Determined Ignorance on Climate Change: Still Impervious to Facts

By Dan Fejes, who lives in northeast Ohio. Cross posted from Pruning Shears

Climate change is a hard policy question to address because it pits those who believe in evidence against those committed to knowing as little as possible. And unfortunately, the dumbasses control a great deal of political territory, a gigantic ice sheet of stupid that never recedes enough for facts or data to gain purchase. The cretinous mass inched forward this week courtesy of Joseph Curl. His empty-headed triumphalism in the Washington Times is a nearly perfect illustration of the problem: climate change flat-earthers like him simply refuse to acknowledge arguments against their position or pay attention to new developments in the area.

One of the articles of (bad) faith that Curl and others hold dear is that climate scientists were predicting global cooling forty years ago, then flip-flopped and began warning of global warming. Curl references, without link, a 1971 Washington Post article titled “U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming.” (Hilariously, Curl provides no description of the piece beyond what’s available at the 2-sentence free article preview. Either the Washington Times is really cheap or Curl is really lazy.) As characterized here (PDF) (via), the article quoted a scientist – singular – who basically said, if we keep seeing this trend continue in a linear fashion it could trigger a new ice age.

Do you know what that is not? It is not a clarion call by the entire scientific community to take immediate action. It was a tentative hypothesis put forward by one scientist. Yet among dimwits this seemingly obvious and gigantic distinction is invisible.

Climate dummies have for years crudely but successfully seized on a handful of items like this and continue to regard them with talismanic significance,1 as though thrusting them out and averting their gaze will successfully ward off approaching facts. This Newsweek article (PDF) (via) is another example. The actual quoted scientific bodies and reports in the article make extremely cautions warnings. But the reporter uses some provocative framing (“If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear” etc.) to speculate on some downright apocalyptic possibilities.

Yet instead of drawing a distinction between somewhat sensationalized reporting in the popular press and peer reviewed publication in the scientific press, it all gets mushed together as “cooling then, warming now, it’s all a scam hurf hurf hurf.” It doesn’t seem like a terribly difficult concept to grasp, but it continues to elude the dimmer bulbs among us.

Curl swerves hard to avoid thinking in the next section of his piece as well. He references, but does not point his readers to (is the man allergic to hyperlinks?), a Daily Telegraph piece that attempts to make hay out of 1) a one-year increase in Arctic ice cover and 2) disputing the scientific consensus that warming is happening. Here again we see the problems in attempting to engage the dull witted on the subject.

If one does not understand regression to mean (via) then an increase in ice cover after a record decrease will seem dispositive. Global warming: hoax! (See also.) How do you even begin a debate with someone who doesn’t have the most basic math literacy required to discuss the issue? There’s an old saying that if you point at the moon to a dog it will look at the end of your finger. That’s the kind of situation we’re talking about here.

As for the second point, the two sources quoted by the Telegraph were quickly debunked by facts and stuff. But try to point the likes of Curl to that and, well, never mind. The Telegraph story was the final word on the subject, additional information will not be processed, and presumably we will see this article gleefully cited by the next several generations of ignoramuses.

Having put the pointy headed academics in their place, Curl turns his attention to the liberal media Illuminati:

So what does the MSM do? Simple: Rewrite the parameters to make the “facts” fit their story line.

Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace finally got around to pointing that out Sunday. “When did ‘global warming’ become ‘climate change’?” the talk show host asked Kimberley Strassel of The Wall Street Journal.

“It became ‘climate change’ when you couldn’t prove that there was much global warming anymore, as the temperatures didn’t change,” she said. “So, suddenly we had to have this catch-all term, what was responsible [which] meant that any change in the weather somehow supported the theory.”

Exactly. And the MSM is ready to move on the new version of “facts.”

Perhaps it was called global warming because in the 80’s the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere was described as the greenhouse effect, and that term gave the best layman’s explanation of the phenomenon. Then, as climatology matured, scientists realized that “global warming” might be misleading2 because it would imply a uniform trend in all places. And they also discovered that there are a whole range of measures apart from global surface temperatures that could help understand the nature of the changes occurring.

Grappling with those facts, though, lacks the simple and straightforward fun of pretending they do not exist and acting like it’s all a big conspiracy.

Such commentary is marked by the complete absence of curiosity and an unwillingness to learn. There’s no sense of: hm, let’s analyze this text a little; let’s see what’s being said by a scientist, what’s being said by the scientific community in general and what’s being said by a reporter. Instead it’s all treated as an undifferentiated mass. Not: this data point exists; let’s see how (if at all) it fits in with overall trends. Just: case closed.

The point here is not to point and laugh at Curl’s stupidity. The point is to recognize that there are stupid people like Curl with high profile platforms they use to broadcast their stupidity. While the impulse for the not-stupid might be to say “God, not this again” and ignore the argle-bargle, the stakes are pretty high with climate change. It’s important, at least occasionally, to go through the tedious exercise of showing just how intellectually bankrupt articles like Curl’s are. Not because it will make any difference to those firmly committed to know-nothingism, but to persuade those who might be considering it that while ignorance might be bliss, it’s nothing to aspire to.


1. This kind of preoccupation with anomalies seems to be a thing for dumb people. See also how bogeymen like Bill Ayers and Saul Alinsky loom large in some conservatives’ imagination. Actual liberals don’t cite either as authorities or role models, yet still: Ayers! Alinsky!

Sometimes anomalies are valuable – namely, when a person or group with an ulterior motive briefly allows a carefully maintained persona to drop a little. Moments like that can be revealing, but are also rare enough that it makes sense to hang on to them. See, for example, Paul Weyrich’s line from way back in 1980: “I don’t want everybody to vote…our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

The difference between a reveal and a hobby horse, though, is subsequent developments. Weyrich’s ideology is all over the modern disenfranchisement effort. That’s why it makes sense to see his comments as a glimpse behind the mask in a way that, for instance, whatever is in Rules For Radicals is not.

2. Which it clearly was, at least among numbskulls.

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  1. kimyo

    please explain the way forward. roughly 50% of americans are making $27k or less. for the most part, they can’t reduce their carbon emissions. there’s nothing optional in their budget. they can’t eliminate trips to disneyland. they can’t drive less. the heat’s already set as low as possible.

    how will a tax achieve the desired result? those with the dosh will just ignore it. some small segment of the population may cut back.

    ps: calling people who disagree with you numbskulls is not likely to get them to ‘see the light’.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Please read the post. It’s right there in the lead. The author is not calling “people who disagree with him” numbskulls. He’s contrasting “those who believe in evidence against those committed to knowing as little as possible.” IOW, he’s calling numbskulls numbskulls. Worse, they’re numbskulls who are acting in bad faith.

        1. Lambert Strether

          First, yes, not no: The author is calling numbskulls numbskulls. Second, you raise a different issue: Rhetorical handbooks presume that both parties to a cause are acting in good faith. Here, that’s clearly not the case. Here, we’re building a wall round the well in order to prevent idiots from p*ssing in it.

          1. burnside

            Lambert, you give to rheoric a much kinder disposition than really anyone else, ever.
            But it’s awfully nice of you.

      1. kimyo

        is it possible that there is a third group? people who are ‘committed to knowing as much as possible’ yet who have found the ‘evidence’ ‘less than compelling’? or are all those people numbskulls too?

        if this is as pressing an issue as the global warming camp has stated, then those arguing for a carbon tax must bring forth their ‘a’ game. the numbskull argument is not a-game material. 97% consensus is not a-game material.

        computer models which incorporate extremely unlikely carbon scenarios are not a-game material. (for example, let’s not include the monterey shale oil in the carbon models until we find the water needed to frack it.)

        1. GT

          kimyo –

          Exactly. I fall into the camp who believes that the climate is changing and no doubt, humans have a substantial influence upon that. Yes, I also believe that it is better for us to have cleaner air rather than dirty air.

          That all said, I’m not into the hysterics and firmly believe that we will figure this out without resorting to complete economic and social upheaval.

          To me, the hysterics over climate change are not that much different than hysterics from those who claim the Muslims are all trying to kill us or that the entire government is looking to squash our liberty.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            That is an oil industry position, in case you don’t recognize it. And I suggest you familiarize yourself with the IPCC report, issued in 2007, which set forth the evidence and identified key danger thresholds in terms of when we hit the “no turning back” point and climate change would undermine human society as we know it. We’ve already passed 350 PPM level:

            Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have passed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history. Data released on Friday from two monitoring stations in Hawaii run by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography show that the daily average of climate-warming greenhouse gas has passed 400ppm for the first time in the 50 years that the two stations have been recording. 350ppm is widely considered to be the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.


            We have not been at that level of carbon concentration for MILLIONS of years. And if anything, the data is coming in worse (in terms of certain processes that are self reinforcing acting in a more aggressive manner than mainstream models show. Basically, the evidence is more and more suggesting that scenarios worse that the IPCC’s are likely).

            And your charge of fanaticism is way off base. Consider this from Roy M. via email:

            The IEA, not a radical group, in Special 2013 report said if we are to limit climate change to a painful 2 degrees C we must start strong action program by 2015 so that in 2020 we have started to reduce rate of GHG. IEA detailed taking four steps: big push on efficiency investments, limit methane leaks from NG, end fossil fuel subsidies, shut down worst coal plans.

            A sense of urgency is warranted and necessary. It’s the anti-global warming types who are the zealots. They refuse to consider evidence and go on dogma and personal belief, just like Muslim-haters.

            1. SDB


              With all due respect, I think you’ve bought bad science: hook, line and sinker. I”m a liberal-progressive, and I used to be a faithful believer in the popular consensus that AGW-Climate Change is a serious threat. Then it occurred to me that I’d never actually, really, truly, tried to understand why the sketpics are so skeptical. And I’m not talking about FoxNews propaganda, I’m talking about scientists.

              The more I’ve read what their criticisms are, the more convinced I’ve become the science behind catastrophic AGW-Climate Change is questionable at best, and almost non existent at worst. The science is definitely not settled.

              It’s been a rude awakening for me.

              Ask yourself this question: is AGW-Climate Change falsifiable? If it’s not, then it’s no longer science and it’s now religion. If it is, what would it take to convince you? Please don’t say a consensus among scientists. Isn’t the consensus among economists that the National Debt is a burden?

              IMO, blinded by our biases and public policy goals, the liberal-progressive-left has abandoned critical thinking on this issue.

              I predict that within the next decade or so, if global warming does nto start picking up, the libearl-progressive-left is going to have some very embarrassing admissions to make. Which reminds me of this quote, attributed to Carl Sagan (I’m not certain it’s accurate):

              “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

              1. skippy

                The saddest lesson in this thread is the myopia on temp change and Co2, that is only a very small component of the over all ecological picture. The inability of the “skeptic crowd” to broaden their approach to include all the subject matter – is – a strong indicator of the intellectual weakness inherent in their skepticism from onset. Some might call it ideological – personal bias aka beliefs interceding in their cognitive approach. Maybe some should broaden their scope –

                Abstract: The large investments needed if loss of biological diversity is to be stemmed will likely lead to increased public and political scrutiny of conservation strategies and the science underlying them. It is therefore crucial to understand the degree of consensus or divergence among scientists on core scientific perceptions and strategies most likely to achieve given objectives. I developed an internet survey designed to elucidate the opinions of conservation scientists. Conservation scientists (n =583) were unanimous (99.5%) in their view that a serious loss of biological diversity is likely, very likely, or virtually certain. Scientists’ agreement that serious loss is very likely or virtually certain ranged from 72.8% for Western Europe to 90.9% for Southeast Asia. Tropical coral ecosystems were perceived as the most seriously affected by loss of biological diversity; 88.0% of respondents familiar with that ecosystem type agreed that a serious loss is very likely or virtually certain. With regard to conservation strategies, scientists most often viewed understanding how people and nature interact in certain contexts and the role of biological diversity in maintaining ecosystem function as their priorities. Protection of biological diversity for its cultural and spiritual values and because of its usefulness to humans were low priorities, which suggests that many scientists do not fully support the utilitarian concept of ecosystem services. Many scientists expressed a willingness to consider conservation triage, engage in active conservation interventions, and consider reframing conservation goals and measures of success for conservation of biological diversity in an era of climate change. Although some heterogeneity of opinion is evident, results of the survey show a clear consensus within the scientific community on core issues of the extent and geographic scope of loss of biological diversity and on elements that may contribute to successful conservation strategies in the future.


                skippy… to grossly simplify… we have a human activity problem across the environmental spectrum on a planetary scale.

                  1. SDB

                    Lambert Strether,

                    Spare me your intellectual snobbery. It’s indicative of how brainwashed the liberal-progressive-left has become on this issue that skepticism is treated so harshly. Skepticism is THE core feature of good science in all realms of science.

                    Keeping people in a state of fear is a good way to keep them from using their critical thinking skills. That’s a known psychological and physiological reaction. Fight or Flight.

                    And that’s what’s being done to the liberal-progressive-left on this issue. By scaring the beejesus out of us, the liberal-elite have diminished critical thought among their voting base… on this issue.

                1. SDB


                  That’s a bait and switch. Skepticism of AGW-Climate Change, and recognizing that the capitalism is highly destructive to our ecosphere, are not mutually exclusive. If the liberal-progessive-left wants to make the anti-capitalist argument on grounds that “we have a human activity problem across the environmental spectrum on a planetary scale” … then ok, I’m very sympathetic to that argument and largely agree with it.

                  What I will not do is pursue that public policies goals under a false notion of CO2 driven AGW-Climate Change. I uphold scientific and intellectual rigor over public policy goals. It’s a dangerous slippery slope to do otherwise.

                  1. skippy

                    You invalidate your statement right from the start with all the dripping ideological labels [” liberal-progessive-left -anti-capitalist argument”] let loose like propaganda leaflets fluttering down from a bomber, blotting out the sun for all its fury.

                    Bait and switch has nothing to do with my previous comment, as it was a clarification of the topic ie climatic events and the incessant and myopic fixation on CO2 / ***atmospheric*** temp change. That the “skeptic crowd” puts all their effort and doubles down on only one component [CO2], and the effect it generates [temp], is indicative of their inability to incorporate all the data and resulting effects. I mean you do realize that temp is just another way of observing thermal energy states in correlation to thermal sink transmission, right[?], diminishing vs excited. That even small increases in F/C from the backyard thermometer have massive implication’s when comported to a planetary scale.

                    skippy… liberal-progessive-left – anti-capitalist argument – are not a scientific terms ergo it has no place in discussing the topic at hand, tho it does establish the bias upon which many utilize to form their opinions by which imo is contra scientific.

                    1. SDB

                      That’s a fair criticism of my use of the labels. You’re right there is no need for them. I’ll leave it at that.

                      In response to your second paragraph, the fixation on CO2 and atmospheric temps is because that is the thrust of the argument: our CO2 emissions => rising atmospheric temps, and then all the hypothesized horrors as a consequence.

                      If atmospheric temps are not rising (they haven’t been the last 17+ years), does this not warrant skepticism of the climate models that predicted ***atmospheric*** temps would continue to rise? If they got this wrong, what else might the models have wrong?

                      Further, if the hypothesized warming is actually occurring in the oceans instead of the atmosphere, this is precisely the sort of negative feedback loop that skeptics have been highlighting; i.e. it may have a maginal effect on ocean temps, and likewise a marginal effect on ocean biodiversity… and none of the horrors were being warned about are justified.

                    2. SDB

                      I’ll try a third time, this time without the link. If this message doesn’t go through then maybe Yves blocked me.

                    3. SDB

                      Ok Skippy, I wrote and submitted twice earlier. Maybe they are being processed because they contained a link. I’ll wait to see if they show up tomorrow.

              2. MethaneIsJustGreat

                Between deglaciation, rapidly receding arctic ice cover – to the point that you’re likely to hit an ice free arctic in the summer, exponentially growing methane emissions from the Arctic, and the aciidification of the oceans and the accompanying loss of phytoplankton, I think you have to have to be wilffully dense to NOT see what’s transpiring. If you’re seriously going to argue that increasing greenhouse gas concentration is inconsequential, then you ignore not only models, but also the paleological record.

                The great thing about self reinforcing positive feedback loops – they’re impossible to ignore once you kick them off, and anthropogenic CO2 has kicked off one hell of a feedback with Arctic methane from the thawing tundra and the exponentially rising release of methane hydrates.

        2. Lambert Strether

          “Global warming camp”? You mean there are two equivalent “camps”? Pull the other one; it’s bells on! Then, again, it worked for the cancer denialists with cigarettes, so why not?

          As for as “knowing as much as possible” surely possible is an obvious recipe for non-action. Given the stakes, I’d say the burden is on the denialists to show why we don’t already know as much as necessary.

          1. kimyo

            how much do you expect carbon emissions to be reduced as a result of carbon legislation?

            is it possible that carbon legislation might actually increase emissions? (for instance, by transferring production to china.)

            1. different clue

              That’s why the US would have to withdraw from every Free Trade pact and repeal every Free Trade law that we have if we were to try something like a carbon tax. In the current Free Trade context, a carbon tax would merely accelerate the departure of what industry we still have to the no-carbon-tax pollution havens of the earth. We would have a whole new round of Race to the Carbon Skydumping Bottom.

              People who suggest “addressing global warming” without calling for the worldwide abolition of Free Trade have not thought the problem through.

            2. Lambert Strether

              Distraction, which started out at the first comment. The post is on denialism, not policy options. Not playing.

              Adding, all the more interesting because it’s a clear topic shift. You have no answer for “camp?” and so you drop it and immediately raise a new off-topic point. That’s “Any stick to beat a dog” behavior, which is an excellent test of a troll. So, thank you.

