It’s all nice and dandy for “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” to mention a video with Isaac Asimov talking of the “greenhouse effect” as the “most interesting” scientific effect of 1988 (why, isnt’t that the year of the staged Hansen visit to the US Congress). It’s a different thing to forget what else The Good Doctor had to say, about science and everything. For example:
Science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpretations, and scientists quarrel amongst themselves. This is disillusioning for those untrained in the scientific method, who thus turn to the rigid certainty of the Bible instead. There is something comfortable about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful necessity of having to think.
There is more, all of it blatantly incompatible with the mindset of consensus-obsessed AGWers:
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny …’
Clarke’s First Law – Corollary: When, however, the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion—the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, probably right.
I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.
Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold. What does the scientist have to offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity!
The “AGW is logically impossible” list (aka Global Warming Miracles) has suddenly jumped to 52 items, doubling in size in a little less than three weeks. As commented at the Italian version of the page, I am now only 43 items away from putting a poster at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
Or perhaps I should find out where the bulletin boards are, at the University of East Anglia…
It is not straightforward to follow all the various, complex reasonings used to apportion blame. And is all that really necessary? At the end of the day, in a modern democracy bills are approved because a suitable majority of Parliamentarians votes for them. And such a majority only comes together because a consensus is built around each bill.
In this context, Walter Russell Mead’s “The Big Green Lie Exposed” makes perfect sense. In fact, who has actually tried to build a consensus in the USA regarding cap-and-trade? Those activists liberally accusing the rest of humanity of “denialism”? Or those promising a Nuremberg-style trial to all “dissenters”? Or those more or less explicitly trying to manipulate primal fears in order to change society wholesale?
In the Bible, Qohelet says: “Whoever watches the wind will not plant – whoever looks at the clouds will not reap“. Indeed.
There’s troubles with commenting at the NYT so I will re-post some of my notes to Revkin’s “Does an Old Climate Critique Still Hold up?” here:
(a) Given all the discussion taking place now, and the glaring mistakes obvious to all, it is apparent that nobody has ever read the IPCC report at a meaningful level of detail. A professional editor and a pre-established maximum number of pages should be there for AR5.
(b) I am not sure how to reconcile Dr Hegerl’s statement “We felt Andrew Lacis’ comment reflected that he couldn’t clearly see where statements came from, which is why we strengthened the pointers from the technical sections to the executive summary” with the note to Dr Lacis’ expert comment “Rejected“. Usually, rejected comments are not acted upon.
(c) I’d suggest people drop the “Greenhouse effect is simple physics” argument. Simple physics shows that warm air moves upwards, and a room’s floor is generally colder than its ceiling. However, mountaintops are generally colder than sea-level locations. Why? Because the free atmosphere is a complex system where you can’t just apply simple physics (for a different example: think of anti-oxydants’ wonders in Petri dishes and the failure to translate that into effective anti-aging treatments in the real world)
(d) Call me old-fashioned, but I find “post-normal science” a misnomer (almost, a case of reification). “Post-normal science” is not “science” and should be defined with a more appropriate moniker.
And now for some relief from the “Gate du Jour” onslaught…
Obviously there will soon be a much better explanation, but isn’t it peculiar that regarding “what may be the coolest sub-stellar body ever found outside our own solar system” with “a temperature estimate of about 441° Fahrenheit (227° Celsius)“, the explanation for some strange “color” effect in different infrared pictures is that “the atmosphere is cool enough that methane and steam absorb the light coming from below“?
Maybe only on Earth 😎
Thus spoke Dr Kevin E Trenberth, Head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the (very welcome!) Gray/Trenberth written debate hosted by the Tea Party of Northern Colorado:
I have found that the only scientists who disagree with the IPCC report are those who have not read it and are poorly informed
Contrarily to what the most argument-challenged readers of this blog might think, I fully agree with Dr Trenberth’s statement. Only, I arrive at his same conclusion starting from a very different point of view (wonder if Morano will ever try to sing a different tune?).
I have read several chapters of the IPCC AR4 (2007) (sadly, I have not read the whole thing in full from start to end and seriously wonder if anybody ever has). Fact is, they are all written in a scientifically very valid way. As the science of climate is still full of uncertainties, then whatever the future, may it be hot, may it be cold, it will be impossible to ever find in the IPCC reports any item that may be actually considered as fundamentally wrong or misleading.
Everything is in there and its opposite, by wise [UPDATE: “wise” means “wise” in a POSITIVE way…do not mix it up with “weasel” or anything else with a bad connotation] use of words like “could”, “might” and “likely”. Even if we meet again in 2050 and global cooling is in full swing, still the IPCC reports will be, in a sense, correct. Take for example AR4-SYR-SPM (Synthesis Report, Summary for Policymakers)
page 5: Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations
page 7: Continued GHG emissions at or above current rates would [note how they had so many would‘s to distribute, they added one too many here] cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century
The meaning of “very likely” is explained in the box “Treatment of uncertainty” in the Introduction of the Synthesis Report (page 27):
Where uncertainty in specific outcomes is assessed using expert judgment and statistical analysis of a body of evidence (e.g. observations or model results), then the following likelihood ranges are used to express the assessed probability of occurrence: virtually certain >99%; extremely likely >95%; very likely >90%; likely >66%; more likely than not > 50%; about as likely as not 33% to 66%; unlikely <33%; very unlikely <10%; extremely unlikely <5%; exceptionally unlikely <1%.
Since “very likely” stops at 90%, it means that the IPCC experts agree that there is a 10% probability that most of observed temperature increases might not be due to “increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations“. And that there is a 10% probability that the 21st century will not see anything larger than the 20th century has seen.
