Open Mind

How to Fool Other People

October 23rd, 2007 · 41 Comments

John Stossel stars in a recent TV report that’s getting a lot of exposure in the denialist blogosphere. It’s basically the same old same old denialist garbage.

Where to begin? Let’s start with this: he makes a big deal about temperature increase happening before CO2 increase during ice ages. His implication is clearly that it’s not CO2 that causes temperature increase, it’s the other way around. This is a favorite denialist argument, usually followed by proclamations that Al Gore is a big fat liar.

The truth is that CO2 and temperature are both cause and both effect. Temperature increase reduces the solubility of CO2 in ocean water, leading to more atmospheric CO2, while CO2 increase traps infrared radiation, causing temperature increase. This leads to a rather nasty “feedback” effect, where increased CO2 will increase temperature, which will further increase CO2, which will further increase temperature, etc. Only simpletons are unable to comprehend this.

Before you dash off a comment suggesting that I just made this up to cover my keister, consider this: temperature increase happening before CO2 increase during ice ages was actually predicted 17 years ago by Claude Lorius, Jim Hansen and others, before the data showed it (Lorius et al. 1990, Nature, 347, 139). Remember Jim Hansen? NASA’s chief climate scientist, who has been warning about the urgency of reducing carbon emissions?

This argument plays on the scientific naivete of the general public. Of course the average viewer won’t know that CO2 and temperature are both cause and both effect, or that the whole thing was predicted before it was observed. But Stossel isn’t just “the average viewer,” he’s a reporter who happens to be misinforming the public. Either he’s done some incredibly sloppy research, or he just listened to the denialist camp and regurgitated their arguments. Or both.

As for the scientists in Stossel’s propaganda, they’re the usual denialist crowd. This plays on the public misconception that if even one scientist disagrees, the issue is unclear. The truth is that there are always scientists who disagree with any idea. The fact that Stossel trots out *four* of them, while the IPCC report is based on the work of *thousands*, ought to tell you something.

Stossel further criticizes the idea that “yesterday’s temperature” is somehow ideal while a warmer climate is a bad thing. This is a textbook straw man argument. Of course there’s no such thing as a “perfect” climate, but nobody said there was. It’s not warmth that’s dangerous, it’s climate change that’s dangerous — and right now the planet is warming about 20 times as fast as it does during a reasonably rapid deglaciation (coming out of an ice age).

Stossel goes on to imply that warming of a few degrees is small, and may bring as much benefit as harm. Have you been to San Diego lately? A quarter of a million people have been asked to evacuate due to the wildfires raging in southern California. Have you visited Atlanta recently? The water supply is dangerously low, they’re wondering what to do if they actually run out of water in a little over two months.

If Atlanta had always been a desert, no problem — the local population would be adapted to it. But having water, then losing it, is a disaster; another example of the fact that it’s not climate that’s the problem, it’s climate change that’s dangerous. They’ll fight the wildfires in southern California, and recover; the drought in Georgia will probably subside soon (I hope so!). But when a mere “couple of degrees” make things like this no longer the exception but the rule — what will that do to our precious economy? What will it mean for thirsty human beings?

Probably the most irritating aspect of Stossel’s “report” is a brief clip from An Inconvenient Truth of Al Gore saying, “… sea levels will rise 20 feet.” What’s irritating is that I’ve seen AIT often enough to know that this quote is taken out of context — so much so that Stossel doesn’t even have the honesty to play Al Gore’s entire sentence. What Gore says is that IF the Greenland ice sheet, or the West Antarctic ice sheet, disintegrates, THEN we’ll have 20 feet of sea level rise.

