Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.

Settings

Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup

Settings


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe


Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...



Username
Password
Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts

Archives

Crichton's 'Aliens Cause Global Warming'

Posted on 8 February 2011 by Alden Griffith

In 2003, Michael Crichton delivered a lecture at Caltech titled "Aliens Cause Global Warming". This lecture has since circulated widely and its arguments often come up in critiques of climate science. An excerpt was even published posthumously in The Wall Street Journal. I wish to comment briefly on two particular sections of the lecture: consensus and climate models.


On Consensus...
 
Although he never defines exactly what he means by "consensus", Crichton's use of the term seems to rely on a limited and largely incorrect view of the scientific process. He attempts to portray the idea of consensus as irrelevant in science, and assumes that all of science boils down to clear, proven facts: "Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant." Unfortunately, complex scientific topics do not fit this "neat and simple" model at all. Climate science is an amalgamation of many different investigators, examining many different lines of evidence that lend strong support to the conclusion that humans are modifying the climate system. This extensive field of research cannot, and will not, ever come down to one investigator being right or wrong. In this case, the vast majority of climate scientists agree on several main conclusions that only emerge with the synthesis of many independent lines of evidence. The reality of climate science is that no single piece of evidence can solely support or refute the conclusions that have emerged. This is exactly why the concept of consensus is important - consensus emerges to indicate what is currently understood and what is not. Rather than being irrelevant as Crichton suggests, consensus is a real and fundamental part of science.
 
Crichton then argues that scientific consensus has a poor track record and points to examples where the "consensus" was eventually overturned. The implication is that the consensus isn't always correct. But none of his examples are good analogues for the current consensus on climate change. Previously held views on fever, diet, and geology were not based on a robust, mechanistic understanding of empirical evidence, and often rested upon long-held assumptions that had not, or could not, be formally tested. For example, the dominant paradigm in geology going into the 19th century was largely drawn from Biblical accounts of Noah's Flood. In the mid 19th century, Charles Lyell challenged this view with a theoretical framework of more gradual change based upon extensive observations. In the 20th century, Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift was indeed controversial at first, not because the consensus failed to "acknowledge what any schoolchild sees", but because he did not have a robust mechanisms for why the continents should move, nor was there any evidence that the continents were indeed moving. With the accumulation of more independent lines of evidence and the development of a more mechanistic theory, the consensus around plate tectonics was eventually formed (even before the movement of continents was empirically observed). In his simplistic portrayal of consensus, Crichton fails to see that the processes that formed the current paradigms in medicine and geology (and overturned the old ones) are same processes that have formed the consensus on climate change. The consensus used to be that human activity is too insignificant to alter the climate. Science advances and things change.
 
Finally, Crichton states that "consensus is only invoked in situations where the science is not solid enough." He revisits his idea that science boils down to clear "yes or no" answers by suggesting that it's obviously unnecessary to invoke consensus around something like E = mc2. According to Crichton, this is apparently real science with a right answer. Again, this is not very analogous to something like climate science, but it's also not a valid example in its own right. Einstein originally proposed the idea of mass-energy equivalence largely based on theoretical ground and without strong direct empirical evidence. Support grew around the theory, but if you wanted rock-solid "proof", you probably would have had to wait almost three decades until the discovery of the positron (the observed conversion of energy into matter and antimatter). While it currently may seem silly to think of there being a consensus around E = mc2, there was a time when this "fact" needed to build up its own evidence and consensus. And in contrast to climate science, this particular case does largely boil down to a relatively straight-forward test that can convincingly support or refute the theory. Crichton's broader implication that all of climate science needs to be 100 percent "solid" is really a strawman argument: an impossible version of reality that is therefore easy to pull apart. Instead of indicating science that's not solid, the consensus on climate change informs us which aspects are solid and which are less so.
 
 
On Climate Models...
 
Crichton's only direct critique of climate science in the lecture is the "overt reliance that is being placed on models". This is a version of the common claim that the evidence for global warming is based on computer models. Unfortunately, this claim is not true. Climate models are one among many tools and methodologies used in climate science. They are extremely useful for certain applications (especially in predicting future climate), but the conclusion that humans are significantly contributing to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions would remain robust in the absence of computer models. To hold them up as the keystone of climate science is another strawman argument.
 
Even still, Crichton's critique of climate models is off base, starting with his confusion of weather (which is chaotic) and climate (which is not). Most importantly though, climate models do not attempt to "predict the world of 2100," but instead project different climate scenarios based on a range of assumptions of what the world might look like in terms of population, greenhouse gas emissions, land use patterns, etc. Their assumptions, caveats, and uncertainties are openly discussed. In the absence of computer models, we can still make valid probabilistic projections of mean global temperatures based on future greenhouse gas concentrations (it will get warmer). However, without climate models we cannot have any real sense of regional differences, particularly with regard to precipitation. Climate models thus provide a very important means of examining potential local impacts of climate change, but they are far from the the keystone of consensus that Crichton implies.
 
 
Overall...
 
Aside from his discussion of consensus and climate models, Crichton builds an indirect case against climate change science based on guilt by association, although he never convincingly demonstrates association, nor guilt. It is a tremendous logical leap of faith to conclude that the search for extraterrestrial radio signals and one group of scientists' research on the potential impacts of nuclear war somehow invalidate decades of climate research by thousands of individuals. Overall, Crichton's lecture is primarily supported by his rhetorical skills, not his arguments.
 
 
Another take on Crichton's speech with more examination of some of the facts he presents can be found here.
 

Other presentations by Alden Griffith can be found at Fool Me Once.

0 0

Bookmark and Share Printable Version  |  Link to this page | Repost this Article Repost This

Comments

1  2  Next

Comments 1 to 50 out of 59:

  1. Indeed. At one time, the "Consensus" was that Divine Happenstance determined rulership.

    As far as evidence for global warming, any lay person with Internet access can download empirical measurements of temperatures and see for themselves the warming of the world. Even if they eliminate up to 90% of the station data, the warming is still there, present even in the raw data itself.

    Nice post, Alden.

    The Yooper
    0 0
  2. This is an 'aha!' moment for me. I'd occasionally wondered why some people switched from being semi-illiterate to being able to put words into a properly formed sentence. This post explains it. They were quoting random bits of Crichton verbatim. (These same people make no more sense quoting Crichton than when they use their own words.)

    I'll now have a reference to check.
    0 0
  3. I've always held the view - call it a prejudice if you feel unkind - that much of the pseudo-scientific criticism of climate science is driven largely by a 19th century view of science. It's supposed to be about incontrovertible 'hard' facts. The idea that science is really about complexities and uncertainties is very hard to swallow for those of this persuasion.

    Crichton certainly exhibits this and many comments on blogs also display a plaintive underlying tone of 'why isn't this easy to understand'. People accept 'the science' to a much greater extent in mysterious invisible areas like endocrinology or cosmology. When it's something we feel that can see or touch many people think understanding it should be just as simple. It never is. That's why it's a field of scientific endeavour rather than a description of the colour yellow.
    0 0
  4. @adelady: I agree, however climate science has plenty of hard facts of it's own:

    - the Earth absorbs light from the Sun
    - the Earth re-emits that energy as infrared radiation
    - CO2 absorbs infrared radiation, and re-radiates it in all directions
    - CO2 and other greenhouse gases absorb significant amounts of infrared radiation from the Earth, and re-radiate some of it back down to the Earth
    - because of the above, the Earth is considerably warmer than simple radiative equilibrium suggests it should be (lucky for us!)

    The first four points are measurable, and are about as hard as facts can get. The fourth relies on an understanding of radiative heat transfer, but that's been studied for a very long time, and the 'model' involved has been exceptionally well tested & verified. I understand an overly simplified 1-dimensional model will predict the average global temperature to within a degree or two.

    As I understand it, the 'consensus' in climate science comes in the answers to the question: "If we change the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, how much does the Earth's climate change in response?"

    Because of the uncertainties involved in determining climate sensitivity, and the fact that we don't know everything there is to know about how the Earth's climate works, we can't pin that down to a single number. But some very smart people working on the problem have narrowed it down to a range of results, with a most likely number of about 3ºC of warming per doubling of CO2.

    For some odd reason, it turns out that adding another blanket to your bed makes you warmer...
    (I've never understood those people who argue negative feedbacks cancel out the effects of CO2 increases - I mean, have they never looked at the paleoclimate records? That doesn't look like a self-regulating stable system to me!)
    0 0
  5. I can't tell you how often I see somebody sneering at the consensus of anthropogenic climate change, as if consensus kicked their dog and burned their house down. I know that a lot of it has to do with Crichton's essay because it's frequently been cited directly, but I don't imagine it hasn't been working beneath the surface for the people that deny climate change without invoking the essay directly. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly and vehemently people will turn to non-scientists to combat the expert opinion on a subject.
    0 0
  6. I don't wish to speak ill of the dead, but from reading some of Michael Chrichton's books, he seems to have a very dim view of science in general. In Jurassic Park, for example, he effectively uses the Malcolm character to bag the entire scientific establishment.
    Also, having been a scientist for well over a decade now, I don't see much of it that's based entirely on *hard* fact. My own field-biology-is largely based on theories that are backed by all the available evidence-but these theories often find themselves being challenged. A classic case is the so-called "Central Dogma" which goes DNA--->RNA--->Protein. Now this "dogma" held up pretty well until the 1970's, but then was challenged by the discovery of RNA viruses & retro-viruses. The next challenge came in the 1990's, when prions were discovered. It took a lot of evidence, though, to overturn the established consensus, but that's always how good science has been done. Perhaps if these so-called "skeptics" spent a little more time gathering said evidence, & less time bagging scientific consensus, we might take them just a bit more seriously.
    0 0
  7. @Bern
    As I understand it, the 'consensus' in climate science comes in the answers to the question: "If we change the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, how much does the Earth's climate change in response?"

