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Swindled: Carl Wunsch responds

Filed under: — group @ 12 March 2007 - (Türkçe)

The following letter from Carl Wunsch is intended to clarify his views on global warming in general, and the The Great Global Warming Swindle which misrepresented them.

Partial Response to the London Channel 4 Film “The Global Warming Swindle”

Carl Wunsch 11 March 2007

I believe that climate change is real, a major threat, and almost surely has a major human-induced component. But I have tried to stay out of the `climate wars’ because all nuance tends to be lost, and the distinction between what we know firmly, as scientists, and what we suspect is happening, is so difficult to maintain in the presence of rhetorical excess. In the long run, our credibility as scientists rests on being very careful of, and protective of, our authority and expertise.

The science of climate change remains incomplete. Some elements are so firmly based on well-understood principles, or for which the observational record is so clear, that most scientists would agree that they are almost surely true (adding CO2 to the atmosphere is dangerous; sea level will continue to rise,…). Other elements remain more uncertain, but we as scientists in our roles as informed citizens believe society should be deeply concerned about their possibility: failure of US midwestern precipitation in 100 years in a mega-drought; melting of a large part of the Greenland ice sheet, among many other examples.

I am on record in a number of places complaining about the over-dramatization and unwarranted extrapolation of scientific facts. Thus the notion that the Gulf Stream would or could “shut off” or that with global warming Britain would go into a “new ice age” are either scientifically impossible or so unlikely as to threaten our credibility as a scientific discipline if we proclaim their reality [i.e. see this previous RC post]. They also are huge distractions from more immediate and realistic threats. I’ve paid more attention to the extreme claims in the literature warning of coming catastrophe, both because I regard the scientists there as more serious, and because I am very sympathetic to the goals of my colleagues who sometimes seem, however, to be confusing their specific scientific knowledge with their worries about the future.

When approached by WAGTV, on behalf of Channel 4, known to me as one of the main UK independent broadcasters, I was led to believe that I would be given an opportunity to explain why I, like some others, find the statements at both extremes of the global change debate distasteful. I am, after all a teacher, and this seemed like a good opportunity to explain why, for example, I thought more attention should be paid to sea level rise, which is ongoing and unstoppable and carries a real threat of acceleration, than to the unsupportable claims that the ocean circulation was undergoing shutdown (Nature, December 2005).

I wanted to explain why observing the ocean was so difficult, and why it is so tricky to predict with any degree of confidence such important climate elements as its heat and carbon storage and transports in 10 or 100 years. I am distrustful of prediction scenarios for details of the ocean circulation that rely on extremely complicated coupled models that run out for decades to thousands of years. The science is not sufficiently mature to say which of the many complex elements of such forecasts are skillful. Nonetheless, and contrary to the impression given in the film, I firmly believe there is a great deal to be learned from models. With effort, all of this is explicable in terms the public can understand.

In the part of the “Swindle” film where I am describing the fact that the ocean tends to expel carbon dioxide where it is warm, and to absorb it where it is cold, my intent was to explain that warming the ocean could be dangerous—because it is such a gigantic reservoir of carbon. By its placement in the film, it appears that I am saying that since carbon dioxide exists in the ocean in such large quantities, human influence must not be very important — diametrically opposite to the point I was making — which is that global warming is both real and threatening in many different ways, some unexpected.

Many of us feel an obligation to talk to the media—it’s part of our role as scientists, citizens, and educators. The subjects are complicated, and it is easy to be misquoted or quoted out context. My experience in the past is that these things do happen, but usually inadvertently — most reporters really do want to get it right.

Channel 4 now says they were making a film in a series of “polemics”. There is nothing in the communication we had (much of it on the telephone or with the film crew on the day they were in Boston) that suggested they were making a film that was one-sided, anti-educational, and misleading. I took them at face value—clearly a great error. I knew I had no control over the actual content, but it never occurred to me that I was dealing with people who already had a reputation for distortion and exaggeration.

The letter I sent them as soon as I heard about the actual program is below. [available here]

As a society, we need to take out insurance against catastrophe in the same way we take out homeowner’s protection against fire. I buy fire insurance, but I also take the precaution of having the wiring in the house checked, keeping the heating system up to date, etc., all the while hoping that I won’t need the insurance. Will any of these precautions work? Unexpected things still happen (lightning strike? plumber’s torch igniting the woodwork?). How large a fire insurance premium is it worth paying? How much is it worth paying for rewiring the house? $10,000 but perhaps not $100,000? There are no simple answers even at this mundane level.

