RealClimate logo

With all due respect…

Filed under: — group @ 24 March 2009 - (Italian)

There was a great comedy piece a few years back (whose origin escapes us) that gave examples of how the English would use their language when speaking to a non-native speaker to imply the precise opposite of what was actually being understood. This allowed the English to feel superior without actually damaging international relations. One example was the phrase “with all due respect” which is generally understood to imply that the speaker has a great deal of respect for their counterpart, while the speaker is actually implying that they have no respect in the slightest for their interlocutor. The respect due being precisely zero.

This thought occurred to us when a few of us opened our email this week to see a draft ad being sent around by the Cato Institute (i.e. Pat Michaels) looking for signatories prior to being published in “major US newspapers” sometime soon:

There are a number of amusing details here. While we are curious about the credentials of “Dr. N. Here”, we certainly understand why they are looking for a little more variety on the list. More surprising (and somewhat ironically) the mailing list for signature requests includes a number of scientists who don’t agree with these sentiments at all. It’s as if Michaels and Cato actually believe that these various lists of “dissenting” scientists are accurate reflections of support for their agenda. They appear to be have been conned by their own disinformation.

As an exercise for our readers, perhaps people would like to speculate on who is going to end up on the published list? (If indeed it gets published). Ginger Spice would be likely on past form, but they might improve the screening this time around…

But most amusing are the footnotes that they use to bolster their case. There are four: the brand new Swanson and Tsonis (GRL, 2009), Brohan et al (JGR, 2006) (which is there to provide a link to the HadCRU temperature data), Pielke et al (BAMS, 2005), and the oft-derided Douglass et al (IJoC, 2008).

Of these papers, not one has the evidence to support the statements attributed to them in the main text. To wit:

Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now.1,2

Well, the first part of the statement is exactly what you expect with a modest long-term trend in the presence of internal variability and is not controversial in the least. The “global warming stopped” meme is particularly lame since it relies on both a feigned ignorance of the statistics of short periods and being careful about which data set you use. It also requires cherry-picking the start year, had the period been “exactly a decade” or 12 years then all the trends are positive.

The use of the recent Swanson and Tsonis paper is simply opportunism. Those authors specifically state that their results are not in any way contradictory with the idea of a long term global warming trend. Instead they are attempting to characterise the internal variability that everyone knows exists.

After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events.3

This references a short comment in BAMS that didn’t present any original research. The latest figures show that weather-related damages have increased markedly, though whether there is a climate change component is hard to tease out given the large increases in vulnerable infrastructure and relatively poor data. The actual statement that a clear global warming-related trend in damages hasn’t been clearly demonstrated doesn’t imply that you can state definitively that there is no effect. There might be one (or not), but formal attribution is hard. However, whatever the attribution ends up being, pointing out that there are other problems in the world doesn’t imply that anthropogenic climate change is not worth worrying about. One might as well state that since knee injuries on ski-slopes have increased over time one shouldn’t support flu shots.

The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior.4

‘Abjectly’? Very strange choice of word…. and an even stranger choice of reference. This is of course the same Douglass et al paper that used completely incoherent statistics and deliberately failed to note the structural uncertainty in the observations. Unsurprisingly, Michaels does not reference the rather comprehensive demolition of the Douglass methodology published by Santer et al (2008) (and on which one of us was a co-author). More fundamentally however, the current temperatures are still within the spread of the models even if you cherry pick your start date. No-one expects the real world (a single realization) to follow the mean forced trend at all times. How is that a failure, abject or otherwise?

More interestingly is what is not cited. President Obama’s statement “The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear”, can’t possibly refer to every issue in science or every potential fact. Instead he is likely referring to the basic and pretty much uncontested facts that i) CO2 and other greenhouse gases have increased due to human activity. CO2 emissions in particular continue to increase at a rapid rate; ii) the effect of these gases is to warm the climate and it is very likely that most of the warming over the last 50 years was in fact driven by these increases; and iii) the sensitivity of the climate is very likely large enough that serious consequences can be expected if carbon emissions continue on this path. We would be astonished if Michaels disputed this since he is on record as agreeing that the IPCC climate sensitivity range is likely to be correct and has never questioned the human contribution to CO2 and other GHG increases. He and his colleagues have even done analyses that show that after correcting for ENSO effects, there is no sign of a slowdown in global warming at all.

