelengths, at the concentrations historically present in the atmosphere. Increases of many percent or even doublings thus have little additional net effect on the overall energy absorbed in the atmosphere at the wavelengths in question.

    – Here is where you go astray. Increases do have additional effect because they broaden the ‘teeth’ – bringing additional wavelengths into play. Since this effect occurs mostly at higher altitudes, it may take as much as 1000 times the current CO2 or more before saturation is achieved. Until then, additional CO2 will continue to mean additional energy retention.

    A fairly good explanation – http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/a-saturated-gassy-argument/langswitch_lang/sw


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    cmb

    Alexi Tekhasski:
    January 7th, 2009 at 3:52 pm
    Let me add some more to this. “cmb” wrote:

    “Those 2 ‘vampire teeth’ at either end labeled “CO2″ represent radiant energy that is checking into Earth’s atmosphere, but is not checking out. It’s staying as heat. Since the depths of the teeth do not go to zero, those bands are not saturated and further C02 will scavenge additional energy. =)”

    I am sorry, but your interpretation of your chart is completely wrong. The two “teeth” represent “emission temperature” for these narrow bands, around 600cm-1, and 2300cm-1. They represent radiant energy that is “checking out”, contrary to your wrong interpretation.

    – I’m afraid not. The area under them does, certainly. They themselves represent a deficit in those bands due primarily to absorption and reradiation by CO2.

    Contrary to your further explanation, the depth of these “teeth” does not go to zero because the temperature of atmosphere (where its opacity ends for these bands) is not zero, and never will be, even if CO2 would increase 10-fold. The depth in that particular chart will follow the temperature of “effective emission layer” for these bands, and temperature of atmosphere does go down, and then goes up, and could be almost anything if the global atmospheric circulation pattern would change for any reason. Therefore, the depth of teeth is not a measure of saturation or non-saturation. Actually, these bands ARE saturated; what is not saturated is the sides of those bands. You should study more carefully your own AGW science, for example as presented here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/a-saturated-gassy-argument-part-ii

    – Thanks, I had been made aware of the difference some time ago over on Usenet, but had forgotten it.

    Effect of increasing concentration of CO2 is really hard to evaluate without explicit integration of the Schwartzchild equations line by line, with resolution about 0.001 cm-1, and along particular atmospheric profile of temperature and GH gas concentrations. This is not an easy task, and involves quite a few assumptions and guesses, from amount of molecular water in clouds, to actual temperature and density profile, which varies with the pace of weather. Therefore, I am very skeptical when calculations for a statistical “standard US atmosphere” are presented as a quantitative proof of “radiative forcing”.

    I hope this post would partially clear your confusion, Mr/Mrs. “cmb”.

    – Thanks again. But why wouldn’t an average automatically take variations in water vapor temps, density profile and other temporally variant items into account?


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    Alexi Tekhasski

    Clive, I am sorry, but I cannot follow your calculations, nor your final sensitivity of greenhouse effect to CO2 doubling. Is the 4K your answer, or what? If it is, then your “brutally simple” method is clearly nor working, because even AGW “fathers” give about 1K for “unadjusted” greenhouse effect.

    First, since you already assumed the incoming flux of 1000W/m2, how the heck it is important to have 5777K color temperature for insolation? Second, I do not understand what do you mean under “absorption band saturation range from 20% to 80%”. Third, which “equivalent increase in solar radiation at ground level” you are talking about? There is no noticeable increase in what gets down to Earth surface due to CO2 changes since CO2 is considered as transparent to solar radiation, and the “losses due to CO2 absorption of incoming solar radiation” are always rightfully neglected in most basic estimations of the greenhouse effect. After reading your post five or six times, I came to frustrating conclusion that your understanding of greenhouse effect is seriously misoriented. Sorry.


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    Alexi Tekhasski

    “cmb”, you ask: “wouldn’t an average automatically take variations in water vapor temps, density profile and other temporally variant items into account?”

    No, it would not, scientifically speaking, because the overall effect of outgoing radiation is an integral over instant fluxes, and each instant flux is a complex product of several independent terms, density profile, water vapor, liquid water and ice in clouds, etc. that fluctuate in time and space. As it is well known from Calculus 101, integral of a product of several functions is not necessarily equal to product of individual integrals (or average profiles in our case). That’s where a big difference may occur, from a skeptical viewpoint.

    Also, as I tried to explain, the magnitude of greenhouse effect (GHE) is factored by the magnitude of atmospheric lapse rate. No lapse rate = no GHE. For the GHE to occur, the “effective emission height” must be within lower troposphere, where “higher is colder”. If the lapse rate changes its sign (as it frequently does in sub-polar areas), or the emission height in some IR frequency bands happens to be so high that hits tropopause or stratosphere (as 14-16um CO2 band), the effect is opposite. In other words, the “lapse rate” is strongly nonlinear function of height (for Clive to pay attention), and actual physical absorption peaks (non-averaged) are all over both slopes of atmospheric profile. When an average spectrum is made, the averaged value falls only to one, lower side of atmospheric temperature profile, and the “stratospheric cooling” gets largely excluded from overall “radiative forcing” of AGW theory. I suspect that’s why IPCC considers the radiative forcing only after “stratospheric equilibration”, to exclude this “inconvenience”. I feel somewhat skeptical about this “adjustment”. Maybe some of AGW proponents can explain this in better details?


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    Great book! Thank you for writing it and making it available.

    As you have a link to his site above I assume you have received and read Viv Forbes’ paper Climate Change Perspective at Carbon Sense Coalition? Refer http://carbon-sense.com/2009/01/02/climate-change-in-perspective/


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    cmb

    79Alexi Tekhasski:
    January 8th, 2009 at 5:29 pm
    “cmb”, you ask: “wouldn’t an average automatically take variations in water vapor temps, density profile and other temporally variant items into account?”

    No, it would not, scientifically speaking, because the overall effect of outgoing radiation is an integral over instant fluxes, and each instant flux is a complex product of several independent terms, density profile, water vapor, liquid water and ice in clouds, etc. that fluctuate in time and space. As it is well known from Calculus 101, integral of a product of several functions is not necessarily equal to product of individual integrals (or average profiles in our case). That’s where a big difference may occur, from a skeptical viewpoint.

    – That’s interesting, and will give me some Google exercise, but I’m not sure I’m getting it. I thought I was talking about an average of already-derived real numbers obtained from observation, not a product of integrals.

    Also, as I tried to explain, the magnitude of greenhouse effect (GHE) is factored by the magnitude of atmospheric lapse rate. No lapse rate = no GHE.

    – Hard to parse; GHE occurs wherever a volume of GHGs is found irradiated by the correct wavelengths, including homogenous test chamber contents. Technically speaking, density gradients are unnecessary.

    For the GHE to occur, the “effective emission height” must be within lower troposphere, where “higher is colder”. If the lapse rate changes its sign (as it frequently does in sub-polar areas), or the emission height in some IR frequency bands happens to be so high that hits tropopause or stratosphere (as 14-16um CO2 band), the effect is opposite.

    – That also is GHE, it seems. I’m guessing this refers the stratospheric cooling that is the distinct signature of GHE (as opposed to other warming influences like insolation increases).

    http://www.atmosphere.mpg.de/enid/20c.html

    . In other words, the “lapse rate” is strongly nonlinear function of height (for Clive to pay attention), and actual physical absorption peaks (non-averaged) are all over both slopes of atmospheric profile. When an average spectrum is made, the averaged value falls only to one, lower side of atmospheric temperature profile, and the “stratospheric cooling” gets largely excluded from overall “radiative forcing” of AGW theory. I suspect that’s why IPCC considers the radiative forcing only after “stratospheric equilibration”, to exclude this “inconvenience”. I feel somewhat skeptical about this “adjustment”. Maybe some of AGW proponents can explain this in better details?

    – Hope so, because as far as I know, GHE occurs at the molecular level as GHGs’ vibration modes are excited by arriving photons and the energy is reradiated in random directions. That seems to be all that is needed for GHGs to function as heat retainers. (Specific IPCC methodology does not concern me greatly, I don’t hang my AGW hat solely on their conclusions.)

    It may help to find a description of this effect and why it is a problem for AGW in the peer-reviewed or popular lit..? I’m still searching as time permits.


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    Alexi Tekhasski

    cmb wrote:
    “GHE occurs at the molecular level as GHGs’ vibration modes are excited by arriving photons and the energy is reradiated in random directions.”

    No, GHE does not occur at molecular level. All you need from molecular level is absorption, a phenomenological coefficient that may depend on “photon” frequency or not, it does not matter for the fundamental physics of GHE. Once you have absorption property of your media, forget about photons.
    The contemporary physical model of GHE is purely macroscopic. To simplify things and expose the main physics, lets assume that air is really filled with GH gases and other particles such that it looks (absorbs and emits) as a blackbody in IR range, but still is fully transparent to SW radiation of Sun. Lets assume that there is so much of absorbing stuff that the air is completely IR-opaque at ground level. Then the following occurs:
    (a) Sun radiation (minus whatever was reflected back) hits ground surface, gets fully absorbed. Surface heats up. The globe-averaged radiation flux from Sun is amounted to about 240W/m2.
    (b) Surface transfers the heat to air by all means: conduction, evaporation, convection. Radiation does not play any role at all at this surface because whatever is being radiated by surface is equally compensated by back radiation from IR-dark air. Likewise, upflux and downflux of radiation at any virtual horizontal surface above the ground cancel each other, except when the air becomes very thin literally and optically.
    (c) In the field of gravity, the atmosphere density gets gradually thinner with height. Therefore at some point it cannot be considered as being IR-dark; Therefore the IR dark absorbing media has a top somewhere, which is called “radiative TOA”, top of atmosphere.
    (d) At the TOA, there is only one sink of energy to outer space – radiation. The TOA emits in accord with its local temperature and Stefan-Boltzmann law.
    (e) The surface continues to absorb all Sun radiation, and its temperature rises and rises.
    (f) Rising bottom temperature creates massive instability in atmosphere, and various weather patterns stir the air until some sort of dynamic equilibrium occur called “convective equilibrium”. The convective equilibrium forms a gradient of temperature due to thermodynamics of air mass movement, called as “lapse rate”. This gradient decreases depending on amount of water evaporation – vapor condensation processes. As result of the “lapse rate”, temperature of “effective emission layer” at TOA is lower than at the ground.
    (g) The process of ground temperature rise (and corresponding intensification of convective patterns) continues until the TOA warms up to a temperature of about 255K, and would emit in IR about 240W/m2, which is equal to incoming solar flux. The “equilibrium” is reached.
    The difference between ground temperature and the temperature at radiative TOA is GHE. As you see, there are no vibration modes nor photons in the whole process.
    In the above construction, the ground temperature is undefined. It automatically assumes a value which provides sufficient heat transfer from the surface to air to TOA via various feedbacks. This process is pure hydrodynamics, it depends on many parameters, it is turbulent, and we cannot calculate this process with contemporary computing technology, and probably never will.
    I hope this brief explanation of basic physics of GHE helps.


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    cmb

    Alexi Tekhasski:
    January 9th, 2009 at 8:23 am
    cmb wrote:
    “GHE occurs at the molecular level as GHGs’ vibration modes are excited by arriving photons and the energy is reradiated in random directions.”

    No, GHE does not occur at molecular level. All you need from molecular level is absorption, a phenomenological coefficient that may depend on “photon” frequency or not, it does not matter for the fundamental physics of GHE. Once you have absorption property of your media, forget about photons.
    The contemporary physical model of GHE is purely macroscopic. To simplify things and expose the main physics, lets assume that air is really filled with GH gases and other particles such that it looks (absorbs and emits) as a blackbody in IR range, but still is fully transparent to SW radiation of Sun. Lets assume that there is so much of absorbing stuff that the air is completely IR-opaque at ground level.

    – No, I’m afraid that would invalidate known GW mechanisms, and so can not be used as a test case here.

    Then the following occurs:
    (a) Sun radiation (minus whatever was reflected back) hits ground surface, gets fully absorbed. Surface heats up. The globe-averaged radiation flux from Sun is amounted to about 240W/m2.
    (b) Surface transfers the heat to air by all means: conduction, evaporation, convection. Radiation does not play any role at all at this surface because whatever is being radiated by surface is equally compensated by back radiation from IR-dark air.

    – Cite, please.


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    Alexi Tekhasski

    cmb, no, it does not violate any known GHE or GW mechanisms. This simplified example of “IR-black” air was intended to remove the widespread confusion about the role of radiation. Yes, if you consider a more realistic atmosphere, three relatively small effects would come to play: (1) since there is so-called “transparency window” (at 8-12 um), the corresponding part of radiation budget would escape directly to space. In Kiehl and Trenberth estimates it is about 10% effect; (2) because of finite transparency, the back radiation comes from effective emission layer somewhere above the ground (where is colder, due to lapse rate), and therefore it emits less than surface, and (3) accounting for gray features of real air, the total back flux is further reduced (to 324W/m2, out of 390W/m2 from the surface). These are not fundamental issues, but they create a lot of confusion among laymen and climatologists. The alleged “GW mechanism” is based on (1) the height of “effective emission layer” (with T=255K) is somewhere at 5-6km, or right in the middle of troposphere with perfect lapse rate of 5-6K/km, and (2) that addition of CO2 would elevate this averaged “effective emission layer” by 100-150m. Little simplification of absorption properties of air does not affect the logic of this AGW construction in any way.


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    cmb

    84Alexi Tekhasski:
    January 9th, 2009 at 9:47 am
    cmb, no, it does not violate any known GHE or GW mechanisms.

    – OK, let’s take a quick look. Your setup:

    Lets assume that there is so much of absorbing stuff that the air is completely IR-opaque at ground level.

    http://sparce.evac.ou.edu/q_and_a/global_warming.htm :

    “The heating of the ground by sunlight causes the Earth’s surface to become a radiator of energy in the longwave band (sometimes called infrared radiation). This emission of energy is generally directed to space (see Figure). However, only a small portion of this energy actually makes it back to space. The majority of the outgoing infrared radiation is absorbed by a few naturally occurring atmospheric gases known as the greenhouse gases. Absorption of this energy causes additional heat energy to be added to the Earth’s atmospheric system.”

    http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/earth/climate/warming_clouds_albedo_feedback.html :

    “Referring once again to the energy budget diagram, note especially that only a fairly small fraction (40 W/m2 or 10.3%) of the 390 W/m2 of infrared radiation emitted from Earth’s surface makes it directly into space without first being trapped by various greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In other words, about 89.7% of the outgoing infrared radiation is affected by the greenhouse effect.”

    – Now, from what I can tell, the question becomes “what if it were not trapped by greenhouse gases?” But your example has 100% of it trapped by greenhouse gases – full saturation, which we know is not feasible. Now, how is this supposed to invalidate my statement that “Those 2 ‘vampire teeth’ at either end labeled “CO2″ represent radiant energy that is checking into Earth’s atmosphere, but is not checking out. It’s staying as heat.”…?

    My understanding is that if the graph I produced were subtracted from a curve of total insolation, the remaining energy in those absorption bands and immediately adjacent to them would be partially composed of photons trapped specifically by CO2, through vibrational excitement. I’m sure it’s due to my lack of expertise, but considering that satellite observations take the entire column into account by nature, I’m having a hard time figuring out how you are going to invalidate that in the direction you’re headed.


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    Alexi Tekhasski

    cmb, I do not understand your persistence. Your statement “Those 2 ‘vampire teeth’ at either end labeled “CO2″ represent radiant energy that is checking into Earth’s atmosphere, but is not checking out. It’s staying as heat.” is completely misguided. First, the energy that is “checking in” lies completely outside the range of your picture, it starts from 3000 cm-1 and up to 30,000 cm-1, see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Solar_irradiance_spectrum_1992.gif
    Therefore, your “teeth” have nothing to do with “checking in” whatsoever.
    Second, as I already explained few posts back, the energy within “vampire teeth” IS CHECKING OUT, but from corresponding high-flying “emission layer” somewhere in stratosphere. Third, the “radiant energy”, even if 90% of it is really “trapped in the atmosphere”, does not have any profound effect on climate, contrary to the populist BS from UCAR.EDU (or whatever .edu): the energy content of atmosphere is miserable as compared to heat content of oceans and soils. If anything gets “trapped” somewhere, it would almost immediately (in a matter of hours) be redistributed and stirred by atmospheric updrafts, and the excess would radiate out from the TOA. The atmosphere is not any “accumulator” ot “trap” of heat, it is a heat conductor (a poor one) between the source (Earth surface) and sink (radiating TOA). What happens in between is a mess called “weather”, but it is this mess that determines the “heat resistance” of atmosphere, and therefore the final magnitude of GH effect. Unfortunately, this important “mess” is exactly where we are largely helpless in modeling, but lead AGW climatologists failed to recognize, comprehend, and acknowledge this.