How much is it worth to society to restrain CO2 emissions — will that guarantee protection against global warming? Is it sensible to subsidize insurance for people who wish to build in regions strongly susceptible to coastal flooding? These and others are truly complicated questions where often the science is not mature enough give definitive answers, much as we would like to be able to provide them. Scientifically, we can recognize the reality of the threat, and much of what society needs to insure against. Statements of concern do not need to imply that we have all the answers. Channel 4 had an opportunity to elucidate some of this. The outcome is sad.


162 Responses to “Swindled: Carl Wunsch responds”

  1. 101
    Julian Morrison says:

    As a person who is *very* skeptical about (1) the utility of computer modeling (2) the trustworthiness of politically influenced science (3) that the problem is worse than the supposed cure (4) that the cure would even work… I nevertheless would very much welcome a documentary by real scientists. Especially, leave out the appeals to emotion (via stirring music, heartfelt prose), and leave in the error bars. Political predictions seem to demand one “most probable” analysis, but I’d be far more interested to know about the other scenarios too, and how likely they are in both relative and absolute terms.

    It doesn’t matter if it would be too erudite for mass media. Put it on Google video, where those who have a brain can come and watch it.

  2. 102
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #101: Julian Morrison — The problem is worse, much worse IMHO, than what it seems based on most of what is written here on RealClimate. The reason is biological adaptation. With temperatures increasing some 10 to 30 times faster than during the warming from LGM to the Holocene, specialized organisms cannot mutate or migrate fast enough. Biodiversity will decrease. That will be bad for humans.

    For example, even during the transistion from LGM to Holocene, the near-shore marine animals (shellfish) had a tough go of it, not being fully re-established until the Holocene. The reason in that case may have been less the 6 K warming than the 120+ meter increase in sea stand.

  3. 103
    dhogaza says:

    As a person who is *very* skeptical about (1) the utility of computer modeling…

    Gosh, then, I hope you don’t fly in modern airliners, drive modern cars, or even wear modern hi-tech shoes from the likes of Nike …

    Of course, the results of such models are empirically compared to the real world (wind tunnel testing, etc) but so are climate models …

  4. 104
    Ron Taylor says:

    Re 101: Julian, many of the scientists developing the climate computer models work for NASA. Please understand the NASA track record of excellence in computer modeling. Everything they have accomplished in aircraft design and in the space program has depended on computer modeling, including landing men on the moon nearly forty years ago. Sure, climate is even more complex, but the computers used are orders of magnitude more powerful. It is a great mistake to dismiss the power and utility of computer modeling.

  5. 105
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. #94
    Houghton is very distinguished but I wish press articles wouldn’t insist on calling everyone they are writing about “the world’s top climate expert”!

    Anyway Houghton’s full article is at:
    http://www.jri.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=137&Itemid=83

  6. 106
    Jim Steele says:

    I have read many articles by Dr. Wunsch prior to that video and nothing that he said in the video contradicts his views, other than the fact that the video is highly critical of the CO2 theory. Wunsch has clearly advocated hedging our bets against human caused change but is also a strong skeptic about the ability to predict the future, and warns of the lack of understanding of the oceans climte role. His comments about sea level are fascinating fascinanting because of all the places in the world that are experiencing warming, the Arctic, I would expect the greatest sea level rise. However according to the recent ERS-2 satellite data, the Arctic sea level has been falling by 2.17 mm per year since 1995. This certainly suggests that changing sea levels has other major contributors than melting ice.

  7. 107
    Hank Roberts says:

    > ERS-2, arctic sea level
    Is this what you’re reading?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5076322.stm

  8. 108
    Julian Morrison says:

    Re #103, 104

    Computer modeling is very good at simulating the known (aircraft mechanics), but my skepticism leads from the fact that it’s being asked to simulate the unknown. Any such simulation is a guess, and a chaotic system confounds even close guesses.

  9. 109

    [[Computer modeling is very good at simulating the known (aircraft mechanics), but my skepticism leads from the fact that it’s being asked to simulate the unknown. Any such simulation is a guess,]]

    No, it’s a simulation.

