A reader writes: Why are there people who seem hell-bent on denying anthropogenic global warming?

Or, in fuller,

Why are there people who seem hell-bent on denying anthropogenic global warming?; What are the deniers trying to achieve?; Why do they post comments on your article that totally defy not only science, but also common sense?

These are not easy questions to answer accurately. But its easy to give sloppy caricatures in answer.

Don't ask, don't tell

One answer is: who cares? It is possible to operate in a mode of try-to-understand-their-motives, but firstly its just guesswork and secondly its probably not terribly useful. Perhaps if you could really get it right, and understand better than them the deep wellsprings of denialism, you might just apply leverage at the right point and turn them from the dark to the light. But I think this is unrealistic. Its like the idea that we can convince everyone by magic. Wishing for a magic bullet is another way of giving up; don't do it.

They are legion

Another answer is: the dork side is no more unified than the light. Watch (or better still, don't watch) the poor people who don't believe in the GHE try to convince the Watties who don't believe in the temperature record, or something else. Once you remove the train-wreck factor its desperately dull, and repetitive. But apart from "the IPCC is wrong, and Al Gore is fat" they don't really agree about anything. Asserting that they all believe X is wrong; as wrong as the usual denialist nonsense that everyone who believes in GW is dedicated to the downfall of Western Capitalism and wants to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

Ahm all shook up

Moving away from evasions to attempts at actual answers: you don't have to read septic blogs - or comments from septics - for very long to realise that they're often quite confused between the science of GW and the political consequences. So there's a big constituency of rightward-leaning greeny haters whose logic goes something like (a) "all these people like this science, so it must be wrong" or (b) "all these people say the consequence of this science is global communism, so it must be wrong". I caricature, of course, but I think this is one of the bigger groups. This category doesn't really understand the science, and doesn't really want to. It wants to believe that it doesn't need to understand it, or take it into account. This group probably contains the largest group of sane-but-misguided folk.

To be fair though the confusion between science and politics is depressingly common on the greeny side too. Any number of people will try to tell you that because you believe in the science of GW, therefore you must believe in their pet solution to the problem. And its a pernicious error, because it pushes the "(b)" people above away from the science.

They're nice to me

If you're a bit of a nutso, and wander into the GW debate, you're quite likely to spout some piece of drivel you've innocently picked up from some septic blog, and someone who clearly knows much more than you will then tell you "you're spouting drivel that you've picked up from a septic blog". On the other hand, if you wander over to, say, WUWT you can talk as much drivel as you like and no-one will care; and very likely people will even compliment you on your drivel, especially if its clear that you believe that Al Gore is fat. People like being told that they're right, and don't like being told that they're wrong. Since there is a wide spread ocean of wrong and the islands of right are harder to find, its likely that the lazy folk, always a majority, will get things wrong. And such people are unlikely to be self-disciplined enough to say "hmm, yes, you have a point, I really am a bit ignorant about that"; they're more likely to surrender to the warm but smelly embrace of the septics.

People have said, quite directly, in comments here (that of course I can't be bothered to find right now) that they don't believe what I say because I'm not saying it nicely. Anyone saying such a thing is clearly stupid, but alas not unusual.

Not invented here

A fairish segment of the denialism market has convinced itself that all climate science since Lamb is wrong, and all climatologists corrupt or stupid. And so they wander around re-inventing the wheel, badly. Once they've got into that state, pointing them at fairly basic textbooks or papers that do what they've just done, but properly, doesn't trigger a response of "oh yes, we were wrong, thank you for correcting us". It either triggers embarrassment, if they're capable or reading the papers, or more likely fury if they discover themselves unable to even understand the basics when explained properly. And so human nature kicks in.

That's only a small set, of course, because people with enough imagination to invent, or re-invent badly, or even think, are fairly rare. Far more common are the related Dumb America type folks, who approach a complex problem, make the first obvious error that they can see, and then stick vigourously to that error as proof that they won't succumb to "consensus". Their rejection of the obvious evidence then becomes self-evidence for their ability to "think", and so they're stuck.

A motto of this kind of strand of thought, if you're interested in mottoes, is that its a pretty good idea not to argue in such a way as to put people's backs up; because you won't get them to back down. So calling people "dumb", "tossers", "septics" and "denialists" is just bad debating style. Fortunately, I'm not here to convince anyone who doesn't want to be convinced, so I don't have to live by those fine rules. People like ATTP or Bart do that kind of thing well, and I admire them for it, but I'm not going to emulate them.

The professionals

[This section added after the first comment.] How embarrassing. I totally forgot this category: those who are simply for hire. Perhaps I can justify forgetting about them, in the context of the question, because the answer is obvious: money. Its not large, numerically, but of course its part of the hard core; and part of their function is to be a core for the weak to coalesce around. They aren't worth talking to, of course, because they aren't it to learn, but only for the gold. They're worth talking at, because of the bystanders.


[Another one I forgot. DB says it quite well in a comment so I won't re say it.

Don't overestimate their dedication

Sometimes we take the septics too seriously. Many, well most, of them are lightweights. They're good for a drive-by blog comment, but not for a sustained argument. They're good for a quick whinge about wikipedia, but not for the hard slog of trying to write articles that make sense. Are they "hell bent" on anything? Not really, outside a hard core.


* A Look at the ‘Shills,’ ‘Skeptics’ and ‘Hobbyists’ Lumped Together in Climate Denialism - Andy Revkin.
* Time to push back against the global warming Nazis - Dr Roy burns his bridges, and his fanbois compete to see who can make up the naughtiest words.

More like this

Some time ago I promised KK a post on tribalism, and he has never forgiven me for not writing it. I think the reason I never wrote it was because the word, or the charge, turns out to be so vague as to be meaningless. Tribalism is a charge you fling at people when you have no real arguments left…
No, not physically, alas. Though I did go to Oxford. This post is about people getting too stuck in their own comfort ghetto. Not me, obviously - plenty of people are attacking me :-). This is thrown up by comments at my Economics and Climatology? post, though I've been thinking this for a while.…
As regular readers will be aware, I think the ETS is stupid, and we should be imposing a carbon price via carbon taxes instead (Time for carbon taxes? and refs therein, if you're interested in the history). But David Hone isn't, he likes the ETS, and nice person that he undoubtedly is, it cannot be…
For my sins, I decided to listen to Murray "I have a theory" Salby talking about his ideas about why the recent rise in CO2 isn't human-caused (note that isn't his most recent UK tour; that's back in April). By all means read my notes below if you're interested in the various ways that he is wrong…

Follow the $$$. There's still $10Ts of fossil fuels in the ground, and fossil fuel billionaires want to make sure that they can harvest it all.

[Thanks. Added -W]

Given that Haseler fits at least a couple of these (to me) accurate "caricatures," I wonder at your engagement and apparent patience with him. Do you harbor some hope for his rehabilitation?

[No. You can't argue meaningfully with him. It doesn't take much discussion with him to get to the level where its clear he's wrong about the details. The problem he then has that he throws up squid ink, and refuses to work through the consequences of those errors in detail - which is, the collapse of his position.

In fact that's quite a good general point - which you'll see in the arguments with the "slayers" as well. Its not hard to sustain a "general" position using words, just words. If, every time you hit problems in detail you retreat to generalities, then you can keep your position "intact" in the sense of not having any flaws you need to admit to yourself. But this is dishonest (if you know enough to talk about the details; and if you don't, then your position is meaningless). MH is fundamentally dishonest in this way, and so incapable of learning. If you're prepared to engage with relevant details, then you can learn. Of course the other way of evading the relevant details, which you'll also see in the discussion of the idealised GHE model, is to switch to a pile of irrelevant details, again -W]

Why do people not say the obvious: The scientific worldview and Climate change science as an example is a direct threat to Fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity and thus this resistance to what many feel is an attack on their principles is fierce. Watch any religious TV station in the US and there will certainly be anti climate change programs withing a week at most. Almost as many as the Intelligent Design shows. Take the strong principled dynamics of these people and the opposition to climate science would be much less.

This set of hard working, generally nice people are a stable group that would, even though they would say otherwise, like to destroy "scientific materialism".

You missed one: Ego.

The best current example is Judith Curry. A few years ago she was just another scientist, competent and well-regarded in her field but hardly front page news. Now she's one of the go-to people when the national or international media need a soundbite from a contrarian with real scientific qualifications, she's called upon to testify before Congress, and basks in the adulation of her "denizens." Heady stuff.

In a similar vein Isaac Held once remarked about Lindzen, "You can’t prove that you are smarter than everyone else by being part of a consensus, but you can hope for this outcome by being a contrarian."

[Yes, good point. That does account for a couple of the "big names"; and indeed perhaps for some of the followers too -W]

By Don Brooks (not verified) on 21 Feb 2014 #permalink

Another question, as perhaps you see log files or otherwise have some idea -- what proportion of the accounts posting nonsense are, um, from origins made of meat?

I've eyeballed the propagation rate of some of the septic memes very coarsely by searching the string and counting the hits, over a few days -- and it's really seemed to me that much of the pithy bits propagates at faster than human read-and-copy-paste speeds, like it's botwork.

But of course that's mean.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 21 Feb 2014 #permalink

Ahh, this is getting close (at least for me)
"To be fair though the confusion between science and politics is depressingly common on the greeny side too. "

This is why Wikipedia is such a chore. There are political ideologues that are only defending against sceptics that don't understand the science. Global Warming article reads like a manifesto against sceptics. Add real science to the article and it's 'too sciencey". Adding a comment and getting reverted by some greeny ideologue spouting NOTJOURNAL is kind of stupid. Hint: planting a tree in the northern hemisphere will not help in any meaningful way.

[People complain about the GW page all the time; e.g. (currently) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Global_warming#Neutrality. But generally when asked to back up their complaints they don't provide anything meaningful. Your hint isn't of much use to me I'm afraid, and I watch the page, so I doubt it means anything to anyone else. Its best to provide diffs, so that people know what you're talking about -W]

By Tim Beatty (not verified) on 21 Feb 2014 #permalink

Why? Because as a physicist with about 50 years' experience studying and teaching physics,

[That's an interesting claim. Can you provide us with some evidence - perhaps a few of the papers you've written? A quick google scholar search throws up nothing -W]

especially thermodynamics, the greenhouse conjecture is readily seen by those of us who understand thermodynamics to be a complete travesty of physics [Snip. Sorry, the rest of your comment clearly belongs back in http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2014/02/16/the-idealised-greenhouse-effec…; and you have unanswered questions there -W]

By Douglas Cotton… (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

I think your analysis of this point is rather shallow. I am well acquainted with many of the skeptical or denialist persuasion, and have even attended a couple of their meetings. Almost all in the group I know old guys (like me) and have scientific or engineering backgrounds. They spend their meetings discussing real and other deficiencies in the AGW argument.

I am inclined to believe that the core complaint is ideological objection to the political implications of realistic climate action - some kind of super-national regulation of a whole range of economic activities. I also think that there is a widespread aversion to what they regard, in some cases quite correctly, to a current of hysteria in what they call climate "alarmists".

Finally, many have meteorological backgrounds, and with their experience with meteorological modeling, deeply suspicious of climate models that predict multi-decadal events. Also, meteorologists are truly annoyed with the tendency of some some "alarmists" to attribute every adverse weather event - heat wave, snowstorm, or tornado - to global warming.

[I don't think I understand you. This is exactly what I'm saying under "Ahm all shook up" - is that the point whose analysis you're calling shallow? But the analysis if simply that their reasoning is invalid. I'm sure there's a nice Greek word for it: that you don't like what you think might be the conclusions so you reject the argument. And in this case, of course, the conclusions they draw from the science don't follow anyway, so even that is invalid. But while its possible to wrap more words around it, is it possible to say anything deeper? Just because your guys are actually clever, and may even know something, doesn't make their error any more interesting.

Pfft, actually, re-reading what I wrote I bet your folks don't want to think they fit under that category. Would you or they object to "This category doesn’t really understand the science", on the grounds that the Met. folk do? I agree that the emphasis there is misleading and perhaps more words would indeed help: you can understand some of it, and even some related stuff, and that can trap you into thinking you do understand it -W]

By NikFromNYC (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

#8 CIP: I frequently read the claim that "climate alarmists" are indulging in "hysteria" which more rational souls need to counter. I don't get it.

Between the more rational comments on the UK newspaper comment sites (for example) I see a balance which pretty much reflects the balance of risks we run with the business-as-usual GHG scenario (which is where we seem to be heading). Do you think there really is such "hysteria"? It's a serious question.

As for "alarmist" - I have kids. There is a reaslistic chance that AGW is going to seriously screw up their lives and screw up the lives of their kids yet more - isn't there? I think it's as rational for me to be alarmed at that prospect as to be alarmed that their school is going to take them Base Jumping. They'll probably be fine - they are clever kids and they'll have a damn sight better parachutes than most of the worlds poulation - but (say) 10% risk of real disaster is both realistic and pretty damned alarming, isn't it? I may be wildly wrong - I work in a very different area of environmental physics and I'm not qualified to judge the AGW case but perhaps you'd care to explain why alarm isn't rational?

I'm also a businessman. There's a good chance that my business will grow in developing countries in the next years. I've invested a lot and I'm alarmed that we're going to suffer contracting markets instead because our potential clients (in middle-eastern countries with very limited water resources, for example) are going to be too busy surviving personally and economically to bother buying fancy stuff from me. If my alarm isn't rational why not? Damn - there are days I get quite hysterical about it.

Likewise the attribution of adverse weather events to global warming. There's clearly a category error involved, since the individual events prove nothing, but while I see the press making their usual mess of the facts I get the impression that many "alarmists" (like me, I guess) actually understand the subtlety of the situation. if AGW will result in a more violent climate, with more precipitation, then the increasing frequency of such events is evidence for AGW impacts and should, if one is being honest, be reported as such. Failing to do so would be just as serious an error as overestimating the evidence provided by one single event wouldn't it?

