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North Pole notes

I always find it interesting as to why some stories get traction in the mainstream media and why some don’t. In online science discussions, the fate of this years summer sea ice has been the focus of a significant betting pool, a test of expert prediction skills, and a week-by-week (almost) running commentary. However, none of these efforts made it on to the Today program. Instead, a rather casual article in the Independent showed the latest thickness data and that quoted Mark Serreze as saying that the area around the North Pole had 50/50 odds of being completely ice free this summer, has taken off across the media.

The headline on the piece “Exclusive: no ice at the North Pole” got the implied tense wrong, and I’m not sure that you can talk about a forecast as evidence (second heading), but still, the basis of the story is sound (Update: the headline was subsequently changed to the more accurate “Scientists warn that there may be no ice at North Pole this summer”). The key issue is that since last year’s dramatic summer ice anomaly, the winter ice that formed in that newly opened water is relatively thin (around 1 meter), compared to multi-year ice (3 meters or so). This new ice formed quite close to the Pole, and with the prevailing winds and currents (which push ice from Siberia towards Greenland) is now over the Pole itself. Given that only 30% of first year ice survives the summer, the chances that there will be significant open water at the pole itself is high.

The actuality will depend on the winds and the vagaries of Arctic weather – but it certainly bears watching. Ironically, you will be able to see what happens only if it doesn’t happen (from these web cams near the North Pole station).

This is very different from the notoriously over-excited story in the New York Times back in August 2000. In that case, the report was of the presence of some open water at the pole – which as the correction stated, is not that uncommon as ice floes and leads interact. What is being discussed here is large expanses of almost completely ice-free water. That would indeed be unprecedented since we’ve been tracking it.

So why do stories about an geographically special, but climatically unimportant, single point traditionally associated with a christianized pagan gift-giving festival garner more attention than long term statistics concerning ill-defined regions of the planet where very few people live?

I don’t really need to answer that, do I?

827 Responses to “North Pole notes”

  1. 401
    Dan says:

    re: 398. Precisely. Whether or not he bothers to show up here again will tell the tale as well. Chances are that he is just a smug, drive-by poster with little scientific understanding. How sad that such people have such little critical analysis ability. Or the ability to admit when he is simply wrong.

  2. 402
    Paul says:

    Actually, I did go to the website and have spent most of the day reading articles there.

    Very interesting.

    I didn’t find my opinions changed, but I did find that there are wildy varying opinions presented as fact on both sides of the argument.

    John, I was quite irritated by some of the sneering commentary by some of the “enlightened” crowd.

    There is a new program underway to create a solar farm of a huge nature in Nevada in the desert. Somewhere that would be very much out of the way and yet, the environmentalists are blocking it because of some small animal that would be harmed by it.

    [Response: Where do you get your information from? Nevada Solar One is now up and running and is the thrid largest solar power plant in the world. If you are going to doubt everything I have to say, at least have the intellectual honesty to check your sources. – gavin]

    There is a construction project underway in eastern North Carolina that is to build a huge windmill project. It would provide clean, inexpensive energy to the residents of some of the poorer counties here, and yet, the environmentalists are blocking it because a) it’s a danger to birds and b) it’s too noisy and cause noise polution that would endanger many native species.

    [Response: Environmental impact assessments are necessary for big projects – but N.C. seems to be pushing ahead with wind anyway. Texas an California – as different as two states can be, are leading wind energy deployments. Maybe if you stopped trying to look for excuses to demonize environmentalists you could focus on the facts? – gavin]

    And you can “ignore” me all you want John. I’m actually trying to find facts. There seems to be a LOT of hype on both ends. Mainly from your end in my opinion, but that’s not my call, it’s history’s. I do believe there is a LOT of money involved in this movement and that’s a large portion of where it’s coming from. Some of the things are just too contridictory.

    Gavin, I appreciate your responses. In response to your responses, I’ll address what I’ve learned today in reading on Skeptical Science and some of the commentary and related sites after…

    1) If it’s man-made, then why are other planets experiencing changes similar to ours?

    [Response: They aren’t. – gavin]

    Actually, there are changes happening on Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto of similar nature, warming. According to the information, there is actually additional reasons that it’s occurring on other planets that, according to some, has little to none to do with the sun’s output, but others believe so. Again, a discrepency.

    [Response: No. It’s someone lying to you. There is no ‘global warming’ on Jupiter – what you have is a new storm that has developed near the Great Red Spot, but it is neither global, nor warming. Pluto has just passed perihelion (the closest approach to the sun) and is still warming because of that. Since we haven’t even observed an annual cycle for Pluto, how you can define a climate change is beyond me. Saturn? No clue what you are talking about. But think about this more logically – climate is always changing (I think I heard that somewhere). Therefore you would expect roughly half the planets to be warming and half cooling at any one time even if there was no connection between them. But frankly people are seizing on anecdotes for climate change in the solar system that would rightly be derided if I was to use analogous arguments on Earth (i.e. global warming is happening because of a big storm, or that a single glacier was melting). – gavin]

    2) If it’s man-made, then why have we had much (as much as 7 degrees) warmer than we do now before man had a major impact on the world?

    [Response: Does the existence of natural forest fires preclude the existence of arsonists? This point is logically incoherent. If you see someone murdered, does the culprit get a pass because more people died at the Somme? The current rise in greenhouse gases is man-made and it is currently driving climate change. None of the things that drove climate change in the past appear to be relevant because they are either not changing, are too slow or are insignificant on these shorter timescales. – gavin]

    Actually, according to several sites, yes, there was as much as a 7 degree variance higher in previous times, and according to some, that is because of natural factors, and that those natural factors don’t seem to be occurring right now. Not sure I believe that. It was warmer by a lot a long time ago, but now, it’s warming nowhere near that level, and yet, it’s because of man.

    [Response: Huh? Everyone agrees that there were warmer times before – Google the Cretaceous or Eocene, or mid-Pliocene and obviously that was due to natural variability. But the causes were tectonic, or orbital, or due to geologically-controlled changes in greenhouse gases. But that isn’t what is happening now. – gavin]

    Your response to #3, I could find very little in one direction or another, but there is a LOT of data out there to sort through, so maybe I’ll learn more and respond later.

