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A War on Science?

Remember the Republican "war on science"? The Bush Administration was repeatedly accused of manipulating and suppressing scientific conclusions for scientific gain. While I thought this was politics as usual, others believed this was a concerted attack on scientific inquiry -- a "war on science." (See this chain of posts.) The Obama Administration has expressed concern about science politicization, but it is has been difficult to stop.

Two widely cited examples of this alleged war were revisions made to a government climate report by a former industry lobbyist and a NASA official's ham-handed efforts to prevent noted climate scientist James Hansen, a NASA employee, from commenting publicly on climate change policy. Could the Obama Administration be guilty of equivalent science politicization? Perhaps. Two weeks ago, Roger Pielke Jr. marshaled evidence that a government contractor with substantial industry ties may have been responsible for misrepresenting the relevant peer-reviewed scientific literature in an important government report on climate change. This past week, the EPA was accused of suppressing an agency's employee's comments on the EPA's proposed greenhouse gas "endangerment finding" (the official finding that greenhouse gas emissions may threaten public health and welfare). Here again, Pielke finds the parallel with the Bush Administration's conduct instructive.

And we should not be too quick to let Congress off the hook either. A key component of the last-minute compromise that enabled passage of the Waxman-Markey bill was the transfer of authority to evaluate carbon offsets from the EPA to the Department of Agriculture. Why was this done? Because farm-state Representatives believe the USDA is more likely to reach farmer-friendly conclusions than the EPA. As is so often the case in politics, it's more important to reach the "right" answer than for the answer to be right.

Donny:
False equivalence is the lazy partisan's favorite tool.
6.28.2009 4:59pm
Dan28 (mail):
I completely agree with you that the Department of Agriculture provision of the Waxman-Markey bill is awful, and raises the question of whether Congress is competent enough to draft a cap and trade bill that isn't a complete give away to special interest groups. But that EPA report was psedo-scientific garbage. From RealClimate's brutal evisceration of the report:

But it gets worse, what solid peer reviewed science do they cite for support? A heavily-criticised blog posting showing that there are bi-decadal periods in climate data and that this proves it was the sun wot done it. The work of an award-winning astrologer (one Theodor Landscheidt, who also thought that the rise of Hilter and Stalin were due to cosmic cycles), a classic Courtillot paper we've discussed before, the aforementioned FoS web page, another web page run by Doug Hoyt, a paper by Garth Paltridge reporting on artifacts in the NCEP reanalysis of water vapour that are in contradiction to every other reanalysis, direct observations and satellite data, a complete reprint of another un-peer reviewed paper by William Gray, a nonsense paper by Miskolczi etc. etc. I'm not quite sure how this is supposed to compete with the four rounds of international scientific and governmental review of the IPCC or the rounds of review of the CCSP reports….

They don't even notice the contradictions in their own cites. For instance, they show a figure that demonstrates that galactic cosmic ray and solar trends are non-existent from 1957 on, and yet cheerfully quote Scafetta and West who claim that almost all of the recent trend is solar driven! They claim that climate sensitivity is very small while failing to realise that this implies that solar variability can't have any effect either. They claim that GCM simulations produced trends over the twentieth century of 1.6 to 3.74ºC - which is simply (and bizarrely) wrong (though with all due respect, that one seems to come directly from Mr. Gregory). Even more curious, Carlin appears to be a big fan of geo-engineering, but how this squares with his apparent belief that we know nothing about what drives climate, is puzzling. A sine qua non of geo-engineering is that we need models to be able to predict what is likely to happen, and if you think they are all wrong, how could you have any faith that you could effectively manage a geo-engineering approach?

Finally, they end up with the oddest claim in the submission: That because human welfare has increased over the twentieth century at a time when CO2 was increasing, this somehow implies that no amount of CO2 increases can ever cause a danger to human society. This is just boneheadly stupid.

So in summary, what we have is a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at. Seriously, if that's the best they can do, the EPA's ruling is on pretty safe ground.
6.28.2009 5:02pm
Psalm91 (mail):
Prof Adler:

Thank you for allowing comments.

What exactly is your position re what took place`during the Bush years? Is this one of those Bush was accused of it but didn't do it but Obama is bad because he actually is doing it posts? Please clarify.
6.28.2009 5:10pm
JK:
There's no doubt that politicians of both parties are willing to subvert good science for political gain, but I just don't think you're going to find the equivalent of significant numbers of Republican senators denying evolution. The climate change debate is one thing, but denying the existence of evolution is the realm of real crack pots, and something significantly beyond putting political pressure on scientific reports (as despicable as that is).
6.28.2009 5:17pm
Brian Garst (www):
The "war on science" was always a bogus charge, indicative of nothing more than the left's tendency to assume the conclusion of whatever they are arguing. If you don't support their agenda, then you're against science! This allowed them to avoid the whole messy issue of proof, and forget that science rarely, if ever, points so easily to an irrefutable conclusion.

As for evolution, it's an easy way to score points with the base, but it doesn't offer substantive support to the primary charge from the left: that republicans used government to attack or suppress scientific inquiry. Other than a few local school boards, there is no case that the government was brought to bear to attack evolution. These are really two separate issues.
6.28.2009 5:28pm
PeteP (mail):
'Cap and Tax' ( ummm... 'Trade' ) is nothing but another bogus attempt at a massive tax increase, period.

The next, step, as currently before the UN, is for that tax ( or one added on top of it ) to be payed directly to the UN in the name of 'energy fairness'.

'Global Warming' is a complete hoax, from top to bottom.

And government's attempt to make us believe that 'it can be fixed or ameliorated' by paying them more money is nothing but pure snake-oil.
6.28.2009 5:48pm
rosetta's stones:
I'll let y'all lawyers argue over the legalities, but from my perspective, the USSC seemed to require the EPA under the CAA to regulate everything in the air, from frisbees to flatulence, as smartass Scalia wrote.

