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Apologist Responses to Climategate Misconstrue the Real Debate (Quantitative, not Qualitative)

But even if the IPCC’s iconic statement were correct, it still would not be cause for alarm….The potential (and only the potential) for alarm enters with the issue of climate sensitivity—which refers to the change that a doubling of CO2 will produce in [global mean temperatures]. –Richard Lindzen, Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2009

Defenders of the IPCC position on climate science have adopted different strategies in dealing with the scandal of the CRU emails and computer code.  Some authoritative voices, notably Judy Curry, have engaged in dialog with skeptics and have reassured PhD students that the “tribalism” revealed in the CRU emails has no place in science.

On the other hand, another very common reaction has been to mock the “deniers” for taking certain phrases out of context. This circle-the-wagons strategy tries to convince the public that the CRU episode has absolutely no bearing on the actual science, and that at worst it reveals petty personality flaws. This spin is epitomized in sarcastic pieces which take on the voice of the “deniers” and claim that the laws of physics are all a socialist hoax too.

These defenses are self-evidently absurd to anyone who has read the actual CRU emails in question. The public’s faith in the sacrosanct “peer-review process” will be understandably shaken when they read just how this “consensus” was enforced. Furthermore, the real debate was not between ultra-skeptics who say “global warming is a hoax” versus professional climate scientists who say “anthropogenic climate change is real.”

No, the true debate has been among practicing climatologists, with some arguing that the global climate’s sensitivity to a doubling of greenhouse gas concentrations may be well below the IPCC AR4′s reported range of 2C – 4.5C. If these “skeptics”–such as Richard Lindzen, Pat Michaels, and Roy Spencer–are right, then the case for large-scale government intervention to penalize carbon emissions is considerably weakened.

In this context, the evidence brought to light by “Climategate” may be very significant, because it reaffirms the chinks in the IPCC armor that the educated skeptics have been pointing out for years. It’s true, an email from Phil Jones by itself doesn’t make Richard Lindzen right or wrong, but when policymakers need to decide which scientific experts they can trust, then the CRU emails are very relevant.

Trying to Lump All Skeptics With Rush Limbaugh.

It is definitely true that some opponents of cap-and-trade have used the episode to make over-the-top declarations. For example, Rush Limbaugh has repeatedly said that global warming is a hoax, and a Fox News interviewer asked Kevin Trenberth if some of the CRU emails “don’t necessarily support the consensus view that global warming is real…Would you agree?”

Now if an actual scientist connected with the IPCC wants to debate such points, he or she will be shooting fish in a barrel. For one thing, there’s the sloppy terminology. “Global warming” is certainly not a hoax–we can be very confident that the earth is warmer now than it was in the year 1850.

Of course, what Limbaugh and the Fox interviewer meant was, “The theory that says governments around the world need to heavily intervene in their energy sectors right away, or else our grandchildren will face climate catastrophes, cannot be justified by careful scientific research.” Yet by using sloppy language, some of the loudest critics of Al Gore et al. end up justifying the caricatures of their opponents.

For example, by flatly denouncing “global warming” per se, the critics allow someone like George Monbiot to ridicule their paranoia by imagining a worldwide campaign to first infiltrate the ranks of the physicists and invent the heat-trapping ability of carbon dioxide, and then to falsify thermometer readings.

Lindzen, Michaels, Spencer, et al. Know the Laws of Physics.

Although they might be amusing to some, the physics analogies offered in the wake of Climategate miss the point. For example a group post at RealClimate tried to contain the PR damage by saying:

It’s obvious that the noise-generating components of the blogosphere will generate a lot of noise about this. but it’s important to remember that science doesn’t work because people are polite at all times. Gravity isn’t a useful theory because Newton was a nice person. QED isn’t powerful because Feynman was respectful of other people around him.