    Your response to #4, I partially addressed above, but I’ll also respond one other thing. You’re right. We’ve made a mess of how to properly provide energy to the masses. Those who made money spent massive amounts trying to make more and keep people from taking away their money pit. One article I was recently reading stated that hemp seed oil produces a cleaner buring fuel (nearly 90% burn, with considerably less ash and CO2 production) than any fossil fuel (33% burn at the most efficient) and was actually banned because the oil industry (and the rope industry, as hemp weave made a stronger and less expensive rope than current materials) decided to push their congresscritters to close it down because hemp could make Marijuana. Again, we’ve made a mess of our energy needs, and frankly, if we used hemp and flax seed oil for fuels, we’d be doing considerably better (flax burning at a 88% rate).

    (And yes, John, you can pick your jaw up off the ground. I’m not some rabid beast.)


  3. 403
    Paul says:

    Mark, you can tell Steven that the real reason they’re having a water crisis in Cali is not the water feed. It’s Pistachio’s.

    Pistachios require cleaning of some form. Either hand cleaning, which is cumbersome, inefficient and expensive, or washing.

    Washing is easy, cheap and quick.

    There was recently an article on the Food Network that was discussing them. They visited the 11th largest pistachio farm in California. 11th largest!!! And they were told by the owner that they use over 500 MILLION GALLONS OF WATER ANNUALLY!!!!

    Imagine if they raised the cost of water $.01/gallon for the farms. They would have enough to buy water from every state with flood conditions and provide water for their entire state. Or better yet, they could create an aquaduct system throughout the entire western US and actually move water from drought areas to needed areas and efficiently provide for everyone.


  4. 404
    Paul says:

    (Apparently, either I put in too many posts back to back, or just didn’t get sent)

    Mark, tell Steven that the main reason is Pistachios.

    An article on the Food Network had the 11th largest pistachio farm owner claiming they use 500 million gallons of water annually. The 11th largest!!


  5. 405
    Mark says:


    What is amazing though is that, instead of finding out, they attack.

    If they are genuine, they don’t even know enough to know they know nothing. Which is kind of strange when they make accusations and make up “the science wot they know” and tell us that this is right and what the people who study this believe is wrong. Or the experts forgot something and they can and will enlighten us( “It’s the Sun Stupid!!” “What, that hot burny thing hovering just beyond arms reach? Never thought of that..!”).

    And worse, if they are still genuine, that we don’t admit our mistake, they call everyone names and make up strange and far-reaching conspiracy claims.

    Or they aren’t legitimate and they don’t WANT to believe because it then becomes their fault. AND IT’S NOT I TELL YOU NONONONONNONNNONONONNONNONONO! I’M TELLING!!!!

    In one case of a family member, the denial is because God Wouldn’t Let That Happen. And the insistence that we are making a change for the worse is an attack not against them but against God.

    I’ve tried to ask “well, what if, after giving us intelligence, he wanted to see if we’d use it?”.

    And then they get upset.

  6. 406
    Paul says:

    Apparently, since I posted a rather long reply, it’s awaiting moderation. That’s fine.

    As far as the “drive by” poster with “little scientific understanding”, I’m actually well educated and try to improve myself on a regular basis. I believe that there are forces at work that are driving both ends of this mess. If I am wrong on science, I want to know. I want to know why. I want to review the data and if I’m interpreting it incorrectly, then I want to figure out why.

    I was irritated by the attitude in the first 80 or 90 posts that basically attempted to humiliate anyone who would dare to disbelieve. That’s why the snarky attitude in the first post. You’ll find that I’m a) very eager to debate in a civilized manner and b) like to find out the facts.

    Anyone who is willing to completely disregard any facts presented that oppose their viewpoint, give creedence to the idea of an almost religious ferver. I do look at the facts, from both sides, and try to figure out what’s going on.


  7. 407
    Paul says:

    [edit – do you have any idea how insulting that is?]

    Today, science is typically portrayed as self-correcting, but it took decades for most evolutionary biologists to disassociate themselves from the junk science of eugenics. For years, the most consistent critics of eugenics were traditionalist Roman Catholics, who were denounced by scientists for letting their religion stand in the way of scientific progress. The implication was that religious people had no right to speak out on public issues involving science.

    The reason I don’t slavishly hold to one side or another is simple. For the longest time, the world’s leading scientists and scholars told us the world was flat. That the world was the center of the universe. And even that flight was impossible and so was space flight. Eventually, we find that no matter what our preconcieved notions are, the world of reality has a tendancy to annoyingly correct our perceptions.


    [Response: None of your statements are true. Scientists since ancient Egypt have known the Earth was round. Occasional religious authorities decided otherwise. Anyone that has ever seen a bird or an insect knows that flight is possible. That insight is not restricted to scientists. Space flight was a theoretical possibility from the time of Newton. What you are displaying here is a post hoc justification for not wanting to hear what is being said. Maybe you should look at your own preconceived notions? And check on reality now and again to correct them. – gavin]

  8. 408
    Mark says:

    For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction that acts on a different body.

    Paul. You seem unable to read any facts that oppose your viewpoint. You have a religious fervour that AGW is incorrect and that you have found The One True Answer. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a zealot and unable to think beyond their beliefs.

    Gavin and many of the frequent posters here have a nearly saintly patience with each and every one who comes on here and asks “how do you know that X isn’t doing it?”.

    You have none.

    You don’t even know what you are talking about. You have some soundbites you have from others and, rather than be skeptical of what THEY have told you, you come on here and tell us we’re wrong.

    Then get upset when we say “no, you’re wrong”.

    Go away and find out what warming has happened on other planets. Find out how much of a change they have had. Work out how that change is modified by distance (radiative power varies with the fourth power of temperature and energy density does down with the second power of distance. this should allow you to work out a rough calculation of how temperature varies with distance). Now see if that describes the changes here. Be skeptical of what you’ve heard about GW not being A.

    When you’re done with that, you should have enough knowledge to argue what you’ve been told on this site.

    Rather than just tell us you’re wrong because some thing you’ve read makes you think we are.

  9. 409
    tamino says:

    Re: #406 (Paul)

    What irritates *me* is people who *claim* that they want to know the objective truth, and that they’re well educated, then repeat drivel like “there are changes happening on Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto of similar nature, warming.” It sure looks like you’re not educating yourself, you’re just regurgitating other peoples’ stupidity.