I’ll also point out that one of the strongest criticisms of the IPCC report from the climate science community, is that it underestimates the likelihood of dramatic sea level rise. This is a consequence of the fact that like all large scientific bodies, the IPCC takes a very conservative approach. The most current research indicates that Greenland ice is disappearing a lot faster than expected; it’s not yet likely that the ice sheet will disintegrate this century, but it’s by no means impossible. If it does go, do you want your children to be living in Miami? And if you think only two feet of sea level rise is insignificant, perhaps you should invest in basement properties in New York City.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Stossel’s next report is all about how media coverage is so heavily biased, usually presenting only one side of the argument. Of course, he would never do that…

Categories: Global Warming · climate change

41 responses so far ↓

  • luminous beauty // Oct 24th 2007 at 1:18 am

    Stossel is a self described right/libertarian. As we all are aware from the beloved trolls who inhabit the comment threads of climate blogs, right/libertarians seem to be at the front-lines of denialism.

    This seems due to their axiomatic belief that self-interest is the total and sum determinant of human nature and the consequent belief that any cooperative endeavor based on mutual concern is the equivalent of the Pol Pot regime. The fact that AGW is a global problem intuitively sets off their OneWorldGovernment paranoia and visions of black UN helicopters begin dancing in their heads.

    Its pathological. Really. I’m not being sarcastic.

    In about 5 minutes, a special on climate change is due to air on CNN. “Planet in Peril” (typical hyperbolic title I’m sure the usual gang of idiots will find sufficient cause to dismiss the entire program as ‘alarmist’). I hope Anderson Cooper actually uses a fact-checker or two.

  • zen // Oct 24th 2007 at 1:29 am

    This is absurd. FOR THE LAST TIME: There’s no scientific consensus that the sound on the tracks is a train.

  • cody // Oct 24th 2007 at 8:16 am

    Well folks, I am neither right wing nor a denialist. There is something that puzzles me however, and its not Gore or Stossel.

    What I would like to understand is, if small increases in temperature lead to runaway warming via the feedback effect, what happened after the MWP? After the MWP we had a little ice age eventually. What caused it?

    Do small rises in temperature always lead to feedback loops which amplify them? Is there evidence for this? Why does it not happen more often if the planet is so sensitive, because you can see from the charts that small rises in temp happen all the time?

    And what stops it once it gets started, and even puts it into reverse?

  • Heretic // Oct 24th 2007 at 10:25 am

    Stossel is a clown. Once I was accidentally watching his show (something that hasn’t happened since) and he had a story set to have you believe that gasoline was less expensive than bottled water. I thought it did not make sense, so I paid attention. He was extrapolating the price of a little water bottle to a gallon and then comparing that with a gallon of gas. I went to the grocery store and looked at a gallon of bottled water in a gallon sized container and it was a lot less expensive than a gallon of gas. However, it still came in its own container. So I went to another store where you can buy water from a filtration system and carry it in your own container and it was about 40 cents per gallon. I need not remind anyone how much a gallon of gas costs. To complete my research, I looked at the price of the nearest thing to gasoline coming in a small individual container, i.e. lighter fluid. An 8 or 10 ounces bottle was about $12. Conclusion:
    Stossel is (pick what you deem most likely):
    a) A shameless mind manipulator.
    b) A very incompetent journalist
    c) Intellectually challenged.

  • Dano // Oct 24th 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Man, you are good. Keep up the good work, Tamino.



  • John Cross // Oct 24th 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Cody: while there are feedback processes that are positive, they do not necessarily translate into “runaway” processes.


  • JamesG // Oct 24th 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Ancient Rome is buried 20 feet beneath modern Rome. The Tiber kept flooding and bringing up silt. The Romans adapted to the situation. Do you think in 100 years New Yorkers might manage to adapt to 2 feet?

    When you figure out why the cooling period started whilst the CO2 was still rising let us know! Until then you have half a theory. The most anyone can say is that there is a relationship but CO2 amplification must have been a minor player. A simpleton wouldn’t realize that of course.

  • caerbannog // Oct 24th 2007 at 4:14 pm

    A simpleton wouldn’t realize that of course.

    A simpleton also wouldn’t realize that aerosol emissions masked the CO2 warming signature during the middle of the 20th-century, and that climatologists are fully aware of the climatic impacts of aerosols as well as those of CO2.