    [[ and a chaotic system confounds even close guesses. ]]

    Weather is chaotic, climate is not.

  10. 110

    Swindling the masses enough, but not too much, may be
    Essential in our present circumstances to the survival of
    Civilization; likely those masses are mostly doomed since
    Resistance to novel expertise conveyed with jargon and,
    Even more, to demands for mass behavior change is only
    Too human but will now spell drought, famine, fire, flood.

    Some soil moisture, aquifers, lakes and rivers disappear.
    Overfishing, acidification will eliminate much seafood.
    Carbon sinks will become outgassing feedback sources.
    Irrigated agricultural zones will be dust bowl deserts.
    Eocene starting climate is probably inevitable again.
    The speed at which oceans will rise remains unknown.
    Yet reducing hothouse gas emissions can still reduce harm.

    Not alarming people enough would mean that their
    Emissions would accelerate, feedback cycling viciously.
    Excessively alarming the masses would mean that false
    Doubt and debate would fail to do their job of preventing
    Spikes in poleward property values.

    We need arctic high ground for nuclear-powered retreats
    Enabling generations to gain from civilization, science.
    Agricultural and mechanical skills must be propagated.
    Languages, forests, nations, reefs: too many will die.
    The magnitude of loss must not be allowed to cripple us.
    High-density cities, railways, colleges must be built.

  11. 111
    Neil Craig says:

    It is quite obvious that Professor Wunsch’s words have not been altered in any way & certainly not misquoted.

    What has happened is that he he has found his head considerably further above the parapet, in a debate where “deniers” are treated rather like medieval athiests, than he expected & is attempting to distance himself from the programme which is “damaging my career”. This action does not prove the programme in any way wrong it merely proves the hysteria pushing the “official” view.

    On the other side Paul Ehrlich’s career has never been damaged by the, very numerous, prophecies he has made which have turned out to be lunacy & the author of the Hockeystick has not been damaged by it being proven to depend on hertofore unknown mathematics which the author is keeping as secret as any alchemist ever did his secrets.

  12. 112
    dhogaza says:

    What has happened is that he he has found his head considerably further above the parapet, in a debate where “deniers” are treated rather like medieval athiests, than he expected & is attempting to distance himself from the programme which is “damaging my career”.

    In other words, you’re calling him a liar.

    Nice.

  13. 113
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #111: Neil, misquotation in the context of a recording means that it was cut (via deleting material and/or changing the order) to change Wunsch’s meaning. The nice thing about this is that they picked the wrong guy to abuse. Your “damaging my career” reference shows that you really don’t know who Carl is, but suffice to say that the scale of his reputation in physical oceanography will make for a more than adequate hammer, should the British regulators choose to exercise it, to put Durkin out of the British TV documentary business and ensure that Channel 4 ceases to be an outlet for this sort of thing. BTW, you’re sounding a little hysterical yourself. World view problems, by any chance?

  14. 114
    HappyExDemocrat says:

    Mr. Wunsch and others,

    How is the Channel 4 film “anti-educational” and “misleading” if it presents a set of relevant information that had been quite lost from Al Gore’s movie and all the other shrill headlines and alarmism on behalf of Global Warming?

    I think of “An Incovenient Truth” and “Swindle” as opposing briefs in a lawsuit. Of course they’re one-sided. I accept it. And two briefs is better than one, because two sides is better than one.

    Now one of Swindle’s errors, one must admit, is that it unfairly made no mention of the fact of Mr. Wunsch being a hostile witness. (i.e., not in favor of Swindle’s final viewpoint and argument structure)

    That aside, “Swindle” made a fair point with Mr. Wunsch’s lucid explanation of oceanic CO2 outgassing: that a mechanism existed to explain why, in the historical record, CO2 increases have always followed temperature increases, rather than caused them. A key point that “An Inconvenient Truth” got wrong.

    I must also point out that other elements of the Global Warming argument, which Mr. Wunsch judges to be “firmly based”, have quite logical and serious scientific questions attached to them – as “Swindle” has brought out.

    I would like to see a documentary made that balances the scientific claims and counter-claims, rather than acting as a brief for one side of the debate (or the other).