Not sure why we've moved to having the Department of Agriculture be responsible for the regulation of this extremely dangerous pollutant CO2, rather than, you know, the Environmental Protection Agency, but that appears to be what the recent circus has brought on.

Must not be that dangerous of a pollutant, eh?

Or more likely, this is all just a game, for show, and isn't going anywhere.

There is no shame in Washington. None.
6.28.2009 6:13pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
I am shocked, shocked I say, to find that the U.S. government injects politics into science.
6.28.2009 6:13pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Dan28 --

The criticism of the Bush Administration's handling of James Hansen (which I also criticized in print) was not that Hansen's policy pronouncements were correct, but that it was inappropriate to prevent him from sharing his views publicly. Similarly, the substance of Alan Carlin's report is irrelevant. If RealClimate is correct (and I will assume they are for the sake of argument), the proper course would have been for the EPA to allow Carlin's comments and to refute them, but that's not what they did.

JK --

I certainly agree that politicians who attack evolution or promote so-called "intelligent design" are anti-science. George Deutsch, the Bush appointee who soughtto muzzle James Hansen, also sought to edit references to the Big Bang on NASA's website so as not to conflict with "ID" and anti-evolution fundamentalism.

Psalm91 --

This is one of those posts that reinforces an argument I've made before that politically motivated science abuse is something that politicians do. As my prior posts linked above indicate, some of the accusations against the Bush Administration were valid, others not. By the same token, Democrats and those on the left have been guilty of science politicization as well.

Donny --

Bald assertion sans argument is the lazy commenter's favorite tool.

JHA
6.28.2009 6:16pm
Bob Goodman (mail) (www):
Denial of biologic evolution has no policy consequences regarding anything other than the teaching of evolution itself. Not so for many other science controversies.
6.28.2009 6:37pm
MarkField (mail):

Denial of biologic evolution has no policy consequences regarding anything other than the teaching of evolution itself.


Well, yeah, and Holocaust Denial has few, if any, policy consequences either.

The teaching of evolution itself is pretty damn important in a world which, you know, has that as a fundamental operating principle.
6.28.2009 6:53pm
ArthurKirkland:
Denial of biological evolution reflects a general willingness to rely on dogma and superstition at the expense of science and reason, a point important beyond the issue of evolution.
6.28.2009 7:06pm
Steve:
Personally, I would like to see Prof. Adler focus more attention on Jim Lindgren's war on science.
6.28.2009 7:25pm
The River Temoc (mail):
Denial of biologic evolution has no policy consequences regarding anything other than the teaching of evolution itself.

I disagree, because it is not merely an attack on evolution, but an attack on the scientific method.

Creationism is not merely "another theory" to be taught alongside evolution; it is based on assertions that are untestable and unverifiable.
6.28.2009 7:34pm
Volokh Groupie:
Realclimate's critique is pretty much correct though Prof. Adler's point about transparency is fair.

If you really want to point at the 'politicization of science' by this administration I'd look more at nuclear energy, ethanol and other alternative energy expectations, the comments and statements of Chu and Holdren and other issues. And I would suggest not to fall into the diatribes that Mooney made so popular that are really more apt for a thinkprogress or redstate than a more neutral arbiter.
6.28.2009 7:53pm
mattski:

Personally, I would like to see Prof. Adler focus more attention on Jim Lindgren's war on science.

Nominated for thread winner.
6.28.2009 7:54pm
Pro Natura (mail):
The major testable assertion of those scientists promoting the theory of human-caused global warming was that the earth's average temperature has been rising and will continue to rise. Data for the past eleven years suggest that the earth's average temperature has been falling. This year, with the nation experiencing record low temperatures, even the general public is beginning to realize that this is a scientific shell game.
6.28.2009 7:54pm
themighthypuck (mail):
The administration is new so it is too soon to know whether typical political machinations will rise to the level of a "war on science."
6.28.2009 7:58pm
Volokh Groupie:
@Pro Natura

A significant change in temperature trend in an 11 year time scale easily falls into potentially being due to natural variability.
6.28.2009 7:58pm
Le Messurier (mail):
Volokh Groupie

...falls into potentially being due to natural variability.


or not! Which rather makes the strong point that that there is nothing inevitable about global warming as the alarmists and Obama would have us believe
6.28.2009 8:15pm
rosetta's stones:
This year, with the nation experiencing record low temperatures, even the general public is beginning to realize that this is a scientific shell game.

Yes, they are.

CO2 levels are rising, and temps are falling, it seems. People see this, and the political climate is becoming worse, and thus the need for the congresscritters to ram through this bill, while the gettin' was good.
6.28.2009 8:20pm
Volokh Groupie:
@Le Messurier


I think most scientists agree that there's a chance that the decade or so period where we've seen temperature anomaly stay relatively static could be due to a leveling off trend; However most don't think the likelihood of that being true is particularly high considering the short time scale you're talking about. Even a glance at some of the graphs in that telegraph piece would suggest even a general warming trend can have short term variability which causes movement in the opposite direction. It's akin to looking at the direction of intraday trading in a major index of the stock market to gauge how the market will move over the long term.
6.28.2009 9:02pm
rosetta's stones:
"Even a glance at some of the graphs in that telegraph piece would suggest even a general warming trend can have short term variability which causes movement in the opposite direction."

Well, speaking of graphs, the problem for the gorebots is that, for years, the've been hysterically waving around that original ridiculous ICC curve, the one with the kerf showing us about to launch into Hades temperatures.

I think they're being hung on their own kerf, here, and it's pretty comical.
6.28.2009 9:17pm
Ricardo (mail):
Data for the past eleven years suggest that the earth's average temperature has been falling.

Temperatures have been falling for the past 11 years in the same sense that the U.S. stock market has been falling for the past 11 years. You have to look at longer-term trends. See this for instance. If you look at the trend from before 1979, it is even more pronounced.
6.28.2009 9:27pm
Lucky Corny:

The criticism of the Bush Administration's handling of James Hansen (which I also criticized in print) was not that Hansen's policy pronouncements were correct, but that it was inappropriate to prevent him from sharing his views publicly.


I'd like to read some of your comments about Dr. Hansen and the way the Bush Administration handled him. Hansen has been quite vocal in recent years and very much an alarmist. I think that his actions have been inappropriate for a civil servant.

Dr. Hansen is a civil servant; so am I. Civil servants give up some of their freedom to speak out on issues. I would be fired if I took part in pseudo-political activities the way that Dr. Hansen does. I think it is inappropriate for him to try and influence political policy while claiming the protections of his civil servant position.
6.28.2009 9:43pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
This chart shows truly long term tends in temperature. The trend is clearly upward. Whether that is a good thing and what to do about it is a different issue.

I have read that one of Sen. Inhofe's 700 scientists [!] against Global Warming is a creationist college dropout TV weatherman who says God wouldn't let civilization be harmed. If this is what is meant by the GOP's grasp of science, I wonder what ignorance looks like.
6.28.2009 9:46pm
byomtov (mail):
Exactly how many times does the "temperatures dropping for eleven years" argument need to be addressed, do you think, Jonathan?

Isn't there some point at which one is entitled to ignore silliness?
6.28.2009 9:54pm
rosetta's stones:
"Isn't there some point at which one is entitled to ignore silliness?"

Yes, there is, and I believe the American public is about ready to claim that entitlement.
6.28.2009 10:03pm
Pro Natura (mail):
If you look at the trend from before 1979, it is even more pronounced.
It certainly is. If you go back to about 1000 AD (roughly when the "Medieval Climactic Optimum" began) you find that the earth's average temperature was an estimated several degrees Centigrade warmer than it has been any time in the past century, e.g., grapes were native to England and Newfoundland. Temperatures began dropping with the onset of the "Little Ice Age" which probably relates to the solar cycle, c.f. Maunder Minimum. Starting in the late 1700s or early 1800s we began recovering from the "Little Ice Age". It's not totally unreasonable to argue that all temperature rise since that period has been a recovery from the "Little Ice Age". If average temperature go up another few degrees Centigrade we may return to the conditions of the "Medieval Climactic Optimum", so-called because conditions were particularly salubrious for agriculture and other contributors to human well-being. These major shifts in temperature do not appear to correlate at all with atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor or any other "green house" gas.

It's interesting to note that polar bears survived the "Medieval Climactic Optimum" quite well. And read about the prevalence of malaria, yellow fever, cholera, and other "tropical" diseases in Boston, New York, Philadelphia in the 19th century--when average temperatures were much less than they are now--to see what malarkey the global warming nuts are peddling about epidemiology.

But I'm getting tired of pointing this stuff out to cardinals who don't want to look through the telescope.
6.28.2009 10:06pm
Pro Natura (mail):

This chart shows truly long term tends in temperature. The trend is clearly upward. Whether that is a good thing and what to do about it is a different issue.

I have read that one of Sen. Inhofe's 700 scientists [!] against Global Warming is a creationist college dropout TV weatherman who says God wouldn't let civilization be harmed. If this is what is meant by the GOP's grasp of science, I wonder what ignorance looks like.
The chart appears to show the "hockey stick curve" which is based on a statistical model that has been utterly discredited. Provide a reference if this is not so.

So one of these 700 lacks credentials. If we apply the same argument to those who support the theory of man-made global warming they should all be dismissed because that idiot, Al Gore, is on their side.
6.28.2009 10:14pm
Volokh Groupie:
- Picking individuals to impugn an entire groups' views on the issue isn't an argument. It's demagoguery whether you're talking about 'gorebots' or your run of the mill creationist 'denier'.

- Short scale variability is a significant issue for both sides regardless of whether its a hockey stick like spike in temperatures or the appearance of a leveling off.

- Hansen is becoming more of a fringe political figure at this point. However, his scientific credentials and research are unimpeachable.
6.28.2009 10:25pm
jccamp (mail):
don't know that variations in recorded temperatures which don't immediately conform to GW theory should be termed "silliness."

See Ricardo'a post at 9:27 PM. Follow the link, and then read the comments, like this one
"I am trying to keep an open mind on this but it’s tough. I am a chemist, not a meteorologist. But I can not help but be skeptical when organizations whose funding and very existance hinges on climate change “correct” the data set that does not support their agenda." referring to changes in calculating satellite data when the initial data did not agree with GW.

The same chemist cites a link which suggests a linkage between recorded higher temperatures and a sudden drop in the number of recording stations.


I'd also cite a WSJ op-ed piece by Kimberly Starssel HERE.

Mocking some (hopefully) small number of global warming non-believers who might be whackos does not automatically grant widespread scientific acceptance of global warming theory. At least in the U. S., I think that such acceptance is more of a political fact of life than an indisputable scientific reality. (although I must admit that many who maintain an open mind on the issue are quick to point out that Global Warming's most well-known spokesman is the same guy who invented the Internet. The Right has no monopoly on Weird.)
6.28.2009 10:27pm
BGates:
a general willingness to rely on dogma and superstition at the expense of science and reason

That's going to be the epitaph for this Congress.
6.28.2009 10:31pm
Ben P:

It certainly is. If you go back to about 1000 AD (roughly when the "Medieval Climactic Optimum" began) you find that the earth's average temperature was an estimated several degrees Centigrade warmer than it has been any time in the past century, e.g., grapes were native to England and Newfoundland.