    Most commenters here (myself included) were skeptical at one time (in my case, highly so). So we invested the time and effort to find out. Only THEN did we come here to make assertions. If you want to play the “humble investigator into truth” card, get your facts straight *first*.

  10. 410
    Paul says:

    Gavin, you seemed surprised by my response. Given your response to it, I believe you may have misunderstood me (and that EASILY could have been me being somewhat wordy using three lines to say what one sentance could do, as one of my former professors once told me)….

    [Response: Huh? Everyone agrees that there were warmer times before – Google the Cretaceous or Eocene, or mid-Pliocene and obviously that was due to natural variability. But the causes were tectonic, or orbital, or due to geologically-controlled changes in greenhouse gases. But that isn’t what is happening now. – gavin]

    I agree, according to what I was seeing, the data shows that “that isn’t what is happening now.” I don’t know if those factors are sun-driven, naturally derived, or man-made.

    In the planetary commentary, it’s simple. There are changes happening. I asked the question. And you replied that there wasn’t change happening. I went to the sites mentioned, did some research, and as I said, there is something happening on some planets as to be expected, as you stated. What I also said was that there is little to no consensus on what the cause is for those planets having changes occurring, but that my original question and original assumption was very much in doubt that it was solar influenced.

    The Nevada solar project that was put on hold was the new project. It was mentioned (and I’m having a hard time finding the specific article on that right now) along with several others that were because of environmentalist protests to Bureau of Land Management and the entire problem was addressed in the following article:

    The article does not specifically mention the lawsuit that caused the BLM to take the action they did, but there was one.


    [Response: The BLM decision had nothing to do with environmentalists, and in any case was rescinded in short order given the overwhelmingly negative reaction from everyone (environmentalists included). – gavin]

  11. 411
    Nick Barnes says:

    500 million gallons per year is a tiny fraction of Californian water use (something like 80 billion cubic metres per year; 500 million gallons is about 2 million cubic metres). Without numeracy there is no hope.

  12. 412
    Paul says:

    Mark, as you may have seen, I read up on things, as several of you have asked me to do. I found that, yes, I was wrong in my preconcieved notion on what I’d heard about climate change on other planets. Yes, according to several sites, there is something happening on some planets, but as Gavin so graciously pointed out, in a dynamic system, there are going to be changes.

    Gavin, my quote from the article was not intended to be insulting, but, instead, an attempt to prove a point. That not being able to be flexible in our opinions can lead to bad results. And that’s why I’m trying to find out more. Trying to learn. I appreciate the time you’ve taken and the carefully crafted responses.

    With regards to the response you had, there were many “scientific” texts that had agreement with the religious texts.

    [Response: Find one scientific reference since the third century BC to the Earth being flat (to save you the trouble, there don’t appear to be any). – gavin]

    Nick, you’re missing the point of my comment. With many more than 11 farms, and the 11th largest using 500 million, even if the ten larger were much more efficient and only used the 500 million number (not likely, but I do not have access to the exact amounts), then the top 11 farms would use 5.5 billion gallons of water annually. It does add up.


  13. 413
    Paul says:

    And Gavin, I missed the LA Times article. I’m VERY glad they lifted it. I’d heard two different comments about the BLM basing that decision on a lawsuit.

  14. 414
    Tom Dayton says:

    RE: #410

    No, Paul, you did not simply claim that other planets are “changing.” You wrote, quite specifically (#402), “Actually, there are changes happening on Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto of similar nature, warming.”

    Revising history works poorly when your history is publicly written.

    (Okay, John and Mark, you’re right about this guy.)

  15. 415
    SecularAnimist says:

    Gavin wrote: “The BLM decision had nothing to do with environmentalists, and in any case was rescinded in short order given the overwhelmingly negative reaction from everyone”

    Thank you! I hadn’t heard that the BLM moratorium on processing applications for solar power installations on public lands had been rescinded. That is the best news I have heard all day. It was an outrageous decision, particularly coming from an agency that has fallen over itself to facilitate fossil fuel extraction on public lands.

  16. 416
    Phil. Felton says:

    Re @402 Paul

    One article I was recently reading stated that hemp seed oil produces a cleaner buring fuel (nearly 90% burn, with considerably less ash and CO2 production) than any fossil fuel (33% burn at the most efficient)

    I suggest you cancel your subscription to that source, it’s nonsense fossil fuels are burned in gas turbines with efficiencies exceeding 99%.
    Hemp seed oil might be a good substitute for alcohol produced from corn but combustion efficiency isn’t a major factor, energy used to produce it is however.

  17. 417
    Jim Eager says:

    You claim that your initial post was somewhat hostile and provocative in response to the hostile and dismissive tone you had observed in other posts.
    Well, how did that work out for you?

    You have to understand that you are hardly the first person to come along and trot out the points that you raised. Not even by a long shot. We’ve seen each and every one of them time and time again. You also have to understand that unlike most public general and political blog sites, a good many regulars who comment here are working scientists. Most are not, but many of the rest have read a great deal on the science of global warming and climate change, as opposed to the rhetoric. So don’t be at all surprised by the response when someone comes along and makes provocative and unsubstantiated sophomoric assertions that are easily refuted–and have been many, many times over.

    As others have advised, educate yourself on the subject so that you can form your own opinion about which arguments and which sources are more plausible. You can’t do that by reading op-ed pieces or blogs that don’t provide references to the science that backs up their assertions. You can only do it by reading about and discussing the actual science itself. And RealClimate is one of the few places where you can do that.

    If you have questions as you go, by all means ask them. There are plenty of people here who are willing to bend over backwards to help you out. But not if you insult them or their intelligence with blatantly untrue statements, poorly understood misinformation, or outright fabricated disinformation.

    Others have provided resources for you to investigate. Here are a few more:

    At the very top of each RealClimate page is a button bar. Click on the “start here” button for links to a great many references and information sources conveniently segregated by knowledge level. There are even more embedded in the comments section of that page.

    To the right of the “start here” button is the search box. Enter the subject or topic key word to find archived RealClimate posts on the desired topic.

    In the right hand column are links to a number of frequently referenced archived subject topic posts under the heading “Categories” and “Highlights.”

    Under the heading “Science Links” are some very helpful links, especially the very first one, Spencer Weart’s on-line book The Discovery of Global Warming.

    If you do some reading on the scinece, ask genuine questions, and honestly seek to learn about the science, I’m sure you will find the discussion at RealClimate much more pleasant.

