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Advocacy vs. Science

Filed under: — gavin @ 1 April 2009

The advocate will pick up any piece of apparently useful data and without doing any analysis, decide that their pet theory perfectly explains any anomaly without consideration of any alternative explanations. Their conclusion is always that their original theory is correct.

The scientist will look at all possibilities and revise their thinking based on a thorough assessment of all issues – data quality, model quality and appropriateness of the the comparison. Their conclusion follows from the analysis whatever it points to.

Which one is which?


595 Responses to “Advocacy vs. Science”

  1. 151

    #141 walter crain

    Yes, the discussion is happening in the public. Yes, the science is not settled. Yes, we are now ‘very’ confident it is human caused (IPCC) though I would argue we are virtually 100% sure it is human caused lacking any reasonable alternative explanation for the forcing and the resultant warming.

    Are you asking more scientists to get into a

    ‘Rhetoric v. Science’

    debate, where the rhetorical advocates will bludgeon the scientists with irrelevance, made up graphs, and facts out of context? That will not advance awareness; or those advocates such as S. Fred Singer who simply states, that it’s all just “bunk”, without any reasonable substantiation, thus leaving the public in a state of confusion after the debate?

    This is a multifaceted problem. The best the scientists can do, in my opinion, is do the science and present the science, and hope the public learns begins to pay more attention to the science and not the media or the lobbyist lackeys.

    The crap flingers will keep flinging crap. It ultimately is up to the public to determine what really stinks and what is real and doesn’t stink. Maybe you can help people understand? In each of our spheres and to the extent we can reach, we all need to help people understand the science as best we can.

    Sorry for the stinking analogy :)

    I think it is reasonable to see that the scientists need to keep doing what they do best and substantiate the science and present it to us. If we are too stupid, ignorant, naive, or otherwise distracted from seeing the truth of it all, then we are to blame to such extent, for not getting it.

  2. 152
    KSW says:

    Chris Colose,

    You came close to answering a question that I have been thinking about and perhaps you or someone else can expand on the theme.

    Of course the idea that ‘the debate is over’ is nonsense and I don’t think there is a climatologist in the world that believes that the current climate models are as good as they will be in 10, 20 or more years from now.

    So my question is: what are the top ten (or whatever) unknowns or main areas of debate in climate science?

    Cheers.

  3. 153
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Texas gets the AGW booby prize or shame award. It has just passed legislation that will mandate teaching the contrarian conjectures of AGW along side any teaching of AGW in public schools (and I had only thought they were into displacing evolution with creationism).

    Now that’s willfully wrong advocacy, and not science at all.

    Anyway, if any of you live in Texas, please sign the Environmental Defense Fund petition to the state school board at http://action.edf.org/campaign/TX_SBOE_alert

    Here’s what EDF says about it:

    The Texas State Board of Education has just issued a new decision to require the teaching of arguments against the existence of global warming.

    That’s right — global warming deniers on the SBOE are peddling their anti-science propaganda to our children.

    Enough is enough.

    Please sign our petition urging the Board of Education to teach science in science classes.

    The science of global warming is nearly as well established as the science of gravity.

    Scientists have been probing the issue of the greenhouse effect for more than 175 years — since before Texas was even a republic.

    No fewer than 32 national science academies, including the U.S. Academy of Sciences, have not only warned about the real threat of global warming, but have also advocated for government action to address it.

    . . .

    Let’s be very clear: There is no real debate on the science of global warming. There is only a political debate about how to solve the crisis.

    As part of that political debate, those who oppose global warming action — and stand to gain financially by continued dependence on fossil fuels — have vigorously pursued a propaganda campaign to manufacture public doubt.

    And our kids are now caught in the middle.

    It is an outrage that the SBOE is playing into the propaganda campaign and exposing our children to junk science. This is not fair to our kids, who will be forced to compete in a world where the study of real science is taken seriously.

    It’s time for the SBOE to acknowledge that the earth is round, Elvis is dead, and, yes, global warming is real.

    Please sign our petition today.

  4. 154
    Krog says:

    RE: Post #134.
    I am also confused by the logic shown in the “RC Explanation”. I do not doubt that “increased CO2 causes warming because it is a greenhouse gas”. However, in the example, increasing CO2 is lagging the temperature increase. Given that something other than CO2 caused the first 800 years of temperature increase, how is it possible to conclude that CO2 caused the remaining “5/6″ of the increase? I would assume that whatever caused the first 800 years of increase is still active.

