Do Gore and AGW Believers Really Believe Our Doom is Imminent?

Geoff has written two posts recently advancing the common AGW Skeptic argument that since Gore isn’t carbon neutral this proves he doesn’t really believe what he is saying.

I think I’ve made myself very clear that I completely disagree with the logic of Geoff’s arguments because they are arguments by analogy. I think my latest comment sums up my position well:

The real challenge is to take an analogy that we all agree actually fits Gore’s situation — I see no one arguing over mine at the moment — and still be able to prove your point. Until you can do that, there is no reason for anyone to buy your argument by analogy.

I even offered a counter analogy of a household of 6 billion people and Gore claiming that it’s a good idea to use your shoe to stamp out termites but is really more focused on getting everyone in that 6 billion jointly owned house to tent and spray the house. Later on I added:

But I’m curious. What did you think of my argument that my analogy is closer to Gore’s actual beliefs and that therefore it’s only fair to tackle it and see if you can still prove your point?

Doesn’t that just make sense? And if the argument fails with the ‘better analogy’ and only works with the ‘worse analogy’ doesn’t that pose a problem to the original analogy no matter how many people liked it?

In short, the AGW Believer argument that Gore’s house and carbon footprint proves he doesn’t really believe in global warming definitely falls into the arguments without merit category.

So of course this all means I disagree with Geoff’s conclusion, right?

Wrong!

As it turns out, I think — arguments by bad analogy aside — Geoff’s conclusion is largely correct.

While I have problems with arguments by analogy, I think if you poked around in the mind of your above average AGW Skeptic (like Geoff is) I think you’d find that what’s really going on is that they have an overall impression – one that is hard to put a finger on – that there seems to be an overall disconnect between the imminent doom many AGW Believer’s preach and how they act. Therefore they have latched on to Gore’s mansions and overall carbon footprint as ‘symbolic’ of the problem.

I disagree with ‘symbolic arguments.’ But I think they are basically correct when their gut tells them that something isn’t right.

A Better Example

Let me give you a better example. There was recently a massive blow up within the AGW Believer community over the fact that the authors of Superfreakonomics advocated use of Geo-Engineering. [1]

I wrote about this on Jr G back when the news first broke. [2]

I think this story is particularly humorous for a number of reasons. Allow me to quote myself:

As it turns out, the authors of SuperFreakonomics are fully in the global warming religious camp. There is simply no doubt about this. So why is their book causing such a massive stir in that religion? It’s simple, they believe in global warming more so then the current keepers of orthodoxy and so they are trying to change that orthodoxy to match their more radical beliefs.

The debate can be summarized quite easily: The authors believe global warming due to carbon emissions is a man made problem and is imminent. Thus they are ready to start exploring ways to geo-engineer the earth to create global cooling so as to give us more time to change the direction of our battleship and get our carbon emissions under control.

In other words, they are global warming radicals. … That’s why I find it so ironic that they are be branded as global warming deniers when in fact they are really just too radical for the current orthodoxy.

The current orthodoxy is appalled by their behavior. If word gets out there is a way to cool the earth down via geo-engineering, the growing (actually dropping due to the recession) support for controlling carbon emissions may collapse and we’ll never get it under control.

Yes, this is what the debate is over. It’s really not over anything else but control of the orthodoxy. It’s, by the way, a worthwhile and productive debate in my opinion.

Now I just can’t see around this logic. It goes like this:

1. AGW Believers often (usually?) preach imminent doom by heat death.

2. If you really believe in imminent doom for the whole planet due to Anthropogenic CO2 caused global warming, then you will agree with the authors of Superfreakonomics.

3. The AGW Believer community overwhelmingly condemned the authors of Superfreakonomics.

4. Therefore, the AGW Believer community actually doesn’t believe in imminent doom.

The IPCC Report

In fact, I find further support for this point of view within the IPCC report. I mentioned that I tried to read it and got bored. But it’s interesting that they do not present an imminent doom scenario. In fact, they give ‘percentage chances’ of various different scenarios, most of them quite far off compared to my remaining life span — though arguably ‘imminent’ geologically speaking. Try to not fall asleep as you read it for yourself. Note that there is no imminent doom mentioned and time frames are over the entire 21st century for the shortest range predictions.

Which brings me to my point: Do most AGW Believers actually believe in imminent doom? I think not.

Do they Actually Claim Doom is Imminent? Or is that an AGW Denier Strawman?

If I weren’t an AGW Skeptic myself, I might be tempted to say “No, wait, you’re missing this Bruce. AGW Believers have never actually said ‘doom is imminent’.”

But this argument doesn’t work for me. Why? Because I’ve already seen An Inconvenient Truth. As I mentioned, this was my introduction to AGW. And it absolutely left me with the impression that CO2 was about to cause imminent doom. (I’ll let Geoff supply us with more quotes that prove that AGW Believers have gone out of their way to make us think doom is imminent. This one major example is enough for me.) The simple fact is that this has gone on unimpeded by that community. Therefore, they are all guilty of it to some degree. (I’ll make individual exceptions if the person has gone out of their way to distance themselves from Gore’s rhetoric.)

In short, I think the real reason Geoff and AGW Skeptics feel like there is a gap between Gore’s rhetoric and his actions is because, well, there is.

It’s unfortunate that the AGW Skeptic/Denier community has chosen an irrational argument to ‘prove their point’ because I think they are basically correct in their conclusion and their bad arguments are undermining their correct conclusion: that Gore has intentionally created a feeling that things are worse than they are even by the models he accepts.

Gore Only Lies By Omission, So It’s Okay, Right?

Now I do believe in balance, so let me partially defend Gore on this front even while I explain why ultimately it doesn’t help for me personally. Gore isn’t actually stupid, contrary to what conservative’s believe. Gore is in fact a pretty savvy politician. If you honestly believe that AGW is going to ruin the earth — and I believe that is precisely what Gore believes — the only way to wake people up and get them acting now is to create alarm. And unfortunately, human beings often only care about imminent problems. If Gore were to be completely truthful with us, and admit we’re probably many decades away – maybe even centuries, before human kind is in any kind of threat of going extinct, I suspect that this would undermine everything he actually does believe.

So Gore smartly — yet dishonestly — leaves that fact out. He never actually claims doom is imminent. He never gives a time frame at all. He simply leaves you with the impression the world is about to explode. This rhetoric approach has been copied by AGW Believes all over the place. It’s very frustrating.

Should we give the AGW Believers partial credit? I mean Gore never actually does say doom is imminent nor give a time frame. And couldn’t we say that the real concern of AGW Believers right now isn’t the extinction event that is decades or centuries off (according to their models) but rather is the million ton freight train that becomes harder and harder to stop every moment as it accelerates away from the station? So isn’t Gore’ ‘doom rhetoric’ accurate in a sense? Isn’t it true that the tipping point of doom is imminent according to the models and isn’t it true that Anthropogenic CO2 growth will take a very long time to stop? Can we defend Gore on the grounds that the ‘imminent doom’ is considered by that community as justifiable because they believe the ‘tipping point of doom’ is imminent?

I admit that these are hard questions. Leaving out ‘facts’ is required for any presentation. If it wasn’t required, then we could simply trust everyone to learn all pertinent facts for themselves (which in this case requires getting a PhD in Climate science.) And I know from dealing with Mormon history that sometimes there are ‘issues that aren’t issues.’ If presented wrong, they become issues, but if presented right, they aren’t issues at all. But if I am not specifically presenting on that particular issue, I usually don’t have time to explain the whole thing, so I am forced to just ‘leave it out’ for now.

Yet even having said this, I just can’t muster up support for Gore on this. Here’s the honest facts for myself:

1. After watching his movie, I was left feeling scared and that my children were going to die of heat stroke while they watched the ocean’s boil. This isn’t going to happen. (Maybe my great-grand children at the earliest.)

2.AGW Believers are a one trick pony. The only thing they’ve got in their court is a scientific consensus and a peer reviewed model that says we’ve got problems. (Granted, this is more than the AGW Skeptics have.)

3.Therefore, the only thing AGW Believers really have is good faith, because none of the rest of us understand their scientific models.

Given this situation, the very last thing AGW Believers should ever do is put me in a position where I feel one way (see #1 above) and then find out it’s wrong. It eliminates the one and only thing they’ve got in their favor. The AGW community should put a muzzle on Gore.