Why would one not be alarmed? Isn't "alarmism" rational?

By David Jordan (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

Umm of course the reason why you should consider deniers is because if we (sceptics) lose, we think we’ll have to hand over a load of money to wasted and wasteful causes

[Ah, you're another of the "can't distinguish science from politics" types -W]

but if you lose, you think we’ll reach the end of life as we know it. One of us should be more motivated to try harder.

Funny how you forget about the catastrophe whenever you engage in your more popular sport of sceptic bashing. I’ll remind you guys of the bleedin’ obvious – YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE REST OF THE PLANET WITH YOU IF YOU WANT TO CUT CO2!!!

[That was incoherent. If you have a point, you could have another go at making it if you like-W]

@William - Maybe I should have said that I didn't find your explanation very useful in understanding their motivation - which is why I provided an alternative based purely on my experiences. You weren't ask about their reasoning, you were asked about their motivation. You also didn't critique their reasoning - unless you consider an insult a critique. FWIW I always remind my denialist friends that I'm on the other side of the issue, and, so far at least, they have listened politely and never yet threatened to burn me at the stake.

PS - I imagine there are many Greek words neither of us remember which wouldn't clarify anything at all - but try English - it's my mother tongue.

[OK, I agree that I was asked something different to what I actually provided. My point about the Greek word that there is a word for a standard falsity in logic: the one where if you dislike the conclusions, you reject the argument. It would probably be helpful if I could say that in one word. Of course that's not really quite right here, because there are two things: the political consequences really don't follow from the science, so that's one fallacy; and even if they did, they wouldn't be a valid reason for rejecting the science, so that's a second. But I think you're saying that your people aren't arguing like that (obviously, as no-one would explicitly argue that): instead, its what provides their motivation. It sounds like what provides their reasoning is the excess-detail stuff that's so common. You can always find little niggling loose ends - like the precession of Mercury - which may be the gateway to a brave new world, or maybe now -W]

@Jaget - I thought I made it clear that my conclusions were based purely on my own encounters.

@Nik - Ironically enough, the motto of the group I'm talking about is "we don't believe the experts, we believe the data."
Their problem, in that regard, is that they are very selective about the data they consider important. But they are very good at bringing up points, some of which are easy to refute (Venus it hot because it's atmosphere is compressed, why hasn't the temperature increased much the last decade and a half, despite huge CO2 jump), some of which I need to research to
deal with (why was there an end Ordovician glaciation despite very high CO2), and some of which I'm still working on (if sea level rose 130 meters after last ice age, and corals adapted, why do atolls today need to worry)

I'm am making an effort to be polite to you despite your gratuitous and rather misguided insult - I am an AGW
"alarmist" as they say.

"septic memes"

So Hank, did you mean to say that or was it just a serendipitous typo?

By Dave Werth (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

CIP has, I think, made clear the case that most denial is down to personal/ideological traits. If you look at the polling, there is a bias towards older men with a conservative outlook. CIP points out that 'ideological objection to the political implications of realistic climate action' is a real stcker for them.

I used to argue against denialists on Scienceblogs, the Guardian and the old BBC fourms, but by and large, I just check out what deniers are saying now - its just too much work to convince people who dont want to be convinced.

If you look at the comments in the Guardian, etc, you quaickly see a pattern of a certain type of personality. They tend to be vaguely middle-class, but not especially well educated, opinionated, and strongly respond to confirmation bias. Any 'expert' is obviously trying to fool them, especially if they dont understand what that person is saying, although they will never admit that. They tend to be the sort of person who is an expert on everything, and who can have an arguement in an empty room. In fact, not being part of the 'consensus' works for them. They are brave souls, fighting for truth, just like Gallilio....

I can certainly recognise this type of person in my current line of work. I've sold TV's etc part time for a well known dept store in the UK for the past five years. In that time, a huge amount has changed in TV's, and since we pride ourselves on customer service, I like to get it right, and expplain to a customer what they are buying.

There is a certain type of customer, just like the description above, who will reply to the question as to whether they require any help by shouting 'NO'. It will then be clear that they have no idea what they are doing, and will wander all around the department. You tend to feel sorry for their wives, who might just ask you to help them eventually.

One chap recently wanted to know what the refresh rate was on a TV, and said 'he knew about Physics'. The reps from Samsung and LG patiently explained to him what this was, and how it was achieved (its the most important thing on a TV, so a reasonable question). We even ran test footage to shop him the difference between different priced TV's. He said he couldn't see it. I took his wife aside, and showed her - she got it immediately (a very nice lady, who actually knew the father of one my ex-girlfriends). Could the husband see it? Probably. Could he admit to seeing it? No. His 'knowledge' had made him resistant to something that his eyes could clearly see. Thats why I chatted to his wife - she's the one who'll choose the TV...

I think someone had the right idea about 'bots'. There is one bloke on Milnes thread in the Guardian who basicially is making one denier point at a time. When that gets shot down, he just brings up another. He's not even embarrased about it, but spending a huge amount of time making himself look stupid.
There is a huge amount of copy and paste, and the usual ten most popular factoids, although I've noticed 'Al Gore is fat' starting to be the starting talking point, rather than the final insult it sued to be five-ten years ago. Are they getting more stupid or more desperate?

Still, I like the idea of a conference of deniers, as suggested the other day. The Washington Post had a an article years back about one http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/23/AR20060…

but I suspect that the cracks will really start to show now - they all hate the same thing, but cant agree on what they like, or how they like it.
BTW - has anyone asked Christy about his reaction to California's drought? His article on snowfall http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Study-Sierra-snowfall-consistent-… looks a little sick now.

The predictions of mankind global warming models have failed. Science says prediction failure implies model failure.

The trend (see #11) is the previously established pattern. So, thanks to the folds with other political agendas, we are spending (wasting) lots of money is useless endeavors. But then the money goes to support far left people. So, belief (it must be a religious thing) in mankind global warming is a code for the far left to identify each other to get funding (from taxes on those others) for their other agenda.

[Ah. You're one of the "can't distinguish the science from the politics" ones -W]

@Mike - Agree that belief is mostly a matter of personal ideological traits. Also, as you say, most of them, like myself, are elderly, but I wouldn't call them uneducated. Most in the group I have met with have masters degrees in engineering or a physical science.

An anecdote: After I got my PhD, while looking for a more permanent job, I spent a semester teaching electromagnetism in an EE department. I shared an office with an emeritus professor. He was a very accomplished fellow, with a raft of papers and patents in an astonishing range of subjects, but his passions at that point of his career were golf and disproving Einstein's theory of relativity. I might have mentioned that I had been a grader in the relativity course, so he used to bring his latest "disproofs" of relativity. It didn't usually take me to long to find the mathematical or conceptual error at the heart of his analysis, at which point he would disappear to the golf course for a few weeks.

I mention this to argue that ideologically motivated error is hardly confined to the ignorant or stupid.

[Hmm. But would you say that he, in contrast to many in this debate, at least read your criticism and reacted to it intelligently? He didn't simply come back in a few weeks with exactly the same thing but dressed up differently? -W]

This post is another one of those incessant, ritualized, "pearl-clutching", hand-wringing, needy-comrades-seeking-reassurance, how-can-these-dumb-cluck-headless-chickens-be-so-bird-brained-as-to-be-unpersuaded-by-our-chicken-little-cocksure-agit-prop-scare-mongering, the-invincibly-ignorant-so-annoy-and-astonish-us-light-bearers-of-the-make-a-greenwashed-buck/make-a-green-gulag-good-for-the-cause-good-for-the-team-party-line-compliant-hive-truth, we're-the-smarty-pants-unlike-all-those-cretinous-tacky-awful-hoi-polloi-who-think-we're-just-a-bunch-of-pompous-ass-geek-ball-asshole-weirdos bonding-sessions with obligatory digs at "old white guys" and loads of phoney-baloney, retro-Soviet, Freud-wannabe psych-evals of the "deniers". The post and supporting comments just write themselves, as all can see, in five-year-plan, standard-issue, note-perfect, code-word, dog-whistle, hive-speak cant. So what else is new? BARF!!!

You guys still don't get it, do you? Let me help you out. Here's the coolie-trash, no-body, B. S. detector-assisted "skinny" on the deal.

-These guys try to make out like it's all just AGW science, but then they're always slipping in a "C" before the AGW...

[It took me a while to parse your post. Its easy to tell that you're ranting, but less clear on whose side. The people who put the "C" in front of "AGW" are the denialists. You, and like minded folk. No-one else uses it -W]

...and then they push--sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly--their power-and-control-social-engineering and rip-off-the-peasantry-with-carbon-taxes hive-agenda.


-These guys have troughs, perks, and gravy-trains riding on the deal; they've never done an honest day's work in their whole lives; and they are essentially unemployable when not used by their hive-betters as brainwashed, hive-flunky canon-fodder to advance the CAGW hustle.


-These guys are forever attending party-time eco-confabs to rail against demon-carbon, expending tons and tons of CO2-spew getting to/fro these boondoggles, when these grab-ass hive-swarms could be easily video-conferenced with vast savings in GHG's. Also these guys' hive-masters, whose rumps they so avidly seek out and adoringly smooch, are addicted to carbon-piggie toys like mansions, bullet-proof limos, and private-jets with matching jet-set, enviro-unfriendly lifestyles.

B. S. Detector reading: HYPOCRITES!!! DON'T TRUST A WORD THEY SAY!!!!


B. S. Detector reading: SCAM!!!! RIP-OFF!!!!! CON-JOB!!!!

And that's why you hive-bozos are having a problem "closing the deal" with us rubes, you so despise and disdain.

Was that a Poe? The frothing makes me skeptical (heh) that it was meant seriously. But it can be hard to tell.

By Don Brooks (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

There is also the issue of denial of Engineering Science, which is practiced with gusto by many Greens. For example claims that nuclear is not low carbon, which is barking. This seems to fit neatly into the denier definition – contradicts IPCC assessments, based on fringe literature from the web and happily repeated without any critical thought. Those who shout loudest on climate are often those standing in the way of pragmatic action.

[Errm, yes, I can't say that Green policy on nukes or GMOs fills me with enthusiasm. http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2011/03/15/pop-pop-pop/ perhaps -W]

What I still do not understand, why attack the basic science in the first place?

There are so many topics debated in politics. One side says this is important, the other side we do not have money for that, etc. People will paint a rosy picture of the future if the idea is implemented, the others will claim the idea makes things worse, etc.

And for all topics the scientific uncertainty is so much larger. Even in the field of climate, you could attack climate impact studies, which are inherently uncertain as they depend on how people will react, you can ask whether it would not be great to grow oranges in Cambridge and all the usual bickering in politics. Seen every political talk show.

However, why attack the basic science, the parts which are most solid? Why come up with "refutations" that would need so many different sciences to be wrong and are thus highly unlikely? There is no need whatsoever to make a fool of yourself and claim that the CO2 is not man-made, that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas, or that the temperature is decreasing.

That there are old men who will soon die that do not want to change the energy system, is something i can understand. They will have the costs, but the difference will only be visible in a few decades when they are below the ground. But why do these people chose such a weird strategy?

By Victor Venema (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

Is it not science, and science alone, that allows us to confirm our perceptions as objective correlates of reality and truth? Without science, thought leaders and power brokers in cultures everywhere are free to transmit memes at will, regardless of the extent to which the memes bear a meaningful relationship to what could be real and true. For example, a preternatural factoid or meme like “food must be produced in order to meet the needs of a growing population” is falsely given credence as a scientific idea although it reflects the opposite of the actual relationship between food supply and human numbers. Findings from science indicate population numbers are the dependent variable and food the independent variable, just like the population dynamics of other species. By increasing the food supply, we are in fact growing the human population, are we not? That human exceptionalism applies to its population dynamics and therefore is essentially different from (not similar to) the population dynamics of other species is a pseudoscientific factoid, bereft of an adequate foundation in science. Overwhelming science regarding the human population indicates that human population numbers appear as a function of food supply. For many this scientific idea is on the one hand irrefutable and on the other hand unbelievable. So completely are we enthralled by the notion of human exceptionalism. Exploding human numbers are the natural result of the Industrial and later Green Revolutions, are they not?

By Steven Earl Salmony (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink


Yr: "The people who put the "C" in front of the "AGW" are the denialists."

First off, thank you WMC for letting my rant survive--only this blog has the intellectual self-confidence to tolerate such an against-the-grain rant.

Let me add,that for all my rant's silly-ol'-coot "craziness", I'm sincerely trying to make some points that, in my humble opinion, are a worthwhile contribution to the discussion. And, in that vein, I am genuinely looking for persuasive counters to my "ranted" concerns with Climate Change, AGW, CAGW, Climate-weirding, or whatever you want to call it, in its current, highly-politicized, agit-prop-afflicted, crony-capitalist, commercialized form.

As for the "C" business. Yes, I've noticed that those trying to scare everyone to death with "catastrophic", bogey-man-shaking prophecies-of-"Climate-Change"-doom! (see Secretary Kerry's latest) avoid the "CAGW" locution as a matter of form. Why?--I don't know. Perhaps you know why, WMC. But they're certainly not above taking "AGW" and going-to-town with scare-mongering the topic to-the-max (google: "warmlist"). So, again, why this prim objection to putting a "C" in front of AGW?

[Because you're inventing strawmen to fight against. It makes your arguments uninteresting, because you're not arguing with the people you're talking to, instead you're arguing with some imaginary people that you've invented -W]

But maybe, it's all a big misunderstanding on my part, and there are no "catastrophic" aspects to AGW? So then why are we spending billions on the deal and funding hordes of modelers, for example, to "investigate" the phenomenon? Perhaps someone can explain that? I mean, like, to me, and others like moi, I suspect, if you take the "C" out of CAGW then "climate science" deserves about as much claim on the public-purse and public-interest as "Hamburgerology".