    I would suggest that the "consensus" is not around sensitivity, but is simply based upon the reality of climate change as put forth in the IPCC AR4:

    "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."

    ...and that increasing greenhouse gases will continue to warm the planet. Climate sensitivity represents a large source of uncertainty. However, there is strong agreement that it is unlikely to be low (and that most of this uncertainty is not comforting).
    0 0
  8. "Crichton fails to see that the processes that formed the current paradigms in medicine and geology (and overturned the old ones) are same processes that have formed the consensus on climate change. The consensus used to be that human activity is too insignificant to alter the climate."

    Precisely. I've been working on a book like Crichton's Jurassic Park. In it, future entrepreneurs clone a Lindzasaurus Rex and a Spencerdocus from some blood retrieved from the talons of a preserved beardy-activiraptor who perished during the mass extinction at the AGW boundary. Er, on planet Earth. Anyway, although the two dinosaurs never escape, their logic leaks onto the galactinet. To cut a long story, Sam Neil saves everyone.
    0 0
  9. Crichton's lecture was not in defense of science, but in pointing out opportunism. The issue is not about whether CO2 causes global warming, rather that science is used to establish authority, and therefore policy, and therefore power.

    This point aside, a very circular condition seems to emerge here. If an investigation or study is based on accepted "science", it cannot be adding anything new. And if it is adding something new, this new discovery has not yet become "accepted" science. (And in the worst of cases, if it isnt based on accepted science, it likely to be bogus.) On the otherhand, there are also things that do not require science to be known. For instance, even if the petrolium should never run out, the oxygen will. So at some point, regardless of global warming, alternative forms of energy will take over.
    0 0
  10. New science becomes accepted science through the presentation of complete evidence, not whining about being the victim of the status quo.
    0 0
  11. RSVP@9 wrote "If an investigation or study is based on accepted "science", it cannot be adding anything new."

    No, most science proceeds in a rather incremental manner, based on accepted adeas and adding a novel extension, which often is rather small and so easily digested by the research community or based on a novel combination of accepted ideas that hadn't previously been considered. Science mostly proceeds via small steps by dilligent but unexciting work. The general public often don't get to hear about that sort of work as it doesn't have much appeal for the media, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen or that it isn't the way the majority of science works.

    "And if it is adding something new, this new discovery has not yet become "accepted" science."

    See above, most of the time the extension is small and well supported by the paper and hence (if useful/relevant in the first place) is accepted almost immediately. The papers that take a long time to become accepted are those that (assuming they are correct) require a considerable change in current thought or are presented without adequate experimental or theoretical support. As they say, extrodianary claims require extrodinary evidence.

    "if it isnt based on accepted science, it likely to be bogus"

    Most claims that accepted science needs to be overturned *are* bogus. Every now and again you will get someone turning up to a physics department with proof that Einstein was wrong, or maths department with a short proof of Fermats last theorem, etc. But for every Einstein, there are a thousand Dunning-Kruger eccentrics.

    "even if the petrolium should never run out, the oxygen will"

    interesting suggestion, care to expand?
    0 0
  12. RSVP,

    "The issue is not about whether CO2 causes global warming, rather that science is used to establish authority, and therefore policy, and therefore power."

    Nonsense. This is fallacy and transparent strawman and it is getting incredibly tiresome. And it is about time 'skeptics' were called out on it.

    Chris Colose made this very apt and insightful post yesterday (originally posted here), and it calls the "skeptics" on their game--

    "What is clear to me is that climate scientists are now being held to standards which are not typical of any scientific discipline, or for that matter, held to standards which skeptics do not want to put upon themselves.

    On the first point, it is now apparently perceived as “bad” when scientists come to a conclusion that is robust enough to be well accepted by the majority. I have never seen claims of the sort that “gravity people” are engaging in indoctrination, or the indoctrination of cell theory, the indoctrination of soil science, or the dogma of electrons. Strangely, this only applies to conclusions about climate change, or maybe evolution (and especially in America).

