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Scientific skepticism is healthy. Scientists should always challenge themselves to expand their knowledge and improve their understanding. Yet this isn't what happens in global warming skepticism. Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports man-made global warming and yet uncritically embrace any argument, op-ed piece, blog or study that refutes global warming.

So this website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?


Thursday, 14 October, 2010

Do the IPCC use alarmist language?

Graham Wayne has recently written rebuttals to “The IPCC consensus is phony” and “IPCC is alarmist”. But, you might say, that’s only half the story – do the IPCC present their conclusions in an alarmist way? There are many different ways you might look at this, but one of the more important ones is how the IPCC present probabilities (or “likelihoods”).

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Posted by James Wight at 6:42 AM   |   17 comments


Wednesday, 13 October, 2010

Explaining Arctic sea ice loss

Arctic sea ice has aptly been termed a "canary in the global warming coal mine," a sensitive indicator of climate change; because of its importance as a diagnostic of global warming, climate change skeptics struggle to explain the decline of Arctic sea ice as a natural phenomenon. 

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Posted by doug_bostrom at 10:49 AM   |   34 comments


Tuesday, 12 October, 2010

The sun upside down

A recently published paper from J. Haigh et al. made it through the media (EurekAlert, CNN) and for a good reason. Indeed, using the data from the new Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SIM) instrument on the SORCE satellite they may have found that the influence of the sun on earth climate is upside down. Scientists and common sense agree that increasing the total solar irradiance warms the earth. On the contrary, the data presented in this paper seem to indicate otherwise.

Before going any further, it is important to quote J. Haigh herself:

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Posted by Riccardo at 1:55 AM   |   28 comments


Monday, 11 October, 2010

The human fingerprint in coral

Atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen by nearly 40% since pre-industrial times. Of course, all this extra CO2 coinciding with our dumping of billions of tonnes of CO2 into the air might be pure coincidence. How can we be sure we're responsible? Extra evidence comes from the different types of carbon isotopes found in the air. The most common carbon isotope is carbon-12 (12C) which is found in roughly 99% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The slightly heavier carbon-13 (13C) makes up most of the rest. Plants prefer carbon-12 over carbon-13. This means the ratio of carbon-13 to carbon-12 is less in plants than it is in the atmosphere. As fossil fuels originally come from plants, it means when we burn fossil fuels, we're releasing more 12C into the atmosphere. If fossil fuel burning is responsible for the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels, we should be seeing the ratio of 13C to 12C decrease.

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Posted by John Cook at 12:16 PM   |   16 comments


Monday, 11 October, 2010

SkS Housekeeping: right margin

Wendy recently had a look at the latest version of the Skeptical Science website and lamented that the thermometer in the left margin had fallen "below the fold" (eg - you had to scroll down to view it). An important tenet for web publishers is you should always aim to keep your web designer happy (particularly if you're married to her). So I've rejigged the design, adding a right margin and moving some left margin content over. The thermometer is back where it belongs.

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Posted by John Cook at 11:51 AM   |   15 comments


Saturday, 9 October, 2010

The first global warming skeptic

After the his famous paper in 1896, where Arrhenius did the first calculations of the CO2 greenhouse effect, his theory was dismissed by Angstrom with a simple experiment. He let an infrared beam pass through a tube filled with CO2 and measured the emerging light intensity. Upon reducing CO2 concentration in the tube, only a tiny difference could be found and he concluded that even a small number of CO2 molecules is sufficient to completely absorb the IR beam. The conclusion was that a CO2 increase could not matter. This was the birth of the first skeptic of what was then called "CO2 theory" and of the more recent skeptic argument "the CO2 effect is saturated".

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Posted by Riccardo at 9:04 AM   |   26 comments


Friday, 8 October, 2010

Global warming impact on tropical species greater than expected

The effects of global warming are already being observed in animal species throughout the world. Creatures are breeding earlier and migrating to higher latitudes or altitudes to escape the warming temperatures (Parmesan 2003). As higher latitudes are warming faster than the tropics, one would expect the impact on species in high latitudes to be greater. However, a new study Global metabolic impacts of recent climate warming (Dillon et al 2010) turns this notion on its head. The study is based on the principle that metabolic rates of ectotherms (cold blooded animals) change faster at high temperatures than at low temperatures. The tropics are already that much warmer than the Arctic - hence warming goes a long way in the tropics.

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Posted by John Cook at 12:09 PM   |   20 comments


Friday, 8 October, 2010

Global warming is accelerating the global water cycle

In the global water cycle, fresh water evaporates from the oceans, rains out over land and runs back into the sea. Global warming is expected to intensify this cycle, leading to an increase in river runoff (otherwise known as river discharge). The problem is direct measurements of discharge around the world's rivers are limited. However, a new study takes advantage of advances in satellite measurement techniques (Syed et al 2010, and thanks to PNAS, here's the full paper). Satellite measurements of ocean mass, evaporation and precipitation were combined to create an observation-based estimation of global river discharge. They found that over the period analyzed (1994 to 2006), river runoff has been increasing by about 1.5 percent annually. The global water cycle is intensifying.

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Posted by John Cook at 12:55 AM   |   44 comments


Thursday, 7 October, 2010

Skeptical Science housekeeping: Comments Gluttony

I received an email from SkS user scaddenp who lamented that as he checks the Recent Comments page on a daily basis, the number of comments being posted each day exceeds the number displayed. So I jumped into the database to have a look at how many comments are being submitted. Of course, this provided the opportunity to plot a graph - an opportunity I never pass up (for fellow data-geeks, here's the raw monthly data including October which I didn't include in the graph).

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Posted by John Cook at 11:19 AM   |   33 comments


Wednesday, 6 October, 2010

The value of coherence in science

Guest podcast by Stephan Lewandowsky
(listen to the original audio podcast)

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Posted by Stephan Lewandowsky at 1:27 PM   |   76 comments


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