  • cce // Oct 24th 2007 at 4:52 pm

    Two feet (and it’s probably more like 3 feet) of sea level rise worldwide is a bit different than the flooding of a single river. Even more so when you realize that time does not end in 2100, and sea level rise will likely accelerate as the ice sheets become more unstable.

  • henry // Oct 24th 2007 at 5:16 pm

    “A simpleton also wouldn’t realize that aerosol emissions masked the CO2 warming signature during the middle of the 20th-century, and that climatologists are fully aware of the climatic impacts of aerosols as well as those of CO2.”

    Since aerosol emissions came up:

    “…vegetation burning is by far the largest contributor to emissions of primary carbonaceous aerosols and developing countries are the largest contributing source regions for these aerosols. Similarly, the major contributors to tropospheric ozone production — NOx, NMVOC, CO, and CH4 — are by no means closely associated with typical large combustion sources in the developed world.

    Unfortunately, it is small, non-traditional sources in the developing world where we are most unsure about activity levels and emission factors. We estimate, for example, that more than 80% of black carbon (BC) and organic carbon (OC) emissions from anthropogenic sources in the world are due to small coal and biofuel stoves used in developing countries for cooking and space heating.”

    Sounds to me like there are STILL a lot of aerosol emissions being released by the “developing” countries.

    Have models taken the cooling effect of these emissions into account? Would we be warmer if the rainforests weren’t being burned off?

  • cce // Oct 24th 2007 at 7:04 pm

    Models take both the cooling effect of sulfate aerosols (both the direct effects, and the indirect effects on clouds) and the warming effect of black carbon into account.

  • jre // Oct 24th 2007 at 8:31 pm

    Arriving a little late to the party, are we, JamesG?

  • Conard // Oct 24th 2007 at 9:00 pm

    The fact that Stossel trots out *four* of them, while the IPCC report is based on the work of *thousands*, ought to tell you something.

    It tells me that I am awfully glad that you are not in the TV business :-) Can you imagine anything more boring than hearing from one nerd after another.

    The bottom line is that Stossel got you to watch and I assume that you have or will watch CNN’s Planet In Peril. I may trade in my nerd kit for an advertising gig.


  • jonathan // Oct 25th 2007 at 1:19 am

    Your criticisms of Stossel also applies to Gore. When judged on an unbiased standard, both are an assortment of half truths presented in a context which plays up the world view of their proponents.

  • NeuvoLiberal // Oct 25th 2007 at 1:51 am

    Hi Tamino, here’s a question. If earth’s atmosphere had no CO2 whatsoever, would it possibly settle into a snowball state (cf. Chapter 3 of Prof. Raypierre’s book)? I am thinking that it would. Is it possible to setup a deck for modelE to run under this hypothetical scenario? Or perhaps explore the “equilibrium” scenarios for this case by working out by hand?

    Regarding the popular “Vostok lag” denialism, turning to this remark at “We cannot explain the temperature observations without CO2“. The lag between temperature and CO2,
    I think that elaborating on this particular point and clarifying with quantitative explanation could be very helpful. I was looking at the votok ice core date around the period when the warming spell went underway some 17-18K years ago, and I don’t see a whole lot of “lag”, but I do note that the CO2 record is of much courser grain than that of temperature.

    In terms of my own study of the subject here is where the buck currently stops for me: “that removing the effect of CO2 reduces the net LW absorbed by ~14%“, The CO2 problem in 6 easy steps. The main question is how can one ascertain the “14%” figure here. The two papers cited there (ones by Ramanathan/Coakley’79 and Clough/Iacono’95) are not easily accessible sources. Is there an online source that works out the details to establish this claim is a lucid and thorough manner? I’ve looked in Dr. Weart’s online book The Discovery of Global Warming (chapter Basic Radiation Calculations) but couldn’t the the treatment that I was looking for.

    Thanks for your help and your excellent posts on this blog.

  • DWPittelli // Oct 25th 2007 at 2:02 am

    So are you claiming that the San Diego fires and Atlanta drought are due to AGW, or are you not? (Pardon my cynicism, but it seems to me that you carefully used deliberate ambiguity on that to have it both ways.) If so, do you know of any evidence that US regional droughts are more common in the last 20 years than in, say, 1870-1890 or other periods?

