RealClimate logo


Why the continued interest?

Filed under: — rasmus @ 9 October 2009

I believe the idea that galactic cosmic rays (GCR) play a role for the present global warming is unlikely to fade soon, despite a growing number of scientific arguments that normally would falsify a hypothesis and lay it dead (see links here and here). Despite all the arguments against the role of GCR, there was a solicited talk about ‘cosmoclimatology’ at the European Meteorological Society’s (EMS) annual meeting in Toulouse. Henrik Svensmark is further invited by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (NASL) to provide an introduction to their seminar on climate. So why is the GCR-hypothesis still perceived as an interesting explanation?

My impression from the solicited talk, is that the confidence in the GCR hypothesis now rests on two points that were made explicit in the presentation, and that we have not adequately addressed here. So, here they are:

Point I: When I asked Svensmark why he presented a curve describing low cloud-cover from the ISCCP – used for correlation study with GCR (link) – that differed from the curves presented at the ISCCP web site (link), he informed me that he used a corrected version that has been published. Nevertheless, the ‘correction’ of the curve is controversial, and the ISCCP team is clearly not convinced, despite the likelihood of instrumental degradation.

Good practice would then be to present all the curves that cannot be ruled out because of errors. When asked why he didn’t present the other cures too, he said that he only wanted to show the one curve. Not a very convincing answer, and not very reassuring.

Point II involves a ‘remarkable’ correlation, meant to demonstrate a link between high GCR flux and cold conditions. This analysis is based on a comparison between band-pass filtered ice-rafted debris from iceberg drifts (Bond, 2001) and Carbon-14 (a cosmogenic isotope) over the last 12,000 years (e.g. after the most recent ice age).

The relationship between temperature and drifting icebergs, however, is complicated and not so straight forward. Icebergs are formed when chunks of ice break off glaciers and icesheets – a process known as ‘calving’.

On the one hand, icesheets and glaciers grow when the accumulation of precipitation at below freezing temperatures (snow) exceeds the summertime melting. Very low temperatures, tend to be associated with low precipitation, however. One the other hand, iceberg calving does not require very low temperatures (as long as the ice is present), but is favoured by reduced friction at the base of ice caps, resulting in a faster flow towards the sea. Melt water can lubricate the ice sheets and hence affect the ice flow.

Once the icesheets have calved and produced icebergs, they will drift according to the winds and ocean currents. The most influential ocean currents for iceberg drift in the North Atlantic include the East Greenland Current EGC), which follows the east coast of Greenland and flows from northeast to southwest, the West Greenland current (WGC) into the Labrador Sea, and the Labrador current (LC), a coastal current following along the perimeter of the Labrador sea basin in an anti-clockwise fashion.

North Atlantic ocean current systems Many of the cores used to study the ice-rafted debris were from locations away from these currents. It is not clear whether anomalous cold conditions produced more southerly winds and ocean currents. However, many of the core locations are associated with a surface flow from the south in the present climate, so it is possible that the icebergs transported by the EGC, WGC, and LC end up in the North Atlantic current. One explanation is that the icebergs got caught in the warm currents from the south, and melted on their way north, but that does not necessary imply cold conditions in that region, as these warm ocean currents provide a heat transport and the melting of icebergs suggest higher temperatures.

Cold conditions favour the formation of sea-ice, which have very different characteristics to icebergs. Sea-ice forms when the sea surface freezes, and can affect the ocean circulation through their effect on salinity. However, sea-ice does not create debris of rocks and minerals, as the icebergs do when the bottom of the sliding icesheets scrape the rocks.

It is plausible that very cold conditions can produce thick sea-ice that will lock icebergs in place near their sources in the Labrador sea and along the east coast of Greenland, but seasonal variations in the sea-ice may also imply open water in the summer. Nevertheless, very cold conditions may not necessarily favour the production of icebergs, as freezing temperatures will prevent the formation of melt water acting as lubrication and the accumulation of ice is expected to be less due to lower precipitation.

In summary, the ‘remarkable’ correlation does not seem to support the hypothesis that high flux of GCR produces a very cold climate. The question is rather whether the ocean and atmospheric circulation were influenced by the level of solar activity and associated changes in the total solar irradiation (TSI) – without involving GCR. After all, GCR is affected by the level of solar activity through its influence of the inter-planetary magnetic field, and anti-correlated with the sunspots.

