Open Mind

Snow Job

September 30th, 2007 · 104 Comments

The denialist machine is trying to persuade you that global warming isn’t real, or that it’s not due to human activity, or even — get this — that it’ll be good for us. What they’re really doing is perpetrating a fraud: the biggest “snow job” in the history of mankind.

I happened to find data on northern hemisphere snow cover at Rutgers university. The data consist of the area covered by snow, for each month of the year from late 1966 to the present, and includes tabulations for North America and Eurasia separately, as well as for the entire hemisphere. Of course there’s a strong seasonal pattern: much more snow in winter than summer!

snow.JPG

I removed the seasonal trend to compute “snow cover anomaly,” and here’s what northern hemisphere snow cover anomaly looks like:

nhsnow.JPG

It’s clear that snow cover has declined since these data were collected. In fact average snow cover has declined by about 42,000 km^2/yr. If we look at just the data since 1995, we find that since then, northern hemisphere snow cover has declined by about 80,000 km^2/yr:

nhsnow95.JPG

Global average temperature is rising. Arctic temperatures are rising much faster than the globe as a whole. Worldwide, glaciers are on the retreat rapidly. Arctic sea ice set an all-time low this year, breaking the previous record by a whopping 27%. And now we see that snow cover is likewise on the decline.

I don’t listen to, or argue with, creationists or flat-earthers. Global warming denialists are no better. In fact, they’re far worse: they are trying to stop us from preventing climate catastrophe, so their non-scientific nonsense could cost millions of lives, as well as economic disaster and utter loss of prosperous lifestyle for billions of human beings. And they’re doing it with (to paraphrase Inhofe) the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the human race, a complete and total “snow job.” The evidence that global warming is real, is man-made, and is dangerous, is so far beyond overwhelming that it’s time to stop even listening to denialists, let alone arguing with them.

It’s time to use the voting booth to FORCE politicians to actually work on this problem. I am voting for whichever candidate will do more about global warming. And I will go on record as saying that despite a few notable counterexamples (Arnold Schwarzenegger and John McCain), it is the republican party in the U.S. that is the problem.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE

There’s a terrific post at Rabett Run about president Bush’s “conference” on global warming. Just a tidbit:

A senior European diplomat attending the conference, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the meeting confirmed European suspicions that it had been intended by Mr Bush as a spoiler for a major UN conference on climate change in Bali in December.

“It was a total charade and has been exposed as a charade,” the diplomat said. “I have never heard a more humiliating speech by a major leader. He [Mr Bush] was trying to present himself as a leader while showing no sign of leadership. It was a total failure.”

Categories: Global Warming · climate change

104 responses so far ↓

  • Denialist // Sep 30th 2007 at 3:15 am

    I was going to leave a comment, but since you are now “closed mind”, it seemed rather pointless.

    [Response: An “open mind” does NOT include giving undue credence to crackpot beliefs — like creationism, flat-earth, or global warming denialism.

    Now how do we get you to quite spreading your garbage elsewhere?]

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Sep 30th 2007 at 3:31 am

    Voting won’t “FORCE” anyone to do anything. Once elected, the politicians will do as they please, as usual. And they usually want to do what the big-industry lobbyists want them to do. You also seem to forget that it is the politicians that (partially) got us addicted to oil and a carbon economy in the first place. So now you are looking to politicians for a solution to that addiction? I think you’ve reached the land of pure folly.

  • Marion Delgado // Sep 30th 2007 at 7:49 am

    Good on you. Also, it’s fascinating that the denialist sites have no opposition on them, ever, but are echo chambers just saying “ditto”, yet they go to the mainstream scientific opinion blogs and complain about them being “closed off.”

    Well, yes, to the 10^500th repetition of the same Limbaughisms. I suppose so. Not to actual mistakes or counter arguments or genuine science. I’ve corrected lots of people and things on climate blogs. We ALL have.

    But you don’t do it with “Mammon, the Invisible Hand God of the Market, spoke unto Mises, and then unto me, and he said there is no evolution, combustion doesn’t produce C02, the earth never gets warmer, and no species ever go extinct, and that if any of these did happen nonetheless, they’d be good for us. And you’re a communist.”

    That kind of wit I am sure flies well in an echo chamber, but not when you step over the line into the science world. Sometimes I feel like those of us who understand the scientific ethic are like Polynesians or Native Americans being “discovered” by conquistadors and exploiters.

    The science haters seem to have an attitude of “how cute!! they like to give all sides a hearing and are very cautious about over committing beyond data. We can use that!”

    It’s harder than I would have thought to demonstrate the strength of science, because in application and propagation it does depend on public cooperation.

  • Ken // Sep 30th 2007 at 10:56 am

    Right.

    But what of the attribution debate? I mean we can corral our use of CO2 all we want but if it is of minor importance (admittedly that is a low probability) then what? No this is not a call to do nothing. But can we talk of doubt and probability AND promote the most likely scenario?

  • Define // Sep 30th 2007 at 11:09 am

    ” … it is the republican party in the U.S. that is the problem.”

    Data please. Otherwise this is nothing but additional noise. What did the Clinton adminstration do ‘for global warming’?

    Your continued refusal to validate your simplistic model of resource consumption speaks volumes about your brand of ’science’.

    Your ’science’ has now, by your own admission, been tainted by your politics.

  • Mario // Sep 30th 2007 at 12:13 pm

    I am not so much a Global Warming student:
    my foremost interest is in “closed thinking”

    I mean integralism, unconscious bias in reasoning, mass hysteria, and the likes.

    And I must say that Global Warming “debates” offer an incredible amount of fine material for my studies.

    And I suspect this piece
    “it’s time to stop even listening to denialists, let alone arguing with them”
    will end up as one of the most precious in my collection.

  • dhogaza // Sep 30th 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Also, it’s fascinating that the denialist sites have no opposition on them, ever, but are echo chambers just saying “ditto”, yet they go to the mainstream scientific opinion blogs and complain about them being “closed off.”

    This is yet another example of how AGW denialists and ID/Creationists share tactics.

    Define asks:

    Data please. Otherwise this is nothing but additional noise. What did the Clinton adminstration do ‘for global warming’?

    Kyoto. Republicans in the Senate blocked ratification.

    Next stupid question?

  • stewart // Sep 30th 2007 at 5:24 pm

    When the scientific basics are in, the rest of the world is waiting for the clock to run out on the current US administration, and the scientific community is doing likewise, I think we can agree that the ‘debate’ is now between some business interests and their ideological enablers on the one hand, and reality on the other. I’m fine with reality.
    After all, no one insists that biologists respond to every reiteration of creationist nonsense, and archeologists don’t have to check out every report of Atlantis or Mu.
    Mario - what on earth is integralism? And you’re right bout the material for your studies, but not in the way I read you as saying.

  • Hank Roberts // Sep 30th 2007 at 5:46 pm

    > what of the attribution debate?

    Interesting historically, resolved in the 1950s by studies of carbon-14 levels.

    http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn11638

  • melatonin // Sep 30th 2007 at 8:50 pm

    @Mario

    Same here, I’m schooled in psychology, and study biases in decision-making from a social neuroscience POV. I also have an interest in false beliefs and emotions.

    Interestingly, I tend to think that Tamino is correct. Eventually discussion becomes tedious, just how many times can you correct the same old BS, from the same old people?

    Taking an Allportian POV, some prejudices are supported by experience and evidence, some are not. That is, we are correct to have a certain attitude towards some people, but we are incorrect when we have an attitude with no justification.

    I think a certain type of ’sceptic’ tends to justify the labels and responses they evoke.

    As noted earlier by dhogaza, there are similarities in the sophistry used by ID creationists/YECers and that emitted by many climate science ’sceptics’, and like Dawkins and a few others, I feel there is nothing to gain from discussion.

    There are real questions to be asked and studied, those which deserve brain glucose.

    cheers.

  • Mario // Sep 30th 2007 at 8:51 pm

    >Mario - what on earth is integralism?
    I see Integralism as the typical product of a society-culture with growing feelings of an impending danger: it can take strength from many material or ideological grounds: for example because a progressive endogenous economic “decadence” as in late Roman times, or because of external cultural invasion as in many present time islamic countries, or because of war…
    In this kind of situation the normal “sociobological” reaction for many society members (the most solidaristic and alarmistic ones) is to close ranks, to look for unity, to evoke the general mobilization of “all the good men”, to declare
    . that a strict unity of intent and beliefs now is mandatory for the whole society,
    . that there is luckily an absolutely certain set of true “ortodox” beliefs and goals that must lead toward the same common action every “good” member of society,
    . that dissenters from the common goal are traitors, or heretics (add many bad names here…) to be excommunicated or worse. Here easily a strong central power is invoked and put in charge to punish the dissenters, and lead society to its salvation…
    . that in this way - but only in this way – society will actually be saved
    The opposite position can be named “liberalism” and is typical of happier times and of more self assured & less socially oriented individuals, thinking to be able to do alone and to succeed without need of group help.
    The XX century has already seen many waves of this “Danger alarm cries & integralistic mobilizations”
    Some of them are recent and would seem interesting to analize, but seem to have been accurately forgotten by many thru a kind of “freudian removal”.
    So the present Global warming debates, thanks to the Internet, are documenting quite well this really important human societies syndrome.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Sep 30th 2007 at 11:07 pm

    The denialist machine is trying to persuade you that global warming isn’t real, or that it’s not due to human activity, or even — get this — that it’ll be good for us.

    Obviously any climate change will have good points and bad points. To say that warming (or cooling) is ALL BAD is to be a fearmonger. To say it’s ALL GOOD is, of course, to be overly optimistic. That being said, there will certainly be some good points to a warmer, wetter, CO2 fertilized environment. Just ask any plant.

    [Response: WRONG. What’s good for life on earth, climate-wise, is *stability*. Change is a danger, and the faster the change the greater the danger.

    In spite of your sincerity (and that of creationists and flat-earthers as well) this is exactly the kind of garbage which “muddies the waters” just enough to delay critical action. It’s high time for you to let go of whatever attachment cripples your ability to see the truth.]

  • Anna Haynes // Oct 1st 2007 at 12:17 am

    Can you add a Disclosures field & checkbox to your blog’s comment form, on the order of “I swear that I have fully disclosed any funding I have or will receive, directly or indirectly, regarding this matter”?
    (it would be optional, but you (or greasemonkey) could provide a way to see the page only with comments by those who had sworn)

    Or haul them into (small claims) court where they have to disclose under oath?

    Fish rot from the head, and the head is hidden funding. Sunlight…

    [Response: I’d rather not. Although there are some denialists who comment here regularly, I have no evidence (or even suspicion) that they are acting through any motive other than their own beliefs.]

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 1st 2007 at 1:27 am

    What’s good for life on earth, climate-wise, is *stability*.

    What’s your source for this, Tamino?

    Anyway, I was referring to the obvious fallacy that warming (or cooling) is all good or all bad. Certainly you can see SOME positive aspects to warming, even if you think it will be overall a terrible thing for the planet. In case you can’t think of any, here’s some good news from Canada:

    http://cgrg.geog.uvic.ca/abstracts/ShenTemporalThis.html
    “The changes of the agroclimatic parameters imply that Alberta agriculture has benefited from the last century’s climate change.”