    And wouldn’t you likewise need some evidence that the current period is more droughty or otherwise harmful than the cooler ~1870s, if you are rationally to presume that another temperature increase of comparable magnitude to 1870-2007 would make droughts/harm more likely?

  • John Cross // Oct 25th 2007 at 3:06 am

    DW asks “do you know of any evidence that US regional droughts are more common in the last 20 years than in, say, 1870-1890 or other periods?”


  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 25th 2007 at 3:21 am

    John Cross, I’m confused. Today’s climate is supposed to be so much warmer than the MWP, yet the droughts in the US were worse then compared to now?

  • elspi // Oct 25th 2007 at 3:48 am

    AGW is supposed to increase the amount of rainfall (over the whole globe).

  • Hank Roberts // Oct 25th 2007 at 3:49 am

    Local versus global.

  • cody // Oct 25th 2007 at 6:57 am

    Clearly the mechanism by which CO2 allegedly works to produce warming, by feedback, cannot produce runaway warming or the planet would indeed be much warmer than it is.

    The question was a simple one. Its not disputed that there is a gap of some hundreds of years between CO2 rises and the subsequent warmings. Nevertheless, CO2 is supposed to have caused those warmings. The explanation is supposed to be that a small rise in CO2 caused a small rise in temperature. This small rise then caused a rise in water vapour, and also caused more CO2 to be released. This in turn caused temperatures to rise further.

    Well, fine. Its perfectly plausible, but its a theory. Now what is the evidence? Do the paleo records in fact show this initial small rise in CO2? Could someone please show the evidence for this?

    Second, if very small rises in temperature (which are the real drivers) cause large subsequent warmings, why are there so many small rises of temperature in the record, and so few large ones?

    Finally, what is it that stops the rise, because the rises are followed by falls. Is there any evidence that it is falling levels of CO2 that cause the temperature to fall again? This bears on the prescription for arresting the current alleged warming by lowering atmospheric CO2. What is the evidence from the record that this is likely to have the desired effect? Has it had it in the past?

    The evidence for the MWP being global not regional can be found on CO2science:

    I would make one other point. Calling each other simpletons does not add to clarity. Rhetoric about bad faith of opponents does not add to arguments’ force. Could we just stick to the facts dammit?

  • Andrew Dodds // Oct 25th 2007 at 8:35 am

    Cody -

    First, the T-CO2 lag [for deglaciations] is given as ‘800+-800′ years; there is indeed dispute about the amount of lag or even the existance of such a lag.

    (A cynic may suggest that ’skeptics’ seem to lose their skepticism the moment a bit of data looks like it might support them, but I digress).

    Second, deglaciations are driven, according to our best knowledge, initially by changes in the amount of Northern Hemisphere summer insolation; ice-albedo feedback and CO2-feedback help with this. Is is NOT suggested that it is primarialy driven by CO2.

    So you won’t find the evidence of small initial rises.. since they are not present.

    As far as what stops the rise in the glacial/interglacial cycle, the ice-albedo feedback is self-limiting as the ice runs out. Only if you are claiming that the whole process is dominated by CO2 (which is very much contrary to standard scientific models) would your question on lowering CO2 need to be answered. Remember that there is no reason why CO2 has to explain every change in climate.

  • JamesG // Oct 25th 2007 at 10:06 am

    JRE - Party?
    It’s not that simple. You perhaps don’t know that these orbital/solar fluctuations are considered too weak to have caused climate change, which is why an amplifier was sought. Petit concluded that GHG’s were the amplifier and that was accepted. However, they cannot amplify a cooling effect - they can only retard it. Lag or no lag nobody has ever tried to describe a cooling amplifier: They just ignore it, like Tamino, and talk only about the heating part. Hence it is still half a theory. It’s silly to state (as many do) that the GHG’s are a strong feedback to an initial weak forcing causing rising temperatures because it directly presumes that the weak forcing becomes strong enough to overcome that strong feedback later on to cause cooling. Now there are perhaps some arguments for the cooling but still nobody bothers. So does this half-theory displace the more obvious, complete theory that the GHG’s are actually a weak amplifier and indeed compared to other amplifiers - albedo, water vapour - (which don’t lag by 1000 years) it is likely insignificant? In fact, Stott’s recent work supports the weak CO2 theory.