Notes

[1] Geo-Engineering: Geo-Engineering is doing things to the planet to control the temperature, like putting massive mirrors in orbit around the earth to reflect back the heat or putting stuff into the atmosphere that blocks the sun a little bit. It’s cheaper than the massive cap-and-trade policy being proposed (what isn’t?) and more to the point, it actually can be done right away. If doom is imminent, this is our only hope. In the doom imminent scenario, Cap and trade is too little too late at this point.

[2] Incidentally, this was the very post that Bookslinger was referring to when he said he’d seen my global warming arguments before and he found the sophomoric. Note that it’s a summarized version of what I’ve published on M*. I think summaries of arguments just don’t do the argument justice.

56 thoughts on “Do Gore and AGW Believers Really Believe Our Doom is Imminent?

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  2. >>2.AGW Believers are a one trick pony. The only thing they’ve got in their court is a scientific consensus and a peer reviewed model that says we’ve got problems. (Granted, this is more than the AGW Skeptics have.)<<

    Gotta love how thousands of independent studies are turned into a "one trick pony."

    I will concede that some people portray the likely effects of global warming in an apocalyptic fashion. I wouldn't characterize your impression as accurate for the scientific majority, including the IPCC. Most scientists I've talked to about this in informal settings paint a bleak, but not dismal, picture of what's likely to happen in the coming century.

    The impacts of global warming on human populations are far too connected to how we react to global warming for anyone to really predict what's going to happen. We know some places are going to be uninhabitable by humans due to flooding or expanding deserts. We also know when people are displaced there tend to be serious conflicts. Depending on how quickly ecosystems shift and adapt (or don't and collapse) and depending on how large or small influenced regions are, global warming could create anything from minor regional conflicts to large-scale world war. Depending on how we cope and on how ecosystems cope we could see anything from just another transition to a different climate state to a complete collapse of the ecosystems upon which we depend, and with that a complete collapse of our culture. Much of the difference depends on how we human beings decide to cope with the issues we're going to face in the future.

    Unfortunately, people react far more to imminent dangers than to far off dangers, and AGW is a tricky problem in that the impact of our current actions won't really be felt for decades. So the danger isn't imminent, but the necessity of action is.

    My personal hope is that the knowledge we know have will be sufficient to convince people to invest in mitigation and adaptation early rather than waiting and simply reacting. When people wait and just react to environmental issues things don't usually go well. Jared Diamond's "Collapse" chronicles several societies that expanded beyond the carrying capacity of their local environments and subsequently collapsed. "Collapse" is preachy at times, too, but the histories he presents do have some parallels to the situation we face today, not just from anthropogenic climate change, but from all our unsustainable behaviors. I would suggest you read that for a more nuanced view of the interaction between humans and our ecosystem.

  3. Kristine N. “The necessity of action is.” Oh brother. Let’s take a look at the kind of rhetoric being used by Gore to “necessitate action.”

    In 2009, Al Gore said the polar ice caps would completely disappear in a few years. Of course, as most people know, his inconvenient movie uses this claim to spur people to action.

    http://www.cejournal.net/?p=1376

    Well, what is happening with polar ice caps? 2007 was pretty bad for the Arctic, but the polar ice caps came nowhere near to entirely melting, as Gore claimed would happen soon. And since then, the Arctic has recovered nicely. July 2010 had very low levels of ice melt, and the coming La Nina and other weather trends indicate we are in for some very cold weather for the foreseeable future (South America is suffering through record-breaking cold because of La Nina right now). Meanwhile, the Antarctic ice cover is at record levels. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, record levels. So, the actual evidence is going in exactly the OPPOSITE direction from what Gore predicted.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/01/sea-ice-news-16/

    So much for science being about pursuing object truth.

    Waiting may indeed be a very wise thing to do.

  4. The other issues one must consider if AGW is correct is: so what? History has shown global warming in the past, and it was overall good for mankind. Vikings settled Greenland. England grew fine grapes. Growing seasons increased in Scandinavia.

    Meanwhile periods of global cooling brought about the end of Viking civilization in Greenland. Brought about the black plague that killed 1/3 of everyone in Europe. And it brought about famine in France that led to the French Revolution and the Great Terror.

    If we’re so worried about global climate change, let’s use science to adapt. I think the Superfreakonomics’ ideas (which I have studied) make plausible sense. And they are generally reversible if they don’t work well. But to destroy global economies with Cap’n Trade is ridiculous.

    Just because Ted Turner thinks we should reduce world populations to 2 Billion by sterilizing almost everyone, doesn’t make it a good idea.

  5. We know there will be displacement and conflict in the 21st Century because that is the experience of humanity in every century, so no prizes for predicting that the world will keep doing what it does.

  6. Last week Steve Sailer pointed out a hilarious bit from the LA Times, “Climate change could affect migration to the U.S., new study says”:

    Climbing temperatures are expected to raise sea levels and increase droughts, floods, heat waves and wildfires.

    Now, scientists are predicting another consequence of climate change – mass migration to the United States.

    As many as 7 million Mexicans could migrate to the U.S. by 2080 as climate change reduces agricultural production in Mexico, according to a new study being published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “Given the climate projections are correct, gradually over the next several decades heading toward the end of the century it becomes one of the more important factors in driving Mexicans across the border, all other things being equal,” said Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University.

    Seven million immigrants from our southern neighbor, over the next seventy years, due to global warming. Professor Oppenheimer, that’s sounds more like an almost indiscernible factor than one of the most important factors.

  7. Thank you once again Bruce for bringing a more rational and calmly well thought out clarity to the subject. I have some differences with a few small points in your post, but nothing really important enough to go into.

  8. I don’t know what scientists are claiming eminent doom. I don’t know of any.

    Why do deniers just make stuff up Geoff? Yes, arctic sea ice is melting. It’s funny how selective the anti climate change crowd have to mine the data to make the point. Again and gain they have to use the worst analysis I’ve ever seen and rigorous data mining to come up with their stories. No wonder scientists can’t get their message out. Here’s a nice summary of this years melting:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/06/seaice_models/

  9. Steve, wow. Just wow. You accuse me of “making stuff up” and you link a graph that is two months old. The one that I linked is — tada! — the very same one from this week! Did you even look at the link I provided? Yes, two months ago the arctic ice was looking pretty bad. But in the last two months, it has recovered and is now above 2007 levels and pretty much normal for recent years. And, this is exactly what I said, ie, the Arctic has “recovered nicely.”

    Ok, now that you have gone to the lengths of accusing me of making stuff up and calling me a “denier” (I must be subhuman, like a Holocaust denier), let’s ask you some hard questions.

    Please go up to the link I provided. Here it is again:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/01/sea-ice-news-16/

    What does the JAXA ice melt say for 2010?

    It says…July ice melt was the lowest compared to recent years. This is crucial because July is the hottest month in the Arctic. So, the reason ice melt recovered is that July was a pretty cold month in the Arctic (comparatively) and ice did not melt as much in other years.

    Ok, next question. I’m sure you know that ice extent is only one part of the equation. Ice thickness is also relevant. You could have very thin ice with a lot of ice extent, or very think ice with low extent. So, when you look at total ice what matters is volume, not just extent. So, what does ice thickness say? That is the graph that says PIPS ice thickness. It says…ice is about normal compared to recent years and significantly thicker than 2007.

    Ok, lastly, and this is a tough one because it really doesn’t fit your narrative, what does that graph on the ANTARTIC ice say? WHAT???? It says the sea ice extent is at record levels and much higher than recent averages.

    So, when you combine these actual facts with the coming La Nina (which means colder weather), what can we deduce based on this data (not selective but instead COMPREHENSIVE)? We can deduce that there is no evidence that sea ice is less extensive overall (and in fact if you combine the Arctic and the Antartic, sea ice is at very HIGH levels). We can also deduce that, at least for the short term, based on the coming La Nina, sea ice amounts will likely continue to increase, not decrease (remember, this was an El Nino year, and El Nino years are usually warmer — so even in an El Nino year, when you would expect sea ice to take a hit, the sea ice extent overall worldwide increased, not decreased). Thus, the claims of global warming alarmists are once again WRONG!!!!!

