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

How climate change deniers led me to set up Skeptical Science website

Posted on 28 April 2011 by John Cook

I've published an article in The Guardian giving a brief history of how Skeptical Science came to be, culminating in the publishing of the book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand which comes out today (will blog about that shortly). An excerpt:

My exploration of climate change denial began innocuously enough – namely some vigorous discussions with sceptical family members. This provoked me to dig a little deeper into the science (no one wants to lose an argument with their father-in-law), but before I knew it, I had wandered into a bewildering labyrinth of raging online debates and bottomless pits of misinformation. How to make sense of it all?

At this point, my inner-computer geek asserted itself and I began constructing a database of climate 'sceptic' arguments. To cut to the truth of each argument, I made peer-reviewed science the ultimate authority. There's no higher standard than evidence-based research conducted by experts, which is then rigorously scrutinised by other experts. As I began to piece together the various pieces, a clear picture began to emerge.

The case for human-caused global warming is robust. It's based on many lines of independent evidence, all pointing to a single, consistent answer. This preponderance of evidence is why we have a consensus among scientists. It's not about tree-hugging or secret plans to control the world – it's rooted in empirical measurements and the laws of physics.

Patterns in the sceptic arguments began to emerge. Instead of considering all the evidence in their search for the truth, climate 'sceptics' refuse to accept evidence that humans are causing global warming. This is not scepticism but denial. To deny a scientific consensus based on so much evidence, you have to deny the scientific evidence.

Then I explained how the Climate Change Denial book came about:

So I started the Skeptical Science website, with the sceptics' arguments collected together as the website's backbone. The systematic database, and more importantly, the rebuttals built on a foundation of peer-reviewed science, inspired Melbourne company Shine Technologies to create a hugely popular iPhone app of it, making the science easily accessible (and cool). While Shine were developing the app, I was contacted by environmental scientist Haydn Washington, who proposed co-authoring a book, Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand.

I had always focused on the external aspects of climate change denial – the how. Haydn was interested in the why. What drives climate denial? If only there was a simple answer. Human psychology is not rocket science – it's much more complicated. Many factors are involved, including conservative ideology, misinformation campaigns (often funded by the fossil fuel companies whose profits are threatened by climate action), fear of change, failure in values and the media itself.

How do we roll back climate change denial? We need to look the evidence full in the face and accept reality. Global warming is happening. We're causing it. Just as important, we also need to stop denying climate action. We can solve climate change – we have the plans to cut our pollution and the technology to switch to cleaner energy. To achieve this, we must abandon denial and demand climate action, from both ourselves and our leaders.

The article is not that old and already a few interesting comments have been posted. I notice past SkS contributor gpwayne describes me as "irritatingly calm, patient and polite". Thanks, Graham! The first comment posts an intriguing theory about the disappearance of the climate myth "It's the sun" - I wonder if it's true (it sucks that we can't quantify and confirm these kinds of things):

Fantastic resource that has really changed the online debate. The professional tone and ease of use has made it so much easier and clearer to debunk many talking points.
IMO SkSci is the main reason the 'its the sun' talking point has all but dissapeared over the past two years.

0 0

Bookmark and Share Printable Version  |  Link to this page

Comments

1  2  Next

Comments 1 to 50 out of 88:

  1. That's an interesting point about the sun "argument".

    I did notice a couple of people mentioning the sun in an entirely different way. I just hadn't put it together - that no-one seems to be saying "It's the sun - so there!" any more.
    0 0
    Response: We do keep track of how often climate myths appear (although if more people used the SkS Firefox Add-on, this data would be more comprehensive, hint, hint). I should dig into the data, see how often the sun myth has appeared in recent years. Then do a correlation check with traffic to the sun rebuttal webpage. Hmm, maybe we can quantify this... :-)
  2. John Cook

    I have not had a chance to email you privately, but you should read the last two pages and conclusion of the "A Flanner in the works for Snow & Ice" thread to see the lengths some of your your regular AGW enthusiasts will go to defeat a consistent skeptical argument.

    Here is my final comment:

    To SKS Moderators, Tom Curtis, Sphaerica, Adelady et al.

    What was the result of this thread? My posts #132, #136 are left uncontested by Tom Curtis, Sphaerica, The Yooper -after a parade of name calling, accusations of nonsense, fool, gibberish, unprincipled, ridiculous et al..and from Sphaerica "I will not engage with anyone who demonstrates a blatant and total lack of integrity." - all directed at me.

    No apologies from the SKS pin-up boys - just a deafening silence.

    You need to get this site back to the standard it was when I joined over a year ago.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [DB] All comments off-topic and/or in non-compliance with the Comments Policy receive moderation - on both sides. Do not blame an inability to logically and scientifically defend a position when you were shown to be in error on intransigence in complying with a mandatory policy.
  3. John,
    Many thanks for a superb site. Of course for those dyed-in-the-wool deniers who stuff their fingers in their ears and shout 'I'm not listening', one is wasting one's time. But for everyone else, there's always a chance that education can make the difference.