[I'm sure I've said this before, but perhaps not to you: why do you think there is nothing in between "no problem at all" and "catastrophe"? By insisting on this all-or-nothing you divorce yourself from reality and become uninteresting.

As to the funding: the funding for climate modelling, etc, is small in comparison to lots of other things: the money spent subsidising renewable energy (or the money spent subsididsing farm produce), the expected costs of climate change; etc -W]

In other words, WMC, why do you or any of your other like-minded colleagues care if anyone is "hell-bent on denying AGW" if AGW is no big-deal--that is, there's no "catastrophic" concern that attaches itself to the 3-letter acronym? I mean, like, if AGW modelling, for example, is just an idle hobby, pursued by a tight-knit "team" of compulsive-obsessive nerds, then why should us tax-payers fund it? I pay for my hobbies, so why shouldn't the AGW hobbyists pay for theirs?

"It's easy to tell that you're ranting, but less clear on whose side."

I nominate this for the first annual Stoat T-Shirt

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

ps, quoting Brin:
Finley continues:  "Perhaps the one thing uniting all neoreactionaries is a critique of modernity that centers on opposition to democracy in all its forms. Many are former libertarians who decided that freedom and democracy were incompatible."

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

h/t Ingenious Pursuits

Winston Churchill:

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it but in the end, there it is.”

By Susan Anderson (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

@ Victor Venema,

Yr: "why attack the basic science..." and "...old men who will soon die that don't want to change an energy system..."

Two points:

-Scientific "knowledge", unless embraced as a pseudo-religion or a Lysenkoist prop to an ideology, is inherently corrigible and all of its "estimates of reality" are fit subjects for "attack" as long as such "attacks" are founded on persuasive rational-empiricism. Having said that, I don't know any "deniers" who "deny" that atmospheric CO2 produces a back-radiation that, all other things being equal, raises, in principle, the temperature of the planet--if there are any, they are few and far between. Rather it's all about how much heat and the net-effect of negative and positive feedbacks.

[You're clearly wrong about that. Read Doug Cotton in the comments at http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2014/02/16/the-idealised-greenhouse-effec…, or the Prinincpia Scientifica folk. I agree that the denialists aren't united - indeed, I said so - and I don't think most are slayers, but lets not pretend that they don't exist -W]

-And then, Victor, there's your leap from an anguished, how-can-those-awful-people-attack-basic-science! cri-de-coeur to a non-sequitur, old-guy phobic thanatopsis plugging the "costs" of delayed "change to energy systems". Exactly the sort of "thing" I was "ranting" about in my above, hard-to-parse comments. Basic science chit-chat segues into "change to energy systems", "weird strategies", and "costs" (catastrophic costs?--maybe, Victor?). Just talkin' 'bout science--that's all! morphs into agit-prop, brave-new-world, "energy systems" hive-"ideations" so very, very advantageous to make-a-greenwashed-buck/make-a-green-gulag, lefty designs on our society. Us useless-eaters see through all that., Victor.

Well, here's the current scenario. The world has warmed 0.8C GMST. At least 0.4C is from anthropogenic causes including GHGs from the burning of fossil fuels. Error bars on individual components of warming is large, but together they are small chance that it is not anthropogenic. The outlook is that this continue to rise as fossil fuel use dominates the concentrations of CO2. So far, the models have underestimated arctic warming and overestimated tropical warming. We use the models though to estimate the effects of AGW and the conclusion is less precipitation. Overall warming is not disputable. The distribution of warming, though, seems to have a profound consequence of how the planet will respond (yes it's a big messy computational problem). Current models with the tropics warming, seems to push the jetstream towards the arctic. If, somehow, the tropics are more efficient at moving heat to the arctic (or more efficient at moving heat into the ocean than the arctic is able), what does that mean for the jetstream and the change in weather patterns? Those are scenarios I'd like to see. It's not enough that the nightly weather reader attributes every weather event as AGW. I am also disappointed that climate scientists don't denounce these correlations/causation fallacies. Also, it's a little disingenuous to try and separate the science of climatology from the policy implications.

[No, its essential to separate the two. Because they are independent. Deliberately mixing them u is an anti-science tactic, used by the "extreme wing" on both sides -W]

The amount of science being conducted is directly related to policy implications of the outcome. Compare the amount climate research to non-policy related science like studying black holes or super nova. It's justified by the policy implications. On a final note, as we look at the condition of humankind from pre-industrial times until today, I note that only 5% or so of the population is farmers (down from 95%). Compared to Royalty in 1750, I live better than any of them and I am decidedly middle class. I can travel anywhere in the world faster than a horse could carry me. Indoor plumbing, central heating, leisure time, etc. Would you rather be the wealthiest person in 1750 or middle class or working class in 2014? We don't have to go back to 1750 but there's not a very clear understanding of the cost of climate change (and I will go out on a limb and assert by observation the benefits since 1750 have been overwhelmingly in favor of fossil fuel consumption) and the solutions being peddled today don't appear to do much about climate change except shift wealth around.

[Again, you're confusing and mixing climate science and economics -W]

By Tim Beatty (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

@William#19 - I don't recall many details, but it's usually not crucial that the argument be exactly the same. The key is the logical notion that anything follows from a false premise.

@Mike#20 whom I'm pretty sure is not MikeB#17* - Your ambition to be a rap star is admirable, but you might need a little more work.

> the amount of science being conducted is directly
> related to policy implications

That's "advocacy science" -- industry funded "science" you're thinking of.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

@Mike#25 -

You do realize that your rant #20 did not contain anything but ad hominem attacks on climate scientists don't you? If you actually want answers, try asking questions or at least try making a substantive point.

Thanks to mike and john, we have excellent examples of the fact free rant, so thanks guys! At least you did it by yourselves, rather than just copy and paste from WattsUp, so at least marks for originality.

Colin - saying that 'Greens' dont like nuclear for idelogical reasons ss possibly engaging in false equivalence. While there are people who dont like nuclear for personal reasons, I've no philisophical problem with them - they just dont make any money, which is why the private sector doesn't really want to buy them without very large public subsidies. When they can make money for those who operate them in a realistic market (and can actually do something about nuclear waste), let me know.

Wouldn't energy efficency, devolving and smartening the grid, and stopping fossil fuel subsidies be the quickist and most efficient route to start with? However, no 'Green' pretends that nuclear does not exist, etc.

CIP - My comment on 'education' was about most driveby commenters on blogs, etc, rather than the group you talked about. In many ways, they are the most frustrating group to connect with. They have the scientific training (and often the mathematical/physics skills) to be able to understand what is happening, and communicate that.

Instead, they seem to be stuck. I suspect that a more conservative ideology is part of that, and as you say, they ' are very selective about the data they consider important', which points to confirmation bias. It could also be something a bit like the case of Bill Grey (he's mentioned in the Washington Post article). Grey is anything but stupid, but he seems not to want to keep up or accept new thinking or techniques.

Its very sad that such a figure has come to such a conclusion about climate change, but such resistance does happen. Martin Gardener writes in 'Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science' that some academics refused to accept Relativity right up until the 1930's, so the Professor you mentioned was not alone! And I can think of a number of archaeologists (my own field) who have either got a bee in their bonnet or got 'emeritus syndrome', so perhaps its universal.

But perhaps an invite to a University doing research might do wonders for that group, and allow them to discuss their misgivings with staff. They could be a great help in the end.

The outline of the different players in climate denial (the professionals, the fringe scientists, think tanks, blogs and commenters) suddenly reminded me of a distribution system for a product. Actually it reminded me of the drugs trade or a cult, but thats just one persons view.

At the top you have the thinktanks/lobby shops/PR houses, coming out with killer factoids like 'the pause'. This then filters down to blogs like 'WattsUp, etc, which then gets picked up by the media like Fox/Daily Mail/Delingtpole/Mountford, and then to smaller more amateur blogs. Then it gets used by/fed to the drones/bots, who constantly email the media, comment on websites, etc.

The likes of Christy, Spencer and Lindzen are the seers, who tell of visions or who supply product. Curry? Philip Stott? I suspect they are/were clever enough to play the game as 'not sure', which the media loves, but ultimately, they wish to 'reign in hell, rather than serve in heaven'.

>> the amount of science being conducted is directly
>> related to policy implications

>That’s “advocacy science” — industry funded “science” >you’re thinking of.

Oh, not at all. Governments are funding research. That want answers and solutions. There's a reason why a bunch of scientists get together and publish IPCC reports and why they have a "Summary for policymakers." Climatology as it's own branch of science didn't even really becomes it's own discipline until the 1980's/1990's. Funding for research and public interest has soared because of the potential threat, not because of any particular interest by the public in the science. There is general government funding for research but not like there is for climate change or military. It's like achieving tenure: you don't HAVE to get external research grants or publish papers, but the likelihood of continuing is low. The outcome isn't dictated but scope of science is definitely tied to achieving answers that governments can use to form policy.

By Tim Beatty (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

mike, I did not write "awful people", I only expressed my surprise when it comes to climate the people that do not like some climate policies chose to attack the hard basic science, typically without sufficient expertise to do so, whereas the likelihood of success is even minimal for people who do understand the topic. One would expect that badly informed people would chose the easy way and attack the much weaker climate impact studies or just produce the standard political arguments about costs, etc.

If you think that the costs of mitigation would be catastrophic, again your comment is hard to parse, then that would be a strong argument against mitigation wouldn't it? Or if you have otherwise strong political problems that explain why you do not want to reduce AGW, why not use that as argument? Why do people like Eric Worrall claim that the Earth is cooling and make an utter fool of themselves.

That is not a rant, that is not an attack, that is genuinely something I cannot understand. Why make your life so hard, why emphasis your worst arguments?

By Victor Venema (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

CIP: "Their problem, in that regard, is that they are very selective about the data they consider important. But they are very good at bringing up points, some of which are easy to refute (Venus it hot because it’s atmosphere is compressed, why hasn’t the temperature increased much the last decade and a half, despite huge CO2 jump), some of which I need to research to deal with (why was there an end Ordovician glaciation despite very high CO2), and some of which I’m still working on (if sea level rose 130 meters after last ice age, and corals adapted, why do atolls today need to worry)."

From what I see of these guys (and it's almost all guys), mostly on the internet rather than in person, they are also very selective about researching the answers themselves. The information is at their fingertips, certainly for both of the examples you listed, so why haven't they tried to find it for themselves? There's a certain irony in them claiming that their expertise and intelligence has allowed them to identify a valid argument without then going out and examining the contrary information. These guys seem to want respect above almost everything, but IMO they don't deserve it.

[That's a good point. Time and again you see people using questions simply as rhetorical devices: people put their energy into searching for questions, but none into looking for answers -W]

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

Tim Beatty: "Those are scenarios I’d like to see."

Well, don't hold your breath. As it turns out the models aren't very good at this particular stuff. So what do we do when we start seeing significant climate disruption that the models are years or perhaps decades away from being able to attribute to GHG-induced warming? Blame the people, e.g. Dame Professor Slingo, pointing to the obvious correlations?

But to riff a little on your example, maybe think about how stable the three-cell atmospheric circulation is. Even while the Hadley cells expand and squeeze everything else poleward, the jet streams must slow and increase in amplitude due to the decreasing temperature differential between poles and equator. How much warming does it take to flip to single-cell circulation (two-cell perhaps not stable since it would require polar convection), why would a smooth transition be expected (as opposed to a possibly lengthy period of flipping back and forth) and what are the implications of that for e.g. agriculture?

Grounds for a certain tendency toward alarm, perhaps?

[The circulation isn't really what you think it is. The picture most people have in their heads - like the image at the top of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_circulation - it badly wrong. Compare that to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Omega-500-july-era40-1979.png. To first order, there is only the Hadley circulation, and dynamical constraints restrict its size: conservation of momentum implies what speed the upper level winds will be at latitude X, and then dynamical instability prevents the cell growing past a certain latitude. There's room for a little back and forth, but only a very little -W]

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 22 Feb 2014 #permalink

@ Victor Venema #37

Enjoyed your response, Victor, thank you.

My background: I'm a nobody--a "little guy" with an intermittent, casual interest in "science". And I certainly don't claim to be an authority on anything "scientific". But i do like to think I've got a bit of life experience that has prepared me to pretty reliably size-up those trying to sell me a pig-in-a-poke.

First off, I do find, [VV], that your use of the loaded term "attacks" to characterize challenges to "hard, basic science" verges on anti-science. As I mentioned previously, challenges to any and all scientific propositions are legitimate in science, as long as they are conducted on a persuasive, rational-empirical basis. And so what if such a "move" is not an astute, agit-prop tactic? Who cares? You're evaluating matters from a "communications-strategy", good-for-the-cause perspective, there, [VV]. That's the way the narrow hive-mind works and it shows.

With regards to Eric Worall--if he made a "fool" of himself in that exchange between you and him, that you linked, then you can't prove it by me. To the extremely limited extent I am able to judge the exchange, Eric Worall came across as a bright guy asking some intelligent questions and drawing attention to some issues with what is, apparently, the views of mainstream climate-science. So why say, Victor, that he made a "fool" of himself? And is the suggestion that the planet might once again cool--indeed might even be experiencing an incipient cooling, as we speak-- really so preposterous? After all, we are in an inter-GLACIAL period aren't we?