    In most fields, consensus is thought of as a consequence of a convergence of evidence over time in a particular subject-matter, and one goes to authorities (doctors for medical diagnosis, lawyers for legal advice, etc) for insight. Most people seek the explanation with the most support, which is then echoed by the experts in the field. Some, on the other hand, will leave 100 doctors that give them a certain diagnosis, and then approve of the one that tells them to meditate, take secret forest herbs, and pray five times a day to cure their illness. People go to calculus textbooks to learn calculus, and yet no one goes to an sociologist to learn by the segments of the heart and brain. However, in climate science, apparently ‘authority’ is a logical fallacy, and textbooks and classrooms can be replaced by random opinions on a blog.

    What’s even more startling, is that the personal communiation of scientists through e-mails can actually change the laws of physics!

    What all of this shows is that many people simply cannot think rationally about climate change, nor do they have the capacity to diagnose proper information from nonsense. And once they pursue nonsense, it is very difficult to convince them that they are wrong.

    You cannot convince such people that Pat Michaels, Singer, Marano, etc don’t actually have anything to say, or that WUWT is a disinformation source. It’s not that the information to show they are nonsense is unavailable, it’s that the information MUST be wrong.

    It is also clear to me that climate scientists must now become babysitters to every half-baked idea out there, otherwise they are being dogmatic. They must write detailed responses to people who think the greenhouse effect isn’t real.

    It is also clear to me that the so-called ‘skeptics’ are allowed to make up whatever they want at will without consequence, and create a large but ill-thought out laundry list, and that we must play this game or else we’re being ‘dogmatic.’ If a climate scientist make one mistake, or a date gets screwed up in the middle of a 1000 page document about glaciers, it will receive international attention. However, if ‘skeptics’ toss out 8 conspiracy theories, 10 logical fallacies, and 17 arguments with ZERO thought put into them, then it is a good thing that we get to hear all sides. Then, when one item on the bucket list is knocked down, they can just jump tot he next item. In the meantime, they are just as valid as everyone else’s idea, since the criteria for acceptance is 101% certaintly in everything."


    Bravo!
    0 0
  13. #11
    " "even if the petrolium should never run out, the oxygen will"
    interesting suggestion, care to expand? "

    Combustion depends on oxygen. For all practical purposes oxygen is free "fuel" that is slowly getting consumed, and without oxygen, petrolium becomes quite useless. (I suppose the airlines will be the first to notice this problem.)

    The point of all this was to illustrate that an idea can have its basis in an understanding of scientific principles (or some notion thereof), as opposed to claiming to represent science. My idea here does not represent science, nor pretends to, nor needs to. If the information is useful, its no different than knowing what the price of bread is in local grocery store. You can buy it or not, embodying a concept called freedom, etc.
    0 0
  14. RSVP@13 Ah I see, word games. You are indeed free to buy an idea or not; however that freedom doesn't make your choice rational. As this is skepticalscience it is probably best to stick to ideas that are intended to represent science and leave the word games to one side.
    0 0
  15. RSVP: It's telling that your ideas seem to be based on a thorough misunderstanding of scientific principles. Oxygen: it's generated all the time by plants and algae.

    "My idea here does not represent science, nor pretends to, nor needs to." It does need to. If you are going to make stuff up as a means of arguing it does become rather pointless and tedious for all concerned.
    0 0
  16. #15 MichaelIM
    "If you are going to make stuff up "

    Sorry if science is second nature to me, as I cant distinguish from what I know and what you call science.

    As far as your comment on the oxygen supply, plants and algae. If CO2 ppm is going up, you must assume that oil combustion is outpacing plants and algae. Maybe you can "make up some stuff" to explain how this is not so.
    0 0
  17. @RSVP
    On the otherhand, there are also things that do not require science to be known. For instance, even if the petrolium should never run out, the oxygen will. So at some point, regardless of global warming, alternative forms of energy will take over.

    I'm confused as to why we don't need science to know this. Using "science" to examine this question shows that we could burn through all known fossil fuel reserves without making much of a dent in atmospheric oxygen. We have far greater problems than the non-problem of oxygen supply.
    0 0
  18. #16 RSVP:
    "As far as your comment on the oxygen supply, plants and algae. If CO2 ppm is going up, you must assume that oil combustion is outpacing plants and algae."

    One of the comments I continually get from someone where I live is that CO2 is a trace gas. I fail to see how increasing a trace gas will deplete a non-trace gas in any appreciable way (unless you believe we're going to be raising the quantity of CO2 to non-trace levels). Do you have any numbers for this?
    0 0
  19. @ XPLAIN (8)

    Sounds better than most of the drivel coming out of Hollywood these days. Is there a part in it where they find a thriving colony of denialasauri lomborgasi on a remote island (and do they nuke them from orbit)?

    I'd pay money to see that. Well, only if the popcorn was good.