    Also, please note that the phrase from ucar.edu, “about 89.7% of the outgoing infrared radiation is affected by the greenhouse effect”, is a complete nonsense as well. The 89.7% on the outgoing radiation is not affected by greenhouse effect at all. The outgoing radiation faces the back radiation from atmosphere, which would occur regardless of GHE. For example, if the atmosphere would be somehow isothermal, the greenhouse effect would disappear, but the surface would still face the same back radiation. It looks like our mainstream educators are not fully, eh, educated on the matter…


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    cmb

    86Alexi Tekhasski:
    January 9th, 2009 at 11:31 am
    “cmb, I do not understand your persistence. Your statement “Those 2 ‘vampire teeth’ at either end labeled “CO2″ represent radiant energy that is checking into Earth’s atmosphere, but is not checking out. It’s staying as heat.” is completely misguided. First, the energy that is “checking in” lies completely outside the range of your picture, it starts from 3000 cm-1 and up to 30,000 cm-1, see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Solar_irradiance_spectrum_1992.gif

    – Your diagram shows the spectrum starting at just above zero, and has insufficient detail at the desired frequencies. Here’s a better version, which unfortunately contradicts your statement above by empirical measurement.

    http://prola.aps.org/abstract/PR/v76/i12/p1848_1

    – However, I made no claim that the energy was ‘checking in’ at the same frequencies. It is mostly converted to IR from SW before ‘checkout’, so even if you were correct above, your point here is moot, as you should know from the elementary theory.

    “Therefore, your “teeth” have nothing to do with “checking in” whatsoever.
    Second, as I already explained few posts back, the energy within “vampire teeth” IS CHECKING OUT, but from corresponding high-flying “emission layer” somewhere in stratosphere.”

    – At the frequencies in the teeth? That would seem to require an explanation of why the satellite detector is missing it. The fact that it is eventually ‘checking out’ at different wavelengths because it was denied exit at its original frequency would seem at first blush to validate my point.

    “Third, the “radiant energy”, even if 90% of it is really “trapped in the atmosphere”, does not have any profound effect on climate, contrary to the populist BS from UCAR.EDU (or whatever .edu): the energy content of atmosphere is miserable as compared to heat content of oceans and soils.”

    – Hardly relevant; that doesn’t prevent such an effect.

    “If anything gets “trapped” somewhere, it would almost immediately (in a matter of hours) be redistributed and stirred by atmospheric updrafts, and the excess would radiate out from the TOA.”

    – Meanwhile, raising the thermal equilibrium due to the delay involved.

    “The atmosphere is not any “accumulator” ot “trap” of heat, it is a heat conductor (a poor one) between the source (Earth surface) and sink (radiating TOA.”

    – If it were not a temporary trap, the planet would be covered in ice.

    “What happens in between is a mess called “weather”, but it is this mess that determines the “heat resistance” of atmosphere, and therefore the final magnitude of GH effect. Unfortunately, this important “mess” is exactly where we are largely helpless in modeling, but lead AGW climatologists failed to recognize, comprehend, and acknowledge this.”

    – Lead climatologists routinely recognize, comprehend, and acknowledge this, the text is easy to find in their work, and that’s why the models are improving. Argument-wise, this would seem to be Appeal from Ignorance..? At any rate, no one has shown sufficient problems with the models to invalidate all of them, and current heating is close to some of the scenarios presented.

    “Also, please note that the phrase from ucar.edu, “about 89.7% of the outgoing infrared radiation is affected by the greenhouse effect”, is a complete nonsense as well. The 89.7% on the outgoing radiation is not affected by greenhouse effect at all.”

    – Not sure why I would ever believe this, as it certainly has the percentage that gets out by the time it does so. The location of the teeth at 4.3 and 15um in the outgoing Earth emission spectrum

    http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/sounder_tutorial/gif/SPECTRA.GIF

    correspond nicely to the absorption modes of the gas itself, which are enumerated all over the web. One such page (note figure 6):

    http://www.wag.caltech.edu/home/jang/genchem/infrared.htm

    “The outgoing radiation faces the back radiation from atmosphere, which would occur regardless of GHE.”

    – At exactly the same magnitude? Need a cite for that one, I think.

    One additional question – why does facing the back radiation mean anything here? The back radiation will just be emitted again.


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    GaryL

    Here’s what appears to be a fairly well thought out discussion of atmospheric spectroscopy and the saturation vs non saturation argument regarding CO2 concentrations:

    http://www.ruralsoft.com.au/ClimateChange.doc

    A significantly more wordy and complex discussion is presented here:

    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0707/0707.1161v3.pdf

    These seem to involve less hand-waving than the RealClimate discussion and certainly less condescension. Both of these discussions arrive at the conclusion consistent with Joanne’s Handbook which states continued increases in CO2 being observed yield little additional heating based on opacity, saturation and energy transfer/re-radiation. It would not surprise me a bit to learn these articles have been thoroughly ‘debunked’ or otherwise ‘discredited’ by the RealClimate team. I am curious,, however, as to Alexi’s thoughts on them (inasmuch as Alexi appears to have some expertise in the area) or anyone else who would care to comment.


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    Alexi Tekhasski

    Gary (#88), both papers are correct in the sense of analysis of interaction of radiation with gaseous matter. The articles concentrate on details of absorption/re-emission etc, and essentially argue that the absorption is high. Yes, it is high. The Gerlich and Tscheuschner (G&T) paper also has several interesting examples of how the basic explanation of GHE using a “bulk”, E=sigma*T^4 , could be very different when using different assumptions about horizontal heat distribution along the planet. They also have a pretty good explanation of why the climate problem cannot be directly solved in a closed form.

    However, both papers are completely wrong with regard to greenhouse effect, and therefore wrong about its sensitivity to CO2. Both papers got the mechanics of GHE wrong. They mention only ancient, historically irrelevant explanations, but never the modern mainstream mechanism. The G&T paper never mentions atmospheric “lapse rate”, and the John Nicol’s paper mentions it only twice, both times just as a reference to decreasing atmospheric density. I am still wondering why the articles did not try to address the GH mechanism described in Hansen (Science 1981) paper [1], and re-iterated in several other papers, (Held and Soden [2] Figure 1), or R.Pierrehumbert online textbook [3] (fig.3.6). As I gathered, this mechanism was known since mid-1960’s.

    As I tried to explain, the GHE effect is inseparable from the gravitationally-induced mechanism of “lapse rate”. The GHE does not exist without a certain “lapse rate”, when the average temperature of air MONOTONICALLY DECREASES with height. It turn, the “lapse rate” is a result of vertical mixing in atmosphere, and is determined by hydrodynamics of air motion in presence of condensing-evaporating substance – water. The condensed water, in turn, acts as an additional non-evenly distributed absorber/reflector of solar radiation, and thus forms non-uniform spatial heat sinks and sources, making the whole hydrodynamic model of the atmosphere highly complicated and intractable.

    As it has been mentioned elsewhere, the GHE mechanics does not critically depend on details of absorption.

    References:
    [1] http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/1981/1981_Hansen_etal.pdf
    [2] http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/reference/bibliography/2000/annrev00.pdf
    [3] http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/ClimateBook/ClimateVol1.pdf


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    Joe Bloggs

    This is just a general comment. Outside the United States, the particular English word is spelled “sceptic” and not “skeptic”. I was just curious why Australians are increasingly adopting American spellings and pronunciations. Sure, America is much admired for being a global superpower among other things, but it doesn’t mean that Aussies have to shun their own heritage and ape the Yanks in every way. This post is not meant to be nationalistic in any way. It’s just that one is reminded of a phenomenon in Australia today. So many people (especially those of the younger generation) try their best to mimic Yankee mannerisms but fail miserably in their efforts. Frankly, it’s a rather sorry sight. One wonders how this reflects on the national psyche.


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    Jim Herman

    You’re making a difference. The AGW folks are coming unglued and are posting attacks on The Sceptics Handbook like there is no tomorrow. I have just taken a look at some of them, like at realclimate, and all they can do is “he says, she says, therefore Nova is wrong.” No emperical evidence at all.

    Keep it up.


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    Dear Joe,
    I started with ‘sceptic’, not ‘skeptic’ (as you can see from the url). But I got a fair bit of friendly feedback from the US, eg. “sceptic reads like septic”… etc, so I chose to switch. About half of all the hits to the site come from the US too, as it happens. Like you, I prefer ‘sceptic’ but demographics wins. And curiously, if you look back 200 years, apparently in many cases the USA preserved the old english accent and spelling better than England did. It may be that skeptic IS the original english way of things…I don’t know. (I have no idea if that applies to the word in question.)


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    Mike Davis

    JoNova:
    I just found this site related to the “TEAM’S” south pole fiasco currently beeing trashed.
    I do not know if you have seen it. I plan to direct my buddy cmb there.http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=fc7db6ad-802a-23ad-43d1-2651eb2297d6


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    Cedric

    I do not have any degree in science, however as this book claim itself has the reference when we talk about climate change, I find a bit biased that there is no arguments for the other hand. For me this book is like Al Gore movie. Witch one is true, I don’t know, but that is what lobbyist are good at. Confuse people until they do not care anymore..

    I think we can agree that being less dependent of foreign oil is a good thing..


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    Thanks Cedric, Good point. I’d like to hear from more fence sitters about what you would find useful and why you are suspicious of the sceptical arguments. (I can hardly give you a hard time for being skeptical of skeptics eh?)

    I didn’t cover the pro-AGW case (except briefly in each “AGW replies” comment) because:
    1/ Every PR department of Al Gore, the IPCC all national and many state environment departments have budgets of millions and they are already doing it.
    (Look closely, with all that money in play, can you see any evidence that isn’t flawed… ie uses the words consensus, mainstream, IPCC, reviewed by many… blah blah, computer model, climate model, or economic model – none of which count).

    I agree about foreign oil too. Why send more money to countries that sponsor terrorists? But we should tackle oil dependence directly, not through a trading scheme that depends on the theoretical reduction of a harmless gas. Who needs to send bigger profits to the bigger bankers?

    Does it help to read AGW defenders like Tim Lambert and my reply?


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    MattB

    Actually – even if CO2 were a harmless gas – an ETS would still be just about the best economic tool you could find to encourage us to use less oil on a least-cost basis to the economy…

    I sometimes wonder if AGW is a political construction simply used because “reduce emissions to save the planet” is easier to sell than “reduce consumption as we have none left and no technology to replace it.”

    as for “Why send more money to countries that sponsor terrorists?”… Hmmm.

    [The best econonic tool? Ha? Best for employing accountants, bureaucrats and lawyers. Best for filling banker-parachutes. There's a really simple alternative: The free market. How, as oil runs out, will it not become more expensive, and how will that not be equally as good an incentive to look for better alternatives? And all those smart maths brains who went into carbon-trading-hedge-funds, could be working on solar cells instead. How does it help to suck that talent out of productive work into paper shuffling?-JN]


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    Jeff

    Hi Joanne,
    Reading through some obscure texts on “Greenhouse Effect”, I have found references to the physicist R.W. Wood who did experiments on actual models of a greenhouse, circa 1909. Black body radiation, glass and rock salt windows, infrared measurements.
    http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/wood_rw.1909.html

    Connolley has knocked the concept of Wood’s experiments, but appear to have not changed the context of Wood’s document.
    The boys at Reel Clymate have also had a go at discrediting R.W.Wood’s work.(can’t find the link)

    Also further work on greenhouse effect by Fleagle and Businger following along the work by R.W.Wood.
    Site for a document on the latter
    http://tinyurl.com/bkqz54

    I was wondering if you have come across these scientist’s work, as it appears to put another nail in the coffin of greenhouse effect/global warming phenomena.


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    bill-tb

    New visitor, great work in the guide. I printed it out for distribution locally to a few.


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    John Marshall

    Well written handbook and one to follow. A couple of points to add to th esceptic argument.
    If the paleoclimate graph of temperature change against CO2 change is correct, as I think it is, then the current rise in atmospheric CO2 levels is due to the Medieval Warm Period not the small total we inject into the atmosphere due to burning fossil fuels. My thinking on the Greenhouse Effect is that it is wrong because for it to work the basic law of thermodynamics, (what I call Law Zero,) that heat can only be radiated from warm to cool never the reverse, has to be broken. How can a cool atmosphere, that cools with height, re-radiate heat to a warmer surface?


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    Noel Loveys

    The first thing i saw was global warming was not man made… In that I agree
    The rest of the four pionts I do have some contention with but will restrict this comment to sattelite readings. The problem with sattelite readings is they cannot tell at what altitude the temperatires are being read. As most og the weather we experience is in the last 10000 ft of many miles of atmosphere It is at best a poor guide. What is needed is many many ground level temperature measurements to be made.

    Any one who contends that Ice fields are not recessing is hiding hi head in the sand. anyone who missed the last Elninios has hi head in the sand…

    Thge globe is warming and no doubt will cool again. that is not to say CO or CO2 has a lot to do with it. Water vapour could have a lot more.

    Noel


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    Mike

    I enjoyed reading the handbook but I think a clearer explanation of the mechanics of CO2 and warming is in order. The warming takes place after the photons (shortwave radiation) have hit the Earth and warmed it. That is emitted as infrared (longwave radiation) which can then interact with CO2 molecules. I realize this is written for laymen but since warmers seize on any inconsistency I’ve found it’s best to be very clear when arguing with them.

    They are even immune to your points about CO2 of 4,000 ppm during an ice age so I expect it will take an advancing glacier in their front yard to convince the die-hards. Any fine points are redundant since it’s impossible to explain away the planet cooling after CO2 levels were 20 times higher than today.


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    Dr. Gerhard Loebert

    Climate Change Cycles, Galactic Vacuum Density Waves, and the Orbital Periods of the Planets

    Dr. Gerhard Löbert, Otterweg 48, 85598 Baldham, Germany. April 4, 2008.
    Physicist. Recipient of The Needle of Honor of German Aeronautics.
    Conveyor of a super-Einsteinian theory of gravitation that not only covers the well-known Einstein effects but also explains, among many other post-Einstein-effects, the Sun-Earth-Connection and the true cause of the global climate changes.

    Abstract: In a previous Note (see Ref.) it was shown that climate change is driven by solar activity which in turn is caused by the action of galactic vacuum density waves on the core of the Sun. Irrefutable proof of the existence of these super-Einsteinian waves is given by the extremely close correlation between the changes in the mean global surface temperature and the small changes in the rotational velocity of the Earth – two physically unrelated geophysical quantities – in the past 150 years (see Fig. 2.2 of http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/005/Y2787E/y2787e03.htm or Ref.). In the present Note it is shown that the orbital periods of the planets provide further evidence.

    In an excellent paper by the late Dr. Theodor Landscheidt (see http://www.schulphysik.de/klima/landscheidt/iceage.htm) it was shown that the Sun’s Gleissberg activity cycles are closely correlated with the oscillations of the Sun around the center of mass of the solar system. The first and second space derivatives of the gravitational potential of the planets in the vicinity of the Sun are, however, so minute that it cannot be envisaged how the extremely slow motion of the Sun about the center of mass of the solar system could physically influence the processes within the Sun. It is much more likely that a common external agent is driving both the Gleissberg cycle and the related oscillatory barycentric motion of the Sun.

    The small motion of the Sun is, of course, determined, almost entirely, by the motion of the large planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune that revolve around the Sun with periods of 11.87, 29.63, 84.67, and 165.49 years respectively. Note that the sunspot cycle has a mean period of 11.07 years (see T. Niroma in http://www.personal.inet.fi/tiede/tilmari/sunspot4.html) and in my previous Note “A Compilation of the Arguments that Irrefutably Prove that Climate Change is driven by Solar Activity and not by CO2 Emission” of March 6, 2008 (see Ref.), I pointed out that the mean surface temperature of the Earth is changing in a quasi-periodic manner with a mean period of 70 years, approximately. If we stipulate for the moment that there exists – in addition to the 70-years wave – a galactic vacuum density wave of 11.07 years period that is driving the sunspot cycle, then the addition of both waves leads to a periodic amplitude modulation with a period of 2/(1/11.07 – 1/70) = 26.3 years.

    If two galactic gravitational wave trains of 11.07 and 70 years period were to pass through the solar system, the gravitational action of these waves on the revolving planets would slowly relocate these celestial bodies until the orbital periods were close to 11.07, 26.3, and 70 years, the periods given by the combined wave train. The orbital periods of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus are 7%, 13%, and 20% higher than these values. A cose lock-in cannot be expected because of the gravitational actions of the neighboring planets and because of the large variability of the periods of the vacuum density wave trains (see the large variability of the sunspot and surface temperature cycles).

    If one considers all of the documented sunspot cycles, the mean Gleissberg cycle length increases to 78.5 years (see T. Niroma) which is 7% smaller than the orbital period of Uranus. Note also that the orbital period of Neptune is 5% larger than 2 times the mean Gleissberg period and that of Pluto is 7% larger than 3 times Gleissberg.

    Now to the remaining planets. The following table shows the ratio of the mean sunspot cycle period of 11.07 years to the planet orbital period.

    Mars = 6 – 0.11 Earth = 11 + 0.07
    Venus = 18 – 0.01 Mercury = 46 – 0.04

    With an average error of 6% of an orbital period, the orbital periods are whole-number fractions of the mean sunspot cycle period.

    As can be seen, the 11.07 years and 78.5 years galactic wave trains have brought good order into the Solar System. The degree of order increases with the number of orbital revolutions per million years.

    In my opinion, the orbital periods of the planets provide — in addition to the extremely close temperature-rotation-correlation — further evidence for the existence of galactic vacuum density waves with mean long-term periods of 11.07 and 78.5 years.

    Ref.: http://www.icecap.us/images/uploads/Lobert_on_CO2.pdf


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    John K

    Hi,

    I really liked your handbook. One of the key arguements you used was that it hasn’t warmed for the last 8 or 9 years according to the satellite record. Well you can add to that the fact that it did not warm between 1979 and 1997 either. A gentleman called Mr Arak spotted this and produced a lovely graph illustrating this on a paper that is buried on (www).icecap.us. I would have pasted it in if I had been able. (I am amazed that no one else in the debate seems to have noticed this.)

