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Something Is X in the State of Denmark

Filed under: — rasmus @ 29 November 2009

We received a letter with the title ‘Climate Change: The Role of Flawed Science‘ which may be of interest to the wider readership. The author, Peter Laut, is Professor (emeritus) of physics at The Technical University of Denmark and former scientific advisor on climate change for The Danish Energy Agency. He has long been a critic of the hypothesis that solar activity dominates the global warming trend, and has been involved in a series of heated public debates in Denmark. Even though most of his arguments concern scientific issues, such as data handling, and arithmetic errors, he also has much to say about the way that the debate about climate change has been conducted. It’s worth noting that he sent us this letter before the “CRU email” controversy broke out, so his criticism of the IPCC for being too even handed, is ironic and timely.

Update – the link in the letter is now fixed. -rasmus


353 Responses to “Something Is X in the State of Denmark”

  1. 101
    Guy says:

    Rasmus (or other RCers) – comments please on Svensmark’s response to Laut here – http://www.spacecenter.dk/research/sun-climate/Scientific%20work%20and%20publications/resolveuid/aaa9159ffe31b88ebe0ec0fbc0b7b4e5 ?

  2. 102

    George Ortega,

    Are you sure you’re not working for the Heartland Institute or Exxon Mobile? I can’t think of a more sure-fire way to turn the public against accepting AGW theory than to implement some idiotic restriction on the free speech of its opponents. Besides being morally wrong, your idea is extremely counterproductive.

  3. 103

    David Cook,

    The Urban Heat Island Effect really exists, is trivial, and is already accounted for in temperature time series estimates:

    Hansen, J., Ruedy, R., Sato, M., Imhoff, M., Lawrence, W., Easterling, D., Peterson, T., and Karl, T. 2001. “A closer look at United States and global surface temperature change.” J. Geophys. Res. 106, 23947–23963.

    Parker, DE. 2004. “Large-scale warming is not urban.” Nature 432, 290.

    Parker, DE. 2006. “A Demonstration That Large-Scale Warming Is Not Urban.” Journal of Climate 19, 2882-2895.

    Peterson, Thomas C. 2003. “Assessment of Urban Versus Rural In Situ Surface Temperatures in the Contiguous United States: No Difference Found.” J. Clim. 16(18), 2941-2959.

    Peterson T., Gallo K., Lawrimore J., Owen T., Huang A., McKittrick D. 1999. “Global rural temperature trends.” Geophys. Res. Lett. 26(3), 329.

  4. 104
    debreuil says:

    Thanks for the clarification Gavin. Indeed you are right it is commented out in briffa_sep98_d.pro and not the ‘e’ version, I should have figured out there were two similar files from the context of your reply. If that code is never used in a graph that sees the light of day, then it would seem almost ‘post worthy’ to me. Maybe I’m just too code centric, but having that confirmed seems like it would be a really big step (obviously just seeing it as it is with the wording it has makes it jump out a bit : ).

    Thanks again.

  5. 105

    billyboy:

    the AGW debate is far from over, rather it’s about to get far more interesting.

    BPL: The AGW debate was settled in the ’40s when high-altitude observations from airplanes shot down the saturation argument against AGW. Sorry, but the only “debate” on it now is between science on one side and crackpots and political shills on the other.

  6. 106

    Peter:

    the “science” behind climate models is in its infancy,

    BPL:

    1st outline of a radiative-convective scheme for modeling Earth’s atmosphere: Hulbert 1931.

    1st attempt at a general circulation model of Earth’s atmosphere: Smagorinsky et al. 1955.

    1st radiative-convective model of Earth’s atmosphere: Manabe and Strickler 1964.

    You were saying?

    impossible to validate,

    BPL: Look again.

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

    half made up

    BPL: When all else fails, claim the other side is lying.

  7. 107
    Silk says:

    ““estimated to cost an additional $500 billion for each year that we postpone major action on climate change…”
    Your source for this number, please?

    Comment by Don Shor — 29 November 2009 @ 11:37 PM”

    Re #85 – Don Shor – I imagine he’s referring to the IEA World Energy Outlook 2009, which has just come out.