  18. 418
    Aaron says:

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but it’s a shame how people with viewpoints that don’t agree with everything on this blog are often treated on here. The same thing happens to AGWers at skeptic sites, to be sure…some of the name-calling and automatic dismissals comes across as rather close-minded on both sides.

    Anyone who thinks these issues are totally decided and not up for debate is delusional. As Gavin and others have pointed out, even Hansen has adjusted his views over time. That’s the way science is, we are always discovering new things and should keep our minds open to various possibilities. I know that is hard when it comes to such a politically charged issue as anthro global warming…but as new data and information comes in, the spirit of science should be to analyze and interpret it, with the intent to find the truth about our world – not prove someone else wrong or ourselves right.

    Science is always evolving.

  19. 419
    Jim Eager says:

    “Science is always evolving.”

    Of course it is, Aaron, but there is absolutely no comparison between debating the science in good faith and merely stopping by to post the same old tired and long-refuted talking points.

    Those who do so are either truly ignorant, incapable of dealing with reality, or actively seeking to provoke a response and disrupt the discussion.

    We can help cure the ignorance. We’re under no obligation to put up with the latter two.

  20. 420
    Dan says:

    re: 418. “Anyone who thinks these issues are totally decided and not up for debate is delusional.”

    Pot kettle black. The debate has been done. That is what scientific conferences, journals and peer-review are all about. It’s called the “scientific method”. It is the foundation of science and it has worked for centuries. The fundamental scientific debate re: AGW is over. What is most interesting is that none of the skeptics/deniers have a scientific explanation to explain the warming over the past 30+ years which has far exceeded natural influences. All they do is regurgitate lies and misinformation from what others (often with vested/political interests) have told them. And then they claim they are “educated” (ha!) and know more or know something that literally thousands of climate scientists/researchers do not know…and every major climate science organization in the world does not know including the National Academy of Sciences. That is the height of arrogance and insecurity (an inability to see how they are fundamentally wrong). And it is a truly sad reflection on their scientific education and supposed knowledge.

  21. 421
    SecularAnimist says:

    Aaron wrote: “Anyone who thinks these issues are totally decided and not up for debate is delusional.”

    Anyone who thinks that there is any genuine “debate” about either the reality of anthropogenic global warming and consequent climate change, or the grave threat not only to human civilization but to all life on earth if unmitigated, “business as usual” anthropogenic global warming and consequent climate change are permitted to continue, is profoundly misinformed.

    The commenters here who receive “automatic dismissals” are not those with “viewpoints that don’t agree with everything on this blog” (whatever that may mean — what does a “viewpoint” have to do with objective scientific facts?) but those who regurgitate tiresome, long-ago-refuted pseudoscientific denialist rubbish and/or rave about liberal environmentalist conspiracies to destroy capitalism with the great global warming hoax and other Limbaugh-inspired nonsense.

    Those who ask genuine questions in search of real answers are always, in my experience, treated with patience and respect by the climate scientists who generously contribute their personal time to maintaining this site.

  22. 422
    Nick Barnes says:

    Nick, you’re missing the point of my comment. With many more than 11 farms, and the 11th largest using 500 million, even if the ten larger were much more efficient and only used the 500 million number (not likely, but I do not have access to the exact amounts), then the top 11 farms would use 5.5 billion gallons of water annually. It does add up.

    I’m not missing the point of your comment. You claim that “the real reason they’re having a water crisis in Cali is not the water feed. It’s Pistachio’s.” I pointed out that for every eighty thousand gallons of water used in California, only two are used on that pistachio farm. That’s 0.0025% of Californian water use. Even supposing the other pistachio farms each use ten times as much water, pistachios are not the reason for the water crisis in California. So you are wrong: it does not add up.

  23. 423
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #418 Aaron:

    I glanced at this site some years ago and have returned only in the past few days. Here’s what I see from my perspective.

    Years ago on RC I quickly noticed the constant arrival of neophyte posters all armed with eerily similar talking points crudely disguised as questions. Arguably a majority of these introduce themselves as “confused” or “looking for facts in the debate” or “just trying to get a handle on the issues”. Nearly invariably they are quickly revealed as being on scene purely to grind away at the particular topic du jour they’ve been fed elsewhere, be it the eldritch but still occasionally visible “we can’t even predict the weather so how can we model climate” to the more recent “cosmic rays are overwhelming CO2” canard.

    You can see these memes pulsing through sites like RC, repetitive in general form even as they’re different in particular details. They have a half-life and never completely disappear. Constant renewal appears required, though, because the lose efficacy over time.

    Not to say no minds are changed or no information is ever exchanged on RC, from my relatively limited picture. However the monotonously low general quality of recently arrived misconceptions and their carriers at RC along with the misconceptions’ immutability and carriers’ unwillingness to assimilate facts seems the same now as it did several years ago.

    It’s as though there’s an unlimited army of recruits available, ready and willing to be handed shoddy ammunition and then sent “over the top” only to mowed down willy-nilly leaving no impression other than fatigue and a slight diminishing of patience on the part of those who’re working to maintain RC’s responsiveness.

    On the brighter side, I’ve also noticed that carriers bearing even the lousier memes who take the time to bring along some reasonably well-sourced (even if the source is completely-but-earnestly-wrong) material for examination and are willing to assimilate even a little information offered in rebuttal are well treated. There’s an astonishing level of consideration extended to these, given the constant drone of repetition involved in replying.

  24. 424
    Aaron says:

    Thank you all for your responses.

    I would, however, caution against saying “the science is already settled”, “debate is over”, etc. Climatology is still a rather young scientific field, and while some principles are understood well, others are not. Therefore, it is my position that more knowledge/data and analysis is needed before we can draw such absolute conclusions. Yes, I think most of the principles and theories behind AGW makes sense…but I still think there are things that need to be proven in the real world before I can say the science is settled.

    I know that many of you believe we must act drastically now to curb the effects of global warming, and because of that you cannot accept a “wait and see” approach. That is fine, and if you are that convinced that everything will occurr as predicted, then I understand your sense of urgency. However, if others do not share your desperation, please do not label us as “denialists” or whatever.

    There are actually many people who think that AGW (or the effects thereof) may be overestimated, and I have had some very good conversations with some of them. So I am still making up my mind until I see better proof from either side. If it were such an obvious choice as some of you make it out to be (like whether or not the earth is flat), then I would have to be an idiot not to see the light and make my decision. But I’m not an idiot, and I don’t think the science is so cut and dried.