    Essentially the record shows flat for 18 years a jump for the Super El Nino of 1998 and flat again. The upper troposphere shows gentle decline, jump and gentle decline again.

    Or to put it another way, the argument that the models have been wrong applies to 28 out of the 30 year period of satellite measurements, not just eight.

    A great way to use this in a debate is to print the satellite record on a sheet of paper with the CO2 added. Then fold the paper to show only 1979 to 1997. Ask your counterpart to show you the warming. Then fold it to show only 1999 to 2009 and repeat. Observe bemusement on face. Then show the whole record and watch relief flood in. Then say, I thought CO2 caused global warming?

    J


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    Barney

    “This would be evidence that carbon is a major cause of global warming: If temperatures followed CO2 levels in the past”. No. That would be correlation, not causation. The trees move when it is windy, but that doesn’t mean that trees moving generate the wind.

    Oddly, that’s what I keep saying -’correlation is not causation’. Then, below, you say that getting absolute proof is not possible. Well I’m not asking for proof, just some evidence. Any evidence. So you’ve got it wrong both ways. Above, you’re writing off the suggestive evidence I asked for as being not good enough, and below, you’re writing off the ‘proof’ that I never asked for, as being too hard to get. What evidence would qualify as worthy for you? A backwards correlation when temperatures rise hundreds of years before CO2? – JN]

    “There is only one question that matters: ‘will adding more CO2 to the atmosphere make the world much warmer now?`”. It appears that what you are actually asking for here is proof of the greenhouse effect. It seems to me that there will only ever be somewhat indirect evidence – there is no spare copy of the earth to experiment on. Its a bit similar to asking for proof that the sun will rise tomorrow – there is no one piece of evidence, but there are centuries of investigation regarding gravitation, planetary motion, astrophysics and nuclear physics which are all relevant.

    Finally, the cartoon with scientists voting for cuts in funding is disingenuous at best, a similar argument could be made that attempting to debunk science in order to be deliberately “controversial” will undoubtedly help raise ones profile and result in higher appearance fees for public speaking etc…

    [ Just because there is some truth the other way, doesn't make the cartoon illogical, or the point 'disingenuous'. Count the dollars on both sides. Count the people. Add up the influence. The more you bring light on this topic, the more you help the sceptics- JN].


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    Mike G

    Barney, the answer is no. I thought the cartoon was funny.


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    Steve T

    Why do I have the horrible feeling that the faltering profits of stock market trading will be willingly replaced by trading on the crazy “carbon trading scheme”?

    Money driven government policy…short term gain – long term pain.

    [Because sub-prime carbon is coming: see here.-JN]


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    Josh

    Hi there,

    I read the pamphlet and I’m interested in getting more information on point #4. I tried to track down “Archibald 2006″ but all I found was David Archibald’s 2006 paper on Solar 24 and 25, which didn’t have any graphs on carbon dioxide’s warming effect as a function of concentration. Can anyone point me to the right place? Please email me at jwt.commercial@gmail.com.

    Thanks,
    Josh


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    Ted Pulfer

    Hi Jo, great work! However, whilst all the arguments both scientific and otherwise are raging one thing needs to be kept in mind. The countries most effected by the carbon tax etc. are the western industrialized countries and the impossition of the ‘curbs’ on industry will surely bring these countries to their knees. This plays right into the hands of the global gov’t masters. In order to create a ‘level playing field’ you must first seriously damage the economies of the west whilst raising the economies of the ‘third world’ so that when the collapse happens,(note:sub-prime loans and the resultant global financial mess, instigated by the masters)every country is more or less even. Do you see China or India being badgered by this nonsense? This,dare I say it, conspiracy, has been creeping along for generations and is called ‘conquer by stealth’ or ‘Fabianism’ or ‘gradualism’ Welcome to the ‘New world Order’


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    Queen Beene

    A friend recently asked, “Well, cap & trade won’t affect me much will it?” I told him about $3000 to $4000 (US dollars) annually in fuel and energy bills plus increases for everything with higher costs of energy production. The poor in the USA are supposed to get a check from the government to off set cap & trade expense. Somebody has to pay for this too.

    This is a scam. I hope all the people wake up and say “NO”.


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    Magnus Andersson

    Where is The Skeptic Handbook in an html-file??? I thought you have one but I can’t find it although I’ve searched for minutes now. Please!!!

    Please, put it e.g. handy near the upper left or right corner, or well focused on the global warming page.

    Best Regard, Magnus A


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    Magnus Andersson

    Btw, I was asking because I think I’ve seen (at least) a part of your great document on a web page and wanted to refer to it for Swedish 2nd grade and high school pupils.


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    Randy Golding

    Joanne,
    I have not read all the posts, but I did read “The Skeptic’s Handbook…” I found it to be worth the read. I am wondering why the likely “cause” of global warming, the output of the sun, was not addressed. I know that the position of a skeptic is to question, but skeptics do not make things happen, they keep them from happening. People rarely win defensive wars. I have not kept up on every turn in the current debate, but I remember an article from the early 1990s, I think S Balliunas was one of the authors, that included a graph of the inverse of the solar cycle of sunspots and temperature measurements from several sites that included data for the last 450 years plotted on the same time plot. This graph also appeared in a Wall Street Journal article in the early 1990s. There was an impressive correlation. As an easy to read graph that needs no statistical measure to demonstrate a correlated connection, it seems an obvious addition to a primer for a skeptic. Has this been debunked or effectively discredited? If it remains supportable, I recommend it to you.


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  • #

    An excellent publication. I would like to have a dozen because once a month I have a table at the Farmers Market in Danville and hand out information on the “climate change” issue debunking the alarmist claims.

    Vladislav Bevc
    Synergy Institute
    P.O.Box 561
    San Ramon, CA 94583


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    Jack Pratt

    Joanne,Your Handbook is very good.

    CLIMATE CHANGE IS FACT. THE LEAST CAUSE OF THE CHANGE IS CO2.

    More than 30,000 engineers and scientists agree that more carbon dioxide would be ok. CO2 is beneficial and essential for us to exist. It is not pollution.
    Al Gore and all others are wrong in claiming that carbon dioxide is the cause of long-term warming of our annual climate change cycle. Carbon Dioxide is a trace gas. It is far less than 0.05 % of our atmosphere. Warming by CO2 is insignificant compared to the Sun’s distance change and sunspot activity that changes from year to year. The fact is that Earth¹s NH winter season occurs now when we are closest to the Sun because of our elliptical orbit. Also sun spot activity goes from zero to peak over a 25 to 30 year cycle. The more spots the warmer the Sun and when there are no spots the cooler the Sun. Another climate change factor is excessive water vapor held in our atmosphere by smoke. A static charge is put on water vapor by smoke. The static charge on water vapor prevents water vapor fusion that is required for rain.
    The coldest point of the last ice age cycle was about 20,000 years ago. Then the Earth was 94 million miles from the Sun during NH winter and was 91 million miles during the NH summer. We then had 94 days of winter and 88 days of summer with 91.5 days each for spring and fall. The sun is now closest at 91.4 million miles on January 3rd and farthest away at 94.5 million miles on July 4th. We now have only about 88 days of winter and 94 days of summer. This is the main cause of global warming.
    Another major factor in our warming is that the sea level is now about 400 feet above the level of 20,000 years ago. The Pacific Ocean then did not flow into the Arctic Ocean or vice versa. About 8,000 years ago the level had increased 300 feet and the Arctic and Pacific Oceans started to mix through the Bering Strait. About 5,000 years ago the level got near to where it is today. The Pacific Ocean now flows into the Arctic Ocean. The mixing has continued at its current rate for the past 5,000 years and has warmed the Arctic Ocean and cooled the Bering Sea and the Pacific all the way to Antarctica. The cooling of the Pacific has inhibited the growth of coral especially on the Australia coral reef and they are wondering why.
    Antarctica is now closest to the Sun on January 3rd during the middle of the summer there. This hotter summer sun, not carbon dioxide, has made ice fall off Antarctica. This ice, along with the Arctic water flowing south under the Pacific that surfaces there, has made the water around Antarctica get colder each year. This has reduced the snowfall in Antarctica and caused drought in much of Australia.
    A dike across the Bering Strait would help warm the Pacific, freeze the Arctic Ocean, add to the glaciers at both poles, cool the North Atlantic and even allow control of the weather. The dike would be easy and inexpensive to build. The Bering Strait is only 53 miles wide and 100 feet deep. The tide is only about 2 feet. It would be a ‘Great Wall to China’ and could also provide a railway and highway link between Asia and America.
    Atmospheric gases, primarily Nitrogen (78.08 %), Oxygen (20.94 %), and Argon (0.93 %) total 99.95 % and trace gases Carbon Dioxide, Helium, Hydrogen, Methane, Xenon etc. make up only 0.05% of our atmosphere. Smoke and water vapor, not gases, add about 4 % to our atmosphere. Since 1850, more water vapor has been kept in our atmosphere by smoke from wars, burning of agriculture waste, cars and trucks.


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    Dale Creasey

    Dear Joanne:

    I was sent a copy of your “The Skeptics Handbook” from Heartland Insitute. It is about the best I have seen. I have always been a skeptic/sceptic for if one is at all famliar with past/ancient earth history, one csan see that csrbon was here when the oils were made in the earth, and when the coal was made that is in the earth, and we can see evidence of global heat and cooling when man was so insignificant that he barely survived.

    I did not need any current evidence to make me skeptic/sceptic.

    The reason I wrote to you is that on page 8 of your book, right hand column, 3rd line from the bottom of the first paragraph, the word “cure” occurs which should be “sure”?

    There are several people I would like to present this booklet. What makes a bulk order, and should I request them from Heartland or from you?

    May God Find Favor In What You Do Today

    Dale Creasey uSofA ps I have peripheral neuropathy causing multiple typing errors hope I corrected them all


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    Joseph Cascarelli

    Al Gore’s Fantasy
    By Joe Cascarelli, Westcliffe CO

    Now that Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth has been officially embraced by Hollywood and the Nobel Prize committee, the debate on “global warming” is finally over. The only question that still remains unanswered for me is, “How did such a large portion of the American public become so gullible?” One of my theories is that Americans have become intellectually lazy. Another theory is that schools may not be spending enough time on the sciences. A passing grade in high school physics should be enough background knowledge for any thinking person to shoot dozens of holes in former VP Gore’s fantasies as presented in his “documentary.”

    I wonder how Mr. Gore would explain this data. Colorado’s record high temperature was 118 F, set on July 11, 1888. Yes, that’s 1888 not 1988. I wonder how the New York Times missed that opportunity to predict the melting of polar ice caps. Maybe they planned to write that story, but the famous blizzard of ’88 earlier that year was a bigger crisis particularly in New York City where several hundred New Yorkers froze to death. Nearly three decades later on June 27, 1915, Alaska set its current record high at 100 F, recorded at the US Weather Service’s station at Fort Yukon.

    Now, the summer of 1936 was one for the record books. The states of Maryland (109 F), Indiana (116 F), Kansas (121 F), Louisiana (114 F), Minnesota (114 F), Nebraska (118 F), New Jersey (110 F), North Dakota (121 F), Pennsylvania (111 F), South Dakota (120 F), West Virginia (112 F) and Wisconsin (114 F) all set record high temperatures in July/August that year. It is funny how Al missed 1936 in his film. How could a divinity school drop-out, non-practicing lawyer and life long politician miss this opportunity to show that man caused “global warming” started decades ago? He is no doubt an expert in the field of climatology. Does anyone in America know what his academic and experiential credentials are? Maybe 1936 is a bad year to use to make a point because in February of that year the Dakotas, North and South, also set their current state record lows of minus 60 F and minus 58 F respectively.

    Here is why I don’t believe Al. If a self-proclaimed climate expert doesn’t have a theory about the Medieval Warm Epoch (400 years of record high temperatures in the northern hemisphere, 900-1300 AD) or if they don’t know that water vapor is earth’s most abundant green house gas or if they can’t explain sun spots, I have no faith in their ability to predict the climate 100 years from now. Weather and over time the climate just doesn’t seem to want to cooperate with Al Gore and his unquestioning followers. Unpredictable climate will be around for another 2 or 3 billion years. Fortunately for humanity, Al and his fantasies will not.

    I can only hope that the portion of the American public that fails to question the arguments for “man caused global warming” before economy destroying public policy decisions are made will wake up and pay attention. This will require some reading, analysis and critical thinking. They must get a grasp on reality.


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    Queen Beene

    Hollywood & the MSM keep repeating the crisis news. Sheeple don’t read, they listen to sound bites. BAA BAA Then they vote for “change” from a liar that lies to everyone all the time.


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    Brad Homewood

    Consistent with the approach other sceptics take Jo Nova has invoked logic and reason to make her point, logic and reason tell us if we have a serious heart problem we go and see a Cardiologist, if we have a serious legal problem we go and see a lawyer, and if we have a serious mechanical problem we go and see a Mechanic.
    Sticking with logic and reason then, if we have issues with our climate, atmosphere, and weather, it follows that we go to the relevant scientific fields – Climatology, Meteorology, and Atmospheric science, among these relevant scientific fields we can safely say that 90% of the scientific community, believes that human activity is significantly contributing to the warming of the planet.
    My question to you Jo, is if you turned up to the airport with a flight booked to London for you, your family and friends, then discovered a debate on the tarmac between ten aeroplane mechanics, nine of them said that if you got on the plane you wouldn’t make it alive, and one disagreed, would you board the plane ?


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    Hi Brad, “argument from authority” is definitely the way to go if you don’t understand science. It’s a good shortcut. But even a non-scientist with any nous could ask the tenth mechanic for more info… And if he sounded sane, smart and none of the other nine had a good answer explaining why he was wrong, I probably wouldn’t want to get on that plane.

    You call it ‘logic and reason’ to invoke authority, but Aristotle, Galileo, Archimedes, they knew better.

    The Climate cares not what the IPCC writes. Nobel prizes don’t change the weather. It IS or it ISN’T. That’s why scientists talk about the evidence and think for themselves. Religious believers follow their leaders.


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    Ruth Steyn

    Congratulations on this concise, imaginative, effective booklet. I stumbled on it last week via the Heartland Institute web site and have begun alerting others to it. As a long-time AGW skeptic, I was familiar with most of the material, but your explanation about the absorption saturation of CO2 in the atmosphere was either something I had overlooked or didn’t fully appreciate. That natural phenomenon alone seems to me to totally undermine the notion that reducing CO2 emissions will have any significant impact of global temperature.


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    Don Lively

    Wish you’d get in touch with several US “notables” to correct their insights/beliefs. Specifically, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News Channel and Newt Gingrich. thanks for a superb set of enlightening comments re the truths and untruths of CO2 and climate change.

    Don Lively
    Lafayette, CA USA


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    Lew Bretz

    The Handbook is a GREAT idea. I’d anticipate that academics and teachers who are impressed with it may get the department photocopier busy with printing copies to circulate. For those of us with NO such access, but who’d be willing to buy properly printed copies, can Joanne or any of her science pals help? Please point me in the right direction if anyone is helping you in this regard. I wouldn’t be surprised if the folks at Climate Sceptic News would do so if needed, and if asked. Finally, apologies if another posting mentioned this or it’s been otherwise handled. I’m on short time and couldn’t read all the comments or other pages on the site.


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    PICarl

    I emailed Dr Jones, an AGW believer, about global warming and he sent back a graph from the University of Colorado showing that sea levels are still rising. I’ve seen their graphs before showing that sea levels have been falling since 2006. I did a bit of investigation and found that the warmists are using a graph that has an adjustment for “inverse barometer”, which is incorrect. I’m including a copy of an email that I sent to the professors who are listed on the University of Colorado’s website.

    Would you investigate it please. I think this is a major issue. The alarmists are saying sea levels are rising, based on a mistaken adjustment. The amazing thing is that to get to the erroneous graph, you need to go to past the correct graph and click on several other links. As Simon and Garfuncle said “we see what we want to see, and disregard the rest”.

    The University of Colorado’s mistake is ridiculous. The information on their site clearly says the correct thing, but the formula they quote completely contradicts their own explanation. My guess is that a professor did the analysis, and then handed the implementation over to a student.

    This is the email that I sent to the University of Colorado (the graphs aren’t shown in this text only post, but are at the University of Colorado’s site):

    Dr Choe pointed out that the email I sent compared one graph without adjustments and one with both seasonal and barometer adjustments. I’ve included graphs this time that have only the adjustment for inverse barometer. Also, I’ve added more detail to make my point clearer.

    This is the first page on your sea level site, without adjustments.

    I clicked on mean sea level time series and went to a page with various options.
    This time I chose “Inverted barometer applied” and “Seasonal signal included” then clicked on the jpeg option.

    The first graph shows a decreasing trend since 2006. The second shows an increasing trend. The whole of the second graph has been moved up about 10mm of sea level.

    From the first of your webpages, I clicked on documentation and went to a page that includes:
    Inverted Barometer = -9.948*(1013.3 – global_average_pressure)

    The global_average_pressure is interpolated from values determined at 6 hour intervals from CNES. The file containing the average values is obtained from CNES/CLS. The inverted barometer does not have much apparent effect on the global mean sea level because the ocean as a whole is not compressible.