    [Response: You misread the line. The lag implies only that initial warming was not triggered by CO2 thus while some portion of the subsequent warming is likely to be a feedback, not all of it will be. If you do the calculations, the effects of the three important GHGs (CO2, CH4 and N2O) supply about 40% of the net warming effect coming out of the ice maximum. – gavin]

  5. 155
    trrll says:

    While there are few absolute benchmarks to truth, when it comes to scientific matters, one can pretty much be certain that the side that demands public debate is in the wrong. Who does this? People who believe that “intelligent design” is a better explanation for the origin of species than evolution. People who believe that mercury in vaccines cause autism. People who believe that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. When there is a huge mass of evidence against your point of view, or when your arguments are fallacious and will not stand up to logical scrutiny, your only chance of success is to insist on a forum with time limits and without opportunity for cross-examination, so your opposition will not have time to expose the flaws in your arguments. In the limited time frame of a public debate, one can always throw out more false claims and fallacies than your opponent will be able to rebut.

  6. 156
    Cardin Drake says:

    Well, I have waded through most of this. Perhaps I overlooked it, but I haven’t seen a response to #67 “Recently, Wong et al (Wong, Wielicki et al, 2006, Reexamination of the Observed Decadal Variability of the Earth Radiation Budget Using Altitude-Corrected ERBE/ERBS Nonscanner WFOV Data, J. Clim., 19, 4028-4040) have reassessed their data to reduce the magnitude of the anomaly, but the remaining anomaly still represents a substantial negative feedback, and there is reason to question the new adjustments.”

    When people say “the science is settled on global warming”, it may be but only in the sense that even the skeptics acknowledge that C02 is a greenhouse gas. The part that isn’t settled, and by far the most contentious point is the sign of the feedback, as well as the magnitude. Has Lindzen then settled the sign, and we are only left arguing the magnitude?
    Isn’t any negative feedback still game, set, match, on whether we should really be worried about global warming, or if it will be relatively benign?

    [Response: No. Because a low climate sensitivity is inconsistent with everything we know about paleo-climate – particularly the ice ages. Why Lindzen’s comment is convincing to you I hesitate to guess. What are these reasons to doubt the corrections? Does he have privileged information that the satellite orbits didn’t decay the way NASA thinks they did? Basically he’s asking you to simply not pay attention to the corrections – hardly a scientific argument. And he is simply wrong about the new data implying a significant negative feedback – the NET changes can’t be distinguished from zero or the expected imbalance – there is simply too much noise. – gavin]

  7. 157
    Joe says:

    In my mind there’s no doubt increasing CO2 is causing warming. This is not the issue. THe issue is the connection between science and politics. In my mind no one is so far really able to say what are the consequences of agw and what we should do about it.

    Seeing is believing.. meaning that as long as the sea level is not rising where I have my boat, I am probably not going to be concerned.

    [Response: Where is your boat? – gavin]

  8. 158
    David B. Benson says:

    Alan Millar (144) — How much do yu want to study? A systematic study of climatology would do worse thatn to begin with (in order)

    “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum” by W.F. Ruddiman,
    “The Long Thaw” by David Archer,
    “Earth’s Climate: Past and Future” by W.F. Ruddiman

    and then continue with more advanced texts such as Ray Pierrehumbert’s

    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/ClimateBook/ClimateBook.html

    or you can go to the top of this page to click on the Start Here button; therein you’ll find, among many other resources, “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart. Everybody going past the first two books I listed will want to read Weart’s well-done history.

  9. 159
    Hank Roberts says:

    KSW — try Google Scholar, that will give you an idea what is going on.
    Paste your question into the search box. Results include:

    http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstract/95/S1/S39

    http://pus.sagepub.com/cgi/rapidpdf/0963662508094099v1.pdf
    Self-censorship and science: a geographical review of media coverage
    Antilla Public Understanding of Science.2008; 0: 0963662508094099v1

    (All Sage academic publications are free for the month of April 2009 with registration, a brief special offer. Get’em while you can.)

    http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/news/events/ecol-economics08/bergh-reading1.pdf

    http://www.gechs.org/downloads/holmen/Busby.pdf

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=qp7rKT56fw0C&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=what+are+the+top+ten+(or+whatever)+unknowns+or+main+areas+of+debate+in+climate+science%3F&ots=VNVyNxCLXs&sig=xg-miam6B_7rtAqy9xrICq3c5A0

    http://pus.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/18/1/23

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=L0nOaMe91w4C&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=what+are+the+top+ten+(or+whatever)+unknowns+or+main+areas+of+debate+in+climate+science%3F&ots=_ThpYIcAJO&sig=61SWvFfp2JDEQSdTFX7jGH8qMLE#PPA2,M1
    and website: http://thereporterswell.com/_wsn/page15.html

    That’s just a few that are responsive to your question.
    Read for yourself. In the opinion of ReCaptcha:
    _______________
    “gropings only”

  10. 160

    #157 Joe

    Are you suggesting that humans and/or corporations, or governments, should not be responsible for their actions?

