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Speaking of Scientific Consensus on anthropogenic Climate Change
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, June 01, 2006

Apparently these 60 scientists didn't get the memo about scientists around the world being in "consensus" concerning global warming or the degree to which humans contribute to it. In a letter to the PM of Canada, dated April 6, 2006, they urge the government not to fall prey to further alarmist forecasts that previously led to Kyoto:
Observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future. Yet this is precisely what the United Nations did in creating and promoting Kyoto and still does in the alarmist forecasts on which Canada's climate policies are based.

[...]

While the confident pronouncements of scientifically unqualified environmental groups may provide for sensational headlines, they are no basis for mature policy formulation. The study of global climate change is, as you have said, an "emerging science", one that is perhaps the most complex ever tackled. It may be many years yet before we properly understand the Earth's climate system. Nevertheless, significant advances have been made since the protocol was created, many of which are taking us away from a concern about increasing greenhouse gases. If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary.
Calling for an open hearing on the subject of global warming the scientists say:
However, by convening open, unbiased consultations, Canadians will be permitted to hear from experts on both sides of the debate in the climate-science community. When the public comes to understand that there is no "consensus" among climate scientists about the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change, the government will be in a far better position to develop plans that reflect reality and so benefit both the environment and the economy.
I'd agree. And as many of us have said repeatedly:
"Climate change is real" is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified. Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural "noise."
And as a reminder and a request:
It was only 30 years ago that many of today's global-warming alarmists were telling us that the world was in the midst of a global-cooling catastrophe. But the science continued to evolve, and still does, even though so many choose to ignore it when it does not fit with predetermined political agendas.

We hope that you will examine our proposal carefully and we stand willing and able to furnish you with more information on this crucially important topic.
A few of the signatories - a world wide group:

Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology, Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Freeman J. Dyson, emeritus professor of physics, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, N.J.

Mr. David Nowell, M.Sc. (Meteorology), fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, Canadian member and past chairman of the NATO Meteorological Group, Ottawa.

Dr. Ian D. Clark, professor, isotope hydrogeology and paleoclimatology, Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa.

Dr. S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences, University of Virginia; former director, U.S. Weather Satellite Service.

Dr. Hugh W. Ellsaesser, physicist/meteorologist, previously with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calif.; atmospheric consultant.

Douglas Hoyt, senior scientist at Raytheon (retired) and co-author of the book The Role of the Sun in Climate Change; previously with NCAR, NOAA, and the World Radiation Center, Davos, Switzerland.

Dr. Asmunn Moene, past head of the Forecasting Centre, Meteorological Institute, Norway.

Dr. August H. Auer, past professor of atmospheric science, University of Wyoming; previously chief meteorologist, Meteorological Service (MetService) of New Zealand.

Dr. Sallie Baliunas, astrophysicist and climate researcher, Boston, Mass.

Hopefully this will help lay to rest the "scientific consensus" canard concerning global warming and the "significant degree" to which human beings contribute once and for all.

UPDATE: This too is fun to read and pretty much mirrors my own thoughts on the subject.
 
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Well, my sympathy for those signatories when the Unhinged get ahold of them. It will make what is happening to Jeff Goldstein and Michelle Malkin seem like a sunday tea.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
"Signed letters" are not "scientific debate". And this is nonsense on stilts...
When the public comes to understand that there is no "consensus" among climate scientists about the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change,
I have no idea why you guys think this kind of statement contradicts what I’ve written or the available evidence.

As ever, the skeptics ignore the available evidence — or misrepresent the nature of the debate — in order to keep asserting that we don’t have enough evidence to draw conclusions.

I’d be happy to consider the serious kind of evidence that is produced in peer-reviewed research, but letters asserting that we’re not exactly sure what of the relative contributions of various factors are the kind of "evidence" touted by those who are ignorant of the debate in the first place.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Signed letters" are not "scientific debate". And this is nonsense on stilts.
Who claimed it was "scientific debate?" Why the red herring?

They’re flatly stating, from their perspective as scientists that there is no scientific consensus on the subject of global warmings or the degree to which humans contribute to it.

This isn’t aimed at what you’ve provided as evidence, it’s aimed at what you’ve asserted.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Human activity is in no way responsible for global warming, global cooling or any other weather related phenomenon. The responsible culprets are the sun, the earths
own climate regulatory mechanisms and mother nature, period, dot, bingo!
 
Written By: Radical Centrist
URL: http://
I still stand by my earlier thoughts on the matter.

There is plenty we can do to pollute less and use energy more efficiently. Many of those proposals can have the added benefit of decreasing any potential man-made climate change.

If we were in a perfect world, we would expect any government action to be justified through a precise methodology which looked at the problem, determined the causes, mitigated the effects, and had a plan for dealing with both, as well as put in place metrics for measuring the results and determining a path forward (to include terminating the action.)

Alas, we are in an imperfect world, with even more imperfect governments.

So, caution is great, but not doing some things because "THOSE" people are for them, isn’t a good case for complete inaction.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
There is plenty we can do to pollute less and use energy more efficiently. Many of those proposals can have the added benefit of decreasing any potential man-made climate change.
Which is what, Keith? I mean seriously, what percentage does man contribute? As these folks point out, you can’t even break man’s contribution out of the background noise.

Equally as interesting is the statement which says, in effect, if we knew in the mid ’90s what we know now, we’d have never even considered Kyoto.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Jon,

I am not far from you on the science, though I agree with your opponents that it is not settled. However, I admit I am a bit fatigued about the idea that there is no peer reviewed dissent from some important aspects of this. There is. Though of course Realclimate acts as if they are kooks, know nothings, etc. they are in fact major figures who are being denigrated because they question things.

