How do we really know humans are causing global warming?*

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"How do we really know humans are causing global warming?*"

*But however you answer my question, don’t cite no U.N. report!

So I’m sure that you, like me, are constantly getting e-mails or blog posts that sound like this:

I have been doing enormous amounts of research in this global warming (caused by man) theories and have concluded that there is not ONE shred of evidence to back it up. Can you PROVE to me that global warming is being caused by mankind?

Hmm. Not one shred of evidence? “PROVE”–in all caps, too! You know this is pointless, but still, it’s the day after your daughter’s first birthday, and you’re feeling in good spirits about humanity [she was very well behaved -- didn't grab any other kids and only needed to be sung to once to calm her down when people tried to make her eat cake she didn't want (a good sign, I think, that she's not going to be a sugar addict)], so you decide to reply something like:

This one is easy. Either you believe in science — i.e. we went to the moon, you go to the doctor, you have IT equipment you rely on — or you don’t. If you don’t, I can’t “prove” anything to anybody. If you do, then the IPCC reports — which are nothing more than a literature review by the top scientists in the world, commissioned by and summarized for policymakers, signed off by every friggin’ govt in the world — are as much proof as a human being could possibly want.

[Note to fellow parents -- emails edited because I know some young people read this blog.]

So then you get a reply like this:

Sorry Joe but your email back to me is not proof of evidence. As for the IPCC report, I don’t buy into what they say. That is not proof. And yes, I very much believe in science which is why I don’t believe in humans have caused global warming. But my question is simple, what scientific proof can you show me, and I am not talking about some report from the UN, that humans are causing the Earth’s temperature to rise. Also, what is the right temperature for the Earth to be at?

The email goes on to ask for IPCC credentials since, “I have a list of 400 scientists, what they do and why the don’t believe in global warming as being caused by man.”

Oh, one of those. Once you realize the emailer hasn’t even bothered to read some of your recent posts, you send a reply that you think/hope will end things:

If you don’t buy into the IPCC, we have nothing to talk about. You might as well not buy into what the American Medical Association or the National Academy of Sciences says. Why take medicine? Why floss? Why get on an airplane? The IPCC report is a summary of the scientific evidence. Simple as that…. If you are talking about the well-debunked Inhofe 400, I guess you haven’t been reading this or other sites.

In retrospect, “laughable” is better than “well-debunked,” but then we all come up with better things to say after the fact. All one can do is press on and rewrite history on your blog….

Anyway, you turn out to be quite wrong about the effect of your email [duh!], and get this reply:

Your emails are proving my point. You have not even attempted to offer proof of global warming as caused by mankind. As for the IPCC report, I read it. It does NOT offer conclusive proof that man is causing the
Earth’s temp to rise. I will make this even easier for you, just name ONE piece of evidence to
prove global warming as caused by man. Just one! As for James Inhofe, he has provided people with enormous amounts of evidence to debunk global warming as caused by man.

Now you’ve done it, or is that, now I’ve done it. Either way, you/I certainly don’t want some random global warming doubter posting some where that “Climate Progress” — or, even better, the “Center for American Progress” refuses to “name ONE piece of evidence” to support its views [notwithstanding the IPCC, which I guess everybody knows doesn't count]. Plus, I’m starting to think, hmm, maybe it would be useful to direct some readers to the literature on “attribution” [read, maybe you can turn this otherwise wasted time into a blog post]. So you/I reply:

Sigh. You want some shreds of evidence global warming is caused by mankind, but the IPCC is off limits. Interesting but easy challenge. Let’s start here — It’s a few years old now, but it is the best other review of recent science by the leading experts:

Detecting and Attributing External Influences on the Climate System: A Review of Recent Advances” [It's actually by "The International ad hoc Detection and Attribution Group."]

I assume you have a subscription to Science. This is a good study. “Penetration of Human-Induced Warming into the World’s Oceans.”

Then there is: “Contribution of anthropogenic and natural forcing to recent tropospheric height changes.

Here’s NOAA: “The Detection and Attribution of Climate Change.

I am personally fond of this often-cited paper by NASA.

[Note to most people -- The real place to start is "Understanding and Attributing Climate Change," by Hegerl and Zwiers et al. but for reasons the first half of this post make clear, I can't do that here.]

But, of course, being the kind of person you are, you can’t leave it at that:

I have more below at the end. But if you won’t believe the 2500 top climate scientists in the world citing hundreds of the latest studies, why would I believe for one second you would believe any studies I cite.

You hide behind the word “conclusive” — please define that word. As you seem to define it, there is no “conclusive” proof that cigarette smoking causes cancer or even that the sun will come up tomorrow.

Inhofe has no evidence. He has opinions backed up by the misinterpretation of a handful of studies that can’t explain what has actually been happening in the past 50 years. Not that it matters AT ALL to the science, but Al Gore does live what he preaches.

Anyway, if you’re serious about wanting to review the science and don’t trust the IPCC to do it, then you should probably read the following [the bibliography of Hegerl and Zwiers et al.]:

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I have read many of these, but, unlike you, I trust the IPCC’s ability to analyze them for me. Let me know when you’re done.

Anyway, if nothing else, perhaps this will discourage people from emailing me….

UPDATE: I just realized that the bibliography was cut off after the d’s. Oh well. Let’s see if the emailer notices….

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86 Responses to How do we really know humans are causing global warming?*

  1. Ben says:

    That was extremely funny. It must be nice to vent on the odd doofus.

  2. Jay Alt says:

    Taking a step back, this is sometimes an issue for people –

    How much of the recent CO2 increase is due to human activities?

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/06/how-much-of-the-recent-cosub2sub-increase-is-due-to-human-activities/

    Here are two simple introductions to detection and attribution studies -

    Scientists Explain How They Attribute Climate-Change Data, Wall Street Journal

    http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB114738549525950630-QqwFrCpeGpvAyVu_XA79Mm9vFKo_20070511.html

    Global Warming 101 Fingerprints. Union of Concerned Scientists
    http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/Fingerprints.html

  3. RhapsodyInGlue says:

    I’ve engaged in similar fruitless discussions. Most aggravating to me is people whose current position is basically… I’m open minded and willing to have someone convince me, but I’m not yet convinced, and until I am my public policy position is that nothing should be done because inherently I believe in not wasting money. When confronted with the real science, they will point out the supposed existence of opposing science, and often in the end fall back on the reality that they really don’t understand enough of the science to come close to forming a judgment. It boils down to “convince me of the science… but I’m not really educated enough to understand it.”

    Sadly, here in the U.S. a very large percentage of the population understands politics far more than science and casts everything in the framework of the former. While the public policy reaction to climate change is certainly a valid topic for debate within the public forum… the existence and cause of climate change is something that probably is simply out of the grasp of a majority of the population. Settling scientific debate in the public forum is simply a flawed concept.

    Most of the public, on either side of the issue, form their beliefs not from understanding the complex science but from the opinions of the political party and political leaders that they trust. Unfortunately, this puts us in the perilous position of being dependent on our leaders on both sides of the aisle to act with integrity and due diligence in order to form the public consensus that will obviously be necessary to enact truly broad sweeping reform and decarbonization. Yikes! Pass me a flotation device, please.

  4. RhapsodyInGlue says:

    People often forget, even something as settled as Newtonian physics cannot be PROVEN to be absolute… for indeed we now know gravity is far more complex than Newton conceived.

    An important part of science is understanding the scope and limitations of our current understanding and models of reality. We know we don’t yet know everything about gravity, however, we certainly know enough about gravity to use our understanding of it on a daily bases… such as building planes and rockets. Planes do quite nicely having been designed using the Newtonian physical models that we know to be incomplete.

    A person’s belief that there is or should be a PROOF involved in climate change science is ample evidence that they don’t understand science enough to form a valid opinion. Proofs are really used in the domain of mathematics rather than science.

  5. tidal says:

    I’m sorry you had to go through that Joe, but it was good for a laugh!

    And it was certainly a case of deja vu all over again! Check out this thread… “okc” hits the jackpot as James Annan, Michael Tobis, Hank Roberts, Eli Rabbett and others patiently (eventually, after a rough start) try to answer his questions…
    http://groups.google.com/group/globalchange/browse_thread/thread/76c9b8f14bbfd759/0a3c934048b1319c

    “okc” introduces himself to the group as follows: “I defy anyone to prove to me that ‘global warming’ is irrefutably a predominantly anthropogenic process. The scientific method does not get you there, true facts on A.G.W. are few and far between. Please do not give me links to environmental activist sites like Real Climate. I said irrefutable evidence, not politics. ”

    The subsequent exchanges are priceless, but eventually “okc” suddenly declares “Alright, the subject is too complex, so the question cannot be answered. That is fair enough to me. I understand that absolute scientific proof of anything is nearly an impossible task. Evidently, the scientific method should no longer be taught if not totally discarded since it has no purpose anymore.” and vamooses…

    And you had to go it alone Joe! Oh well… onward!

