JoNova

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


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Emails with an unskeptical skeptic

This is a supplement to the main post: The Skeptic That Wasn’t. (So read that first :-) )

Below is the email exchange between Skeptico and myself, that started off as a friendly enquiry by me, as to why a self-proclaimed ’skeptic’ thought that anyone raising scientific questions about global warming should be lumped in with creationists, and called a denier. I wondered if he was just innocently unaware that the science has changed (OK—there’s nothing innocent about using the term ‘denier’).  [Look for my post hoc additions and comments about the emails are in blue].

The most interesting part is my third email.

MY EMAIL #1—The friendly hello with the Handbook

Hi Skeptico,
I applaud your clear framing of the 6 points that define critical thinking. (If only there were more people who understood logic and reason.) I too am trying to help people understand logic and reason. I’ve produced The Skeptics Handbook, available on my blog.

…two years ago I would never have imagined I would become one of those kind of ’sceptics’ – I was sure AGW was real…

Here’s the tricky thing. I meet all of your six critical thinking points, yet we seem to have arrived at a different point of view regarding global warming. Let me say that two years ago I would never have imagined I would become one of those kind of ’sceptics’ – I was sure AGW was real (how could anyone still deny it?) Then someone pointed out that things have changed, and that now there is no empirical evidence left that supports the theory that man made CO2 makes much difference to the climate.
Note:

  • I agree that the world warmed from 1975-2001.
  • I agree that CO2 should provide some warming effect.
  • I doubt that the warming effect is more than trivial, because it appears to be overwhelmed by other forces so often that there is no good correlation anywhere with co2 and temperature.
  • I’m curious to know what you think, and point out that this is a very different debate to the usual sceptical discussions, partly because:

1. $30 billion in climate funding has been used to search for answers to one question (and not for the alternatives), and
2. because the IPCC parades as a scientific organization, when it is political, and lastly,
3. because many scientists are using computer models as if they were empirical evidence.

I am relieved that for a change I won’t have to explain what argument by authority is, nor ad hominem attacks.

[Little did I know...]

If there is some empirical evidence I have missed I would be most grateful if you could point it out. De Smog blog ‘debunked me’ but you’ll note if you read it, that they don’t provide any empirical evidence that backs their case – unless you count ‘Venus’ and ignore a dozen other factors that could explain it’s temperature. (It is not our double-blind-controlled-twin-planet eh?)
Cheers!
Joanne
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SKEPTICO REPLY #1— (He doesn’t appear to have read the Skeptics Handbook, and dismisses the claim of ‘no evidence’ out of hand with an appeal to authority. There is no sign that he can entertain the idea that any new result could overturn the theory of Global Warming.)

Joanne:
Thanks for your email. I’m glad you like my brief summary of critical thinking – I mean to develop it into a full length post one day, but it’s taking time.

Regarding AGW though, I have to say that your comment “there is no empirical evidence left that supports the theory that man made CO2 makes much difference to the climate” is a pretty impressive denial of reality. No evidence? Really?

I did try to follow the debate on both sides of this argument up to maybe four or five years ago, and the two things that convinced me it was real were (1) the utter complexity of the subject – how anyone who hasn’t studied this subject in detail as a PhD for many years thinks they can possibly understand it is beyond me, and (2) the thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of articles every year in peer reviewed scientific journals virtually all of them supporting the AGW hypothesis. [see my response to this here].

And I know what argument from authority is, but it isn’t necessarily fallacious to accept that thousands of scientists who have devoted their professional lives to this might know more than you do. At the very least, I think it’s extreme hubris to think that knowing a few denier talking points means you know more than the scientists who working this area, doing actual experiments and writing papers for scientific journals.

[ No No. I wouldn't suggest for a minute that I know more than people like say, Prof Richard Lindzen, Henrik Svensmark, Prof John Christie,... or most of the other experts who do actual experiments and write papers. Do you? And in case you get the urge to do an ad hominem attack on the aforementioned, know that I find these experts convincing, not because of their qualifications, but because they make more sense. They have better 'graphs' as it were. Perhaps if you actually looked at the graphs you might talk about the science instead of the largely invented unproveable socio-political stuff? —JN]

The debate here reminds me in many ways of the debate about intelligent design. [Conflating two unconnected topics there Skeptico: Hard atmospheric physics meets the fringe of philosophy?—JN] With ID, as with AGW, you have the deniers cherry picking some logical flaws or holes they think they have found in the data, and writing about it in books or on their blogs. [ So if we don't provide a reference, we're 'denying the evidence', and if we do provide a reference we're 'cherry picking'? - JN] And then you have the scientists patiently (although increasingly in frustration at how the deniers are misrepresenting their science) explaining what the data really means, refuting the misconceptions over and over.
[Got any evidence that I've misrepresented the science? Didn't think so. But Al Gore did according to a British Judge. Seems the AGW crowd use 'denier tactics' more than deniers do—JN]

So I’ll say to you, the same thing I would say to IDists, which is do some experiments, write up your data and submit papers to peer reviewed scientific journals, and let other scientists see if they can punch holes in what you are saying. [So you can ignore those papers too? —JN]
That’s hard, but it is how science works. Sorry, I realize that’s what you were looking for, but that’s how I came to the conclusion I have about AGW.
Best Regards,
Richard aka Skeptico

________________________________________

MY EMAIL #2— I’m politely pointing out the glaring flaws, and providing more links, mostly for him to ignore

Dear Richard,

> your comment “there is no empirical evidence left that
> supports the theory that man made CO2 makes much
> difference to the climate” is a pretty impressive
> denial of reality.

Ahem, with all due respect – Your comment here is pretty impressive claim of faith. Can you name a single paper, or even describe an observation that supports the AGW theory?

I quite understand if you don’t have time or the inclination to look into climate science – in which case it makes sense to have faith in the government committees, but since this is a scientifically lazy shortcut, why make any comments about the topic on your blog? This is argument by authority (and you know it). And why call anyone making a scientific point a ‘denier’? This is name-calling. Doesn’t it make you uncomfortable that you are committing two logical errors?

Imagine that the new results coming in since 2003 (when you admit you stopped looking) showed that AGW and the models were wrong. Are you happy to assume that the IPCC, Hansen, or Gore would announce that?

“…if you want us to pay lots of money for something you believe in, you need to provide some, any, evidence – other than logical fallacies”.

BTW: There are hundreds of expert scientists – including IPCC authors and climate scientists,and atmospheric physicists, on this rapidly growing list of dissenters…

>“So I’ll say to you, the same thing

> I would say to IDists, which is do
> some experiments, write up
> your data and submit papers
> to peer reviewed scientific journals,”

I don’t need too. Others have done it already.
Details and papers here.  My brief summary: here

[Skeptico ignores the peer reviewed evidence provided within the linked documents. Instead he writes: "Denialism Blog explains Selectivity (Cherry Picking): 'Denialists tend to cite single papers supporting their idea.' Bingo. Nova claimed AGW had been “falsified” by David Evans’s The Missing Greenhouse Signature paper (which is not a peer reviewed paper as far as I can tell, despite what Nova claimed)".
If he read the CSSP link contained on both summaries he'd realize that even 'Team AGW' want to reconcile the models with the temperatures and in true convoluted bureaucrateze they admit that they can't. That's game over in their own publications, albeit quietly. (They are hardly likely to trumpet just how poor their predictions have been.) They're hoping if they search long enough they'll find a way to make the data match the models, but it's been nearly ten years since the data came in - how many more years so we wait while they fiddle with statistics? The graphs are stark. Someone interested in the science would have googled to find out more about the reliability of radiosonde data or the model fingerprints. But instead of even looking at two documents with two links, and judging it for himself, he's invented a strawman. "She claimed it was peer reviewed...". (No she didn't.)—JN

[BTW One of the links from my summary is to, "Even the Gurus of AGW admit the hot spot went missing. That's peer reviewed papers from the front line of the AGW team.—JN]

I say to you, if you want us to pay lots of money for something you believe in, that you need to provide some, any, evidence – other than logical fallacies.

So far, empirical evidence from Richard = 0.
Logical errors = 2

This is not like ID. The AGW crowd made falsifiable claims, and they have been falsified.

I’m just trying to save you from the embarrassment of being caught out posting logical fallacies on a blog about sceptiscm!
Joanne
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SKEPTICO EMAIL #2—(He ramps up the patronizing language, picks up petty points, uses more name calling, and attempts to justify the “authority thing” again.)

Oh I see, you’re just concern trolling. Well thank you so much for trying to save me some embarrassment. So kind. Perhaps I can return the favor. Now that we know that John Theon retired from NASA in 1994, 15 years ago and was not Hansen’s boss anyway perhaps you should take down that silly post crowing about him from your site. I wouldn’t want you to be embarrassed when people read it and think you’re just another ignorant denialist jumping on every anti AGW “fact” that you find without checking it. That would make you like most other denialists and would be the reason I find it hard to take the climate “skeptics” seriously.