        3. Banger

          So then, you are ready to play Russian roulette with the Earth’s climate because you don’t feel the evidence is compelling? You are saying that the chemical properties of greenhouse gases is a minor matter–perhaps in the upper atmosphere they don’t act in the way described? Is that your argument? Or is it that maybe there isn’t enough of those little molecules to amount to any change in keeping heat from releasing into space? Or maybe you believe that there are some hidden feedback loops in Gaia that balance out the greenshouse gases?

          What strikes me about denialists is that they believe that there is little or no risk to the dramatic (do you deny that it is dramatic?) rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Most of them don’t understand how systems work or know that there is such a thing as catastrophe theory, for example or that nature does not work in a linear way but is an interactive system of homeostatic systems that each act on the other. Nature has a strong capacity to withstand severe stress but when that stress occurs over time the system begins to weaken and at some point usually a “straw that breaks the camels back” kind of situation then all hell breaks loose and systems collapse like dominoes–this is not speculation it has been observed in nature for a long time. Why these simple things are hard to understand is really a source of amazement and disgust–this is an imporant issue–perhaps the major issue of our time and people who comment on this seem to either not have a basic understanding of scientific concepts or deliberately ignore them for psychological reasons.

          1. mark f

            “all hell breaks loose”

            for instance like this?

            “At the end of the last Ice Age, a finger of the Cordilleran ice sheet crept southward into the Idaho panhandle, forming a large ice dam that blocked the mouth of the Clark Fork River, creating a massive lake 2000 feet deep and containing more than 500 cubic miles of water. Glacial Lake Missoula stretched eastward for some 200 miles and contained more water than Lake Erie and Lake Ontario combined. When the highest of these ice dams failed, lake water burst through, shooting out at a rate 10 times the combined flow of all the rivers of the world.

            This towering mass of water and ice literally shook the ground as it thundered toward the Pacific Ocean, stripping away hundreds of feet of soil and cutting deep canyons—”coulees”—into the underlying bedrock. With flood speeds approaching 65 miles per hour, the lake would have drained in as little as 48 hours.

            1. Job

              Just so I’m clear: your argument is that because in the past climatic change has led to natural disasters which would have wreaked almost incalculable devastation on what are now highly populated areas of the continent…

              there’s no reason to worry about climate change in the future?

              Because that’s… interesting.

        4. Larry Barber

          This third group would be like those, who after examining all the relevant evidence, concludes that the Earth is flat. There is simply too much evidence showing the reality of anthropomorphic climate change for any reasonable person to be able to deny it. The evidence extends far beyond the climate models.

        5. steelhead23

          As a scientist, I have beliefs and knowledge, but I also accept that everything I know, may be wrong. That is, it is not uncommon for a widely accepted theory, with loads of supporting facts, to be proven wrong. For example, very small objects tend to behave in ways not described by Newtonian physics. I seriously doubt that Max Planck would term Sir Isaac Newton a numbskull.

          Throughout Earth’s history, climate has had two primary forcing mechanisms – cosmological and biological. I happen to believe that the primary causes of recent (last 200 years) climate change has been the emissions of greenhouse gasses. But, I also accept that things like the solar-cycle and changes in Earth’s magnetosphere may also play a role. That some scientists believe these cosmic forces to be the primary causal agents of current climate change does not make them numbskulls – just a tad contrarian. They may be right.

          But, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Our climate is changing. What should we do about it? Obviously, if the primary causal agent for climate change is greenhouse gas emissions, then reducing such emissions should be our primary response. However, if the causes are cosmological, they are, at least within our current state of knowledge, inevitable. Hence, the approach would best be precautionary – build floodwalls, farm the higher latitudes, conserve water, etc. In my view, mankind should follow both of these paths simultaneously – at least partly because reducing CO2 emissions is going to be very, very hard.

          Finally, as regards CO2 emissions, it may be that the poisoning of our oceans with carbonic acid (formed when CO2 is dissolved in water) is a far greater threat to mankind than global warming. We are already seeing the signs of reduced ocean productivity for animals with calcareous shells (e.g. oysters) that require a slightly basic (high pH) environment to build their shells. As the buffering capacity of the ocean diminishes, we could see a decrease in pH and a significant loss of productivity. Acidification of the oceans is thought to have been a major player in past mass-extinction events (e.g. Devonian). Hence, changes in Earth’s climate is but one reason mankind should reduce its production of CO2.

          1. Tenney Naumer

            Aside from the fact that solar cycles have been ruled out as a large driver of current warming, the current cycle has been incredibly inactive, thus mitigating by a few tenths of a degree centigrade the current rapid warming.

          2. Jeff Farkas

            Absolutely concur. The most prudent course is to both reduce CO2 emissions AND move proactively to protect ourselves and the planet. The risk of inaction is simply to severe.

          3. Braden

            I genuinely enjoy running across a comment that shows a basic knowledge of the climate system. I think you’re right, in that we don’t know the full implications of the solar cycle on large-scale climate systems. It may be that diminished solar radiance is connected to La Nina events in the Pacific and that changes in the solar cycle may produce larger-than-anticipated impacts on ocean and surface temperatures.

            However, we are measuring solar radiation using satellites in the Earth’s atmosphere. The 11-year cycle is a well-known phenomenon that has been incorporated into climate change models. Perhaps we’re entering a particularly prolonged solar minimum, but so far the evidence doesn’t support that hypothesis. In fact, solar radiation is now increasing in line with expectations of the solar cycle.

            Show me a Sun behaving contrary to the solar cycle and maybe you’d have a point. Otherwise, it looks like the Sun is behaving as we’d expect.

            1. Paul P

              I don’t understand these solar cycle arguments. The solar cycles are forcings that work gradually over extended periods of time.
              At present we are unlocking, within a few hundred years, carbon that has been sequestered over eons.
              You eat twice as much, you put on weight. You double the carbon in the atmosphere, you warm the planet.
              Unless you can challenge the accuracy of the carbon and warming measurements, you are stuck with catastrophic climate change within a matter of decades.

    2. Banger

      I’m always stunned by the lack of imagination of people who have some pretension to intellectual knowledge. What you are basically saying is that, given the system we have, there is no alternative. People cannot not go to Disney World? People can’t shop twice a week at the supermarket instead of five times? In other words human beings are incapable of being mindful and believing that there might be another purpose to life than scratching every inch and pursuing every whim (the American Dream)? I have lived among happy people who were poor and who found enjoyment in the pleasures of watching an insect or an animal cavorting or themselves cavorting–why do we have to consume massive amounts of energy to do everything? I don’t get it at all.

      What you are describing are human beings that are robots programmed to be stupid and following the directions of the corporate media to consume mass-quantities of energy.

    3. Larry Barber

      The simple solution would be to just return the money raised in taxes to the population, perhaps by reducing pay role taxes, or even making direct payments. Since the poor use less carbon than the rich, they would likely come out ahead. And the idea that the poor can’t reduce their carbon usage is simply wrong, especially if given incentives and help, as for instance, in the form of low cost loans for insulating their house.

  2. GD

    This site strives to meet the rigorous mathematical standards you claim to embrace:
    I assume you’ll be interested in reviewing somewhat more challenging opponents. I expectantly await your opinion on the work of Anthony Watts, Willis Eschenbach et al.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You put “rigorous mathematical standards” and “Andrew Watts” in the same sentence? Do you have the foggiest idea what sort of mathematics are at the basis of climate models? Clearly not. Hint: they are way over Watt’s pay grade:

      And ESCHENBACH? OMG!!! You just completely discredited yourself:

      1. Dan

        One benefit of posting/cross-posting this has been getting introduced to new climate charlatans. At FDL I got tipped to Murry Salby, who is both factually and ethically challenged, but who enjoys a good reputation among deniers.

        The comment thread there is worth a look. There’s a certain kind of manic/conspiracy-minded individual that responds with tons and tons of semi-random writing, links and so on – but refuses to get the topic narrowed down to specific points.

        Comments here are also worth looking at for the “anomaly” rhetorical device being used to cast doubt on the very concept of scientific consensus.

  3. Samuel Conner

    In my social circles, which are mostly populated by people of conservative Evangelical or Catholic conviction, skepticism of mainstream science is endemic. It’s very disheartening. I don’t think that these people are (for the most part) bad-hearted, but there does seem to be a kind of herd mentality, and skepticism of science seems to be regarded to have something of the character of a mark of personal virtue.

    To my mind, it’s a scenario for future suppression of this point of view, by state action, as a menace to public safety. The irony is that many of these people are concerned about state infringement of their religious liberty.

    The churches have been on the wrong side of history in the past, and it looks to me like we’re doing it again, And the stakes are higher now than they have ever been before.

    1. Banger

      One of the most important discoveries in my life has been the realization that the vast majority of people do not live by what we call reason but by mythological frameworks. Science can, at times, chip away at these frameworks but people, generally, will return to them because of the comfort they give and the social acceptance they engender. The idea that if people only knew the “facts” they would come around to believe the evidence is mainly false. We have had over a century of public education in the United States and quarter of the people believe the Sun goes around the Earth and, depending on how you measure it, a third of all Americans believe the Bible is the literal word-by-word expression of God and is true in every respect. This number has been relatively constant over many years. This is a clear example of how a mythological framework is critical to human beings. If you actually read the Bible you will see many contradictions, many shifts in tone and emphasis and outright absurdities that no reasonable person could take seriously–yet these sorts of Christians simply ignore or don’t see that–all they know is that they need the certainty of belief. Human beings can condition themselves not to see an elephant in the room if they don’t believe elephants exist or don’t expect them to be there.

    2. savedbyirony

      i don’t know which catholic circles you are involved in or if you are referring to lay catholics in general but the U.S. religious catholic orders i know best (which are primarily women religious organizations) are very concerned with the idea of “stewardship” of the environment (as opposed to an older notion of “subduing” nature) and are not closed minded to the studies and findings regarding climate change.

  4. burnside

    Please show me someone who has postulated that climate doesn’t change or even that it’s ceased to change recently. To my knowledge, the numbers who might accurately be described as ‘climate change deniers’ must be very slender or nonexistent.

    I say this because the very first problem – and only the first – with this screed is that it presupposes some group or association opposed to the concept of climate change.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That is disingenuous. “Climate change deniers” is well understood to mean those who deny what is otherwise known as anthropogenic global warming. The fact that you don’t like that nomenclature does not change the fact that it is a widely used and well understood. And the implied offense is misplaced, given that other terms widely used in political discourse, like Obamabots or banksters or for that matter, austerians, are more clearly pejorative.

      1. burnside

        Yves, I see what you mean and agree the expression is common. It’s used as a deflection and of course calculated to annoy.

        I hold, however, you’re unlikely to see a reasoned discussion based on the assumption that skeptics are idiots, or accomplish anything positive in the way of public preceptions by publishing articles pitched in the key of the above. Perhaps you’d prefer no discussion, in which case I’m not opposed to making no additional comment.

        I’m not in the least disingenuous.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You are engaging in dishonest argumentation by caviling about labels. Progressives are regularly called “socialists” or “communists” which in America is pejorative and meant to shut them down. By contrast, the description “climate change denier” is accurate. Those partisans are denying that anthropogenic climate change is taking place. So all you are doing is trying to depict climate change deniers as some poor, unfairly castigated minority just for being described accurately. And that serves to distract attention from the argument proper.

          I’m sorry, this is disingenuous. I’m not buying your protestations of wounded innocence, particularly since you claim to know better.

      2. Ignim Brites

        Yes but the term “climate change” is also disingenuous as it “…is well understood to mean…” [the theory that] “… is otherwise known as anthropogenic global warming.” Plus it is a strategic mistake. The climate change “terminology” converts AGW from scientific theory which is limited and falsifiable into to a holistic explanation of all weather phenomena. AGW proponents really have no need to explain phenomena like the the polar vortex. They can be agnostic as to whether or not AGW has an impact. The core proposition is at over time increased carbon dioxide will force global warming. In terms of the current pause in warming they could just say that this is a blip in terms of climate history. It cannot refute the science. Even cooling over a hundred or thousand year time frame might not be conceived as refuting the science although making that claim would slightly undermine the claim that the theory is falsifiable.

          1. kimyo

            the ipcc begs to differ:
            (quoting thomas stocker, co-chair of the ipcc ar5 report)

            IPCC: Despite hiatus, climate change here to stay

            A slowdown in the rise of global average temperatures in recent years suggests that global warming is proceeding more intermittently, and less predictably, than it does in some climate models. But the ‘hiatus’ since the record hot year of 1998 — probably due to increased heat uptake by the oceans — is no sign that global warming has stopped, as some would like to hope.
            “Comparing short-term observations with long-term model projections is inappropriate,” says Stocker. “We know that there is a lot of natural fluctuation in the climate system. A 15-year hiatus is not so unusual even though the jury is out as to what exactly may have caused the pause.“

            1. subgenius

              -this is the result of confusion in the terminology…there has been a hiatus in SURFACE TEMPERATURE increase. The warming is still ongoing, it’s just going into deeper layers of the oceans. The oceans ARE getting warmer, thus the warming is continuing – just somewhere more hidden from view.

            2. different clue

              Also, if glaciers, icefields, etc. are still shrinking, and if the Arctic Icecap keeps shrinking in area and/or volume, that means net heat is going into turning all that ice into water and means global heat buildup is ongoing.

        1. Tenney Naumer

          Although the term “climate change” has actually been around for many decades, it was Republican strategist Frank Luntz who promoted its use since it sounds less ominous than “global warming.”

          Actual scientists use the terms where they are appropriate, not for ideological reasons.

          1. gepay

            Actually scientists use terms inappropriate terms all the time. Take “greenhouse gases”. It is a misnomer as the the mechanism used “mostly by water vapor” to keep the Earth warm is not the same as that used by a greenhouse. A greenhouse, just like your car on a sunny winter day, gets warm as it lets the sun’s warming rays in through the glass to warm the car but doesn’t let it escape by convection as happens outside where there is no containment of the warmed air.
            CO2, a wrongly named “greenhouse gas”, absorbs long wave infrared radiation from the warmed Earth and absorbs it mainly on two frequencies thereby slowing it down on its way back into space.
            Does Dan Fejes even know what these two frequencies are? Does he know whether this phenomenon occurs in the troposhere or does it occur in the stratosphere as the long wave infrared that CO2 could absorb in the troposphere get saturated and can’t absorb anymore – like you don’t get anymore antifreeze value putting more than about 50% ethylene glycol in your cars radiator.
            Does he even know that the effect of CO2 alone, even doubling which hasn’t even happened yet would only raise the global temperature 1 degreeC by itself (using the physics used by man made climate adherents).> It would take another doubling of the doubled volume to raise it another degree.
            Man made climate change adherents need the feebly known feedback cycles in the Earth’s climate to be positive and augment the paltry global warming possibly caused by man made increases in the amounts of CO2. Anybody who claims to be thoroughly acquainted with all of the god knows how many feed back mechanisms in the climate and be able to predict how the would affect the climate is a liar. They don’t even know how clouds would work yet.
            Most of the socalled data that is used to justify calling CO2 a pollutant is from climate computer models Most of them are wrong when they make predictions of what the climate is going to do.

  5. The Dork of Cork

    Its a historical fact that in the past big science objectives orbited closely national banking goals.

    The obvious example was the amount of money which went into English Astronomy to solve the navigation problem.

    Why not now ?
    Science has always been intensely political.
    So therefore one must ask who benefits ?
    Perhaps its the first Industrial country which is now greening as mercantile Europe burns in a manic effort to maintain the global barbell economy.
    (The global barbell is balanced by western dash for gas consumer countries on the one side and the Chinese coal / production system in the other.)

    Also in our global capitalistic economy people just follow the orders of the global debt supply which is driven from the top down.
    They have no control over their destiny as we do not live in a bottom up society.
    Why do you bother former village like people with the preoccupations of the global monetary elite who know nothing but destruction so as to maintain their relative balance of power at all costs.
    Bankers telling other carbon based lifeforms to go easy on the carbon thingy is a bit much for me.
    Sorry about that chaps.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Um, bankers are nowhere to be found in this discussion. Go look at the debates over the IPCC in 2008 and tell me how many bankers weighed in. Some economists, yes, Bankers? Really?

      Bankers trying to push carbon credit trading (never a large market in terms of bank profits and has fizzled anyhow) as a desirable policy outcome is not the same as pushing a problem. In general, bankers make a ton more from the carbon producers (oil and coal companies) than they can possibly make from the much smaller green tech. But they don’t need to take sides, they can play both sides of the street, hence why they sit on the sidelines re basic policy (Goldman was briefly pro-enviroment under Hank Paulson, but that was due to Paulson’s strong personal views. That’s been seriously dialed down since he left the firm and public life).

      1. The Dork of Cork

        I am afraid this crisis has changed my understanding of past & current events.
        I will strive never again to be so naive ( although I considered myself far from naive at the time)
        In truth I see bankers everywhere – dictating policy.

        How else can one understand the euro soviet and its strange & disastrous anti local and even anti national energy polices and subsequent capital goods dumping which robs all people of their local redundancy?
        All power flows from the inner sanctum.
        This is now beyond question in my book.
        If that is the case then we must ask simple questions of pretty much everything

        People can only change their local environment and then only if given a chance.(in a complex society they need enough notes for internal exchange and cooperation)

        The European market state is taking our turf cutting rights away from us.
        The objective ?
        Its not Environmental
        Its to bring us ever deeper into the tax net when the tax is used to pay for their very same capital goods overproduction (depreciation)

        This bunch is a demonic crew.
        I simply don’t trust the scientists whose pay cheque depends on the corporate state.

        The decline of sod peat production / consumption in Ireland 1990 – 2012….
        There is no shortage of blanket bog in Ireland.

