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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. 251
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    One step forwards..three steps back! A few of you may have learned about the debarcle about the fate of Austrlia’s Emissions Trading Scheme. Malcolm Turnbull (the former opposition leader) CC understander and believer was going to support a bill by the incumbant Rudd gov to inact a ETS. But because of the sceptics in the oppostion party a) Malcolm Turnbull was defeated and b) the bill has now been blocked by the majority of the oppostion. So Australia cannot present to Copenhagen any EMS. Case in Point!!

  2. 252
    assman says:

    “[Response: A claim of scientific misconduct is a serious business. I have seen nothing in these emails that even remotely approaches such a standard. There are people being rude. There are people clearly saying ill-advised things (one case in particular). There are people venting and indulging in hyperbole. None of that is scientific misconduct. If you want to insist that there is such a thing, make a case for it. Where is there evidence of plagiarism? Where is there evidence of falsification of data? This is completely separate from whether or not there is ‘a problem’ revealed here. The problem of harassment of climate scientists to the point where they can’t do their real work is very real. Is it a problem that they get defensive sometimes. Sure. But I’m not going to agree that there are undefined ‘problems’ revealed here that we need to tackle, just to gain some PR points. – gavin]”

    Using peer review to silence opponents,

    [Response: Umm… which opponents do you think have been silenced? And what kind of peer review publishes everything submitted? – gavin]

    trying to get rid of journal editors,

    [Response: von Storch and six other editors resigned – they were not ‘got rid of’. The other editor mentioned (Saiers at GRL) appears to have filled out his 3 year stint and rotated off. Who do you think was ‘got rid of”? – gavin]

    falsifying data (please read the code comments)…

    [Response: You think if someone was really falsifying data they would put it in the comments? Get real. – gavin]

    this isn’t scientific misconduct in climate science. Its just standard fare.

    [Response: No. You were right the first time. This is not scientific misconduct. – gavin]

  3. 253
    Erin Gail says:

    I just wrote a lovely, thoughtful post on the necessity to convince the public that what pro-AGW scientist say is verifiable since we are the ones funding your research and will be taxed to implement your proposals, whether they will work or be more akin to spitting into the wind. It was rejected by the spam filter.

    As an average citizen of exceptional education and intelligence, I have no more time for this.

  4. 254
    Brian Dodge says:

    I read the Idso’s take on Ram et al about GRIP dust, Be10, and solar cycles, . They say “…the dust concentration in the upper 2.8 km of the ice, spanning approximately 100,000 years, “is strongly modulated at regular periods close to 11, 22, 80 and 200 years, all of which are well-known periods of solar activity.” and “in Ram et al.’s words, “strong correlations between variations in carbon-14 and beryllium-10 accumulation rates [which are CRF proxies] …”
    I downloaded Be10 and dust data from
    and did a scatterplot of the Be10 versus dust which can be seen at
    I chose a period of relatively continuous data from ~280 to 460 years ago because of limitations of Appleworks – it doesn’t handle discontinuous data well – and interpolated missing data. “Strong correlations” don’t immediately leap out in my albeit limited analysis, nor is the data obviously “strongly modulated”, unlike, fer instance, Perhaps Tamino or someone else whose skills and software would permit a better analysis would see how hard it is to dig out a correlation from the data. Maybe instead of arguing about what “strong” means, we should just publish the correlation coefficient(which Appleworks won’t calculate – I may be forced into actually paying for software that will, despite being a cheapskate).
    (If this is a duplicate post, my apologies; I got an error message the first time I tried posting it.)

  5. 255
    Phil Scadden says:

    Locust – “why not Antarctica”. Well because the AGW model do not predict much change in Antarctica. (eg

    Falsification would results that go against AGW models – like no or negative trend on 25-30 year trend, stratosphere not cooling, warmer days rather than warmer nights and so on. You cant claim falsification on basis of things that you THINK the models say but dont. See the post

    Much more in

    As to science of attribution of CO2 – well why is so hard to read the IPCC WG1 AR4 report? You ask the question, read the answer.

  6. 256
    TheGoodLocust says:

    Ray Ladbury said: “. 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.”

    (I thought I’d responded before, but my internet connection has been a bit fuzzy lately)

    Anyway, your argument is a prime example of the logical fallacy known (by many names) often as the argument from ignorance or lack of imagination.

    In short, you don’t have to know the right answer to prove something is the wrong answer.