[EW ran away as soon as VV started making precise and testable attempts to frame EW's rather vague hypotheses -W]

At any rate, your lofty dismissal of the very thought of "cooling", in the exchange, and subsequent contempt shown Eric Worall, certainly doesn't convince me [insults redacted -W]

[In other words, you're one of the "they're nice to me" people. You care nothing for the content of the discussion, you can't judge any of this intellectually, you're going purely on tone. Anyone "lofty" is bad; anyone who comes "across as a bright guy" is good. I'm astonished that you can't see how shallow that is -W]

If you're interested, [VV], I've already weighed in with my current judgement of the "Climate Change" business, in its totality, and have presented my "best" arguments to support that tentative judgement. It's to be had at my comment no. 20, above. And, of course, the argument in that comment is not an academically respectable form of argument, but it is the sort of argumentation that counts with real human beings...

[We're back to the same thing: you have no scientific judgement, and you're repeating yourself, which is dull. So, the rest snipped -W]

@Mike #40:
"With regards to Eric Worall–if he made a “fool” of himself in that exchange between you and him, that you linked, then you can’t prove it by me."

Then you obviously weren't paying attention, didn't follow the links and, lastly, didn't notice that Eric ran away rather than answer the reasonable questions posed to him.

Like you, I am no scientist, but I know an attempted Gish-gallop like Eric's when I see one. I've also spotted a pompous windbag blowing through this comment thread, but I will forbear to make a blatant identification, as I'm sure other readers do not need my help with that.

They're only models
(and it's not CO2
It's not warming
(and it's not CO2)
it's natural variation
(and it's not CO2)
It's the sun
(and it's not CO2)
It's the wind
(and it's not CO2)
(and it's not CO2)
Hockey Sticks!
(and it's not CO2)
Look, squirrel!
(and it's not CO2)

mike is now parroting the latest denialist meme -

I've noticed this same rather weird non-sequitur popping up among the anonbunnies at Eli's. Some sort of strange riff that tries to imply that the science is wrong because climate scientist X drives a car (takes a plane, uses electricity, whatever). Ha! It's all a scam, but I'm carbon-neutral and Michael Mann isn't - so there !!!!!

Of course I note the "GET YOUR SNOUTS OUT OF THE TROUGH" phrase is just the typical right-wing, anti-government rant. See, all these climate problems would just go away if we cut taxes and unplugged all those gummint computers.

No more coherent than any of their other arguments.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

William, I check the jet stream plots frequently so I'm well aware of idealized vs. actual messy atmospheric circulation, but I didn't know about the dynamical constraints on Hadley cell expansion. Having recently seen some preliminary unpublished work on a transition to single cell circulation, I did have a look for such but wasn't able to find anything. Pointer? TIA.

[I think you want Held-Hou 1980 (http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0469%281980%29037%3C05…), or Held 2000. I found http://wxmaps.org/jianlu/flc07_final.pdf as a useful pointer to both. From the abstract The Hadley cell widths agree well with a scaling theory by Held which assumes that the width is determined by the latitude where baroclinic eddies begin to occur. As surface temperatures are warmed, the latitude of baroclinic instability onset is shifted poleward due to... so I have to back off a bit: constraint, yes. Variable, perhaps more than I thought -W]

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

mike, because you are an anonymous coward, I have no choice but to refer to you by "your" first name. However, if your emotional state necessitates calling me a "breezy jerk", would it then be too much to ask to refer to me with my last name. It does not look like we are friends or colleagues.

[I agree, the "false friendliness" is inappropriate: I've redacted "mike"'s post accordingly. I've also removed the "jerk" bit, which I shouldn't have allowed through in the first place; apologies -W]

non-mike, I did not want to start a discussion whether the basic science is right, I had assumed that was accepted here locally, we are not at WUWT. Does someone apart from mike have any idea why people attack science, which can be shown to be nonsense, and not politics, where almost anything goes. Does that somehow make the position of the climate ostriches stronger, in a way I may not see because I can spot the lies too easily?

By Victor Venema (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

William, just in case you're interested - and since it seems relevant to this post - the Connolly family (from Ireland) have just launched a website called Global Warming Solved, and have launched a new journal called The Open Peer-Reviewed Journal, the first 8 papers in which are by them. The only one I've looked at in any detail claims "For this reason, our results suggest that the magnitude of the greenhouse effect is very small, perhaps negligible."

Didn't really look much further, as you might imagine. The do, however, highlight your site on their website. Fortunately, they've ignored mine :-)

[I saw your article but I hadn't realised the Connoll(e)y connection. Errm, have you considered "helping" them by putting in some review comments? -W]

By And Then There… (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

I left a comment on their post discussing the article in question. It appears to be the only comment they've allowed. I think Victor has tried to leave a comment or two that are still in moderation. There's been no response to my comment yet. I may leave a similar comment on their paper.

By And Then There… (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

By the way, I did double check and they are Connolly, not Connolley :-)

By And Then There… (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

William, thanks for redacting. Wasn't that necessary, I have a reasonably thick skin when it comes to people I do not know or respect. And on the positive side, everyone can immediately see who is lacking arguments. (You forgot 2 Victor's, there were a lot.)

Maybe I should extend my comment beyond the basic science. There are also so many instances of misquotations and non-scientific fabrications on WUWT & Co., that you can also check without any knowledge of science. Sometimes they even provide the link, if you click you see the misquotation. Why doesn't that hurt them? Or why do they think it will not hurt them?

By Victor Venema (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink


Great that you have the end Ordovician glaciation at your fingertips, because I'm finding it a real challenge. Maybe you could enlighten me? What did drive a sudden brief glaciation in a time of very high CO2?

CIP, to address your challenge, see the Young et al 2009 paper using strontium as a proxi for increased rock weathering and decreased volcanic outgassing of CO2 in advance of the late Ordovician glaciation, and the Young et al 2010 paper that examines 13C, which finds that a subsequent increase in atmospheric CO2 due to reduced rock weathering ended the late Ordovician glaciation.

In other words, the Ordovician glaciation does not show what you think it does: a drop in CO2 triggered it, and a subsequent rise in CO2 ended it.

By Jim Eager (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

Thanks, Jim. CIP, if something is hard to find in the lit, which this probably was (I knew about it because I follow paleo closely), there's always the trick of identifying the leading researchers and emailing them. In my experience most are happy to reply.

BTW, AIUI the only significant apparent CO2-climate mismatch remaining in the record is the late Miocene ( far more important since it's recent-ish whereas the Ordovician was a different planet, climatologically speaking), so if your acquaintances are really on the ball they'll have a (probably quite temporary) fallback.

Re the Ordovician, see also this research.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

Thanks for that info, William.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

Why people disagree with AGW is a good question. I like the answers in the main post, especially the "Ahm all shook up" part.

The vehemence of the greeny haters can't be overestimated.

I have relatives who moved from the city to the woods to a near-wilderness area just so they be close to nature. They are also right-wingers. They spend much of their time bird-watching, feeding deer, hiking etc. They live like greenies but hate anything that may resemble environmentalism. If an evironmentalist says something is white, they will insist it is black.

According to them, any politics, economics, and especially science that greenies agree with is wrong and part of a liberal, if not socialist, plot to take over the government.

By Joseph O'Sullivan (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink


I don't want to pay the big bucks to view the Young 2009 paper, but the skeptical science article you link to states that Solar output was "much less" in the Ordovician. That seems (a) improbable and (b) hard to observationally verify. Also, we are talking about a pretty big shift in the volcanism/weather regime, so that should have left some kind of fairly dramatic signature in the the macro geology.

What, CIP? Has all of stellar physics been overturned while I wasn't looking? Probably it can't be observationally verified (n terms of paleo data), but it doesn't need to be. Hint: "main sequence" stellar evolution. Also check out "faint young sun paradox."

Re Ordovician weathering differences, note the continental positions and the different vegetation/soil.

Your discussion here is starting to fit a certain stereotype. Please don't go there.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

Also, CIP, re Young et al. see the public copy here (along with other relevant material). You can do this for yourself, I know you can.

[That doesn't lead me to a 2009 anything. If you have a link to a direct public copy, its best to post that..

http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/25/5/447.abstract is Gibbs 1997 which says "Under the condition of a 4.5% reduction in solar luminosity, permanent snow cover (taken as a key indicator of potential for glaciation) is dramatically different between five experiments. The range of 18X present atmospheric level CO2 (ice free) to 8X (“runaway” icehouse) lies within the uncertainty of previous geochemical estimates of Late Ordovician atmospheric pCO2" which seems relevant.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/CO2-was-higher-in-late-Ordovician.htm says "During the Ordovician, solar output was much lower than current levels" which is irritatingly vague. CIP is fully aware of stellar evolution; perhaps 4.5%, which doesn't sound like "much lower" in % terms but in W/m2 is a lot, explains the difference.

FWIW, I doubt that Ordovician is all that interesting as a puzzle. It was a long time ago, conditions then aren't well know, hypotheses (like variable CO2 levels) abound -W]

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

CIP, that's because solar output *was* lower in the Ordovician, by about 4 to 4.5% in the references that I checked. As Steve Bloom points out, the sun has gotten *brighter* as it has fused more and more hydrogen into helium. Look up "solar constant evolution."

Lower solar output in the Ordovician would require higher atmospheric CO2 than today just to produce the same surface temperature as today. Or, to put it another way, if we currently had Ordovician CO2 levels, current surface temperature would be even higher than it was in the Ordovician.

As for fairly dramatic signatures in the the macro geology, look up "cap carbonates." You will find them right after every ice house epoch. Why? Rock weathering is suppressed during a major glaciation, but volcanism is not. That means the volcanic addition of CO2 outpaces it's removal by rock weathering and carbonate deposition. CO2 then builds up until temperature rises enough to end the glaciation. Subsequently, the increased hydrological cycle in the now warmer climate greatly speeds up the weathering of all that newly scraped and pulverized rock, with the resulting carbonates precipitating to form a cap carbonate layer.

Oh, I didn't link to SKS in my #50 comment. What's that about?

By Jim Eager (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

@Jim and Steve

Hey, I appreciate the links and info, but I really want to understand. I am quite familiar with the faint young Sun notion, but the Ordovician is only 10% of the way back to that early Sun. Even if you assume a 4% reduction in Solar luminosity (vs. 30% for really early Sun) that translates to only a 1% reduction in the first approximation planetary temperature (L proportional to T^4, planetary T proportional to stellar T). Meanwhile, CO2 was still a factor of 8 or more times pre-industrial. But probably I'm still wondering the most why there was the sudden initial weathering burst.

re: SKS - sorry, that was Steve#51

Probably because Gondwana Land first submerged and then popped back up.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink


I thought the pop-up was due to the glaciation, in which case there is an egg-chicken problem. But maybe I'm confused on that point.

> the sudden initial weathering burst

Speaking of those, how's contemporary erosion and weathering running, is anyone tracking that globally?

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 23 Feb 2014 #permalink

@Mal #63

Interesting -

Reading the article and skimming the comments: You've ALL missed the root cause of denialism.

Coal mines, natural gas deposits, and oil deposits, are all financial assets to their owners. For example when an oil company performs test drilling and estimates the size of a new oil discovery, that estimate is vetted by industry peer review and then added to the oil company's assets on its balance sheet. For example the financial asset value of a coal mine is based on the total estimated quantity of recoverable coal.

Un-produced assets (fossil fuels that are still in the ground) add up to an enormous amount of wealth on these companies' balance sheets, and thus to an enormous amount of their overall share value on the market. You can think of these assets as equivalent to bank accounts.

The amount of wealth represented by un-produced assets is almost unimaginably huge.

Any significant plan to put the brakes on CO2 emissions will instantly devalue that wealth to a tiny fraction of its current value.

So: If you were sitting on a huge pile of money, and someone came along threatening to snap their fingers and make it disappear, what would you do?

You'd fight like hell. You'd fight tooth and nail, like a cornered animal.

And that is exactly what the fossil fuel industries are doing, and why they are doing it.

The money they spend recruiting and buying political and other allies, is a tiny fraction of the value they stand to lose if we succeed at restraining carbon emissions.

That's what we need to fight head-on if we expect to make any progress on this.


As for the religious right's involvement: that is also bought & paid for by the fossil fuel industry, per the long-standing successful formula used by other business interests and the Republican party. Those interests provide financial support for religious right causes, and the religious right reciprocates by making the economic & political issues part of their moral crusade, and by bringing in voters to support issues and candidates.

Keyword-search names such as "Governor Walker of Wisconsin," "the Koch brothers," "deVos," and so on. This stuff is well known in progressive circles, and there is extensive coverage in the progressive media.

Fossil fuel money leads the parade, lesser plutocrats are onboard for broader mutual interests such as laissez-faire economic policies, and a vast mass of ignorant people are onboard for tribal solidarity.

@G#65 -

That wealth is not just the wealth of the owners. It will be very difficult to wean the world from the economy cheap energy, and especially oil, has made. I think most Greens have very unrealistic ideas about this. It will be necessary to produce equal amounts of energy at not much higher prices.

G @ #65: "Un-produced assets (fossil fuels that are still in the ground) add up to an enormous amount of wealth"

That is the nugget at the bottom of climate change denialism. The irresistible pressure of those trillions of dollars/pounds/Euros to get out of the ground and onto the ledger sheets of corporations (and the Koch bros.) inflates armies of plastic deny-o-bots who march in hordes through the internet. We have certainly seen their bloated forms floating through this very thread.

In all seriousness, it is unthinkable that our greedy, acquisitive race of uber-chimps could leave all those bananas uneaten. We will dig and pump every bit of that stuff up, get paid for it and burn it, and the devil take the consequences, which will be denied even as they are happening.


Don't forget that all that stuff in the ground is only valuable to the owners because all of us, humanity collectively, value it and what it does for us.

William, I just linked the search page since it had some other interesting stuff. A public copy of Young et al. 2009 is tenth down, I thought easy enough to spot.

[Thanks; I'd managed to miss it -W]

I'm forgetting the details at this point since the relevant papers are ~ 5 years old but, IIRC, while you're right about the fuzziness of the whole exercise going that far back, the paleos weren't happy about the degree of overlap of the various error bars and worked on the problem until they were.