    Thank you ladies and gentlemen. I will be here to entertain you indefinitely.

  10. Jack, you are so right. When we had record snows and cold weather this winter, it was because of CO2. When we had heat this summer, it was because of CO2. When we had record cold in South America in July, it was ignored of course, just like the record levels of ice in the Antarctic are ignored. The heat in Moscow was played up but the record cold this summer in Siberia? Ignored.

    Fun fact. According to the NOAA, 62 percent of the US was either A)hotter or B)colder than normal so far this year. Without looking it up, based on media coverage, which one was it? Hotter or colder?

  11. Geoff,

    What does it mean to say that ice is normal compared to the last few years? That’s like saying the nation’s unemployment numbers are normal compared to the last 18 months.

    <a href="http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/"According to the NSIDC, as of July 20 Arctic Sea Ice is still below the average for the last 30 years (see Fig 2). Although melting was slower in the first part of July,

    “Ice extent remained lower than normal in all regions of the Arctic, with open water developing along the coasts of northwest Canada, Alaska and Siberia.”

    I think they’ll be updating their analysis later this week. In the meantime, they also have a nice little FAQ that puts your claims into broader context. I would draw your attention to:

    # Is Arctic sea ice really declining?
    # Is Arctic sea ice starting to recover?
    # Is wintertime Antarctic sea ice increasing or decreasing?

    Also keep in mind that although Antarctic sea ice has been gaining, Antarctic land ice has been falling.

  12. Jared*,

    C’mon. There’s not enough info to establish a reliable trend on Antarctic land ice melt. And even if the very worst scenario were to become reality it would take a 1000 years to melt the land ice. But chances are we’re not even gonna get close to that kind of reality. I’d probably take more like 50 to 100 thousand years — and that’s if there’s no cooling along the way.

    A reliable trend that we can establish is that Antarctic sea has been increasing while Arctic sea ice has been decreasing over the last 30 yrs.

  13. Jared*, you cannot overcome the inconvenient fact that Arctic sea ice is recovering from the 2007 low and is likely to continue to increase in the near future because of the coming La Nina. Arctic sea ice started out the year well above average (cold winter), dipped below average and now is again close to average. And, as I say, this was during a post El Nino (unusually warm) year.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/sea-ice-page/

    Land ice in the Antarctic is lower, sea ice is higher. Seems pretty consistent with the result that sea temperatures have remained stable since 1998:

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/lack-of-a-trend-in-the-ocean-surface-temperature-since-2000-its-significance/

    Sea ice thickness in the Arctic has also recovered, thanks in part to the cold weather in 2009-2010 (again, an El Nino year — weird it was so cold when it should be getting warmer, wasn’t it?).

    Based on the fact that we are entering a La Nina phase that is already causing record low temperatures in South America, the smart betting is that sea ice in the Arctic will no longer be an issue in the next year because of course only the “facts” supporting the AGW theory are ever reported.

    I am familiar with the NSIDC site. They are well-known AGW believers, although there is some good information on their site occasionally and they are less ideological in general than the Michael Mann/Hansen cabal.

    Again, the constant claim of AGW alarmists is that sea ice is on a downward spiral toward armegeddon. This, of course, is the central claim of “An Inconvenient Truth.” The reality is that sea ice is going up and down seasonally as it has for millennia. Many very smart climatologists are predicting that we are about to enter another cold period for the next few decades.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/01/a-primer-for-disproving-ipcc%e2%80%99s-theory-of-man-made-global-warming-using-observed-temperature-data/

    My prediction is sea ice will not be an issue in a few years and global warming alarmists will find another cause to rally around.

  14. >>Land ice in the Antarctic is lower, sea ice is higher. Seems pretty consistent with the result that sea temperatures have remained stable since 1998:<>Sea ice thickness in the Arctic has also recovered, thanks in part to the cold weather in 2009-2010 (again, an El Nino year — weird it was so cold when it should be getting warmer, wasn’t it?).<<

    You have to have more than five years to establish a climate trend–more like 15 years. (see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/01/uncertainty-noise-and-the-art-of-model-data-comparison/ for a discussion.) That's why nobody–and I do mean nobody–is claiming this year's extreme warmth in the East was caused directly by global warming. Even if the amount of sea ice is greater this year, it's still well below the long-term average, and even below the long-term decline.

  15. Regardless of whether one looks at 3 year trends or 30 year trends, the fact is, there is more going on than just AGW. El Nino/La Nina, volcanic ash in the atmosphere, and many other natural and manmade events are continually working together to change things.

    Some of the key scientists are now telling us that the earth is probably entering into a cold phase that will last 30 years. AGW is not going to stop the cold phase from happening. It will thicken both the Arctic and Antarctic ice shelves. It may cause crops in higher latitudes and altitudes to fail or be smaller.

    That said, how do we know we may not enter into a new Ice Age or Warm Period even without AGW?

    AGW does not happen in a vacuum. Climate change of any kind does not happen in a vacuum. When climates change in any region, flora and fauna must adapt or die. For millions of years,plants and animals have found ways to cope with changing climate. This includes species adaptation and migration.

    Is mankind smart enough to play with weather and climate? Every choice taken may have both good and bad consequences. Either not doing anything at all or doing everything possible may bring about disastrous climate change for some place, somewhere in the world.

  16. Rameumpton, exactly. This is why AGW alarmists treat climate change as a problem man needs to resolve rather than realizing that climate always changes and the world always adapts in one way or another.

    This brings us back to the original subject of this post, which is geoengineering. It seems to me that the lack of interest in geoengineering is yet another sign that Al Gore doesn’t believe he says he believes. However, it is possible to take the completely reasonable position that geoengineering is certain to have unintended consequences and should only be used as a last, desperate measure (like hiring Bruce Willis to go blow up the asteroid heading for the Earth).

  17. Geoff B,

    But I don’t see how geoengineering can be any worse than other solutions. If we send mirrors or particles into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight away from earth, we can do it in stages to see how it affects the earth. It can be done over a period of decades, little by little, so we can adjust accordingly.

    For me, Al Gore (I can’t speak for other AGWs) who push Cap and Trade and the Kyoto Treaty, etc., are more interested in global politics and finances. Gore stands to make tons of money if Cap and Trade is implemented. In the Kyoto Treaty, which many still espouse, the USA would take a giant economic hit, while China and India would not. China now uses more energy than the USA – and they aren’t going to be expected to make the types of changes imposed on America?

    We could reduce our American footprint back to what we had in 1800 pre-Industrial Revolution era, and China would steam forward polluting the atmosphere with CO2 and other pollutants. The only thing we would impact is our own economy, turning us into a third world nation with nukes (unless Al convinces us to also dismantle all of them, as well).

    If people were serious about AGW, then they would take geo-engineering seriously. You choose the process that works most effectively and efficiently. Instead, AGW worry about coastal cities being flooded. Guess what? Coastal cities won’t have to worry about being flooded if they are emptied out due to economic regulations that destroy economies. The studies show the Kyoto Treaty would only have impacted the world temperature by less than one degree Celsius over a century. For all the people who would suffer in the economic crises caused by Cap and Trade, etc., that really seems like a very poor return on investment.

    So, if AGW means imminent doom and gloom, then we have no option but geo-engineering. If it doesn’t mean doom and gloom, then we need to study solutions that will actually make an effective and efficient impact without destroying economies. And if other climate changes (El Nino/La Nina/etc) can sway the earth’s warming/cooling, then perhaps we should look at whether we should mess with the weather at all.

  18. Kristine N, re: your number 15, I’m glad you mentioned long-term trends. Studying actual long-term trends in temperatures may help you break out of the Matrix.

    Let’s posit two worlds, one “the Matrix” (a fake world manufactured by others) and one the “Real World.” In the Matrix, the key spokesman for their world view say Arctic ice will disappear in a few years and that global temperatures will inexorably rise like the end of a Hockey Stick. The point is to keep people in the Matrix stuck there, fooled by the propaganda.

    In the real world, we look at actual facts and long-term trends. In the real world, we note that temperatures have gone up and down throughout history. During Christ’s time, the world was warm, then it got colder, then it got warmer (the Medieval warming period), then it got colder (little ice age), now it is getting warmer. The people who run the Matrix have put together a theory that all this bad stuff generated by technology is causing temperatures to increase and if we don’t act immediately to control all emissions there will be a catastrophe. And they invent all kinds of graphs and movies and other propaganda to support their world view.