  15. 115
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #114: HappyExDemocrat — Yes, in the ice core records, CO2 increases have mostly followed temperature increases. But this is not relvant to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. For it is certainly the case that extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes temperature increases. The physics underlying this has been known for over a century now.

    Humans have put a lot of carbon dioxide into the air. The climate is warming up in response. The only remaining question is exactly how much per billion tons of carbon added…

  16. 116
    James says:

    Re #114: [That aside, “Swindle” made a fair point with Mr. Wunsch’s lucid explanation of oceanic CO2 outgassing: that a mechanism existed to explain why, in the historical record, CO2 increases have always followed temperature increases, rather than caused them.]

    Which is how the producers of “Swindle” manage to lie by telling just a part of the truth. They show Wunsch giving an accurate (I assume, as I haven’t read a complete transcript) explanation of how CO2 behaves in paleoclimate, but they show it in a context where it will be taken as applying to the current human-caused CO2 spike.

    This appears to me to be deliberate fraud, pure and simple. It’s no different in principle than taking a person’s signature from one check and pasting it into another made out to you.

  17. 117
    Andrew says:

    My first reply, please bear with me, and, be kind.
    I’m just a mid-30’s kid from Canada, sitting in what is usually a pretty neautral position in the world, eh?!

    But, I have set aside my maple syrop and back bacon, because I am angry.

    As an educated person, who does understand the scientific method, I applaud what this website (which I have only just discovered today) reports to stand for.

    Unaltered facts and science, without political or moral interpretation.

    But, after 4 hours of steady reading (no joke, I have such a headache now, and just took two advil for it)… I can find no clear message, nor summary of facts, for the person who is educated enough to seek facts, but has no PhD, nor the time to read 400 scientific journals.

    You guys seem to like blogs, and endless debate.
    I’m an IT guy, the source of the blog, and I have no use for them. They’re like a lot of people in a room, all shouting at once.
    Debate and discussion, requires moderation, if it’s ever going to produce anything worthwhile.

    But, anyhow, see? I’m off topic already.

    I am angry.

    You people, pure scientists, have the gift of knowledge and intellect, yet you seem to prefer to sit in your ivory towers and debate. (I’m trying to draw an obvious comparison, bear with me)

    I, on the outside, a person not without influence in the world, wish to do the right thing, in most areas of my life, and could possibly make a difference.
    But, I, no longer have a CLUE what that “right thing” is, when it comes to this climate change global warming heap of dung.

    Since my youth, I have always enjoyed the PBS channel documentaries. Later, my Discover magazine, TLC (before it sold out to home makeover shows), the Discovery channels, History Channel, you name it.
    Always seeking more wisdom, that I could fit into my real-world schedule. (see my comment earlier about reading scientific journals)

    I watched Al Gore’s movie, and truly thought here is a compelling summary, of some not half bad ideas.
    The USA is a leader in pollution, so if this leads to reductions in that area, more efficient cars, cheaper and cleaner power, etc, I’m all for it.
    The greenhouse gasses stuff, all came across as just a bit fluffy and glossy, for me to swallow it, just “as is presented” with no references.
    Then there’s the fact that this guy wants to be president again… so much for his claims on motivation… we know he’s going to need SOMETHING to cling to, if he’s going to beat out Hillary. :-)

    […edited. sorry, we can allow extremely lengthy comments, regardless of how interesting. Feel free to provide a hyperlink to extended offline content, if you wish]

    Maybe I just wasted an hour of typing… but at least I have given the advil time to work, and my head does feel better.

    Thanks, to anyone who is still reading.
    Andrew

  18. 118
    HappyExDemocrat says:

    David, thank you for admitting (in effect) that “An Inconvenient Truth” got the historical cause-and-effect wrong.

    As for CO2: Why is it “certainly” the case that extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes temperature increases? It ought to vary as a function of the significance / proportion of increase, should it not? If you increase CO2 from 1% to 10%, and take nothing from your other atmospheric greenhouse gases (like water vapor or methane) – Then yes, temperatures will “certainly” go up. But if you only increase CO2 from 0.03% to 0.05%, making virtually no appreciable difference to your overall greenhouse gases – why should that matter “certainly”? It seems to me that it MIGHT matter – or might not. And that, if it did matter, tropospheric temperature increases should lead the way in accordance with greenhouse theory. (Which we on Earth have not really seen.) Finally, please note that greenhouse theory (or a greenhouse effect) is not required to adequately explain such limited temperature increases as we’ve seen in the last 100-200 years.