  7. 257
    VagabondAstronomer says:

    “The good people at HuffPo have linked back to this site. Of course, the skeptics have ceased the day…”
    Obviously meant “seized the day”. Stream of thought typing again…

  8. 258
    Brian Dodge says:

    “Well, it has been stable or cooling for the past 15 years – I guess I’ll see you again in 5 years.”
    TheGoodLocust — 1 December 2009 @ 2:41 PM
    Who told you that it has been stable or cooling for the last 15 years? Did they cherrypick a particular data set whose noise or short term variability hides the trend?
    If you ask them why the Arctic sea ice has declined[1], and the glaciers have continued to retreat over this same time period[2], do they answer by referring to antarctic sea ice, which melts away every summer, is only 1-2 meter thick, and will increase as the sea surface freshens from ice shelf melting and collapse?[3]

    [3]“Field measurements suggest that there has been a marked freshening of some parts of the Southern Ocean. Researchers from Columbia University, New York City, have detailed a freshening in the Ross Sea, and a recent study shows that the Antarctic-Australian Bottom Water has freshened somewhat since the mid-1990s.”
    “Since fresh water is less dense and less apt to mix with the heavier, saltier, and warmer water below, the layer at the ocean’s surface could become more stratified and mix less. This, in turn, would reduce the amount of heat flowing upward, allowing surface ice to expand.”

  9. 259
    David B. Benson says:

    TheGoodLocust (229) — Visit the Carbon Dioxide Informaion Analysis Center web site @ ORNL. Or read David Archer’s “The Long Thaw”.

  10. 260
    Bill D says:

    229.Comment by TheGoodLocust

    The clearest and most uncontrovertible scientific point is that essentially all of the increase in CO2 over the last 70 years has been due to human activity. Moreover, most of that is due to burning fossil fuels, although burning forests and other land use changes have had some effect. After all, the rate of CO2 increase is significantly less than the rate of CO2 release by humans. This is because natural sinks, such as the oceans are acting as sinks for a part of the CO2 released by humans.

  11. 261
    Your loosing the public says:

    I don’t claim to understand the science behind some of the topics you are discussing but after reading all of the posts I fully understand the public’s skeptical view on global warming. Everything reads like a school yard argument – you’re wrong, I’m right, you’re a denier and you’re a warmer.

    If this topic is so pressing and important why can’t you have reasoned debate, quit playing the politics and PR.

    Honesty is what people want and it’s certainly lacking in the AGW debate.

  12. 262
    Joseph says:

    “Why would I ‘admit’ something for which there is no good evidence? The climate in the models is not chaotic (which is an easy thing to test). The real world may be or it may not be, but your desire to have me ‘admit’ something smacks more of dogma than science. – gavin”

    I think you may be mistaken. The definition of chaotic is that small variations in initial conditions lead to large divergence in system behavior, which if I’m not mistaken is the case in the models (since you get many differing scenarios in a range, from perturbing the model inputs); weather simulations are the classical example from which chaos theory originated.

    For example, the picture to the right of the article (Lorenz Attractor), while one can obviously tell that there is a structure or trend visible (in the climate models this would be long-term warming) but different starting values can lead to very different (but still similar in terms of the “big picture”) outcomes.

    [Response: Right definition, wrong application. The climate is the statistics of the weather – and this is stable to whatever initial condition you start with (i.e. there is no sensitive dependence on initial conditions. It’s the difference between the shape of the Lorenz butterfly and a single trajectory. – gavin]

  13. 263
    Andrew Hobbs says:

    #218 Guy

    I think the initial reaction of anyone (who is not sufficiently expert and who needs comment from experts) to this exchange, should be, where has Svensmark’s reply to Laut’s 2003 peer reviewed critique, itself been published in the peer reviewed literature? If it hasn’t, and hence hasn’t been subject to the appropriate review by qualified experts, then I think it is quite reasonable to disregard it.


  14. 264
    Brian Dodge says:

    “Interested in direct links to cosmic ray count data,” Brian Angliss — 30 November 2009 @ 2:32 PM “The full database (since 1964)”

  15. 265
    Tim Jones says:

    Regarding the assertion: “they can’t account for the lack of recent warming…” I thought it was well understood that the 2007-2008 La Niña dropping Pacific Ocean SSTs as well as the coincident and significant decrease in solar activity due to the low in the sunspot cycle were parts of natural cycles slowing the rise in overall warming. The 2007-2008 La Niña event was the strongest since the 1988-1989 La Niña. 2005 was the warmest year on record, followed by these natural events turning round in 2009. As the sunspot cycle arches upward and the 07/08 La Niña is replaced by the current El Niño persisting into next May we can expect a sharp rise in temperatures, above the high temperatures reached in 2005.