  • elspi // Oct 1st 2007 at 7:11 am

    Nanny,
    Are you really going to go with the
    “Mass extinctions are good for the animals that survive” line?
    (What next, Hitler helped the Jews?)

    Or is it the “rapid environmental change is good for organisms” line?
    Which is something we should tell the life guard whenever you go swimming.
    (He is not drowning; he is just undergoing rapid environmental change)

    With this sort of perversion, I picture you as a republican congressman logging in a bathroom stall.

  • Gareth // Oct 1st 2007 at 7:30 am

    Nanny, you need to read something other than CO2 Science. Like AR4 WG2.

  • Heretic // Oct 1st 2007 at 8:01 am

    Does that benefit compensate for what’s happening in Australia? Maybe Canadian farmers are going to generously offer nice chunks of land to Australian farmers before they get too close to suicide. And the goverment is going to fast-track the immigration process. Right.
    Whatever good comes out of the funny global experiemetn remains to be seen, and assessed on a global scale.
    And please, drop the CO2-is-plant-food-line. It’s like saying O2 is human food. No need to link studies, I am familiar with them.

  • TCO // Oct 1st 2007 at 8:21 am

    I personally prefer a warmer climate. In addition, the disaster of increased warmth is a rather slow moving train in terms of taking a hundred years for a few degrees change. It’s not like all of a sudden the sea is going to come up and kill people. Changes will occur very slowly and there will be plenty of time for relocation or adjustment. Much of it would even be unconscious.

  • John Mashey // Oct 1st 2007 at 8:44 am

    Well, of course there are plusses:

    1) Some Northern areas in Canada & Russia especially will get longer growing seasons, just because it’s warmer.

    2) Some plants will do a bit better with more CO2. Unfortunately, among those that do especially well are things like poison ivy & kudzu.

    Of course, 1) and 2) don’t help as much as you might think, because crop growth is limited by whatever is *least* available, like sunlight, water, fertilizer, and soil, and some of those Northern soils aren’t so good, and the light patterns don’t help. Idiots who think lots of CO2 makes up for limits on the others have never lived on farms. Always, though PREDICTABILITY & STABILITY helps farmers; from personal experience, unpredictability is bad news. In California, the temperature changes are going to keep moving around optimal areas for various fruits and vegetables, and since half of the US production comes from here, expect them to get more expensive.

    3) The Northwest & Northeast Passages get open every summer.

    4) Scotland gets a few nice wineries, although about that same time we lose Italian, Spanish and a lot of Californian wines. Lake Okanagan wines get better.

    5) Heating costs reduce in Northern areas.

    There might be a few more small things.

    Needless to say, I think the downsides are a lot bigger, but there are a few upsides for a few people, especially in Canada & Russia. In California, it’s 100% downside, which is one of the reasons we care.

  • Andrew Dodds // Oct 1st 2007 at 9:20 am

    NGS -

    Technically, it’s ‘Human life on earth’; our collective multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure is planned and based upon constant climate and sea levels. Change sea level by a few meters, dry up or flood a few rivers and change the water table and an awful lot of infrastructure (Canals, cities, highways, irrigation, whatever) suddenly becomes obsolete.

  • John Finn // Oct 1st 2007 at 10:21 am

    ” or that it’s not due to human activity, or even — get this — that it’ll be good for us ”

    In the past century of ‘unprecedented’ global warming the world’s population has undergone a fourfold increse - hardly the end of life on earth as we know it.

    PS there are problems with the logic in your aerosol/hemispheres argument

  • Define // Oct 1st 2007 at 12:15 pm

    dhogaza // Sep 30th 2007 at 5:19 pm go check out some true facts for a change.

    “On July 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized (although it had been fully negotiated, and a penultimate draft was finished), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98),[65][66]”

    Unless my memory is failing me, the US Senate was not composed entirely of Republicans in 1997. It is a true fact that every Democrat who voted, voted for the resolution. Clinton was President and Al Gore was Vice President. And for the next three years, too.

    URL links are available in the article.

    [65] Text of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (1997-07-25). Retrieved on 2006-11-05.
    [66] U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 105th Congress - 1st Session:S.Res. 98 (1997-07-25).

    This blog would be vastly improved if tamino would also present only true facts. This blog is a joke.

    Next stupid answer.

    Full Disclosure: My work is funded entirely by the taxpayers of the United States.

    [Response: Indeed it was not the republicans who single-handedly torpedoed the Kyoto treaty.

    But yours is a typical denialist misrepresentation of the state of affairs, tantamount to “cherry-picking.” When you examine the past decade, and the actions and statements of politicians on global warming, there is a clear difference between the two major U.S. political parties. On this issue, the democrats are right and the republicans are wrong.

    Look at the vote on the McCain-Lieberman climate stewardship act, the bill failed because of a CLEARLY and STRONGLY PARTISAN trend. The vote was nearly “split along party lines,” with democrats voting to support the act while republicans voted to kill it. Look at the efforts to get CO2-reduction legislation passed through *this* congress, it’s again along party lines: democrats voting for, republicans to kill. Look at the fight over raising automobile efficiency… do I really have to go on? And on? And on? And on?

    The single most vocal denialist in all of politics, the man who calls global warming the “greatest hoax ever,” is Oklahoma senator James Inhofe. Republican.

    Study the actions of the republican president, it’s clear that GEORGE W. BUSH IS THE SINGLE GREATEST OBSTACLE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD TO MEANINGFUL ACTION ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE. And he doesn’t even have the honesty or guts of an outright denialist! He’s as two-faced as possible, paying lip service to the issue while working actively to torpedo efforts by the world community to address the issue seriously. Hell, even the communist chinese are more progressive on global warming than George W. Bush. If we had to choose a single politician for “worst in the world” there’s nobody else even in the running: GEORGE W. BUSH (REPUBLICAN) IS THE PROBLEM.

    Finally, everybody who reads this should check up on the republican candidates for president and their positions on the global warming issue. While the democratic field offers realistic attitudes and active platforms, among the republicans ONLY MCCAIN has a brain on this issue. In fact, some of the republican candidates for president are actually denialists (Fred Thompson, anyone?).

    Your comments would be vastly improved if you would just *attempt* to take your head out of the sand. Not only do you miss the truth: you don’t even try. Alas, your attitude is *not* a joke. It’s a tragedy.]

  • ks // Oct 1st 2007 at 5:04 pm

    I agree with you tamino, it is time to take this issue to the voting booth. If you’re not for dealing with the problem, you don’t get my vote. The key is to raise awareness for the next election.

  • george // Oct 1st 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Mario said: “I am not so much a Global Warming student: my foremost interest is in “closed thinking”
    I mean integralism, unconscious bias in reasoning, mass hysteria, and the likes.”

    If someone yells “fire” in a crowded theater when there actually is a fire, is that person — or the people who respond by heading for the exits — an “alarmist”?

    Of course not.

    Is the reasoning of the people somehow “biased” or are they engaging in “mass hysteria” because they are running for the door to escape the fire?

    Again, of course not.

    So, the obvious question to you is this:

    If, by your own admission, “I am not so much a Global Warming student”, how can you know whether there is a “fire” or not in the case of global warming?

    And, if you do not know whether there is a fire, how can you know whether Tamino is engaging in “closed thinking” as you have defined it? — “I mean integralism, unconscious bias in reasoning, mass hysteria, and the likes.”

    If I am one of the ones in the theater who see the flames and smell the smoke and the guy on my right says “Don’t worry, there’s no fire”, and I then turn to the guy on my left and say “[Screw that!] I think it’s time to stop even listening to these denialists, let alone arguing with them”, is that somehow “closed thinking”, as you have defined it?

    If it is, I’m with the closed thinkers. “Better closed than hosed” is what I always say.

    But you are welcome to remain in the theater and argue with the guy on my right if you like.

  • Paul S // Oct 1st 2007 at 6:13 pm

    The greatest obstacle to action on AGW, tamino, is us. Opinion polls aside, we, as citizens, are not truly or deeply committed to action on AGW.

    Blaming GWB or oil companies while we merrily build larger houses and buy more vehicles is simplistic method of blaming others for what we ourselves are responsibile for.

    Regarding Kyoto, we ratified it in Canada years ago. In spite of that, our Liberal government of the time failed to implement any meaningful action. Now, the Conservatives are continuing that tradition.

    Result? Canada’s C02 emissions are up 32% over Kyoto base levels. In effect, we are doing even worse then the US where Kyoto was never ratified.

    I don’t blame the politicians of any party nor the oil companies. I realize who the true enemy of action on AGW is; it is us.

  • Dano // Oct 1st 2007 at 6:29 pm

    RE Tamino’s reply to NA_gs’ cut-paste FUD:

    [Response: WRONG. What’s good for life on earth, climate-wise, is *stability*. Change is a danger, and the faster the change the greater the danger.

    I’m an ecosystems guy. This isn’t quite correct. Nothing on earth is stable. All species are adapted to disturbance. What is good for life is for things to change within stable bounds.

    It’s when you start getting outside those boundaries (like what we’re in now: overage in C, N, P cycles, changing hydrologic cycles, etc) that the problems start.

    Other than that, Aaaaaaa-men brother.

    Best,

    D

  • Alexander Ac // Oct 1st 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Tamino,

    clearly, deniers are not quite responsible people. But what about people inactive regarding the climate change?

    [Response: I’d say it depends upon circumstances. If you’re a subsistence farmer in Bangladesh, with no education or disposable income, then you’re innocent (but screwed). If you’re a citizen of an industrialized country you have no excuse for not knowing what’s going on — and if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem.]

  • Marion Delgado // Oct 1st 2007 at 6:59 pm

    There can’t be a net upside for land-dwelling species to having the coastlines move in. And the Arctic’s movable “land” - the ice pack - is going to be mostly gone, so everything living there is screwed. Ditto for everything not over land in the Antarctic.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 1st 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Technically, it’s ‘Human life on earth’; our collective multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure …

    I don’t think that some costal infrastructure possibly in need of a retro fit sometime in the next 100-200 years is any threat to human life on Earth.

    Are you really going to go with the
    “Mass extinctions are good for the animals that survive” line?

    What “mass extinctions” (due to climate)? We’ve had 100 years or so of this “unprecedented” climate change and I’m not aware of any mass extinctions due to climate in that time.

    Maybe Canadian farmers are going to generously offer nice chunks of land to Australian farmers before they get too close to suicide. And the goverment is going to fast-track the immigration process. Right.

    Maybe Australia should lower any trade barriers like a good government should so that its people don’t have to suffer through a down cycle in agriculture. Canada will have to sell their bumper crops somewhere.

    And please, drop the CO2-is-plant-food-line.

    Why? It seems people often forget this basic fact of nature. Did you know that most plants thrive best at around 1000-1200 ppm CO2?

    It’s like saying O2 is human food.

    Not quite the same thing at all. I’m no physiologist, but there’s no Carbon in O2. We humans get carbon from eating food. Carbon helps us grow. Plants get it from CO2 in the air.