Richard Lindzen being a case in point. He is portrayed as marginal because he disagrees. His beliefs weren’t "well received" in the literature. Peer reviewed however they were. His major contributions (this seems to be grudgingly allowed) were "in the past." Hansen et al, have some reasonable criticisms of him, but then so does he of them. They ignore his more difficult to counter criticism’s in favor of his more opinionated and less scientific ones. They say he has been wrong in the past and has had to change his views. That is the most frustrating, since so has virtually every scientist, notably so in climate science. His arguments are simplified to misrepresent his views and extraneous disagreements are used to cast aspersions on fundamental points. I have seen this over and over with other scientists. The bottom line is they are in peer reviewed journals. RealClimate is especially guilty of this. To read their discussions of Lindzen after actually reading his papers (as opposed to op-eds which they target) is torturous. The man is practically unrecognizable. This is a man who was considered important enough to work on the IPCC report, now called a crank

Is this same way of operating carried out by CEI and others? Of course, I just don’t see how you can claim the science is settled or the skeptics are not in scientific journals. Especially since many scientists claim the peer review process in climatology is stacked.

Another problem with the "consensus" as opposed to the science is how it is defended. Take changes in the Greenland and Antarctic. Scientists report that contrary to some reports that the ice melt is quite rapid, new research shows that internal thickening is countering much of that melting. When that data was absent it "proved" a lot. Once it is shown to not be as drastic (assuming any of the data will stand the test of time, peer reviewed or not) it is only about the past and doesn’t prove anything about the future. Well, no it doesn’t, but it wasn’t the skeptics who claimed it necessarily did when the evidence showed rapid melting. It was RealClimate and friends. Then when Michael Crichton and CEI and others trumpet the studies, some scientists claim their research is being misrepresented. In fact it isn’t. They mean they don’t like the conclusions drawn from their research. That is very different. I am not criticising them. As good scientists they didn’t rig their data. Their conclusions however are fair game. They don’t get to claim ownership of that. The thickening of internal ice sheets is a problem for the global warming will cause large sea level rises argument. Sure it can be explained within the context of the consensus as you describe it, but that doesn’t keep it from being a problem. They are not being misrepresented, they just feel their data shouldn’t be used to support something they disagree with. Too bad.

Finaly there is a problem with how they are correcting for the obvious problems with their models (which they prefer to longer term trends because they don’t fit the estimates their models provide so far.) The models have been refined over and over again (as they should) so that they can be shown to fit the past. To do so they have been forced to adjust all kinds of variables to find what works best. In contrast to Tom Perkins I think they have done a credible job of this and have done as much as possible to avoid the inevitable pitfalls of doing this. This is not a hoax.

However, no matter how many times Hansen and the others at RealClimate.org claim otherwise, this is data mining. Careful data mining, doing everything you can to try and be reasonable data mining, but data mining it is. This is not a criticism, there is probably no other way, but data mining is inherently suspect. The huge number of variables which are dependent on one another to even quantify one of them makes this a very problematic exercise. Of course they have models which predict the past better, but whether those models can predict the future is only true if the adjustments in their models reflect why climate changes occurred instead of what fits best first. So far I find the work dubious at best. Much is based on not much more than guesses. We see this in the adjustments that have to happen each time the data from the past is improved. They just adjust the variable or variables that makes the data work better (I know it isn’t that simple, but that is what it eventually comes down to.) In finance we see this all the time and to a great many peoples financial woe.

Does this mean we don’t have a problem? My guess is we do and for the same reasons you point out Jon. I would never say that this is settled however, because it isn’t. Even a few small changes to the assumptions in the models or even seat of the pants assumptions would mean some dramatically different conclusions. Given what I see now it is very unlikely that the problem is catastrophic, but obviously that can’t be ruled out. Of course, neither can a coming ice age, so that is trivial.

I also don’t quite get your faith in the consensus, which is actually limited in scope much more than you suggest, or at least seem to suggest. All of our research into the history of science, a particular area of interest of mine, shows that scientists do not work the way scientific theory posits. Instead we see that scientists adopt a paradigm, work within that paradigm until it shows diminishing returns and then skeptics and new paradigmers come along and propose something which works better. The dominant view defends its way of looking at the world tenaciously, even though it is becoming obvious that it isn’t working as it should, but it still helps move things along to have a set of shared assumptions. Neither paradigm is in any larger sense true, it just works better for solving the issues at hand or providing interesting puzzles to solve.This is an enormously fruitful pattern, but it hardly implies consensus as arbiter of truth. This theory of anthropogenic global warming has led to tremendous advances in our knowledge of our climate and many other areas. It in no way denigrates their efforts to say that consensus is the norm but in no way proves any larger truth. Without that tenacious consensus we would have a much less productive scientific community. Without the skeptics it would also stagnate. We know that the alarmists science was wrong, now it is better. If the debate ends we won’t be able to find out what lies around the bend that will work better than the current consensus. Eventually a new paradigm will arise. For those who have no idea what all this history of science stuff is about, I highly reccomend Thomas Kuhn, and for a thoughful rebuttal Mark Blaug’s discussion using Lakatosh’s way of looking at it (I would refer you to a paper I wrote from the same slant as Lakatosh (I played devils advocate against Kuhn in college) but with all the appeals to authority I have read from all sides on this blog, I’ll pass. Go read the originals.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
I’d be happy to consider the serious kind of evidence that is produced in peer-reviewed research, but letters asserting that we’re not exactly sure what of the relative contributions of various factors are the kind of "evidence" touted by those who are ignorant of the debate in the first place
What, because they didn’t provide reams and reams and reams of information that you can parse through, and instead made it short and sweet that they don’t agree with a conclusion you’ve come to, you can just disregard their opinion on the matter? They’re scientists with some knowledge on the subject, and they don’t agree with the consesus.

I rather think with their backgrounds (and a good number seem to have a climate science related discipline tacked on after their names....Freeman freaking Dyson to boot) they might have given this some thought before they stuck their names on a document don’t you?

