Climate Change: Countering the Contrarians

Scientific American talks evidence, digging into seven arguments against the reality of climate change that, if not the most frequently-cited in general, are certainly the most frequently cited in BoingBoing comment threads. Personally, I've started trying to avoid the snarky, dismissive tone this piece veers a bit into...I just don't think it helps anything to make the honest skeptics feel mocked. (The oil lobbyists, the anti-semetic conspiracy nuts, etc. can be easily and freely mocked on an individual basis.) But that aside, the article is worth reading. Good answers given for:

Scientific American: Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense


  1. I just don’t think it helps anything to make the honest skeptics feel mocked.

    As an environmental scientist who does not smell of patchouli I agree in principle, but in fact I have found very few honest arguments presented by informed sceptics in these threads.

    I see a lot of sceptics playing semantic games, presenting false equivalences, and setting up straw men here. Easy to do in a comment thread.

    But I have also never met anyone who, when presented with the evidence in a comprehensive format (not a comment threads job), remains unconvinced of the obviousness of Global Warming.

    I believe most skeptics profit somehow from their dithering, though I am not sure how, becuase what other motive can there be for willful stupidity?

  2. In my industry (engineering), we have an idiom for when people who are never satisfied with a design continue to attack: lobbing grenades. You can spend all your energy fighting these loud, unsatisfiable folks. I can draw a parallel to what goes on in Wikipedia.

  3. If we just could figure out a way to harness the enormous efforts expended by climategate denialists at spinning this story, we’d have enough energy to power the grid.

    This is not going to end happily for those who have been shouting for so long that “the science is settled.” Somewhere, Charles Platt is laughing. Or perhaps he’s too mature for that.

      1. My point was that I think some environmental scientists (no reference to you, of course) have been blindsided by the recent revelations of what happened at CRU. Just a couple of weeks ago, climate change was a fashionable and sexy field. It was cool to tell people at parties that you were an environmental scientist, busy doing Science and Saving the Planet. If anyone disagreed, you could easily shoot them down by referring to the peer-reviewed literature. But then some jerk exposed a lot of dirty laundry to the whole world. Some environmental scientists might be tempted to deny, deny, deny, that this means anything at all. But it won’t work.

  4. Comment on Ms Koerth-Baker’s blog entry: looking at it quickly, I read it as “seven legit arguments against the reality of climate change” — which is NOT what the SciAm article is about — so I missed the fairly subtle point of “these are the seven bad arguments”. I was very confused for a while. I guess it did get me to read the article, but it made me wonder what was going on. I’m afraid this BoingBoing entry could too easily be read as an endorsement of these seven arguments.

  5. All together now!
    Republicans and “Libertarians”,
    Put your fingers in your ears, close your eyes very, very tight and repeat after me,
    “Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah! I’m not listening! I’m not listening! If I don’t believe it, it’s not true! I believe what I’m TOLD to believe by Big Energy! Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah!”
    Just keep saying that. Everything bad will go away, as long as you keep your fingers in your ears and your eyes closed very, very tight.

    1. Good metaphor, but it doesn’t work the way you think it works. It’s the AGW crowd that has its fingers in its ears now. A lot of what you thought was bedrock has turned out to be sand. Face facts. Don’t be a climategate denialist.

        1. Ah! You say I use playground tactics! Not like the person to whom I was replying!

          You don’t know me, so you don’t know whether I’m stupid or not. But surely, you don’t think Eric Raymond is stupid? I find his views persuasive. See

          P.S. Shout out to mdh. This comment is dedicated to you, too. Permit me to suggest I know what peer review is, and also allow me to suggest that such a process may be corrupted.

          1. You don’t know me, so you don’t know whether I’m stupid or not.

            I know you’re on a stupid crusade, and that is enough.

          2. In that case, I apologize. I note with gratitude your decision to delete only the link, rather than the entire comment itself. Curious readers may find Eric S. Raymond’s blog by means of their favorite search engines.

            If I may further reply to mdh’s contention that I am on a “stupid crusade,” I feel rather confident just now that any crusade upon which I may be seems less stupid with every passing hour.

          3. No, I didn’t say or suggest problems with either of your intelligences, nor about whether your opponent was using playground tactics as well. Your comment was just particularly unhelpful.

            I make no claim that climate change skeptics are stupid.

            The motives for this skepticism are, at some level, not terribly complicated. Ignoring a problem is one of the oldest human motivations, because if you can’t do anything about it, worrying about said problem is a waste of your precious time and energy. Claiming a problem is one you can ignore… well, it’s a lot less effort than fixing the problem.