Oh and you should know that even if Theon had been Hanson’s boss your post would still have been an appeal to authority, which in your case would have actually been a fallacy since Theon was not really an expert, having retired 15 years ago, unlike my reference to thousands of climate scientists which is not actually fallacious:

In a good Appeal to Authority, there is reason to believe the claim because the expert says the claim is true. This is because a person who is a legitimate expert is more likely to be right than wrong when making considered claims within her area of expertise. In a sense, the claim is being accepted because it is reasonable to believe that the expert has tested the claim and found it to be reliable. So, if the expert has found it to be reliable, then it is reasonable to accept it as being true. Thus, the listener is accepting a claim based on the testimony of the expert.

So that’s two errors you made – one of fact and one of logic. Don’t feel too bad about it – it’s a common rookie mistake. Admittedly they go on to say that even a good Appeal to Authority is not an exceptionally strong argument. But then I never said it was, which is why I haven’t written any blog posts on the subject using this as evidence, I was just answering your question. And strange though it may seem, I don’t feel that I am obliged to provide you on demand with scientific papers that you think I should have read on your chosen subject.

Moving on, we have your “pretty impressive claim of faith” response. Er, no, this is trust, not faith. So either that was a straw man, or equivocation – either way another logical fallacy. I make that two. [Faith: "a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence"; you've provided no evidence, so it's not a strawman, it's more like an exact fit, and there is no other interpretation of 'faith' that could be confused or 'equivocated' with in a scientific discussion. Nice try, but no banana.—JN]

So it’s really, errors of fact, Joanne 1, errors of logic Joanne – two / Richard 0. [Or rather points of logic: Joanne two / Richard 0 :-) —JN] Although I might be motivated to write a post about fallacious appeals to authority, [Strange, me too—JN] so thanks for at least giving me some ideas for another blog post…

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MY EMAIL #3— I sum up his points; explain why they’re wrong; and describe his errors of logic

Skeptico,

> “In a good Appeal to Authority, there is reason to believe the
> claim because the expert says the claim is true.”

A “good” appeal to authority? Maybe in law, maybe in tennis, never in science. In the study of the natural world (instead of the legal world) the real world trumps expert opinion every time.
Pope=0 Galileo=1.

>”So that’s two errors you made – one of fact and one of logic.”

argument by authority is a cheap lazy shortcut

No and no. I still claim argument by authority is a cheap lazy shortcut and you have not proven me wrong. (You’re accusing me of hubris, and yet you’re rewriting rules of logic known since the ancient greeks? The irony…)

> “Er, no, this is trust, not faith.”

Righto then. How is trust different from ‘faith’, ‘hope’, ‘belief’?

Trust: intransitive verb
1. to have trust or faith; place reliance; be confident
2. to hope
Trust: transitive verb

1. to believe in the honesty, integrity, justice, etc. of: have confidence in
2. to rely or depend on

Planes don’t fly on “trust”. They fly on physics.
I would be embarrassed if I wrote about scepticism and I was exposed for having faith, trust, and belief in government committees.

What’s the opposite of sceptical? Gullible.

> “Oh and you should know that even if Theon had been Hanson’s
> boss your post would still have been an appeal to authority,”

Nope. You really don’t get this do you? I didn’t say Theon reckons AGW science is bunk “therefore it is”. I wouldn’t make a mistake like that. I used Theon and others to claim nothing more than that it was becoming cool to be a skeptic. In other words, since I was talking about ‘opinions’, and not science, I could hardly have done it any other way. The hypocrisy is rich. You’re the one claiming argument by authority is ‘meaningful’, then you miscomprehend my words, and mistakenly accuse me of using your own sloppy style of logic as if somehow, argument by authority works for you but not me?

> Admittedly they
> go on to say that even a good Appeal to Authority is not an
> exceptionally strong argument. But then I never said it was, which is
> why I haven’t written any blog posts on the subject using this as
> evidence,

Worse, your anti-agw-sceptic attitude underlies the reason for your whole blog. quote, Skeptico, ‘About’: “Global warming deniers (irritatingly, calling themselves “skeptics”), claim global warming isn’t real, or isn’t caused by humans.”

> I was just answering your question. And strange though it may
> seem, I don’t feel that I am obliged to provide you on demand with
> scientific papers that you think I should have read on your chosen
> subject.

You’re right, you don’t have to answer anything (and I said as much). You can claim to be a skeptic; claim skeptics of AGW are wrong; use faulty reasoning; and refuse to provide evidence. And I would defend your right to say unsupportable illogical things.
That’s free speech.

Alternately you could take the valid, easy short-cut and step out of a debate that you admit you haven’t bothered to read much about lately. That would be reasonable. (ie. you could stop slagging off at fellow skeptics – even if you don’t agree with them – until such time that you can show critical faults in their reasoning instead of holding ‘authority’ up as an answer to ALL their questions).

“Since you can’t back up your views with evidence, it follows that you ‘believe’, you have faith…”

I’ve provided links to papers showing that the theory has been falsified: have you even read the papers? You ‘deny’ you need provide any proof to back your public stand, so who’s the real denier? Since you can’t back up your views with evidence, it follows that you ‘believe’, you have faith in the political processes involved in deciding things like funding, issuing press releases, deciding committee placements, and you are confident that the IPCC will always be honest and unbiased. Right?

and
> Now that we know that John Theon retired from NASA in 1994,
> 15 years ago and was not Hansen’s boss anyway
> perhaps you should take down that silly post crowing about him from your
> site.

No. Whether Theon fits your odd bureaucratic definition of ’supervisor’ is immaterial. And you link to Deltoid. [Didn't you make a point about 'fake experts' earlier? —JN] As usual, Lambert can throw verbal abuse, but can’t back it up with reasoning. Saying that Theon wasn’t Hansens supervisor because he “did not give him his annual performance review”, but only evaluated his results and “justified his funding”, is an excuse to roar about administrivia and change the topic away from climate science (because it’s hard to win any points without evidence isn’t it?) In yet another example of Lambert firing impotent-verbal-ICBM’s (in this case, borrowed ones) this apparently is not just wrong, it does “linguistic violence to the term”.  Really.

For the rest of the world someone is “in effect” our supervisor if they are responsible for justifying our funding.

For the rest of the world someone is “in effect” our supervisor if they are responsible for justifying our funding.

Then he quotes Gavin Schmidt – who wasn’t even at NASA during the years Theon worked there, as a higher expert on the era. (But we know how little value Lambert puts on observational evidence).

Deltoid, BTW, can’t make a logical argument to save himself. You’re quoting him?

And in the end, Skeptico and Lambert are talking about a guy who happens to be an ex NASA expert with degrees up the kazoo* who (like so many others) doesn’t think the AGW case adds up. An own goal again.

[So Skeptico, maybe you know more than Theon on this topic? —JN]


*John S. Theon can call himself an expert anytime: B.S. Aero. Engr. (1953-57); Aerodynamicist, Douglas Aircraft Co. (1957-58); As USAF Reserve Officer (1958-60),B.S. Meteorology (1959); Served as Weather Officer 1959-60; M.S, Meteorology (1960-62); NASA Research Scientist, Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (1962-74); Head Meteorology Branch, GSFC (1974-76); Asst. Chief, Lab. for Atmos. Sciences, GSFC (1977-78); Program Scientist, NASA Global Weather Research Program, NASA Hq. (1978-82); Chief, Atmospheric Dynamics & Radiation Branch NASA Hq., (1982-91); Ph.D., Engr. Science & Mech.: course of study and dissertation in atmos. science (1983-85); Chief, Atmospheric Dynamics, Radiation, & Hydrology Branch, NASA Hq. (1991-93); Chief, Climate Processes Research Program, NASA Hq. (1993-94); Senior Scientist, Mission to Planet Earth Office, NASA Hq. (1994-95); Science Consultant, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (1995-99); Science Consultant Orbital Sciences Corp. (1996-97) and NASA Jet Propulsion Lab., (1997-99).

Still can’t name any evidence that supports AGW eh?

Joanne
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SKEPTICO EMAIL #3

Global Warming Denial

Regards, Skeptico

————————————-

To finish: Judge him by his own words

Here’s how Skeptico recommends we judge the accuracy of an argument, from this page, because, shock (!), for the first time, I completely agree with him:

“The important question is, why should you believe me?  And the answer is, you shouldn’t.  Not automatically.  You should read my posts, see if they make sense and are logical.  Click the links I provide and read the cited articles, and see if they are valid articles that support my positions.  Read the comments to the posts, and see if the arguments of those supporting my position are better or worse than those opposing it.  See which group of commenters (pro or anti) provide evidence, links to valid studies, etc to support their claims.See which group of commenters rely on logical fallacies and which group call out the logical fallacies of the others.  See which group ignores rebuttals to their arguments, and carries on with the same arguments regardless. And then make your mind up. Then you’ll be doing critical thinking.”