    Now the people in the real world see the actual data and have a different view. Keep in mind that there are a lot of different views in the real world because the real world is about freedom. So there are some people in the real world who accept part of the Matrix viewpoint but recognize the propaganda (Bruce Nielson falls in this category). There are others like myself who are very passionate about this issue and actively try to rescue people from the Matrix.

    The first step in rescuing yourself from the Matrix is to denounce the propaganda put forward by its leaders. So, the first step is to say, “It is bad for science for people to exaggerate and falsify data, and Al Gore and Michael Mann have exaggerated and they are wrong.” I have challenged Jared* and many other AGW believers to take this step. Some of them do — they are on their way to breaking out of the Matrix — and some of them like Jared* never quite break free. I still hold out hope for Jared*, however. I think some day he will break out of the Matrix.

    So, in the real world, we look at long term temperature trends and we note that we are in a warming period. And then we look at the trends within the long-term trends and we notice something else very interesting. Every 30 years or so, the temperature goes up slightly or down slightly. So, recently, the period from about 1910 to 1940 was unusually warm. Interestingly, the last decade of that period (the 1930s) was really, really warm. Then we note that the period from about 1940 to about 1970 was cool. Then we note that the period from about 1970 to about 2000 was warming again. Based on the activity in the last warm period — it got hottest in the 1930s, we can posit that the 1990s would be unusually warm. And in fact this is what the actual data shows us.

    So, based on this theory, it should start getting cool again in about the year 2000. And, what do you know, this is exactly what is happening — global temperatures have stabilized. There are even some indications temperatures are going down in the last 10-12 years. Take a look at the graph here:

    http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/08/97-consensus-is-only-76-self-selected.html

    Satellite temperatures (more accurate than land temperatures) show a slight cooling in the last decade.

    Meanwhile, Arctic ice is decreasing but OVERALL sea ice is increasing. Ocean temperatures are stable.

    The Matrix world would have you ignore the truth and concentrate on the hockey stick and other false data. The real world would have you look at the long-term trends and say, “huh, this doesn’t seem to fit the models put forward by the leaders of the Matrix. Maybe I need to take another look.”

    This does not mean you immediately become a “skeptic.” Goodness no. The first step is to denounce the propagandists. Will you take this first step?

  19. Geoff, The data I provided was for up to July 15th. You provide out of context graphs misinterpret go to the people making the graphs. Read what they say. Look at the Artctic line. See that line means there was less sea ice than any time other than 2007. That is hardly recovered. Taking things out of context is ‘making stuff up’ scientifically. If we did that we would loose all credibility. Science has standards the deniers can’t meet. Why not?

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

  20. As a committed AGW Skeptic but A-CO2 Level Believer, I would really like to see the AGW Skeptics shore up their arguments on this front. We just saw Rameumptom in #16 say:

    Regardless of whether one looks at 3 year trends or 30 year trends, the fact is, there is more going on than just AGW

    I am not at all convinced AGW is going on. But I am smart enough to know that the following arguments are without merit next to what Rameumpton just said:

    1. Mocking AGW Believers by saying “Warming = Climate. Cooling = Weather”

    2. Trying to attribute all changes to be natural only (“The reality is that sea ice is going up and down seasonally as it has for millennia”) without any actual evidence to back that.

    I am disturbed that AGW Skeptics so regularly falsely attack the straw man that AGW Believers think there is only one force in the world effecting climate: CO2. This is false and each time you make an argument based on that assumption (unfortunately, most of the ones on this thread) rather than dealing with the Believers actual claims, I honestly cringe.

    Instead, AGW Skeptics should deal with the actual argument. They should deal with what AGW Believers like Rameumpton actually claims, which is that there are multiple factors at any given moment. Is it really so hard to believe that the stock market has a gradual upward trend due to the fact that capitalism creates growth while still believing in local (sometimes even major) dips?

    Simply claiming that ‘well, things naturally change anyhow’ is naive. Back it up with actual evidence!

    On the other hand, I think Geoff has a really good point here. How seriously we should take AGW in the short run is entirely dependent on how accurate the predictions have been in the past. Geoff uses a lot of bad arguments in my opinion, but this is an example of one of his spot on good arguments. In fact, it’s a real smacker that I admit convinces me. The fact is that all the predictions I heard Gore make (or at least imply such that I thought he made them) seem pretty bad so far. Whether or not this is because the science isn’t there yet vs. Gore lied and the AGW community gave him a Nobel prize for it, is effectively the same to me.

    kristine N,

    If you want to consider each independent study a separate trick, be my guest. I meant no offense. I would hope you’ve read my articles and know that I am in favor of taking action against CO2 level growth and am actively working on blog posts to an AGW Skeptic audience to make the case they should change their mind.

    But in any case, the simple fact is that I do not see one study as one point, two studies as two points, 100 studies as 100 points, etc. The simple truth is that I understand none of them. So as far as I am concerned the AGW Believers get one point for having a scientific consensus and the AGW Skeptics get half a point for showing that there is a lot of politics behind that consensus and that it’s forced out legitimate skeptics. Unfortunately that is as far as I can rationally evaluate things until I decide to become a climate scientist.

    While half a point is better than none, ultimately I remain unconvinced of AGW but very convinced on the points of agreement — such as man made CO2 growth and the potential dangers of not doing something about it.

    This is enough for me to want to take action for now and I’m doing my best to follow up my beliefs with personal action. (No, I am not going to take my carbon footprint to zero ASAP. That would be like stamping out termites with a shoe. I am, on the other hand, taking steps to reduce my footprint via improved installation. And I’m spending time writing blog posts and trying to argue we need government support for this.)

    But you have to understand how unconvincing it is to flash thousands of independent studies so long as that community is making lists of enemies to black ball and trying to give good skeptics like Steven McIntyre a black eye for wanting to audit their data and methodology. My original point is valid. The AGW Believers have only one thing going for them: a scientific consensus. That’s a really important thing. But if they undermine our trust of that consensus (which they keep doing) then I will not blame Skeptics for choosing to ignore it — because it was always about trust.

    The same goes for AGW Skeptics. If you guys are going to use incompetent arguments without merit regularly (i.e. pretending AGW Believers think there is only one force affecting climate, or using bad analogies and pretending you’ve proved something) you are going to continue to make yourselves look bad and undermine the trust of undecideds or middle of the roaders like myself.

    The truth is that both sides have been deeply dishonest at times so far.

  21. SteveP, still not right. OK, let’s make this simple. Go to the article that you linked. Here it is:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/06/seaice_models/

    What is the date on the article? June 17. So the graph from that article could not have been any later than June 17 and was in fact from early June (two months ago).

    OK, go to the link I linked:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/01/sea-ice-news-16/

    What is the date on that article? Aug. 1. Yes, that is two months later with more recent data.

    Your link in #20 is a different graph than your first link but it is missing a whole lot of information. To see the entire picture (including increased ice in the Antartic), please see this page:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/sea-ice-page/

    It is true SOME scientists have standards and other don’t and pick and choose information that suits their various causes.

  22. I DO! I DO! And when that big earthquake hits San Francisco, I predict that all the land eastward of the San Andreas Fault line will fall into the ocean! ;)

    Seriously, first off everyone, especially those who have read the Book of Mormon more than once, “Rameumptom” is spelled without the letter “N”. To have a decent discussion merits spelling a person’s name or acronym properly.

    Second, even though we are blogging here, it is important to use full sentences that are coherent. Steve P, I couldn’t understand all your protests against Geoff.

    For example, I don’t understand this sentence: “You provide out of context graphs misinterpret go to the people making the graphs.” Also, you used the term “loose” when you should have used “lose.”

    Proper English does matter in a discussion like this. I spent my time looking for grammatical errors, rather than understanding the argument behind it. It’s an OCD thing, like counting the number of times a Sacrament speaker says ,”umm”. It distracts from the message and messenger. In this case, Geoff’s sentence structure beats you hands down.

    Okay, English lesson is over. Back to the Global Warming blood bath!