    Since as you state, there is no doubt in your mind that “increasing CO2 is causing warming”, and since we know the increases are coming from industrial output, and since we now have a good understanding of some of the major near and longer term implications, are you saying we should wait until all those things happen before we do anything?

    Since the actions of man today are fully expected to raise the sea level, are you saying that we should not do anything about it until after the sea level rises and millions are displaced?

    And if this is your position, how is that responsible, since we know that “increasing CO2 is causing warming”?

    If on the other hand your point is that humans tend not to be concerned until they see the results of their actions, then that is somewhat understandable, but it is still not accepting responsibility. Said another way, it’s simply irresponsible.

  11. 161
    Krog says:

    RE# 154
    “..some portion of the subsequent warming is likely to be a feedback..”. This seems reasonable and contradicts the statement, troubling to me, that 5/6 of the warming could be caused by CO2. In fact, “5/6ths of the warming” could not have been caused by CO2, but only “some portion” of the 5/6 s’ leaving an uncertain portion to be the result of cause unknown.

    Krog

    [Response: It’s not a cause unknown. It is the changes in orbital forcing impacting the growth and decay of the ice sheets. And if you work it out, those GHG changes cause about 40% of the total temperature shift – the rest being due to the presence of the ice sheets, changes in vegetation and a dustier atmosphere. – gavin]

  12. 162

    #134 MikeN

    Sorry MikeN, I should have included this as well so you can get the percentages in perspective.

    Tiny Fraction, Atmospheric Composition
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/atmospheric-composition

    However, keep in mind these percentages are changing as we increase CO2 and other GHG’s, as that warms the oceans and atmosphere, and more H2O enters the atmosphere and averages up in the positive feedback.

  13. 163
    Hank Roberts says:

    Michel writes:
    > mitigation cost scenarios must include the costs of adaptation,

    Do you understand the difference?
    That’s like counting chickens, counting all the eggs as chickens.

    Does the phrase ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch’ sound familiar to you? Do you understand the difference?

    Early mitigation has great leverage; adaptation has no leverage at all.

    The earlier the mitigation the more valuable it is.

  14. 164
    MikeN says:

    #149 and #154 responding to #134. I have read your link, but it doesn’t convince me of anything. What I am getting at is that it is possible it is the warming which is causing the CO2 increase. I think you accept this for all but the current time period. Is that correct?
    Then you have to have some way of calculating how much will the CO2 increase from the initial warming over 800 years. Has this mechanism been explained?

    The problem I am seeing is that all of your explanations are built on the model, then you say only x% of the warming is natural. But the data itself challenges the assumptions behind the model, namely that CO2 goes up after warming, and not before. How can you then defend the model by using the model which assumes higher CO2 means more warming?

    [Response: You can calculate the amount of extra CO2 that might be due to the warming from the ice age changes. Specifically, for a global mean change of about 5 deg C, CO2 increased by about 100 ppm (180 to 280ppm) after many thousands of years. That is a long-term feedback of ~20 ppm/deg C. Over the last 100 years, we have increased maybe 0.8 deg C – which might eventually lead to a 0.8*20= 16ppm increase in CO2 in a few hundred years, much less so far. However, CO2 has already increased by 105ppm. There is no question that the vast majority of that rise is anthropogenic. The reasons why CO2 increases in a warmer world are thought to be related partly to ocean solubility, partly to changes in ocean stratification and partly to biological activity – with some of the details still uncertain. This implies that as the planet warms now as a function of human-added CO2, sooner or later the planet is going to start adding to the burden (or equivalently be less eager to mop up our emissions). – gavin]

  15. 165
    David B. Benson says:

    KSW (152) — It is not a debate. There are some areas in which scientific understanding is lower than we would like. So scientific studies, observations and calculations, are particularly valuable in those aspects. Two of these are clouds and aersols, but further advances do not come from debating.

  16. 166
    MikeN says:

    I still get the impression that you are doing exactly what you criticize in your post.
    >decide that their pet theory perfectly explains any anomaly without consideration of any alternative explanations. Their conclusion is always that their original theory is correct.

    My previous post seems to have disappeared.
    Do you accept that previous warmings have caused an increase in CO2, or is that still an open issue?
    It looks to me like you are starting with a model that assumes CO2 causes more warming, and then use that model to defend all challenges to the idea that CO2 causes more warming. Isn’t there also the same lag on the downwards end as well? So a cooling is causing less CO2, and a warming is causing more CO2. How do you separate the amount of warming coming from feedbacks, with the amount that is naturally caused?