Skeptico: Does it make you uncomfortable to fail your own credibility test?

UPDATE Aug 09: Inconsistent spelling, “Sceptico” corrected to “Skeptico”.

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91 comments to Emails with an unskeptical skeptic

  • #
    Brian Valentine

    This isn’t a “skeptic” – this is someone who goads people into arguing with him so that he can attempt to contradict them (and winds up contradicting himself alone).

    I wouldn’t pay much attention to him


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  • #
    Tom G(eologist)

    Brian:

    I wouldn’t pay ANY attention to him.
    Joanne:

    I have dealt with people like this for YEARS in the anti e@#*&tion arena – I can’t use the e-word or you will delete my post ;-)

    This kind of person is the reason why we have developed the general rule of thumb to never debate creationists. However, we are in a different boat here. IN this case we need to confront a lot of zealots, and this guy is one of them. I think it fortunate that this nonsense did not continue too long, whcih means you did not waste a lot of time on him. I wouldn’t spend another minute on him, but it is your time if you’re having fun.

    It is really interesting being on both sides of the fence – on one hand defending the established sciene and on the other being a scientist who doesn’t accept the prevailing interpretation. I’d like to add a little anecdote.

    As part of my geologic practice, I do a fair amount of water resource management consulting, including groundwater. You might all remember that film that was out about a decade ago with John Travolta about the contaminated drinking water in Woburn Massachusets (the name escapes me). I had read the book before the film came out and it just happened that I took a course in computer-based groundwater modeling with Georg Pinder shortly thereafter. He was the expert witness who developed the computer model which implicated WR Grace company in the groundwater contamination.

    That case was sort of the beginning of the current work of groundwater remediation as practiced by the EPA here in the states. If a computer model says something is correct, then it must be. If you do the work and reach a supported conclusion, they want a computer model to prove it to them. In other words, the so-called scientists employed by our agencies distrust the knowledge and judgement of scientists unless it is backed up by a model. NONE of the reviewers know how to read the model, how to interpret the results, what calculations were used, what assumptions are input or NOT input, how the variables are assigned weight in order to calibrate the model with reality. But a model must be correct.

    That is the mentality. If it is too confusing or esoteric to comprehend, most reviewers accept the results.

    Now, fast forward to AGW. The difference I see is that in groundwater modeling, regardless of the data massages and tweaking we need to do to get the model outputs to match the data fromt the field… here it comes… THE MODEL OUTPUTS DO MATCH THE DATA FROM THE FIELD. So there is some little basis for accepting a model when you don’t understand all of the inticacies. Then we make predictions with the models and go out and TEST the predictions. If the predictions are confirmed, then the model is validated.

    Where is there a similar procedure in climate modeling? When has a prediction been correct? When has even one model been able to retrospectively ‘oredict’ the past 50 years of climate behaviour even knowing the input parameters.

    A computer model is the archetypal example of GIGO and an unvalidated model is nothing more than a hypotehtical construct. Climate models remain unvalidated; i.e., no predictions have been confirmed with real data.

    I know how infatuated scientists get with computer models. It is part of my world. My own axiom, though, is: To model a complex natural system you need so many control points of ground-truthed validation points that, by the time you are confident with the results, you no longer need a model because you have enough data to see the result. In my own computer modeling world, the complicating factors are homogenized to make the model workable, so they are only valid for the simplest of predictions. The factors which are homogenized turn out to be the ones which cause the real uncertainty and the disparity between predictions and data.

    Nothing against modeling – when ours don’t work, we try to figure out why and revise the code to try to reconcile the differences with real world data. In climate science however, disparities are ignored and we are told the models are correct.

    by the way, the computer model used in Woburn Mass… was overly simplified, homogenized unknowns, and made nothing more than a circumstantial connection with one of potentially numerous sources of the contamination. I sat through an interminable class with the modeler and one of his graduate students who is a friend of mine and we both concluded it was a lot of smoke and mirrors.

    Got WAY off topic here. Oh, well, it took too long to type this so I am not going to delete it now.


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  • #

    It was difficult to read his blog reply to you.

    I gave up half way through.My head was starting to hurt.He went all over the map with his wordy tome.

    I noticed that Marc Morano posted a comment and several people attacked HIM personally for the gall of posting Dr. Theon’s own words.That contradicts their beliefs regarding his oversight of GISS.


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  • #
    Steve Meikle

    I dont trust computer models. period. computers are completely mindless entities, a cross between a filing cabinet and a calculator. they only work on what is fed to them, so will only give out corollaries of the assumptions that were usually smuggled in by the programmer. I say “smuggled” as how many scientists are willing to address the question of their assumptions and how ones world view will predetermine what is even admissable as data in the first place?

    objectivity is an ideal not a commonplace achievement. what humans actually achieve their ideals?

    I do not dispute the uses of science and technology, after all without then i would be dead of old age even at 50. but without a consciously philosophical awareness of the effects assumption has on which data is admissible much science is simply myopic.

    Kuhn’s book in scientific revolutions had the appalling problem of being impenetrably and appallingly written, but his point that science is a human activity done by people subject to fad and politics like any other human activity is entirely valid


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  • #
    Phillip Bratby

    Tom G(ologist) and Steve Meikle:

    I have to put in a word for computer models, but only under the provisos described below. For years I worked in the nuclear industry (I know) where it is essential to calculate the outcome of postulated accidents so as to know the operational envelope of the nuclear facility. Of course the models cannot be validated against real accidents, so the following methods are used.

    The computer models are constructed using physical laws and correlations. The sub-models are validated against simple experiments at different scales. The complete model is validated against a large range of experimental facilites at various scales. Many of these validation calculations are performed in what is know as “blind” or “double-blind” mode. In a blind calculation, the results of the experiment are calculated before the experiment is carried out. In a double-blind test, the results of the experiment are calculated before the experiment is carried out, but in this case, the experimental facility is new and so the results of previous experiments on that facility are not available to give some guidance.

    From the results of all the validation, user guides are written, providing the bounding conditions and methods for use of the computer model.

    Line-by-line verification of the coding is carried out.

    All computer model development is carried out under strict quality control (configuration, archiving, documenting).

    Use of the computer models to calculate the behaviour of accidents is carried out in a very conservative manner, and again under strict quality control. In other words, the safety case is based on bounding calculations (like a 3-sigma uncertainty). Best estimate calculations are also carried out to show how conservative the bounding calculations are likely to be.

    In this way, the nuclear industry that I was involved in can predict a very low risk or probability of death to a member of the public as the result of accidents (say less than one in a million years of operation). This contrasts strarkly with the risks of most other activities (or other methods of generating electricity). For example, wind turbines have resulted in several deaths over the last 20 years.

    Enough of that very brief review of the nuclear industry’s use of computer models. But the message from my experience is that I certainly would not trust a climate computer model because:
    1 The models are incomplete (do not model all the climatic phenomena)
    2 The models have not been validated
    3 The models have not been verified
    4 The models are not well documented
    5 There appear to be minimal (or no) quality control standards applied to development or use of the models
    6 There is no way that uncertainties in the results can be quantified.

    In addition, an ensemble of different climate model results is often used to give some sort of confidence that the models must be correct and that the spread of results is some sort of uncertinty band. This is totally fallacious.

    Enough said and sorry to gone on so long.


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  • #

    I have also worked in computer modelling. My view of Phillip’s point is:

    Computer models are good if you have a fairly small self-contained system (so you can discretise it accurately) and you know what the key controlling physics is (so there are no unknown parameters).

    Computer models are useless if you have a very large, open, system that you cannot resolve accurately (so you need fudge factors), and if the key physical mechanisms controlling the system are not clear (so you have lots of unknown parameters – in fact you don’t even know if you are solving the right equations). In this latter case, the results of a computer model are completely meaningless, and merely reflect the prejudices of the person doing the coding.
    No need to say which category climate modelling comes in!


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  • #
    Tom G(ologist)

    Phil:

    An excellent summary – and I agree that the models in the nuclear industry are pretty reliable. However, in comparison with complex natural systems such as groundwater and climate (even just weather) the systems being modeled for nuclear power generation are almost closed systems with very tightly constrained variables. That is because the entire systems were designed in the first place to reduce variability in every component, and the function and range of values for every component is known from the design. So in those models we can control one variable at a time based on experimental data and let the computer add up the effects.