  23. Bruce,

    What else is there in the whole scheme of the climate debate that really matters other than the question of C02 as a driver? I think most informed skeptics must know that most informed AGW proponents understand that climate is incredibly complex. But the reality is that C02 is the only talking point that matters in terms of policy making right now.

    Also, I don’t think you do the believers enough disservice. They have no shame in slinging their own little mud pies. Many are quick to assume that the more visible skeptics must be funded by the oil industry and therefore ill-motivated — and if such were true it would be like straining at a gnat while swallowing their own multy-billion dollar camel. Also, as we all know, the term “denier” — which they use without the slightest compunction — is a derivative of “holocaust denier” — the lowest “below the belt” criticism that can be invented. And look at some of the leaked emails — they call their opposition “idiots” and “bozos,” Steve McIntyre being the biggest recipient of such well-thought out epithets.

    As for myself, I believe that we have contributed to the warming to some “degree.” But I am a fierce skeptic when it comes to catastrophic predictions — some of which are beyond ridiculous. Sorry, but if our noble scientists can have their fun slinging mud at those who wince at (say) Hansen’s outrageous graphs from the eighties (which were wrong from about the day after he presented them to congress), then by golly why can’t a layman like myself get in on the fun now and again?

  24. Jared*, you cannot overcome the inconvenient fact that Arctic sea ice is recovering from the 2007 low and is likely to continue to increase in the near future because of the coming La Nina.

    What are you talking about? I’m not defending the absurd notion that AGW means every year will be hotter than the last, always with less sea ice than the last. That idea either comes as a misunderstanding held by skeptics or as a strawman attributed to scientists. Equally absurd is the notion that CO2 AGW renders other drivers of climate variability moot.

  25. Geoff–are you always such a patronising ass to people you disagree with? Is it simply that I’m new? Or that I have a female moniker? I mean, the Matrix? Really?

    It just happens that I work on paleoclimate over the Holocene (the last about 10.000 years, though I focus on the last 8,000). So, I’m pretty well versed in long-term climate trends and the sources of variability in the climate.

    So, in the real world, we look at long term temperature trends and we note that we are in a warming period. And then we look at the trends within the long-term trends and we notice something else very interesting. Every 30 years or so, the temperature goes up slightly or down slightly. So, recently, the period from about 1910 to 1940 was unusually warm. Interestingly, the last decade of that period (the 1930s) was really, really warm. Then we note that the period from about 1940 to about 1970 was cool. Then we note that the period from about 1970 to about 2000 was warming again. Based on the activity in the last warm period — it got hottest in the 1930s, we can posit that the 1990s would be unusually warm. And in fact this is what the actual data shows us.

    So, based on this theory, it should start getting cool again in about the year 2000. And, what do you know, this is exactly what is happening — global temperatures have stabilized. There are even some indications temperatures are going down in the last 10-12 years.

    According to your theory, temperatures in the last decade should have decreased, yet according to you, they’ve stabilized. How does that not invalidate your theory? Oh, right–you’re not subject to actual rigour. Oh, and how do average temperatures in the ’90s compare to average temperatures in the last decade? Right, the last decade was warmer.

    What you are describing is quasi-periodic natural variability. The warming trend scientists talk about is superimposed on top of that.

    As for Michael Mann, I’m not what you could call a fan. He had a good idea and then refused to believe that idea could be improved upon. Unfortunately, his statistical methods filtered out long-term trends, meaning his reconstructions didn’t show things like the little ice age or medieval climate optimum. But guess what–there are other proxies (corals, boreholes, ice cores, and sediments) that do show those features and we can combine them with the tree ring proxy records to produce a more robust temperature reconstruction. Anders Moberg and colleagues published a reconstruction based on more than just tree rings that shows the little ice age and medieval climate optimum:
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v433/n7026/full/nature03265.html

    That reconstruction agrees much more with boreholes, where the temperature of the ground is measured. Mann and much of the tree ring crowd didn’t like borehole temperature reconstructions because they disagreed with the hockey stick–they indicate more warming during the 20th century, not less. The hilarious thing to me is that many of the arguments I’ve hear skeptics citing come straight from the borehole-tree ring debates, which are really more about how much warming has happened, not whether or not it’s happening.

    Bruce–

    I haven’t read any of your articles, though I’d be interested in seeing them.

    But you have to understand how unconvincing it is to flash thousands of independent studies so long as that community is making lists of enemies to black ball and trying to give good skeptics like Steven McIntyre a black eye for wanting to audit their data and methodology.

    Steven McIntyre’s analysis of the hockey stick was well done and a valuable contribution to the scientific debate.

    As for the black balling, I assume you’re talking about climategate. The fact is, when a journal (like the Journal of Climate) starts publishing crap that’s been rejected by its reviewers, scientists tend to publicize that and encourage everyone they know not to publish in the journal. It’s not that uncommon, it’s just nobody cares if Tectonophysics is publishing crap and people decide to boycott it. The rest of the behavior of that group I wish I could distance myself from. They were unprofessional jerks. Unfortunately, they are so high profile the rest of us, who didn’t even get the pleasure of being unprofessional jerks, get painted with the same brush. Which is perhaps why I don’t feel bad about returning Geoff’s sarcasm with some of my own.

  26. Kristine N, just having a little fun. Sorry you took it the way you did. Great comment! When I get a chance I’ll response in more detail.

  27. Kristine N,

    Wow — it must have been annoying to be called out by somebody like myself. You work on paleoclimate and refer to yourself (at least indirectly) as a climate scientist. And, re-reading all of your comments in context, they are actually pretty reasonable. So I apologize.

    Let me explain where I’m coming from. I am a former journalist, now an international business guy (yes, I am a Man of Mystery). I worked for the Economist, the Miami Herald, the Daily Telegraph and several other publications during my journalism career. When I was young, I was extremely idealistic and, like Churchill, a leftist. I went to Nicaragua to Help The People. Here’s what I learned: the Sandinista (leftist) government oppressed the people and stole from them and interfered with their freedom, stealing their money and handing it to a few cronies who were friends of the leaders. Traveling around Latin America for the last 25 years, I learned this is almost always what government does. Returning to the United States, I saw the exact same thing.

    Rule number one: government intervention should only take place in very rare cases because it usually does a lot more harm than good, especially to the poor people supposedly being helped. So, any scheme involving a worldwide government attempt to control global temperatures is, in my opinion, destined to fail and to put tens of millions out of work and at the same time take money from productive people and give it to well-connected cronies. This is the way it ALWAYS works.

    Starting in the late-1980s I started following the climate change movement. Hansen, Gore, etc. Now, I had studied at Stanford and heard a lot from Erlich, and I was interested to see that Hansen and Gore were aligned at the hip with Erlich. Only one problem: Erlich’s malthusian nonsense had been completely and utterly disproven (although I had been sympathetic to Erlich when I was at Stanford in the early 1980s). So, some alarm bells went off.

    As a non-scientist who has been following this issue pretty closely for 22 years, it seems to me there are three broad groups of scientists who believe in the global warming cause. 1)scientists in other fields who are not experts about the climate but are sympathetic to the AGW case because Nature, Science and the Scientific Establishment believe in it, so therefore it must be true. 2)True believers who don’t care about the truth because they are Saving the Earth so they are willing to say whatever they can, exaggerate in any way possible to Save the Earth and 3)honest scientists simply doing their jobs who have come to honest conclusions and are able to point out some of the dishonest behavior the true believers.

    In general terms (there are exceptions), and for the purposes of entertainment, I would put scientists in categories 1 and 2 as “in the Matrix.” Your comments clearly show you are not. Why? Because you are able to see through Mann’s hockey stick and you are able to see that McIntyre actually DID do some ground-breaking work. You would not believe how rare that it is in the climate science world I have seen in the last 22 years. So, many, many kudos to you.

    Kristine, put yourself in my shoes or the shoes of average knowledgeable person who is not a climate scientist. What are we SUPPOSED to think? The true believers have been lying to us, manipulating data, making up stories and generally destroying the credibility of climate science for the last 22 years. It seems there is no exaggeration they are not capable of. And when you present them with clear evidence of this (as Bruce, who basically agrees with your viewpoint, has done in at least one post and several comments), they ignore it and go blithely on spouting true believer nonsense.