    I agree with your statement The inverted barometer does not have much apparent effect on the global mean sea level because the ocean as a whole is not compressible.
    However, moving the whole graph up by nearly 20%, and changing the slope of the most recent period is a very apparent effect.

    The problem lies in the coefficient in the formula: -9.948 mm/millibar

    If the air pressure at one place over the ocean decreases by 1 millibar, the sea level will rise by about 9mm. But, the water has to come from somewhere that has a higher air pressure, and the sea level at that place must fall. When you take the global average, they cancel out because moving water from one place to another can’t affect the average. There’s still the same amount of water. I can see where the 9.948 came from. One atmosphere of pressure holds up a column of water about 9 metres high, so 1 millibar equates to about 9 mm. That’s correct for local effects such as storm surges, but someone mistakenly used it for a global average.

    This is the correct calculation, in accordance with your statement that “The inverted barometer does not have much apparent effect on the global mean sea level because the ocean as a whole is not compressible.”:
    The compressibility of water is 5.1×10-5 bar-1. The average depth of the ocean is 3790 metres. Both those figures are from Wikipedia but they seem about right. One bar would compress water by a factor of 5.1×10-5 so a millibar would give about 5.1×10-8. Multiplying by 3970 metres gives 0.000202 metres per millibar, which is 0.202 mm per millibar. Your formula has 9.948, which is out by a factor of nearly 50.

    The formula should be
    Inverted Barometer = -0.202 *(1013.3 – global_average_pressure)
    I suspect that the adjustment for inverse barometer, when using the correct formula, would be truly insignificant.

    Would you correct the formula on your website please.

    Thanks,
    Carl Chapman


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    gazelle

    To the author, Joanne Nova:
    Thanks for the obvious effort in compiling the “Skeptics Handbook”.
    I have a few comments that you might want to address in future versions.

    My first reaction was that the book is not so much a sceptic’s handbook as a trojan horse for pushing your own opinions. The handbook could be written without debatable assertions such as “the missing hotspot means CO2 is not causing warming”, and “temperatures are not rising”. For each of these arguments there are dozens of counter-arguments. Upon reading both sides of the debate, and with the overwhelming complexity and uncertainty, I believe that a true sceptic cannot know for sure which is more correct.

    Once I claw past all the name-calling (on both sides!), the debate usually boils down to one set of “expert evidence” versus another. The assessment of which is more credible is a subjective thing. The activists will favour pro-warming evidence. The inactivists will favour anti-warming evidence. And the sceptics will favour the most-recent papers published in the top science journals (e.g. Science, Nature).

    On the positive side, once I got past the controversial assertions, the handbook gave some sound advice in approaching any debate, regardless of which side I support. I particularly liked the inclusion of what would be needed in order to change your opinion: “What would be evidence that carbon is the major cause of global warming”.

    The list of common argument errors is great, however the handbook itself fails some of these tests. For example, the Ad Hominem attack suggesting that because someone is a “failed theologian” that their opinion can be dismissed. There are many more examples that become apparent when reading the handbook with a sceptical eye.

    I’m also interested to see the evidence supporting the assertion that taking action will be more costly than “masterful inaction”. Note that the proposed carbon pricing also works toward reducing our dependency on oil, and potentially has many other spinoff benefits. Who knows? If there is no evidence, maybe such assertions should be dropped.

    In a nutshell, what I would like to see in a “Sceptics Handbook” are some simple tools to help me assess the arguments with a critical eye, and form my own opinion. Seeing the author’s opinions hidden in there is a real turn-off, and opens itself up to criticism.

    For an example of a handbook for the layman, providing people with simple tools to help assess things for themselves (without pushing an opinion), have a look at Greg Craven’s “What’s the Worst That Can Happen” (http://www.gregcraven.org). I really like his “decision grid” and “credibility spectrum”. Perhaps some of the ideas from this book can be incorporated into future versions of the handbook?


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    G.S. Williams

    Hi,

    Well done on your “Skeptics’ Handbook”. I wish that I could afford to buy a lot to pass around my friends, acquaintances and others.

    Again, well done.

    Best regards.

    G.S. Williams


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    Random guy

    awsome pamphlet.

    a comment: it mentions nothing of the link between solar activity and climat changes, like in the popular film the global warming swindle. Is this by choice or by accident?


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    Hi Random,

    The Handbook was written to be very short and as unassailable as possible. So I decided not to stray into areas where I was promoting any theory.

    But yes, the cosmic ray theory by Svensmark is very appealling, and when I have time I will write about it soon…

    Some people do need to have another idea to replace the old one with, so I do need to cover the other alternatives.

    Jo


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    public record warrants…

    This post enabled me to come out which fresh content on public record warrants. Any similar posts like this?…


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    Paul Kenyon

    Hi Jo,
    I have been reading and enjoying your handbook, the skeptics handbook. I have been hearing and even deriving this data for myself (using the Lambert-Beer equation to study the absorption of specific wavelengths of energy (heat) by CO2 for a while. Howard C. Hayden (The Solar Fraud and A Primer on CO2 and Climate) has helped me as has T. J. Nelson and his paper, Cold Facts on Global Warming (first published in 2002.) I spotted the fact that CO2 concentration lags temperature while watching Gore’s movie. It’s easy to spot if you’re a skeptic yet it must be said that it is not easy being a skeptic in this context. I applaud those who can think on this issue clearly amid the popular din and roar. I am especially enjoying that you publish your references and answer “AGW’s” come-backs. That rigorous form inspires confidence in your arguments.
    I’ve got a question about the CO2 absorption physics. If you look at the (HITRAN, for example) CO2 absorption spectra, you see that what we’re seeing now and up until now is absorption primarily in the narrow 15 micron range. (Note: other peaks exist (4 others) which are not as prominent because these are not as prominently emitted by Earth as a black body radiator.) However, if you look at the bottom of the charted spike at 15 microns, you see broad “satellite” bands (apparently from other excitation modes of the CO2 molecule) either side of that wavelength. (I don’t know about the few other pertinent absorption bands for CO2 coinciding with Earth radiation spectra.) This offers far more energy to be absorbed at some increase in CO2. That’s to say, it seems from the spectrum, it appears that at some point there could be enough CO2 in the atmosphere that absorption can reach this sudden increase in energy absorption. Am I reading and interpreting this correctly? It seems to say that for now, CO2 has already absorbed very nearly all the energy it can…but at some point, there will be a marked change in the absorption spectrum and far more energy can be absorbed.
    This also points out that one should be warned against all assumption and bland extrapolation of properties and effects…that at any point that any aspect of the physics can be assumed. Here, we seemed to have assumed that the absorption of energy at 15 microns (and the other absorption wavelengths) are constant for all concentrations of CO2 which does not appear to be the case. Perhaps a rule: Take care to assume nothing, test for everything and report only data. Do not extrapolate.
    And, this associated question: might there then be something like a tipping point at this possibly critical concentration/cross section?
    Thanks for your fine booklet on climate science. I think it is always important to be a skeptic. We must eschew bandwagons and put good, responsible science first. What to do when it’s clear we must lead a huge population of the uneducated, is another question. Surely, in the 21st century, science education for all is essential.
    Thanks,
    Paul Kenyon


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    Brian Valentine

    Hi Paul,

    You correctly note, that radiation saturation up to the logarithmic part will occur in CO2 at 15 microns. That follows from the Beer-Lambert law: absorbance=log(I/Io)=kc, proportional to dilute concentrations c at the absorbing wavelength, where I/Io is the ratio of transmitted intensities to some reference intensity.

    That relation certainly holds at every other wavelength at which CO2 absorbs.

    I don’t know if I have addressed the issue you have raised or not.


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    Paul Kenyon

    Brian,
    Thank you for your reply.
    You did not quite answer my question. CO2 absorbs IR energy all across the IR spectrum–uneavenly per wavelength but without gaps–if I read the HITRAN spectrum correctly. This suggests to me that CO2 can absorb all IR energy if the concentration is high enough. A good question here might be; what is that concentration? I’ll bet it is very, very high…like on Venus. CO2′s IR absorption spectrum shows that CO2 begins absorbing energy at ~15 microns at a cross section (equilalent concentration) of 5.0 X 10 to the -18 cm. This absorption width remains almost constant down to 0.0 X 10 to the -18 cm where it appears to broaden greatly from a width of perhaps 0.1 microns (from 14.9 microns to 15.0 microns width) to a width of 1.0 microns (from about 14.5 to 15.5 microns.) (It’s hard to be more precise given the coarse spectrum I have to look at but greater precision isn’t necessary for my question.) (Note: to say that a gas absorbs energy at a wavelength–say, 15 microns–is misleading because at exactly 15 microns (no breadth in wavelength) there is no energy, only a point location. The energy available to be absorbed will be the area beneath the absorption curve/spectrum. Some spectrum width is needed to have energy to absorb.) This is an increase in energy, I think, of about 10 X for any additional equal incremental increase in CO2 concentration from this point forward. I’d expect, then, to see a jump in warming due to this when this concentration is reached. I do not know what the concentration would have to be but I suppose applying Lambert-Beer would provide some idea. I haven’t done that work (yet) and hesitate to do so given my inadequate background in this work…hence my quesition. So…am I correct in my understanding of the absorption physics? Also, what would that “critical” concentration be in ppm (where CO2 suddenly begins absorbing much more IR energy?)
    I hope that’s clearer.
    Thanks, Paul


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    Brian Valentine

    Band broadening is due to a number of factors – Doppler effect, resonance, others.

    The Beer-Lambert law is an UPPER limit to absorbance, usually falling off somewhere in the ngbd of 5 mol%, depending on species and what else is in the mixture.

    That is to say, a Beer’s Law plot of absorbace v. concentration will be a straight line, the actual absorbance will follow that line up to about 5 mol %, then taper off below that line, reaching a constant value of absorbance sometimes in the ngbd of about 20 mol %.


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    Brian G Valentine

    Note that Beer’s Law is usually applied to DETERMINE dilute concentrations of “coloured” things in mixtures (CO2 certainly has a “colour” in the IR but you can’t see it), and Beer’s Law is applied at wavelengths of maximum absorption – to minimize the errors involved in the concentration measurement.

    The species determined by concentration measurement will absorb so much at a given wavelength – then no more. That amount can be determined by spectra or derivation from 1st quantum principles (sometimes).

    When making IR spectra of pure substances, band broadening will vary according to the temp and pressure the measurements are made. In many cases, qualitative variations in band broadening can be predicted based upon first principles.


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    gazelle

    I’m not sure whether this is relevant to what Paul is trying to achieve, but it’d be worth running the argument past these folk, who claim to be sceptics of sceptical arguments, and see if the argument holds up:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?p=1&t=67&&n=73
    If nothing else, the article and the comments have a lot of links that might be of use.
    I hope it helps.


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    Brian G Valentine

    There is nothing to the argument in the page you referenced.

    About 385 W per sq. m of solar irradiance are measured by satellite striking the Earth’s disc, and the same are measured leaving the same disc, at a composite greybody temperature of approximately 288 K.

    The energy balance is zero and it doesn’t matter what is in the atmosphere.

    Now go find somebody to dispute that or iterpret it as global warming for me please.


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    gazelle

    I’m confused by Brian’s response… perhaps I did not state my point clearly enough.

    What is the larger question that Paul is trying to answer via his investigations?

    If he has a particular argument, then running it past a group that is “hostile” (such as skepticalscience) rather than “friendly” (as in this forum) is more likely to find deficiencies, due to the lack of any unintentional “cognitive dissonance”. The aim is to make the argument as watertight as possible.

    I tried to provide an article and discussion that is relevant to absorption, but Paul or Brian or others might find something else on the skepticalscience website that is more relevant.

    Now, to Brian’s response…

    I mean no offence, but the figures given by Brian are just numbers without any supporting evidence. If the contention is that “There is no global warming” then the numbers by themselves are irrelevant, unless they are shown over time (so that we can see whether there is any trend).

    I have no intention of going to “find somebody to dispute” Brian’s argument. He can do his own dirty work, thanks! Even if he did say “please”. :)
    For your info, there is a link from that article that shows the energy balance is not zero (See “…the result of this energy imbalance is the accumulation of heat over the last 40 years”). Just follow the links, or the white rabbit if you prefer.
    As I posted earlier, it’ll probably boil down to an unhelpful “my expert is bigger than yours” impasse. How do we get past that?

    A general comment…

    As well as wanting us to strive to make arguments as robust as possible, what I’d really like to see is a clear link between:
    The contention -> supporting arguments -> supporting evidence.
    My approach is, when assessing an argument, to weigh up:
    - the relevance to the contention
    - the “credibility” of the supporting evidence (which is according to my personal idea of what is/isn’t credible)
    If the argument has been duly reviewed, then I can similarly assess the counter-arguments. Otherwise it loses a bit of credibility, in my book.

    Do other people find this approach helpful?


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    John Marshall

    All this discussion about CO2 and how it affects climat emisses the point. According to the IPCC 95% of the greenhouse effect is caused by water vapour. The remaining 5% is assumed to be caused by CO2, though there are other gasses in the frame. This is fair enough. The other figures from the IPCC, though not made easy to find, is the proportion of this 5%, CO2, that is from human activity. Alarmists always report the weight of CO2 because it sounds bad but it is the proportion that is important and our input is 3% of the total annual global CO2 flux. 3% which has been endorsed by the US Department of Energy as correct. So the IPCC, and the alarmists, are worried about the 3% of 5% or 0.15% of the total greenhouse effect that we are responsible for. There are more important things to wory about and the alarmists should get another job.


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    Brian Valentine

    “…the result of this energy imbalance is the accumulation of heat over the last 40 years”

    Where is it?

    The air?

    No

    The sea?

    No

    The land?

    No


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    Brian G Valentine

    By the way Giselle, I certainly don’t expect you or anyone to accept my statements by “authority.”

    In the case of Paul’s question, I will attempt to provide a complete answer if the answer appears to me to be “obscure.”

    In the case of my response to the premises of the article you referenced, I consider my response to be common knowledge, and without need to elaborate.


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    gazelle

    One of the things I hope to get, from both the handbook and the contributors here, is some honest scepticism and robust counter-arguments to the warnings of anthropogenic climate change.
    Unfortunately, what I see fails to match what is on the pro-AGW websites.
    For example:

    The Handbook: “Carbon dioxide is already absorbing almost all it can”, has lots of words, an irrelevant graph, and no link to scientific papers to back it up.
    Realclimate: “A Saturated Gassy Argument” describes an experiment that supported the assertion, explains how this was disproved, and has many links to further reading, including to the HITRAN data.

    Brian’s post: “Where is it?…The sea?…No”, might read well, but is unsubstantiated rhetoric.
    skepticalscience: “Empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming” summarises the science, explains the arguments (e.g. showing the heat primarily ends up in the ocean), and links to the peer-reviewed papers (e.g. in Nature).

    We really need to lift our game if we are to provide a respectable resource for sceptics.

    At the moment, I’m feeling frustrated at the lack of credible information to help weigh up, given the risk vs probability, what is the wisest course of action to safeguard my family’s future. There is too much hysteria and rhetoric clouding everything (on both sides).

    We seem to be stuck at the question “Is it true?” instead of “Is it worth the risk?”


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    Brian Valentine

    Very sorry to hear you are unsatisfied, Giselle and to be frank with you, I had the impression at the outset that you would be unsatisfied with the answers provided here – no matter what the answers were.

    That is to say, I had the impression that you were already biased in the other direction and anything I said, or the handbook said, would be discounted as “insufficient” to satisfy you.

    Believe what you like, if you want to believe the world is coming to an end then go right ahead.

    But writing on these pages, and pointing to items that you think might change anybody else’s mind because you point to them – will have little effect because, I have seen almost all of it already and it means very little.

    If you have a particular question, I’ll try to respond in detail.

    If you just want to whine that you are “unsatisfied” and you are “afraid” – then there is little I can do quell your doubt if real or imagination if you are playing games.


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    Brian G Valentine

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ocean is Not Warming.

    This issue has been discussed at length within this weblog, and despite attempts of investigators to manipulate the data to give the appearance of ocean warming, the credible combined evidence from ARGO buoys and satellites shows, there is no heat that can be discerned above any background level of noise and the errors inherent in the measurements


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    Tel

    For an example of a handbook for the layman, providing people with simple tools to help assess things for themselves (without pushing an opinion), have a look at Greg Craven’s “What’s the Worst That Can Happen” (http://www.gregcraven.org). I really like his “decision grid” and “credibility spectrum”. Perhaps some of the ideas from this book can be incorporated into future versions of the handbook?

    Greg Craven is pushing an opinion, he is pushing Pascal’s Wager and advocating action based on ignorance. Once you have established a principle of action based on ignorance you can use this argument to support any action at all, no matter how crazy, just because no one can prove that it isn’t remotely possible that a risk might exist.

    The silly decision grid that pretends there are only two choices in the entire world, this is generally known as a false dichotomy.


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    Brian Valentine

    Giselle is just pulling people’s chains, as kind of a “joke” to show off to their friends at Greenpeace or something like that how “gullible” and “simplistic” the “deniers” are.

    The “simplistic” have already bought into the AGW drama, and the occasionally “entertain” themselves with the “rubes” who think they “know anything worth knowing” or who can’t be dispelled in 10 seconds by a dozen so (equally simplistic) websites.