Except English wine production is presently at a state more productive than any time in recorded history.

In a survey dated 1087 there was a maximum (counting unsourced claims) of 52 Vinyards in England. Winemaking never completely died out, but there was a resurgence in the 70's, to 124 Vinyards, since then another 200 have been built.

What does this tell us? well 1, if you like english wine, maybe warmer temperatures aren't all that bad. It also doesn't necessarily tell us it is warmer than it was during the medieval warm period, But it definitely does tell us that any claim using grape cultivation as a proxy for temperator shows it's at least as warm (grapes grew than, grapes grow now) as it was then.


It's not totally unreasonable to argue that all temperature rise since that period has been a recovery from the "Little Ice Age". If average temperature go up another few degrees Centigrade we may return to the conditions of the "Medieval Climactic Optimum", so-called because conditions were particularly salubrious for agriculture and other contributors to human well-being.


Same argument that was discredited in response o the first quote, but if you want more.

"The idea of a global or hemispheric "Medieval Warm Period" that was warmer than today however, has turned out to be incorrect." - NOAA



These major shifts in temperature do not appear to correlate at all with atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor or any other "green house" gas.


This is just plain false. There is a very remarkable correlation between Co2 levels and temperatures in the historical record. And analysts generally agree that although feedback loops do make the correlation tight time wise, that Co2 does in fact lead and not lag.


It's interesting to note that polar bears survived the "Medieval Climactic Optimum" quite well.


"quite well?" I assume you have more evidence for this than simply saying that polar bears are also alive today?
6.28.2009 10:35pm
John Moore (www):
Volokh Groupie:


A significant change in temperature trend in an 11 year time scale easily falls into potentially being due to natural variability.


Which is exactly what skeptics have been saying every time an AGW alarmist points to a particular event and says "that was caused by man made global warming."

However, that 11 year trend does in fact invalidate the climate models used by the IPCC, in that they do not forecast such a trend and in fact forecast a significant rise.


Hansen is becoming more of a fringe political figure at this point. However, his scientific credentials and research are unimpeachable

His research is most certainly NOT unimpeachable. See one of many examples.
6.28.2009 10:53pm
Volokh Groupie:
One point about the NOAA graph cited---its a reconstruction which uses multiple studies that include the bristlecone proxies which the NRC and EPA both said shouldn't be included because of their unreliability.

I don't think that substantively alters any of Ben P's post though it may give the end of the graph a bit of a bump at the end.
6.28.2009 10:53pm
Volokh Groupie:
@John Moore


Saying Hansen's climate pedigree and research is unimpeachable doesn't mean that he may not be wrong in some papers (though I need to look at that post to see whether that is the case here) but rather that he's clearly an expert who typically posts important and relevant papers in the field.

I don't know that the 11 year trend invalidates any of the models you're taking about. There's a miniscule chance that there's some enormous systemic error in the models and youre right but more than likely some of the models have to adjust certain assumptions to account for the variability. Other models probably aren't even that effected by such short scale variability. It'd be helpful to know which specific models you think it invalidates.

I don't disagree that politicizing short term temperature spikes is also a problem.
6.28.2009 10:59pm
Ricardo (mail):
It certainly is. If you go back to about 1000 AD...

I take it you don't want to press any further on your argument that the fact that there was a temperature spike in 1998 disproves global warming. I don't blame you.

Now, about the past 1000 years, what primary data source are you using to make your claims? Other people who have responded to you have paid you the courtesy of citing and linking the data they rely on.
6.28.2009 11:15pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
I would agree that the presence of a creationist TV weatherman in the anti-climate change camp does not refute their argument. What I was attempting to point out was that (a) his inclusion in Sen. Inhofe's list of 700 scientists Inhofe makes the 700 an overestimate, that (b) the Republicans are not applying a QA process in their acquisition of 'scientists', from which I conjecture that (c) claims the GOP Senators really understands the science better than the Administration are unfounded.

@Pro Natura
AFAICT, the graph I linked to is some of Dr. Hansen's raw data. It isn't part of a hockey stick "model"; it's raw data.
6.28.2009 11:36pm
Lior:
Andrew J. Lazarus: The graph you linked to is most definitely not "raw data", as the term is commonly used. "Raw data" would be widths of tree rings, layer thickness numbers from ices cores etc. In fact, the graph you linked to consists of temperature reconstructions derived from the raw data. The reconstruction process depends on (1) a model for the formation of the data samples and (2) a prediction for the temperature-dependence of the raw data which is made using the model.

The controversy regarding the "hockey stick" feature (it wasn't a model) was due to a claim that it was a feature of the reconstruction method independently of the raw data (and hence the historical record). Specifically, it was claimed that feeding the reconstruction method simulated raw data which should not have indicated warming (chosen at random) also led to a "hockey stick" feature in the temperature plot.
6.29.2009 12:01am
Lior:
Andrew: sorry I confused the two temperature charts that were linked to, and wrote as if you posted the chart linked to by Ben P.

The chart you linked to is not raw data either, however. It is quite possible that the "raw data" underlying this chart are actual temperature measurements. However, this raw data is not very different from tree rings -- a theoretical model is still required to derive an "average global temperature" from this data. Here are two effects you need to account for:

1. Calibration: do you know what the temperature numbers from 1930 mean? Were the measurements done at the hottest time of day? At a fixed time of day? Did the time of day depend on the season? How accurate were the thermometers then? Did they have biases?