  19. 119
    Andrew says:

    …and you edited out, the actual practical approach to getting to the bottom of the problem.

    That makes sense.

    Andrew

  20. 120
    Andrew says:

    Ok, rules are rules… in ref to #117, and #119… thank the gods I am an IT guy, and had a cached copy of what I was on about.

    if anyone actually wants to read why all of this endless scientific debate, just encourages the media hype, and a lack of practical action, please visit:

    http://www.bienhaus.org/comment.html

    I’d truly like to hear your thoughts on my idea, as to what RealClimate.org could do to help the rest of us come to grips with this.

    Thanks…
    Andrew

  21. 121
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #118: HappyExDemocrat — I didn’t bother to see the movie. However, there is a RealClimate review of it you may care to check. As for the other, the physics of so-called greenhouse gases is solidly understood. I don’t know what you might mean by matter, but any increasse in atmospheric carbon dioxide results in temperature increases. It just physics.

    Both you and

    Re #117: Andrew — would do well to read

    W.F. Ruddiman
    Earth’s Climate: Past and Future
    W.H. Freeman, 2001

    to obtain a beginning background in climatology. You will be better prepared to follow the rather technical points which often occur here on RealClimate. I don’t claim that this one book suffices, but it provides a start.

    As for the claim of limited temperature increases in the past two hundred years, do note that the IPCC AR4 report states that the global temperature is now warmer than at any time in the past 600,000 years. Does not sound limited to me…

  22. 122
    Andrew says:

    Sorry, offence not intended.
    Thought I had more than an hour’s worth of typing and thought, lost.

  23. 123
    Andrew says:

    Link to missing post.
    Hopefully some constructive feedback, will assist in an eventual practical solution.
    http://www.bienhaus.org/comment.html

  24. 124
    Marcus says:

    Re #121: David, you might want to check your numbers. AR4 states that CO2 levels are at their highest in 650,000 years. For temperature it says “the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1300 years”.

    If emissions and climate sensitivity are at the high end of the uncertainty range, we may in the century or two reach the highest temperature in 600,000 years, but we aren’t there yet.

  25. 125
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #124: Marcus — Thank you for the correction!

  26. 126
    ruckrover says:

    Fox News needs to be persuaded to run the real science in its news and reports. At present it is promoting the Swindle film.

  27. 127

    [[That aside, “Swindle” made a fair point with Mr. Wunsch’s lucid explanation of oceanic CO2 outgassing: that a mechanism existed to explain why, in the historical record, CO2 increases have always followed temperature increases, rather than caused them.]]

    So what? The present increase is not caused by a natural climate cycle, it’s from fossil fuels. We know because of the isotope signature. Wunsch knows that, that’s why he quite rightly said the program was taking him out of context and making him appear to say something he didn’t really say. It was a dishonest use of the quote.

  28. 128
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Recently several posts have taken RC to task for the strident tone of the debate in some cases. First, I would point out the subject of this post–to wit, the misrepresentation of the position of a scientist in a pure propaganda piece. This was a reprehensible breach of ethics in journalism, and it is bound to stir some intense emotions. Perhaps in this light, you can be a bit more understanding if some of the rhetoric–on both sides–has swung toward the dramatic.
    Second, this is first and foremost a matter of science, that should be debated by scientists and grounded in scientific evidence. This is so obvious that it shouldn’t need saying–yet it does need saying. Indeed, this is what has been done on this site for the most part. All of us as scientists have tacitly agreed to these rules when we took the profession of scientist as our own. Unfortunately, there are a few scientists who have decided to bypass the scientific process, where their claims have already been rejected as insufficiently grounded in evidence, and have gone directly to sympathetic media outlets to make their case–effectively a case against science. This is a betrayal of the scientific process–of science itself, and for those of us who value science it is a grave threat. It is made the more grave by the fact that the issues here are highly technical and lend themselves to obfuscation when the audience is not sufficiently trained in the science. Yes, by all means, as Earnest Rutherford said, science should be explainable to a bar maid, but that does not qualify the bar maid to make judgements that trump those of experts in the field who have devoted their lives to studying science.