    The recent slackening in the overall rise in global land and sea temperatures, taken as a trend and called global cooling
    is criminally misleading. It easy to see what’s happening. It’s fraudulent to call it something it is not by cherry picking the data and bracketing the warming trend to substantiate denialist wool pulling. The high levels of CO2 kept overall temperatures throughout the decade the highest in recorded history despite twin natural cooling influences during latter years.

    The summer of 2010 will put an end to so called global cooling nonsense. But there will be a spike in 2010 and then the rise in following years will fail to measure up and we’ll wade through all the “global warming has ended – global cooling” garbage all over again, won’t we?

    Are there GCMs to predict this? If not there should be.

  16. 266
    mike roddy says:

    Good Locust,

    Your opinion about the extent of CO2 effects and the ratio of human influence is about like the opinion of Rush Limbaugh, or, for that matter, Steve McIntyre and Roger Pielke Jr. Meaningless, in other words.

    These issues are determined by observations, measurements, and laboratory experiments, which is recorded and reviewed by actual scientists. That’s where the data comes from.

  17. 267
    Jim Eager says:

    Re Locust @228: “Correlation has never proven causation.”

    Quite true, but you missed the point: without correlation there can be no causation. Prove a lack of correlation and causation evaporates.

    “The arctic? Why not antarctic ice?”

    Because 1) the prediction is that the Antarctic will in fact warm more slowly, 2) because for purely physical, geographic and orbital reasons the Antarctic is very different from the Arctic, 3) the ozone hole is cooling the Antarctic to some degree.

    “it has been stable or cooling for the past 15 years”

    A fantasy not supported by reality.

    And @229: “a lot of the climate models are based on “forcing” and “feedback” without which, it is my understanding, the models would look much milder.

    But then those feedbacks apply to warming no matter what the source of the initial forcing, be it an increase in solar output, a change in orbital configuration, or an increase in greenhouse gases. Not including the feedbacks means not understanding physical reality.

    “I’m not entirely sure how much of the CO2 increase is due to human influence.”

    All of it. Actually, more like 250% of it, since the ocean and biosphere absorb around 60% of the fossil carbon-based CO2 that we produce each year, at least as of now. You might want to read up on the isotopic signature of carbon in the atmosphere. And then there is the fact that the level of oxygen in the atmosphere is declining ever so slightly, which is exactly what we should see when huge quantities of fossil carbon are oxidized.

  18. 268

    TheGoodLocust #229: forcing is the initial effect, which is based on laws of physics (so much more greenhouse gas results in so much more net energy flow into the system). It’s feedbacks that add uncertainties, though not as much as some would have use believe. If feedbacks were insignificant, movement in and out of ice ages would not happen they way it did. The basic shift in energy balance from orbital forcing is insufficient on its own.

    ZB #233, thanks for the heads-up. The University of East Anglia has posted a sequence of statements including this one. I would be surprised if the independent review finds much more than that he should be more careful how he words his emails. Of course we are still awaiting the independent review of the totally bogus science of the denial side.

  19. 269
    Chris Colose says:

    TheGoodLocust— #232; #253, in response to Ray Ladbury:

    I accept that one can disprove a theory without necessarily supporting a better one, but the fact is that we can currently understand the concept of climate change on multidecadal to longer timescales through the concept of radiative forcings and feedback. It doesn’t make sense to say “…without which [radiative forcings and feedbacks], it is my understanding, the models would look much milder (comment 232)” since they are defined precisely to allow the energy balance of the planet to change over time as a function of changes in solar irradiance, GHG’s, volcanoes, etc. Indeed, without such perturbations (to the extent that orbital, continental position, and other such boundary conditions are fixed), the statistics of climate would remain stationary forever (at least I haven’t seen any evidence otherwise).

    That said, we can currently explain the modern climate change (and many in the past) with high explanatory and predictive power, and with a beautiful combination of models, observations, and theory…so I’m not sure what you feel requires replacing.

  20. 270
  21. 271

    #248 Thoughtful Tom

    3C is expected to cause substantial changes. The economic impacts have been considered as well as security concerns. You might want to take a look at this:

    When you combined the CSIS report with the MIT and the Copenhagen Congress, you get an idea of the potentials for time scale and mitigation prospects. I’d like to hope they are wrong, but based on the continued disinformation, I have to admit that they are sound more right than wrong.

