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« And she sounded so nice on the phone | Main | I'm feeling the magic! »

Contrarianism so easily blurs into denialism

Category: Skepticism
Posted on: October 19, 2009 10:51 AM, by PZ Myers

The authors of Freakonomics have a new book out, called Superfreakonomics. It doesn't look promising: a couple of reports have it promoting climate change denialism, which is unfortunate. There are risks in having skepticism with the status quo (which is a good thing all around) when people lurch too far into simply finding excuses to reject everything.

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#1

Posted by: Andrea | October 19, 2009 11:08 AM

That's too bad. I really liked Freakonomics.

#2

Posted by: Cannabinaceae Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 11:12 AM

I advocate using the suffixes "-alism" and "-alist" or variants as a pejorative, to emphasize that the dismissal is intended, as in:

denialism, denialist rather than denying or denier.

I also recommend the term "knee-jerk," as in "knee-jerk denialism" as you get to use the word "jerk" and people will clearly get your intention, even as you are accurately describing the behavior.

Furthermore, I also recommend dismissing denialists' playing for "free contrarian points," as just moving the mouth up and down, exhaling, and modulating the sound stream into something like "na-na-na" generates the audience hypothesis that the speaker is somehow smarter or better informed than the person retailing the factual material with a coherent interpretation.

#3

Posted by: Glen Davidson Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 11:13 AM

Bitching about the actual science and scholarship of others is nothing at all like skepticism, at least as it has been historically construed (I'm not discussing the old school of philosophy here).

One problem for most of the rabble rousing that is called "skepticism" by the various pseudosciences is that you have to actually understand what you criticize. Then you're skeptical of unsupported claims, not finding fault with the science that you simply don't understand.

Skepticism hasn't traditionally been merely a stance against something, it has been a matter of supporting the honest means at arriving at an answer. Faulting just-so stories and flimsy models is skepticism, while asserting that false dilemmas (think ID) of "if we don't have an immediate answer, god is confirmed" is "skepticism" is a gross mischaracterization of the truth.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

#4

Posted by: toni | October 19, 2009 11:16 AM

I am a big fan of the Freakanomics guys, and I find it hard to believe they would go there without the numbers to back it up. I'll hold out until I read it myself.

#5

Posted by: James F | October 19, 2009 11:17 AM

Did Rick James write the foreword?

#6

Posted by: Mike | October 19, 2009 11:22 AM

I highly recommend Joe Romm's Blog (climateprogress.org) for the whole story. It sounds like the chapter is mostly not flat-out denial, but instead takes the delayer position: that acting to curb greenhouse gasses is too hard and won't make a difference anyways so we should just keep polluting now and save our climate later by pumping sulfur into the atmosphere through an 18 mile tube. It's sad that such influential journalists as Dubner and Levitt would totally not even try to do their homework on this one.

#7

Posted by: nedlum | October 19, 2009 11:23 AM

I read the advanced. Basically, they use a bunch of common canards (1970's "global cooling", CO2 normally lags rather than leads, water vapor) as a lead-in to their argument that countering the effects of CO2 by sending sulfur into the upper atmosphere would be a cheaper, easier, and fairer fix for the problem than trying to cut CO2 emissions.

It's a good argument, which they killed by introducing it with bad background data. Framing strikes again!

#8

Posted by: Cannabinaceae Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 11:26 AM

A further note is that warming is not the only effect of CO2; ocean acidification is a possibly worse outcome of excess carbon in the atmosphere, and even more difficult to address.

#9

Posted by: Knockgoats | October 19, 2009 11:27 AM

Neoclassical economists turn out to be shameless liars exclusively interested in money and indifferent to the harm they cause.

In other news, the Pope is rumoured to be a Catholic, and bears are accused of defecating in woods.

#10

Posted by: Pareidolius | October 19, 2009 11:31 AM

@Glen D

Skepticism hasn't traditionally been merely a stance against something, it has been a matter of supporting the honest means at arriving at an answer.

That's going up on my office wall to remind me where I've been and where I want to go. I wrote a post in the thread about Maher the other day where I reached the same conclusion in a much less compact and elegant way. As a former magical-thinker, in order for me to embrace critical thinking I had to do battle with emotional demons that found nourishment in woo and contrarianism. The contrarian/magical-thinker is always promoting what to think, the critical-thinker, how.

Thanks to all the posters here for the daily schooling, I come for the snarky frosting, but I stay for the rational cake.

#11

Posted by: Knockgoats | October 19, 2009 11:32 AM

their argument that countering the effects of CO2 by sending sulfur into the upper atmosphere would be a cheaper, easier, and fairer fix for the problem than trying to cut CO2 emissions.

It's a good argument - nedlum

No it isn't:
1) We don't know what unintended climatic effects this would have - e.g. it could shift rainfall patterns, with potentially disastrous effects.
2) We would have to keep it up for a very long period, at least unless an effective means of extracting CO2 from the air was found.
3) The big one: the other huge problem with CO2 levels: acidification of the oceans.

#12

Posted by: Zabinatrix Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 11:33 AM

My biggest problem with the AGW-denialists is that so many of them really, really don't seem to have skepticism - not even their kind of exaggerated and misguided skepticism - as a goal. It seems to be more about misdirection.

When I was in school we kids were taught a lot about protecting the environment and about conservationism. Global warming wasn't really in vogue yet then, so it wasn't mentioned very much. What we did see was pictures of baby seals covered in crude oil, pictures of now extinct species from rain forests we've cut down and so on.

We also talked a lot about the fact that certain resources are finite (or, at least effectively finite since they form on geological timescales) so wee need to preserve them. We were taught that our entire economy and society today rests completely and utterly on the fact that we have oil, coal and uranium - once we run out of those we are in really big trouble if we haven't come up with good enough new things yet.

Things like that are all very, very good and valid arguments for environmentalism. But the whole issue of global warming denialism has taken the focus away from those things almost completely.

Whenever - and I do pretty much mean whenever - I've seen any discussion about preserving the environment, someone comes in and says "You eco-nuts! You polar bear-worshipers! Haven't you read book X yet? Don't you know that global warming is a lie? It's just the anti-oil company agenda trying to keep you down!" or something to that effect.

It doesn't matter if they're talking about using less oil to use up less oil or reduce toxins in the air, or if they're talking about bans on whale-hunting. It seems like every single environmental argument can now be brought completely off track by someone coming in to say "You're all idiots - global warming is a lie!"

Bah. That was a long rant on a tangent - I apologize.

But my point is that there are plenty of reasons to preserve the environment. In my experience the society in general used to talk more about all the different reasons. Now we talk almost exclusively about global warming and since some people deny that GW is happening they see this as an excuse to not care about the environment at all. And I think that this is the conscious or unconscious aim of many of the people who bring "global warming is a lie" into every discussion. They simply want a good excuse not to care about the only environment we can live in.

#13

Posted by: Matt Penfold | October 19, 2009 11:40 AM

There was the same problem with Fred Hoyle.

He could be a contrary bastard, and it was not always easy to tell when he was saying something stupid about biology whether he genuinely believed what he was saying, or was just saying to wind up biologists.

A number of our commentators seem to have the same problem.

#14

Posted by: rimpal | October 19, 2009 11:42 AM

Dubner and Leavitt did a good job following the data with the first book. Although I have a problem accepting that economics can be reduced to the action of incentives, I found some of the cases cited better than trivial. It also helped that they were taking on the quackonomics crowd of chamber of commerce groupies and nth amendment cranks who aren't known to recognize a square root if it bit them in the wazoo. This time they have taken on scientists, so they better watch out. Economists work best when they approach the numbers and the business of theory formation respectfully. Not when they try to tug on Superman's cape.

#15

Posted by: 'Tis Himself Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 11:44 AM

While Freakonomics was fun reading, there was one major problem with it. It did not depend on the model building and analyses of structural features that usually make up economic research. Instead, economist Steven Levitt's method was to deploy a behavioral model that focused on individual decision-making. The strategy, repeated in each chapter, was to find a situation with colorful particulars (sumo wrestling, crack dealing in the projects) and then to reveal the core rationality that animated all players. Surface eclecticism belied an elemental monomania. Levitt's predictive arguments were all based on the idea that human action was oriented, rationally, toward achieving positive incentives and avoiding negative sanctions. Fellow Chicago economist Gary Becker bequeathed this meager conceptualization of human nature to economics in the 1970s.

Levitt, far from being a maverick, was Becker's heir. Freakonomics was so reliant on the doctrine of incentives that the authors described it as their unifying theme: a self-your self, my self, anyone's—is driven by a calculative rationality, bent on achieving an imputed version of the good life. Their introduction announces their intention to continue Adam Smith's project from his Theory of Moral Sentiments, to understand how the individual's self-interest might be reconciled with "the greater moral plane." They shelved this ambition straightaway, but their invocation of Smith hinted at the flaw in their blithe assumptions about the rationality of everyone at all times.

Smith argued that the best hope for restraining human selfishness lay in our essential sociability. He hoped that sympathy, the ability to extend one's self to inhabit another's predicament, would give pause to rapacious profit-seekers. Levitt and Dubner weren't interested in restraint of the rapacious, but they do rely on Smith as they make free with imputations of maximized utility. They assumed that they can pretty well guess the optimal outcome to any situation for any social actor, from a 1940s Klansman to a teenage resident of Chicago public housing, to a primary-school teacher who inflated her students' scores on standardized tests. No matter who was doing what whenever in world history, they were still doing what any rational human being must and exactly what Levitt and Dubner would do in the same situation.

Levitt's calculating individual was the ideal subject of neocon economic reform, in particular the expansion of the market into all possible areas of life. The neocons' "ownership society" is based in just such a fictitious understanding of the individual as Levitt offers. Neocons take their slogan from shareholder prospectuses. Their programs involve predictable amendments to federal pension plans and tax codes. These initiatives hail an entrepreneurial subject who is willing to negotiate various markets in the course of providing for their needs and wants. If someone promises to make it easier for you to own a home, then what does it matter if you or anyone else has a right to shelter?

These policies, of course, cut the tottering legs out from under what remains of the welfare state. This once-vast edifice is based on a very different grasp of human motivation. Levitt can't tell us anything about it. Gifts to strangers in social life are beyond his rational actor's paltry reach. Forms of exchange that involve imagining oneself as a member of a group that shares a common destiny fall outside even his passing reference to "moral" incentives.

But there are some goods that have no exchange value, they are so valuable they cannot be priced. Once citizens of wealthy nations managed to conceive of ourselves in a way that supported the provision of these vitally mundane goods, for instance protecting the elderly from destitution or ensuring children have a basic education. Political rhetoric and social policy invoked us as bearers of a societal self-concept. (Race and gender are two points of difference on which the communal ideal foundered badly.) The societal self is based, perhaps, more on an ideal of empathy than one of sympathy. But empathy and solidarity are not on Levitt's map. Society would require formulating some idea, however unspecific, of a shared human condition. It doesn't entail mystical notions of universality; nor does it invite us to project our notions of best utility onto strangers. Western welfare states were designed to ameliorate the harshness of capitalist accumulation processes. The quality of society merely asks us to recognize that everyone is subject to the grim downsides of markets, whether our retirement savings disappeared with the market crash or the local labor market has no call for our skills.

Levitt and Dubner reveal an implicit vision of a social contract when they suggest that it is possible to manage incentives properly so that they "would seem to be nicely aligned" between all parties to a contract. The simultaneous (but not mutual) pursuit of solitary self-interest will suffice as a contemporary version of Smith's "greater moral plane." The relation of market exchange is probably all Freakonomic Man can manage.

Without needing to follow Levitt and Dubner on their fieldtrips (where they invariably find confirmation of the assumptions they have brought with them), we can recognize in ourselves that we both already are and can be other kinds of people than the rational maximizers described by Levitt and Dubner. And let's make better popular expertise! The well-being of nations is now measured in economic terms, and other social scientists run behind, furiously adding up the social costs. Emile Durkheim had to argue that there was a terrain of the social, distinct from individuals, and now we have to do it all over again. Max Weber, contractor of at least one duel, never did anyone the injury of assuming them merely rational.

#16

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 11:51 AM

I'm afraid this chapter is so bad that it falls under Pauli's ultimate condemnation of "so bad it's not even wrong." It's clear that they didn't bother to consult any actual climate scientists at all. They utterly ignore ocean acidification. They utterly ignore the FACT that there are nearly a dozen separate lines of evidence constraining CO2 climate sensitivity.