Such glib responses make it sound as if the support for the IPCC consensus is as rock-solid as the existence of gravity, but of course that’s not true. First of all, Newton’s theory of gravity turned out to be wrong; it was superseded by Einstein’s more general explanation. In the context of CRU and the skeptics, the issue isn’t, “Is ‘climate’ a useful theory to explain thermometer readings?” No, the real debate concerns very specific and quantitative disagreements. The reason QED (quantum electrodynamics) is powerful is that it allowed physicists to make very precise predictions that were experimentally verified.

The True Signficance of Climategate.

We finally come to the true revelations of the CRU emails, at least from my vantage point as an economist who has not formally studied climate science. I think it is fair to summarize the broad disputes by saying that experts such as Lindzen, Michaels, and Spencer have raised serious critiques of the global climate models used by the IPCC, or at least of the conclusions that the IPCC has drawn from such simulations. In response, the IPCC’s standard bearers (such as the crew of RealClimate) have confidently stated that the consensus is in, the debate is over, there is no serious doubt about what the models are telling us, etc.

Now as an outsider with no formal training, I personally can’t truly judge these disputes. I can think of analogies in economics where the position of Phil Jones et al. is understandable. For example, a few years ago many critics of outsourcing were arguing that the standard economic case for free trade was based on flawed assumptions. Most economists–including me–dismissed these “dissenters” as making minor technical objections that didn’t really affect the final policy decisions, and worse they were feeding into the hands of politicians who cared nothing about economic models but wanted to pass pro-union protectionist legislation. So I thought it was certainly possible that the mainstream climate modelers were telling the truth when they said they had no doubt about the reliability of their models. Perhaps their critics–who may have been perfectly sincere–really were making mountains out of molehills, and worse yet were being used by politicians who didn’t really care about the truth of the science.

The revelations from Climategate have made me much more willing to believe the critics who claim that the global climate models cannot bear the weight that so many are putting on them. To me, the silly CRU emails about beating up Pat Michaels, or being glad that a skeptic had died, were irrelevant and have no bearing on what we should think of the IPCC projections.

True Jaw-Dropper: The Wigley and Trenberth Exchange.

In contrast to these harmless remarks, this email exchange between Tom Wigley and Kevin Trenberth stunned me. Most coverage of the CRU emails has mentioned Trenberth’s statement, “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” But the folks at RealClimate have argued (seemingly plausibly) that Trenberth was just being a good scientist, wanting to dot his i‘s and cross his t‘s. According to the damage control coming from RealClimate, the public shouldn’t buy into the lies of the deniers and think that Trenberth was doubting the basic idea that human activity is responsible for 20th century warming.

But hold on just a second. Trenberth’s follow-up email was even more interesting than the one receiving the bulk of the press coverage. Tom Wigley quoted Trenberth’s statement and said, “I do not agree with this.” In other words, Wigley was saying that he thought he and his colleagues could explain the lack of warming, and so there was no travesty. To this Trenberth replied (bold has been added):

Hi Tom
How come you do not agree with a statement that says we are no where close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter. We are not close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!
Kevin

At the risk of being melodramatic, I do declare that the above email is simply jaw-dropping. If the climate scientists cannot tell if a particular remedy is working, it means that they aren’t exactly sure how the climate would have evolved in the absence of such a remedy. In other words, Trenberth at least is admitting that he is not at all confident in the precise, quantitative predictions that the alarmists are citing as proof of the need for immediate government intervention. And this expression of doubt wasn’t from the distant past: Trenberth sent the above email in October of this year!

Gavin Schmidt: “All the Rest Is Economics.”

In a totally different context, Gavin Schmidt (perhaps unwittingly) gave away the game when he emailed this quote to journalist Andy Revkin:

If you ask a scientist how much more CO2 do you think we should add to the atmosphere, the answer is going to be none.

All the rest is economics.

Since that is Schmidt’s view, it’s not surprising that he thinks Climategate is much ado about nothing. Whether the climate sensitivity is 1.9C, 2.8C, or 5.2C, what’s the difference? We’re already pushing into the zone of climate damages, and so further emissions are just going to dig us into a deeper hole, right?