  29. 129

    [[As for CO2: Why is it “certainly” the case that extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes temperature increases? It ought to vary as a function of the significance / proportion of increase, should it not? If you increase CO2 from 1% to 10%, and take nothing from your other atmospheric greenhouse gases (like water vapor or methane) – Then yes, temperatures will “certainly” go up. But if you only increase CO2 from 0.03% to 0.05%, making virtually no appreciable difference to your overall greenhouse gases – why should that matter “certainly”? ]]

    Because we can calculate the difference in radiative forcing and it’s significant. The fact that CO2 is a small fraction of the atmosphere means nothing. The fuse is a small part of a bomb. The trigger is a small part of a gun. You might weigh 200 pounds, but 200 milligrams of potassium cyanide will kill you.

  30. 130
    Hank Roberts says:

    Perhaps a bit closer analogy, Barton — a thin sheet of mylar is transparent; the same sheet with a few atoms thick layer of aluminum on it is a sunshade.

  31. 131
    Neil Craig says:

    Dhogaza 112 since your moral sensibilities require you to attack anybody who suggests (rvrn implicitly) that anybody else has strayed form the truth you will, of course, be on record as having attecked everybody who suggests Mr Durkin has in any way lied. That obviously includes an attack by you on Ptoffessor Wunsch. Not to have done so would obviously expose you as a hypocrite.

    Where did you post theses attacks.

    Steve 113 the “damaging my career” quote which you say proves I don’t know who Professor Wusnch is came from him. That means you think he doesn’t know who he is either. :-)

    Andrew 117 I appreciate your concern for the amount of smole & lack of actual fire in this debate. Perhaps, purely for comparison, you should check out the other side of the debate where, in my opinion, the ratio of words to facts is lower. Take a look at http://www.sepp.org/ purely for the sake of balance.

  32. 132
    k rutherford says:

    An interesting excerpt from the Times of London:

    Two eminent British scientists who questioned the accuracy of a Channel 4 programme that claimed global warming was an unfounded conspiracy theory have received an expletive-filled tirade from the programme maker.

    In an e-mail exchange leaked to The Times, Martin Durkin, the executive producer of The Great Global Warming Swindle, responded to the concerns of Dr Armand Leroi, from Imperial College, and Simon Singh, the respected scientific author, by telling them to â??go and f*** yourselfâ??.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article1517515.ece

  33. 133

    Anyone interested can download a lecture for Meteorology and Geography undergraduates here in Edinburgh looking critically at the GGWS documentary, from my home page http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/homes/chris .

    You might find my attempts to reproduce the documentary’s graph of solar activity versus global temperature amusing (near the end).

  34. 134
    Sam says:

    Questions: Is the sun spot / solar wind idea of modulation of our temperature have any weight?

    Did anyone ever see the PBS program cross referencing two large studies, one identifying climate history via core samples from ancient lake and sea bed as well as the poles and the other demonstrating the cyclical variations in our wobbling orbit?

    This was a while ago so maybe it is all out dated, but at the time it seemed to clearly demonstrate a clear relationship and among other interesting bits showed how the Sahara Desert had gone from jungle to desert many times.

    At the end they said, now we know that this looks like man has an insignificant influence on our global weather, but still it is important to change our habits of contributing to the problem.

    I wish that there was this much focus on helping the world understand the impact of all of the toxification that we contribute which is much more tangible and much easier to understand how to make change.

    I keep telling people to look at the far reaching impact using our dollars to buy organic when ever possible: water table, farm workers, rivers, oceans, heath of all creatures etc. Each dollar is a vote communicating to the indiscriminate corporations of where they need to focus. Safeway just had a primetime ad promoting their organic label and yes it may be a more diluted version of organic, but it is much better then the alternative.

    The truth about global warming is most likely in the middle ground, rather then the endless pursuit of attack and defend (war). Extremism just seems to be a way to war no matter what subject matter it addresses. Appreciate any effort, find common ground and build support. Thank you one and all for your comments and good energy. – Sam

  35. 135
    Dave Rado says:

    Something that’s just struck me: in paragraph 2 of Carl’s article, he seems to be implicitly blaming the scientist Peter Wadhams for the scare stories in the press about the “gulf stream slowdown”, whereas my understanding from
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/05/gulf-stream-slowdown/
    is that all that Wadhams said was “that convection in a normally active area of the Greenland Sea was much reduced last winter”, and that it was the press, and *not* Wadhams, which was guilty of “over-dramatization and unwarranted extrapolation of scientific facts”.