Instead this is a classic red-herring: Ignore the facts you don’t dispute, pick some others that are ambiguous and imply that, because they are subject to some debate, we therefore know nothing. Michaels (and Cato) presumably thinks this kind of nonsense is politically useful and he may be correct. But should he claim it is scientifically defensible, we would have to answer:

“With all due respect, Dr. Michaels, that is not true.”

303 Responses to “With all due respect…”

  1. 251

    wmanny and Cricklewood: no one has ever said that natural influences are not part of the overall picture. That’s your argument, not that of any serious climate scientist. There are two short-term variables that influence temperatures: the solar cycle and energy transfers between the ocean and atmosphere. The first over around 3 decades is a zero-sum effect (highs cancel lows) and the second does not change the net energy balance of the system.

    What we are looking at is changes in the long-term net energy balance that ultimately will result in higher average temperatures. This is not a trivial process, otherwise we could just do the radiative physics, write one paper and have all the answers. Nonetheless the radiative physics side is rigorously quantifiable. No amount of wriggle or nitpicking will make it go away. If we increase the greenhouse effect by X, temperatures will go up by Y + delta where delta depends on feedbacks. The time it will take depends on feedbacks and interaction with the natural effects (solar variation, ocean-air energy transfers). But those things are second-order effects. They change the exact timing of the increase, and make the exact magnitude of the increase a little fuzzy.

    We have energy entering from the sun at a certain rate. Unless it leaves on average at exactly the same rate, the earth warms up until it does (if the net energy flow is positive; otherwise it cools down until things are in balance). Increasing the greenhouse effect reduces the rate at which energy is leaving the system. If you do not want increased the greenhouse effect to increase temperatures, you need to explain where else the increased energy in the system ends up.

  2. 252
    walter crain says:

    thanks. yes this was an idea from the 70s – back when the “energy crisis” was going to spur all sorts of innovation. then the crisis “went away” and here we are having the same discussions again. it’s deja vu. we’ve wasted the last 30 years. we “should” have had 100 mpg cars by now, but we’re stuck being pleased with 30 mpg…

  3. 253
    walter crain says:

    barton, others?
    you answered my question about solar collectors in space, and thanks. does anyone have input/criticisms on the mirror/shade idea in post #238?

  4. 254
    Hank Roberts says:

    > mirror/shade

    There’s been a huge amount written about the idea you can look up.
    Off the cuff from memory (which I don’t recommend relying on):

    It’s a metastable location, so anything there has to be actively positioned with equipment we don’t have or know how to build. It won’t help ocean pH. It will take resources. If we lose the launch and capacity to reach that site and manage such equipment because the oceans collapse then we’ll have even more problems we can’t fix.

  5. 255
    M. Kavanaugh says:

    The letter was published today in the Chicago Tribune (and all of the major daily newspapers, I’m sure). I assume that most of the signatories are “the usual suspects,” but I’d like to see an analysis – how many are/were financially connected to the energy business, how many have relevant credentials, etc. Is any organization or consortium going to issue a formal rebuttal?

  6. 256
    Mark says:

    mirror/shade will also only help in delaying when “business as usual” will end up in catastrophe.

    So after all that effort, we’ll STILL have to stop pumping out so much CO2.

  7. 257
    bi -- IJI says:

    walter crain:

    Which brings me to… how many Steves do they have? I can remember 3 climate inactivist Steves off the top of my head: Steve Milloy, Steve McIntyre, and Steven Goddard.

    And again, any unwilling names in the ‘signatory’ list? :)


  8. 258
    Hank Roberts says:

    Hat tip to the CBC news article for this:

    link to the researcher’s page:
    PDFs of recent paper, a FAQ, and some other information and opinions.

  9. 259
    dhogaza says:

    Well, let’s see, one signatory of the Cato ad is listed as:

    “Bob Breck Ams, Broadcaster Of The Year 2008”

    I guess they didn’t quite reach the “100 scientists” goal … seems to be about 10 non-PhDs.