    I have seen your various posts in response to climate myths, and this is the least rigorous of all. All you say is that there is another 4000 years of warming so that was caused by CO2. However, it could be that most of that CO2 increase is caused by warming which itself is caused by another force. How can you justify using the same model that is being challenged? This is circular reasoning- my model says more CO2 causes more warming, therefore more CO2 causes more warming based on my model.

    [Response: It’s not the model that says CO2 cause warming, it is the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that cause warming. This has been measured in laboratories for over 140 years. – gavin]

  17. 167
    Michael says:

    Hank, if humans disappeared from the earth tomorrow, we would still have warming in the pipeline, correct? (mainly due to a delayed response of the C02 we have already added to the atmosphere)

    How about a more realistic scenario 2 where we phase out all fossil fuels over the next 30 years – are we not going to have to adapt to the increased temps?

    I think regardless if we mitigate or not there will still be adaptation costs.

  18. 168
    MikeN says:

    OK it appears there is a time lag between posts too.

    I thought it was an 800 year time lag, why does the last 100 years matter? Plus, the CO2 concentration vs temperature is not linear, so how can 16ppm be right?

    [Response: I don’t think it is. It was just to demonstrate the upper bound. There is abundant evidence the recent increases in CO2 are anthropogenic and not natural. – gavin]

  19. 169
    Carrick says:

    So, would people here consider realclimate a scientific website or an advocacy website?

    And is that a good thing or a bad thing? (To clarify some people here “advocate” for advocacy over pure scientific rigor.)

    [Response: We advocate for scientific rigor. – gavin]

  20. 170
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    An interesting article in the NY Times compares the US legal system where each side picks their own experts with the European and other countries’ legal systems where the court appoints the experts.
    “Judges think that if we could just have a place in the adversarial trial that was a little less adversarial and a little more scientific, everything would be fine,” Professor Edmond said. “But science can be very acrimonious.”

    In U.S., Expert Witnesses Are Partisan
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/12/us/12experts.html?pagewanted=2

  21. 171
    Chris Colose says:

    MikeN and others,

    It should not at all be surprising that CO2 can “lag” planetary temperature changes. After all, changes in vegetation and other biological activity from enhanced (reduced) ice cover or temperatures, changes in the solubility of gases in ocean water, etc should alter atmospheric chemistry. Such carbon cycle feedbacks, in fact, were predicted before it was observed in the ice core record.

    In order to put as much CO2 into the atmosphere at the end of each ice age as is recorded in proxy records, the deep ocean must have been involved. A principle mechanism is the creation of upwelling favorable conditions in the Southern Ocean to vent CO2 from the deep waters, particularly as the Intertropical Convergence Zone shifted closer to the equator and the southern westerlies shifted further toward Antarctica. This is discussed on my blog with corresponding comments from the lead author of a recent Science paper on the issue. Key mechanisms and ideas resulting in changes in biogeochemical boundary conditions going along with temperature changes between glacial-interglacial cycles is described in
    http://faculty.washington.edu/battisti/589paleo2005/Papers/SigmanBoyle2000.pdf

    One of the key papers cited by global warming skeptics for making the “CO2 lags temperature” (for instance it is done so in the popularized “Swindle Video”) argument is Caillon et al 2003. In their conclusion, they specifically note that changes in pCO2 have come essentially exclusively from anthropogenic sources in the industrial era. As gavin noted the rate of glacial-interglacial CO2 variation is significantly less (he quotes ~20 ppm/degree C change) and at least an order of magnitude slower than today. Isotopic signatures and increased carbon in the oceans show that the CO2 rise today is not from natural feedback.

    It would be much more common to see CO2 “lagging” in this context because you don’t expect massive injections of “externally forced” carbon into the atmosphere, although relevant paleo-examples can be found if you look hard enough (e.g., the PETM). Because rather abrupt injections at the rate which occurred during the PETM or industrial age is rare in the geologic record, there are no very good analogs for climate change on the timescale of a century associated with greenhouse gases. The paleoclimate record is very consistent however concerning the relationship between CO2 and global temperatures over geologic timescales.

    In contrast to chemical feedbacks associated with disturbances in the ocean and biosphere, CO2 warms the planet through established principles of radiative physics, particularly the ability to allow the inflow of energy in the planet system to exceed outflow. Accordingly, thinking of CO2 as “leading” or “lagging” all the time is not very good, since the two mechanisms are intrinsically related…although important carbon feedbacks from natural temperature changes occur on timescales longer than the last few decades, and so the change in CO2 is essentially all from fossil fuel emissions and deforestation/land use changes.