    I have written this now a dozen times in at least a dozen ways: science is HURT by people lying, exaggerating and manipulating things. Honest scientists, if you care about truth, denounce the liars, who are political hacks trying to cast themselves as experts in political and economic issues, which they are not. Separate yourselves from them, make it clear their behavior is not acceptable because it ruins YOUR credibility with the general public. This is the only way climate scientists can restore their credibility. But don’t believe me. Listen to one of Germany’s leading climate scientists:

    http://pgosselin.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/hans-von-storch-speaks-out-on-cru-ipcc-and-climate-science/

    Key paragraphs:

    “HB: Last fall after errors were found in the IPCC report and the disclosure of the CRU e-mails, climate science skidded off track and came under heavy fire.. What does this branch of science need to do in order to regain respect?

    HsV: There are two strategies – and I’m afraid not much is happening for the most part. It is simply being claimed that evil media outlets and the fossil fuel industry are behind the unjust discrediting of the science. But this assertion simply is not sustainable. In the past, climate science attempted to work too much with catastrophe reports. But that bubble blew last fall. As a result, trust suffered immeasurably.

    We have to take a critical view of what happened. Nothing ought to be swept under the rug. Some of the inquests – like in Great Britain – failed at this. They blew an opportunity to re-establish trust.

    The second strategy us scientists have to consider is what role it is we wish to play. Are we supporters of a certain political process, or supporters of a certain brand of politics? I’m emphatically for the first, whereby we are the providers of special knowledge. We must not say that this is right, and that is wrong. This is not the competence of a climate scientist. We are merely experts in climate dynamics, and not specialists for competing political or ethical problems. Fundamentally a debate has to take place. That’s what climate scientists want, and that is what is expected from the public.”

    So, Kristine N, work with me. Can you see how your comment calling for the “necessity of action” would set off some alarm bells?

    Alright, let’s pick a few nits.

    First off, you say McIntyre’s analysis was “well done” but then you basically go on to excuse the behavior of climategate as the kind of stuff scientists do all the time. Not quite. Climategate started because McIntyre wanted data that Jones, Mann, etc refused to provide him because they were, apparently, True Believers defending their turf. It is one thing to want real science (not fake science) in your field. It is quite another to deliberately withhold information and conspire to prevent competing theories to get published. I’m sure you can see the seriousness of the latter and why people outside of the field would agree with van Storch that such behavior looks extremely suspicious. And then when an “investigation” takes place it is a complete whitewash where AGW believers are the judge, jury and all of the witnesses. Again, as van Storch points out, the process is extremely suspect.

    Regarding temperatures, many skeptics like myself simply don’t trust the CRU data. Jones himself has said he “lost” the data and the entire process has shown there is reason to believe it was compromised. But, even if you set that aside, because of UHI and the placement of thermometers (near heat sources that did not exist decades ago) there are many reasons to distrust land-based temperature readings. It seems reasonable to me to use UAH satellite readings that show stable to slightly declining temperatures overall since the 1998 high.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/08/july-2010-uah-global-temperature-update-0-49-deg-c/

  28. Excellent response, Geoff. I look forward to reading Kristine’s comeback. Do I detect a legitimate, thoughtful discussion around the corner?

  29. I agree with Tossman, that was an excellent response, Geoff. It was well reasoned, well thought out and… wait…

    Ok Bruce! Are you pulling a fast one on us and posting under Geoff’s name? :-D :-)

    Seriously Geoff, that was very well written. While I disagree with some points, you have stated your case in a way the asks for a much more reasoned response instead of a defensive one. I would have to say your previous posts have been far, far more caustic and dogmatic. (Remember a few weeks ago when I said you were “attacking me?” This is the same thing; thus the reason I brought this up.)

    Anyway, just my 2c. Carry on with the blood bath! :-)

  30. Rule number one: government intervention should only take place in very rare cases because it usually does a lot more harm than good, especially to the poor people supposedly being helped.

    That really is a separate discussion that should have no bearing on whether or not you accept the validity of climate science.

    As a non-scientist who has been following this issue pretty closely for 22 years, it seems to me there are three broad groups of scientists who believe in the global warming cause. 1)scientists in other fields who are not experts about the climate but are sympathetic to the AGW case … 2)True believers who don’t care about the truth because they are Saving the Earth … 3)honest scientists simply doing their jobs who have come to honest conclusions and are able to point out some of the dishonest behavior the true believers.

    Perhaps it’s a function of working in Earth sciences, but I know very few scientists who would fit into either of your first two categories. I know plenty of non-scientists who would fit into those categories, but very few scientists. While it’s possible to delude oneself in any field, scientist really are very hard on anyone who engages in the kind of poor thinking you’d have to be guilty of to fall into either of those categories. If there’s a way to prove someone else wrong, we scientists will find and publish it.

    In general terms (there are exceptions), and for the purposes of entertainment, I would put scientists in categories 1 and 2 as “in the Matrix.” Your comments clearly show you are not.

    I’m so glad we cleared that up.

    The second strategy us scientists have to consider is what role it is we wish to play. Are we supporters of a certain political process, or supporters of a certain brand of politics? I’m emphatically for the first … That’s what climate scientists want, and that is what is expected from the public.

    Again, this is what the vast majority of climate scientists do. We explore the likely outcomes of the climate changing. We know there are consequences to our actions and climate scientists spend a lot of time thinking about what those consequences are likely to be for us and for people around the world. When I say action is necessary, what I mean is if we want to avoid certain consequences, we need to take steps now. Really, if you don’t care about the consequences, that’s an entirely different debate we could have and I would totally respect your not caring about flooding in Bangladesh or droughts in China and Africa.

    But that’s not really the debate we’ve been having because you don’t seem to think there will be consequences to pumping large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. You are wrong. The science says there will be consequences and some of them are likely to be very bad and inflicted very unequally upon the world’s population.

    As for your critiques of the science–you’ve brought little to the table that isn’t about tree rings or modern temperature records. I don’t care how suspect Mann’s behavior is; it doesn’t matter. Tree rings don’t matter. What you don’t realize is that there is enough evidence from multiple lines of inquiry to tell us CO2 is causing the world’s average temperature to rise without ever referring to tree rings. Really, tree rings aren’t that great for temperature reconstructions; they’re much, much better for moisture (which is the only thing I use them for myself). Getting temperature out of them requires lots of filtering and statistics, so it doesn’t really surprise me they don’t want to share their data. Should they anyway? I don’t really care. My knowledge of Earth systems and climate science tells me their little fight over that one proxy doesn’t matter.

    You see, in order to disbelieve AGW, you have to throw out most of what we know about the Earth’s climate. You’d have to fundamentally disbelieve our records of CO2 and climate over the past 65 million years. You have to throw out a lot of ecosystem science and biology. And you have to throw out physics. It’s just not possible to throw out that much accumulated knowledge and scientific thought and still call yourself a scientist.

    Separate yourselves from them, make it clear their behavior is not acceptable because it ruins YOUR credibility with the general public.

    Here’s the problem: I can’t. You painted me, and SteveP and Jared*, with the same brush you paint Mike Mann et al. I can’t stop them from talking any more than I can stop you from talking.

  31. Actually, you found me out. Geoff and I are the same person. Haven’t you noticed we never post at the same moment? ;)

    Geoff, your response was par excellent. Best one so far ever on CO2.

    I think Geoff did an excellent job summarizing my own issues with AGW. I wish I had written it. I have a hard time believe in it because I feel that the sources I got it from (primarily Gore) were full of lying by omission. Therefore, it undermines my trust.

    But unfortunately, I feel even worse about the AGW Skeptic camp for exactly the same reason. I feel even worse about the AGW Skeptic camp for another reason – because I can easily see that those commenting on this thread aren’t as intellectually honest as their AGW Believer counter parts here.

    Kristine N,

    Your response and re-response were all excellent too.

    Personally, I’m totally and completely satisfied with KristineN’s distancing herself from bad AGW Believers. I think she proved she had no problem with it and did it willingly and vocally. I think this proves the point I’ve been trying to make: that there are bad people on both sides and good people on both sides.