            When collective effort is required, there are always, always those who will not contribute. This is true of humans and all other animals with social systems. Those who do not participate have a resource advantage, which is evolutionarily favored. The group responds to this by ostracizing or otherwise punishing those who do not reciprocate, to negate this advantage. Humans have gotten remarkably good at this, because it allows us to build society. Anti-vaccinators and global warming skeptics get the brunt of this mechanism.

            As for the evidence… I, personally, have been thoroughly convinced by the mountains of data in support of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis. Warming at historically very unusual levels, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at prehistorically extremely unusual levels, and rising human industry correlate closely over a 100-150 year period. This period is extremely short relative to the depth of most climate data we can collect. The fact that these three recent changes correlate to each other closely is remarkable from a statistical perspective.

            Given that our theoretical understanding (at the molecular level) of heat absorption and reflection leads us to predict these same relationships, I do not see a reasonable explanation for why we should ignore them, and assume that they are some sort of statistical artifact.

  6. Their so-called “consensus” on global warming is scientifically irrelevant because science isn’t settled by popularity.

    This one’s true. I get ever so tired of hearing about surveys of scientists, as if that had anything to do with it. Casting the debate in terms of opinions is merely a cover for discarding all the science before you even start.

    Anthropogenic CO2

    I am also tired of hearing about this one at the top of every story from both sides. The ‘anthropogenic’ bit is the weakest link in the whole bundle of research. We can prove conclusively that global warming is real and that CO2 is deeply involved. We will never have conclusive proof of who to blame for it, because that’s not something you can really prove scientifically. Can we please stop arguing about who to blame? It’s enough that it’s happening. Let’s move on to talking about what can be done (the science here is sadly sketchy – it’s not the big political question, so very little research has been done on the question of possible solutions).

    This is the point when the tree-hugging lunatics jump out and scream: How can you be denying climate change? People are killing the planet! Haven’t you read the IPCC report? Go and read this 1000 page document and you will understand!

    The IPCC report says: climate change real, CO2 impact real, human involvement “likely”, human involvement not relevant to impact of climate change.

    1. Human impact is a relevant issue. If it’s us, it’s an excellent argument for taxing our movement. If it isn’t, that argument loses teeth.

    2. “Casting the debate in terms of opinions is merely a cover for discarding all the science before you even start.”

      I mostly agree with you. But also I think that if the consensus regarding global warming is so so (pre-maturely) extreme that it prevents “critics” from doing research and getting it published, then we have a problem.

    3. I’ve been saying the same thing for years. Neither side seems to actually give a damn about the science, except as a vessel to push their desired social changes. Either overcorrect or ignore completely, there is no need for a reasoned response.

      1. I would like you to consider the AGW proponents who state that increased use of nuclear energy would reduce AGW. That’s not an “social change” most environmental groups have historically supported.

        1. Perhaps not, but it’s something they support with arguments predicated on the notion that AGW is inherently a bad thing, and that anything promising to reduce it will be worth the cost, no matter what. There are lots of great reasons for making more nuke plants, but

          Reading what literature exists on the subject, that’s hardly a foregone conclusion, but you’d never get that impression talking to your environmental groups. Like 2k’s badly-written strawman debate puts it, AGW == sky is falling. No need for rationale, it’s self-evident. Anything that might possibly reduce CO2 is worth a shot, no matter its effectiveness or cost. All that remains is to finally convince those few remaining naysayers, and we can all freak out appropriately.

  7. “blindsided by the recent revelations of what happened at CRU.”

    yeah. that’s what I figured. I’m not taking the bait.

    You are clearly peerless, so it is small wonder peer review is beyond your comprehension.

  8. Climate change is real, but that’s silly to even say. Of COURSE climates change. That’s pretty much all they do. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly – sometimes hotter, sometimes colder. Sometimes wetter or dryer. And that’s ok. We shouldn’t be freaking out about it. Preparing for it, sure.

    Setting aside whether or not humans are altering the climate in any significant way (since to not affect it at all would require our absence) I think it’s prudent to be aware that global temperatures are apparently rising. But I think it’s also incredibly dishonest the way the issue is being leveraged by the government and by the media. It’s blown way out of proportion, and it’s very good at, if not designed for, polarizing people. And those two things lead observant people to the conclusion that, while a valid issue, it is being misused as propaganda in order to indoctrinate the population into ‘going green’, whatever that means, but not for the reasons being given. There is an ulterior motive here. I can’t imagine what it is – all the scenarios I can think of would have to involve some intergalactic EPA carrot-sticking* the leaders of our planet.