    Some of the usual suspects: the Idsos, Bob Carter, D’Aleo, Lindzen, Spencer, Marahosy, McKitrick, Pat Michaels, Bill Gray,

    Here is an HTML version of the ad, if anyone wants to run down the list and do an complete analysis of who is on it.

    [Response: Appears to be a little bit of CV padding as well: Courtney (PhD!) and at least three “reviewers” of the IPCC report. – gavin]

  10. 260
    dhogaza says:

    Earlier, Gavin asked Chip:

    So are you going to sign the ad?

    Apparently he didn’t.

  11. 261
    walter crain says:

    ha! thanks for that! well, i only see ONE steve (and one “sten”). i noticed 5 (maybe 6) named “james” out of 115 names – which kind of surprised me. i guess james is much more common than steve? james might be too easy for our list.

  12. 262
    bi -- IJI says:

    walter crain:

    What… no Steve Milloy? No Steven Goddard? No Steve McIntyre? This is totally wrong! :)

    Let me see… the “Sue Us” Petition which I started — probably more correctly called the ‘please, please, please sue Al Gore and James Hansen like you inactivists have been screaming about doing’ petition — has zero Steves and 5 Jims. It currently has 65 (virtual) signatures, so it just needs a few more signatures to reach Cato’s 116. :-B


  13. 263
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 236,238,252,253,etc. mirrors and aerosols

    see also

    (Part of the problem is that cooling the climate system by means other than reducing GHGs is that even if the average surface temperature is brought back to preindustrial levels, there could be some overall change in other aspects of climate. Although there are some robust patterns that tend to follow with global average surface temperature changes. – Another problem for stratospheric aerosols is their effect on ozone. )

    Using CaSiO3 (or some similar silicate mineral) aerosols should help with ocean pH and I would guess help sequester CO2 into the oceans, perhaps with less uncertainty and less ecological disturbance than Fe-fertilization (??) (and some of the rock from which CaSiO3 is derived might also be mined for solar cell materials). Not that I am advocating this idea, at least not as a stand-alone solution.

    What if we took all our used candy wrappers and potato chip bags, etc, and put them shiny-side up wherever snow and ice are vanishing(not quite serious about this one)?

    Maybe the solar mirror idea could also serve as an asteroid shield (millions of small mirrors could be turned to concentrate sunlight on an asteroid – the momentum of the radiation itself and also of any evaporated molecules would then change its course).

    The mirror idea might be employed 100s of millions of years from now to counter the brightenning sun. Or plants genetically engineered to use TiO2 instead of chlorophyll? Anyway…

  14. 264
    walter crain says:

    ha! climate change methadone – that’s funny! thanks patrick, i’ll have to read through that. somehow i suspected gavin et. al. had already covered this…

  15. 265
    walter crain says:

    what are the qualifications for being on your list?

  16. 266
    Mark says:

    “concentrate sunlight on an asteroid – the momentum of the radiation itself and also of any evaporated molecules would then change its course).”

    If I recall correctly, the radiation pressure at 1AU from the sun is about 1.2Kg over a 1km square.

    Even if it’s over a 1m square, it isn’t going to do a lot of pushing.

    Similarly, how much energy will the mirror collect (directly proportional to the area of the mirror) and how much silicate will it boil per unit time?

    And it will only work on asteroids coming from the sun side. And fairly close to the sun at that, else it will have to have a very long focal length and be hard to aim.

    No, I don’t think that’s a good use of our time and energy.

  17. 267
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 266 – yep, the aiming would be very tricky. (I had pictured slightly concave mirrors attached to gyroscopes (solar-powered) so they could be aimed. But the concentration would mainly come from many small mirrors being turned at somewhat different angles so that their reflected beams would overlap (even if each individual beam spreads out).)

  18. 268
    Patrick 027 says:

    Well, as long as I mentioned it:
    radiation pressure = Force/area = acceleration*mass/area = momentum/time per unit area = power per unit area /speed of light (for 100 % absorption, not including thermally emitted radiation upon heating) = ~ (1367 W/m2) / (300 million m/s) ~= 4.5 millionths N/m2 .