But as Schmidt acknowledged, that’s just looking at the theoretical benefits of limiting further greenhouse gas emissions. (Let’s neglect the studies arguing that modest warming actually confers net benefits on the world.) The costs of limiting emissions also need to be considered. By forcing people to use more expensive energy sources, government constraints on emissions necessarily reduce material output. There is a tradeoff between avoiding future climate damages, and reducing traditional economic output.

Conclusion.

The scholarly skeptics do not doubt that the earth is warmer now than it was in 1850, and they don’t doubt that higher global temperatures would have noticeable effects on migratory patterns, ice sheets, and so forth. The real debate has been and continues to be: What fraction of this warming can be attributed to human activities? And then extrapolating, what will be the likely impacts on the climate if economic activity continues on its present trajectory?

When it comes to nuanced questions such as these–as opposed to loud mouths declaring, “Global warming is a hoax!”–the CRU emails and computer code are very revealing. Those of us who are not experts on climate models now have proof that the official line that “the science is settled” was a bluff. Of course it’s still possible that the IPCC projections may turn out to be accurate when all is said and done, but the confidence we should right now place in their modeling is much lower than what their biggest enthusiasts have been assuring us for years.

36 comments

1 tim heyes { 12.02.09 at 4:07 am }

I can’t agree more with this post. I discuss AGW on an internet forum populated by many scientists and am continously referred to as a “denier” despite repeatedly agreeing that the climate has been warming. Furthermore, I am repeatedly accused of using tactics employed by by creationists in an attempt to discredit my arguments by inference. Poiniting out the observations made in the above post doesn’t get anywhere as my comments go ignored in favour of rants about counts of numbers of papers for and against the IPCC hypothesis for AGW. It is very disheartening that debates by people who claim scientific credentials cannot move beyond these childish attacks. If this is the standard of current understanding of “what science is” emerging from our universities, then I fear for the future of our scientific endeavour in addition to the damage that the climategate affair will do the public understanding of science.

2 Ed Reid { 12.02.09 at 8:16 am }

The “three-legged stool” of AGW is now on display for all to see.
Leg 1) Zero future CO2 emissions (Gavin Schmidt & “350″)
Leg 2) Zero future GHG emissions from animal husbandry (Ban Ki Moon & UN FAO)
Leg 3) Population control (John Holdren & Cass Sunstein)
Seat) Global Governance (Copenhagen draft & EU President)

Let the auction begin. The opening bid is $150 trillion. :-)

3 Tom Tanton { 12.02.09 at 9:08 am }

Nice post, but methinks it is WAY less complicated. It is not necessary that you be trained in climate scince for there is a perfect example in your own field, Bob. If you were given an econometric model (fundamentally predicated on regression) forecasting economic output, say 100 years from now, but found out that the input data was a) crap and b) lies–would you have ANY trust in that forecast?

4 bill allen { 12.02.09 at 10:52 am }

Bob,
While it is warmer now than in 1850, it is cooler than during the Medieval Warm Period and more importantly, it cooler than in the 1930s! Which means there has been no net warming over the past 70 plus years while CO2 has continued to increase. CO2 is not causing any measurable warming!

5 Andrew { 12.02.09 at 10:56 am }

Technically Newton wasn’t wrong, just incomplete. He gave a nearly perfect formula for how to calculate the effects of gravity. The only problem was that he couldn’t explain why. What General Relativity (which ironically is more special than special relativity) did was merely to explain that the mechanism behind gravity was the distortion of space time by mass.

Great article on the whole. Makes points I’ve been trying to for a long time.

Remember as lord Kelvin said:

“All science is numbers”

6 NormD { 12.02.09 at 11:47 am }

AGW science has all the attributes of a pseudo-science.

Why is not releasing raw data temp any different from a crank not allowing you to examine their healing machine?

Why is screaming the Polar Bears are drowning any different than than believers swearing their kids were sickened by a vaccine?

Why should we simply believe a group scientists any more than a group of scientologists?

What experiment would prove AGW theory to be false?

What predictions have AGW theory made that have been confirmed?