    The Yooper
    0 0
  20. Re: SteveS (18)

    As Albatross has stated previously, RSVP has set up a straw man argument (the implicit unspoken statement is twofold: that plant uptake will offset rising CO2 emissions and that if we burn it all then the oxygen will be consumed). The statement clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding of the physical world and the carbon cycle.

    As to the trace gas depleting a non-trace gas statement: we can actually measure this and it is happening (this graph sums it up nicely):



    Further discussion on that here.

    The Yooper
    0 0
  21. Oxygen 209,460ppm and CO2 398ppm.

    Could RSVP give some 'scientific' soutces for oxygen running out?

    To give someone their due respect, sometimes = pointing and laughing.
    0 0
  22. #16-21
    Save your breath (and oxygen) on this one folks. I could accuse all of creating straw men as well, since my original comment, #9, was a conditional statement that said

    IF the petroleum should never run out, the oxygen will.

    It would just be a matter of time.
    0 0
  23. Re: RSVP (22)

    I have to ask, for clarity, if English is not your native language? For your statement:
    "For instance, even if the petrolium should never run out, the oxygen will."
    Certainly leaves no doubt to the reader that you mean that the oxygen will definitely run out (emphasis added). Your amplifying comment at 13 above:
    "Combustion depends on oxygen. For all practical purposes oxygen is free "fuel" that is slowly getting consumed, and without oxygen, petrolium becomes quite useless. (I suppose the airlines will be the first to notice this problem.)"
    Further confirms that intent.

    So then we are left with yet another RSVP nonsciencical circus on yet another SkS thread. How nice.

    The Yooper
    0 0
  24. RSVP, do you actually bother to properly *read* other people's comments? Consensus has been frequently overturned in the past-in a number of scientific fields-but only when sufficient evidence was provided to do so. As I showed in my previous post, the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology has been overturned *three times* in the space of only 30-40 years, because evidence was supplied to show where it was in error. By contrast, the members of the Cult of Denial would much rather waste our time whinging about fake conspiracies than in finding the evidence needed to overturn the consensus view on Climate Change. You go further still by wasting our time with claims that burning fossil fuels will deplete our Oxygen, when clearly even if *all* the fossil carbon ever produced in this planet's history were burned up, we'd get less than 10,000ppm of CO2 (or about 1% of the atmosphere), which in turn would reduce the concentration of Oxygen from 22% to 21%. If we were ever able to burn that much fossil carbon, btw, I'd be more concerned about having lethal amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere-assuming that we were still alive, due to planetary temperatures being about 5 degrees warmer than today.
    0 0
  25. Re: Daniel Bailey #23
    After what you said here, please note post 14

    "Dikran Marsupial #14
    RSVP@13 Ah I see, word games"

    On the one hand, I get accused for word games, and on the other, must stand trial for my English.
    0 0
  26. RSVP@25 You were not put on trial for the standard of your English. Daniel was asking a valid question as it appeared that you did not realise that what you had actually written was inconsistent with your subsequent explanation.

    If your English is poor, that is no problem, but I would suggest in that case you avoid word games, and stick to explaining your position clearly.
    0 0
  27. Marcus 24
    You refer to this grand old theory, Climate Change, with capital letters, which in the most simplest terms means that all things being equal, the Earth's climate is modulated by the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Furthermore, it does this with or without mankind's help, as it has for eons and eons, given that in reality it is a natural process...ironically. (exception being in that of course there was a time much earlier when things were driven by other factors, because of other unknowns, but these conveniently fall into "all things were not equal bucket").

    You may notice that, so far, I havent said anything relevant, and if so, it is because I have simply paraphrased the entire Climate Change theory, which on the surface is an ambiguous platform upon with only "experts" are allowed to stand. For instance, when has climate not been changing in some way locally or otherwise, etc.??
    0 0
  28. When has climate not changed? Well, there were several million years of unchanging 'snowball earth' - which only just managed to drag itself out, eventually, by the agency of you-guessed-it carbon dioxide and its GHG friends released from volcanoes.

    This idea that 'climate always changes' has the flavour of confusing weather with climate. Weather changes with sunrise and sunset, the tides, the seasons. Climate never changes until and unless something forces it to change.

    As for the theory, remember that CC or AGW is "not" the theory. The theory is the science of climate, CC (AGW) is a mere subset of that theory, relevant only because of current circumstances.
    0 0
  29. adelady #28
    "...relevant only because of current circumstances"

    Just imagine if Galileo said that to the Inquisition.
    0 0
  30. ...and as far a this thing about oxygen running out... it had to do with the effects on combustion. You do need a certain percentage to get this to happen, although this could lead to more jobs for adjusting carburetors, so maybe its not a problem.
    0 0
  31. RSVP@30 It may have to do with combustion, but your point is irrelevant as it would only be true in circumstances that have no chance of actually happening. The effect fossil fuel use has had on atmospheric oxygen concentrations is measurable but not sufficient to have any noticable effect on anything as far as I am aware. Yes if you are being pedantic if we had unlimited fossil carbon to burn and we burnt it at a sufficient rate there would be a point at which there would be insufficient oxygen to allow further combustion. However there is not an infinite supply of fossil carbon, so the point is completely irrelevant.