    A spherical km diameter asteroid of density ~ 4 kg/L,
    cross section area ~ 0.75 km2,
    mass ~ 4/3 * 1/8 * pi km^3 * 4 trillion kg/km3 ~= 2 trillion kg
    mass/area ~= 2.7 million kg/m2

    Acceleration at 1000 W/m2 radiation pressure
    ~= 4.5 millionths N / 2.7 million kg = 13.5/8 ~= 1.7 trillionths m/s2

    displacement at time t = 1/2 * acceleration * t^2
    Let t = 1 year ~= 31.5 Ms, t^2 ~= 1000 trillion s2, displacment ~ 500 m.

    Well that’s not good! It would take continuous illumination at one additional sun (at 1 AU from sun, the mirrors would have to be, in total projected area, large enough to appear as the same size of the sun from the point of view of the asteroid) for a bit over 100 years to budge off course by almost one Earth radius, or the collision would have to be predicted 6,371 years in advance for one year of acceleration to cause the same displacement (assuming gravitational interactions, etc, with other planets, etc, allow the displacement to continue to increase at nearly the same rate or greater (butterfly effect?), rather than remaining in a new fixed orbit as in the Newtonian 2-body problem) – this just being an order-of-magnitude analysis, not taking into account how the direction of acceleration over time and displacement over the course of multiple orbits would actually add up.

    Evaporating atoms off the surface might be much more effective?; won’t bother figuring that out here because very OT.

  19. 269
    CL says:

    One of the signers, Edward F. Blick, appears to be a Young Earth Creationist

  20. 270
    dhogaza says:

    Here is one of Dr. Blick’s arguments against a very old earth:

    “Evolutionists believe that continents have existed for at least one billion years. However, the continents are being eroded at a rate that would level them in a relatively short fourteen million years.”

    And here’s an article he wrote proving that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamcs.

    Yeah, if I were setting policy, I’d ask this guy for scientific advice!

    A little more digging has led to the discovery that he’s a professor of engineering at the university of oklahoma. Not working in any climate-related field.

  21. 271
    bi -- IJI says:

    walter crain:

    what are the qualifications for being on your list?

    The only obligatory ‘qualification’ needed is a willlingness to see Coleman and others try to sue. (Having qualifications related to climatology isn’t that necessary in this case, since the petition text doesn’t purport to lay out statements of fact about the science of climate. Even sworn inactivists can get behind it!)


  22. 272


    That second law of thermodynamics gets around. It’s the centerpiece of Gerlich and Tscheuschner’s anti-greenhouse-effect article, too–you can’t have back-radiation from the atmosphere because the 2LOT says heat can’t go from a cooler object to a warmer one.

    CAPTCHA: “IDEqual ruled”

    I swear that software has a sense of humor.

  23. 273
    walter crain says:

    well, count me in – i have no qualifications!

    a creationist! ridiculous, but not surprising. i am much more familiar with the creation/ID(should be “UD” – for unintelligent design)/evolution “debate” than the global warming debate. from what i’m learning here, AGW denialists use almost the exact same kind of (false) arguments: nit-picking, cherry-picking, appeals to incredulity, appeals to ignorance, misdirection, obfuscation, straw men, misquotes, quote-mining, quotes out-of-context and so forth as evolution denialists. infact, they even (mis)use the 2LOT barton referenced above… (living things “violate” the 2LOT by being “too complex” to have evolved “by themselves” and/or “everything tends toward entropy.” they’ll point out how a child’s bedroom doesn’t just “organize itself”…”you can’t go from disorder to order” blah, blah blah…) anyway, my point is if blick is a YEC, he has a PhD in denialism.

  24. 274
    Ray Ladbury says:

    The second law of thermo is one of the most difficult aspects of the subject, especially in terms of statistical mechanics. The task becomes even more daunting when the system under study is not a closed one. Even so, I say show me a man who says the existence of intelligent life violates the second law and I’ll show you:
    1) a man who has never changed a diaper
    2) a man who even by his own criteria would not constitute such a violation.

  25. 275
    Mark says:

    BPL, #272 what’s even worse is that his methodology of proving that point that heat cannot go to a colder object has a first-year-student obvious wrong statement. His mathematics has the radiation of the two layers going only from one layer to another. Where’s the problem? Each layer radiates throughout the entire solid sphere 4pi steradians. Not the hemisphere.

    He has other O-level mistakes when he says why glass stops heat when CO2 won’t: he says glass reflects IR and so it keeps the IR in.

