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A day when Hell was frozen

Filed under: — rasmus @ 7 February 2008

“Hell train station” I was honoured to be invited to the annual regional conference for Norwegian journalists, taking place annually in a small town called ‘Hell’ (Try Earth Google ‘Hell, Norway’). During this conference, I was asked to participate in a panel debate about the theme: ‘Climate – how should we [the media] deal with world’s most pressing issue?’ (my translation from Norwegian; by the way ‘Gods expedition’ means ‘Cargo shipment’ in ‘old’ Norwegian dialect).

This is the first time that I have been invited to such a gathering, and probably the first time that a Norwegian journalists’ conference invited a group of people to discuss the climate issue. My impression was that the journalists more or less now were convinced by the message of the IPCC assessment reports. This can also be seen in daily press news reports where contrarians figure less now than ~5 years ago. But the public seemed to think that the scientists cannot agree on the reality or cause of climate change.

I find that the revelation of a perception of the climate problem within the climate research community that doesn’t match that of the general public problematic. What I learned is that this also seems to be true for the journalists: it was stated that their perception of climate change and its causes were different to the general public too.

The panel in which I participated consisted of a social/political scientist who had investigated how media deals with the issue of climate change and the public perception thereof, a science journalist, an AGW-skeptic, and myself. Despite the name of the place, the debate was fairly civil and well-behaved (although the AGW-skeptic compared climate scientists to mosquitoes, and brought up some ad hominem attacks on Dr. Pachauri).

The science journalist in the panel advocated the practice of reporting on issues that are based on publications from peer reviewed scientific literature. I whole-heartedly concur. I would also advice journalists to do some extensive search on the publication record of the individuals, and consider their affiliations – are they from a reputable place? Also, it’s recommended that they consider which journal in which the article is published – an article on climate published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is less likely to receive a review of competent experts (peers) than if it were published in a mainstream geophysics journal. Finally, my advice is to try to trace the argument back to its source – does it come from some of those think tanks? But I didn’t get the chance to say this, as the debate was conducted by a moderator whose agenda was more focused on other questions.

Short of telling the journalists to start to read physics in order to understand the issues at hand, I recommended the reading of Spencer Weart’s ‘The Discovery of Global Warming’. The book is an easy read and gives a good background about the climate sciences. It also reveals that a number of arguments still forwarded by AGW-skeptics are quite old and have been answered over time. The book gives the impression of a déjà vu regarding the counter arguments, the worries, politics, and the perceived urgency of the problem. I would also strongly recommend the book for the AGW-skeptics.

One reservation I had regarding the discussion is being cut off when I get into the science and the details. I had the feeling of taking part in a football match where the referee and all the spectators were blind and then tried to convince them that I scored a goal. The problem is that people without scientific training often find it hard to judge who’s right and who’s wrong. It seems that communication skills are more important for convincing the general public that scientific skills. Scientists are usually not renowned for their ability to explain complicated and technical matters, but rather tend to shy off.

I’d suggest that journalists should try to attend the annual conferences such as the European (EMS) and American (AMS) meteorological societies. For learning what’s happening within the research, mingling with scientists/meteorologists, and because these conferences have lot to offer media (e.g. media sessions). Just as journalists go to the Olympics, would it not be natural for journalists to attend these conferences? – but I missed the opportunity to make this suggestion.

Hell seems to be fairly dead on a Sunday afternoon. I almost caught a cold from the freezing wait for the train – although the temperature was barely -3C. This January ranked as the third warmest in Oslo, and I have started to acclimatise myself to all these mild winters (the mountain regions, however, have received an unusually large amount of snow). Our minister of finance was due to attend the meeting to talk about getting grief, but she didn’t make it to Hell due to a snow storm and chaos at the air port (heavy amount of wet snow due to mild winter conditions).


366 Responses to “A day when Hell was frozen”

  1. 251
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #251 [Ray Ladbury] Well, Ray, you may be right, although the balance of scientific evidence is in my judgement against you, and it certainly does not seem to be what you base your views on. If you are right, we’re completely stuffed, and might as well spend our remaining years partying.

  2. 252
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Those who are looking for absolute certainty before accepting AGW and awaiting for that certainty before taking action are whistling in the dark. Can you be absolutely certain of the position and momentum of a sub-atomic particle at a given time? The answer is no (see work by Heisenburg or Schrodinger). If you don’t have absolute results where an electron is concerned,don’t expect it in something as turbulent as the climate.

    Would you wait for complete assurance that you’re house will catch fire before taking insurance on it? Suppose you weren’t that the fire damage would be catastrophic, would you still balk?
    In the real world you can’t be 100% certain of anything but your own mortality.

  3. 253
    Rod B says:

    Nick (248), though I fall into Ray’s camp with yourall’s debate, I did find your post here an interesting and informative read. One minor piece that bothered me was the capitalism hair you have up your rear. You say there are economic systems that are considerably better than capitalism at encouraging the better tendencies of human beings. Economic systems distribute limited resources. Other institutions try to affect behavior.