    I really don’t know how you connected 20th century aerosol emissions to the ice-age cycles.

    Note that Battery Park is actually built on reclaimed land. Yes it’s amazing what we can do! The evidence shows we can cope with any long-term change. Sudden changes like high winds and seismic events are the real challenge for buildings.

  • JamesG // Oct 25th 2007 at 10:21 am

    Hank Roberts
    Weather versus climate.

  • Dan // Oct 25th 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Is that an elastic definition and interpretation of MWP I see at

  • luminous beauty // Oct 25th 2007 at 2:26 pm


    “Nevertheless, CO2 is supposed to have caused those warmings.

    Not true. Under natural circumstances CO2 is a feedback, not a forcing.

    The Milankovich cycles of the Earth’s orbit (eccentricity, axial tilt and progression) are understood to be the cause initially triggering inter-glacial warming during the recent ice-age eras. Melting ice increases the temperature more by lowering the planetary albedo, heating the oceans, which then release CO2, which then contributes to warming in the feedback cycle you describe.

    CO2 only becomes an initiating cause of warming when some outside agency (human industrial output) pumps a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere that would not naturally occur.

    co2science lies, distorts and mis-represents a lot. Many of the papers that they say support a global MWP do no such thing.

  • luminous beauty // Oct 25th 2007 at 3:05 pm


    …”nobody has ever tried to describe a cooling amplifier: They just ignore it…

    The principle mechanism by which the gradual cooling following the relatively abrupt inter-glacial warming is generally understood to be mostly biotic sequestration of CO2. That is where all the petroleum and coal, the burning of which is the source of CO2 which we are now returning to the atmosphere, comes from.

    I hope that helps.

  • Luke Silburn // Oct 25th 2007 at 4:10 pm

    JamesG - The reason no-one is describing a ‘cooling amplifier’ as a counterpart to the CO2 ?warming amplifier’ is that there is no evidence in the Pleistocene record that one exists.

    The C02 amplification which occurs as a response to a Milankovitch warming pulse at the start of a deglaciation happens fairly quickly in geological terms and stops when the easily accessible stocks of carbon (in the ocean chiefly) are depleted. This takes something on the order of 3-5 thousand years to play out.

    At this point you have a warmer world, an elevated CO2 level in the atmosphere and have reached a new thermal maximum for the interglacial. The orbital forcings continue to change and the carbon cycle continues to operate however, so CO2 is slowly (when compared to the deglaciation release) sequestered from the atmosphere and the milankovitch parameters gradually cycle towards a configuration that favours reglaciation. This generally takes on the order of 10-20 thousand years to get to a point where the interglacial is deemed to be over (although the current interglacial is thought to be unusually long for the Pleistocene and is projected to last about 40k years in total). The transition from an interglacial to glacial is much less abrupt than the other way around however, so there doesn’t appear to be a tipping point going from warmer to colder; just a gradual shift of underlying factors playing out in precessional time. As a result global temperatures (and CO2 levels) continue to trend downwards through the subsequent glaciation – which can last up to 100 thousand years.

    This scheme gives you the characteristic sawtooth pattern of glaciation/deglaciation that can be seen in the Pleistocene record, with ‘rapid’ (~5k year) deglaciations and ’slow’ (~100k years) relaxations back to the default glaciated climate regime for our current configuration of continents.

    Elevated CO2 levels will act to retard a cooling initiated by the Milankovitch forcings, and indeed anthropogenic CO2 will almost certainly extend the already unusually long Holocene interglacial; but given that the elevated CO2 levels are being steadily removed from the atmosphere (helping to restock those reserves of easily accessible carbon for the next deglaciation), eventually the Milankovitch forcings will overwhelm the dampening effect of the remaining CO2 in the atmosphere and a new glaciation will start.