    Yet earlier he showed how each layer reflected radiation back to the source. He doesn’t even read his own proofs if they don’t prove him right.

    He also doesn’t consider HOW glass reflects IR. This is because you’d consider each thin layer reradiating to the next. That there is a surface where one side has an impediment to radiation and the other doesn’t is HOW glass reflects. He doesn’t consider it because that’s EXACTLY how CO2 traps IR too. It’s just the layer is physically thicker to produce the same result.

    It took me five minutes to find about 20 problems with the paper. I hadn’t even finished reading.

    I’m not a PhD. It’s been 20 years since I did any serious science work.

    Still took me 5 minutes.

    And the person who was lauding it as a brave new work dismissed the problems by saying “if you only took five minutes, you must be wrong”.

    I don’t have to eat an entire dogshit sandwich to know it’s dogshit.

    Worse, the barnpot probably didn’t do more than five minutes looking at the paper to see if it was right, but still considered it true and accurate.

    Denialists. They aren’t skeptical, they aren’t pseudo-skeptical. They are selectively credulous and where they are credulous they are so to an astounding degree.

  26. 276
    Karl says:

    Has anyone systematically checked out the backgrounds and qualifications of the “scientists” listed in the CATO Ad? It might be a good way to respond. Links would be welcome!

    [Response: rabett run (see sidebar) has made a start… Including Sweden’s leading dowser and an expert ok “Orgone” energy….. – gavin]

  27. 277
    bi -- IJI says:

    walter crain:

    Gratias. :)

    * * *

    The mindless meme propagation shop known as the International Climate ‘Science’ Coalition is now claiming that the petition was signed by “100 climate scientists”.

    And so, the storm of bollocks beginneth…


  28. 278
    walter crain says:

    “selectively credulous” – nice…

    …only a piddly little 5 “jims” though…
    i noticed the third artcle down on that site you linked to was about another denialist list. 700+ entered in the congressional record. sheesh.

    anybody know anything about japanese scientist maruyama, and the “japanese geoscience union”? mayuyama claims a poll or something at their symposium last year showed 90% of it’s members don’t “believe” the IPCC report.

  29. 279
    Nickolas says:

    “The “global warming stopped” meme is particularly lame since it relies on both a feigned ignorance of the statistics of short periods and being careful about which data set you use. It also requires cherry-picking the start year, had the period been “exactly a decade” or 12 years then all the trends are positive.”

    Both satellite data sets show no warming trend since 1997, and strong cooling trend since 2001 (“good” RSS cooling being larger than “bad” UAH cooling, how inconvinient:)), so you don’t have to cherry-pick start date to obtain that results.

    [Response: You just did. (is there an emoticon for an irony meter explosion?) – gavin]

    At the contrary, you must cherry-pick start year in order to obtain a warming, because only starting year after 1997 which gives statistically significant warming in period up to 2009 is 1999 (pretty cold year, btw). if you object that picking 2008 as end year distorts results, picking very warm 2007 gives no warming since 2001, and trend 2001-2010 almost certainly will be flat or negative.

    Of course, you can say that 10 or 12 years are not enough to take validity of the models in question (although Gavin Schmidt did exactly that on this blog), but you cannot reject the data only because you don’t like them. Petition is quite correct in emphasizing that we had a decade without the warming, and your critisism is without the merit.

    [Response: Here’s a novel idea. Why not look at all the data? – gavin]

  30. 280
    Jim Eager says:

    No matter how many times it is pointed out that short term temperature trends tell us absolutely nothing about an underlying climate trend we will still get posts that state with total blind (and deaf) confidence that we have had a decade without warming from those who have no idea what ‘warming’ means.

    Some people are merely ill informed.
    Some are rock-hard stupid.

  31. 281
    bi -- IJI says:

    walter crain:

    No idea about the Japan Geoscience Union, alas.

    But I’ve been working on a response to the Cato Institute’s petition. If you ask me, I don’t think the petition even deserves a serious response. (No, there’s no contradiction here. You’ll see. :) )


  32. 282
    cogito says:

    Timothy Chase #222: “I would keep in mind the fact that 1998 had a particularly strong El Nino (which made that year warmer than the trend) whereas both 2005 and 2007 had La Ninas”
    And where were did La Nina store the excess energy while waiting for her brother to pick it up again? Are we talking about global temps or local temps?