  4. 254
    Rod B says:

    Ray (250), again you say, in essence, “The whole group agrees, therefore it can not be group think.” I say again group think can come up with correct conclusions at times, and groups can come to conclusions without “group think” being involved. It just looks highly suspicious. We’ve probably beat this puppy to death.

    I’m not saying all protagonists respond in lock step; they are not pigeon-holed. But, in support of my point, it would be easy as pie to find posts in RC and elsewhere that excoriate Spensor and probably Christy, though not by everyone. And, your response ala Lindzen e.g. is exactly as I said — (in essence) ‘he doesn’t count ’cause he’s crazy… or wrong… or a liar’. So there might be hundreds if not thousands (that might be a stretch, I admit) of properly credentialed skeptics, for example as posted here earlier or even in Wikipedia, or even from The Project — if you can get past the relative few (hundreds even) that are not credentialed which justifies, in your and other minds, throwing all 19,000 or so in the trash. Or throw out those who are not strictly climate scientists — though it’s perfectly O.K. for you to cite professional societies consisting of mostly non-climatologists if they support your position.

  5. 255
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    I see climate as a continuous physical process. The process has been changed by introducing new materials in it (vast amounts of CO2). Can some other process changes be made? An analogy from past experience:

    A “law of nature” dictated that more cars and more kms/car must develop in Finland after the World War II. This also resulted in more and more casualties due to road accidents. When the death toll crossed 1000 persons per year in the 1970′s, a public alarm was triggered.

    The process of road transportation was radically changed. A general speed limit and seat belt use were mandated, road improvement programs strengthened, driving school programs and car inspections improved. To top it off, voluntary contributions from the general public (collection led by a popular TV personality) paid for the purchase of 75 extra patrol cars for the police departments.

    The car numbers have multiplied since, so has the annual kms/car, but the number of road fatalities is now stable at about 380 per year. Surely the process change has saved more than 10.000 lives and many more major disabilities over the years.

    Needless to say, there is still no shortage of “deniers” writing to the letters columns.

    It is not easy to say where effective alarm thresholds on climate change will be. Tragic surely.

  6. 256
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Well, Nick, here’s where I am more optimistic than you: I believe that humans can be the absolute scumbags they’ve always been and we still could–just maybe–survive this crisis with something resembling civilization intact. I even think we could (indeed would have to) come out of this with something that better resembles sustainability. That would of course include development of third world economies with clean technologies and some diminution of abject poverty, since people who are poor will burn anything to cook their food and stay warm (look at India). Those things would be absolutely essential if we were to deal with ghg emissions in a timely manner. The end of capitalism would not necessarily be a trait of a sustainable world, nor would it necessarily be desirable.

    I’ve said I think this is possible. That doesn’t mean I think it’s likely. And even if I thought it was impossible, sitting back and partying would not be an option. I tend to be somewhat Stoic in my philosophy–the right course of action doesn’t depend on the probability of success.

  7. 257
    SecularAnimist says:

    The discussion of “human nature” is interesting, but I think it is moot. I don’t think any deep changes to “human nature” are needed in order to deal effectively with anthropogenic global warming.

    We need to replace the wasteful, inefficient use of fossil fuels with optimally efficient use of clean renewable energy. That has little to do with “human nature”. For example, what is it about my supposed “human nature” that has to change because my household electricity is produced by rooftop photovoltaics augmented by utility wind power, instead of from coal-fired power plants? Or because I use LED lighting instead of incandescent lighting? Or because my attic is heavily insulated? A typical homeowner could probably reduce their household energy consumption and associated CO2 footprint substantially, with hardly noticeable changes in lifestyle, let alone in “human nature”.

    And I think that is largely true across all sectors of the economy, at all scales: again, what has to change about my “human nature” because the car or bus that I’m riding in is a pluggable-hybrid electric/biodiesel vehicle instead of gasoline powered? Or because goods I purchase were transported by a highly-efficient rail system rather than by truck? Or because a new house I buy is designed from the ground up to supply all of its own energy with an appropriately sited and oriented passive solar design, and rooftop solar heating and electricity? Or because a new refrigerator uses one tenth the electricity of the old one? Or because I live in a community designed to enable me to walk or bike most places I want to go?

    Nor is “capitalism” or “the profit motive” the problem. There are vast economic opportunities in the transition to a post-fossil-fuel energy economy based on optimally efficient use of clean, renewable energy. That’s why, for example, the founders of Google and other high-tech venture capitalists are investing millions into advanced photovoltaic technologies for the mass production of ultra-cheap, high-efficiency thin-film photovoltaics that promise to revolutionize the production, distribution and use of electricity much as personal computers revolutionized “data processing” and cell phones revolutionized telecommunications. That’s why investment is pouring in to wind turbines. And with wind and solar generated electricity being by far the fastest growing sources of new energy in the world, this New Industrial Revolution is already under way, and there will be those who make Microsoft-sized fortunes from it.