    Absolutely brilliant.
    0 0
  4. Reading through the comments section of the Guardian article is painful. The amount of anger and vitriol combined with the complete lack of anything resembling evidence makes me despair. It reminds me why I gravitated to this site a few years ago. Thank you John and everyone else who does the hard work here. SkS is a great resource for people who want to learn about Climate Science and AGW rather than denigrate it.

    If I want conspiracies I will re-read The Illuminatus Trilogy or Foucault's Pendulum.
    0 0
  5. Ditto #4. Thanks, John, mods, et al. who patiently work through the problems and who, I might add, admit when they're wrong or haven't looked deep enough or just aren't sure. I wonder how much some understandings have changed over time through the mechanism of this site--especially among the regulars (from all sides). Certainly I have a much, much clearer understanding of the basic mechanics and complexity of the atmosphere. When I first started lurking around the global warming issue, I understood the greenhouse effect literally: CO2 was a cap. Ugh.
    0 0
  6. John,

    Thanks to you and the many contributors who make Skeptical Science such a great resource.
    0 0
  7. John

    Thanks again! A great resource.

    After looking through the debate KL was recently involved with (A Flanner in the works of Ice and Snow), I can't say I agree about his complaint. That thread is a good example of how patient members can be addressing concerns, and how moderating allows such a debate to stay focused on evidence...

    @ pbjamm #4 I read Foucault's pendulum and it made me a paranoid wreck for two weeks!!! The addictive nature of motivated pattern seeking is something that deserves more neurological and behavioral research.
    0 0
  8. Awesome work

    FYI recently someone offered a reason for denial that isn't on your list. This is closely related to the (false) claims that the sun is burning hotter. Instead, we're closer to the sun before. The reasoning went like this:

    The sun is slowly going nova, and as it does it is slowly turning into a red giant, and that means the sun is expanding, but since the earths orbit is the same, the result is that the sun's surface is now closer to the earth.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [DB] Nice Poe.
  9. Like for most people my interest in the issue of the climate change used to be very limited. I have heard about Al Gore’s movie, read some articles in the popular media and I assumed that the issue by and large was settled. Then one day I had a “vigorous discussion” (if I may borrow John’s expression) via Skype with my brother who bombarded me with a litany of skeptical arguments he picked up from polish newspapers and from TV. I was skeptical about the validity of his arguments but could not immediately answer them. The next day I found skepticalscience.com and it took me about a minute to realize that this is exactly the resource I needed. The only problem was that my brother does not speak English so I asked John for permission to translate some articles to Polish. He immediately picked up on my offer and patiently worked with me on setting up the Polish translation page. I am proud to say that my brother, after reading the “Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism” and other translations, is no longer a “skeptic”. I have reasons to believe that many other people in Poland found John’s website extremely valuable and educational.
    Thank you John for a true World Treasure!
    0 0
  10. This is an excellent site for those who prefer to use rational thinking and base opinion on the complexities of scientific understanding.

    I look forward to buying and reading John's book as one of my summer reading pleasures.
    0 0
  11. Mark-US
    There are several things wrong in what 'someone' was saying.
    1) The sun will not go nova (a nova is caused by mass transfer from one star to another, so you need at least 2 stars).
    2)The sun will become a red giant, but that is billions of years from now. Currently, the suns radius may be changing cyclically, but it is not getting bigger, for example, see Suns Diameter
    3) Any radius change will have an effect via a change in apparent luminosity, which is not changing (See It's the sun)
    0 0
  12. Keep em coming John, great blog gets put to near daily use on the Guardians enviroment pages.

    Great to see so many people from other parts of the world keen to stand tall and explain a science others are hell bent on smearing.

    I think you have done a fantastic job with where you are pitching the blog in terms of both tone (its very easy to get dragged into the name calling and by hell I am guilty of that) but also being so well aimed at people who may not have strong science backgrounds but are smart enough to pick it up. Its easy for a professional to knock out a very nerdy and science dense technical blog posting and its easy to knock out blogs about the social or political aspects of climate science but you manage to put together one that is about the technical aspects but that the man "on the Clapham omnibus" can understand.

    Hats off.
    0 0
  13. Daniel Bailey

    Thats the point Daniel - I was not shown to be 'in error' on the Flanner thread - quite the reverse.

    The main respondent Tom Curtis made error after error and had to admit such while ploughing on to the next calculation, which eventually got closer to the Trenberth number.

    You have to remember that Dr Trenberth is a proponent of AGW - just one of the leaders in the field who we rely upon for the numbers.

    When your AGW enthusiasts are making uncorrected extreme claims of warming which bear no relation to scientists like Dr Trenberth's numbers - then it is time to say that this site has lost its scientific mojo.

    John Cook is also seeming slow about getting Dr Trenberth on to this site.