  33. 283
    sidd says:

    “where were did La Nina store the excess energy while waiting for her brother to pick it up again?”

    West Pacific Warm Pool ?

  34. 284
    louis says:

    What distresses me is that people are asking if the apparent recent cooling disproves the models. Before any output from the models can be trusted, those models must have made some successful predictions. Those things you’ve done to verify the model before trusting the output is what you point to when people question whether your models are correct or not. What sorts of accurate predictions have a particular model made in the past? What sorts of tests have been done to help verify the models? Why should I believe that your models are correct? Getting accurate results out of complicated models even when all the physics is understood is very hard, and that is certainly not the case here.

    [Response: I’m confused. First you ask about what kinds of evaluation is done with the models, and then you claim that they “certainly” haven’t been evaluated. For more info on what the models are and how they are tested, read these two posts. – gavin]

  35. 285
    louis says:

    from 284:
    I claimed the physics is ‘certainly’ not completely understood, not that the models haven’t been evaluated in some manner. That the physics is not completely understood makes it a massive challenge to simply verify the model, and that’s what I’m curious about. I know the models have been evaluated in some manner, but I’m not clear as to how, and how rigorously the evaluation has been done. I read those two posts and they do talk a little about what has been done, but it’s very short on specifics, plots and graphs; is there somewhere else I should look for these? It’s very important to know what free parameters are fit to what data, and how well motivated that particular fit is physically. It’s also quite important to completely understand what successful predictions the models have made, and what failed predictions the models have made.

    [Response: Try here for a more technical effort on one model. Successes for models in general… amount of pinatubo cooling (before it happened), LGM sea surface temperatures (models said the early estimates were not consistent with other evidence, better data vindicated the models), UAH satellite temperatures (models said that a cooling trend in MSU-LT was not consistent with the surface measurements, and then a bug was found in the satellite data), the green sahara occurring as a function of orbital forcing changes, water vapour feedback in response to ENSO, volcanos, trends, the 8.2 kyr event, response of the southern ocean winds to the ozone hole etc. etc. Problems? The double ITCZ in coupled models, ENSO variability, insufficiently sensitive sea ice, diurnal cycles of moist convection… – gavin]

  36. 286
    sidd says:

    “Problems? The double ITCZ in coupled models, ENSO variability, insufficiently sensitive sea ice, diurnal cycles of moist convection… – gavin”

    Each of these, i suspect would take a review article. But may I ask, in regard to the ITCZ, is there any robust prediction in the models that it will migrate North ?

    [Response: No. See figure 10.9 in IPCC AR4. – gavin]

    [Response: …but the descending limb of the Hadley atmospheric circulation cell (the ITCZ represents the location of the ascending limb) is projected to migrate poleward, from it current location in the subtropics up into the mid-latitude regions in summer. This is partly responsible for the AR4 projections of summer aridification in many mid-latitude regions (though increased evaporation due to warmer ground also plays a role in the summer mid-latitude drying). – mike]

  37. 287
    walter crain says:

    omg. that thing is too funny. an economist, a petroleum expert and a preacher! it’s going to take a long time to read all those links. thanks…i think.

    jim eager,
    at least this “last ten years” meme has a limited lifespan.

  38. 288
    sidd says:

    Thanx, gavin, mike. Does the descending limb of the Hadley cell move south in th Southern Hemisphere as well ? I am looking through the reference to Fig 10.9 in AR4 which I assume is

    but i don’t see the signature clearly. Perhaps I ought to be looking elsewhere.

    [Response: The simplest diagnostic for this is the sea level pressure (SLP) projections (right-most panels of Figure 10.9). Where you see alternating latitudinal bands of increasing and decreasing SLP in the mid-latitudes and subtropics respectively, its generally telling you that the subtropical high pressure belt (the descending limb of the Hadley Cell) is migrating poleward. In the Northern Hemisphere, the picture is more seasonal, owing to the greater seasonal contrast in heating of the continents. The poleward shift of the subtropical high pressure belt is most clearly seen in the summer (JJA). In the Southern Hemisphere, the picture is similar in summer (DJF) and winter (JJA), with again a clear increase in SLP in the mid-latitudes, indicative of a poleward (southward) shift of the high-pressure belt. There are other factors that are also important in the projections of atmospheric circulation changes, such as changes in the Walker Circulation associated with ENSO, and possible changes in e.g. the Asian Monsoon (something I’m particularly interested in from a research perspective). -mike]

  39. 289
    Toby Ferenczi says:

    Doesn’t this issue stem from Obama’s statement?