What I really love, though, is that denialists love to trash climate models--implying that we don't understand the effects of CO2. And then they advocate an aerosol-based solution. In fact, aerosols are among the least understood forcings and CO2 among the best. I have yet to see a denialist argument that wasn't either massivly ignorant or massively mendacious.

#17

Posted by: Matt Penfold | October 19, 2009 11:55 AM

I have yet to see a denialist argument that wasn't either massivly ignorant or massively mendacious.

You can add hugely egotistical as well. It takes a good deal of arrogance to assume you know more than the majority of the world's climate scientists.

#18

Posted by: Jean Paul | October 19, 2009 12:02 PM

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/18/global-warming-in-superfreakonomics-the-anatomy-of-a-smear/


Well look at this. It seems Joe Romm is the one who perhaps has his facts wrong.

"Last week, a few days before Romm’s post, Caldeira sent an e-mail to Myhrvold and cc’d me as well. It included a chain of earlier e-mails between Caldeira and Romm.

The chain begins with Joseph Romm telling Caldeira that he had read SuperFreakonomics and “I want to trash them for this insanity and ignorance.” Romm adds that “my blog is read by everyone in this area, including the media” and tells Caldeira that “I’d like a quote like ‘The authors of SuperFreakonomics have utterly misrepresented my work,’ plus whatever else you want to say.”

I understand that blogging, especially advocacy blogging, doesn’t operate under the rules of journalism (where you don’t feed quotes to people), but still: that’s quite a quote to feed to someone.

Caldeira didn’t give him the quote. He did, however, respond point-by-point to a series of statements about him in the book. “The only significant error,” he wrote to Romm, “is the line: ‘carbon dioxide is not the right villain in this fight.’ That is just wrong and I never would have said it. On the other hand, I f&@?ed up. They sent me the draft and I approved it without reading it carefully and I just missed it. … I think everyone operated in good faith, and this was just a mistake that got by my inadequate editing.”

Romm still managed to get his point across, in the headline and elsewhere:

“One sentence about Caldeira in particular is the exact opposite of what he believes (page 184): ‘Yet his research tells him that carbon dioxide is not the right villain in this fight.’ Levitt and Dubner didn’t run this quote by Caldeira, and when he saw a version from Myhrvold, he objected to it.”

Except of course Caldeira did see that line, and the rest of the chapter too, not once but twice. "

#19

Posted by: Luis Dias | October 19, 2009 12:03 PM

"They utterly ignore ocean acidification."

It has come down to this. I thought the debate was about global warming, and now I come to Pharyngula and realise that it is all about ocean acidification. Wow! Perhaps the Freakonomic guys are on to something.

And PZ, many bad points to you for spreading a rumour about malfeasance by some authors while not even pretending to have read it. This is utterly bad behavior from you.

#20

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:03 PM

Pumping sulfur into the atmosphere. Guess what sulfur forms? First sulfur dioxide, then sulfurous acid, then sulfuric acid. Talk about ocean acidification problems. Then, what planet has sulfuric acid high in the atmosphere? Our runaway greenhouse effect neighbor Venus. The stupidity, it hurts...

#21

Posted by: Steve LaBonne Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:03 PM

Chicago economics is snake oil (and a disgrace to the great university whose reputation it has besmirched). It is based on a toy model of human psychology that is ludicrously unrealistic, and at some level known even to its adepts to be ludicrously unrealistic. It is also much more a system of justification of wealth and privilege than anything deserving to be called a system of thought. So nobody should be surprised that this kind of manure would emanate from it. Producing such stuff (and purveying it to the gullible) is exactly what Chicago economics is for.

#22

Posted by: Hyperon Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:04 PM

One reason why contrarianism can so easily morph into climate change denialism is that there is definitely a sort of religious mentality surrounding the culture of global warming, even though the science of global warming is pretty much watertight. Scientists like Freeman Dyson, who accept global warming but express reasonable reservations (such as questioning the reliability of climate simulations), are roundly rejected as cranks. A significant chunk of vociferously green liberals have no clue whatsoever about the science of global warming, perhaps beyond what they saw in the Al Gore documentary; they only know that culturally, denialism is a big no-no (at least in liberal communities). It's entirely natural that many contrarians -- especially ones who don't know much physical science and have been unable to make headway in understanding the relevant science -- will find it safe to assume that global warming, like affirmative action, is one of those dogmas that we're not supposed to question.

The best thing to do when faced with denialists of the intellectual disposition is to simply lay out the science before them, in a calm and dispassionate fashion. If that has no effect, only then is it fair to start questioning their honesty.

#23

Posted by: Jean Paul | October 19, 2009 12:04 PM

"You can add hugely egotistical as well. It takes a good deal of arrogance to assume you know more than the majority of the world's climate scientists."

What about the arrogance of criticizing something without examining it for yourself?

#24

Posted by: B.B. | October 19, 2009 12:05 PM

There were problems with the original Freakonomics as well, such as the claims that abortion was responsible for a reduction in the crime-rate. See Steven Levitt debate the issue with Steve Sailer here.

#26

Posted by: Knockgoats | October 19, 2009 12:08 PM

I thought the debate was about global warming, and now I come to Pharyngula and realise that it is all about ocean acidification. - Luis Dias

Don't blame me for your ignorance, arsehole.

#27

Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:09 PM

There were problems with the original Freakonomics as well, such as the claims that abortion was responsible for a reduction in the crime-rate. See Steven Levitt debate the issue with Steve Sailer here.

somewhat OT but inline with your comment...

Yeah, my other favorite argument that is forwarded by Chuck Colson is that abortion is responsible for illegal immigrants.


#28

Posted by: Matt Penfold | October 19, 2009 12:12 PM

Clearly Luis Dias does not know much about climatology if he does not know the central role oceans play in climate.

Quite why he thinks we need to know about his ignorance escapes me though. Many "bad points" to him for talking bollocks I think.

#29

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:12 PM

Luis Dias says, "I thought the debate was about global warming,"

Let me try to explain this to you in simple words. Changing the composition in the atmosphere can pose MULTIPLE THREATS. The fact that we have to be concerned about MULTIPLE THREATS, does not decrease the severity of any single one. Got that, moron?

#30

Posted by: Knockgoats | October 19, 2009 12:15 PM

Scientists like Freeman Dyson, who accept global warming but express reasonable reservations (such as questioning the reliability of climate simulations), are roundly rejected as cranks. - Hyperon

Dyson knows fuck-all about climate science. The sensitivity of the climate to increased CO2 is well constrained by paleoclimatic evidence.

What about the arrogance of criticizing something without examining it for yourself? - Jean Paul

It is abundantly clear that is what these authors have done - if indeed, they are not simply lying for money. The stupid canard about scientists warning of global cooling in the '70s is enough to establish that.

#31

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:17 PM

Oh dear. I guess I'm about to put my foot in it but having a certain amount of expertise in mathematical modeling and computer simulations I have to concur that most of the models being used today generate total crap. On the statistical side the claimed accuracy of a lot of the multi-proxy temperature reconstructions are not well supported particularly things like the alkynone-37 studies. The review by the Academy of Sciences was not kind. Climatology appears to be one of those areas where asking questions or criticizing methodology is sadly, not allowed.

#32

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:25 PM

Hyperon, Have you bothered to read Dyson on this subject? He's as nutty as a fruitcake. He thinks well all be saved by genetically engineered, carbon-gobbling trees--a classical example of a physicist reaching well outside his area of expertise. Likewise, the criticism he has heaped on climate models is equally ill considered.

Here's a clue: Dyson is a theoretical physicist. He is NOT an expert in atmospheric physics, radiative physics, ocean physics or any other related field. He has not bothered to devote the time necessary to understand this very complicated subject.

Your suggestion that of "religious zeal" by those concerned about climate change suggests that you are similarly ignorant. If you are interested, I can point you to resources where you can actually learn the science and see why those that have are concerned--or you can continue to live in your libertarian fantasy world.

#33

Posted by: mck9 Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:26 PM

According to the link cited by Jean Paul in #18, the book in question hasn't been published yet. It will be released tomorrow, and Romm was evidently working from an advance copy.

It's unlikely that anyone on this blog has had a chance to read the supposedly offending chapter. Instead, we have a second-hand report from someone who allegedly set out to do a hatchet job. I submit that it's way premature to accuse the Freakonomists of GW denialism before we can know what they actually said.

Of course, anything they have said that is already publicly available is fair game.

#34

Posted by: Knockgoats | October 19, 2009 12:29 PM

Peter G.,
Well, frankly, I'll go with those who have actual expertise in the area of climate science, and whose publications I can read, rather than an anonymous commenter who claims some remotely relevant knowledge, and can't even be bothered to give proper references when rubbishing the area.

#35

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:31 PM

Peter G., So, care to actually cite a peer-reviewed study to back you up? Or you can actually give a real reference to your "National Academy study" so we can prove you are a liar.
There is not one position paper from a recognized professional society or honorific society that disagrees substantively with the consensus science. Prove me wrong, asshat.

#36

Posted by: amphiox Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:34 PM

This is the reason why I never assert that the appeal to authority is an invalid argument. It's a short-cut for when you don't have the knowledge or expertise to properly evaluate a claim on your own, nor the time or resources to obtain that expertise.

It is as reliable as the authority you choose. The tricking is choosing the right one.

#37

Posted by: Jadehawk, OM | October 19, 2009 12:34 PM

1)It's comments like #15 that earned you the OM, 'Tis Himself :-)


2)Completely OT, but Knockgoats deserves a big, fat, sloppy kiss for the book-pimping he did a while back. It's an Epic read.

#38

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:37 PM

Well Knockgoats, if you were at all familiar with climate modeling then you would know that these models are eminently testable. All such models are time invariant and if accurate should be able to predict the known past as well as an evolving future. Kindly cite one that can do that. I am aware of none. Frankly I doubt you've read any of the papers or you would know this.

#39

Posted by: Matt Penfold | October 19, 2009 12:40 PM

The authors of Superfreakonomics argue that geo-engineering will solve the problem of climate change.

Can any of those informing us that the climate models we have are "crap" explain how we can have any certainty what will happen should we engage in deliberate geo-engineering. Of those models are crap how can we possibly know what will happen if we pump sulphur into the atmosphere ?

#40

Posted by: amphiox Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:41 PM

"He thinks we'll all be saved by genetically engineered, carbon-gobbling trees"

Yeah. That's exactly the kind of thing we need! We need to develop a new carbon-sequestration industry, where it will become profitable to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere and use it to manufacture non-biodegradable, plastic-like products that will be stable for at least a billion years! Then we'll all get rich! Rich I tellsya, rich! (Or in the case of North Americans, richer!) And we won't have to change a thing about our lifestyles, or make any sacrifices!

And when the population density reaches one person per square meter, we can pile all that plastic up to increase the circumference (and thus surface area) of the earth!

Yeah, that's the ticket!

#41

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:43 PM

Peter G., You don't have the foggiest notion what you are talking about. The models have been tested:

http://bartonpaullevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

#42

Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:46 PM

Dyson is a theoretical physicist. He is NOT an expert in atmospheric physics, radiative physics, ocean physics or any other related field. He has not bothered to devote the time necessary to understand this very complicated subject.

I hear he makes one hell of a vacuum too.

#43

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:48 PM

The Rev says, "I hear he makes one hell of a vacuum too."

Well, while I like Dyson in general, on this subject, he definitely sucks!

#44

Posted by: Brian D | October 19, 2009 12:49 PM

(hoping this shows up)

I maintain the second link in PZ's post. It's a collection of critiques of the climate chapter.

For the record, the climate chapter is available for download from Brad DeLong's website. I link to it above.

#45

Posted by: Alverant Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:53 PM

In my experience most of the denialism about climate change comes from the fact that admitting its existence means:
1) People will have to accept responsibility for their actions
2) Businesses will have to start cleaning up the pollution they generate and that costs money.
It's no coincidence that religious conservatives are common in both groups.

#46

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:57 PM

It is so sad that people who pretend to cherish knowledge and science behave like a pack of creationists the first time anybody asks a question that might ever so slightly vary from their belief system. What is particularly interesting is that nowhere did I suggest that I have any serious doubts about the existence of global warming. Pointing out deficiencies in the current state of knowledge is anathema is it? And your tightly reasoned reply is to call people who know better names. May the FSM save us from ignorant science groupies.

#47

Posted by: Kagehi Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 12:58 PM

Hmm. Wonder if they wrote this before, or after the recent MIT article, where they applied "behavioral models", along with the standard climate models which everyone else is using, and concluded that, instead of a 2 degree increase by 2010, it is far more likely that is will be a 5 degree increase by 2010, and that *drastic* measures might make us lucky enough to only get the 2 degree change we where terrified by in the first place.... Oops!

Why is it that denialists in this sphere keep insisting the problem isn't real, when the science keeps suggesting that its not only more complex, but possibly worse than we first thought? Its like if you set something on fire and instead of pointing out that, while arguing over which hose to use, more and more of the building is catching, instead of just the edge of the roof, where it started, the denialist keep insisting that either a) its not burning, b) its not burning as fast as it looks, or c) "it will rain any minute now!"

#48

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:00 PM

For those actually interested in the accuracy and limitations of multi proxy studies feel free to read this: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11676&page=1

#49

Posted by: Steve LaBonne Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:03 PM

Peter G., we're already decades late in addressing an incredibly serious and threatening problem, and the time for toleration of assholes like you who try to continue to gum up the works is WAY past. Fuck you.

#50

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:12 PM

@41 Kindly refer me to any model that accurately predicts the last one hundred years of climate for which data is well established. Make that any ten years. I am fully aware of how one constructs such a program and how one goes about testing it. I very much doubt that anyone here has as much experience as I do in computer modeling of problems in fluid dynamics. Climate models are orders of magnitude more difficult than that already difficult subject. Climate models include all sorts of factors that are not easily susceptible to quantification and have little to do with the equations which govern fluid mechanics on which all models are based. The programs are by their very nature kludges cobbled together and so far their predictive power has been negligible.

#51

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:14 PM

Peter G., Your NAP reference:
1)is 3 years out of date
2)largely validates the results of the reconstructions (strongly for the past 400 years and "highly plausible" for the past 2000)
3)pertains to only one very tiny portion of the evidence (that is, paleoclimate reconstructions)
4)has nothing to do with models.

The subsequent reconstructions are much more robust, and they give the same trends whether or not one includes tree rings. You, sir, are blowing smoke. Got any other references that don't support your position?

#52

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:24 PM

Peter G., I have provided you a list of the successes of climate models. Care to address that, or are you going to ignore it as you have every other argument made to you so far. It would appear yo have a weak grasp of what the models are and how they work. Go learn something:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/

#53

Posted by: Hyperon Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:25 PM

Hyperon, Have you bothered to read Dyson on this subject? He's as nutty as a fruitcake. He thinks well all be saved by genetically engineered, carbon-gobbling trees--a classical example of a physicist reaching well outside his area of expertise.
I see nothing self-evidently absurd about that proposal. The rough calculation he provides seems to indicate that it's plausible. If that's the best justification you can come up with for calling him "as nutty as a fruitcake", I have to wonder whether he's actually not a fruitcake.

Here's a clue: Dyson is a theoretical physicist. He is NOT an expert in atmospheric physics, radiative physics, ocean physics or any other related field. He has not bothered to devote the time necessary to understand this very complicated subject.
Hardly anyone in this thread is an "expert" in any of those fields. This is just a non-argument.

#54

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:33 PM

Hyperon,
You are ignoring the fact that Dyson has not bothered to learn thee relevent science. He is merely assuming that technology will save us. When you can show me a "carbon-gobbling" super tree, maybe I'll give you and Dyson some credence. Until then, kindly do not fuck with the climate of my fucking planet!

#55

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:34 PM

Hyperon, almost everybody here is better acquainted with the real science than you are. You have an agenda. We don't. We follow the evidence. You don't. So, per usual, you have nothing cogent to add to the discussion except your biases.

#56

Posted by: Cerberus Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:40 PM

The problem with contrarianism is that it tries to piggyback on "well known" aspects about liberalism, especially activism. That is it took someone fighting against an accepted wisdom like blacks deserve to be slaves, challenged it, presented evidence, worked on old bigotries until more and more voices saw the truth and unstoppable movements could be formed. The same often occurs in science where the data will show something that changes what we assumed until enough data exists to utterly change the early assumed state of being in the needed ways.

Contrarianism however looks at this process as a magic spell. That it is the act of going against a perceived wisdom, any perceived wisdom, with or without facts, with or without sane skepticism and that doing so will magically cause the spell to form and the better world will arrive.

So they pick anything and being as they are scared of going against actual power, often like to pick liberal activism movements that are finally reaching a high enough level of support to start pushing the needed change, as the "perceived wisdom" and argue for decades past bigotry or bullshit.

You also see the same effect when someone today "fights against the PC culture" to call some minority group some nasty name or to engage in hideous stereotypes, because the "common wisdom" on race or sex or disability "needs to be shook up".

It's deliberately missing the point to make boring old resistance to change look like the type of "good fights" practiced by those you are resisting. The fact that such work is often paid really fucking well by those hoping to run out the clock on change until they've kicked off the mortal coil is merely icing on the cake.

Or as the authors would put it. It just makes them follow personal incentives for positive (to their bank accounts) change.

#57

Posted by: Hyperon Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:42 PM

Your suggestion that of "religious zeal" by those concerned about climate change suggests that you are similarly ignorant. If you are interested, I can point you to resources where you can actually learn the science and see why those that have are concerned--or you can continue to live in your libertarian fantasy world.
I'm not a libertarian (there's no basis for this claim), and I've already said I think global warming is solidly established. Not for the first time you immerse yourself in the most nauseating gunge of misrepresentation. At least when others deal insincere accusations, the accusations are at least something which strike a tangent to the discussion at hand. You don't do this. You arbitrarily conjure up horse shit, from scratch, out of thin air.

Hyperon, almost everybody here is better acquainted with the real science than you are
How in the hell could you POSSIBLY know this?

#58

Posted by: Brownian, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:42 PM

It is so sad that people who pretend to cherish knowledge and science behave like a pack of creationists the first time anybody asks a question that might ever so slightly vary from their belief system.

Creationist tactics like accusing everyone here of groupthink and suppressing dissent?

Been Expelled lately, Pete?

Get bent, hypocrite.

#59

Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:46 PM

It is so sad that people who pretend to cherish knowledge and science behave like a pack of creationists the first time anybody asks a question that might ever so slightly vary from their belief system.


OH NOES!!! YOU'VE BEEN ACCUSED OF BEING LIKE CREATIONISTS BECAUSE YOU VALUE THE STRENGTH OF A SCIENTIFIC ARGUMENT THAT DIFFERS FROM PETE'S.


I hope everyone will be ok and will be able to sleep tonight.

#60

Posted by: Hyperon Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:47 PM

You are ignoring the fact that Dyson has not bothered to learn thee relevent science. He is merely assuming that technology will save us. When you can show me a "carbon-gobbling" super tree, maybe I'll give you and Dyson some credence. Until then, kindly do not fuck with the climate of my fucking planet!
You've not given any evidence at all that Dyson "has not bothered to learn the relevant science". His call for a trillion specialized carbon-eating trees can hardly be reasonably characterized as "assuming that technology will save us".

#61

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:48 PM

Hyperon, I do humbly apologize for implying you were a libertarian. I merely assumed from your ideologically blinkered rants against environmentalists and those of different cultures that the nature of your problem was libertarianism. I see now that you are merely a moron.

#62

Posted by: Jadehawk, OM | October 19, 2009 1:54 PM

His call for a trillion specialized carbon-eating trees can hardly be reasonably characterized as "assuming that technology will save us".

really? wow... just wow. that was an impressively silly thing to say. WTF do you think carbon-gobbling trees are, if not the result of GM technology? *facepalm*

#63

Posted by: amphiox Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:55 PM

"How in the hell could you POSSIBLY know this?"

By comparing what you have actually written down and posted here with what others have written down and posted here.

Unless you're saying that what you have chosen to write and post is a deliberate misrepresentation of your knowledge and beliefs?

#64

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 1:55 PM

Hyperon, let me spell it out for you. First, Dyson has been coopted by the anti-science idiots at the Heritage Foundation and has signed a statement that regurgitates all the standard, well refuted denialist claptrap. His statements on climate models are utterly bizarre.

Please point me to a source where I can buy a single "specialized, carbon-eating tree," let alone a trillion of them. There is also the question of what happens when those trees die. We have to sequester the carbon for several centuries. All of this smacks of someone who doesn't want to be bothered with climate change because it gets in the way of his other technophilic fantasies.

#65

Posted by: Jadehawk, OM | October 19, 2009 2:00 PM

There is also the question of what happens when those trees die.
and on a AGW unrelated note, there's the question what such trees would do to local and global ecosystems. monoculture tree-farms are a lousy idea, and integration into existing ecosystems can have "exotic" consequences.
#66

Posted by: Hyperon Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:05 PM

It's quite simple, if you're not stupid. I'm pro-environment. Strongly so. However, it seems clear to me that a religious mentality is being fostered in the wider culture (not necessarily in environmental science), by which people who accept global warming, but depart from the consensus in subtle ways, are reviled and ostracized. (Emphatically, I'm not saying we should debate denialists. That debate is over.)

Notice that I'm being called a "moron", already, just for questioning some of the tenents of environmentalism in a very oblique way, without even approaching denialism. Now, I suppose one could argue that the environment is such an important concern that the religious mentality is justified in this case. I'm willing to consider that possibility. This is, of course, a wholly separate question from whether there is a religious mentality surrounding environmentalism.

#67

Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:10 PM

and integration into existing ecosystems can have "exotic" consequences.

to say the least

Introducing exotic species into new ecosystems can have devastating effects that reach across multiple surrounding ecosystems and their inhabitants.

#68

Posted by: Dr.Woody Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:11 PM

@ 15, Tis Himself.

Wow...Well done, sir. I think you hit it exactly, eloquently, and elegantly. A refreshing read! Thanks...And good luck widda Boss...

#69

Posted by: Hyperon Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:11 PM

really? wow... just wow. that was an impressively silly thing to say. WTF do you think carbon-gobbling trees are, if not the result of GM technology? *facepalm*
Obviously planting a trillion genetically-engineered trees won't exactly be easy. Saying that Dyson "assumes technology will save us" is just about the same as saying proponents of nuclear disarmament "assume that diplomacy will prevent nuclear war".

#70

Posted by: Feynmaniac | October 19, 2009 2:13 PM

You've not given any evidence at all that Dyson "has not bothered to learn the relevant science"

"To me it [global warming] is a very small part of my life. I don’t claim to be an expert. I never did. I simply find that a lot of these claims that experts are making are absurd. Not that I know better, but I know a few things. My objections to the global warming propaganda are not so much over the technical facts, about which I do not know much, but it’s rather against the way those people behave and the kind of intolerance to criticism that a lot of them have. I think that’s what upsets me." [Emphasis added] - Freemon Dyson

#71

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:13 PM

How in the hell could you POSSIBLY know this?
Because you are a lazy bigot who thinks they are smarter than everyone else, reality to the contrary. Nothing you say is considered anything other than a lie, based on your past here. Your opinion of yourself is irrelevant.
#72

Posted by: designsoda Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:16 PM

The Economist blog weighs in.

Contrarianism's End?
http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2009/10/contrarianisms_end_1.cfm

Excerpt:

In other words, the little contrarian thing is almost never anywhere near as important as the big first-order thing it rides on. And as journalism has come increasingly to focus on contrarianism, it has become less and less adept at actually describing the world.

#73

Posted by: Dr.Woody Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:17 PM

His call for a trillion specialized carbon-eating trees can hardly be reasonably characterized as "assuming that technology will save us".

Ummmmmm.

Well, considering that such a thu=ing does not at present exist in nature, that we know of, it sorta DOES seem like Dyson's "assuming technology will save us," since it will require a fantastic technological achievement to engineer, raise, and then plant a trillion specialized trees for the fantastic diversities of bio-zones.

Dyson's becoming the Colin Powell of "science."

#74

Posted by: TomRiddle Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:17 PM

@45 Alverant

The denialism exists because of your last statement, not because of your reasons. All the average American has to do is follow their party line to come up with some version of: God-hating liberals endorse the global warming concept; I am not a God-hating liberal; therefore I do not endorse the global warming concept (I can’t speak to the rest of the world). It may be the case that religious conservatives make up a larger proportion of eco-deniers, but it is more likely that it is the result of a selection bias than some tie in to fundamental beliefs. Focusing on any religious polarization is unnecessarily divisive, and is one of the easiest ways to ensure no one in the religious right ever changes their view on climate issues.

#75

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:19 PM

Hyperon,

You are a moron for appealing to Dyson as an authority in a realm where he doesn't understand the science.

You are a moron for failing to appreciate that relying on genetic engineering to create something that has never existed, may not even be successful if it existed and will have adverse unintended consequences is equivalent to saying technology will save us.

And you are a moron for failing to understand why what you are saying is moronic.

Now where does any of that have anything to do with religion, moron?

#76

Posted by: Desert Son Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:21 PM

Hyperon,

Notice that I'm being called a "moron", already, just for questioning some of the tenents [sic] of environmentalism in a very oblique way, without even approaching denialism.

It's possible you're being called a moron for other views you've expressed on this blog.

Further to that, additional recommended reading:

Valencia, R. R. & Suzuki, L. A. (2001). Intelligence testing and minority students: Foundations, performance factors, and assessment issues. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

No kings,

Robert

#77

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:26 PM

The Economist blog. Ohhh snap... That's gonna leave a mark!

#78

Posted by: Ben Mueller-Heaslip Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:32 PM

His call for a trillion specialized carbon-eating trees can hardly be reasonably characterized as "assuming that technology will save us".


LOL!

Oh wait... he wasn't being ironic?

#79

Posted by: ffakr | October 19, 2009 2:37 PM

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space | October 19, 2009 11:51 AM I'm afraid this chapter is so bad that it falls under Pauli's ultimate condemnation of "so bad it's not even wrong." It's clear that they didn't bother to consult any actual climate scientists at all.

It would be odd that someone like Leavitt wouldn't just walk across the Quad to talk to some of UofC's preeminent GeoPhysical Scientists. I'm sure David Archer would have talked to them, he's a perfectly nice guy.. pleasure to deal with.

http://mindonline.uchicago.edu/search.php?string=phsc+13400&string_search=yes&search_submit.x=0&search_submit.y=0&search_submit=Go&title=on&author=on

I'll have to wait until the book is in wider release before judging.

#80

Posted by: guthrie | October 19, 2009 2:38 PM

Simpler way of arguing with Hyperon - I disagree with their assessment of liberals, greens and religious ideas in environmental stuff. The shrill people have always been there and I don't see them getting any more traction. Instead society is coming round towards a more green approach, although its taken a decade or two.

As for Dyson, everyone else has already pointed out he was being a bit silly and deserved to get told off.

#81

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:51 PM

ffakr says, "It would be odd that someone like Leavitt wouldn't just walk across the Quad to talk to some of UofC's preeminent GeoPhysical Scientists."

You're not in academia, are you? These days, scientists take fire from nutjobs on the left who contend that science is a patriarchal, racist enterprise, and from nutjobs on the right who have somehow gotten the impression that physical reality gives a fuck about ideological purity.

The reality based community is indeed endangered.

#82

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:53 PM

I generally make it a policy never to reply to ignorant fools whose idea of a reasoned argument is either to call names or completely ignore all evidence contrary to their ill-informed opinion. It is a policy I recommend to anyone. I will however respond to Ray@51. Apparently you missed the point of the Academy review entirely. The fact that accurate reconstructions of temperature only go back 400 years and reasonably accurate estimates 2000 years is exactly the point. If you understood the least thing about information theory you would know that there is no temperature data to be mined farther back than that. The signal is lost in the noise. Now this period of time doesn't get us data far enough back to support much in the way of conclusions. More accurate data is obtainable from isotope studies but it is not capable of distinguishing temperature to any great degree. There is plenty of evidence to support the concept of global warming and the fact that it is at least in some part of human genesis. And there is also science of dubious accuracy and reliability and your inability to apply any critical standards to what you read and your predilection for name calling tells me more about you than it tells me about what you know.

#83

Posted by: Kevin | October 19, 2009 2:54 PM

With a concentration of less then 4/100ths of 1% of the air you are breathing right now, I find it hard to believe that CO2 is the driving force behind Global Warming. While I do believe that GW is a fact, I just do not believe that CO2 is the driving force behind it. Throwing all our resources at a problem that can not be fixed is idiotic.

Just think of the bail outs, not matter what happens (good or bad) after they threw the money at the problem they will always claim that it would have been far worse if they had done nothing. In the mean time our country is $800 billion further in the hole.

#84

Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:56 PM

With a concentration of less then 4/100ths of 1% of the air you are breathing right now, I find it hard to believe that CO2 is the driving force behind Global Warming. While I do believe that GW is a fact, I just do not believe that CO2 is the driving force behind it.

And what science do you base that on?

#85

Posted by: Barrett808 Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 2:58 PM

Dyson refuted here: Freeman Dyson’s selective vision.

#86

Posted by: ice9 Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:05 PM

There's a lot of conversation on the Freakonomics question among economists over the past week. Of course, the notion of economists and scientists coming to an understanding requires a common language, so that may be a while coming, but here are some factors I gathered (I'm interested from the journalism perspective, and don't want to be called a moron, so I'll leave the mathy stuff to y'all.)

1. Many issues with the original Freakonomics raised, persuasively, both on the contrarian/shallow-assed journalism front and on the math front. Ezra Klein at WAPO seemed to get some persuasive shots in on the 'drunk walking is more dangerous than drunk driving' bit, for example.
2. The abortion lowers crime rate chapter has apparently been soundly debunked by a bunch of people with impressive degrees.
3. Several persuasive nastygrams for the UChicago econ department (not least of which was my dad's, who called them 'dorks and weasels.')
4. Claims that the economist is working with very weak econ math, wrong models, etc. which we've seen here, and they're only in it for the money
5. Assertion that the conclusions and the approach are politically right-wing; not as persuasive, but appealing
6. Much hard-nosed criticism of the climate change chapter, which is indeed in free circulation and had been read by the commenters; including
7. Specific errors of fact, including the assertion that the solar panels are black when they are often blue;
8. also, the patently devious calculation that it's simple ambient heat from black panels that negates their effectiveness as improving the climate change equation (ie no mention of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels);
9. and several other substantive criticisms that led me to suggest to our high school that we re-examine the use of Freakonomics.

So maybe the science folks should arrange a parley with the economists.

ice9

#87

Posted by: Steve LaBonne Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:06 PM

With a concentration of less then 4/100ths of 1% of the air you are breathing right now, I find it hard to believe that CO2 is the driving force behind Global Warming.

I find it hard to believe that inhaling air containing a mere 100 parts per million of hydrogen cyanide can kill me. Yet oddly enough, it can.

Your point was??

#88

Posted by: llewelly | October 19, 2009 3:08 PM

Luis Dias | October 19, 2009 12:03 PM:


[a_ray_in_dilbert_space October 19, 2009 11:51 AM: ]
"They utterly ignore ocean acidification."

It has come down to this. I thought the debate was about global warming, and now I come to Pharyngula and realise that it is all about ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification is a consequence of human CO2 emissions.
It is therefor germane to any debate over whether or not CO2 emissions should be reduced or eliminated.

#89

Posted by: Cannabinaceae Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:08 PM

...I find it hard to believe that... ...Throwing all our resources at a problem that can not be fixed...

Kewl. The argument from personal incredulity followed by a non sequiter.

FYI, in case you hadn't heard it before: Two Wrongs Do Not Make A Right.

But, if you're trying to appear foolish in public: Good Job, sport!

#90

Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:10 PM

I find it hard to believe that inhaling air containing a mere 100 parts per million of hydrogen cyanide can kill me. Yet oddly enough, it can.

I was going to go with Botulinum toxin, but that works


It's an argument that always makes me laugh when people make it.


#91

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:12 PM

Kevin, Physical reality doesn't really give a fuck what you find easy or difficult to believe. The greenhouse effect is a fact. It is responsible for about 33 of the 288 degrees of Earth's mean temperature, and CO2 is responsible for about 7 degrees of that. Why not actually learn the science?

#92

Posted by: kopd Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:14 PM

A lot of things I find hard to believe have turned out to be true. Hell, I still find it hard to believe that W got elected twice, and I lived through it! I do not rely on my own credulity to determine reality - it's notoriously worthless for that. I try to go with observed facts, their repeatedly demonstrable consequences, and reasonable conjecture based on those things. In other words, I try to go where the evidence leads, and it means having to educate myself on things before coming to conclusions. Sometimes I fail. I'm sure I hold some erroneous beliefs, but I try to avoid those where they matter, and especially on things I'm about to try to talk about (which is why I sit back and watch on this blog, more often than not).

#93

Posted by: llewelly | October 19, 2009 3:20 PM

Peter G. | October 19, 2009 2:53 PM:


The fact that accurate reconstructions of temperature only go back 400 years and reasonably accurate estimates 2000 years is exactly the point.

Ice cores from mountain glaciers all over the world, and from polar sites in Greenland and Antarctica serve as natural proxies, some preserving climate information from as long ago as 700,000 years. Tree cores from many different sites reach up to 1000 years ago. Sea bottom sediment cores reach back millions of years. These are only a few of the many different sorts of climate proxies, nearly all of which are in broad agreement about temperature changes over the last 700,000 years (for those that back that far).

More accurate data is obtainable from isotope studies but it is not capable of distinguishing temperature to any great degree
You give no basis for your rejection of the numerous peer-reviewed papers which show natural proxies to be consistent with instrumental records, and also with physics and chemistry. Why do so many different lines of evidence disagree with you?
#94

Posted by: kkehoe5 Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:23 PM

My point was since CO2 makes up 0.0383% of the atmosphere, I find it hard to swallow that the world is heating up because of such low concentrations. As I said before, I do believe that GW is a fact and that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. I just think other factors play a more dominate role in warming the earth.

I do not know why you brought toxins into the argument as it makes no logical sense to do so. I was mearly stating my belief or lack of it that CO2 is preventing enough heat from being radiated back into space to cause the ice caps to melt.

#95

Posted by: Tacroy | October 19, 2009 3:24 PM

I don't understand why this sort of thing is even being debated, anywhere. Just go read the IPCC report, and keep in mind that nothing goes into the IPCC unless all of the delegates agree to put it in. This means that when the IPCC report states that millions will probably die from malaria due to warmer weather making mosquitoes more prevalent, all of the delegates agreed to put it in there - including the ones for whom such an event would be politically embarrassing. Because of this, the IPCC report should be viewed as a best case result; things are probably going to turn out worse than they predict.

#96

Posted by: Jadehawk, OM | October 19, 2009 3:28 PM

My point was since CO2 makes up 0.0383% of the atmosphere, I find it hard to swallow that the world is heating up because of such low concentrations. [...] I do not know why you brought toxins into the argument as it makes no logical sense to do so.

then you fail at logic, the point being that with powerful substances, the concentration can be tiny and yet have large effects. CO2 is a strong greenhouse gas, so even small increases have large effects. Methane is even worse in that regard. mere concentration doesn't mean much.

#97

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:32 PM

My point was since CO2 makes up 0.0383% of the atmosphere, I find it hard to swallow that the world is heating up because of such low concentrations. As I said before, I do believe that GW is a fact and that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
This may disappoint you, but science and scientist aren't interested in your uninformed opinion. The facts state otherwise. Methane is also a contributer, in even smaller amounts. That is what the data says.
#98

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:32 PM

Peter G. @82, Sweetie, you know when you are trying to intimidate people by throwing out terms like "information theory" it really helps to have the foggiest idea what you are talking about.

Neither the reconstructions nor the analysis done by NAS had anything to do with information theory. Rather, they were looking at time series and principle component analysis. I am quite familiar with the Wegman report, thank you. I am also familiar with the temperature reconstructions, and while it is true that the proxies take us back only ~2000 years, we have rough reconstructions associated with ice cores going back more than 400000 years.

You have yet to cite a single shred of evidence that supports your contention. Not one. You haven't given any evidence that you've ever done ANY modeling, and you certainly don't understand how climate models work. in short, Sir, you are a poseur and a troll. Prove me wrong. Produce some evidence for your anti-science position.

#99

Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:33 PM

I do not know why you brought toxins into the argument as it makes no logical sense to do so. I was mearly stating my belief or lack of it that CO2 is preventing enough heat from being radiated back into space to cause the ice caps to melt.

It's about small concentrations making a difference whether you can imagine it or not.

#100

Posted by: Steven Sullivan | October 19, 2009 3:35 PM

Peter G, I am going to quote the directly relevant part of the BASC paper -- the part about the relative importance of models in the consensus (as of 2006) -- to illustrate the extent of your 'spin':

//

How central are large-scale surface temperature reconstructions to our understanding of global climate change?

Surface temperature reconstructions have the potential to provide independent information about climate sensitivity and about the natural variability of the climate system that can be compared with estimates based on theoretical calculations and climate models, as well as other empirical data. However, large-scale surface temperature reconstructions for the last 2,000 years are not the primary evidence for the widely accepted views that global warming is occurring, that human activities are contributing, at least in part, to this warming, and that the Earth will continue to warm over the next century. The primary evidence for these conclusions (see, e.g., NRC 2001) includes:

* measurements showing large increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases beginning in the middle of the 19th century,
* instrumental measurements of upward temperature trends and concomitant changes in a host of proxy indicators over the last century,
* simple radiative transfer calculations of the forcing associated with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations together with reasonable assumptions about the sign and magnitude of climate feedbacks, and
* numerical experiments performed with state-of-the-art climate models.

Supporting evidence includes:

* The observed global cooling in response to volcanic eruptions is consistent with sensitivity estimates based on climate models.
* Proxy evidence concerning the atmospheric cooling in response to the increased ice cover and the decreased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations at the time of the last glacial maximum is consistent with sensitivity estimates based on climate models.
* Documentation that the recent warming has been a nearly worldwide phenomenon.
* The stratosphere has cooled and the oceans have warmed in a manner that is consistent with the predicted spatial and temporal pattern of greenhouse warming.

Surface temperature reconstructions for the last 2,000 years are consistent with other evidence of global climate change and can be considered as additional supporting evidence. In particular, the numerous indications that recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia, in combination with estimates of external climate forcing variations over the same period, support the conclusion that human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming. However, the uncertainties in the reconstructions of surface temperature and external forcings for the period prior to the instrumental record render this evidence less conclusive than the other lines of evidence cited above. It should also be noted that the scientific consensus regarding human-induced global warming would not be substantively altered if, for example, the global mean surface temperature 1,000 years ago was found to be as warm as it is today.

#101

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:35 PM

A little on the Physics of Climate Modeling. Please note that it is stated there that the models are not perfect - and not expected to be. Anyone who thinks they should be are ...well... misled. The article DOES give notes on confirmations run though.

I find it hard to believe that CO2 is the driving force behind Global Warming.

Then, you need to educate yourself. No really. a_ray... has already provided a general link, I would go a little .

Here's the gist - CO2 is about 20% - water vapour is the big one at about 60% - however, the issue is an awful lot of carbon being added that would not be there - if it wasn't for us. We are not adding more water vapour to the atmosphere. We are, however, adding megatonnes of carbon.

Education. It's a good thing.

JC

#102

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:36 PM

News Flash: Argument from personal incredulity is a well recognized logical fallacy. For Dog's fucking sake, at least try to understand logic!

#103

Posted by: VinzKlortho Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:48 PM

Is there a website that addresses global warming the way talk origins addresses evolution? A place where a commoner can go to actually see all of the science together in one place and see how all of the denialists claims are refuted by that science? My knowledge of global warming, and the suspected causes of it are very limited. I've tried to do some research on it but the people that support it tend to just state that it's happening without really explaining why it's happening. I tend to not just believe what people tell me unless they can back it up with facts. Even here in the comments I've seen a lot of people saying the it's happening and that me have a lot of evidence for it but nobody has actually said what that evidence is. keep in mind I'm talking purely about global warming and it's causes here. I'm still a strong supporter of the environment and alternate energy, and I'm all in favour of reducing all forms of pollutants.

#104

Posted by: designsoda Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:51 PM

It really is a very bad day for Mr Levitt and Mr Dubner. Another blog from the Economist:

Expertise, and "expertise"
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2009/10/expertise_and_expertise.cfm

it appears that the authors made a number of outright errors and generally opted to present their case in a manner aimed more at provoking controversy than informing, which is highly irresponsible given the subject matter.

Ouch.

With regards to Levitt and Dubner, all I can think of is of GOB from Arrested Development saying: "I've made a huge mistake."

#105

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:52 PM

Peter G., It occurs to me that you may be even more deluded than I thought. You started out attacking the state of climate models, and yet every subsequent post has been about the paleoclimate reconstructions. Are you so deluded that you conflate the two?

I also note that you do not refer to any reconstructions since the Wegman report. Are you unfamiliar with them?

#106

Posted by: Barrett808 Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:55 PM

JackC @101: We are, however, adding megatonnes of carbon.

Gigatons, actually. About 8 gigatons per year, or the equivalent of one Siberian-traps-sized flood basalt event -- which emitted the same amount over some 10,000 years.

#107

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:58 PM

VinzKlortho - Hie thee to RealClimate

For a little easier time, go to their WiKi page

JC

#108

Posted by: Steve LaBonne Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 3:59 PM

VinzKlortho @103, I would start at realclimate.org, though it's more of a group blog without the kind of library of articles that t.o. has. Still, a little searching there will net you a good post on just about any prominent issue in the field.

#109

Posted by: Steve LaBonne Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:01 PM

Great minds think alike. ;)

#110

Posted by: Hyperon Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:03 PM

Dilbert Space, just STOP fantasizing. Just fucking cut it out. In almost every single post in which you address me, you tell lies. Look at this for instance:

You are a moron for appealing to Dyson as an authority in a realm where he doesn't understand the science.
Did I say that Dyson is an authority? Did I do anything which can POSSIBLY be construed as assuming Dyson is an authority? No, clearly not. Then why the fuck say this?

#111

Posted by: Steve LaBonne Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:08 PM

Did I say that Dyson is an authority? Did I do anything which can POSSIBLY be construed as assuming Dyson is an authority? No, clearly not. Then why the fuck say this?

Oh fuck off. You namedrop (incompetently, by citing an irrelevant senile person) and then piss and moan about being called for namedropping? You're both a moron and a dishonest twit.

#112

Posted by: Brownian, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:15 PM

As I can't fucking stand Hypermoron, the pathetic, deluded, whiny, little pissant who can't keep his own version of the facts straight, I'm going to note for everyone else here that nothing but Freeman Dyson's name is offered to support the assertion that his reservations are reasonable. There are presumably any number of scientists from non-climate science fields who have been labelled as cranks for expressing reservations about AGW--unless of course, Dyson is the only one, but then why the hullaballoo over conspiracies?--and so it is not unreasonable to claim name-dropping him was nothing more than an appeal to authority.

Here's the dipshit's actual quote:

Scientists like Freeman Dyson, who accept global warming but express reasonable reservations (such as questioning the reliability of climate simulations), are roundly rejected as cranks.

Perhaps PZ can set him and Peter G. up on a blind-date, and the two of them can whine together about the name-calling and the persecution that comes naturally to those cursed with supernatural intelligences such as theirs.

#113

Posted by: Brownian, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:19 PM

Oh fuck off. You namedrop (incompetently, by citing an irrelevant senile person) and then piss and moan about being called for namedropping? You're both a moron and a dishonest twit.

And a new meme is coined: "He's so stupid, he can't even commit logical fallacies competently!"

#114

Posted by: Hyperon Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:25 PM

I wasn't "name-dropping", I just assumed Dyson's opinions on global warming were fairly well-known. I even gave an example of the kind of reservations I considered "reasonable". There's no indication at all I was attempting to argue from authority, despite that hateful prick Brownian's ridiculous gymnastics.

#115

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:27 PM

@Barrett808 - yeah - I was trying to not be alarmist. You are of course correct. I grovel in mortification.

JC

#116

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:28 PM

It may be Ray that you are simply being disingenuous but I was actually pointing out that both the current state of climate modeling and the multi-proxy temperature reconstructions were the object of just criticisms within those respective fields. There has been considerable progress in the field of climate modeling and yet no model is yet able to predict anything reliably and certainly not match results against known data. You can call anybody any name you want but it doesn't alter the facts.

#117

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:30 PM

Hyperon, you cited Dyson as a "scientist" who had been unfairly criticized for dissenting from the scientific consensus. So, did you intend to say
a)his opinion is worthy of respect on this matter--in which case you were citing him as an expert
-or-
b) that his ignorant opinion should be respected because he almost won a frigging Nobel Prize for entirely unrelated work 50 years ago.

Now in the case of a, you are a clown for contending that Dyson has expertise is relevant when it is not. In the case of b, you are a clown for contending that expertise is unimportant. I find it very hard to imagine a scenario here in which you don't look like a clown. Perhaps your imagination is more fertile than mine?

#118

Posted by: IaMoL Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:31 PM

It has come down to this. I thought the debate was about global warming God, and now I come to Pharyngula and realise that it is all about ocean acidification the absence of actual miracles.
#119

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:32 PM

And a new meme is coined: "He's so stupid, he can't even commit logical fallacies competently!"
Sounds right. Another failure...
#120

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:44 PM

It is difficult to understand how

no model is yet able to predict anything reliably and certainly not match results against known data.

can stand in light of the references given.

One has to wonder what criterion for "reliably" is being used.

JC

#121

Posted by: VinzKlortho Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:44 PM

JackC@107/Steve LaBonne@108

Thanks for the link. Now I get to spend the next couple of days digging around and seeing what I can learn!

#122

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:50 PM

Days?? I have been reading them for years and am no where near caught up!

Lots of info there, reasonably approached "for the most part" - they do sometimes stray a bit - like in their highly positive of Mooney (et al)'s recent book :-(

Their comment policy is wide open though and they frequently get responses from those they slice-n-dice in their work. The key item though is that ALL of the primary bloggers there are in fact Climate Scientists in Real Life. They know whereon they speak.

And they back it up with data. Lots of Data.

They have a VERY good "Start Here" link at the top of the page. Use it! It takes you to all the main highlights.

Enjoy!

BTW: There are others - many of which RC links to. RC also links to contrarian sites - which is my personal test of veracity.

JC

#123

Posted by: Brownian, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 4:51 PM

Now in the case of a, you are a clown for contending that Dyson has expertise is relevant when it is not. In the case of b, you are a clown for contending that expertise is unimportant. I find it very hard to imagine a scenario here in which you don't look like a clown. Perhaps your imagination is more fertile than mine?

Well, you forget he is smarter than most or everyone else here and is actively being persecuted here for his edgy intelligence, so there are any number of scenarios besides the two you gave.

Unfortunately, they all involve tinfoil hats, black helicopters, and a dearth of evidence.

#124

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 5:00 PM

Yes llewelly @ 93 ice cores provide some of the best data about climate history particularly isotope ratios. Very local data to be sure but broad in scope and precise in time line. Correlating this data with temperature remains the problem. Now Steven @ 100 makes some compelling points and he managed to do so without calling anyone a name although he does make a common enough error in assuming that a consensus among people predisposed to agree constituted a fact. The creationists will be pleased by this logic.

#125

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 5:04 PM

Peter G., I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you merely didn't notice the reference I gave detailing the successes of climate models. Here it is again:

http://bartonpaullevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

Levenson details 17 successes of global climate models. At least 10 of these provide strong to very strong evidence for a greenhouse mechansim. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine another mechanism that could produce such a trend. You have utterly ignored these successes. Until you address them, you are merely an ignorant food tube making unsubstantiated assertions.

You have also utterly ignored the fact that pretty much every paleoclimate reconstruction gives the same general trends. And you have not even mentioned the reconstructions subsequent to the Wegman report.

I would say that your failure to address these points, your laughable attempts to intimidate the actual scientists here with technobabble (Ohh, information theory!!! Somebody get the smelling salts!) and your failure to cite any studies that support your contention have done some pretty serious damage to your credibility. But, hey, I enjoy demolishing poseurs like you, so bring it.

#126

Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp | October 19, 2009 5:04 PM

The creationists will be pleased by this logic.

Oh noes he did it again!

Your logic is truly fantastic.

#127

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 5:07 PM

Dyson lost me at his spheres.

JC

#128

Posted by: Jadehawk, OM | October 19, 2009 5:12 PM

And a new meme is coined: "He's so stupid, he can't even commit logical fallacies competently!"
sorry to disappoint, but it's nor really new: You Fail At Failing.

Though, it's possibly a new subspecies of fail-at-failing.

#129

Posted by: Carlie Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 5:13 PM

Peter G, are you saying that the entire field of paleoclimatology is bullshit? If so, how the hell do you think you know that?