  • ks // Oct 1st 2007 at 8:46 pm

    I found a quick article for NGS

    http://www.groovygreen.com/groove/?p=1925

  • Dano // Oct 1st 2007 at 10:17 pm

    Did you know that most plants thrive best at around 1000-1200 ppm CO2?

    Oooh! Good joke! Good as in ha-ha.

    Seeing as how the last time atm CO2 was at those concs was before most species evolved to their present state, I’d say that’s a whopper.

    And I’d also say this goes back to what Tamino said earlier:

    it’s time to stop even listening to denialists, let alone arguing with them.

    If we could just start numbering denialist arguments so we can dismiss them because of, say, #26, it’d save so much time.

    Best,

    D

  • Mario // Oct 1st 2007 at 10:42 pm

    George, if I can resume your argument, it seems to run like this:

    “Giving strong alarms - when the danger is real - is the only correct way to go and excuses any rough edges in the alarmist’s manners”

    I agree if this qualification is added:

    “provided the alarm is given in a sensible way, i.e. not likely produce consequences worse than the danger itself or anyway than some other more clever way of tackling the danger”

    I take your example:

    if shouting suddenly “FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!” in a crowded theater is likely to produce a panic flight and a big killing, perhaps some other slower ways of activating the crowd exit could exist and be preferable.

    On this I suppose we can agree and pass from fires in the theaters to Global Warming…

    Notice that to study “closed thinking” there is no need to take a position on the very subject itself of the debares. It’s better indeed not to feel too strongly on the subject, or bias will increase and led the arguments astray.

    This is perhaps the very reason for which this studies are not so popular, but this is a pity because - as I am here trying to show - they can give important insights that can be useful even to those who feel strongly on the subject…

    Now in the way in which AGW fighters (the opponents of “deniers” I mean) present their argument and their “political” agenda we find some themes, that are noteworthy for the implied dramatic values transformation they demand of the present “rather open” Western culture, as they were striving to give birth to a quite different much more “integralistic” society than the one that we have learned to live in.

    1. To establish truth number is paramount, because truth is established by the consensus of the wise men: they are “the true scientists” who have a nearly infallible instrument: the scientific method, which, thru an escalation of “peer to peer” reviewed researches slowly but surely extends the area of true knowledge.
    2. On the important subjects there are substantially two positions 1. “true knowledge” as defined by consensus of true scientists, and 2. dangerous falsehoods disseminated by crooks and truth deniers…
    3. Laymen must believe what true scientists say them, even if they cant wholly understand it.
    4. With disbelievers nobody must mix, or discuss with them, or answer to them or even listen to what they say. Even “agnostics” are damned (sigh!)

    By the way, it’s remarcable how closely these four clauses replicate the logic of 13th
    century Christian ideologues: just substitute “the true scientists consensus” with “Church councils deliberations and doctor-theologians consensus”, crooks and deniers, with “heretics” and you’ll find that the world of Thomas of Aquinas has many intriguing similarities to the one “AGW fighters” seem willing to bring in existence. But the scholastic world crumbled in pieces in the 14th century…

    I could add other important value transformations, but these are enough to present my point.

    Even if we assume AGW is not only real, but speedy, the establishment – to TRY fighting it - of an “integralistic culture” in which people must learn that truth is given, doubt and discussion on important topics not allowed, laymen must “keep their place” in front of superior high authority, the only legitimate belief validator, dissenters crushed…
    can or cannot easily bring future society into a “totalitarian” world, that could be really horrible to live in, for many?

    Could perhaps this world – for many I say– become even WORSE than that produced by untamed AGW?

    Now that I have brought the question, you can say “no, it cannot” and perhaps find a lot of solid reasons to say so, but what seems more difficult to deny is that the AGW fighters:

    1. never, in first place, take in consideraton these possible huge cost/consequences of the values change toward integralism they are pressing for (on the contary some seem to AIM toward a more authoritarian society…)
    Are these possible consequences so clearly unworthy to be brought in the open and evaluated? Can we assume quickly & with a clean conscience that the proposed values change will not be, for future generations, like shouting “FIRE” and causing a panic killing in a crowded theater?

    2. Never (because of 1, I guess) AGW fighters seem suspect or take notice, that a good number of their opponents feels threatened more than by AGW by this integralistic “values change” they resent, and fear as much worse then GW (and to defend their valuess, produce, as always humans do, often biased arguments, wishful theories…)

    Are these two not big “black spots” in the AGW fighters worldview?

    A third one is in my opinion, thinking that refusal to debate with deniers, will advance rather then hinder their cause: world is not (not yet?) an integralistic one, and who refuses to give answers, who assume he has the right to be judged right without “too many” discussions, is positioning himself in frontal collision with a still strong open society value,
    and, if I am not wrong, auto disqualifies himself in front of a lot of people.

    So this choice seems to me quite surprising (and so also interesting), but this is just the opinion of an “human culture student”…

  • george // Oct 1st 2007 at 11:39 pm

    Mario:

    You missed the main point of my “fire” analogy: that the fire is an objective reality — and clearly merits a response. Those who would deny as much and stay in the theater and argue are merely fools.

    And you didn’t answer my direct questions:

    “If, by your own admission, “I am not so much a Global Warming student”, how can you know whether there is a “fire” or not in the case of global warming?”

    “And, if you do not know whether there is a fire, how can you know whether Tamino is engaging in “closed thinking” as you have defined it? — “I mean integralism, unconscious bias in reasoning, mass hysteria, and the likes.”

    The statement that you made above “Notice that to study “closed thinking” there is no need to take a position on the very subject itself” is not an adequate answer to those questions.

    You have clearly implied that Tamino was engaging in what you termed “closed thinking” as you defined it: “I mean integralism, unconscious bias in reasoning, mass hysteria, and the likes.”

    Where is the evidence that Tamino has “biased reasoning” or that he has engaged in “mass hysteria”?

    How can you even make such an assessment without knowing something about the subject at hand? (Global warming)?

    I’ll answer for you: You can’t.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 1st 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Seeing as how the last time atm CO2 was at those concs was before most species evolved to their present state, I’d say that’s a whopper.

    I’m not sure I get your point, Dano. Obviously (most) plants still remember those optimal CO2 concentrations whenever they were because they still respond to 1000-1200 ppm today.

  • Dano // Oct 2nd 2007 at 12:24 am

    I’m not sure I get your point, Dano. Obviously (most) plants still remember those optimal CO2 concentrations whenever they were because they still respond to 1000-1200 ppm today.

    Ah, backpedaling. That’s #12.

    Best,

    D

  • luminous beauty // Oct 2nd 2007 at 12:59 am

    Shorter Mario,

    If we do anything about global warming, the commies win.

    Mario, I think you are engaging in what is known in the blogosphere as concern trolling.

    Al Gore opened his film, “An Inconvenient Truth”, with the observation that the Chinese word for ‘crisis’ is a combination of the characters for ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. But Al Gore is fat.

    That Mario couches his language in such an ambiguous and non-committal way, creating the impression of objectivity, is belied is his characterization of ‘AGW fighters’ through the filter of denialist fear of any constraints or reconsideration of their world-view of extreme individualism being the first cause of human liberty. A naive understanding of reason that insists upon an either/or, hence, partisan political resolution to every question. A view that has more of the hallmarks of Scholastic metaphysics than the Scientific world view, which though it may be short-sighted and somewhat oblivious to the ambiguities and implicit indeterminacies of the varieties of political thought, is predicated upon following the data with analysis informed by the best available methodology, not a priori assumptions of value.

    The problem is to communicate an understanding of the science, as it stands, without the ad hominem filter of ‘wisdom handed down from above’ that Mario intimates. It isn’t that obscure and esoteric, but it does take some training, effort and attentiveness to free oneself from the biases of intuitive ‘common sense’.

    I am unaware of ‘Integralism’ as a term of art in Psychology. It is, however, a concept widely touted by Fascists as a vision of political organization. If you are afraid of fascists taking over you would be well advised to look outside of the scientific community for those either consciously or unconsciously seeking to promulgate such an order. International cooperation regarding a mutually shared problem does not necessarily mean One World Fascist Government.

    The conversation about global warming should be a rational one about what can be done to ameliorate and limit the possible negative consequences, but this conversation is usually side-tracked by denialists who refuse to countenance the very notion that there may be negative consequences. When their points are refuted, they seldom change their position, but rather change the subject or move the goal posts or go to another forum to repeat their debunked notions to a presumably naive audience. It is not a principled debate, but a purely rhetorical one.

    For example, see nanny_gov’t_sucks’ comments above.

    The denialist strategy is to obfuscate, denigrate, distract and otherwise derail any rational dialogue on the subject, with the awareness that such a delay is victory for their ’side’.

    It is not to engage in fair and rational principled debate.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 2nd 2007 at 1:06 am

    Sorry, Dano, but I don’t get it. What am I “backpedaling” from?

  • Hank Roberts // Oct 2nd 2007 at 1:07 am

    http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/Publications.htm?seq_no_115=182942
    http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?seq_no_115=161226

  • Dano // Oct 2nd 2007 at 2:22 am

    flourish = responds.

    Keep backpedaling until you get to what the scientists are saying.

    This has been another edition of what Tamino said: it’s time to stop even listening to denialists, let alone arguing with them.

    My work is done here.

    Best,

    D

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 2nd 2007 at 5:45 am

    Once again, what am I “backpedaling” fro…., oh nevermind.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 2nd 2007 at 5:52 am

    Once again Dano, what am I “backpedaling” from?

    Is there something in your link about why most plants respond best to CO2 concentrations around 1000-1200 ppm? I don’t see it in the summary.

    When their points are refuted, … For example, see nanny_gov’t_sucks’ comments above.

    Which of my comments above have been refuted?

  • Heretic // Oct 2nd 2007 at 6:33 am

    NGS “I’m no physiologist.”

    I reckon.

    I’m not either but I know that you can’t do much with C alone. You need C, H, O and N to do, what? That’s right, proteins and sugars! And you need also PO4 for a number of other processes and molecules every bit as crucial. That’s why plants need what? (hands raising) Nutrients! Very good there in the back, some seem actually to spend time trying to understand reality instead of picking factoids for rethorical arguments on CO2 science (laughter in the classroom). So, really, it would be fair to say that plant food is made of , well, nutrients. Or does that sound too logical to be acceptable?

    Of course, you could have got a clue from those tons of nitrogen and phosphorus containing fertilizers.

  • Andrew Dodds // Oct 2nd 2007 at 7:17 am

    I don’t think that some costal infrastructure possibly in need of a retro fit sometime in the next 100-200 years is any threat to human life on Earth.

    Not just coastal infrastructure (try learning to read), and retrofitting things like London and New York may prove a tad expensive. Given that the money to move away from fossil fuels will be spent anyway (because there are not enough fossil fuels for another 50 years, let along 100), this is a completely additional cost; there is no upside from not avoiding change.

  • Heretic // Oct 2nd 2007 at 7:20 am

    Mario, unlike you, I am not a student, so I’ll look at your first couple of point, perhaps others will care analyzing other parts.