    As you are aware, weather and climate are chaotic systems with a vast set of permutations between the varioius components, but computer models, even those employing Monte Carlo simulations, require bounds which must be estimated as input assumptions. And therein lies the rub.
    For those of you who are not modelers, after unknown input paramters are estimated, the model is run and the output is evaluated to see how far off predicte the results were. The programmer then goes back into the code and assignes ‘weighting factors’ to different variables to see how more or less of one component affects the outcome. This process is reiterated changing one variable, then another, until the model supposedly matches observations AND is used to make a prediction which is confirmed with further observations (experiments) in the real world.

    Now here is the critical point – when the modeler is NOT constrained by a requirement that her/his model must match observations, the variables can be tweaked to produce any result one wants – and I am not being hyperbolic here. IN Phil’s example, the model had to match what they found in the lab adn it is constantly checked against operational systems. In my groundwater models, I have to return to the field, install groundwater wells and find the condition I predicted at whatever point is my target – or else my model is wrong.

    In climate modeling the IPCC simply says the data are incorrect and the models are right – and no-one tests it. I am in prviate practice and would soon be out of it and on the dole queue if my models were as reliable as IPCC’s or if my decisions were made in a similar manner. One of the things I deal in is groundwatrer contamination on Superfund Sites in the States. If I model something and I say that based on my model the contamination in groundwater at one point in an aquifer should not be present at such and such a location, the US EPA says “OK go out and test it – if you are correct then we are done with that issue” (I simplify). If I then go to the field to that point, sample groundwater and find that the contamination IS there, I can’t turn around and say to EPA, “well the model says it’s not there so we are done, right?”
    No – quite correctly, EPA says “the model has to be recalibrated.” And as i said in another post, by the time I am done, I really don’t need the model any more because I have a pretty complete set of real world data which paints a very complete picture that requires no interpretation.

    So we have climate models which predicted a warming with increasing CO2, 10 years of data with increasing CO2 and decreasing or flat temperatures, and EPA under LIsa Jackson is screaming the AGW mantra and is now trying to regulate CO2 as a dangerous pollutant.

    btw – Lisa Jackson was the DEP administrator in New Jersey – a state where one of my company’s offices are located, so I have first hand experience with her. Get ready America for some pretty draconian concepts coming from Washington in re: the environemnt. This one would spend the GNP on the environment AND has the attitude that private industry can not be trusted and EPA must take over all environmental work. She left that legacy in New Jersey.

    Anyway, as I said, computer models are the archetype of GIGO (Garbage in, garbage out). The problem is that IPCC take the GO part of that and spoon feeds it to the world.

    Tom


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    Tom G(ologist)

    Just came a cross a good quote:

    “If you put tomfoolery into a computer, nothing comes out of it but tomfoolery. But this tomfoolery, having passed through a very expensive machine, is somehow enobled and no-one dares criticize it.”

    Pierre Gallois


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    Boris

    “Still can’t name any evidence that supports AGW eh?”

    1. CO2 is a GHG, proven, see Arrhenius and onward.
    2. Humans have increased the CO2 content of the atmosphere. (Not going to be daft and argue against this are we?)
    3. Temperatures have warmed– see any metric you like.
    4. Water vapor has increased since the warming has occurred (see Santer 2007 in PNAS). Thereby providing evidence for the most important and dominant positive feedback.

    Plus there are all of those empirical studies of climate sensitivity (See James Annan’s 2006 paper for a list of studies). Now don’t you feel a bit embarrassed pretending none of this evidence exists?


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    Brian Valentine

    Sorry, Boris, but the actual facts in response to your arguments are

    1. no
    2. no, the isotopes of carbon AND oxygen don’t match the supposed connection of atmospheric CO2 increase with fossil fuel combustion (it is constent that the additional CO2 came from the oceans)
    3. no, see any metric you like excepting Hansen’s
    4. No, Santer’s humidity data are way way out of the error range of his own measurements.

    Too bad, Boris. You cannot sell that package or any parts of it on this web site.


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    Boris

    Well, Brain says CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas. Throw over a hundred years of science into the bin, Brain has spoken. :)


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    Brian G Valentine

    No Boris – I didn’t say CO2 wasn’t a “greenhouse gas” (insofar as it absorbs in the near IR)

    I claim there is no relation between the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and average surface temperature of the Earth.

    Geologic history of the Earth was a science since the 1800′s. Don’t you think it odd that no one, ever, studying millions of years of Earth’s history never noticed a relation between CO2 atmospheric composition and climate?

    Don’t you think the carbonate composition of the Earth’s crust and ocean bed would reveal something like that?

    A lot of smart people lived long before Al Gore did, Boris, and Ahrrenius’s contemporaries, by the way, took his arguments as crank.

    That’s because they were.


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    Boris

    “Geologic history of the Earth was a science since the 1800’s. Don’t you think it odd that no one, ever, studying millions of years of Earth’s history never noticed a relation between CO2 atmospheric composition and climate?”

    Huh? Where do you get your climate history? They noticed as soon as they were able to get CO2 levels from ice cores.

    So now you admit CO2 is a GHG? Why did you say “no” to my first point. You seem to be quite confused.


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    Brian Valentine

    Thank you, Boris, for mentioning the ice cores, which revealed that increased CO2 atmospheric composition follows (by a few hundred years), rather than coincides with or precedes, global warming (resulting from atronomical influences).

    The definition of GHG depends on interpretation: as that which actually modulates dirurnal temperature differences globally (as does water vapour), and atmospheric components that participate in the transmission of IR radiation (opposed to a diathermanous medium).

    Absorption of IR radiation in the atmosphere by CO2 is mostly overlapped by the absorption by water vapour, and those portions of the IR spectrum that are not coincident result in influences that are insubstantial to any and all random or determinate influences on average temperatures over any time interval of a year or longer.

    There is no way, Boris, you are going to gain any traction in this game.

    None whatsoever.


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    Tom G(ologist)

    Brian:

    ” CO2 is a GHG, proven, see Arrhenius and onward.
    2. Humans have increased the CO2 content of the atmosphere. (Not going to be daft and argue against this are we?)
    3. Temperatures have warmed– see any metric you like.”

    Let’s think about this. The Republicans were in power in congress from 1992 until 2006. Then the Democrats took a majority. No arguments about that. Since 2006, the economy has slid and is now in the tanks since Barack Obama took office.

    Result. dEmocrats caused this severe recession.

    Makes as much sense as your little bit of illogic.


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    Brian Valentine

    Hmm. (Brian scratches his head.)

    Well, right now I can’t think of anything meaningful to add, so I will quote from one of my favourite authors, James Joyce:

    Rot a peck of Pa’s malt had Jem or Shem brewed by arclight,

    And rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface.

    So, good nignt.


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    Boris, thank you for being one of the few to actually try to answer the question “What’s the evidence”. (Go on guys, cut the man some slack – most people – like sceptico, resort to argument from authority and never get past “The IPCC”.) I know we’ve been through it a dozen times (and it’s answered in the Skeptics Handbook) but any sane rational person who read the mainstream media would not be aware of the other points of view. Boris in point 1, is strictly right. CO2 IS a GHG, but whether it matters in the real world is a separate question. Just because it works in the lab…

    Boris:
    1. Yes. You are right that CO2 absorbs specific frequencies. There are several reasons why this can be TRUE and yet may make no difference to the atmosphere.
    a/ as mentioned… water vapour absorbs a lot of the same bands.
    b/ the absorption is close to saturation already, it’s logarithmic, so adding more CO2 has less and less effect.

    To know whether theoretical calculations from the lab hold up in the real world we need to see some verification from empirical observations. ie… we should see increased CO2 cause a temperature rise, in at least as recorded in some of the following: formanifera, ice cores, tree rings, sediments, patterns of flora,… there are a lot of places this evidence might turn up, but no one seems to be able to find any.

    AGW remains a theory awaiting some, any, proof that it is significant.


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    Phillip Bratby

    Paul M and TomG(ologist):

    Back to computer models. I agree with you both; I should have said that we were modelling a closed system, with clearly defined boundary conditions. Plus a lot of it was 1-dimensional. But even in that situaation a lot of the modellers (particularly from universities and government labs) would pick up and use publicly available codes and make a complete hash of the calculations of experiments. You wouldn’t believe how poorly some people performed. That is why I have no faith in these people with their poorly defined, incomplete models and their lack of quality control.


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    Boris

    “water vapour absorbs a lot of the same bands. b/ the absorption is close to saturation already,”

    This is a unfortunate myth. There is plenty of space for CO2 to enhance the greenhouse effect–and these were discovered in the 1930s. If you want to show me where Calendar is wrong or where radiation codes are wrong–by all means do so. The argument that CO2 is saturated seems to be unaware of the existence of radiation codes, which is a big problem.