7 Chris { 12.02.09 at 12:03 pm }

Three words: post modern science.

8 Lloyd Slezak { 12.02.09 at 3:05 pm }

As one other commenter notes, this post ignores the significance of the Medieval Warming Period and how that question is at the root of much of the climategate e-mails. “Everybody believes in AGW” because of the impact of the Mann Hockey Stick graph on peoples perceptions that the late 20th century is an anomalous warming period. If the warming isn’t anamolous then the connection to CO2 is intuitively weak. The efforts of Jones and Mann to discredit McIntyre and McKitrick are at the core of why there is a so-called “consensus” today. The “consensus” is based on bad data from the get-go.

9 Sabin Colton { 12.03.09 at 3:43 pm }

The experiment has already been done. When the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, CO2 emissions (industry tanked) decreased 30% and the CO2 and the temperature curves did not miss a beat – CO2 emissions went down and temperature continued to climb. Temperature peaked in 1938 and CO2 peaked about 8 years later, a sizable lag behind the temperature.

10 Sabin Colton { 12.03.09 at 3:56 pm }

I forgot to mention:

I am trying to spread the word that the Little Ice Age on Wikipedia is being monitored by Gavin Schmidt to maintain a very slanted explanation of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age.

His text reads that land use changes (and probaly concurrent CO2 releases) in Medieval times caused global warming and, when the plagues hit, agriculture crashed and reforestation (sucking up CO2) caused the Little Ice Age.

I hold that there were just too few people back then to cause such effects and that Gavin is trying to maintain this site as another means of misinforming the public. This over-inflated view of land use changes is unrealistic. It paints the sensitivity of the climate to be so large that our climate today should be off the boards already by crazy amounts.

I have attempted to add some realism to the text by adding one or two moderating sentences, but Gavin has removed my changes almost immediately (he has e-mail alerts set on the Wiki page) and he has threatened me with being banned from Wiki altogether, if I do not stop trying to alter “his” page.

I know of no way to fight this and moderators on Wiki apparently do not exist. It irks me that he is squatting on such a source of useful information to maintain a slanted, biased view.

11 Larry { 12.03.09 at 11:26 pm }

AGW models seem like they’re at a similar place as DSGE econometric models. Their specific uselessness doesn’t make the work behind them invalid, just incomplete (and of course, subject to possible, future wholesale rejection.)

12 SBVOR { 12.04.09 at 9:51 pm }

1) Mr. Murphy has written an excellent analysis.

2) For those who (accurately) remind us that the globe has warmed since 1850, I note that not only have both the Arctic and the Antarctic cooled over the last 10,000 years, but that cooling trend is on-going and uninterrupted by the latest warming.

Click here and here for the citation links and more details.

13 Bastiat79 { 12.04.09 at 11:26 pm }

Climategate is only scratching the surface. Whether the climate has more or less changed in the past is irrelevant. The climate is a chaotic system and can change without cause. Policy is about CO2, and CO2 is about climate sensitivity.

The real scandal is that there are several lines of thought that suggest a climate sensitivity of about 0.4K, and that these are underinvestigated because underfunded for political reasons.

I wish skeptics could unite on that very simple statement.

14 Walter Sobchak { 12.05.09 at 1:04 am }

“Global warming” is certainly not a hoax–we can be very confident that the earth is warmer now than it was in the year 1850.

What do you mean we. I am not confident of anything. I am not a “climate scientist” or eevn a “scientist” of any sort. But, I am a skeptic and a cynic. I want to know why “we can be very confident that the earth is warmer now than it was in the year 1850″.

At this point, I see no reason to believe any such thing.