    There are so many fallacies in your argument that, as lines and lines (and lines!) go by, it really takes the allure of a propaganda product.
    “Truth is established by the consensus of the wise men.” Pile of dung. You’re intentionally confusing consensus as in the religious example (that you carefully wait to introduce although your argument is tailored to suit it from the beginning) with scientific consensus, which is a convergence of results from idependent sources using different methods to study a particular aspect of reality. The amalgame of these very different types of consensus is a fraud. One is a consensus of subjective opinions on religious texts, the other is a consensus of results from objective processes. Yes, objective, to the extent we human can reach if we work at it and that’s as good as it gets, so it’ll have to do.

    Just like nobody in science would claim any kind of infallibility, as indicated by the abundance and precision of the caveats accompanying any scientific study. I will not elaborate on all the epistemologic subtleties that scientists themselves have put in books over the years, some of which being actually useful to understand the power and limits of the scientific method.
    Also, work on your choice of words. “AGW fighters” is pretty good, but you could have called them “combatants” and conjure up an entire terrorist imagery, even more apt at reaching your goals with the gullible crowds.

    Enjoy your studies. If you go to political sciences or law school next, your rethorical inclinations will do wonders.

  • Mario // Oct 2nd 2007 at 11:54 am

    > you didn’t answer my direct questions:
    > “If, by your own admission, “I am not so much a Global Warming > student”, how can you know whether there is a “fire” or not in
    > the case of global warming?”

    My reasonings presume to be independent from the presence or absence of “fire” in the theater,
    one can well discuss integralism and some of its possible important consequences without reference to the truth of its beliefs: integralisms – in my view - resemble themselves a lot, independently of their proximate causes.

    > You have clearly implied that Tamino was engaging in what you > termed “closed thinking” as you defined it: “I mean integralism, > unconscious bias in reasoning, mass hysteria, and the likes.”
    I see many “closed thinking” addicts: not just among AGW fighters, but also among “deniers”.
    > …..
    > How can you even make such an assessment without knowing
    > something about the subject at hand? (Global warming)?
    > I’ll answer for you: You can’t.

    That’s – connected to previous one - seems to me the only pertinent objection my reasoning has received so far in this blog(only now I read HERETIC’s post): let’s then verify if I can or cannot, as you say, answer satisfactorily to it:

    1. A reasoning that produces false conclusion is flawed (RIGHT)

    2. If I show the conclusions are false, thus I prove the reasoning is flawed (RIGHT)

    So far so good but the following conversion brings us in the realm of logical fallacies, it is, by the way, a neat example of the wonders of what I called “biased reasoning”.

    Biased reasoning is very common, in some measure unavoidable – in my opinion - for even the most “rational” thinker,
    if biased reasoning is the companion of “closed thinking” is a different matter: one can verify if it so looking at the reaction of those to which their biases are presented…

    3. A flawed reasoning can’t support true conclusion (WRONG)

    “Doing the right thing for the wrong reason” happens all the times, when intuition brings us to a good conclusion, and then we support it with an easy and flawed argument.

    4. So the only way to show a reasoning is flawed is to show its conclusions are false (WRONG)

    Flaws in reasoning can (must) be studied independently of the correctness of the conclusion: because logic teaches us that a correct reasoning bring us to correct conclusion

    AND NOTHING MORE

    Here you could say: “but if conclusions are right why to bother about the quality of the supporting reasoning?”

    Well, if you are already sure that AGW is real, I admit you have little to bother about supporting reasoning being flawed or thinking biased.

    But – that is the official idea of scientific research – one should require very sounds arguments before to be persuaded of something,

    and when one is trying to verify this then the discovery of bias in many arguments, (and the unashamed defense of “closed thinking”) are a truly disquieting alarm bell: one has to ask himself “perhaps there is something wrong somewhere, otherwise biases could be (would have been) removed without problems for the conclusions…”

    This can’t prove, be it clear again, that biased thinkers conclusion are false,

    but makes all those biased reasoning weak and “suspect” for their intended purpose, and “surely useful” just as study material on human irrational thinking and its quite interesting forms.

  • Define // Oct 2nd 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Somewhere above, Define // Oct 1st 2007 at 12:15 pm, tamino presented a most reasoned response.

    I simply pointed out a true fact. I offered no opinion on politics, political parties, politicians or ‘Global Warming’. I stated a true fact, nothing more, nothing less.

    For that I was labeled a ‘Denialist’. Apparently I am a Denialist of True Facts.

    Speaking of testable hypotheses, here’s a great one, ” … GEORGE W. BUSH IS THE SINGLE GREATEST OBSTACLE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD TO MEANINGFUL ACTION ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.”

    Full Disclosure. My work in funded entirely by the taxpayers of the United States.

  • Mario // Oct 2nd 2007 at 2:20 pm

    HERETIC,
    You object to my likening of “scientific consensus” with the “religious councils consensus”, and say that there is a decisive difference between the two because the former introduces a different, rational, type of knowledge.

    I think this claim can be made only (and only in some measure) for hard sciences like physics or chemistry, not for others domain as – say - economics, and – this my impression, as I already hinted to in some posts of some weeks ago - important sections of “climate science”.

    The reason is that economics (particularly) and climate sciences are long on mathematics and computer models and short on firm and correct predictions:

    at their present level, as we see clearly, one must be prepared to encounter repeated “quantitative surprises”: nice explanations of what happened are found, but after the fact…

    Yet they earn a strong authority among many:

    The interesting question is: why?

    It is because those “many” believers have rationally verified their predictive reliability?

    I’d say no.

    It is, in my opinion, because many men have a strong “sociobiological faith” in the authority of the “wise men” of their time & place.

    but here laymen are not a good guide, because laymen easily attribute similar predictive credibilities to Nobel prizes in physics and to a Nobel prizes in economics….

    To make it short, the many are easily leaded by authority and consensus
    (“too many people can’t be wrong”) and this is what can well make the proclaimed “AGW consensus” (or if it ever happened an hypotetic “Sun made GW consensus”) structurally similar to the “religious consensus” of the 12-13th century Europe.

    Now, if the psychological mechanisms which keep firm the beliefs of the many are the same in the two integralisms, this justifies looking to the one integralism to better understand the other.

  • Hank Roberts // Oct 2nd 2007 at 2:48 pm

    I think we’re having a meltdown in the word salad spinner, a pointer to any actual published work in a science journal using these ideas and terms would be welcome.

    As presented, this reminds me of
    http://physics.nyu.edu/~as2/rosen.html
    or
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=3&url=http%3A%2F%2Fbooks.google.com%2Fbooks%3Fid%3DVH6qYuMiWgMC%26pg%3DPA2%26lpg%3DPA2%26dq%3Dacademic%2Bspoof%2Bjargon%26source%3Dweb%26ots%3DUQSBjuwYKv%26sig%3D2_8LES8zuGumQGfWv8VAWwH5RJ0&ei=wVkCR8DyMpLCgQO0qcXnDQ&usg=AFQjCNExe1cfCwRlvMxbZ_QjZ0I33QFwtg&sig2=w6YssmitXx2N78FzTMgvaQ

  • elspi // Oct 2nd 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Mario are you Sokal or not? Are you a parody or are you real?

    BTW the difference between Climate science and economics is that in Climate science, when an idea has been discredited (like supply side economics was after the success of the Clinton tax hike) it is discarded (not by the Denialists of course, but by the actual scientists).

  • Heretic // Oct 2nd 2007 at 11:04 pm

    Mario, as a matter of fact, climate models have performed suprisingly well (even in their primitive forms) in their long term predictions, except for arctic ice, for which they have been underestimating changes (loss) significantly. RC has several discussions on this subject. If not already the case, you should also be aware of the fact that climate models are grounded exclusively in physics i.e. they are not statistical models. Also the basis in the CO2 argument is physics, RC has excellent discussions about it (”what Angstrom did not know and “a saturated gassy argument”).
    Climate science is not nearly as shaky as you depict and the suggestions of serious, credible “AGW fighters” are quite different from what you describe, which leads me to doubt your good faith. So is their awareness of the difficulties in tackling the problem. The big difference lies in the willingness to take on these difficulties. Your post apparently indicates that you paid little attention to the implications of the BAU future , and spent little time analyzing the characteristics of the “deniers” message and schemes, how much “faith” is involved in their beliefs and the similarities with the the tobacco mind manipulating campaigns (and even before that, those of the lead industry).
    I wonder if you came up with that integralism idea yourself or if it comes from a teacher/textbook. Talk about applying models to reality…

  • Lee // Oct 2nd 2007 at 11:24 pm

    Dodds, 9:20 am, said:
    “Change sea level by a few meters, dry up or flood a few rivers and change the water table and an awful lot of infrastructure (Canals, cities, highways, irrigation, whatever) suddenly becomes obsolete.”

    A lot less than “a few meters.”
    In California, essentially all water that flows from the north state (where the rain is) to the south state (where much of the agriculture is) flows through the delta. The delta is a system of channeled sea-level rivers, with extensive agricultural islands between them - much of it well below river/sea level. During winter flooding, freeboard on the levees is often less than half meter - sometime s a few inches. Failures during winter floods at high tide are a constant threat, and happen every few years on one island or another.

    Add a half-meter of sea level rise to this system, and we are likely to lose the entire delta. Thousands of square miles of the most expensive farm land on the planet goes away- as do the Central Valley Project and California Water Project, and much of southern california agriculture, and a lot of the urban water supply as well.

  • luminous beauty // Oct 3rd 2007 at 1:01 am

    elspi,

    A more significant difference between climatology and economics is that climatology is based on hard science (physics and chemistry), economics not so much. Classical economics is a bit grue in its relation to physical realities (human relations for that matter).

    Mario makes an interesting argument, if vague and poorly reasoned, about Scientism.

    Can science be abused by those who accept science ad vericundium rather than ad res?

    Obviously. Witness Lysenkoism.

    Is it possible for some mis-guided and exploitative global warming cult to develop?

    Given the vagaries of human nature, very likely.

    However, as much as Rush Limbaugh loves to say it, AGW is not, prima facie, a religion.

    Consensus in science rests on wide recognition, by rigorous observation and analysis of the evidence, of objective phenomenal congruity.

    Religious consensus rests on the acceptance of basic tenets of belief to arrive at a culturally cohesive explanation of subjective noumenal experience.

    They are quite different meanings of consensus.

    In spite of Sokal, I am inclined to agree that to a certain degree Derrida was correct in saying that science is a culturally derived way of knowing. There is no ‘objective reality’ ‘out there’ that science seeks to explain. Scientific objectivity is but a method to test the reliability of our subjective experience of the sensible world. The difference is in the underlying premises of the culture. And their constraints.

    Deconstructionism can be abused, too.