    Meanwhile, the DotEarth thread in the same vein appears to be turning into a perpetual motion machine, as it should pass 1,000 replies later today… http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/24/earth-scientists-express-rising-concern-over-warming/

  6. Sorghum Crow says:

    Very nice. You showed remarkable restraint.
    I’ll steal some of those ideas as the need arises. Thanks in advance!

  7. Lou Grinzo says:

    Nicely done, Joe. I get a lot of the same kind of thing through my site, mostly about peak oil, and run into the exact same mindset you described.

    The single point the PO deniers rely on endlessly is this bizarre belief that there’s oceans of high grade, cheap-to-exploit crude oil out there, and the nasty ol’ US gov’t is the only reason why we aren’t tapping it and driving around on 50 cent/gallon gasoline.

  8. Paul K says:

    As an avid reader of this blog, I’ve decided that, when talking to a skeptical delaying denier, I’ll just ask if they think it is in our vital economic, national security and or environmental interests to change as quickly as possible to alternate energy sources. Arguments are now over and agreements can begin.

    Inspired by recent posts on climateprogress, I say let’s begin in Greensburg, KS. Let’s throw in together and get those people some alternate generating capacity. I’ll gladly put in the first $10 (the cost to install one watt). In fact, I’ll pledge to add $10 a month in perpetuity. Don’t be a delayer. Be a doer.

  9. Joe says:

    Paul K: Do you get green power at your home? Use your money for that — or a energy efficiency retrofit.

  10. RhapsodyInGlue says:

    Paul,

    The only problem with not making the distinction between climate change and economic/security issues is that tar sands, oil shale, coal electricity or even coal to liquids might be perfectly reasonable solutions to the latter, but absolutely the wrong thing to do for CO2 emissions reductions.

    I simply don’t see how relying on the security/economic argument will get us to a workable solution to avoid the risks of climate change. I certainly believe these issues are real and important. However, I think it is crucial to also appreciate the unique issues of climate change.

  11. IANVS says:

    Wow, Joe! How big a piece of your daughter’s cake did you have?

    Isn’t it in Matthew somewhere that, “The deniers you will always have with you”, or something along those lines?

  12. Earl Killian says:

    It will be amusing to hear how this plays out, but I am not optimistic.

    The problem with appealing to authoritative sources is that some people choose their own bogus authorities (e.g. the WSJ op-ed page or a fiction author). You have now suggested alternative authorities (the bibliography), but the denier can simply reject them as well.

    I tend to ask deniers just where all that oil and coal and natural gas CO2 ends up if not in the atmosphere. Since many of them believe the CO2 increase is a natural thing and not anthropogenic, I ask them whether they think that fossil CO2 somehow magically migrates into outer space but nature’s CO2 somehow stays put on Earth? The oil, gas, and coal companies, and their governments, have kept records of what we have dug up and burned (and if anything the records are probably on the low side). Where do people think all that stuff has gone if not the atmosphere? Scientists know that some went from the atmosphere into the oceans (you can measure the pH change of the oceans), but not all. The denier usually simply switches arguments at this point, which tells you their state of mind. Of course the truly crazy skeptic might claim that CO2 doesn’t cause warming at all. What do you do when faced with someone who doesn’t believe in 1850s science? Such people are hopeless.

    You may find it helps to find out just what science your denier does accept beforehand. Most will reject anything used to indicate global warming, but if they have accepted it beforehand, it is harder to turn around and reject it later.

  13. Paul K says:

    RhapsodyInGlue,
    Since CO2 has been classified as a pollutant, efforts to wring every bit of energy from arcane carbon sources will surely have to be at least CO2 neutral. It is unrealistic to think fossil fuels can be eliminated by mid century or soon afterward. It is realistic to think they can be made much cleaner over time. It is also realistic to think their use can be greatly reduced both absolutely and as a percentage of total energy.

    I am not relying solely on the security/economic/environmental argument. I say there are several compelling reasons to replace fossil fuels. If I ask you is it a good goal to have alternatives be at least 40% of energy by 2030, you’d no doubt say yes. Your number one reason is global warming. Mine is economic viability. Other’s may be environmental concerns other than global warming. For some it’s national security. For most it’s probably a combination. So let’s get to it. I put the emphasis on replacing fossil fuel because I believe it the most efficient approach. We cannot reduce CO2 without first reducing our use of carbon based energy. I advocate methods that reduce the cost of alternatives rather than raising the price of fossils (the market is doing a pretty good job of raising prices now). I don’t understand Progressives’ eager promotion of viciously regressive carbon tax and regulatory regimes.

  14. oh God, what a laugh! do I know this one well!

    Trouble is, when you’ve got a handle on the antics of denialists for Climate Change, it comes up again for Peak Oil, then when people are getting a handle on Peak Oil you have to convince them about Peak Uranium, and that neither Tar Sands, Hydrogen Cells, Bio Fuels nor anything science has so far discovered or feels it is likely to discover soon enough, can fill the energy gap – and that rationing might be better than wasting your remaining precious fragments of fuel in fighting for even less fuel… oh, and then there’s Sea Rise… even the IPCC probably doesn’t go far enough… oh yes, and you realize that there are so many organizations now promoted to telling you about Climate Change, but even they don’t realize the possibility of sea levels rising 20 metres… er, was that right, Hansen? I’m still looking for backup info!… are you there, Hansen?

    Do check out our website www,greenworldtrust.org.uk – and help us improve this as a useful friendly introduction to difficult issues

  15. David B. Benson says:

    Paul K Says: …. I don’t understand Progressives’ eager promotion of viciously regressive carbon tax and regulatory regimes.

    Actually it is staid, conservative economists who view a fossil carbon tax as the best means of solving the problem. Some progressives have suggested replacing other regressive taxes, such as payroll taxes, by fossil carbon taxes. I know of none who have suggested simply additional taxation. Maybe conservative economists do that. :-)

    Yes, the price of fossil fuels is going up and up; nearing peak oil with peak coal not much further down the road. One alternative is bioenergy from biomass, done responsibly and sensibly (i.e., not ethanol-from-corn). Follow

    http://www.icis.com/blogs/biofuels/

    and

    http://biopact.com/

    to discover many of the innovations in doing so.

  16. Ronald says:

    There’s the science of climate, where’s the science of convincing people that greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide, is causing our recent and will cause future climate change?

    Has it actually been done using focus groups or whatever they call it. Take 100 people who are indifferent or unknowledgeable about it, 100 who think it’s happening etc. and then see what messages works with each group. Obviously a better job has to be done with the message. What is the message that works? This is to important a thing to leave to lets see if this works, there should a little science behind it.

    Or maybe nobody actually does change their mind. Is there anybody who was quite set against thinking that greenhouse gas global warming is bull, but came away now thinking that it is true? Ask them what message is needed.

  17. Ronald says:

    A good website that I go to is this one.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    The reason I like it is because it lets me see the arguments against all in one place and there is some order to it. It lists how many times an argument comes up that they run across. I don’t know if all the explanations on this website are the best that is possible, but they are easy to read and quick to go thru.

    The message of man-made global warming needs more something than it is getting now. Some advertiser might know what that is, but simply appealing to science when so many people are science illiterate may not work well enough. Sure science has given us so many things in medicine, heating, buildings, communication, etc. But for most people it is either it works or it doesn’t work, it doesn’t require a judgement call in changing their lives as reducing carbon dioxide does.

  18. Paul K says:

    David B. Benson,
    Yes, cap and trade is a “conservative” approach that was very effective in sulfur/acid rain. Cap and trade is more of a created market based on tax avoidance coupons than a tax in itself. Theoretically, cap and trade should produce no net increase in cost to the end consumer. Biopact has taken some criticism here. I think people should realize that if this is a 40 to 50 year process, it’s going to take a lot of steps along the way.