    The Giselle’s of the world will use people in attempts to have people make fun of themselves, essentially;

    their MO and objectives are about as deep as a piece of paper


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    gazelle

    @Tel:
    I disagree. Craven’s decision grid is not the same as the Pascal’s Wager decision grid.
    The difference is that Craven’s approach considers probability, and assumptions based on evidence. The “credibility spectrum” is a tool for assessing the credibility of the evidence and the probability, using your own personal criteria. Multiple “choices” could be used if you want. Used together, it gives a wider picture for making decisions amid uncertainty (not “in ignorance”).
    I’m keen for someone else to give the grid a try, so we can compare notes.

    One of the major reasons I visit this site is to gather information, and to get a handle on the credibility and probability of various conclusions. So I welcome any efforts to link to sources or to gauge probability.

    @Brian:
    I found your reply rather offensive.
    Why did you presume to know my opinions and motives, and in one small post accuse me of:
    - pig-headedness and belligerence
    - bias
    - doomsaying and preaching
    - fearfulness
    - being named “Giselle”; maybe I should call you “Brain” :)

    Have you heard of the saying, “Judge not lest you be judged”? If you honestly held a mirror to your own posts, I think you’d find that they are also subject to those same criticisms.

    Why did you think I’d be unsatisfied regadless of the answers? I explained how I assess an argument. I’d be satisfied if they met that criteria. The handbook does present a well-structured argument in “The greenhouse signature is missing” (but I disagree that it is a knockout blow — it just confirms that there is uncertainty), so it is not all bad. Some of Joanne’s articles link to credible sources, but not consistently, and are often littered with the same vitriol she accuses the pro-AGW crowd of. Some of the comments are even worse!

    I am aware that there are problems in the AGW arguments. I do not have the expertise to arrogantly dismiss anyone’s opinion, theirs or yours — I do not know everything! I believe in trying to keep an open mind — although not so open that my brain falls out!

    I don’t want to believe that the world is coming to an end. But thanks for granting me the freedom to do so.

    I did not post links to try to change anyone’s mind or to preach. They were to show examples of the argument structure used on some pro-AGW sites, and to be at least somewhat relevant to the current discussion, to help draw comparisons to how things are presented on this site. So any response to the actual content is not really relevant to the point I was trying to make.
    As an aside, though, I personally agree that there’s too much noise in the data to make any strong conclusions.

    I see nothing in my above posts to suggest fearfulness. However, I’ll admit that I am afraid for my family’s future (which I see as my primary responsibility), but it has nothing to do with AGW. My fear is to do with society’s obsession with unlimited growth in a finite and complex system. But that’s a whole other topic.

    I feel like I’m being unfairly beaten up here. I worry that this website is going down the path of “Groupthink”, encouraging “yes-men” and attacking instead of embracing people who challenge the status quo. I think I deserve an apology (and not “I’m sorry you’re unsatisfied”), and an effort to make me feel welcome here. Otherwise, well, I have better things to do with my time.

    And while I have peoples’ attention (assuming anyone has read this far!): “Argument from authority” is often misunderstood. It is acceptable if the authority has relevant expertise. e.g.
    Claiming that “CO2 causes global warming because Al Gore said so” is bad.
    Claiming that “CO2 probably causes global warming because James Hansen said so” is okay.


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    Randy Golding

    A Discussion of Risk
    From Randy in Arizona at the request of “gazelle” in a previous post.

    For the sake of focus I will leave to others the argument of true or not true. I propose a risk assessment approach. “gazelle” raised the issue of discussing the risks and not simply whether the science published in hundreds of journals over tens of years and research conducted by hundreds of scientists whose publications may or may not include the data for independent scrutiny. I like this idea very much.

    What are the risks? First, what is the risk of doing nothing if the most ominous predictions of climate scientist on global warming are correct? Second, what is the risk of doing something whether the predictions are correct or not? Upon consideration my thesis is that it does not make sense to take any unilateral action nor does it make sense for most of the world to do anything on a large scale until alternate technologies are cheaper, cooperation among nations has more foundation and sensible bridges can be implemented that remove oil as a tool of blackmail by OPEC and remove debt and the value of the dollar as a tool of blackmail by China.

    First: The Consequences of the Worst Case

    Coastline cities will be flooded, sub-Saharan drought patterns will worsen, the Chinese steppes will become drier, polar bears will need to move or be relocated, hurricanes will become more severe and more frequent, some coral reefs will die, and atolls in all the oceans will disappear. These consequences will cause massive relocations of human populations. Food production will need to move inland from present coastline production areas.

    The impact of these changes will not cause massive extinctions. The polar bears and the penguins will survive and perhaps flourish. The largest food bloom on the planet in the Arctic Ocean will become more productive and dependent life will flourish. Land that will support cultivation will increase because the frost line will move northward where the largest undevelopable landmasses are. Canada, Russian, northern Europe and Greenland will support greater populations. Greenland could become a food exporter. Fish available at the newly claimed coastal plains will increase. Crops in dry areas such as the Chinese steppes, Mongolia, the Midwestern US and central Canada will require less water. The Midwestern US and central canada will receive more rainfall.

    Most of these impacts are not irreversible earth changing things. They are mostly economically and politically destabilizing. The earth and the ecosystem care little about how many humans are alive in the biosphere. Many supporters of global climate action would argue that economic throttling and reduction of the human population are desirable things.

    Second: The Consequences of Action Regardless of the Accuracy of Predictions

    The most productive economies in the world will voluntarily increase the price they pay for energy. Energy cost is the chief driver of the price of all goods and the chief determinant of productivity and standard of living in all industrialized nations. These are the nations with the greatest interest in political stability worldwide and provide the technological advances most likely to allow pre-industrial nations to leap-frog oil dependency to join the information age and the information economy bringing universities and libraries to places where currently no electrical power can be seen on the horizon for decades to come. These currently economically leading countries will also decrease their energy supply, making them more dependent on manufactured goods from countries currently exempted from or unlikely to participate in any cooperative climate protective actions. These include China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, African nations, South American Countries and the former countries of the Soviet Union including Russia. Because of this manufacturing dependency, production of defense supplies, energy independence, factory tooling, food production, and natural resource processing will take places outside of the control of these countries. They will not be making their own stuff. Borrowing from China will increase. Western democracies will grant their political influence to the rising populace and developing countries. On the basis of population and numbers of governments, these nations will welcome the reduction in the influence of western democracies and will if given the opportunity of leverage, use it to threaten, manipulate or destabilize these democracies.

    None of the proposed measures reduces carbon emissions enough or soon enough to prevent the predicted consequences. However the only way to gaurantee disastrous consequences is for western democracies to unilaterally take these limited and inneffective actions.

    The fundamental questions of risk, consequence and national security clearly recommend the postponement of action, investment in research for the next generation of alternative energies sources and distribution infrastructure. These efforts will require innovation in fundamental science, materials science, biotechnologies, systems engineering and long range thinking about management of change on a global scale. None of these things are made more supportable or likely by weakening the volunteering nations.

    The question of choice is not chiefly ecological, but economic and sociopolitical. Simply put, is it cheaper to move the cities inland over the next 50 to 100 years, or is it cheaper to move the populations out into currently unoccupied land by defunding an destabilizing the energy based economies that large cities now require? Is success more likely with the rise of global influence by nations that do not allow choice, descent or innovation outside state guidelines or with the investments of strong western democracies taking advantage of cheap energy to buy the next generation of technology and infrastructure?

    Nuclear energy cannot solve the world’s energy problems, but it can bridge the west to the next generation of energy distribution. It has the possibility of removing oil as a tool of blackmail and fund the growth that will be required to pay China back before they cash in their leverage. Unfortunately, because of willful abandonment by the United States, the US is currently in the 1950′s for nuclear plant design and will need to depend on the French for the next 10 years in order to have any say in this issue either. The lack of development of mineral resources the US will need to rely on Russia for ore for about the same period. Hopefully France will stay independent enough to have the choice of selling technology to US customers and Russia will not decide to use Uranium ore as a tool of blackmail.

    In the long and the short run, the earth, if it could collectively speak or vote, would care little, being apathetic or antithetic (wishing the argument would go away in favor of more interesting topics). Whether the most concerned climate scientists are right or wrong, their best hope is to continue their research, switch some of their energies to the look for long range solutions and promote energy policies that will shore up the strength, influence and independence of western democracies in the short and the long run. They need to think long range community and self interest, like the Chinese.


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    Brian G Valentine

    I apologise for my evident arrogance or belligerence.

    I admit to becoming frustrated by my inability to explain in a simple manner there is no evidence to support claims of man-made climate “anything”.

    But in doing so, I let go of my objective – to DISPELL fear.

    Which, as I interpret it, is Joanne’s objective in the publication of her Handbook and her work as a professional educator.

    Dr Hansen is less equivocal than you suggest about his beliefs of the properties of CO2. Hansen has stated that he is “95% certain that any recorded warming” is the result of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    I can only say that I am 100% certain that CO2 is not and has never been associated with any recorded warming of the atmosphere.

    That is the culmination of my 25 years of investigation of the issue.

    I’d be happy to answer any specific questions you might have, or you are welcome to correspond with me directly

    bgvalentine@verizon.net


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    Please use the Tag list to find stories. See the left hand column. If you hit “oceans” it lists all the stories where oceans are discussed. It’s the best way to find things on this site.


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    Randy Golding

    Brian,

    What is the obsession with emotionally based attacks on Gizelle? Get to issues and arguments. Don’t raise your voices or lower your punches. Strengthen your arguments.


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    Some of Joanne’s articles link to credible sources, but not consistently, and are often littered with the same vitriol she accuses the pro-AGW crowd of. Some of the comments are even worse!

    The difference is that I can back up my vitriol. They can’t.
    Mine tells it like it is, and theirs is name-calling.

    I am not paid to moderate the 7000 comments here. In an ideal world I would have funding to employ someone to enforce high standards. Sorry the comments are patchy. But note that some of the comments here are from people doing cutting edge research and a few from professors. At Real Climate these same people are blocked.

    We fight against an army that has 3000 times as much funding (and trillions in potential). They bully, block, deny, ignore, threaten, exaggerate, and break basic tenets of science.

    My links and sources are listed.

    Not every single thing is peer reviewed officially, but being passed by 2 unpaid anonymous colleagues is a pretty low standard anyway. Instead I’m impressed by internal consistency, raw data, logic and reason. Names of journals have sadly become just as valueless as names of committees. Argument from Authority.


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    Brian G Valentine

    Here is a lesser recognised

    FACT: Every factual claim regarding the natural climate made by Joanne Nova in her “Handbook” can be supported by evidence appearing in a peer-reviewed reference.

    Editorial comments are of course her own.

    I would be delighted to demonstrate the accuracy of my claim at the behest of any serious inquiry


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    Tel

    Craven’s decision grid is not the same as the Pascal’s Wager decision grid. The difference is that Craven’s approach considers probability, and assumptions based on evidence.

    Craven’s decision grid is wrong from the moment he breaks down our actions into two columns: a yes/no decision. We have a vast array of possible actions that we can take individually and/or collectively. Trying to divide people into “Column A-ers” and “Column B-ers” is a totally broken way of looking at the world.

    Pascal’s Wager is wrong for the same fundamental reason. Let us presume that someone decides they are convinced by Pascal’s argument, they are thus convinced to believe in God. But which God? Should this person become a Hindu? A Buddhist? A Muslim?

    If Pascal’s Wager can convince us to believe in God, then it would logically also convince us to believe in every possible God. Common sense (and a cursory examination of history) indicates that it is impossible to join every religion on Earth, but that’s what Pascal’s Wager advises us to attempt.

    As for evidence, I’ve done some searching on Craven’s website and have some information about his approach to evidence:

    The trick is to not look at what individual scientists are saying, but instead look at what the professional organizations are saying. The more prestigious they are, the more weight you can give to their statements, because they’ve got huge reputations to uphold, and don’t want to ever say something that later makes them look foolish.

    Probably the two most well-respected of these in the world are NAS [hold up whiteboard reading “the U.S. National Academy of Sciences”], and AAAS [hold up whiteboard reading “the American Association for the Advancement of Science”]. These are not advocacy groups, but both recently issued unprecedented statements calling for big action now on global warming. This isn’t a bunch of hippies. These are the nerdiest people on the planet.

    In other words, Craven brings nothing new to the party, merely decides to trust the people he decides are experts. He doesn’t even seriously evaluate the credibility of his experts, just likes their prestigious sounding names.

    Well, let me suggest a way to prioritize. All of these [sweep off desk with a CRASH] will be peanuts, if the worst of this [place placard reading “global warming”] comes to pass.

    [Foil: Oooo, way to go, Mr. Smarty-Pants. {points to floor} You just managed to tick off pretty much everybody. How come your pet crusade trumps everyone else’s?]

    Because on the outside chance that the worst of global warming does happen {place placards reading “floods, droughts, hurricanes, wildfires, dustbowls, famine, epidemics, refugees, wars, economic collapse” while talking}, we’ll be so busy dealing with the fallout that most all other human concerns may seem like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I mean who’s really going to care if some protester wants to burn the flag on the courthouse lawn when the whole city’s flooded?

    So Craven’s prioritisation is based on analysis of worst possible outcome and wilful ignorance of both real probabilities and real evidence. Blaise Pascal trumps Craven many times over — his worst case outcome is eternal damnation with no escape. What could possibly be worse than that? Using Craven’s worst case analysis I should logically pray to God (every possible God) and that will keep me so busy that I can take no other action, but at least when I die I can have a chance at salvation. Stupid… but that’s the place that worst case analysis will take you.

    In other words, Craven’s suggestion of a way to prioritise is foolish and useless. If Craven were investing money based on his worst case analysis then he would never invest in anything because the worst case is always that you lose your investment. Even investing in gold bars in a steel safe under your house still holds the risk that someone might rob you (actually, the worst case is that they might kill you painfully in the process).

    I put it that Craven follows an inconsistent system of thinking because he does not actually use worst case analysis for most of the things he does in life, but yet he expects us to buy this rubbish on the one particular special issue of global warming.

    As for evaluating credibility of sources, Craven says some thing that demonstrate he has very little understanding of how the world works:

    Now, as for protecting our social and political self-determination—our liberties—the case seems much simpler to me, and can be summed up in a single sentence: democracy cannot survive in a Mad Max world.

    Democracy came from ancient Greece which was probably more violent than Mad Max… they only had pointy bronze weapons but they made up for it with a lot of determination to kill their fellow man. Social structure is something people decide in order to cooperatively control their world, the world does not impose social structure on us.

    There’s a reason martial law exists. It’s so that when the asteroid hits the fan, the government can do whatever necessary—even suspending the rights of the individual—in order to secure the greater good for the greater number. Do you think anyone in New Orleans in the days after Katrina gave a rat’s ass about civil liberties? No—they were busy looting bottled water and disposable diapers. And had the National Guard gotten there faster, they would have opened up the fire hoses on the looters to ensure order. There’s nothing like large scale natural disasters or threats to national security to bring out the draconian in any government.

    Katrina would have to be the canonical example of government control and martial law gone wrong. The people were looting bottled water so they would have something to drink, the national guard were shooting hungry and thirsty people (with bullets, not hoses) in the strangely misguided belief that it was their job to protect property.

    These were people who trusted their government and learned the hard way not to do that. People were actually prevented from escaping New Orleans at gunpoint as they attempted to cross the Mississippi River and their food was taken away from them by the authorities supposedly protecting them.

    http://iwilltryit.com/katrina.htm

    Read that and weep, Katrina was a government-induced disaster.

    If Craven wants to use the events of Katrina as an example of why we should just trust in authority then from my point of view it blows away every bit of credibility he started with.


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    Queen Beene

    Have you reviewed the 20 years of data from Lindzen & Choi?

    This study contends that nearly all the radiation is getting out & less than 1/6th of UN IPCC expectations apply.
    This would reflect less than 1 degree of warming over 100 years. If this information is accurate, why do we need a new climate treaty?

    http://masterresource.org/?p=4307


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    Brian G Valentine

    I think Lindzen & Choi have calculated a correct value of the “climate sensitivity” – but it isn’t noted that the effect from CO2, at such a magnitude, is obscured (and essentially drowned out) by the influence of everything else that influence temperatures “globally.”

    That is to say, the effect can’t be discerned above the background of noise.

    This is not as strong as Gerlich & Tscheuschner’s conclusion that the effect from CO2 in the air doesn’t exist at all –

    but from an operational standpoint (or empirical standpoint, or phenomenological standpoint) the two interpretations amount to the same thing.

    [If you can't measure something, it doesn't exist.]

    Note that Lindzen and Choi make assumptions to resolve the CO2 effect that might not be valid at all.

    [Namely that forcing variables can be decoupled in such a way to examine their influence independently. There's no legitimate reason for that to be true, other than to make some calculations if one wants to.]


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    gazelle

    It feels like Gazelle vs the Rest of the World!
    I’m sorry, but I do not have the time or energy to respond in depth to Randy, Brian, Joanne, and Tel. So I’ll just give brief responses.

    Firstly though, a complaint.
    Brian’s latest attack on my integrity (#144) initially appeared after Joanne’s post (#148 – so it was after his “apology”), then it disappeared for a while, and reappeared at #144. Can someone else back me up on this (check your email notifications)?
    Moving this post significantly changes the context: there was an additional attack after the apology. I’ll leave it to others to judge that for themselves.

    Now, back to the topic.