  • Mario // Oct 3rd 2007 at 11:10 pm

    Heretic,
    You cite (1) “rapid loss of arctic ice” as rather the exception than the norm in “climate science surprises”, while it it seems to me only one of a long series of disquietingly similar occurrences. Just other two examples
    (2) Imagine a layman willing to get solid knowledge on climate problems and who is told that “ozone holes” are a big threat to mankind and that all is well established because by “scientific consensus” we know that ozone chemistry in the atmosphere works so and so…
    Then on RC he reads (27 July 200) “Ozone impacts on climate change” then things are more complex than formerly assumed, and after only two months (RC-28 September 2007)”Uncertainty in polar ozone depletion?” that perhaps we simply don’t understand what’s going on with ozone in the atmosphere.
    Even if this last study is to be confirmed, there is one solid conclusion a rational layman can already derive from this: “knowledge is not solid here…”

    (3)This is a not small GW question: “how much global temperature will increase if CO2 in the atmosphere doubles?” Here our poor layman learns that the range of the “best estimates” goes from 1.5 to 4.5 C°, but some say less, and some fear much more…

    Imagine a problem like that in physics: “ if this ball is hit so and so, how many meters it will travel before it reaches the ground?” Would be sign of a solid “scientific” knowledge an answer like this? “according to our models it could be between 15 and 45 meters, but some say less and some think 60-70 meters is more likely. So let’s assume, say 25 meters.”

    And notice that saying: “The fact is that climate phenomena are really complex”, is just the p.c. translation of “our knowledge is not good enough to grant us solid forecasts, and to remove the possibility of big, BIG mistakes, and misunderstandings”

    As many other similar examples are not difficult to be found should not our layman be excused if he concludes: “ the most rational conclusion I can get is that here knowledge is not solid, not as solid as claimed by some experts”

    Notice that this conclusion is more easy because the show of a group of “experts” claiming optimistically to posses a wonderful, rock-solid (now we say “scientific”) doctrine, is a very common occurrence in human societies, surely not restricted to climate sciences or economics:

    One can find easily how many examples he need, with precious study material, often useful to learn how critically evaluate even the most esoteric expert claims

    This “excess of optimism” brings us in the realm of biased thinking and to my (short) blog experience in climate problems.

    Some weeks ago I asked (in RC- “1934 and all that”) how could happen that, being US the biggest XX century CO2 producer, it showed, on the contrary one of the lowest secular temperature increases in the world,

    There I was kindly informed (by Tamino) that warming from long life CO2 is contrasted by cooling from short life sulfate aerosols… : US emits a lot of both but CO2 travels everywhere and warms the entire planet, while the sulfate aerosols cooling effect is just local

    That explanation however produced another doubt: I found some graph showing that in XX century the temperature increase of Northern hemisphere was greater than the Southern one, how that can be if CO2 travels everywhere?

    This was kindly answered again by Tamino, who, after introducing a better set of Northers-Southern temperatures differentials, gave an explanation - afterwards expanded to the article, “Hemispheres”, on this site - that Southern warming was (up to now) lesser because it was delayed by the much greater “thermal inertia” that vast oceans give to the Southern hemisphere…

    This explanation is neat, but opens another question: from a my post in RC:

    > if we assume some kind of big “thermal inertia” all can be neatly explained,
    > and this is perhaps the correct thing to do,
    > but then
    > unless we also find a robust way of independently verifying
    > and measuring “thermal inertia”,
    > admission in the discourse of this additional “free entity”
    > reduces greatly the forcefulness of our theoretical construction,

    > because other competing explanations of global warming
    > would become workable too:
    > because it is enough that these “competitor theories” adjust the
    > non-directly-measured-but-conveniently-assumed “free entity”
    > at the level that best fits their needs.
    > One would then be forced then to admit a higher level of ignorance
    > on climate mechanisms than it’s pleasant to do.
    Now, to better understand the point I wanted to take here, and to verify the large presence of biased thinking and its “functioning”, let’s introduce the last “denialist” pet theory, “It is just the Sun”…
    This idea is quickly dismissed in RC - because “there hasn’t been a trend in any index of solar activity since about 1960” In other words we are been told (let’s call this “A”)
    (A) in the first half century solar activity increased and this can explain the (/some of the) initial temperature increases, but the biggest ones happened AFTER the moment in which the sun stabilized itself. So the Sun can’t be the driver of the second half century temperature increases…
    But if we introduce a convenient amount of “Thermal inertia” also the “It is just the Sun” theory can be brought back from the dead!
    Let’s suppose that in the first 60 century years total Sun output goes up, say 0,5% and then stays more or less constant till now… in the first decades earth temperatures BECAUSE OF THERMAL INERTIA can’t follow closely theSun, and to reach the new higher stabilized plateau, need 30-40 more years.
    (The warming was in the pipeline…)
    Here historical temperatures are known (we hope so) and it’s enough to “derive” from them the appropriate thermal inertia value that makes the models fit well data.
    Perhaps there are good reason to discard this (very rough) scenario: ideally we would measure INDEPENDENTLY thermal inertia, and then show that from a quantitative viewpoint the scenario is unworkable.
    Let’s call this hypothetical refutation (B) and go on to “biased thinking”
    How it is possible that “A” is presented as a satisfactory, complete refutation of all “It is just the Sun” theories, without feeling that it is worthless if it has not also (B) on its side?
    You see it: when tackling AGW doubts “thermal inertia” comes handy to the mind, but it disappears from consciousness, when it would rescue an unwelcome non-AGW theory…
    I wouldn’t normally classify this as “bad faith” but rather as an example of “biased thinking”, the outcome of simple - from my point of view - unconscious mechanisms, largely underestimated or forgotten with the result of producing many worthless arguments, a type of reasoning that is capable of supporting whatever position one decides to support.

    Perhaps now you see I have more than one reason for classifying GW debates as more useful for biased/closed thinking study than as solid scientific discussions.

  • luminous beauty // Oct 4th 2007 at 1:33 am

    Mario,

    Your layman is confused by uncertainty. He thinks uncertainty is the absence of certainty, when it is a measure of the limits of certainty. We know such and such to such and such a degree, not we have a completely unreliable knowledge of such and such.

    Thou hast hung thyself on the horns of a false dilemma.

  • luminous beauty // Oct 4th 2007 at 1:59 am

    Thermal inertia cannot explain that the observed energy increases of solar radiance are insufficient to account for all early 20th century warming, much less the second half.

    The discovery that all solar inputs have stabilized or gone down since the 1950s is but the final nail in the solar coffin.

  • Heretic // Oct 4th 2007 at 6:27 am

    GW debates are solid scientific discussion so long as they are held among qualified scientists.

    Any scientific area involving complexity can qualify for you”study.” Those who work in it will develop insights and build an understanding of what direction to take that includes some level of gut feeling, which may or may not be right. That gut feeling will drive them (that’s indeed bias), but it will have to find actual validation to lead to anything more than just gut feeling. If that validation does not materialize through some evidence, contrary evidence appears, yet the researcher pursues theories based on that gut feeling, then he has stopped doing science and has become hopelessly biased. Commenters at CA think that’s what the entire climate science community is doing but they do not have enough contrary evidence to support that view. The fairly good success of even primitive climate models, on which you do not comment, indicates clearly that there is more here than just bias.

    You’re making a charge that is very common among skeptic arguments, that of certainty. There is no such thing as certainty in science, nor is there any such thing as definitive, exhaustive knowledge. This is possibly the biggest popular misconception and thereby single greatest obstacle to communication of scientific information to the general public. Even the most successful theories of physics breakdown at their limits and are incompatible with each other, they do not contain absolute truth. This creates a difficult terrain for communication because it is indeed necessary to be very knowledgeable about the technicalities of the subject at hand and the current state of research results to actually be confident that one is not only following his bias. That problem, which is very real, is dishonestly exploited by deniers under the label of “argument from authority”, which you also allude to in your reasoning when you mention the “wise men.” You don’t hesitate to use the complexity of the issue to your adantage, but hide that implication of it behind a rethorical artifice. Complexity cuts both ways. Unfortunately, those “wise men” are the ones in the best position to gather the light from all the evidence, you and I are not (it’s a lot easier when there is only one book at issue, as in religion). So either we all become climate scientists, or we have to somewhat trust them.

    About the solar argument: my own digging suggested that, if it was the major source of the current warming, not only inertia would be needed, but it would also have to be variable, that or the sensitivity, which places the all idea closer to unworkable. If it poses more problems than it solves, it’s not going to convince. That is why the solar idea is not so well rated by most climatologists: it is, by far, not the best fit. Feel free to explore the evidence, however, there are plenty of studies.

    If you really want a nice terrain for your “biased thinking study,” the medical sciences have vastly more uncertainty, group think, and areas of poor understanding than climate science. Nevertheless, from drugs with unknown mechanisms of action or marginal benefits over placebo to surgical procedures that demonstrate outcomes barely worth the risks, people trust physicians and pharmacists rather generously. Could that be some form of bias too?

    I doubt that I will continue this discussion because, so far, you are simply repackaging old skeptics arguments and a libertarian outlook in a very wordy, technical sounding way, without adding anything.

  • Mario // Oct 4th 2007 at 8:37 am

    > Thermal inertia cannot explain that the observed energy increases
    > of solar radiance are insufficient to account for all early 20th century
    > warming, much less the second half.
    Luminous Beauty,
    Let’s suppose that things are really so simple as that, and this is the much needed (B) I was asking for…

    My point still stays, because it was not that
    . finding (B) is impossible,
    but that
    . presenting (A), without feeling that it on its sidealso a (B) is needed, is a clear sign of “biased thinking”

    And finding proof of biased thinking in a reasoning, must “rationally speaking” reduce the faith in its overall value

  • John Cross // Oct 4th 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Mario, in looking back through this I would say that one of the things that has not been highlighted is what is certain (in the scientific sense). I would introduce two points in this category.

    1) All the recent CO2 increase is due to anthropogenic sources (not some, or most, but all).

    2) The absorption properties of CO2 mean that if you add it to a system then it will warm the system.

    To me that point often gets overlooked, especially in discussions of temperature.

    However there are other tools (observations) that we can use examine your hypothesis that it is thermal inertia. For example we can look at stratospheric temperatures. I do not think it likely that thermal inertia could explain this cooling so we have now introduced another refutation (call it C).

    Now, on to what I believe your point is - that from a scientific perspective, scientists should present A along with B, C, D, E and F in order to deal with alternative ideas. When experts in the field look at a topic, they draw on a great deal of background that they have spent years acquiring. They also usually communicate with others who have as least some elements of a similar background. As such they often skip things that seem obvious to us and we may question. So, I think it is a little unfair to expect these guys to provide such indepth analysis on blogs. The indepth analysis can be found in the peer-reviewed literature (provided you have the necessary background to keep up). It is not bias to ignore things that you have already looked at and dismissed.

    I will also note that we don’t see a great deal of discussion in the peer-reviewed journals these days about certain aspects of global warming. That is because the discussions took place 50, 70 or even 100 years ago. Believe it or not the idea that adding more didn’t matter because the atmosphere was saturated with it was the scientific opinion 60 years ago.

    Regards,
    John

  • Dano // Oct 4th 2007 at 11:47 pm

    What John C said.

    As Dano would say: Shorter Dano-paraphrased John Cross**:

    Google doesn’t have a ‘wisdom’ button.

    Dano adds: the CO2 ppmv hasn’t been this high in 650k yr. Why are you claiming natural cycles or lag or whatever**?

    Best,

    D

    **the opinions of JC do not necessarily comport with Dano. No express agreement is implied. Any resemblance to actual JC opinion is coincidental. No animals were harmed in the creation of this comment.

  • luminous beauty // Oct 5th 2007 at 1:26 am

    Mario,

    Could you be more obtuse and opaque? I really think it would be helpful to edit and re-write your comments for clarity before you post.