    Now *please* give the word-play a rest, it impresses nobody.
    0 0
  32. RSVP at 23:09 PM on 10 February, 2011
    adelady #28
    "...relevant only because of current circumstances"

    "Just imagine if Galileo said that to the Inquisition."


    Now you're just trolling, and I for one don't appreciate it. I come here to learn, not to read this passive-aggresive crap.
    0 0
  33. Trueofvoice #32
    "I come here to learn"

    Really? All there is learn is that CO2 is the main cause of global warming. You arent going to learn anything else, except perhaps from others like me who you say are just trolling. Now isnt that curious?
    0 0
  34. RSVP,

    Your recent posts in this thread have been prime examples of trolling. What do you expect anybody to learn from "if there was an endless supply of petroleum, burning it would remove all oxygen from the atmosphere"? It is nothing but worthless wordplay.
    0 0
  35. Can we all agree as to the need to cease dealing with those whose only goal is to derail the dialogue and return to the science?

    DNFTT (Do Not Feed The Trolls)

    Thank you all,

    The Yooper
    0 0
  36. RSVP at 02:09 AM on 11 February, 2011
    Trueofvoice #32
    "I come here to learn"

    "Really? All there is learn is that CO2 is the main cause of global warming. You arent going to learn anything else, except perhaps from others like me who you say are just trolling. Now isnt that curious?"

    Ahh, now we have it. Now we see. This is entirely about RSVP's sense of persecution and victimhood.

    Well, let's see what we have learned from you:

    1). We're running out of oxygen because . . . we just are.

    2) Galileo would have agreed with something you said, you're just not sure what.

    3) Science isn't needed.

    4) All that is needed to understand that useless science anyway is to buy a loaf of bread (wheat preferrably).

    So, what do we get when we put it together? The tricksy warmers are keeping secret the destruction of breathable oxygen in the atmosphere. They do so by talking about CO2 so nobody notices Galileo. Can't you people see he's right over there?

    The only way to combat this is to read Crighton through a whole-wheat filter (sandwich sliced, of course) allowing us to see the Cook-Bailey condensates obscuring the truth.

    Astounding!
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [DB] This thread has become painful. Please, everybody, no more.
  37. "Furthermore, it does this with or without mankind's help, as it has for eons and eons, given that in reality it is a natural process...ironically." Oh, that old canard again, RSVP? Seriously, don't you get bored with this repetitive cut & paste approach? As has already been pointed out to you-ad infinitum-the existence of past, non-anthropogenic climate change, does not rule out the existence of anthropogenic climate change-any more than the existence of naturally occurring forest fires rules out the existence of arson. Comprende RSVP? When you & your fellow denialists can show us a *natural* mechanism for how the planet has warmed at +0.16 degrees per decade (the fastest rate in at *least* the last 10,000 years) over the last 30 years, in spite of declining TSI, at the same time as the stratosphere has cooled significantly, then maybe you'll be adding to the "sum of knowledge & learning". Recently, though, the only thing you've contributed to is the systematic dumbing down of this blogsphere-with your repetitive pseudo-scientific nonsense & your incessant persecution complex.
    0 0
  38. #37
    "the planet has warmed at +0.16 degrees per decade... at the same time as the stratosphere has cooled "

    The stratosphere is part of the planet, so here you are saying it has warmed and cooled in the same sentence. Based on the other things youve directed to me, I am clearly at fault for not undertanding what you really mean. Please accept my apologies.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: RVSP, unless you want your posts deleted, stop this tedious word play immediately. There is no contradiction there, merely a slight ambiguity (#37 should have specified "surface temperatures" instead of "planet"), however the intended meaning was obvious to anyone at all familiar with the debate. Even if that were not the case, it is still possible for the planet to warm overall while some part cools, it just means that some other part was warming faster than the average. Your pedantry is of no value, so please desist.
  39. RSVP,

    Do you have anything besides worthless wordplay to offer? Playing the victim does no benefit to your credibility.

    "The planet" is the surface temperature readings, while the stratosphere is the upper atmoshphere readings.