  22. 272
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Your [sic] loosing the public 1 December 2009 at 9:06 PM

    Here’s an analogy that may help.

    You’re listening to a discussion between two people debating the color of a light source. The light source is emitting photons at a wavelength of 525nm. Person 1 says the light source is green in color, person 2 says it is red. Meanwhile, you are color blind and you are not familiar with the visible light spectrum and the correspondence of wavelength and color, so you cannot discern that person 1 is indeed correct. All that reaches you is what seems like tit-for-tat bickering. The problem lies with you, not with person 1.

    Discerning what is worthwhile here requires only that one have reasonable critical thinking skills as well as a smattering of high school level physics.

  23. 273
    Russell Seitz says:

    Published on NewsBusters
    Gore Used Fictional Video to Illustrate ‘Inconvenient Truth’

    By Noel Sheppard
    Created 2008-04-22 08:53
    It goes without saying that climate realists around the world believe Nobel Laureate Al Gore used false information throughout his schlockumentary “An Inconvenient Truth” in order to generate global warming hysteria.
    217, 224 Gavin – here to keep the drift off-topic from reaching Biblical proportions , and hopefully lay the evident confusion of sources to rest is the relevant section of the :

    TRANSCRIPT OF ABC NEWS “20/20″: 18 APRIL 2008


    (Voiceover) Al Gore’s 2006 documentary, ‘An Inconvenient Truth,” makes the same point with actual video of ice shelves calving. Which shots have more impact?


    And if you were flying over it in a helicopter, you’d see it’s 700 feet tall. They are so majestic.


    (Voiceover) Wait a minute, that shot looks just like the one in the opening credits of “The Day After Tomorrow.”


    Yeah, that’s, that’s our shot. That’s a fully computer generated shot. There’s nothing real in there.


    (Voiceover) …and the enormous tidal surge engulfs Manhattan. The movie’s visual effects supervisor was Karen Goulekas.


    You started all of these and you say, okay, it’s a 30-foot storm tide, a wall of water. But then you look in the shot and in some shots, 30 feet looks too wimpy. And so you just scale it up. What are you gonna do, show the water going up to the ankles of the Statue of Liberty? I mean, you know, it’s obviously, if the Statue of Liberty’s getting covered over, it’s like, uh-oh, we’re in big trouble.”

    Need I drag in the Harvard video of Al on stage in Science Center C , standing in front of his powerpoint still of the scene ?

    I stand corrected on the breaking wave being in motion, but the catastrophe movie meme is alive and well despite the real rate of sea level rise remaining in the single digits of millimeters per year.

    Which makes ignoring the use of iconography in the service of political hyperbole seems sharp semiotic practice.

    [Response: You are now outsourcing your reasearch to newsbusters? That’s pretty shocking. If your only point had been to say something about the importance of iconography and the problems of interpreting icons-as-examples as opposed to icons-as-proof, then we could have sensible discussion. But there is no shot of the statue of liberty being engulfed in AIT. The scene they used from DAT was the opening tracking shot flying across the ice shelf- nothing apocalyptic and nothing to do with sea level rise. -gavin]

  24. 274
    Mark A. York says:

    RE#245 “;yet the global mean temperature has decreased”

    And that assumption, Bill, would be demonstrably false. What is it about engineers?

  25. 275
    Didactylos says:

    #261 (Your loosing the public) said:

    Everything reads like a school yard argument – you’re wrong, I’m right, you’re a denier and you’re a warmer.

    This is a blog. I imagine half the illiterate rants we have to endure do come from school children, or from those people who are deeply distrustful of anyone smarter than they are. This is pretty much par for the course on “teh internets”.

    The scientific debate happens in the scientific literature (not in the IPCC – that’s both a review and summary of the scientific debate, but mostly it is a representation of the political and economic debate).

    The only drawback of the scientific debate is that non-scientists (and sometimes even non-climate scientists) can’t understand more than a tiny fraction of it. It would take lifetimes to understand every detail! So mere mortals have to make do with summaries, and received wisdom from scientists.

    For the latest summary direct from the scientists, I recommend The Copenhagen Diagnosis.

    Even this short summary is 60 pages long, and it doesn’t even pretend to cover everything.

  26. 276

    #65: “George Will said that ‘we are wagering trillions of dollars and a substantial loss of freedom on climate models’”

    I’ll let the strawman pass that climate models are the only evidence we have… I understand that it makes for good demagogery: everybody knows you cannot trust computers; they crash, give you viruses, come with crappy manuals (if even that), etc…

    Currently we are, in fact, betting the future of civilization on the “null model”, which is contradicted by both physics and observations, and running on typically rather stupid and buggy wetware. We need to learn to make better bets.