When taken in the context of the global warming, there are other problematic issues such as the lack of trend in GCR (here and here), stronger warming during nighttime than daytime, large unknowns regarding the physical mechanisms involved in the growth of ultra-small molecule clusters to much larger cloud condensation nuclei (here and here), and questionable data handling and statistical analysis (here). In addition, it is difficult to statistically distinguish between the apparent response to solar forcing in the observations and GCM which do not take GCRs into account (link to a recent paper by Gavin and myself), implying that GCRs are not needed to explain past global temperature trends.

So what makes the GCR-hypothesis so convincing that warrants a solicited talk at the EMS annual meeting and an invited presentation at the NASL? Is the support based on the attention in media, or does it have a scientific basis?

I want a response from the community still supporting the GCR hypothesis, explaining why they find it convincing after all these misgivings. The spirit of science is about discussing different ideas and challenge unconvincing points of view. So far, I feel that many of these issues have gone unheeded outside the climate research community. Perhaps an improved dialogue between various research communities can help resolving these issues – the counter-arguments and GCR hypothesis represent a paradox that should be sorted out if the science is to progress. Either the supporters of the GCR hypothesis should convincingly explain why these misgivings are unfounded or irrelevant, or the GCR hypothesis should be buried. However, I feel that there is a lack of dialogue and willingness to listen, so I think that progress is not likely to happen regarding a commonly accepted solution on the GCR hypothesis.

Update: According to a recent (October 16) news relsease from the International Ice Charting Working Group (IICWG), over 1,200 icebergs drifted into the trans-Atlantic shipping lanes in 2009, making the iceberg season in the North Atlantic the eleventh most severe since the tragic loss of the RMS Titanic in 1912.

P.S. So far in 2009, three articles have been published in the arXhive on GCR and clouds (here, here, here). It is possible that such articles are more accessible to communities other than climate research, and hence enhances the awareness about the controversy surrounding the GCR-hypothesis.


506 Responses to “Why the continued interest?”

  1. 201
    CM says:

    Back to Svensmark (though not entirely unconnected with the sphericity of the Earth), I’m wondering about something:

    The predicted effect of solar modulation of GCR flux on cloud cover should vary with the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, which also helps shield us from cosmic radiation. The weakening of the geomagnetic field 40,000 years ago (the Laschamp event), without a record of a corresponding climatic effect, is one problem for Svensmark’s theory. Also, Slo~an and Wolfendale (2008a) noted that the vaunted fall in low cloud cover at the 1991 solar maximum did not vary with latitude, whereas the effect ought to be more pronounced at the poles than at the equator where the Earth’s field is strongest. However, Svensmark has argued (e.g. in ‘Cosmoclimatology’, 2007) that the GCRs able to affect low cloud cover by showering ionizing muons down to an altitude of 2 km are too energetic to be much affected by the geomagnetic field anyway. He and his son did some work on this that I don’t think has been published. In any case, I have seen Slo~an reply (2008b) that at cloud-forming altitudes, muons are not the dominant source of ions: hadrons from low energy CRs are, and they *are* affected by both the Sun’s and the Earth’s magnetic fields.

    Considering that the supposed cloud cover correlation went away after the early 1990s anyway, I guess it’s a bit of a moot point. Still, it’s sort of interesting in its own right, and it’s one of the few objections that seem to have worried Svensmark a bit, so I’d like to ask your perspectives on this.

    Refs:

    Slo~an, T., and A. W. Wolfendale. 2008a. Testing the proposed causal link between cosmic rays and cloud cover. Environmental Research Letters 3, no. 2: 024001.

    Sl~oan, Terry, and Arnold Wolfendale. 2008b. Could cosmic rays cause global warming? EnvironmentalResearchWeb. April 3. http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/opinion/33642.

    Svensmark, Henrik. 2007. Cosmoclimatology: a new theory emerges. Astronomy & Geophysics 48, no. 1: 1.18-1.24. doi:10.1111/j.1468-4004.2007.48118.x.