2. Averaging: the thermometers used were probably not distributed uniformly either in space (over the globe) or in time. Thus to give an "average global temperature" for a particular time period requires a model relating the known information (results at the space-time points where measurements were taken) to the desired information (average temperature over the whole globe).
6.29.2009 12:11am
Volokh Groupie:
@Lior

That's also not a great graph to make the point Andrew or Krugman want to make. Because its normalized to the 1951-80 avg it makes it look like an exponential increase which overemphasizes the shorter period at the end (and the end of the graph is plateauing a bit as we add the next couple years). The claim of 'short term variability' would look pretty possible with respect to the graph. The raw temperature anomaly is more helpful in seeing the long term trend GISS Graph though not as convincing as the reconstruction based graphs which map the temp increase since the little ice age.
6.29.2009 12:25am
Desiderius:
"The teaching of evolution itself is pretty damn important in a world which, you know, has that as a fundamental operating principle."

Fundie!
6.29.2009 12:35am
Desiderius:
Appeals to authority may not be the most effective approach.

Try something along these lines.
6.29.2009 12:44am
Ricardo (mail):
Just so people are clear, the graph Andrew linked to is based on the NASA GISS data set from 1880 until the present. NASA's data comes from land-based temperature stations that have existed in various forms from 1880 until now. There is temperature data from land-based stations before 1880 but there were too few stations on which to base a reliable measure of global temperature.

A brief overview of the methodology behind the data is here.
6.29.2009 1:10am
Lior:
From the GISS discussion linked to by Ricardo:
Our rationale was that the number of Southern Hemisphere stations was sufficient for a meaningful estimate of global temperature change, because temperature anomalies and trends are highly correlated over substantial geographical distances...

The analysis method was documented in Hansen and Lebedeff (1987)...

This derived error bar only addressed the error due to incomplete spatial coverage of measurements ...


Read the whole thing: they explain exactly what I was referring to in my answer to Andrew. The "raw data" is indeed temperature measurements, but non-trivial analysis is required to get to the temperature reconstruction. The quotes are about the model relating the local measurements to the global temperature. There is also discussion of dealing with biases in the raw data — for example, they adjust the raw data from stations located in urban areas to account for the "heat island" effect.
6.29.2009 1:27am
homosapien:
There are two things that bother me about the climate change debate. The first is that the burden of proof is put in the wrong place. The fundamental physics is quite simple: CO2 allows visible light to pass through it but absorbs and re-emits infrared light. Therefore, basic physics predicts that more of the infrared light emitted by the earth will be trapped within the earth system when there is a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Venus is a great example of a place where this definitely happens. So, contrary to popular belief, climate change skeptics, not proponents, are the ones who are proposing a radical new idea: that the earth's climate would NOT be significantly affected by and increase in atmospheric CO2.

Secondly, the fact is, only a very few people actually understand anything about the functioning of the climatalogical models. I have a graduate degree in Earth and Planetary Science (different subfield) and I admit I have not more than the vaguest notion as to how those models work. The best we the general public and the government can do is accept the scientific consensus on such matters. Yes, the scientific consensus is sometimes wrong- but usually not, and it is ludicrous to think that the either the general public or the government can reasonably assess the quality of the science. So, all we can do is accept what the vast majority of trained scientists are telling us- keeping in mind that there is always a chance they are wrong.
6.29.2009 4:13am
quick weight loss diet (mail) (www):
scinc in every war we see use of science for example atom bombs etc for science teaches us development but science is not used only for development but forwar also .
6.29.2009 4:45am
Hey Skipper (mail) (www):
Venus is a great example of a place where this definitely happens.

Actually, it isn't.

Venus's surface pressure is roughly 90 times that of Earth.

Check the temperature of Venus's atmosphere at the 1000mb level -- the same pressure as at sea level here on Earth.

At that pressure altitude, Venus's temperature is around 100 degs F. And Venus is a lot closer to the sun.
6.29.2009 5:16am
Desiderius:
homosapien,

First paragraph: right on.

Second: the road to Theocracy.
6.29.2009 7:43am
Desiderius:
Or, put another way:

The first: the Dr. Jekyll of your conservative mindset

The second: the Mr. Hyde
6.29.2009 7:50am
AnonLawStudent:
homosapien,

If you are going to lecture about what we should accept, perhaps you should review at least a bit of the science:

E.g., Eldrett, J.S., Greenwood, D.R., Harding, I.C., and Humber, M., Increased seasonality through the Eocene to Oligocene transition in northern high latitudes. Nature 2009; 459:969-973. Editor's summary here. Nutshell: Using fossil evidence from a Shell Exploration drilling site, a change in CO2 from >1000ppmv to ~560ppmv resulted in cooling of only about 5 deg C. In other words, the Earth had far higher CO2 levels in the past, and far larger changes than are attributable to man by GW advocates caused a smaller change than many GW models predict.

For problems with climatic models that that even an undergraduate engineering student could understand, see Amy Bower, A.S., Lozier, M.S., Gary, S.F., and Boning, C.W., Interior pathways of the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, 2009 Nature, 243-47. Editors summary here. Nutshell: Atlantic heat flows are significantly different that previously believed. In other words, scientists don't have even a basic grasp of major oceanic heat flows.
6.29.2009 7:57am
mattski:
homosapien wrote: So, all we can do is accept what the vast majority of trained scientists are telling us- keeping in mind that there is always a chance they are wrong.

Desiderius responded: the road to Theocracy

I disagree with both. It is an oversimplification to say that lay people cannot understand the scientific consensus. There are enough articulate scientists and enough competent science journalists (well maybe we could use more of these) for average people, if they have the desire, to attain a basic and reasonable grasp of the science.

And, Desiderius, you exaggerate, as usual. :^)
6.29.2009 8:44am
Joe The Plumber (mail):
Remember the Republican "war on science"?