    AGW makes no claims about the ability of “other factors” to be involved in climate change– either contemporary or in the past. Changes in the Earth’s orbit and many other things can change temperature. The relevant claim and the dictates of the physics says that CO2 must warm the planet, regardless of any superimposed natural variability. There is no contradiction between orbital changes putting more sunlight at the poles on millennial timescales to take the planet in and out of ice ages, and the ability of modern CO2 to cause warming. The paleo-record confirms that we understand the basic workings of climate change much more than it contradicts it.

  22. 172

    #97 Jarad Holmes

    The 2007 Arctic Ice contained a lot of multi-year ice compared to 2008. It is clear in the following figure that the difference between 2007 and 2008 is that there was a tremendous loss of multiyear ice, not a buildup.

    http://nsidc.org/news/press/20081002_seaice_pressrelease.html#fig4

    http://nsidc.org/news/press/20081002_seaice_pressrelease.html
    NSIDC Research Scientist Walt Meier said, “Warm ocean waters helped contribute to ice losses this year, pushing the already thin ice pack over the edge. In fact, preliminary data indicates that 2008 probably represents the lowest volume of Arctic sea ice on record, partly because less multiyear ice is surviving now, and the remaining ice is so thin.” (See Figure 4.)
    http://nsidc.org/news/images/20081002_Figure4.jpg

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2008/040708.html
    So what about the multi-year ice that remained after last year’s record ice loss? Jennifer Kay and colleagues at the National Center for Atmospheric Research found that last summer’s clear skies allowed for more intense melt of the multiyear ice, leaving it thinner than normal at summer’s end.

  23. 173
    Jim Eager says:

    Re MikeN @134, Who was it that was saying that no one denies that CO2 causes warming anymore?

  24. 174
    Alan Millar says:

    “Response: It’s not the model that says CO2 cause warming, it is the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that cause warming. This has been measured in laboratories for over 140 years. – gavin”

    Gavin I have previously referred to the erroneous logic of saying more atmospheric CO2 automatically means more warming in a dynamic planetary system. You need to have a very clear understanding of all the related dynamics.

    For instance the composition of the Martian atmosphere means that there are many times more (a magnitude more) CO2 molecules per square metre than there are on the Earth. If there is some sort of direct relationship between global planetary temperatures and CO2 concentations what should that tell us about the temperatures on Mars compared to those of the the Earth?

    [Response: Who claimed such a thing? However CO2 is a greenhouse gas on whichever planet it is found though the impact depends very much on the structure of the planet’s atmosphere. The total greenhouse effect from CO2 on Mars is a few degrees. – gavin]

    If CO2 levels quadroupled on Mars what would we expect to see in Martian global temperature response?

    [Response: Yes. Why would you think otherwise?]

    I suspect you may have some difficulty in answering that question. I would! Yet the Martian climate system should be much easier to predict, (no tectonics, hardly any water vapour ((the real greenhouse gas)) etc) than the Earths system.

    It is just an indication how far away we are from having a robust planetary climate science predictive model.

    [Response: huh? – gavin]

    Alan

  25. 175
    chris colose says:

    Keep in mind Mars’ very low atmospheric pressures prevent it from having a significant greenhouse effect.

  26. 176
    MIke Strong says:

    For what it is worth about NSIDC polar ice trends:
    After looking at the MONTHLY average sea ice trends on the NSIDC website… my curiosity got to me about the published percentage of growth or shrinkage of sea ice at the poles.

    The monthly trend graph as of March 31 shows that the Arctic is shrinking at a rate of -2.7% per decade, and now the Antarctic growing at the rate of +4.7% per decade.

    So, being a good little engineer, I imported the actual published data tables used for the NSIDC graphs. There are about 350 data points (each) for the nearly 30 years of monthly averages of each type of ice trend: Arctic Extent, Arctic Area, Antarctic Extent, Antarctic Area.

    Unless my spreadsheet and trend graphs are radically incorrect because of some typo or bad import of their data, I got different results from their graphs. But, then again, my results use an average (mean) from 1979 and includes everything up through March 31, 2009. This is what Arctic ROOS does also (i.e. they -Arctic ROOS- don’t pick 1979-2000 as some sort of “normal” average, leaving out 30 % of the 30 years of gathered data like the NSIDC does).

    First off, the GLOBAL averages over all 12 months of the year are as follows:

    Extent: 15.05 million sq. kilometers (both poles averaged throughout the entire year)
    Area: 18.55 million square kilometers

    In graphing the trends, I got curious results that show a definite 30-year downward trend in oversall global sea ice since the 1979 satellite data commenced, as follows:

    Global Ice Area decline of 4.3 % in the last 30 years (1.4 % per decade)
    Global Ice Extent decline of 3.3 % in 30 years (1.1 % per decade)

    This included the 2007 minimums in the averages, which did impact the trend. Obviously this does not include thickness and ice accumulation on the Antarctic continent.

