July 18, 2008

About that anthropogenic global warming consensus.

Daily Tech reports:
In a posting to [the Physics and Society Forum of the American Physical Society], editor Jeffrey Marque explains,"There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution."
The APS is opening its debate with the publication of a paper by Lord Monckton of Brenchley, which concludes that climate sensitivity -- the rate of temperature change a given amount of greenhouse gas will cause -- has been grossly overstated by IPCC modeling. A low sensitivity implies additional atmospheric CO2 will have little effect on global climate.

Larry Gould, Professor of Physics at the University of Hartford and Chairman of the New England Section of the APS, called Monckton's paper an "expose of the IPCC that details numerous exaggerations and "extensive errors"

In an email to DailyTech, Monckton says, "I was dismayed to discover that the IPCC's 2001 and 2007 reports did not devote chapters to the central 'climate sensitivity' question, and did not explain in proper, systematic detail the methods by which they evaluated it. When I began to investigate, it seemed that the IPCC was deliberately concealing and obscuring its method."
Lord Monckton of Brenchley — love the name.

Anyway, the whole point of science is to question and investigate and test. If scientists close ranks when they think that they have enough evidence and that they will have more influence if they claim consensus, they have moved from science to politics. Yet if we see that scientists don't maintain scientific values, the basis for their influence in politics is, ironically, destroyed. Even if you want to abandon ethics and sell out for what you see as the greater good, it won't even work.

Step back from the precipice, scientists! We need you. We have enough politicians.

184 comments:

knoxwhirled said...

Even if you want to abandon ethics and sell out for what you see as the greater good, it won't even work.

But the "greater good" is not really the objective, is it? It's grant money and (for some) approval from their colleagues at what are generally overwhelmingly liberal institutions. And don't forget all the attention from the media. If you're willing to positively state your scientific belief in man-made global warming (someone please come up with an acronym for this already!) you have an excellent chance of getting quoted/interviewed, etc.

knoxwhirled said...

I should add that the sensation that they are *also* doing something good for mankind is just a nice little bonus.

AJ Lynch said...

Lord Monckton said:


"When I began to investigate, it seemed that the IPCC was deliberately concealing and obscuring its method."

I am shocked.

mcg said...

From the front page of the main APS web site:

APS Climate Change Statement
APS Position Remains Unchanged
The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007: "Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate." An article at odds with this statement recently appeared in an online newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, one of 39 units of APS. The header of this newsletter carries the statement that "Opinions expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APS or of the Forum." This newsletter is not a journal of the APS and it is not peer reviewed.

LarsPorsena said...

"...expose of the IPCC that details numerous exaggerations and "extensive errors....."

I hope these guys have some cojones.
The Church of Global Warning will be issuing a fatwah shortly. The Grand Mufti Gore will be calling for jihad against these obvious puppets of big oil.

Henry said...
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Henry said...

One killer argument against the consensus for me was a model that agreed that global warming is anthropogenic -- but pointed out that water vapor is far more likely to cause it than CO2.

It's one thing to talk about eliminating fossil fuels. It's another to talk about eliminating modern agriculture.

Famine will save the planet! Now that would be an inconvenient truth.

The Drill SGT said...

I have no expertise in the science of global warming, but I do know modeling in general. OK, OK, my expertise is in combat modeling, but the underlying principles are the same.

1. Take evidence
2. build a hypothesis
3. build a model that represents that hypothesis
4. use the model to predict a future evident
5. conduct an experiment (small scale) or what history unfold(large scale)
6. see if your prediction is correct, thus giving an indication (but not proof) that your model and underling hypothesis is correct
7. modify your hypothesis and model and start again at step 4

Now as I understand it, the IPCC guys have predicted uncontrolled spirally increases in global temps.

the reality is that there are NO increases in average sea temperature on global level. as measured by our new network of ocean stations. (I personally think sea temps are a better indication than air temps because of the "heat island" issue.) And apparently, global temps have fallen for the last 10 years, and are projected to fall or remain flat for the next ten year. The IPCC folks are now HOPING (and I use that term accurately) that temps will increase after that. They blame the nasty sun for coolng. da :)

This old modeler understands that when you look at a model, any model, you need to understand where the "KNOBS" are. KNOBS in modeling talk are those assumptions and coefficents buried deep in the model that drive outcomes. I'll defer to MM to talk on the true meaning of "sensitivity", but that sounds like a huge KNOB when in comes to the isue of "out of control"

MadisonMan said...

If scientists close ranks when they think that they have enough evidence and that they will have more influence if they claim consensus, they have moved from science to politics.

I don't think ranks were ever closed. However much AGW proponents may have wanted you to believe it, there were always scientists testing. Doesn't Lord Monckton's presentation prove that?

The Drill SGT said...

Knox said...If you're willing to positively state your scientific belief in man-made global warming (someone please come up with an acronym for this already!)

Anthrogenic global warming = AGW

The Drill SGT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

Good scientists welcome serious challenges to their work, because good scientists are looking for the truth, not defending their own little hill. And good scientists don't participate in report-by-horse-trading processes such as those that wrote the IPCC report.

If the AGW thesis is sound, it can only benefit from rigorous criticism, which makes one wonder about the motives of those who want to squelch such criticism.

Simon said...

Henry said...
"Famine will save the planet! Now that would be an inconvenient truth."

Famine will save the planet if the IPCC model is right. If CO2 is the problem, knock out half the people and the amount of CO2 they each expel by breathing (and cause to be produced by needing goods and services that result in CO2 release) will drop precipitously.

Simon said...

Maybe the war on terror and the war on climate change can combine. Each terrorist we kill reduces the amount of human CO2 output. Maybe that concept would even get the left on board with defending America.

rhhardin said...

Proud to have spotted the fraud a decade ago, just based on exprience with model builders.

These people are on a management career track.

Real physicists futz around with real physics equations that you can't solve, not made-up ones.

William said...

In the 20th century people much smarter than me have believed in the crisis of capitalism, the population bomb, the ozone hole, the inevitability of nuclear war, nuclear winter, acid rain, the total exhaustion of copper and other natural resources. That is a partial list. It seems that the human race is hard wired to believe in the apocalypse and that intelligence only makes one more susceptible to that belief. In the middle ages when smart people became priests instead of scientists they all preached about the need to prepare for the imminent destruction of the earth. I am not smart enough to comment on global warming, but I am sharp enough to remember that many of its groupies have been hugely wrong about many significant past events.

MadisonMan said...

I take exception to the Ozone Hole being included in that list. The development of the ozone hole is well-understood and IMO the reaction to it is how things should work. The science -- after about a decade -- neatly explained why the hole forms, and policymakers took that information and the Montreal Protocols were the result. And now the rate of increase of CFCs in the stratosphere is decreasing and the hypothesis is that the stratosphere will be flushed of the chlorine that doesn't belong there in about 100 or 150 years.

montana urban legend said...

The problem with the skeptics and denialists (and I think the idea that they exist in science is overstated; some scientists have reservations, but the strength of those reservations is overstated by lay denialists and skeptics) is that they don't have any stronger hypotheses and there isn't a really good way to "test" these models. Short of conducting a full-scale planetary test, which is technically one way to describe the industrial revolution and the reason that we are constructing models of what's actually occuring now, you don't have much else to rely on. We know that temperature is rising and we know that all the carbon we produce retains heat very well; why so many people assume that there must be some more esoteric principle at play is something I don't understand. The precautionary principle is a respectable way to go and the strongest theories and evidence available point to carbon. It's not a courtroom. Beyond a reasonable doubt is not the standard. Sorry.

"All knowledge is provisional. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence." Or thereabouts. The problem is that denialists and skeptics think that waiting forever to find evidence contrary to the prevailing ideas is a luxury that we can or should indulge. I simply don't understand why they feel this way. The honest thing to do is to admit that such is their agenda. The idea that there are conspiracies in science to suppress knowledge is more fantasy than reality. What's being rightfully suppressed is the urge to indulge a contrarian's interest in saying that just because he or she has a different case, that it's necessarily a stronger case. That's all.

The Drill SGT said...

montana urban legend said...
We know that temperature is rising

Do we? As I understand it, temps have fallen the last 10 years

and we know that all the carbon we produce retains heat very well;
And you know that man made CO2 is a tiny amount compared to the rest of the green house gasses?

why so many people assume that there must be some more esoteric principle at play is something I don't understand. The precautionary principle is a respectable way to go and the strongest theories and evidence available point to carbon


Occam's Razor says look first to the simple explanation. How about the Sun heats us more at some points and less at others. The sun has been demonstrably hotter a while back. and oh, we can measure its hotter on Mars and Venus. No AGW there. now for 10-15 years the sun has been colder, and guess what, temps are cooling.

LarsPorsena said...

"We know that temperature is rising and we know that all the carbon we produce retains heat very well; why so many people assume that there must be some more esoteric principle at play is something I don't understand."

Because the earth has undergone many cold/warm cycles before the industrial revolution. Obviously, the explanations for these periods would be esoteric to you. Why is this current cycle different?

Simon said...

montana urban legend said...
"We know that temperature is rising and we know that all the carbon we produce retains heat very well; why so many people assume that there must be some more esoteric principle at play is something I don't understand."

The two flaws in your logic here are the jumps from "carbon dioxide causes warming" to "carbon dioxide must be the exclusive cause of warming" and "the source of the carbon dioxide must be exclusively human activity." The former is problematic for the reasons noted (and thusfar not seriously disputed) here.

"The precautionary principle is a respectable way to go and the strongest theories and evidence available point to carbon. It's not a courtroom. Beyond a reasonable doubt is not the standard."

Whether the precautionary principle is a respectable way to go depends on what is connoted by that bland little phrase. Al Gore, the New York Times tells us, says that we can get off carbon as a precautionary measure in ten years, but it will "require fundamental changes in political thinking and personal expectations," an observation that makes me think of the French Revolution: that required some “fundamental changes in political thinking and personal expectations” of the royal family, too. The slight of hand in your comment is to try to ram through massive and systemic changes in policy under the bland banner of "precaution."

As you say, "[a]ll knowledge is provisional. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence." And a wise policymaker does not bankrupt us and make massive, fundamental and irreparable changes to this country based on provisional models.

I'll tell you something else that a wise man does, MUL. A wise man who believes that a bomb will destroy city X does not live in city X. A wise man who believes that AGW will cause coastal cities to be flooded will not live in a coastal city. I proportion how seriously I take the AGW crowd to how seriously they take themselves in terms of revealed preference. When the climate change elite abandons New York and heads for higher ground, we can safely conclude that they really believe it. If they don't, we will know either that they don't believe it, or that they are not wise - and in either case, they reveal that they should not be paid attention to.

Skyler said...

I'm sure the conclusion that global warming as presented is a hoax. That has been clear for quite some time.

But I still don't buy into the claims of these dissenters.

I don't think we have the ability to measure a "global" temperature on Earth, let alone other planets/moons.

What is an average temperature for a planet? For an entire year? How is something like that measured? It can't be, at least not to the degree of accuracy being claimed.

What is the "average" temperature in Austin today? Which part of Austin do you look at? At the airport is a different temperature than just a few miles away in the hills. Do you think they can really measure the temperature in every place in a city to the extent that they can get an average accurate to a tenth or a hundredth of a degree? Not a chance.

And then what about the vast majority of the earth that isn't even occupied, let alone measured every day, all day. Can't be done.

It's all rubbish. And then to be able to claim to know the average temperature of hundreds or thousands of years ago, again to the accuracy of tenths of a degree, is absurd.

Now they're claiming to be able to do that to planetary bodies that weren't even known to have existed until a few decades ago. They didn't even know these places had volcanoes or water until just this decade, or this year. How can they claim to know these things?

I wish scientists would get out of politics and be scientists again. This is what happens when the government funds science. It's an inevitable result to be corrupted by it.

PJ said...

One of Australia's chief carbon monitors: But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24036736-7583,00.html

Montana: I respect your point of view, but I don't think the use of terms like "denier" (or, on the other side, "alarmist") does much to advance either the substance or the tone of the debate.

Richard Dolan said...

Drudge featured this yesterday, and it caught my eye (as did the statement from the APS quoted by mcg).

Despite the APS disclaimer, it's still quite significant that an editor of the APS newsletter has broken ranks.

Ann says: "Step back from the precipice, scientists! We need you. We have enough politicians." Science is supposed to be objective, verifiable -- the opposite of politics (and political science). So nothing to disagree with in her comment. But it pays to dig a little deeper.

The "climate change" debate has three basic components: is the climate getting warmer in any significant way, or is this just normal fluctuation? if climate is changing in a significant way, are man-made factors a substantial contributing cause? if so, are the changes attributable to man-made causes good or bad, and would any measures to counteract them be worth it? Only the first two are susceptible to scientific answers. The third is basically a matter of economics, although some prefer to cast it as a moral issue.

Not having a scientific background, I can't evaluate the competing claims about the first two questions. And, obviously, the answer to the third question depends on the answers to the first two. But the public policy debate is all about the third question.

The reaction to Freeman Dyson's recent review of two books by economists (NYRB, 6/12/08) addressing the third question was a case in point. Dyson gives a favorable review to Nordhaus's book (A Question of Balance). As Dyson notes, "[t]he main conclusion of the Nordhaus analysis is taht the ambitious proposals, [by Stern and Al Gore] are disastrously expensive, the 'low-cost backstop' is enormously advantageous if it can be achieved, and the otehr policies includinb business-as-usal and Kyoto are noly moderately worse than the optimal policy." Dyson concludes with a warning taht "environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion," and how this has distorted the debate.

Reactions to Dyson's piece have been in keeping with that religious fervor, particularly amount some scientists who spend a lot of time in this area. See, e.g. the reacion on RealClimate.org, a blog by a group of scientists studying global warming. While dismissing Dyson, the scientists put on full display their own ignorance of economics and wrap the whole thing in some simplistic moralizing to boot.

Ann highlights a little crack in the establishment view at APS of the global warming debate, but it may be a harbinger of what Dyson was urging. At a minimum, it would be a step forward to keep the different questions, and the different kinds of expertise needed to answer them, clear.

Roger J. said...

A totally unrelated point, but since I cast some aspersions in Montana's direction thinking he might be Cyrus, I was clearly in error, and apologize forthwith to Montana Urban Legend. His posts were models of thoughtful and civil discourse.

Regretably, however, this post is Cyrus bait, so perhaps MUL will see first hand the dread Mr. Pinkerton.

Original Mike said...

Step back from the precipice, scientists! We need you. We have enough politicians.

Well, this is one scientist that has not gone over the AGW cliff.

I think MM is right (and much better placed than I to judge) "However much AGW proponents may have wanted you to believe it, there were always scientists testing." It's the proponents, and especially journalists, that have tried (and largely succeeded) to shut down debate in the society at large. There really ought to be a law about journalists writing on science (tongue loosely planted in cheek). Maybe we need to license journalists.

