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DeSmog accidentally vindicates The Skeptics Handbook

Posted By Joanne Nova On March 22, 2009 @ 11:16 pm In Global Warming,Logic & Reason,The Skeptics Handbook | Comments Disabled

DeSmogBlog could’ve flattened The Skeptics Handbook in just one sentence.

All they had to do was point to empirical evidence that more CO2 forces temperatures up. They can’t and everything else is bluster and bluff.

The question of evidence is on the front page; the book is built around it, and billions of dollars hinges upon it, on this topic, “nothing else matters…”. Yet Jeremy Jacquot’s sole attempt at evidence only shows he doesn’t know what evidence is. Even a bright junior high spark could prove him wrong with a 20 year old encyclopedia. Jacquot uses 3000 words to NOT answer that question, he confuses himself, resorts to cut-n-pasting from the site that does his thinking for him, and makes at least 9 errors of logic and reason. Jacquot complains that I’ve rehashed and repeated old arguments, which only makes it all the more embarrassing that he still hasn’t got any good answers.

But the part I like best was the way he jumps through the hoops just as I predicted. The Skeptics Handbook says when you poke a believer they will bark ‘Santer’, ‘Sherwood’, and ‘amplification’ and he does, right on cue. Yap Yap Yap. DeSmogBlog lives up to it’s name and adds de smog to de science of Global Warming. Part I, Part II, Part III.

Vindicated – Thank you.

Of course, in the usual style of AGW Alarmists they won’t say anything that clear, explicit or accurate straight up, you have to wade through poor arguments, confusing statements, confounding strawmen, irrelevant points and poor science communication to figure it out.

I could stop right now. But for the sake of spreading the word about the marvels of logic and reasoning, l’ll post why nothing Jacquot says, suggests that anything in The Skeptics Handbook is wrong.

DeSmog Logic and Reason Scorecard:

Evidence: 0
Points where the skeptics handbook got the science wrong: 0
Bogus evidence 1
Strawman Attack 2
Circular Reasoning 1
Baseless assertion 3
Argument from Ignorance 1
Argument from Inanimate Authority 1
Total*: -9
Plus 2 bonus Non Sequiturs!

Point 1/ Evidence?

This is it, get ready, the leading line dealing with the paramount point: How do we know CO2 matters?—tell me if you’ve heard this before…—’Venus’.

Watch him set himself up for a ridiculous leap of logic:

“Though [Venus] shares several features in common with our planet, hence its sometimes being called Earth’s “sister planet,” it differs in one crucial aspect: the amount of CO2 in its atmosphere.”

Whoah. Differs in just the one aspect? One? Haul out the old world book encyclopedia and find out that Venus is also 40 million kilometers closer to the sun; it spins backwards; a day lasts longer than a year; it has an atmosphere 90 times denser than earth, and it’s hot enough to melt lead on the surface. All this, AND the clouds are made of sulphuric acid.

It’s one hell of a ‘sister’ with acid rain at 475 degrees. (Don’t park the Ford there, it’ll be gone tomorrow. Part gas. Part liquid.)

Jacquot ‘reasons’ (I’m feeling generous) that because the atmosphere on Venus is almost totally CO2 and the planet is hot, therefore, CO2 made it that way. But correlation is not causation, and sadly for the him this reason disappears faster than the interplanetary Ford. Let’s pick just one difference. With an atmosphere 90 times denser than Earth, Venus is ‘like’ the earth in the same sense that Bruichladdich Whiskey is ‘like’ water. They’re both clear liquids, but one will sterilize your bench top.

If Earth were wearing a three blanket wrap, poor Venus lucked out with a 270 layer  equivalent. No wonder it’s hot.

On Earth, to get the same atmospheric pressure as Venus you need to get down about a kilometer below sea-level, and I don’t mean a kilometer down a mine shaft, I mean almost a kilometer below sea-level, or under the weight of 900m of water—go sit in a deep sea trench. If you went down a mine shaft, to get true equivalent ‘air-pressure’ to Venus, you’d need to be about 50 kilometers underground, which is 40 kilometers deeper than anyone has ever dug. There is no place on Earth like Venus.

Thanks to the super thick atmosphere, Venus is bound to be hotter no matter what gas it has up there. Ninety times! If Earth were wearing a three blanket wrap, poor Venus lucked out with a 270 layer equivalent. No wonder it’s hot. If you want to explore some numbers try this.

The next time a warmist yells Venus. Just yell back Mars. Its’ atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide and yet, oops – it’s not 400 degrees, instead, it’s minus 40. The warmists with half a brain might come back at you with the explanation that Mars’s atmosphere is thin, but that’s just fine. That IS the point really isn’t it? Mars is cold because it’s atmosphere is so thin, and for exactly the opposite reason, that’s why Venus is Hot.

Stuck in a pit of poor reason, Jacquot keeps digging:

“In fact, many of its unique characteristics can be attributed to the fact that its atmosphere has such a large mass of CO2—roughly 97 percent of it.”

This is just plain sloppy. Many of it’s attributes? So now Venus has some differences to earth, but instead of crippling his ‘evidence’ they’re somehow due to the CO2? Name one. (And then explain how any of this is connected to The Skeptics Handbook).

What’s really depressing though, is that Jacquot claims he got this from a professor. (Ouch-really? There’s a university that gives out professorships for people who make basic mistakes in reasoning?).

The problem with this kind of assertive ill-mannered non-reasoning is that casual lazy readers soak it up.. . it becomes the daily dog food of those who want their beliefs on Global Warming shored up.

Jeremy acknowledges a few differences in the sibling planets… but he says, “it does demonstrate that there is a link between higher CO2 and higher temperatures”. Yes indeedy. That’s a ‘link’ with analytical power like the link between GDP and Santa. (Look out: nations that Santa visits are wealthier than those he skips over. So, let’s do Christmas twice a year and improve national productivity? Heck-let’s do Christmas every day. You can use this kind of reasoning to justify anything you can think of. Want to connect dairy products to scientific paper production? Look at national rates of Diabetes type II. It does wonders for national peer-reviewed scientific output. Countries without insulin resistance hardly publish anything. I can see the campaign: “Butter for Botswana—improve scientific research.” )

Yes, Jeremy, the link between CO2 and temperature that has analytical power is well known. On Earth, higher temperatures raise CO2.

This is exactly the muddy, poor quality science communication and dismal reasoning that got us into trouble in the first place. Jacquot claims sceptics are ‘muddying the debate’, but he thinks it’s ok to brush dozens of variables under the carpet of  one ‘not quite perfect’ argument to demonstrate a specious ‘link’? This is either inept or dishonest, or both.

And this… this was just his first ‘point’.

Point 2/ A strawman about the saturated gas argument

A poor science communicator gives themselves away by vaguely referring to ‘experts’ and linking to the home page of sprawling websites. Clearly if he understood the science himself he would just, well, explain it, eh? But he doesn’t. He waffles and then links to RealClimate.org because he’s ‘sure’ all the answers are in there somewhere. But he’s been tricked by the spin. If Real Climate had empirical evidence it would be all over their site. Instead they just repeat the words ‘overwhelming evidence’, along with put-downs for sceptics, until it becomes a mantra. If he was polite and considerate, he’d sum up the evidence in a line, and link directly to the paper, if there was one. If only someone could find it.

Does anyone understand our climate better after soaking in Jacquot?

My point about log curves is simple and untouchable, so Jacquot complexifies it. He tries to explain something about the greenhouse effect, but acknowledges that it may be difficult to understand him: “If that all sounds a bit confusing, and you’re still not clear”…  Then he tries to solve that by cut-n-pasting direct from… surprise…Real Climate.

Real Climate can stretch the discussion out for pages, none of which proves anything other than CO2 absorption IS logarithmic (just as The Skeptics Handbook says). They protest that the atmosphere is NOT saturated (and I didn’t say it was). ‘Almost’ saturated is hard to argue with. But the crux of the matter lies in the ‘almost’. If we double CO2 it’ll warm us slightly, but how much? Will it be piddlingly small or significant enough to be measured? Therein lies the difference between a major catastrophe, and just another day at the office.

Jacquot makes statements like this below, that look good until you… read them.

You’d still get an increase in greenhouse warming even if the atmosphere were saturated, because it’s the absorption in the thin upper atmosphere (which is unsaturated) that counts…

Let’s do the reading and comprehension test. Is the atmosphere saturated or unsaturated?—Look again. It’s both. Since Earth’s atmosphere is bounded by space, our atmosphere can never actually be ‘saturated’—there is always a thin outer layer around the outside. So, using this reasoning, even Venus (at 97% CO2 or 970,000ppm) is not saturated (and can never be). But it’s all irrelevant anyway, because log curves never get to 100%, which is why I didn’t say it WAS saturated.