  25. 425
    David B. Benson says:

    Aaron (424) — Here are temperatures during the Cenozoic:

    Notice that as temperatures increase, we approach those of the Miocene, when Antarctica melted. I’ll say the risk is too great to fool around with.

  26. 426
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Aaron, Let me try explaining a few things. First, when people say the science is settled, they do not mean that we have nothing left to learn about climate. Nobody believes that. Rather, they mean that 1)We understand the role CO2 plays in climate very well; and 2)it is very unlikely that any future discovery in climate science will be sufficiently revolutionary to overturn that understanding.
    Contrary to your assertion, climate science if fairly mature. It has a history of >150 years, and it presents a pretty good understanding of the factors that affect climate. See Spencer Weart’s history:

    The importance of CO2 in climate rests on several factors:
    1)It is a strong greenhouse gas. 2)It remains well mixed well into the stratosphere. 3)It persists in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. And so on.

    Aaron, I don’t think you are an idiot. You are however quite misinformed. You do not understand the science, and so you are vulnerable to disinformation–whether deliberate or merely ignorant. I would urge you to learn more of the physics here. Then you would understand why the peer-reviewed literature favors anthropogenic causation by a ratio of over 100:1, and why not one single professional scientific society that has reviewed the science has rejected it–not even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. There are no two sides to this debate.

  27. 427
    Dan says:

    re: 424. “So I am still making up my mind until I see better proof from either side.”

    It is absolutely fundamental to understand that “proof” is a mathematical concept. It does not directly apply to science which is based on hypotheses, data collection, testing, repeatable experiments/peer review, conclusions/consensus and further hypotheses. Again, this gets back to the basic need to understand the scientific method/process. The scientific debate over AGW is long over per numerous peer-reviewed studies, publications and conferences. The AGW certainty is far greater than most scientific results that are widely accepted. There are no natural causes (solar, cosmic rays, etc.) which alone can explain the long-term warming that has occurred since the 1970s.

  28. 428
    Aaron says:

    Ray, I find your post somewhat condescending…perhaps you did not mean it that way, but it certainly came across that way. You seem to be under the assumption that because I don’t have your conviction on this issue that I am “misinformed” and “do not understand the science”. How you arrived at that conclusion, I’m not sure. Honestly, all of the basic premises you outlined I am already very familiar with. I’m not new to this debate, I have been examing both sides for several years. And as I have said, I have yet to see enough compelling evidence from either side to convince me.

    You seem to see this issue as rather black and white, almost with a good vs. evil mentality. Sorry, but I don’t see things as simplified as that.

    Climate science, in comparison to many other fields, is still quite young. Consider that only in the past 20 years have scientists began venturing climate predictions, and there has not even been enough time for many of those projections to verify, and you’ll get a sense of what I mean. Also consider the recent development of GCMs, the recent discovery of such variables as the PDO/NPI, etc…

    I am very much aware of the physics behind CO2 and the greenhouse effect. As I said, I think this makes sense…but there have been many examples of science that added up in theory, but then reality ended up a bit differently. I’m not saying this will be the case with AGW theory, but I’m certainly open to that possibility at this point.

  29. 429
    Francis says:

    Water professionals like myself measure large volumes of water in acre-feet. 1 million gallons is just over 3 acre feet. For a large pistachio farm to use 1,500 acre-feet annually is actually a very low number. For context, total annual water use for irrigated agriculture in California is about 35 million acre-feet annually. These numbers are very easy to find.

    The point, Paul, is that you’re way too quick to assume you know what you’re talking about. This is true of both your understanding of California water issues and global climate change issues.

  30. 430
    Paul says:


    Declaring the debate “over”, is exactly the comment about the church of environmentalism was all about.

    To those of us who aren’t “believers”, there is a lot of debate. And there are a lot of legitimate questions that frankly, those of us who look at it from the outside have. For the debate to be “over”, it has to be accepted science. And frankly, there are areas that looking at from any of the hundreds of questions you guys answer “over and over again” that look very suspicious to someone who hasn’t absorbed all the information. Science is always evolving. And hopefully, you will not be so blind as to think there will be no changes. Even Evolution is a “theory” not proven scientific fact, and the theories for that have been around MUCH longer. There is still much debate on the subject, even if there are many who believe those who do not absolutely accept evolution as written by Darwin (and yes, I actually do have a copy of the book which I’ve read a majority of, and found even Darwin wasn’t 100% convinced that the theory was right).


    As you can tell by some of the responses, it didn’t go very well. I did make an earnest effort to read some of the site information that some people graciously posted. I have made an atempt to participate eagerly and honestly in presenting what I have known before. Given information that directly and believably can counter what I have known, I am always willing to change my views and knowledge base. It is rather difficult to accept all the changes at once. Think about it. You’ve been told for 15 years that the world is purple, and suddenly, you’re being told to accept that the world is actually blue and green. It’s not an easy transition. Not something that acceptably happens in one sitting. I certainly will do a lot more research on the topic and hopefully become more educated.

    Nick, O.K. You’re right. I screwed up. (Never be unwilling to admit mistakes.) I stated that it was the “real reason”. It is one portion. Of many. There are many portions to it, but that one is going to make a difference.

    One thing I’ve been told often is that my writing style is too wordy. I say things in a way that goes around the subject and sometimes leads to confusion. I asked the question about change. The response was that there wasn’t any change occuring. According to the sites I was sent to earlier today, the statements are simple that the planets listed above are actually appearing to have some form of observed warming, but in each situation, there are some reasons that it wasn’t solar radiation which would be problematic to the AGW proposition. I was explaining, and very poorly, that from what I read, there is some change, but I actually learned that the issue that was causing me trouble on that aspect was not what I thought, and thus, today, I learned something that makes me have to re-think. Don’t bust my chops for learning, but writing badly. ;)


  31. 431
    Paul says:


    If you look at the info, you’ll see that there was a great amount of debate but that the spherical concept did originate (in the Western world) in the third century BC. There were many people and many descriptions of the earth as being a flat sphere.

    And yes, there was proof found that showed that it wasn’t. What I can say on that is simple. If AGW is truly accurate and correct, then those who do not believe it is right will find themselves rapidly being found in the camp of the flat-earthers. If it is found that AGW is not correct, or that the problems associated with the claims are not, then the other side will be.