Original Mike said...

Roger: If Cyrus arrives, do not engage.

montana urban legend said...

the drill sgt:

"Do we? As I understand it, temps have fallen the last 10 years"

Globally? We need to look at trends that are longer than just 10 years in length.

"And you know that man made CO2 is a tiny amount compared to the rest of the green house gasses?"

CO2 content is miniscule. Less than one percent. What matters is that its content is doubling. That's significant.

"The sun has been demonstrably hotter a while back. and oh, we can measure its hotter on Mars and Venus. No AGW there. now for 10-15 years the sun has been colder, and guess what, temps are cooling."

A while? You mean over millions of years or sun spot cycles? Sun spot cycle theories are interesting. It doesn't follow that it is therefore a stronger theory.


Larsporsena:

"Because the earth has undergone many cold/warm cycles before the industrial revolution. Obviously, the explanations for these periods would be esoteric to you. Why is this current cycle different?

My understanding on the matter is that the current cycle is just beginning to look different. As predicted.


Simon:

T. Boone Pickens is a pretty wise man and he is not trying to bankrupt us. He is actually trying to do something very sensible. He also has a lot of sway over policy makers. I don't see him as being in the model of French Revolutionaries, either. At least, not in the way that would be politically convenient for those resorting to making caricatures out of those they disagree with.

The internal combustion engine and related technologies may or may have also been developed with "fundamental changes in political thinking and personal expectations" in mind, but with ones much less insidious than the sort you allege. The same type of people who came up with that will come up with something better, assuming you stop having the government lying about supply and demand and disincentivizing them from doing so with horrible policies.


"The two flaws in your logic here are the jumps from "carbon dioxide causes warming" to "carbon dioxide must be the exclusive cause of warming" and "the source of the carbon dioxide must be exclusively human activity."

I made no such assertions.

Skyler is right. Science knows absolutely in the grand scheme of things. But it still knows a shitload more than he does about these matters and is less concerned with political grandstanding than he is.

montana urban legend said...

Thank you for your apology, roger. No bait here. Just give me some credit for taking the unpopular case that I'll be barraged for taking. I don't know everything about this, but I think I know enough to anticipate and address some of the objections, so I'll do my best.

P. Rich said...

Twaddle. Global warming is passé, even with a new appendage. The approved buzz term is now climate change, which is impossible to refute as the climate is always changing.

Sensing a turning of the tide, global warming extremists (with a few exceptions whose research grants haven't expired yet) have scurried away behind another vague scare term and are setting up shop there. A few true believers, such as MUL, haven't received the memo yet.

Skyler said...

Montana, I didn't think I was political grandstanding. Or was your comment missing a few words?

montana urban legend said...

p. rich, if someone looks at something as a "scare term", that doesn't mean it was used with the primary intention of scaring people. Stop assuming things.

And just because scientists look at processes that are more complex than how your average lay person would understand them, doesn't mean that updating the terminology to reflect that was a cover-up of anything. This is not a 30-minute crime drama, so we shouldn't project onto it as if it were.

I've not disclosed any "true beliefs". I did reference my appeal to Hume, however. What are your "true beliefs", if I may ask? Surely if they relate to global climate "patterns" (oh no, a conspiracy, I used a different descriptive term!), then you have evidence for them, and not just beliefs.

It's evident that in this arena and choice of topic, I am the contrarian. I should get the credit you guys are giving dissenters! But at least I'm not alleging a conspiracy of consensus on the part of Althouse's guests. Take note.

montana urban legend said...

Perhaps it was skyler. Your comment/objection was much more extensive and less focused than the others. I don't do this for a living, so if you could make attempts at being concise, that would help. I wouldn't want to be seen as unfocused as you believe the scientists to be, and neither would you, right?

David Walser said...

MUL and other keep throwing out the "precautionary principle" as a justification for doing something (anything!) now even though we don't know whether those actions will prove beneficial in the long run. The problem with this approach is that the precautionary principle calls for us to do nothing when faced with uncertainty -- the exact opposite of the meaning MUL would attach to the principle. That is, rather than call us to action in the present circumstances, the precautionary principle tells us to not take action unless we KNOW those actions will be helpful.

MUL and others seem to believe we can reduce CO2 emissions without anything but economic costs. Sure, they say, reducing our energy consumption might have some minor costs in terms of the size of our economy, but what's that compared to the all-but-certain costs of climate change? Or, they might argue that a smaller economy is actually a benefit -- we'll all enjoy life more if we weren't focused so much on chasing the almighty dollar! (Some even argue that reducing our energy consumption will improve the economy -- look at all the jobs that'll be created in alternative energy research and implementation!) This view overlooks the causal link between a nation's wealth and it's ability to provide such niceties as food, shelter, health care, and services for its elderly. A shrinking economy means less spent on such things, which translates into people dying earlier than they otherwise would. It also means a reduction in satisfaction and fulfillment for most of those who don't die early.

The precautionary principle stands for NOT taking actions we KNOW will lead to people leading shorter, less fulfilling lives in the HOPE those actions might someday prove beneficial. MUL is asking us to do just the opposite.

KLDAVIS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KLDAVIS said...

"Famine will save the planet! Now that would be an inconvenient truth."

Old idea...google Malthus.

montana urban legend said...

pj, thank you for the caveat and support. The problem is, that regardless of terminology (i.e. you think I should avoid the term "denier"), what we are dealing with is a mindset that seems to think that there is some sort of absolute, foolproof, end-all be-all standard in science. But the day we know everything is the day science stops existing. People can have reservations but they are using those reservations (many of which they haven't thought through) to attack the case entirely, and that is illegitimate and what I object to. The popular perception/course (at least in America) is to emulate the polarized, two-sides only political debates we have, and that is poisoning the conversation and corrosive to the proper understanding of what science is - a misunderstanding that takes place within the context of rankings that place the States in the gutter in terms science education. That's a problem and I make no apologies for taking that case seriously to anyone who seems to be contributing to it.

I understand that Professor Althouse's area of expertise is in law, and many of her guests will also appreciate the legal approach, but science is not solely an adversarial endeavor, with two sides going at each other until one side feels victorious that its triumphalist assumptions were vindicated. Perhaps I read to much into the dynamic in this blog. But I am just trying to understand the context of it when it comes to matters that cannot always be construed that way.

I hope my passion about what I have just expressed is understandable and as inoffensive as I can describe it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

There really ought to be a law about journalists writing on science (tongue loosely planted in cheek). Maybe we need to license journalists.

Also economics or anything that requires more than an 8th grade education to understand.

As to global warming or climate change it isn't clear that the planet as a whole is warming. There are some areas that are cooling specifically the southern hemishpere. The temperature data is suspect because many stations are in urban heat sink areas where year ago they were not. The city has gobbled up what used to be country locations and they are naturally hotter by reflected and stored heat in concrete and asphalt.

Even so. Will higher levels of CO2 be a bad thing? Plants love CO2 and produce more with less water. Will some areas be inundated if ocean levels rise. Yes. So what.....move. The entire costal shelf area around Florida was once above sea level. You could walk to the Keys. The world changes all the time, without puny little man's assistance.

There was much much more CO2 in the atmosphere eons ago and this is where the Carboniferous deposits come from. There has historically been much more CO2 in our atmosphere than exists today. "For example, during the Jurassic Period (200 mya), average CO2 concentrations were about 1800 ppm or about 4.7 times higher than today. The highest concentrations of CO2 during all of the Paleozoic Era occurred during the Cambrian Period, nearly 7000 ppm -- about 18 times higher than today".

The glaciers on a nearby mountain are actually growing ....of course the explanation is global warming. Maybe so. Maybe not.

Personally, I welcome global warming as I can now start my tomato plants a few weeks earlier.

Skyler said...

Okay, Montana, I'll put this in even simpler terms for you.

We have the ability to measure temperature at any place and time to an accuracy of thousandths of a degree -- or more accurate even.

But when you start talking about an average over time and area, the accuracy lessens considerably.

You can measure at different places and make reasonable assumptions as to the relation between the measurements taken at those places.

If the temperature varies more than a few degrees between places where you measure, and vary by tens of degrees each day, then the accuracy you can claim is substantially lower.

Now, if you extend that time to a year, and the place to the entire earth you've gotten to a point where you cannot declare, knowledgably, an average temperature to an accuracy of tenths of a degree. Can't be done.

And if you want to go back in history, just a hundred years ago, measurement devices were much cruder, and covered even less of the world.

And if you go back much more than that you don't have any measuring devices at all. You can still approximate an average temperature by secondary evidence, but certainly not to a tenth of a degree, and I doubt even to within a degree.

So, how do climatologists of any belief system (and that's all this comes down to) make a claim to know that our climate has warmed by a few tenths of a degree? Preposterous.

This is all basic measurement stuff you should have learned in high school.

And the idea that anyone can claim to know the temperature of moons of distant planets for the past thousands of years is comical.

Could you follow the discussion this time?

Global warming hysteria has been a hoax. This argument against it uses the same logic system and is also suspect even though it comes to a much saner conclusion.

montana urban legend said...

david, you choose a rather convenient timeline for your application of the precautionary principle. in neolithic times, it would have been precautionary to have not have advanced farming techniques or invented the wheel. before the iron age, it would have been precautionary to have avoided developing metallurgy or manufacturing weapons. and before the industrial revolution, it would have been precautionary to have thought-out the upsides and downsides of a carbon-reliant economy. we've addressed, with some success, some of those downsides, such as pollution. but just because a carbon-reliant technology could have other downsides that might take longer to realize, doesn't mean that it wouldn't have been precautionary to have addressed them then. perhaps they were.

so, yes, it is regrettable that a precautionary principle should yield to a one-hundred year old precendent, and admit that such a way of doing things is age-old, time-honored, and unquestionable. but i don't think it is unreasonable to say that perhaps we are being a bit arbitrary in our application of it, either. if you want to look at global climate patterns over millions of years, then surely a hundred-year old development is a new thing, when put into context.

DBQ, surely you must understand that "global" is not the same thing as "local". There is a difference. Think of the difference between how much money you make personally and GDP per capita. I'm imagining that the concept of averages is not unheard of in economic circles.

Henry said...

Personally, I welcome global warming as I can now start my tomato plants a few weeks earlier.

I'm trying out a fig tree. It's a hardy fig in a sunny, wind-protected spot, but the literature still warns me not to be optimistic about growing figs in northern Rhode Island (southern Rhode Island is a different matter -- it's a zone warmer).

Montana, I think the crux of the debate is not in the science but in the political response to the science. The consensus view of the outcome of global warming is something like a 1 foot rise in ocean levels over the next century.

This is a pretty harmless prediction and could be beneficial as the warming will occur at higher latitudes and just as likely to increase habitable acreage as not (see Warming Period, Medieval).

The only way for individuals like Al Gore to justify massive economic and political change is by hyping the risk of catastrophic climate transformations -- singularities that appear in the models only when assumed up front.

montana urban legend said...

Skyler, in high school I was aware that technology changes over time. Perhaps you are taking issue with ice-core measurements. I'm not aware that they are as innaccurate as you proclaim them to be, even though as with other incredibly useful secondary approaches, such as radiocarbon dating, they are still quite powerful. But you are making assumptions with numbers. I follow the argument. I follow the logic. I'm just not sure where you have the evidence to state (with numbers cited) how it is a conclusive blow against the methodology.

And that addresses the time issue.

As for place, core measurements can be taken in multiple areas. And even if there aren't an unlimited number of areas, it can still plot a trend. Perhaps some trends can vary more in some places of the planet than others, so I see where you're going. I'm just interested in knowing why such a potentially intelligent argument doesn't address what someone relying (or who has stopped relying) on the methodology has had to say about it. For someone who comes up with such intelligent ideas, why can you not provide citations or evidence on the utility (or lack thereof) of such an approach from the literature. I'm not a climate scientist and can't be relied upon to address every possible objection raised here - especially when the range in knowledge behind those objections are so variable. People have spoken of a conspiracy -- a conspiracy of suppression. I'm assuming that such an alleged conspiracy is still not quite so advanced as to prevent objections such as those you note from being addressed by some scientist, somewhere, in such a way that it can be uploaded into cyberspace.

montana urban legend said...

henry, perhaps some slight changes would be nice in some ways. it is not the job of science to monopolize the subjective interpretations of whether or not these changes will be "bad" or "good", let alone "all good" or "all bad". but it is disingenuous to pretend that they won't provide just as much of a set of problems to cope with as they would present opportunities to make use of.

Again, a small change is one thing. But there's not a reason to state that there won't be sustained and unyielding changes in the face of sustained and unyielding inputs. If we put however many tons of CO2, etc., into the air for a hundred years, that would be one thing. To not stop doing it for the next thousand or more is quite another.

Simon said...

MUL:
"The same type of people who came up with [the internal combustion engine] will come up with something better, assuming you stop having the government lying about supply and demand and disincentivizing them from doing so with horrible policies."

I have no idea what you're saying here. What "l[ies] about supply and demand" has the government told, and what "horrible policies" does the government have that "disincentiviz[e]" innovation?

"I made no such assertions."

That's an interesting theory. You understand that when you assert a conclusion, you tacitly assert the correctness of the necessary premises underlying it, right? You wrote: "The problem with the skeptics and denialists ... is that they don't have any stronger hypotheses and there isn't a really good way to 'test' these models. ... We know that temperature is rising and we know that all the carbon we produce retains heat very well; why so many people assume that there must be some more esoteric principle at play is something I don't understand." I read this as asserting that the people who are skeptical of AGW are wrong to seek a "more esoteric principle" to explain climate change because "carbon dioxide causes warming." But that point fails unless you're tacitly asserting that "carbon dioxide must be the exclusive cause of warming" and "the source of the carbon dioxide must be exclusively human activity." No one disagrees with the proposition that carbon dioxide can cause warming effects, so your assertion of this blithe truism must connote more: that the truism is connected to the previous statement, amounting to the assertion that carbon dioxide is the driver of climate change, and that skeptics are wrong to doubt this. So you can choose: either you made those assertions, or what you said was incoherent and irrelevant. Either way, you've not helped your case.

Simon said...

montana urban legend said...
"We need to look at trends that are longer than just 10 years in length."

Yes, of course. It must be considered, however, that what looks like a direction could be the beginning of a trend. Sometimes when the market goes down, it's a fluctuation in a growth trend. But sometimes it's the beginning of a meltdown. Hard to tell until it happens. The problem is that we need (so we are told) to make irrevocable policy decisions now, even though we can't know whether it's a fluctuation or the beginning of a trend, even though the latter would completely destroy the rationale for the policy.

Simon said...