    “Few challenges facing America and
    the world are more urgent than combating
    climate change. The science is beyond
    dispute and the facts are clear.”

    The first sentence I am in total agreement with, but second is flawed. How ever much evidence there may be, science is never beyond dispute and as a scientist I know that there is no such thing as a scientific fact. There is clearly enough evidence to act on climate change, which is what Obama is calling for, but in the process he is falling into a trap by not recognising the scientific principle.

  40. 290
    walter crain says:

    tchnically, you’re right – he shouldn’t say “beyond dispute.” but, he’s talking to laymen. i think he can say “the facts are clear.”

  41. 291
    SecularAnimist says:

    Toby Ferenczi wrote: “… science is never beyond dispute and as a scientist I know that there is no such thing as a scientific fact …”

    So you think there is still dispute about whether the Earth orbits the Sun or the Sun orbits the Earth? As a scientist you know that there is no such thing as the fact that the Earth orbits the Sun?

    The science relevant to Obama’s statement — the fact that human activities, principally the burning of fossil fuels, are releasing large quantities of previously sequestered carbon into the atmosphere, the fact that this has dramatically increased the atmospheric concentration of CO2, the fact that this anthropogenic increase in CO2 is causing the Earth system to retain more of the Sun’s energy, the fact that this is causing the Earth to heat up, the fact that this anthropogenic warming is already causing rapid and extreme changes to the Earth’s climate, hydrosphere and biosphere — all of this science is beyond dispute.

    If you don’t accept these basic facts, then what “evidence” are you possibly referring to when you say there is “enough evidence to act on climate change”?

    If you really “know that there is no such thing as a scientific fact” then how can you ever believe there is any evidence for anything?

  42. 292
    Aye says:

    “100 climate scientist”
    Eduardo Ferreyra (Argentinian Foundation for a scientific ecology)
    isn’t a scientist. He only publishes all the denialist’s stuff in spanish.

  43. 293
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 289-290
    “science is never beyond dispute”
    “tchnically, you’re right ”
    “but, he’s talking to laymen. i think he can say “the facts are clear.””
    “So you think there is still dispute about whether the Earth orbits the Sun ”

    Technically, I do not know for a fact that I existed five seconds ago.

    (What is fact? If there is uncertainty, there is still fact. (We know for a fact that the models suggest this range of results and based on that plus paleoclimatic evidence, it makes sense given certain logical guidelines and probalistic definitions (along with assumptions which are consistent with practical assumptions many people make in day-to-day tasks: I do exist, everyone is not hallucinating all of the time…), that one can expect this, cannot yet sure about that…)) It can be a fact that someone has an opinion…)

    When I was in grade school (K-5, to be specific), we were learning about clouds one day and how cirrus were ‘high in the sky’ – etc. Having previously taken an interest in the subject matter, I knew what was meant, but apparently the teacher and some portion of the class were confused by it, because they later figured, after some discussion, that – what was obviously cirrus to me – was stratus, because it was near the horizon. Wish I’d spoken up.

    Meanwhile, not knowing any better, I got the false impression (as many have) that the curved upper surface of a wing creates lift by creating a longer path that requires the wind speed (relative to the wing) to faster above in order to ‘keep up’ with the air below, and by Bernouli’s principle, pressure different, hence lift. Of course the reason why the air flow is faster above than below is because it accelerates downward around the wing (if the streamlines do not detach too early) above as well as below the wing; in order for the air to be deflected as such, vertical pressure gradients are required; these vertical pressure gradients are not constant horizontally, so horizontal pressure gradients are also required. The wing thus deflects the air by, when steady state is achieved, ‘pulling’ air down above it and pushing down against air below it; action = reaction; the air pushes up on the wing, which of course requires the pressure variations that are responsible for the deflection of the air, including it’s speeding up and slowing down as in Bernouli’s principle. But I can see why they didn’t go into all that when we were ~ how old? I can’t help but wonder, though, might we have understood it? Might we have even enjoyed knowing all that? Might I be smarter today?