    A lot of the problem with the concept of “flat earth” being scientifically acceptable is from the romantic notion that Columbus’ crew was reluctant to sail to the New World because of falling off the edge of the world. It may be that there was little to no scientific belief in it, but there certainly points to there being a debate, and one with serious social consequences.


  32. 432
    Steven Goddard says:

    Response to Doug Bostrom –

    First, it is scurrilous to reprint a private E-mail on a public forum without the author’s consent or knowledge. Then to call the other person a “liar” behind their back is quite remarkable behaviour. I have attempted to deal with you in a civil fashion, and you have violated all decorum.

    Besides Doug, you are wrong on all points.

    The first paragraph of the article in the Independent read on June 27 at 15:25 GMT when I took a zotero snapshot – “Exclusive: No ice at the North Pole Polar scientists reveal dramatic new evidence of climate change It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year. ”

    They have since changed the text, possibly as a result of my pointing out their inaccuracy. My piece contained the text from the Independent article exactly as it read at the time. A similar article with the same text appeared on Sky News at the same time, which has been removed completely. I have a zotero snapshot of that article as well. Instead of calling me a liar on RC, how about asking me first on The Register Forum where I would expect to see the question? There was a simple explanation – apparently Steve Conner chose to correct his story.

    [Response: You were hardly the only person to comment on the headline (see above), and you should know that journalists do not write the headlines in any case. – gavin]

    Also, you are misrepresenting Hansen’s paper.

    In Hansen Nazarenko 2004, Hansen wrote that “Our estimate for the mean soot effect on spectrally integrated albedos in the Arctic … is about one quarter of observed global warming.”

    i.e. Dr. Hansen said that one-fourth of all global warming (over the entire planet) is due to Arctic soot. The same paper shows the forcing of soot as 2XC02 at 4.05 W/m2 Figure 1 shows Arctic warming of as much as 2-3C due to soot. My statement was completely correct – By any reasonable interpretation Hansen did imply that most of the warming in the Arctic is due to soot.

    [Response: You are confused. There are many factors – both warming (CO2, CH4) and cooling (sulphates) that act on the Arctic. Soot is certainly one of them, but an attribution of the actual warming to more complicated than you have understood. See this post for instance. Imagine that there are two equal positive effects A and B, and one equal but negative effect C. The net effect is equal either to A or B, but it makes no sense to say that A is responsible for 100% of the warming or that B is. A better answer is say that A and B contribute equally. – gavin]

    Also as mentioned in my article, a more recent paper from the University of California says that up to 94% of Arctic warming is due to soot.

    [Response: This is the same problem – single factor atttributions for the 20th Century are just wrong. It is too complicated for that. – gavin]

    Unlike your incorrect characterization, my article (“Are the poles melting”) was about both poles – not just the Arctic. Antarctic ice is completely relevant.

    According to both UIUC and NSIDC, Arctic ice is greater than this date last year. I predicted in the article that the North Pole will not be ice free this summer. Check back in six weeks to see if I am wrong.

    As mentioned in my article, Mark Serreze at NSIDC said in 2000 “There’s nothing to be necessarily alarmed about. There’s been open water at the pole before” During the summer of 2000 there was “a large body of ice-free water about 10 miles long and 3 miles wide near the pole”

    Doug Bostrom – instead of calling me a “liar,” how about engaging in civil conversation as I have attempted to do with you? Hint – you could start with an apology.

  33. 433
    Hank Roberts says:

    > There are actually many people who think that AGW
    > (or the effects thereof) may be overestimated, and
    > I have had some very good conversations

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    What you can do is ask them for the sources, the facts — and then look those up. Google Scholar will give you an idea whether the statements those good conversationalists make have a basis in the published scientific work, if they don’t know for sure themselves.

    And of course the real fun is that every so often you find newly published, or newly cited, work that changes your mind about what the facts are likely to be.

  34. 434
    Steven Goddard says:

    Further response to Doug Bostrom –

    I have not accused anybody of wrongdoing, other than you. Rather I have raised completely legitimate questions about changes in datasets, graphs and maps over time. These questions deserve answers.

    Everybody’s work is subject to review and analysis, particularly when they blur the line between science and politics. It is the right – in fact the duty – of all the world’s citizens to ask very hard questions of people making bold claims that have huge effect on our day to day life.

    [Response: I beg to differ. Your previous articles were laced with insinuations that the GISTEMP record is being ‘fixed’ with the clear implication that it is being done deliberately to skew the results. In any scientific forum ‘thems fighting words’ – and if you think that isn’t an accusation of wrongdoing, you need to go back to English class. Had you bothered to read any of the copious papers available on the subject (for instance:, you would have been aware that a) the revisions to the US temperatures came from NOAA, not NASA, b) are nothing to do with Hansen, and c) are for very sensible reasons – how would you suggest dealing with the fact that today temperatures are taken in the morning, but used to be taken in the afternoon? Your brand of sneering (I particularly liked the implicit comparison of scientists to monkeys), based on complete ignorance of what the real issues are, cannot be described in any way as simply ‘asking the hard questions’. It is more akin to asking when scientists stopped beating their graduate students. – gavin]

  35. 435
    Rick Brown says:

    Aaron #224: “I know that many of you believe we must act drastically now to curb the effects of global warming, and because of that you cannot accept a “wait and see” approach.”

    Given the clear evidence, “wait and see” would qualify as drastic inaction.

  36. 436
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Tamino #409 says:

    Most commenters here (myself included) were skeptical at one time (in my case, highly so).

    Didn’t know that. Very, very interesting… because of what it tells about effectiveness of the “mendacity environment” and the soundness of ExxonMobil et al.’s modest investment in it. Contrary to most people with a history like that, you are scientifically very literate and apparently used to reading broadly outside your field.

    This is a narrative deservant of exposure. Why not on your own blog!

  37. 437
    Steven Goddard says:

    More from Hansen-Nazarenko

    “The climate forcing due to snow/ice albedo change is of the order of 1W/m2 at middle- and high-latitude land areas in the Northern Hemisphere …. This compares with a global mean forcing by present anthropogenic CO2 (compared to preindustrial times) of 1.5W/m2, which is relatively uniform over the globe.”