David Walser said...
"The precautionary principle stands for NOT taking actions we KNOW will lead to people leading shorter, less fulfilling lives in the HOPE those actions might someday prove beneficial. MUL is asking us to do just the opposite."

Exactly right. Cost-benefit analysis tells us to do something when the benefit outweighs the costs, but that doesn't mean that there aren't disagreements on when that point is reached, and it presupposes that we know what the costs and benefits are.

montana urban legend said...

It's not a theory, Simon. It's the truth. You used a word: exclusively. I did not. If you want to have an honest conversation with me then do not mischaracterize what I said. Do not put words into my mouth either. I am basically single-handedly addressing attacks from multiple people so not everything will be as perfect as you try to present yourself. I said CO2, because it seems to be a principle problem, not an exclusive one. The argument is a broader one that relates to greenhouse gases generally - which is to what I refer, and you know that. Most of them have some carbon element. I am not refusing to be specific, but you are alleging specifics in what I said that were not put there to fool someone or distract from the argument generally. Which is what you are doing here.

Simon said...

MUL said...
"People have spoken of a conspiracy -- a conspiracy of suppression. I'm assuming that such an alleged conspiracy is still not quite so advanced as to prevent objections such as those you note from being addressed by some scientist, somewhere, in such a way that it can be uploaded into cyberspace."

"[C]onspiracy" overstates it, and "suppression" misses the mark. The problem is that anyone who expresses but faint skepticism, or who raises concerns or a dissenting voice, are branded with pejorative terms such as "denialists" and dismissed. There's no need to prevent the spread of disagreement as long as it can be labeled as kooky and outside of the mainstream in a way that people who don't think much about these issues will take the path of least resistance to the NYT line.

Henry said...

If we put however many tons of CO2, etc., into the air for a hundred years, that would be one thing. To not stop doing it for the next thousand or more is quite another

I assume we'll have time to adjust.

The politics of "we must do something drastic, now" simply don't follow.

Just for the record, I'm happy to see oil prices go up. I assume that that will create a price incentive for alternative fuels. Nuclear power for example.

In the meantime, the poor can go hungry while we wait for biofuel subsidies to produce high-octane fairy juice, but what's a few perverse outcomes when we have to act! Now!

Simon said...

montana urban legend said...
"It's not a theory, Simon. It's the truth."

Such conceit from one who unmasks yourself as scientifically illiterate with that comment. Gravity and relativity are theories; if even concepts regarded as scientific bedrock are still theories, then AGW certainly is.

And the "oh poor me, I'm all alone defending climate change" act in the balance of your reply is as lame as one could be. Your comment said what it said, and I'm confident that when readers look it over, they'll read it the same way I did. Perhaps you meant something else, but you said what you said.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

DBQ, surely you must understand that "global" is not the same thing as "local". There is a difference

Of course I do. I'm guessing you don't understand sarcasm.

I also know the the definitions of, usages of and the differences between average (mean), median, mode and range. Also standard deviation and a bunch of other math thingies.

"We need to look at trends that are longer than just 10 years in length."

Yes, of course. It must be considered, however, that what looks like a direction could be the beginning of a trend. Sometimes when the market goes down, it's a fluctuation in a growth trend


Also we need to know what are leading, lagging and concurrent events that are part of a trend. Many believe that CO2 is a lagging not leading indicator.

Having been through several of these market meltdowns and climate hysteria events, I'm not impressed nor inclined to be swayed by the latest version of Chicken Little.

montana urban legend said...

You are taking advantage of your larger audience here in such a way as to make this overly personal. It won't fly. It's immature and will close down the debate - perhaps that is your agenda.

There was no conceit. Keep up your sleazy tactics and close down debate. Or keep them up, if you want. You used a word "exclusively". Call me scientifically illiterate (you know I am more literate about this or probably any other field of science) if you want. But only a true illiterate doesn't understand the meaning of the word "exclusively". And the kind of person who merely pretends not to understand that in the way you just did, well I'd need to use language that would be more profane than I'd prefer to in order to say what I think about that.

Pogo said...

Historically, science has repeatedly come to serve ideology rather than retain its disinterested stance.

When that occurs, its findings are no longer legitimate. Their statments and research all require vetting from another [actually disinterested] scientist.

The Soviets made great use of their psychiatrists this way. But this tradition dates back to Galileo, as is well known.

Once it was said, "Yet it does move."
Now we say "Yet it does not warm."

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
montana urban legend said...

Simon said, in reference to his characterization that I made an assertion about CO2 as an "exclusive" cause of climate change, the following:

"'I made no such assertions.'"

That's an interesting theory. (Simon)"



Who is lying? Now Simon says that I'm referring to climate change as a theory instead of his lie that my objection to his characterization of any assertions on my part, that CO2 was an "exclusive" cause of climate change, was a theory.

I made no such assertion. It is a fact that I made no such assertion, not a theory. Simon is either confused, or something worse. On looking back on it, perhaps he was just confused.

But I leave it up to readers to decide.

Or of course, Simon could just re-read the thread and clarify.

Henry said...

A point on the incentive issue that MUL and Simon have touched upon.

I think there's a fairly strong economic argument for consumption taxes on burning fossil fuels, simply to cover known externalities.

But what our government actually incentivizes is hard to figure out. There's a price support for environmentally-costly biofuels whose main result is to screw up farm policy. There are CAFE standards whose perverse effects on car manufacturing doesn't actually affect fuel consumption. There is a regulatory (environmental and financial) apparatus that makes it extraordinarily difficult for utilities to build new power plants (alternative or not).

The government that has given us our current energy policy is not one I trust with more power.

montana urban legend said...

Pogo, I disagree with your characterization. I don't know that scientists are less likely to be ideologues than others, but the interest they serve is the dissemination of knowledge. Others can make use of that or not. They can do so to further an agenda or not. But, sometimes interests merely converge. Sometimes scientists collude with other actors, either consciously or otherwise. I don't see how this is one of those times.

montana urban legend said...

henry, I make a general point. Brazil's government responded to the energy crisis of the 1970s by massively expanding ethanol use from sugar cane, which pays off for them economically. With corn in the U.S. that might not be the case. There is much we can do, and I advocate no particular position with regards to subsidies and the like. But surely our government should have taken the problem more seriously. And by that I might mean something as simple as having socialist environmentalists like T. Boone Pickens (I kid) sitting down with Congress on C-SPAN and making his views on the matter and what he plans to do about it a matter of public record and public inquiry. And a matter that he implores the government to be more constructive in dealing with it than he believes it has.

Mistargetted subsidies (and perhaps subsidies in general) are a problem. So is believing that the infrastructure we currently use for energy will continue to be appropriate indefinitely.

Freder Frederson said...

The glaciers on a nearby mountain are actually growing ....of course the explanation is global warming.

Did you even bother to read the article you linked to? Mt. Shasta is the only mountain in the entire U.S. where the glaciers are growing, the rest are retreating.

And as for cooling in some areas, where exactly would that be.

The former is problematic for the reasons noted (and thusfar not seriously disputed) here.

Are you still clinging to your flawed logic and this lie? I have explained why your conclusions are wrong on this page several times. Of course, the comments on your blog convincingly disputed your conclusions but you apparently ignored them.

You are simply a dishonest liar.

Such conceit from one who unmasks yourself as scientifically illiterate with that comment. Gravity and relativity are theories; if even concepts regarded as scientific bedrock are still theories, then AGW certainly is.

And by misusing the term "theory", you also unmask your self as scientifically illiterate.

There was much much more CO2 in the atmosphere eons ago and this is where the Carboniferous deposits come from. There has historically been much more CO2 in our atmosphere than exists today. "For example, during the Jurassic Period (200 mya), average CO2 concentrations were about 1800 ppm or about 4.7 times higher than today. The highest concentrations of CO2 during all of the Paleozoic Era occurred during the Cambrian Period, nearly 7000 ppm -- about 18 times higher than today".

And of course we know the earth was much warmer during those periods. So your point is?

Anthony said...

I'm still waiting for someone somewhere to provide me with an example of empirical data that would falsify AGW. Thus far, whatever seems to happen simply "confirms model predictions".

In fact, AGW has become entirely unfalsifiable.

Skyler said...

Montana wrote:

"For someone who comes up with such intelligent ideas, why can you not provide citations or evidence on the utility (or lack thereof) of such an approach from the literature."

Some things are obvious on their face. I needn't cite someone else to point out that the sun rises every day or that 2+2=4. If Albert Einstein himself declared that 2+2=5, his name would not be enough to make it so.

I needn't cite someone else to point out that extrapolations cannot be more accurate than the base data.

I'm not a climatologist, and such a title tends to carry very little legiitmacy nowadays, but I'm an engineer and I know measurements and I am quite good at modeling. I know that both arts can be very easily manipulated by those who wish to do so.

Most people don't bother to look at the basic assumptions of a model or a measurement. They only look at the conclusions. (That's why opinion polls can be such effective tools at manipulating public policy.) What I'm pointing out is that it's obvious that conclusions that purport to know an average global temperature on Earth to within a tenth of a degree are ludicrous on their face. To say the same for other planets is insulting.

Henry said...

Mistargetted subsidies (and perhaps subsidies in general) are a problem. So is believing that the infrastructure we currently use for energy will continue to be appropriate indefinitely.

Our current system has something called price signals.

Yet as I mentioned above, the public-private nature of utilities effectively hamstrings the ability of anyone to build any new large-scale power plants.

It seems to me that global-warming alarmists wish to make massive interventions in the economy with very little thought about the costs. They operate in an envelope of panic. I reject that mode of thinking.

lurker2209 said...

O no, I almost missed out on an Althouse science-related post.

As a scientist, let me emphasize that everything always comes down to methodology. The assumption in scientific writing is that the methodology is sound. So scientists don't go into the detail of their methods in the abstracts. The abstract and the conclusion might get cited in a press release but never the methods. In many journals the entire section describing the methodology is printed with font a couple of points smaller than the rest of the paper.

This isn't a conspiracy; it's merely an acknowledgment that of all the people wanting to read a paper (especially a paper on AGW, which will draw the attention of non-scientists) only a tiny number working in the same field will be able to follow the methods and assess them.

One hopes that the peer-reviewers will be members of that few and rigorously assess the methodology before allowing the paper to be published. And generally they are and they do. But the hidden crisis in science is that many journals are having trouble finding reviewers. Professors and researchers are very busy people with their own grants and papers and labs to run, so the pool of people willing and capable of reviewing papers is smaller than it should be.

And then there's the simple fact that sometimes the methodology seems sound, but has certain imperfections and is by no means absolute. Those papers get published because they advance the state of the science, not because everyone is convinced they are the final word on the matter. The media has a bad habit of reporting preliminary scientific conclusions as definite.

Tully said...

What Drill Sgt. said. I've spent a great deal of my professional life in scenario modeling and have been screaming from the rooftops about the holes in the IPCC scenario modeling for years. Monckton is dead on target. CO2-based radiative forcing in the models is overstated more than 200% and there is extensive abitrary corellation/causation assignment of effects to variables with little consideration of the missing-variable problem, and those are just a couple of the many problems with the models.

The more complicated a model, the more likely it is to be completely wrong after just a few iterations. Even if it's highly accurate after one iteration. This is one reason why empirical scientists so mistrust the modeling skills of theoreticians who lack any training in advanced modeling and statistical methodolgy--as most of the IPCC crowd does.

T. Boone Pickens is trying to make more money for T. Boone Pickens by gaining monopoly control of utilities in North Texas. That doesn't make his ideas good or bad, but appealing to claims of his better nature as a driver is more than a wee bit suspect. T. Boone is about T. Boone. Period.

Even if one accepts the IPCC-AGW scenarios, cost/benefit analysis shows that the most reasonable responses lie well away from the hysterical responses advocated by the AGW crowd. Indeed, low-response-precautionary and adaptation (no reponse) strategies show the greatest benefit/cost ratios.

Those actually able to follow the math and who understand the modelling and science can check the flip side/rebuttal of Monckton's review in the same newsletter. One does love the very loose "conclusions" section in which they insist that a lousy framework that produces indeterminate correlation/causation results of a questionable nature can only be disproven by finding a better framework, while denying that alternate frameworks have been proven even when they have better correlation/causation tracking than the questionable framework.

IOW, "Our theory is true even though it produces bad tracking because we don't accept other theories."

It is to laugh.

montana urban legend said...

I simply find it odd, unusual and improbable, Skyler, that no one would have published objections such as those you note. This is a post about dissent. I'm assuming there is a way to note dissent publicly.

Henry, making the issue just one of economics is also misleading and misses the point. I keep referencing Pickens. No one seems to pick up on it. There is surely a way to find economic benefits to developing alternative sources of energy. The rise of the automobile was probably incredibly destructive to the horse and buggy industry. And to trains. It's a circuitous argument to say that because our economy runs on it, it must not change. Our economy will change whether we like it or not. Economies are changing all the time. It's luddite to assume otherwise and unwise for us to pressure the government to assume otherwise. I don't see a good argument for stasis in maintaining the current energy mix.

montana urban legend said...

tully, T. Boone's allegedly better or worse nature is not what interests me. I think he can present an economic and national security argument for what he wants to do and has the wherewithall to pull it off, regardless of who is ultimately in control of it. We didn't prevent the coal industry and electric utilities from forming due to similar concerns. Nor would Teddy Roosevelt have believed that we should have.

Crimso said...

"People have spoken of a conspiracy -- a conspiracy of suppression."

Indeed they have. Hansen was one of them.

"Mt. Shasta is the only mountain in the entire U.S. where the glaciers are growing, the rest are retreating.

And as for cooling in some areas, where exactly would that be."

Uh, I don't know. Mt. Shasta, maybe?

Original Mike said...

Mr. Lightbulb said: ... you also unmask your self as scientifically illiterate.

That's remarkably rich, coming from you.

Simon said...

Anthony said...
"I'm still waiting for someone somewhere to provide me with an example of empirical data that would falsify AGW. ... [It] has become entirely unfalsifiable."

If so, then it fails to even amount to a theory, let alone a fact.

montana urban legend said...
"There was no conceit. Keep up your sleazy tactics and close down debate. Or keep them up, if you want."

No one's trying to prevent you from debating. Actually, I think most people here would kind of like it if you'd start trying to debate from time to time, instead of relying on rote talking points and supercilious manner.

"But I leave it up to readers to decide."

Indeed they will, which doesn't bode well for you.

t4toby said...

Uh, Ann?

http://www.sadlyno.com/archives/9932.html

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And of course we know the earth was much warmer during those periods. So your point is?

That IS my point, doofus. The earth has been much warmer without little old man. Much warmer due to natural cyclical systems. We have zero idea if this isn't just another normal fluctuation in the Solar System cycle since not only is Earth getting warmer....so are all the other planets.