    In fact, I am of the opinion that absolutely every AGW Believer that has commented on these threads (I don’t count myself as an AGW Believer at all – just a CO2 Level believer) has adequately distanced themselves from the negatives of the AGW Believer camp. As a (still) committed AGW Skeptic myself, I am totally satisfied with our local AGW Believer’s response on that point and I ask the AGW Skeptics to stop holding dialog with people that aren’t here (Gore and Mann) and concentrate only on the points made by the actual AGW Believers we have here. This is a dialog with them, not Gore and Mann. It was a fair point until the AGW Believers admitted it was a problem, but that took all of 5 minutes. The other million times since it was just irrelevant and makes you guys look bad.

    I wish I was as satisfied with the equivalent problem with the AGW Skeptic camp. I would love to see the AGW Skeptics do the same thing the AGW Believers have done: distance themselves from tired old disproven arguments and those that make them.

    We’ve seen some of that here, but we also still see a lot of support for disproven/bad arguments. (i.e. Gore’s house proves he doesn’t really believe, if I breathe I can’t be carbon neutral, water vapor overwhelms the influence of CO2 even over time, there is no evidence whatsoever for this, CO2 just naturally changes anyhow – it’s all natural – so forget what skeptic Stephen McIntyre found when he did the math, etc.)

  32. Kristine N,

    Can you elaborate a little bit on your critique of Mann? I’m looking at Mann’s original figure (2001 IPCC version), Moberg’s 2005 figure (especially part b), and Mann’s 2008 PNAS figure (all taken from random websites). To my untrained eye the take-home message is the same. The latter two figures look very similar–of course that’s at least in part because Mann included Moberg’s analysis. (He also included boreholes.)

    But anyway, this really looks to me like an inside-baseball fight about technicalities that have little effect on the big picture, that has been exploited to make it appear that the big picture is wrong (i.e. “the hockey stick is broken”). (Not that I have anything against inside-baseball fights.) OK, so the MWP may have been a little warmer and the LIA a little cooler than Mann originally thought. Is that really what all the fuss is about? Do you find his 2008 figure to be well supported? If so, isn’t it unfair that people keep flogging his earlier work as if it was his final word on the issue?

    As for McIntyre, my understanding has been that he made some legitimate points of minor effect. Can you elaborate on his contribution to the science?

    FYI, Moberg’s paper is available for free here.

  33. Just FYI, NSIDC has updated their running analysis (Aug 4). “Arctic sea ice extent averaged for July was the second lowest in the satellite record, after 2007.” But, “Cool, stormy weather this July has made it less likely that the upcoming 2010 sea ice minimum will set a new record. It would take a very unusual set of conditions in August to create a new record low.”

  34. “That really is a separate discussion [government intervention] that should have no bearing on whether or not you accept the validity of climate science.”

    I agree. Unfortunately it does have bearing on the validity of the science — and the biggest reason is the “hard” sciences will not give due attention to the “soft” sciences. And so the public must feel after political measures to right the Good Ship Science.

    “When I say action is necessary, what I mean is if we want to avoid certain consequences, we need to take steps now. Really, if you don’t care about the consequences, that’s an entirely different debate we could have and I would totally respect your not caring about flooding in Bangladesh or droughts in China and Africa.”

    What steps would you expect us to take based upon past predictions? And if there’s any equivocation on what would have been expected in the past then how do we trust that present predictions will not soon be obsolete?

    Also, it isn’t a matter of not caring about the consequences. It’s a matter of agreeing on what they might be.

    “The science says there will be consequences and some of them are likely to be very bad and inflicted very unequally upon the world’s population.”

    Even without fully understanding the role of positive (or negative as the case may be) feedback in the climate? The science says this?

    “As for your critiques of the science–you’ve brought little to the table that isn’t about tree rings or modern temperature records. I don’t care how suspect Mann’s behavior is; it doesn’t matter. Tree rings don’t matter.”

    Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but are you implying that along with tree rings the modern temperature record doesn’t matter either? That observed data is meaningless? It must matter and it’s imperative that it is read and understood as correctly as possible. Else, to what would we attribute all the other lines of evidence if the temperature record showed a steady decline?

    “My knowledge of Earth systems and climate science tells me their little fight over that one proxy doesn’t matter.”

    It does matter when the Hockey Stick appears in the IPCC’s literature.

    “You see, in order to disbelieve AGW, you have to throw out most of what we know about the Earth’s climate. You’d have to fundamentally disbelieve our records of CO2 and climate over the past 65 million years. You have to throw out a lot of ecosystem science and biology. And you have to throw out physics.”

    You can believe in warming without accepting catastrophic scenarios.

  35. I’m interested to see Kristine’s response to Jared*, which I just liberated from “pending” purgatory because of Jared’s links. Weird problem with our software.

    Anyway, I am off earning money overseas (and providing interconnectivty to the world, btw) so I don’t have time to be my usual entertaining but annoying self. But I will make some more comments next week.

  36. I’ve made this point before, and though it seems of little interest, I’ll try again. With or without global warming, there will be floods in Bangladesh and droughts in China and Africa. Droughts and floods are recurrent phenomena that aren’t going to disappear.

  37. Bruce,

    “I wish I was as satisfied with the equivalent problem with the AGW Skeptic camp. I would love to see the AGW Skeptics do the same thing the AGW Believers have done: distance themselves from tired old disproven arguments and those that make them.”

    Three words, Bruce: Burden of proof.

    I don’t care what comes out of the AGW skeptic camp because the burden of proof is entirely on the AGW believer side.

  38. Kristine wrote:”Perhaps it’s a function of working in Earth sciences, but I know very few scientists who would fit into either of your first two categories. I know plenty of non-scientists who would fit into those categories, but very few scientists. While it’s possible to delude oneself in any field, scientist really are very hard on anyone who engages in the kind of poor thinking you’d have to be guilty of to fall into either of those categories. If there’s a way to prove someone else wrong, we scientists will find and publish it.”

    While we hope that is true, let me give you a few examples when it did not work that way. Mayan scholar Robert Thompson insisted that the script was not an alphabet. He shut down the work of a lot of people, who attempted otherwise. It took a linguist in Chinese to figure out the Mayan language and publish on it outside of normal circles in the 1980s. Michael Coe discusses this in his writings. Basically, cracking the Maya code took an additional 50 years, because key scholars shut down any other method.

    Second, Clovis archaeologists shut down or at least ignored for decades evidence that showed pre-Clovis settlements. Finally in the mid-1990s, a couple archaeologists went down to Chile to investigate a long held claim of a pre-Clovis site. They finally agreed that there were pre-Clovis. But because there was a standard agreed upon by most archaeologists, they literally ignored such evidence for decades. Since then, museum basements have uncovered many more evidences of non-Clovis peoples (such as Kennewick man). Before the mid-1990s, these were just considered an aberration and tossed to the side. Many were afraid to speak out, afraid to lose their stance in the scientific community.

    So, your generalization that “While it’s possible to delude oneself in any field, scientist really are very hard on anyone who engages in the kind of poor thinking you’d have to be guilty of to fall into either of those categories. If there’s a way to prove someone else wrong, we scientists will find and publish it” is patently false.

    I’ve spoken to and heard scientists in other fields also, who abide by the standard, afraid of not obtaining tenure or a grant, because the powers that be will not countenance equivocation.

  39. Rameumptom said,

    So, your generalization that “While it’s possible to delude oneself in any field, scientist really are very hard on anyone who engages in the kind of poor thinking you’d have to be guilty of to fall into either of those categories. If there’s a way to prove someone else wrong, we scientists will find and publish it” is patently false.

    Actually no, it’s not. And you yourself have proven it to be true. From your two examples concerning the Mayan code and pre-Clovis settlements, the truth of the science was eventually found, despite the acts of blind and self-important scholars at the time.

    I will agree that the phrase could have been better written. I think it would have been more clear to instead write, “If there’s a way to prove someone else wrong, we scientists will in due course find and publish it.” Sometimes it takes many decades or even a lifetime to clear away the wrongheadedness of some egotistical idiots in academia or the scientific fields. But sooner or later that is exactly what has happened, time and time again. It’s extremely inefficient and frustrating at times. But that’s just the way that science is done at the moment, for better or worse.

  40. James, what you are describing is very different than claims that every field of science is teeming with hotshots out to make their mark by tearing apart established theories.