    “Soot snow/ice albedo climate forcing is not included in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change evaluations. This forcing is unusually effective, causing twice as much global warming as a CO2 forcing of the same magnitude.”

    [Response: That was then, this is now (fig SPM2). – gavin]

    The 2X greater efficacy makes the temperature effect of soot greater than CO2 in the Arctic, as can also be seen in figure 1 and figure 3. Most of the overall rise in Arctic temperature seen in figure 3 is accounted for by soot as seen in figure 1.

    Furthermore, the text reads “On the other hand, our calculations exclude a factor that magnifies the soot warming effect. Melting snow tends to retain aerosols, darkening the surface more in the late winter and spring when the sun is high in the sky and most effective, thus increasing absorption and lengthening the melt season”

    Thus the effect of soot is greater than already calculated. The paper spells out quite plainly that soot likely causes more Arctic warming than CO2, as does Zender’s paper.

    [Response: As above… – gavin]

  38. 438
    Mark says:

    Aaron, there are many who think that they have been anal probed by aliens.

    That many people think something isn’t on its own a reason to believe them.

    Now, if these multitudes had a reason for it being overestimated (and, why it isn’t being underestimated) instead of “we don’t know how clouds work” or “we aren’t sure what the oceans will do with this” which is an appeal to incredulity and can be used just as well to intimate that CC is *underestimated*.

    Since you know at least how much you don’t know, please refrain from asking or telling those who are working on the issue they are wrong because someone has said they are. Either work it out yourself, or leave it to these others to do it.

    Most people here will help clarify questions you have, but you can’t be educated without your involvement and you seem lacking in desire.

  39. 439
    dhogaza says:

    Climatology is still a rather young scientific field

    Aaron, you do realize you’re repeating a tired denialist talking point when you make this statement?

    Do you understand why repeating a litany of such points tends to just cause people to tune you out (other than those who express their annoyance)?

  40. 440

    Mark posts:

    Please show me where I said it can somehow matter that the sun has tides from the milky way.

    Your original post on the matter said:

    Just as the earth has tides from the sun and the moon, the sun will have tides from the Milky Way and its planets.

    “The Milky Way and its planets” implies that you were confusing the galaxy with the Solar system, a la Alfred Bester. As I showed, tides from the Milky Way galaxy are irrelevant.

  41. 441

    Aaron writes:

    Climatology is still a rather young scientific field

    Let’s see, Fourier posited the greenhouse effect in 1824. Louis Agassiz demonstrated that there had been ice ages in the 1850s. John Tyndal found that water vapor and carbon dioxide were the major greenhouse gases in 1859, and Svante Arrhenius made the first estimate of global warming under doubled carbon dioxide in 1896.

    Climatology is older than quantum mechanics. And if you don’t accept quantum mechanics because it’s such a new field, what are you doing using a computer? You know that semiconductors are based on theories having to do with quantum mechanics, don’t you?

  42. 442

    Paul writes:

    A lot of the problem with the concept of “flat earth” being scientifically acceptable is from the romantic notion that Columbus’ crew was reluctant to sail to the New World because of falling off the edge of the world. It may be that there was little to no scientific belief in it, but there certainly points to there being a debate, and one with serious social consequences.

    His sailors may have been afraid of falling off the edge; but no scientist of the time was. Educated people have known the world was round since Eratosthenes measured its size circa 300 BC. Aristotle gave several proofs of the round world and in Columbus’s time, Aristotle was all the rage in scientific circles.

    It’s also untrue that the church ever taught that the world was flat. That was made up by Washington Irving and Andrew Dickson White in the 19th century. Both had an anti-clerical agenda.

  43. 443
    Ray Ladbury says:

    I am sorry that you found my missive condescending. I say that you are misinformed because you blindly parrot denialist talking points like “Climate science is a young science,” and “The science is uncertain.” Now you say that you know and accept the science but simply reject it despite presenting zero evidence to favor rejection.
    Perhaps if you had read my post dispassionately without looking for condescencion, you might have gotten the point that different portions of climate science have different levels of uncertainty. The importance of CO2 is well established. There are mountains of evidence favoring a sensitivity around 3 degrees per doubling, and it is virtually impossible to construct a reasonable climate model with a sensitivity less than 2 degrees per doubling.
    Science is about evidence, and since you present no evidence supporting your rejection of the accepted science, what are we to assume your rationale to be? That you don’t like the consequences? Many also do not like the consequences of the theory of evolution. Or the first and second laws of thermodynamics? Should we demand a different standard for scientific truth when we don’t like the consequences.

    Aaron, the fact that you claim there are two sides to this argument shows me that you don’t understand the science, because the denialists publish bupkis. They have no alternate theories, no insights, no understanding. As Mark Twain said, “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”

    Paul, WRT you issues communicating, I also recommend to you the counsel of Mr. Twain, who had wonderful advice on the craft of writing:
    “Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”


    “If you see an adjective, kill it.”

    There’s lots more.

  44. 444
    Paul says:

    Thank you Ray.

    My english professor once told me “Paul, you use 3-4 sentances where one word will do.”

    Sometimes, I get the feeling that stating directly what I’m trying to get across won’t get the point across (as, when I type it, I read it and say “Hey, I understand it, but will anyone else?” and then I rewrite it.

    I may just toss it out there raw next time. Most of the posters here seem to be highly intelligent and capable of reading quite well, and may even be able to decipher my blobs of consciousness. I’m used to posting on forums where not all the readers have a basic education. (Spend any amount of time on a divorce support forum, and you’ll see what I’m talking about)


  45. 445
    Dan says:

    re: 439. Then there the tired denialist classic “church of environmentalism” from post 430. Talk about taking one’s credibility about *science* to absolute zero!

  46. 446
    Paul says:


    The comment about “church of environmentalism” was specifically to point out that holding one’s belief in a particular scientific finding doesn’t give you credibility. You have zero if you’re unwilling to change your thoughts if you are proven wrong. And anyone who claims a topic in science is over, is categorically stating they are unwilling to change even if they are proven wrong. I’m not saying today someone is going to prove their theories wrong, but frankly, clinging to it seems more a religious fervor than true science.

    A willingness to be open to new scientific discoveries is extremely important in science. Look at what we know now that we didn’t know 50 years ago, 100 years ago. If you are blinded by an unwavering attachment to a scientific theory, you could end up wrong.