    If A proves B is impossible, then to stubbornly cling to B as a possible explanation is an irrational bias, recognizing the reality that the explanation is inadequate is a rational bias.

    I supplied just one reason why solar variance is an inadequate explanation for current warming. trends. John Cross supplies another. Another is the fact that warming is greatest at higher latitudes where solar insolation is weakest. The mechanics of thermal inertia don’t comply with observed solar variation, either. If you don’t accept, or just don’t understand, the validity of corroborating evidence, then, on point, even if one posits some unknown (fantasy) influence that provides a quantity of solar energy sufficient to account for temperature rise, the inertial component remaining from the 1950s would have begun to attenuate by the time warming began in earnest in the 1980s.

    All thinking is biased. Reason combined with empirical justification is a bias. To have such a bias does not imply irrationality, except to the irrational mind.

    Your thinking is biased as far as I can tell, not by religious thinking, but simple confirmation bias. The facts just don’t comply with your political beliefs, so you seek any other explanation, no matter how far fetched. You are applying a political argument, plain and simple. Even as such, it is flawed by your own prejudices. A fair and balanced view does not mean giving equal weight to a theory based on wishful thinking to one based on measured observation and rigorous analysis of the real world.

    To give a religious analogy, I quote Yeshua ben Yosef, the first century Nazarene, “Remove the log from your own eye, before you criticize the speck in the eye of another”.

  • luminous beauty // Oct 5th 2007 at 1:28 am

    Oops, those damn closing tags.

  • Mario // Oct 5th 2007 at 10:32 am

    Luminous beauty,

    you say: “I really think it would be helpful to edit and re-write your comments for clarity before you post”.
    and here I try to follow your advice:
    Consider, please. three possible different “reasonings”
    1. Even if southern hemisphere temperatures lag northern hemisphere ones, this is not a good argument against CO2-induced-GW, because of the “immense THERMAL INERTIA of southern oceans”
    2. All It-is-the-Sun theories are refuted by the fact that after 1960 temperatures increased but Sun output didn’t,
    3. All It-is-the-Sun theories are refuted by the fact that after 1960 temperatures increased but Sun output didn’t, THERMAL INERTIA considerations can’t (for that and that reason) fully account for this discrepancy
    Now let’s meet Tom and Bob:
    . Tom asserts (1) and (2),
    . Bob asserts (1) and (3)…
    I suspect Tom and not Bob, of biased thinking, because as he knew well that thermal inertia matters, when he had to defend CO2-induced-GW in (1), he shouldn’t have forgotten that in (2), when he wanted to quickly refute a CO2-induced-GW competitor.
    That was my pint, but now, “while we are at it” consider also two different way of “answering” to this point.
    4. You wrong because THERMAL INERTIA can’t explain the GW-Sun output discrepancy
    5. You wrong because “the fact that THERMAL INERTIA can’t explain the GW-Sun output discrepancy”, is so well known that it was held as implicit by (2)-assertors.
    Now (4) is absolutely NOT relevant to my argument, it has only the effect of derailing attention away from it: here’s another potent weapon in the “biased thinking” arsenal.
    On the contrary (5) – you can find an example of it in John Cross post - would be a pertinent and logically correct, refutation of my argument.
    I hope this is clear enough.

    John Cross,

    thanks for your answer clear and polite … Perhaps I can resume our positions this way:

    I’m rather “pessimistic” on the present knowledge level of “climate scientist”, deriving my pessimism from my studies of past human cultures and from some corresponding “biased thinking” hints in some sector of present climate-debates.

    About the solidity of present climate science you are, on the contrary, much more “optimistic”, because, if I understand it well, of a specific personal knowledge of this very subject.

    We both have, that is, some good reason to maintain our positions. But “time will tell” and given the “very visible” nature of the subject, I suspect that one of us will have to align his ideas to reality in a rather short time frame.

  • John Cross // Oct 5th 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Mario: I would not have used the phrase “optimistic” in regards to the present state of climate research. It is just there are some things that we can confidently (i.e. 99.99+ % certain) assert.

    You are correct that time will tell. All I can say is that I sincerely hope it is you that is correct.

    Regards,
    John

  • John Cross // Oct 5th 2007 at 4:47 pm

    As usual Mr. Dano takes 6 words to sum up what I had to take 6 paragraphs to do. By the way, I quoted you in a meeting the other day “Google does not have a wisdom button” (with appropriate credit of course).

    Best,
    John

    PS while I am happy to answer to JC, please note on Deltoid John Cross and Jc are two very different people ;-) !!!

  • Gareth // Oct 5th 2007 at 9:14 pm

    costal infrastructure

    NGS also adopts the classic, one might say Lomborgian, posture that climate change will be gradual and mild. Anything else is, of course, alarmist.

    Forgive me for being alarmed.

  • luminous beauty // Oct 6th 2007 at 1:50 am

    Mario,

    It still isn’t exactly clear what your argument is.

    You infer much from this ‘reasoning’:

    “1. Even if southern hemisphere temperatures lag northern hemisphere ones, this is not a good argument against CO2-induced-GW, because of the “immense THERMAL INERTIA of southern oceans.”

    It is not the thermal inertia of the oceans that accounts for the difference in hemispherical temperatures, but the high specific heat of water compared to air and the upper regolith. It takes more energy to raise the temperature of water one degree than it does air or rock. Of course, the the oceanic climate system is not as simple as a beaker of substance heated over a bunsen burner. There is dynamic mixing of warm and cool layers by wave action and thermohaline circulation that complicate the process and lead to thermal inertia, but it is the primary scientific principle that governs the temperature differential between the hemispheres.

    Now if Bob and Tom both make a flawed argument (1.) concerning A, then it does not follow that their error is positive evidence for or against flawed argument B. Nor does it imply bias. It only means they (and you) are reasoning from faulty premises. This does not even begin to address the faux reasoning process you are using to analyze these flawed premises.

    Nonsense multiplied by nonsense produces more nonsense and diminishes clarity.

    So, please, quit with the gibbering hypotheticals and try and state your thesis clearly and succinctly, and provide factual statements for support.

    Otherwise, we may as well be arguing the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 6th 2007 at 1:57 am

    NGS also adopts the classic, one might say Lomborgian, posture that climate change will be gradual and mild.

    Do you have any empirical evidence to the contrary?

    From the same study I linked to above:

    http://cgrg.geog.uvic.ca/abstracts/ShenTemporalThis.html

    “The annual total precipitation follows a similar increasing trend to that of the May–August precipitation, and the percentile analysis of precipitation attributes the increase to low-intensity events.” (my emphasis added).

  • Chris O'Neill // Oct 6th 2007 at 3:31 am

    Heretic: “Maybe Canadian farmers are going to generously offer nice chunks of land to Australian farmers before they get too close to suicide. And the goverment is going to fast-track the immigration process. Right.”

    NGS: “Maybe Australia should lower any trade barriers like a good government should so that its people don’t have to suffer through a down cycle in agriculture.”

    He was talking about Australian FARMERS, you arrogant ignoramus. BTW, Australia does not have any trade barriers to wheat.

  • luminous beauty // Oct 6th 2007 at 3:32 am

    Why, yes, na_g_s,

    I have plenty of empirical evidence of the future (!?). Just step into my time machine. Don’t mind the whirling blades.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 6th 2007 at 5:56 am

    luminous beauty, we’ve had 100 years or so of so called “unprecedented” climate change. If there’s no empirical evidence of worsening precipitation events or weather in general during that time, then how long will it take?

    Chris,

    He was talking about Australian FARMERS, you arrogant ignoramus.

    Is this really something to get bent out of shape over? He was also talking about what governments might do to address Australian ag issues. That is what i responded to.

  • Gareth // Oct 6th 2007 at 6:23 am

    Nags, you haven’t taken my advice to read AR4 WG2, have you? So you continue to argue from ignorance.

    Shame.

  • Mario // Oct 6th 2007 at 10:28 am

    luminous beauty,

    I have trouble in understanding the crucial difference between saying, as you do:
    ” It takes more energy to raise the temperature of water one degree than it does air or rock”,

    and saying, as my post implied: “when thermal energy is applied to it, one cubic meter of water, will show a thermal inertia greater than a cubic meter of air of rock”

    However the expression “immense thermal inertia of the oceans” it’s not mine, I here just quoted Tamino’s words in an answer to my question

    RC - 10 August 2007, 1934 and all that - post # 198:

    …for most of the century it’s evident from the graph that the northern hemisphere warms relative to the southern. That’s because land warms faster than ocean (due to the immense thermal inertia of the oceans) and most of the land is in the northern hemisphere…

  • Hank Roberts // Oct 6th 2007 at 2:10 pm

    You have to keep your head way down in the sand to think there’s no evidence of change.

    Have another cherry, Nan:

    “Analysis of the historical record (1895-1995) indicates an increasing trend in high intensity rainfall events (greater than 2 inches/day) in the southern Great Plains.”
    http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/nacc/education/greatplains/greatplains-edu-4.htm

    Or look at global trends:
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/%7Efloods/AMSR-E%20Gaging%20Reaches/MasterSpreadsheet_files/MasterSpreadsheet_32212_image007.png
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/%7Efloods/

  • luminous beauty // Oct 6th 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Mario,

    tamino uses thermal inertia in the sense of specific heat, where in the solar argument (as a qualitative argument to explain why temperatures have risen after solar output has stabilized), thermal inertia is used in the sense of stored energy in deep ocean currents gradually being released into the atmosphere as the system strives to reach thermal equilibrium. One is a comparison of thermodynamic properties of one substance to another, the other is an inter-active relation of a different thermodynamic property between two substances.

    I hope that clarifies things.

    na_g_s,

    You remind me of the man who fell out of the fortieth floor window, yelling at the folks on the twentieth floor, “Every thing’s fine, so far!”

    Tell your Pollyanna fairy-tales of how wonderful things are in Alberta to those drought-stricken farmers in the Murray water-shed who’ve committed suicide from despair, or the thousands dead from record heat-waves in Europe and the US.

    Oh, that’s right. You can’t. They’re dead.

  • John Cross // Oct 6th 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Nanny: can you provide a reference for the statement “unprecedented” climate change. I was in a discussion a couple of weeks ago about this topic and I was not able to find a quote (from a scientist).

  • Mario // Oct 6th 2007 at 6:04 pm

    >in the solar argument
    > (as a qualitative argument to explain why
    > temperatures have risen after solar output
    > has stabilized), thermal inertia is used in the
    > sense of stored energy in deep ocean currents
    > gradually being released into the atmosphere > as the system strives to reach thermal equilibrium.

    Thermal energy (partly) “stored in deep ocean”, while Sun output was growing, and then “released” over time even after Sun output becomes flat
    is one of possible GW factors, the one, perhaps, which better approximates the “it is in the pipeline” intuitive conception.

    But there is another simpler idea, for which the term “inertia” seems to me well deserved:

    suppose that Sun output (a very easy/rough wording….) grows by 0.3% in a sudden step in year 1900, just to make things simple.

    Then imagine – another very rough position – than average global Earth temperature is linearly determined from Sun output:
    it then will grow a corresponding 0.3%
    from say 285 Kelvin degrees to about 285.8…

    Will this step increase bring Earth average surface temperatures from 285 to 285.8 immediately?