  8. 108

    gigel:

    Scientists currently have next to NO IDEA how clouds influence the climate.

    I believe the latest consensus is that clouds, on global average, warm the climate system by 30 watts per square meter through the greenhouse effect and cool it by 50, for a net cooling of 20 watts per square meter. Low clouds cool the most, high clouds warm the most, so that more low-altitude cumulus will tend to cool the Earth while more high-altitude cirrus will tend to warm it.

    In my RCMs, I use the Hadley CRU figures of 130 square meters per kilogram for the IR absorption coefficient of water clouds and 65 for ice clouds. Modeling scattering is considerably trickier, of course, but the parameterizations of Chou and his many co-workers is a great help.

    Estimates of mean global annual cloud cover range from 47% to 76%, but the wide range is due mostly to how you define the boundary of a cloud. High-cover schemes require clouds to have a lower mean albedo, and low-cover clouds a higher mean albedo, since the Earth’s overall bolometric Bond albedo is well constrained by satellite observations.

    You were saying?

  9. 109

    philc:

    modeling aerodynamics is done to use the **understood** physics to create better planes. Then the plane is fully tested before letting people in them.
    Climate models are being used to make predictions when the physics is not fully understood – hence the poor quality of the predictions.

    1. What is not fully understood about the equation of radiative transfer?

    2. The quality of the predictions is poor? Look again:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

  10. 110
    ccpo says:

    George, please, give it up. We’ve already got The (anti-)Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act, for criminy sake.

  11. 111
    Paul UK says:

    The last 5 years have seen a lot of progress on climate science, its acceptance across the world and the changes needed in society to mitigate the problem.

    About 2 years or so ago, when it looked like the ‘battle’ was being won and at least here in the UK, environmentalists seem to be winning the battle. I was pretty sure things would get nasty at some point. It isn’t so much that the big corporates wanted to protect their interests, I think the issue goes beyond that.

    In the past, great scientific achievements resulted in either a benefit to humanity (medicine, food, engineering etc.) or it only really existed in the minds of the average person, resulting in Pub talk (relativity, Schroedinger’s cat etc.).

    Climate science is a different issue for most people and that’s the problem. This is IMO going to be an never ending battle, or at least a very long one. It may very well end when society has converted over to technology and a way of living that is sustainable and the science doesn’t actually impact on the average person any more. I mean if you are happy, and that happiness is environmentally sustainable, then there is no need to question the science, it will no longer be news and people will wonder what the fuss was for.

    Just a thought. In the mean time, the battle goes on…

  12. 112
    George Ortega says:

    TJV #82,

    If the truth did not need to be defended by laws, as you say, we would have no need for legal systems and the vast amounts of time and money we spend ferreting the truth from lies and misconceptions. Over the last year, the percentage of Americans who believe that global warming is happening has dropped from 80 to 72 percent. Clearly the lies and misinformation are winning the court of public opinion, and we cannot allow ignorance and/or selfish greed to destroy civilization as we know it.

    We need to come to terms with the reality that THERE ARE NO OTHER WAYS available to stem the tide of confusion about global warming. If there were, we would be using them and they would be working. We clearly need to make illegal the corporate publishing of misinformation about climate change. Misinformation laws now protect us from many, many forms of danger like medical quacks and their useless treatments, and we need misinformation laws to protect us from the far more harmful climate quacks with their quack science.

    ccpo #83,

    The problem with suing for defamation is that, like libel, the defamation must be intentional and malicious. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of climate change misinformation out there that does not neatly fall into either of those categories.

    My guess is that if there were already laws on the books that could effectively stop the misinformation on climate change, they would have already been successfully applied. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency would have the authority to create such laws. We now have laws that stipulate what our teachers can and cannot teach our children in school. For example, it is illegal in a science classroom to teach children the theory of creationism as science. Global warming is a far greater threat to humanity than the misapprehension regarding our human origins could ever be, and we have laws prohibiting creationist misinformation. If we have laws protecting us from lesser dangers, it makes perfect sense that we should have laws protecting us from greater dangers. It’s time we create climate change misinformation laws, and strongly prosecute offending corporations and associations to a degree commensurate with the level of real harm and devastating future consequences their misinformation has caused and will cause.

