Thursday, January 21, 2010

Revisiting Global Warming, Part 1

My dad posted a link to a local San Diego news show debunking the global warming myth. I’ve watched part 1…here’s my initial thoughts.

The first three minutes were spent telling us just how terrible – and expensive – it would be if we believe all this global warming nonsense and try to act on it, with an emphasis on new taxes and new spending. Well, that’s undeniably true – but says nothing about the truth or falsity of anthropogenic global warming. It appeared to be a classic argument from consequences fallacy – claiming that if something were true, it would lead to bad results, so it must not be true. More charitably, it might instead have been an attempt to show the importance of the issue by showing the consequences if we wrongly take action. Either way, it is completely useless for determining the truth or falsity of the proposition.

The show then presented six scientists who made various statements about the errors in the science that claims to show evidence of man-made global warming. Two of them didn’t actually make any researchable claims, simply stating that the other side’s science was faulty. The other four said things that can be examined, though. Let's look at just the first one.

Dr. Craig Idso noted that, in that famous graph of CO2 to temperature over the last 650,000 years, the level of CO2 actually lags the rise in temperature. That would seem to disprove the cause-and-effect relationship, as the purported cause, CO2, comes after the effect, the higher temperatures.

The problem is that things are more complicated than that. According to several other scientists, as noted here, historically warming trends have started from cyclic orbital variations that cause the Earth to receive more or less sunlight. When we get more, things warm up. This causes the oceans to release CO2, hence the lagging rise in that gas. However, that increased CO2 level then serves to amplify the warming trend, as well as spreading that trend planet-wide rather than concentrating it at the poles.

And obvious even to me, a non-scientist – that long-term graph didn’t show the effects of a man-made increase in CO2 because there hasn’t been one before. On a 650,000 year timescale, the ability of man to dramatically affect CO2 levels is pretty concentrated on the far right end of the timeline – the CO2 levels there looked significantly higher than anything seen before. So stating that the natural pattern has always been temperature first, then CO2, doesn’t do anything to disprove AGW, which has never before been possible.

So what does this prove? Not a durned thing. Dr. Idso demonstrated that the graph in An Inconvenient Truth oversimplified the situation, leading to the wrong conclusion. The several scientists referenced in the link above showed that Dr. Idso ALSO oversimplified the situation, leading to the wrong conclusion, and thus returning to Gore’s conclusion. It’s possible that there is yet another level of complexity that would invalidate that one. And another beyond that...

All this really shows is that this stuff is complicated. And for this reason, I'm not going through the other claims to try and counter them - I am pretty certain that such counters are out there on the web, and it wouldn't take any more time to find them than the two minutes it took me to find this one. But I’m not qualified to sort out all the conflicting claims. Neither is Arianna Huffington, nor Glenn Beck. Nor is John Coleman, the host of the video. And since I know pretty much everyone who reads this blog, I can state with fair assurance – neither are you. That’s why, as I discussed in an earlier post, I find it necessary to use other means to make my judgment on this issue.

I've got more to say on this, specifically regarding the financial factors on both sides. But it'll probably be several days before I get that one up. If you want to criticize Gore or the scientific establishment for their self-serving attempts to enrich themselves by promoting this, please wait for that post - but for anything else related to AGW, feel free to comment on this one.


Anonymous said...

Just for future reference


Anonymous said...

And another

Anonymous said...

Mark - Before I go any further on this, I see your first blog post on this was in July and it occurs to me that you may not have really looked at the more recent developments.

Follow this link, and follow the links in that article. Read some of the emails. Yes, this article is on a right-wing site, but the facts are even less disputed now. There is still dispute about how the files got out: Were they “stolen by a hacker” or “leaked by an inside whistle blower”. Either way, they seem to show a lot of lying by your side.

If you adhere to your statement below, you may change your position.

“No, the real convincer for me is how often, and how badly the opposition has to lie to try to create doubts in public opinion. If they really had facts on their side, they'd use them. Apparently, they don't.”

BobApril said...

Dad - I am aware of the controversy about those e-mails, but have not looked at them in detail. I will - when time permits - look at your links and do a little more research. My initial impression when it first came out, though, was that every conservative pundit referred to the same four e-mails...and that on a little closer analysis, those e-mails weren't all that damning after all. But give me some time with that part.