Would it have helped if the title was referenced?
Open Kyoto to debate
man this bug has you seriously bit doesn’t it?

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
They’re flatly stating, from their perspective as scientists that there is no scientific consensus on the subject of global warmings or the degree to which humans contribute to it.
I’ll repeat: this is one of the reasons why I find the skeptics arguments so thoroughly uncompelling. When they’re not simply ignorant about the science, they appear to lack reading comprehension skills. Not once in that letter did the scientists question the consensus on the fact of global warming. What they questioned was the worthiness of measures like Kyoto (I agree with them) and "the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change". That does not contradict what I’ve written.

At no point have I written that there was scientific unanimity on "the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change". I have written that there’s broad agreement that anthropogenic contribution is substantial.

Apparently, though you call it a "canard", you agree with me on this. You write...
This too is fun to read and pretty much mirrors my own thoughts on the subject.
It does? So, it’s your position that "climate change is probably happening", that there is an anthropogenic component to it and that this U of C summary is credible. Note that said U of C site claims....
What is the single most authoritative source for information on climate change and its relationship to human activities, as well as what we ought to do about it?

There is, in fact, such a trustworthy source: it is a body of working climate scientists known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Among the conclusions they cite from this "single most authoritative source for information on climate change and its relationship to human activities"...
# The global-average surface temperature has increased over the 20th century by about 0.6°C (this value is about 0.15°C larger than that estimated by the Second Assessment Report).
# Snow cover and ice extent have decreased, and global average sea level has risen. It is very likely that the 20th century warming has contributed significantly to the observed sea level rise of between 0.1 and 0.2 meters during this time, due to thermal expansion of sea water and widespread loss of land ice.
# Concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases and their radiative forcing have continued to increase as a result of human activities.
# This report contains a significantly stronger statement that the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and is attributable to human activities.
# Human influences will continue to change atmospheric composition throughout the 21st century.
# Global average temperature and sea level are projected to rise under all IPCC projections of future climate, including continued future warming from past greenhouse gas emissions.
Does this pretty much mirror your view? Or did the mirror suddenly break?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I’ll repeat: this is one of the reasons why I find the skeptics arguments so thoroughly uncompelling.
No more uncompelling than the religious faith I see mirrored in your acceptance of "significant human input" when you’ve provided nothing in evidence which points to that as fact.

Greenhouse gasses come from many, many sources, and the fact that they are rising doesn’t necessarily mean the culprit is man. Given warming episodes in the past, some drastic, some of which happened when man wasn’t even in existance, point just as much to natural phenomenon as anything man made. But those scientific inconveniences are normally ignored or called ’anomolies’ by the true believers.
At no point have I written that there was scientific unanimity on "the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change". I have written that there’s broad agreement that anthropogenic contribution is substantial.
And these scientists I cite disagree completely with your assertion. While the science we’re talking about is only 25 years old, and is indeed an "emerging science" they’ve at least been working in the field. You’ll have to pardon me if I choose to side with them rather than your assertion.

BTW, "Broad agreement" is one thing, "consensus" is 50% + 1 and no one has demonstrated that to be the case concerning your position to my satisfaction, or apparently, the satisfaction of the 60 scientists I cited.
Does this pretty much mirror your view? Or did the mirror suddenly break?
My we get pi*sy when challenged, don’t we?

Of course had you actually read the link cited you wouldn’t have had to have come up with something out of whole cloth:
As it seems not to have gotten through, I repeat my position. For the record, I:

* think climate change is probably happening,
* but wonder if there may not be at least some concomitant benefits,
* go on to suggest that there may be a significant non-anthropogenic component;
* and, consequently, wonder to what extent horrendously expensive measures to combat it are necessary or desirable.
Now I don’t know how you missed it, but that’s the position I was talking about. And that’s pretty much what I’ve been saying all along.

But hey, I’m sure you’re busy with your roasary to the almighty god of CONSENSUS and the undeniable truth that man has contributed significantly to global warming, so I’ll just be off to watch a ballgame. I hear increased CO2 is good for the infield grass.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Okay guys, stay civil.

McQ -
No more uncompelling than the religious faith I see mirrored in your acceptance of "significant human input" when you’ve provided nothing in evidence which points to that as fact.
Well, he’s provided a number of sources by this point. Now, he can’t possibly prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that other sources are not overshadowing the human component, but that doesn’t make his position any less tenable. He can’t prove a negative, but we can provide significant reasons to doubt many other claims about what is really causing climate change.

I’d like to see a competing model to those that acknowledge fairly significant anthropogenic effects; instead, I see an awful lot of people trying to snipe away at the theory. And that’s fine, when you’re pointing to genuine uncertainty.

Now, I think Jon has a rather more tenable position than those who do not seem to be reading his posts for comprehension. I don’t have a final position on climate change, but I have noticed by watchingte debate here that Jon’s claims are far more limited than many of his critics are claiming.
(But Jon, we don’t call the University of California "U of C". In my 20 years in CA, we always found ways of avoiding that wording. FYI. It’s "University of California" in full or "UC" or the specific school, e.g., UCSB)

One thing y’all need to do is figure out what the other means by "significant" or "substantial."
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
As I see it, the debate boils down to this, and if you’re not answering these questions, I have to ask why:
(1) What is the degree to which the various climes of the world have been changing, and how certain are we of that data?
(2) What are the approximate costs and benefits, in economic terms, of these climate changes (rises or falls in temperature/sea level)?
(3) How can humans contribute to changing climes, and how sure are we (in terms of probability, given the data we have) that we can effect these changes?
(4) Approximately how much would it cost for us to deliberately change the climate in one direction or the other, to varying degrees (really, no pun intended), over given time periods?