    My only real issue is that this is only for 30 years of data. We all know about the little ice age, and the warm periods in the year 400 or so. And there are all those pictures of submarines coming through the ice near the Arctic north pole in the 1930s…and the conflicting pictures of Arctic hard freezes in the 60s.

    hmmmm.

  27. 177
    MikeN says:

    It’s not the model that says CO2 cause warming,
    No but the model assumes this fact, and the CO2 time lag challenges this fact, and in response you write that the model establishes the time lag is irrelevant. Hence my saying that you are doing exactly what you criticize, clinging to your theory. Mr Colose’s response is much better than what you have on your site.

  28. 178
    wmanny says:

    John, to 151, I’m thinking you might want to rewrite:

    “I would argue we are virtually 100% sure it is human caused lacking any reasonable alternative explanation for the forcing and the resultant warming.”

    The absence of explanation does not constitute 100% certainty, virtual or otherwise.

    This business of assuming, for example, that current certainties will be unaffected by that which we don’t yet understand about clouds, dust or ice sheets, is problematic to say the least. You often hear the complaint mockingly phrased, “It’s got to be CO2 because we can’t think of anything else,” and while that’s too glib, it does illustrate the point that there may – repeat – may be an overemphasis on what is well understand.

  29. 179
    Hank Roberts says:

    Alan, where are you getting your assumptions?

    Have you read anything about the science on planetary atmospheres?
    If so, what, please?

  30. 180
    chris colose says:

    MikeN, this is kind of tedious– my response is not much different than what RC has said in a variety of posts/comments. Please be aware that this “CO2 lags temperature” meme has existed for many years now and has kind of died out, so please don’t take the impatience of others as being dismissive. Your assertions cannot even be evaluated scientifically because they make no sense logically. You’re saying that chickens coming before eggs “challenges” eggs coming before chickens. The fact is that CO2 is rising today as a result of anthropogenic emissions (not natural feedbacks) and CO2 causes temperature rise by inhibiting radiation loss to space. The converse does not need to be true or false for this to make sense. And the models don’t “assume this fact.” The models run on the physics and the physics mandates increased warming in a higher-CO2 world. I hope that this can be the last comment on this issue.

  31. 181

    “Advocate” George Will has written another one of his always amusing columns. This time he’s taking on, of all things, compact fluorescent bulbs. Don’t ask.

    I mention this not because the column is particularly interesting but because some might get a kick out of this brilliant Tom Toles cartoon. (Toles is the Post‘s regular editorial cartoonist.)

  32. 182

    #178 wmanny

    No, I don’t think I want to rewrite it. While I am using the expression to generalize to a near degree, I’m ‘virtually’ certain this global warming event is 100% human caused. Especially since we are supposed to be at or around -0.1W/m2 or 0.0W/m2 in accord with the natural cycle rather than at our current +3.8 W/m2 + aerosols -2.0 W/m2 – Schwabe -0.2 W//m2 = +1.6 W/m2. Although I would add to it that the models match the measurements well, so it does not appear that there are any major problems with the models.

    I would also add that there seems to be a lot of decent understanding on the other issues you mention and certainly the science is not settled in many of the finer points and some of the more interesting points such as methane.

    It’s reasonable to assume that as the ice sheets go away we will have less albedo form them and that should add to the warming.

    Dust I can not speak much about but dust is temporary and Co2 has a long atmospheric lifetime. Clouds are interesting but I don’t see any magic cooling cloud effect associated with global warming in the paleo record that magically balances everything out so I don’t think that will lean negative either.

    And lastly, it’s not just CO2. it’s CH4 and NO2 H2O and Hi GWP’s compounded by feedback mechanisms, along with lots of aerosol pollution throwing a big monkey wrench in our current and future predicament. So, no, it’s not just CO2.

    So I don’t think I am overemphasizing what is well understood, or under emphasizing what is less understood but rather I am conformable at this point with the phrase “I would argue we are virtually 100% sure it is human caused”.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/virtually

    1 : almost entirely : nearly
    2 : for all practical purposes

    If you want to see an overview of the arguments and perspectives I have collected take a look.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths

    and

    http://www.uscentrist.org/about/issues/environment

  33. 183
    dhogaza says:

    An aside – the Toles cartoon is brilliant, saw it elsewhere earlier today.

    Alan Millar:

    For instance the composition of the Martian atmosphere means that there are many times more (a magnitude more) CO2 molecules per square metre than there are on the Earth. If there is some sort of direct relationship between global planetary temperatures and CO2 concentations what should that tell us about the temperatures on Mars compared to those of the the Earth?

    In addition to things said above, where’s the water that would lead to the amplifying feedback we see here on earth?