Yes, it was a silly phrase used by ignorant leftists in a futile attempt to score cheap political points.
6.29.2009 9:28am
Joe The Plumber (mail):
I have read that one of Sen. Inhofe's 700 scientists [!] against Global Warming is a creationist college dropout TV weatherman who says God wouldn't let civilization be harmed. If this is what is meant by the GOP's grasp of science

Um, and then what?

Note that you can't refute a single thing the 700 scientist are saying, you're just making irrelevant personal attacks.

And there is a reason for that...
6.29.2009 9:32am
Joe The Plumber (mail):
The best we the general public and the government can do is accept the scientific consensus on such matters. Yes, the scientific consensus is sometimes wrong- but usually not,

The problem is, there is no "consensus" and there never was on this issue.

Ever.

Further, I remember people like you accepting the "scientific consensus" that being a homosexual was a mental disorder.
6.29.2009 9:38am
rosetta's stones:
"Therefore, basic physics predicts that more of the infrared light emitted by the earth will be trapped within the earth system when there is a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere."

And more will blocked from ever entering the earth system, meaning that an energy balance analysis is required, not just a simple statement of fact defining one side of the balance.

hs, best to remove the "concensus" descriptor from your discussion. That sorta thinking is what's driving the alarmists' recent freefall, if you notice. The hubris of a self-chosen cleresy will always tend to bring this on.
6.29.2009 9:42am
rarango (mail):
Juris Imprudent has it downpat--What suprises me is that 53 percent of the country believed Obama. I assume it is simply hope overcoming experience. This is sort of trust that will continue to keep Nigerian ministry officials in business.
6.29.2009 10:01am
AlanDownunder (mail):
<blockquote>
After reviewing the scientific literature that the EPA is relying on, Carlin said, he concluded that it was at least three years out of date and did not reflect the latest research. "My personal view is that there is not currently any reason to regulate (carbon dioxide)," he said. "There may be in the future. But global temperatures are roughly where they were in the mid-20th century. They're not going up, and if anything they're going down."
</blockquote>

This was the clown the EPA "suppressed"? That wasn't a suppression - it was a mercy censorship. Carlin doesn't even get that anyone with half a brain can plot a trend line through the wavy noise and draw the obvious conclusion about anyone who can't. He could at least have admitted the warming trend's existence and exhibited a slightly more subtle and obfuscatory brand of denial by disputing anthropogenesis. If I was a lobbyist for a coal company, I wouldn't touch this pathetic simpleton with a barge pole.
6.29.2009 10:05am
geokstr (mail):

homosapien:
...the scientific consensus is sometimes wrong...accept what the vast majority of trained scientists are telling us- keeping in mind that there is always a chance they are wrong.

Unfortunately, your wise caveats above are not under consideration. It is being proposed that we make profound structural adjustments to our entire ecomony, with little knowledge of those pesky unintended consequences that seem to always derail the best intentions of men. And this based on an extremely hubristic belief that we already understand all we need to know about how "climate" really works.

What if we really are just on the cusp of a turning point where the climate may turn much cooler all by itself, and our efforts magnify those effects? A lot more people will die if there is suddenly a major reduction in the area available for farming than if the frozen wastelands of Alaska, the Yukon, Greenland and Siberia become breadbaskets, no?

And, if we don't find alternate sources of energy first, there is also a strong chance of economic disaster on an unheard of scale if we try to go to solar and wind power, which so far have proven totally inadequate, without even a transition plan in place. Note that the same people advocating these massive disruptions in the present structure are also the same ones preventing us from using nuclear, hydroelectric, natural gas, coal and our own oil resources during that transition.

This is insanity, and does not even consider what happens if indeed, all those trained scientists are wrong.
6.29.2009 10:11am
BillW:
homosapien:
... The fundamental physics is quite simple: CO2 allows visible light to pass through it but absorbs and re-emits infrared light. Therefore, basic physics predicts that more of the infrared light emitted by the earth will be trapped within the earth system when there is a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. ... So, contrary to popular belief, climate change skeptics, not proponents, are the ones who are proposing a radical new idea: that the earth's climate would NOT be significantly affected by an increase in atmospheric CO2.
That's clearly true as a qualitative matter, but the dispute is about how much the climate is affected, because of other factors.
... equilibrium climate sensitivity refers to the equilibrium change in global mean near-surface air temperature that would result from a sustained doubling of the atmospheric (equivalent) CO2 concentration. This value is estimated, by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) as likely to be in the range 2 to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values substantially higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values. ...

CO2 climate sensitivity has a component directly due to radiative forcing by CO2 (or any other change in Earth's radiative balance), and a further contribution arising from feedbacks, positive and negative. "Without any feedbacks, a doubling of CO2 ... would result in 1°C global warming, which is easy to calculate and is undisputed. The remaining uncertainty is due entirely to feedbacks in the system, namely, the water vapor feedback, the ice-albedo feedback, the cloud feedback, and the lapse rate feedback."
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_sensitivity
That estimates range over a factor of three can be seen as a broad consensus or a lack thereof, depending on your inclination.
6.29.2009 10:13am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
@Fake Joe the Fake Plumber
Note that you can't refute a single thing the 700 scientist are saying, you're just making irrelevant personal attacks.
If you read what I wrote, I agree that the lack of qualifications of one of the 700 alleged scientists does not refute what they are claiming. It does refute the idea that the claim comes from 700 scientists. As of right now, it comes from 699 possible scientists and one ignoramus, with reason to suspect that the 699 number is far too high, given an obvious absence of quality control. Perhaps there is a scientific consensus on the issue once we eliminate unqualified TV weathermen from the debate.
6.29.2009 10:16am
Joe The Plumber (mail):
This was the clown the EPA "suppressed"? That wasn't a suppression - it was a mercy censorship.

Clearly you didn't use enough hyperbole and name calling in your post.