    Joe,
    My situation illustrates why consumers are unable to exert their normal power in the market. I am beautifully set up for solar – south facing shade free sloped roof, modest electrical needs and mandatory buy back from the utility. A $20,000 investment could zero out my electric bill and pay for itself in 18 to 25 years. Now if I were a rich man yada didi dada didi didi da, I would be PV’d tomorrow. Or if I knew I would stay in the house for those 18 to 25 years, I’d home equity the cost. We plan to move in the next year. I will have solar on my next house.

    So I am out of the market this year. I’m a consumer wannabe; but I, like perhaps millions of others, have no way to get in. Then I had the inspirational thought that if I couldn’t have solar this year, maybe there’d be enough people willing to throw in together to see that at least somebody could. So that’s what I’m working on, a national association to install solar and wind technologies at no cost to the end consumer. I see Greensburg as ideal for an association project. Pick a building in Greensburg – a school or library or firehouse e.g. – and put some solar on top of it. Why if just 5,000 of us climate progress fans threw in $10, we’d put up some right fine PV. In fact, I think it would be wonderful if you would hold the money while I go about the process of registering with the state of Illinois, getting a federal tax number and setting up accounts. As I’ve said, I’ll be the first to pledge $10 a month.

  19. Ronald says:

    Paul K.,

    I understand your wanting to do something about global warming, but there is something I think you are missing. It is the allocation of scarce resources. Is putting in PV systems in other people’s buildings going to be the best place money that might be raised to fight global warming can be put to?

    Let’s say that you were extremely good at raising money and you raised 5 billion dollars. Really. Would you spend that money to put in 5 billion dollars to put in PV systems on buildings? Would that make sense? I saw someplace that if the money spent in the Iraq war were put into PV systems, it would only give us the electricity of 3 percent of what we now use. That’s hardly enough to do any good.

    But if instead you spent the money you raised, the 5 billion dollars, to run a global warming awareness campaign, where you bought TV, magazine, and newspaper commercials (or PDA’s) organized all other kinds awareness campaigns including political campaigns, that might be a better use of the money. Think about all the things that can be done with that amount of money in a ad campaign.

    Some people think that the reason that Al Gore didn’t win the 2000 Presidential election is because of some problems counting votes in Florida. That not right, the reason Gore lost the election was because Bush outspent Gore by 60 million dollars. How much of a difference was 60 million dollars spent anywhere else in the 2000 economy that would have made as much of a difference as if Al Gore had had 60 million dollars more? Doesn’t matter who you may have been for, the example is obvious. We have to be ready to pay and work for any change we might want.

    It not just about doing good, we have to be good for something. We need change on huge scales, not just a building here and there. We don’t just need drops of non-carbon energy and energy efficiency, we need buckets of it. The scale that’s needed is many times larger than a few PV systems. We need to get most people on board for a chance to succeed.

    My criticism would also include putting in PV systems. If we spend money on something, we need the biggest bang for the buck and PV is one of the last things to put up. Energy efficiency is usually the first.

  20. john says:

    Paul K. has identified a major impediment to purchasing residential on-site renewable energy … it’s difficult for a homeowner to recapture the value of his or her investment, and more generally, amortization of investments are too short, and interest rates too high.

    There are solutions. On-bill financing tied to property taxes, for example, enables three things — 1)longer payback, 2) lower cost money (since collections are tied to propoerty taxes, the loans become low-risk, and require little in the way of administrative costs for a lender to recover — they become de facto guaranteed loans, with lower rates) and 3) the value of the renewable energy system is embeded in the building, rather than being borne by the owner.

    So what? Well, first of all, people don’t really care about cost per kiloWatt — they care about monthly bills. If that $20K PV system Paul wants were financed at 6% (instead of 9 or more as is typical) and amortized over 20 to 30 years (instead of 5-10) then the monthly cost would be about $120 a month (even less if Paul did an agressive efficiency up grade and could downsize his power needs). Best of all, Paul K. would only pay for the services he received, and the embedded value would remain for the next owner to receive and pay for. Oh, and an additional benefit — the energy prices for this house would be essentially fixed, while folks relying on conventional power would face ever-increasing prices for as far out as one could see.

    It’s these kind of policy innovations that we need to look at.

    Then the deniers would be arguing about angels on the heads of pins, because there would be little aditional cost associated with renewables.

  21. David B. Benson says:

    Paul K. — I don’t think Biopact is perfect, but it is a good source of information, even if one disagrees with some of their policy ideas.

    But what criticism of Biopact did you have in mind?

  22. Nick says:

    Great post!! Don’t mind if I copy and paste those sources when answering the same questions myself (it’s so hard to compile a list of climate change studies… that’s like asking me to define the history of an entire field).

  23. Ronald says:

    USA today had a full page ad on global warming from this group.

    http://www.targetglobalwarming.org/

    It looked very good. We need more ads like this one, because some of the groups listed might have an affect on the most skeptical of global warming.

  24. Paul K says:

    David B. Benson,
    I don’t have any criticism of Biopact. Do you know if they have stock or accept donations?

    john,
    I like the idea of on-bill financing. There a several start-ups trying to develop a market for rooftop PV leasing. I am open to anything that eases the burden of installation costs on the consumer and look for ways for consumers to exert downward pressure on price. I have the fanciful notion that one way to bring down the price to the consumer is to provide it at no charge. Therefore, I am asking everyone to join the $10 a month fossil fuel replacement association.

    Ronald,
    I’m a little surprised by your negativity regarding PV and have no idea what currently available alternative application gives the most bang for the buck. You say it is efficiencies and so I’ll amend the mission statement of the association to include efficiencies along with other technologies. The goal is to take away the need for fossil fuels.

    “Let’s say that you……you raised 5 billion dollars. Would you spend that money to put PV systems on buildings?” Oh boy, if I had $5 billion, I’d probably put it in concentrated solar and/or wind farming. Using the example of an association project in Greensburg was just a way to explain the idea and, perhaps, rally climateprogress readers. Actually, I am trying to set up an arrangement with the local habitat for humanity to provide some alternatives to one of their projects.

    I would not spend any money on a global warming education campaign. I am interested in the rapid structural transformation of our energy production and use. Sure, I am happy that this transformation is the surest way to eliminate CO2 and thinks those who want to eliminate it should eagerly join in association. I agree we need to get most people on board for a chance to succeed. If you combine all the people concerned about global warming with those with economic concerns with cheapskates and tech freaks with national security types with AGW skeptical environmentalists, you’ve got just about everybody.

  25. Ronald says:

    I can understand some of that.

    But where would we be if instead of the money to have this website, the people who pay for this website decided to put in a pv system on their house(s). Which is a better use of the money? I’d go with the 5 billion for education, influence and propaganda before I’d use it to buy somebody else a PV system.

  26. Joe says:

    Websites don’t really cost very much. And I do have a PV system on my house, and solar thermal, for that matter.

  27. Paul K says:

    Ronald,
    Interesting comment about the cost of a website. It’s about $20 a month. I am asking you to to take 1/2 of that to buy one watt of alternate generating power or consumption efficiency. I would focus initially on schools, libraries and low income housing. You seem more interested in converting people to AGW than in actually tackling the problem. You look for some grand political consensus before acting. That is a tactic of delay and I know you don’t want to be a delayer.

  28. Mike K says:

    I too have tangled with the barbarians and can relate too well.

    However, I would very much appreciate a copy of the full bibliography to fwd to a few of the cretins with a polite comment about eagerly awaiting their critique of each and every study … could you send that to me?

    Thanks

  29. Ronald says:

    Well, no, I didn’t think that the website cost too much to run. Only I did think the Webmaster would get something at this site. I used to run a system back in the 1980’s when it was a computer Bulletin Board System (BBS) when the operator was a sysop and help pay for a different organizations website.

    That comment about a delayer is crap. I think it is possible to fail before you have even started by not developing tactics that can work. Spending money putting in PV systems when that money can go towards better influencing methods is a mistake.

    We’ve written about this stuff before, but use the clean air acts of 1970’s and smog reduction from vehicles as an example. If those who thought that smog from vehicles was a problem and decided that they should spend resources; time and money, on installing clean air devices on vehicles one at a time, they would have failed. The only method that was going to work was to mandate that all cars/vehicles have pollution controls on them. Sure, the 1974 model year car sucked as far as engine performance before they had catalytic converters for the 1975 models, but that eventually was the only way to solve the problem.

    Raising money to fix the smog pollution problem car/vehicle by car/vehicle conversion would have been a failure of reducing smog pollution because of bad tactics.

    Raising money to fix the carbon/ non-carbon energy problem with house-to-house conversions to PV’s would be a failure of the larger global warming problem, also because of bad tactics.