    No, because of Earth surface heat capacity it takes time for an energy-flux to warm up things

    (And because “It takes more energy to raise the temperature of water one degree than it does air or rock”, northern hemisphere will lead the southern one whose “immense oceans” have a greater “thermal inertia”: that is demand absorbing more energy to warm up to the new average equilibrium temperature).

    Now let’s make a small change in our assumptions and suppose that instead of a sudden step in year 1900, Sun output grows 0,3% progressively from 1900 to 1960 and then it remains stable (it could even decrease a bit!).

    In year 1960, because of “thermal inertia”, average Earth temperature will not already be 285.8 K but, say, 285.4 : not yet in long term equilibrium with the Sun-output at 1960 levels.

    Even if, from 1960 on, Sun output remains level, there are other 0.4 K to go in the following decades, just to put Earth in line with the higher Sun energy flux levels reached in the 1900-1960 growth.

    I am saying that this is the refutation of AGW theories?
    NO! because surely there are many other – perhaps unknown - factors to take care of:

    (even if, as (1) in the 1900-1960 time frame Sun output distinctly grew, (2) “thermal inertia” is a sure player in climate matters, I would be surprised that a mechanism like this can be wholly absent from “the eventual good explanation”)

    What I am saying, is that these (quite simple) schema types deserve from AGW proponents, a clear and solid refutation if they want to kill the “it’s the Sun” theories .

    And if instead I read the following quick and easy “refutation”_

    “the big problem for blaming the sun for the recent global warming is that there hasn’t been a trend in any index of solar activity since about 1960” (RC- 13 July 2007 Friday roundup)

    I get the uneasy feeling of “biased thinking”, that is persuasive only for the ones who are already persuaded.

  • elspi // Oct 6th 2007 at 6:48 pm

    ngs
    No we have had about 30 years of ““unprecedented” climate change” as anyone who has read this blog KNOWS. If you start out with a known false statement then anything you deduce from it is crap.

    Mario
    How about you start thinking a lot more and writing a lot less. You answer test questions like that in my begining analysis class and I fail you.

  • Hank Roberts // Oct 6th 2007 at 8:29 pm

    Here’s a pointer. It may help to use the term “specific heat” when talking about how materials differ.

    Water’s specific heat is defined as one (1) cal/g °C “which means that 1.00 calorie of heat is necessary to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius” — a table for other materials is given
    (air is 0.240; ice is 0.5)
    http://phoenix.phys.clemson.edu/labs/223/spheat/index.html

    “Thermal inertia” is often used to describe the lag time over which heat gets transferred to the ocean — that’s not a simple number from a table, it’s a question of where the continents happen to be, where the currents go, and such — it will have changed over time. We don’t know what it is for current climate, I’ve seen estimates between 100 and 1000 years — look for work done with carbon-14 and chlorofluorocarbon and other traceable material that began falling in measurable amounts onto the surface of the oceans in the latter part of the 20th century, and is slowly showing up in deeper parts of the ocean.

  • Steve Bloom // Oct 6th 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Mario, I would make three key points:

    1) We can distinguish between warming due to irradiance changes and GHGs since they have different signatures (e.g. the stratosphere cooling while the troposphere warms can only be a consequence of GHGs).

    2) While it appears based on the present science that the post-1970 sharp warming trend has no significant solar component, it would not be good news if it did. The presence of a substantial solar signal wouldn’t reduce the expected warming from GHGs at all, and would mean potentially severe future consequences when both warming signals synchronized.

    3) GHG warming is persistent because GHGs (as a class) are persistent in the atmopshere. In sharp contrast, solar warming (either direct irradiance or the cloud/cosmic ray variety) begins to go away as soon as the signal does. IOW, GHGs continue to add heat to the atmosphere long after the emissions cease, while a reduction in solar influence will result in an immediate loss of heat. Both are modulated by the thermal inertia of the oceans, but the basic mechanism is unaffected by that since the oceans can only ever result in a lagging trend as opposed to one contrary to the signal.

    See here (and follow the links) and here (probably best to start with the oldest article on the second page and work your way up to the present).

  • luminous beauty // Oct 7th 2007 at 12:22 am

    Mario,

    You are a perfect example of why tamino has thrown up his hands at trying to argue with global warming skeptics. One can explain the science to them seven ways from sunday and they (you) just come back with some poorly written, credulity straining, hypothetical bull, recycling already discarded and thoroughly refuted ideas that only indicates their unwillingness to reason.

    You aren’t making any sense. You are grasping at straws.

    You don’t imagine for a second that it might be you that has an irrational bias, do you?

  • Mario // Oct 7th 2007 at 3:20 am

    Steeve Bloom,
    than for the links

    luminos beauty,
    rather than adfirming I’m defending “already discarded and thoroughly refuted ideas…”

    you could have read where I say:

    “I am saying that this is the refutation of AGW theories?
    NO! because surely there are many other – perhaps unknown - factors to take care of:”

    and noticed that NO, is normally understood as being the opposite of YES

    What is missing, in your reply is a satisfatory analysis (or even a minimal consideration) of the main and concluding point of my post.

    That is the meaning of a statement like:

    “the big problem for blaming the sun for the recent global warming is that there hasn’t been a trend in any index of solar activity since about 1960”

    Why one should not identify this as partcularly clear, and therefore illuminating example of “biased thinking”?

  • tamino // Oct 7th 2007 at 3:29 am

    “the big problem for blaming the sun for the recent global warming is that there hasn’t been a trend in any index of solar activity since about 1960”

    Why one should not identify this as partcularly clear, and therefore illuminating example of “biased thinking”?

    It’s not an example of biased thinking, because it’s correct.

    If you’d like to discuss why, then that’s climate science; let’s hear what you have to say. If your real goal is to discuss the nature of biased thinking, then I suppose that would fall under the umbrella of psychology or sociology. Interesting stuff, but off topic for this blog.

  • ChrisC // Oct 7th 2007 at 5:04 am

    Mario,

    You started ranting on this forum stating that you were “no student of AGW”, and it was best to study the response of people to a perceived problem by taking no firm opinion on the validity of the problem itself.

    You’ve then gone on to try to argue against the scientific justification of AGW. My question to you is, why, after exlpaining your reasoning (assuming I’ve understood it correctly) to stay above the fray, have you now entered into a debate on atmospheric physics?

    Having read you posts cocerning aerosols and the thermal inertia of the oceans, I agree with your first self-description. You are indeed no student of AGW, as you level of understanding of the science is poor at best. With this in mind, why, oh why, are you attempting to now throw dobut on science?

    As to your statements on uncertainty, this shows a lack of understanding of the way that science is conducted. Very few realms of science are without uncertainty, and atmospheric science is no exception. That said, the overwhelming majority of people and agencies, who have studied the problem, across a wide variety of scientific disiplines (from Meteorology, to coral reef biology to railway engineering) have all come to remarkably similar conculsions, that have remained pretty much invarient for a decade. - that is the Earth is warming, we’re causing it and it is likely to be a problem.

    However, you dismiss this by arguing that 4 decades of carefull scientific work is equivalent to mideval religous edicts and that estimates are too varied to undertake action. None of this gells with the reality of public science or policy, let alone risk management strategies.

    I suppose I should stop ranting now, but your arguments, verbose though they are, bear no relation to reality, either in science of policy. You are really out of your depth in this discussion, and I suggest you read up on some of the relevant literature.

    Full Disclaimer: My work is funded entierly by the Australian taxpayer.

  • Chris O'Neill // Oct 7th 2007 at 5:18 am

    Chris O’Neill: “He was talking about Australian FARMERS, you arrogant ignoramus.”

    NGS: “Is this really something to get bent out of shape over?”

    I’m not getting bent out of shape. I’m just stating my opinion of your behaviour. You appear to be making an arrogant response based on ignorance.

    NGS: “He was also talking about what governments might do to address Australian ag issues. That is what i responded to.”

    You assumed that he was talking about the Canadian government fast-tracking the immigration process for Australians in general but that was your assumption when the context was Australian farmers. You then arrogantly assumed that Australia has trade barriers to crops from Canada.

  • anon // Oct 7th 2007 at 10:16 am

    Well, I read your rant about Bush, deniers and so on. It is a mistake to ally a religious or political point of view with a particular account of some scientific phenomenon, or some particular factual prediction.

    Early Islam encountered exactly this difficulty by attributing the early battlefield victories to the support of God; they then had a real problem with what the first defeat meant.

    Your preference for the Democrats as opposed to the Republicans is an interesting personal taste to those of us living outside the US, to whom both parties look about as different as the Shias and Sunnis. However, it has no bearing on the scientific issue of whether AGW is happening on any scale, whether it is mainly caused by CO2 if it is, and if so, what if anything we should do about it.

    I have to say that rants like this one (and Hansen’s usufruct piece) make those of us who are detached and sceptical in general very suspicious.

    It is always less convincing to make the argument by appealing to emotion and what you will say to your children and a whole bunch of other irrelevant stuff, than by simply pointing to the evidence. If you do the first, it is usually because you cannot do the second…

    [Response: Your characterization of this post as a “rant” is a very sneaky (yet very effective) way to cast aspersions while *seeming* to take the “high ground.” It seems to me to fit perfectly with the denialist tactic, that when they can’t contradict the scientific evidence they resort to shouting “alarmist.”

    Your claim that for those outside the U.S., “both parties look about as different as the Shias and Sunnis,” strikes me as rather unflattering to two sects of Islam. It also disagrees with what many Europeans have told me: that to them, it’s clear that the republican party is an ultraconservative bastion of nationalism and warmongering, while the democrats are mererly conservative (by European standards).

    Your claim to be “detached” is not credible. As for my ability to address the scientific evidence, this blog speaks for itself.]

  • Mario // Oct 7th 2007 at 10:54 am

    Tamino,
    I promise this is the last post I send here on the subject, and many thanks for the hospitality in this blog.

    > It’s not an example of biased thinking, because it’s correct.
    You here seem saying that stating a correct conclusion, because of the fact that it is correct, frees from any biased thinking stigma.

    I think instead that faulty reasoning, can be easily appended, as an apparent “rational proof”, both to false conclusions and to correct ones.

    But , independently of the correctness of the conclusions appended to it, meeting faulty (here “strangely incomplete”) reasoning is an “alarm bell” both on the general value of the “rational” discussion going on in the place, and on the direction toward which the “political” climate is heading: integralism, “we should not even talk with this or that one”, and so on.

    But on this let’s me to take your saying:
    > if you’d like to discuss why, then that’s climate science; let’s hear what you have to say

    as a welcome reassurance that things here are not so bad as I figured in the beginning.

    ChrisC,

    A not so important premise…
    to round your argument, you quote me as I said
    “I am not a Global Warming student“

    but I said instead
    “I am not SO MUCH a Global Warming student.. [as a “closed thinking” one]”,

    This is really easy to spot because is in the beginning of THIS thread

    You can perhaps observe: “perhaps you think to know something on GW but

    > Having read you[r] posts co[n]cerning aerosols and the thermal inertia of the oceans,

    I certify you having no real understanding of the subject”

    But this would just repeat luminous beauty’s mistake:

    If you read well my post, you would notice, that both in the “sulfate aerosols”, and the “thermal inertia of the oceans” argument I am only repeating the answers – if not the wordings! - I got (mostly from Tamino) to my questions in RC, where you can easily find them.