  27. 277
    Alan of Oz says:

    Argument from authority.

    I’ve been wondering for quite a while now why so many programmers hammer this site about code, source control, etc, when it obvious that scientists as a group do not (and should not) rely on a single code set.

    The penny dropped the other day when I came across Eric S Raymonds (ESR) climate rants.

    This may not mean much to non-programmers but ESR is credited with being a pioneer of the open source software movement and is well respected in the community. To me, his influence goes a long way to explaining why apparently educated people can talk such utter nonesense.

  28. 278
    Guy says:

    Well, first of all an apology for the tone of #218, which I must admit I thought I’d just written to the mods re the non-appearance of a previous post (I should have put that I didn’t intend it to be published, which was clearly my mistake). Obviously it was borne out of frustration that thread seemed to be way OT – it seemed odd that the meat of the thread was being ignored while side-issues were becoming the substance, and it still does.

    Thanks Andrew Hobbs for #263, and maybe the lack of Svensmark’s peer-reviewed reply should end the discussion there, but then again since Laut himself replied to it, I feel I should follow the argument through.

    So what is the upshot of all this to the layman? The initial post (and letter) clearly state one perspective that seems reasonable enough, but Svensmark makes a fair job at defending (some) of the criticism. At that point, the wagons seem to circle and we’re in tribalism again (indeed there is some evidence of ad hominem on the part of Laut).

    My concern is that there seems little attempt on the part of RC to tie all this together. If a subject is started with some bold accusations (which may well be entirely warranted), it seems curious to say the least that interest seems to wane when the debate is taken forward by both parties involved. At a time when science is under such intense scrutiny, I’d hope there’d be a little more care.

    For this particular thread, I think I’m done.

  29. 279
    ccpo says:

    The scientifically literate can answer this far better than I, but such as I tend to say things more straightforwardly. To say there has been global cooling the since 2008 can only be ignorance or falsehood.

    A trend of ten years does not equal climate. Period.

    The only way to show cooling is to use 1998 as your start year, and that’s going back many, many millennia.

    To get the 1998 peak, you must use one set of data that does not include Arctic, which is where the greatest temp changes are occurring. Climate is about using multiple sources of data to reinforce and add certainty to our understanding. Other data sets don’t support a 1998 peak; 2005 is supported better when fuller data (arctic) temps are used.

    Virtually all the other top ten years have occurred since 1998. That means the average and/or mean temp of the past decade is higher than all previous decades. Only someone with no training and no knowledge – or an agenda – could continue to claim global cooling in that context. Anyone who does is admitting freely they are either illiterate with regard to the science or chasing an agenda.

    This is all so obvious as to be unpleasant to have to repeat.

    So, whether ignorant of the facts or loose with the facts, explain this:

  30. 280
    Edward Barkley says:

    Despite the continued bickering on both sides, even the layman can see now that the issue isn’t about whether or not there is warming…or whether or not it is anthropogenic. The issue is about whether to trust the “consensus” on whether or not it is a perilous crisis. Both sides have probable cause for bias. Scientists have become fearmongerers in a time when the global temperature decline was not predicted. There is no such thing as a denier of climate change.

  31. 281
    stevek says:

    When China came on-board to reduce CO2, I think it did help some people view more positively reductions in the USA.

    In the depth of high unemployment rates it is hard to convince people to sacrifice when other countries were unwilling.

  32. 282


    It’s really great to know what the consensus is, but the fact is that science doesn’t care about consensus.

    Wrong. The scientific consensus and peer-review are how modern science is done, and it has been a tremendously productive system.

    And models don’t count as “tests”, by any imaginable means, no matter how sophisticated they are.

    If you do say so yourself.

    And what about the effect that greenhouse gases have on clouds? How do you test that?

    What in the world are you talking about?

  33. 283
  34. 284
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Re: 245 stevek. Well if you look at greenland there is satellite proof that glaciers at all elevations are thinning and the ice flow quickening. Have a look at the map, greenland is about the size of the US and most of the ice covering it is around 4500m thick, hope you can appreciate the sheer volume of ice here and why if completely melted will raise sea levels by ~7m. Antarctica’s average ice thickness is 2100m extending up to 4500m deep in some places. When it comes to antarctica the greatest degree of current melt is around the coastal low altitudes regions of the western antarctic esp. around pine island glacier and the wilkins ice shelf but there is now evidence that the eastern coastal side is showing signs of thinning as well. The average elevation of the antarctic is about 4000m above sea level. So if the same 4C air temp increase happened to antarctica you should also see glacial melt at almost every altitude as well, also as the planet continues heating up it will hasten glacial melt at higher and higher altitudes.