#130

Posted by: Jadehawk, OM | October 19, 2009 5:18 PM

a consensus among people predisposed to agree constituted a fact.
oh yes. because scientists get grants and nobel prizes for agreeing with each other and bolstering each others pet ideas.

*facepalm*

#131

Posted by: 'Tis Himself Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 5:20 PM

And a new meme is coined: "He's so stupid, he can't even commit logical fallacies competently!"

I am so stealing borrowing this for future use.

#132

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 5:22 PM

Peter G., when you come onto a website frequented by scientists and express anti-science opinions, you are going to get served--and served up well done.

In your latest post you've outdone yourself. You say, "...he does make a common enough error in assuming that a consensus among people predisposed to agree constituted a fact."

Just who might these "people predisposed to agree" be? Do you understand anything about science? Do you even know what scientific consensus is? Dude, if you get a bunch of scientists together, they won't even be able to agree on Pizza or Thai food! Please keep going. I'm waiting for you to get to the vast conspiracy of scientists perpetrating a huge hoax on the whole world so they can get grant money.

#133

Posted by: Barrett808 Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 5:23 PM

JackC@115: I appreciate where you're coming from; no grovelling necessary.

#134

Posted by: ice9 Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 5:29 PM

Dogical Failacy.

ice

#135

Posted by: strange gods before me, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 5:31 PM

Peter G, are you saying that the entire field of paleoclimatology is bullshit? If so, how the hell do you think you know that?

Because one time there was this model that Peter didn't like.

#136

Posted by: Brownian, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 6:23 PM

'Tis Himself, was comment #15 a blockquote fail?

#137

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 6:46 PM

I have actually read (some of) the reference Peter G posted, presumably to bolster his position. I will presume for the moment that he is not being intentionally disingenuous and indicate that apparently he only has misread the document - checking the first Appendix, I find that the "statement of scope" iso:

describe and assess the state of scientific efforts to reconstruct surface temperature records for the Earth over approximately the past 2,000 years

They HARDLY indicate that the models are inaccurate, and they HARDLY state that the ONLY data we can acquire is

More slowly accumulating sediments from ocean basins throughout the world are one of our main sources of information on climate variations on timescales of millennia and longer.

The paper is actually - to my eyes - a rather detailed and somewhat interesting treatise on the methods used to develop an understanding of surface temperature up to 2000 years in history. It also does absolutely nothing to bolster Peter G's argument that the models are all wrong.

JC

#138

Posted by: speedweasel Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 6:48 PM

I don’t want to unfairly caricaturize (is that a word?) anyone’s arguments in this thread but it seems to me that some people just can’t resist the urge to find a niche for themselves as the skeptic’s skeptic. It’s like as soon as a group of people reach an evidence-based consensus on a topic; these people must find some way to differentiate themselves lest they ‘blend into the rest of the pack.’

Makes me wonder if standing out in the crowd is more important to them than evidence and reason.

#139

Posted by: aratina cage Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 6:49 PM

'Tis Himself, was comment #15 a blockquote fail? -Brownian, OM
It must be. It's copied right out of "Weakonomics" by Meghan Falvey.
#140

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 6:59 PM

Quote preface fail (the second one) above.I meant to say:

... and they HARDLY state that the ONLY data we can acquire is 2000 years old or less

I must have been rushing.

JC

#141

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:00 PM

Well Strange Gods, as it happens the field of paleoclimatology isn't bullshit, nor is the greenhouse effect nor do I deny the very high probability that much of the current planet wide increase is attributable to human effects. Nor do I deny that improvements in climactic modeling have taken place. But they have a long way to go. I started out by pointing out that there is still considerable difference in the scientific community about the predictive accuracy made by the varous models and temperature reconstructions all of which are available to anyone who cares to peruse the scientific literature on those specific subjects and the turds began to fly. Apparently pointing that out constitutes heresy. Too bad.

#142

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:03 PM

speedweasel@138

I have often thought that very thing is one of the foundations of our political system. Amongst perhaps many, many other things, skepticality not withstanding.

JC

#143

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:08 PM

"Makes me wonder if standing out in the crowd is more important to them than evidence and reason." Curiously enough I have always wondered if being part of the crowd was sufficient excuse for most people to ignore evidence and suspend reason. I think history rather supports the second view.

#144

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:10 PM

I started out by pointing out that there is still considerable difference in the scientific community about the predictive accuracy made by the varous models and temperature reconstructions all of which are available to anyone who cares to peruse the scientific literature on those specific subjects and the turds began to fly. Apparently pointing that out constitutes heresy.
If your data is old or refuted, as yours appears to be, the shit will fly. We don't like idjits who claim something, but then can't cite the literature, or mis-cite the literature. And you did both. Wonder why you trashed what little leeway we give new posters...
#145

Posted by: Brownian, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:19 PM

We don't like idjits who claim something, but then can't cite the literature, or mis-cite the literature.

Add to that whiners who claim persecution instead of defending their claims.

#146

Posted by: mikecbraun Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:21 PM

"Contrarianism so easily blurs into denialism"

No it doesn't!

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

#147

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:25 PM

@144 What data? Which citations? Are you claiming there is now a uniform consensus on the accuracy of all reconstructions and all models? Frankly the only thing that has been proved to me here is an abundance of ignorance and incivility. Jack C is wrong to suggest that I claimed all models are wrong. Tell me Jack which is right. I don't know and neither does anyone else.

#148

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:25 PM

PG@141

there is still considerable difference in the scientific community about the predictive accuracy made by the varous models and temperature reconstructions

Perhaps emphasized only on GW Denier/Skeptic/Contrarian boards. Frankly, while reading RealClimate (and others dealing with actual... you know ... Science), all I find is generally what is the quantity of the error, and how can it be ameliorated. In fact, many times, the discussion may concern if it actually NEEDS to be ameliorated.

Debate? One wonders if there is an unreasonable desire on the part of some here to dismiss any model that is not a complete and total replication of "Reality" as worthless. the Science I read generally makes it plain right out front that error is part of live.

But that the models themselves are Pretty Darn Good

For those folks, I would advise reading "When Harlie was One". It is a nice treatise on what it takes to model reality to 100%. Of course, it IS a bit dated now, having been concerned with State of the Computer Art - in 1972.

JC

#149

Posted by: speedweasel Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:30 PM

"Makes me wonder if standing out in the crowd is more important to them than evidence and reason." Curiously enough I have always wondered if being part of the crowd was sufficient excuse for most people to ignore evidence and suspend reason. I think history rather supports the second view.

If you're talking about religion = YOU WIN
If you're talking about Science = YOU FAIL

#150

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:31 PM

Peter G., Oh yes, evidence. Were you going to produce some, or were you going to keep making groundless assertions. Here's a news flash. Over 90% of those scientists actively publishing in climate science agree that the planet is warming and that humans are behind it. There is really no dissent in the scientific community--we know what climate models do well, and we know where they need to improve.

The current level of skill is more than sufficient to pick out the signature of CO2 in the climate data. The fact is that you simply cannot build an Earth-like climate model without assuming a significant CO2 sensitivity. This is sufficient to tell us we are in trouble. It is not suffieient to bound the threat.

Likewise, the paleoclimate reconstructions have their flaws. MBH98 was taken to task by Wegman et al. for stretching some aspects of PCA a bit too far. No matter. The subsequent reconstructions did not suffer from this flaw and showed the same trends--including Mann's 2008 reconstruction.

Here are the facts. There is virtually no controversy among climate scientists that climate change poses a threat and that we need to do something about it sooner rather than later. When you state otherwise, you are either lying or ignorantly repeating a lie. I will leave it to you to decide which is the lesser charge.

#151

Posted by: Barrett808 Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:35 PM

PeterG @141: ...nor do I deny the very high probability that much of the current planet wide increase is attributable to human effects.

What non-human effects do you propose that might contribute to the warming trend?

o Sunspots/TSI changes: No corresponding trend.
o Galactic Cosmic Rays: No corresponding trend.
o Internal oscillations (ENSO, PDO, etc.): Don't change long-term radiation balance with space.
o Volcanic warming: Negligible, and no corresponding trend.

Did I miss any?

#152

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:39 PM

Peter G, if you make a scientific assertion, like the models don't work, you will be required to back it up with appropriate peer reviewed citations. That prevents frauds like yourself from gaining any traction with pure BS.

#153

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:40 PM

So Barrett808 you seem to be suggesting that prior to the arrival of humans on this planet there was no variation in climate. I would hate to think so little of my primate ancestors that they were evidently responsible for the ice ages.

#154

Posted by: Cannabinaceae Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:45 PM

...It also does absolutely nothing to bolster Peter G's argument that the models are all wrong...

Why is it that losers so often include citations as if that alone bolsters their claims. Like, do they think that nobody will check them out? Ah, I'm thinking that maybe somebody got their associate's degree by employing just this tactic in some of the required position papers, without getting caught.

#155

Posted by: Snoof | October 19, 2009 7:48 PM

Regarding Dyson's "carbon gobbling trees", I vaguely recall a blog post from a few years back which did a few back-of-the-envelope calculations regarding exactly what kind of environmental impact they make. I forget the details, but it wasn't promising. Anyone know the post I'm talking about? It may have been on scienceblogs, come to think of it.

#156

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:48 PM

So let us presume Barrett808 was wrong and there was variation in climate prior to the arrival of humans on the planet. What was the temperature trend prior to the industrial revolution. Goodness it was upward. So what is causing the current upward trend. Clearly it cannot all be attributable to human causes. So what percentage is due to forcings. That is what is debatable whether anyone likes it or not.

#157

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:52 PM

Peter G. says, "So Barrett808 you seem to be suggesting that prior to the arrival of humans on this planet there was no variation in climate."

You are bound and determined to bring out all those climate denialist straw men, aren't you? OK, let me see if I can say it in words with fewer syllables. He is NOT saying that ALL other epochs of climate change were caused by changes in CO2. He is saying instead that the current epoch is not accompanied with changes in significant natural forcings that would explain the current warming?

Now, are you going to produce some evidence to back up your position, or do you want to move on into the real tin-foil hat allegations of conspiracy?

#158

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 7:53 PM

ou seem to be suggesting that prior to the arrival of humans on this planet there was no variation in climate.

Wow. My father uses this "argument" - he is completely clueless as well. Gets all his "climate science" from Rush Limbaugh.

Wow. I am stumped. No idea how to answer THAT one.

JC

#159

Posted by: Snoof | October 19, 2009 7:55 PM

Ah, whoops. An elementary Google search has tracked down the post in question, here it is.

#160

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 8:00 PM

And just in case anyone missed my point about computer models the test is not whether or not they can be adjusted to fit a near term prediction but whether they run backward in time to fit known data. I'm still waiting to here about that one. A good model will sequester data for just such a test. This is such fun.

#161

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 8:06 PM

Peter G. says, "What was the temperature trend prior to the industrial revolution. Goodness it was upward."

WRONG!!!! Good Lord, man, do you even bother to look at these things before you say them, or do you just assume everyone is as meek a sheep as you are. See:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/09/progress-in-millennial-reconstructions/

The trend is remarkably flat for over 300 years prior to 1750. Are you TRYING to lie? Because if you are, you're doing a really piss-poor job of it.

#162

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 8:09 PM

whether they run backward in time to fit known data.

This has been shown at least thrice here.

I'm still waiting to here about that one.

Apprently, not really. Other than the general impression that you are not reviewing any of the data already sent, I think that statement is somewhat disingenuous. Oh! And by the way - since I will presume that you have also avoided examining my last link - I will just note that it contains the following text:

the specific causes [of past climate changes] must be established individually. In many cases, this can now be done with good confidence, and many past climate changes can be reproduced with quantitative models.

Oh. Snap. </House>
JC

#163

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 8:15 PM

I'm still waiting to here about that one. A good model will sequester data for just such a test. This is such fun.
Sorry idjit, we are waiting for your citations. Time for you to put up or shut up. Welcome to real science.
#164

Posted by: Carlie Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 8:16 PM

What was the temperature trend prior to the industrial revolution. Goodness it was upward

On what time scale? It's been upward, and downward, and upward, and downward... go check out scotese, k? Great guy, really knows his stuff, has compiled it very nicely for the layman to understand.