Then we have very rough ranges on cost and benefit.
[% probability of various scenarios in (1) giving standard deviations of the costs of (2)] is less than/equal to/greater than [% probability of various scenarios of (3) giving standard deviations of the costs of (4)]

If the range of damages and range of costs of the solution do not overlap, then there’s no debate as to the course of action. If they overlap a great deal (which would only likely happen if we were very uncertain about numbers 1-4 on the above list), then we make an educated decision about potential costs and benefits based on the likelihood of given scenarios.

Am I right?

If I am, then it’s up to each person to decide what are credible ranges for numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. If your post doesn’t make a statement about those ranges with the aim of determining how 1-4 relate to one another, then you’re not really standing for anything. You’re sniping.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Well said, McQ. When a person is a true believing member of the true church like JH, he can’t be reached by any amount of reason. The intelligent readers here appreciate your efforts. The claim of "Consensus" is just an excuse for untrained people to skip the hard part of understanding the actual issues. Why should he bother, when there’s a "consensus?" The people who post in comments at climateaudit.org are far more qualified in data analysis than anyone over at realclimate.org. That’s what’s so funny about it. Realclimate.org censors comments, out of fear of looking stupid, while climateaudit.org opens the discussion to all comers. Lindzen has more intelligence in either hemisphere than any 20 other "climate scientists." They try to demonize him for accepting grant money from industry, but he’d get a lot more if he’d only join the crusade. He’s just not willing to jump on the bandwagon at the cost of his integrity.
 
Written By: madhatter
URL: http://
I am willing to discuss Richard S. Lindzen’s research which I looked up.

His claim is that as the earth warms due to co2 emissions that there is a countervailing effect that acts to reduce the global warming affect.

This countervailing effect is due to changes in cloud formation due to gloabl warming, which he and collegues discovered in 2001.

His idea is that clouds get out of the way and allow more global warming heat to escape over earth surfaces that are hotter due to global warming. The clouds do this more often when we are globally warmed with co2 emissions.

Quoting Dr. Lindzen:

“With warmer sea surface temperatures beneath the cloud, the coalescence process that produces precipitation becomes more efficient,” explains Lindzen. “More of the cloud droplets form raindrops and fewer are left in the cloud to form ice crystals. As a result, the area of cirrus cloud is reduced.”


from:

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NasaNews/2001/200102284547.html


If you look at your ice core data, you will see that we have enered a very stormy period since 1960, possibly confirming Dr. Lindzen’s thesis that global warming produces more efficient clouds.

Ice core data:
http://www.daviesand.com/Choices/Precautionary_Planning/Closer_Look/index.html


How much global warming does it take to trigger the Lindzen effect? Dunno, but frommy ice core graph, it takes about a 20% increase in co2, which we had achieved by 1960.

In other words, Dr. Lindzen agrees that co2 emissions have produced definite and noticable, and possibly severe climate change, so severe that we may have already crossed the tipping point. Put him in the category of climate change alarmist, though not a climate warming alarmist.



 
Written By: Matt
URL: http://
"Human activity is in no way responsible for global warming"

You see, Radical Centrist, you jump before you think, for as Dr, Lindzen has published, he does indeed believe in global warming, and indeed the climate change he observed would compute to a very severe climate change.
 
Written By: Matt
URL: http://
I have written that there’s broad agreement that anthropogenic contribution is substantial
Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural "noise."
And this letter is direct rebuttal to the that consensus.

So who’s the one with the reading comprehension issue again?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Well, he’s provided a number of sources by this point.
He’s provided sources which say greenhouse gasses are increasing. That’s not news. All warming trends see increased greenhouse gasses. If from nothing else, increased water vapor.
Now, he can’t possibly prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that other sources are not overshadowing the human component, but that doesn’t make his position any less tenable.
Of course it does. Unless he can show why this warming trend is different than previous warming trends which happend without man being a major factor (or any factor), he has the burden of proof.
I’d like to see a competing model to those that acknowledge fairly significant anthropogenic effects; instead, I see an awful lot of people trying to snipe away at the theory. And that’s fine, when you’re pointing to genuine uncertainty.
Genuine uncertainty of what? That the climate is changing? Acknowledged. That it is getting warmer. Acknowledged. That man is a ’significant’ reason why? Not acknowleded.

Interestingly, what you’re asking for is precisely what the scientists above are suggesting. Let’s sit both sides down and put it out there.

I have no problem with that.
One thing y’all need to do is figure out what the other means by "significant" or "substantial."
Since I’m not the one claiming that man’s contribution is ’significant’ or ’substantial’ I’ll leave that to Jon ... but that is the crux of the disagreement. Jon seems to think that’s an inarguable fact and I’ve yet to see anything which supports it at all.

Until someone can break out what man is responsible for in terms of greenhouse emmissions that’s not going to happen either.
(1) What is the degree to which the various climes of the world have been changing, and how certain are we of that data?
We know change is happening, but the data isn’t at all certain.
2) What are the approximate costs and benefits, in economic terms, of these climate changes (rises or falls in temperature/sea level)?
In what regard? If they’re essentially natural and beyond our control, the question is irrelevant. So I have to assume your implicit assumption here is we can do something about it if we happen to calculate a negative economic impact?

Not until we can specifically pinpoint what we contribute. And that hasn’t happened yet.
(3) How can humans contribute to changing climes, and how sure are we (in terms of probability, given the data we have) that we can effect these changes?
And before you can determine either you again have to know what humans are contributing now.
(4) Approximately how much would it cost for us to deliberately change the climate in one direction or the other, to varying degrees (really, no pun intended), over given time periods?
You’ve got to be kidding. No more implication, now you’ve flat out said we’re the major reason for the climate change and we can do something about it?