    Do we need 5 billion to do something? Nah, we could get by with a billion. ( joke ) Really, the place we have to start is where we are at which is here. You’re right we have to do something, but we have to come up with tactics that will be successful and reasonable people can disagree with what those tactics should be.

  30. tidal says:

    Mike K,

    “However, I would very much appreciate a copy of the full bibliography to fwd…”

    The url for those references was actually further above in Joe’s original post. The complete cited references are from pages 71-81 (733-743) here: http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Print_Ch09.pdf

  31. John Bailo says:

    Is Climate Progress like Grist’s older brother who went to college or something? You websites sure sound alike.

    You’re also both masters of the cascading fallacy. You brush past a little lie and then chain a lot of suppositions on top of it, and say, so therefore, if you don’t believe the sun is yellow, which proves Global Warming, then your a fool.

    The IPCC only cites models. There are no CO2 experiments in the real world. The models use techniques that have been discredited in all other sciences, but since “climatologists” are pretty close to the guys who took Rocks for Jocks as a science requirement, that’s not too surprising.

  32. Joe says:

    Older brother? Hmm. Guess that’s a compliment.
    The IPCC does NOT only cite models. It mostly cites peer-reviewed studies, most of which are based on observed or reconstructed data. Try reading it.

  33. Chris says:

    Well, if everyone needs so much ‘proof’ that pollution is bad (since common sense and science clearly are not enough here) you would think there would be a lot more atheists in the world…

    And if the effects on the environment aren’t enough (who really needs healthy food and water anyway) what do you suppose we’ll do when coal and oil run out? Who will we kill then?

  34. Hank Roberts says:

    And remember, the more useful your bridge, the more people who find it useful, the bigger and older the trolls finding it an attractive place to live under.

    Bigger, older, fatter, and harder to starve.

    Feed the big ones even less than you feed the little skinny ones.

  35. Tilo Reber says:

    Oh my, another web site for the AGW cultists. And the question is “How do we really know Humans are causing global warming.”

    I don’t know why it takes so many words and so many links when the reasoning is so simple.

    The AGW cultists position is this.

    A. The temperature is rising.

    B. The temperature rise is unprecedented in the last 1000 years.

    C. CO2 causes temperature rise.

    D. Man made CO2 must be responsible for the current unprecedented temperature rise because – well, what else could it be.

    Regarding A, the anser is – so what! Climactic temperature has risen and fallen for the entire history of the earth.

    Regarding B, the anser is that the reconstructions that show today’s climate to be unprecedented are fraudulent. And all of these hundered of studies rely on the fraudulent reconstructins as a part of their attribution. First, there are only a handful of studies that show today’s temps to be unprecedednted, and they all rely on the same faulty data sets. Most of these reconstructions are done by M. Mann, his students, and his associates. Most of them rely directly on proxy data that has been show to have virtually no temperature information at all because the proxies were primarily moisture limited as opposed to temperature limited. The hockey team all relied on bristlecome tree ring series produced by Graybill. And these series were more heavily weighed than any other proxies. But more recent and complete bristlecone series from the same locations show that not only do the bristlecones erase the medival warming period and the little ice age, but they also erase contemporary warming. In other words, the hockey teams most heavily relied upon proxy is useless. Then we also have temperature reconstructions by a multitude of other people that clearly show that 20th Century climate is not unprecedented. People like Moberg et al, Loehle and McCullough, Grudd et al, etc. have shown that the MWP was as warm or warmer than today. Of course there is no reason to limit ourselves to the last 1000 years when determining temperature “normality”. Within the last 10,000 years we have also has the Holocene optimum which was clearly warmer than today. So unfortunately, argument B is a fraud.

    The claim that CO2 causes temperature rise may have some truth to it, but probably far less that the AGW cultists claim. First of all, sudies of climate sensitivity show a range of results that go from .2C to 9C per CO2 doubling. In other words, we have no clue at what climate sensitivity is and no one is able to provide a definitive proof for their answer. When you compare the level of temperature increase with the level of CO2 increase that has so far been experienced, you have to conclude that CO2 sensitivity is very low. Of course the warmers then remove things to one more level of abstraction and claim that it’s all built into the oceans. This is just so much handwaving that they are unable to prove. As always, their only response is “Oh, you will see that we are right in the future.” But so far, the ability of their models to predict the future has been absolutely dismal.

    As far as issue D is concerned, if B is not true, then there is no need for that kind of conclusion at all.

    Oh, I forgot to mention the contemporary surface temperature record. Here we have 2 sources, HadCrut and GISS. Watt has shown that as much as half of the 20th century temperature rise from these sources may also be fraudulent. But even if it is not, there is nothing unprecedented about 20th century warming.

  36. RhapsodyInGlue says:

    Rolling eyes… Tilo, your assumption of what position people like myself (a “cultist”) have with regard to climate change is as incorrect as your knowledge of the science and data. To be corrected on your scientific understanding… go to realclimate.org. I believe the issues you raise have been hashed and rehashed long ago.

    The position of a vast majority of people that believe in the seriousness of climate change as a human induced problem is that they believe so because of the following line of reasoning… see if you can follow the complicated steps of logic…

    1) An overwhelmingly vast majority of the scientists that actually study climate science hold this view.

  37. Green Texan says:

    seems like you can’t spew an infinite amt of warmth trapping gases into the atmosphere and NOT have an effect.

    at first glimpse, it might seem reasonable to say that “human beings are too small to have an effect on something as large as climate” — but then one might have said the same thing about extinguishing whole populations of bison (millions) and passenger pigeons (billions), the oceans w/ collapsing fisheries and hundreds of square miles of anoxic “dead zones”, etc. We’ve only HAD a visible environmental problem in the last 100 years or so b/c that was the time we crossed over into the billion plus numbers of industrially equipped humanity.

    Humans have had continental scale effects on air, water, and wildlife — why not climate?

    If the climate change deniers are wrong, there are dire consequences to human health, well-being, and life.

    But if the environmentalists are wrong,then we’ve wasted our time curtailing emissions from the climate change perspective, but from the perspective of avoided oil spills, strip mining, Mid East wars, acid rain, petrochemical caused cancers, and oil price shocks, we’ve still come out ahead.

    Better safe than sorry , I say. The precautionary principle demands we act on the reasonable presumption that there IS a problem w/ unlimited fossil fuel burning.

  38. David B. Benson says:

    Paul K — I missed seeing your questions regarding Biopact earlier.

    I know nothing more about them than is given at the links labeled

    About Us

    Our Goals

    which appear to have been last updated in 2006 CE.

  39. Jonathan says:

    There once was general scientific consensus that the earth was flat.

    There once was overwhelming scientific consensus that the sun revolved around the earth.

    I am a professional civil engineer, and though not a climatologist, my main university studies involved advanced physics….basically 5 years of it. Ever hear of the scientific method? One of the most important aspects of it is that a scientific hypothesis be challenged. Dissent is encouraged! Falsification of the hypothesis is encouraged. And what is the observed attitude today regarding anyone questioning AGW? It is absolutely beyond belief! Anyone disputing AGW is considered a “denier” with holocaust connotations. What’s next? Another Inquisition? Maybe Al Gore will be the Grand Inquisitor, weeding out all those AGW denying heretics.

    I am a denier of bad science….and am not following the Pied Piper of AGW (Gore and UN)

    Do you think maybe the U.N. might have some political agenda behind their report? Is the U.N trustworthy? (remember “oil for food” fiasco?)

    I was a young student in the 70′s when all the rage was global cooling and the coming Ice Age. I began my University training in Environmental Studies but quickly saw the light……what a bunch of lunatic professors!

    Have any of you stuck your head out the window for the last decade? The earth globally has been in a cooling mode. According to Hadcrutt Global Temperature Anomoly Data, the peak global temperature occured in 1998, and now in 2008 we are about 0.723 degrees Celsius lower (1.3 degrees F), with the 2007 year temperature drop being the largest ever recorded. ( and with C02 levels exploding) Whether the trend will continue is entirely unknown…..the faulty UN climate models would not predict this.

    Fortunately there are a small minority of people out there who have learned to think for themselves…. who will not march in lock “goose step” to the global warming alarmists.