My point in mentioning local conditions is to show how ridiculous it is to scream about the WARMEST YEAR EVER when 2005 was not warmest year ever or the warmest globally. And to use those local conditions as an excuse to jump off the deep end economically, socially and abruptly change energy policies. The southern hemisphere has been experiencing some cooling in selected areas just as the northern has been warming.

http://global-warming.accuweather.com/2007/08/seventh_warmest_july_globally_1.html

The point is that we don't know and don't know if any action we take can make a difference. We also don't know that action we may take might not have a negative effect.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And as for cooling in some areas, where exactly would that be."

--According to NOAA, cooler-than-average ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific (trend toward La Nina) contributed to a global temperature average for July that was lower than recent years.

--While above-normal temperatures covered most land masses globally, Argentina was more than 5 degrees F (3 C) cooler than average.

Ti-Guy said...

Anyway, the whole point of science is to question and investigate and test.

Actually, that's just good scholarship, something you obviously know nothing about, despite your academic credentials.

montana urban legend said...

Simon said:

"But I leave it up to readers to decide."

Indeed they will, which doesn't bode well for you.


I think it does, Simon. I think most people here possess a sufficient degree of literacy to figure out what the term "exclusively" means. Time for you to move on and accept that the debate went on without you - in spite of your attempt to stop it.

Now stop being a turd and go about your business of dispensing rote talking points to someone else.

Pogo said...

In science, "consensus" is meaningless.

It's merely a political form bent to serve the ideologic needs of scientists, but is in itself entirely anti-science. Or at least the lowest form of science.

It's the single-celled organism of evidentiary strength. I'll wait for evolution to show me the idea walking upright, thank you.

Until then, they should be honest and just admit that 'consensus' is just a fancy way to say "we're not really sure, but it seems like the answer might be this." That is, pretty close to what you'd get from shaking the Magic 8-ball.

Not something you'd base an industrial policy on, one would hope.

Original Mike said...

T. Boone Pickens is a pretty wise man and he is not trying to bankrupt us.

To the extent that Pickens uses his money, and the money of other investors, that's great. That's how it works best. More power to him. If I could invest money with him, I probably would, because it is obvious we need more energy.

However, that's fundamentally different than Al Gore (for example) who wants to confiscate money from the unwilling and give it to the unaccountable.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

There is surely a way to find economic benefits to developing alternative sources of energy.

And people are working on it. When they have a scalable solution, I'm sure we'll see it.

By saying that price signals matter I'm arguing exactly the opposite of what you imply. The economy can change drastically without any government action at all, if we allow the markets to work.

Remember that people adopted cars by choice. As far as I know, there was no 19th-century political campaign dedicated to the global elimination of horseshit.

Hector Owen said...

The model is not the system, the map is not the territory. And the model is certainly no better than the data used for input. If you massage the data enough, you can make the model do anything you want it to do. Take a look at charts and graphs in this: Painting by numbers: NASA's peculiar thermometer to see some serious data-massaging going on.

It's a good thing that the notion of consensus is being disputed somewhere other than in blogs. I would pay money to see Gore and Monckton discuss, or debate, this. Neither is a scientist, so that would be fair. (Side bet: Monckton would accept the offer to debate, Gore would refuse.) That James Hansen is calling for people to be put on trial for "spreading doubt about global warming" is just despicable, though. Did someone mention "suppression," up above? Oh, yes, MUL at 11:15.

While I was writing this, in between previews, I see that MUL has descended to the lowest kind of ad hom, the excremental reference. Way to hold up your side of the argument, there. Flingin' poop, now that's the way to go.

montana urban legend said...

There is no ideology in acknowledging that CO2 and other compounds are heat-retaining gases, Pogo. This results from the simple observation of something called heat capacity. Applying that to planetary phenomenon is something that astronomers have done for a while. There is no fool-proof way to prove it either vis a vis warming phenomena on earth (someone above alluded to the increasing likelihood for breakdown the more complex the models become) so all we can do is just keep looking at planetary phenomena and ascertaining what exactly is happening. A testable model at that scale is not exactly something you can build. So indefinitely continued observations are feasible for a while, but probably not forever if these ideas, which are entirely plausible, turn out to be the case. It's not those holding to the ideas who are the ideologues, it's those who unrealistically insist that some utopian intellectual standard that they've invented be satisfied.

Trooper York said...

A word of reason from a totally unexpected source.

It can get rough under the boards in the Althouse playground. Montana Urban Legend seems like a decent guy and might be feeling a little ganged up on when you sciencey nerdy guys start throwing around your theories. It like when Simon and Mort start flinging the ipso facto's in a law thread. I want to give the new guy a little break and tell him not to be to defensive. His post on the abortion jamobree thread after the fold were fair and represented a point of view that we know many people share. It can be tough when all the cool kids start smacking you around. Just sayn.

Oh and Al Gore is a communist.

Trooper York said...

Plus we have to get ready to kick the shit out of those blogging heads douche bags if they show up here. No time for dissensions in the ranks. Lock and load pilgrim.

montana urban legend said...

I didn't know ad hominems could be categorized that way, Hector. Re-read Simon's lies and misuse of the word "exclusively" for the context you don't address. Simon's contribution to this thread is done, and probably was almost as soon as he started. I addressed several substantive issues, and may choose to address more as they arise, but if you can't see that, then feel free to keep making context-free references to how a liar became the victim of the fall-out from his own excrementatious ploys instead.

montana urban legend said...

Heh. Yeah.... Thanks a bundle, Trooper. ;-)

For the record, I think that lurker2209 seems to have the most authoritative perspective to pronounce on as regards this issue. I readily admit that I am not entirely familiar with the particulars of the specific dissent that Althouse had blogged on for the post.

David Walser said...

MUL, in my post, above, on the topic of the precautionary principle, I was merely pointing out your misuse of the concept. I did not state and did not intend to imply that the precautionary principle was some insuperable bar to progress. In the climate change debate, it's up to those of us who favor changes in public policy to demonstrate that the proposed changes will do more good than harm. That's ALL the precautionary principle stands for. It most certainly does not mean "The potential (imagined) harms from global warming are so large we cannot wait for the science to be settled so we must act now!" That's the sense Al Gore, and you, have attempted to give the precautionary principle and it's just wrong. That does not mean your policy proposals are wrong, just that your rhetoric is misleading.

Simon said...

MUL outgassed:
"There is no ideology in acknowledging that CO2 and other compounds are heat-retaining gases, Pogo."

Again, mindless repetition of a meaningless talking point. Observing that carbon dioxide can create a greenhouse effect is irrelevant to the climate change debate; what is relevant would be a claim that carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change, and that if it is, that manmade carbon dioxide contributes in significant percentage. The only debate worth having about climate change is what is causing it, and what if anything we can do about it. Talking about what can cause climate change is a smokescreen, as is hurling mindless insults in my direction when everyone reading this thread is fully capable of reviewing what was written above by both of us. Start arguing substantively or stop arguing.

montana urban legend said...

Thank you for your advice, David. I did not realize that I am engaging rhetoric that is, as you say, misleading. And for the record, I don't entirely have much faith that the government would (or even should) be the primary shaper of how we would change our infrastructure. I do believe that it hasn't always engaged the debate in an honest way, though. And neither have many of those in the government who are at the opposite end of the spectrum from Al Gore on this. Al probably believes in the case he's making and has looked into it, which is more than I can say for a politician seeking to grease his lobbyists or pork interests that can't stand to hear any case against those things. I'm not saying Al wouldn't happen to have any financial interests at stake either, but I don't understand why he should burn for believing in it more passionately than his political adversaries believe in the contrary case that they make.

David Walser said...

Up stream, someone said that the glacier on Mt. Shasta was the only one in the world that is advancing, while the rest are receding. That's factually inaccurate. There are several glaciers in Alaska that are advancing. (A majority are receding, but a non-inconsequential number are advancing.) In addition, the ice cap in Antartica is thickening (in places) and thinning (in others). We don't fully understand why ice fields, literally adjacent to each other, are behaving differently. It's not simply a matter of temperature. Nor is it necessarily a matter of recent weather changes -- it might take decades for this year's snowfall to be added to a glacier's ice mass. (It might take years for the water in a snow flake falling on the mountain above a glacier to migrate down to and become part of the glacier.) Thus, changes in a glacier we are seeing today might reflect weather from 30 or more years ago.

Perhaps the poster meant the Mt. Shasta glacier was the only glacier in the lower 48 states that's advancing.

Pogo said...

Exactly, Simon.

Ideology drives the scientists to say more than they know. They are deriving "ought" from "is", based primarily on their leftist politics, not science.

All that is known is: We might be in a warming trend. Some disagree.
Hardly the stuff of political mandates.

montana urban legend said...

Until you retract your entirely baseless accusation that I said CO2 was the exclusive cause of warming phenomena, then you are not worth addressing, Simon.

David Walser said...

MUL, you give Al Gore credit for being a true believer. That's fine by me. He may be sincere (just as he may be sincerely wrong). What I don't understand is why you fail to grant good faith to those on the other side of the argument? Are you saying no good faith argument can be made against AWG (or against the policy proposals for ameliorating AWG)?

montana urban legend said...

Pogo, you can backslap Simon about is/ought tautologies all you want. You didn't address anything I said, though. For some people there might be a scope issue with regards to planetary phenomena. Perhaps you disagree and think that anything that can happen on a global scale is no more cause for concern than anything else. Hardly the stuff of "I say this" "You say that." And none of that has anything to do with anyone's politics.

Simon said...

Wait a second, I just realized what MUL is bleating about when he's moaning about me talking about exclusivity. Way back upthread, I attributed to him the view that carbon dioxide is the exclusive clause of global warming. That was a poor choice of word on my part, because even if the whiny little brat believes that carbon dioxide is responsible for 99.99999% of climate change, he can accurately point out that exclusive means 100%, and 99.99999% ≠ 100% and spend the rest of the thread getting his feathers ruffled about how I "misrepresented" him as a way of dodging the point. That exuse goes away right now, MUL. For sake of argument, I will stipulate that you dont believe that global warming is exclusively anthropogenic. You clearly believe that it is primarily anthropogenic, however, because if it is not, a rational person would have to conclude that a human policy response would necessarily be a waste of resources. The burden falls on you, then, to explain to what extent you believe that it is anthropogenic, having disclaimed the belief that it is 100%, with the awareness that the less it is attributable to human action, the less justifiable a human policy response aimed at reversing (rather than responding to) the trend will be.

montana urban legend said...

Sure, david. Some and increasingly many on the other side can make a good faith stance. But so many up until now didn't have a clue about what they were talking about.

Simon said...

montana urban legend said...
"And none of that has anything to do with anyone's politics."

LMAO. The left advances the same solution to every problem, and climate change is no exception. They want to impose taxes and regulation on business and industrial activity and tell individuals how to structure their private lives. And we are to believe that this isn't a result of their politics?

montana urban legend said...

"That was a poor choice of word on my part"

Glad to know you can admit when you were wrong, Simon.

montana urban legend said...

I advocate no particular solution - particularly as regards policies. I do think increased use of renewables, particularly wind, is a good idea, as is increased energy production by more diffuse sources (people producing their own energy, etc.). These are empowering ideas, as is increased conservation by each consumer smart enough to buy products and housing that accomplish that. But none of that matters as I'm not here to do the bidding of your political theater, Simon. We were talking about something else.

I suspect my even mentioning any of that will set you off for another self-righteous food fight, but oh well. I tried.

montana urban legend said...

And, oh yeah. A hydrogen economy and increasingly decentralized grid would be good as well. At least, to my ears those sound like intriguing ideas. But what do I know? I'm just a commie-pinko-sympathizing fill-in-the-blank whatever.

(Satire)

knoxwhirled said...

each consumer smart enough to buy products and housing that accomplish that

Most of the time it's a matter not of "smart enough" but rich enough. Green stuff is not cheap.

knoxwhirled said...

P.S. also, the "smart" thing to do for the vast majority of those products would be to just refrain from buying them at all and go pick up something used at AMVets. But that takes all the fun and show out of it.

knoxwhirled said...

I mean, even if you go and buy a huge, used gas-guzzler with terrible emissions, I bet you'd come out ahead in terms of the environment. The carbon footprint for the manufacture of a Prius is probably sizable.

montana urban legend said...

"LMAO."

For the record, I note your assertion here that conservatives don't acknowledge that problems on a global scale are as potentially serious as liberals do, or anyone else. But I do want to make sure I read you correctly. Wouldn't want to make the same mistake you did.

No joke knoxwhirled. Green energy design and LEED standards are becoming more normitive in the construction industry. They save a lot of money down the road and initial investments in the front-end are sure to go down the more that designers and manufacturers compete on that front.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

From my perspective the argument is not so much is the earth getting warmer. It seems that may be so, and since we are still coming out of the last ice age, not so surprising.

The question of whether we as an industrialized society are contributing to the warming hasn't been answered. However, I have issues with the "alarmists" who want to, with a snap of their fingers, change the entire energy usages, economy and policies of the entire world overnight. In light of the economic and human disasters that most of their policies will and have caused already, you would think that they might want to listen to other points of view on how to proceed.

We SHOULD try to develop other sources of energy. Electric, solar, nuclear, hydro and wind to name a few. But to expect, nay DEMAND, that we all immediately do so and cut off the current infrastructure and sources of energy is ridiculous. The economy isn't a faith based endeavor and you can't repeal the law of supply and demand just because it doesn't fit into your (generic you...no one in particular in this thread) Utopian pipe dream.

The other issue is the black and white view point that the global warming religiosity of the alarmists is downright scary. They brook no thoughtful dissent. You must believe as they believe or you are a HERITIC. Last time we had such fervent blind belief we had THIS

Simon said...

montana urban legend said...
"I note your assertion here that conservatives don't acknowledge that problems on a global scale are as potentially serious as liberals do...."

You're really overreaching in trying to extract that claim from my comment. My comment asserted that the clamor for governmental response to climate change has a great deal to do with the politics of the people advancing it, based on the subsidiary assertions that (a) most such people are on the left, (b) there are a range of policies that people on the left often advance, and (c) that those policies are being advanced in response to climate change.

Simon said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...
"The question of whether we as an industrialized society are contributing to the warming hasn't been answered."

More precisely, whether we as an industrialized society are contributing in significant degree to the warming, and if we did, what if anything can we do about it now. If we've already reached a tipping point, and cutting back on industry now won't make a lick of difference, that suggests a quite different policy response.

montana urban legend said...

Suppy and demand, Bunny... you make it sound so academic. But the fact is, it's not. There is a demand for energy. There is a demand for transportation. There's a supply for those things that's not sufficient when it comes to oil, though. That's a market reality, and one that won't change unless things are done differently.

Somewhere along the line people started confusing foresight for ideology.