    One last thought: You want to reduce your carbon footprint, don’t have children. I give it 5 years before having children is stigmatized as being un-green. So maybe that’s the motive.

    *that’s ‘carrot-sticking’ as in ‘to dangle a carrot in front of a horse’, not the sexual fetish of the same name**

    **no i didn’t google it, but which one is it, rule 34?

  9. what other motive can there be for willful stupidity?


    Many people truly, sincerely believe that anthropogenic climate change is as much of an affront to their “God will take care of everything” faith as biological evolution via natural selection.

    The only option is to deny it. And, like many people with deep, blind faith, they believe that the ends justify the means – that lying, deceiving, dissembling, using red herrings and straw men are all par for the course, justified means in the service of a “righteous” end.

    It is a mistake to simplistically ascribe all positions one opposes to simple greed. Blind faith has done at least as much damage to the world than mere human greed.

    Incidentally, this obstinate refusal to be guided by evidence applies as much to those who elevate simplistic ideologies to the level of religion, such as free market fundamentalists or Ayn Rand libertarians.

    Ultimately, the culprit is our failure to teach critical thinking to our citizens, leaving them vulnerable to anti-science, anti-intellectual, visceral demagoguery and charlatanism.

    1. what other motive can there be for willful stupidity?

      People desperate to appear rebellious frequently side with their oppressors. Why do you think the poor always vote for the rulers most likely to keep them poor?

  10. “Technological fixes, such as inventing energy sources that don’t produce CO2 or geoengineering the climate, would be more affordable, prudent ways to address climate change than reducing our carbon footprint.”

    Wouldn’t inventing a new energy source that doesn’t produce CO2 reduce our carbon footprint?

  11. The percentage of “honest skeptics” has to be considerably lower than the allegedly too low % of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I think you would have to be pretty outrageously snarky to step over the line.

  12. see a lot of sceptics playing semantic games, presenting false equivalences, and setting up straw men here.

    Those aren’t sceptics, those are objectors (just to avoid overusing ‘deniers’ for a while). Sceptics want information in order to understand and work out what they should conclude. If later discoveries throw doubts on those conclusions or even some of what were previously thought to be facts, then they will change their minds. Gosh, that’s science!

    Their so-called “consensus” on global warming is scientifically irrelevant because science isn’t settled by popularity

    True. However, when a large number of appropriately qualified and experienced people say they consider X to be true, you really ought to listen very carefully because unless you are able to find some pretty damn good reasons otherwise it is smart to work on the basis of them being correct. Yes, a single scientist that has a better understanding or finds a new and surprising fact can overturn an entire field – but it because of the better understanding or important fact, not because they are a single scientist bravely standing up against The Man.

    Climate change is real, but that’s silly to even say. Of COURSE climates change.

    As I recall the objectors were denying (oh noes, I used that word!) even that originally.

    A minor objection to the last listed question –

    inventing energy sources that don’t produce CO2

    is one of the rather crucial parts of

    reducing our carbon footprint

  13. mdh @1:

    I see a lot of skeptics playing semantic games, presenting false equivalences, and setting up straw men here. Easy to do in a comment thread.

    It’s less complicated than you think. What you’re seeing in those cases aren’t honest skeptics. They’re people who are parroting anti-climate-change talking points that have been generated and fed to them by quasi-political PR organizations.

    As far as I can tell, they don’t care whether the talking points are true or not. They’re in the habit of seeing public issues purely in terms of “us and them,” and they’ve been told that climate change is a “them” issue, so they’re against admitting that it’s a problem.

    You can tell they’re not in the habit of thinking for themselves when you see them insisting that people who say climate change is a problem are lying, and that their real motive is to destroy the world’s economy. It makes no sense at all, yet they go on repeating it. It’s also extremely easy to refute: consider the cost of severe tropical storms that make landfall. Ditto, crop losses due to more variable, extreme, and unpredictable weather. Ditto, the combined value of all the low-elevation shoreline property in the world. Those cost far more than any proposals to address the problem of climate change.

    It costs less for big multinational energy-related corporations to skew and falsify the public debate about climate change than it would cost for them to comply with new CO2-emission guidelines. Every year they can delay public action on climate change is a year they don’t have to invest in compliance. They know climate change is real. They know they’ll have to comply eventually. They’re just putting it off as long as possible, because they don’t give a damn about suffering or monetary loss as long as they aren’t the ones doing the losing and suffering.

    But I have also never met anyone who, when presented with the evidence in a comprehensive format (not a comment threads job), remains unconvinced of the obviousness of Global Warming.