  40. Just because a small number of scientists are opposing the consensus on Global Warming does not automatically make them right. As per the scientific method, their job is to facilitate measurement and observation that will either prove or disprove their hypotheses and theories. Albert Einstein’s General Theory Of Relativity ultimately supplanted other theories because observation and measurements proved that its predictions matched the observations better than previous theories.
    The main issue I have with people who either seek to deny the existence of global warming (or that it is caused by humans) is that many of them are not seeking to utilize the scientific method to create a competing hypothesis. They are instead attempting to use the media and other communication channels to “kick up dust” and attempt to confuse, mislead and obfuscate the issues.
    Jonathan, you are guilty of this sort of “kick up dust” nonsense. In the space of two paragraphs I see Al Gore referred to as “the Grand Inquisitor” and “The Pied Piper of AGW”. This is not reasoned argument. It is the fallacy of ad hominem writ large. It reeks of soundbite superficiality and an willingness to score cheap points that immediately makes it more difficult for me to take any of the rest of your comments seriously.
    “have any of you stuck your head out of the window for the last decade?” could be irony, it could be snark, or it could be sarcasm. Either way it reads as juvenile name-calling, not worthy of a serious response.
    Finally, the fact that a small number of people do not accept the current consensus does not mean that they have “learned to think for themselves”. That is your wishful projection. What it does mean is that they have work to do to prove the correctness of their hypotheses and theories. They are unlikely to be able to impress me with folks like you writing the sort of disingenuous nonsense that fills most of your comment.

  41. Jonathan says:

    And yet you responded. I really don’t give a rip what you think. What I wrote is my opinion you idiot. Get a grip. This blog is full of b.s., mostly from Joe and his minions of psuedo scientist/intelectuals whose gullibility is simply astounding.

    All it takes is some research into the history of the IPCC (no, I am not doing it for you) to see it was an activist endeaver from the beginning. One of the latest lead co-authors is Bill Hare, Greenpeace activist. I am sure he is totally without bias………not!

    Speaking of irony, Joe repeatably calls those who question the AGW hypothesis “deniers”, a reprehensible term with Holocaust connotations. It is Joe and his alarmists doom and gloom buddies who brought about the 1972 ban on DDT, which created its own holocaust. Hundreds of thousands, and perhaps even millions (read the history) died in the decades that followed the ban due to horrific increases in malaria deaths. All those environmental do-gooders should be rounded up and put on trial for crimes against humanity.

  42. Joe says:

    Nah — I reserve deniers for the paid disinformers. Everyone else is delayers.
    And you have the DDT story wrong.

  43. Jonathan says:

    Hey Joe, I have a brilliant idea. Maybe you should have Ted Turner plug your book? Or perhaps even Paul Erhlich. No, better yet, maybe you and Paul could co-write a book, with a forward by Ted Turner. Since Paul is batting a 1000 on his environmental catastrophe predictions, he could add some respectability and name recognition to the whole deal.

  44. Michael Rayner says:

    It seems odd to me that what is put forward by those who champion the idea that human activity isn’t causing a global temperature rise (and that global warming, if it ever existed ended in 1988 or whatever) label any opposition as being unscientific and then proceed to exhibit all sorts of logical fallacies and sophistry.

    My take on the whole issue is that even if the IPCC is wrong it makes sense to me that people try to reduce the impact they have individually and collectively on nonhuman systems.

  45. Tom T. says:

    Jonathan, as a historian, I found it too irresistible not to point out to you that no one ever really thought the earth was flat, as you have suggested. That’s a myth. The Greeks knew the truth very early on, but I understand how you were fooled into thinking otherwise. “Fortunately there [was] a small minority of people out there who have learned to think for themselves…. who [did] not march in lock “goose step” to the world-is-flat alarmists.” I’m not sure, but it seems to me that an “advanced physics” trained civil engineer ought to know that.

  46. Jonathan says:

    Oh brother. The point was about consensus and science. However, the early Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations viewed the earth as flat, disc-like. Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and astrologers made great advances in astronomy and spherical views. So, check out your history again Einstein.

    Maybe you were asleep that day in your history class.

  47. Tom T. says:

    Jonathan, in all of recorded history (and science) there was NEVER a consensus that the world is flat. There survive no ancient Mesopotamian records that would positively reflect that belief (who was asleep in history class?). There were fringe groups that believe[d] it, much like those who believe that global warming has not been significantly exacerbated by human beings, but like that view, it was never based in science. Your research is truly pathetic, and your advocacy for people to question the peer reviewed findings of the IPCC, as if they were unproven rubbish, is as ridiculous as creationists who reject the scientific facts surrounding evolution based on a “hunch.”

  48. Dano says:

    Tom T, were you trained by Luntz or his acolytes in propaganda? Your rhetorical FUD is rather good, if I may say.

    Best,

    D

  49. Lynda says:

    Personally…I find the terms Climate ‘protection’, climate ‘progress’ pretty ridiculous…

    Here in the whole Southwest we’ve had water issue’s for ages, and we can’t even solve THAT!.

    If one cares about biodiversity, and having plenty of clean water to go around..Then we should just stop building period…And limit people to two kids per family…

    Good luck with THAT!…

  50. Abgrund says:

    I know this is old, but I couldn’t resist, especially since I should be studying:

    I don’t take what the IPCC says as gospel just because governments say so. I don’t take the AMA or NAS at their word, either, if they can’t make a convincing case. Truth is not made by consensus, and I’m inclined to question the predictive reliability of any attempts to model a system as fiendishly complicated as the whole world.

    The thing is, even if they’re wrong, it doesn’t mean the globe isn’t warming or that it’s all caused by cycles of the sun. “Wrong” could just as easily be “we are in deeper trouble than they realize”. The fact that carbon dioxide (and other gasses) can retain heat is not in the least controversial, nor is the fact that CO2 in our atmosphere is increasing. We should be concerned *even if there weren’t the slightest evidence of rising temperatures*.

    As for global warming being caused by something other than us – we had better hope it IS us, hadn’t we? Not much we can do about the sun heating up.

  51. Bob B says:

    So Climate modelers are finally discovering the Pacific Decadal Oscillations? So CO2 may be miniscule?
    What idiots—so climate models predict no warming for 10-20 yrs!!!-Gasp–we are all gonna die–Idiots!

    Hint–global warming may atop!1 LOLOLOLOLOL

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/04/30/eaclimate130.xml

  52. caw says:

    The implication that if you believe in science, you must believe in anthropogenic global warming is false. To have a healthy debate about this, both sides must learn to be accepting of the complexity of the science, and about the sophisticated nature of arguments on both sides. See Ferenc M. Miskolczi’s new paper for an example of an extremely scientific argument on the skeptic side. I have been studying this issue for several years, spending several hours reading papers and science blogs every night. It is my belief that the role of human greenhouse gas forcing has been over-estimated (notice I did not say exaggerated; I do not want to imply intent), and I get rather offended when people deny that there is a skeptic scientific argument. This denial of the existence of debate and controversy is detrimental to healthy, scientific debate. And finally, here are some basic rules when debating scientific issues:

    1) Do not deny the existence of debate. There is ALWAYS debate on every issue. If the other side is truly wrong; debate them and win; there is no need to deny debate.

    2) Never imply intentions, for we have no basis. You may think Willie Soon is funded by ExxonMobil; I may think that Jim Hansen is funded by George Soros, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is the science. Money ain’t evil; it provides incentive, and often it can provide enough incentive to make a scientific discovery. So once again, intentions should not be questioned.

    3) Science is not the same in politics. If I’m liberal, I follow a certain dogma of collectivist thought. Any new issue that I stumble upon, I can legitimately evaluate through my pre-established understanding on the functioning of society. In science though, I can be a skeptic, believing that Miskolzci’s new greenhouse equations are correct, and find, scientifically, that the GISS’s temperature record is not exaggerated. Nothing prevents that from occuring. For that reason, science is necessarily skeptical, and I take issues with websites that follow an ideology rather than a skeptical view of science.

    With that said, I would urge people to attempt to rectify the debate. It has become swamped in politics, accusations, and falsehoods. To fix this before the environmentalist community becomes completely bogged down in a bad scientific attitude of ideological denial of the debate, rather than constructive criticism of the debate, all followers of climate science should be extra careful to work in favor of a beneficial attitude towards science.

  53. ChrisC says:

    Hi

    I enjoy this blog and the lively repartee, between opposing parties… I am absolutely no expert, and dont yet hold a firm view either way, but would like some help understanding something that has confused me for a while. If the increase in CO2 is driving temperature up as shown on lots of official graphs from both sides… why does the period 1940 to about 1970 show a decrease in temperature whilst CO2 levels continue to rise?