    Do you fear a couple of skeptical science interactions with Dr Trenberth John?
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [e] Tom Curtis currently has the last comment on the Flanner thread addressing your claims. Please take any further discussion over there where it belongs.
  14. I started for much the same reason.
    Around the time Monckton visited Aust and that farmer-wannabe went on a hunger strike up a post, I thought I had to say something... A lot of noise was being sold off as news.
    I've enjoyed your work here mate!
    0 0
  15. Ken Lambert @ 2 & 13:

    Sadly, the courtesy that once characterised this site has become quite scarce. Ken's contributions are infrequent but thoughtful and incisive (I say this not just because they are sceptical). Dismissing his concerns as no more than intransigence over his inability to defend his argument misses the point. I draw your attention to the comments policy:

    You may criticise a person's methods but not their motives.

    I've raised similar concerns in a previous post in which I felt another commentator was being poorly treated. I cited the comments policy. I received a series of responses saying nice things about me but saw no redress for my fellow commentator. Overall, I can't help but feel a growing disappointment over the increasingly ad hominem tone by commentators on this site. For example, on the Flanner thread, Tom Curtis wrote:

    I will request that the moderators take notice of your obvious trolling.

    I thought this quite over the top given the antisocial connotations of trolling. Admittedly, another inflammatory comment from Tom was snipped (now that must have been pretty strong stuff!) though I would have thought accusations of trolling warranted similar intervention. Some of Ken’s later comments seem also to have been snipped. Subsequently, one commentator wrote:

    I will not engage with anyone who demonstrates a blatant and total lack of integrity.

    only to receive the mildest of rebukes from the moderator(s) on the lines of:

    While you are certainly free to question another's statement and advise others to question them, questioning personal integrity is not necessary.

    Whereas the comments policy explicitly states:

    Any accusations of deception, fraud, dishonesty or corruption will be deleted. This applies to both sides. Stick to the science.

    Moreover, I notice an increasing tendency to block arguments germane to an issue via redirection to another “more relevant” thread. While I appreciate the need to stay on topic, I note this seems to happen much more with sceptical commentators (though I readily admit to possible observer bias and don’t have time to trawl through posts to try to prove my point).

    I have no problem with this site having a “warmist” perspective – after all, its raison d’être – and have found much fascinating material upon which to ponder. However, the increasingly polemic tone of the commentariat generates disengagement.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [muoncounter] Perhaps what you detect as a loss of courtesy is due to a recent onslaught of deniers who seem to have no interest other than derailing legitimate conversation. We've already seen a number of folks disengage, no doubt in frustration over what is very definitely 'trolling.'

    A request that 'moderators take notice' of a poster's behavior is not ad hominem; it is a call to address behavior that is heading out of bounds.

    The increasing number of requests to keep comments on topic is a response to an increasing amount of scattergun-style commentary. You should note that these begin as requests that are often disregarded.

  16. Chris @15,

    I'm sure that you mean well,and that your comments are well intentioned, but a perusal of Ken's comments runs counter to your assertions. In fact, you need have only read #13 above to find examples of rhetoric and hyperbole and yet another off-topic comment:

    "When your AGW enthusiasts..."
    Scientists and those in the know who understand the gravity of the situation are not at all enthused about it.

    and

    "then it is time to say that this site has lost its scientific mojo."

    and

    "Do you fear a couple of skeptical science interactions with Dr Trenberth John?"

    And I recall seeing much, much worse comments made by the person in question before they were deleted.

    I am noticing an increasing tendency for contrarians posting here to go off topic, obfuscate and try and derail the threads-- see the efforts by poster Gilles, to cite but one recent example.

    Now Chris, do you have any thoughts on John's book and his Guardian article?
    0 0
  17. Albatross @ 16:

    I have no brief to speak for Ken who I'm sure is big and ugly enough enough to fight his own battles. His comments were but a springboard for my personal perceptions which have grown over some months. I did notice poor old Gilles seems to have been copped a bit of a shellacking - "troll du jour" anyone? There has to be a lighter side to this blogging business.

    I've only just received John's book in the mail and so have given it only a very quick glance. It seems well-produced, well-referenced, wide-ranging, and clearly a labour of love. I'm looking forward to some challenging reading.
    0 0
  18. 17 - Chris... really!

    I think most people have been around enough bulletin boards and such to have seen the "this site isn't what it used to be..." and "poor old X, how unfair" discussion which soon follows the disruption & changes wrought by trolls. It is a fact of such places that one or two individuals, with a will, can infuriate enough people so as to totally undermine the atmosphere.