    The problem is not “human nature” nor are the obstacles technical or economic. The obstacle is, very simply, the entrenched power and wealth of the fossil fuel corporations, who are determined to wring every last trillion dollars in profit from their products, until the last drop of oil and the last crumb of coal has been burned. They have a specific financial interest in delaying the phaseout of fossil fuels as long as possible. That’s why they fund right-wing “think tank” propaganda mills to spew fake, phony, pseudoscience “controversy” to keep the public ignorant and confused about the reality of global warming and the urgent need to phase out fossil fuels. That’s why they buy off politicians, or collaborate with the oil industry executives currently in charge of the Federal government, to keep lavishing massive subsidies and tax cuts on the fossil fuel corporations and while starving alternative energy of support, blocking fuel efficiency mandates, etc.

    It’s not “human nature” that’s in the way. It’s just one particular, very powerful and wealthy interest group.

  8. 258
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Secular Animist, while I agree that entrenched interests are a problem, there is also the problem of infrastructure. In the third world, there’s not enough of it–and certainly not enough of the right kind (green, zero-carbon) of infrastructure. The solution here is aid in return for pledges to limit emissions.
    More difficult is the situation in the economically privileged world, where infrastructure exists but is polluting. The problem here is two-fold. Replacing infrastructure is of course expensive. More difficult, the legacy infrastructure creates entrenched interests. Dealing with this problem is key not just to climate issues, but also to keeping the US economy competitive.

  9. 259
    Nick Gotts says:

    re $254 (Sorry, I’m in a pub, using a weird keyboard) [RodB]
    “You say there are economic systems that are considerably better than capitalism at encouraging the better tendencies of human beings. Economic systems distribute limited resources. Other institutions try to affect behavior.”

    Actually, I wasn’t so ambitious; I think there are, and believe that if there are not we are, as I put it to Ray, completely stuffed, but none have been demonstrated over extended periods of time. Capitalism is unusual in the degree to which it separates economic interactions from the context of multi-dimensional social relationships, so the distinction you draw is not a feature of human life as such, but of capitalism itself. Don’t get me wrong: although I am not and have never been a Marxist, I share Marx’s respect for capitalism’s innovatory dynamism, but unless humanity outgrows it, its relentless expansionism will destroy us. This site isn’t the place for a detailed exposition of political positions, but I’d certainly be willing to continue this intereting three-way argument with you and Ray offline.

  10. 260
    Rod B says:

    Nick, I think the subject is partially relevant to the thread as it began in the arena of getting people and societies on board of mitigation of GW. I think we’re in agreement: I’m a solid proponent of capitalism but only if it is properly constrained and bounded with rules set by the people. Adam Smith’s invisible hand works, but not near in toto. If you want mitigation, capitalism, with the appropriate nudges, legal guidlines, assistance, and, yes, maybe a little artificiality is likely the most effective.

  11. 261
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod and Nick,
    I am a skeptic of -isms, regardless of whether their prefix is capital-, Marx-, or whatever. It just seems to me that since markets are an already-existing mechanism that we know can be made to work across a range of condition, it makes sense to use them. Likewise, we know that both government and the private sector are complementary in their efficiencies, so doesn’t it make sense to use government to fund R&D and the private sector as a means of production? And since all of these entities have shown they are susceptible to corruption–because humans are susceptible to corruption–there is no substitute for openness and vigilance.
    The medicine we will have to swallow is bitter. Dealing with this threat could consume the efforts of the next generation of humans. We will have to find some way of sweetening the deal if people are to go along with it.

  12. 262
    Rod B says:

    Ray (262), well said.

  13. 263
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “The medicine we will have to swallow is bitter …”

    The “medicine” that we need to swallow — replacing fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy — is not “bitter”. Replacing fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy can provide ample energy for a comfortable, modern, healthy, environmentally sound, socially and economically just, and sustainable lifestyle for all. It can stimulate tremendous economic growth. What is “bitter” is not the “medicine” — what is and will be bitter is the effects of global warming that we now have no choice but to endure, as a result of our decades-long failure to take our “medicine”.

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “We will have to find some way of sweetening the deal if people are to go along with it.”

    The people who don’t want to “go along” with the deal are those who profit from the continued use of fossil fuels. It’s hard to see how we can “sweeten the deal” for them when “the deal” involves phasing out the use of their products as rapidly as possible. And they know this. That’s why they engage in multimillion dollar propaganda campaigns to tell the public that the “medicine” will be “bitter” for everyone, questioning the reality of the problem, etc.

    The bottom line is, that mitigating global warming will entail a massive transfer of wealth from some sectors of the economy to others, and those sectors who are currently accumulating unimaginably vast wealth from the status quo and want to continue doing so for as long as possible, are doing whatever their wealth and power (and resulting political influence) can do to delay that transfer.