#165

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 8:23 PM

Peter G., Do you have any idea how climate models work? Do you even understand the difference between a statistical and a dynamical model? In dynamical models, you put in the physics as best you understand it. Then you let the model crank and see what they produce and validate your models against the independent data. There is no "optimizing" to get agreement with the validation set. Moreover, some of the model successes have to do with paleoclimate (e.g. #8 on Levenson's list--which you still haven't addressed).

Dude, the name of the game is science. You play it by gathering and explaining evidence. That is what climate scientists have been doing. Not it is an unfortunate but inescapable consequence of their very good explanation that burning fossil fuels raises global temperatures. But that's reality. Don't like that conclusion. Fine, go find some evidence to refute it. However, repeatedly asserting that the models are bad without producing a shred of evidence is unscientific and irresponsible.

Peter G., it is clear to everyone reading this (except maybe you) that you don't understand climate science. Now, you can either go put in the work to learn the science, or you can keep getting owned when you confront people who do know the science. Your choice.

#166

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 8:34 PM

Peter G @ 31:

I have to concur that most of the models being used today generate total crap

PeterG @ 38:

All such models are time invariant and if accurate should be able to predict the known past as well as an evolving future. Kindly cite one that can do that. I am aware of none.

PeterG @ 50

Kindly refer me to any model that accurately predicts the last one hundred years of climate for which data is well established.

I have to run for a bit so I will stop there, other than to point out:

PeterG @ 147

Jack C is wrong to suggest that I claimed all models are wrong.

I will confirm that you did not flat-out state "All Models Are Wrong". Implication is everything. You did, however, "agree" that "all models are crap" and that you (personally) do not know which ones are right.

Frankly, for this arena, that is an equivalence.

JC

#167

Posted by: ice9 Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 8:36 PM

A neat collection of criticism of the new, the old, and the in-between of Freakonomics.

ice

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1824

#168

Posted by: Kagehi Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 8:38 PM

Sigh.. Please ignore the fact that I said 2010 before going to work, not 2100. lol

#169

Posted by: Hypocee Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 8:48 PM

Disclaimer: It appears that Levitt and Dubner are indeed putting a bullshit Teach The Controversy AGW chapter in their upcoming book, and indeed constructing the book in general as a contrarian sales machine aimed at topics outside of Levitt's interests and expertise. I support neither of these actions, viewing them as nothing less than a mercenary betrayal of academic practice and the name the first book earned.

That said - before the ignorance trolls du jour migrated into the most active thread they could find, I saw something else that I think deserves comment: Nice backlashing pileon, people.

I thought Freakonomics was a hugely entertaining, mostly sound popularization of microeconomics, built on the work of a recognized idiosyncratic genius in the field to help the lay public understand and appreciate the broad applicability of statistical analysis, game theory and null-hypothesis scientific thinking in various scenarios not usually looked at from an economic point of view. Not so; thanks to the pileon squad I can now see that Levitt and Dubner not only are but always were cynical hucksters.

I thought several of the most memorable chapters were dedicated to Levitt's use of mathematical modeling to detect and quantify cheating in real-world contexts. Not so; thanks to the pileon squad I can now see that Levitt wants nothing more or less than to take the math out of economics and turn it into a low-grade school of postmodernist sociology.

I thought "schools", especially in economics, were fuzzy and largely retrospective labels for tracking the influence of advisors on their students, and that the "Chicago School" taught that many human choices that appear to be irrational are actually traceable to nonobvious constraints or imperfect information. Thanks to the pileon squad, I can now see that regional "schools" form monolithic blocs of opinion, and that the Chicago School claims that all human decisions are robotic economic choices reducible in principle to their numerical inputs.

And I thought that Freakonomics' conclusions in the abortion/crime/police chapter were a) that women appear to make choices about abortion that are effective at improving the economic status of their later families, b) that Rudy Giuliani's zero-tolerance policing initiative could not reasonably be connected to a documented drop in crime, and c) that there was some reason to suspect a connection between Roe v. Wade and the drop in crime because of multiple correlations during multiple separate expansions of access to abortion services. I thought the authors then spent most of their last two pages, the conclusion most likely to persuade a reader and stick in the memory, demonstrating that any attempt at encouraging abortion would be not only a ghoulish, but also an extremely inefficient way to reduce crime rates. Thanks to the pileon squad, I can see that the authors actually drew a single, simple conclusion from their data and that conclusion was that we need fewer black babies.

#170

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 8:49 PM

Indeed Ray I do understand how mathematical models work having done that sort of work myself and which I doubt anyone else here has. If you had you might have some inkling of just how difficult it is to model non-linear phenomena. Such models are extraordinarily sensitive to conditions and getting one to run without crashing is an achievement in it's own right. There is nothing currently being worked on that has greater complexity than climate and it is sad but true that the paucity of truly accurate data for input limits the predictive capacity of the models. (Hence the importance of temperature reconstructions.)What is clear to me is that you don't understand basic math or physics, statistics or information theory and therefore most importantly the limits on what is knowable. Your unquestioning faith is, on the other hand, quite touching.

#171

Posted by: Barrett808 | October 19, 2009 8:52 PM

PeterG @153: So Barrett808 you seem to be suggesting that prior to the arrival of humans on this planet there was no variation in climate.

Classic. Allow me to rephrase:

What non-human effects do you propose that might contribute to the 20th century warming trend?

#172

Posted by: strange gods before me, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 8:52 PM

Damn it, Kagehi, I spent all afternoon digging an underground shelter.

#173

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:03 PM

What is clear to me is that you don't understand basic math or physics, statistics or information theory and therefore most importantly the limits on what is knowable.
What is obvious is that you have little idea of how science is done, or how science operates, much less those who are arguing against you. ARIDS knows more than you do about scientific climate modeling, otherwise you would have shut up ten posts ago. I know more about how science is done than you do, which is zip, zilch, nada. Otherwise, you would have backed yourself up with appropriate citations to the scientific literature before venturing in here. You can BS all you want. We have your number as someone who barely knows what they are talking about. All you have is attitude, and that isn't justified by your posts.
#174

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:10 PM

Pray enlighten me Jack C. Which model is right. Which can make long term predictions with any accuracy. The more I read here the more convinced I become that people who haven't mastered any scientific or mathematical discipline speak the loudest and the most rudely.

#175

Posted by: MonkeyDeathcar | October 19, 2009 9:21 PM

PeterG says:
"Pray enlighten me Jack C. Which model is right. Which can make long term predictions with any accuracy. The more I read here the more convinced I become that people who haven't mastered any scientific or mathematical discipline speak the loudest and the most rudely."

Ha, the irony. What a jackass.

#176

Posted by: amphiox Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:23 PM

It doesn't matter which model is right, Peter G. They all point to AGW. Only the details vary. The details matter when we are trying to plan for contingencies, but they don't matter one whit in terms of establishing the veracity of the phenomenon.

When multiple models and multiple lines of evidence all converge on the same answer, the degree of certainty increases. It becomes increasingly less likely that ALL the models could possibly be SO wrong that the truth is actually the complete opposite of what they are ALL indicating.

Why is this concept so difficult for you to accept?

#177

Posted by: kopd Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:24 PM

The more I read here, the more convinced I become that tone trolls add nothing of value to a thread.

#178

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:29 PM

I would think Barrett808, that it is entirely possible that some of the same factors that contributed to climate variation before might possibly have continued after our arrival. Incidentally if you can sort out all the reasons for pre-human climate variation you're going to win a big prize. To be fair there are more than a few human factors that could contribute to climate change that are unrelated to greenhouse gasses such as deforestation, flooding the atmosphere with aerosols, large scale monoculture etc. I wonder if any of the people so carefully parsing my every word have noticed that I actually agree that much of our current climate change is of human genesis. How much the various factors influence the phenomena is debatable. Too busy typing insults to read carefully I guess.

#179

Posted by: Barrett808 | October 19, 2009 9:30 PM

PeterG @170: If you had you might have some inkling of just how difficult it is to model non-linear phenomena. Such models are extraordinarily sensitive to conditions...

One of the interesting things about climate science is that you get very far indeed with pretty straightforward calculus. For example, it's possible to estimate the average surface temperature for Earth and Mars by modeling them as blackbodies with gray gas atmospheres. Barton's excellent page summarizes succinctly: How to Estimate Planetary Temperatures. He gets to within 1K for Earth and a couple of K for Mars.

So the steady-state radiative balance of a planet doesn't really have the nonlinear dynamics that would produce sensitivity to initial conditions. The transient response is where you'd see nonlinear ringing after a short perturbation (e.g., Pinatubo), but those oscillations won't affect the final steady state temperature.

#180

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:34 PM

How much the various factors influence the phenomena is debatable. Too busy typing insults to read carefully I guess.
No, all the factors you mention are being investigated. Scientist are thorough. If you understood science, you wouldn't make that inane claim. If you don't want to be insulted, don't insult. And here, making inane claims like you do without citation is an insult to us. If we call you names, it is because you are the one behaving badly. But your ego won't allow you to learn anything, since you appear, by your reckoning, to know more than everyone else. We know better. We've seen your type again and again. Blather and attitude, but no evidence. Doesn't go over well. I would suggest you retire and get the evidence, which will require you to become familiar with the scientific literature.
#181

Posted by: Peter G. Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:37 PM

It's been a slice folks but I have to run. Feel free to post such additional insults as befits your level of knowledge. I'll check back later to see if there are any novel ones.

#182

Posted by: kopd Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:40 PM

Translation of #181
"I have nothing of value to say, so I'll complain about insults again because it helps my ego."

#183

Posted by: Kagehi Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:40 PM

Damn it, Kagehi, I spent all afternoon digging an underground shelter.

Yes, well.. Given that **flooding** is the most likely outcome of freeing water from the ice caps, this is a surprisingly flawed idea. ;) lol

#184

Posted by: strange gods before me, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:43 PM

Sigh. Tomorrow afternoon I'll start working on my cloud city.

#185

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:45 PM

It's been a slice folks but I have to run. Feel free to post such additional insults as befits your level of knowledge. I'll check back later to see if there are any novel ones.
Why don't you try presenting actual scientific information, like citations to the literature. That would be novel on your part. And intelligent.
#186

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:45 PM

PeterG@174

Pray enlighten me Jack C. Which model is right. Which can make long term predictions with any accuracy.

Enlightenment comes from within. However, a good teacher is willing to show you a path. This is one such path.

Please note the graph in the middle of that document (IPCC source though - obviously, a bunch of pikers as far as data modeling goes. Probably not worth paying attention to.)

That graph shows something like an aggregation of 58 models, as well as the mean of the models (red line) and actual real-world behaviour (black line)

Amphiox has already said what needs saying - the models are ALL in agreement (or perhaps, "agreeance" is more your parlance?) No one model is PRECISE - I noted that before. If you believe that a model MUST be "precise" to be of any value, then you do not understand modeling.

Please also note that the article plainly states the following:

Nevertheless, models still show significant errors. Although these are generally greater at smaller scales, important large-scale problems also remain.

Further, they illuminate the source of these errors. Nothing is hidden, nothing is misunderstood. It is a known quantity that not all factors are known or model-able. However, the effect, particularly in aggregate, is QUITE sufficient.

To state otherwise is to be unaccountably thick.

Let us imagine an inaccurate model - one that is so totally off-base as to truly earn the moniker of "crap". Such a model would disagree with both reality, AND all other such models in a manner that would cause those using such a model to revisit their assumptions in the model.

Is such a model perforce "wrong" or incorrect? If the assumptions are valid and the methods are valid and the conditions are valid, then perhaps not - it however remains for the modeler to describe the discrepancy. If this cannot be done, then the model is deemed to be inaccurate and of no value and - rightly - discarded.

If however at ANY time, the predictions made by such an outlandish model are shown to actually OCCUR, then the model must be returned and other differences that do not agree with this previously disgraced model understood. To date, this has not happened.

To be clear - we do not look for a model that is a perfect representation of what happens in Reality - with no consideration for error - over great spans of time. We look for models that predict changes, given certain assumptions, then compare what has actually happened with the outcome of - not one, but MANY models.

If you do not understand this, you do not understand modeling. If you actually DO understand modeling in general, but do not understand how the models relate to Global Climate Modeling, then you do not understand GCM.

From this point, Enlightenment is your own issue.

JC

#187

Posted by: Carlie Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 9:53 PM

Sigh. Tomorrow afternoon I'll start working on my cloud city.

Be sure not to forget your swishy cape. Just don't go anywhere near airplane engines or anything.