Try again.
6.29.2009 10:18am
Joe The Plumber (mail):
Perhaps there is a scientific consensus on the issue once we eliminate unqualified TV weathermen from the debate

Or not,

Global warming is a hoax.

"I am of the opinion that this is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people," he says when I visit him in his office on a sunny spring afternoon.

He has testified about this to the United States Senate. He has written magazine articles, given speeches, done everything he could to get the message out. His scientific position relies heavily on what is known as the Argument From Authority. He's the authority.

"I've been in meteorology over 50 years. I've worked damn hard, and I've been around. My feeling is some of us older guys who've been around have not been asked about this. It's sort of a baby boomer, yuppie thing."

Gray believes in the obs. The observations. Direct measurements. Numerical models can't be trusted. Equation pushers with fancy computers aren't the equals of scientists who fly into hurricanes.

"Few people know what I know. I've been in the tropics, I've flown in airplanes into storms. I've done studies of convection, cloud clusters and how the moist process works. I don't think anybody in the world understands how the atmosphere functions better than me."

In just three, five, maybe eight years, he says, the world will begin to cool again.


And of course he is 100% correct.


it comes from 699 possible scientists and one ignoramus

As opposed to you, silly Internet commenter...
6.29.2009 10:22am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
As opposed to you, silly Internet commenter...
This must be a Sarcastro sock puppet
6.29.2009 10:28am
Joe The Plumber (mail):
This must be a Sarcastro sock puppet

No, your comments are actually silly.
6.29.2009 10:33am
Dennis Todd (mail):
Supposing for the sake of argument man is severely affecting climate as the climate alarmists suggest - should we abandon/hamper the oil based engine of the modern economy to stop it, or spend money coping with the effects?

Until there is an alternative supply of abundant sources for energy on par with petroleum, human involvement via the state into the economic engines of prosperity seems unwise.
6.29.2009 10:59am
Volokh Groupie:
It would have to be a bizarro Sarcastro sock puppet.

@AlanDownunder

The guy's report is being pretty widely acknowledged (even on skeptics sites) as being based on pretty poor science so I wonder why the EPA did suppress it. Anyone familiar with this debate knows there's no such thing as mercy that would be at play here. The EPA report could have just easily rebutted Carlin's addition or let it stand as a ridiculous counterpoint/criticism and have tagged it as the wacky dissenter.
6.29.2009 11:40am
loki13 (mail):
After reading through these threads, I am increasingly convinced that the main cause of anthrpogenic global warming warming is the hot air generated by, inter alia, Joe the Plumber on any post that mentions "science".
6.29.2009 12:36pm
karl (mail):
Anyone who studies economics knows that the reason central planning does not work is because no single entity (or person) can accumulate every bit of information that will affect the plan (or prediction). F.A. Hayek called it the time and circumstance effect. At any time, a local circumstance, unknown to the central planner, will arise that disrupts the plan. It the same with computer programs that try to predict future results, one bit of neglected information or unknown information skews the results. That's why Wall Street forcasts always come "as a surprize to the 'experts'". That is why the modeling of the climate of the future is so untrustworthy. Think of the almost unimaginal vast reaches of just our own universe and the potential any event happening anywhere in that universe or even in the world that can affect the climate. We do have some observable data. Geologist know from observable data that the 1.65 million year life of the Pliestocene Ice Age Epoch saw a series of glacial periods followed by interglacial(warm) periods, each lasting several thousand years. The remanants of the last glacial period disappeared just 10,000 years ago as the mile high Laurentine Ice Sheet melted, creating three of the Great Lakes and other massive geological features. Strange, not many people creating vast amounts of CO2 were around then. Climate change always happens and is happening. But man isn't the cause.
6.29.2009 12:40pm
Abdul Abulbul Amir (mail):

See this for instance. If you look at the trend from before 1979, it is even more pronounced.



If you look at the trend from 8:00am to 3:00pm it certainly points to everyone and everything bursting into flames by the end of next month. Drawing climate conclusions from a 30 year window has just about the same validity.

Until it warms enough to resume agriculture in Greenland, we are still in the natural cycle.
6.29.2009 1:11pm
Abdul Abulbul Amir (mail):
6.29.2009 1:45pm
rosetta's stones:
Until it warms enough to resume agriculture in Greenland, we are still in the natural cycle.

Heresy.

The reeducation camps will complete construction shortly, and you my friend will be included with the first batch of inductees.

Let's see what 18 hour days spent memorizing and reciting ICC reports does for you.
6.29.2009 2:20pm
Desiderius:
You'll know there is consensus when the heretics can be safely ignored, rather than persecuted. When we've got scientists proclaiming upon retirement their profound relief that they can finally speak their minds, we not only do not have consensus, we have academic freedom issues.

Given the strength of the countervailing forces (you know, those 3 billion who haven't gotten their industrial revolution yet, for starters), forging that consensus will require a reboot from present practice. Step one would seem to be acquiring a more accurate picture of the motives of those involved in the debate. Assuming that climate skeptics have a hard-on for frying the earth ASAP strikes me as particularly unpromising.
6.29.2009 5:45pm
Desiderius:
Mattski,

"And, Desiderius, you exaggerate, as usual. :^)"

I'm not so sure...
6.29.2009 5:47pm
Volokh Groupie:
@Abdul Abulbul Amir

Simply pointing out adjustments doesn't make them wrong. Adjustments are correctly used in just about every quantitative scientific field.