CIP, glancing at the linked paper, it may not be the best one for your needs. IIRC this paper was the smoking gun for the paleos. Also have a look at this paper. (Both are public copies.) Finally, this recent review paper, which I haven't seen, may be the best way to get the big picture.

Good luck.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 24 Feb 2014 #permalink

I notice that the abstract of the review paper seems to imply that the importance of eustasy has been downgraded.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 24 Feb 2014 #permalink

>> why attack the basic science
> Because science is attacking the economic and political
> structure that has prevailed since [...]

No, Hank, that is part of WMC's point. Science does not "attack economic and political structures". It is possible for people to agree about "the science" but disagree about the implications for what, if anything, should be done.

You are doing exactly what WMC warns you *not* to -- trying to establish that if someone accepts "the science" they have to accept your views about politics and economics.

Re. Cip at 66 and 68:

We value what energy does for us, but for the most part we don't care how it works. And the fact that shares of the fossil fuel companies are so widely held, only makes all of us that much more complicit in stealing the future.

We could as easily get our energy from uranium, thorium, sunlight, wind, and geothermal sources. There is nothing stopping us but the mindless inertia of failure to make choices.

But check this out: Externalized costs are not permissible under any internally consistent current economic or political ideology or moral philosophy. In libertarian terms, externalities represent coercion: forcibly making a non-consenting person into an unwilling party to someone else's voluntary transaction. That in a nutshell is the climate crisis: forcibly making future generations pay the costs of our excesses.

Those who make excuses for our lethal addiction to fossil fuels should be sat down in front of TV cameras and not let go until they answer this question: "By what moral principle do you find it acceptable to impose externalities on others?" Then we can have the debate on its most fundamental terms, where the unproduced assets are placed on the same global balance sheet as their real costs.

Re the atmospheric circulation stability issue discussed above, this 2011 paper seems rather prescient as applied to recent weather patterns (title/abstract):

"Rossby Wave Scales, Propagation, and the Variability of Eddy-Driven Jets

"The eddy-driven jet is located in the midlatitudes, bounded on one side by the pole and often bounded on the opposite side by a strong Hadley-driven jet. This work explores how the eddy-driven jet and its variability persist within these limits. It is demonstrated in a barotropic model that as the jet is located at higher latitudes, the eddy length scale increases as predicted by spherical Rossby wave theory, and the leading mode of variability of the jet changes from a meridional shift to a pulse. Looking equatorward, a similar change in eddy-driven jet variability is observed when it is moved equatorward toward a constant subtropical jet. In both the poleward and equatorward limits, the change in variability from a shift to a pulse is due to the modulation of eddy propagation and momentum flux. Near the pole, the small value of beta (the meridional gradient of absolute vorticity) and subsequent lack of wave breaking near the pole account for the change in variability, whereas on the equatorward side of the jet the strong subtropical winds can affect eddy propagation and restrict the movement of the eddy-driven jet or cause bimodal behavior of the jet latitude. Barotropic quasilinear theory thus suggests that the leading mode of zonal-wind variability will transition from a shift to a pulse as the eddy-driven jets move poleward with climate change, and that the eddy length scale will increase as the jet moves poleward."

Barnes has more recently become Jennifer Francis' chief critic, but I hadn't been aware that she has what seems to be a competing proposal.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 24 Feb 2014 #permalink

[You are Doug Cotton. You're not banned here - yet - but if you keep on dodging with aliases and socks you might be, as yuo have been from a number of other sites. Also, please don't add comments where you can say "This comment appears on several [other places]" - if you comment has been added elsewhere already, simply link to it. DRY. The rest is nothing new -W]



That’s what we need to fight head-on if we expect to make any progress on this.

Some of us here certainly agree with you on the root of the problem. What Is to Be Done about it is the hard part. I'd genuinely like to know what you're thinking.

Fossil fuel money leads the parade, lesser plutocrats are onboard for broader mutual interests such as laissez-faire economic policies, and a vast mass of ignorant people are onboard for tribal solidarity

Who is the "we" you speak of, if it doesn't include all those people? Are you proposing a vanguard party of dedicated revolutionaries who will educate the ignorant masses? Keep in mind how that's turned out all the other times it's been tried, and assume that any solution has to be within the political framework of modern liberal democracy (ironic quotations implied or not, as you prefer). How do "we" get from here to there, G?

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 24 Feb 2014 #permalink

Ned: 'Science does not “attack economic and political structures”. - True, but it does threaten it. It is entirely logical for companies with large profitable holdings in fossil fuels to want to not have any curbs on their business, even if it does result in a huge damage for mankind. It might be selfish (and possibly sociopathic), but if you can't change reality, you can confuse and delay as much as possible.

So OK, there is the fossil fuel industry, horrible as they are in their sponsorship of denial. And I understand why the 'think-tanks', etc operate. Just in the same way as much the same actors used similar tactics about smoking, they are doing what their clients and sponsors want.

[I agree that its possible that FF companies could have a commercial interest in denial. But "horrible as they are in their sponsorship of denial" is jumping too fast, because you also need actual evidence of same; I don't think that logical deduction a-la Greek science is good enough.

I should probably point out that I own BP shares at this juncture -W]

I even understand why the Curry's, Watts, Delingpoles and Mountfords and their ilk do what they do. If they were part of the consensus, they would be nothing, but if they deny reality, they suddenly become 'IMPORTANT'. Delingpole would probably be appearing on page 15 with a very small story, but instead he is booked on 'Newsnight'.

What I cant figure out is why so many 'ordinary' people spend hours writing blogs, commenting on websites, etc, even though they have no link with the fossil fuel industry, and lose nothing by the reduction in carbon emissions. It takes time and effort to do that, so I'm trying to figure out why when they could be doing almost anything more interesting or useful.

As mike himself admitted, he is' a “little guy” with an intermittent, casual interest in “science”. And I certainly don’t claim to be an authority on anything “scientific”. But i do like to think I’ve got a bit of life experience that has prepared me to pretty reliably size-up those trying to sell me a pig-in-a-poke.'

Most of us wouldn't question a doctor by saying 'I've got a bit of life experience' if they said you needed heart surgery. Yes, you might get a second opinion, but if six doctors say thats what you need, then you'd believe them. But where climate change is concerned, 'just knowing stuff' is all that you need to tell people with years of training an experience that they are wrong. Can mike explain why?

MikeB, that's still not "science" (as such) threatening anyone's business. Science just attempts to answer the question "if you do X, Y will happen." The leap from that to "We shouldn't do X" is not science, it's values or philosophy or economics or something else outside science.

Science can tell us things like "if you were to burn X mass of fossil carbon by such-and-such a date, the radiative forcing from CO2eq would rise to Y w/m2". People are also trying to use science to answer the next question, about the ecological and economic effects of that rise in radiative forcing. But that latter question still has very wide scope for debate, and even if it were answered clearly it wouldn't in and of itself imply that we have to adopt Hank's preferred political-economic system.

All that said, I agree with MikeB on many other things, not least the absurdity of people with no particular knowledge or expertise thinking that they can just waltz in and point out all the obvious errors that those dumb (or conspiratorial) climate scientists are making.

@Ned #77

Yr: "Most of us wouldn't question a doctor..if they said you needed heart surgery." and "Can mike explain why?"

Gee, Ned, I don't know if I can "explain why"?, at least, to your satisfaction, but let me give it a shot. O. K., Ned?

Simply put, Ned, I have enough confidence in "medical science" to extend a presumption of trust to a qualified physician's diagnosis of a heart condition and any recommendation for treatment, that he might provide, unless I have reason to suspect otherwise.

And I would also expect, Ned, a medical doctor to arrive at the same sort of diagnosis, and recommend the same sorts of treatment, for himself and his loved ones, with a like malady, as he did for me. And if he did not, then I would immediately withdraw my presumption of trust in his diagnosis and recommended treatment--especially if said doctor was reducing me to penury with his billings for his services. You see things differently, Ned?

Now let's extend your little, "doctor" analogy, Ned, into the flim-flam world of climate hive-science (a kissing cousin of hired-gun, tobacco-company science, incidentally).

-I see your medical metaphor, Ned, mapping onto climate "science" as follows: The "doctors" (climate "scientists" enjoying an in-your-face, carbon-piggie, blow-out, trough-and-gravy-train-intensive, bunga-bunga lifestyle ) diagnose the "ills" ("too much carbon in the lifestyle") of "patients" (us despised, useless-eater, coolie-trash proto-helots not in on the deal) and then recommend "treatments" (carbon-taxes; the replacement of constitutional republics by neo-feudalist hive-dystopias, run by thrill-cull, Philosopher-King commissars; and the re-design of our societies so that they are transformed into free-fire zones for crony-capitalist, rent-seeking, greenwashed, rip-off exploiters). Did I leave anything out, Ned?

And remember, Ned, according to the "doctors" of climate "science", the carbon-demon bogey-man is after us all--we all "need heart surgery", so to speak. And, yet, those same climate "doctors", those seemingly most convinced of the hyped, CO2 menace (indeed, the "doctors" most active in the hive's AGW, scare-mongering puffery), are pretty much all carbon-addict hypocrites (see my comment #20, above, if you're puzzled by what I'm talkin' about here), themselves, of the first order--"doctors" who think that "heart surgery" is for the expendable "little people", not themselves or anyone they know, in other words. And I just don't trust "doctors", like that.

That's it--that's how I "explain why", Ned. Now let me ask you a question, if I may. Why is it, Ned, that the one thing that, most reliably, really pushes your basic, just-punchin'-the-clock, hive-flunky's button is for one of us uppity, hoi-polloi types to suggest to our hive-betters that they should GET THEIR SNOUTS OUT OF THE TROUGH AND LEAD FROM THE FRONT AND BY INSPIRING, CARBON-AUSTERE, PERSONAL EXAMPLE!!!--THAT THEY SHOULD PRACTICE WHAT THEY PREACH!!!!?

I mean, like, is the leadership-ethic really so dead--so utterly replaced by "communication strategies", scare-mongering, razzle-dazzle, agit-prop, bait-and-switches, name-calling, duplicities, manipulations, brazen-hypocrisies, and carbon-porker porkies--in the world of you "beautiful people", us unworthy, disdained serfs are so privileged and honored to call our "betters"?

P. S. I stand corrected by WMC--"catastrophic" is, indeed, pretty much a term used by "denialists", like moi. Rather, the term of choice for the good-comrades appears to be some form of the word "apocolypse" (google: "apocalyptic climate change" and watch your computer light up with a bumper-crop of hive-speak, worry-wart, "apocalypse"-booger results!). Which raises an interesting question--which is the bigger bummer, a "Catastrophic" AGW or an "Apocalyptic" AGW? And, of course, henceforth I will replace "CAGW" in my nut-job, hard-to-parse, dork-side rants with "AAGW"

And WMC's further point that the potential impact of AGW may well be somewhere in between a "big yawn" and a "catastrophe"/"apocalypse" is well-taken and leaves me more than a little chastened I didn't think of that myself.

[I should probably point out that I own BP shares at this juncture -W]

Stanford University had a big kerfuffle about accepting "Big Oil" money for its climate change research center. I'd point out that a "hydrogen economy" is more cost effective with fossil fuels than plain water. Fossil fuels won't go away (unless people are willing to risk powering planes and ships with nuclear piles). It's a lot cheaper to get hydrogen from oil so BP and ExxonMobil might get out of the carbon business and supply only hydrogen. It will still come from the same souce of fossil fuels, just like natural gas is less polluting than gasoline. The goal is generally to keep carbon and halogens out of the atmosphere (not sure about sulfur anymore as acid rain was a big deal in the 1970's but is a cooling agent now. Pick your poison. If we indeed did replace carbon with hydrogen, what would be the overall difference in global warming? Water vapor is more complex, it seems than CO2, as I've yet to hear of CO2 clouds reflecting sunlight.

I'd like to see how legislation for CFC's tracks DuPont patents for refrigerants. I'd love to see cryopumps extracting CO2 in the atmosphere for use as a refrigerant from nuclear powered electric grids. But that's just me.

By Tim Beatty (not verified) on 25 Feb 2014 #permalink

@ my last,

My sincere apologies to Ned. My last comment should have been addressed to MikeB and his no. 77. Screwed that one up big-time--truly sorry, Ned.

[You could help yourself somewhat by avoiding the deliberately offensive repetition of your opponents name. You're indulging yourself with your comment style -W]

@ my no. 82

In regards to WMC's reprimand: Thank you WMC for your comment. Yeah, upon reflection, I agree that I should "clean up my act" in the way you recommend--especially on this blog which I respect. Thank you for the criticism and constructive suggestion, WMC.

And, once again, my apologies to Ned for my bumbling-idiot mistake in my comment no. 80, above.

mike, to point out just one of the many, many problems with your last semi-coherent rant is that you've shown that you don't have the faintest clue about who's who. It is the anti-climate-science crowd who are the "kissing cousin(s) of hired-gun, tobacco-company science." In fact it is some of the *same* individuals who did the job of misinforming the public about the negative health effects of smoking who are now misinforming the public about climate change. The only people with their "snouts in the trough" are the paid liars whose side you have chosen to support.
The fact that you don't even know that much about the issue is sad. Not surprising, but sad anyway.
To continue the medical analogy, you've chosen to believe Philip Morris over the Surgeon General, but you're attacking the scientists who demonstrated the link between smoking and cancer. Doesn't make a lot of sense really.

mike, thanks for the apology but I'm not at all bothered by being mistaken for MikeB.

The thing you *should* be concerned about is the total non-persuasiveness of your comment #80. Pretty much everything from the paragraph starting "I see your medical metaphor..." is sheer nonsense. You are ranting wildly against imaginary, made-up enemies and in the process losing your audience.