    @Randy:
    Many interesting ideas. I don’t know if I agree with some of the cause/effect leaps. It is a topic that is important to me, and I’d very much like to continue the discussion, but I don’t think it is relevant to this “About the Skeptics Handbook” thread. Can you suggest another forum?

    @Brian:
    To my mind, anyone who claims 100% certainty, especially in something as complex as Climate, is far less credible than someone who admits 95% certainty.
    Regardless, due to the repeated personal attacks on myself and others, I have you on my “ignore list”. Leave me alone, please.

    @Joanne:
    So your response is, “It’s okay if I do it, but not if they do it”.
    I’m surprised nobody else has said anything. Doesn’t anyone else find that odd?
    Regarding links: My suggestion was that, if you have the links, then include them in the Handbook (it’s great to read that another version is under way — perhaps some of these suggestions can be included!).
    Regarding journals: I am not alone in using the Impact Factor when gauging the credibility of papers (and the h-index and g-index for the authors). Can you suggest a better alternative? How else can someone, without the relevant expertise or experience, weigh up whether to trust e.g. Lindzen or Hansen?
    Regarding moderation: I understand the difficulties (I haven’t found a public forum that doesn’t have this problem!), and wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if there was self-regulation. So not all comments can be reviewed, but at least can you kick repeat-offenders?
    Here’s a formal complaint: I have asked Brian to apologise for his comments and to change his behaviour, and was attacked again. A great many of his responses to critics are in breach of every one of the forum’s “Comments Rules”. If he is unwilling to change his behaviour, and you are unable to maintain a civil website, then I’ll simply remove myself from the situation. Problem solved.

    @Tel:
    Thanks for repeatedly setting a good example for others (including me), by stating what you think, and why, with supporting evidence.
    However, I think you’ve misunderstood my point: a suggestion that the “Skeptics Handbook” includes tools to help critically assess arguments, for example Craven’s “decision grid” and “credibility spectrum”. I am not concerned with Craven’s opinions, but I do think that the tools are very useful (there are also some tips on critical thinking and fighting personal bias). If you disagree, then that’s fine, but can you suggest an alternative? As a sceptic, one of my first questions is: “Why should I believe that?” What methods do you use to answer that question?
    Regarding any similarities to Pascal’s Wager: I appreciate your efforts in checking Craven’s website. Unfortunately, the quotes on the website are from his videos (in which he was trying to peddle his opinion in just 7 minutes). The book, however, has a whole chapter on the use of the “grid”, on how to include probability (so that it isn’t used for guarding against “Giant Mutant Space Hamsters” :) ), and the use of multiple columns. He suggests that people start by using just the two columns, otherwise it becomes a bit complicated and many people give up. People can then refine it using multiple columns (and rows if they like).
    Regarding evaluating credibility:Again, a difference between the videos and the book. The book has funky templates for people to determine their own “credibility criteria”.
    Regarding prioritisation: I imagine the videos were deliberately designed to be a little over-the-top. Once risk vs probability is considered (again, it’s in the book), it becomes more like weighing up whether to wear a seatbelt, or take disk backups. A consideration that is not mentioned is that, whatever action we choose today, it is future generations that will bear the brunt of it. Do I really have the right to play Russian Roulette with someone else’s child? (“Intergenerational Equity” is high on my list of values — are we going to party hard now, and let our kids pay for it?).
    Regarding Mad Max: I think you and Craven might have a different interpretation of a “Mad Max” world. Anyway, it is not relevant to whether the tools are useful.
    Regarding martial law: Funny how two people can read the same text and get very different interpretations. I couldn’t work out how you came to that conclusion, so I went back to the full text:

    I often hear the very strident objection” “Action on AGW would lead to government control of our lives!” Well, given the probability of AGW being real versus it being a huge, elaborate hoax, isn’t it more likely that the greatest threat to your liberties is inaction?

    Craven is not suggesting that Katrina is “an example of why we should just trust in authority” . The way I read it, he is saying that martial law is bad, and believes that inaction will take us there.
    Regardless, Craven’s opinions are irrelevant to the question of whether the tools are useful. It would be an “ad hominem” to dismiss the tool just because he’s a weirdo. So let’s not go there.

    @Queen Beene:
    I assume that was directed at Joanne, for inclusion in the new version of the Handbook?
    In case it was for my eyes: No, I hadn’t read the article, and thanks for the link. I’d like to see a response from the pro-AGW people, though. Do they have reasonable counter-arguments? I’d be rapt if the IPCC make corrections as a result. After all, that’s what science is about: continually questioning and improving. Aren’t the IPCC working on their 5th Assessment Report?

    Anyway, I’ve pretty much reached the conclusion that this website is not for me. I was looking for sceptical arguments, but from what I’ve seen, the principles of scepticism have been left behind, and largely replaced by an “us or them” attitude, where we do not apply the same rigour to the non-AGW arguments. I find such a “denialist” attitude just as bad as the “alarmist” warnings. So, two weeks shy of November 11, I think this will be my “last post”. I sincerely wish you well… even Brian. :)


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    Anne-Kit Littler

    Gazelle: (”Intergenerational Equity” is high on my list of values — are we going to party hard now, and let our kids pay for it?)

    Quote:

    “Economist Ross Garnaut tells us that, by the year 2100, all the normal measures of Australian standard of living (real wages and per capita consumption and so on) will be somewhere between five and ten percent below what they would be if humans were not filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. He also tells us that, by 2100, and in the absence of global warming, the Australian economic output per person would increase by about 400 percent.

    Provided the government didn’t waste it, most of that would come back to us in the form of increased standard of living. Therefore the average Australian of 2100 should be something of the order of 360 percent better off than ourselves even when he or she has been devastated by climate change.

    In other words Professor Garnaut is asking for lots of our money so that he can give it to people of the future who will be at least three-and-a-half times wealthier than we are.

    The guy must be nuts.”

    Letter to the Australian Financial Review, July 2008


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    So your response is, “It’s okay if I do it, but not if they do it”.
    I’m surprised nobody else has said anything. Doesn’t anyone else find that odd?

    No because they know that you and no one else can name any empirical paper we “deny”. Therefore denier is name-calling (although you seem to have risen above that which I’m grateful for). I can back up all the terms I use. It’s not name-calling when it’s substantiated. Name THAT mystery paper that no one – not even professors can name. No it’s not the same as linking to a whole site. I don’t have time to hunt through a whole site for a paper that I can’t find in the IPCC 800 page tome. These are part of a shell game. Everyone says there is evidence and everyone points at giant summaries, at theoretical consenus’s and ‘authorities’ but no one can describe the study and name the authors.

    Regarding links: My suggestion was that, if you have the links, then include them in the Handbook (it’s great to read that another version is under way — perhaps some of these suggestions can be included!).

    Most pages of the handbook already have sources and links. Yes I will try to do even better in No II. It is important.

    Regarding journals: I am not alone in using the Impact Factor when gauging the credibility of papers (and the h-index and g-index for the authors). Can you suggest a better alternative? How else can someone, without the relevant expertise or experience, weigh up whether to trust e.g. Lindzen or Hansen?

    No. You have to think instead. There is no shortcut to understanding who is right. There is no committee to think for us. No inanimate ratings system to use instead of neurons. Look for internal contradictions. Look for arguments that break laws of logic and reason. Yours above is a form of argument from authority (tho common). Indexes are useful, but ultimately they aren’t evidence. You can’t weigh up a score for papers for and against and come to a conclusion. You can look for researchers who don’t break laws of reason, don’t hide their data, aren’t hypocrites, haven’t been caught out for scientific malpractice and don’t trust models over actual verifiable observations.

    The only way we can understand the planet is to measure it, watch it, make up theories and then check them against the measurements. The AGW side fails dismally. They keep changing the measurements – always in a favorable direction to their models.

    Regarding moderation: I understand the difficulties (I haven’t found a public forum that doesn’t have this problem!), and wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if there was self-regulation. So not all comments can be reviewed, but at least can you kick repeat-offenders?

    Sounds fair. I do send off line messages to people (and have in the past to Brian). I have moderated Brian on another thread today. I don’t know why his message might have appeared or disappeared, but weird things do happen. Sorry. As far as I can see Brian apologised and has changed his response. Brian, please bring your brilliant physics brain to comments here and leave the angry one at home.

    Here’s a formal complaint: I have asked Brian to apologise for his comments and to change his behaviour, and was attacked again. A great many of his responses to critics are in breach of every one of the forum’s “Comments Rules”. If he is unwilling to change his behaviour, and you are unable to maintain a civil website, then I’ll simply remove myself from the situation. Problem solved.

    Yes. Point taken. It is hard to be one against many – we understand that it’s how most of us feel on the dozens of blogs/ in the mainstream media/popular science magazines/ in parliament. But it would be good if we can rise above that here. I will send emails off line.

    Bear in mind Gazelle – the funding for the creation of a carbon crisis is 3000:1 in the AGW teams favour. Because of that they will produce hundreds of documents and press releases. We unfunded souls can only debunk so much. We don’t have paid PR teams to issue glossy reports ad infinitum. The funding for carbon markets is literally Trillions of potential future dollars.

    Banks want us to have a carbon market.

    Doesn’t that bother you?


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    Brian G Valentine

    I’ll leave you alone Gazelle, when you stop pointing to your “malaise” of Joanne’s work, and correct a mistaken fact she has presented

    What is wrong with 100% certainty?

    I am 100% certain you are human and not a gazelle.

    Things that violate thermodynamics laws are equally certain to be false


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    Tel

    Gazelle, don’t think that everyone is against you, most of the regulars have thrashed out our differences elsewhere, and you are the newcomer. Generally people will not overtly agree on points, but they will be quick to voice any disagreement they might have.

    Craven’s opinions are wrong, his methodology is also wrong.

    We both understand that there are many threats which are low-probability events. Also, many of these low-probability events have a large consequence. The “expectation” (in a mathematical sense) is the probability of the event, multiplied by the consequence of that event. The “error” (in both the mathematical sense and the scientific sense) is an estimate of how far your result is from the true real-world result.

    With some events (e.g. alien invasion) you have a very small probability multiplied by a very big consequence. Thus, your resulting expectation has a large error margin (made worse by the uncertainty based around events that we don’t have documented examples of). Any time you multiply a very small number by a very large number to get a middle sized number you increase your margin for error because a tiny change in the small number gives a large change in the result.

    So how to efficiently deal with low-priority high-uncertainty threats?

    * Don’t panic about them (i.e. don’t ridiculously over prioritise such threats).

    * Collect more information where possible, or devise information collection methodologies.

    * Consider the cost of action before taking action.

    * Consider whether your action is realistically going to fix anything.

    Once risk vs probability is considered (again, it’s in the book), it becomes more like weighing up whether to wear a seatbelt, or take disk backups.

    Well I haven’t read Craven’s book, and I’m not likely to. If he compares seatbelts to global warming then he is wrong in that too. Motor vehicle collisions are something we have large amounts of statistical data for. Insurance companies have enough data to calculate the probability of various types of collision with a low error margin in the calculation. Hard drives are delivered from the manufacturer with a “mean time between failure” estimate and the typical value is about 2 years (yes as bad as that). Because of warranty claims, and their own testing, manufacturers of hard drives have plenty of input data for these calculations (and if anything they would have a commercial incentive to make the MTBF look big, so presume the published estimate is bigger than the real value).

    Both catastrophic climate change and alien invasion are dealing with much higher uncertainties, much less available input data, and much lower probabilities of the event ever happening.

    In addition, wearing a seat belt has at least been tested (quite a lot of testing actually) in terms of injury reduction. Backing up a hard drive delivers a well understood outcome. If we choose to take action, we can achieve a known result. Sadly, we have very little basis for belief that an ETS treaty will deliver either a cooler planet or a better environment. In the case of ETS, the result of action is unknown.

    Beyond that, seatbelts are reasonably cheap, an ETS will be expensive… cost of action is important.

    Anyway, I’ve pretty much reached the conclusion that this website is not for me. I was looking for sceptical arguments, but from what I’ve seen, the principles of scepticism have been left behind, and largely replaced by an “us or them” attitude, where we do not apply the same rigour to the non-AGW arguments.

    Nobody’s perfect. I would be curious to know where you normally hang out to debate such issues with a better class of rigour?

    Dare I say it, “the Brian feels no remorse for the gazelle,” and that’s survival for you :-)


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    Brian G Valentine

    Part of the problem, as I see it, is that Gazelle came to this web log not realising that most of the difficulty that (s)he percieves comes from points already discussed at length (some times ad nauseam) within the weblog history already.

    I, at least, perceived the issues Gazelle raised as “worn through” in the discussion history of this web log, and therefore unnecessary to drag the issues out some more.

    Someone new to the web log, may not be aware of all that has been considered in the discussion history.

    Gazelle exits the discussion unsatisfied with anything (s)he has heard – neither posing serious objection nor correction to any statement presented to them as factual

    (thus any responses to Gazelle have been rejected on an emotional basis alone.)

    That is indeed the correct approach to religious scepticism – but not scepticism


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    gazelle

    Tel’s post was so good, it deserves a response.

    I’ll start by just checking my understanding of Tel’s argument (correct me if I’ve misunderstood):
    The “grid” and “credibility spectrum” are not suitable to include in the “Skeptics Handbook” because Craven’s methodology is wrong. It is wrong because low-probability/high-uncertainty scenarios give a false “expectation” weighting.

    Tel’s post was the best explanation and most cogent criticism of the “grid” itself, that I have ever seen. I suggest posting that on Craven’s website forum, to see if they can think of a way to handle the “low-probability/high-uncertainty” scenarios (I’ll call it “LP/HU” for brevity).
    However…
    In practice, it is very unlikely to be a problem, especially when using both the “grid” and the “credibility spectrum” together.
    For example (this is grossly over-simplified, but I hope it gets the point across):
    1. Let’s say we start by setting our “credibility criteria” (i.e. what factors we consider when assessing the credibility of a source) to reject anything that is based on models or predictions of future trends, and to rank higher things that are based on empirical data.
    2. We list all of the types of sources we use (e.g. mainstream media, blogs, professional opinions, data collection agencies, peer-reviewed papers), and apply the pre-determined criteria, to determine where they fit on the “credibility spectrum”.
    3. We stand back from the “credibility spectrum”, and get a picture of where the evidence is pointing, and its level of confidence.
    4. We then enter the main four scenarios on the grid, and modify the size of the boxes according to the probability. This gives a picture, based on one’s personal assessment of the relative strength of the evidence, of how to answer the question: “To act, or not to act?”
    The “LP/HU” issue will only be a problem if all 4 boxes work out to be “LP/HU”. This would be extremely unlikely (as only the most closed-minded sceptics would rate every piece of evidence as “high uncertainty”)!
    The “grid” gives a picture of the relative “expectation” of each box (i.e. which choice is the best bet). So it only needs one of the other boxes to be better than “LP/HU”.

    Note that in the first step, people can use whatever criteria they think is important. To be fair and to minimise unintentional bias, the criteria should be worked out before assessing any of the gathered information.

    So I still think that the “grid” and “credibility spectrum” would be a valuable addition to the Handbook. Anyway, that’s the Joanne’s call.
    We need, I think, at least some method for the busy layperson, who does not have the time/expertise/experience to pore through all of the evidence/data/interpretations, to sort through it all, to work out what pieces of evidence to heed and what to disregard, and ultimately to answer the question:
    “Should I support taking action or not?”

    Nobody’s perfect. I would be curious to know where you normally hang out to debate such issues with a better class of rigour?
    Well, that’s the frustrating thing: I haven’t found one!
    Despite the various hosts’ best intentions, the forums invariably devolve into an angry mob, with a bias for one side of the debate or the other. Why this happens, why the discussion becomes so polarised, I have no idea. It’d probably make for interesting research for a sociologist.
    But I sure find it frustrating.

    I noticed that I did not phrase my last comment very well:
    I was looking for sceptical arguments,…
    Upon reflection, I think it is more that I have a different definition of “sceptic” and “handbook” to the one used here. I don’t think I’m up to the task of writing one myself, though!

    Good luck with the new version of the “Skeptics Handbook”. I’ve emailed Joanne a summary of my criticisms and suggestions. I hope at least some of the feedback helps.


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    Just wondering, with your definition of a skeptic, would you ever come to a conclusion one way or the other?

    My position is (roughly): I question things until I am satisfied they make sense. I draw a conclusion if possible, but remain open to new information. I’ll change my mind if the new information is compelling enough.

    Is that so different from yours?


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    brenden

    Joanne, after reading The skeptics handbook i was wondering if you have heard of ” Water for the Recovery of the Climate.A New Water Paradigm. ” It is a must read
    This is a summary from a new book released by Dr. Jan Pokorny ( a member of the International Reference Panel on NSF).

    SUMMARY

    The circulation of water in nature takes place through the large and small water cycles. Humanity, through its activities and systematic transformation of natural land into cultured land, accelerates the runoff of rainwater from land. Limiting evaporation and the infiltration of water into the soil decreases the supply of water to the small water cycle. The equilibrium of the water balance in the small water cycle is thus disturbed and it gradually starts to break down over land.

    If there is insufficient water in the soil, on its surface and in plants, immense flows of solar energy cannot be transformed into the latent heat of water evaporation but are instead changed into sensible heat. The surface of the ground soon overheats, and as a result, a breakdown in the supply of water from the large water cycle arises over the affected land. Local processes over huge areas inhabited and exploited by human beings are changed into global processes and with processes that occur without the assistance of human beings; together they create the phenomenon known as global climate change. The part of global climate change caused by human activities then is largely based on the drainage of water from the land, the consequent rise in temperature differences triggering off mechanisms which cause a rise in climatic extremes. The disruption of the small water cycle is accompanied by growing extremes in the weather, a gradual drop in groundwater reserves, more frequent flooding, longer periods of drought and an increase in the water shortage in the region.