Uh, I get off the train right here.
If the range of damages and range of costs of the solution do not overlap, then there’s no debate as to the course of action. If they overlap a great deal (which would only likely happen if we were very uncertain about numbers 1-4 on the above list), then we make an educated decision about potential costs and benefits based on the likelihood of given scenarios.
Nope, sorry. Until I can see laid out, factually, the percentage of man’s contribution to the warming trend we’re experiencing now, I see no utility in discussing a "range of costs". Without that specific component all of this is, at best, conjecture. It may, in fact, be that we couldn’t effect the trend a one-hundreth of a degree if we shut down every greenhouse gas emitter we had. But since we don’t know how much of the overall contribution of greenhouse gasses we make, we can’t begin to determine that.

I know there have been guesses (and that is what they are) from here to kingdom come and the range of these guesses are as wide as the Gulf of Mexico. So, I’m not ready to discuss costs with anyone until a) we know the precise contribution man makes in terms of greenhouse gasses and b) whether the contribution is significant enough to actually effect the warming trend we’re undergoing.

And to this point a) is unknown and that makes b) unknown. Which means c) stay out of my wallet until they aren’t.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Human induced global warming is real and there is no debate about this by anyone who has a background in physics. These are the hard facts and by facts I mean items that are measurable and explicable by science.

1. Burning fossil fuel emits CO2, see basic chemistry on combustion.
2. CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
a. See a basic introduction to physics with special attention to temperature of a radiating body v.s. wavelength spectrum of radiation. You will find that the sun is hot and radiates most in the visible and the earth is cool and radiates in the infrared.

b. See a basic analytical chemistry text on the spectroscopic properties of gas molecules with 3 or more atoms. You will find that triatomic molecules like CO2 and water vapor are transparent in the visible and absorb in the infrared. BTW this is why the major atmospheric gases nitrogen and oxygen are NOT greenhouse gases, they are transparent in both the visible and infrared. For reason you need to do some serious reading on the theory of molecular vibrations and rotations which is the mechanism behind infrared emission and absorbtion.

None of this is new, its been known for almost two centuries. It was first postulated when the physical properties above were identified (1800) and is published in the early works of Fourier (“General Remarks on the Temperature of the Terrestrial Globe and Planetary Spaces,” 1824) and later with a quantitative calculation by Arrhenius, ("On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground", Philosophical Magazine 41, 237-276 (1896)).

Arrhenius predicted that the earth would is at least 5-10 deg. F warmer with the concentration at his time (~pre-industrial) then it would be if the concentration were 0. For a really great read of the whole geological argument regarding global warming/cooling as presented in his paper see:

http://web.lemoyne.edu/~GIUNTA/Arrhenius.html especially the section 5 called "Geological Consequences", consider that this was written in 1824 long before the word ecology had been thought of He has some really interesting points for instance the amount of CO2 trapped in limestone is 25,000 times the amount that is in the air but ALL of it has to have passed through the air at one time.

As for the argument that there have been natural variations so humans can’t be to blame, we still recognize murder even though people do die of natural causes as well, so one doesn’t obviate the other. You can argue about the fine points of the models as to what the effect of the increased heat input to the earth will be, but you can’t argue about the basic physics of the process.

As for what we can do, I think it’s pretty hopeless on the CO2 front as the lag time is huge (analogy, we are heating a pot on the stove and its the size of the earth); it will take a LOOONG time to equilibrate and what we have already emitted is so large that stopping emissions now is classic closing the barn door after the horse has gone.

We must take action but it will have to be some innovative way such as ocean fertilization, atmospheric dust augmentation, mirrors in space, etc, etc. Going to be a very interesting century and you know that ’May you live in interesting times" is a curse in China.
 
Written By: SteelCurtain
URL: http://www.chromatography-online.org
I’ve pointed out this letter to Jon in previous tread on this subject. I provided a quote that Shark provides. After all this he is still stating that:

"That does not contradict what I’ve written"

I know that Jon read my post because he responded. His response was similar to what he posted on this thread:

"What they questioned was the worthiness of measures like Kyoto "

I’ve pointed out that they are saying more that this. Yet he still keeps repeating the same thing.

I think he is just stonewalling. I am sorry for being rude but this is what it looks like.
 
Written By: IR
URL: http://
Now, he can’t possibly prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that other sources are not overshadowing the human component, but that doesn’t make his position any less tenable.
Of course it does. Unless he can show why this warming trend is different than previous warming trends which happend without man being a major factor (or any factor), he has the burden of proof.
Jon can’t prove that all alternative explanations are wrong. That’d be impossible, and science doesn’t work that way.

It does, however, allow us to check falsifiable hypotheses. For example, that solar activity is responsible (as it so often has been in the past). Well, many would argue the evidence doesn’t support that.
So the people looking for non-anthropogenic sources keep bringing up new alternative possibilities. And — though I’m no expert by any means — I have seen a number of alternative explanations found wanting... even found to be based on suspiciously selective reading of the data.
I’d like to see a competing model to those that acknowledge fairly significant anthropogenic effects; instead, I see an awful lot of people trying to snipe away at the theory. And that’s fine, when you’re pointing to genuine uncertainty.
Genuine uncertainty of what? That the climate is changing? Acknowledged. That it is getting warmer. Acknowledged. That man is a ’significant’ reason why? Not acknowleded.

Interestingly, what you’re asking for is precisely what the scientists above are suggesting. Let’s sit both sides down and put it out there.

I have no problem with that.
Well, good then. Let’s put it all out there.
(1) What is the degree to which the various climes of the world have been changing, and how certain are we of that data?
We know change is happening, but the data isn’t at all certain.
Not at all? Even the littlest bit?