Simon said...

montana urban legend has left a new comment on the post "About that anthropogenic global warming consensus....":
"There is a demand for energy. There is a demand for transportation. There's a supply for those things that's not sufficient when it comes to oil, though. That's a market reality, and one that won't change unless things are done differently."

When cost rises, demand falls to the extent that it's elastic, and to the extent that it isn't, the increased cost tends to spur innovation because the range of technologies that can compete broaden as cost increases. For example, fuel technology X wasn't feasible when gas was < $2 per gallon because it costs $ 2 per gallon to make. When gas rises above a price where X can be manufactured, transported and sold for a profit, X can compete with gas.

knoxwhirled said...

No joke knoxwhirled. Green energy design and LEED standards are becoming more normitive in the construction industry. They save a lot of money down the road and initial investments in the front-end are sure to go down the more that designers and manufacturers compete on that front.

I'm sure, but buy a used house

Bruce Hayden said...

I have read this entire thread, and the short summary seems to be that MUL thinks that anyone who questions man caused global warming is either an idiot or hopelessly close minded, and, more importantly, that we should run off and spend trillions of dollars (yesterday) addressing the problem in the approved way.

My position is mostly the opposite:
- I question whether there actually is global warming going on. - I question the "science" behind global warming.
- I question the science behind CO2 being the primary culprit.
- If we accept man caused global warming, I question whether we would be worse off if it were to happen (I don't live near the ocean and can't figure out why I should pay for others to do so),
- If we do decide to mitigate CO2 based global warming, whether the approved solutions are the most cost effective solutions.
- I also question whether most of the approved solutions are going to work in the first place (or work reasonably well). (We seem to have done better mitigating our carbon emissions than the European countries that signed Kyoto).

Let me also note that I have not read all the literature. Indeed, I doubt if many have. But most of what I have read concerns models that come with all sort of limitations and provisos, that the journalism majors seem to miss (notably, Al Gore was apparently a journalism major).

Bruce Hayden said...

MUL, you give Al Gore credit for being a true believer. That's fine by me. He may be sincere (just as he may be sincerely wrong). What I don't understand is why you fail to grant good faith to those on the other side of the argument? Are you saying no good faith argument can be made against AWG (or against the policy proposals for ameliorating AWG)?

The only reason that I ever question Algore's good faith is that while he is willing to talk the talk, he seems unwilling to walk the walk.

But for him, true faith is likely easier than it is for many others. He was a journalism major (or was that graduate school?), and apparently got a C- and a D+ in the two (bone head) science courses he took in college. In short, he is essentially scientifically illiterate.

Dogwood said...

The AGW debate all comes down to two issues, the basic temperature records used to create the trend lines, and the reliability of computer models that make scary predictions that are then used to justify dramatic political solutions intended to change our behavior.

Spend just a few minutes reading Climate Audit or Surface Stations, and you will quickly realize that the global warming signal (.7 degree increase over 100 years) is dwarfed by the noise in the data (most surveyed temperature stations have a margin of error greater than 1 degree).

Read through this Powerpoint presentation to see the many problems discovered by the Surface Station volunteers and staff.

Also, four research papers produced by three independent teams concluded that most of the temperature increases in modern records can be attributed to the urban heat island effect. You can read a summary of one such paper here, and the full report here. Note that the fine folks at IPCC are simply ignoring the findings of the three research teams.

Finally, supporters of the AGW theory tend to hang their hat on the predictions of computer models. As a previous poster commented, models are only as good as the data fed into them.

For a climate model to work, one must understand how the climate actually works, and we don't have a clue. We know bits and pieces, but we don't understand the whole and until we do, the model outputs are worthless.

The climate is a chaotic, non-linear system that is impossible to model and predict because we don't know all the variables and all of the positive and negative feedbacks in the system. Sure, we can tweak the settings in the models to replicate the past, but curve fitting the model destroys any and all predictive value.

To get your mind around this, let's talk about another chaotic, non-linear system, the weather.

How accurate are 24-hour weather forecasts? How about three-day forecasts? Five day? 10-day? 30-day? At what time length do you start discounting the accuracy of the local weather forecast?

Now, extrapolate the problems in predicting the weather to the entire globe, add in other variables we're not even aware of yet, and you understand just how difficult and impossible it is to predict what the global average temperature will be 100 years from now (temporarily ignoring the question of whether such an average has any scientific meaning in the first place).

Simply put, predicting the future climate is impossible.

Making matters worse, many of these climate models were created using public funds, but the authors of the models refuse to post their code, raw data files, and variable settings so their work can be independently reviewed.

I believe it took several FOIA requests before NASA's own Hansen began posting his code to publicly-accessible server, and so far as I'm aware, no one has been able to get his programs to work.

In short, we have bad data, an incomplete understanding of how the climate actually works, and no independent review of the climate models, but we're supposed to embrace trillion dollar solutions for a problem that hasn't been proven to exist.

No thanks.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Supply and demand: you make it sound so academic. But the fact is, it's not. There is a demand for energy. There is a demand for transportation. There's a supply for those things that's not sufficient when it comes to oil, though. That's a market reality, and one that won't change unless things are done differently

It ISacademic and a reality. Left to its own devices, meaning without the meddling of government, supply and demand will always find an equilibrium.

Supply of petroleum and oil based products is down slightly right now because the demand has risen faster than supply. Supply has also been artifically depressed for some time now. Prices have also been artifically subsidized in China and other areas which has distorted the supply demand equilibrium.

When demand exceeds supply prices will rise until:
1. demand decreases because the price is too high or

2. demand for that product decreases because alternatives have been found for the good in demand. Substitution effect. or

3. supply increases to meet demand
or

4. a combination of all three.

In the case of oil, the answer is not to fiddle with the market by putting artificial prices on the commodity to keep the price low. That only lets the demand stay artificially high in relation to the actual supply Penalizing the manufacturer for market forces will keep supply low because production will lag.

Forcing consumers to use alternatives that are not available in sufficient supply is not a solution because their cannot be enough supply of that commodity to relieve the demand.

The economic solution is to let the market work. High prices will reduce demand somewhat on the oil commodity and make it economically feasible for alternative commodities to come to market. When those alternatives are available in sufficient quantity and at an acceptable price the market will reach equilibrium.

In other words. We need to keep our stupid sticky fingers out of the pie with price controls and windfall profits taxes. The government COULD help by giving more economic incentives to the new commodity providers and inventors for a short period of time to encourage development.

Cedarford said...

Anthony said...
I'm still waiting for someone somewhere to provide me with an example of empirical data that would falsify AGW. Thus far, whatever seems to happen simply "confirms model predictions".
In fact, AGW has become entirely unfalsifiable.


That is a doltish response. NO one knows from the data how MUCH human activities contribute, if at all, to the global warming of the planet (AGW). The conservative thing is to assume it is a problem and for mankind to make preps to do a supreme effort:

1. To begin to reduce Global Human Population down to what scientists believe is the long-term sustainable number of 2 -2.5 billion people. Eliminating the damaging excess by even involuntary means like China's "one Child policy". Or ending aid to present 3rd World overbreeding populations until they get to slightly below replacement level birthrates.

2. And eliminate 200 years of massive global investment in a hydrocarbon-based economy for a highly dubious, given our present engineering and scientific knowledge, transition to a "wind, solar" economy.

Now, it is laudable that all the technolgically illiterate people like the Goracle are not demanding we "urgently" build euthanization chambers and forcing excess population into them.

But the Goracle and others are quite deranged in insisting that we "can" turn the less than 1% present wind and solar component of US and global energy need into 100% replacement for the hydrocarbon energy system in 10 years. Work, after abandoning 22 trillion in global investment in hydrocarbon economy components, on the 20 trillion Gore and his acolytes assure us will give us "cheap, clean, safe, completely renewable power" with just....a...little...more....research.

Even the nuttiest Eurogreenie-Weenies are admitting that - maybe - they can reach 20% by 2030. Which assumes that they can continue to count the 10% hydro as renewable. And that birthrates are kept below replacement level, that they can continue to foist off high carbon-use industries to 3rd World inc China to look better on paper, and no new immigrants are permitted. And that they get to lower electric demand by importing hated, evil nuclear generated electricity from France.
(Similar to California and New England "green dream" - which is predicated on people in Western "flyover country" and backwards Quebec making coal and hydro-generated electricity they can import to say their own "Carbon use" is down.)

Insane, actually. But The Goracle makes Greenies and liberals feel so good with his moral ernestness
they overlook that the guy is as ignorant as they come on scientific, engineering, and economic realities - and batshit insane.
But little but praise from AGW convertees in the media met Gore's latest frothing at the mouth speech.
Meanwhile, China says Gore and the Euros are nuts, and has committed to building 1 new 1000MW coal plant a week while wanting 90 nuke plants by 2030 to begin cleaning up its air pollution problem, and see it's breeding control program lower it's population to environmentally sustainable levels.

dbp said...

DBQ, what you wrote is clearly correct, but I am reminded of a farside cartoon:

Dogs are barking in the picture and there is a translation below--Hey! Hey! Hey!

When leftists read what you wrote all they see is something like blablabla witchcraft, blablabla witchcraft... Where Market=witchcraft and all the other words are rendered as blablabla.

lurker2209 said...

MUL--thanks for the compliment.

I confess, however, that I'm a biochemist, not a climatologist. I'm not qualified to really assess any of these models, but I do understand how the process of science works. And science does work. Methods of measuring historical temperatures using ice cores, for example, have improved, although there are still a lot of problems. Eventually we will probably have a good idea of how temperature has varied on earth historically and be able to assess anthropogenic contributions--eventually.

The fundamental problem here (and it's one I see in a lot biotechnology issues too) is that science moves according to its own timescale. Sometimes, like with a lot of the bioethical issues, it seems like science is outpacing our thinking on ethics. On other issues, like global warming, people want to make policy decisions now. So scientists give them the best available information. And that sometimes turns out to be entirely or partly wrong. As science, that's the way it's supposed to work. For the real world, it's a problem. But science just can't give you tomorrow's answers today. Sorry!

montana urban legend said...

Bunny, you have an interesting way of "let(ting) the market work". For a second, I almost got the impression that you didn't believe that the market for oil was controlled by a cartel. You had me fooled there. For a second. At least.

Bruce, it's nice to know that you can put together a "short summary" that puts at least as many words in my mouth. But you might want to re-read the thread. The less people know about something, the more they have to play catch-up and editorialize, I suppose.

So I won't be addressing your gross mischaracterization of any loosely proposed remedies I mentioned. Not now, at least. Try again and I may reconsider. But I will say that not everyone who questions AGW is an idiot or hopelessly close-minded. Often a bit misinformed or prejudiced, yes. But not an idiot or hopelessly close-minded.

That having been said, what I think is wrong-headed is to take an entirely plausible theory, one that even Simon doesn't question, and one that I'm not sure that astronomers or geophysicists have thrown out the window, and say that it is wreckless to assume - in the absence of any evidence to the contrary - that there is a good reason to believe it would apply on a large-scale, planetary basis. If everyone wants to wait years and say, "we will see", "we will see", then I guess that's what we're going to have to do. But I'll tell you one thing, any scientist who witnesses events on a small scale, an animal model, or otherwise, and advises the public - "Hey, don't worry. Heh. It's not been tested to completion in humans or on the public at large!" - is either incompetent or unethical.

I think that people who are antagonistic to AGW, and don't have a plausible theory to the contrary to offer, are coddling that.

Ralph said...

As I suspected, Lord Monckton is the grandson of Edward VIII's legal advisor during the abdication crisis. Wikipedia: "He served as an advisor to Margaret Thatcher's policy unit and has attracted controversy for his public opposition to the mainstream scientific consensus on global warming and climate change."

montana urban legend said...

Lurker, your input is valued here. And as someone with a background in something similar, I accept where you're coming from. The ideas in your second paragraph are important to note. I guess my take on it is - and I say this as someone who's familiar with how the drug industry and drug approvals process works - that sometimes larger models are important and sometimes they aren't. The fact that with AGW we have to essentially see how this global experiment plays out is what I think we have to keep in mind. Sometimes that's necessary. And a lot of people seem to agree.

But if I tested a compound, and in every preclinical model saw toxicological effects across the board, in every species, it would be wrong for me to advocate its use in humans. It would be wrong for me to not advocate caution and to not advocate taking any possible precautions in human trials. Now I know from experience that extrapolating human toxicology from animal tox is next to impossible, despite the efforts we're making to improve models that could actually tell us something more useful when you get to that next step. But that doesn't change the fact that, at this point, as you say, the science is outstripping the ethics.

The way physical models play out would be in a manner that is probably more consistent than biochemical models, though, wouldn't you say? My feeling is that the human body and the human metabolome is more complex, and in ways that we are still trying to understand than is the earth and the way it accommodates physical processes. What do you think?

montana urban legend said...

Sorry, Bunny. I re-read your post. You did describe the situation in a more comprehensive way then I had let on. Still, the role of OPEC in this is really the elephant in the room in any discussion regarding what solutions the market will provide. And has been since this happened the first time 30 years ago. If anything, that's my point.

Simon said...

"That having been said, what I think is wrong-headed is to take an entirely plausible theory, one that even Simon doesn't question...."

What "plausible [climate change] theory" do I not question? I don't question that carbon dioxide will cause a greenhouse effect, but as I've tried to explain to you upthread, that mundane observation is not by itself a theory of climate change, plausible or otherwise. You seem to be mistaking a brick for a wall.

"I think that people who are antagonistic to AGW, and don't have a plausible theory to the contrary to offer, are coddling that."

Some of the people who are "antagonistic" to AGW don't believe that the planet is warming, period. A few think it's warming as a result of carbon dioxide but don't believe that the increase is human-caused. Others don't believe that it's warming as a result of carbon dioxide, or at least, that while carbon dioxide has a warming effect, it is not the underlying cause of warming. Per the link posted upthread, I think the latter is the observation that most closely matches the ice core data. When there are previous cyclical warming phases, it stands to reason that this warming phase is more likely to be a new iteration of something old than an entirely new phenomonon, and given that earlier cycles are clearly not CO2-driven - it is difficult to see how a cause can lag its supposed effect - that provides reasonable grounds for skepticism.
And the burden of proof doesn't lie on skeptics (although I would note that there is a plausible alternative theory: solar output, either by itself or in concert with oceanic outgassing). Proponents of the Gorethodoxy want us to believe tht an old phenomenon has a new cause, so the burden of persuasion rests on them.

The Drill SGT said...

Bruce Hayden said...
MUL, you give Al Gore credit for being a true believer.


LOL,

Al showed up in DC yesterday for a speech. His party came in 2 Lincoln town cars, and an SUV. The drivers kept the engines running and the AC, so Al had a cool limo to depart in later.

a true believer :)

The Drill SGT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crimso said...

"The way physical models play out would be in a manner that is probably more consistent than biochemical models, though, wouldn't you say?"