    Your apologies would be acceptable if there was any merit in them.
    0 0
  40. RSVP, I do apologize for the error in my post, but it should have been obvious-even to you-that as the stratosphere is the UPPER atmosphere, & that it is cooling, that the warming I previously mentioned must have referred to the troposphere & near-surface layers. The fact that the troposphere is WARMING, whilst the Stratosphere is COOLING is one of the clearest indicators that heat is increasingly being trapped in the lower atmosphere. That's not word-play or contradiction-that's scientific FACT. Now, unless you & your fellow denialists can come up with a SOLID explanation of some natural phenomenon that can simultaneously warm the troposphere whilst cooling the stratosphere, I'd be *really* interested in hearing it. Instead, I'm sure we'll just hear the usual pseudo-scientific bunkum coupled with the old "grand scientific conspiracy" delusion that you usually provide.
    0 0
  41. Marcus #40
    "That's not word-play or contradiction-that's scientific FACT."

    I find it very unfair to qualify a spirit of open mindedness as word play, especially only as applied to ideas that might appear contrary to the status quo, or using the more popular, "peer consensus". And there may actually be some level of "greenhouse" warming associated with elevated CO2 levels, in other words, this may also be having some effect. What I find going on here, as also seemed to bother Crichton, an attempt to establish scientism as opposed to science. Wordsmithing is not word play. Words are the means to convey ideas, and sometimes it is necessary to invent new words to better understand what is going on. It might be very true that CO2 is affecting climate to some degree, but to stop short there, entrenched in only one idea seems very limiting indeed, especially in times as complex and dynamic as the one we are living in.
    0 0
  42. RSVP, to the best of my knowledge, you've yet to display a "spirit of open-mindedness". To date you've provided absolutely *nothing* to the debate beyond pseudo-scientific bunkum, word-games & contrariness for its own sake. I've always had a very open mind about the cause of recent global warming, yet still have yet to see any remotely convincing argument for a cause other than rising greenhouse gas emissions. As you have also failed to provide even remotely convincing evidence, I'm still left with the view that humans are responsible for current warming-that's something that your increasingly pointless posts cannot change.
    0 0
  43. Marcus
    In 37, you wrote...
    "When you & your fellow denialists can show us a *natural* mechanism for how the planet has warmed at +0.16 degrees per decade (the fastest rate in at *least* the last 10,000 years) over the last 30 years"

    According, the inverse must also be true. That some climate proxy exists with a 30 year or less resolution going back 10,000 years, proving that such a change has never occurred in the past.
    0 0
  44. #37 Marcus at 11:34 AM on 11 February, 201
    When you & your fellow denialists can show us a *natural* mechanism for how the planet has warmed at +0.16 degrees per decade (the fastest rate in at *least* the last 10,000 years) over the last 30 years



    Marcus, you may notice that according to this reconstruction using RCS (Regional Curve Standardization) NH extratropics have warmed by 0.66°C in 40 years between 950 and 990 AD. That's a rate of +0.165°C/decade. As the reconstruction is based on tree rings, arctic amplification is left out. Also, it is a smoothed version of the actual temperature anomaly signal after a 40 year low-pass filter was applied.

    Therefore your claim the warming which is observed "over the last 30 years" is "the fastest rate in at *least* the last 10,000 years" is unsubstantiated. Now, as it is established, it is your turn to show us an *unnatural* mechanism that you think was responsible for warming a thousand years ago.

    Science 22 March 2002
    Vol. 295 no. 5563 pp. 2250-2253
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1066208
    Low-Frequency Signals in Long Tree-Ring Chronologies for Reconstructing Past Temperature Variability
    Jan Esper, Edward R. Cook & Fritz H. Schweingruber

    It is very likely there were many more 30 year long periods during the last 10,000 years when rate of warming was faster than we see right now (followed by cooling later on, of course). Sorry, pink noise is just like that. In the good old days it was called natural variability.
    0 0
  45. BP@44 Marcus' challenge clearly relates to global temperatures, so pointing out there have been occasions when "NH Extratropics" have warmed faster clearly does not show the claim to be "unsubstantiated" because that is a regional warming, not a global warming.

    "it is your turn to show us an *unnatural* mechanism that you think was responsible for warming a thousand years ago."

    Straw man (and a rather silly one at that). Nobody is saying that warming a thousand years ago was unnatural.

    More importantly, the hypothesis of AGW is not based on an assertion that the warming we have observed is unprecedented, the hypothesis is based on a mechanism with observational, experimental and theoretical support, not on the observed warming even being unusual. It is only unusual in that it cannot be explained by natural mechanisms, given our current understanding of climate physics. It can be explained however, if include anthropogenic influcences.
    0 0
  46. BP @44,

    I agree with Dikran, s/he makes some excellent points. In addition, you seem to be assuming that the current rate of warming is only going to last 40 years, it is not, and you also do not seem to be allowing for the fact that the rate will not increase in coming decades.
    0 0
  47. #45 Dikran Marsupial at 00:57 AM on 15 February, 2011
    It is only unusual in that it cannot be explained by natural mechanisms, given our current understanding of climate physics.