        The objective is of course not environmental – the objective is the total destruction of distributionism.

        I am sorry but I have seen too much of the bankers and their social memes to last many lifetimes.
        I don’t buy what they are selling on any level.
        Irish fields before Europe came on the scene was filled with the sounds of Corncrakes.
        Now it is a dead zone.
        This is the euro legacy of the bankers scheme of overproduction.
        Now they tell us to go and suck carbon……
        Get off the friggin stage,

          1. The Dork of Cork

            Just to repeat
            The objective
            Encourage overproduction (see Euro area agri policy in the 1970s)
            Then they impose both a external tax and morality on us via a so called scientific consensus so as to pay for this overproduction.
            How ironic and twisted.
            The new morality is of course used to sustain the extraction.
            The similarity between old Calvinism and the new Environmental Calvinism best seen in their model pupil Germany is striking.

            We are constantly told Germany is a good model for this new world order.
            Super efficient at home but so as to sustain this gross efficiency it must export overproduction / waste elsewhere.

            I am having none of it.

  6. Expat

    I still have not heard a rational, coherent explanation from Deniers why there is a conspiracy and what the goals are. Is Global Climate Change simply some left-wing plot to destroy humanity and all that is good in it (Christianity, 1%ers, and ignorance) in name of atheism, communism, and the Devil?

    The best solution for science would be to co-opt a few Christian preachers and have them hit the stumps proclaiming that Climate Change is real and that God has challenged mankind to fight this evil. The “evil” could be created by the Devil or brought about as God’s wrath on mankind for whatever is the hot-button topic du jour on Fox.

    It’s twisted, it’s cynical, but it would shut them up, wouldn’t it?

    Oh, and Burnsides…really? I mean, really?

    1. kimyo

      the goal is a carbon tax, yes? the ultimate jewel in the rent extraction crown. worth more than education and healthcare combined.

      is that not obvious?

      plus, with the laser focus being set on carbon, koch industries can say, ‘well, we weren’t able to reduce mercury contamination, but our carbon emissions are down 25%’.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Wow, is this how you reason? A carbon tax is not “rent extraction. “Rent extraction” is excessive charges by RENTIERS, meaning property owners. The Koch are firmly OPPOSED to it (and they are major funders of all sorts of astroturf groups that attack climate science) because a tax would reduce consumption of fuels that generate greenhouse gases. See Europe on this front, it has for a long time had much higher gas taxes than the US and has lower gas use per capita, higher purchases of smaller, more fuel efficient cars, and more use of energy conserving strategies (for instance, geothermal wells are used whenever possible in new home construction in Poland, most recent construction homes in Europe are oriented to take advantage of heating by the sun, etc).

        And you don’t believe in public education either. Wow. You are full of anti-social beliefs. Why don’t you go live off the land in Montana, or better yet, the libertarian paradise of Somalia.

        1. The Dork of Cork

          To quote McEnroe,

          The entire friggin stadium can see what happens to efficiency savings!!!

          Any efficiency savings is used to produce yet more cars and other conduit products which means the energy surplus is wasted anyhow
          For Christ sake – During the Euro years european cars per capita shot past US cars per capita.

          The banks will merely leverage up your energy sacrifice.
          European green policy is banking policy.

          Look at former European nations before EEC entry,
          Their energy use was both of a different character (local production for local consumption) and was much less intensive then today despite so called technological advances.

          Bollox bollox bollox……….

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Straw man. The issue is how high gas prices (via taxes) lower energy use and encourage the purchase of more energy efficient cars.

            Car ownership is merely car ownership. It does not necessarily map onto more energy use, and in the case of the Europeans, DECIDEDLY does not:

            Amazingly, Americans still manage to suck up far, far more energy per person than do the people in those Western European nations with so many more cars per capita. Our oil usage per capita is about twice what it is in Western Europe, and here’s our overall energy usage


            The article says the # of cars per capita reflects the size of the middle class. America’s relative fall is merely a reflection of widening income disparity and the thinning of the middle class here.

        2. kimyo

          i expressed no position on public education.

          i’m against ridiculously complex rent-seeking operations like obamacare and impossible to pay college loans.

          what we want is healthcare. not health insurance. we want educated children, not paupers with diplomas.

          these goals would be easy to achieve, at significantly reduced costs, with options like single payer or the nearly free university.

          do you really believe that koch industries will not profit handsomely as a result of carbon legislation? who will be writing that legislation? (recall please that the 800+ page aca was authored by hmo’s/bigpharma)

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Puhleeze. Go look at what the Kochs own and we might be able to have an intelligent conversation. The onus is on YOU to prove your claim.

            The Kochs are one of the leading funders of climate change denialism. They wouldn’t be spending huge bucks to oppose it if they thought they’d do better getting on the bandwagon.

    2. Patricia

      That’s not twisted, unless it is. Fact is that science doesn’t mean much to them, which it does to us, so leading with that will fail every time. The Bible means everything.

      A proposal from Sojourners:

      “Sometimes, nothing says it better than scripture. When we showed respondents a few Bible verses, evangelicals said that two in particular made the strongest case. Psalm 24:1 says it simply: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” And Isaiah 24:5-6 has some harsh words for what we are doing to creation if we let climate change pollution continue unchecked: “The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt.””

    3. The Dork of Cork

      The objective is the ring.
      The will to power……..

      Europe is at the center of this banking / overproduction vortice.
      They have encouraged overproduction and now wishes to tax us for this banking policy !!
      If you don’t get it now you will never get it.

      Lets look at IEAs official documents

      “Another strategic priority is the progressive and predictable removal of subsidies for gas,
      coal and electricity consumers and reallocation of budget resources towards energy
      efficiency support measures. Although this may be perceived as socially difficult, it can
      deliver manifold benefits. These include: improving public finances and redirecting resources
      to support energy efficiency; providing price signals to industrial and residential customers
      to modernise equipment and practices, and to invest in efficiency improvements; and
      improving the financial situation of public companies that are burdened with the high
      costs of subsidies. Efforts to reform energy subsidies need to be accompanied with
      targeted support programmes to protect vulnerable communities from the full impact of
      higher energy prices and in parallel to create a strong policy framework to support
      energy efficiency improvements. They also need to be accompanied by the systematic
      installation of meters and the possibility to adjust consumption accordingly.
      Over time, subsidies to the coal industry will also need to be removed. They will need to
      be accompanied by social programmes to support areas where mines are closed and
      support schemes for structural adjustment of the concerned regions.”

      Yeah right …………….

      The surplus produced via efficiency programmes will be merely wasted on conduit (imported ) capital goods.
      Very little of the surplus will be invested back into increasing real end use basic consumption on a local level..

      “Energy consumption in the transport sector in Ukraine is relatively small. Rail transport
      plays a leading role in freight and passenger transportation. The rail system length is
      22 800 kilometres (km), of which 8 300 km are electrified. The rail system transports
      over 300 million tonnes of freight and more than 500 million passengers per year.
      Ukraine has 18 ports, 8 shipyards and more than 100 airports.
      Road-based transport energy consumption in Ukraine is about 7 ktoe, 10% of total final
      consumption (compared with 34% in the OECD).23
      The Transport Strategy of Ukraine for the Period to 2020 (2010) sets energy efficiency
      objectives, but does not provide for the actions to achieve them.
      Motor transport has been on the
      increase to reach more than a billion tonnes of freight and 2.5 billion passengers per year.
      The length of general-purpose motorways totals 169 000 km. In the last 20 years, the
      level of car ownership has risen and passengers have shifted away from public transport”

      The true objective of tax is to scale up operations even further.
      Not to scale down.
      Scaling down requires the production of more local currency , with the consequent reduction of bank credit / tax operations.

      I have never seen these scientists argue that point.
      Solutions for them must always be on a global level for some funny reason.

  7. armchair

    Could there be a worse place for a cold-snap than the East coast of the U.S. where all of the feather headed pundits, anecdote addicted columnists and nitwit politicians live? What a perfect opportunity to look out of your frosted window pane and then use your impressions to tell off scientists, citizens of the Maldives, insurance companies, Venetians, polar bears or anyone else that has ever threatened your heightened status as upholder of the status quo. I tried to milk this for some macabre humor here –

  8. nowhereman

    I’ve been around for over 6 decades. I live in the North East. One thing I’ve noticed is that the climate here changes. Nope, I’m not a “denier”, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Indeed, some winters like this one, are harsher than others, some summers hotter, some cooler. Some springs, are wetter, some dryer. Have I noticed a trend? Well, yes, I have. And what is that trend, you may ask? It’s that I can’t predict the weather. Nobody can for much more than a few days, and that’s only because we can see what’s happening to the west of us.
    Now, if you want to talk about pollution, I’m all for it, we need to do some thing about it. And just where are all those peer reviewed scientists on that never ending disaster known as Fukushima?
    What really irks me, is that there are a group of people out there willing to tax the very substance we exhale. The same substance necessary for our very existence, now how very “moronic” is that? ( we are after all carbon based life forms)
    Yup, in my 6 decades I have noticed that there are groups of people out there who honestly believe they know what’s good for us. The same group of people that feel it is necessary to place restrictions on my behavior for my “own good”. I can’t say I feel very good about that, because it means there is whole bureaucracy required to keep me from hurting myself. What bothers me most I suspect, is the hubris required to believe that we, as sojourners on this planet, have the capability to change the weather. Now that’s stupid.

    1. Nell

      “What bothers me most I suspect, is the hubris required to believe that we, as sojourners on this planet, have the capability to change the weather. Now that’s stupid.”
      Why is it stupid? Surely it is just as stupid to think that one man is an island and has no effect on his environment? And in fact, you do refer to problems with pollution, I assume because of the adverse effects of pollution on the environment. This suggests that you at least accept the premise that man can adversely affect complex, large scale ecological systems.
      You seem to be experiencing a failure of imagination when it comes to man’s actions influencing the climate (ie weather). Like it is something too big and complex to be affected by puny individuals. Scale things up a bit. We might be puny as individuals but en masse we pack a big punch when it comes to the environment.
      If we set off 20 nuclear bombs throwing tons of particles into the atmosphere would you be surprised if the climate changed? Would this not be an example of man made climate change? Surely it is not such a big step to accept that throwing tons of carbon into the atmosphere over many decades can also impact the climate?

      1. nowhereman

        Blaming CO2 is my problem. I recognize all too well that it’s a closed system, and that we pollute it at our peril, but blaming carbon is foolish, and detracts from the larger problem.

        1. JTFaraday

          “Blaming CO2 is my problem.”

          I am myself sort of skeptical that persons singularly devoted to dissecting every nuance of the tragic decline of the middle class would ever really allow a concern with the raping and pillaging of the planet to overtake their primary concern. Consequently, I do profess a certain feeling of futility when it comes to all matters environmental.

          But if you’re hell bent on being a carbon energy industry apologist, then just say so and spare us the accompanying song and dance routine.

          Meanwhile, here’s hoping the earth doesn’t open up and swallow your house, (property rights ain’t what they used to be!)


        2. Martin_leV

          Except that we have this scientific technique called spectroscopy. We can empirically measure how much energy a gas will absorb. Furthermore, we can measure it’s change over time. And if you want to dismiss this evidence, you’ll have to though out a large portion of the standard model, and thus you’ll have to come up with another plausible scientific explanation that works for astronomy and forensic/csi labs.

    2. Banger

      It’s not a question of you “noticing” a trend. There is such a thing as chemistry, physics and biological science. One of those sciences is ecology which is deeply connected with systems theory. This isn’t throwing darts at a map–this is careful methodical scientific findings collated over decades but dismissed by the likes of you because you don’t “notice” anything. Why don’t you just admit to yourself you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  9. Hugh

    I prefer calling it global climate disruption. The overall trend is a warming one, but the concept takes in other climactic phenomena like greater storm intensities, greater frequency of so-called one hundred year events, severer droughts, ice melts, and odd ball patterns like the polar vortices we have been experiencing this winter. Some of these can be one offs, but taken together they are anything but.

    And of course central to this is the idea that these changes in the climatic trends are the result of human activity. This should be unsurprising. Biological processes gave us our oxygen atmosphere. They deposited out of the early oceans almost all of minable iron ore we use. And over millions of years they sequestrated vast amounts of carbon in the form of coal and oil which we have been busily releasing in the last 250.

  10. BC

    Republican spin doctor Frank Luntz claims credit with recommending that Republicans begin referring to “global warming” as “climate change”. His thinking was that it sounded less threatening than “global warming”. With no sense of irony or shame, deniers/faux skeptics like Strassel brandish the Republican rebranding as one more sign of perfidy by scientists.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Natural processes — river flooding, sunspots, temperatures — feature a great deal of random variation. These variations don’t fit standard Gaussian distributions. Extremes occur more often than the standard distribution implies.

    Oddly enough, financial markets also display the same non-Gaussian distributions. What appears to be a strong trend in a short period may actually be a brief countertrend move within a longer period.

    Those who attempt to ‘scientifically’ forecast the economy and financial markets invariably end up with egg on their faces, owing to unforeseen developments. In the natural sciences, sunspot cycles have been tracked for hundreds of years, but no one foresaw the unusually low solar activity of the past few years. The mechanisms causing earthquakes are well understood, but every new big quake is a disastrous surprise.

    Climate change is much the same. Not only is the science not as strong as it’s made out to be, but forecasting natural processes full of randomness is a fool’s errand.

    1. craazyman

      maybe that’s why the dog looks at the hand and not the moon. even dogs think deep thoughts.

      I have a distant cousin who’s an accomplished amateur meteorologist and a committed “scientist” in terms of his self-perception of his possession of a rational lucidity. He takes his hobby, meteorology, quite seriously and I don’t think he’d sacrifice craft for politics of any kind — right, left, center, fringe or whatever. Or religion of any kind. If the logic doesn’t work, he doesn’t buy. He seems to take a dim and somewhat caustic view of “global warming”, for many reasons, including, oddly, the height off the ground where temperature readings are taken. He may sound like a crank but he’s really knowledgable. He said to brace for a 100-year storm when Sandy was one week away. I laughed. Then, When it happened, it wasn’t so funny. I’d tend to give him the benefit of the doubt, to a point. He may be wrong, ultimately, but he’s not a climate dummy.

      I don’t know. Shit happens. Maybe the earth is warming. It was pretty warm when the dinosaurs were walking around and pretty cold during the ice age.

      1. Patricia

        “It was pretty warm when the dinosaurs were walking around…”

        Too bad we’re not dinosaurs. I’m called that by my daughter sometimes, so maybe I’d be ok if I could stay alive long enough. I’ll have to work on it. But then, my daughter will probably be one by then, too, so it’s all good.

        Whew, and I was worried about species’ continuance, paranoid ultra-lib doomsayer that I am. Sometimes the answer really is right in front of one’s nose. Which is also some height off the ground.

      2. Lambert Strether

        2) As far as bracing for the storm, that Christian money guy said Best Buy was going down, and people laughed at him. Then it did!

        1) On the height issue, I tried to Google for the talking point you mention, and couldn’t come up with the right terms, so no hits. IIRC, there’s a good deal of denialist haggling about instrumention, most of it debunked or refined by later observation. Not saying your cousin isn’t honest, but these guys are expert at sucking people in….

      3. Banger

        So then, this guy doesn’t believe that the physical properties of greenhouse gases are what science claims them to be? So you’re guy has made a extensive study of ecology and systems analysis that underlies it? This is not about “weather” it is about energy entering the earth from the sun and then not bouncing up into space as it once did–the change is REAL you accept that or you don’t believe in science. The “debate” is about how much of the greenhouse gases are currently in the upper atmosphere and how much the earth-system can tolerate before there is a tipping point into positive feedback loops. I have studied ecology from a systems perspective and ecological catastrophes have been well studied in stunning detail. Nature does not operate in a linear fashion.

        Before commenting on scientific questions get a basic science education and then counter what those of us who have studied the issue say. Personally I would not be so sanguine about playing Russian roulette as your friend and for what exactly? More of the status-quo?

    2. Nowhere

      I keep seeing this argument in regards to climate change. You are conflating a “market system” composed of non-rational, indeterminate people and a determined physical system. Just because the particular micro-states (the weather) are not easily predicted, does not mean that large macro-states (the climate) cannot be sussed.

      I’m pretty sure we know that, within a range of measurable values, that the summers (as a continuum of time) will be warmer than winters. Why? Because we understand the dynamics the earth’s orbit around the sun has on heating the ground and atmosphere.

      Sure, there is still scientific work to understand the feedback loops that will be impacted (this is where a greater amount of induction, and therefore skepticism is required) and the loops that have already been impacted. But the science is basically saying that we have a pretty damn good idea the impact humanity is forcing in the environment.

      1. craazyman

        maybe they’re as bad at it as economists and finance professors! :)

        God may be dead but religion’s alive and well.

        Still I say, get rid of smoke and coal and bring on green energy. The political side of this I’d have little argument with.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Could be, but scientists have the advantage of the scientific method, and aren’t in the business of servicing rich people who want to make even more money, unlike economists and finance professors.

          So while I sympathize with your trust issues, I don’t think the cases are comparable.

    3. Hugh

      “forecasting natural processes full of randomness is a fool’s errand”

      Actually some of the most rigorous laws of physics, like those describing the behavior of gases and radioactive decay, cover systems which are to put it mildly “full of randomness”.

    4. ToivoS

      Jim you are focusing on the weakest area of climate studies and that is on weather prediction. There are a number of solid scientific facts that this science is based.

      1. as mentioned a few times, CO2 is a greenhouse gas which means it traps heat.
      2. CO2 levels are rising in the atmosphere without an doubt.
      3. Burning fossil fuels accounts for that increase and isotope studies support the idea that the C in CO2 came from fossil carbon.
      4. The temperature over the last two decades is increasing at a rate not seen in the last 1000 years.