Many people reading this blog are either in the field of climate science, in related fields, or at least have fairly in-depth knowledge of those fields. Those people are just going to shake their heads and laugh when they read your absurdly over-the-top ravings about climate scientists. It's all just nonsense, with no connection to the real world.

That's a rather more serious problem than accidentally addressing your remarks to the wrong commenter.

Things must be noticed in order to be denied,.

An upward drift of a microkelvin an hour simply doesn't register on most folk's existential threat radar.

I strongly suspect that "mike" is someone committed to mainstream science whose SEMI-COHERENT RANTS are a ruse meant to put the denialist side in a bad light.

Either that or he's just having a laugh ("taking the piss" I think you call it over there).

But I could be wrong.

By Don Brooks (not verified) on 25 Feb 2014 #permalink

Say, didn't Wegman get quoted to the effect that "we're the good guys" in relation to his data mining and climate skepticism work? I've been trying to find what I recall reading, and it's not showing up. I was reminded of it when I read this:
which ends with:
"I guess
Cryptome was right. Check out the
the training materials provided to future forum spies."

It makes me wonder if the attack on science is part of this.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 25 Feb 2014 #permalink

William, I think you might want to consider the distinction between *forcings* and *feedbacks*.

What you list as All Shook Up, Not Invented Here, and The Professionals are basically the forcings, the original motivating factors. Money, ideology, etc.

They're Nice To Me is a positive feedback, as it doesn't provide the initial motivation for septicism but it allows existing septics to amplify their influence.

Confirmation Bias is another positive feedback.

Likewise, there is a positive feedback that involves the common tendency for people to exaggerate what they've read elsewhere in the re-telling.

In a non-climate example (US politics... sorry), it goes like this:

(1) Reality -- some low-level worker in the US Dept of Education writes a memo about how American school kids are eating nothing but pizza and burgers for lunch, and says that the department should encourage schools to offer more healthy lunches.

(2) Coverage on Fox News -- "Some people claim that the Democrats want to make government bigger and more intrusive. Now our investigative team has learned that the Obama Administration wants to push schools to feed kids more veggies."

(3) Initial response on blogs -- "Check out the latest from Fox -- Obama is trying to make school children become vegans!"

(4) Next iteration on blogs -- "Obummer is trying to turn government schools into re-education camps where kids will be brainwashed with leftist ideology."

(5) Blog comments -- "I read that Nobama has a plan to cancel the election and send white kids to concentration camps"

And like climate feedback processes, these also operate in either direction -- people on the other side of whatever the issue is likewise exaggerate anything they read that confirms their pre-existing views.

Maybe we need an IPWCC to document the deteriorating climate of discussion on the web, and suggest options for mitigation and adaptation.

> Science does not “attack economic and political structures”

Would you believe "undermine" rather than "attack" there?

Case in point:
"... when Republican Governor Pat McCrory in North Carolina needed
somebody to be in charge of the most scientifically intensive of all state
agencies, protecting the natural resources of North Carolina, he found
somebody who apparently believes the "World Net Daily" conspiracy theory.

"A conspiracy theory like this obviously has some appeal, right?
There`s a reason that some people would want to believe this. ...
"... the theory is, quote, in his words, "another idea
that conservatives have latched on to as a way to denying that there`s any
limitation that the earth places on the way we live."
from the transcript at: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/54468991/ns/msnbc-rachel_maddow_show/

Follow the link to see the video source.

This is how science causes problems for those who know what they believe must be true.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 25 Feb 2014 #permalink

[You're in the wrong thread, and I'm bored with you. Forcing me to follow you through names designed deliberately to avoid filters is impolite, and unacceptable -W]

It's being posted on a dozen or so climate blogs ...

[I can only find one, The political hot potato of global warming; How Obama & Kerry try to appease the eco-left (archived). Since your comment is indeed there - and now with a link from here - you need not worry about censorship. If my comment replying to you isn't censored there, we might even have a discussion.

I point out that using "click-bargains@hotmail.com" is a clear attempt to evade filters, and hence dishonourable -W]

By D J C   (not verified) on 25 Feb 2014 #permalink

@mike#80 -- two things.

Firstly, do you have any evidence backing up your idea that climate scientists are gross over-consumers of resources, and over-producers of carbon emissions? I'm sure the top tier of scientists get around a lot, but the average climate scientist - how do their emissions compare to an academic in physics, or geology, or genetics - or for that matter, a business owner in New York who has interests in Europe, or a Fly-In-Fly-Out mine worker in Western Australia?

For those in academia, attending conferences remains a big part of how the job is done. While teleconferencing might work fine for a single meeting, humans still, for some unfathomable reason, like to meet face-to-face, and a lot of the benefit of attending a conference doesn't come in the big headline presentations, it is in the conversations you have over lunch, and between presentations, and at the bar in the evening.

However, I suspect you don't associate with many real-life scientists, because all those I have met don't have a chance of living up to the caricature you have painted of them. Sure, they attend a few conferences a year, but it is hardly a lavish lifestyle.

Secondly, your analogy with the doctor falls flat with this statement: "I would also expect, Ned, a medical doctor to arrive at the same sort of diagnosis, and recommend the same sorts of treatment, for himself and his loved ones"

It seems blindingly obvious that any political reaction to reduce carbon emissions would impact the scientists just as much as anyone else - in fact, if their lifestyle is so profligate, their carbon usage so extravagant, they would be hit even harder by any kind of price of carbon than us poor shmucks.

(OK, a poorly implemented carbon-reduction scheme could leave academics relatively untouched, but the blame for that has to rest with the politicians and advisors who developed the policy.

Which brings me to my third, bonus objection to your medical analogy - the "doctors" in this case aren't the ones prescribing the cure. Science and scientists make statements like 'to keep warming below x degrees, we need to keep CO2 below y ppm', but wouldn't claim to have a scientific answer to which policy is "right".

Sure some scientists go out and advocate for a certain solution, but surely that is their right as a citizen? To advocate for political change, and, while doing so, to put their qualifications on the table, in the same way a lawyer, or economist, or businessman would when talking about something about which they have some degree of expertise.

But if you think that climate scientists somehow have the policy-makers in their pockets, then I would suggest spending some time with some scientists and researchers who work in a politically relevant field. It is not so much the cozy relationship you seem to envision, and much more like beating your head against a wall.)


I submitted a comment, as short while ago in response to Daniel, that has not yet posted. May I, respectfully, request that that comment not be published.

While I had intended an "edgy", needling, but "good-fun" comment, upon reflection, I conclude that my comment is a tasteless, even boorish, failure in that regard.

Of course, I have submitted the above comment and understand its further handling is entirely at your discretion.

Thank you, WMC, for your kind consideration of this request.

[OK, it is done. Or rather, not done. Thanks in turn for your restraint-in-retrospect -W]

"Why are there people who seem hell-bent on denying anthropogenic global warming?; What are the deniers trying to achieve?; Why do they post comments on your article that totally defy not only science, but also common sense?"

I will speak for myself only.

I think it's the AGW convinced who deny natural climate change and many other observations.

My motivation is similar to the Mr. FOIA's and it's basically liberal/left wing. AGW is loved by Big Money in general and many are profiteering. It's anti-science, IMO. I love science and its method and I would like to see it applied.

[OK, so, we know what you think, because you've told us, but you've given us no clue as to why. So what, specifically, do you think is wrong in the IPCC AR5 SPM? If you love science, and are interested in GW, then you must have read it -W]

I have a question for Edim. He states:

I love science and its method

My question is, is that romantic love or maternal love? Not that it matters much since :

both forms of attachment suppressed activity [neural activity in the brain] in regions associated with negative emotions

Seems that love of something does make us blind to its consequences.


Perhaps climate scientists and other realists enjoy, appreciate or are excited by science rather than loving it.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 26 Feb 2014 #permalink

Ian, then they should do some science, and not just try to confirm AGW at any price and ridicule anyone who disagrees.

@95 Edim:
"AGW is loved by Big Money in general"

Tee-hee! Water is dry; the sun is cool!

This is why we call them deniers. The core businesses of the most profitable companies in the history of the world are threatened by climate science, but Edim believes AGW is a child of "Big Money". Perfect.

Ian, then they should do some science, and not just try to confirm AGW at any price and ridicule anyone who disagrees.

The basic concepts behind AGW have been accepted for at least 50 years. What do you suggest scientists should do to refute it? Judging by the forcefulness of your comments, presumably you have some clear ideas as to what is being missed.

By Richard Simons (not verified) on 26 Feb 2014 #permalink

Edim, when you say "do some science" do you have an objective reason for dismissing out of hand the thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles on the topic? Or are you simply unaware of them?

By Don Brooks (not verified) on 26 Feb 2014 #permalink

Edim - if you dont believe scientists are not 'doing science', and are just trying to confirm AGW 'at any price', why dont you do some yourself? Write an article, get published, win Nobel prize for disproving AGW. Go for it. Remember, you are 'in love' with science.

BTW - if AGW is 'loved by Big Money', could you explain the huge amount of money various industries will spend this year trying to discredit climate scientists? I would suggest that you start by having a look at 'Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming' by Oreskes and Conway (as should mike) - it might make you change your mind.

@ Daniel's no. 94

Yr: "human beings still, for some unfathomable reason, like to meet face-to-face" and "...at the bar in the evening."

-Sure, human beings "like" face-to-face meetings. But we're in a crisis, Daniel. We're facing "Apocalyptic Climate Change", right? We've got to think of the kids. And so don't we all have to make carbon-sacrifices when it comes to our own particular, non-essential, nice-to-have, oh-so-special, carbon-piggie "likes".? Isn't that the right thing to do?

[You're going over the top again. Remember not to attribute to scientists, statements that you're hearing from pressure groups or the meeja.

That said, there is an element of "jolly" to scientific conferences. But that needs to be qualified. Conferences are also useful, albeit less essential now than they once were. And the "jolly" element is stronger for younger folk on their way up, who have lots of free time, not many conference invites, and can probably take a few days off afterwards with a free plane ride. But those who are older, with less free time, family commitments, and more conference invites than they can accept: it isn't such a jolly for them -W]

And, oh by the way, there are other sorts of "things" human beings "like", for "unfathomable reasons"--for example, cheap gas, detached family-homes with a yard for the kids, cheap utility bills, monster-trucks, and a vibrant job-producing economy of the sort provided by the ready availability of cheap fossil-fuel energy. But so many of your fellow academics are carbon-phobe zealots, Daniel, who would deprive us hoi-polloi of the above while preserving for themselves their own CO2-spew, good-deal, boozy-all-nighters-at-the-bar eco-confabs, which could easily be video-conferenced. From the point of view of the servant-class, let me suggest that the above sort of climate-scientist "exceptional ism" has "bad optics" written all over it.

Otherwise, your comment exhibits an interesting tension between an apparent felt-need to defend the indefensible and your own integrity which requires you to be truthful:

-On the one hand you say ".It seems blindingly obvious that any political reaction to reduce carbon would impact the scientists just as much as anyone else..." while, on the other hand, in the very next paragraph, you reveal your reflexively-honest grasp of how "the system" really works for those useful-tools in on the deal: "O. K., a poorly implemented carbon-reduction scheme could leave academics relatively untouched..." Yeah buddy, sure could!

But one thing we can be absolutely sure of is that there'd never be a carbon-reduction scheme so "poorly implemented" as to tag the hive-masters and their enablers with onerous, carbon, life-style sacrifices, but leave us coolie-trash peons unscathed--right?

-Likewise, you object to my "doctor" analogy by saying, "...the "doctors" [climate scientists] in this case aren't the ones prescribing the cure." , while, in the very next paragraph, you can't help but acknowledge, "Sure some scientists go out and advocate a certain solution [i. e., "prescribe the cure"]...and, while doing so to put their qualifications on the table..." I'll let the reader decide if my "doctor" analogy survives your best shot at a take-down.

I could be wrong, but I suspect the hive-chekists tend to label those, with an excess of impulsive, principled candor, as "loose-canons", "bourgeois sentimentalists", and "loose-lip liabilities". Be careful, Daniel.


"I think it’s the AGW convinced who deny natural climate change and many other observations."

Much of the work done on sensitivity of climate to increased CO2 has been on what you call natural climate change. All of paleoclimatology, for instance.

How can a field of science that largely consists of studying natural climate change in order to increase our understanding of how changes in various forcings (including, but far from limited to, changes in concentrations of GHGs like CO2) cause climate to change possibly ignore the very thing that is being studied?

Good grief, why do we bother with the Edims of the world anymore?

Will we educate them and change their minds? Those of us who have been trying for years know we will not. Is it "for the lurkers"? Are they even real?

> I will speak for myself only.

I'd bet there have been dozens just like you, come by already.

Try to come up with something new.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 26 Feb 2014 #permalink

This has become tedious & boring.

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 26 Feb 2014 #permalink

At David B. Benson's no. 106

So sorry this "tedious" thread has "bored you, David. And we all feel the sting of your disapproving, zoom-by, thumbs-down, pontification-booger, so lofty, imperious, and self-important as to challenge Nero's place in history for such things.

Why don't you give us a break, David?--what say you provide us a witty and sagacious comment of your own that will breath new life into this thread and that will serve as a model for the rest of us? I mean, like, we all want to up the standard of our blog chit-chat and wring the tedium and ennui from our urgent little fulminations--so show us how it's done, O. K.?

The people who put the "C" in front of "AGW" are the denialists. You, and like minded folk. No-one else uses it -W

So it won't be catastrophic? So nothing to worry about then. Phew, that was close.

[Errm, we've already done that: to whit, anyone capable of saying there is nothing in between "no problem" and "catastrophic" isn't thinking -W]

Daniel: Which brings me to my third, bonus objection to your medical analogy – the “doctors” in this case aren’t the ones prescribing the cure.