As a Ph.D. biochemist, I wouldn't. Depends on the model. Climate is more complex than you think, and certainly many biochemical models are highly accurate. The accuracy of the model as well as its predictive power are what determines the utility of the model. For climate models, how do we know how accurate they are? Even if we know they're accurate, how do we know if they predict anything useful? They'll predict things, but were they designed to predict them? Do any of these models have the supposed positive feedback of CO2 levels arise spontaneously from the model, or was this positive feedback (a phenomenon that is rare in nature relative to negative feedback) designed in? Is there compelling evidence that such a feedback exists? And before anyone asks whether there is compelling evidence it doesn't, science doesn't work that way (though the supposed lagging of CO2 levels behind temperature rises does seem suspicious). I'll bet I can devise a model that invokes phlogiston or ether to explain climate. Anybody want to sign on to that? And in my own specialty (not biochemistry, but rather the enzyme that I have studied for 20 years), I have witnessed the granting of a Ph.D. for computer modeling studies of the mechanism of the enzyme that ran counter to every last shred of actual experimental data that were known about the enzyme.

montana urban legend said...

Yo Drill, I never said a true believer couldn't be a hypocrite. It's one of the more common hallmarks of a true believer, depending on the belief. Or someone could be a believer in something but not want or care to do much about what they believe in personally. Doesn't make them any less a believer.

So there's such a thing as hypocritical believers. But then again, there are also people who just prefer to believe in expedient things.

Which is worse? Do we even decide? Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? I dunno. Hey... I'm just trying to point out a few simple facts. I'm not a lobbyist, a politician or a spokesperson for anything. Whatever stupidity or hypocrisies or conspiracies people want to engage can't be made a part of any agenda that I could fashion into humanity's plans for itself and endorse...

Skyler said...

Montana, I note that you're completely silent about the links that Dogwood presented that completely support everything I said.

Except that link shows that the data is even worse than I had expected. It's pretty pathetic.

montana urban legend said...

I suspect you're missing the point, crimso. For one, I don't see why you would entertain the notion of applying negative feedback to geochemical systems. Biological systems are designed to support homeostasis, or self-regulation. They maintain a high degree of mechanisms, selected for by evolution to do this. So it seems bizarre to just extrapolate that concept onto planetary systems. The latter weren't selected to self-regulate and moderate changes within them. I'm sorry, but to assert otherwise seems rather ridiculous on its face, no matter how much equipoise it provides your skepticism regarding positive feedback.

I don't know how accurate the models are. I'm fine with signing on to "not very". Every post I've uploaded asserts exactly that - as well as its conclusion. We will not know much for certain until this global equivalent of a science experiment that we are conducting is brought to completion. But who decides when that point is reached?

CO2 and the other GHGs are heat-retaining gases. For the love of Christ, all I'm asking for is that if a simple theory, if you want to call it that, posits that putting all those GHGs into the atmosphere will, as their name suggests, raise the temperature of the planet, can someone devise for me a theoretical reason for why that shouldn't occur? The null hypothesis is a nice idea. Why can't anyone give me a reason for why it would be an accurate proposal? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

When applying science to the public interest - of subjecting the public at large to novel scenarios, we never assume a null hypothesis. Or do we? When do we do that?

montana urban legend said...

Skyler, you were the only one before Dogwood to even provide a plausible explanation for "the defense". I believe I acknowledged that. There are other issues that have been raised back and forth since then. Many other scientists have rung in. Almost all of us admit that we are not geochemists, climatologists, what have you, whatever the proper term would be. But we are interested in addressing what would seem to be these larger issues of what is an appropriate model, what constitutes evidence, when and how is that or is that not meaningful, etc., etc., etc. And most importantly, how should all that be presented to the public. Because right now a whole lot of the lay people are pissed that they perceive science to have not done its job.

This is not about engineering. There will be no "perfect" model. Not anytime soon. Perhaps better and better models. But there are still questions we have to assess that speak to what to do and how we assess and address these questions in the meantime. If you don't mind.

Thank you.

blake said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

-> Give me some money and I'll "prove" anything you like with a computer model.

-> There will come a time, not long from now, when we wish we had AGW.

Here's an interesting paper, by the way, that proves--no scare quotes needed, actual science and math involved--that our carbon contributions are trivial to completely insignificant to any greenhouse effect.

In short, the laws of physics don't seem to allow CO2 it's currently assumed place as a significant "greenhouse gas" based on present concentrations.

The numbers look good to me, but I'm still crunching. (What? It's a hobby!)

Henry said...

Still, the role of OPEC in this is really the elephant in the room in any discussion regarding what solutions the market will provide.

MUL, are you arguing that OPEC is keeping the price of oil artificially low? That's not how cartels usually function.

Reread Simon's post of 3:31pm. You and he seem to have rubbed each other the wrong way, but he makes an invaluable point -- even if oil consumption is not terribly elastic, a rise in oil prices allows other technologies to compete.

If OPEC distorts the market by keeping oil prices high that works in favor of alternative energy solutions.

If oil prices aren't high to make alternative solutions competitive then we need to use it up faster -- something we and the Chinese seem to be doing just as well as we can.

Crimso said...

"The latter weren't selected to self-regulate and moderate changes within them."

But if they weren't, would this place be hospitable enough for life to exist? If entire ecosystems weren't themselves more or less self-regulating, would we even be here to discuss it?

"can someone devise for me a theoretical reason for why that shouldn't occur?"

Isn't water supposedly a better GHG than CO2? Shouldn't my colleague Mr. Gore be discussing hydrogen credits instead of carbon credits? Surely there's a theoretical reason why. And not to be a smartass, but my theoretical reason why is actually that the excess carbon is being removed by an army of atomic sized demons. No really, my model has just such a feature.

Just because someone has devised an explanation, doesn't remotely mean that explanation must be considered "The Answer." And especially not when the explanation in question doesn't seem to comport with the established facts.

montana urban legend said...

henry, OPEC kept prices low long enough for us to become addicted to it. That is the point. Even double-u seems to agree.

I understand how elasticity works. If high prices spur innovation, then so be it. I don't have a problem with necessity being the mother of invention. I just don't understand why it becomes some theological truism to believe that only the market can decide these things, and only when it wants to. We saw this thirty years ago. So did Brazil.

Simon said...

MUL said...
"CO2 and the other GHGs are heat-retaining gases. For the love of Christ, all I'm asking for is that if a simple theory, if you want to call it that, posits that putting all those GHGs into the atmosphere will, as their name suggests, raise the temperature of the planet, can someone devise for me a theoretical reason for why that shouldn't occur?"

You're begging the question. Of course, if you put a greenhouse agent into the atmosphere, it will increase the total retention of the system. But how much?

Let me try and explain it to you like this: I love me my morning coffee, and I have one of these really ridiculously large mugs that holds, like, a pot and a half or what have you. It's the supertanker of coffee mugs. One morning, I carefully add a single granule of sugar. A simple theory posits that putting all that sugar into my morning coffee will raise the sweetness of the coffee. It must do so; after all, we all agree that sugar is sweet. And yet, my coffee isn't sweet! Can you devise a theoretical reason for why my gallon of coffee isn't sweet, even though I added a grain of sugar to it?

montana urban legend said...

You're getting circuitous, crimso. "Ecosystems", by definition, include life. Perhaps the ecosystem itself is somewhat self-regulating to a degree, but only because the organisms within them are. The fallacy of composition ascribes those attributes to their environment, which is less and less plausible approach the more species that die off from current insults to their habitat.

There are explanations and there are explanations. Some are better than others. You are right. You were being a smartass. And hydrogen isn't a GHG, is it? If water is, we would be splitting that to be stored and used as hydrogen gas - as a fuel. So it looks like you're answering your own question. In the affirmative.

Until we have a perfect model, which is utopian and hypothetical - and probably not possible, the heat capacity of GHGs is a relevant consideration. So are whichever others, contrary to that, you might hypothesize. But why not take the consideration seriously. No one is saying that a good hypothesis is "The Answer". It just shows that you took the question seriously. Maybe you do and maybe you don't.

montana urban legend said...

No I can't Simon and neither can you.

With sugar, that's a different story.

Your dose-effect straw man has thus been responded to. That's not the question at this point. Follow the discussion.

Simon said...

montana urban legend said...
"No I can't Simon and neither can you."

Precisely. It's not that the sugar doesn't have the effect of making the coffee sweeter; it's a question of how much of an effect a given amount has when added to a much larger system. And so it is with Carbon Dioxide. I readily agree that chemically, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, but that's not the issue. The relevant questions are how much of an effect on the planet's heat retention does each given measure of CO2 have, how much is there in the atmosphere, and even if it is possible that that could explain global warming, is it actually causing warming?

When we go back into the ice cores, we see that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration tracks but lags temperature. When temperature rises, a little later, CO2 concentration rises, but the rate of acceleration remains basically constant while this happens. After the temperature starts falling, a little later, the CO2 concentration falls. This tells us a number of very pertinent things. One of which is that historically, carbon dioxide goes up when temperature goes up. Another of which is that the carbon dioxide doesn't cause, sustain, or appreciably amplify the warming cycle. And one of which is that even though carbon dioxide may be a greenhouse gas, it alone is not sufficient to sustain high temperatures.

blake said...

Of course, if you put a greenhouse agent into the atmosphere, it will increase the total retention of the system.

Actually, no, and that's one interesting point raised in that article. It can only trap what hasn't already been trapped in the range of radiation that it's physically possible for it to trap.

That's why carbon is such a hugely wrong target. Check it out. Carbon can only block (generously) 8% of the total incoming rays, in particular bands. (I assume there's overlap between various agents.)

Once those bands have been trapped, additional carbon will have no effect.

montana urban legend said...

Why do you keep nattering on like that, Simon? Your whole first paragraph explains something that I (and I assume at least 3 or 4 others here) understand very well. We know the content of CO2 in the atmosphere. We don't know how much will (or may not) produce a certain effect. I acknowledge precisely all this when speaking of the current situation as a science experiment in and of itself. But you read that already, didn't you? It's entirely the point at this stage.

Can someone else look into his second paragraph? His first paragraph shows that he hasn't even been following the discussion, so I don't see why it's incumbent on me to fact-check his second idea. I'll entertain it. I'll accept it if it's there. I'm just not having that much faith in Simon's ability to read things tonight. He's not read some very important things that were right here in this thread at least twice now, and following up on them is getting tiresome.

No offense, Simon. But it is.

Hector Owen said...

Oh, dear, it's another of these global warming threads. The topic of Althouse's original post was the politicization (is that a word? I kinda hope not) of science. Not whether AGW is a real thing (that is coming for us, now! Get under the bed and stop that carbon thing you're doing!)

Mixing science and politics used to be — harrumph — called Technocracy. We don't see many serious advocates of this any more, since the "planned economy" part of it went down the tube with Communism. The question of whether mixing politics with science is advisable remains interesting. Anthropogenic Global Warming, however, is not, except to the extent that it will be fun to watch the carbon credit scams unravel. In time; if the UN can be prevented from emplacing global taxes; if we just don't panic.

Middle Class Guy said...

Global warming and the carbon nonsense is nothing more than a cruel economic hoax. It is purely designed for the uber liberals to finally make fortunes off the backs of working people and cause all of us to pay higher taxes for no good reason; the real tenet of the Democratic Party.

If carbon is a building block of life, if every living thing is composed of carbon and exudes carbon dioxide, when will the global warming fanatics demand that we all drink the poisoned Kool Aid and kill ourselves? Will Al Gore be the first to kill himself?

montana urban legend said...

Ok, hector owen. We won't mix science with politics anymore. And I suspect that in the name of uber-libertarian progressivism, you subject either yourself or your loved ones to the first drug marketed for a dreaded disease they contracted that was brought to market after the abolition of the FDA.

Or that you consume the first product that was brought to the market after the CPSC was disbanded.

If you're ok with that then I suppose I should be ok with science never informing public opinion! Sounds crazy I guess but if you say so! Anything goes, right? Right on!

Christy said...

Drat! I always come to these threads after they have exhausted themselves, but I'll put my 2 cents in anyway. Although, not having spawned, I don't really have a dog in this fight.

I have done considerable modeling of complex thermal hydraulic systems - nuclear power plants - which are infinitely more simple than any planetary system. I had hard data to work with. When the pressure or temperature changed in one part of the actual operating plant, I could see what the changes were in other parts. I had an actual testable system to validate my computer model and it was a long hard slog to make it work. So forgive me if I doubt the validity of a computer model that has limited input data and an incomplete understanding of all the systems involved.

I was for some time responsible for a program that processed radiological data with meteorological data to determine the environmental impact of our plant. I know the problems with keeping a met station working, and, guys, we had techs to do routine maintenance and fix instruments quickly when they went wrong. (Regulatory compliance issues get a quick response.) From what I've seen of the government monitoring stations at surfacestations.org, forgive me if I have doubts about the quality of data that has gone into the climate change models.

I didn't do the actual number crunching with the met data, but because my name went on the reports I did considerable boning up on the subject of meteorology. Reading a couple of text books and pumping the brains of my consultants did not make me an expert, but I swear to God, not a single activist who showed up for the opening of Gore's documentary in my fair city knew anything! It is an article of faith to them. And activism based of faith scares the crap out of me.

The science is what it is and eventually it will become clear. My fear is unintended consequences. Remember all those low flush toilets from a few years ago? They were designed to save water, but all they did was make us flush 2 or 3 times to clear the bowl. We all know it will be policy makers, not scientists, developing solutions.

montana urban legend said...

Wow. Middle Class Guy achieves the astounding insight that since our bodies are made of carbon, more of it in the air won't do anything. This is an incredible revelation. If I follow correctly, if more livers and hearts and dead people are flying around and filling the skies, that will also not have any effect on anything. Because OUR BODIES ARE MADE OF SUCH THINGS! This is incredible intellectual progress if ever intellectual progress was made. Absolutely stunning in its brilliance!

Sigh.

montana urban legend said...

All activism is, in a sense, an act of faith Christy. There are many activists who oppose AGW who are also acting out of faith. I don't see the connection as somehow applying moreso to the activists you mention than to their antagonists.

Simon said...

montana urban legend said...
"Why do you keep nattering on like that, Simon?"

Because no matter how many times I repeat the point, it just doesn't seem to be sinking through that skull of yours.

M. Simon said...

I don't know if this has been brought up or not but here goes.

The last three IPCC reports each show a smaller influence of CO2 than the previous report.

So how are the predictions getting worse? Each report has increased the multiplier (positive feedback) so that despite a reduced estimate of CO2 heat trapping the final number comes out larger.