    The results? Look at the US Energy Bill of 2005. Huge subsidies for coal, oil and nuclear power; while the relatively miniscule support (mostly tax credits) for clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar is being cut, or has not been renewed, thereby endangering continued investment in the growth of these industries.

    Solutions abound — solutions that are ready and available to be implemented today, that can start bring not only environmental but economic benefits today. The problem is not that we need new technology or that implementing the necessary technology will cost too much or be too difficult. The problem is that powerful political and institutional interests are deliberately blocking the implementation of the necessary policies.

  14. 264
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Re: #246 (Rod B.):

    About “specific examples of skeptics who’ve honest credentials that AGW protagonists just don’t like or accept”:

    O.K. With my eyes closed I’ll just throw in Singer and Lindzen to start the ball.

    Honest? Credentials?

    Forgive me for not touching Singer with a barge pole, as that would put me in a foul mood for the rest of the day (http://home.att.net/~espi/Cosmos_myth.html), like in: compulsive hand washing :-(

    About Lindzen, quoth Ray Ladbury in #250:

    Lindzen stopped being a scientist when he stopped caring
    whether what he said was true or not. This was brought home to me when
    he stooped to the level of trying to claim that warming was occurring on
    Mars, Neptune and Jupiter, so the cause couldn’t be anthropogenic. He is
    too smart not to know the falsity of this argument.

    I overheard this too, in the NPR debate in which also Gavin participated (I think in that particular instance he also mentioned Triton, but who cares.)

    In my book, such calculating behaviour in front of an audience expected to swallow it turns a scientist into an ex-scientist, MIT chair or not. Credentials are about credibility, which responds poorly to telling lies in public. And yet — if Lindzen were to resume doing real science again, his results would receive the same treatment in peer review as those of any other author, as, e.g., Spencer and Christy can attest to. He chooses not to.

  15. 265
    Rod B says:

    SecularAnimist (264): No matter how you cut it, a “massive transfer of wealth from some sectors of the economy to others” would create a pile of bitter medicine for a very large group of people.

  16. 266
    Rod B says:

    Martin (265), …which is my point exactly, as I and one or two other black sheep here have asserted often, always receiving the same response. There are no valid credible sceptics because the protagonists simply form their own definition of valid credible sceptics. If you don’t like them, don’t like their science, think them stupid, dislike their speaking habits, don’t accept their audiences, or methods of disclosure, etc., they are out. And there is no possible counter argument, by definition (yours). Though one might easily suspect that a long-time distinguished professor at a distinguished university, and another with similar credentials plus a former head of the US Weather Satellite Service should at least on the surface get an initial benefit of the doubt. Nay! Not a chance!

    [Response: The two you chose were terrible examples - we are way past 'initial benefit of the doubt' with them. A much better case could be made for Steve Schwartz who published a standard peer-reviewed paper that was clearly not in line with consensus estimates of the climate sensitivity, and who subsequently had that criticised and is now dealing with the criticism - but without any of rancour or non-scientific argumentation you get from Lindzen or Singer (who, by the way, was never head of the satellite service). - gavin]

  17. 267
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Rod, (#267), if you think that catching someone lying, repeatedly, is a matter of arbitrary personal definition of what constitutes a ‘lie’ (study the subject, for crying out loud! Do you believe that Mars is warming and the Sun has been getting brighter lately? Do your homework!), then you are a hopeless moral relativist.
    Gavin, about the Schwarz estimate, I would disagree that it was ‘not in line’ with consensus estimates of sensitivity; actually as such simplistic models go, at least he got the right order of magnitude :-) (Yes, I realise there were other problems with the paper).

  18. 268

    Re #268

    if you think that catching someone lying, repeatedly

    What I meant was of course “… and calculatedly, on a matter of established fact, …”

    My suggestion to “do your homework” is meant seriously. This is a clear-cut case of factual lying not requiring any partial differential equations. Figure this one out for yourself, I know you can. Saves your time and ours.

  19. 269
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B., Actually, the rules in science are pretty clear and immutable: If you lie–especially to a lay audience–you cease to be a scientist. Not hard to understand.
    Here’s another: The evidence rules, and the theory that best explains the preponderance of the evidence is the one that wins. If you reject the evidence, or if you reject the theory despite its superiority at expliaining the evidence, you cease to do science. Rod, it’s not that the so-called skeptics submit papers and get them rejected. For the most part, they aren’t even submitting papers to peer-reviewed journals. Such lack of productivity argues that their ideas (they don’t rise to the level of theory) are infertile. No one has yet succeed in constructing a theory that explains what we are seeing without having a reasonable sensitivity of CO2 forcing–at least not one that invokes processes known to be operating in the real world.
    So you can certainly criticize some skeptics for their mendacity, but that isn’t the important point. Rather, the true criticism is that their ideas are infertile. Lindzen publishes nothing. The others, if they publish at all, publish the same damned theory over and over again. It is very much like the lack of debate between Intelligent Design and Evolution. ID doesn’t work because it is not a scientific theory, and so can make no predictions. Science works. Pseudoscience doesn’t.