  13. 113
    Ray Ladbury says:

    David H. says, “Gavin, you can settle your credibility issues rather quickly if you were to submit to a polygraph test…”

    How dare you, sir? Have you finally no shame? I knew that you and your denialist compatriots were low, but this exceeds even my estimates of your moral degradation and stupidity.

    First, polygraphs don’t work. Second, it appear that you seek nothing less than the criminalization of science.

  14. 114
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    What’s jut come to m attention again..I had heard about it years ago but I put it on my awareness back burner; is the burning of peat swamps in Indonesia and europe. If you get more years of drought causing 2.6Gt of CO2 being releaed in a single year alone such as Indonesia in ’97/’98..you’re gonna get problems. Latest satellite measurements show a startling amount of peat quietly smouldering away for months after month and contributing yearly 14-40% of all the CO2 attributable to fossil fuel burning.
    Question..why does the IPCC not incorporate this into their computer modelling? I’ve known about this for years! You always hear about fossil fuel combustion/ forest clearing and burning etc but barely a mention about the large global effects of uncontrolled peat march combustion. Could this be a major ‘x’ factor the IPCC needs to get their c modelling on track? Tackling every conceivable CO2 source is vital if we are to going to eventually bring a degree of decelleratoin to the world’s CO2 graph.
    If China wont play ball in CC mitigation since they are utterly obsessed with economic growth at ‘ANY COST’ we can at least also tackle peat bog combustion and that way reduce globally as much carbon as china belches into the atmosphere each and every year.
    Read- http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091127132838.htm
    for more info.

  15. 115
    George Ortega says:

    Matt #88,

    If we applied your reasoning to the advertising industry, corporations could lie to us at will regarding their products, and we would be powerless to stop them. But we DO have laws against false advertising, whether those false claims are intentional or inadvertent.

    We also have laws that prohibit anyone but doctors from practicing medicine. Yes, doctors are the “super-citizens” you refer to whom we trust to provide us with medical care, and yes, those who would attempt to practice medicine on us without a licence are dangerous.

    As you note, we are both lucky to have the right to post here. However, if either of us were to begin spouting racial epithets or sexually harassing the other, THERE ARE LAWS now on the books that would hold us responsible and punish us. Words are not “sticks and stones,” yet we have many, many laws on the books protecting us from the EMOTIONAL harm caused by racist and sexist verbal attacks. Do you mean to tell me that it is completely fine to protect ourselves from hurtful language that might make us feel bad, but when it comes to protecting our children and grandchildren from a civilization destroyed by misinformation about global warming we cannot create and invoke the laws to do so? No. That makes no sense at all.

    Free speech laws do not allow us to use speech to hurt or threaten each other, and global warming misinformation is hurting and threatening us to a degree unprecedented in human history. WE WILL create and invoke climate change misinformation laws because it is the only means we have to stop the mass confusion about global warming and finally start sufficiently addressing it.

    Russell #94,

    What is a “Poe”? To characterize climate change misinformation legislation as a “repeal of the Bill of Rights” is truly an exaggeration, and ignores the many, many laws now on the books that curb speech and actions, and that are completely in accordance with the Bill of Rights.

    There are some among us who would frame the hurting of others through speech as a “free speech” right protected by our Constitution. However hurting others through speech such as slander, libel, false advertising, impersonation, and many other manners of hurtful or deceitful speech in no way falls under the classification “free speech,” and is therefore prohibited by law.

    By asserting that a call for climate change misinformation legislation is a call for the repeal of the First Amendment, you are using a straw man argument. It miss-states the nature and purpose of the proposal, and lacks reason and credibility. It also ignores the many, many laws against hurtful speech that have been part of the American and other legal systems for over two hundred years.

    You are advocating that we human beings be allowed to say and do anything we wish, regarding of how those words and actions harm others. Basically, you are advocating anarchy. We are very fortunate to have a legal system that strongly disagrees with you, but our legal system has not until now had to confront a misinformation challenge like that related to climate change. I am confident that our legal system will see that climate change misinformation IS NOT FREE SPEECH, and will create whatever laws are necessary to make it illegal. Why? Because we have no other choice if we are to protect and defend civilisation as we know it.