    Fine piece of Argumentum ad Ignorantiam, that. However, Marcus has explicitly stated it was unusual as it's "the fastest rate in at *least* the last 10,000 years". If it's not that unusual (as it is not), you should show peer reviewed papers demonstrating the natural causes behind each multidecadal warming event other than the current one in the first place.

    As soon as it is done while no paper is found which would explain this particular event by natural causes, it still does not prove anything beyond the fact our understanding is not perfect. But we already knew that.

    However, there plenty of are papers that identify natural causes behind the recent warming, and that does prove something. Consider e.g. this one:

    Earth and Environmental Science, Climate Dynamics
    Volume 32, Numbers 2-3, 333-342
    DOI: 10.1007/s00382-008-0448-9
    Oceanic influences on recent continental warming
    Gilbert P. Compo & Prashant D. Sardeshmukh

    It says land warming is almost completely explained by warming of ocean surfaces, no direct GHG influence is needed. The paper says nothing about causes of SST change, but it must be internal redistribution of heat in oceans, as we do know heat content of the upper 700 m of oceans is stationary during the last 8 years (since installation of the ARGO network).

    If warming is caused by SST indeed, there is no recent warming whatsoever, as SST has no trend either. It may well be the case there's no event to be explained at all, exceptional or otherwise.

    0 0
  48. #46 Albatross at 03:25 AM on 15 February, 2011
    In addition, you seem to be assuming that the current rate of warming is only going to last 40 years, it is not, and you also do not seem to be allowing for the fact that the rate will not increase in coming decades.

    No, I do not assume such a thing. As far as I know we do not have instrumentation to measure future temperatures yet, therefore I do assume they are unknown. That's all.

    On the other hand you seem to assume a lot about coming decades, based on what?
    0 0
  49. BP@47 wrote "Fine piece of Argumentum ad Ignorantiam, that. However, Marcus has explicitly stated it was unusual as it's "the fastest rate in at *least* the last 10,000 years"."

    Sorry, that really is very funny, nice attempt to distract attention from the fact that you had used a regional trend to try and refute a claim about global trends.

    As to Argumentum as Ignorantiam, that would be true if I had said that the AGW hypothesis rests solely on the fact that we can't explain the current warming without AGW, but I didn't write that. Instead I wrote that there was a known mechanism with good support from experiments, observation and theory.

    As it happens Marcus was quite possibly wrong on that point, but that doesn't make your reply any better.

    BTW, it isn't all that surprising that sub-decadal trends are dominated by ocean temperature changes; that is why discussion of trends generally includes dicussion of complicating factors, such as ENSO.
    0 0
  50. #47: "warmed by 0.66°C in 40 years between 950 and 990 "

    Fascinating how you can so sharply discern a 40 year event on data filtered with a 40 year low pass. The 20 year filter shown earlier in the Esper 2002 paper (their fig 2, which you did not present here) has a distinct break in this so-called 'multidecadal event'. Of course, tree rings are mere proxies and who gives them any credibility?

    "while no paper is found which would explain this particular event by natural causes"

    Maybe such papers are found. How about a Krakatoa-class volcanic eruption (the Tianchi eruption, with a volcanic explosivity index (VEI) of 6) immediately before your so-called multi-decadal event? From Zou 2009:

    The great 10th century Tianchi (or Baitoushan in Korean) eruption represents one of the two largest explosive eruptions (along with the 1815 Tambora eruption) in the past two thousand years. ... The huge eruption ejected about 100 km3 of tephra and resulted in the formation of a 5 km diameter caldera: the Tianchi (Heaven Lake) caldera.

    If Zou's 100km3 is correct, Tianchi produced an order of magnitude more eruptive debris than Pinatubo and is nearly VEI 7.

    Yin et al. 2010 pin down the date of this eruption with tree rings:

    Tree-ring widths were measured and cross-dated. Almost 69 AMS ages were obtained from Yalujiang section. These dates allowed estimation of the time of the eruption with high precision by wiggle-match analysis to 935-942 AD.

    We can obviously expect a few years of post Pinatubo-style cooling following this event, similar to that in the image shown below.



    The subsequent warming is thus partly a rebound effect, as seen 1992-93 (~0.5 degrees C in just two years!) So the mere observation of warming rate is not the point here -- it's the driving mechanism behind that rate.
    0 0

1  2  Next

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.



The Consensus Project Website

TEXTBOOK

THE ESCALATOR

(free to republish)

THE DEBUNKING HANDBOOK

BOOK NOW AVAILABLE

The Scientific Guide to
Global Warming Skepticism

Smartphone Apps

iPhone
Android
Nokia

© Copyright 2014 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us