  35. 285

    Associated Press is reporting that Dr. Phil Jones “will relinquish his position until the completion of an independent review into allegations that he worked to alter the way in which global temperature data was presented.”

    Boy, the SOBs really got what they wanted, didn’t they? Namely, to throw a wrench into climate science.

    I’m serious. With Limbaugh and Breitbart calling for capital punishment for climatologists, it’s only a matter of time before some moron takes a shot at Hansen or Mann or Jones. The deniers are getting desperate and they’ll try anything, including whipping up lunatics to violence, to stop AGW being seriously addressed.

  36. 286
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    245: stevek. you might be interested in the following link to science daily…

  37. 287


    the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere over the last 11 years by man has significantly increased; yet the global mean temperature has decreased.

    Read my lips: The World Meteorological Organization defines climate as mean regional or global weather over a period of 30 years or more.

    30. Not 11. 11 is to short to prove anything.

    Here are some details. Please read:

  38. 288
    Jimbo says:

    After the Climategate leak on the internet Gavin said words to the effect that the leaked emails were much ado about nothing. Now what do you say bearing in mind that on Monday, Pennsylvania State University announced it was launching an investigation into the academic conduct of Michael Mann, director of the school’s Earth System Science Center. Yesterday, it was announced that Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, would step aside while his university conducts an investigation.


    I’ll be back!


    [Response: Investigations are fine and at this point, the only way to cut through the mountain of false accusations, misrepresentations and politically motivated torrent of abuse that is going on. -gavin]

  39. 289
    Silk says:

    Locust re: #232

    BPL :
    “1. CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas.
    2. CO2 isn’t rising.
    3. The new CO2 is not coming mainly from burning fossil fuels.”

    Locust : “This is the best answer I’ve received, but I was hoping for an actual experiment or observation that would disprove AGW. ”

    I’m upset you didn’t like the answer I gave. Still, here goes.

    1 – Directly measurable (and measured by Undergraduate scientists all the time).

    2 – Measured at sites all over the world. Google “Trends in Carbon Dioxide”

    3 – Measured (see IPCC reports, looking for the word ‘isotope’

    All three are measurable. So you could carry out an experiment that could disprove any of them.

    More importantly, you could also use OBSERVATION to prove that none of this matters, because climate sensitivity is low. As I pointed out in my previous post, OBSERVATION says climate sensitivity is not low. It is around 3 degrees. But, in theory, you could obtain a set of observations to prove it wasn’t. So there’s the experiment. Go and dig a borehole. Extract CO2. Back out global temperature. World out climate sensitivity. If it comes out as, say, 0.5 degrees, problem goes away (hint : it will come out as 3 degrees, give or take)

    Locust : “Also, a lot of the climate models are based on “forcing” and “feedback” without which, it is my understanding, the models would look much milder. ”

    Without forcings and feedbacks, they wouldn’t be models, would they? Suggest you read first

    “I guess this is what I was really trying to ask since I believe CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but I don’t think its effects are nearly as dramatic as predicted and I’m not entirely sure how much of the CO2 increase is due to human influence.”

    Well, as pointed out in my previous post, there’s a lot of evidence that suggests climate sensitivity is 3 degrees and very little (there’s a Lindzen paper I’m aware of) that suggests it is significantly lower.

    So your assertion “I don’t think its effects are nearly as dramatic as predicted” is based on … what?

    On “I’m not entirely sure how much of the CO2 increase is due to human influence.” this is pretty robust. Go to the IPCC report. Istopes show significant human signal in increasing CO2. And O2 has gone down by the amount CO2 has gone up. What chemical process turns O2 in to CO2? I wonder…

    Finally, I think we can all agree that humans have burnt billions of tonnes of oil, coal and gas over the last 100 years. You can accept that we can estimate this number reasonably accurately, right?

    Now where did all that CO2 go? (Answer : Into the atmopshere, which is why atmospheric CO2 is increasing, and into the oceans, which is why ocean CO2 is increasing)

  40. 290
    Silk says:


    “Very interesting comment. You suggest the medium term impact from CO2 is 3C (until we hit 560PPM) – I am wondering what the impacts on the planet are from 3C? Do we pass a tipping point in that 3C band? If not this is the best news in a very long time. It will take 3-6 months to recover from the latest denier strategy. If we have 5-10 years than MORE proof can be brought to bear and we can devise intelligent strategies. I have considered our time to act to be the 1990s – so I’ve been of the opinion we need to act very quickly and very aggressively. Am I taking the wrong message from your 3C post? – thanks”

    3 degrees is certainly a long way above the 2 degrees the EU is aiming for as ‘safe’ and the 1.5 degrees that Hansen argues for.