  16. 116
    George Ortega says:

    Lawrence #95,

    Thanks for the support! We apparently could use a law student like your wife, or a lawyer, to explain the distinction between hurtful speech and free speech, and to innumerate the many, many kinds of laws that are now on the books to enforce that distinction. Many of us need to understand that if it is right to create speech laws to prevent such minimal damage as hurt feelings, it is imperative that we create climate change misinformation laws to prevent the kind of centuries-long devastation that global warming threatens.

    Dave #100,

    The climate change misinformation legislation I am calling for would allow both global warming believers and global warming skeptics and deniers the same right to publish and promote their viewpoints and findings; the peer-review process. I am not trying to curb free speech, I am trying to curb hurtful speech. When scientists finally admit that there is no other way to stop the avalanche of climate change misinformation that is preventing us from addressing global warming, they will demand that governments create and enact the kind of legislation that will stop that misinformation. In the end, it is not the protection of people and future generations from the dangers of global warming misinformation that will not be tolerated. It is the willful or misguided insistence by some that their right to say and do whatever they want regardless of its harm to civilisation that will not be tolerated. And let’s pray that the day of that misinformation legislation is near.

    [Response: No thanks. I like my democracy the way it is, thanks! Your proposal is Inhofian.--eric]

  17. 117
    George Ortega says:

    Barton #102,

    You say that climate change misinformation legislation will turn the public away from understanding the global warming risk we face. I say this legislation will do the exact opposite. When Fox News and other media empires are forced by law to report only climate change findings that have made it through the peer-review process, or that have been approved by a central authority like the EPA in the United States or the IPPC internationally, then, and only then, will the public have the facts and information necessary to properly understand climate change and the risk it poses to civilization as we know it. Without such legislation, the climate change debate will rage on for decades, far beyond the time when we will have been able to stop the irreversible global warming that is threatening to destroy the proper lives of future generations. We cannot, and will not, let that devastation happen.

    ccpo #110,

    If the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act were designed to prohibit climate change misinformation, there would be no need for climate change misinformation legislation. Ask yourself; what other options do we have to stop the public confusion about global warming than to create and enforce laws to prevent corporations and organizations from willfully or irresponsibly confusing the public on global warming? We have absolutely no choice about this. We either create and enact strong climate change misinformation legislation or our children, grandchildren, and all those beyond will pay a dear and increasingly heavy price for our confusing free speech with hurtful speech, and for allowing climate change misinformation to confuse the global public. I’ll give up the fight when climate scientists wake up to the reality that their profession, and our world, needs to be protected from climate quackery, and when these scientist demand that our governments speedily create those protections.

  18. 118
    Ray Ladbury says:

    George Ortega,
    Not every problem has a litigious or legislative solution. We cannot legislate people to be smarter, and yet, that is what is required. People must learn to tell the difference between the truth and sweet-sounding lies. Your bill will not help with that, because there will always be sweet-sounding lies, no matter how strongly you legislate against them. Read through the “Hack” posts. Do you really think that the denialists would be any less deluded if Exx-Mob were not funding a massive disinformation campaign?

    An informed electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy. Merely outlawing disinformation does not inform.

  19. 119

    #93 David H.

    Polygraph? Not even a court of law requires polygraphs for statements. As far as your questions to Gavin, asked and answered. I have some questions for you:

    1. Have you ever masked your full name from the public on a critical issue affecting the financial well being of billions of people?

    2. Have you ever misrepresented the science of climate due to lack of knowledge and understanding?

    3. Are you hiding your last name because you are compensated, in any way, by the fossil fuel industry for contributing to climate disinformation?

  20. 120
    Rod B says:

    Just a quick and secondary observation. I find it hard to comprehend why Professor Laut, like so many other AGW proponents, keep fussing about the “massive skepticism expressed by the media, film makers and other commentators” when in fact the opposite is true: the preponderance of the media of all kinds strongly support AGW (whether they understand it or not). It’s unfortunate (for AGW support) because this silly and false expression detracts considerably (maybe unfairly) from the credibility — if one is fast and loose with this self-evident small stuff, why should I believe the rest?