  2. 202
    Naindj says:

    Guys,
    I appreciate your answers. About Einstein, I dare to insist: the fact that gravity is not a force but the consequence of the curving of space-time ,and as a consequence big masses can bend rays of light, is not intuitive. That is why it was not accepted until this 1919 eclipse.
    And about Darwin, I did not say he was alone against everybody…I’m just saying evolution took some decades to be accepted. And I remember he also published in two parts, and said only many years later that men were also part of this process (and that we come from monkeys). He knew that would not be accepted. But there was no emergency. For climate there is!
    To come back on climate, some precisions. What is counter-intuitive is the proportion. I think we all agree here that AGW is real: we release CO2 (and CH4), and that reinforces the greenhouse effect. This is very easy and intuitive, I agree. But it should not lead to such a big increase in temperature. Arrhenius himself, long ago, even if he was one of the discoverers of Greenhouse effect, was not worrying about the consequences.
    What is new is the huge feedback effects and the predictions of catastrophes…
    In other words, what is new (and what I think is counter-intuitive) is the hockey stick and the related strong feedbacks calculated by models. And we don’t have an eclipse to clarify, but instead dendro and models…less easy to convince, isn’t it?

  3. 203
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B., your take on the “global cooling” in the ’70s is an illustration of why a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Yes, there were concerns among some scientists that further aerosols could start a chain of negative feedbacks. However, their concerns were predicated on the misconception that CO2 sensitivity was much lower than it actually is. What is more, remember the computers in the ’70s. Even the oldest laptop clunking along has more computing power than all the supercomputers put together from that era. Try to learn the whole story.

  4. 204
    Theo Hopkins says:

    on “Global cooling in the 70s”

    I am probably one of the few people posting here who read of this at the time. I was working on the shop floor of a furniture factory in the Sultanate of Oman, in the Gulf. (Un-air conditioned!!) I thought it was a rather nice idea. Now, at the time, I was an environmentalist/greenie, so somewhat ahead of my time. The big greenie campaign in the UK at the time was to get lead out of petrol. When I returned to the UK, two years later, people were still campaigning to get lead out of petrol .. but no one had heard of global cooling. (Presumably as this was covered only in Newsweek, which no one in UK reads, but I did in the Middle East as that was the only newspaper I could get my hands on).

    As for lead-free petrol. Do any of you not remember the global oil industry saying:

    >. It is impossible to have lead-free petrol.
    >. It would cost four times as much to produce, so bringing the world economy to a halt.
    >. It would burn the valves out in your engine.
    >. Ferrari and Porsche would go bankrupt.
    >. The science linking lead to brain damage was “flawed”.

  5. 205

    #182 Rob Black

    Thank you for helping to confirm my assessment of at least the mental age from which you seem to be addressing the science. Your use of the terminology such as:

    “if you removed your head from your butt”

    blind religious fervor of a zealot”

    is quite telling

    As to “highly threatened”, threatened by what? Your unsupportable ambiguous assertions and opinions?

    You should not build houses with straw, especially in fire zones. Maybe you should reread the story of the three little pigs? I know, it was written for age group 5-8 but it’s not such a stretch if you try.

    Often times I find ambiguity is the root of all evil and you seem to be a font of it. Let’s face it, clarity does not seem to be your forte. I might agree with you in one regard at least…, I could not even pretend to understand all your contexts as they often are veiled or ambiguous. Now, maybe you can clarify a few things:

    Are you stating:

    “that there was no credible scientist and no peer reviewed scientific papers supporting global cooling in the 70s”

    in the sense that you believe there were no papers supporting global cooling or are you attempting some sort of irony as a contradiction? I would just like to know your context.

    If the former, you would be wrong. There were papers supporting cooling, but they were examining Milankovitch cycles without relevant consideration of anthropogenic GHG’s, and of course there was no consensus. If the latter, then you are still operating from a misinformed premise.

    You also state

    “if you think there was no rationale for those thoughts, you either have never looked at a global temperature graph from 1940-1975, or just refuse to acknowledge it with the blind religious fervor of a zealot”

    I am most certainly not refusing to acknowledge the cooling between the 40′s and 70′s. Read on:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/the-global-cooling-myth/

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/40s-to-70s-cooling-co2-rising

    As far as “the faith of a child (probably around 10-13…).” Context is key as always. Back in those days, that was around the time you were looking to get married. Applicably, child would be more akin to 3-7 or possibly 8.

  6. 206
    TrueSceptic says:

    173 Patrick,

    The Earth was already known to be round. What Eratosthenes did was to estimate its size to remarkable accuracy (in about 240 BC, not 500 BC).

    It is a myth that everyone believed in a flat earth until the time of the Renaissance.