If we even had a 1% degree of confidence about how various climes have been changing, that would give us a range. A 20% degree of confidence would net us a smaller range.
I’m not even asking for a large percentage. I’m asking what the percentage is. If it’s anywhere above zero, we’ve got a range.
2) What are the approximate costs and benefits, in economic terms, of these climate changes (rises or falls in temperature/sea level)?
In what regard?
Anyone who wants to argue that we should take action should first be able to identify approximate damages or benefits arising from whatever changes do take place.
If they’re essentially natural and beyond our control, the question is irrelevant.
If any part of it could be in our control, whether it be because of emissions or because of some technology we develop in the future to cause deliberate change, it is relevant. Are you willing to argue that man, in all his inventiveness and accelerating technological prowess, couldn’t figure out a way (however crude, whether accidental or deliberate) to alter the Earth’s climate over the next, say, century?
So I have to assume your implicit assumption here is we can do something about it if we happen to calculate a negative economic impact?
If we’re talking about potentially trillions of dollars in damages, yeah, I think an offsetting effort of trillions of dollars by our technologically empowered society could produce some effect.
The central question, though, is just, If the climate continues to change, what is the probable aggregate economic impact?
(3) How can humans contribute to changing climes, and how sure are we (in terms of probability, given the data we have) that we can effect these changes?
And before you can determine either you again have to know what humans are contributing now.
Not necessarily. To figure out what we’re contributing now requires measurements of all the little things we do and the effects each has on the aggregate outcome. But question 3 simply asks, "how can we contribute to changing climes? If we know with some degree of certainty that a billion tons of methane in the atmosphere could produce X change, it wouldn’t really matter to the question how we produced it.
(4) Approximately how much would it cost for us to deliberately change the climate in one direction or the other, to varying degrees (really, no pun intended), over given time periods?
You’ve got to be kidding. No more implication, now you’ve flat out said we’re the major reason for the climate change and we can do something about it?

Uh, I get off the train right here.
McQ, I’ve said no such thing!
Your assertion is patently untrue. I neither implied nor "flat out said" that current human activity is the "major reason for climate change."

I *will* say that yes, we human beings could alter the Earth’s climate if we set our minds to it. We’ve proven we can do this on local and regional scales, with a big enough effort.
I’m sure you won’t even try claiming that something as simple as clear-cutting hundreds of millions of acres of forest has no effect on local and regional climes. We know that this is well within our capabilities, and has been for quite some time now.

My question is, how big an effect in a given direction can we have over a given time period, and at approximately what cost?
Until I can see laid out, factually, the percentage of man’s contribution to the warming trend we’re experiencing now, I see no utility in discussing a "range of costs". Without that specific component all of this is, at best, conjecture.
So if we didn’t know whether man contributed 100 billion tons of greehouse gas X or 200 billion tons, and thus couldn’t tell whether we were contributing 10% or 11% to various climate changes (just throwing numbers out there), you wouldn’t tolerate anyone taking action based on that?

The fact is, the range matters. If we get man’s contribution down to even something like 10% level of confidence, it gives us something to work with in determining our total contribution toward something that does between X and Y amount of damage (or does us between B and C amount of good).
Are they rough numbers even under good conditions? Absolutely. That doesn’t mean they can’t inform our decisions.

Then we could decide whether it’s something worth taking action on, based on how much change we could actually effect (I’m not making any claims as to how much change we could effect, except to say that we humans could do something given our vast creative and destructive power) and at what cost. Clearly, if the only way to prevent between $20 and $100 trillion in damages resulting from climate change (making these numbers up, of course) is to drop several dozen nukes in the north Atlantic, we’re going to factor in the immense cost of such a course of action and probably reject it.
-=-=-=-=-=-
Steel Curtain -
you know that ’May you live in interesting times" is a curse in China.
Actually, it’s not. Just FYI.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
No more uncompelling than the religious faith I see mirrored in your acceptance of "significant human input" when you’ve provided nothing in evidence which points to that as fact.
Your lack of basic reading comprehension is simply astounding. Your ongoing inability to grasp what I’ve written is depressing. I’m not sure if this is willful ignorance or stubbornness on your part, but I’ll spell this out one more time.

I’ve pointed to numerous sources which provide evidence that the significant human contribution is a fact. The open question is the DEGREE — even the letter you cited acknowledged that — about which I’ve said there is not consensus but there is broad agreement that the evidence points within a range.
And these scientists I cite disagree completely with your assertion.
Here’s their letter. Please point out where they argue that there is not broad agreement that anthropogenic change is substantial. As a helpful hint, please note that they argue that there is no consensus "about the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change", and that it’s hard to distinguish human contribution from natural change. They may disagree, but at no point do they allege that "significant human contibution" is not broadly agreed upon. (further hint: broad agreement is not consensus)

But other than an inability to understand your own evidence...
My we get pi*sy when challenged, don’t we?
Pot, kettle.
Of course had you actually read the link cited you wouldn’t have had to have come up with something out of whole cloth:
I read the whole thing. Three times. Is your position now reduced to "there may be" other factors? Well, no sh*t, Sherlock. Nobody disagrees with that. Of course there are other factors. There’s quite a difference between "there are multiple factors" and "there’s no significant human contribution".
But hey, I’m sure you’re busy with your roasary to the almighty god of CONSENSUS
Fool. Let me repeat that. If you think it’s merely the consensus that has convinced me, then you are a fool. You are willfully misrepresenting what I’ve written. I have repeatedly pointed out that it’s not the fact that there’s a consensus — and, in fact, you AGREE WITH THE ITEM ON WHICH THERE IS CONSENSUS — but that there’s a consensus because there is significant scientific evidence.

You’re not even trying to comprehend what I’ve written. You are simply asserting your own ignorance as argument.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I’ve pointed out that they are saying more that this. Yet he still keeps repeating the same thing.
I wrote that they questioned the "worthiness of measures like Kyoto (I agree with them) and "the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change"." They also say there should be more research and debate, but I didn’t think that was relevant to the topic at hand.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I think in a nutshell it’s like this...