    If you are actually not familiar with the pattern, I'd suggest you spend some time on just about any bulletin-boards on just about any subject. You will find, I'm sure, that the pattern of posting of 'some people' on the 'denialistism' side is really no different from anyone posting contrary views on any subject anywhere.
    0 0
  19. FYI recently someone offered a reason for denial that isn't on your list. This is closely related to the (false) claims that the sun is burning hotter. Instead, we're closer to the sun before. The reasoning went like this:

    The sun is slowly going nova, and as it does it is slowly turning into a red giant, and that means the sun is expanding, but since the earths orbit is the same, the result is that the sun's surface is now closer to the earth.


    A good rebuttal might be:

    The sun might be going red giant, but the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.
    0 0
  20. 19 - Rowdy...
    ... yes, but no one has calculated the warming due to dark mater nor dark energy... there's huge uncertainty about this so clearly the science isn't settled at all.
    In fact, I've done a search and can't find any publications relating dark energy to global warming... I suspect a cover-up.
    0 0
  21. Chris canaris @15

    Moreover, I notice an increasing tendency to block arguments germane to an issue via redirection to another “more relevant” thread. While I appreciate the need to stay on topic, I note this seems to happen much more with sceptical commentators (though I readily admit to possible observer bias and don’t have time to trawl through posts to try to prove my point).

    You also ignore the possibility that deniers simply use this rhetoric tactic more.
    0 0
  22. I think we still have a long way to go against denial, as evidenced even on this thread. It seems that some people are so stuck in that denial (for whatever reason but normally nothing scientifically rational) that they will never be able to admit that they are wrong or, indeed, that anyone that they feel is on the same side as them can be wrong either - witness the lack of criticism of Lindzen, Carter, Monckton, etc. from any of the so-called skeptics on here over the last several months. Witness also the lack of awareness of their own mistakes or lack of awareness that they could possibly make ANY mistakes - to admit such things are obviously too painful for them to bear.

    Witness also the language used :


    Ken Lambert "You have to remember that Dr Trenberth is a proponent of AGW..."

    No - Trenberth does not argue in favour of or support AGW : he is a scientist whose "primary research has focused on the global energy and water cycles and how they are changing, and his work mainly involves empirical studies and quantitative diagnostic calculations. Trenberth is a primary advocate for the need to develop a climate information system that is an imperative for adaptation to climate change."



    Ken Lambert "When your AGW enthusiasts are making uncorrected extreme claims of warming which bear no relation to scientists like Dr Trenberth's numbers - then it is time to say that this site has lost its scientific mojo."

    How ridiculous to call anyone an "AGW enthusiast". Some people seem more concerned to label others in a manner which conforms to their own belief-system and, to me, that is very childish.



    chriscanaris : "I have no problem with this site having a “warmist” perspective – after all, its raison d’être."

    Does "warmist" mean anything outside the circles of denial or so-called skepticism ? Again, it is a term made-up and used by those who have their own belief-system, involving their own words, their own meanings and their own little self-confirming congregation of like-minded devotees.
    The reason for this site is plain for all to see, if they want to, and is given in the article above or in the linked GUARDIAN article. Simple as that - nothing "warmist", 'coolist', whateverist about it.


    Two other examples.


    Ken Lambert : "John Cook is also seeming slow about getting Dr Trenberth on to this site.

    Do you fear a couple of skeptical science interactions with Dr Trenberth John?"



    I cannot understand how anyone commenting on a website (even one as interesting and important as this one) can assume that what they have to say can be important enough to need the attention of someone like Dr Trenberth; or that the owner of said website should be spending all his hours trying to make such an interaction happen. I find that astounding. Perhaps if someone on here feels they have shaken the foundations of some of the science, they should publish in the appropriate peer-reviewed manner ? Just a thought...


    Finally :


    chriscanaris : I did notice poor old Gilles..."


    I'm sorry, but this is like writing : "I did notice poor old Poptech..." and shows that some people will always excuse anything from anyone...as long as they feel they are on the same side.
    0 0
  23. les @ 17, Phil @ 21 & JMurphy @ 22:

    ...some people will always excuse anything from anyone...as long as they feel they are on the same side.

    My sentiments exactly and reinforced by your responses.

    Over and out.
    0 0
  24. Chriscanaris @23

    Can you please explain how the quote you gave was "reinforced" by my response ? I merely suggested a possible alternative explanation to your observation.
    0 0
  25. JMurphy,

    Well said!!!!
    0 0
  26. chriscanaris #15

    You have put my concerns perfectly. Cries of foul always come more readily from those who see their viewpoint being demolished.

    I am not made of sugar candy - and will slug it out with the best of them if I think the point is important enough -but the "Flanner" thread is an extreme example of crying foul everytime my opponents made another correction and bizarre attempts to impugn my motives and claim error on my part.

    Most of it was tolerated by Moderators who were clearly on the side of my opponents even though same were continually shown wrong in their numbers.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [muoncounter] Everyone:

    It accomplishes nothing to speak of 'sides' here; if you have a point to make, state your case. If others refute your point, take their objections into consideration and, if necessary, rebut. Do not merely keep repeating 'you made a mistake' or 'I'm right and you're not.' That is schoolyard behavior. If you cannot live within rules of civilized discourse, you probably don't have much of a point to make in the first place.