And the Krugman graph is an awful one to point out a long term heating trend when the NOAA reconstructions make that more clear.
6.29.2009 7:11pm
Ralph A. Volpi (mail):
Ben P:

Did you READ the article (Timing of Atmospheric Co2 and Antarctic Temperature Changes Across Termination III) you linked to in your post to prove the "...remarkable correlation between Co2 levels and temperatures...and...that Co2 does in fact lead and not lag [tempetures]...?" I mean the article states that "...However, Fig. 3 indicates that Co2 increases and peaks at a shallower depth in the core than [Argon 40]...indicating that the inicrease in Co2 lags Antarctic warming by 800 +/- 200 years. ....This confirms that Co2 is not the forcing that initially drives the climatic system during a deglaciation...This sequence of events is still in full agreement with the idea that Co2 plays, thorugh its greenhouse effect, a key role in amplifying the initial orbital forcing...." I mean, jeez...

Further, while NOAA press releases may say that "The idea of a global or hemispheric "Medieval Warm Period" what was warmer than today, however, has turned out to be incorrect", they can't prove it. The National Academy of Sciences report you linked to (Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 years says "...Very little confidence can be assigned to statements concerning the hemispheric mean or global mean surface temperature prior to about A.D. 900 becuase of sparce data coverage and because of uncertainties associated with proxy data and the methiods used to analyze and combine them are larger than during the more recent time periods." The only thing the National Academy of Sciences was willing to say was that '...It can be siad with a high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th. century than during any comparable period during the preceeding four centuries." Well, DAH! 400 years less 2000 is 1600 -- the middle of the "Little Ice Age!" The real question is: Why were we warmer in 1900 than in 1600? and why should we not assume that a trend which was 300 years in the making in 1900 would not continue for another 100 or 200 years, Co2, or no Co2?
6.30.2009 7:59am
homosapien:
Anonlawstudent- You cite one paper that found that in one location during one period of time that cooling was somewhat less than normal. I have no idea what the broader implications of this observation are, although I suspect that one observation will not fundamentally alter the current consensus. This is why I tend to rely on experts: if someone has read only a small portion of the available literature, the temptation to over-generalize from a small sample size is enormous. Someone who has spent a good portion of their life reviewing the relevant literature would be much more able to understand the implications of that one paper on the big picture. And yes, models are uncertain: that’s the world we live in. But uncertain predications are better than no predictions at all.

As to the criticisms that replying on experts is equivalent to a theocracy, two points: 1) Who else should we rely on? We have to decide on a policy somehow. 2) Science is different from religion in that individuals in science have a high incentive to question the staus quo: no one ever made their scientific reputation by saying that everyone else what right. Yes, there are sometimes costs to thinking too much “outside of the box”, but there is this great thing called data that in the long run does validate the correct answer. In this case, while a climate change skeptic may pay some cost in professional respect, they gain a heck of a lot of conservative funding- so it’s not too surprising there are a good number of skeptics out there.

geokstr – the predictions of economic catastrophe I think are rather silly. If we were really having massive blackouts or somesuch, isn’t it more likely we’d relax the carbon cap or whatever? The idea now is to get an economic incentive in place so that alternative sources can compete and are developed.

BillW makes a good point. Still, even the “without feedbacks” approximation would result in significant warming in the next century at projected no-action rates of CO2 emissions. And when the simpler models predict positive feedback loops outweighing negative feedback looks, it seem reasonable to start with that as a baseline and then refine.
6.30.2009 3:53pm
Desiderius:
homosapien,

"Science is different from religion in that individuals in science have a high incentive to question the staus quo: no one ever made their scientific reputation by saying that everyone else what right. Yes, there are sometimes costs to thinking too much “outside of the box”"

Shirley you can't be serious. You can't get any more inside the box than going along with the Warming consensus - lock, stock, and barrel. In fact, it is the overweening power of those advocating risk-mitigation that leads us to foolishly take on so many side issues to further exert our dominance.

All that needs be said is that it might not be the best idea to dig up a few hundred million years worth of carbon and chuck it all up in the air at the same time. The rest is answering the very serious concerns about the impact of mitigation and/or which measures best address those concerns, and answering them respectfully and in full cognizance of our own dominance, not least vis-a-vis those 3 billion.

In a word, what is called for is evangelism. Evangelism via insult and persecution doesn't have the proudest, or the most productive, history. Maybe we should get some tips on how to do it right from our local megachurches.
6.30.2009 6:06pm
Desiderius:
homosapien,

To put things another way: In Iraq, hard power discovered that it needed soft power to attain the unambiguous victory it sought. Likewise, significant risk-mitigation on the carbon front will likely require hard power in the long run to supplement the soft power it already enjoys. The current approach is unlikely to secure it.
6.30.2009 7:55pm
AnonLawStudent:
homosapien,

It isn't the "one paper" that's at issue. Because I don't routinely read other journals, I can only speak regarding Nature, but examples of "one paper" that is problematic for current theories of AGW seem to crop up fairly frequently. Given that Nature isn't exactly known for publishing research of minor importance, I - in my unstudied ignorance - consider the frequency such papers to be significant in of itself.

I also note that you didn't respond to the Bower article. If we are going to talk "burden of proof" and "fundamental physics", I would expect those arguing grand theories of GW to have very complete knowledge of oceanic heatflows that dwarf anything in the atmosphere. One doesn't need to "understand anything about the functioning of the climatalogical models" in order to see the problem in relying on a "model" lacking such basic information. Forget expertise, I'd expect a kid to see that after two weeks of an introductory thermo course at Shitty State U. School of Engineering.

My intent isn't to discuss the specifics; it's to point out that I routinely come across this stuff.
6.30.2009 10:07pm
Dan L.:
homosapien:
"Therefore, basic physics predicts that more of the infrared light emitted by the earth will be trapped within the earth system when there is a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere."


rosetta's stones:
And more will blocked from ever entering the earth system, meaning that an energy balance analysis is required, not just a simple statement of fact defining one side of the balance.



I can't believe no one caught this howler from rosetta's stones.
7.3.2009 12:36pm

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