So if anything like that actually happens, well, the IPCC AR4 has already included that possibility, has it not?
Interestingly, if the IPCC work were to be presented as a scientific article, and the p-value associated to the null hypothesis (that observed temperature increases have nothing to do with increased GHG concentrations) were 0.1 or 10%, most if not all journals would deny publication.
There is a beautiful discussion going about “Hockey Stick Redux” (HSR), the Oct 1 entry of brand-new blog “Cruel Mistress – Being Human on a Harsh Planet” by Dr Ben Hale (I reached it by following Roger Pielke Jr.’s recommendation to visit “Cruel Mistress“).
And that’s a great blog name, by the way…finally somebody recognizes how Earth is not made of fragile crystals and china…
Anyway…the beauty of the discussion is three-fold.
(1) Ben Hale is no AGW skeptic, and yet he has not imposed any censorship, whimsical or otherwise (by the way: let’s welcome Ben to the Joe Romm (dis-)Appreciation Society! – with Romm now openly toying with Fascist character-assassination techniques).
(2) For the time being, HSR is a place where AGW believers and skeptics can exchange disagreements rather than outright insults. One suspects, that is because of the absence of the “usual suspects”, the clique of self-appointed AGW True Believers, the Osama bin Climate‘s fond of censorship and coprolalia
(3) The HSR comment area is the best place where to see AGW skepticism at work, with plenty of nuances, disagreements, sentences at the opposite ends of some scales on the part of people that only agree that the AGW brouhaha is a wild overstatement. If that doesn’t disprove the cretin label of “Denialists”, I don’t know what will.
There are plenty of gems among the HSR comments (also some funny ones I have already written about). For example there is a great explanation by a PhysicsGuy (Oct 3, 10:31am) of what peer-review is and is not, and how it all went wrong regarding AGW, ending with the following:
To summarize, a pro-AGW paper being peer reviewed by other climate scientists is probably (like Briffa appears to have been) being considered favorably because of its results, is being reviewed by reviewers who know and often have co-authored with the paper’s writer, likely contains undisclosed data treatment that influences the result, is being reviewed by reviewers who do not have the mathematical background to spot subtle statistical errors, and is being judged on “conformity to accepted practices in the discipline” in a discipline that is evolving so quickly that the “accepted practices” themselves are not well validated.
I’m not sure that this kind of peer review means what many of us appear to think it does.
And now for one of my own little contributions. I have had an exchange with Ben Hale about my use of the slogan “It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW” as the defining one for the current scientific consensus/dogma on AGW.
Are reputable people actually saying this? Even with my basic and flawed understanding of AGW, this is expressly not what people are saying. I call straw man.
The overwhelming importance in contemporary mainstream climatology of CO2/GHG warming, and of the human contribution to it, can be read in a Jan 27, 2005 blog (“What If … the “Hockey Stick” Were Wrong?” by stefan) on Real Climate:
The main reason for concern about anthropogenic climate change is not that we can already see it (although we can). The main reason is twofold.
(1) Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are increasing rapidly in the atmosphere due to human activity. This is a measured fact not even disputed by staunch “climate skeptics”.
(2) Any increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will change the radiation balance of the Earth and increase surface temperatures. This is basic and undisputed physics that has been known for over a hundred years.
The key words are main, concern, anthropogenic climate change, due to human activity. That is, RealClimate and (by simple logical extension) the scientific consensus on Climate Change, are concerned because human activities are increasing ghg’s (and especially, CO2) in the atmosphere.
What was the IPCC established for, after all, if not to investigate the warming effects of CO2/GHGs emissions from human activities? Here’s from the FAR (1990) as per Wikipedia:
…emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases: CO2, methane, CFCs and nitrous oxide. These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface…
The key words there are human activities, increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases, additional warming.
Hence: “It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW!”…a slogan that has all the defects of a slogan (e.g. simplification), and yet conveys the two most important aspects of the AGW scare and dogma. “Most important” by a long shot.
Let’s look at how long a shot, from a purely logical point of view. What would happen if human activities would not be emitting CO2/GHGs? There would be no IPCC. What would happen had it been thought there were no AGW, Anthropogenic Global Warming? There would be no IPCC.
That is, CO2/GHGs and AGW are necessary conditions for the whole IPCC/AGW scientific consensus to exist.
What would happen if the only driver for climate change were human emissions of CO2/GHGs? There would still be an IPCC. What would happen if the only climate phenomenon of note were AGW? There would still be an IPCC.
That is, CO2/GHGs and AGW are sufficient conditions for the whole IPCC/AGW scientific consensus to exist.
Therefore, since CO2/GHG emissions and AGW are (together) necessary and sufficient for the IPCC and the AGW scientific consensus to exist, the IPCC and the AGW scientific consensus are for all intents and purposes exclusively dedicated to CO2/GHG emissions and AGW.
“It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW”. QED.
That’s why, as remarked by another commenter “MrPete”, the “primary policy push” is about GHGs, and in particular about CO2.
In a saner world, in fact, we would have gone a long way already to eliminate that other, and shall I say even more established source of climate change and untold numbers of respiratory diseases and deaths, namely soot. And especially the soot generated by primitive cooking stoves.
It is one of the biggest tragedies of the AGW consensus: we could have in a month a 10-year worldwide plan to physically eliminate all human emissions of soot at a relatively minor cost…look instead how many person-years are being wasted for a Copenhagen deal that everybody well knows it will be ineffectual and costly at best.
But what can we do? After all…It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW!