Flashback: The Great Debate, a rare chance to shakedown the science

Dr Andrew Glikson

The litany chants“The Debate is over”, but hey where was that debate?

Could the Nova Glikson “Great Debate” be it? Surely not, you think, but debates in “climate science” are high stakes affairs, where branded climate scientists will not publicly debate well known skeptics. They know they can’t win. Instead, the closest thing we get to a real debate is a kind of debate by proxy. The heavyweights on the establishment side pretend to be above it all, but of course, they are only an email away from the man on the front line.

What started as a single pair of “Yes”, then “No” articles that started on Quadrant become a five part saga lasting more than a month. I’ve compiled it all into a PDF which can be printed or read from start to finish, and might be just the thing for fence sitters who like to read. Some people really hanker after the “back-and-forwards” answer and question format. For those that missed it, two years on, the Great Debate still remains a rare example where two opponents actually drilled down to the points that matter.

To Andrew Glickson’s credit, he did not knock back the challenge with the usual “I only debate real climate scientists” — which automatically rules out most of the competition and leaves them debating other government funded establishment “thinkers” who also haven’t disagreed with the meme and been sacked, sabotaged or retired out of frustration.

Dr Glikson is a paleoclimatologist who works at Australian National University along with Will Steffen and the Climate Institute. I’m a blogger with questions he can’t answer. He’s connected via email with most of the team of  so called expert climate scientists in Australia. I’m widely read and networked with people who don’t take anyone’s word for it.

When a science theory is monopolistically funded, the normal competition in science is hobbled. So the internet becomes the front line: where the ruling establishment meets free wits.

As it happens the online format is arguably the most powerful method for getting to the truth. There are no  limits on space or time, both sides can use as many graphs and references as they want, and can “phone a friend” ad lib. It doesn’t depend on “showmanship”, nor on an ambush, and everyone has infinite right of reply.

It came about because Dr Andrew Glikson requested space for a one off article on Quadrant  and the editor, Michael Connor, agreed, and then approached me to write a reply. The debate went through five rounds (one round, possibly the key point, came out in comments).  Dr Glikson asked to reply the sixth time. I welcomed it, but two years later, it still hasn’t arrived.

Glikson Vs Nova: The Great Climate Debate PDF.

If I can only post one exchange to sum it up — this was in my final reply, summing up the paleoclimatic evidence Dr Glikson had put forwards.

Dr Andrew Glikson: Studies from 3 million to 500 million years ago show that when volcanoes blow up or asteroids hit, CO2 levels rise and animals die

Jo Nova: Yes. That’d be because both those events are God-awful, destructive things that dump mountains of ash in the atmosphere. The ash cools the planet. Cold times are horrid for life on earth. Animals die en masse. Tsunamis, dust and lava are none too friendly either. The CO2 effect is a mere rider of correlation, and correlation is not causation.

We know (as I’ve said before) that colder oceans suck CO2 out of the atmosphere. We would be shocked (shocked!) if the geological record didn’t show a correlation between temperature and CO2. Temperature drives CO2.

Read the caption on Figure 1. “Dating errors are typically less than ±1 Myr.” We’re hunting for an effect that ought to happen in days, weeks and months, with some result within decades, and the graph we’re looking at resolves things to plus or minus one million years. We’re searching for nanotubes in a hay stack, and we’ve only got our bifocals.

If you prefer the original web version you can click through these pages.

The Full Debate:

Part I: Glikson The Case for Climate Change
Jo Nova No Dr Glikson;

Part II: Glikson Credibility lies with experienced authorities
Jo Nova Credibility lies on Evidence;

Part III: Glikson The Effects of CO2 on Climate
Jo Nova Glikson accidentally vindicates the skeptics.

Part IV: Glikson suggests evidence for the hot spot.
I point out how weak it is. (See the UPDATE below Part III).

Part V: Glikson The planetary atmosphere and climate change
Jo Nova Ignore the main point, repeat the irrelevant.

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3 comments to Flashback: The Great Debate, a rare chance to shakedown the science

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    Hi everyone, 100,000 comments have gone awol, 52 from this thread. We are working on getting them back. Hopefully by next week, it will all be fixed. – Jo


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    This is based on my last microeconomics course 30 years ago.

    I think that a monopsonistic funding model is a better model than a monopolistic one.

    The critical point is whether the market is controlled by a single producer or a single consumer. In a monopoly a single producer sets prices to each consumer so that the consumer’s “profit” is captured by the producer. In a monopsony a single consumer sets prices so that each producer’s profit is captured by the consumer.

    I think the research market — funding organizations “buy” research from research organizations — is a monopsolistic oligopoly. An oligopoly is a market in which a few participants collude to form a de facto monopsony or monopoly. In the AGW case, a comparatively small number of large funding organizations dominate the market by buying only that “research” that supports the popular (AGW) hypothesis. People whose research disagrees with the most popular hypothesis will have their funding cut until they can no longer compete in the research market.


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