    You seem also to be unaware that the radiation codes are based on observations of the atmosphere–many conducted by the US military in the 1940s. Unfortunately, it is the skeptical side that is stuck in the laboratory (or actually, the back of the envelope) on this issue. Review the history of MODTRAN for example.


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    Phillip Bratby

    Boris: I assume you are not a scientist because you do not seem to understand scientific methodology. You can say all you like about CO2 being a greenhouse gas. Yes it is, it absorbs IR over certain wavelengths. You can say all you like about human emissions of CO2, about the atmosphere warming and about water vapour increasing. But none of this is evidence that we humans are affecting the climate. Evidence of the causes of climate change is not just changes of certain parameters. We know that the climate has always changed and will always continue to change. The climate is a complex set of interacting phenomena and we do not understand how it works. So to suddenly say that the we have global warming because of a change of CO2 is not science. Show us the theory of how the climate works and then show us conclusive evidence that only CO2 can cause whatever warming we have had since humans started to put CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Until you do that, I do not think it is worthwhile of you to try and contribute to the scientific debate.


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    Boris

    Phillip,

    As with Joanne, ignorance of the science is no excuse. Adding more CO2 will warm the surface. Adding more of any greenhouse gas will increase surface temperature. We have very good observations of the first order increase in temperature–about 1.1`C for a doubling of CO2. Further, we have good evidence that the water vapor feedback is positive.

    This evidence obviously exists, so pretending it doesn’t in an odd strategy.


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    Phillip Bratby

    Joanne,

    I refuse to be provoked any further by Boris and do not intend to respond in future to any of his scientifically illiterate nonsense; unless he comes up with evidence, not statements. (good evidence of positive water vapour feedback!! I presume he also has good evidence of the negative feedback from clouds). He is an example of what this thread is all about.

    Best wishes in your endeavours Joanne, truth will utimately prevail.


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    Brian Valentine

    Sure I know what MODTRAN is Boris – I am a student of Hoyt Hottle’s student (I’m nearly 60 years of age).

    The effect of doubling the CO2 concentration isn’t in the noise, Boris, (climate sensitivity parameter determined at the tropopause) – the evaluation of that neglected myriad influences that damp the effect.

    Otherwise, other effects on the atmosphere would have resulted in water “feedback” that would have saturated the atmosphere long ago. CO2 isn’t the only thing around that influences water vapour.

    The older you get, Boris, the bigger the picture gets – and the geological history of the Earth tells its own story.


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    Boris

    “Otherwise, other effects on the atmosphere would have resulted in water “feedback” that would have saturated the atmosphere long ago.”

    Not true. Models show that relative humidity is constant and observations back this up. A positive feedback does not suggest anything will be “saturated.”–no one is proposing a runaway greenhouse effect–at least, no one serious.


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    Boris: Read our guide for comments. http://joannenova.com.au/2009/02/17/guide-for-commenting/

    Sigh. Please be polite Boris, and we’ll treat you with respect.
    Anyone can let rip with a grand statement: back it up. Please don’t post any more unsubstantiated sweeping generalisations. (eg “it’s a myth”. Got proof?)

    You claim we are unaware of say, xyz, but if that’s so, why don’t you make an effort to explain it yourself or provide links or references? Would that be because you don’t understand it yourself? Describe the science and why it matters in your own words. Anything else is just another bluff and bluster. We don’t have time to research all the ideas out there that any googler can slap in a strong sentence.

    BTW: If you are claiming that the current temperature rise is due to CO2, your standards of evidence are pretty low. There are a bunch of other factors that could be responsible. The correlation between CO2 and temp has not been good over the last 150 years anyway. Graphs of cosmic rays are much more compelling. They go up AND down with temperatures.

    If you want to convince us, use good manners, good communication, and good evidence.


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    Boris, water vapour hasn’t increased according to
    Smith, Yin and Gruber, Geophys. Res. Lett. 33, L06705 (2006),
    Nedoluha et al, J. Geophys. Res. 108, NO. D13, 4391 (2003).


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    Brian Valentine

    So, if rh is constant, Boris, then we have nothing to worry about, do we.

    That’s a big relief!

    I hope you’ll carry the message to others, Boris, and I wish Al Gore would hear it – he uses every convenience there is that results from fossil fuel use, and has the nerve to tell other people it is “immoral”.

    What a fool. Actually Al Gore and I believe his message to the same degree – none at all, and my actions just happen to be consistent with my words.


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    Boris

    “That’s a big relief!”

    I think you are confusing relative humidity with absolute humidity, Brian.

    PaulM,

    Smith, Yin and Gruber are discussing global precipitation, not humidity.
    As far as I can tell, Nedoluha et al is a paper on stratospheric water vapor. And only from 1996-2002, for that matter.

    Here’s a source for you.

    Joanne, You can start with Rmananthan and Coatley 1978 and work your way backwards. Gilbert N. Plass’ work from the 1950s and 1960s is especially important.


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    Brian Valentine

    Doesn’t saturation refer to a relative humidity at a particular temperature, Boris? But according to you, we don’t have to worry about that.

    I’ve seen it all before, Boris, all of it, and there’s nothing there. Nothing at all.

    Boris if was to happen now, it would have HAVE TO have happened in the past, some millions of years ago, at least 850k years ago, there would HAVE TO be evidence in the geologic strata of carbonate, people who dig oil wells would have picked it up decades ago.

    We saw this happen with Cold Fusion. Big News! Until somebody pointed out that if it was true, the seas would have boiled away by the time the Earth was about a hundred million years old.


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    cmb

    Boris, you need to be aware that on this blog others will be permitted to make any unsubstantiated claims they want to you routinely, with complete impunity and zero evidence, but you will be required to back yours up with citations (which will then quite likely be termed arguments from authority, at which time you will be instructed to ‘use your own words’.)

    If you get them on the ropes, huge chunks of your posts will be deleted with explanations involving distortions of logical fallacies, or if that fails, things like “I don’t see where this came from.” Your incomplete posts will then appear as if you wrote them that way, with no note regarding said moderation.

    You should forget about getting a fair shake or educating anyone here, now.

    Yes we are small minded religious believers who don’t let anyone post contrary things. Oh Wait a moment. That’s Deltoid who bans people… we let anyone post illogical, unreasoned things – but only once. So cmb, I’m ready to snip if you repeat anything (like last time), throw insults, or make unsubstantiated generalisations. Read the guide. The people who post the most have to meet the highest standards. cmb, count your posts. You still haven’t posted any evidence…


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    Tom G(ologist)

    cmb:

    Really? We don’t make ‘claims’ at all, unsubstantiated or otherwis, other than the fact that there is no real evidence that CO2 caused the warming recorded from 1977 – 1998. The indirect correlation between increaseing CO2 and T in the latter quarter of the 20th century does not represent causative evidence – if it does, please explain the rise in CO2 with the decrease in Temp from the late 1940s until 1977.

    And, by the way, WE are not asking anyone to spend trillions of dollars based on a hypothesis – YOU are – the burden of PROOF is on YOU. You say CO2 has without question (the debate is over – the science is settled) caused the rise in T. Fine! All we want is PROOF before you spend OUR money. The burden is not on US to provide evidence – evidence of what? That warming is not happening – OK look at the temperature track since 1998.
    That there are other factors which cause warming and cooling other than humans. OK Look at the paleoclimatological record from times before humans were burining fossil fuels. That the Earth’s climate cycles vary according to several interacting mechanisms. OK – there’s plenty of proof – so much so that I can’t even begin to list them here and don’t need to as there are ample references.

    But you want all people who do not know about the REAL science (i.e., knowledge) to think that humans are the ONLY cause. And when we call you on this bit of simplistic myopia and ask you to prove it, you claim we use ‘unfair’ tactics in our debate. I’ve said it before – we are not interested in debate, although we are forced into it – we are interested in your data. Your inability to produce hard evidence is what forces us into debate. And talk about the pot calling the kettle black in re: not getting a fair hearing? Let’s think about what Hansen says about corporations and scientists who don’t agree with him. Talk about being ont he ropes. I can’t think of another scientist who has tried such Stalinesque tactics to hide from open discourse – scept perhjaps Dmitri Lysenko (go look him up and his consequences if you don’t know about him).

    Put up the DATA. We will lsiten. But I hope we are clear here. Data do not include computer models or weak, indirect correlations which are no more than circumstantial. Put up the data that what you seem to hope is happening actually is, and we will then put up the money.