Ok, then it's a bogus analogy. When someone asks, "You don't trust the work of certain climate scientists, but wouldn't you trust a doctor that said you needed heart surgery?" The proper response would be, "The climate scientists don't make policy prescriptions, so your analogy is inapt."


Beware of two historians with just one book.

Regarding #9 ...


[Etc; snipped. Linkspam considered bad.

I'm afraid that wasn't what I meant. I meant actual, real, genuine peer-reviewed publications in proper journals. Like anyone who called themselves a "physicist" would be able to provide. Let us be honest: you're not a physicist. You might be a physics teacher, though I'm dubious of that. You're an amateur blogger -W]

By Douglas J Cotton (not verified) on 01 Mar 2014 #permalink


So it won’t be catastrophic? So nothing to worry about then. Phew, that was close.

[Errm, we've already done that: to whit, anyone capable of saying there is nothing in between "no problem" and "catastrophic" isn't thinking -W]

It's worse than that, William. Juice thinks it's only a catastrophe if it affects him (or her, as may be) personally. What happens to other people is of no concern.

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 01 Mar 2014 #permalink

Well there is phrase in german which rougly translates to "running into open doors". That's exactly what you are doing, facing a minority in both, science and public opinion.

By Kemmy Landurm (not verified) on 01 Mar 2014 #permalink

["Author : D o u g C o t t o n". As an attempt to get through the moderation filters, that wasn't very inspired. It was just stupidly dishonest -W]

By D o u g  C o t t o n (not verified) on 02 Mar 2014 #permalink

[Sigh. You're not learning. Let me spell it out, explicitly. You're restricted to commenting under your own name, without attempts to obfusticate it. Any comments where you do attempt to evade moderation will be removed. You should also avoid simply saying the same thing all over again; or posting long screeds that are better written as links to posts elsewhere -W]

By D o u g   C o … (not verified) on 03 Mar 2014 #permalink

I raised my eyebrows several times pondering the obsession with the hive minds.

Another core reason for denialists is their refusal to deny the existence of the free lunch.

I have a pet wish for a pilot study: simple cost analysis of abandoning Miami, as will happen.

Certain slanderous statements have been posted on Wikipedia concerning myself. I would suggest drastic modification before I draw them to the attention of my lawyers.

By D o u g   C o … (not verified) on 04 Mar 2014 #permalink

Certain slanderous statements concerning myself have been added to Wikipedia in the last 24 hours or so. I would suggest drastic and prompt modification before I draw them to the attention of my lawyers.

[Legal threats! Ace, we love those, comment approved. You want to talk to an admin at wiki. Or mumble in your soup impotently -W]

By Douglas J Cototn (not verified) on 04 Mar 2014 #permalink

I've been thinking, young William, that you might do well to read some of the many comments I've written such as this latest one here http://www.drroyspencer.com/2014/02/global-precipitation-mission-ready-…

Feel free to pitch anyone you know against me on that thread where I'm not snipped. But they sure better know their physics or I'll tear them apart, as I have hundreds of others over the last 3 or 4 years.

By Douglas J Cotton (not verified) on 04 Mar 2014 #permalink

It's religion. If humans contribute to global warming, then god is not ultimately in control. That's the main reason.

People are over thinking this.

Oh them Cotton bawls are rotten
Modification is verbotten
In that old Wikipedia poem

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 04 Mar 2014 #permalink

DJC is such a renowned physicist I tremble to wade in, but I am interested in where he got a figure for the absorption coefficient of water to be 0.001

"If, for example, the first 1cm absorbs only 0.1% of that insolation, then its absorptivity is at most 0.001.

Having taken nothing more than a summer-semester physics course nearly 40 years ago, I find this number to be quite different than what I see listed elsewhere, by a couple orders of magnitude. That is, DJC's calculation of 0.1% for 1 cm conflicts with the 28% for the top cm that I find for instance here Ocean Transmission of Solar Radiation by Depth

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 05 Mar 2014 #permalink

The answer, of course, is at what wavelength and what do you mean for water. In the visible you could believe that for distilled water. Sea and lake water are not pure, as WC Fields said "Drink water, no way, fish fuck in it."

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 05 Mar 2014 #permalink

Eli, from DJC's link he's talking solar radiation and the top cm of the ocean.

"If 99.9% of solar radiation is transmitted through the first 1cm layer of water at the top of the ocean, then the absorptivity is less than 0.1% – right? Pretty obvious!"

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 05 Mar 2014 #permalink

Anthropogenic Global Warning is a theory....one amongst many.
I've done weather modeling having the necessary advanced MS and PHD science and mathematics background.

[Sigh. Another anon, making unverifiable claims of expertise, which aren't supported by the quality of your comments. You nee to begin by understanding the difference between weather and climate, but that is only the most obvious of your lacunae -W]

The models are very sensitive to assumptions.
The models are not predictive.
The models are simple and make many simplifications.
The physics is very complex.
If you don't believe me, do some research on a much simpler weather challenge--predicting hurricane paths. You will learn that there are over a dozen models that give divergent solutions.
Until you understand how these climate theories and models works, you cannot understand their limitations, which the media does not address (they are incapable of understanding simple statistics, never mind anything significantly more complex)
My perspective--"anthropogenic" global climate change is an attempt to extort more public funds under a very weak paradigm. I don't mind as I'll get a piece of those funds, but it is nothing but a hidden tax increase.

Kevin, then he is simply wrong and whoever slandered him was probably being kind. The 0.001 absorbance is what you would get for distilled water in the visible. Here is a useful summary with spectra

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 05 Mar 2014 #permalink

CK needs to catch up with ensemble forecasts like CIMP5

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 05 Mar 2014 #permalink

...surface of Venus...

[Heavily snipped. No, sorry, not interested in Venus here. Stick to Earth, and approximations thereof -W]

By Douglas J Cotton (not verified) on 06 Mar 2014 #permalink

...Similar debates are on DrRoySpencer at the moment...

[Snipped. Well, OK, if you're getting your debate there, just link to it. No need to repeat it here -W]

By Douglas J Cotton (not verified) on 06 Mar 2014 #permalink

Something all should consider is the obvious fact that all our temperature measurements showing (natural) global warming are made in the first two metres of the troposphere where weather stations must be placed. But the vast majority of the radiation from the surface passes straight through this mere 2 metres which is obviously a very small percentage of the height of the troposphere.

So the temperatures that we measure are primarily determined by sensible heat transfers due to kinetic energy being shared when molecules collide. That is why, at least in calm conditions, the temperature of the first 2m of air above the ocean surface is very similar to that of the first 1mm of the water surface, because it is only molecules in that 1mm (or in fact far less) which can collide with air molecules. In fact it is the predetermined thermal profile in the troposphere which determines the ocean surface temperature by diffusion and conduction, not the other way around.

Now, the models do not calculate the temperature of that 1mm fairly transparent surface layer of water by somehow working out how much of the energy in the warmed ocean thermocline will rise to the surface and what the temperature would thus be, or by any calculations involving sensible heat transfer in the troposphere..

Instead the models do a most ludicrous calculation using the Stefan Boltzmann Law which is only for black and grey bodies that do not transmit any incident radiation, quite unlike that 1mm ocean surface layer.

[Ah, I see your problem. You haven't realised that a substance can be transparent in the visible, but opaque in the infra-red. Water has this property. Well, and so does the air, do some degree. The S-B stuff has to be done frequency-by-frequency; or in climate models, within bands. Typically 10-ish bands in SW and 10-ish bands in the LW -W]

If the models were to use S-B calculations in any remotely valid way, they should calculate the percentage of solar radiation that is actually absorbed in the first 1mm (or even less) and use that far, far smaller radiative flux in their calculations, which would then give totally incorrect results of course, because radiative flux is not the primary determinant of planetary surface temperatures, as is blatantly obvious on Venus..

[The GCMs, correctly, know that solar radiation is absorbed in the upper ~10m of the ocean. The problem you imagine doesn't exist -W]

By Douglas J Cotton (not verified) on 06 Mar 2014 #permalink

Water is quite clearly transparent to all bands of solar insolation. Nearly half of the incident solar radiation is in the infra-red and that certainly penetrates far further into a water body than the first 1mm. Of course back radiation from a cooler atmosphere is merely pseudo scattered at the very surface of the water, and so energy in its radiative flux is not converted from electron energy to kinetic energy in the surface. Instead, the electron immediately emits another identical photon and returns to its initial energy level. This was explained two years ago in my paper Radiated Energy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

The Earth's atmosphere is of course also reasonably transparent to incident solar radiation, as only about 20% is absorbed. So S-B calculations applied to layers of the troposphere are also invalid.

The easiest blunder to pick in the energy budget diagrams is an apparent assumption that the absorptivity of the surface skin of the oceans is equal to its emissivity.

This skin does not act remotely like a black or gray body, because, by definition, such bodies do not transmit any radiation. In contrast the surface skin transmits nearly all solar radiation and pseudo scatters all radiation from cooler regions of the atmosphere.

It is quite obvious that the IPCC authors think they can calculate Earth’s surface temperature from the absorbed radiative flux. They found they had to boost the flux with back radiation to get anywhere near the “right” answer by counting both lots of radiation and ending up with even more flux than that in insolation at TOA.

Yes, the solar radiation does penetrate about 10 metres. So, for just the first 1mm they should have counted perhaps less than 0.1% of the flux as being absorbed by the transparent ocean surface skin.

In summary, I am making the point that the rest of the thermocline is irrelevant in determining the actual surface temperature purely by radiation. The non-radiative heat transfer processes are what lead to the observed temperatures in and just above the ocean surface. S-B calculations will never yield the observed result because that surface skin is nothing like a black or grey body. But the IPCC and NASA energy budget diagrams go to pains to ensure they appear to be able to calculate a mean surface temperature of 287K using S-B calculations.

[You're wrong about the overall picture, whilst getting some of the details right - or at least, they're unimportant details, so it really doesn't matter if you're right or wrong. And some of your stuff like ''pseudo scattered at the very surface of the water, and so energy in its radiative flux is not converted from electron energy to kinetic energy'' is just gobbledegook.

The top ~10 m of the ocean is well mixed. The exact thermal structure matters if you're interested in the exact thermal structure, but not otherwise. Whether the solar is absorbed in the top 1 m, or top 10 m, matters very little (it would probably be pretty weird if it were all absorbed in the top 1 mm; perhaps it would boil, who knows. Since it isn't, it doesn't matter).

Meanwhile, your

The easiest blunder to pick in the energy budget diagrams is an apparent assumption that the absorptivity of the surface skin of the oceans is equal to its emissivity

is a classic. I fear you'll never know why -W]

By Douglas J Cotton (not verified) on 07 Mar 2014 #permalink

There is no doubt that both the visible component and the IR component of solar radiation penetrate well below the first 1mm of the ocean. See this paper which measures both ..

Consequently this solar radiation plays only a very small part in determining the temperature of that 1mm transparent skin layer. The major effect on its temperature comes from convection from energy absorbed lower in the ocean and perhaps also from conduction across the boundary with the lower troposphere when there are temperature inversions, for example. Obviously the very small fraction of the solar radiative flux absorbed in that layer will have any warming effect, and this flux is certainly nowhere near enough to explain its observed temperature.

Yet the IPCC and NASA clearly imply that their greenhouse warming is due to radiative forcing by back radiation to the surface, and they specifically say they can calculate the surface temperature from the incident radiative flux - which implies using SBL. In fact it is easy to check that calculations are about right, but the reasons are not right because it is not that flux which is setting the temperature of the surface, and in any event, they have roughly doubled the flux with back radiation which cannot raise the temperature.

Back radiation only slows that portion of surface cooling which is itself by radiation. Non radiative surface cooling dominates radiative cooling and it will accelerate to compensate for any slowing of radiative cooling. But oxygen and nitrogen also slow surface cooling by conduction considerably more than radiation does, especially as the temperature gap narrows in the early pre-dawn hours.

By Douglas J Cotton (not verified) on 07 Mar 2014 #permalink

Not so much even for pure water and much less for sea water in the IR and NIR.

Btw, it is useful to differentiate the region at shorter wavelengths than 3 microns from that at longer wavelengths. There is little to no solar radiation at longer wavelengths than 3 microns and very little radiation from the surface at shorter wavelengths. Treating the IR as a single lump is inherently (and Eli might suspect strongly) purposely misleading in the context discussed here.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 07 Mar 2014 #permalink

DJC -- you fail to answer the question asked earlier. You wrote:
“If, for example, the first 1cm absorbs only 0.1% of that insolation, then its absorptivity is at most 0.001."

This value (0.001) is in disagreement with every scientific paper I've read, including the one you just quoted. Where's the physical basis for an absorptivity of 0.1% for the first cm of the ocean.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 07 Mar 2014 #permalink

William, Kevin and others:

It is of course your prerogative whether or not you choose to believe me and learn from my published paper "Radiated Energy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics"

[No. Its not a published paper. Its a self-published paper. There's a huge difference that you appear to be unwilling to admit. Independent editors and peer reviewers, for a start -W]

and my book "Why it's not carbon dioxide after all" that is based on my paper "Planetary Core and Surface Temperatures" - now withdrawn from PSI because of my disagreement with the radiative "physics" of Postma and Latour.

To my knowledge, only one other author has put forward the same valid explanation of planetary atmospheric and surface temperatures, although I have extended it to explaining all crust, mantle and core temperatures of planets and satellite moons such as our own.

My hypothesis is supported by all observed and estimated planetary temperature data. It explains, for example, exactly how the required energy gets into the surface of Venus in order to actually slowly raise its temperature by five degrees over the course of its 4-month-long day. I have explained why the base of the nominal Uranus troposphere is hotter than Earth's surface, even though there is no significant energy input from internal generation or direct solar radiation, and no surface there at altitude -300Km..