      These are indisputable facts. The big question is how big of a role does the increase in CO2 account for the increase in temperature. Now this is coming up with a mechanism. It is not an easy problem because it involves predicting global weather patterns. Just because

      1. ToivoS

        (weird, my message self sent)

        Just because the amount of heat trapped by CO2 is consistent with the change in temperature this is not proof of a linkage. Indeed there are some homeostatic climate models with negative feedback loops that predict temperature will plateau after a small increase.

  12. Valdimir Putin

    I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to the skeptical heroes of this thread. You are indeed hard-working Stakhanovs of Russian renewal. Your unremitting efforts are changing the world itself. As unsuspecting Western dupes burn the fossil fuels we sell, Russia will reclaim its frozen tundra as productive land, growing in wealth and power as the USA collapses in desertification, fire, transhumance, and flood. We will circumnavigate the globe in an ice-free Arctic Sea as Americans fight for dwindling scraps of habitable land. When you come to our borders as desperate starving refugees, perhaps we will let some of you in.

    1. ironbutterfly

      Have mercy on us Valdimir. We just have to have our air-conditioning and our cars, and our over sized homes filled with oversized stuff. And having to struggle through all that math and physics is so hard, and disruptive to our vagueness and cynicism as defense strategies for dealing with problems. I plan to move early, that is before the rush, to northern clines. Thanks for posting.

    2. allcoppedout

      This scenario is already factored into Anglo-American strategy Vald. GW will make the UK a wine producer as we bask in solar powered air conditioning and fees from the US for using our Falklands air base for the invasion of Argentina as Americans flee their current dust-bowl and wait for the Rapture. We will be speaking Chinese by then anyway.

    3. Thor's Hammer

      Valdimir, look out your window to the east. What is that orange glow on the horizon? Could it be the entire Russian boreal forest ablaze and heading straight for your dachau just outside of Moscow?

      We are all in this together on this insignificant green and blue rock.

  13. lz

    We’ll always have climate change deniers. It’s built into the system. As much as they blame the sun or reflexively discount the climate science, they’ll have difficulty explaining away ocean acidification.

    Here is a link to a series on climate change from a few years ago (2008):

    Of which, see: September 16 — The Great Global Warming Hoax? — URI oceanography professors Rebecca Robinson and John Merrill cool down the rhetoric of a hot debate, unwrapping the arguments with the help of documentary film clips. Click here for more information.

  14. Kermit

    I have what should be a very simple question.

    Please tell me, in your own words, what the science actually consists of that shows man made CO2 to be a significant factor in any current warming. No links, please. Either your beliefs are science based, or they are religious type beliefs. If not religious type beliefs, that question should be easy to answer.

    1. kay dub

      Sigh. So the questions are: is the earth in fact warming? What could cause it, if so? And do humans have a hand in those causes. The first I leave for elsewhere.

      As for the second:
      Most of the atmosphere is transparent to incoming sunlight and outgoing infrared. Atmospheric greenhouse gases, on the other hand, absorb outgoing infrared radiation. The natural greenhouse effect (due largely to water vapor but also to naturally occurring CO2) raises the surface temperature by about 33 degrees C, giving us the “livable” environment rather than the nonatmospheric 0 degrees we would otherwise have. We know, then, that an increase in CO2 leads to an increase in global mean temperature.

      We can measure, through direct measurement over the past 50 years, and ice concentrations from before that, the amount of atmospheric CO2 concentrations. We are at unprecedented levels of those in hundreds of thousands of years.

      On to question #3, the influence of humans:
      Since fossil fuels are commercial commodities, we know how much has been burnt to a fine degree, and we know from physics how much C02 that burning will liberate to the atmosphere. (Furthermore, with measurements of things like the depletion of carbon 13 and 14, we know that the composition of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasingly from the burning of these fuels.)
      So. Yes, the planet is warming. It is largely due to greenhouse gases, of which CO2 is the most notable. And the CO2 in the atmosphere is from burning of carbon-based fuels.

      1. Kermit

        Sigh, sigh, sigh. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist, since your answer is just illustrates so well the misconceptions of people that believe like you.)

        No one (to my knowledge) argues that there has been no warming.

        I think everyone is familiar with the greenhouse effect. And the fact that CO2 is indeed a greenhouse gas. It is known to make a small contribution (by itself) to the current warming. But I’ll ask again – what is the science behind the claim that man made CO2 is a significant contributor to current warming?

        If you cannot answer this question, you *must* ask yourself why you cannot answer this question.

        1. pretzelattack

          uh, because I’m not a climatologist? So if we’re not all climatologists, therefore AGW is false? BTW, co2 is not making a “small” contribution, it is making a “large” contribution. The question you should ask yourself is why you believe you know more than the experts in the subject.

            1. pretzelattack

              Fallacy, I know that, according to measurements, the earth is warming, in accordance with the science. I know that this is not just based on computer models. I know that the major scientific organizations recognize AGW as good science.I know that you don’t have anything but a talking point. I know that you haven’t responded to the substance of the replies to you. That’s enough for me.

              1. ToivoS

                Kermit is asking for us to describe the exact mechanism by which CO2 buildup accounts of the increases in global temperature. The honest answer is that we do not know. Computer modeling shows a number of different mechanisms but by themselves they are not proof.

                This is a common tactic of antiscience types. Creationists always ask how did life arise? How did it start? The answer is no one knows. Therefore they can take comfort in God did it.

          1. Kermit

            It’s a very simple question, and it should be extremely easy for anyone who really believes to answer.

            Doesn’t it bother you that you have such a strong belief, but that you cannot even answer a question as simple as this?

            1. Patricia

              Sometimes a “very simple question” has a complex answer. That you believe one requires the other shows some incapacity, Kermit.

              1. Kermit

                Patrica, This one can be as complex as a person wants it to be. To answer the question in general terms describing what constitutes the actual science, however, is very simple. I find it just so interesting that I can never get a correct answer to this question. I have never been able to blindly believe in any religion, even when the “high priests” told me that I would go to hell if I didn’t believe. I’ve always had to look and see – is this reasonable?

                Again, this question has a simple answer. Anyone who really “believes” should have no problem giving an answer.

                  1. Kermit

                    Sure it is. Anyone who believes so fervently in something, but who cannot even state what it is they believe in and why they believe it, badly needs to re-think their beliefs.

                    As I’ve said before (when it comes to giving an explanation about what the science consists of) – it ain’t rocket science.

                    Frankly, I am amazed at the ignorance about this here on this forum.

                    1. Patricia

                      And I am amazed at your dishonesty and rudeness. Pleasant that we can both have some surprise in our day, isn’t it?

                    2. ToivoS

                      Kermit you being disingenuous. There is much that we do know, undisputed fact and there is much that we do not know. The answer to your question is one of those. There are some pretty good ideas about the mechanism but the complete answer requires understanding global weather which looks like a complete solution might even be impossible (see chaos theory).

        2. Banger

          Because those that study the matter have come to the conclusion that man-made greenhouse gases, CO2 being one of them are causing energy not to escape into space. There is no vast left-wing conspiracy among these people to dominate the world and no billionaire is bribing them to fabricate their findings to pleas this conspiracy. Since I’ve had the pleasure and annoyance to know scientists I can tell you that they are unlikely to be bomb-throwing radicals in my experience.

          Scientists have done ice-core work in Greenland and other areas that shows what the concentration of these gases was in prior ages and can compare it to the concentrations now available. Now, you believe in playing Russian Roulette because you believe, without any background in science, that this is all BS for whatever reason. You are 100% sure that the human production of these gases is so insignificant as to cause no problem. Maybe–but why are you so willing to take that chance? Most organization make risk-assessment matrices that weight the probability of risks and they make decisions on what is the best outcome–but in the case of climate you don’t want to do this. You don’t want to ignore the advice of those who have put millions of hours of work into this field!! WTF is wrong with you? Are you nuts? Maybe they’re wrong–can you say, honestly, they are 100% wrong? 90% wrong? This is a serious matter. Do you know how natural system function? Have you ever taken a close look at how life works? Nature and live exists within a narrow homeostatic band where even slight changes can cause catastrophic results? Even studied chaos/complexity theory or catstrophe theory or know anything about physics? Ever understood that a temperature rise of 2 degrees at 98 is not the same as a rise of two degrees when you have a 105 fever? What do you suppose happens at 107 degrees and maybe not ant 106.

          1. Kermit

            Why do you think it is that all of you continue to ignore the question asked? Sure, there is a strong correlation between CO2 and temperature. Is anyone denying that? But what does the actual science consist of that shows causation?

            1. Banger

              Again proof of causation is complicated and we don’t have room here to give you an eductaion in systems analysis as it applied to ecology and the earth-system or to explain catastrophe theory and the dangers we face. The best we can do is measure risks by making a risk-assessment matrix on the benefits and risks of doing nothing or doing something and all gray areas in-between:

              In the atmosphere CO2 has increased by 36% and the far more potent greenhouse gas CH4 (methane) has increased by 148%–levels higher than they have been in 800,000 years which is the period we have been able to trace these gases in the atmosphere (through ice core samples).

              97% of climate scientists agree that humans are the main cause of global warming.

              For starters that is something to think about–we can’t come to definitive conclusions on that probably ever. You evidently don’t understand science of the last half of the 20th century nor the conceptual frameworks underlying it so why should I continue in this. So why would 97% agree that it is happening and you don’t? The burden of proof is on you not me. Greenhouse gases do trap temperature and you have to prove that this would not ever conceivable have any effect on the world’s climate which you don’t have a clue about.

              1. Kermit

                The 97% number, from what I’ve read, is completely bogus. Simply go over to Judith Curry’s blog and do some reading. She can not be labeled a “denier” – but she is one of the honest climatologists who recognize the uncertainties.

                Again – there is no argument that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. None. It does trap heat. You are clearly demonstrating a bias that clearly shows a type of religious thinking.

                1. Banger

                  I’m not saying anything is a direct linear cause to global warming. You don’t understand or grasp anything I’ve been saying. Science did not stop in 1910–we have systems theory now to help us understand systems. You have no clue, it seems on that. You believe like they did in the 19th century that everything is linear that is mainly false. You don’t understand risk-analysis and how people and organization deal with uncertainties by measuring probabilities not certainties.

                  1. Kermit

                    Sure – but how are those uncertainties dealt with in respect to CO2 being a significant cause of any warming? For you to have such a strong belief in CO2 being such a strong factor in the current warming, don’t you need to at least have some knowledge about the science involved in that relationship? How do you put any probabilities on cost/benefits of CO2 without knowing something about the science that links CO2 to warming?

                    Just wondering – don’t you feel at least a little bit embarrassed by not being able to answer the simple question I asked?

        3. Banger

          Because those that study the matter have come to the conclusion that man-made greenhouse gases, CO2 being one of them are causing energy not to escape into space. There is no vast left-wing conspiracy among these people to dominate the world and no billionaire is bribing them to fabricate their findings to pleas this conspiracy. Since I’ve had the pleasure and annoyance to know scientists I can tell you that they are unlikely to be bomb-throwing radicals in my experience.

          Scientists have done ice-core work in Greenland and other areas that shows what the concentration of these gases was in prior ages and can compare it to the concentrations now available. Now, you believe in playing Russian Roulette because you believe, without any background in science, that this is all BS for whatever reason. You are 100% sure that the human production of these gases is so insignificant as to cause no problem. Maybe–but why are you so willing to take that chance? Most organization make risk-assessment matrices that weight the probability of risks and they make decisions on what is the best outcome–but in the case of climate you don’t want to do this. You don’t want to ignore the advice of those who have put millions of hours of work into this field!! WTF is wrong with you? Are you nuts? Maybe they’re wrong–can you say, honestly, they are 100% wrong? 90% wrong? This is a serious matter. Do you know how natural system function? Have you ever taken a close look at how life works? Nature and live exists within a narrow homeostatic band where even slight changes can cause catastrophic results? Even studied chaos/complexity theory or catstrophe theory or know anything about physics? Ever understood that a temperature rise of 2 degrees at 98 is not the same as a rise of two degrees when you have a 105 fever? What do you suppose happens at 107 degrees and maybe not at 106.

        4. kay dub

          The answer to that lies in your misapprehension of CO2’s effect on planetary mean temperature. “Known to make a small contribution”? Where on earth can you possibly have gotten that? Do you not know of the millions-of-years correlation between CO2 levels and global temperature? Are you not aware of what high concentrations of CO2 produce on Venus?
          A 40% post-industrial increase in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere is no small matter. Natural effects can explain climatic variations into the early 20th century, but only with anthropogenic greenhouse gases and aerosols can the variations of recent decades be explained.

          1. Kermit

            It’s interesting to me that you are so sure of my misapprehension, when it is clear that it is your misapprehension. Man made CO2 does make a “small contribution.” If this was not the case, this question would have been answered long ago on this forum. Of course, there is a correlation. Following the last ice age, temperature started to rise and CO2 levels followed several hundred years later. The question could be re-phrased to ask – when and how did CO2 become the independent variable and temperature the dependent variable? And, since the “greenhouse effect” of CO2 is well known in physics, what causes the bulk of the increase in temperatures?

            Your implying that since it can not by natural effects, it must be CO2 is a very poor explanation – as to the science.

            1. pretzelattack

              “Man made CO2 does make a “small contribution.” If this was not the case, this question would have been answered long ago on this forum”

        5. Vatch

          Kermit: kay dub answered your question, without links, as you requested. Don’t pretend that kay dub did not provide a good answer. If you can find something specific in the answer to object to, please do so. And if you are going to ask detailed questions, be prepared to be given hyper links to which you can refer.

          1. Kermit

            No, she didn’t. And I find it interesting that you think she did answer the question. The physics of CO2 being a greenhouse gas is will known. It has been well known for about a hundred years, I think. When looking at the correlation with temperature, however, it only provides for a relatively small fraction of the observed warming. Now, if you want to argue with this, consider the question of why, then, climate modelers spend so much time and effort working with sensitivity factors for CO2.

            Kay’s reasoning, however, that it must be CO2 since nothing else could have caused it is just very bad science. Very bad science.

            1. Vatch

              Yes, kay dub did answer your question. I missed where kay dub said that “it must be CO2 since nothing else could have caused it”. Please provide a quotation — I might have missed something. Instead of insulting people by denying that anyone has answered your question(s), pick one of the answers, and provide a point by point critique.

              1. Kermit

                That’s what I did. From the previous post:

                “The physics of CO2 being a greenhouse gas is will known. It has been well known for about a hundred years, I think. When looking at the correlation with temperature, however, it only provides for a relatively small fraction of the observed warming. Now, if you want to argue with this, consider the question of why, then, climate modelers spend so much time and effort working with sensitivity factors for CO2.”

                What is difficult about that? Why would sensitivity factors be such an area of question if the physics of CO2/temperature were simple?

                1. Vatch

                  No, no, no. I wanted a quote from kay dub, not from you, saying “it must be CO2 since nothing else could have caused it”. I don’t remember reading anything like that.

        6. Binky Bear

          You may be the smartest sock puppet on the internet but you will never be able to forget that you have someone else’s arm so deep in your backside that he can make you lips move.

          Otherwise, cool story bro, fancy use of sophistry and suchlike argumentation to prove nothing and say nothing. A sock puppet made of nothing.

          Other things that don’t exist: a 1970s global cooling consensus.

  15. Brooklin Bridge

    The trend I notice is that invariably, without fail, and in every instance there is always the first comment(s) to a global warming post by someone committed to knowing as little as possible on the subject.

    There is virtually no other topic that comes up on NC that provokes such a constant in both rabidity rapidity and consistency of response. It is always, a-l-w-a-y-s, the first comment following any such post and almost always the next two or three.

    It’s like these entities never sleep. So the first thing we get is a turd on the comments windshield and it’s invariably some combination of 1) the science isn’t proven 2) NC is stooping to unscientific methods 3)and here are a bunch of crapified or non existent studies and authorities to prove it.

    There is no other plausible explanation for such consistency than C-O-M-M-I-T-M-E-N-T to knowing as little as possible, either the kind that comes from direct remuneration, professional interest, from vigorously incurious perception of personal interest, referred to above as ignorance, or from the possibility that the agent is an automated script which simply means it is in the service of such commitment to ignorance.

    Yves and Lambert have obviously caught on to this pattern for both of them are thankfully equally swift to clear the projected turds from the windshield almost as fast as they splat.

    Personally, I would not remove these initial comments for anything as they are the most significant proof I can think of that the effort to obfuscate the reality of global warming is highly orchestrated.

    1. weinerdog43

      I’ve noticed that too. The 1st post is always a denier.

      Still the response should always be along the lines of “Kimyo, you ignorant slut.” In other words, the burden of proof is on the party rebutting the allegation. As the actual science is overwhelming at this point, you had better have some pretty good data before I’ll waste 2 seconds reading your lame post. Misdirection, false equivalency, straw man, etc… are indeed obfuscation. Good observation BB.

      1. Kermit

        I read your and Yves’ posts often. Normally the two of you are worth reading. On this issue, however, you are dead wrong about the science.

        Can you answer the question I posted above about what the science actually consists of that shows man made CO2 to be a significant factor in current warming?

        After making my living in the markets for decades, I find it very interesting how people who are normally quite critical about relying on computer models of non-linear, coupled chaotic systems can be so uncritical when it comes to this subject.

        1. pretzelattack

          So you don’t have any actual expertise in the science, right? And yet you are sure that Yves and Lambert are “dead wrong on the science”.

          1. Kermit

            Please point out where I said that I have no actual expertise. I’ve been building computer models of coupled, non-linear chaotic systems for over two decades.

            Why is it that every answer tries to completely ignore the question I asked? Is it possibly because it is an “inconvenient question”? Or, is it because no one actually knows the answer, in spite of maintaining this religious type belief in CO2 being the major cause of the current warming?

            It’s a very simple question, and it really should not be difficult to answer for a true believer.

            1. pretzelattack

              “After making my living in the markets for decades:”, that’s a clue right there. You didn’t make your living as a scientist. You keep harping on “the models”–models that the American Geophysical Union think are adequate for their purposes. It’s not just “models”, it’s the underlying science, which has already been explained to you in another post. There are also historical records. Seriously, you could find this information if you bothered to look, rather than trying to score rhetorical points.

              1. Kermit

                There you go doing what is so common. When you cannot discredit the argument, attack the person. Using the “authority figure” argument is pretty lame.

                1. Vatch

                  LOL! Kermit, you used the “authority figure”argument yourself! I quote:

                  I’ve been building computer models of coupled, non-linear chaotic systems for over two decades.

                  1. Kermit

                    So it bothers you that I use my own work experience in a post?

                    Sorry, I didn’t realize that what we have done for a living should not be mentioned in this forum.

                    1. Vatch

                      It doesn’t bother me at all. What bothers me, is that you reject the appeal to authority, and then you invoke it. Make up your mind.

            2. Brooklin Bridge

              Ahh, so you do have experience. Then après vous, Monsieur.

              Please provide a formal proof that global warming does not exist. You will use no links or references. You will limit yourself to non alpha-numeric characters.

              We are waiting…

                1. Brooklin Bridge

                  No, I was using short hand. Global warming due in considerable part to man made carbon emissions into the atmosphere, if you prefer, such that a significant part of the solution is to mitigate these emissions.

                  1. Kermit

                    Getting closer. “In considerable part to man made carbon emissions” – but that’s the question. Since the relationship between CO2 and increasing temperature is well known when it is considered as a greenhouse gas, how do the scientists get from the effect due to the CO2 to the effect necessary to fit the observed temperature changes?

                    With all of you believers here, does no one actually know this?

                    1. Brooklin Bridge

                      Try this

                      Please explain, if you can, two things:
                      the temperature of Venus (which according to mere sunlight abosrption/reflection calculations) should be 55 degrees C. It is, instead, 500 C, hot enough to melt lead.

                      why Mars’ temperature is in line with sunlight calculations, i.e., it is estimated to be -50 C and it is.

                      Hint: Mars’ atmosphere is about 1% the density of Earth’s; Venus’s consists of about 96% CO2/

                      -Kay Dub (below)

                      And you’ve made it pretty clear who is the witch doctor here. You’ve got nothing but your taunt to shake at us.

                    2. TomDority

                      Wow, please inform us of what you know – like I really give two shits. Try asking a real question instead of heading people off into lala land with absurdity and fake philosophy. Oh golly I am impressed with you – not. I could simply ask you to define – nothing. Gee… you can’t prove nothing exists can you…

                      So, to answer your question, you would first have to believe that humans evolved to survive in this harsh ecosystem that is part of the space ship earth. Part of this evolution allowed us to control our environment by using fire/energy. Burning fossil fuels, destroying biodiversity, chemically altering the biosphere faster than we can adapt has made our continued proliferation tenuous. Adding large quantities of ‘greenhouse’ gases (plural) over a short period of time is increasing global tempuratures (learn something about heat sinks and flows of energy – moron)
                      Frankly, this space ship will not give two craps about the human species and wheather we can adapt quick enough to our human induced warming of the planet.

                      So gee, you don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground….you only believe they are distinct

            3. Banger

              It is not a “simple” system. You can only deal with probabilities here. Greenhouse gases trap heat, you’ve agree to that and you continue to play silly pissing contest type of games about a complex problem that we cannot determine with any degree of certainty. It is up to you to prove that greenhouse gases do not trap significant amounts of heat, enough to cause noticeable climate changes (not necessarily “warming” because energy is expressed in things other than warming). You also don’t state with what degree of certainty you believe in your case–and if it isn’t 100% then why do you want to take such a risk, as I said above, of causing a catastrophic positive feedback loop that is possible if enough things line up–and, sometimes, in the study of ecology, we have noticed such things occuring–the butterfly effect and so on. We can’t know for certain the state of any complex system.

              1. Kermit

                I tend to see you playing the “silly pissing contest” by continuing to ignore answering the very simple question I asked. Of course, it’s a complex system. But the question of what the science actually consists of is not at all complex. The answer is not at all complex either.

                Ever wonder why it is that this question is such a problem for you? With a belief as strong as yours, it should be a slam-dunk to answer that question.

        2. Banger

          We have answered you over and over again and you have no idea what science is or how tentative conclusions are arrived at so what’s the point? How do you argue with an illiterate about T.S. Eliot? You can’t.

          Before you understand proof start with systems theory. Understand that systems do not operate in a linear way that, as I have written today, there is a difference between a two degree rise in temperature at 98 degrees in our body and a two degree rise at 105–guess what happens and 107 degrees?

          When you understand science beyond the third grade you find that exact predictions are impossible–we cannot know for sure what will happen to the climate we only can estimate a range of possibilities. People like you don’t care about that because, because of a failure of the imagination, you don’t see a world beyond black or white, right or wrong. Take the time to do the research and then say something about it. Have you ever heard of risk-assessment? Certainly people in the financial field use that term and know that you have to do your due dilligence to weigh risks and advantages.

          The burden is on you to contradict the vast majority of people who have studied the subject who have spent countles hours studying both the minutae and the big-picture day after day after day. You believe they are either deluded or paid off by a vast conspiracy or somewhere in-between. Hang out with real research scientists sometime before you besmirch them in the way you are doing here.

          1. Kermit

            You’re not paying attention either. I clearly referred to a non-linear, coupled chaotic system.

            So, the burden of proof is on me? This is getting funnier all the time.

            Again, very simple question – what, in general terms, constitutes the science that shows man made CO2 to be a significant factor in current warming?


            1. Patricia

              Yes, it is a trick question because you won’t take any answers other than the one hidden in your mind. Moreover, dishonesty and rudeness are your methodology. Such a delight you are.

              1. Kermit

                Sorry if you feel that way, but I get tired of being called a stupid denier too. Didn’t Lambert use the term numbskulls too?

                The truth is that it is quite unbelievable that no one here knows even what the science consists of that links CO2 to the current warming. That, in my mind, speaks volumes about this religious type belief. If I were on the other side, and if I so strongly believed the climate scientists, I would be extremely embarrassed if I could not answer a question so central to my beliefs.

                This is the whole point of these posts.

                1. Lambert Strether

                  Actually, there are plenty of answers on the thread, many of them quite patient. You aren’t engaging with them, but that doesn’t make you stupid. Incidentally, I just searched through the thread, and I don’t find the term “stupid denier” except in this comment. So if you’ve been called a stupid denier so often you’re tired of it, it’s in some other forum, not here.

          1. Banger

            It is a mythological framework issue. Like religious fundamentalists the idea that the earth is a closed system with limits would destroy the frameworks they live by.

          2. Kermit

            Then just answer the (very) simple question.

            Again – IT’S NOT A TRICK QUESTION! If you believe so strongly, this should be an exceedingly easy question to answer.

            1. Banger

              AGain and again, it is not a “simple” question–not in the least. We’ve provided links for you, we’ve explained that there are such things as greenhouse gases and we don’t have time to spend half a day reading scientific journals–do it yourself–again, it is you that need to explain why greenhouse gases don’t cause warming.

              1. Kermit

                So, you’ve provided links to me to answer that simple question. Excuse me, but this is getting more and more funny by the minute. You’ve never read those links?? Because, if you had, and if they would answer my question, why can’t you give me an answer and we can quit this back and forth.

            2. Vatch

              Once again, let me remind you that kay dub answered your question. I know you don’t want hyperlinks, but, well, tough:


              If you disagree with the answers, please provide specific concerns. Don’t keep asking questions like a small child: why? why? why? This should be a dialogue, in which both participants make rational declaratory statements in response to what the other person said. Please stop pretending that people have not answered your question. kay dub and Banger have both provided answers.

              1. Kermit

                This is the point I have been making. No one seems to be able (or willing) to answer this very simple question. CO2, by itself, explains only a small fraction of the observed warming. So, what is responsible for the bulk of the warming, if it isn’t the additional CO2? And what does the science consist of that implicates whatever it is that causes the bulk of the warming?

                THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE! If you really believe in what you are saying, answering this should be elementary for you!

                1. Vatch

                  What’s your source for your claim that the CO2 explains only a small fraction of the observed warming? Please provide a URL.

                  Thank you.

                  1. Kermit

                    I would have to do some looking. I thought that it was pretty much common knowledge that CO2, by itself, only accounted for a fraction of the warming observed. Again, if not, why the importance and the variety of sensitivity factors for CO2 in the models? If the physics of the greenhouse properties of CO2 were sufficient to explain the current warming, why the trouble to determine sensitivity factors? Why introduce something as controversial as sensitivity factors if they were not needed?

                    1. Vatch

                      There are many compounds that would have a greater contribution to global warming if those compounds were present in the atmosphere in concentrations similar to the concentration of carbon dioxide. However, such compounds are much rarer in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Methane and nitrous oxide are examples of such compounds, but carbon dioxide causes more warming, simply because there is a lot more of it in the atmosphere:

                      Current greenhouse gas concentrations.

                      Water vapor superficially appears to be more important than carbon dioxide, but we are discussing the change in greenhouse effects over the past 200 years, not the baseline greenhouse effect on Earth. Carbon dioxide is the main culprit, because its concentration has increased so much.

                      Of course, as the Earth warms, the atmosphere will be able to hold more water vapor, and then we’ll have a cascading effect started by the carbon dioxide, but continued by the water vapor.

        3. Brooklin Bridge

          In my categorization of windshield turds above, I forgot to mention 4) insist on a patently impossible formal proof of global warming. This is a form of throwing out gratuitous sticks to be chased after. If someone is foolish enough to fall for it, throw out another and then another.

          In this particular case, the evidence and theory underlying the assertion by 95% of the related scientific community that global warming is real and caused in large part by man made emission of carbon into the atmosphere over time, is of a volume and complexity as to make formal proof absurd in a comments section, never mind with such infantile taunts as to do it without references.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Indeed, there is no formal proof at all; rather, there is such an overwhelming body of evidence supporting the premise, that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists will stake their reputations on it being real or real enough so that to take no action would be as responsible as playing Russian roulette with our own extinction.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        An unpleasant task, indeed :-) At least you are both provided with good strong windshield wipers by 95+% of the scientific community that studies the phenomenon.

  16. kay dub

    So much from the land where science is but a rumor:
    “blaming carbon is foolish” The heat budget of the planet is well-known: the sun gives us 240 watts of energy per square meter. The law that governs radiation says that it is proportional to the 4th power of the temperature. The only way to get to earth’s actual temperature is to include the radiation-impeding effects of greenhouse gases, chief among them carbon. Likewise, the carbon cycle is well-understood, empirically demonstrable, and profound in its effect: not only does increase of atmospheric carbon correlate over millions of years with temperature on earth, but we have the nearby planetary example of Venus, where the temperature in the absence of atmosphere should be 55 degrees C, but is, thanks to the predominance of CO2, sits at 500 degrees C.
    “A somewhat caustic view of ‘global warming’, for many reasons, including, oddly, the height off the ground where temperature readings are taken” Data sources include thermometers placed 2 meters above the surface on land, just above the surface of the sea, and from the surface of the sea. Additionally, going back, we have proxies such as tree rings, coral reef calcium deposits, lake sediment deposition from streams, and isotope ratios in ice cores and shell-forming marine organisms.
    Come on. Anecdote is not the same as science, no matter how nice a guy your brother-in-law is.

    1. Kermit

      Yes, the carbon cycle is well understood. But my question was – how do you get from the extra CO2 in the atmosphere to the current warming? By itself, it provides only a fraction of the greenhouse effect needed.

        1. Kermit

          Of course! Maybe you could point out where I said that it was the only greenhouse gas.

          Now, since you have been reading the propaganda sites, why don’t you tell us what is the most significant.

          And, surely after studying those sites, you can answer the simple question I posed here . . .

  17. TimR

    Most of us are laypeople here and not really competent to personally judge the science, but nevertheless — I’d be interested to know what specific sources – books, articles, video presentations, etc. persuaded you that AGW is real? Most of what I’ve seen has been propagandistic hand-wringing from non-critically minded mass media sources. But I know the discerning believer bases their opinion on more than that!
    Of course this is kind of a paradox here because now I may be presented with links to a barrage of scientific argle bargle, and have to become an amateur climate scientist to understand it all. Which I’m not really willing to do. OTOH, I’m not willing to rely strictly on the scientific priesthood, which *can* go off course for decades before experiencing a paradigm shift and throwing out earlier shibboleths (Scientists are human too and can become entrapped in a prevailing belief system. How that system comes to prevail is not altogether important.)
    Nevertheless I am interested if anyone wants to point to their favorite most well-reasoned, well-sourced pro-AGW arguments?

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      “Paradigm shift” stopped being a useful term the moment it was first uttered.

      Peer review and the scientific method, while imperfect, are the best tools we have to advance our honest observation of the physical world.

      Hopefully, and as has been previously demonstrated, even when incorrect, science is self-righting. Opinions, not so much.

      Start here:

      I’d be really grateful if you could return the favor, using well-sourced pro-AGW arguments.

      Thanks, in advance.

      1. TimR

        Science may be self-righting, eventually, but meanwhile we’re supposed to trust it “on faith” and reshape the globe and transform our lives. “Oh darn, we were wrong about that everybody…”
        Maybe “paradigm shift” sounds passe, but I think it’s worth remembering that scientists can exhibit herd-like behavior. And somebody said that “science advances one funeral at a time,” (i.e. it’s not entirely open-minded and rational.)
        Thanks for the link, I’ve heard of Hansen but never studied his work.

        I’m not strongly pro- or anti-AGW, that said, my skepticism is in part influenced by such as James Corbett ( If you search “climate change” on his site it will bring up a number of sourced videos, with links to anti-AGW arguments. (I assume that’s what you meant, why would I have pro-AGW links?) I also note lately that F. William Engdahl is in the anti-AGW camp, and he impresses me as a credible observer of world affairs. In fact I heard him say that he was once pro-AGW, went and met with some of the chief promoters, and decided it was bunk.

    2. Kermit

      I’m guessing that all they will do is to direct you to the propaganda websites. They will try everything they possibly can to not answer your questions. And, while the climate models are exceedingly complex, a general explanation of how the science works is not.

      But I doubt that you will get an explanation here. Few of the “true believers” even know what the explanation is.

      As for money – the last figures I saw said that the world was spending one billion dollars per day to “tackle global warming” – with that much at stake already, do not expect the recipients to answer this question about the science.

    3. pretzelattack

      Specifically, I am convinced because the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Geophysical Union, say that it is good science. I think that those organizations, and many others, are well qualified to judge the merits of the science. I don’t think there is a huge conspiracy, not just among U.S. scientists, but scientists worldwide, to falsify data.

      1. TimR

        Thanks, I’ll plug ’em into a search and see what comes up.
        Incidentally, I don’t think you have to believe in a “conspiracy” to believe that science can get things wrong. See Gary Taubes’ book Good Calories, Bad Calories for ex of how this happened (and is still happening) in the area of nutrition research.
        Also, I know we humans always credit our current era as the most bad-ass, “cutting-edge”, technologically advanced era EVAH, but consider that the Victorians once felt that way too. (And given current levels of corruption and societal decline across a wide swathe of social institutions, I’m not sure that our current crop of scientists could necessarily hold a candle to those guys, ceteris paribus.)

        1. Kermit

          Taubes is a very good example, isn’t he?

          This question I asked about the actual science is a perfect example of the Emperor having no clothes. Perfect. Almost everyone agrees not only that he does have clothes, but that his clothes are of the finest quality.

          But then there is that inconvenient question . . .

    4. Malmo

      @ TimR

      I’m not a scientist, and even if I were it would only be germane if I were an expert in climate science. My understanding is that climate science is extremely complex, which puts it beyond virtually all laypersons ability to comprehend and or judge one way or the other in a thorough scientific manner. I readily admit that I believe in man made global climate change. I can’t prove my belief, so I suppose there’s a fideistic element to my belief. In other words I tend to trust the “experts” on the subject, even though I don’t have a scientific background to inform my trust. I guess it’s a blind faith in the scientific priesthood’s accuracy on most matters scientific. I do share TimR’s skepticism of some aspects of scientific consensus, especially as it applies to nutrition and psychiatry and its attendant pharmaceutical love affair. I also agree that AGW belief by some non scientists is driven largely by ideology more than anything else. Still, all that being said, I don’t think the negative examples of scientific imprecision over time or ideological blinders in some is nearly enough to persuade me that global climate change isn’t a function of man made inputs. Common sense informs me that 7 billion people and their collective carbon footprints effect climate in a dangerously bad way. The question isn’t so much is there AGW, but rather what the hell is to be done about it? Reasonable people can and will differ on that score, me included.

      1. Kermit

        They like to have you believe that it is just too complex to understand. I will say that if you get into the physics, it certainly would seem to be. But the question of what the science consists of is a simple question, and it has a very simple answer. I’m not surprised that no one seems to be able to give the answer, however, as this is not something that the propaganda sites would want more people to know.

    5. Binky Bear

      Being ignorant and perpetuating ignorance is an option. Plenty of people are pursuing that simply because it is easier than learning or thinking. That’s how democracy collapses, then society.
      Imagine the Bush administration response to Katrina applied to east coast and west coast cities that find themselves without affordable food or drinkable water after a longer than normal stretch of adverse climate-California drought, east coast storms, midwest amplification of what they already get in season. It should be great!

  18. Brick

    Reading Curl’s article it did not appear to be a complete denunciation of anthropogenic warming. What he appears to be saying to me is that climate change has an anthropogenic and natural element and because we cannot determine the relevant affects of each, we should not waste money on anthropogenic warming until we understand it further. I would agree about the there being anthropogenic and natural elements but strongly disagree that we don’t need to tackle anthropogenic warming. I also strongly suspect that policy on climate change is skewed in favor of big business and against the individual.

    Climate natural cycles include ENSO (La nina and el nino), The QBO , Sunspot activity , Sun magnetic field changes, multidecadal cycles in deep water formation. The maunder minimum for example was caused by changes in the Sun and there is evidence that a recent change in the sun magnetic field has had an impact over recent years. This does not mean anthropogenic warming is not occurring just that the climate is complicated.

    What we can say is that increasing CO2 in an atmosphere will physically cause warming baring feedback effects. Positive feedback effects include more thunderstorms increasing absorption of the suns energy, shifting plankton (plankton is one of the big absorbers of CO2) , ozone recovery after banning CFC’s. Negative feedback effects include more low level cloud which reflects incoming radiation from the sun, shifted weather patterns and different mountain torque. Nobody is quite sure how these feedback effects add up, but the consensus of opinion seems to be that they will not stop the effects of anthropogenic warming.

    It is important to recognize that fossil fuel burning is only part of the story and the carbon cycle plays a big part. Tree loss, acidic rain, farming , cement production , heavier rains in some areas (more growth to absorb co2) , drought and desert patterns (affect on incoming radiation), human rubbish (methane), soot affecting snow, tundra melting (release of methane), ice cap melting (raising water, plankton bloom?) etc etc. Generally climate and carbon cycle modellers disagree with the IPCC on details, but not on the wider themes.For all the IPCC’s faults and successes, there is a very inconvenient truth in their data, Namely that even if you stop all fossil fuel burning then there will still be anthropogenic warming. To be clear I am not advocating fossil fuels are unfairly picked on, but that other industries escape scrutiny for political reasons.

    There are enough black swan risks with climate change that not only should it be researched more, but policy needs to stop pussy footing around large business interests. Do we want to gamble again that an outlier risk will not happen? We need to be open to new ideas even if they complicate or change our views and sometimes I think climate science has tended to paint itself into a corner through over simplification and the need to drive political funding.

  19. Johann Sebastian Schminson

    Anyone remember the 7th grade science experiment entitled ‘Life in a Closed Ecosystem’, in which clipped grass is placed in a sealed jar of water and then the water is sampled and checked under a microscope every day?

    If you did not do this experiment, or if you have forgotten it, it is a clear macro example of what is currently happening to and within our closed environment.

    As for willfully stupid people, there is nothing that can be done to change them. Polity must be set aside, they must be overruled.

    1. Kermit

      What does this have to do with the science of man made CO2 and increasing temperatures?

      But, spoken like a true Central Planner. God help us . . .

      1. kay dub

        OK. Let me understand. The crux of your objection is the denial that increased levels of CO2 can (not does, but can) have effect on climate.
        You are aware, of course, that it is only the natural occurrence of CO2 (at levels 40% below what we currently have) that allows you to live on a planet that would otherwise be at 0 degrees C?
        To repeat: we know the sun gives us 240 watts per square meter on earth. The law that governs radiation says energy radiation is proportional to the 4th power of the temperature. Equating energy loss and gain gives an average earth temp of 0 degrees C. Yet average earth temp is 33C. Greenhouse gases (notably water vapor and CO2 absorb outgoing infrared, re-radiating energy downward to the surface. The surface, warmed by this back radiation radiates more infrared to maintain energy balance. Simple physics.
        (And why not water vapor as primary culprit of warming? Because, of course, its short-timeline. A water molecule remains in the atmosphere for about a week; the carbon molecule for hundreds to thousands of years. It is this cumulative effect that troubles most.)

        1. Kermit

          Thank you. Finally, an attempt to answer the actual question.

          But you are misreading my posts, I think. Nowhere have I said that CO2 has no effect on climate. I have said that it has an effect, but the physics of that effect, when CO2 is taken alone, results in a fraction of the temperature rise necessary to explain the current readings.

          It is NOT “simple physics” however. What accounts for the rest of the warming? And, what is the science behind this? (Again – not the technical aspects – just a simple generalized description is what I’m asking.)

          1. Banger

            CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas and also, again, the Earth and all life and most systems I know are not linear. As I explained in one part of the system a one degree rise or drop is pretty irrelevant but at tipping points or phase changes even a fraction of a degree can have a major effect–this is what you fail to take into account which is why you see no risk to our situation. It is certainly possible that there is no risk but it is also more likely that there is from what we humans collectively know.

            1. Kermit

              But, you don’t know why it is that climate modelers attribute so much importance to CO2, even when the physics says that the effects of CO2 alone are relatively small? How, then, can you believe so strongly?

      2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        God will not help us.

        C02 is a waste product. We will be poisoned by it. You can’t figure that out that parallel? Jesus H. Freekin’ Christ, are you dense?

        BTW: Rational Central Planning beats mismanagement by buffoonery and willful ignorance, hands down.

    1. allcoppedout

      I agree with Kay. However, I remain sceptical on AGW because I am a scientist. I’m not a denier and find nearly all their objections similar to dross that prevents a rape victim getting an abortion. I have sympathy with the exasperation expressed on having to become a climate scientist to understand what is going on. There are issues on trust that scientists have to answer (Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ and debate round that since 1962 is a start, big pharma and clinical trials another). The image of science as ‘value-free’ is completely untrue as are all academic claims to impartiality through tricks of the ‘objective voice’. At its most ludicrous, we had the teaching of post-modernism with no questioning of how come, as no standards could be legitimate, we teachers were still doing the marking.

      ‘Anything goes’ doesn’t work – clearly it eliminates itself as it makes the meta-statement ‘nothing can go’ and this violates anything goes. But we tend to medical doctors rather than witches. When it comes to climate scientists, we have little experience of them and they don’t do stuff for us of obvious benefit like quacks (let’s be fair, a lot of medicine isn’t kosher).

      The evidence isn’t as clear as Kay’s brief above. But how are we supposed to explain complex evidence to people who can’t do any of the maths, don’t understand systems theories generally, let alone climate science models specifically and when the top end of lay opinion thinks dumbed down rot like ‘Horizon’ explains science? Worse than this, part of the debate uses the shape of graphs to convince people because they are assumed dumb enough to fall for various deceptions in presentation, won’t know about logarithmic relations and so on.

      There’s worse – most people are useless at critical reasoning generally and fail all those tests in which they are asked to work out what is factually supported in given material. Economics is dominated not by people like Yves or Steve Keen – they are very much niche players even though I think mostly right. Books and academic literature on climate change are not dominated by the deniers – they are niche players and wrong. I’m hardly likely to ask a random group of 1000 to come up with instructions on building a Bose-Einstein condensate. I’d ask a scientist who might know like Lene Hau and certainly wouldn’t want some plonker in a BBC or Fox newsroom as intermediary.

      Even if we give references to good material, we can’t give the ability to understand the material and what it is really saying. I haven’t come across a denier who is a scientist so far, though I have read some sceptical scientific work of the type one would expect in an open discipline with peer review. I’d forget the science to a fair degree and focus on why it is we don’t have much of a global-local plan for safety, self-sustainability and what climate control we can manage. We are so dumb we let them distract us from the basic issue.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        “. . . big pharma and clinical trials another . . .”

        If it was not science which allowed you to understand that these clinical trials were warped by the capital that funded them, then what was it that gave you a clue?

        In the end, science rights itself. Greed and politics do not.

      2. Kermit

        Thanks for a good post, even if I don’t agree with everything you say.

        The only thing I would suggest is to look into the question I’ve been asking here. What does the science actually consist of? Is it good science? The CO2 science is physics, but it only provides for a fraction of the current warming. How do climate scientists explain the bulk of the warming? IMHO, you will be quite surprised.

        1. Vatch

          If you believe that we will be quite surprised by how climate scientists explain the bulk of global warming, you must think that you know the answer to your question. Please provide us with your answer, so we may be quite surprised.

          1. Kermit

            Yes, I could do that. But the more interesting thing here is that no one (yet) has even come close to explaining something that should be obvious to anyone who has studied this enough to have a strong belief.

            1. Vatch

              You could do that, but you won’t, hmm? Because it’s more interesting this way? Do you know what they call a person who posts messages on an internet forum just to provoke interesting replies?

              1. Kermit

                No, you are mis-interpreting my posts. And you’re doing it purposely. The belief in man-made global warming is so rabid that the believers feel they have to attack anyone personally who does not agree with them. With the one very simple question I posed here, I tried to show the believers how baseless their system of belief is.

                Baseless – without foundation in fact.

                If you are going to call people who disagree with you stupid and numbskulls, at least be able to answer a very simple question about your beliefs.

                1. Vatch

                  You are being hypocritical. You complain that people have not answered your question (even though they have answered it), and then you refuse to answer questions that people pose to you. I think you’re the one who is in thrall to a baseless belief system.

                2. skippy

                  Your the one working from the “belief’ perspective Kermit.

                  I “think” the evidence is compelling and valid due to the enormity of all the cross discipline data. Which is further observed by the simple fact that over 90% of all societal collapses are due to environmental degradation.

                  You believe others operate on the same metaphysical plain as you do, but, do not ergo I don’t believe in anything, nada, zip, absolutely zero.

                  skippy… if you understood its about energy and not simplistic scales used to inaccurately measure these energy events, you might have a basic understanding of whats occurring.

        2. LY

          Are you looking for the magic words “positive feedback loops”?

          Also, please show your work behind your assertion that the CO2 levels aren’t enough to influence global warming.

          1. Kermit

            CO2 levels DO influence global warming. Just not all that much. Again – if this was not the case, why the major effort to find sensitivity factors for it? IMHO, no further proof is needed (but it is available if you care to search a bit).

            1. SDB


              I’ve turned over to the dark side over the past year. Isn’t it amazing that none of these true believers could answer your question above?? I now know that I didn’t know squat about AGW-Climate Change until i started honestly trying to understand what the sketpics were so skeptical about. Now, my goodness, it is shocking how little advocates of AGW-Climate Change understand.

              Can I take a shot at your question? It’s a simple one after all. Again, shocking, just SHOCKING, that no one could answer this.

              Your question: “How do climate scientists explain the bulk of the warming? IMHO, you will be quite surprised.”

              Simple. CO2 has a marginal, and logarithmic, warming effect. The concern is positive feedback loops, pirmarily involving water vapor. It’s supposed to be INCREASED WATER VAPOR (not CO2) that causes “the bulk of the warming”.

              What do I win?

              The liberal-progressive-left has abandoned their critical thinking skills on this issue. It’s truely a shame, and it’s embarrasing.

            2. LY

              You first. You ask everyone to show their hand, yet you never show your hand.

              Show your hand, or I’ll have to conclude you’re a reductio ad absurdum troll.

              Where is this better science of yours? I can’t find it – maybe because the top searches for “skeptical” websites are mostly full of it. I’m skeptical of the skepticism because when I ask for the better hypothesis, models and data, I get propaganda instead.

              1. SDB

                LY, what exactly are you looking for?

                p.s. I didn’t see that you had already half-answered Kermit’s question above with “positive feedback loops”. That’s right, with the addition of primarily water vapor for further specification.

      3. Binky Bear

        Clearly represents an attempt to put a reasonable centrist face on ignorant climate denial.
        Climate science is too hard.
        Climate scientists, I just don’t trust them, what do they do, it’s too hard to Google it.

        Barbie thinking is what the people behind the problem anticipate from you and what they are paying huge sums of money to think tanks and media conglomerates to perpetrate.

  20. Banger

    I am stunned at the insulting statements being made here to the science profession. I am a big critic of science and the various orthodoxies that crop up in academia but at least they have some attachment to data, to studying the issue. Instead we have people comment here who obviously know nothing about any science or how scientific findings are achieved. They are the best knowledge we have on the subject. Yet, these comment demand we “prove” that the earth is round–why is the burden of proof on us? The burden of proof is on them!!! You, skeptics of science, give me proof that CO2 and methane produces by human beings has no effect on climate it just goes up and poof is transformed into fairy dust? Or it is not up there in enough quantities to make any difference. These guys have never heard of complexity, ecology, systems theory, catastrophe theory and they comment on this blog? They don’t ever think about tools they use like risk assessment? They are 100% sure of themselves and are willing to risk my grandchildren’s life on a whim?

    1. Kermit

      And, have you considered the effect on a great many people of the massive costs to solve a problem that we don’t even know if it is a problem? I could just as easily say that I am stunned at the ignorance displayed here about what the science actually consists of. Why would you not know that with the stakes so high?? So far, a billion dollars a day and counting, from what I’ve read.

      As for science – my thought has for a long time been, when it comes to climate science – science prostituted to politics. I get angry when I think of the damage these people have done to science. (my background was physics/mathematics.)

      1. Vatch

        Yes, the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil lobbyists have caused significant harm to science. It’s truly scandalous.

      2. Banger

        Again, risk assessment is done by a careful assessment of costs and benefits of any particular course of action. It is possible to do so based on the data we have now within what I would call a reasonable degree of certainty but certainly not in a definite degree.

        If you take the worst-case scenario, i.e., a runaway feedback loop that has us releasing large amounts of methane from Siberia and other areas plus Greenland losing ice that will not reflect heat back into space but keep it close to the surface then you are looking catastrophe and a truly chaotic system that could reclaim equilibrium in a decade or a century and that equilibrium could come at +5 dedgrees or +10 degrees. On the other hand maybe there are systems we don’t understand that would mediate that say, increased cloud cover and so on. We don’t know my point is that you are willing to make that gamble because you think that actually moving to non-fossil fuels would be a worse disaster. I don’t agree, I believe that political forces are keeping most renewables off line–I believe the technology is ripe at this time and could be brought into play with some but not major disruption. The current power-elites would be threatened and conservation and rebuilding (better engineered buildings, vehicles and so on) would cut into their power.

      3. Banger

        So if scientists are prostitutes (some of them are) then why don’t they all work at 5 times the salary for Exxon?

      4. Binky Bear

        because your paradigms are flawed and outdated and your pursuit of scientific knowledge was clearly colored by mercenary pursuits rather than gathering of data to enhance understanding. Profit motive colors your practice of research and therefore your framing of scientific knowledge comes with a profit motivation foremost, rather than harm reduction or pursuit of knowledge.
        On the other hand one must consider that having the self-knowledge that mankind is powerful enough to make unwitting mistakes that can put the continuity of the species at risk is priceless; we managed to avoid total nuclear war. In the good old days there were less than 5,000 humans left on the planet due to the climate; maybe we are meant to get back to that level of pan-human intimacy. Ahh for the good old days…

      5. TomDority

        Don’t understand how you equate ‘one billion dollars a day’ as massive and, from your tone you imply a negative effect on many people. Frankly, a billion bucks a day spent on scientific inquiry is far better than a billion a day spent on financial chicanery, economic usary, political influence etc. Why not mention the billions in support of the fossil fuel industry – whose impacts, as you know, are more than a billion a day or, how about the trillions spent on war – see Iraq.
        Golly, a billion a day on science – gosh that is bad according to you – learn something about economics and science and humanity and decency before you float your “innocent questions’ for which you intimate your superior intelect – wich I do not believe exists – pony up or ride on out

  21. zephyrum

    No point in wrestling a pig, unless you enjoy thrashing around in feces.

    The moment either side of this “debate” makes it about the debaters and not about the subject being debated, it’s no longer science. Science involves observation and experimentation of a subject matter. Unless people are the subject they have no place in the discussion.

    (I’m well aware this post is about people and their thinking, but please don’t assert there is any scientific methodology being employed in its observations.)

    The problem with this post, and most of the commentary, is the devolution into name-calling and hard feelings. How is this helpful?

    I think there’s a more useful line of discussion, which is to parametrize where climate science might go as it evolves, talk about the implications, enumerate possible remediation efforts and their effects, and then identify likely optimal paths to the future. Talking about this in the context of economic considerations would be germane for this blog, and would be–as far as I know–the only public forum where such a discussion is taking place.

    Modern man disses on the Hellenic scientific method, but the Greeks in 100 BC did enjoy the ability to create a postulate and reason about its consequences, without necessarily proving that the postulate was an attribute of the real world. In my sixth decade it’s become quite clear to me that one weakness of modern science is the obsession with concretizing every detail of existence before applying reason. Today we are spoiled with an abundance of facts, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that frees us from the responsibility of taking into account our ignorance as well.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      It always seems tempting to take distance from the fray and thus become the voice of reason, and though you make some excellent points from that vantage, it never works in the end. No one can remain king of that mountain. Unengaged, you are soon irrelevant; once engaged, you are pulled right in to the thick of it.

      1. zephyrum

        So BB, there’s no place for reason in the discussion of climate change? That’s like saying there’s no room for water in the desert. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value.
        As for distance from the fray, please reread my fifth paragraph recommending a specific line of discussion.
        No need to jump into the sty. Really.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          I didn’t say there was no room for reason and on the contrary complemented you for yours.

          As to the fray, you avoid the issue. Indeed, you lamented the fray and then tip-toed into it – quite well – but into it none the less.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            What I’m saying is that “reason” is not synonymous with “distance” or being above the fray. It’s neutral to it. Getting into arguments such as this are unavoidable due to the bad faith or ignorance (as the post makes clear) of the deniers. Because of this bad faith, reason and facts will inevitably get to be up-close and personal .

    2. Kermit

      I like your last sentence.

      “Today we are spoiled with an abundance of facts, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that frees us from the responsibility of taking into account our ignorance as well.”

      That is a perfect sentence for this discussion.

      Back to the inability of anyone, it seems, to answer the question about what the science actually consists of – and looked at in the light of your comment about “Science involves observation and experimentation . . .” – what exactly is involved in this “experimentation” that shows man made CO2 to be a significant factor in the current warming? Why is this question so difficult for anyone to answer here?

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        The impossibility of responding to your taunt in the context of this comment section and with the infantile restraint of no links or references is what makes your bad faith most nakedly obvious. Otherwise, you would provide us with the formal proof of your own thesis in a paragraph or two.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        It is your taunt that makes you so clearly disingenuous. I assume that either you have no sustainable proof that co2 alone contributes significantly to global warming or that c02 in combination with other things has the same result. Moreover, were that the case, it is highly likely your thesis would be well known and that at least some of the commenters here would have heard of it.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          …that c02 does not contribute significantly to global warming or that c02 in combination with something else doesn’t produce the same result.

  22. hardworkingbee

    If at the currently projected rate of consumption we have about 150 years of carbon, gas and oil to burn, does halving that rate, so that we put all that CO2 up in the atmosphere in 300 years instead, really solve the global warming problem or just buys us another century before the climate catastrophe hits us?

    The answer is somewhat murky. ‘The duration period for carbon dioxide molecules in the atmosphere is somewhere between 100 and 500 years […] on average the duration may be around 200-300 years. Some scientists believe that it could be longer than that, others believe that the duration is shorter.’ Cook, David R. “Carbon Dioxide Duration in Atmosphere”, Online posting. June 2012. NEWTON Ask a Scientist. www dot newton dot dep dot anl dot gov slash askasci slash wea00 slash wea00296 dot htm.

  23. alex morfesis

    Late to the party as usual…

    before anyone starts barking, my mindset is really not as against the global warming argument as it may appear…we need to move to solar and wind at all costs over the next 25 years. I believe in localized distributed power with smaller windmills and distributed solar panels across all new homes that are built over a certain dollar amount, but AYERS and the rest of his daddy’s old friends at big UTIL would not like the loss of rentier opportunities.

    That having been said…the same clowns who were harping for big oil during the jimmy carter days and feeding us nonsense about a “new ice age” to help justify collusion in lifting up oil prices when they should have been stable, are now sitting with a bit more grey in the hair feeding us stories about how global warming is upon us, in this way, leading us away from certain policies to bring the “crowd” into a different mindset.

    Burping up millions of years of carbon by using fossil fuels has been with us for about 150 years…its time to act a bit more civilized and move on to cleaner ways of providing propulsion…period, end of story…

    we should not be doing it since scientist “x” says the worlds penguins will be needing sunscreen soon…

    its just the smart thing to do…

    2 percent per year conversion to solar and wind over the next 25 years will get us there…there enough to have a decent chance of not making the worlds air look like Beijing or LA on a regular basis…

    the story is constantly changing…if one were to bother looking back about 15 years ago, the solar side had to take a back seat as it would only make sense if oil went above $45 bux per barrel… last I checked, it was a wee bit above that…and its amazing how the costs of being kept poor keeps going up…Utilities could reduce carbon and industry could follow suit by having different amounts of energy flowing into the home. All the waste eaten up by transformers in electronics and lost energy from stone age utility lines along with going to solar and wind over the next 25 years would finish off this argument and leaves the world with some cleaner air to breath…

    yes volcanoes happen, and we bounce around the universe and through space and yadda yadda yadda…but we could and should do more. Stop arguing with your neighbor so much about petty things. Joining with and working with your neighbors for shopping and other events would open up roads and burn up less fuel. And stop wasting time watching the boob tube. I don’t and I gather from Yves comments along the way, she doesn’t either…get a life and leave a better world. Don’t use triflings as an excuse not to do something or to even try…

    discooperationalism is one of wall streets greatest inventions…

    right up there with communism…

    (not trying to twist the conversation with that last piece or start a new line of blah blah blah)

    1. Larry Barber

      There was never more than a handful of scientists that hypothesised about a new ice age coming. This is just more lies from denialist camp.

      1. SDB

        Larry Barber,

        That’s not true. Even the CIA was concerned about global cooling. Google it. Would the CIA have been concerned if it was “never more than a hadnful of scientists” ? Maybe your “never more than a handful of scientists” …is… “just more lies from the ALARMIST camp” ? Consider that.

  24. RWood

    I profer two quotations from Konrad Lorenz, from The Waning of Humaneness:
    “There exists, absolutely, the possibility that the human race will elude extinction despite poisoned air and water, overpopulation, radioactivity, and a depleted ozone layer; while the race somehow may survive these very real dangers, there also exists the second possibility that a rigid state-controlled sociopolitical organization of humanity will, at the same time and as a consequence, come to prevail and force mankind’s subsequent development further away from the humane in an uninterrupted descending trajectory.”
    “If we want to prevent the sort of tyranny that, independent of every political orientation, develops when the size of a nation-state reaches specific dimensions, we must begin at once to make our children immune to manipulations of their emotional and intellectual development. This immunization can only be achieved when every maturing human has been taught thoroughly to see through the techniques of propaganda.”

  25. Keating Willcox

    First, most climate scientists are not supporters of AGW. They believe the Earth is warming as it leaves the Little Ice Age, and that AGW has only a very small effect on our temperature. This is why temperatures have not been rising for 17 years, even though computer models pointed towards massive increases. Finally, it is the AGW activists that have made fools of themselves by wanting to restrict the opinions of all scientists and even putting them in jail. The science is clear. 1,000 years ago was much warmer than now, and there have been times in the past with both very warm and very cold weather, completely without AGW. Our total ice area considering both poles is increasing not decreasing. The models that suggest AGW is a big problem are very wrong, and have been unable to predict climate even in a minimal fashion. I amazed that someone as sharp as Yves is such moronic buffoon on this topic.

    31,500 American scientists have signed the Oregon Petition dismissing fears of “catastrophic” global warming and climate disruption; over 1,000 international scientists dissent from manmade global warming claims. Claims of a “97% consensus” with the IPCC are pure baloney.

    31,487 American scientists have signed this petition,
    including 9,029 with PhDs – stand up against the Global warming crowd…

    No wonder climate alarmists are so angry, desperate and vicious. Now they have two more reasons.

    Two new scientific reports obliterate the supposed justification and urgency for economically devastating anti-fossil fuel policies. One is by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC); the other, incredibly, was written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change itself.

    Moreover, the planet can hardly “continue” to warm catastrophically if there has been no warming at all for 17 years, following a decade of cooling and a mere twenty years of mild warming.

    It gets even worse. Confronted with all this truly disastrous news on the eve of their upcoming global warming summit, IPCC politicians, bureaucrats and eco-activists are trying to figure out how to cover up the bad news. Germany wants all references to the absence of warming deleted from the IPCC report. Whereas 20 years of mild warming were enough to demand immediate drastic action to avoid a climate cataclysm, now the Germans say 17 years of no warming is “too short” and thus “misleading.”

    Hungary doesn’t want the IPCC to give “deniers” more ammunition. Belgium wants the “world’s most authoritative climate body” to manipulate the data and graphs, by using a different starting year that cleverly creates a more noticeable upward temperature trend. The Obama Administration wants the IPCC to explain away the absence of warming, by saying the mysteriously missing atmospheric heat was somehow absorbed by the upper 1.2 miles of oceans waters, which have not actually warmed, according to ARGO project data, or perhaps somehow in the really deep ocean, where we have no data.

    So, anti-AGW scientists agree that the earth is warming from the recent mini ice age, we disagree with the computer models and suggest the actual change is small and has been nothing for almost 2 decades, we have had many benefits from more CO2 and few losses as of now, and the overall effort to reduce CO2 would be extremely expensive and have almost no effect…

    1. Patricia

      “”Moronic buffoons” believe better science. I am not a moronic buffoon. Neither are many scientists in fields other than climate science. See?”

  26. Keating Willcox

    The very real positive externality of inadvertent atmospheric CO2 enrichment must be considered in all studies examining the SCC [social cost of carbon].”

    – Craig Idso, “The Positive Externalities of Carbon Dioxide: Estimating the Monetary Benefits of Rising Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations on Global Good Production.” Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (October 2013).

    The Carbon Sense Coalition has accused those waging a war on carbon dioxide of being “anti-green.” Why? Because CO2 is the gas of life, feeding every green plant, producing food for every animal and in the process releasing oxygen, another gas of life, into the atmosphere.

    A recent study in Remote Sensing, Measuring and Modeling Global Vegetation Growth: 1982–2009) notes that data from remote sensing devices show significant increase in annual vegetation growth during the last three decades.

    They also report that CO2 fertilization is more important than climate variation in determining the magnitude of the vegetation growth. In its words:

    The CO2 fertilization effect of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by mankind’s burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, gas and oil, is beginning to assume its vaulted position of being a tremendous boon to the biosphere, as all of humanity and the entirety of the world’s animal life depend ultimately upon having a sufficient supply of plant life to sustain themselves.

    – See more at:

    That said, I am a firm believer that we have always had and always will be able to provide some sort of food for humans. We have the capability to make a minimal ration for far less money than we do now (virtually all food expenses are not farmer or crop related, they are for transport, packaging and marketing) so the benefit to the biosphere, while real, is not really important. It is, however, something good coming from CO2.

    1. Patricia

      “Co2 is great! Even more will make everything even better!

      Delusion is great! See how good it looks on me? Try it, you’ll like it, too!”

  27. Keating Willcox

    The chief benefits of global warming include: fewer winter deaths; lower energy costs; better agricultural yields; probably fewer droughts; maybe richer biodiversity. It is a little-known fact that winter deaths exceed summer deaths — not just in countries like Britain but also those with very warm summers, including Greece. Both Britain and Greece see mortality rates rise by 18 per cent each winter. Especially cold winters cause a rise in heart failures far greater than the rise in deaths during heatwaves.

    Cold, not the heat, is the biggest killer. For the last decade, Brits have been dying from the cold at the average rate of 29,000 excess deaths each winter. Compare this to the heatwave ten years ago, which claimed 15,000 lives in France and just 2,000 in Britain. In the ten years since, there has been no summer death spike at all. Excess winter deaths hit the poor harder than the rich for the obvious reason: they cannot afford heating. And it is not just those at risk who benefit from moderate warming. Global warming has so far cut heating bills more than it has raised cooling bills. If it resumes after its current 17-year hiatus, and if the energy efficiency of our homes improves, then at some point the cost of cooling probably will exceed the cost of heating — probably from about 2035, Prof Tol estimates.

    The greatest benefit from climate change comes not from temperature change but from carbon dioxide itself. It is not pollution, but the raw material from which plants make carbohydrates and thence proteins and fats. As it is an extremely rare trace gas in the air — less than 0.04 per cent of the air on average — plants struggle to absorb enough of it. On a windless, sunny day, a field of corn can suck half the carbon dioxide out of the air. Commercial greenhouse operators therefore pump carbon dioxide into their greenhouses to raise plant growth rates.
    ‘The foxes round here are so urban that they go to the country at weekends.’

    ‘The foxes round here are so urban that they go to the country at weekends.’

    The increase in average carbon dioxide levels over the past century, from 0.03 per cent to 0.04 per cent of the air, has had a measurable impact on plant growth rates. It is responsible for a startling change in the amount of greenery on the planet. As Dr Ranga Myneni of Boston University has documented, using three decades of satellite data, 31 per cent of the global vegetated area of the planet has become greener and just 3 per cent has become less green. This translates into a 14 per cent increase in productivity of ecosystems and has been observed in all vegetation types.

    1. Patricia

      “Heat better than cold!
      More Co2 better than less!
      Bigger better plants.
      Plants better than animals.”

  28. dutch

    Can one of you climate scientists out there explain exactly how (quantitatively) increasing CO2 concentrations cause climate change? As part of the explanation please discuss how all other possible causes of such change have been ruled out. I feel like such an idiot not understanding these things, but please enlighten me if you can.

    1. Keating Willcox

      The co2 between 400 and 800 ppm co2 absorbs the energy from sunlight and redirects it. A change of co2 doubling the level, may raise the temperature 2 degrees. The effect is almost complete at our present level of co2, but this is simply an estimate.

      1. dutch

        I believe the CO2 conc. is currently around 400 ppm. How does CO2 absorb and redirect the sun’s energy? How is that converted to heat? How is this any different from what happens when the sun’s energy (presumably electromagnetic) strikes other molecules like O2 or N2 in the atmosphere? There is a lot more of them than CO2.

    1. Patricia

      Dan Fejes called purposely ignorant people cretins and dumbasses. Keating calls Yves a moronic buffoon. Then he says Yves shouldn’t make personal attacks and tells her she looks foolish.

  29. Keating Willcox

    What determines surface temperature at any spot on earth?

    Apart from a tad of geothermal heat and a wisp of heat from nuclear power generators, every bit of surface energy (including coal and biomass) comes directly or indirectly from the sun. There is no other source of surface heat – everything else just stores, releases or re-directs solar energy.

    Surface heat is maximised when the sun is directly overhead, near a peak in the sunspot cycle and when Earth’s orbit comes closest to the sun (perihelion). The hottest places on earth will be found near the equator, after mid-day, in mid-summer, at perihelion and when there are no clouds in the sky to reflect solar radiation. Temperature will be maximised when there is no cooling wind and no nearby surface water or moist soils to cool things by evaporation. Since higher temperature also occurs at lower altitudes, one of the hottest places on earth is Death Valley, a desert below sea level, where the temperature can reach 56 °C on a mid-summer afternoon.

    Frigid temperatures are found near the poles, where solar energy is weak. The coldest place on Earth is Vostok at high altitude in Antarctica where the air is very dry and where the temperature can go as low as minus 89 °C with a cloudless sky in the dead of winter.

    Since both extremes could occur simultaneously, Earth’s maximum daily temperature range is thus up to 145 °C. But at any single place, the diurnal variation is more likely to be about 15-40 °C.

    Carbon dioxide has no effect on any of the above temperature drivers – it generates no new heat, cannot affect latitude, solar orbits, sun spots, altitude, season, time of day, clouds or the proximity of water. All it can possibly do is encourage plant growth, and intercept, absorb and redirect a tiny bit radiant energy passing either way between the sun, Earth’s surface and space. But that effect is almost exhausted at current levels of carbon dioxide. Doubling the carbon dioxide content from 400 ppm to 800 ppm (which may take the next 100 years) might possibly increase surface temperatures by up to 2 °C – not even noticeable compared to the daily temperature ranges we cope with now.

    Everyone can feel the powerful warmth of the rising sun, the variations between summer and winter, the moderating effect of clouds and the shock of hot and cold winds.

    But even if carbon dioxide levels doubled overnight, most people on earth would not notice any difference.

    Read the full report: [PDF, 52KB]

  30. Keating Willcox

    Here is the good news. Recent advances in the pollution free production of ammonia from air and water, then using the ammonia as fuel, is a cheap and complete answer to the storage and transportation of electricity created by solar cells. There is now no need to discover new technologies to enter an era where 100% of all new energy generation is on a solar-ammonia cycle, with 0 pollution. Mr. Market will solve all the problems with no help from Al Gore.

    1. Patricia

      “Ammonia is made from air and water and makes best fuel and energy storage. Mr. Market discovered it because he knows everything. No more problems! Thank you, Mr. Market!”

  31. BondsOfSteel

    So… I saw this article on Google News a couple weeks ago:

    Report: 95 Percent Of Global Warming Models Are Wrong

    I was like wow. I wonder what the methodology was. So… I went and looked. None. So I went an looked up this “Climate Scientist”.

    Roy Spencer

    ‘Spencer is a signatory to An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming,[24][25] which states that “Earth and its ecosystems – created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting”‘

    Wow. Determined Ignorance is correct. At this point, I think it’s best to mock, point, and laugh at such stupidity. We can cry later.

    1. allcoppedout

      That just about sums Keating up, if indirectly Bonds. Of course, believing as I do that the earth is run by rubber-masked aliens, I should favour global warming sufficient to melt the rubber and expose the conspiracy. I am, in true fact, working on a carbon dioxide lensing technique to get over Keating’s massively researched substantiation that a 2 degree rise is irrelevant. This will focus emissions from the CO2 bonds directly on aliens as required, rather than melting them all at once.

      Actual greenhouses have cold and hot spots. Stick in a heater and put the temperature up 2 degrees and you will see very noticeable effects. If this intervention is near a tipping point (say your greenhouse is full of plants that die in frost and the 2 degree rise is enough to prevent frost) the effects can be as serious as a healthy crop or all plants dead. A rise of 10 centigrade degrees doubles the rate of chemical reaction. So what does a 2 degree rise cause? Perhaps Keating will now plead the Fifth?

  32. allcoppedout has a relevant article on possible alternatives to CO2 for industrial age warming, cosmic rays from deep space and the sun. The claim here is they can’t be responsible for more than 10%. The journal (Environmental Research Letters) has some good stuff and free access. Another paper there has the climate science consensus that humans are causing global warming at 97% –

    I’m just a biochemist and would regard myself as lay in climate science. In fact, I’d struggle in a biochem lab after all these years sliding on the mud of social science and management in which you have to rely on ‘institutional facts’. I know I could collect some sceptical material from climate science journals and I still notice as I browse the odd claim that suggests sources other than greenhouse gases. I remain sceptical in the sense of open to further evidence and interpretation. I hope this is entirely different from denial from ignorance. Science changes far less than in populist myth. As Banger says, the case is made and more than that we should be working on rational implementation with ongoing evaluation (the real sceptical bit).