  20. 270
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Secular Humanist,
    The cost is going to be in terms of how our efforts are going to be directed. Transitioning off of fossil fuels is going to require a large commitment of resources. So will development. Both are needed if we are to attain a sustainable economy. If people are working on this, they will not be working on other issues–scientific advances, medical advances, space exploration, etc. The next generation will be occupied with achieving stutainability, not with advancing knowledge, prolonging life, curing disease… This is an essential goal, a noble goal, but to say there will be no opportunity costs is fantasy. We are a long way from finding substitutes for fossil fuel–especially in the transportation sector. It is perhaps true that we can mitigate some of the opportunity costs–especially if we can unleash the creativity and productivity of the masses of people that now live in poverty. That, too, will take effort, however.

  21. 271
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Re #270 (Ray):

    So you can certainly criticize some skeptics for their mendacity, but
    that isn’t the important point.

    As a scientist I certainly agree, but I think you are preaching to the choir, a useless occupation. We scientists are already convinced.

    The people we — this site — need to convince, are the “Rods” of this world, the people with enough of a science background to make them dangerous :-) and an interest in learning more. Yes I know, they are a minority among the population; but there’s a lot more of them than there are practicing scientists. It is these people that RC may hope to reach.

    For every “Rod” that posts, there is a dozen or a hundred quiet lurkers too bashful to post, but following the debate. We have to think of them. They are getting listened to, in working places, at coffee tables, etc.

    Digging, e.g., into the science of oceanography is a clear sign of interest in figuring out how things really are; after all, just making things up is so much easier. So the motivation exists; but there are competing motivations having to do with the denialist junk these folks have often faithfully assimilated over time, the detoxification of which will inevitably be somewhat painful.

    This is where the character issue comes in. It is something that also non-scientists understand; it is a shortcut to understanding, yes, totally ad hominem, but also totally convincing if you can get people to do the footwork. Because it’s completely true.

    What I am most hoping for is to trigger the anger at being lied to. But it requires the lie itself to be ‘graspable’ for someone with only a modest science background. Things like “But Mars is also warming”, “They cannot even predict the weather two weeks from now”, and “in the past, CO2 lagged temperature” are more or less on this level.

  22. 272
    Rod B says:

    et al: While I’m contemplating a reply, would someone point me to a specific example of Lindzen’s lying? Situation, format, context, subject, etc., or a link to it? (One example is all I’m looking for, but if you know specifically of more, I’d appreciate it.) It seems this might have been done here long ago, but, if so, I forgot.

    As an aside for Gavin: I readily found more than a half-dozen bios of Singer (across the spectrum) that listed him as the Founding Director of Weather Satellite Service, 1962-1964 (as I recall).

    [Response: Well he gets a brief mention here. This doesn't really matter of course since it has no bearing on whether his science is correct or not. But looking through the archives was a great reminder of why he has little credibility (there is no global warming (up until 2004 even), satellites show cooling, CFCs don't cause ozone depletion etc...). - gavin]

  23. 273
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “Secular Humanist …”

    Actually it’s Secular Animist. Secular Animism is like Secular Humanism, except it includes all sentient beings, not just humans.

    More to the point, Ray Ladbury wrote: “Transitioning off of fossil fuels is going to require a large commitment of resources.”

    Surely that’s true. However, I wonder whether the necessary commitment of resources is really as daunting as some believe.

    For example, an article in the January 2008 Scientific American entitled “A Solar Grand Plan” finds that “A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the US’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050 … If wind, biomass and geothermal sources were also developed, renewable energy could provide 100 percent of the nation’s electricity and 90 percent of its energy by 2100 … In 2050 US carbon dioxide emissions would be 62 percent below 2005 levels, putting a major brake on global warming.”

    What is the cost of this plan? According to the study, “The federal government would have to invest more than $400 billion over the next 40 years to complete the 2050 plan.” That’s $10 billion per year for 40 years. That’s not a huge amount compared to, for example, the US military budget of nearly a half trillion dollars per year, or the nearly $40 billion per year profits of Exxon-Mobil alone, or the subsidies and tax breaks that the federal government has extended to fossil fuels and nuclear power. It is certainly not a prohibitive amount.

    And, the authors point out, the cost is only part of the story — there would also be economic benefits: “Solar plants consume little or no fuel, saving billions of dollars year after year. The infrastructure would displace 300 large coal-fired power plants and 300 more large natural gas plants and all the fuels they consume. The plan would effectively eliminate all imported oil, fundamentally cutting US trade deficits and easing political tension in the Middle East and elsewhere.”

    Another estimate of costs for transitioning from fossil fuels comes from a January 2008 United Nations report, which said that “global investments of $15 trillion to $20 trillion over the next 20 to 25 years may be required to place the world on a markedly different and sustainable energy trajectory.” Again, that figure is less than the world’s current military spending of over one trillion dollars per year, and as the UN report notes, the world’s energy industry already spends “about $300 billion a year in new plants, transmission networks and other new investment.” So the UN is suggesting that a tripling of investment in new energy technologies and infrastructure may be what’s needed.