People agree that there is some degree of warming occuring.

There is disagreement about causes, effects and solutions.

Polluting less is a good thing, in and of itself. It makes us less sick, and conserves our natural resources.

Using less energy is a good thing, because it is economical.

Finding alternative energy is a good thing, because it makes us less dependent on other, less stable areas of the world.

Now, certainly, there are degrees to which doing these things exceeds a practical cost/benefit ratio. For instance (since I just read about this,) some benzene in water is an acceptable amount, so trying to remove all benzene from water would be impractical. But, we certainly have not stopped in our technical ability to try and do better. Nor should we stop progress and innovation along these lines.

While I may not agree with or understand all the science, I’d rather pick the cautious route. Which to me, is doing what is economical and feasible right now, while the science improves. That doesn’t mean backing Kyoto.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Jon Henke obsesses:
"That does not contradict what I’ve written."
If true, then what you’ve written is irrelevant.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I cannot believe the beat-down that McQ is putting on that poor, defenseless strawman. It may qualify as torture. I’ll grant that he’s getting help from a few of you, but that does not lessen my amazement.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
What they questioned was the worthiness of measures like Kyoto (I agree with them) and "the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change". That does not contradict what I’ve written.

At no point have I written that there was scientific unanimity on "the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change". I have written that there’s broad agreement that anthropogenic contribution is substantial.
No, actually, you have gone further than that. You have asserted that "mankind-caused global warming is a legitimate problem". Here are your comments on that:

I think that, when some people hear "mankind-caused global warming is a legitimate problem", it comes across as "I believe every word that global warming alarmists say!" when the first statement implies nothing of the sort. What I say the first, it does not mean that I accept every argument made. I simply accept that — barring some serious, legitimate scientific research to the contrary — the preponderance of the evidence is with the "mankind-caused global warming is a legitimate problem" crowd.
Perhaps you feel you are being misunderstood and that people are reading too much into your position. But I see a fair-sized gap between "manmade global warming is substantial" and "mankind-caused global warming is a legitimate problem". First, there’s the leap that the manmade component goes beyond "substantial" to becoming the dominant component (because otherwise it would not be the "problem" - the natural warming would be). Second is the leap that its costs outweigh its benefits, which is certainly not as big a leap, but hasn’t been addressed in any meaningful way.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Billy, nothing you cite contradicts my statement that "At no point have I written that there was scientific unanimity on "the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change". I have written that there’s broad agreement that anthropogenic contribution is substantial."

You do not appear to disagree with my statement that there is not "scientific unanimity on ’the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change’, and I see no disagreement on my argument that there is "broad agreement that anthropogenic contribution is substantial." You point out that some disagree, but — again — that does not contradict what I wrote.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
...I see no disagreement on my argument that there is "broad agreement that anthropogenic contribution is substantial." You point out that some disagree, but — again — that does not contradict what I wrote.
Well, that statement is pretty fuzzy (what exactly does "substantial" mean for example? 20%? 50%?). So, no, I’m not disagreeing with it, because that would devolve into a pedantic discussion, I think.

But that’s a different discussion and not what I was pointing out. Even if I stipulate that I’m in complete agreement there, that still does not get us to the conclusion that "mankind-caused global warming is a legitimate problem". My standard for that statement is considerably higher, because, as I mentioned on another thread, if we all grant that, then well-intentioned folks will immediately being trying to "solve the problem" via government action, likely with the same result government action usually achieves.

To be specific, any "solution" would no doubt depend on the extant models for its design and success/failure metrics. If those models are flawed, which the memo seems to support, then we don’t need to be staking our future on them.

So, to summarize: If you are saying that "broad agreement that anthropogenic contribution is substantial", well, OK, because there’s considerable wiggle room there, and you’ve admitted that some reputable people disagree. So we’re within shouting distance of each other, and don’t need to go into it any further.

OTOH, if you are saying that "mankind-caused global warming is a legitimate problem", then you’re going further, and I don’t think there is yet any broad agreement on that.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Jon Henke:I think that, when some people hear "mankind-caused global warming is a legitimate problem", it comes across as "I believe every word that global warming alarmists say!" when the first statement implies nothing of the sort. What I say the first, it does not mean that I accept every argument made. I simply accept that — barring some serious, legitimate scientific research to the contrary — the preponderance of the evidence is with the "mankind-caused global warming is a legitimate problem" crowd.
Billy Hollis: Perhaps you feel you are being misunderstood and that people are reading too much into your position. But I see a fair-sized gap between "manmade global warming is substantial" and "mankind-caused global warming is a legitimate problem". First, there’s the leap that the manmade component goes beyond "substantial" to becoming the dominant component (because otherwise it would not be the "problem" - the natural warming would be).
Whoa whoa, Billy, you misrepresented his position again.
Even if mankind-caused global warming is A problem, it does not follow that Jon called it the dominant component of that problem. Mankind-caused warming could be a problem in the same way that natural warming is a problem, assuming, of course, that any warming is "a problem."
Second is the leap that its costs outweigh its benefits, which is certainly not as big a leap, but hasn’t been addressed in any meaningful way.
Well, then, let’s debate that.
Who here has analyzed, in any even half-serious way, what the costs of various degrees of warming/climate change — whether natural or human-caused — will be?
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Please point out where they argue that there is not broad agreement that anthropogenic change is substantial.
As cited previously above:
Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural "noise."
Yes, reading comprehension is often a problem for the faith-based crowd.

 
Written By: A.S.
URL: http://
It may come as a surprise to you to learn that the sentence you cite does not address the degree of contribution, nor the question of the breadth of the agreement on that point. It merely argues that the climate changes all the time (uncontroversial) and — in their own opinion — that the human impact is "impossible to distinguish".