    Surely these, about sulfate aerosols & thermal inertia of the oceans, were from their beginning only “blog explanations” approximate and partial, but useful to get a degree of intuitive understanding of the subject.

    Now coming to the main point, you say:

    > why, after ex[pl]aining your reasoning (assuming I’ve understood it correctly) to stay above the fray, have you now entered into a debate on atmospheric physics?

    I suppose that in fact you have not understood it too well: the argument on a possible “it is the sun” alternative explanation was NOT done to propose it as correct, to assert “look, this is the true GW explanation”.

    > I am saying that this is the refutation of AGW theories?
NO! because surely there are many other – perhaps unknown - factors to take care of

    > NO, is normally understood as being the opposite of YES

    It was the (last) try to point and to get comments for a specific “biased thinking” problem.

    If thermal inertia is easily accepted as a factor when it explains, in AGW favour, southern hemisphere thermal lag, why then is it accurately forgotten when it could make rounder an opposite explanation, FOR EXAMPLE THIS?

    My example, a possible but “dismissed by silence” it-is the-sun explanation, was, so to say, like finger pointing to the moon: biased thinking.

    But what I find mostly here are just comments on the bad aspect of my finger.

    Sorry, but even if there will be other comments to my posts, this is my last one on the subject, as I promised.

    [Response: If you really want to know why “no trend in solar activity since 1960″ is a valid reason to disbelieve in solar influence, it’s because we witnessed an increase in the *rate* of global warming after 1960, and a roughly constant rate of warming since 1975. While warming can indeed persist even if forcing is held constant, that warming cannot get faster; it’s expected behavior is to approach its new equilibrium asymptotically. Acceleration is, frankly, impossible, and the “stored heat is being transferred to the atmosphere” idea reveals an unawareness of the behavior of dynamical systems.

    Perhaps in addition to considering the impact of “biased thinking” on the global warming debate, you should also include the impact of naivete.]

  • luminous beauty // Oct 7th 2007 at 3:21 pm

    “I am saying that this is the refutation of AGW theories?
    NO! because surely there are many other – perhaps unknown - factors to take care of:”

    So it comes down to ‘unknown factors’, the implication being that the possible refutation of AGW theory lies in some unexplained or unobserved force that has the power to affect the climate of whole planets, yet is undetectable to modern science. Do I hear the sound of a theramin playing? Your logic seems to be, ‘if we don’t know everything about everything, then we really know nothing about anything’. It’s a wonder you can even feed yourself with logic like that.

    But your statement ends with a colon, implying you are leading to an example that further qualifies your emphatic NO, rendering it something less than the opposite of YES. A rhetorical NO, if you will. ‘No, BUT…’

    (even if, as (1) in the 1900-1960 time frame Sun output distinctly grew, (2) “thermal inertia” is a sure player in climate matters, I would be surprised that a mechanism like this can be wholly absent from “the eventual good explanation”)

    As I and others have pointed out, ‘thermal inertia is not ‘wholly absent’ or even partially absent from the very good explanation that exists. It is fundamental physics. No one has pretended it does not matter. It just does not matter enough to save ‘natural solar variation’ as a plausible explanation for current global warming.

    Why should you not identify a perfectly clear and straight forward statement of fact as ‘biased thinking’?

    Why should you?

    I honestly want to know. What are your reasons for thinking so? Because the statement didn’t specifically address thermal inertia? Well, you have been free to raise the question here, and you have been given answers and resources to explore and illuminate your understanding.

    I hope you make good use of them.

    Take a class in logic, fer crissakes!

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 7th 2007 at 5:00 pm

    NGS: “He was also talking about what governments might do to address Australian ag issues. That is what i responded to.”

    You assumed that he was talking about the Canadian government fast-tracking the immigration process for Australians in general but that was your assumption when the context was Australian farmers. You then arrogantly assumed that Australia has trade barriers to crops from Canada.

    Chris, over on the “e” thread I invited everyone to relax and have a beer. I invite you to do the same. I made no such assumptions as you’ve stated above. Please re-read my original post for more details.

  • anon // Oct 8th 2007 at 11:36 am

    Above at anon // Oct 7th 2007 at 10:16 am, tamino says, “As for my ability to address the scientific evidence, this blog speaks for itself.”

    Exactly where is the ‘climate science’ on this blog? Certainly it is not in your simplistic approaches to “modeling” of consumption of natural resources, or the equally simplistic two-box “model”. Models not validated by comparsions with actual real-world data are known to be useless.

    This is a political science blog along with Eli and Rayp and Jhansen.

    The climate change community has made a blunder of the tenth magnitude when aligning themselves with politicians. Politicians will come and go and all the while never commit to any truely meaningful actions. Equally important, politicians pay little heed to true facts of science and that is not good company for real scientists.

  • luminous beauty // Oct 8th 2007 at 2:28 pm

    anon,

    And the skeptics align themselves with… cranks.

    Unfortunately it is politicians who make policy, not scientists.

    Or Libertarians.

    Put down the Ayn Rand and start living in the real world.

  • anon // Oct 9th 2007 at 8:23 am

    This is the anon who talked about a rant. I lived in several US cities under different administrations, and found no difference in corruption or competence between Republicans and Democrats. I also lived in the US under different national administrations, and found both Republicans and Democrats had about an equal tendency to support third world dictators, and bomb small countries for no apparent reason in terms of US national interest. I don’t think either party is much more or less right wing or left wing than the other. They just represent rather different interest groups and regions. But none of this has anything to do with AGW.

    I do not think that AGW is a US party political issue, or that confusing feelings about which of the two US parties, which seem from here in Europe about as dissimilar as the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians, with what we should or should not do about AGW if there is such a thing, in any way helps the debate.

    This is a scientific and engineering matter. The proposition to be assessed is whether there is an AGW machine, and whether the accelerator and/or brake for it is CO2. Opinionated material about Bush, neocons, the AGW Denial machine (not that I think there is such a thing) is entirely beside the point. Just focus on the facts about AGW.

    You will be more, not less persuasive.

  • J // Oct 9th 2007 at 2:01 pm

    anon wrote: “This is a scientific and engineering matter. The proposition to be assessed is whether there is an AGW machine, and whether the accelerator and/or brake for it is CO2. Opinionated material about Bush, neocons, the AGW Denial machine (not that I think there is such a thing) is entirely beside the point. Just focus on the facts about AGW.”

    Sorry, but I can’t agree. The general concepts of anthropogenic climate change are more or less settled, and have reached that state based on the science. Evaluation of potential schemes for mitigation or adaptation is a scientific and engineering matter.

    But deciding how society should respond is a social, economic, and philosophical matter that hopefully will be informed by science and engineering but ultimately relies on people’s values.

  • Heretic // Oct 9th 2007 at 10:37 pm

    “This is a political scienceblog like blah blah blah…”
    The fact that you did not mention CA, Motl, or other denialist blogs out there (including the most outrageous that Eli pointed out recently) indicates that you are a comical troll.

  • Heretic // Oct 9th 2007 at 10:46 pm

    “politicians pay little attention to true facts of science…”

    James Inhoffe comes to mind, and Fred Thomson with his funny Martian comments, and, oh whatever….

  • Chris O'Neill // Oct 10th 2007 at 12:39 pm

    NGS: “He was also talking about what governments might do to address Australian ag issues. That is what i responded to.”

    Chris O’Neill: “You assumed that he was talking about the Canadian government fast-tracking the immigration process for Australians in general but that was your assumption when the context was Australian farmers. You then arrogantly assumed that Australia has trade barriers to crops from Canada.”

    NGS: “I made no such assumptions as you’ve stated above.”

    NGS earlier: “Maybe Australia should lower any trade barriers like a good government should”

    The inplication of this statement is that NGS assumes the Australian government has trade barriers to crops from Canada. If NGS wasn’t so arrogant he would realize this implication (and realize the assumption).

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 10th 2007 at 3:44 pm

    I guess you skipped that beer. Chris, please look up the definition of the word “any”.

  • Chris O'Neill // Oct 11th 2007 at 4:57 am

    NGS, please look up the definition of “crops” and “Canada” as in:

    “Canada will have to sell their bumper crops somewhere.”

  • Heretic // Oct 11th 2007 at 5:01 pm

    NGS you will never get me drunk enough to be unable to see through your rethoric.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 11th 2007 at 10:56 pm

    I’m really starting to enjoy the attempts at mind reading here. I guess this goes along with the belief in “teleconnections” between tree rings that don’t correlate to local climate but somehow supposedly indicate global climate.

    There’s no “crops”, or “Canada” in the sentence “Maybe Australia should lower any trade barriers like a good government should”. Try taking another look into your crystal ball.

  • Peter Q. Munchkin // Oct 11th 2007 at 11:48 pm

    It’s so obvious it’s warming, there’s no need to discuss that.

    Republicans in the Senate blocked ratification on Kyoto under CLinton? No they didn’t.

    Not all climate change is good or bad is the same as saying mass extinctions are good for the animals that survive?

    Some predictability is good. Too much or too little would be bad. (Defining too=causing bad).

    I don’t know if all climate change in the warmer direction is bad for California. Depends how much I guess.

    Tamino is correct, this is all political. Also correct that by and large the Democrats are (at the least perceived) to be more “for” “doing something about” global warming.

    I don’t trust any of them.

    One of the reasons plants grow well in a real greenhouse is there is more co2 in them. they often put in more on purpose.

    The sun!
    What is it?
    The glowing ball in the center of our solar system, but that’s not important, we’re heading straight towards it!

  • luminous beauty // Oct 12th 2007 at 1:23 am

    Chris,

    na_g_s wasn’t conversing with you, he was just talking to himself. So there!

    Peter,

    Nice of you to concede that the earth is warming. Now you only need to get up to speed about why it’s happening. Some time before we crash into the Sun, hopefully.

  • Peter Q. Munchkin // Oct 12th 2007 at 4:00 pm

    It has moved into the political and policy arena. It’s time to support politicians and policy makers dedicated to mitigating AGW and stop arguing about other things, it’s a distraction and a detraction. I don’t care about why it’s happening. It doesn’t matter why it’s happening.

    That last is a quote from the movie ‘Airplane’.

  • Chris O'Neill // Oct 13th 2007 at 2:53 am

    Heretic: “Maybe Canadian farmers are going to generously offer nice chunks of land to Australian farmers before they get too close to suicide. And the goverment is going to fast-track the immigration process. Right.”

    NGS: “Maybe Australia should lower any trade barriers like a good government should so that its people don’t have to suffer through a down cycle in agriculture. Canada will have to sell their bumper crops somewhere.”

    Please look up the defintions of “Australian” and “farmers”. Alternatively, look up the definition of “non sequitur”.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 13th 2007 at 3:27 am

    Chris, I’m sorry you take offense to my government-policy-oriented response. Now, how about dropping all this nonsense and have a beer. It’s Friday for God’s sake.

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