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “The next generation will be occupied with achieving sustainability …”

    I fervently hope so. Each generation has gotta do what it’s gotta do. My parents’ generation had to deal with the Great Depression and World War II. It is unfair that the “next” generation will have to deal with the biosphere-threatening problems that their parents and grandparents created for them, but there it is. Perhaps the “next” generation will succeed in achieving sustainability and thereby inherit the title of “the greatest generation” in human history. Again, I fervently hope so.

  24. 274
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B., From Lindzen’s closing comments in the East Side debate:

    RICHARD S. LINDZEN “Yes. I think it’s a little bit difficult to know how to respond,to be told that, uh, one shouldn’t attack scientists while you’re attacking scientists, to go and say you have to control methane without explaining that methane hasstopped growing. You don’t explain why there’s global warming on Mars, Jupiter, Triton and Pluto.”

    Lindzen is not an idiot. He must know that such an argument invoking other celestial bodies with their own climate mechanisms is entirely bogus. To bring this up in a debate on EARTH’s climate is at the very least disingenuous, and more likely rises to the level of mendacity.
    Then there is his argument that CO2 accounts for 2% of the greenhouse effect–again totally bogus. No calculation anywhere has ever suggested a figure this low. Yet he asserts it repeatedly in public forums full of laymen.
    These are not the actions of a man interested in the truth.

  25. 275
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Re #275

    He must know that such an argument invoking
    other celestial bodies with their own climate mechanisms is entirely
    bogus.

    More strongly, he must know that (1) Mars isn’t actually, factually warming according to a more recent non-flawed investigation, and (2) according to satellite measurements, the Sun’s intensity has been flat over the decades when AGW rose out of the noise. As have solar (sunspot, magnetic field) activity and relatedly, cosmic rays reaching the Earth.

    his argument that CO2 accounts for 2% of the greenhouse effect

    Hmmm… let the anomalous, anthropogenic greenhouse effect (mostly by CO2) be 0.6 deg C, and the total greenhouse effect 33 deg C: that’s 0.6/33 = 0.018x = 2%, right? :-)

    True and misleading… from an ex-scientist, actually more damning than the honest lies.

  26. 276
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re: Rod B.’s defense of Lindzen, Singer, and company.

    I have no reason to think S.Fred Singer has lied in print, but his recent book, Unstoppable Global Warming (Every 1500 years), co-authored with Dennis T. Avery (some interesting information about Avery’s credibility on AGW and other environmental issues can be found here: http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/personfactsheet.php?id=921; http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=15) offers some highly questionable, if not downright incorrect, conclusions about the responses of corals and green plants to rising temperatures. These subjects have been reviewed extensively in the peer-reviewed scientific literature and Singer’s arguments based on the selective use of a couple of studies (e.g., authors’ statments taken out of context) are very much at odds with the mainstream scientific view as reported by the experts in coral reef ecology and plant physiological ecology.

  27. 277
    John Mashey says:

    re #273 Rod B
    Have you watched Naomi Oreskes’ “The American Denial of Global Warming”? It’s an hour long, half covers the long history of non-political climate science through the 1980s. The second half covers the 1990- politicization started by the George C. Marshall Institute for ideological reasons (“under no circumstances may government regulate anything, anywhere, anytime, including cigarettes, CFCs, emissions of any sort, mercury” Have you read his http://www.sepp.org … did you you know that mercury is a natural element and therefore no one should worry about it? You mention this guy favorably? Is that somebody you support? Have you read his books? About the only constant is “do not regulate.”

    In any case, regardless of one’s political persuasion, Naomi has surfaced some of the peculiar history of efforts that injected tobacco-strategy obfuscation & later politicization into what had long been science.

    http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.asp?showID=13459

  28. 278
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #262 [Rod and Nick,
    I am a skeptic of -isms, regardless of whether their prefix is capital-, Marx-, or whatever.]

    Does your scepticism extend to atavism, metabolism, and botulism? :-)

    Seriously, there’s nothing in the remainder of your post that I would actually disagree with. My currently favoured approach to reducing emissions (“Contraction and Convergence”) combines market and rationing mechanisms.

  29. 279
    Chuck Booth says:

    Rod B.(and other AGW skeptics):

    I’m curious to know: If all climate scientists, oceanographers, etc, suddenly decided that they had been wrong: The atmosphere and oceans are really not warming, and the rising CO2 concentration of the atmosphere will cause neither future warming nor ocean acidification. Would you be skeptical of their conclusions, and argue that global warming is real, and humans are responsible?

  30. 280
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref 280. No. My position has always been that the physics of CO2 absorption is such that AGW is impossible.

  31. 281
    Jim Eager says:

    Re Jim Cripwell @

    Which is why no one here takes you at all seriously.