    I suggest looking at the IPCC Report (Working Group 2) to see the impacts of 3 degrees. Or reading Stern.

    It’s not good. But /maybe/ it’s not too bad.

    But 550ppm leaves a non-neglidible chance of 4.5 degrees. Worried now?

    Sorry. 550ppm might be ‘not too bad’ but it might be ‘very bad indeed’. I’m no expert on impacts.

  41. 291
    Silk says:

    Re : #237

    You : From the current debate, one gets the impression that climate science researchers have switched roles and become environmental activist. Accordingly, many people suspect that they have lost their objectivity

    You : I have to confess that I haven’t kept exact percentages, as I wasn’t aware it was my duty to do so. Do you really deny that a number of climate scientist have been urging nations of the world to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, or are you being intentionally obtuse? I can do the google work for you if this is in sincere doubt.

    I’m sure a number of climate scientists, including Hansen, have campigned to reduce CO2. I’m sure a number of them (including the dead ones, who’s work is still of relevance) haven’t.

    I assume you aren’t suggesting that the private lives of climate scientists should be regulated in some way? Or that they have some kind of ‘moral’ duty not to express political opinions?

    You suggestion seems to imply that climate scientists are no longer ‘objective’. But as you yourself admit, you don’t know how many climate scientists are ‘activists’.

    Given that, and even allowing for the fact that ‘activism’ (as you describe it) might somehow make one no longer fit to do one’s job, there’s no evidence to support any suggestion that climate science is significantly skewed by ‘activists’ who lack objectivity.

    I’m not actually sure why we are having this discussion. It seems rather odd.

    The following objective statements are all supported by a large body of evidence and are thus, in my understanding, ‘true’.

    – CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere are rising.
    – The rate of increase is faster than in any previously observed period
    – This increase is due, in large part, to human activities, including (but no limited to) fossil fuel combustion
    – CO2 is a greenhouse gas
    – Climate sensitivity is around 3 degrees


    – If we continue burning fossil fuels at the rates predicted by the International Energy Agency, the global mean temperatue will go up, probably by more than 3 degrees, and possibly by significantly more than that

    I can’t see how any rationale person can refute any of the above. Given that, I don’t understand how your view on whether or not ‘activism’ reduces objectivity is relevant to this debate.

    To refute global warming, you really need (to me) to knock down the paleoclimate evidence. Your perception of ‘objectivity’ is completely irrelevant if the paleoclimate data is correct.

  42. 292

    The quick ‘n dirty guide to falsifying anthropogenic climate change (AGW):

    1. According to AGW, CO2 controls the climate
    2. For the past 10 years, global temperature remained more or less steady whereas CO2 levels went up.
    3. AGW theory is wrong.

    The same line of argument can be used to falsify the theory of gravity:

    1. According to the theory of gravity, objects should fall to the Earth’ surface.
    2. That bird in the sky remains there, without falling.
    3. Theory of gravity is wrong.

    What’s wrong with these arguments?

    1. The theory to be falsified has been oversimplified (there are more forces than only gravity; there are more climate forcings than only CO2).
    2. The observations have been oversimplified (The bird has wings which can be used to exert an upward force; the expected trend in temperature does not necessarily rise above the expected level of yearly variability over the course of a decade).
    3. Therefore the conclusion does not hold.

    Observing a bird in the sky doesn’t disprove gravity.

  43. 293
    Dale says:

    #274 “And that assumption, Bill, would be demonstrably false. What is it about engineers?”

    That they have a linear thought process?

  44. 294

    Barton Paul Levenson says:
    2 December 2009 at 4:54 AM


    It’s really great to know what the consensus is, but the fact is that science doesn’t care about consensus.

    Wrong. The scientific consensus and peer-review are how modern science is done, and it has been a tremendously productive system.”

    WRONG, WRONG, WRO(NG. Science is not done by consensus. Nor is it done by peer review. Peer review is merely there to vet research as validly done not as a vehicle for advancing science. There is enough evidence (not just in the climate area) where peer review has been used to stifle research and therefore scientific advancement (See: and the comments and link by futureofscipub in that post).