    What don’t you get about this? We are not deniers – that implies that there is something real which someone is ‘in denial’ about. We are scientists, educators, plain people, who have had a lot of ‘unsubstantiated’ rhetoric shoved at us and we want evidence. THAT’S IT!!! Did the Earth warm from 1977 – 1998. YES!!!! Who denies that? Has the Earth coold since 1998? YES. Do you deny that? Has CO2 been the cause of either? NOBODY has provided evidence of THAT. Put up the evidence. How many times do we have to ask? Your continued failure to make a positive connection between one and the other, coupled with your inability to ‘deny’ that climate changes all by itself without our help makes it harder and harder to take you seriously. So if you do say you have something, I think we are justified to request citations of confirmed evidence of a positive and direct, causative correlation between CO2 and temerature increases.


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    Brian Valentine

    A sad state of affairs.

    There are other options, such as Think Progress dot org, or Daily Kos, where you can chime in with the rest (and be ignored, because they all think alike)

    - or you can come here, and be questioned, and be doubted by people who have heard the same story over and over and over again.

    In addition to “evolution” another item that ought to be off limits is “the models show …”

    That is bunk. I am a mathematical modeller, and I can build a model that will demonsrate anything you like, and the validity of the results of it, I will attest, are in proportion to the degree of my beligerency to any who question the results.


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    cmb

    [only reasoned argument with some substantiation will be accepted... "those who post the most..."]


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    Tom G(ologist)

    cmb – just answer my questions and I will concede that it is ridiculous bunk. Until then, AGW is unproven. Stop posturing and PUT UP.


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    Brian Valentine

    In my wishful thinking, CMB’s response is as follows:

    “You know, Tom – I HAVE NO evidence that CO2 in the atmosphere caused anything to happen. Only the predictions of the models, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Maybe the whole ‘CO2/Climate Change’ idea doesn’t make sense.”

    keep dreaming …


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    Tom G(ologist)

    Brian:

    I am a mathematical modeler as well. I have modeled surface water flow, thermal characteristics of water systems, heat absorption, radiative losses, evaporative systems, groundwateer flow, dissolution and sorption in natrual geologic and atmospheric media, and so on… I have also been an expert witness in numerous court cases, regulatory proceeding with EPA and many state governments and in public land use and natural resource decisions in which I have provided expert revioew and testimony on the applicability of models.

    I agree with you about the ability of a modeler to represent just about anything they want. It IS possible. What I hav elearned over the nearly 30 years I have been doing this is that the conceptual model is the critical step. For non-modelers, the conceptual model is the non-mathematical basis for your numeric and then digital simulation. The conceptual model is just that – it is your concept of the the components of a system, their interconnectedness, which are most important in terms of their effects on the others and on the overall outcome, and what assumptions you will make (the ranges of values) for those components for which you do not have real data.

    If the concept is flawed, the model is doomed. In AGW climate models I spot a consistent flaw in the concept; viz, an assumed positive response that increases in CO2 result in increases of temperature. If that is the assumption of the concept and is therefore programmed in as an “if-then” condition to all models, then there CAN be only one result. The other negative and positive feedbacks can be tweaked to vary the results but will not CHANGE the result. This is a fatal flaw because it is based on a linear concept of thermal absorption. IPCC claims it has modeled the logarithmic decrease of CO2 sorption capacity, but the model outputs certainly do not reflect that. Therefore, because I can not view the codes, one must conclude that the logarithmically decreasing response of T with increased CO2 is swamped by assumptions inherent assumptions of positive feedbacks which overwhelm the experimentally derived CO2 sorption response; i.e., the sensitivity of the models seems to be weighted toward positive feedback inputs with low sensitivity to the known thermal characteristics of CO2.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the mathemeticians who develop the AGW climate models are light years above my own modeling abilities. However, based on my own modeling experience in which I sometimes use mathemeticians to develop the codes, left to their own recognizances, those mathemeticians would end up with some pretty ‘out there’ results without someone (self) to rein them in and keep the conceptual model as the focus of the study. And they could justify alost any conclusion they came up with.

    The differnece is, my models are done to support a prediction which someone is paying for and it must ‘produce’ if I am to stay in business. therefore, I have to step in periodically and say to the modeler, “No, things don’t work that way in nature, and here’s why. Go back and change this input to that input, or balance the weighting factors differently based on something real.” I then apply the model to my project and it had better be correct as confirmed by data, or else I lose the project. We can all spot the differnece between the results of climate models and what we do in the real world.

    Tom


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    Phillip Bratby

    Tom:

    My experience exactly. I couldn’t have put it better. You’ve got to get the basic physics correct and learn from validation results.


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    Brian Valentine

    It is remarkable how easily people are persuaded that something inimical will happen – based on nothing more than computer projections. People witness nothing different within their own environs – and yet this immediate evidence to their senses is given less credibility than the output of a dozen or so models.

    This suggestability, I am sure, is partly the result of human impressions. People see autos and trucks, en masse on the roads, and see the results of human development as factories, buildings, and so on. The impression is, “all that has to be causing SOMETHING – probably bad, but what? ”

    Then Gore provided a ready made answer, and it caught on when some “scientists” figured out a method to make the concept work through a tenuous chain of events.

    What people don’t notice is what is going on around them all the time – the events of the ocean, the influence of the Sun. That dwarfs all human activity by many orders of magnitude.

    Using the conversion E=mc**2, about 160 thousand kilograms (tonnes) of solar energy fall on the Earth each day. Using the same conversion, humans are responsible for about ten kilograms of energy as fossil fuel energy each day. There is no comparison of what could possibly influence the global climate.


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    Tom G(ologist)

    That is a terrific perspective Brian. I think what you are describing in people’s perception is an absence of perspective. I have given alecture to my intro to geology students for years nw called Climate Change – a Geologist’s Perspective. When you look at Earth’s climate history and have perspective to compare what is happenign now, you don’t ract very strongly to even the most dire predictions.

    Tom


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    grumpy

    Tom

    HOORAY for post 31. Can you now please post it to Hansen, Schmidt, Obama, Rudd, Brown, Gore, realclimate, et al and ALL the MSM and ask them to provide the DATA (evidence) before they spend all OUR money chasing a fairytale?

    Best summary of the state of play I’ve ever seen.


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    Buck

    Ah me, oh my. I do admire, and am appalled by the civility with which you treat Boris and his fellow travelers. Very turn the other cheek-ish.

    Please, warmers, and by this I mean Catastrophic Anthropogenic Warming Warmers (it is the ‘Catastrophic’ that really makes the difference), reduce your carbon footprint. No, not solar, not wind, but the big one, the ineffable, the Unknowing. And not just eschewing reproduction for the good of all, I am talking the big Kahuna, the friggin’ Lebowski, pull the damn pin, get DRT and put yourslf out of your misery.

    I know, just the thought of it makes one quail. ‘Poor defenseless Earth without me to protect it.’ Well Bore-us, it was not too many years ago that the Sierra was under KILOMETERS of steaming volcanic mud. Yeah, that’ll leave a mark. The environmental catastrophies the Earth visits upon itself regularly, to say nothing of the slings and arrows shot by the rest of the cosmos beggar anything we we could possibly do.

    Good God, there are campsites under the English channel, corpses in the permafrost in Greenland, arrowheads under retreating glaciers. OK, Boris, whoever, the MWP was a ‘localized event.’ What process produced a time in which Britain grew wine grapes and yet all else was chilly and preCAGW-ish.

    You know, I object to this tone of equanimity, of tolerance, toward these Warmists. Great harm can be done by seemingly innocuous inanities as, “We’ve got to do…something.”

    I am here to tell you as an ex-liberal child of the sixties, it is almost inconceivable, the harm done the American family by the welfare system, changing the number of children born to a single mother from 20% in 1959 to over 70% today. “We’ve got to do something about all these poor people.”

    Consider the perhaps fatal harm done the world economy by the simple phrase, “These people cannot afford to buy a home, we’ve got to do something.”

    DDT. You had to do something, and millions, millions, lay dead because of that.

    At the Obamination, this has become very serious. The Obamalypse is near. They will really try to do these idiotic things. Taxing carbon, one sheet of toilet paper, who knows. I suppose our new masters will tell us. But, this will come to no good. This will end badly.

    Please snip away, I feel better now, still, I like what you are doing here jn.


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    MattB

    They still grow grapes in britain.


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    Brian Valentine

    It is difficult to meet Boris’s naiveté with anything but surprise:

    “I’m going to point to Arrhenius’s papers, and Plass’s papers, and you’re going to feel stupid.”

    This becomes Boris’s “evidence” that the Earth is warming because of CO2 – the only response anyone can make to that is, “you must be kidding me”


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    Boris

    Well, Brain, if you don’t understand the evidence, I suppose that is your fault.

    Joanne argued that CO2 is saturated (with no supporting sources, mind you). Those papers you deride show that her argument is wrong.