15 Doc { 12.05.09 at 11:09 am }

I feel that the only good in this is debate…The opportunity for people to throw shoes and maybe, just maybe actually think. Think for themselves, that is. Most people have no idea how much science does not know. And how much of science is run by the very corporations that profit from and by bad science.
We have elaborate high dollar universities that need money desperately… so desperately that they’ll take money and the aforementioned strings with out any questions..
If Monsanto says the world is flat most if not all agricultural universities would make it mandatory that PhD candidates write their theisis on how flat an earth can be.
It is getting ridiculous… downright laughable. Except that it is our tax dollars that are being corrupted.
The entire solar system is going through changes and no one…maybe not even God knows for sure where this will lead.
What I do know is that we have an awfully lot of greedy rich people looking to make money on schemes and scams that can be played out via Wall Street… may just as well go to ‘Vegas.
I allow myself to laugh only because I might otherwise blow a gasket at the insanity of who is right… and who is wrong.

16 Kyle { 12.05.09 at 1:05 pm }

Thank you for the thoughtful article, Robert, but I think _you_ are missing the true significance. The emails reveal a corruption of the scientific process!
1) sabotaging their scientific critics
2) manipulating the peer-review process
3) attacking scientific journals
4) refusing to open-source their data and models like every other reputable scientist.

I am an ex-scientist in large part because of this corruption. Surely you too are familiar with the politicizing of science. It seems like it’s all about grant money and fame, and science suffers for it.

17 Brian Dodge { 12.05.09 at 3:16 pm }

“If the climate scientists cannot tell if a particular remedy is working, it means that they aren’t exactly sure how the climate would have evolved in the absence of such a remedy.”
If an oncologist can’t tell whether chemotherapy will work, then he isn’t exactly sure how the cancer would have evolved in the absence of such a remedy, so there is no point in treating cancer, right?
Riiight.

18 Bob Murphy { 12.05.09 at 7:16 pm }

Brian Dodge wrote:

If an oncologist can’t tell whether chemotherapy will work, then he isn’t exactly sure how the cancer would have evolved in the absence of such a remedy, so there is no point in treating cancer, right?
Riiight.

Mr. Dodge, you misunderstood the significance of what Trenberth said. He didn’t say, “We aren’t sure right now if geo-engineering will work.” You’re right, that would be analogous with treating cancer, and would not make us doubt the doctor’s skills or prognosis.

But to be actually analogous to what Trenberth said, the oncologist would have to say to the patient, “I think you have cancer, and some people suggest this thing called ‘chemotherapy’ to cure it, but even if I administered the treatment, I wouldn’t be able to tell if you still had cancer. It is a travesty. So, can I cut you open?”

Would you have a lot of faith in the diagnosis of that particular oncologist?

19 Tim Curtin { 12.05.09 at 8:20 pm }

I would be interested to hear from any of the above what they expect the impact of reducing CO2 emissions to say 2.5 GtC p.a. (40% of the 2000 level) to be, when that is well below the uptakes by oceanic and terrestrial biotas, currently over 6 GtC p.a./ Will food production in the oceans (phytoplankton through to fisheries) and land (including not only crops but livestock and timber continue to increase at about 2% p.a. as it has since 1960 (when the FAO stats begin), stay the same, or decline in line with the decreasing increments in atmospheric CO2?

20 Apologist Responses to Climategate Misconstrue the Real Debate | Austrian Economics Blog { 12.06.09 at 7:01 am }

[...] the blog MasterResource I explained why–contrary to some of the dismissive and sarcastic defenses of the CRU [...]

21 JamesG { 12.06.09 at 8:00 am }

To be even more pedantic, a little known fact is that Newton’s original gravitational equations were correct because they allowed for a change in mass too. It was the simplified versions used by others that needed correction.

22 Richard Carlson { 12.06.09 at 10:08 am }

As an Economist who has studied global warming for 30 years, let me add a few points:

The scientific controversies re climate sensitivity to global warming rest on 3 key issues, clouds, solar fluctuation & CO2 saturation. Clouds increase reflectivity and we are getting more clouds from more evaporation — no one really knows how much. In effect, clouds serve as an automatic thermostat. Solar fluctuation also appears greater than expected and solar insolation has dropped. Without CO2 warming, we’d probably be nearing an Ice Age.

Finally, CO2 levels are so high that the CO2 near infrared reflction “window” is already nearly closed. Adding more CO2 has a declining impact from this point forward as the system becomes non-linear as it nears saturation.