My interest in physics dates back to when I was awarded a scholarship in physics by Prof Harry Messel and his team at Sydney University, under whom I studied for my first degree with a major in physics. I subsequently turned to more lucrative business ventures, operating an academic tuition service (where I personally helped tertiary physics students) and writing medical, dental and mathematics software from which I have earned several million.

In the last four years (in semi-retirement) I have turned my attention to comprehensive study of the very latest concepts in physics pertaining to thermodynamics (especially the Second Law) and radiative heat transfer. No one has successfully rebutted what I have written in numerous comments and the above papers.

[All this, and you're still unable to read or write equations? -W]

But unless people are willing to learn from me, I will not waste my time.

[Why do you say this, when its so obviously untrue? -W]

Very, very briefly [a pile of non-brief stuff that you've already said, snipped. As have been several whole comments, that merely go over the same ground again -W]

By Douglas J Cotton (not verified) on 07 Mar 2014 #permalink

Kevin. It's not hard to understand that, because at least 99.9% of the radiative flux is transmitted through the first 1mm of the ocean surface

[More snipped. That requires a reference -W]

By Douglas J Cotton (not verified) on 07 Mar 2014 #permalink

William wrote "Whether the solar is absorbed in the top 1 m, or top 10 m, matters very little "

It doesn't mater ??!!??


[Yes -W]

It only makes a huge difference as to whether that surface layer reaches the temperature it does by radiation (as the IPCC authors very clearly assume) or by non-radiative convection and "mixing" which have nothing to do with radiation.

[It matter very little whether the radiation heats the layer directly, or by conduction; since the layer is well-mixed -W]

If you want to treat the whole thermocline as "the surface" then why not just treat the whole ocean depth and be done with, perhaps getting a mean temperature of, say, 280K.

[Because that wouldn't work, obviously. You need to read the words that other people use - its called having a conversation, its far more interesting than just talking to yourself. Try it some time. The key words here are "well-mixed" -W]

You can do that if you wish, by I'm discussing official temperature records based on the surface temperature, not the whole thermocline or whatever.

And it's blatantly obvious that surface temperature is not determined by the solar radiation, given that perhaps less than 0.1% of it is absorbed in the 1mm surface layer.

[Citation needed; the rest snipped -W]

By Douglas J Cotton (not verified) on 08 Mar 2014 #permalink

William, it is you running this blog and misleading the public into thinking there is valid physics which indicates carbon dioxide causes warming. I have a right to ask you to produce such physics to justify your action,

[Um, you're fully aware of the post The idealised greenhouse effect model and its enemies -W]

before a court if it becomes necessary. I will be able to prove you wrong I assure you.

[Your legal threats are a joke. I've trashed another couple of your comments, which were merely repeating what you'd said already -W]

[Update: not only a joke, but spam. Compare http://rankexploits.com/musings/2014/the-fullness-of-time-doug-cotton-c… -W]

[Uupdate: WUWT succumbs to Cotton-o-philia. When I started reading that I thought to myself "hold on! This is not AW's style, there's humour in there. And I was right, as he acks at the end: its a rip-off from http://decorabilia.blogspot.co.uk/2005/12/john-davison-orders-pizza.html -W]

By Doug Cotton (not verified) on 09 Mar 2014 #permalink

[Snip] Where exactly do you think you've trashed my comments? [Snip. I've "trashed" them in the sense that I've thrown them away. I wanted to note that, since it always annoys me when people like WUWT do it invisibly. You've put in too much spam to have each comment marked, though -W]

By Doug Cotton (not verified) on 10 Mar 2014 #permalink

John Davison is a good analogy (or was, he passed away a few years ago).


There's a lot wrong with your arguments, throughout this thread. But the flaw in your #103 is easily identified: "prescribe" is not the same as "advocate."

In fact, scientists generally have not the power to prescribe any climate-change solution, except for themselves and possibly their own families. The people who can write the prescriptions are, for America, the president and Congress.

Like you, any scientist as a citizen has the right to express his opinion on what should be done to fix a given problem. It is up to elected leadership to decide whose opinion carries the most weight. Speeches aside, our current leadership clearly thinks the status quo prevails.

That being the case, it becomes impossible to see any basis for your claims of a "hive-mind" imposing on the country solutions you so vehemently detest.

By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 10 Mar 2014 #permalink

DJC #139 "And it’s blatantly obvious that surface temperature is not determined by the solar radiation, given that perhaps less than 0.1% of it is absorbed in the 1mm surface layer."

DJC at Dr Spencer's on March th, 2014
"If 99.9% of solar radiation is transmitted through the first 1cm layer of water at the top of the ocean, then the absorptivity is less than 0.1% – right? Pretty obvious!"

Hmmm ..... is it 0.1% for the first mm or first cm? Or are you just making this all up as you go and consistency be damned? Of course you haven't provided a reference for either - so I guess it doesn't make any difference.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 10 Mar 2014 #permalink

You want a reference Kevin? Try this simplistic one and/or this scientific paper.

[Can I suggest that people stop responding? This is inevitably going to go round in circles, indeed it already has, but in good conscience I can't suppress DC's replies to people replying to him -W]

By Doug Cotton (not verified) on 10 Mar 2014 #permalink

@ Christopher Winter's no. 145

Yr: "Mike: There's a lot wrong with your arguments throughout this thread. [gettin' kinda nervous here...Chris has spotted my "arguments" on this thread as a target-rich environment for his masterful, alpha-ninja, take-down, kick-your-butt!, rhetorical skills--hope this doesn't hurt too much!] But the flaw in your #103 is easily identified: [I don't have chance!!!--Chris is takin' deadly aim at the the "easily identified", low-hanging fruit, freakin'-obvious fatal-flaw in my arguments--I'm a DOOMED headless-chicken, for sure!!!] "prescribe" is not [drum roll...slam-dunk, wipe-out, zinger-delivery wind-up, big-time--and then the greased-lightning, fast-ball, whizz-bang pitch!!] the same as "advocate"--[TA-DUM!!].

Jeez, Chris, your last is a pretty pathetic "riposte-booger", if your don't mind me saying. So the "easily identified" flaw (that you, but nobody else, spotted, I note) in my argument is not observing the distinction between "prescribe" and "advocate". Look, I know this sort of nit-noid, pedantic, fuss-budget, quibbling, captious, caviling, preening-prig, show-off scholasticism plays well in ivory-tower circles and is, indeed, pretty much the essence of the "tenured ones'" labors for which they receive all those tax-payer extracted big-bucks of theirs and even bigger troughs full of CO2-spew, tax-payer funded perks and toys. But your tough-luck, Chris, is that I'm a normal human being and so am impervious to such smarty-pants, razzle-dazzle, point-scoring pot-shots.

So what is the difference between "prescribe" and "advocate"? Well a google search of Merriam Webster for both words reveals the following:

"prescribe"--transitive verb, definition 1b "to specify with authority".

"advocate"--transitive verb "to support or argue for (a cause, policy etc.)"

O. K., Chris, I kinda see the distinction between the above, two terms as "advocate" being the more generic of the two with "prescribe" specifying a form of advocacy that includes an assumption of authority by the "prescriber".

So, like, scientists who advocate certain courses of carbon-reduction policy, like carbon taxes and cap-and-trade and wind-turbine subsidies, can be said to be mere "advocates" if they push the hive's party-line, but include the caveat that they're just clueless hive-bots who don't know any better than anyone else what to do to about "climate change." Right?

On the other hand, if scientists choose to play the "authoritative", know-it-all, expert-"dude" card, in conjunction with their advocacy of this, that, or another hive-approved, good-for-the-cause-and-the-team-and-the-greenwashed-gravy-train-exclusively-available-to-those-good-comrades-in-on-the-deal course of action, then they are "prescribing" the same. Sound right, Chris?--or is there yet another "easily identifiable" flaw in my "read" of the matter?

So you tell me, Chris, how many lefty, eco-flake scientists, currently weighing in on the AGW business, can be described as mere "advocates" vs. "prescriber"-tools of the hive-agenda orthodoxy? And, oh by the way, the medical doctor comparison with climate scientists was originally proposed by MikeB, topside, so you might want to straighten him out in regards to the "easily identified" flaw in his obviously defective analogy--looks like he needs help too.

See you're from "Droughtland, California" (always pushing the hive's latest-"fad", agit-prop, scare-mongering bogey-man, aren't you guys?). So does this mean, Chris, that you are for or against video-conferencing all future eco-confabs (and all other academic, grab-ass hive-swarms too, for that matter), which, if video-conferenced, would save thousands and thousands of tons of CO2 "pollution" annually?

Aside: a thoughtful piece on why many academic researchers are working with code that is no better than it has to be -- and why those whose coding is markedly better may ruin their chance to stay in the academic environment:


Full story at http://phys.org/news/2014-02-modern-scientist-career-suicide.html#nwlt

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 10 Mar 2014 #permalink


why those whose coding is markedly better may ruin their chance to stay in the academic environment

Interesting article. This caught my eye:

Writing such codes can be a major undertaking, consuming the entire three to four years of a PhD.

Heh. In the PhD program I dropped out of, the joke was "Q: How many PhD students does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A: Only one, but it takes nine years."

I left the program (after just two years) when I discovered I liked to write code, and have gotten paid handsomely to dick around with computers ever since. Sometimes it's better to go with what you're good at.

BTW, what's up with RealClimate.org this morning? I keep getting a 403 error.

[On that last point, some kind of hacking attempt I gather. AFAIK unsuccessful, but may have led to and/or been DoS -W]

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 11 Mar 2014 #permalink

Apropos earlier discussion, note the disconnect between the idealized notion that the free marketprice anticipates change -- incorporates information when a future problem becomes known -- vs. the observation that Florida real estate prices don't change until disaster's imminent:
Sea Level Rise Predictions Have Little Effect On Florida Real Estate
Enough studies show that when it comes to real estate, the market won’t respond to environmental crisis until the final hour.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 11 Mar 2014 #permalink


Enough studies show that when it comes to real estate, the market won’t respond to environmental crisis until the final hour.

Hmm, for years I've been nagging my brother to sell his place on the Virginia shore before the market catches on. Maybe I don't need to keep that up 8^)!

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 11 Mar 2014 #permalink

[You've hit the spam threshold I'm afraid. Unless you have something of substance to say, I won't be approving your comments -W]

By Doug Cotton (not verified) on 11 Mar 2014 #permalink


Stop trying to channel Hunter S. Thompson. That stuff you're spewing convinces no one.

Everybody else spotted the flaw; they just knew better than to comment on it. That's because they know you're a troll, and reasoning with you is a waste of time. And now I know it too.

By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 12 Mar 2014 #permalink

I used to mess with perpetual motion when I was about 12 or so, of course it was all on notebook paper, drawing my designs with pencil. Some kind writer explained the fallacies, so I gave it up and acquired some sense. And some mathematics. Recently, the deniers have reminded me of this. But I didn't ever predict that they would actually begin advocating the existence of perpetual motion as a means to "prove" anything. (People who watch the fringes know to what I refer.)

(There was another Russell here; not me, so I will be "u.s." Russell. Not that it matters. I didn't get his joke, anyway.)

Following on from my comment <elsewhere>...


Below is a comment I have just posted on <elsewhere>...

[Snipped. I think I need to clarify things for you. While you're welcome to indicate that an interesting discussion is going on elsewhere, you're not welcome to continually spam us with references back to that discussion -W]

By Doug  Cotton  (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

> nagging my brother to sell his place on the Virginia shore

Chuckle. My brother's on the North Carolina Outer Banks.

And when I was young and thinking about buying property to start a family, I picked a spot above the last ocean high stand, something like 75 meters above current sea level.
Then decided not to have kids, on further reflection. Perhaps the nieces and nephews will want it.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 14 Mar 2014 #permalink

FWIW, north of Cape Hatteras up to Maine is an area of exceptionally high sea level rise called the Northeast Hot Spot Might point that out to your nearest and dearest.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 16 Mar 2014 #permalink

Below is my latest comment (still awaiting moderation) on

[Snip. No, sorry. You are not welcome to re-post comments here made elsewhere. If others are moderating your comments, feel free to get yourself a blog and post your comments there. Blogs are free. My reader's bandwidth isn't.]

This information will be included in my official complaints to Australian Authorities and the Government Ombudsman here.

[Ooh, exciting. Do let us have a copy of your official complaint when its made. Hopefully it will be as funny as Mark Steyn's stuff -W]

By  Doug. Cotton   (not verified) on 17 Mar 2014 #permalink

Do you ever wonder where the energy comes from to heat the lava in volcanoes? By no means all of it comes from internal energy generation. In fact, the lava would still be hot without any such energy generation. Do you seriously think there is a lot of internal energy generation in the core of the Moon? I doubt it, but it is far hotter than its surface ever is.

No, the sub-surface regions of any planet or satellite moon with a surface also receive significant quantities of energy from the Sun. In Earth's core, for example, we see seasonal patterns in temperatures that are way above the maximum surface temperatures in the region. This is an example of how conduction and convection in solids, liquids and gases can indeed transfer thermal energy up the gravito-thermal gradient, and this happens in order to obey the Second Law of Thermodynamics and thus restore the state of thermodynamic equilibrium with maximum entropy as that law states will evolve spontaneously.

If you try to explain other planetary temperatures with the old paradigm of greenhouse radiative forcing you will never get the “right” energy balance and S-B calculations. What describes reality throughout the Solar System (and no doubt beyond) is the 21st century paradigm based on the gravito-thermal effect which is certainly a reality, and a direct result of the process of approaching thermodynamic equilibrium with maximum entropy, as stated in the second law of thermodynamics.

[Wow. That was so wacky, I just couldn't resist letting it through -W]

By  D J Cotton  (not verified) on 25 Mar 2014 #permalink