    Cheers Chris

  54. John Johnson says:

    This is all hog wash. Wind, Geothermal, Hydro Thermal are all viable sources of energy especially at the current prices of oil. However this is all about exaggeration, and fraud. Global warming is not being caused by cars, or trucks. Volcanoes spew out more carbon dioxide that all the cars in the world combined. The sun is in a solar cycle, and is heating up. All the planets in the solar system have increases in temperature. The surface is heating not the atmosphere. This is all about money. How can we fool the people into accepting a new tax, and governance. The IEA (i.e. UN is pushing Global Warming along with a number of environmental groups on “computer models” that model whatever data you put in. This data is highly subjective – meaning you have to guess what you think the number should be, not what they actually are.

    What science does this article refer to? Is the science UN report of non-scientist? Is it the report of a “scientist with a skewed objective – i.e. funding. I am sorry, but “scientist” are not necessarily the smartest group of people. They are supposed to be concentrated in a specific field, but offered suffer the same corruption of their work as in any industry. The mighty dollar skews result of many reports. If you remember scientist used to be railing about sea level rise. Funny it has not happened yet. I guess that theory waned after a number of geologists (real scientist – what is a climate scientist – who gives that degree away?) reported that tectonic plate movement was the cause of sea level rise not polar melt.

    This discussion on Global Warming is crazy. It seems that you are offering “scientific data”, but in reality it is not accurate. The Earth is always changing there have been cycles of warmth, and cold throughout this planets history. Everything is not centered on the earth. The biggest generator of heat is the sun. The oceans if you can believe compromise 75% of the earth’s surface. It takes a significant amount of energy to raise, or lower the temperature of the earth’s oceans. Can you imagine heating water at a depth of 4000 feet or greater. This all has an impact on the atmosphere. The current “global warming movement” is really a political movement to control people. Look at the price of gas, food, and energy. For years the powers that be have been trying to convince people to move closer to the cities, and develop public transportation. Humm – looks like the mew tactic is working. The theme seems to center it self around live in an agrarian society, but let me keep my 30,000 sq ft mansion with all the amenities.

  55. Greg Hackney says:

    It seems that all the ones that talk of global warming have had the same Kool-Aid. Seems like it’s a foregone conclusion I don’t want to pay for(allowances, give me a government tax break not another tax).

  56. Jim Bouldin says:

    The proper answer to such questions necessarily involves model tests (validation) by empirical data, which is a very complex process in an observation-based science. Although many, many scientific papers address the topic, and are summarized in the AR4 WG1 report, I’m not sure how many “for the layman” type succint, understandable explanations exist. RealClimate has tackled it; perhaps the best that one will find is there, I don’t know.

    Apparently, the average person does not really understand the process of climate model validation and climate model-based predictions. And that causes a lot of this kind of yelling and screaming that there is “no proof”. The science writers in the media need to do a better job here.

    p.s. RhapsodyInGlue had some excellent comments.

  57. Ryan says:

    Chris C – Simply put, temperatures dropped from 1940-1970 because other gases (sulphates, which consequently cause acid rain) we were releasing into the atmosphere blocked sunlight from ever penetrating the atmosphere. Scrubbers on factories and other restrictions in the 1970s did away with the prevalence of this gas in our atmosphere.

  58. E.M.Smith says:

    Oddly enough, while I’m skeptical of AGW, I’m getting what want because of the hype around it. I *want* alternative energy and I *want* less oil to be used (OPEC oil ought to be banned in America, IMHO.) Causes a bit of internal stress on my part … I like the results but think the means are broken… oh well.

    Lucy Skywalker, You seem to be enamored of the idea that we are running out of things and that there is no hope. Reminds me a bit of the “Limits to Growth” from the ’70s. We don’t run out of everything because we find substitutions and improved technologies. Always. Yes, Peak Oil is real, but we can and will swap to something else. What else? I don’t know which one will win, but there are so many choices for energy.

    There is no energy shortage and there never will be. Honest.

    Examples? Peak Uranium assumes land sourced conventional mining. Google “Uranium sea water polymer extraction” and look at the results. We can extract Uranium from sea water at about $100 to $140 / lb. If the entire planet were supplied with power from sea Uranium, the amount extracted each year would be less than what erodes into the ocean from the continents each year. We run out of power when we run out of planet.

    And that ignores Thorium – about 2 to 3 time more of it than Uranium.

    Similar things can be said for wind, sun, waves, etc. The whole US can be run off of the sunshine on a small (relatively) part of the Mojave. About 100 miles on a side. Now look at the Sahara… Wind is presently competitive with N. Gas fired electricity and pushing on coal. T. Boone Pickens is putting in about $10 Billion of wind farm starting now.

    A recent improvement in the efficiency of water desalinization has made it cheaper than putting a new dam in the Sierra Nevada and shipping water to coastal cities. There is no longer a limit on fresh water. (Energy is the limit, and as you saw above, there’s plenty of energy. “Used” water ends up back in the ocean, so you never run out.)

    I first went through this all during the Limits to Growth era. Cheer up, we have a nice future. For fun, calculate how much land it would take to house everyone on the planet in a suburban home with 250 sq ft to 500 sq ft per person planted 8 to the acre. Compare that with, oh, the size of Texas. Look at how much food can be grown in hydroponic greenhouses. We have plenty of room, plenty of water, plenty of energy, and plenty of food can be grown. We just need to “close the cycle” on some of our resources and follow the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra. Take a look at “Earthships” for a limit case.

    Why don’t we do it? In some cases because oil was cheap and once through mining was cheaper than recycle. In other cases, because of political “issues”. It’s not a technical issue, it’s “business and politics”.

    Tilo, nice summary of the fundamental problems at the base of the AGW paper pile. Same thing I found when I went digging, but you said it better.

    CAW, great ground rules that I wish were followed. The source of most of my irritation with the AGW side arises from the “debate is closed, you idiot” style.

    Tom T. Er, didn’t sailors in the pre-Columbus ere have some issues with sailing off the edge of the earth? Seems to me I have some copies of old maps around here somewhere showing the waterfall at the edge of the earth… No, not a global consensus (since some sides of the world didn’t know each other existed) but certainly a significant part of the European peoples were sure the earth was flat. (I know, I know, harvesting a nit…)

    John Bailo, I like the phrase “cascading fallacy”. An accurate description of what I’ve seen in many cases. They start with something like assuming GISS is clean and the computer models are sound, then build castles in the sky on top of them.

    FWIW, where I used to work we did plastic flow modeling for making injection dies using a Cray supercomputer. Often the dies were right the first time (meaning the models were very good most of the time). From time to time we would get mold lines or blemishes that should not have been there, per the models. This was for a single, well characterized, fluid at a well determined temperature in a single cavity between two metal plates without all the positive and negative feedback loops of a climate model. I shudder to think of how wrong a feedback model can be with extended run times, tens of thousands of cells, and poorly characterized hysteresis in some of the steps.

    Bottom line? Take a breath folks. The earth is not ending. We are not running out of everything. We have a bright future ahead of us. We just need to shift a few political and economic priorities.

    BTW, my favorite “fix” for the OPEC oil issue is simple: Put a tariff on any oil imported from outside of NAFTA/CAFTA (and similar agreements). Set the tariff to be: IF OilPrice > $80 then ZERO else ($80 – OilPrice). This puts a floor under the price of oil at $80/bbl. Since most alternatives are profitable at oil about $50+/bbl, this assures the alternatives a market. Then just step back and let the market sort them out. At present the tariff has zero impact on consumers, but it assures everyone else that OPEC can’t put them out of business. It also keep Canada and Mexico as favored providers.

    This gets to my final issue with the Green / AGW approach to things. Terribly complicated schemes with government regulatory bodies, carbon trading and caps and … all mixed up with a very Gloom & Doom attitude. Look for a simple elegant solution, minimalist. And start from the point of view that the sun will rise tomorrow and the world is not going to end any time soon.

  59. Earl Killian says:

    E.M.Smith, there are no limits to growth? You obviously have no conception of exponentials. None. First the book LTG didn’t make specific predictions, but explored much more general behavior of exponentials colliding with the finite. See the Limits to Growth page at Wikipedia. Second, 2% per year growth yields a human population of 148 trillion in 505 years, which is one person per square meter of land on Earth. I suppose we can go vertical or into the oceans. In 613 years, 2% gives 1253 trillion people. At that point earth’s 3850 ZJ of sunlight per year (land and ocean) is insufficient to feed people, assuming 100% efficiency at converting it to food (forget about transportation, heating, or cooling..). I doubt fusion will provide much help compared to 3850 ZJ/year. In just 1532 years with 2% growth the mass of humans (at 60kg per person) will exceed the mass of the Earth.