    Enough carping about who said what. And most certainly, enough carping about moderation.

  27. KL: "Cries of foul always come more readily from those who see their viewpoint being demolished."

    "Most of it was tolerated by Moderators who were clearly on the side of my opponents"

    In the same post no less!

    Is this a new record in the self-defeating arguments category?
    0 0
  28. JMurphy #22

    "I cannot understand how anyone commenting on a website (even one as interesting and important as this one) can assume that what they have to say can be important enough to need the attention of someone like Dr Trenberth; or that the owner of said website should be spending all his hours trying to make such an interaction happen. I find that astounding. Perhaps if someone on here feels they have shaken the foundations of some of the science, they should publish in the appropriate peer-reviewed manner ?"

    If you don't think that you could conduct a conversation with the authors of the scientific papers cited on SKS, then you probably should not be commenting on them at all.

    Understanding of a scientific paper is not the exclusive domain of paid full time scientists in the field.

    I have conducted an email correspondence with Dr Trenberth myself - he is very approachable and generous with his responses.

    I could ask what we are all doing here if not to get an understanding of the science concerning 'the greatest moral challenge of our age'.
    0 0
  29. All the whining by KL and chriscanaris is rather funny.
    Have a look here here for a glipmse of how Anthony Watts treats those who challenge him. He bans them and then asks them not to say anything about it. That's integrity, fairness and open debate, "skeptic" style. What a friggin' joke. You guys should be thankful for the excellent quality of moderation on this site.

    SkS has a long way to go before it gets anywhere close to the skeptic blog standards. We even continue tolerating Berenyi Peter repeated innuendos and accusations every time he misunderstands a paper.

    But where do skeptics protest about junk like M&M or the Wegman report? Double standards, whining about nothing. I'm unimpressed.
    0 0
  30. Ken Lambert : "If you don't think that you could conduct a conversation with the authors of the scientific papers cited on SKS, then you probably should not be commenting on them at all."

    I don't need to "conduct a conversation" with any author to feel that I can comment on, refer to or agree/disagree with their work. Scientists have no compulsion to attend to or "conduct a conversation" with anyone on any website, unless they feel the need to. To think that they should respond to or "conduct a conversation" with you or anyone else, is simplistic, arrogant and overbearing.
    Similarly, I don't feel the need to "conduct a conversation" with a literary author, or feel that said author has to be at my beck and call to discuss any issues or questions I might have with their work. But maybe that's just me.



    Ken Lambert : "Understanding of a scientific paper is not the exclusive domain of paid full time scientists in the field."

    No-one said it was. Alternately, it doesn't need the personal intervention of any author to respond to every misunderstanding, misuse or abuse of their work. And I don't need to feel that I am as good as (or as intelligent as) any scientist - paid, full-time or otherwise. Nor do I feel they are elitist, lucky or condescending.



    Ken Lambert : "I have conducted an email correspondence with Dr Trenberth myself - he is very approachable and generous with his responses."

    Knowing your opinion of him and his work (you seem to view him as an "advocate of AGW", rather than a unbiased scientist seeking the facts), that is over-generous of him. Makes me wonder, though, why you haven't asked him to appear here yourself, to discuss these matters to your satisfaction.



    Ken Lambert : "I could ask what we are all doing here if not to get an understanding of the science concerning 'the greatest moral challenge of our age'."


    Without you acknowledging the source of that quote, I will have to assume that it is from an Australian politician. If so, what does politics have to do with science - except in as much as it seems to be very important to so-called skeptics ?

    And, I don't know about anyone else, but Skeptical Science, to me, helps the understanding of the science, so that is why I am here.
    I'm not sure why you are here, though, because all I see from you is repetition, a disinclination to respond fully to the criticisms of your claims (as evidenced from your lack of detailed response to Tom Curtis or Alec Cowan, among others, on the Flanner thread) and complaints about moderation - as well as a need to fire-off personal emails to complain further.
    If you stick to the science, respond to criticisms without recourse to snark and/or over-weening self-confidence in your own abilities, and leave out the subjective descriptions about "advocates" or "AGW enthusiasts", you might get somewhere - as opposed to going round and round in circles, moaning as you do so.

    But you, of course, must do as you see fit.
    0 0
  31. Re: [DB]'s reply to #8.....

    Thanks DB, but credit for POE humor, if any, goes to my debate opponent. That guy is a committed denialist, and argued forcefully for a lot of debunked theories. Sadly, I think they were serious. (Or if it was Poe, it was there way of telling me to shut up!)

    BTW.... As long as we're doing regionalisms for the Arctic Ocean, how about Lac Lackice? Or "Font Carbon"
    0 0
  32. Remarkable attempts to derail the comments here! I headed into this area by way of hearing Ray Bradley Speak in Colorado about RealClimate and dealings witha certain Sen Inhofe, and that opened my eyes to just how poisonous the atmosphere was, even in 2004.