    And also … do you really think thousands of scientists working on climatology, not just for this planet, but for others. have missed something as basic and stupid as you raise as proof that the whole field is made of idiots?

    MikeN:

    No but the model assumes this fact

    Well, sure, it’s been shown in laboratory experiments and has been known for 150 years.

    You’re really saying that climate models should ignore known physics?

    In favor of what? Unknown cosmic ray influences on climate? Something like that?

    Or are you more the sky-fairy type?

  34. 184

    MikeN wrote in 177

    It’s not the model that says CO2 cause warming,
    No but the model assumes this fact, and the CO2 time lag challenges this fact, and in response you write that the model establishes the time lag is irrelevant. Hence my saying that you are doing exactly what you criticize, clinging to your theory. Mr Colose’s response is much better than what you have on your site.

    Why reinvent the wheel? Here is my response when someone raised the issue on 1 Apr 2009…

    Temperature and Carbon Dioxide: Lead vs. Lag
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=661#comment-117255

    It includes photographic evidence — or at least a link to it.

  35. 185
    walter crain says:

    gavin,
    john p (151) has nailed it: rhetoric vs science – that’s perfect.

    john p,
    (151) YES! i am asking scientists to engage in rhetoric. i can’t believe i’m actually advocating rhetoric, but i guess i am. you don’t understand because you see beauty in pv=nrt and a fibonacci sequence, but your neighbor, postman etc…doesn’t. they are moved by rhetoric. i despise singer, michaels and lindzen for what they’ve done, but i admire what they’ve done with so little – imagine how convincing they could be if they had truth on their side, if they didn’t have to navigate the minefield of evidence. usually, among my friends i’m the technical, scientific, rational one – counted on to explain tides, solstices and dew points – but here i’m ignorant. it is because i respect science and scientists so much that when i read that something like 40% think scientists are wrong about global warming (same for evolution, but that’s another topic, sort of), it makes me sick. (then there’s the issue of people who don’t even think there IS a consensus…who need a list to be convinced…)

    i’ll give you an example of what moves people. when discussing global warming with a “skeptic”, i can’t even mention al gore. i love gore, i voted for him, i think he’s been a noble “ex-politician” and a great “crusader” for global warming awareness, but invariably the conversation turns to his stupid giant house, and his enormous electric bills and how he’s only able to buy carbon credits or whatever because he’s rich and blah blah blah.

  36. 186
    John Mashey says:

    re: #180 Chris

    But the fact that forest fires happen naturally *proves* the non-existence of arson. :-)

  37. 187
    Hank Roberts says:

    Same cartoon as appears earlier in the thread. Toles does several ideas in draft; the link for those very sketchy cartoons is always to the one he didn’t use on that particular day, if anyone’s wondering.

    Back to focus on the topic for a moment, I was wondering why Lindzen didn’t seem to have replied to Wong et al. And this is, well, what can you say — Google Scholar sure has a lot of links going to junkscience. It gives me the Willies sometimes. Have a look at this (it’s the ‘cited by’ link for that paper).

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?num=50&hl=en&lr=&newwindow=1&safe=off&cites=4304859234566405344

  38. 188
    Joe Hunkins says:

    The answer is that Lindzen is making a point where Chris is an advocate. The reason is that Chris is *responding* to Lindzens opinion trying (unsuccessfully) to discredit that view using a dubious analysis. How can so many here be blind to that obvious situation?

    [Response: Absolutely false. What is Chris advocating for? The keeping up with the scientific literature, perhaps. The better use of footnotes, maybe. Did he claim that the data validated his pet theory? no. He just (successfully) made the point that the use of these figures by Lindzen was misleading, and that the data didn’t support what was being claimed. For people like you to assume that corrections to scientific mistakes automatically imply the same level of advocacy as people deliberately making such mistakes is simply wrong. But quite revealing. – gavin]

  39. 189
    cogito says:

    chris colose: “The fact is that CO2 is rising today … and CO2 causes temperature rise by inhibiting radiation loss to space. The converse does not need to be true or false for this to make sense.”
    So by your logic whenever CO2 rises, temperature must follow. I’m not aware that this has consistently happend in the the paleontologic history of earth.

    [Response: (in the absence of other changes). – This is a caveat that should be read into every statement of science. – gavin]

  40. 190

    wmanny writes:

    “And in this case Gore is far closer to the truth than Dyson.”

    Indeed that may prove to be the case. But let’s be clear here: if you put those two men in a room and query them about the specifics of how climate works, who do you think will know more?

    Al Gore, hands down. wmanny, Al Gore was one of Roger Revelle’s students in the ’60s. Do you know who Revelle was? Do you know what he did?