  7. 207
    Mark says:

    “About Einstein, I dare to insist: the fact that gravity is not a force but the consequence of the curving of space-time ,and as a consequence big masses can bend rays of light, is not intuitive.”

    Why?

    gravity bending light is very hard to explain with a force particle. How does the gravity catch up with something going as fast as it?

    But if you bend the space it’s travelling through, there’s no need for the force particle and the bending of light is just as easy to understand as the funny shapes bubbles make when packed together: they are reducing how much energy they’re wasting on their shape.

    And may I ask, what is the consequence of that?

    General relativity answered a really problematical question: mercury’s orbit.

    So even if it is unintuitive, it explains reality we see better than the ideas it replaced.

    This is not true for the anti-AGW hypotheses being bandied about.

  8. 208
    Mark says:

    “In other words, what is new (and what I think is counter-intuitive) is the hockey stick and the related strong feedbacks calculated by models. ”

    How can something that has been true for thousands of years be “new”? The only newness is our ability to see the temperature records.

    If you wish to break the Hockey Stick, you need to break the method of measuring used. Which requires breaking:

    1) Ice core physiognomy
    2) CO2 entrapment in ice
    3) Tree grown
    4) thermometers
    5) Satellite IR images
    6) species evacuation
    7) tide gauges
    9) …

    It’s a lot of breaking.

    Do that and come back with it and see if you have managed to break them all without breaking science.

  9. 209
    Mark says:

    “The predicted effect of solar modulation of GCR flux on cloud cover should vary with the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, which also helps shield us from cosmic radiation.”

    CM, can I please ask you is the magnitude of effect significant?

    After all, if a signal comprises of two effects:

    y=Sin(x)/32 + x

    then there is a variation on the sine wave.

    However, this doesn’t mean you can approximate y to Sin(x), does it.

  10. 210
    Mark says:

    “he just may have got the right answer to within 1% by a single noon-time observation. Which would kind of put in perspective the questions raised here about 1860s temperature readings… :)”

    Or because we don’t know exactly how long a cubit is.

    However, he DID know it wasn’t flat.

    Mayans knew too and they didn’t use sticks. They used the shadow the earth makes on the moon.

    Yet every denialist at some point in their career comes up with “And scientists used to think that the earth was flat!!!Oneone111eleventyone”.

  11. 211
    TrueSceptic says:

    202 Naindj,

    You ignored my question about Einstein. You insist that it took a long time for his theories to be accepted. You have given no evidence for that claim. In the meantime, there have been several posts showing your claim to be false. Well?

    Just repeating a false claim doesn’t make it any less false.

  12. 212
    Marcus says:

    Naindj: You said: “Arrhenius himself, long ago, even if he was one of the discoverers of Greenhouse effect, was not worrying about the consequences.”

    Actually, if you read the paper, he wasn’t worried about the consequences because he didn’t think there was any shot in H*** that we’d emit enough carbon to be worried about. He was talking hypotheticals. His original paper’s estimates of the climate sensitivity were right in bounds with today’s estimates.

  13. 213
    TrueSceptic says:

    210 Mark,

    The doubt is whether he used the Attic stadium (185 m) or the Egyptian stadium (157.5 m). If the first, he was in error by about 16%, if the latter, only 1%. I’d say that even the first is pretty good considering the measurement techniques available at the time.

  14. 214
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Naindj, I am afraid your understanding of the history of science is flawed. First, Einstein’s General Relativity already had some empirical support in that it accounted for the precession of Mercury. It also had support on heuristic grounds. There really wasn’t much opposition to the theory. The eclipse of 1919 merely provided an opportunity to verify an a priori prediction of the theory.

    Likewise, Darwin’s theories gained rapid acceptance among biologists precisely because their explanatory power made them indispensable. Opposition came mainly from religious figures.

    As to climate change, Arrhenius actually estimated a CO2 sensitivity well above the current range. He merely failed to take into account that fossil fuel consumption would increase exponentially rather than linearly.

  15. 215

    #210 Mark

    I know how long a cubit is!

    Well…, I know how long it is from my perspective at least ;)

  16. 216

    Oh, forgot to tell you.

    A cubit is 48.1cm (18.93″)

    They must have had smaller people back then :)

  17. 217
    Hank Roberts says:

    Naindj, you’re giving us grade school stuff and claiming it’s the history of science. This is ridiculous. Please question your assumptions and look up what you believe, read a bit.