At any rate, even if they do show a conspiracy of lies...that would merely provide parity with the AGW-denialists, which would leave me with very little to choose from.

At any rate, since you're giving me homework, here's some for you showing some of the lies that concerned me back in July.

Anonymous said...

It's worse than I thought! You're that guy on the internet that's WRONG!

Just a couple of comments about the links you left for me. The are both from very biased reporters, but that does not in itself make them wrong. To prove my bias claim, the Washington (Com) Post writer's bio says:

Chris Mooney is the author of "The Republican War on Science" and co-author of the forthcoming "Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future."
(Subtitled "Illiterate Repubs will kill all us smart people”)

The other link from Scienceblogs has one of the most atrocious, blatant intentionally misleading statements I’ve seen in a while.

The section of the document on what it calls "contrarian theories" to explain the rise in global temperatures as resulting from something other than human activity is particularly interesting. For example, in considering the argument that sunspots is the real cause, the document says:
Direct measures of the intensity of solar radiation over the past 15 years indicate a maximum variability of less than 0.1%, sufficient to account for no more than 0.1DC temperature change. This period of direct measurement included one complete 11 year sun spot cycle, which allowed the development of a correlation between solar intensity and the fraction of the Sun's surface covered by sun spots. Applying this correlation to sun spot data for the past 120 years indicates a maximum variability on solar intensity of 0.1%, corresponding to a maximum temperature change of0.1DC, one-fifth of the temperature change observed during that period.
If solar variability has accounted for 0.1DC temperature increase in the last 120 years, it
is an interesting finding, but it does not allay concerns about future warming which could
result from greenhouse gas emissions. Whatever contribution solar variability makes to climate change should be additive to the effect of greenhouse gas emissions.

The section of that document called “contrarian theories” is a table format showing both sides of various arguments. The left column is labeled “Contraian Theory” and the right column is “Counter-Arguments. “ It was clearly presented as this is one sides argument and the others sides response. Your guy takes a quote from the text of “this is Mark’s argument against what Mike said” and presents it as “here is that lying bastard Mike admitting in his own internal document that his argument is wrong”.

Your claim that if your side is lying, it just gets them even with my side seems a little, um, hardheaded? If your side has been lying too (for years) maybe it's time to choose again with a new perspective.

I ( or "my side") is not saying GW does not exist or even that greenhouse effect doesn’t play a part. Just that manmade CO2 plays a very small part, and it makes no sense to trash our way of life to send money to Al and the UN. Oh and that what you have been presenting as "settled science" ain't either.

I've got some other replies to your original post but I'll put them in another post

Anonymous said...

This is one small example of the financial and political component of AGW.

Anonymous said...

UN wrongly linked global warming to natural disasters

(and refused to retract claims when errors were exposed.)

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark,

You indicated you like science sites and I just came across this one today. On their home page, they have what looks to be both pro and con AGW stories. The one headlined "Climategate Redux" seems to be "my side" and they mention some things I had not seen before: Did you know the head of the IPCC is an economist with no education in climate, and he wants to carbon tax meat to help AGW?

I hope to get time tomorrow to write my own thoughts on your post, but since you have not replied to any more of my links, I'm starting to worry again. Are you still reading my comments?

BobApril said...

Yep, still reading, but work has been a bear lately. I haven't had time to do the research I need to in order to respond reasonably, or even actually read the links you provided. I still plan to - but working 10 hr days, 6-day weeks, plus 2 hrs a day commute time, plus still trying to have a little time to eat, sleep, and maybe talk to Rita doesn't leave much for reading. Especially since I feel a need to work a little harder on my responses to you than I do to the weak and worthless opponents I find on the gay rights issues. (I argue with them as a form of relaxation - their arguments are easy to destroy, though that doesn't keep them from repeating them ad nauseum.

I did try to read Free Republic (while holding my nose) but the site was down. Will try again eventually. I'll hate not being able to get extra info from the comments, though - the regular commenters on Ed Brayton's blog account for at least 50% of the value of the site.

Anonymous said...

This is to directly address your original post here.

Your first paragraph is disingenuous and simply sets up a straw man for you to knock down. The first 3 minutes makes no attempt to claim AGW is untrue because it’s expensive. Your statement that it’s “completely useless for determining the truth or falsity of the proposition” suggests that it was trying to prove the proposition and failed. It was not. It was simply an introduction that discusses the stakes and the points under discussion.