    Skeptical Science is still, to me, the best source of clear information to support rebuttals of a great variety of skeptic argiments. Other sites may provide greater detail about particular topics (RealClimate being one, of course), but it is fantastic to be able to go to a site and identify some key papers and eloquent arguments pertinent to a particular topic. Even if those papers have been superseded in intervening years, they are usually a good enough reference point, or starting point to identify other, more recent contributions. So all hail your 'inner-computer geek', John, as it has surely helped a great many people out there by providing a tremendously valuable resource!

    Interesting comment about the 'it's the Sun' argument - is it the contribution of this site, or are people realising that the divergence of solar activity and climate indicators in the past couple of years (record solar min, near-record high temps) becoming something closer to 'undeniable'? Scratch that, someone, somewhere will be denying it...
    0 0
  33. Interesting comment about the 'it's the Sun' argument - is it the contribution of this site, or are people realising that the divergence of solar activity and climate indicators in the past couple of years
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    Its Johns illustration of that that has been the most powerful tool I have on the Guardian website to rebut the 'its the sun' argument.

    There are most likely other versions of the image around but where ever I am on the net, a link to that one jpeg hands the initiative to the argument my way. A few come back with variations of Svennsmark or Lockwood 2010 (I mean seriously), but it normally sends them off down the road of broken hockey sticks and hidden declines, the sun rarely rises aften that jpeg.
    0 0
    Response:

    [DB] Fixed text.

  34. JMurphy #30

    "Knowing your opinion of him and his work (you seem to view him as an "advocate of AGW", rather than a unbiased scientist seeking the facts), that is over-generous of him. Makes me wonder, though, why you haven't asked him to appear here yourself, to discuss these matters to your satisfaction."

    Well you have a good point JMurphy. I have emailed John Cook about it on a couple of occasions, and being respectful of the ownership of this site, I did not want to preempt what John might do.

    Watch this space.

    Dr Trenberth clearly believes in the theory and models which identify CO2GHG the main cause of the last 30 years or so of surface temperature increase.

    His 'travesty' is that width and breadth of observations are inadequate to back up the theory and models.

    His is an honest statement of the observational facts.

    As said previously - this can go two ways. Dr Trenberth goes for 'its there but we can't adequately measure it', and I am going for the 'if it ain't measured it might not be there', if and until the measurements say more.
    0 0
  35. Ken Lamber @34, Dr Trenberth's "travesty" is that "observations are inadequate to back up" just one aspect of "the theory and models". The theory and models are well supported by a range of other observations, and so are not reasonably in doubt, as Trenberth would no doubt tell you.

    Please note that this is not a case of an observation being made which falsifies AGW. Rather this is a case of an observation we would like to make to further support the evidence of AGW, but are as yet unable to make.
    0 0
  36. JMurphy #22

    I should not let you get way with this one either JMurphy:

    "You have to remember that Dr Trenberth is a proponent of AGW..."

    No - Trenberth does not argue in favour of or support AGW : he is a scientist whose "primary research has focused on the global energy and water cycles and how they are changing, and his work mainly involves empirical studies and quantitative diagnostic calculations. Trenberth is a primary advocate for the need to develop a climate information system that is an imperative for adaptation to climate change."

    Well here is the relevant quotation from the Introduction to Dr Trenberth's --"tracking the Earth's global energy - Aug09" here:

    Quote:

    "Given that global warming is unequivocally happening
    [2] and there has so far been a failure to outline,
    let alone implement, global plans to mitigate the warming,
    then adapting to the climate change is an imperative.
    We will of course adapt to climate change. The question
    is the extent to which the adaptation is planned and
    orderly with minimal disruption and loss of life, or
    whether it is unplanned? To plan for and cope with
    effects of climate change requires information on what
    is happening and why, whether observed changes are
    likely to continue or are a transient, how they affect
    regional climates and the possible impacts. Further, to
    the extent that the global community is able to reduce
    greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the climate
    change, then information is required on how effective
    it is. This article addresses vital information needs to help understand climate change." endquote

    Extract:

    "Further, to the extent that the global community is able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the climate
    change..."

    Sounds like a believer in greenhouse gas causation of climate change to me.
    0 0
  37. 36, Ken,

    I think you missed the point.

    No scientist is "in favor of or supports AGW." They may adhere to current climate theory, but the characterization of such adherence as "support" (as if they want it to happen), or the generalization of climate science into "AGW" or even "AGW theory" is playing games with words.