    Consensus does not advance science. Science is advanced by valid empirical research which may or may not be in collaboration, not by some mutual admiration club.

    [Response: You have a very basic confusion. Science of course does not proceed by everyone sitting around agreeing with each other. But consensus is what is left over when the science is done. Consensus is what goes into the text books (not the primary literature). And consensus is what policymakers should be paying attention to. -gavin]

  45. 295
    J says:

    Russell Seitz, re: CGI footage in “An Inconvenient Truth”

    I am stunned at the depth of your confusion here. The only CGI scene Gore borrowed from “The Day After Tomorrow” was a brief simulated flight over the Southern Ocean and up onto the rim of one of the Antarctic ice shelves.

    No Statue of Liberty. No tsunami. It is just a visually appealing representation of what an ice shelf looks like.

    The strangely edited transcript you posted from Newsbusters is *deeply* misleading. It is clearly trying to confuse the reader, and make them think that the final quote from Karen Goulekas that you cite (the paragraph about the Statue of Liberty being inundated) is referring to Gore’s documentary, when it’s actually referring to the entirely fictional TDAT.

    I don’t know whether that misleading impression is due to deceptive editing by Newsbusters, or by you yourself. In either case, it’s an apt demonstration of the degree to which misinformation plays a central role in the “skeptic” movement. (Can someone please explain why this “skepticism” towards the scientific consensus is always combined with a remarkable degree of credulousness towards arguments that go against the grain of that consensus?)

  46. 296
    Jeff Boarman says:

    Excellent piece that will help some here handle how to think about thinking about AGW.

    [Response: Only of you want to know how not to do it. Start from false assumptions and proceed in a southerly direction. -gavin]

  47. 297
    Jim Eager says:

    Re Locst @256: “In short, you don’t have to know the” right answer to prove something is the wrong answer.

    So let’s hear your proof then.


  48. 298

    “Response: You have a very basic confusion. Science of course does not proceed by everyone sitting around agreeing with each other. But consensus is what is left over when the science is done. Consensus is what goes into the text books (not the primary literature). And consensus is what policymakers should be paying attention to. -gavin”

    I disagree with you completely. Consensus is not what is left over when the science is done. If it were there would be no possibility of modification and refutation of that science at any time in the future. Do not ascribe a greater importance to consensus than it actually has. Consensus is about agreement between like minded scientists. It is not about or has nothing to do with the advancement of science. If it is consensus view of the science and not the science itself that goes into the text books then God help us all.

    Policy makers should pay no attention to consensus. The reason being that who is to say that the consensus arrived at is correct? Policy makers if they have any brains whatsoever should interrogate all arguments around a particular area of science and then draw their own conclusions. To just rely on a dominant (and most forcefully put) consensus is both lazy and bad policy.

    Research collaboration is good for science. Consensus is bad for science.

    [Response: Marevellous – you have just defined an Alice-in-Wonderland world where policymakers should listen to scientists in inverse proportion to how much they agree amongst themselves. Try that with medicial advice. – gavin]

  49. 299

    In fact. The science should never be done!

  50. 300
    Dale says:

    The idea that AGW being politicized science by the Right Wing is fascinating. When I first became of AGW was during a December visit to Australia for its sesqui- centennial in 1988. I was on Sydney’s Manly Beach reading a long article in Time magazine about the subject. When I finished my father in law who was a professor of The History of Philosophy of Science read the article and we both were taken by what we had read. Neither of us had an inkling of anything political about the issue. As I remember the article pointed out that only a minority of scientists bought into AGW.

    Sometime later my father in law read a detracting article in “The Economist” (The publication has now come around to accepting the idea) and the conservative National Review (He was a Republican). He had been swayed and decided that AGW was wrong. It became obvious to me that conservative outlets were determined to make the issue political because it caused some inconvenient truths about the way we were destroying our environment and the effects it might have on unfettered capitalism.

    Over the years I’ve witnessed the minority of researchers grow into a majority. In 1992 a survey of scientists (According to Wiki) only 35% accepted the theory. Year after year, survey after survey saw the number of skeptics decrease.

    Today AGW has hit the political stage in the biggest way by the people who always seem to trend towards our worst impulses. With extreme right wingers like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and others we now have the anti intellectual mob doing what they do best, slowing social advancement.

    I’m happy to say that my father in law, a great man who had spent several years on the NSF as an advisor had come around to accept the theory before his death two years ago.

    If the right wants to blame the issue for becoming political all they need do is look in the mirror.