23 Philemon { 12.06.09 at 1:06 pm }

When Robert Murphy writes “…from my vantage point as an economist who has not formally studied climate science,” he is not apparently aware that Climate Science is not a distinct discipline; it is interdisciplinary.

As an economist, he should have sufficient statistical training to be able to evaluate the statistical techniques being used to study climate. As someone with academic training, one can evaluate the quality of the arguments being employed and the rigor of the research methodologies.

For too long, the participants in the IPCC process have represented their field of study as too arcane for anyone outside the process to evaluate. This position is indefensible, it applies to no academic field, and nobody should give credence to it.

24 Reiner G { 12.07.09 at 4:55 am }

In your conclusion you state “The real debate has been and continues to be: What fraction of this warming can be attributed to human activities?”
Note that the current debate focuses on CO2 only. Kyoto regulated 6 greenhouse gases in a “basket approach” (these were CO2, CH4 and N2O, SF6, HFCs and PFCs).
Part of the human alterations are changes in land use patterns, a position championed by Roger Pielke Sr, and Tom Karl. See http://tinyurl.com/yce9c5d
We will find out soon if there is more on the table in Copenhagen than Co2 and the creation of a global carbon market.

25 Reiner G { 12.07.09 at 4:57 am }

Sorry should read “and vigorously denied by Tom Karl”

26 Tifour Tillerman { 12.07.09 at 9:10 am }

Dr. Murphy, I`d be interested in your response to this comment on your cross-post to the Ludwig von Mises Institute:

http://blog.mises.org/archives/011161.asp#c635057

27 SNRatio { 12.08.09 at 7:53 am }

I don’t think you have got the Trenberth point quite right. He basically points to lack of detailed knowledge of energy flow, but that does not mean he knows very little. To me, it rather seems that because he knows so much, he is very critical about still existing shortcomings. I think the IPCC conclusions have been oversold a bit, but because there is still so much uncertainty both in models and data, the quantitative estimates are not at all very precise. I can’t understand how you can assert that they are: Sensitivity 2-4.5 deg, 3 deg most likely – very precise? And the argument about not knowing the effect of remedies is irrelevant for the most important ones: Reducing GHG emissions, where principles of risk management give rather clear results as long as we don’t know more to safely constrain the upper tail of the pdf for sensitivity.

28 Climategate: Here Comes Courage! « Watts Up With That? { 01.08.10 at 9:20 am }

[...] [...]

29 Dodgy Geezer { 01.08.10 at 10:24 am }

@Philemon

“As an economist, (you) should have sufficient statistical training to be able to evaluate the statistical techniques being used to study climate. As someone with academic training, one can evaluate the quality of the arguments being employed and the rigor of the research methodologies…”

Readers might like to consider how I came to doubt the AGW process. Back in 2003 I noticed Steve McIntyre trying to understand the ‘hockey stick’ graph, and asking Mann for information about the data and statistical techniques used.

He was not given them. Instead, he was subject to a tirade of abuse, and Nature was told that he was a crank who should be banned from being published. To their everlasting shame, Nature agreed.

Up to that point I had been prepared to believe in the general theory of CO2-driven warming. When I saw this treatment it was obvious that the AGW proponents had something to hide, and were doing it in an unethical and authoritarian way. I started to learn enough PCA to be able to understand McIntyre’s objections, and saw that they had validity.

Since then, every aspect of AGW has been shown to be fatally flawed – the input data, the chemistry, the models, you name it. But this has not mattered as the madness has been launched as a political and religious movement in which many can believe, while a select few can make a great deal of money out of it – a very similar analogue to Scientology.

I have spent the last seven years derided and stigmatised by my friends whenever I raised these issues, so I have learned to keep my head down. But if I could vote for a Nobel recipient, that would be Steve McIntyre, who has single-handedly stood for science while all about him sold out to social pressure….