To explain the lag, you say “When we get more, things warm up. This causes the oceans to release CO2, hence the lagging rise in that gas. However, that increased CO2 level then serves to amplify the warming trend…”

To boil down the argument on the link you provided, for why CO2 causes global warming 800 years before the CO2 is there:

Way back when, it got hotter, maybe because of the sun or something.

That heat caused CO2 to be released from the oceans, and that CO2 causes the earth to warm more.

As the earth continues to warm, more CO2 is released and that’s why we see the 800 year lag.

How does it reverse? Do the oceans run out of CO2? If that happens how does the CO2 continue to go up for 800 years after it starts cooling? Cause AND effect? Where is the proof of the initial claim that CO2 causes GW?

Your statement below seems like a logical fallacy.
“And obvious even to me, a non-scientist – that long-term graph didn’t show the effects of a man-made increase in CO2 because there hasn’t been one before. On a 650,000 year timescale, the ability of man to dramatically affect CO2 levels is pretty concentrated on the far right end of the timeline – the CO2 levels there looked significantly higher than anything seen before. So stating that the natural pattern has always been temperature first, then CO2, doesn’t do anything to disprove AGW, which has never before been possible.”

You and Al use the 650,000 graph to prove CO2 caused global warming before man. But when it’s pointed out that CO2 lags temperature, suddenly it’s up to me to disprove that manmade CO2 will cause AGW in the future?

I said only that if natural CO2 didn’t cause GW before man, and when your chart is read correctly there’s no evidence that it does, then you are left with no evidence to support your claim that manmade CO2 is going to cause AGW in the future.

You then go on to state that both sides can always find another “expert” to counter any claim made, so it’s just too much for us dummies. I’ll freely grant that neither one of us has the background, time or interest to understand all of this crap, but I think we’re both pretty good at following logic, or the lack thereof. You point back to your earlier post that says, essentially, “My experts say their side is lying so I’ll believe them.”

That’s where I think your side is really starting to break down. Besides the lies exposed by the Climategate files, just the past few days have brought out several more.
The IPCC admitted they turned a speculative conversation into undisputable fact (and then transposed numbers to shave off 300 years) to claim millions of people would die because the Himalayan glaciers will melt in 25 years.
Next was their admission that the claims they made about the Amazon rain forests were without merit.
There is evidence that they dropped most of the cold temperature reporting stations, and then further manipulated the data to make it support their agenda.

Six months ago it was hard to argue against AGW because those driving the issue had successfully suppressed the opposition and refused to allow their findings to be tested. Today, it becomes harder to argue FOR AGW unless you’re just not paying attention.

Anonymous said...

When even ABC is writing negative articles about the IPCC, you know it's getting bad.

(OK, since this is translated from German, I'm not sure where it's originally from, but it gives a very good overview of several recent developments.)

Anonymous said...

Just another example of climate alarmism and scare mongering being passed off as “science”.

Anonymous said...

I know Pajamas Media is very right wing, but believe it or not, this article provided more context and was less biased than the other three I saw (all from UK sources.)

I don’t know much about John Christy mentioned in this article, but his title and resume seem impressive, and he agrees with me so he must be right.

Just to recap just a few of the “mistakes” that your “experts” have acknowledged since the Climategate files were exposed:

The story about the Himalayan glaciers melting in 25 years was not based on any scientific study, and there was a 300 year typo in there. It came from the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental advocacy group. Reference here and here

The story about AGW causing more natural disasters was actually refuted by the non peer reviewed paper we cited, but we simply omitted the parts that didn’t support our agenda. Link

The number of ground based temperature monitoring stations has been reduced (by 75%) to omit stations that showed cooling, and the stations that show warming are compromised by environmental factors (urban heat). More reliable space based readings have been thrown out of recent charts because they show cooling for the last 15 years. Link

At this point, there is more “proof” that Obama was not born in the USA than there is for AGW (I just added that ‘cause I know it fires you up.)

The bottom line for me is that it’s a scientific principal that a theory must be given up once it is disproven. For the last 15 years, the actual global temperatures have drastically differed from what the climate models had predicted. Instead of abandoning the theory, the warmists have kept changing their predictions and going to increasingly more ridiculous explanations for why we shouldn’t believe our lying eyes.

I’m done for now because we got another 5 inches of global warming today, and I’ve got to shovel it off the driveway again...