Of course, there has been extensive research done to distinguish the extent of human impact, which skeptics — especially on this blog — have avoided like the plague.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.qando.net/
But these scientist indicate that they disagree with the results of the extensive research you’re citing. The specific statement is it’s not distinguishable from the noise. So they don’t see it the way you do, clearly.

I’d read that to mean that in their minds nothing points directly and strongly at the strictly human component so someone can say "THIS is caused by humanity doing X, or X, Y and Z".

This infers a "measurement" and this measurement of human impact is so lost in the shuffle of normal change that it’s not discernable.
Using their view of the uncertainty of our contribution - If you can’t specifically point to WHERE we cause a change or changes, you can hardly provide guidance on how to STOP the effect or effects can you.

And since you don’t know what to stop I think it’s a bit much to start pouring money into it (and since youre Effluent Taxes post indicates you’re willing to start collecting the money to pour....).

Feel free to contribute to the effort to ’stop something’.
I’d rather spend money trying to stay out of or ahead of, the rising tide, instead of shovling sand against it hoping that was going to help.

Frankly I see efforts to spend money appeasing the ’stop something efforts’ to be akin to sacrificing my best rams in the hope that Zeus will grant me better weather for my crops. Nice to think that ’doing something’ will actually do something....even if it won’t.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Jon and McQ,

My own reading is you are both overstating the others position and hardening it.

Jon,

You are understating your own case. You are claiming this is a serious problem and that there is consensus there as well. Maybe my reading cmprehension is low, but that is my take. You give that impression both directly and indirectly by implying criticism of some claims about the effect of warming are misleading. Hence my issue with the controversy over ice sheet melt and sea level rise. Sea level rise is very complex and whether the warming we are seeing is substantially from anthropogenic sources or not, it does not imply that sea level rise is an issue, or one which warming is making worse.

See also your rather uncritical defense of Mann. This is one area where the term hoax may actually apply. RealClimate can claim as much as they want that this has been resolved and the adjustments do not effect Mann’s results, but that is not at all clear. They may eventually be proved right, but that they are asserting something before they even know how he came up with his data is proof that they are being as disengenuous as they accuse other scientists of being. The more I see of this it looks like Mann’s data was rigged, not just wrong. That may be unfair, but Mann and his defenders behavior suggests something stinks. So far every accusation and criticism of Mann’s work has either been shown to be correct, still up in the air, or the adjustments have led to more questions. The actual source data used is questionable as well. He has misrepresented so many things it is beginning to look a lot like Bellisiles, as does the defense by others which has been to a large degree to attack the critics, then admit the critics have a point, adjust for the criticism and claim it proves the bad faith of vindicated critics. Then the criticism keeps comig and the process repeats. Meanwhile Mann is portrayed as an embattled hero against the "deniers." I will say that the original crtics do not agree that the adjustments are adequate nor do they agree that they do not change substantially the results. Quoting his defenders given their past behavior in this matter is hardly adequate, especially given how right the critics have been so far. At this point the critics have a better track record and their remaining criticisms seem well reasoned to me.

None of that disproves the theory that global warming is a problem or that it is caused by man’s actions in whole or part. It does however, call into question whether scientists such as Hansen and the others at RealClimate (who are very good scientists and important to read if one wants to understand the science) are to be completely trusted in how they characterize the science or the implications of it. As I said earlier, I am becoming more and more convinced that man has altered the climate to warm it. Settled the science is not, and as for the implications or degree of warming, that is very open. At times you seem to be saying the same thing, but at other times you seem to be claiming something much stronger.

Finally, since the effect of CO2 is non-linear, and there is much evidence that the effect is very unlikely to be more than one more degree even with a doubling of CO2 from here we may be faced with a situation where even eliminating our CO2 emissions will not make much difference one way or another. If so, the whole discussion may be moot. We are three quarters of the way to an initial doubling of CO2, whatever the reason, and we have seen temperatures rise .6 degrees centigrade. Given the nonlinear aspect of the equations another doubling should result in a reduced rise subsequently. Of course RealClimate would argue that other mechanisms would amplify it in the future unlike the past, but on that we are talking specualtion, whatever the consensus is. Reasonable speculation maybe, but speculation nevertheless.



 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
It may come as a surprise to you to learn that the sentence you cite does not address the degree of contribution
Yes, it does. Something cannot properly be asserted as "significant" if it is "impossible to distinguish from this natural ’noise.’". Now, anthropogenic warming may in fact BE signficant, but there is no way to know that if you cannot distinguish anthropogenic warming from noise warming. So the scientists DO in fact address the degree of contribution.
nor the question of the breadth of the agreement on that point.
Wrong again. The fact that 60 scientists signed the letter DOES speak to the breadth (or lack thereof) of agreement.
It merely argues that the climate changes all the time (uncontroversial) and — in their own opinion — that the human impact is "impossible to distinguish".
Should read "in their own scientifically-informed opinion". After all, if one is to assert that we should listen to scientists who believe in significant anthropogenic warming because they are scientists, we should also listen to scientists who don’t believe in significant anthropogenic warming because they are scientists.
 
Written By: A.S.
URL: http://
It may come as a surprise to you to learn that the sentence you cite does not address the degree of contribution, nor the question of the breadth of the agreement on that point. It merely argues that the climate changes all the time (uncontroversial) and — in their own opinion — that the human impact is "impossible to distinguish
Wow, how significant can it be if you can’t distinguish it from the larger set? I’m going to the ballgame tonight with 5 of my friends. We make a lot of noise. You can even measure the amount of noise we produce. But in a stadium of 50,000 screaming people, can you distinguish our contribution? Would it matter if you did?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Dear Professors,

This is from Ethiopia,

I have no position to argue but need to get clear picture of what in your statement.

You said,,"Emerging science" why? Possibility for Natural cause? How time space and person pattern respond to the query?

Thanks
 
Written By: Biruck Desalegn
URL: http://

 
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