  41. John Mansfield said,

    what you are describing is very different than claims that every field of science is teeming with hotshots out to make their mark by tearing apart established theories.

    Well I’ll let kristine N speak for herself, of course. But I do not think that is what she was trying to say. At least that’s not now I interpreted it.

  42. James, yes these two areas in archaeology have come clean. But your argument begs the question. When it takes 50 years for science to overcome its internal biases and fiefdoms, we’re basically saying that there was a conspiracy to withhold or stop new data.

    I am open minded about AGW. What would happen if AGW really were a major problem, but the chief people kept it quiet in order to maintain stability, etc? Would 50 years make a difference in how quickly and effectively we could be in preventing global warming? Perhaps, yes.

    While I do not believe most scientists or sciences are into conspiracies, I do believe that many powerful individuals in the sciences have a built-in need to protect their turf. And they will defend it as best they can. In the case of some in the Climategate issue, even to doctoring data, or preventing others from looking at it. Do I see any difference between Robert Thompson and the Univ of St Anglia? Absolutely not. Both have their self-esteem and reputations on the line. And when in emails they suggest destroying raw data so the skeptics do not get hold of it, they are doing exactly the same.

    We could go through 50 years of AGW claims, only to find they were wrong in some things, such as the apparent imminent threat that Al Gore and others try to impress upon us.

    So, while I agree there is likely warming potential from CO2, I am skeptical concerning many of the scientists involved at the top, due to sloppy work and evidence of possible data tampering. I’m also skeptical of final conclusions.

    Climatologists cannot predict with any accuracy what will occur with warming climate, from one region to the next. There are too many variables, including El Nino/La Nina, solar activity, volcanic activity, etc.

    Past history has shown that mankind has thrived more often in warmer periods than cooler, and we’ve generally been in a cooler period for a couple centuries. I’m not convinced that we need to do anything, except help people and animals adapt to changes. We do this during times of natural disaster anyway. Earthquakes wipe out thousands, and we send in aid to help them adapt. Volcanoes explode and we move entire peoples away from the threat zone. An asteroid hits and wipes out all the dinosaurs, allowing mammals to become the new master. A hurricane wipes out New Orleans and we stupidly rebuild on the same spot, hoping next season won’t bring another killer waterspout.

    Still, while hurricanes wipe out some areas, they bring needed rain to drought-stricken areas. It all ends up as a wash in over-all earth events.

  43. In today’s performance, the role of Geoff will be performed by Rameumptom. :-)

    All of your points have been hashed and rehashed to death. Read Bruce’s excellent string of posts and the comments therefrom on this blog if you’d like to see my opinions on the subject. I have no interest in repeating them here.

    But I will say the whole situation is a complete and utter mess with very little real communication between opposing sides, and thus no real meaningful progress. Both sides are at fault, not just one or the other. So everyone should look at themselves and those around them for faults before attacking those on the opposite side for their faults. “Cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” ~ Luke 6:42

  44. James, I agree that both sides are making a mess of it. My point was that neither side will admit to the skeletons in the closet. Argument from authority does not impress me, even if I respect the person.

    I gave examples to refute someone’s generalization. As it is, I do believe climate change is affected by mankind and CO2. I just don’t trust much of the the believers are saying and doing, as many of their actions betray the truth. I can’t always tell when their telling the truth, especially when their lips are moving. I’m not convinced anything is imminent, even though Al Gore and many on the believers’ side suggest it is so.

    So, while I like Geoff and appreciate his perspective, my perspective is not his. Nor do I feel I can adequately take his place.

  45. But anyway, this really looks to me like an inside-baseball fight about technicalities that have little effect on the big picture, that has been exploited to make it appear that the big picture is wrong (i.e. “the hockey stick is broken”). (Not that I have anything against inside-baseball fights.) OK, so the MWP may have been a little warmer and the LIA a little cooler than Mann originally thought. Is that really what all the fuss is about? Do you find his 2008 figure to be well supported? If so, isn’t it unfair that people keep flogging his earlier work as if it was his final word on the issue?

    Yes on all points. Before all my new friends here get the impression I think Mike Mann is a bad scientist, you should all know I don’t. The hockey stick was wrong–there’s more low frequency variability in the climate than the original analysis showed. Mann’s analysis was really rather ground-breaking, but he made a bad assumption that had the effect of taking out long-term trends, leaving only short-term variability in his reconstruction. When using tree ring widths you have to correct for the increase in the diameter of the tree as it grows. Basically, when a tree is young the rings it puts on are thicker because the diameter of the tree is smaller. The function you use to correct for that is different for every tree–not just for every species, for every single tree. Mann didn’t know that and his assumption about growth patterns basically made the line flatter than it should have been, reducing both the apparent variability of climate over the past millennium and the amount of warming since the beginning of the industrial revolution. You’re right that the patterns look relatively similar, but if you look at the magnitude of temperature change you’ll see that Mann’s earlier reconstruction reproduces something like 1/3 of a degree less than the more recent ones where he takes into account more proxies and uses better corrections for the way trees grow.

    Clearer?

  46. Rameumptum,

    First, both examples you give are from really pretty small fields. One of your examples concerns a single guy preventing anyone else from publishing conflicting theories. That can’t happen in climate science because no one person is that much in charge. The evidence for AGW comes from so many diverse aspects of natural science that it’s inconceivable internal biases and fiefdoms are responsible for the current consensus. You probably aren’t aware of how diverse the lines of evidence are supporting global warming, and I could not do it justice in a blog post. But here are a couple of lines of evidence:

    Boreholes: The temperature of the ground as you get deeper generally increases at a specific rate. Temperature is (or was) routinely measured in boreholes and used to ask questions about tectonics and structural geology and sort of large-scale, hard Earth questions. Typically, measurements at the top were thrown away because they’re “climatically disturbed.” Someone finally had the bright idea to use the climatically disturbed measurements to calculate the magnitude of the climatic disturbance and it turns out boreholes show a warming of something like a degree C over the last 1,000 years (see this article for a more complete description and a comparison of boreholes and a couple of other proxy reconstructions).

    Shifting species habits and habitats: Basically, there are a lot of species that are expanding or reducing their ranges. Pika’s are a cute, furry example of a species that’s loosing ground. Fire ants, on the other hand, are gaining ground. (I know there are cute furry animals gaining ground, too, I just don’t know them off the top of my head) Many bird species lay their eggs earlier, and some species of insects emerge earlier. Summers in the mountain west are now long enough that three generations of bark beetles are possible, which has contributed to an expansion of bark beetle populations and commensurate decrease in pine trees.

    There are more, but I’m going to move on.

    James, what you are describing is very different than claims that every field of science is teeming with hotshots out to make their mark by tearing apart established theories.

    That’s only sort of true. There are a lot of hotshots out there, not necessarily trying to tear down established theories, but definitely trying to make a mark. Tearing down an established theory is about the best way out there to make yourself a name in science. The thing is, in order to do that you have to have really good evidence. REALLY good evidence. Otherwise, you just look like a crank and you’ll get to watch while your ideas are shot out of the sky like fledgeling sparrows. Scientists are a skeptical bunch and we expect extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.

  47. Tossman,

    Before I respond to what you said in #40, I would like to have you confirm that you intended to quote me saying, in essence, that neither side should misprepresent their position or lie and you tried to argue with that crazy belief of mine by claiming that it doesn’t matter if AGW Skeptics lie or misrepresent the truth because they don’t have the burden of proof.

    If this is what you meant to say, I’ll be happy to respond. If you misspoke, let me know and I’ll give you a free recant on this one.

  48. Tearing down an established theory is about the best way out there to make yourself a name in science.

    If you’re very creative, and very good at what you do, and lucky enough to set out in a fruitful direction that hasn’t been tried already. Most scientists aren’t so superlative as that though, and make their way by bolstering the status quo. Look at the high-quality researchers around you. If they are like the ones I know they haven’t done much that’s revolutionary; they’ve improved on what’s already established.

    Also, quoting Mr. Nuclear Winter earns four skeptics’ club demerits and two public policy hypocrisy points.

  49. McIntyre’s contribution was to show the detrending Mann et al did in their 1998 analysis removed the long frequency signals. Detrending of tree ring data is now done more carefully, which is why tree ring reconstructions now reproduce the LIA and Medieval climate optimum.

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