    You’re getting people caught up in arguing with your misconceptions who could be working to help you learn for yourself why you’re wrong. Read!

    For biology for example, try starting here, with Mayr.

    Read at least the first 8 pages, up through the sentence containing

    > … anyone who writes about “Darwin’s theory of evolution” in the
    > singular, without segregating the theories of gradual evolution,
    > common descent, speciation, and the mechanism of natural selection,
    > will be quite unable to discuss the subject competently.

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=pHThtE2R0UQC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=who+first+thought+of+evolution%3F&ots=KvU6ZCCiRD&sig=8TYNzv8BEBa-cxNB8P2brg41Qg4#v=onepage&q=who%20first%20thought%20of%20evolution%3F&f=false

    Really, you just waste a lot of time and prolong confusion if you don’t bother to read at least a bit about ideas before using outdated oversimplified gradeschool science teaching stories as debate tools. And you draw others into making the same mistake. It wastes everyone’s time and is bound to annoy most of the people eventually. You could stop.

    You’d do far better to actually go read something contemporary about the ideas you take for granted first, not throw them around as debate tactics.

  18. 218
    Hank Roberts says:

    > (and that we come from monkeys)

    Oh, why do I even bother.
    Do you know the difference between your cousins and your grandparents?

  19. 219
    dhogaza says:

    The doubt is whether he used the Attic stadium (185 m) or the Egyptian stadium (157.5 m). If the first, he was in error by about 16%, if the latter, only 1%.


    Either is far better than the size “computed” by that earth-size denialist clown Columbus who we just celebrated early this week. He thought the earth’s about 1/3 its actual circumference.

    Seems appropriate that we here in the ‘ole anti-science contrarian USA would celebrate him …

    1. He denied that the earth could be as big as computed by the Greeks, despite having no empirical evidence to the contrary. He thought it was about 1/3 the actual circumference.

    2. He sold his charlatan views to politicians, and managed to get funding despite expert advisors telling the crowns of Portugual and Spain that Columbus was full of it.

    3 He sailed west, found land, but was lost and never accepted the fact for his entire life, despite overwhelming evidence that the lands he found where nowhere near Asia.

    He got luckier than your average american science denialist, but other than that, what’s difference is there between and say, Watts? Willful ignorance all around.

  20. 220
    Mark says:

    Re 215, I was going to say “yeah, it’s about this big”.

    Actually, they know it’s something around a foot and a half, but there’s no metrological proof of how long a cubit was, so it’s entirely possible 48.1cm was picked because

    a) it’s about a foot and a half

    b) and the size of the earth from Eritothenes (why can’t they have names like Fred?) then turns out to be within 1%

    c) ???

    d) profit!

  21. 221
    Naindj says:

    TrueSceptic, 211 and Ray Ladbury 214

    Thank you for your corrections.
    You are right; Einstein is not the best example. There was not so much opposition. And it took only 5-10 years to be definitely accepted.

    Mark 207 and 208, intuition (or shall I have used “common sense”) is based on the knowledge of your time. In a Newtonian age, the theories of Einstein are not intuitive. That is why Einstein was such a genius. His thoughts experiments seem very logical when we read it today. But at that time!! Are you considering that all people and scientists before him, including Maxwell, are stupid?
    However I agree that it explains reality much better. And so for the evolution. And so for the AGW.

    I was just trying to bring some light in “why so much interest?” Agree that my examples are not the best.
    Maybe we can find a parallel with quantum theory instead. Einstein (again him!) tried during many years to find flaws (with the experiment of twin particles or something like that) because he thought “God does not play dice”.
    Same thing here, people are trying to find flaws because they cannot believe such a high human CO2 sensitivity.

    For Mark, it seems you are taken me as a denialist. I’m not. But I am a little bit skeptic. I can’t help, sorry. And reading this site helps me a lot to be convinced that it is really happening. I am just trying to bring my point of view to “why so much interest?”
    About your question in 208, I don’t see why you link Hockey stick with satellites?

    (I know I lost some credibility with my bad examples, but please forget them and receive my apologies)

    PS about Arrhenius, does somebody have a document showing that he had already estimated such a high sensitivity?