However, no one knows the actual sign of the multiplier let alone its magnitude (the IPCC admits this). The multiplier is the fraud. If the multiplier was positive the Earth should have incinerated when the CO2 level was 2,000 ppm. The fact that this did not happen tends to point to the fact that the climate system (like most systems) is controlled by negative feedback, not positive.

montana urban legend said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
montana urban legend said...

It was a point I made. Do you know who I am? I am the person with the noticeable skull who is asking you why you are repeating my points. You, on the other hand, must be a person with an even more noticeable skull - a skull so prominent that it repeats what someone else said because you feel that it is your duty to tell them to listen to you repeating the points that they had made in the first place. And acknowledged having made in the first place.

What are you? Retarded...? I mean seriously, Simon.

Skyler said...

Montana wrote:

"All activism is, in a sense, an act of faith Christy."

Exactly. That's why it shouldn't be given any credence whatsoever. It is an act of faith with the intent of overturning a system that is the by-product of the most prosperous society ever to exist in the history of mankind. Excuse me if I demand a lot more than the "faith" of a bunch of socialists, dictators and other denizens of the UN admiration society before I endanger my future and the future of my family by dismantling our system.

And yes, the low flow toilet is a perfect analogy for the High Priest, Al Gore and his faith-based wealth redistribution plan.

jim said...

The denialism on climate change is starting to take on downright Moonie-like overtones. Funny how so very many of the right-wingers ALL jumped on this story like hungry dogs finding a sirloin steak - I wonder how many will have the guts to retract, since it's been shown to have zero real credibility?

Two words I'm noting are drastically lacking in this thread, ones I'd LOVE to see all these brilliant "debunkers" explain away.

Northwest Passage.

Go for it, geniuses ... tell me how exactly Gore pulled that one off.

Oh ... & all that melting polar ice is now liberating a seriously enormous quantity of primeval methane. You can kid yourselves to your heart's content about how innocuous you think CO2 is - once enough of that arctic methane gets into the atmosphere, the previous climate crisis (the one those pot-smoking Marxists, the Pentagon, called the most pressing & dangerous security issue of the 21st Century) is going to seem like a picnic.

Enjoy your ride on the fail-train.

montana urban legend said...

Skyler, your activism here against Gore, toilets, socialists, etc., gives me the utmost faith in your "system", whatever that is.

Now make sure to go finish off that bottle in the foreground of your picture lest someone catches you later re-filling it with loads of Jim Beam.

M. Simon said...

Northwest Passage

Temporary change in ocean currents.

It has happened a few times in the 20th Century. Before the great increase in CO2 production.

Hector Owen said...

Montana, I didn't even mention you in my last post, and now you are wishing that my relatives would die of a dreaded disease. It might be time to step away from the keyboard. You have been at this over 12 hours, that's a full day's work and then some. Just turn in your time card. BTW: "uber-libertarian progressivism?" Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Skyler said...

Montana, it's really hard to take you seriously since you insist on calling people "retards" accusing them of being drunk and other and assundry insults.

You have no idea what you're talking about but you're enjoying pretending that you do and engaging your betters in dialog.

I don't like insults and I don't like you. If you ever find anything of substance to contribute no one would notice because you're too busy insulting people who have done you no wrong. Piss off.

montana urban legend said...

I wish your relatives no such thing, Hector. I just recognize that prescription medicine is something that nearly everyone will require at some point. May your relatives have unusually strong constitutions through their last days and never require anything. But if they should, I think it won't be bad that the FDA was there to offer some meager measure of oversight on what they would take.

In any event, you're right. I've done my deed and got my fill. It's about time. Thanks for the Talking Heads video. They rock. I'll enjoy it.

Later and best wishes -

Skyler said...

Jim,

I, for one, started in this thread by noting that this report was just as dubious as what it was attempting to debunk.

The Pentagon is hardly free of political influence. Duh. I say this as someone who has many friends in the past 23 years working in the pentagon.

montana urban legend said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dogwood said...

once enough of that arctic methane gets into the atmosphere

The U.S. Weathe Bureau reported:

“The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot,” according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from US Consul Ifft, at Bergen, Norway. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone.

“Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.”

That was in 1922.

If all of that Arctic methane didn't fry the planet 100 years ago when the ice disappeared, it is not likely to happen this time either.

Besides, methane only comprises .00017% of the atmosphere, so I'm not too worried about a little bit more being added to the system, even though methane is a stronger GHG than CO2, but not as strong as water vapor.

The climate is governed by positive and negative feedback loops that keep the system in relative balance most of the time, which is why the planet is habitable. Without both negative and positive feedbacks, we would either be ice cubes or cinders, rather than flesh and blood.

Simon said...

jim said...
"Two words I'm noting are drastically lacking in this thread, ones I'd LOVE to see all these brilliant 'debunkers' explain away. Northwest Passage."

I'm neither a debunker nor brilliant, but would suggest one word drastically lacking in your comment: Boring. Assuming arguendo that this is a result of climate change, you're back to begging the question, because rising temperature isn't the issue. Causation is the issue, as even MUL understands.

Skyler said...
"Montana, it's really hard to take you seriously since you insist on calling people "retards" accusing them of being drunk and other and sdsundry insults."

It's starting to look like engagement with him is as futile as engaging with Freder, isn't it? Maybe Freder will get some company on that ignore list in due course.

montana urban legend said...

Simon, engaging people doesn't mean ripping off their points as your own so that you can say that they didn't understand what you had to say. But perhaps you believe it does. And perhaps you actually find that to be a means of "engaging" someone intellectually. But that doesn't make it so... as cute as you are for holding to such dialectical approaches.

Hector Owen said...

Darn it, Montana, I thought you were going to bed. Don't you see that what you are doing by saying goodnight, and then coming back for several more posts, just shows that your word carries no weight? When you say that you are going to do something, and then you do something else instead, you diminish any reason that anyone might have to pay attention to you. It's clear that you want attention, or you would not have put up so many posts on this thread. But the attention you are getting is negative.

Also, using the word "dialectical" is a tell. Only Marxists use that word (because it is meaningless), so that's a give-away. It says that you are not here to talk about anything but politics, since that's all that Marxists talk about, especially when they say they are talking about science.

I seem to be feeling particularly grandfatherly tonight. [Buddy Ebsen icon goes here.]The topic of the original post is worthy of at least this many pixels worth of discussion; but we don't seem to have gotten to it. Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

blake said...

Hector--

That's an interesting point: The right talks about how the left believes in the "perfectible" human and so their philosophies don't account for how people actually are versus how they'd like them to be.

Lysenko's theories (fantasies, really) fit that perfectly.

Hector Owen said...

Funny you should mention that, blake; I had just been looking at an old post of mine where I quoted this Berthold Brecht poem:

The Solution

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

Which relates to the New Soviet Man: "selfless, learned, healthy and enthusiastic in spreading the socialist Revolution." Wasn't Gore's big speech on Thursday all about that? The current bunch of people that we have are just awful. Who else ran re-education c/a/m/p/s programs, to improve the people? Mao and Pol Pot come to mind at once; you can probably think of a couple more.

This also connects with the idea that the conservative worldview is basically tragic: human beings are imperfect and do the best they can; while the "liberal/progressive" worldview is something else, David Mamet calls it "perfectionist," but the point is that if your goal is perfection, you will never be satisfied, or even content enough to relax for a few minutes. And if other people are supervising your efforts to achieve perfection, won't they always have higher goals for you to aspire to? Me, I aspire to grow old like the fellow in that Hoagy Carmichael song, "Rockin' Chair." Pass me that gin, son. That's a ways down the road, yet.

Luckyeldson said...

Hey, montana, you still up??

You know, my brother used to pull this shit.

He'd go to San Berdoo, score some shards, get tweeked, and he would be up talkin' trash on Althouse for 3 days straight.

Then he'd crash in his trailer for a couple of days.  He'd drag his ass out of bed, do some powder this time, and, bang! back in the saddle.

You gotta to be CRAZY to mix that shit.  Look what happened to him!

Dude, I hope you're not tweeking like my brother, 'cause if you don't sleep or work, you're, like, owned, even if you pretend to be some intellectual on the internet.

And what the hell you do you do for a living, anyways?

None of my family are real big on work.  But you gotta sleep sometime!

Look, you were talking shit on abortions almost all night, and then you were up 3 hours later yapping all day.

Now you're talking this crap all night. WTF??

The big advantage my brother had is that people could actually READ what he wrote.  They were pretty sorry, but they could read it, no problemo.

But you're like one of those monkeys typing the works of Shakespeare.  Except it's, like, leftie political crap everybody knows.

Doesn't take a real smart monkey to write that.

The big advantage of typing Shakespeare is that even Uncle Bob in Cabezon could understand some of it.  The shit you write only makes sense if...

Hell! it makes no sense at all!  You write like some dramatard who figured out how to use a thesaurus.  But you only use words of 9 syllables. All you do is take up space that says, "Look at me!  Love me for being an obnoxious asshole!  Gimmie respect, even though I come on dissing everybody in sight." Like, how sick is that?

And I don't buy that crap about you having a science education.

Everything you write, a gopher in a blood lab in Palmdale could dream up.

Look, if you're such a fucking scientist, like, link to a science article once in a while!  That's why Al Gore invented the internet.

Dude, stop tweeking out for a while. Nobody gets the point!

In the meantime, like, wake me when it's over.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

It's quite sad that Althouse and many of the Althouse commenters lack the ability to read critically. To begin with, it should be noted that Monckton is not a climatologist and, in fact, has no significant scientific education. (He is a journalist.) As a second point, Althouse should have noted that Monckton's paper is not peer-reviewed. As a third point, Althouse should have mentioned that Monckton is and has been involved in British politics. (Although it should be noted that Monckton's claim that he is "a member of the Upper House of the United Kingdom legislature" is a lie.)

Monckton appears to have a very casual attitude towards the truth. For example, there is this from The Scotsman (January 24, 2007):

A Scottish aristocrat who claimed he was forced to sell his ancestral pile after losing a fortune on a $1 million puzzle has admitted that he invented the story to boost sales.

Christopher Monckton, the third Viscount of Brenchley, owned up to the duplicity yesterday as he launched a new version of the world's toughest jigsaw.


Then there is this (amusing) exchange of emails between Monckton and George Monbiot:

Email from George Monbiot to Lord Monckton, 30th August 2007.

Dear Lord Monckton,

I hope this finds you well. I am puzzled to hear that someone who identifies himself as you has been claiming on Wikipedia that the Guardian has paid you £50,000 in damages as a result of an article I wrote. Could you please let me know whether or not it was you who made this claim, and if so what the meaning of it is.

Yours Sincerely, George Monbiot

Email from Lord Monckton to George Monbiot, 30th August 2007.

I’ve been trying to get Wikipedia to take down the biog. page about me. People on both sides of the debate have used it as a playground, much to my detriment. I don’t warrant the accuracy of anything on that page unless it’s independently verified elsewhere. - M of B

Email from George Monbiot to Lord Monckton, 31st August 2007.

Dear Lord Monckton,

many thanks for your reply. Unfortunately you have not answered my question. Was it you who made the claim that the Guardian has paid you £50,000 in damages as a result of an article I wrote?

Thank you,

Yours Sincerely,

George Monbiot

Email from Lord Monckton to George Monbiot, 31st August 2007.

No. And I am puzzled - the Wikipedia page shows no reference to this. - M of B

Email from George Monbiot to Lord Monckton, 31st August 2007.

Dear Lord Monckton,

thank you for answering me. There is no puzzle, in that the page has now been edited to remove this misinformation. You say you did not make the claim on Wikipedia that the Guardian has paid you £50,000 in damages as a result of an article I wrote. Could you then explain how this claim originated from a message sent from your email address? Was someone else using your email?

Yours Sincerely, George Monbiot

Email from Lord Monckton to George Monbiot, 31st August 2007.

We’re on a system with several tens of thousands of people on it. I’m doing my best to get the whole page taken down so that there’s no more nonsense. - M of B

Email from George Monbiot to Lord Monckton, 31st August 2007.

Thanks for letting me know, but I’m still confused. What system are you referring to? Who else shares your email address?

Thank you, George Monbiot

Email from George Monbiot to Lord Monckton, 3rd September 2007.

Dear Lord Monckton,

I am still puzzled as to how the claim I have mentioned was transmitted to Wikipedia from your email address. Please help me to clear up this confusion. Might you have made the claim in error?

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely, George Monbiot

Email from George Monbiot to Lord Monckton, 26th September 2007.

Dear Lord Monckton,

I am told that you have asked the Guardian to instruct me to desist from asking you further questions, on the grounds of your grave ill-health. While I am sorry to hear how ill you are, I do not understand why your health permits you to send me evasive answers to my question, but not to send me a straight answer. Nor do I understand why, if you are unable to send me a simple explanation of how the claim in question was transmitted from your email address to the Wikipedia page, you are able to threaten, again, to sue the Guardian for libel and to demand that it publish a long article, which you propose to write.

I am not asking much of you in terms of effort: I am sure that an explanation of one or two sentences would clear the matter up. But unless you are able to provide one, I feel I have no choice but to conclude that you fabricated a claim on your Wikipedia page. I thought I should give you one last chance to produce a convincing refutation of this hypothesis.

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,

George Monbiot


Clearly Monckton is willing to prevaricate in the service of self-interest. Critical thinkers will take this and other considerations (such as the fact that Monckton is not a scientist) into account in assessing Monckton's work. Unfortunately Althouse failed to do so in this instance, and in context, Althouse's conclusion is hilariously wrong-headed:

Yet if we see that scientists don't maintain scientific values, the basis for their influence in politics is, ironically, destroyed. Even if you want to abandon ethics and sell out for what you see as the greater good, it won't even work.

Step back from the precipice, scientists! We need you. We have enough politicians.


Professor Althouse, perhaps you should make an effort to distinguish between the work of scientists and that of politicians before you write your next lecture on the subject.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

roger j. wrote:

A totally unrelated point, but since I cast some aspersions in Montana's direction thinking he might be Cyrus, I was clearly in error, and apologize forthwith to Montana Urban Legend.

Hey Roger, have you been able to connect Montana Urban Legend to Amanda Marcotte yet?

Seriously, it's sad to see that you're still making these remarkably silly assumptions about the "secret identities" of commenters. It seems like a very long time ago, but I vaguely remember when a commenter named "roger" made intelligent, substantive comments. What happened to that commenter and how can we get him back?

On a positive note, it's flattering to see that you (and other Althouse commenters) are still thinking and talking about me. It's nice to be remembered. Cheers.

Kev said...

Cyrus said:
Professor Althouse, perhaps you should make an effort to distinguish between the work of scientists and that of politicians before you write your next lecture on the subject.

Works for me. That means we can eliminate the work of Al Gore from this discussion as well, correct?

And somebody way upthread said:
I proportion how seriously I take the AGW crowd to how seriously they take themselves in terms of revealed preference.