    The problem is we don’t have an economic science of doing the sensible through sensible investment.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      I remain sceptical in the sense of open to further evidence and interpretation. I hope this is entirely different from denial from ignorance.

      It’s impossible to argue with that position, but then it also shouldn’t be necessary. The post is not challenging scientific method or healthy skepticism, but rather, as you put it, denial from ignorance. Moreover, given the overall consensus climate scientists have that man made carbon addition to our climate (among other man made contributions) is causing serious and threatening climate issues, arguments that we should ignore this and take no measures or precautions to mitigate the problem are particularly insidious and frustrating.

      Finally, NC is not a scientific blog and the comment section, no matter how sophisticated the group of commenters, is not a laboratory. Common sense is un-apologetically used and respected as fair tender (not to imply that you have an issue with that – simply a general observation based on this particular thread).

  33. Keating Willcox

    The models as presented by the major climate “warmists” were not as wrong as they were exaggerated. The effect was much smaller than predicted, The “hockey stick” model however was a deliberate deception. The reason the climate is warming has a lot to do with being near the end of the mini-ice age, and the natural cycle of temperature.

    If you want something scary, here it is.

    A 1995–96 aeromagnetic survey over part of the Sinuous Ridge (SR) beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) divide shows a 70-km diameter circular pattern of 400–1200-nT anomalies suggesting one of the largest volcanic caldera(?) complexes on earth. Radar-ice-sounding (RIS) shows the northern part of this pattern overlies the SR, and extends south over the Bentley Subglacial Trench (BST). Modeled sources of all but one the caldera(?) anomalies are at the base of <1–2-km thick ice and their volcanic edifices have been glacially removed. The exception is a 700-m high, 15-km wide "volcano" producing an 800-nT anomaly over the BST. “Intrusion” of this “volcano” beneath 3 km of ice probably resulted in pillow basalt rather than easily removed hyaloclastite erupted beneath thinner ice. The background area (−300 to −500-nT) surrounding the caldera(?) is possibly caused by a shallow Curie isotherm. We suggest uplift of the SR forced the advance of the WAIS."

    A Caldera is an enormous network of volcanoes erupting at roughly the same time. Should this caldera erupt, it is likely that all the sheet ice in Antarctica would quickly melt, and the sea level would rise 6 meters, almost at once. Head for the hills

    1. Patricia

      Keating finally says that climate science isn’t really wrong, just exaggerated. But what IS scary is volcanoes. Now, those’ll get ya.

      But I hear Mr. Market is looking into cork. That is from a tree which grows bigger and better with more Co2. Thank you once again, Mr. Market!

    2. Larry Barber

      Be aware the Michael Mann is suing Nation Review over similar statements, and he has a good chance of winning. Maybe if we’re lucky he’ll go after all the trolls who accuse him of fraud and deception.

  34. hardWorkingBee

    As for remediation of our current situation, there are some ideas other than carbon credits trading. Switching as much energy production as possible to renewable sources might help. More efficient vehicles, insulation and batteries are achievable. Taxing heavily things like air travel and beef production would reduce the externalities of some heavy polluters. Some countries have much higher per capita CO2 emissions than others. It might be a good idea to control population growth on those nations. Since, for example, the fertility rate at the USA and many rich European nations is relatively low, some degree of stability could be achieved by simply stopping immigration to those countries.

    There’s a lot of little things we could be doing right now.

  35. mark f

    The Los Angeles Times editorial policy makes sense to me. They stopped publishing comments such as those seen here, that dispute the science.

    “Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published. Saying “there’s no sign humans have caused climate change” is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.”

    By Paul Thornton
    October 8, 2013, 3:21 p.m.,0,871615.story#ixzz2uGqdsuMU

    You will NEVER get the first or last word on this ahead of one of these people.

    we can admire their dedication to their decades worth of “feelings”, the research their amateur meteorologist cousin is doing, their time on the stock exchange, their willingness to keep repeating proven lies and slanders, and the like.

    But do we have to keep publishing them?

    follow the LA Times. Don’t publish things that are factually inaccurate.

  36. Tenney Naumer

    Yves, I commend you for bringing this topic to your blog. Until the business community really wakes up to the threat of climate change, we are looking at a very dismal future.

    Continually allocating assets to fossil-fuel infrastructure instead of to renewable energy sources is going to tank us all.

  37. Dr Duh

    What’s interesting (depressing) is that education and intelligence are not prophylactic against denialism. In conversations with very educated and intelligent people in both medicine and business, I find that climate denial tracks watching Fox News.

    Climate denial has become a marker of right wing tribal identity. While on a higher level this may be strategic, i.e., to leverage the Koch-fossil fuel industry money, it fits into the mainstream version of the ‘paranoid style in American politics’ as well as our general anti-intellectual bias. I’ve tried debating these people and it’s like talking to Moonies, they cherry pick nits and then willfully blind themselves to everything else.

    At this point I’ve come to believe that debating them is useless. They’re not willing to entertain evidence that climate change is real any more than a devout person would entertain evidence that god does not exist. It’s simply an article of faith that is not subject to proof through evidence.

    Climate change deniers need to be subjected to the same moral opprobrium that holocaust deniers face. In the end they are worse, the holocaust deniers are defending the people who murdered your grand parents. The climate change deniers are intent on murdering your children.

    The answer to them is not to debate whichever pseudo point they are raising, because by the time you marshal evidence they will have moved on to another, all in the name of sowing FUD.

    Instead, it’s time to get personal and call them out for what they are.
    The modern descendants of the cigarette lobby. The same liars who denied the overwhelming scientific consensus that smoking caused cancer. Paid liars sponsored by the Kochs and the fossil fuel industry. People who will gladly lie and destroy our children’s world to make themselves rich.

    Every time they bring up a denialist claim, reference the smoking denials. Meet FUD with stories of the tobacco companies lies, campaigns to ensnare children. Post pictures of diseased lungs and sick smokers. Tell stories about the family members you lost to smoking and how you’re not going to let smokestacks kill your children.

    There will always be climate change deniers, just as there will always be Nazi sympathizers, our job is to marginalize them.

    1. Vatch

      Hi Dr Duh. Regarding the cigarette lobby, one of the prominent climate change deniers is Fred Singer, who also actively denied the harm of second hand tobacco smoke.

  38. Sarastro

    Typical bloviation from a self-styled know-it-all, who’s reading from an antiquated activist script. But hey, Fejes, while you’re at it, feel free to ridicule the largest association of physicists in the country, the American Physical Society (APA) .

    Yeah, the physicists are taking a second look at the whole issue of CAGW… You’ll see they’re asking all the “skeptic’s questions” … apparently they’re not convinced by the party line.

    So let’s see how this will play out.

    Here’s one reason why the physicists are in a skeptical mood. Watch Richard Muller a Berekley physicist who claims to be a “true believer” in AGW taking apart some of Michael Mann’s frauds:

    Fact is, the “CO2 Driven” catastrophic global warming paradigm is fast eroding, filled as it is with bad data, massaged data, fake data and phony “climate models”.

    A peek at recent discussions in journals such as Nature and Nature Climate Change show that the catastrophists have bet the farm on a “monster” El Nino in the next 18 months that will warm the atmosphere nearly .5 degrees C. They’re desperate to find the “missing heat” that “disappeared” 10-17 years ago. Some even dream of “making up” for lost temperatures during the recent stasis.

    But wait, we’ve been told for decades that CO2 was driving the climate (which the physicists noted in their brief)

    Now we’re told that its ENSO that’s overwhelming the imputed GHG warming and having a cooling effect. But the ENSO is driven by trade winds and no one yet has an accepted theory how GHG controls the strength of trade winds. So much for settled science…

    As for “data”, there’s a vast chasm between the observed data and the often highly adjusted massaged inputs into climate models… indeed some of the luminaries in the field made their bones (yes you Michael Mann) on “hiding” cooling trends in tree rings or “hiding” earlier eras of warmer temperatures (the globally occurring Medieval Warming Period and the Roman warming period) in their proxy data studies.

    Bottom line is that since the last Ice Age ended in the 19th century there has been a gradual climate warming with periods of increasing temperatures and then stasis and sometime cooling in 60 year cycles. ENSO seems to amplify these trends in either direction. No one doubts that CO2 is a GHG… the scientific question is whether small changes in a trace gas measured in parts per million will set the climate on a path to catastrophe 100 years from now.

    1. Vatch

      I posted this information earlier this month, but it’s worth repeating. 2010 was the warmest year on record, and, like most of the other peak years, was an El Nino year. 1998 had an unusually powerful El Nino event, and that made 1998 a very warm year. Following this very powerful event, the annual temperatures declined somewhat, which makes it appear as though the world’s surface temperatures have been roughly stable for about 15 years. But from 1999 to 2010, the upward trend is clear, as is the longer trend from 1950 to 2010 or from 1950 to 2013. Sure, there are some warm years that don’t have an El Nino event, but that just makes the upward trend look a little bumpy. After the average dropped in 2011, it rose in 2012, and again in 2013. The next time there’s an El Nino, we can expect a very warm world. But I guess we won’t really know until it happens. Meanwhile, the denialists can continue denying.

      See the data and charts at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies:

      Chart of temperature from 1950 to 2013

      Table of temperature difference from mean, 1946 to 2013

    2. markf

      Please stop publishing the responses of these people, skeptics, deniers, fools, liars, whatever you want to call them.

      Just stop giving them a forum.

      1. sarastro92

        That’s right, Lambert. The physicists have called in a panel of climatologists — some such as Lindzen and Curry are open critics and skeptics. They’ll take up the issues that are outlined in the “Framing Document” . In other words the physicists are not exactly impressed that the claims of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) are convincing. So the physicists are asking the climatologists to help them sort things out. We’ll see how this plays out. But feel free to attack the American Physical Society (APS) too… an obvious gaggle of flat earthers.

        Now maybe the APS members will be convinced that CAGW is “settled science” after this exercise. But then again maybe they’ll agree with the skeptical camp that the Climate Science data are skewed, the models are deeply flawed and there’s no basis for drastic changes in energy and economic policy at this time.

  39. Patricia

    I don’t read everything on this site but I’ve never seen a comment thread like this one, packed with refusals of frightened people. There’s a name for them.


  40. kay dub

    Please explain, if you can, two things:
    the temperature of Venus (which according to mere sunlight abosrption/reflection calculations) should be 55 degrees C. It is, instead, 500 C, hot enough to melt lead.

    why Mars’ temperature is in line with sunlight calculations, i.e., it is estimated to be -50 C and it is.

    Hint: Mars’ atmosphere is about 1% the density of Earth’s; Venus’s consists of about 96% CO2/

  41. Hugh

    Kudos to Kermit for being such a successful troll. If the Petroleum Institute isn’t paying him, it should be. If you want to see the effects of CO2 on an atmosphere, one need look no further than Venus. Perhaps Kermit would like to try his climate denialism from its surface. Good luck with that, Kermit. While what we are seeing on our planet is much smaller in comparison, it is still quite disruptive/catastrophic. Again this is no surprise. The Devonian and Carboniferous periods lasted about 120 million years. We are now taking a significant fraction of the carbon laid down during this period and injecting it into the atmosphere in the time span of a few centuries. What would be really stupid would be to think that this would not have important effects on the atmosphere, the oceans, and the climate.

    All of this is beside the point for a troll. The strategy of a troll is basically to ask a series of “simple” questions. None of the replies will be deemed suitable, but even if the pushback is overwhelming, the troll will just move on to the next simple question. And when each point raised by the troll has been debunked in turn, he/she will just rephrase the initial question and start the cycle all over again.

    1. skippy

      First hint is when said commenter asks for reductionist over simplification of – complexity and ongoing data base building, refinement. Simple psyop divisive tactic w/ aim is to get people to attack the pinata they provide, rather than engage in meaningful conversations about the topic to start with.

      skippy… Kermits CO2 is a pinata, what the commenter does not want to engage in, is how many other factors [data points] or fields of scientific study actually corroborate human involvement in “planetary change”… climate change lmmao….

  42. Teejay

    I was standing on the ledge concluding “It’s a cruel, cruel world” from listening to Kermit, Kimyo, GD and Keating Willcox. Denying , trolling and distracting and demanding proof.
    But then Lambert: “‘Global warming camp”?” and Yves: “You put “rigorous mathematical standards” and “Andrew Watts” in the same sentence?” and finally Weinerdog43: “Kimyo, you ignorant slut.”. I snapped out of it and made my way back in laughing all the way.

  43. will nadauld

    Albedo effect losing effect due to melting. Methane gas release from the perma frost melting.
    The stupidity of open pit mines looking for lithium to put in the battery of the hybrid so you can feel better. The fuel required to acquire assemble and ship the hybrid outweigh (environmentally) by a long shot the life of the battery. This will become worse as the lithium gets harder to come by. The stupidity and mixed message of the toll booth. Ever think about how much fuel we burn coming to a stop at the toll booth? Basically everything needs to change. Doesn’t even matter if agw is real, life sucks for most everyone who sits in traffic. Disposible technology so the kids in china can get cancer mining our old junk for toxic metal? I*t all sucks. Cant wait to move to my farm and forget all of you.

  44. Jay M

    this thread is a case study in AGW troll behavior
    really better to leave the whole argument up for analysis (ie how the trolls work threads) increasing the watts per sq meter balance due to CO2 reflectivity is old science, not to mention acidification of the oceans

  45. bh2

    What the “global climate change” community lack is any trace of humility, which inevitably leads to selection bias. Those who profoundly “believe” this doctrine declare themselves righteous persons laboring in a noble cause which is above question. Of course. Inevitably those who oppose their views are cast as mental midgets churlishly unwilling to concede what is “obvious” in the collective view of these enlightened who bless the world with their presence and are particularly offended by any who reject their proposition that “consensus” is sufficient to render theory actionable.

    While that majority-rule principle describes operation of politics, it bears exactly zero weight in the operation of scientific inquiry. Evidence is evidence, opinion is opinion. Confusing one for the other is a profound rookie error. Echoing the error repeatedly in public only makes it more absurd — and less likely an innocent mistake.

    “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” — Feynman

    You may believe in the opinion of experts or you may believe in the scientific method. But you cannot simultaneously believe in both.

  46. Malmo

    The bottom line is what will a significantly reduced carbon world look like and will the masses embrace that world? Only the most naive among us believe people will willingly go along on that ride. Still, I think it’s important that all the cards be laid on the table. It’s not nearly enough to say AWG spells doom if no mitigating activity takes place. What we really need here is adults laying out exactly what lifestyle changes need to take place. My guess is once we all get the Dutch Uncle speech from the experts, there will be collective gnashing of teeth, and withdrawal that makes a recovering heroin addict’s experience pale in comparison. In short, unless forced, people aren’t going to change willingly, at least to the extent the experts claim is needed. They’ll pick collective suicide over the status quo ante of 1800. Watch.

  47. hardWorkingBee

    I don’t think it would be that bad. I recently lived for a couple of years on a 3rd. world island country. I had 4 solar panels mounted on the roof of the house, which pumped water up to a 200 gallon container on the ceiling and also allowed me to charge my cellphone, Ipod and laptop via a small power inverter and also powered during the daytime hours some minor appliances. For internet access I visited an Internet Cafe near my workplace.

    For hot water I filled daily 2 five-gallon plastic jugs and exposed them to the sun. I read using kerosene lamps at night and cooked using propane sold in 50 pound containers (each container lasted me about 2 months. I ate a lot of greens, bananas and assorted veggies grown in my backyard). No TV other than shows torrented at the Internet Cafe. A small transistor radio for the local news in the morning.

    Not much refrigeration needed because you could have fresh produce, meat and cold beverages delivered daily to your house by tricycle from the nearest store. I dried my laundry by means of a clothesline. I walked to most places or used public transportation (some Bajaj Indian open carriage three wheeled vehicles, mostly).

    So basically, not that much CO2 needed for a reasonably convenient lifestyle.

  48. dutch

    The rampant ad hominems in this thread should demonstrate to all that NC should stick to economic topics and leave the natural sciences alone. Please.

    1. SDB


      Keep digging. Almost the entire AGW-Climate Change storyline is exaggeration. You pick it: rising oceans, floods, droughts, storms, ocean acidification, global ice, ocean temperature, atmospheric temperature… … the whole thing is weak science with massive uncertainties, thats been cobbled together, uncertainties downplayed, certainties up played… in order to push political agendas.

      “The science is settled” …. Was there ever a debate? Does anyone ever remember there being an honest debate?

      For an interesting read, google the article: “The rise and fall of the Hockey Stick and Mann-made global warming alarm”

      1. Malmo

        Well what really pisses me off is that instead of 97% out of 10,000 climate scientists claiming AGW, it’s actually 97% of ONLY 77 scientists.

        My argument has always been that there’s an overwhelming consensus of scientists claiming AGW, and since I’m a layperson I’ll go with the consensus, even though consensus isn’t scientific itself. Sorry, but this is dubious surveying and reporting. Shamefully misleading.

        1. SDB

          That is outrageous, no doubt about it. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle (albeit an important one). What I’m saying is your outrage will expand as you explore how the rest of the pieces of the AGW-Climate Change storyline have been put together.

          For example, search for the Climategate email scandal. The mainstream press seems to have exonerated the climatologists involved. I accepted that, until a few months ago I decided to start reading a lot of them for myself. Many of them are shameful. What they reveal is not necessarily proof that these ‘top climatologists’ are lying, but it paints a picture of a group of people who are not interested in rigorous scientific debate. For example,

          Phil Jones: “If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences. This isn’t being political, it is being selfish.”

          The AGW-Climate Change narrative is a rabbit hole. Dive in.

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