#188

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 19, 2009 10:18 PM

Even though he is gone for the evening (something I must also do - after this post), nevertheless - PeterG@178:

To be fair there are more than a few human factors that could contribute to climate change that are unrelated to greenhouse gasses such as deforestation, flooding the atmosphere with aerosols, large scale monoculture etc. I wonder if any of the people so carefully parsing my every word have noticed that I actually agree that much of our current climate change is of human genesis. How much the various factors influence the phenomena is debatable.

You say these events are "unrelated to Greenhouse Gasses" - I will assume (ugh) that by this, you mean directly - as in generation of, however:

Deforestation prevents uptake of at least a portion of the carbon added to the environment through Anthropomorphic means - so it is arguable DIRECTLY related to GHGs.

Aerosols is very generic, and the "flooding of the atmosphere" would in my mind be taken to mean "by humans"... a clarification may be in order, but I see this as also DIRECTLY related to GHGs. Particularly if the aerosols you describe are carbon or fossil-fuel related in any way. A great number of those that linger, are. The notable exception is a (rather short-lived) volcanic eruption - the last major of which was 1991 - all those aerosols are now gone.

Large Scale Monoculture: I am uncertain how this would - in any way - relate to AGW. It has been proposed that it could be a serious issue affected by AGW - but I am unaware of it being in any way a cause - unless you refer obliquely to extensive use of fertilizer, which once again leads us to fossil fuels, in many cases.

I am at least gratified that you do agree that at least "much" of climate change currently being experienced is caused by human action. I am not certain you understand the scope, nor how the degree is determined though. We will once again send you to The IPCC papers for a little assistance in your slow trudge toward enlightenment.

In the lead of this article, we find this at the end of the initial paragraph:

The human impact on climate during this era greatly exceeds that due to known changes in natural processes, such as solar changes and volcanic eruptions.

My favourite is the Volcanic activity. It is a mark of the uninformed that Volcanoes are perceived as having an effect on CO2 concentration out of all proportion to human activity. And yet the truth is somewhat more stark. Measurements show that Volcanic activity is about 1/100 that of human emission of CO2.

That last page also details how we KNOW that it is human activity that is the major contributor - by a long shot.

Just another step along that Enlightenment path. We beg you to keep walking.

JC

#189

Posted by: Russell Seitz | October 19, 2009 11:00 PM

I'm still waiting for Glen Davidson, Bill Moyers and The Society of Environmental Journalists to commence their jeremiad against Gordon Brown 's teletubbiesque Pass Our Carbon Tax or We're All Gonna Die ad campaign, and such other woo-woo surprises as may await viewers between now and Copenhagen.

#190

Posted by: SteveL Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 3:43 AM

Krugman has a nice blog entry on this too here.

#191

Posted by: Stephen Wells Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 6:45 AM

Shorter Peter G: it's really hard to predict the next spin of that roulette wheel, so how dare you try to tell me that the house will win in the long run?

#192

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 7:55 AM

The really amazing thing about Peter G. is that he really seems to think that despite all evidence he actually understands something about science. And yet, he understands nothing about the physics of climate change. He hasn't bothered to learn what is in the models and how they work. More fundamentally, he doesn't understand scientific consensus and the role it plays in science.

Even his question about which model is "the right one" is ignorant. Different models do different things well. Each captures an element of the truth. What is more, there are now procedures for averaging model outputs according to their skill. He doesn't understand that you have to take the evidence in the aggregate. I have yet to see anything he really does understand. And yet, he sees fit to leture folks who have actually looked into the science. The Dunning-Kurger effect is strong in this one.

#193

Posted by: dean | October 20, 2009 7:56 AM

Peter G sounds incredibly like africagenesis from posts back.

#194

Posted by: Stephen Wells Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 8:11 AM

What bothers me most about these model-quibblers is that they try to nitpick computational details and they never ever bother to engage with the fundamental physical chemistry behind this whole problem. An atmosphere with more CO2 in it is going to be less IR-transparent. Since energy reaches the ground at visible wavelengths and leaves at IR wavelengths, the surface will get warmer. The rest is detail. I get the impression that the denialists would cheerfully claim that, because no aerodynamics simulation code is really completely exact, you can jump off a cliff and not go splat.

#195

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 8:22 AM

Peter G sounds incredibly like africagenesis from posts back.
Well, I would guess Peter G is also a liberturdian. He has the arrogance, semi-intellectual qualities they like to employ, but lacks the in-depth knowledge on topics like AGW to truly argue effectively. They are used to just trying to cast doubt instead of scientifically refuting it. Which, of course, requires real science. Which makes their heads hurt because the evidence doesn't agree with them...
#196

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 8:29 AM

Dean says, "Peter G sounds incredibly like africagenesis from posts back."

Except, AG had at least looked at a couple of references where he could cherry pick a couple of sentences. As such, AG was almost self-refuting. Even a cursory perusal of the references he gave undermined his point. Peter G. hasn't even looked into things that far. I suspect he's a computer programmer and so makes the mistake of thinking he knows how to model.

Pretty much everything he's said has been wrong.

#197

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 9:49 AM

Well drat. System Failure lost my last comment. Probably just as well.

I just wanted to add - much like AG, PG's comments DO self-refute as well. His link to the NAP article ostensibly providing "accuracy and limitations of multi-proxy studies" (I read a good chunk - interesting really) has little to do with modeling. It does contain a chapter "Climate Forcings and Climate Models" in which we find the following:

The model simulations are consistent with published surface temperature reconstructions.

There is much more there as well. I think there may be a "reading comprehension" issue with PG in that the uncertainties are quite adequately quantified in the document. Methinks PG believes "uncertainties" equates to
"we don't have any idea what is right or real".


JC

#198

Posted by: kopd Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 9:54 AM

I'm a computer programmer and there's this thing called the UNIX principle that seems similar to the way scientists use models. The concept is that rather than attempt to make one huge program that does everything, you make smaller ones that excel at their purpose, then use those smaller tools in conjunction. Basically it means that this will accomplish more work and do it better than this.

#199

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 9:54 AM

BTW: My last comment probably should not have included the word "ostensibly" - that article referenced really does do a significant job in illuminating (there's that Enlightenment thing again) the issues involved in understanding the "accuracy and limitations of multi-proxy studies". It just in no way says they are all "wrong" or insufficient.

To my reading, it actually says that the models do a pretty bang-up job. They agree closely with observed findings.

Apologies if I misled earlier.

JC

#200

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 9:58 AM

kopd: Where did you get a photo of my knife??

BTW: I am also a UNIX guy.

JC

#201

Posted by: kopd Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 10:06 AM

JackC: I wish I had a knife like that. On the UNIX stuff, I wish that was what I was programming, but in fact, our client wants something more like the knife. Sure does become a pain to develop and support a project like that.

#202

Posted by: Stephen Wells Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 10:11 AM

"Any sufficiently advanced knife is indistinguishable from a club"?

#203

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 10:23 AM

Oh Snap. Just found this in PeterG's referenced work - which seems to be one of his pivotal points of his "models are crap" concept (see page 109):

Some models have been compared against data for past time periods that encompass major changes in forcings and climate responses, for example, the Last Interglaciation (Kaspar et al. 2005, Otto-Bliesner et al. 2006a) and the Last Glacial Maximum (Masson-Delmotte et al. 2006, Otto-Bliesner et al. 2006b). That these models’ simulated climates for those epochs are consistent with proxy evidence lends credibility to their use for attribution of 20th century climate change and projections of future climate change.

All emphasis mine.

Did Peter G not ask top be pointed to precisely this?

JC

#204

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 10:27 AM

kopd: Fear not! The concepts of the UNIX technique can be employed quite nicely in other systems. I find that the concept of "objects" contains the germ of the idea, perhaps taken to an extreme.

No matter what it is that I program in, I tend to try to the greatest extent to break it down into simple routines. When I have not done this, it is generally where any problems I may have lie.

JC

#205

Posted by: Canada Guy | October 20, 2009 4:18 PM

Here's a summary of some of the environmental threats to our oceans. The way things are going, there could be no fish left in the oceans in as little as 40 years.

http://selfdestructivebastards.blogspot.com/2009/10/our-oceans-are-dying.html

#206

Posted by: Barrett808 Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 6:25 PM

Jeremy Jackson says the oceans will be dead within 30 years -- in the best case, we'll "only" lose all the marine mammals. In the worst case, the oceans fill, from bottom to top, with anaerobic organisms. "The future is bright for dinoflagellates."

Brave New Ocean - Lecture by Dr. Jeremy Jackson, UCLA

Brave New Ocean slide deck

A child's garden of ocean doom

State of the Oceans (PPTX)

#207

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 20, 2009 11:41 PM

It seems we lost our player. Oh well. I guess we were not sufficiently insulting.

I think I will spend a little time on your links - tomorrow, Barrett8o8. Thanks.

JC

#208

Posted by: truth machine Author Profile Page | October 21, 2009 7:22 AM

My how GW reveals the trolls, cranks, liars, liberturdians, and other assorted assholes.

#209

Posted by: truth machine Author Profile Page | October 21, 2009 7:25 AM

Jeremy Jackson says the oceans will be dead within 30 years

I think this is actually a major driver of denialism -- the cognitive dissonance is overwhelming. As they say, the first stage of grief is denial.

#210

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 21, 2009 9:46 AM

It doesn't help much that AGW pretty much has no previous history - so the smaller minds have nothing to fall back to in reference. Of course, there is much that follows this rule, but very little else that can actually, slowly, inexorably and - more or less - naturally, kill us.

I am having enough trouble simply with the concept of over-fishing, much less the demise of the greater portion of ocean foodstuffs through the means noted.

JC

#211

Posted by: Steven Sullivan | October 21, 2009 1:02 PM

Peter G writes:
"Now Steven @ 100 makes some compelling points and he managed to do so without calling anyone a name although he does make a common enough error in assuming that a consensus among people predisposed to agree constituted a fact. The creationists will be pleased by this logic."

This is a bit outrageous of you, sir. The 'compelling points' made in #100 were not mine, other than a single underlyying point. In #100 I merely *quoted* from the paper that YOU cited to in #48 as a references for those "interested in the accuracy and limitations of multi proxy studies". Earlier, in #31 you even said "The review by the Academy of Sciences was not kind."

My quote was FROM THAT REVIEW, was it not? -- "Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years" (2006),
Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC), published by the National Academies Press. (Which, btw, is not quite the same as saying i is a 'review by the Academy of Science'.

The single underlying point was that the actual text of the review you cited does *not* support your contention that mainstream science thinks 'unkindly' of current climate models.

Now you're saying that review *isn't* to be trusted, it's merely 'a consensus among people predisposed to agree'??

#212

Posted by: JackC Author Profile Page | October 21, 2009 2:23 PM

Steven Sullivan@211 - it appears PG no longer cares to even try to support his claims, and has gone on to more current threads (in which he wonders aloud if Atheists have a sense of humour....)

It also appears that he did not really read his own reference, taking perhaps a rough glance as sufficient evidence that the paper was sufficient to bolster his cause. It certainly was not.

I see we quoted much of the same to him from his reference. I was probably spending more time reading that document than the postings here, so I feel I duplicated much of your posting without knowing it. Too bad it appears that he has not gone back and read it.

Oh well. I am relatively certain we will get the opportunity again - probably soon!

JC

#213

Posted by: Jadehawk, OM | October 21, 2009 2:40 PM

It doesn't help much that AGW pretty much has no previous history - so the smaller minds have nothing to fall back to in reference. Of course, there is much that follows this rule, but very little else that can actually, slowly, inexorably and - more or less - naturally, kill us.

I am having enough trouble simply with the concept of over-fishing, much less the demise of the greater portion of ocean foodstuffs through the means noted.

JC

see that's what gets me. we DO have examples of humans destroying their environment, even to the point of societal collapse. but it's all on a local scale of course; and apparently that makes people believe that it just can't happen on a global scale

#214

Posted by: David Marjanović, OM | October 21, 2009 3:19 PM

It sounds like the chapter is mostly not flat-out denial, but instead takes the delayer position: that acting to curb greenhouse gasses is too hard and won't make a difference anyways so we should just keep polluting now and save our climate later by pumping sulfur into the atmosphere through an 18 mile tube.

Giving us acid rain.

TSIB. Those who don't remember the fucking 1970s are doomed to wanting to repeat them – on a global scale this time.

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