    What if, tomorrow, geologists announced that they had determined that the core of the earth was expanding for some unknown reason, and the expansion was what was causing a heating of the earth, and they had calculated models that proved it? I know. Far fetched idea, but what if everything you know today is somehow positively proven false tomorrow? Are you going to cling to it saying the debate is over?

    I know at this point, I’ve seen enough conflicting “evidence” that has been “proven” to be incorrect on both ends (and yes, the sites I was sent to yesterday for research have some pretty convincing arguments), that I’m not willing today to say I think that AGW is either accurate, or as devastating as is predicted, but I’m also not willing to say it isn’t accurate or as devastating either. I will say this. The goals of the AGW activists and my desires for cleaner air and a more livable world for my children are in agreement in a lot of areas. I’d love to see coal and oil reduced tremendously in use in the world. That would provide several positive results. Cleaner air. Always a good thing. Less strip mining, leaving better, more beautiful lands for our children. Less depenedence on countries that want to harm us. Less war. I’ve got two children. I’m trying to find out what the answers are because I want to do what’s best for my children.

    That’s why I’m here. I’m not here to rip at people or “vent my spleen”. I spend time on conservative forums reading from one side of the equation, and I feel like it’s appropriate for me to spend the time to get educated properly on what is going on from the other side of the aisle.

    So, if you want to talk about taking one’s credibility about science to absolute zero, think about what I’m saying. If you’re right, if AGW is right, then fine. We will all be better off from the efforts you’re making. If it’s wrong, don’t hold on to say “it can’t be wrong. I’ve got charts.”


  47. 447
    Rod B says:

    Dan (427) (though applicable to many, not just Dan): I have a philosophical disagreement with the logic that gives AGW a can’t lose for winning position. It is said “proof” is only a mathematical concept and not applicable to looking for iron-clad assurance of AGW. And that assessing AGW (and other sciences…) is a matter of making judgments on hypotheses and the analyses that went into the hypotheses. But then it is followed with, in essence (other words are used but mean the same), the current level of analysis and judgments applied to the hypothesis of AGW is such that it is, in fact, proof par excellence, and need not be further questioned. (Also, in fact, “proof” does have a clear and accepted meaning outside of mathematics even though it falls short (by a teensy amount maybe) of 100% absolute mathematical certainty.)

    In short it is said 1) proof is not applicable here so quit looking for it, and 2) anyway the AGW hypothesis has been scientifically proven already so quit looking for it. That logic is invalid and self-serving.

  48. 448
    Hank Roberts says:

    The notion that this area of science “need not be further questioned” is from the Inhofes, Rod. You’re doing the straw man thing here.

    Yes, there are nitwits out in all directions around the political axis, but there’s no point arguing with them as though they had a serious philosophy. Why bother?

    [Response: This is an excellent point and one that bears repeating often. On any issue one can find people saying stupid things. While correcting them is occasionally useful (though rarely heeded), acting as if the stupidest statements are representative of the most compelling arguments is silly. One can find a history of idiocy amplified by partisan point-scorers on the environment, on foreign policy, on taxation, on human rights etc., but laughing at folly is very different to dealing with real and serious underlying issues. – gavin]

  49. 449
    Jim Eager says:

    Re Paul @ 430: “To those of us who aren’t “believers”, there is a lot of debate. And there are a lot of legitimate questions that frankly, those of us who look at it from the outside have. For the debate to be “over”, it has to be accepted science.”

    But that’s just it, Paul, within the scientific community anthropogenic causation of increasing greenhouse gases, greenhouse gas-induced warming, and potential climate effects and impacts of increased warming are accepted science. If the foundations of that science were still being debated you would find that debate in the form of papers published in the relevant scientific journals and presented at the relevant scientific conferences. What you do see is plenty debate about the details of competing forcings and natural variability and the underlining mechanics of the climate system (as you say, science is always evolving), but what you do not see are legitimate papers showing that the basic science of greenhouse gas forcing is wrong.

    To be sure a ‘debate’ over whether or not human activity is altering the climate still rages, but it is not a clear-headed objective debate about the science among scientists actually working in the relevant fields, it’s a debate about the science and its impact on human society in the court of public opinion. Those are two entirely different debates that should not be confused. That a substantial portion of the public does not widely accept the science does not make it a scientific debate.

    Paul: “Even Evolution is a “theory” not proven scientific fact”

    There you go with another oft-repeated canard of misunderstanding. Here’s one thing you should keep in mind: the general usage of the word “theory” and the scientific usage of the word ‘theory’ are not at all the same.

    In general usage a ‘theory’ immediately follows the observation or experience of a single phenomenon or event, or a group of seemingly related phenomena or events, and that’s often pretty much as far as the process goes. Think ‘conspiracy theory’. This is why “evolution (or global warming) is only a theory” is used dismissively to discount evolution (and global warming).

    But in science, a theory is the end product of the scientific process, which starts with observation of phenomena, forming an hypothesis to explain the phenomena, designing a means to test the hypothesis, analyzing and interpreting the results of the tests, refining the hypothesis to account for observed discrepancies, retesting and refining repeatedly as needed, publishing the results for review and duplication of results by peers, consensus acceptance of the hypothesis by peers. Only at the end of the process, when peer consensus becomes overwhelming does a hypothesis have any chance of becoming accepted as a theory.

    In science theories are as good as it gets. There are no proven scientific ‘facts’, only well supported, consistent theories that have withstood all attempts to disprove them.

  50. 450
    Rod B says:

    dhogaza, BPL, et al: You guys are the ones guilty of the charge dhogaza is laying on Aaron (et al) You say we are guilty of repeating a litany of “young” climate science, yet it is you all that are oft repeating a “sounds like” religious litany of a long-established climate science. For example, the history BPL cites is of one or two outliers who had an idea even before Boltzmann was being thrown out for his “stupid” theory of gases, but were not given the time of day and got virtually zero acceptance in scientific circles. This is nowhere near “long-established” science, even though they later were shown to be reasonably correct.

    btw, IMO, your sounding like a religious litany is completely unnecessary for your case. Being “long-established” by itself makes a theory neither valid nor invalid.

    [Response: I disagree, the longer a theory has been around the more it has been subjected to tests and challenges, therefore in a Bayesian sense it should be weighted more highly than an idea that Joe just had in the bar but hasn’t been written up, published, thought about, criticised or supported etc… – gavin]