  41. 191
    Joe says:

    #160 john
    “If on the other hand your point is that humans tend not to be concerned until they see the results of their actions, then that is somewhat understandable, but it is still not accepting responsibility. Said another way, it’s simply irresponsible.”

    No way. It is irresponsible to act hastily and regret later. One should be convinced before acting.

    [Response: Actually, no. There is an extensive literature on the issue of how uncertainty enters into climate change risk assessment, and the conclusion is unambiguous–you hedge against the probability of the extreme high cost scenarios that lie in the tails of the risk probability distribution. See 4th paragraph of this piece I recently wrote for PNAS, and more importantly, cited refs 4-7 by Yohe, Nordhaus, Schlesinger, Keller, Oppenheimer, and other experts who have actually looked at the associated cost/benefit problem rigorously and come to the opposite conclusion of the one you state. -mike]

    gavin: gulf of finland

  42. 192

    MikeN,

    Temperature leads CO2 in a natural deglaciation because the solubility of CO2 in seawater decreases with temperature and CO2 bubbles out of the ocean. That is NOT what is happening now. We know the new CO2 is mainly from burning fossil fuels because of its radioisotope signature.

    CO2 from the biosphere (e.g. the ocean) would have a normal complement of carbon-14. CO2 from fossil fuels doesn’t, because 14C has a half-life of about 5500 years and fossil fuels are around 300 million years old. There are also clues from the ratio of 13C to 12C.

    Put more CO2 in the air and, all else being equal, the temperature of the ground must rise. In the case of the ice ages, the Milankovic cycles are not enough, in and of themselves, to cause the observed temperature changes. You need the greenhouse gases as a feedback.

  43. 193
    Mark says:

    ““I would argue we are virtually 100% sure it is human caused lacking any reasonable alternative explanation for the forcing and the resultant warming.”

    The absence of explanation does not constitute 100% certainty, virtual or otherwise.”

    cf: The sun will rise tomorrow morning in the East.

    Is that virtually 100% certain or if not, to what number of decimal places should I put the 9’s to?

  44. 194
    Mark says:

    “It’s not the model that says CO2 cause warming,
    No but the model assumes this fact”

    Uh, if I have a model of simple harmonic motion, it assumes that gravity pulls things down.

    How is this invalidating the computer model? Does not gravity pull things down?

    If I write

    F=ma

    Is that not ASSUMING the fact that force increases with either increasing mass or increasing acceleration?

    Your use of “assumes the fact” is couched like it is making the fact up. It isn’t. Observations have shown that CO2 causes warming by retarding the egress of IR photons that carry energy away from a moderately hot body. The models are built to compute the effect of that fact. The model DOES NOT just make that fact up, else we already have tachyonic computing and fourth-dimensional self aware computers: they would have had to go back to the 1860’s and change the past before computers existed and make Arrhenius see falsely that CO2 causes warming.

    Are you assuming that?

    Or is it that the models take the facts of physics and model what the RESULT of the known fact that CO2 absorbs IR photons preferentially is?

  45. 195
    Mark says:

    “For instance the composition of the Martian atmosphere means that there are many times more (a magnitude more) CO2 molecules per square metre than there are on the Earth.”

    There are ZERO CO2 molecules per square meter on either earth OR mars.

    Try “cubic meters” and you’ll see a figure.

    And if you know this, please show how you worked it out.

  46. 196
    Mark says:

    “How about a more realistic scenario 2 where we phase out all fossil fuels over the next 30 years – are we not going to have to adapt to the increased temps?”

    Yes.

    However, the effect of these changes will be less than if we didn’t stop CO2 production in 30 years.

    Arable land will reduce, but not as significantly as if we didn’t stop. Oxfordshire, UK was under water when last we had no ice caps, so if we can stop before that occurs, the middle english industrial base will not have to be moved.

  47. 197
    Deech56 says:

    Speaking of sea ice, here is a recent abstract from GRL.

  48. 198
    wmanny says:

    171. “The paleo-record confirms that we understand the basic workings of climate change much more than it contradicts it.”

    Do you mean to say that the paleo confirms the theory to some [larger] degree, but that it contradicts it as well, only not as much? Perhaps a clarification is in order. Either that or an admission that we really don’t know too much about this lag yet?

  49. 199
    alexandriu doru says:

    why Lindzen does not construct his own climate model?
    It will be so easy if he will find a sensitivity like 0.5 K/doubling CO2!

  50. 200
    Jim Eager says:

    Re Mike Strong @176: “there are all those pictures of submarines coming through the ice near the Arctic north pole in the 1930s”

    What pictures would these be?

    Captcha’s call this morning: to politics

    [Response: 1958 was the first crossing of the North Pole – the surfacing photos come from the following decades (see here for instance).- gavin]


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