Precisely. Instapundit said it best: "I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who tell me it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis."

Luckyeldson said...

Sweet Jaysus!  Cyrus Pinkerton shows up, right on cue!  Dudette, you are SO effing dumb.

Now, some people have been wondering if montana is a sock puppet for that Amanda Marcotte.  Who knows?

Who gives a shit.  Except it's kinda nice to have an idea who is behind these creeps.  I mean, it's pretty clear to a lot of people Cyrus here is really Amanda.  And Cyrus is going on about what a scumbag Lord Motard of Blechface is, so's we shouldn't believe a word ol' Lord Motard says, right?

Only problem is if Cyrus here = Mandy the Moron, well sweet Mandy has her own troubles about lying, too.

You might check out the Wikipedia article about Mandy.  Cyrus uses info from the internet to take down Lord Motard, so maybe she should watch out for a little turnabout on this deal.  You could look into this little flame about Mandy's stealing ideas and stuff.  Some people call that "plaigarism," but I'm not too big on lookin' in on other people's fights, especially this retard-a-thon.

Anyways, you can see why Cyrus is so anxious to deny he's really Mandy the Moron.  Who wouldn't?

So, if Mandy lies and steals stuff, why should you believe anything her dirty sock says?

Not that too many people do already.  Just sayin'.

I know Cyrus/Mandy here will come back with something about how he didn't know we cared, or some such crap.

Mandy has always been an attention skank.

Hey, Cyrus/Mandy, I don't give a shit about you, except I don't like assclowns, and you're Exhibit 'A.'

montana urban legend said...

Rise and shine.

di·a·lec·tic (d-lktk)
n.
1. The art or practice of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments.
2.
a. The process especially associated with Hegel of arriving at the truth by stating a thesis, developing a contradictory antithesis, and combining and resolving them into a coherent synthesis.
b. Hegel's critical method for the investigation of this process.
3.
a. The Marxian process of change through the conflict of opposing forces, whereby a given contradiction is characterized by a primary and a secondary aspect, the secondary succumbing to the primary, which is then transformed into an aspect of a new contradiction. Often used in the plural with a singular or plural verb.
b. The Marxian critique of this process.
4. dialectics (used with a sing. verb) A method of argument or exposition that systematically weighs contradictory facts or ideas with a view to the resolution of their real or apparent contradictions.
5. The contradiction between two conflicting forces viewed as the determining factor in their continuing interaction.


Don't you know that only radical feminazis are into policing language Hector? I've never heard that word from where you say it should have come from. And that Hegel, he was such a lysenkoist.

Hey, I thought the last post was fine. You don't have to tell me what I was here to do. Basically, only two or three others with an understanding of science showed up. Since the whole post was about the role of science in shaping public opinion, one might think that their presence and that interaction could have been valuable. I think it was. Read it. Go ahead, I dare you. Or don't and just be loud, thereby diminishing any credibility that you would have sought in contributing to the thread.

As for afterwards, I think I had a legitimate complaint in having straw men thrown at me - and then another, whose points I had acknowledged, became completely unhinged. But whatever, at that point, it was late. If someone says they're going to do something, I didn't realize you held a stopwatch out and said "RIGHT NOW!" Hell, it's my bedtime, dammit!

It's a new day. The thread has disintegrated. Even more unhinged types have shown up. If lurker2209 or crimso come back, then there might be something to continue discussing. And if Dogwood and Skyler want to go over more inane modeling details, that's fine too - at least it's topical. Or even the "smart" (i.e. m.) simon. Or even blake seems to catch a few things here or there. But I doubt that any of that's going to happen. I'm going to assume that politics, intrigue and identity issues will rule the board from here on out. And you kids don't need me for that!

It appears there's some rather copious Althouse-blog baggage hanging around here that I'd have to step around. Including someone with some very "Jerry Springer-esque" family issues to go on about. Wow... best of luck. Anyways, if a matter of science is raised, let me know. But counseling is not my bag, gentlemen.

Again, good luck!

Christy said...

Dogwood, thanks for sharing that 1922 report on the Arctic. I confess I got the giggles trying to figure out exactly where the "eastern Arctic" would be. Yes, I know, in the Eastern Hemisphere, but it was a lot more fun going east in circles in my head.

Anybody read much about the Franklin expedition of 1845 to find the Northwest Passage? Basically they put a politically connected idiot in charge of a scientific expedition instead of an Irishman of considerable experience but of humble birth. Everyone died. Maybe would have anyway. All I'm saying is that I'm not signing on to any expeditions organized by the kewl kids.

Luckyeldson said...

Shee-it!  Not only can montana wax job here use a thesaurus, but she's learned to look stuff up in a dictionary too!  She looks all her sciencey info up in Wikipedia.  It's cool now she's got the whole deal going.

Hey! she's told us all about Karl Marx!  Thanks!  We don't get much of that here in Palmdale.

Montana wax job oughta look up that old Frog, Pascal, though.  He says the same crap about Christianity as wax job says about global warming.  Even if you're not sure it's true, you gotta act like it is, 'cause there's a 50-50 chance your ass gets fried if you don't Believe it!

But if you, like Habeeb the whole deal, then you got much better odds.  A no-brainer, retards!

And hey, there's even half a paragraph in that last one that montana put up you can, like, read!  Good job, Amanda Wenk!

You know how Angelina Jolie has those puffy lips 'cause she got shots of that collagen crap?  Well, montana wax job here uses some kinda word collagen to make her writing all puffy and stuff.

Trouble is, I'd rather look at Angelina Jolie's lips than wax job's writing.

Some things you want puffy.

Some things you want tight, if you get my drift.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Kev wrote:

That means we can eliminate the work of Al Gore from this discussion as well, correct?

Al Gore isn't mentioned in Althouse's blog entry. However, if Althouse had presented an article by Gore as the work of a scientist, I certainly would have chided her.

Instapundit said it best...

Instapundit never says anything best. Glenn Reynolds barely writes and rarely has an intelligent observation. His understanding of science is unbelievably poor, and his ability to think logically is weak. I'm certainly not impressed by any references to Instapundit.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

luckyeldson babbles:

I mean, it's pretty clear to a lot of people Cyrus here is really Amanda.

Such as ...? Come on, fess up, who are your buddies at the ward? I'll arrange for you to get an extra plate of jello tonight if you tell me the names of a few of your mentally deficient mates.

Hey, Cyrus/Mandy, I don't give a shit about you, except I don't like assclowns, and you're Exhibit 'A.'

Speaking of "assclowns," did anyone ever tell you how incredibly clever you are for posting as "luckyeldson" as a way of mocking and annoying the commenter "Luckyoldson?" Yeah, I didn't think so. But out of curiousity, how long did it take you to come up with such an intelligent and hilarious name? Days? Weeks?

In any case, thanks for the treat of your "humor." I suggest you keep it a rare treat--the rarer, the better.

Sofa King said...

Freder really ought to know better than to open his big fat mouth on any science topic ever again, after so thoroughly beclowning himself on that light bulb thread.

It wasn't just that he made a mistake. It wasn't even just that he betrayed an astounding ignorance of the most fundamental laws of the physical universe and failed to understand the simple corrections issued by those who know more than he does. It was that he gave his game away by using that same, contemptuous, know-it-all attitude, belittling the people trying to help him understand and acting like a pretentious twit because people dared question his correctness, even though he was, after all, completely wrong.

mcg said...

An update to the APS controversy:

9 July 2008

The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Carie, Rannoch, PH17 2QJ, UK
monckton@mail.com

Arthur Bienenstock, Esq., Ph.D.,
President, American Physical Society,
Wallenberg Hall, 450 Serra Mall, Bldg 160,
Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA 94305.

By email to artieb@slac.stanford.edu

Dear Dr. Bienenstock,

Physics and Society

The editors of Physics and Society, a newsletter of the American Physical Society, invited me to submit a paper for their July 2008 edition explaining why I considered that the warming that might be expected from anthropogenic enrichment of the atmosphere with carbon dioxide might be significantly less than the IPCC imagines.

I very much appreciated this courteous offer, and submitted a paper. The commissioning editor referred it to his colleague, who subjected it to a thorough and competent scientific review. I was delighted to accede to all of the reviewer's requests for revision (see the attached reconciliation sheet). Most revisions were intended to clarify for physicists who were not climatologists the method by which the IPCC evaluates climate sensitivity - a method which the IPCC does not itself clearly or fully explain. The paper was duly published, immediately after a paper by other authors setting out the IPCC's viewpoint. Some days later, however, without my knowledge or consent, the following appeared, in red, above the text of my paper as published on the website of Physics and Society:

"The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions."

This seems discourteous. I had been invited to submit the paper; I had submitted it; an eminent Professor of Physics had then scientifically reviewed it in meticulous detail; I had revised it at all points requested, and in the manner requested; the editors had accepted and published the reviewed and revised draft (some 3000 words longer than the original) and I had expended considerable labor, without having been offered or having requested any honorarium.

Please either remove the offending red-flag text at once or let me have the name and qualifications of the member of the Council or advisor to it who considered my paper before the Council ordered the offending text to be posted above my paper; a copy of this rapporteur's findings and ratio decidendi; the date of the Council meeting at which the findings were presented; a copy of the minutes of the discussion; and a copy of the text of the Council's decision, together with the names of those present at the meeting. If the Council has not scientifically evaluated or formally considered my paper, may I ask with what credible scientific justification, and on whose authority, the offending text asserts primo, that the paper had not been scientifically reviewed when it had; secundo, that its conclusions disagree with what is said (on no
evidence) to be the "overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community"; and, tertio, that "The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions"? Which of my conclusions does the Council disagree with, and on what scientific grounds (if any)?

Having regard to the circumstances, surely the Council owes me an apology?

Yours truly,
THE VISCOUNT MONCKTON OF BRENCHLEY

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

mcg,

Thank you for posting the letter from Monckton--it's absolutely hilarious.

Monckton doesn't have a clue, apparently. Physics and Society is a newsletter, not a journal. Monckton was invited to write an article for the newsletter, not a paper for a journal. Clearly he doesn't understand the difference.

Articles are not peer-reviewed. Also, honorariums are not offered for articles. Do you think Monckton would be satisfied if "the Council" issued an expression of regret regarding Monckton's gross ignorance?

Incidentally, having read Monckton's article today, I've identified numerous self-consistency errors in the development of his argument. Unfortunately for Monckton, these errors entirely undermine the credibility of his argument and his quantitative claims. In other words, his analysis is pure rubbish.

I eagerly await Monckton's request for an apology.

Luckyeldson said...

I've identified numerous self-consistency errors in the development of his argument.

OK, Mandy, I'll bite. We've got Lord Motard's paper. Just what, in detail, are the errors you found? Lotsa room for gobeldygook in that one, if you ask me.

You can lay 'em out for us. We got all the time in the world, just like you seem to. And Althouse's electrons are free.

So, you go girl! We're all a-waitin'.

And don't tell me I won't understand, 'cause I understand Lord Motard's argument just fine.

P.S.--I think he's full of shit, but you're the one that's called him out on it, so it's your turn.

Titan said...

Lord Monkton is a prestigious scientist, and I take his analysis on this subject very seriously.

Oh...
Wait....

He's a tabloid reporter without a science degree. :-(

Ann says "Step back from the precipice, scientists! We need you. We have enough politicians." We also have enough tabloid reporters, and we definitely have more than enough reporters who think they know more than they do.

Ann Althouse said...

Titan, I have plenty of posts that lean on journalists to be journalists. I want journalists to be journalists and scientists to be scientists.

And I will be a blogger, being a blogger.

Titan said...

Ann,

Over the past few days this guy has been dismissed as a crank. The APA issued a formal statement that the Lord's paper was not peer reviewed, and was published as a journalism piece, not a scientific piece. The APA reiterated their agreement on the man-made causes of climate change. Bloggers have expounded upon the Lord's mistakes. Here are a few easy links.

Of course, the deflating of the story is never as interesting as the initial deadline. It's your blog, and you can post what you want (duh), but I think it would be responsible to give the exposure of this tabloid journalist the same exposure you gave to the initial story. As it is, readers are left with a false impression.

(Of course, my complaint is a complaint about Drudge as much as a complaint about Althouse. He was the one that really sent this item around the blogs.)

Titan said...

Ack. I meant "initial headline", of course.

blake said...

Bloggers have expounded upon the Lord's mistakes. Here are a few easy links.

All to peer-reviewed science blogs, no doubt.

Titan said...

blake,

At least some of these people have, uh, science degrees. I don't think there will be any peer-reviewed papers responding to this because it generally isn't worth responding to. Even if there were, these peer-reviewed papers would not be available for some time. (Can't ask me to link to something that couldn't possibly exist.)

Science is open to criticism, and peer reviewed research in excellent journals is the gold standard. This criticism ain't it.

I encourage you to read some of the ScienceBlogs posts. Some of them point out things like math errors, which you can check for yourself - science degree or not.

What can be said that the APS release doesn't already say?

"The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions."

Luckyeldson said...

Well, I haven't seen anything yet from Mandy.  No surprise there, eh kids?  But Titan actually is on to somthing, and he doesn't seem like one of Mandy's socks.  This thread is about the only one that has, like, facts in it—interesting ones—about the crap in Lord Motard's "paper."

Looks like Motard built a house of cards.  But, hey, as Titan says, read the thread for yourself! My problem is that BS artists like Mandy the Moron come on trying to bait people, pretending they are something bigger than they are, and generally trying to masturbate their ego while trying to make the commenters around here look like rubes.  What is the point? It's stupid. Mandy herself ends up looking more like a rube than ever.

Not the first time.  Remember Mandy's "PhD in Physics"?  I laughed my ass off.

But wait, there's more.  Lord Motard may be a phoney.  Mandy is for sure a phoney.  Titan puts up the usual consensus crap, but there are a few factoids and some actual thinking buried in all the Itchy and Scratchy.

Is this guy a phoney?  I dunno.  No data to back up what he says.  What should a poor old guy in the desert think?

I'll tell you what I think:

All the hacks and politicians and rabble-rousers should go fuck themselves.  I get real suspicious of organized campaigns and turning this into a religion.  I don't care how many degrees somebody has.  Hell, I have an advanced degree.  And unlike Mandy, I actually understand calculus and math enough, so I can read Lord Motard's crap.

Professor Althouse has nailed this one:  We have enough politicians. We have journalists. We have scientists, too.  I just don't want them to all be the same people.  And I sure as hell don't want them to moonlight as high priests for the Mystic Worshippers of the Greenhouse God of the North.

blake said...

Science is open to criticism, and peer reviewed research in excellent journals is the gold standard. This criticism ain't it.

Pitch it to someone else. The whole thing is sham and a scam, and anyone who was alive the last seven times this has happened who fell for it again needs to re-examine whether their appreciation of science is actually scientific in nature.