  22. 222
    colin Aldridge says:

    My view is

    1. Svensmark is comitted to the theory ( was It Einstein that said Scientists who don’t believe relativity don’t change their minds … they just die out ). This doesn’t necessarily mean he is wrong.
    2. The current ” pause” in warming makes other theories besides CO2 more attractive
    3. The climate does indeed vary for reasons other than CO2 concentrations and the suns output ( UV,visible, solar wind and its impact on GCR is a sensible thing to look at. Clearly the GCR theory is far from proved but it is not yet, IMO, dismissable as rubbish.

    In general we need to understand all the things that can and do impact global climate. If we did then we would have a better fix on the amount of forcing that CO2 produces which is the big unproven factor in predicting the AGW impact and a better explanation for pauses and accelerations in warming than the cop out of “natural variability”

  23. 223
    Mark says:

    “Mark 207 and 208, intuition (or shall I have used “common sense”) is based on the knowledge of your time.”

    No, it depends on what requires the least twisting to fit the observations.

    “Einstein (again him!) tried during many years to find flaws (with the experiment of twin particles or something like that) because he thought “God does not play dice”.”

    And again, his work didn’t explain things better, so it didn’t gain interest.

    Now, back to the theme of the topic, this segues nicely: GCRs don’t explain climate better, so why is it still gaining continued interest?

    All you seem to have is “well, people are interested in it” which is tautological and rather a waste of electrons. Why is it that despite having been looked into and found wanting, it still gets so much fluffing to make it appear important?

    It can’t be “knowledge of your time” because the knowledge of our time shows that the GCR work doesn’t merit the attention demanded for it.

  24. 224
    Naindj says:

    Re 218 Hank,

    I already apologied (without reading your comment). I do it again here.
    About Darwin, I said “two parts” to simplify. I was talking about “The origin of species” and “the descent of man”, which was published much later. Partly because he knew that would not be accepted in one shot.
    I read quite a bit. But it was long ago, so I will follow your advice and read again, at least some Wikipedia to refresh.
    Just a precision: in “the descent of man”, Wasn’t Darwin saying that we descent from monkeys? Now we understand that they are more our cousins that our parents, but it is pretty new, no?

  25. 225
    Mark says:

    “1. Svensmark is comitted to the theory ( was It Einstein that said Scientists who don’t believe relativity don’t change their minds … they just die out ).”

    Read up on Johannes Kepler.

    He was convinced that the regular solids related the planets (six regular solids, six planets) and that this was proof of the right order in the universe.

    But such methods didn’t fit reality as measured by Tycho Brahe.

    So he changed his mind and fitted an ellipse to the motions of the planets.

    It worked and he accepted it.

  26. 226
    Mark says:

    Colin, I also wonder at this piece:

    “If we did then we would have a better fix on the amount of forcing that CO2 produces which is the big unproven factor in predicting the AGW impact”

    We already know that CO2′s effect is between 2 and 4.5 C per doubling.

    Knowing all the other variables, we may be able to tell if 4.5C is less likely or if 2C is less likely.

    But in neither case will anything currently on display cause CO2 not to have a seriously deleterious effect on the climate and nothing means we would be wasting our time reducing CO2 production to as near nil as possible.

  27. 227
    Mark says:

    Naindj: “For Mark, it seems you are taken me as a denialist. ”

    No, I see you as not answering the point.

  28. 228
    Naindj says:

    Mark,

    So is it only because, as already said, people are looking for a reason to keep burning fuel without feeling
    guilty??
    No…that is only part of the answer…there must be something else…

  29. 229
    Hank Roberts says:

    Paste the question into the Google search box, thus:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=Wasn’t+Darwin+saying+that+we+descent+from+monkeys%3F

    From the first page of results I suggest reading this one, all the way through:
    http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2009/10/darwin_ardi_and_african_apes.php

  30. 230
    Marcus says:

    Naindj: Look at http://www.globalwarmingart.com/images/1/18/Arrhenius.pdf: pg. 266 has his table of temperature change due to CO2 changes: for a doubling of CO2, he gets a 5 degree C change in the tropics, and 6 degrees in the high latitudes, which is higher than the IPCC likely range of 2 to 4.5 degrees C. The paper discusses both the “constant relative humidity” feedback and the snow-albedo feedback. On pg. 270 he discusses the “instructive calculation” of showing that 500 million tons per year of coal would only correspond to 1 thousandth the quantity of CO2 already in the atmosphere. What he didn’t guess was that we would be using 6 Billion tons of fossil fuels a year soon…

    On Darwin: he was pretty clear about the idea of common progenitor: eg. “It must not be supposed that the resemblances between man and certain apes in the above and in many other points- such as in having a naked forehead, long tresses on the head, &c.,- are all necessarily the result of unbroken inheritance from a common progenitor” (http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Descent_of_Man/Chapter_VI)

  31. 231
    Rod B says:

    Chris Colose says (186), “What does it mean if the mainstream group of scientists in the 1970’s were or were not wrong?”