  21. 121
    Richard Steckis says:

    108
    Barton Paul Levenson says:
    30 November 2009 at 5:45 AM

    “I believe the latest consensus is that clouds, on global average, warm the climate system by 30 watts per square meter through the greenhouse effect and cool it by 50, for a net cooling of 20 watts per square meter. Low clouds cool the most, high clouds warm the most, so that more low-altitude cumulus will tend to cool the Earth while more high-altitude cirrus will tend to warm it.”

    Those figures are by no means empirically derived. They are essentially guestimates based I believe one paper. There is no real consensus here.

    You cannot even begin to understand how clouds affect the climate system until you have an understanding of cloud dynamics at all levels in the atmosphere.

    [Response: Not true. They were the numbers that were derived from the ERBE experiment in the 1980s, and have been confirmed very closely by the CERES measurements. Much better than 'guesstimates'! - gavin]

  22. 122
    George Ortega says:

    Eric #116,

    By asserting that you like a democracy that condones climate change misinformation, you are saying that you like a democracy that allows us to hurt each other with lies and self-serving confusion. I’m afraid, however, that you are on the wrong side of history on this. If there were other ways to stop the public confusion on climate change, climate change misinformation legislation would not be necessary. But, as you probably already realize, there are no other ways.

    Continuing to spar with the global warming deniers and skeptics amounts to repeating a behavior that has been shown to be a failure. I’m sorry you don’t appreciate the laws that our democratic legal system creates to protect us from the hurtful speech of others. But I am sure that as scientists begin to understand that science has lost the public debate on climate change, they will understand the need for climate change misinformation legislation.

    Rather than my proposal being “Inhofian” as you assert, it actually represents the only avenue available to us for stopping Inhofe’s and all other non-scientific and nonsensical assaults on climate science. If you disagree,

    I would be very interested to know how soon, and by what means, you expect the climate change debate to be concluded with climate scientists declared the winners.

  23. 123
    JohnDD says:

    I am an avid scuba diver and have dove in the Blue Hole in Belize http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Blue_Hole In this website you will see that it is 410 feet deep and was formed as an ABOVE WATER limestone cave during the last Ice Age when the levels of the oceans were at least 410 feet lower than today. Then as all those glaciers melted (without any human effect) the water ROSE. In short, oceans go up and down…the Earth’s climate is a gigantic engine that NATURALLY gets colder and hotter…always has and always will. The Earth has survived much, much COLDER and much, much HOTTER periods than we are in now….always has, always will.

    [Response: Yes, yes... but how many millions of Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons were displaced when that happened? How many cities were deluged? How many agricultural societies floundered? ... None. - gavin]

  24. 124

    This comment is intended for the Copenhagen thread which is now closed. I apologize for placing it here but I thought it might be helpful for those that are trying to adress skeptics concerning the CRU issue:

    #76 andy says:

    Unfortunately you guys (and the IPCC) have lost much credibility, based on the leaked emails and your own comments in response. As implied by your own admission, you only transmit signals that suit your agenda, and define any other signals as noise to be filtered out. Citing RealClimate as an authority is no longer effective in our arguments against the skeptics. They just come back with your loss of credibility.

    Tell them:

    Scientists from many fields such as climatology, meteorology, biology, geology, oceanography, chemistry, climate modeling, environmental politics, astrophysics, and other fields have published articles that show climate change has impacted all aspects of planet Earth. I am quite sure that MANY of these folks have NEVER spoken to or emailed the folks at CRU. So how can they be “in on the conspiracy?”

    A good selection of essays from these scientists and some great photography can be found in: Climate Change: Picturing the Science by Gavin Schmidt and Joshua Wolfe.

  25. 125
    Rod B says:

    George Ortega (15) says, “A Climate Change Misinformation Act would undoubtedly evoke massive attacks…” You think?!?! No matter how sweet and intellectually it is spun by comparing it to other free speech limitations, George’s idea is 100% fascist: win the AGW debate by throwing all skeptics in prison. To make it certain why not make it a capital offense to disagree with the some of the litany?