    The part of climatic change which is the result of human activities (draining of a region), can be reversed through systematic human activity (the watering of a region). The watering of land can be achieved through saturation of the small water cycle over land by ensuring comprehensive conservation of rainwater and enabling its infiltration and evaporation. This can help achieve the renewal of the small water cycle over a region and fundamentally change the trend of changing climatic conditions: it can—to reverse the trend of regional warming—temper extreme weather events and ensure a growth in water reserves in the territory.

    The renewal of the small water cycle over an area, however, depends not only on the extent to which the area has been damaged but also on a number of other factors. In the case of Slovakia, we can expect visible results relatively soon (10 to 20 years) after implementation of these measures. The financial costs of these specific measures are moderate sums which can be allocated from state, public and private budgets. Support for the implementation of far-reaching measures should be linked pro rata to each 1 m3 of reservoir volume built in the ground or to anti-erosion measures carried out. The implementation of water conservation measures should, until the renewal of the small water cycle and the maximalization of a stable water balance in a region, replace previous investment measures, which only served to accelerate the runoff of water from a region.

    The conservation of rainwater on land “in situ” and the conducting away only of the natural surplus of water in a region is “condicio sine qua non”—a condition essential for ensuring environmental security, global stability and the sustenance of economic growth. Fulfilling these conditions should be of interest to each individual and each community. This is the first time in the history of human civilization when the impact of mankind’s activities on the water cycle and the decrease of amount of water in it will have to be evaluated. The statement of the Srí Lankan king, Parakramabahu the Great—”Not even a single raindrop should be allowed to flow into the sea without it first having been used for the benefit of the people…” —is the best summing up of the new water paradigm, a statement which, in the coming decades, should become a slogan for mankind calling for the preservation of civilization.

    The English version of the book, Water for the Recovery of Climate, A New Water Paradigm, is available to download in Zip files at http://www.vodnaparadigma.sk/?indexen.php?web=./home/homean.html


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    Tel

    The “grid” and “credibility spectrum” are not suitable to include in the “Skeptics Handbook” because Craven’s methodology is wrong. It is wrong because low-probability/high-uncertainty scenarios give a false “expectation” weighting.

    That’s a reasonable summary of what I was saying, possibly you don’t realise the mathematical meaning of “expectation” from the context of gambling. See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expected_value

    The “LP/HU” issue will only be a problem if all 4 boxes work out to be “LP/HU”. This would be extremely unlikely (as only the most closed-minded sceptics would rate every piece of evidence as “high uncertainty”)!

    The total probability is always exactly 1 (by definition).

    Suppose I cut a square cake into two rectangle slices, the whole cake is 1, a whole. If I cut one slice bigger, the other must be smaller, if I try to cut them both small I end up with three slices!

    Thus, in a 4×4 rectangle, it is not possible to have all four squares as low probability. Something must be high probability.

    Uncertainty means that when you cut the cake, the cut itself is a bit rough, a crumb here, a crumb there, a bit falls on the floor. If you are cutting the cake 50/50 down the middle then no one cares about a rough cut, a bit either way doesn’t matter. So 51/49 or 48/52 does not make a big difference.

    However, if you are shaving a thin slice off the edge of the cake then a crumb here or there does make a big difference to the size of the thin slice. With a small error you might end up with no slice at all! Hopefully this makes it a bit easier to see why uncertainty is something we can deal with under some situations, but becomes amplified under other situations.

    Getting to the idea of credibility, as you say, it’s a personal choice and to some degree gut judgement can’t be completely written off for these decisions. I was suspicious the moment that Steve Macintyre started sending out Freedom of Information requests to get copies of the raw data for the “hockey stick” graph, and I got even more suspicious when I followed the story and found there was substantial resistance to handing out that hockey stick data.

    My knowledge of human nature is that people who are hiding something usually have something to hide. The whole design of science is that it is done in the open, as a proper peer review where anyone can check the process end-to-end. People who are not working in the open are generally doing that for either commercial reasons, or political reasons and then I need to understand their reasons before I can appreciate their results.

    Despite the various hosts’ best intentions, the forums invariably devolve into an angry mob, with a bias for one side of the debate or the other. Why this happens, why the discussion becomes so polarised, I have no idea.

    People have a habit of going all or nothing, because binary thinking is less effort than subtle thinking. It’s difficult to sit at a TV interview and state that there is a high probability of a very mild change in our environment that will have broad reaching effects, none of which will be particularly noticeable unless you know what to look for.

    So then we have the Craven’s of this world who are skilled at grabbing attention. After a few “Cry Wolf!” episodes the life blood is sucked out of the real science, no one wants to hear about it anymore. We are looking at at least 5 years of cooling coming up because we are at the low of a sunspot cycle and from a political point of view all the outrageous IPCC predictions are going to be used as a massive stick to whack down the environmental movement. Many individual greens deserve a whacking for their irresponsible behaviour, but that’s going to be a setback for the moderates. Once religion takes over any political movement, the only path to promotion is probing you are holier than thou and more zealous and more extreme than the next guy. It’s a path to lunacy but the sane people knuckle under, or get kicked out by the bullies.


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    I agree with you statement pertaining to evidence that adding extra carbon dioxide, above current atmospheric concentrations, measurably affects our climate. I just think we have all the facts and the planet we live on is very resilient.


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    Paul Kenyon

    We know CO2 is a greenhouse gas which is strongly suspected to have only minimal climate warming ability now but the climate IS warming. The question is why. Question: what is the influence of collective heat island effects caused by man’s building of roads, other pavements, roofs, the cutting of forests and the simple dumping of heat from fossil fuels used for all purposes into the atmosphere?
    Homes with little insulation in cold climates (like Vermont, where I live) are accused of just heating the atmosphere. The heat just goes through the thin walls and underinsulated roofs. For that matter, 2/3′s of the energy used to generate electricity conventionally (coal, nuclear, gas, oil) goes straight up into the atmoshpere. In fact, in the end, all the energy we use winds up as waste heat and is dumped into the geobiosynoce. How much does this heat dumping also contribute to CC? It has to have some effect even if it is small. What is this effect?


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    Paul Kenyon

    I hear that some research articles which support AGW skeptics’ position have been funded by the US fossil fuels lobby and other traditional energy interests. I am told there is a website dedicated to unmasking these funders and the “research” they fund though I haven’t seen or used it. To what extent is the research the skeptics’ Handbook is based on shaded by these potentially bias-generating funding sources?


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    John Marshall

    Paul Kenyon: Please remember that CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas IN THE LABORATORY. In the atmosphere it is acted upon by other influences. It warms at the surface and rises due to convection and as it rises it cools by adiabatic expansion. This cooling is at a slightly higher rate than the oxygen/nitrogen mix that surrounds these few molecules. There is also a big problem for the greenhouse effect to overcome and that is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which states that heat will ONLY flow from hot to cold and never the other way round. The greenhouse effect dictates that this important law is broken and this is impossible! Also recent data shows that the planet has been cooling for 12 years and the feared rise of the late 20th cent, which was 0.6C, has been lost plus another 0.1C, so we are now cooler than 1997 with rising CO2 levels. Remember our input of CO2 into the atmosphere by fossil fuel use is only 3% of the total annual CO2 budget of the natural system and this figure is from the IPCC and confirmed by the US Dept. of Energy so is fairly correct!
    Alarmism is not science.


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    Paul Kenyon

    John Marshall: I am not suggesting that CO2 is the primary current climate-warming driver. I hope your answer is not written thinking I was. And, yes, the greenhouse effect is real…without violating the 2nd law of thermo much as a blanket warms you also without violating it. CO2 is responsible for some of the warming (water vapor clouds for much more…95% of it.) It acts like a blanket. The question is, can it do significantly more? I think the laboratory experiments show us that CO2 can not contribute much to warming any more…for quite a while…until its concentration is way, way more than it is. Venus is often indicated as an example of what CO2 can do…but the concentration of CO2 on Venus is almost 5 orders of magnitude greater than on Earth (I believe it’s about 90,000 X Earth’s concentration.)


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    Paul Kenyon

    Question: From space (a satellite making such measurements) the IR wavelenths CO2 absorbs and Earth radiates should be missing from Earth’s radiation spectrum if CO2 can not absorb any more energy at the IR wavelengths it absorbs at…mostly in the region +/- 1/2 a wavelength either side of 15 microns. Are they? And to what degree are they? If they’re missing, then an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration will not absorb more energy at those wavelengths, it will just absorb that energy closer to the emitter (the ground.) This is what’s meant by “most of the energy absorbed by CO2 was absorbed by the first 50 ppm of atmospheric concentration.” Are there gaps at CO2′s IR absorption wavelengths when Earth is “seen” in the IR from space?


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    John Marshall

    Paul K. A blanket does not warm you, unless it is electric, it only slows heat loss from your body heat. The greenhouse effect states that the greenhouse gasses warm the surface which the 2nd Law prohibits because heat transfer only goes from hot to cold. These greenhouse gasses are shown by the IPCC to be above the surface and warmer than the surface. Careful measurement shows no hot lower troposphere only an area colder than the surface ergo heat travels from this area to a colder one which is above. You are confusing fact with model output. The 2nd Law cannot be violated which is why desert nights are so cold after 50+C days. Absolutely no greenhouse heating there, and if you ha dspent any time in such a region you would note the temperature plunge as soon as the sun set.


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    Jan Mågård

    Paul K. It is a fact that the sun are our most important source of heat.
    Hence if the heat from the sun is blocked, it will get colder on earth and vise verse.
    The most significant blocking item, is our surrounding clouds. If we have no clouds all earth will be like Sahara or March.
    So the obvious item regulating the temperature and our climate is the clouds.

    But the great 1 billion dollar question is: – What is regulating the clouds.

    Some think it is CO2. But CO2 con distribute with only 0,037% compared to water vapor with up to 4% of the surrounding air we are breathing. I think this theory is crap.
    I think there is obvious much more reason in the theory from Svensmark, that the sun and cosmos radiation is regulating and creating the clouds. This is Truth proven by experiments in the danish Space Institute and by daily experiment by the sun. A large experiment will be made i Cern in 2010, if not Global Warming scientists use their power to stop it.
    To illustrate the sense of their theory, they made a statement 2 years ago: The temperature is not climbing but will decend in a few years.
    New sience from orher source is confirming this these, the temperature is getting lower.


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    Paul Kenyon

    J Marshal,
    Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. Work gets in the way….
    A blanket warms you…in a way. because you are already warm and it helps keep you warmer. And one need not go to a desert to experience the warming clouds offer. Just step outside on a clear night, note the temperature (cold) then note the temperature after a cloud layer has drifted across the sky a while (warmer.) This is a greenhouse effect…even though the clouds are colder than the land.
    About the second law of thermo: we’re dealing with radiation and a warm body will radiate to a cold body. But the colder body will also radiate to the warm body. Both radiate according to their temperature. The overall transfer of energy will be from the warm body to the cold body so the second law is upheld. But that presence of the colder body will make the warm body warmer over a given time than without it. This is also a greenhouse-like effect.
    Let’s keep in mind that I am a supporter of The Skeptics Handbook and I am a (proud) AGW skeptic…and have, by the way, signed the petitionproject petition. Just so you know.
    It’s interesting to me that in the US (and around the world) roads and other paving have reflected our increase in population and energy use. Asphalt covers fields and forest that would otherwise be absorbing CO2, for example, and radiating to the clouds/atmosphere differently and to a different degree than those grasses and trees would. Could some of the warming we’ve experienced (I realize that accepting that the Earth has warmed…from, say 1700…is a belief given that I have not done the science myself that supports that understanding)be due to the simple absorption and radiation changes our roofs and roadways and parking lots have made to the land? As Joni Mitchell wrote (almost): “They paved paradise and put in a [wavelength specific thermal energy absorber/radiator.]”
    Paul


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    I just stumbled across the Skeptics Handbook in the Examiner.
    They even have a slide show!

    http://www.examiner.com/x-11224-Baltimore-Weather-Examiner~y2009m6d26-No-climate-change-but-yes-for-clean-energy-only-if-it-is-responsible

    Word about the hot spot is getting out.


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    Paul Kenyon

    Jo,
    I have a wee quibble with the Handbook…and it’s pretty small. It’s the words “saturated” and “saturation” on pages 8 and 13. I am reading a new copy downloaded today so this comment should be current. The issue is not that the CO2 is “saturated”. We are adding more CO2 all the time. The spnoge is getting bigger. The issue is that there isn’t any more light for any amount of CO2 to absorb. It’s (all but) gone…in the ~ 1 micron wavelength width at 15 microns. …And surely at the other 4 wavelength’s CO2 likes.
    Question: I understand that CO2 has a constant distrubution throughout the atmosphere where as water vapor concentrates at lower altitudes. (That’s a pretty broad statement and I know pressure drops off with altitude so…maybe not true, maybe it’s more complex but there’s some truth to it?) Related: The CO2 high up, I’m told, absorbs incoming IR from the Sun. But I’d thought there is no IR…or very little…emitted by the sun, that what we get is all higher frequency…visible through UV. And I was told that this higher CO2 might even shade Earth because of this absorption. What’s your take on this? I will try to find a solar spectrum taken from space. If you have one handy….
    BTW: If CO2 has absorbed (almost) all the 15 micron radiation from Earth, is the Earth seen in the IR from space dark at 15 microns? If so, wouldn’t this support the argument that CO2 has absorbed all it could at this wavelength?


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    John Nicol

    I note the latest interesting remarks by Paul Kenyon addressed to Jo. I would just comment that these are very relevant to the scientific processes involved but will leave it to Jo to answer them. Apart from the possible interpretation of “saturate”, I don’t think Paul’s other comments are necessarily aimed at the Skeptic’s Hand book. I would be happy to comment on them from the point of view of the sun and the physics, but only if asked to do so, as I am sure Jo will cover it all.
    Cheers, John


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    Paul Kenyon

    John,
    Please feel free to contact me to answer my questions about the sun and the other aspects, also. paulkenyon@juno.com. I’m not hiding from anyone. But I think, from what I’ve read in this discussion here that everyone will be interested in what you have to teach me. I am a mechanical engineer, took, struggled with but loved physics and have a strong sense of what I call the integrity of science; it goes: observe, hypothesize, experiment, in that order, that we must not talk beyond what we know, must certainly not fake data, etc. (subjugate physics to idology) and that it’s good, even necessary, to remind oneself of these now and again. We’re taught these things as first year students when we have little depth of context (experience) for them and are least able to appreciate them. They so often get lost in the general messiness of making a living. I catch myself screwing it up now and again and have to put myself back on the rails.
    I lack–and seek–a deeper understanding of the physics of CO2 IR absorption. It’s fundamental to this discussion and the science. I’ve looked at the HITRAN CO2, IR spectrum and applied the Lambert-Beer law to it. It taught me a lot but apparently it’s not the last word on this central aspect of the physics. It might, though, be an important indicator. It supports what we’ve said, that CO2 has (most likely) absorbed “to extinction” the IR radiated by Earth in the wavelengths CO2 likes strongly suggesting that there is no more warming capability from CO2…for quite a long while. Further inspection of the IR spectrum shows that CO2 actually absorbs all across the IR spectrum but won’t absorb significant energy at other than it’s “peaks” until there is one heck of a lot more CO2 in the atmosphere. What we’re saying is conditionally true. And it’s good for us, especially, to know what those conditions are…because they’ll be thrown in our faces and we must be ready for it.
    I don’t have to wander far into the climate/CO2 discussion before I find myself over my head. I suppose it will always be this way, but I reach for it anyway. I think it is all relevant to “The Skeptics Handbook.”
    To all: Happy Solstice


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    Tom Forrester-Paton

    Dear Jo,

    Your Skeptics Handbook is a worthy contribution, but in the spirit of goodwill that Christmas is supposed to engender, can I suggest the creation for Warmists of a similar handbook? They are madly spinning their legs in mid-air, seemingly unaware that they have just run off a cliff. It’s a slightly pathetic spectacle, and one is tempted to snigger cruelly and simply enjoy it, but this is Christmas! No matter how beastly their behaviour has been to us for the last year, er, make that two decades, when they wring their pharisaical little hands and wonder what it will take to persuade us, the benighted laiety, to buy their $45 trillion hair shirt, we owe it to them to put aside petty revenge and provide them with guidance.

    I recently posted this on a site dedicated to the New Druids (http://current.com/1fi4a4c if you’re interested) and it occurs to me that it might form the basis of the sort of self-help guide I have in mind. You and your other readers can no doubt extend and improve it. I draw particular attention to the first 2 sentences:

    “You and your respondents repeat the mistake made by so many climate alarmists (and too many sceptics) – that it is the job of sceptics to present counter-theories to their own. It is not. What matters is whether AGW theory survives proper scrutiny, not whether those scrutinising it can do any better. It is up to the proponents of AGW to present their theories in the form of falsifiable argument. The Climategate emails and code reveal the excruciating efforts of the high priesthood of AGW to do just that, their continuing failure, and the lengths to which they did or were prepared to go to conceal their work, with all its inadequacies, from proper peer review.