30 Gina Becker { 01.08.10 at 10:24 am }

That it is warmer now than in 1850 isn’t certain. Look at the surfacestation.org data, then the academic papers that “correct” for urbanization effects (only 0.06 degrees???), then at all the corrections done on the raw data, which NASA’s website show to create a warming trend.

31 Xavierlc { 01.08.10 at 11:23 am }

A very long article to say “Global arming is a hoax” differently.

Nice!

32 Other voices on climate change » Robert Murphy: CRU emails show science far from ’settled’ { 01.08.10 at 1:34 pm }

[...] For the rest of this article, click here. [...]

33 Roger Knights { 01.08.10 at 2:01 pm }

“It’s true, an email from Phil Jones by itself doesn’t make Richard Lindzen right or wrong, but when policymakers need to decide which scientific experts they can trust, then the CRU emails are very relevant.”

You got it. Believability is the crux of the matter. It used to be that the climate contrarians were the ones wearing the “crank” cap. (Thanks in large part to the unprincipled viciousness of alarmist propagandists.) Now it’s the CRUsaders. They’ve lost their cred–or at least the shine is off their halos.

34 Richard Barnes { 01.08.10 at 8:50 pm }

Call me a silly old thing , but I happen to agree with Mr John Holdren, who speculated (some time ago, now,) that a tripling of atmospheric CO2 would be a good thing.

More plant food = more food for all.

That was in the 1970s.

I believe that his opinion has changed.

He now works for Mr Obama.

Mine opinion hasn’t changed.

35 cmacrider { 01.09.10 at 2:53 am }

In general your comments are thoughtful but, I submit, a bit charitable to the Global Warming advocates. Before the entire world is transformed economically, socially, and politically to fulfill the aspirations of the AGW crowd, THEY HAVE THE ONUS TO PROVE:
1. That c02 concentrations drive climate change since the data clearly shows that it has not done so in the past;
2. That anthropogenic contributions of co2 is the critical factor in causing global warming;
3. That their computer models can accurately forecast climate change when the evidence is that they predicted a decade of continuous warming and the data now establishes that there has been a slight cooling over the past decade
4. That the 31,000 or so scientists who signed a Petition stating their disbelief in AGW have no scientific basis for their opinion.
5. That Dr. Lindzen’s recent scientific papers are wrong
6. That the Physicists who have correlated climate change to sun spot activity on the sun are wrong
7. That the Russian, Australian, and New Zealand allegations that the AGW advocates did not take a representative sampling from their weather stations and selectively chose data to validate their proposition that these land masses were warming is wrong.
8. That the astro physicists who point to the fact that planet mars has experienced a similar warming as planet earth during corresponding periods are wrong.
To date they have not satisfied that onus of proof even on the balance of probability never mind with any degree of scientific certainty.

Once they have satisfied the foregoing burden then it seems they still have to prove that the reduction in co2 will obviate the catastophes they allege. It is a bit disconcerting to hear that if the entire production of co2 in the United States was completely shut down for 40 years it would (accepting all the AGW assumptions) only produce a statistically insignificant climate change.

The emails and equally as important the sloppy spaghetti computer code that was released validates the skeptics right to be skeptical. The proposition that they can create a computer program to “model the earths climate” is pure hubris when one recognizes the fact that climate is chaotic and dynamic with many unknowns (e.g. are clouds a negative or positive forcing?). One should bear in mind the basic proposition of the “chaos theory” is that you have to be able to measure precisely every possible variable before you can begin to quantify and predict chaotic behaviour. The proposition that man’s activities are so central to the forces that affect climate is an exercise in group narcissism.
In closing, I should point out that I am not sure that your free trade vs. protectionist example is analagous. Most economists are willing to admit that economics is part science and part an art. The AGW people are holding their theory out to be “pure science”. Ergo we are entitled to demand scientific certainty from them before we accept their theory.

36 Potpourri { 03.15.10 at 10:59 pm }

[...] An intrepid critic tries to blow up my Climategate post with a medical analogy. Doesn’t he know I’m the three-time heavyweight champ of medical [...]

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