  32. 282
    Ron Taylor says:

    RodB – 232 “Ray, well we just disagree with the definition of groupthink (223), though your’s works also. What I’m talking of is “the herd of independent minds” where in fact disparate individuals working independently (??) on the same thing eerily all come up with the same results — sometimes.”

    Rod, that is plain weird. Your definition of group think is what I would call the antithesis of group think, since what you have described is independent verification of results. And that is in fact what has happened with AGW, across a range of fields of study.

    Group think is what happens when people seize on the idea or conclusion of another without working through and verifying that it is in fact correct. Perhaps the greatest risk is uncritically adopting a common set of unverified assumptions.

  33. 283
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref 282. It is of not the slightest interest to me whether I am taken seriously or not. I am a scientist. When one has science behind one’s beliefs, then nothing else really matters.

  34. 284

    Jim Cripwell writes:

    [[My position has always been that the physics of CO2 absorption is such that AGW is impossible.]]

    Your position is wrong. I recommend studying radiation physics. Hougton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres” is a good place to start. Another might be Petty’s “A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation.”

  35. 285
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jim Cripwell wrote: “My position has always been that the physics of CO2 absorption is such that AGW is impossible.”

    With all due respect, it is because you adopt “positions” that demonstrate ignorance of the basic physical science of global warming that you are not taken seriously as a “skeptic”. Nor should you be taken seriously, because you are not really a “skeptic” at all.

    Like many other misnamed “skeptics”, you are ideologically opposed to some of the proposals that some people put forward to deal with anthropogenic global warming — eg. government intervention of any kind — and, rather than put forward alternative proposals for dealing with it, you choose to deny that the problem exists, which leads you to adopt such bizarre, contrafactual and absurd “positions” as the one you mention.

  36. 286
    Rod B says:

    Just a quickie while I sort through all of the responses (I’ve been out of pocket for a bit): a quick glance tells me that a major portion of Singer’s, Lindzen’s, et al lying is scientific statements by them that disagree with the solid majority’s statements. The latter are entirely convinced of their correctness (and might even be right) and have a lot of other scientists that state the same. Therefore it must be 100% solid; therefore anyone who says otherwise is lying. Sorry, but all of this does not make other scientists liars nor does it make them non-scientists. A lot (but not all to be sure) here is just as I said: these guys piss almost everyone off so they must be mendacious devils.

    [Response: Sorry, this just isn't the case. The set of scientists that piss other scientists off is extremely large (being a fractious bunch in general). The set of scientists one doesn't agree with is similarly large. They may even intersect to some extent. But in all of those disagreements and irritation, scientists qua scientists mostly stick to the rules - i.e. don't use arguments that you know are false, don't introduce red herrings that you know are irrelevant and don't misrepresent other peoples positions. Once those rules get broken, you are become a scientist qua lawyer, and that is what puts you over the edge. Both Michaels and Lindzen crossed that line a long time ago. - gavin]

  37. 287
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref 284. Of course I am wrong; I posted this on Real Climate. If I had posted the same comment on Climate Skeptics, I would have been right. There is no Supreme Court of Science to rule who is right and wrong on this ongoing scientific debate. The final arbiter is the experimental evidence; as I have noted many times; hard measured independently replicated experimental data. It is on that “solid ground of Nature” that I stake my claim.

  38. 288
    David B. Benson says:

    Jim Cripwell (288) — Barton Paul Levenson in comment #285 suggested two books. The world awaits your showing just how these two standard references managed to get it wrong.

    After all, it only takes one experiment. :-)

  39. 289
    Ron Taylor says:

    Jim Cripwell, you claim to be a scientist, but it is hard to believe, given that you seem to reject the scientific method. Otherwise, you would publish the basis for your claims in the peer-reviewed literature, or point to someone else who has done so.

    Stop trying to have your cake and eat it too.

  40. 290
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jim Cripwell says “My position has always been that the physics of CO2 absorption is such that AGW is impossible.”

    That is because you do not understand the physics.

  41. 291
    Jim Eager says:

    Re Jim Cripwell @ 284: “It is of not the slightest interest to me whether I am taken seriously or not.”

    The fact that you continue to post your “position” here time after time suggests otherwise.

  42. 292
    Martin Vermeer says:

    The final arbiter is the experimental
    evidence; as I have noted many times; hard measured independently
    replicated experimental data. It is on that “Solid ground of Nature”
    that I stake my claim.

    Jim, don’t you notice how silly you sound? Stop embarrassing yourself.

    (Yes I know… should say something factual instead. But there’s a point at which that becomes silly.)

    #287: Rod, loudly repeating something doesn’t make it true. Sleep on it a little more :-)

  43. 293
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #288 Jim Cripwell “Of course I am wrong; I posted this on Real Climate. If I had posted the same comment on Climate Skeptics, I would have been right.”

    Despite what he says later in the post, I think Jim here expresses the real belief of many denialists: that opinions on the truth and falsehood of statements about the world are simply signifiers of group identity, like particular hairstyles or articles of clothing.