  • JamesG // Oct 25th 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks but it doesn’t. You describe the gradual cooling which occurs after the abrupt start of cooling, but not the cooling amplifier which is necessary (by this theory) to initiate cooling in the first place from a relatively weak forcing. Note that GHG saturation doesn’t cut it either because that would show a gradual change, not a sudden shift. I have a theory but I’d like to have seen someone else at least tackle it. Anyway I thought the gradual cooling may have been a demonstration of the retardation effect of the GHG’s.

  • Ohg Rea Tone // Oct 25th 2007 at 9:01 pm

    Hey Tamino.
    This is a really nice blog and the particular post is exceptional - I hear your anger about misrepresenting facts. I studied climate change in 1995 at UMKC - before I was aware of Gore’s position. In 1995 about 95% of the scientific community was on board - they all agreed that man is affecting climate - the only debate was ‘how much?’ Even at two degrees, Kansas becomes like Texas; South Dakota will be new new ‘wheat belt.’ The problem, as you note, is that the rapidness of change will catch us with our shorts down and we will not adapt quickly enough. If the oceans rise and flood the coastal cities those people will not drown - the will move to the midwest and land values will skyrocket. On and on. Tamino - we agree with you.
    Ohg Rea Tone.

  • Ohg Rea Tone // Oct 26th 2007 at 12:44 am

    Hey tamino
    I wrote a post just for you - thank you for bringing to our attention the need to be clear. You are doing a great job in the fight for sanity.
    Ohg Rea Tone

  • JamesG // Oct 26th 2007 at 10:52 am

    Thanks for that explanation but I still have trouble with the following line:
    “eventually the Milankovitch forcings will overwhelm the dampening effect of the remaining CO2 in the atmosphere”
    The trouble here is that the radiative changes of the Milankovitch forcings have long been considered by scientists to be far too small to achieve a climate shift on their own. An amplifier has always been postulated as being necessary. Hence the line “weak forcing - strong amplifier” which is trotted out by climatologists worldwide. So if they need an amplifier for the heating then they most certainly also need an amplifier for the cooling otherwise the theory is useless.

    Now I agree with you that the cooling amplifier isn’t apparently there. Hence the whole theory is total nonsense and somehow the wobbling axis alone must provide the climate shift without needing an amplifier either in heating or cooling. I go with the postulation that it was probably convective changes (ie wind/ocean currents) that caused the climate shifts, which must therefore have been local, and temperatures must have balanced out globally. I think that makes more sense don’t you?

    [Response: It may surprise you to learn this, but the global total change in incoming solar energy due to obliquity changes (tilt of the axis) is *zero*. It only changes the geographic distribution on solar insolation; greater obliquity gives more energy to the poles and less to the equatorial regions. This reduces snow and ice cover, causing *ice-albedo feedback.* As soon as the heating/cooling gets going, water-vapor feedback kicks in, and some time after that CO2 feedback as well.]

  • JamesG // Oct 27th 2007 at 9:23 am

    Thanks for the reminder but I said “radiative changes” due to the tilt. Overall increases and decreases in radiation would happen from orbital shifts of course. Bear in mind I was only quoting the original theory of Petit, which was later modified when the lag was discovered, but some climatologists still refer to this weak forcing - strong feedback idea - eg Kevin Trenberth recently did so in the Nature blog - despite it now being nonsensical. However I agree with the mechanism you describe but of course it is still a theory which has holes in it. Some scientists are still searching for a climate forcing which would explain ice ages at both poles at the same time: It’s not settled science by any means. And of course the extent of the CO2 feedback is still pure guesswork, which Lowell Stott has been trying to shed some light on. Hence anyone alluding to a well-established CO2 feedback effect in the ice-age cycles is just spreading misinformation.

  • san quintin // Oct 27th 2007 at 10:14 am

    Cooling is driven by reduced summer melting of snow at high northern latitudes. The increased albedo and elevation of the ice mass begins to slowly initiate regional and then continental glaciation.