    Far from “confusing” us further as to the science, Climategate is showing us, as we plough through the leaked material, how a tiny group of unscrupulous scientists, aided and abetted by a credulous, ignorant and just plain stupid mainstream media, have perverted the course of science, fabricated an “overwhelming consensus”, and traduced the reputations and careers of the many scientists who dared to cross their paths.

    So my advice, as one of the intellectual underlings you want to persuade, is to:

    1 Remember Occam’s Razor – that the simplest explanation for all the known facts is preferable to other more complex ones, no matter that all may work.

    2 Remember Einstein “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” Consensus in science, far from “settling” it, ought to inspire at least as much suspicion as it does confidence.

    3 Remember Popper – produce your theories in a form that can be falsified by experiment repeatable by all. Even if you yourself cannot understand the experiments, be sure that both method and data are freely available to others who can. If someone objects that data they are using is proprietary and cannot be shared, reply politely that in that case it cannot possibly be used to justify expensive public policy, nor public funding – then move on.

    4 Lose the condescending, this-is-for-your-own-good tone of the priestly classes – it might give you a warm feeling inside, but it’s no substitute for scientific rigour, and it just makes you sound like latter-day druids.

    5 If within these constraints (all of which, except perhaps for the first, have served genuine science well for a long time) you can persuade us that the climate should worry us a jot more than, say the problem of hip displasia in overbred spaniels, you can go back to being as smug, bombastic and condescending as you like – you will have earned it.

    Best of luck. But I think you’ve got a long way to go.


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    picarl

    I think it’s no longer valid to call Phil Jones, Michael Mann, etc “scientists”, as they don’t follow the scientific method.

    The Scientific method is:
    . Observation and measurements.
    . Hypothesis.
    . Publish all your observations and measurements, and your hypothesis.
    . If other scientists replicate your observations and measurements, and no new data contradicts your hypothesis, then the scientific community gains confidence in your hypothesis.
    . If other scientists can’t replicate your observations and measurements, or new data contradicts your hypothesis, then abandon or modify the hypothesis.
    . Go back to the first step and repeat forever.

    There’s no allowance for secret data. If other scientists question your theory then your only argument can be explanation and more observations and measurements: not vilification.

    Since Phil Jones, Michael Mann, etc have completely gone against the scientific method, they shouldn’t be called “scientists”. Since they are employed at Universities as scientists, they could be referred to as “so-called scientists” but not as scientists.


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    Paul Kenyon

    Let’s not think that because some scientists seem to have diddled the temperature data, that therefor CO2 is not driving warming. Something else has been shown and I think that something goes a little like this: that it might be as hard for a scientist to keep to science’s narrow line as it might be for the abstaining alcoholic working at a distillery to keep from imbibing. Other groups are talking about this. The conclusion thus far: power corrupts.
    The physics of the world’s climate hasn’t changed. What do we really know? We know that over the last 10 years or so, temps are stable or slightly declining and that CO2 has risen 4%+. CO2 is not the only climate driver, there are others, perhaps a single, dominant other, perhaps the combined effect of many others.
    It would seem we’re pretty certain that there were no tipping points reached in the not so distant past (last 400,000 years) in the readable, proxy data and perhaps also evidence that runaway feedback phenomena have not happened because we’re here (to discuss this.)
    The hype began on the wrong foot, as you’ll remember, when we were shown the Vostok ice core data and even I could see that temperature lead CO2 concentration and not the other way around. Thank you, Al Gore, for showing me that huge graph so I (a late-comer to the discussion) could see the relationshop from my theater seat. What amazes me is that scientists let the statements that ice cores showed CO2 lead Temps in the past (therefore is leading temps now) be published. If they didn’t know this was false, they should have and if they did…shame on them.
    So, in the past, CO2 did not drive temperature…and even that might not be absolutely, forever true, but it looks like it is…pretty certain (never say never…it’s not scientific to say never.)
    A question: If CO2 is only a minor player, and we’re measuring other drivers, what have we missed? What is that single overwhelming climate driver? How have we missed it? Doesn’t it kinda make you wonder?
    And, so, I have been wondering: why is there this insistence that there is a single, overwhelming driver of climate? Couldn’t there be many bit players driving climate? CO2 is a GHG. Okay, that’s one. What about these others: all the paving we’ve done (some 60,000 sq. mi. in the US) plus all the roofs, plus what we don’t know about clouds, plus solar variation, plus cosmic ray/cloud interactions, plus the deforestation, plus the ocean areas covered with plastic garbage, plus aircraft generated condensation trails, plus the third world fires for heat and cooking (we’ve more and more people all the time)plus…plus? And all of these impacts march right along with population increase and, later, industrialization….


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    Paul Kenyon

    Another quick question: Sea Level Rise: What happened in the Medieval Warm Period? Any way to know? That was WBS (Way Before Satellites.) Did the oceans rise up? Did coastlines shrink? Did the Gulf Stream disappear throwing Europe into the cold? Oh…wait a minute…nope, I don’t think that one happened…it was the medieval WARM period and peoples flourished. Anyway, what happened to the oceans?


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    Tom Forrester-Paton

    Paul Kenyon asks “why is there this insistence that there is a single, overwhelming driver of climate? Couldn’t there be many bit players driving climate?”

    I believe the simplest explanation for the (in all other respects) irrational obsession with “convicting” CO2 is that it is the single unavoidable emission resulting from the burning of carbon, which in turn is the lifeblood of the prosperous, bourgeois societies, with their oil-fuelled personal freedoms, that they despise and wish to overturn.

    If I am right, it reinforces my belief that the best way to counter AGW alarmists is to insist that they make their own case, point out ruthlessly when they fail, but refrain, unless you are a scientist confident of your ground, from trading counter-theory with them.


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    Mike G

    Joanne,

    Thank you for your excellent site and good work. I have downloaded and read the AGW skeptics handbook and found it to be useful and compelling.

    I live in Southern California (Laguna Beach) and have been doing my small part to defuse all of this Global Warming nonsense. Here we have a governor who crows about being a global innovator in fighting AGW and a president and federal government that sent about 120 control freaks at taxpayer expense and with a huge carbon footprint to Copenhagen. It was part boondoggle and part global warming theater. You can imagine how frustrating it is when the people in power cannot (or will not) see what is self evident to so many of us.

    Anyway, I wanted to make one comment on the handbook regarding the “four points that matter”. I agree that those are key ones but another frustrating aspect of this debate that I run into more than any other is the AGW sympathizer’s inability to separate CO2 from other pollutants in their thinking. They have been sold a bill of goods (or a pig in a poke – what phrase do you use down there?) that cap and trade is about “going green” and part of the need to limit the wasteful, polluting behavior of people and companies around the globe. So you can poke all the holes you want in the CO2 arguments and it doesn’t matter to them. They still support it.

    I probably haven’t articulated this issue well enough or thoroughly enough but I think a debunking of this misconception would make a useful addition to the manual.

    Best of luck, Mike


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    Paul Kenyon

    Mike,
    The conflation of CO2 and “traditional” (don’tchajustloveit?) pollutants is natural. Forever, it seems we’ve all known about smog and mercury and the harm they do…and, mostly (and conveniently) power plants, aircraft and cars emit water vapor and CO2. Somewhere, quietly and slyly, those who would have us accept AGW, tapped into the existing concern about the truly harmful emissions. It was a coup of sorts and gained the AGW take-over, green world government crowd a ready audience. Folks have rightly wanted to clean up harmful emissions and been repeatedly frustrated in the attempt. Big industry and big energy have been the culprits, successfully protecting and boosting their profit margins. …All that to say I agree the separation of these is important.


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    Paul Kenyon

    Jo, a before the holidays I’d asked about the question of “saturation” and “saturate” as applied to IR absorption of Earth’s IR emissions by CO2 in The Skeptics Handbook (post 175). Would you tell me if my observation is correct or not and why? Tom has not contacted me about this perhaps expecting you to.
    Thanks


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    Al Tekhasski

    Paul Kenyon (in post #180) asked a question: “If CO2 is only a minor player, and we’re measuring other drivers, what have we missed? What is that single overwhelming climate driver? How have we missed it? Doesn’t it kinda make you wonder?”

    I think the major driver is well known, except that mainstream climatology cannot deal with it because of its complexity, and assumes (for simplicity) it as a given fixed factor. It is Earth albedo, where the major reflection of soar energy is provided by clouds.

    Cloud formation is a tricky thing, it requires a presence of microscopical particles/aerosols/ions to trigger nucleation of water droplets after the uprising air parcels become supersaturated with water vapor, and clean air may stay supersaturated without forming clouds for a while. It is complicated, poorly controlled, and hard to measure.

    The overall effect of clouds on radiative imbalance can be seen even in basic full-spectrum radiative models, such as presented by a group of notable AGW promoters and founders of RealClimate website, David Archer and Ray Pierrehumbert, see here
    http://forecast.uchicago.edu/Projects/full_spectrum.html

    Try the following:
    (A) Run their model with defaults. The model will calculate the equilibrium surface temperature of 289.1K
    (B) Double CO2 from 375 to 750 ppm. The model temperature gets to 291.7K, 2.6K higher.
    (C) Add 1.4% of low clouds. The model temperature goes back to 289.1K

    Conclusion: A change of mere 1.4% of clouds negate the entire effect of hypothetical CO2 warming. The cloud reflection has a direct effect on Earth energy balance, in contrast with hypothetical and controversial “radiative forcing” from GH gases.

    It is easy to to understand the power of cloud “shutter” in your own backyard in partially-cloudy weather – the variation in amount of falling irradiation can easily change 10-fold in no time.

    There was a research on Earth albedo change (“Earthshine Project”).
    They found that Earth global cloud cover had varied from 70% in 1986 to 65% in 2000. One can imagine how big was the change in solar energy that was passing to ground in 1996-2000 and heated it up. Yet the basic climatology asserts that Earth albedo is constant and “very well known”. However, the reason for change in global cloud cover is uncertain; there is a hypothesis about Cosmic Ray that might cause these changes, but people still debate this. In any case, an absence of explanation of a fact does not mean that the fact has to be ignored, and I am certain that some explanation will eventually be found.


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    Paul Kenyon

    Al,
    You offer us a peek into the complex world of clouds. In what seems another life, I was charged with desiging an anemometer that would resist atmospheric icing (rime and glaze). I sometimes worked at the observatory on Mt. Washington in NH with meteorologists and we discussed cloud formation and supercooled droplets (which cause rime phenomena.) All bemoaned the fact that the relative humidity required to form clouds had been falling. Ideally, it’s 100% when clouds form but had dropped to as low as 70% more and more often in modernity. I have wondered if this could be a significant warming/cooling driver (don’t know which…even that’s hard to tell. A cloud is a blanket but it also is a reflector. Now and again we see studies in which scientists admit somewhere in their discussion that “we” don’t know enough about clouds [to be blaming all the warming on CO2.]
    I wonder, though, what other drivers are out there (man made ones) and how important they are. The next sentences in that post (#180) offer a few suggestions. In that regard, photovoltaics might be providing us a lot of electricity–or at least will be covering a lot of surface area promising to provide a lot of electricity that is actually useful to us–but they get hotter than the ground under them…as well as inhibiting the plant growth beneath them and evaporation from that covered area. I wonder if they could radiate significantly and become climate drivers. Anyone? How much of the ground can we cover with these things before they become atmospheric heaters?


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    Al Tekhasski

    Paul,
    Your question about necessary ground for solar panels has an answer from AGW proponents. They say that the entire need for world energy production can be provided by surface area that is negligibly small on the global scale, and deserts are the best places for solar. My concern however would be about how do they plan to clean up all that panel’s surface, and keep all electrical connectors from deterioration.


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    Paul Kenyon

    Al,
    I question the AGW camp’s PV claim. I live off-grid with a small PV array and wind turbine and I’ve done the electricity production numbers on the 10 year old PV’s. If we were to provide all the energy needed by the predicted future stable population of 9 billion (projected to happen by 2050…which, really, is right around the corner) each to have an American standard of living (12 kW continuous; USADOE/EIA, year 2000 data) as we are told repeatedly they will demand (Michael Klare: his various lectures and writings) with PV’s that perform as mine do here in Vermont, adjusting for the realities of array performance degradation over time, the many efficiency losses including, transmission, DC to AC conversion and storage (not invented yet,) the need to clean the array elements periodically, etc. we’d have to cover an area the size of South America…or Australia. This, I think everyone will agree, would be considered an unacceptable “environmental impact.” Since the array will inhibit the evaporation of moisture and CO2 uptake from the covered ground and plants and that it gets hot radiating that heat into the atmosphere, warming it, I suspect that array would actually become the climate warming agent that CO2 is accused of being now. Perhaps we could name that outcome “eco-irony.” Frankly, that isn’t going to work.
    And, remember, all the sunlight that is coming to Earth is all being used (100%) to run the planet as we know it. If we take from it, we deprive current users of that resource. The wind isn’t free, neither is the sun. There’s a lot of work to be done.


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    Jo,
    I have a wee quibble…It’s the words “saturated” and “saturation” on pages 8 and 13. I am reading a new copy downloaded today so this comment should be current. The issue is not that the CO2 is “saturated”. We are adding more CO2 all the time. The sponge is getting bigger. The issue is that there isn’t any more light for any amount of CO2 to absorb. It’s (all but) gone…in the ~ 1 micron wavelength width at 15 microns. …And surely at the other 4 wavelength’s CO2 likes.
    Question: I understand that CO2 has a constant distrubution throughout the atmosphere where as water vapor concentrates at lower altitudes. (That’s a pretty broad statement and I know pressure drops off with altitude so…maybe not true, maybe it’s more complex but there’s some truth to it?) Related: The CO2 high up, I’m told, absorbs incoming IR from the Sun. But I’d thought there is no IR…or very little…emitted by the sun, that what we get is all higher frequency…visible through UV. And I was told that this higher CO2 might even shade Earth because of this absorption. What’s your take on this? I will try to find a solar spectrum taken from space. If you have one handy….

    A spectroscopist I have spoken too, tells me the Sun’s IR is minimal and CO2 absorption of incoming IR irrelevant. Look at a blackbody curve for the sun.

    BTW: If CO2 has absorbed (almost) all the 15 micron radiation from Earth, is the Earth seen in the IR from space dark at 15 microns? If so, wouldn’t this support the argument that CO2 has absorbed all it could at this wavelength?

    The Harries et al paper I have written about (but not yet published tries to measure that.) They found some evidence that GHG’s have increased, but the paper is not without it’s serious criticisms, and only valid for a clear sky. (The clouds blitz the nice physics sums).

    The big problem is whatever wavelength CO2 absorbs at, it also emits at. So half of what get’s absorbed by CO2 is merely slowed for a second before it’s reemitted up towards space. BUT, the other half (roughly) goes downwards, and may hit… the ground or the ocean and warm them up for longer before they release the IR.

    Emergetic CO2 molecules holding that “photon” might also kinetically bang into another molecule of a different gas. Then effectively the CO2 has transferred that energy out of the IR spectrum through kinetic energy to another molecule that can’t emit IR (like oxygen).

    This kinetic collision is BTW the mechanism that CO2 (and all GHG’s) COOL the stratosphere. Say, an energetic O2 bangs a CO2, and the CO2 emits an IR beam which leaps off the planet. Hence energy is sucked out of the surrounding gas, via CO2 and IR. The stratosphere cools.


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    Paul Kenyon

    Hi Jo,
    Thanks for addressing my question. I also wonder about what a view of the Earth in the IR from a satellite would show.
    Re: energy absorption and the spectroscope, some energy always gets through. But whatever the details of the molecular vibrational and spin modes and inter-molecular processes from I-in to I-out, I’m told the Lambert-Beer law models what the spectroscopic experiements’ results show for air. Working through the law looking for an “absorbed to extinction” distance at a particular concentration shows 99.99% of the 15 +/- 0.5 micron band is absorbed in 3 km of that mixture at 390 ppm CO2. This does not account for pressure change with altitude…but, surely, within 5 km, say, that band is “extinct.” No? One would think there’d be a(n almost) black line in the spectrum there seen from space…a tiny bit reflected or reemitted from what the sun provides…and I did check the sun’s spectrum at Earth…very little IR compared to shorter wavelengths.
    A note: a look at, say, the HITRAN spectrum for CO2 shows that it absorbs IR all across the IR spectrum, no gaps, but at different extents at different wavelength regions. Strong absorption regions appear as “spikes” on the graph. CO2 absorbs “strongly” at our current concentrations at just a few, very narrow, wavelength regions, principally at 15 +/- 0.5 microns. (To say, “the energy at 15 microns” is meaningless because there’s no energy at a single wavelength of no width.) At some concentration (pretty high) CO2 begins to absorb significant energy again in other wavelength regions. What are those concentrations?
    An argument is made that Venus’s high sfc temp is due to CO2. I’ve heard a physicist claim that this proves AGW is primarily CO2 driven. But (Per Tom Nelson, “Cold Facts on Global Warming”) the concentrations are 300,000 X what we have here on Earth so the physics doesn’t correspond well. And, as it is, CO2 might not be the primary cause of Venus’s high sfc temp for other reasons such as the presence of other GHG’s on Venus.


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    [...] warming) something to fawn over with their AGW propaganda attempts.  I challenge them to actually read this book (it’s free, easily downloaded, and not very long) and then debate the points within the [...]


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    Excelent blog and design. I wish good luck from Leinwand.


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