    “The final arbiter is the experimental evidence; as I have noted many times; hard measured independently replicated experimental data.”

    So, Jim, what is the “hard measured independently replicated experimental data” that shows AGW is (your word) “impossible”?

  44. 294

    Jim Cripwell writes:

    [[The final arbiter is the experimental evidence; as I have noted many times; hard measured independently replicated experimental data. It is on that “solid ground of Nature” that I stake my claim.]]

    WHAT data? What data are you talking about? Care to cite a source?

    All the experimental and observational data I know of says that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, that it’s increasing due to human technology, and that the world is warming as a result. Do you know of some published data that contradicts that?

  45. 295
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref 295. The only data I am aware of, are the various data sets of temperature versus time. I am more than willing to discuss what can be deduced from such data. Indeed, Walt Bennet and I hoped that Gavin would start such a discussion. I conclude that such data shows the world temperature has passed through a shallow maximum in recent years, and temperatures are now on the decline. I have posted many times the URLs for this data, but if you want them, I can find them again. As to any other data, there is not one scintilla, not one single solitary jot of experimental data that shows a connection between the recent rise in CO2 concentrations, and the recent rise in world temperatures. By “recent” I mean post 1960. If you know of such data, please provide a reference, and the specific chapter/verse/paragraph, etc, together with a few words from the reference which refer specifically to such data.

  46. 296
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod #287, Let us look at some of the examples of mendacity given. One with which I am fairly familiar concerns the suggestion that warming on other bodies in the solar system might have something to do with that on Earth. This cannot be a matter of opinion. It is simply false. The energetics of Earth and of bodies in the outer solar system are completely different. Mars, for instance sees less than a quarter of the solar radiation that Earth does, and for Jupiter and its moons almost all the energy comes from within Jupiter or from tidal forces. Maybe Rush Limbaugh is dumb enough to make this mistake–Lindzen is not. What is more, the denialists make this argument not among other scientists, who would be able to immediately assess it as false, but among laymen (e.g. in a debate or an editorial). So, not only are the denialists making arguments they know are false, they are doing so in a forum where they are likely to trip up the gullible and complacent. That is reprehensible. It is the opposite of science.

  47. 297
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jim Cripwell wrote: “My position has always been that the physics of CO2 absorption is such that AGW is impossible.”

    Jim Cripwell followed up: “The only data I am aware of, are the various data sets of temperature versus time.”

    Please explain in detail how temperature records falsify the basic, rock-solid, well-understood, experimentally verified physics of CO2 absorption. Because as far as I can see, you have just offered a complete non sequitur.

  48. 298
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #296 [Jim Cripwell]
    Jim, I’ll repeat my question, in case you missed it:
    “what is the “hard measured independently replicated experimental data” that shows AGW is (your word) “impossible”?” Even if you were right (you’re not, of course) about the Earth cooling in recent years, that would not show AGW to be impossible: some other factor (the sun, cosmic rays, the fairies at the bottom of your garden) could be outweighing the AGW effect. So, what shows that AGW is “impossible”? We’ll need at least two citations, of course, since the “hard measured experimental data” you will be citing needs to have been “independently replicated”.

  49. 299
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref 299 Nick writes “Jim, I’ll repeat my question, in case you missed it:
    “what is the “hard measured independently replicated experimental data” that shows AGW is (your word) “impossible”?” ” Let us start at the beginning. Please show me where I used the word “impossible” in this exchange. I cannot find it. In 288 I wrote “Ref 284. Of course I am wrong; I posted this on Real Climate. If I had posted the same comment on Climate Skeptics, I would have been right. There is no Supreme Court of Science to rule who is right and wrong on this ongoing scientific debate. The final arbiter is the experimental evidence; as I have noted many times; hard measured independently replicated experimental data. It is on that “solid ground of Nature” that I stake my claim.” In 296 I wrote “Ref 295. The only data I am aware of, are the various data sets of temperature versus time. I am more than willing to discuss what can be deduced from such data. Indeed, Walt Bennet and I hoped that Gavin would start such a discussion. I conclude that such data shows the world temperature has passed through a shallow maximum in recent years, and temperatures are now on the decline. I have posted many times the URLs for this data, but if you want them, I can find them again. As to any other data, there is not one scintilla, not one single solitary jot of experimental data that shows a connection between the recent rise in CO2 concentrations, and the recent rise in world temperatures. By “recent” I mean post 1960. If you know of such data, please provide a reference, and the specific chapter/verse/paragraph, etc, together with a few words from the reference which refer specifically to such data.”

  50. 300
    Jim Bullis says:

    Is there a real chart somewhere that shows the radiative force as a function of co2 in ppm?

    The reason for my question is that the presentation at Wikipedia seems to show that in the spectral band where co2 acts as a filter, it is already 100% blocking the upgoing thermal radiation.

    I would appreciate assistance on this.


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