    So it seems to me that Carl is unfairly criticising Wadhams for the way the press used what Wadhams said. Am I wrong about that?

  36. 136
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. #133
    Chris, why don’t you use a tool such as Robodemo to convert it into a streaming online flash presentation that people can link directly to?

  37. 137
    Dave Rado says:

    re. #134
    I think this is the reference you are looking for:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles
    but as you’ll realise if you read the article carefully, it has no relevance to 20th century warming.

    Dave

  38. 138
    Andrew says:

    Re: 131 – thank you Craig, I am finding the reading on http://www.sepp.org to be much more concise and to the point.

    I shall keep reading more over there, and see what truth I can come to on my own.

    Thanks for your understanding… I just want to really know where the fire is.

  39. 139
    Arvella Oliver says:

    Andrew, I went over and read your full missive. I sympathise with your anger and sadness. I agree with you (‘cept about Gore wanting to be president). Then out of curiosity I went over to sepp.org and found – The Oregon Petiton! Mercies. I didn’t think anyone was still flogging that thing. Please check out this link:

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

    I have two kids and I’m documenting their development. Does that make me a sociologist? I can communicate with teenagers. Does that make me a linguist?

    Nah.

    There are much better sources than sepp.org. RealClimate is certainly several rungs up the ladder…I’m just sayin’, check the bonafides.

    Cheers!

  40. 140

    [[The truth about global warming is most likely in the middle ground, rather then the endless pursuit of attack and defend (war). Extremism just seems to be a way to war no matter what subject matter it addresses. Appreciate any effort, find common ground and build support. ]]

    No, truth does not always lie in the middle. There’s no reason to build bridges from Democrats or Republicans to Nazis, and archaeologists wouldn’t help the cause of truth by finding middle ground with Erich von Daniken. In the debate between theists and atheists, God either exists or he doesn’t exist. He can’t partially exist.

  41. 141
    Arvella Oliver says:

    Re: 139 – Petition. Why can’t I spell after 10 pm? Is it those stupid cosmic rays AGAIN? :)

  42. 142
    Mike Donald says:

    #117 OK Mr Neutral
    From today’s newspapers have a look at this

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/washington/20climate.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    and this

    http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/climate_change/article2374354.ece

    Now you’ve got something to be angry about.

    Cheers

    Mike

  43. 143
    Rich Blinne says:
    As a person who is *very* skeptical about (1) the utility of computer modeling…

    Gosh, then, I hope you don’t fly in modern airliners, drive modern cars, or even wear modern hi-tech shoes from the likes of Nike …

    Or use a computer. I design semiconductors and we use computer models all the time. Many times our models are semi-empirical and are not as rigorously tied to physics first principles as climate models. That’s changing with the increase in the power of computer hardware. We don’t need to make as many simplifying assumptions, but then again the same is happening for climate models.

    Let’s say one of my colleagues challenges the accuracy of one of my models. I then challenge him to produce a model that fits the data better. I have never seen a critic do this for say that the current warming is more due to solar forcing. They should run the model and show that they can predict average temperature better than the current models for the 20th Century. They cannot even just show the temperature series correctly. That doesn’t even require a computer model, just decent 4th-Grade graphing skills. The show they should be on is Jeff Foxworthy’s “Are You Smarter than A Fifth Grader?” You will learn much higher quality science on that program.

  44. 144
    David Rio says:

    Dear Pat, I live next to the Atlantic and have never once used disaster relief. Unlike your mid-western bretheren, 2 and 3 times over. God forbid someone would use their Constitutioal freedom to live were they wanted to.