  60. Steve Carson says:

    I had a read of the first reference cited by the blog’s author:

    “Detecting and Attributing External Influences on the Climate System: A Review of Recent Advances” [It’s actually by “The International ad hoc Detection and Attribution Group.”]

    https://e-reports-ext.llnl.gov/pdf/315840.pdf

    Page 23 is interesting:

    “This highlights the importance of reducing uncertainties in satellite- and radiosonde-based estimates of recent tropospheric temperature changes. If we cannot achieve this, we admit the possibility of very different outcomes in comparisons between modeled and observed atmospheric temperature trends, ranging from “close correspondence” to
    “fundamental inconsistency”.”

    Does anyone have any comments on this?

    Steve

    [JR: Yes, that article is very good, but more than 3 years old. The fundamental inconsistencies have been resolved as noted here and elsewhere.]

  61. Simon says:

    Science that cannot withstand, or refuses to tolerate, free and open debate and skepticism is NOT science: It is politics!

    Name calling (“deniers”) is unproductive and undermines any chance at gaining comprehensive [scientific] understanding.

    In anthropogenic global warming, the Left appears to have at last invented a problem that fits their tired old dangerous solutions aimed at undermining freedom and capitalism.

    Sadly, Leftists refuse to consider the downsides, and unintended consequences, inherent in their solutions, as demonstrated by this website.

  62. James Dillon says:

    Where have the advocates of greenhouse generated global warming published the proof that their equations are accurate. If they think they can predict the future then they most assuredly can predict the past. They have all the data available from 1880 to 2000. Do their equations accurately correlate CO2 and temperature during that time?? If not, why not. If they do, where is it published?

    [JR: Global temperatures are driven by all forcings, of which CO2 is increasingly dominant. The temperature profile of the last 100 years is well explained by all the forcings combine, but cannot be explained by a group of forcings that do not include human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.]

  63. James Dillon says:

    What forcings explain the global temperature rise from ca 1900-1930, which was at least as great as that from ca 1970-2000? Certainly not CO2.

    [JR: It was not at least as great. See here. increases in greenhouse gas emissions, solar insolation, the PDO, and the absence of major volcanoes explain what was occurring during those years.]

  64. Skip Anderson says:

    Interesting discussion. In the original article you said -

    Not that it matters AT ALL to the science, but Al Gore does live what he preaches.

    Not sure why Al Gore even got into it, but what about his house, SUVs, and private jetting?

  65. Chris says:

    It seems that all the ones that talk of global warming have had the same Kool-Aid. Seems like it’s a foregone conclusion I don’t want to pay for(allowances, give me a government tax break not another tax)!!!!!!!!!

  66. Breakable says:

    The only conclusive answer to whether the global warming exists can be found only when the critics are dead from its results.
    Screaming about not wanting another tax does not add any intelligence to them. It would better be to think what you are paying for.
    To simplify investments(like tax) can be grouped into two groups:
    1)Short term investments that help in the short term, but cost in the long term
    2)Long term investments that cost in the short term, but bring long term benefits

    A investment (or tax) that is used to drill for more oil can be put in the first category. Installation or research of renewable energy capacity can be put in the second category.
    So you don want to pay for a cleaner, cheaper, safer, more sustainable future. Would you like to pay for a dirtier, expensive, deadly and unsustainable one instead? Its much cheaper in the short term…

  67. Blaine Coleman says:

    I’m afraid my contribution to this very long thread will have to be more a reflection on a few select comments of others. I am neither scientist nor historian, but I do understand the scientific method and even know something of human history.

    “Jonathan Says:

    March 18th, 2008 at 4:43 am

    There once was general scientific consensus that the earth was flat.

    There once was overwhelming scientific consensus that the sun revolved around the earth.”

    Jonathan, there has never in history been a “general scientific consensus” that the earth was flat- to make that claim is pure fallacy. The ancient Hebrews knew better even before the Greeks! If you can, show me the facts behind your statement. There has also never been an “overwhelming scientific consensus” that the sun revolved around the earth. Both of those claims may well have served the needs of the Church in the “Middle Ages”, but obviously had no basis in science.

    Jonathan Says:

    April 12th, 2008 at 3:23 pm
    “Oh brother. The point was about consensus and science. However, the early Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations viewed the earth as flat, disc-like. Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and astrologers made great advances in astronomy and spherical views. So, check out your history again Einstein.

    Maybe you were asleep that day in your history class.”

    Jonathon, perhaps you should have paid more attention in history class, Einstein. Your claims about the Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations carry no weight at all. Again, I ask you to back up your assertions with actual facts. And your reference to another poster being asleep “that day” in history class leads me to the conclusion that you had all of one day in history class, which I can believe based on your gross lack of knowledge of human history.

    Jonathan Says:

    April 6th, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    “It is Joe and his alarmists doom and gloom buddies who brought about the 1972 ban on DDT, which created its own holocaust. Hundreds of thousands, and perhaps even millions (read the history) died in the decades that followed the ban due to horrific increases in malaria deaths. All those environmental do-gooders should be rounded up and put on trial for crimes against humanity.”

    Jonathan, DDT was banned in THIS country but continued in use outside of the United States, so it’s doubtful that the ban led to the increase of malaria, although it may have been one contributing factor. Larger factors could have been the massive population growth in tropical areas and the starvation, lack of potable water, inter-tribal warfare and governmental corruption that attended that growth in the areas most at risk from insect borne diseases. Now, who is it that “should be rounded up and put on trial for crimes against humanity”? Perhaps you should be the one to “read the history”; being an engineer may make you an expert in YOUR field, but it doesn’t make you the expert in all fields. You’re not alone though; many people fall into the same trap of self-delusion, thinking wisdom in one matter conveys upon them wisdom in all matters.

    Tom T. Says:

    April 14th, 2008 at 2:17 pm
    Jonathan, in all of recorded history (and science) there was NEVER a consensus that the world is flat. There survive no ancient Mesopotamian records that would positively reflect that belief (who was asleep in history class?). There were fringe groups that believe[d] it, much like those who believe that global warming has not been significantly exacerbated by human beings, but like that view, it was never based in science. Your research is truly pathetic, and your advocacy for people to question the peer reviewed findings of the IPCC, as if they were unproven rubbish, is as ridiculous as creationists who reject the scientific facts surrounding evolution based on a “hunch.”

    Well, I suppose Tom T. made my point for me. I have to add this final comment though: open your eyes and lose some of your arrogance Jonathan. Life is more complex than engineering; it can’t be reduced to a set of basic formulas as can your specialty. Oh, and try to stay awake the next time you take a history course; you may be surprised at what you learn!

  68. Linda says:

    Who cares whether humans are causing the “climate crisis”? This is like when siblings fight with each other and then go tattling to their parents about who started it first.

    [JR: You are quite wrong. If humans were not the cause then obviously we wouldn't be the solution. The fact that human-caused emissions are the principal cause of the warming to date, and will be almost exclusively the cause of the catastrophic warming to come is the only reason scientists had been urging action for so many years.]

    It only matters how we meet the challenge, if it is real.

    Apply logic and compassion:

    1) Is the “climate crisis” real? Are deadly, tragic, catastrophic storms, droughts, fires, floods, etc… being caused by abrupt global changes in our climate? Caused by sunspots, the asteroid belt, humans, or God, the origin simply doesn’t matter – just say “Yes. It is real” or “No. It is not real” (if you said, “no”, then there’s no point in reading any further – go play a video game or something; you’re determined to keep your heads in the sand, and you can thank the rest of us later when we save your lazy butts)

    2) Are we moral people who aspire to lessen suffering, death, and pain for others and ourselves and who care about whether or not our planet can sustain life? Yes, or No?

    3) If answer to #1 is “climate crisis is real”, then: Is there something we can do to decrease the manifestation of this entity? “Yes” or “No”?

    4) If answer to #3 is yes, what are the proposed solutions? These can take quite a bit of time to come up with, and careful! if it doesn’t lead you back into the pointless debate of whether humans are causing the phenomenon. Remember – solving the problem matters. There will be time for blame later, if we’re skilled enough and lucky enough to survive. We can tattle on each other to our parents at a future point in time, if we feel a need to do so.

    Even if we were the main cause of it, that’s not necessarily a guarantee we can do anything significant to save ourselves & other planetary species.