    If you are referring to the mainstream scientists that did support the global cooling hypothesis, it would mean that they were wrong.

  32. 232
    Mark says:

    And what difference does that have for the science? After all, the mainstream scientists in 1970 are not the same mainstream scientists in 2009.

    Even when they include the same people, we are not the same person at 25 that we are at 45.

  33. 233
    Mark says:

    re 228, I think that is Rasmus’ hope, really.

    That there’s some reason that can be countered and cleared by the science.

    E.g. if someone ABSOLUTELY believes that the earth is flat, you can sail with them around the world. You can go out a long way until a tall tower falls below the horizon then ask them to climb the mast and look at the tower now visible again.

    If that someone believes that the earth is flat because the Great Green Arkleseizure said so in a dream, you can walk away and not waste your time.

    Likewise if it’s just to make someone feel better about doing something bad, there’s not a lot the *science* can do about that. Except build a better cattle-prod…

  34. 234
    Mark says:

    Wasn’t it Aristarchus (some smart dude in greece, about 400BC) who considered that life came from the water, mud and slime and populated the land, descended from less complex creatures.

    Over 2000 years later, Darwin prints a book about it.

    And who gets the credit? I can’t even remember the guy’s name off the top of my head.

  35. 235
    Rod B says:

    John PR, when someone claimed there was NOTHING in the scientific publications, I asserted that was incorrect — no more, no less. Can’t hardly be much clearer than that. But making things clear for people who imagine all sorts of things in a commentary is not possible.

    You say, “As to “highly threatened”, threatened by what? Your unsupportable ambiguous assertions and opinions?”

    Evidently.

  36. 236
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Naindj says, “No…that is only part of the answer…there must be something else…”

    Like…?

    Well, I mean, there is also the well financed anti-science campaign by the petroleum, coal and auto industries…and the right-wing (and occasional left-wing loon like A. Cockburn) talk-show hosts, politicians and other ideologues…and science-illiterate science journalists more interested in selling papers than getting the story right… and an electorate that have been told repeatedly that they can have something for nothing… and the occasional religious nutjob who claims we can’t harm “God’s creation”…

    And of course, there’s the fact that humans aren’t very bright except when it comes to fooling themselves.

  37. 237
    TrueSceptic says:

    221 Naindj,

    Thanks for the clarification. It’s just that the (false) examples you gave are often used by people who are “sceptics” (note the quotes).

    I agree that Quantum Mechanics is a much better example.

  38. 238
    TrueSceptic says:

    219 dhogaza,

    Columbus was a shyster, no doubt, but without persuading his sponsors that the Earth was as small as he claimed (so that the riches of the Orient were accessible by sailing west), he would never have discovered the West “Indies”. I don’t think he ever landed on the N American mainland (was he even aware of it?).

  39. 239
    TrueSceptic says:

    222 Colin,

    It was Max Planck who said

    A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

    and

    An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: What does happen is that the opponents gradually die out.

    Interestingly, one of the best examples of this was the resistance of geologists to plate tectonics, geologists now being prominent among AGW denialism.

  40. 240
    Hank Roberts says:

    > scientists that did support
    Can this be distinguished from trolling? Imaginative, off topic, persistent, repetitive, uresponsive to fact cites.

  41. 241
    dhogaza says:

    If you are referring to the mainstream scientists that did support the global cooling hypothesis, it would mean that they were wrong.

    Which of the two groups?

    1. Those pointing out that aerosals were a cooling forcing, and that if we continued spewing them forth that would increase. At the same time pointing out the poorly understood sensitivity to increase CO2 output?

    - or –

    2. Those pointing out that Milankovich cycles would lead to a new ice age in some tens of thousands of years in the future.

    And how, exactly, were they wrong?