  45. 145
    Kirana says:

    i am unclear as to why everyone thinks it an issue that historically, measured CO2 rises followed rising temperature. i thought that cooling and warming periods in geological history was driven mainly by such factors as the milankovitch effect, solar forcing and so on, whereas the CO2 released (e.g. from the ocean) is a result, and exacerbated it with its GHG effect. the last bit is important, because formerly, the only way CO2 gets released in significant quantities as to contribute to warming acceleration, is by natural processes, since we weren’t there yet. but the fact remains that once in the atmosphere, CO2 plays a forcing role in warming. today the scenario is different. CO2 addition by human activities means that for the first time CO2 is being artificially added in great quantities. there’s no reason to suppose that it cannot act as a primary forcing agent to warming, as far as i can see.

    calculations of how much effect incremental additions of CO2 has, give at least a pretty good ballpark figure that our contribution does not have a negligible effect, that is from the POV of what we need from nature to continue our comfy lives. coupled with the latest (emphasis: latest) solar records that don’t quite fit the warming trend observed, it is quite possible that this time, increased CO2 is causing the warming, and increased solar activity is a secondary contributor. so i don’t see, logically, honestly, why if CO2 lagged behind temperature rise in the past, it must be an issue *today*! it does not mean that CO2 *cannot* act as an initiator of warming, and it does not mean that GW theory says that *only* GHG has *ever* been the cause of warming periods!! the public has to move away from a simplistic mode of thought that sees only this-comes-after-that, so now this-must-come-after-that too. understanding *why* ‘this’ came after ‘that’, and applying the *knowledge*, instead of past *observation* alone, to anticipate the future, is a more sophisticated way of thinking, and is what science is about. and that’s why, when scientists make new observations but can’t explain why it happens, it bothers them, because it’s the *knowledge of why* that is the key to providing information of what to do, better than simple reactions.

    it’s like you, as a PC user, know to press Alt-Ctl-Del to reboot, that’s all you know and you don’t understand that it is just a set of keys programmed by somebody to do that. so you get a computer designed completely different, and expect Alt-Ctl-Del to do the same thing – but it may not. if you understood the concept of programming, even if you didn’t understand why those keys in particular, and what it does in the computer’s innards, at least you know to ask whether to do the same things will need a different command this time. so basically people who operate on simplistic thinking will keep pressing Alt-Ctl-Del over and over, wondering why the machine is not responding. so please don’t be taken in by simple comparisons. you must know why some comparisons are relevant and valid, in order to know when they aren’t.

  46. 146
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #131: Neil, if you were familiar with Wunsch’s career you would know that was hyperbole on his part. I take it as professor-speak for “it made me look like a fool,” or to put it another way, it damaged his personal reputation rather than his professional one.

  47. 147
    Ron Taylor says:

    Re 145: I too am puzzled by the inability of seemingly intelligent, well-educated people to grasp the explanation of temperature/CO2 lead or lag. Someone here used a chicken and egg analogy. Put more eggs (fertilized!) in the nests in the henhouse and you will get more hens. Or put more hens in the henhouse and you will get more eggs.

    I think of it as two hockey pucks tied together by a spring. It does not matter which puck gets whacked by a hockey stick (external forcing), the other puck will follow, as is the inevitable nature of positively coupled variables in a dynamic system. We are currently whacking the heck out of the CO2 puck.

  48. 148
    Dave Rado says:

    Re. 117, 120, Andrew.

    Which things influence the climate, and to what degree?

    Wikipedia is your friend.
    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change

    Which are more important today, and what they are doing?

    See: http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Climate_Change_Attribution_png

    So, for example, if you have 30 studies on sunspot activity effect on global warming, and 25 say yes, in effect, 5 say no… you can report on the numbers.
    Obviously, there is more than a yes or no, in EACH AND EVERY one of those studies, but, so, you come up with a scoring system. -5 for strongly disputes the fact, +5 for strongly supports the fact.

    See:
    http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2006/11/13/22399/297
    http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2006/11/14/1511/4868
    and http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2006/11/13/221250/49

  49. 149
    Neil Craig says:

    In criticising the Oregon Petition of 17,000 sceptical scientists Arvella’s link, while trying to show the Institute as a bunch of small town hicks shows that they contain 1 Nobel prize winner, the discoverer of radioactive carbon & a former partner of a nobel prizewinner (technically nobel & bar) who split with him on a point on which he is now almost universally agreed to have been right & Pauling wrong.

    I’m sure Cambridge could surpass that academic record. I’m not sure how many others, even with many thousands of employees, could come close.

  50. 150
    Hank Roberts says:

    Neil, did you look this up or just read what OISM says?
    You _can_ check this stuff out if you take even a little time.
    Try this search, read half a dozen or a dozen documents discussing it:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=%22oregon+petition%22+%2Boism+%2Bnobel


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