    5) Will the proposed solutions in #4 alleviate suffering, death, species extinctions while at the same time, won’t cause other, more dire consequences?

    6) If answers to 1, 2, 3, and 5 are Yes, then let’s get on with it already. What are we waiting for?

  69. Linda says:

    [quote]JR: If humans were not the cause then obviously we wouldn’t be the solution.[/quote]

    I respectfully disagree with this logic. If A is true and B is true, then that is not sufficient evidence to conclude that “If A, then obviously B”. (“Humans are the solution, so obviously we are the cause” – no.)

    One small flaw in logic isn’t enough to remove this site from my list of feeds. I think it’s overall worthwhile. I just hope I find time to read other posts…

    thanks!
    Linda

  70. RepugsRthugs says:

    Yeah, humans can pry solve all sorts of things they didnt cause. The problem is that we cause pretty much most things.

    Can we lay out more trillions of tiny particles of non degrading plastics into the ocean to poison us all through the food chain with cancer?
    that would be nice.

    how do we know humans are causin global warming?
    well scientists… those odd creatures that research stuff, and have highly analytical minds tend to know things, and when they do studies about the levels of CO2 for like…a million years… and do studies of known temperatures over time, and they show clear trends that since our industrial revolution global temperature has gone up, accelerated proportionately with the level of CO2 we produce, and that we are producing more then has ever been present in history based on tests, and our polor caps with millenium old ice are melting at accelerated rates, its pretty much 10x the proof the bible presents to us to believe in god and jesus, but most of us do that anyway.

  71. Anonymous says:

    What RepugsRthugs says is just not true. This includes correlations between C)2 and temp and the melting of the polar icecaps. In fact they’re increasing. Getting back to a question I raised some time ago, since these so called scientific equations are immuable then the following question applies.

    # James Dillon Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    What forcings explain the global temperature rise from ca 1900-1930, which was at least as great as that from ca 1970-2000? Certainly not CO2. What about the decrease in temp from ca 1930-1970 while CO2 was rising.

    [JR: It was not at least as great. See here. increases in greenhouse gas emissions, solar insolation, the PDO, and the absence of major volcanoes explain what was occurring during those years.]

    The answer I got was a little of this, a little of that. Have faith its true. Again where is the quantitaion of those observations and where is it published in a peer reviewed journal. If not then the whole AGW theory is at best tenuous, at the worst a fraud. You can not predict the future with unverified equations, no matter how much you hope them to be true.

  72. james Dillon says:

    What RepugsRthugs says is just not true. This includes correlations between CO2 and temp and the melting of the polar icecaps. In fact the latter are increasing. Getting back to a question I raised some time ago, since these so called scientific equations are immutable then the following question still applies.

    # James Dillon Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    What forcings explain the global temperature rise from ca 1900-1930, which was at least as great as that from ca 1970-2000? Certainly not CO2. What about the decrease in temp from ca 1930-1970 while CO2 was rising.

    [JR: It was not at least as great. See here. increases in greenhouse gas emissions, solar insolation, the PDO, and the absence of major volcanoes explain what was occurring during those years.]

    The answer I got was a little of this, a little of that. Have faith its true. Again where is the quantitaion of those observations and where is it published in a peer reviewed journal. If not then the whole AGW theory is at best tenuous, at the worst a fraud. You can not predict the future with unverified equations, no matter how much you hope them to be true.

  73. matt says:

    Yea, but there are a lot of studies supposedly showing global warming,

    because whenever you question the status quo, the scientists loose funding, and ultimately their job.

    Actually, I don’t believe in the American Medical Association. I’ve seen people cured of cancer and the AMA won’t touch it because they exist to protect BIG PHARMA. Also, AMA tried to debunk a herbal cancer cure – the Hoxsey treatment. Watch the Hoxsey film on google video/youtube to learn the history of that.

    Google “global warming or global governance?” watch that on youtube or google video.

    THE SUN IS GETTING HOTTER. MARS’ ICE CAPS ARE MELTING FASTER THAN EARTH’S ICECAPS! HOW ARE HUMAN ACTIVITIES CAUSING THAT? NEPTUNE, PLUTO, JUPITER’S MOONS – ALL EXPERIENCING WARMING.

  74. Chris says:

    @RepugsRthugs, there is still things that can affect global warming other than CO2. Just because we produce co2 doesnt mean its all our fault

  75. Peter Walker says:

    No problems here. The new USA administration will make it all better.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081118/ap_on_el_pr/obama_climate_change_6

  76. Bob says:

    There is no solid evidence that there is actually global warming. It could be natural or our fault. Animals of all kinds are contributing their part in carbon dioxide. So there is no proof that it is our fault.

  77. Brian says:

    Scientists say that global warming is our fault. Or is it???Scientists can be wrong, as there is not evidence on where humans are causing it. A piece of paper signed provides as much evidence. But it might not be true. Thats the catch. Have as much experts as you can and thats all, you’ve earned yourself “evidence”.

  78. Silas says:

    Like many have said here, the debate itself is important. However, far too many people resort to hyperbole and name calling. I find it interesting that those who don’t agree with human caused global warming often couple their arguments with their lament at the possibilityof their taxes increasing. So you pay a little more to fund some research, or hopefully a dramatic restructuring of our energy economy. If you are right, you lost some opportu ities you may have had otherwise (it probably won’t affect you that much, since you are already well off enough to be on a computer debating climate science on the Internet, and our taxes are going up soon – notice that debt the fed and national deficit continues to accumulate?). If you are wrong, and we have waited too long to act, then what? Your children, or grandchildren, face a drastically changed world with far lower standards of living (if we’re here).

  79. Silas says:

    got cut off there… Anyway, like somebody said before, we must act on the mere threat of a problem that could end our civilization. I think much more focus should be on the developing world – china and india will surpass u.s. emissions in the next few decades. I have faith that we will do our best eventually, but unfortunately people as a group do not change their habits until they are forced too. And as our current financial crisis has shown, we are poorly equipped to pass up short term gains for long term planning.

  80. Antidote says:

    I would be a little careful about making comparisons between the AMA, representative of a highly corrupt science-in-name-only, and sciences worthy of the name, like physics, geology, climatology et al. Are you aware that while in any real science researchers share there data with others in the field so that they can check each other, it is absolutely common practice in medical fields that researchers refuse to share their data, even with competent colleagues who would like to re-analyze some experimental result? Pile on top of that the enormous amount of corporate money in medical fields and the monopoly of the AMA, and this is really all you need to know about medical so-called “science”.

    It is important to be able to make these distinctions because these kinds of corruptions are what lead to a blanket scepticism about science and scientists in general.

  81. Serious Skeptic says:

    If manmade carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming, then why have temperatures been going down for 10 years now. Not only is your theory wrong, your solutions to the problem would cause poverty and death all over the world. Yet you are so sure of yourselves that you push onward oblivious to the harm you are causing. I have only one choice, make enough money to pay for my energy use inspite of all the taxes you people want to impose. Kind of like Al Gore.

  82. msn nickleri says:

    Nice Write Thank You mate.. i think i will like this site.

  83. cet says:

    evet RepugsRthugs, there is still things that can affect global warming other than CO2. Just because we produce co2 doesnt mean its all our fault

  84. Bill D says:

    Real scientific debates take place in scientific journals. Read a few (hundred or thousand) scientific articles about various aspects of climate warming before reaching conclusions about the weight of evidence. My own research field (Limnology, lake ecology) is now very active with studies on effects of warming on lake food chains. We now have data for 20-50 years from some lakes, so the effects of the recent increases in temperature and changes thermal stratification and their effects on species and communities are being studied and reported.

    In order to enter a scientific debate, one needs to at least understand basic facts that are well known. For example, in past ages, volcanoes made significant contributions to the atmosphere’s CO2. However, we are now in the middle of burning within a few hundred years, the fossil fuels that accumulated over hundreds of millions of years are being burned in a few hundred years.

    It has been very simple to measure the direct increase in the atmosphere’s CO2 over the last 60 years, the human contribution to the increase (essentially all of the increase) and rate of increase if we continue to use fossil fuels. Accurate estimates of past CO2 values (over the last 10′s of thousands of years come from glacial cores. These are just basics found in any science text book. Anyone whose post reflects an ignorance of basic, well known facts can hardly make intelligible comments. Ignoring such simple facts is ignoring science. Scientific debates start with what is known and then consider the cutting edge, where there is room for disagreement.