  • luminous beauty // Oct 27th 2007 at 2:36 pm


    Everything we know about the past before there was a well quantified instrumental record is guesswork. Including, and perhaps especially what we know from historical texts.

    Therefore, according to you, it is all misinformation.

    Have you asked Lowell Stott about your characterization of his research? I’d bet you’d blow his socks off.

  • Nickster // Oct 28th 2007 at 1:31 am

    Luminous Beauty: You say “Many of the papers that they say support a global MWP do no such thing.” I am new to this discussion, and want to understand the key issues. Can you please explain the compelling evidence that says that there was NO global MWP. Thanks.

    And while I am here, I understand that IPCC says that a doubling of CO2 levels in atmosphere will lead to a global warming of 2.5Deg C. I would like to see the basic scientific papers that prove this.

    Also, it seems that there is an assumption that global warming leads to an increase in the incidence of drought. Is it proven that there is a correlation between warming and droughts? Do we understand the causes of drought? I would have thought that droughts are much more to do with precipitation or lack of it than temperature changes. Do we understand the relationship of precipitation with rising temperature? I have seen it argued that warming should increase the evaporation of water into the atmosphere, thus increasing, not decreasing, precipitation.

    Appreciate your wise guidance and help.

  • san quintin // Oct 28th 2007 at 10:45 am

    Nickster. Soon and Balliunas tried to demonstrate the global extent of the MWP a few years ago….and did an extraordinarily bad job. For climate sensitivity….where to start? Try Arrhenius first of all.

  • luminous beauty // Oct 28th 2007 at 3:33 pm


    If there is no compelling evidence for a hypothesis, one hardly needs compelling evidence against it.

    As for the ‘greenhouse effect’ and CO2’s modest but significant role, just look at surface temperatures on the moon, where there is no moderating atmosphere. The average is about 33C below Earth average, which very closely agrees with theoretical calculations for thermodynamic equilibrium of the Earth’s basket of GHGs.

    Concerning the inference that increasing the net energy of the troposphere will lead to seasons with fewer and more intense storm events, and thus more extreme flooding and drought, the thinking is much more complex, as is our weather system, than a simplistic notion of ‘more evaporation = more precipitation’.

    As a hint, I’ll just say that some of that heat energy gets converted to mechanical energy driving oceanic and atmospheric circulation, creating distinct weather events in mutable patterns, which if not perfectly and completely understood, nor particularly and specifically predictable, are imperfectly, but reasonably accurately, describable and generally and broadly predictable. Much like one cannot predict with any certainty a single coin toss, but one can predict with some bankable accuracy the result of thousands of coin tosses.

  • caerbannog // Oct 28th 2007 at 11:20 pm

    And while I am here, I understand that IPCC says that a doubling of CO2 levels in atmosphere will lead to a global warming of 2.5Deg C. I would like to see the basic scientific papers that prove this.

    Did it ever occur to you to look at the IPCC reports? Full bibliographic references to all relevant papers are provided in the IPCC documents. If you were really interested in that information, you would have tracked it down yourself.

  • JamesG // Oct 29th 2007 at 4:17 pm

    You misinterpret me, perhaps deliberately. The problem I have is not with our knowledge evolving. And of course people can be wrong. That is science. I have a big problem though with people saying they are 90 to 100% certain about something when in fact they are still guessing - that is misinformation. Worse is when they dogmatically downcry someone else’s theory despite it being rather more logical. Real data decides who is right or wrong and yes that data can include historical texts.

    As far as I can see Lowell Stott is doing experimentation to prove or disprove a theory, regardless of where it leads. Is that a misrepresentation? It doesn’t make him either a doubter or an alarmist - just a real scientist seeking the truth.

  • JamesG // Oct 29th 2007 at 5:07 pm

    San Quintin/Tamino
    Ok got it now thanks. The order of importance to climate change in the past was you say: 1) The sun’s wobbles, 2) albedo changes, 3) H2o feedback, 4) other greenhouse gas feedback.

Leave a Comment