    This is what JMurphy was pointing out, that just a few words are subtly used to slight and denigrate climate scientists, and so to undermine the evidence they present, as if they've become a fan of a favorite team in a sport, and so will argue their own team's superiority (like any good fan) regardless of the evidence.
    0 0
  38. Ken Lambert, you are still unable to accept that the way you use words and terms is determined by your own innate bias. You are not the only one but it is very prevalent.
    To be a "proponent of AGW" is akin to being pro-AGW, as some others have used, i.e. to be for or supportive of AGW - in other words, to be glad of its existence in some way.
    Those who accept AGW are neither pro-AGW nor do they just believe in it.
    Those like Dr Trenberth who accept the facts of AGW are working hard to "track energy in the climate system" - and out of courtesy to others, I will link to the paper.

    You will also note that he references (the [2] in your quote) the IPCC AR4 Physical Science Basis for his statement, i.e. he has scientific fact to back up his claim.

    Finally, and not wishing to go any further off-topic on this thread, it is useful to bear in mind the concluding lines of Dr Trenberth's paper :

    A climate information system that firstly determines what
    is taking place and then establishes why is better able to
    provide a sound basis for predictions and which can
    answer important questions such as ‘Has global warming
    really slowed or not?’ Decisions are being made that
    depend on improved information about how and why
    our climate system is varying and changing, and the
    implications.
    0 0
  39. 36, Ken,

    Another example, just from your closing line:
    Sounds like a believer...
    "believer", as if it were a religious faith instead of a considered, logical conclusion, based on a lifetime of education, study, thought and hard work.

    These subtle little jabs, meant to prey on people's perceptions of the scientists, do not go unnoticed.
    0 0
  40. You just beat me Sphaerica but I'm glad you were able to pick up the way these terms are used too - I thought it was just me being picky !

    Also, I forgot to add the following about being "a believer in greenhouse gas causation of climate change" - do we also call Richard Dawkins a 'believer' in Evolution, and Stephen Hawking a 'believer' in the Big Bang Theory ?
    0 0
  41. You've done it again ! ;-)
    0 0
  42. Astonishing, JMurphy. You wouldn't be suggesting, by that last quote, that Trenberth is arguing for policy to 'follow the data', rather than follow their favourite 'team'? Surely Trenberth wouldn't act like a true scientist and go where the data takes him?

    Ken Lambert, no scientist is a 'proponent of AGW' - they don't, as others say, follow it blindly like their local football team. If any person or group could come up with data successfully challenging the consensus, they would be lauded and celebrated, and the climate science community would celebrate being wrong about their prognosticatin for the Earth. Champagne would be cracked open in every climatology, geography, geology, physics and chemistry department in the world, and a great many people would sleep easier. Reputations are of trivial importance by comparison to an unpleasant future for all of mankind.

    The problem with denial, and the reason Skeptical Science is such a useful tool, is that those continuing to deny the evidence act very much like supporters of their local football club after they have lost the local derby match 3-0. We hear cries of "It was the ref's fault", or "Smith is a cheating so-and-so", "They fall over at the slightest touch to con the ref". What you never hear, of course is "The other team were better in every department". It's difficult to reason with entrenched people, especially when they do not understand that you would absolutely love for them to be proven correct.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [DB] Well-spoken, and amen!
  43. KL @ 26 "I am not made of sugar candy - and will slug it out with the best of them if I think the point is important enough..."

    To me this quote epitomizes the problem people have. It implies that for you it is not about following the evidence but rather about doggedly holding a position whose "importance" is set by...well, I'm not sure.

    Something besides the evidence, I guess, because following the evidence should otherwise lead everyone to converge on the same answer, rather that simply slugging it out.
    0 0
  44. Stephen Baines at 05:05 AM, unlike you, I am not "not sure", nor having to "guess" about the reasons people hold doggedly to certain positions.
    In Ken's case, even though I haven't a clue who he is, I have been able to pick up that he has been around a long time, as I have, and accumulated a width and depth of experience from operating in different environments which resonates with me.
    In my case, with a technical background, going into places foreign, and introducing new ideas to people steeped in tradition, required people who are prepared to slug it out, unfortunately they are all too few on the ground, but I see Ken as being one of those who would most likely succeed where many fail.
    It is one thing to hold the evidence, it is quite a different matter to make it penetrate the mindset of the masses.
    To put things into a climate perspective, think of the various ocean basin oscillations that have so far been identified. It typically started out with one man, or small group of people identifying a pattern that no-one else could see. Having identified it and presenting the evidence, it then becomes a slog to get those whose mindset has them only seeing the rungs when looking a ladder, to actually recognise the holes.
    One such instance is the IOD, here we are more than a decade on from it being identified, and having followed the progress of the research for much of that time, have seen how from a small group of people who both recognised the evidence and it's relevance, it has been a hard slog to gradually get wider acceptance from experts to adjust their established mindsets and preconceived notions.
    Here we are in Australia, according to the official weather services, still several years away from having reliable seasonal forecasts, still recovering from the latest floods, still being attributed by most to a strong La Nina, when perhaps the most relevant factor was the coinciding again of phases from the Indian and Pacific Oceans that caused a repeat of previous such coincidences.
    How much longer is it going to take for those following the evidence to converge on the answer?
    0 0
  45. John D. The IOD, just like the NAO, the PDO & the AO, have all existed for time immemorial, yet never before have they been shown to be able to alter climate over a period of *several* decades-& certainly not across the entire planet at the same time. Yet people such as yourself *cling* to such flotsam, with an almost religious fervor, in order to convince others (& yourselves) that these various Oscillations are to blame-as opposed to rising greenhouse gas emissions. Yet in spite of the vast amount of study of these various oscillations, Contrarians still are unable to explain a mechanism for how they can-all by themselves-change global energy balance over the course of several decades. Thats because of the fact that, unless they're capable of generating energy all by themselves, they really can't-all they can do is shift existing energy around the system.