    The chain of evidence for CO2 warming is long and complicated. If you don’t want to pursue it through the literature, that is your choice. But pretending the evidence does not exist will not convince many people at all. And neither will Buck’s insults and invitations to suicide, for that matter.


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    Brian Valentine

    By “saturated” Joanne apparently means “saturated to the logarithmic part” – additional CO2 in the atmosphere will contribute to the total absorbance as the log of the proportional amount (actually not even that much).

    I wouldn’t criticize something I haven’t studied – in fact contemporaries of these authors pointed out contradictions in Arrhenius’s and Plass’s analysis, and the same holds true for the IPCC Assessment Reports.

    I don’t condone extreme personal derision by anyone – I get the same treatment when I try to write on the Think Progress and other web sites.


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    Phillip Bratby

    Boris claims “The chain of evidence for CO2 warming is long and complicated.” We don’t want a chain. All we really want is a bit of empirical evidence. A nice correlation between temperature and CO2 concentration would be a good starting point. Then a theory based on the physics of IR absorption. Then a look back and see how it stacks up over the geological record.

    Perhaps I should take Buck’s advice, because we’ll never get any answers out of Boris.


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    Brian Valentine

    I suppose one can’t place too much blame on Boris because Gore does the same thing.

    “The chain of evidence for CO2 warming is long and complicated,” claims Gore, “but here we have a graph of CO2 levels rising and here we have a (cartoon animation) of polar bears drowning in the Arctic Ocean, case closed.”

    (The animation was based on the hearsay evidence of four polar bears lost in a storm)


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    Boris

    “by “saturated” Joanne apparently means “saturated to the logarithmic part” -”

    Perhaps, but the nature of CO2′s diminishing response is already taken into account in radiation codes and computer models.

    “We don’t want a chain. All we really want is a bit of empirical evidence. A nice correlation between temperature and CO2 concentration would be a good starting point.”

    The correlation is well established–see the ice cores. CO2 didn’t cause the initial warming–but it did contribute to the subsequent warming. Without CO2 the rebound from a glaciation cannot be explained.

    Here’s a list of empirical estimates of climate sensitivity

    * Hansen 1993 looks at the last 20,000 years when the last ice age ended and empirically calculates a climate sensitivity of 3 ± 1°C.
    * Lorius 1990 examined Vostok ice core data and calculates a range of 3 to 4°C.
    * Hoffert 1992 reconstructs two paleoclimate records (one colder, one warmer) to yield a range 1.4 to 3.2°C.
    * Gregory 2002 used observations of ocean heat uptake to calculate a minimum climate sensitivity of 1.5.
    * Tung 2007 performs statistical analysis on 20th century temperature response to the solar cycle to calculate a range 2.3 to 4.1°C.

    Links to these papers are supplied at the link above. In short, even without models, observations of the past give us a good idea of the effects of CO2.


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    Brian Valentine

    How about Schwartz’s calculation of climate sensitivity? (= not in the noise).

    What would it take to convince you the the CO2/climate thing is NOT happening?

    I know what it would take to convince me that it was happening – and it’s not happening.


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    Boris

    Brian,

    There have been quite a few responses to Schwartz’s estimate–but even if we accept Schwartz, that is only one study–and it does not invalidate the others.

    In order for me to be convinced CO2 is not responsible for the recent warming (and that the projected warming will not occur), you’d need to show evidence for something that could have caused the warming AND you’d need to show why the current estimates of climate sensitivity are incorrect. This would likely entail evidence for more negative feedbacks and the discovery of some undiscovered positive forcing that compensates for those negative feedbacks. Ice ages would need to make sense in this new theory.

    You can see why I see such a turn of events as very unlikely.


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    Brian Valentine

    okay here we go.

    The Sun caused the (highly asymmetrical) warming over the period 1978-1995 (say) – as the result of a nutation about the Earth’s polar axis (I believe).

    Other estimates of climate sensitivity are too high – here’s why – adjusting the feedback to get the temperatures correct over the above time period in the GCM – then the rainfall patterns are (all) incorrect – thus, the heat transfer ex-and intra, the atmosphere, was evaluated incorrectly.

    You and many others are stuck on “feedback” – there is more to the story. “Damping” is a condition, resulting from interaction of the FORCING – and the forcing, have been evaluated such that they are independent (and essentially, additive). The coupling are not linear, they are nonlinear, and the interactions, have not been accounted for correctly.

    That must be true, for we know that many other perturbations result in a climate – that returns to the condition before the disruption, and nothing, in the history of the Earth, other than the rel position of the Earth and the sun, has taken it to another steady state.

    Your king is in check.


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  • #

    Without CO2 the rebound from a glaciation cannot be explained.” – Boris

    This is argumentum ad ignorantium or, “We can’t think of anything better despite having a whole universe to pick ideas from, therefore it must be carbon.”


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    Brian Valentine

    It’s all psychological. Once people have convinced themselves that something is true, they will invent anything, no matter how absurd the connection, to convince themselves they are right about it.

    There’s nothing I can do to change Boris’s mind, him and a thousand other Borises.

    Meanwhile these people will yell and howl, and throw pseudo-scientific jargon around, until people forget about it because something more important comes to mind.

    Unfortunately everyone else has to suffer in the process, because they demand that the Government pay attention to this nonsense, and the the more egregious the claims, the faster they demand the Government act.

    The situation is pathetic.


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    Boris

    Joanne,

    “argumentum ad ignorantium”

    Not at all. There is no other candidate for the recovery from ice ages. Yes, there could be some unknown effect that is as yet undiscovered. But, even if such a candidate were discovered, then one would have to explain why CO2 did not contribute, as it must based on its observed IR properties.

    Brian,

    I’ll agree with your first paragraph. By the way, what evidence do you have that a nutation in the Earth’s rotation caused an increase in insolation?


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    More wackery. “even if such a candidate were discovered, then one would have to explain why CO2 did not contribute, as it must based on its observed IR properties.”

    There is no ‘MUST’. There’s no Natural Law that says CO2 has to be an important driver of temperatures. Just a lab experiment that says it might. So, no, if you have no evidence that it has an effect, I don’t have to explain why you can’t find any. It would be nice, for sure, for us to understand the climate well enough to pin down every loop, but we don’t have to do that to show that it is not a valid logical step to assume anything based on the limitations of the IPCC’s collective imagination.

    Just because you can’t think of ways that feedback effects, or other factors (like for example, an almost saturated absorbance spectrum) could reduce the theoretical impact of CO2, says more about your imagination than it does about the climate.


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    Brian Valentine

    Before I respond to your question about a wobble about the polar axis, Boris, one quick question:

    Of all CO2 entering the atmosphere annually, how much is the result of human fossil fuel use, according to IPCC estimates?


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    Brian Valentine

    Time’s up.

    The answer to my own question is: 2.97%.

    Now Ladies and Gentlemen: How much confidence do you place in ANY of those signficant figures.


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    Boris

    “Just a lab experiment that says it might. So, no, if you have no evidence that it has an effect, I don’t have to explain why you can’t find any.”

    “must” is probably a strong word. But again, it’s not just a lab experiment, it’s also direct observations of the atmosphere, which have been repeated thousands of times by many independent researchers over a span of decades. Look up any atmospheric radiation code you’d like–they all come to the same conclusion about CO2.

    And I can think of plenty of ways that feedbacks and whatnot could affect the results–but we’re talking about evidence here, right? You have no detailed evidence for your saturated wavelength argument–which fails primarily because it does not consider anything but the most rudimentary observations. (i.e. it does not consider changes in altitude or pressure–properties of the actual atmosphere.) Isn’t that wackery as you put it?


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    Brian Valentine

    (snore)

    Huh? Did somebody say something????

    Did I miss something important?


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    Boris

    Brian,

    Still waiting on your evidence for a wobble causing increased insoaltion.


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    Tom G(ologist)

    zzzzzzzzzzzz……….


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    Boris, if you’d like us to take radiation codes seriously, do us the courtesy of explaining how they prove CO2 matters in your own words. And it would be both polite and honest to add a link so we can find more info. I’ve got a lot to do, and so haven’t found the time yet to google another possibly random unrelated idea. Please stop the generic vague appeals to mysterious masses of scientific papers. Haven’t you noticed that lots of others have tried the same unscientific, unreasoned approach on this blog and failed to convince us? We are skeptics… since you are having trouble with basic logic, forgive me for not leaping to research your ideas for you.

    Muddy thinking like this makes conversations slow.

    “And I can think of plenty of ways that feedbacks and what not could affect the results–but we’re talking about evidence here, right? -Boris”

    No. We were talking about examples of forces that might mean CO2 can rise AND have hardly any effect. Remember you were trying to use argument ad ignorantium to prove that because CO2 absorbs IR in the lab, and you can’t think of any possible negation of that effect in the real world, therefore it ‘must’ heat the planet? Since they are examples of a potentially infinite number of possibilities, I don’t have to prove they are true to prove that something based on argumentum ad ignorantium is invalid reasoning.