    This is not just not science; it is egregiously non-science. When you come George, bring many well-armed Brown Shirts.

    Hate to sound vitriolic. But abominable stupidity demands an explicit strong response.

  26. 126
    Hank Roberts says:

    George, praying for the power of censorshop is
    hysterically funny — Eric is right, Inhofian indeed.

    P.S., please loook up “innumerate” — it doesn’t
    mean what you think it does.

  27. 127
    Rod B says:

    George Ortega (29) says, “…I’m sorry, Ray, but our democracy and free speech laws allow for the kind of legislation I am proposing….”

    They do not.

    The speech limits you cite are very strictly limited, are based on irrefutable claims (for the most part, but not all), and most importantly do not relate to political ideas. (Still, some, IMO, could face legal challenge, though probably won’t because it less costly to bend over and take it.) I think the government would be hard pressed to take NORMAL (sic) to court and win if NORML began an advertising campaign in support of marijuana use (which, as a right-winger, I would be in favor of.)

    Your arguments have a ring of intellectual analysis and rationalization. So have many other despotic actions.

  28. 128
    Rod B says:

    George Ortega (29) further says, “…That act alone would do a great deal to get the public to understand the gravity of the global warming threat.”

    Right out of the Charles Coulson playbook: “Get a man by the balls and his brain is sure to follow.” Nice.

  29. 129
    Jen says:

    George Ortega said: You are advocating more, rather than less, speech. While that sounds good in theory, in practice it can amount to very dangerous anarchy.

    The trouble with freedom is that people use it, eh? How perfectly tyrannical.

    What ever happened to “I disagree with what you’re saying but I will defend with my life your right to say it?”

    Get a grip, man.

  30. 130
    Theo Hopkins says:

    Thank you for posting this letter.

  31. 131
    Theo Hopkins says:

    @ Number 6.

    Your criticism of the BBC is unfounded.

    They have just published an interview with Michael Mann. Mann is allowed to put his case exactly as he would wish. Seeing that this was (I assume) recorded after the CRU leaks, he was asked nothing about the CRU leaks, which could have made a “better” story.

    At this moment, the BBC is under enormous pressure from the denialist camp. It is a publicly funded service, and many, particularly on the right, are saying “we are spending the money to pay the BBC – so where is our (the denialist) side of the “balanced” reporting?”

  32. 132
    phil c. says:

    “BPL: The AGW debate was settled in the ’40s when high-altitude observations from airplanes shot down the saturation argument against AGW. Sorry, but the only “debate” on it now is between science on one side and crackpots and political shills on the other”

    So, if everything was settled 70 years ago with what sounds like 100% certainty – why not cancel all climate research.
    and if CO2 makes the Globe Warmer why did it cool down from WWII until the 1970s

  33. 133
    phil c. says:

    #109 Barton Paul Levenson
    “1. What is not fully understood about the equation of radiative transfer?”

    are you suggesting that the entire climate is to be understood from the “equation of radiative transfer” – nothing else, nothing you might have missed that makes it more complex than that.

    and how would you know that you’d included everything anyway

  34. 134
    Jesse says:

    George, like some said, give it up.

    In the US, the First Amendment makes clear that laws prohibiting speech based on the content are not allowed. This has been decided numerous times, all the way back to the NYT v. Sullivan case.

    You just can’t judge speech based on the content.

    Libel laws only address actual harm caused by speech. And they vary from state to state. (in the US). For example, California (probably because of the high concentration of celebrities) is a “truth is no defense” state. That is, a true statement (one that is a demonstrable fact) is no defense against libel.

    Laws that bar false advertising and the like only apply to demonstrable facts, stuff that is sort of beyond rational dispute. You cannot sell a magic stick of wood labeled “this will enable you to fly 100 feet into the air.” But you can sell one that says “This will enable you to fly” and provide instructions for jumping with some bull—- disclaimer.

    As it is, news outlets have to have lawyers comb the copy for libelous statements — I worked at one with a guy on retainer who did just that. And in the news business, it is generally held that if you call someone about a comment made about them it is no longer libel (as long as you make a good faith effort).