    One last point, John D: "and introducing new ideas to people steeped in tradition"

    Judging from your comments on other blogs here, you & Ken sound like the ones who're "steeped in tradition", & in need of being "introduced to 'new' ideas" (well, new to you at any rate). John Cook & Co certainly are trying very hard to do so, but I feel that they're probably wasting their time with people like yourselves.
    0 0
  46. Thank you JohnD - a thoughtful and telling comment.

    Skywatcher - A nice try but implausible. Do you seriously think that 'scientists' who have spent careers proposing the theory of AGW mainly via CO2GHG mechanisms would cheer, laud and celebrate if they were proven wrong?

    Your belief in the better angels of human nature is enviable but unrealistic.

    In my tender youth a Dr Paul Ehrlich was holding the planet in thrall to his apocalyptic predictions of mass starvation by the end of the 1980's, and a host of other Club of Rome disasters. Most of the students of the era believed his predictions and screamed for radical action.

    Does anybody remember him now? I saw him interviewed not long ago, and even though events proved his predictions absurd and plain wrong, he still clung to a defence - the disaster was delayed.

    And for JMurphy and Sphaerica:

    As said previously - this can go two ways. Dr Trenberth goes for 'its there but we can't adequately measure it', and I am going for the 'if it ain't measured it might not be there', if and until the measurements say more.

    If you go for 'its there but we can't adequately measure it', then a quantity of 'belief' is required to make up the balance.

    That quantity of belief is the difference between what we can measure and what we think is there.

    Rather than counting angels on the heads of pins, we can put some numbers of the quantity of belief.

    Proposed Warming imbalance : 0.9W/sq.m
    Measured Warming imbalance : 0.1 - 0.6W/sq.m
    Quantity of Belief: 0.3 - 0.8W/sq.m

    When there is belief required - doubt is the logical companion.
    0 0
  47. Re #46,

    Yet another post filled with rhetoric and hyperbole, and references to religion. Enough already.

    I could be wrong, but i do not think that the "skeptic"/contrarian in question has actually spoken to the material contained in John's post yet. In fact, their very first post was off-topic.
    0 0
  48. 46, Everyone,

    Ken said:
    Do you seriously think that 'scientists' who have spent careers...
    Once again, he denigrates scientists, first through the simple act of putting the word in quotes, implying that they aren't actual scientists.

    Then he maligns them by implying that they'd wish ill on their fellow man just to maintain adherence to current climate theory.

    He then follows by implying that an understanding of current climate science is a "belief," as if it's an optional choice of faith, rather than a reasoned understanding of the science.

    This is probably the crux of Ken's problem, and why he gets so much wrong. His efforts to do so are clearly handicapped by his own preset desire to arrive at a chosen result. He even admits to this when he says:
    it might not be there..
    He doesn't know. It's just a possibility, and one that he'll wager on because he hasn't considered the rather deep and detailed science which reasons that it should be there and almost certainly is... it will be shocking if it's not. But for him, it's only a short step to go from "it might not be there" to closing his eyes and insisting that it isn't there, even though all of the evidence says that it is.

    It's climate change denial in a well wrapped package, with a nice, shiny bow.

    The net result is that his own position is founded on a combination of ignoring some of the evidence in order to reach a conclusion which matches his chosen belief... then he attributes that same approach to everyone else, including all of the dedicated, educated, and hard working climate scientists, and the people who have taken the time to review and understand all of the science and all of the evidence.
    0 0
  49. John C.,

    I very much look forward to reading your book. The psychology of those who deny the reality of AGW and its potentially serious consequences for humanity is fascinating.

    I will be placing a request for the city's main library to buy a few copies of your book-- close to a million people have access to the library :)
    0 0
  50. Yes, I've noticed that its Denialism that seems closest to a religion in its nature. How often do we see the various Contrarians blindly repeating the Mantras of their various High Priests (Monckton, Lindzen, Christy et al) even when those Mantras have no scientific evidence to back them up. Throw in their complete inability to acknowledge even the most glaring errors on the part of their High Priests, & what you've got is something that looks increasingly like a *cult*.
    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