    ‘CO2 traps heat, warms climate, feedbacks occur, ice melts weather patterns change – we don’t know in every way how yet…, if rapid and large, ecosystems are stressed, species go extinct, economic and political issues arise – ; solutions to reduce problems exist’ – obviously simplified, although at least this is accurate (if you know what is meant? – we don’t mean CO2 traps heat exactly like a blanket does it, although analogies can be drawn).

  44. 294
    Patrick 027 says:

    PS speaking of the double ITCZ:

    I was looking at … I think Ch.8 of IPCC AR4 WGI, and broadly speaking, the double ITCZ looked okay (I guess the southern branch is too elongated east-west in the model ensemble results, if I remember correctly).

    A question occured to me though (which I couldn’t find in Ch.8 supplemental material – though I haven’t read all of the Ch.8 material) – is the double ITCZ something that exists in most seasons, or a result of annual averaging wherein the seasonal cycle involves some rapid shift of a single ITCZ from north to south and back without much time in the middle, or a combination of the two cases?

    (I’d like to see more season-specific graphs – including the latitude-height cross sections).

  45. 295
    Geno Canto del Halcon says:

    As one who previously actively supported the Cato Institute, I’m very saddened to see them try to put the cart before the horse. In other words, if you don’t like how expensive it will be to combat climate change, then you must conclude (non sequitur) that the climate scientists are wrong! Cato’s expertise is in economics, not climate science. They could be offering the good market solutions to the problem, instead of trying to wade into waters that are drowning them in their own scientific incompetence, and then, perhaps, we’d have a better chance of getting policies that don’t involve massive government intervention that ultimately won’t work.

  46. 296
    dhogaza says:

    As one who previously actively supported the Cato Institute, I’m very saddened to see them try to put the cart before the horse.

  47. 297
    dhogaza says:

    Cato’s expertise is in economics, not climate science.

    Oh, and they show little evidence of that, too. They’re beholden to a pre-ordained poltical, phisophical, and economic world view.

    *real* expertise in economics would indicate a *real* willingness to explore and analyze a wide variety of views.

    But they don’t. The organization is a simplistic exercise in assuming their conclusion, i.e.:

    Promoting public policy based on individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peaceful international relations

    Obviously they will bend any straw, stick, or tree trunk rooted in objectivity in an effort to make it bend to their pre-ordained view of the world.

    They’re totally anti-science (which includes economics, and if you don’t believe economics is science, just say “totally anti-science and economics”.

  48. 298
    nicholasbs says:

    In response to 100 and 102 above, as is stated on Cato’s website, they are named for Cato’s letters, which in turn were named for Cato the Younger, *not* Cato the Elder. Cato the Younger was a strong supporter of the republic.

    To dhogaza at 297: You’re quite right, Cato does hold to a certain philosophical worldview. This view compels them to argue against expansions of executive power, illegal wiretapping, torture, xenophobia, police raids, foreign adventurism and war-mongering. I suspect I’m not the only one here who holds that torture is wrong on moral rather than scientific grounds.

    I disagree with Cato on its position on climate change, and I wish they’d stop putting resources towards campaigns like this, but I will continue to support them because of the work they do on many other important issues (e.g, police brutality).

  49. 299
    Patrick 027 says:

    Is it necessary to support Cato in order to work on other important issues – police brutality, etc? Aren’t there common sense-based organisations to work on those issues?

  50. 300
    Hank Roberts says:

    No, but there are a few rare sense-based organizations; try the ACLU for civil liberties, the EFF for surveillance and privacy, and your local volunteer fire department and city council for appropriate use of government in your community.

    Support those that don’t think the answer to police brutality is to get rid of the police or hire private police forces to protect yourself, eh?

    Freedom wasn’t invented to support corporations.
    Corporations weren’t invented to support freedom.

    “We the People ….” is not a government conspiracy to suppress freedom. It’s how freedom was invented.
    “Follette direct” — ReCaptcha’s AI is getting a deeper sense of history; must be all that reading.