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    Perhaps Joanne should listen to the more scientifically literate “skeptics”.

    It has been known for a long time that even a short column of air contains enough CO2 to saturate LW absorption. This has been misinterpreted by some skeptics to mean that adding more CO2 will not increase the temperature. That is simply not true, as higher GHG densities force the temperature up. There is no dispute about this in the scientific community.

    [Nor do I dispute it. Find a quote from the Skeptic Handbook. Strawman Chris? — JN]


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    Brian Valentine

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


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    Phillip Bratby

    I can’t understand what Boris is on about. The climate has gone up and down like a yoyo without any help from CO2. If only we knew why. Volcanoes? Ocean currents where all the energy is stored and moved around? There used to be a natural nuclear reactor in Africa? Meteors?


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    Boris

    Once again, Joanne, the effects of CO2 have been observed in the atmosphere. Radiation codes are based on these observations. The following cite gives an overview of the WWII era research:

    Weart, Spencer R. (1997). “Global Warming, Cold War, and the Evolution of Research Plans.” Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences 27(2): 319-56.


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    Haven’t you noticed that lots of others have tried the same unscientific, unreasoned approach on this blog and failed to convince us?

    I’ve seen people give you clear scientific arguments that have failed to convince you.

    You do not appear to understand the science that you have the arrogance to judge.

    Whether you personally are convinced has absolutely zero bearing on the science.


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    cmb

    Brian Valentine:
    February 27th, 2009 at 5:44 am
    “Before I respond to your question about a wobble about the polar axis, Boris, one quick question:

    Of all CO2 entering the atmosphere annually, how much is the result of human fossil fuel use, according to IPCC estimates?”

    57Brian Valentine:
    February 27th, 2009 at 9:45 am
    “Time’s up.

    The answer to my own question is: 2.97%.”

    – Of course, anyone can claim anything on the internet. Where’s your cite?


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    Brian Valentine

    IPCC AR/4 (2007)


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    cmb

    69Brian Valentine:
    March 3rd, 2009 at 5:49 am
    IPCC AR/4 (2007)

    – In other words, you know already that you are wrong, completely out of the ballpark – and are dodging the question. lol


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    Brian Valentine

    You are interpreting IPCC data correctly, I’m sure

    LAUGH OUT LOUD


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    cmb

    Brian Valentine:
    March 5th, 2009 at 11:47 am
    “You are interpreting IPCC data correctly, I’m sure

    LAUGH OUT LOUD”

    I didn’t even have to look at it. lol

    Keep running away from your made-up k00k number, it exposes you as well as anything else would.


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    Brian Valentine

    cmb,

    One day, you will be sixty years old, and you will look at the cmb’s out there, and you will just shake your head.

    Maybe. Some folks stay fools all of their lives.


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    MattB

    well Brian you are 60 are you not?


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    Brian Valentine

    In six months, I will be.

    Actually for the past couple of years when anyone asked my age (and if I believed they needed to know the answer) my answer would be, “sixty.”

    So I have felt sixty for a while now, and when I think back, that occasionally happened when I was 35


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    Brian Valentine

    By the way cmb – if you look that info up and you find out THAT IT IS ACTUALLY CORRECT – are you going to report back here that despite your disbelief, and what you mocked someone for, turns out to be true?

    No, you will not. You will just find some other web logs to try to humiliate others, to prove how great you are.


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    Brian G Valentine

    Kt x p + and mate.

    Congratulations to Joanne for her well-received discussion in New York, USA.


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    cmb

    cmb:
    “March 3rd, 2009 at 4:44 am
    Brian Valentine:
    February 27th, 2009 at 5:44 am
    “Before I respond to your question about a wobble about the polar axis, Boris, one quick question:

    Of all CO2 entering the atmosphere annually, how much is the result of human fossil fuel use, according to IPCC estimates?”

    57Brian Valentine:
    February 27th, 2009 at 9:45 am
    “Time’s up.

    The answer to my own question is: 2.97%.”

    - Of course, anyone can claim anything on the internet. Where’s your cite?”

    I see no responsive cite has been provided in over a week. 5 combative posts as a substitute, however. lol

    Now that Mr. Valentine can be safely regarded as wasting our time, I’ll go ahead and have a quick crack at providing a number, as a means of verifying that:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/bookshelf/brochures/greenhouse/Chapter1.htm, Figure 2

    Total soil and vegetation CO2 contribution: 119.6 up – 120.2 down = -0.6 billion metric tons sink

    Total oceanic contribution: 90.6 up – 92.2 down = -1.6 billion metric tons sink

    Total fossil fuel and industry contribution: 7.2 metric tons source.

    Contribution of fossil fuels and industry as percentage of total up = 3.42%

    Contribution of fossil fuels and industry as percentage of NET = 144%

    In other words, Brian was close to correct, if not correct – but totally irrelevant to the discussion, a complete waste of time stretched as far as he could stretch it. =)

    So, now that Brian’s evasive subject change is disposed of, where is his wobble evidence? (see #51, 54, 60)


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    Brian Valentine

    Let me say how impressed I am that you checked the value, and I apologize for wasting your time over something YOU questioned me about.

    The value I quoted from IPCC must have been averaged annually over a forty-year period, say, instead of one year’s increase, and is therefore smaller than the value you quoted.

    Thanks again,

    Brian Valentine.


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    Brian Valentine

    Oh. I almost forgot the second part of your response.

    Please check the Geophys Res Letters in about August of this year, where we prove the theorem:

    Laissez phi1, phi2, phi3 soit des angles de déplacement mesurés en ce qui concerne les haches cartésiennes droitières tournant avec la terre, que transversal les Polonais vrais ont alignée avec la terre au centre de la masse. Laissez d(OMEGA) soit le vecteur différentiel des déplacements infinitésimaux des angles phi1, phi2, phi3 mesuré en ce qui concerne un à position fixe des angles du déplacement.

    J’affirme : qu’au-dessus de la période des années 1985-2000 que la cause déterminante de la matrice représentant d(OMEGA) est positive au cours de la période indiquée de temps, avec la direction resolved comme nord en ce qui concerne l’étoile de Polonais, et des résiduels de la matrice de la cause déterminante soyez plus grand que trois écarts type de l’erreur des mesures du nord vrai au cours de la période indiquée de temps.

    La nutation ainsi décrit a pu avoir été incidente à le tremblement de terre dans l’Océan Indien du sud de 2005, qui a eu comme conséquence sa propre nutation qui a duré pendant une période d’approximativement un an dès l’incident.


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    Brian Valentine

    cmb, please re-read #73


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    Brian Valentine

    Note on #80:

    “Polonais” is to be translated as Pole (as in “North Pole”) – not “Polish”


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    Most of CO2 emissions is in air cooler than the planets surface.How can such emissions warm up a surface that is warmer than itself?


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    Girma

    Isn’t to attempt for something by its nature changing (Climate) not to change extreme irrationality?


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    Girma

    Isn’t to attempt for something by its nature changing (Climate) not to change extreme irrationality?

    We are showing our animal instinct to stampede as a heard without knowing the consequence. It does not matter whether the cause of the stamped is real or imagined, few start it and the whole heard follows. Remember the IT bubble? The Y2K scare? The housing bubble? And now the global warming mania.


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    MattB

    Or the skeptical stampede Girma. Or are you claiming that humans have an instinct to stampede but not in this particular case?


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    cmb

    [deleted: failed basic manners test ]


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    Anne-Kit Littler

    But it’s not a stampede on the skeptical side, is it, MattB? According to your side it’s barely a trickle … see Warmist comments on the “Chic to be a skeptic” thread.

    We’re not stampeding. Realists don’t stampede, we are building an edifice, brick by brick.

    We’ll get there. Change is coming.


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    David Hewison

    Mattb :”they still grow grapes in Britain.” that is true, but they arent very nice.

    Buck – from your post wheer you said “Good God, there are campsites under the English channel, corpses in the permafrost in Greenland, arrowheads under retreating glaciers. OK, Boris, whoever, the MWP was a ‘localized event.’ What process produced a time in which Britain grew wine grapes and yet all else was chilly and preCAGW-ish.”

    I dont think Ive ever read a post in any blog that has hit a nerve with me as much as yours did. Well said, and unfortunately all too acurate.


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    I suppose Skeptico would argue that the Wright brothers used denier tactics when they invented the airplane. And, how could their patent be approved when it went against the consensus view?


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    Thanks for nuking Skeptico’s arguments and then making the rubble bounce thereafter. Very entertaining and informative!


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