    Climate can’t be libeled (it isn’t a person) nor can dead people. So expanding libel laws — a dubious prospect — would not work here.

    Libel only deals with demonstrable harm to individuals. And in the US it is rather hard to prove.

    George, you seem to have a very top-down view of how social change happens. Do you think prohibiting expressions of racial hatred would have made things easier here in the US, when non-whites started demanding their rights? The Yugoslavians tried it and look where that led — the hatred simply simmered under the surface until it burst forth like a boil.

    George, the problem isn’t speech. The problem is power. Your idea doesn’t begin to address that kind of issue.

    More to the point — you can’t prove, in a mathematical sense, that AGW is real. But you can’t prove that smoking causes cancer either, not absolutely. However, I doubt that anyone here would smoke, despite the myriad factors that contribute to cancer.

    Similarly, the preponderance of evidence is in favor of a human induced change in climate.

    Even leaving aside the climate change, there are other issues we need to deal with (and doing so would help on the climate front). Pretending that humans have no large-scale effect on the environment is simply silly. The Aral Sea is half it’s former size — you can see the difference from space. That was pretty unambiguously human-induced. The dust bowl resulted from trying to use European farming practices in a semi-arid zone. It covered an area bigger than Texas and sent dust to Washington DC. There are a thousand other examples.

    We got lucky in the past. We might not be so lucky this time.

  35. 135
    Rod B says:

    George Ortega (115), for (only) an example: if I say all blacks are inherently lazy and all females are inherently stupid, what specific law would I have broken? What tort have I broken?

    For the record, the answer is none.

  36. 136
    SecularAnimist says:

    George Ortega wrote: “The climate change misinformation legislation I am calling for …”

    With all due respect, there is absolutely ZERO possibility of anything remotely resembling the legislation you are “calling for” being enacted into law.

    The arguments for and against such imaginary legislation are a mildly interesting intellectual exercise but they have no bearing on reality at all.

  37. 137
    Peter Houlihan says:

    Before the “emails” were released Micheal Mann had a paper in press. It appeared in the recent issue of Science.

    Global Signatures and Dynamical Origins of the Little Ice Age and Medieval Climate Anomaly
    Michael E. Mann et al. Science 27 November 2009:
    Vol. 326. no. 5957, pp. 1256 – 1260

    Mann is one of the folks being lambasted for a lack of transparency. This paper is a case study in transparency and data availablilty.

    From the text of the paper:

    “Further details of reconstruction procedure, associated statistical validation and skill assessments, uncertainty estimation procedures, data used, and MATLAB source codes for the analysis procedures are provided in the Materials and Methods.”

    When you go to the online supplement, you will find this:

    “Computer codes and data. Computer codes (MATLAB), data, and supporting information for analysis in main paper. File are packaged as a compressed archive, in *.zip format; users should download the compressed file to their machine and decompress the file on their local hard drive, using the instructions below.

    multiproxySpatial09.zip (22 MB) [This is a link in the online version”

    And should we forget were we could be spending our time and energy, it’s a very interesting paper and well worth a read.

  38. 138
    Russell Seitz says:

    Eric: 116

    Not ‘Inhofian’, nor even Limbaughesque, Tarantine or Moranoid

    Just plain Orwellian.

    And a chilling reminder of how snowballs throw at lobbyists or Danish statisticians by PR careerists or the bien pensant can avalanche into inquisitional crusades– the fallout extends from Ortega to some who take exception to the FOIA.

    It’s gotten bad enough to put the Manchester Guardian on the same Op Ed Page as the European Wall Street Journal :

  39. 139
    Russell Seitz says:

    Here’s the link to the European Wall Street Journal piece presaging the Guardian’s present indignation:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116252563441412312.html

  40. 140
    John Reimann says:

    One area where I disagree with the scientists here: You should not be calling the global warming deniers “scientists”. They are really little but shills for the major polluters (oil companies, etc.) – PR people – who happen to have a scientific background. Sylvester Stallone is as much a warrior fighting international criminals as they are scientists.

  41. 141
    TheGoodLocust says:

    Okay I have a question.

    Since science is supposed to be falsifiable then what conditions would be necessary to falsify anthropogenic global warming?