“(b) It’s not even true that the atmosphere is actually saturated…”

Jeremy bravely attacks that strawman yet again. It’s like beating imaginary ants with a banana. Messy and pointless. Whatever humans have done with greenhouse gases since the steam engine was invented, the temperature rise hasn’t been that hard to live with so far, and since what’s coming will have less and less effect for each extra ppm of CO2 it’s fair to ask, does it matter? Basically we’re arguing here over the long almost-flat-line that stretches out on any log curve. There comes a point when adding more CO2 will warm the planet, but by such a tiny insignificant amount that we can’t detect it. I just can’t get scared about an unmeasurable warming effect when every day the temperature goes up and down 20 degrees.

Yes.  The appeal to the Mysterious-Godlike-Model answer: “Trust us—it’s all here in this black box, you don’t need to understand the details, just put your money in the machine and count to three.”

“(c) Water vapor doesn’t overwhelm the effects of CO2 because there’s little water vapor in the high, cold regions from which infrared escapes, and at the low pressures there water vapor absorption is like a leaky sieve, which would let a lot more radiation through were it not for CO2″

This high cold region should be getting warmer then? Too bad there’s no sign that it is.

“(d) These issues were satisfactorily addressed by physicists 50 years ago, and the necessary physics is included in all climate models.”

Yes. ‘Yap’ number one. See the Handbook. Predicted and answered already. (Did you read the Handbook Jeremy, or did you just spot some keywords and google Real Climate so you could repeat their errors?) This is just the appeal to the Mysterious-Godlike-Model answer: “Trust us—it’s all here in this black box, you don’t need to understand the details, just put your money in the machine and count to three.”

Jeremy, DeSmog and co, we don’t believe you, not with the logical errors, the censored science and the ‘complexifing’ explanations that confuse rather than clarify. If you want our money for your cause, you’ll need to do better.

Point 3/ The missing hot-spot

Look at the gems about the missing hot spot. It’s like working with a trained poodle. I mention the missing hot-spot and he replies on cue with the same old arguments, just as I predicted and also covered here and here. Yap 2 and Yap 3.

For a relatively straightforward explanation of why this view is flawed, check out this..[Santer]. [and] (also,…  this) [Real Climate]. … it shows that there is “no fundamental discrepancy between modeled and observed tropical temperature trends when one account for: 1) the (currently large uncertainties in observations; 2) the statistical uncertainties in estimating trends from observations.”

In a paragraph that starts with the promise of “a relatively straight forward explanation” of why the missing hot spot is not missing… it finishes with two points that amount to debunking me with 1/ uncertainties, and 2/ more uncertainties. Somehow the discovery that there is 1/ stuff we don’t know, multiplied by 2/ some ‘more stuff we don’t know’ is supposed to make me feel better about trusting climate models?
In the end, these models can only be ‘verified’ if we assume we can’t measure the temperature?

Ferrgooddnesssake. Thermometers are designed to measure the temperature, and somehow we’re supposed to believe that wind-shear measurements are accidentally better at it?

Heigh-ho. That’s convincing… Go Santer Go.

This is like See Spot Run for logic and reason. I get yet another chance to break down an apparently infinite supply of illogical badly written science in the hope that a few extra people might graduate from Basic Rhetoric 101?

And Windshear. Again? Ferrgooddnesssake. Thermometers are designed to measure the temperature, and somehow we’re supposed to believe that wind-shear measurements are accidentally better at it? Rinky Dink. Really?

I guess this isn’t so hard to believe if you’re also someone who thinks that the IPCC—which was designed to find the effects of CO2—might accidentally find the effects of say, the sun? The rest of us prefer science by design rather than random research: where you aim for one outcome but hope to find out something else. It’s even worse when Jacquot tries to explain why we should make this unlikely leap. Quote: the “wind-temperature relation tends to break down near the equator” . Oh. Which is kinda awkward isn’t it, when we are looking for a tropical hot spot eh?

“And, indeed, they [the wind shear measurements] have already helped explain the supposed greenhouse “signature” conundrum”

Righto. Since they’ve helped explain the supposed greenhouse signature, it’s all ok. Did you follow that? So the wind shear idea could be right because it agrees with the models. And the models could be right because they agree with the wind shear data. Hello circular reasoning. All it proves it that he can’t reason. But then we already knew that…

*The Scorecard covers the whole 3 part series, but due to the mass of target material I’ve only discussed the first half of his long 3000 word error prone spot here, so you may not find the exact explanation for each error on the list on this page.

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