  42. 242
    Naindj says:

    I thank you all for your suggestions about Darwin. It is just a question of simplification again. We descent from a “kind of monkey” that could look similar to the actual monkeys, because the actual monkeys evolved less than humans from the common ancestor. Is this summary better for you? Or do I have all wrong again?
    To come back to the topic (I am so sorry now to have brought this digression with my approximations), what is your answer Mark : “why so much interest?” Is it not possible to find any parallel with other science controversy? What is so specific to the actual debate? Only because people want to (desperately) find a reason to stay lazy?

  43. 243
    Mark says:

    “We descent from a “kind of monkey” that could look similar to the actual monkeys,”

    Or monkeys descended from a “kind of human” that could look similar to the actual humans.

    Yes, you have it wrong.

    It isn’t that evolution is weird, it’s that you’re painting it weird. The “your grandfather wasn’t a chimpanzee!!!” was a common meme used by those who thought Humans had A Higher Calling ™.

  44. 244
    Mark says:

    “Is it not possible to find any parallel with other science controversy? What is so specific to the actual debate?”

    What is so specific is that all countertheories that were later successful actually explained things.

    GCRs don’t explain CO2′s role away and it doesn’t explain what effect and testable outcome would be seen. It also adds many new questions that are raised solely by the incompleteness of the hypothesis. E.g. “why the 7 day lag?” “why did you use just one pattern out of many that also equally show the situation?”.

    Yet those who are “looking into this” aren’t asking questions.

    If they were really looking into this, they’d sort out the questions it raises and Rasmus raises there.

    And you still haven’t answered them or even acknowledged they exist on the thread.

    They aren’t looking into this GCR thing is the only conclusion, so the question remains: why the continued interest?

    If all you have is “they want to be selfish” then say so.

  45. 245
    Hank Roberts says:

    Naindj, why keep bothering Mark and other readers about this?

    The question is asked _for_the_researchers_ in hopes they will come here and respond.

    > So what makes the GCR-hypothesis so convincing that
    > warrants a solicited talk at the EMS annual meeting and
    > an invited presentation at the NASL? Is the support based
    > on the attention in media, or does it have a scientific
    > basis?
    >
    > I want a response from the community still supporting the
    > GCR hypothesis, explaining why they find it convincing
    > after all these misgivings.

    If we leave an opportunity for _them_, maybe _they_ will come and respond as _they_ were invited to do here.

    The rest is amateur stuff, my own posts included.

  46. 246
    Mark says:

    Mind you, True Skeptic, just because Max Plank said it, doesn’t mean it’s true.

    All sweeping statements are wrong.

    Including that one I just said, likely.

    Better to say “the resistance to a new idea that explains reality better reduces as the old guard die off”.

    Although that does hint at one way for GCR proponents to work this: mass murder, so I’m not too sure about that phrase…

  47. 247
    TrueSceptic says:

    228 Naindj,

    Have you read much from AGW denialists? It is clear that guilt (or its avoidance) is a very small part of the picture. These people are overwhelmingly right-wing/libertarian types and have a hatred of anything that is both “Green” and that involves restrictions on industry and consumption. They are often the same people who lied (and continue to lie) about tobacco, DDT, and CFCs, just to give the most obvious examples.

    GCRs are just the latest thing they’ve seized on as it’s still a “possible” (in their world) factor in GW. Anything, anything but CO2!

  48. 248
    TrueSceptic says:

    232 Mark,

    You know, of course that the “coolers” were a minority even then?

  49. 249
    Mark says:

    Yes, I know.

    I believe I even wrote “one paper (maybe two)”.

    Hardly a horde.

  50. 250
    Mark says:

    Oh, that post, TS.

    Uh, there were thousands of scientists in the 70′s.

    If anything, more than there are now (with the cold war era meaning ramped up defence work and science to “get one over on the Filthy Reds/Capitalist Pigs (delete as appropriate)”).

    And many of them are alive now. And some very likely still working.

    And just because some scientists said “well, maybe there’s a chance we’ll pollute ourselves into an ice age” and were wrong (were they, though? clean air acts changed the forecast) or any other prediction Rod B cares to produce to show how “scientists” were “wrong”, this doesn’t mean that the scientists now are necessarily wrong, even those who were also scientists in the 70′s.

    Hence Bob Bob’s attempt to slur “science” (kept deliberately vague so that he can dodge any counter by saying “well, not *them* obviously” whilst keeping the slur alive) makes me mystified.

    It’s proof of nothing and is so vague as to *say* nothing.

    Just weaselling out doubt.


Switch to our mobile site