    These are the things I’ve seen blamed on global warming – cold waves, heat waves, increasing ice, decreasing ice, increasing hurricanes, decreasing hurricanes – you get the idea.

    If everything can be blamed on global warming, even contradictory things, then how is this hypothesis falsifiable? And if it isn’t falsifiable then it surely isn’t science.

  42. 142
    Wallace Woolfenden says:

    Any comments on M. Ram, M.R. Stolz, and B.A. Tinsley, “The Terrestrial Cosmic Ray Flux: Its Importance for Climate”, EOS Vol. 90, No. 44, 3 Nov 2009? I don’t have the background to properly assess the article.

  43. 143
    Rod B says:

    David H (93), I’ll weigh in on the suggestion Galvin take a lie detector test. You’re pushing the debate from the ridiculous to the sublime and giving us skeptics a bad name, and we shouldn’t aid that process…

  44. 144
    Adam says:

    I have to disagree with Ortega. First off, I think the passage or attempted passage of such a climate change misinformation law would only be taken as evidence that global warming lacks the data to stand on it’s own and can only be supported by suppressing opponents. I think it would hurt the cause considerably, especially since actual suppression of AGW information would be completely impossible as a practical matter.

    But even if you could somehow suppress all non-consensus speech on the topic outside of scientific contexts, and even if this helped increase the support for dealing with global warming, I wouldn’t support it. Some prices are too high to pay…Live free or fry!

  45. 145
    CM says:

    George Ortega, your proposed Climate Change Misinformation Act proposal is not draconian enough to be coherent. You would clearly e. g. allow Svensmark to hold forth, as an individual, about how his solar link makes CO2 insignificant, and you would let scientific publishers publish his articles if they pass peer review. So would you ban news corporations from giving him a “podium” by reporting legally published science and the legally expressed views of a citizen? You don’t have to be a free speech absolutist to see that doesn’t make sense.

  46. 146
    Ray Ladbury says:

    George Ortega,
    Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you’ll eventually be found out.”

    I believe this. Nature ain’t gonna change the answers she’s giving us, so unless we all become like the denialists and stop asking, nature will eventually speak loudly enough that even we will have to listen.

    Yes, we face a well orchestrated and well funded campaign of disinformation–as evidenced that the denialists have spewed calumny in lieu of evidence these past 2 weeks. The only weapon we have is the truth. It cannot be weilded against us unless we relinquish it.

  47. 147
    CM says:

    I’d be interested in analysis of the Svensmark rebuttal to Laut that Guy posted a link to.

    Of related interest:
    Paul E. Damon and Peter Laut, “Pattern of Strange Errors Plagues Solar Activity and Terrestrial Climate Data,” Eos 85, no. 39 (September 28, 2004): 370, 374, doi:10.1029/2004EO390005.

  48. 148
    Ray Ladbury says:

    TheGoodLocust asks, “Since science is supposed to be falsifiable then what conditions would be necessary to falsify anthropogenic global warming?”

    Anthropogenic climate change is not a “theory” per se, but rather a prediction based on the consensus theory of Earth’s climate. As such, what would really be needed would be a theory of climate that accounted for the evidence as well or better than the current theory and which did not predict significant warming as a result of increased CO2. Were such a theory available, it would likely be embraced by most scientists. It does not, nor is it likely to, given the importance of CO2 in the current theory and the unique signature it has in paleoclimate studies as a well mixed, long-lived greenhouse gas.

  49. 149
    Guy says:

    Aren’t all these comments a bit odd? Endless posts about the hack (again) and first ammendment discussions – all fascinating stuff, but hardly on-topic. Meanwhile Svensmark has made a public statement responding to Laut’s criticisms (which I thought was the purpose of this thread after all) which at least 2 of us have linked, but it doesn’t warrant a comment?

  50. 150
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Phil C., One need not include everything–only everything significant. On timescales longer than about 30 years, the Sun, albedo changes and greenhouse gasses account for most of the variation. On shorter timescales, volcanic eruptions, ENSO, etc. assume much more significance. One thing for sure, without a significant contribution from CO2, 1)you don’t get an Earthlike climate; 2)Earth is a snowball.


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