    That’s because it’s real, and the proofs of it are scientifically sound, and at this point fairly obvious.

    I believe most skeptics profit somehow from their dithering, though I am not sure how, because what other motive can there be for willful stupidity?

    If we’re talking about the fake skeptics, they don’t profit from it. They have a great desire to feel like they’re winning an argument, and will politically screw themselves over again and again in order to get it.

    Machineintheghost: See above. You’re one of the chumps.

    1. Machineintheghost: See above. You’re one of the chumps.

      I will certainly concede that I am not an environmental scientist. Nor am I a Fortran programmer. But if this were a horse race, I’d bet that a lot of so-called “climate science” turns out to have been junk. We’ll have to go back a few decades and come up with new results. Maybe such results will

      1. I will certainly concede that I am not an environmental scientist.

        …but I play one on tee vee.

        You’re a very silly person, thinking that new science makes old science ‘junk’.

        As if relativity disproved gravity.

        1. Sorry, I don’t think new science makes old science junk. But deliberate efforts to taint the peer-review process may have the effect of tainting the peer-review process.

          1. Speaking of things with inadequate proof, I have never seen any evidence that peer review is so badly slanted. BBC looked into it a while back and found very little.

            Except, of course, for the absence of published evidence against man-made climate change, which couldn’t possibly have any other explanations.

          2. as do deliberate efforts to poison the debate. Your rhetoric here does your cause no good.

            “The louder he spoke of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

          3. I don’t think I spoke of my honor, nor do I think I poisoned the debate. If you think I did, please explain exactly how. In the meantime, feel free to count any spoons that may be at your disposal.

  14. Note just how quickly this has devolved away from the science presented and into a shouting match. The reason for this (as alluded to by rationalist) is that global warming simply isn’t a scientific issue anymore. It is an issue of faith. If you are a free market fundamentalist, then global warming cannot ever be true, because your faith has no place for it. There is, in other words, no argument that would ever convince you that global warming is in any way tied to human activity. The science (if you bother to actually read the article and follow those links which interest you) is not in question here.

    The sad reason scientists are prone to the mistakes that CRU made is explained by this very phenomenon. They are expected to defend their ideas with fact, while the other side is under no such obligation. So it isn’t surprising that occasionally in frustration they overshoot science and stumble into the very minefield laid by the opposition. The difference is, errors in science will eventually be rejected by peers (see cold fusion for how this works) while the other side will never admit to any error. Their faith will not admit the possibility.

  15. My biggest problem with climate science relates to the models. The science method is about coming up with a theory that can be used to predict the behavior of a future event, but in climate science, the models are consistently being patched to fit what happened in the (often near) past. This gives the impression – deserved or not – that the models are unable to predict the future with any accuracy. Since I can’t trust the models, I have a hard time time trusting the predictions.

    It would sure help if there was a survey of predicted events made over the years compared to what actually happened for each model – even if that meant showing some mistakes. Something like this might exist, but I haven’t seen it.

    Now my position is that while I’m not convinced of the science itself, the downsides of climate change outweigh the downsides of doing something about it.

  16. Machineintheghost, you’re not a smart contrarian. You really are just a chump. People who leave off arguing with you aren’t doing so because you’ve “won.” They’re shaking their heads and going elsewhere because it’s not worth their time and trouble.

    Nutbastard, it’s the climate-change denial brigade who’ve turned this into a polarized political issue. Why? Because they couldn’t win the argument on facts. They’re complaining now about “polarization” because the people they’ve attacked are fighting back.

    They were lying before, they’re lying now.

    1. I don’t consider myself a smart contrarian. Rather, I don’t consider myself qualified to participate directly in the climate change debate at all. But there is a meta-debate about whether we must now click our heels and obey the orders given to us by a small group which would proclaim itself our global-warming overlords, to the effect that we must kill most of the economy. I am not convinced their arguments justify their radical proposals. The proposal that we must kill most of the economy — with the inevitable result of great poverty — must require extraordinary proof. A lot of previously-accepted proof now looks like a sham.

  17. I’ve taken to reducing my argument to these quick basics.

    2k: Man is warming up the earth to it’s and our detriment.
    Modern, snot-nosed, cynic: Nuh-uh! The earth goes through heating and cooling cycles naturally.
    2k: So the earth is getting warmer.
    MSC: Well, uh, yeah.
    2k: Warmer. Ice melts. Sea rises. Disaster.
    MSC: I would like to retract my initial proposition.

    It’s not about cynical rationality; it’s about shouting down those annoying, do-gooding, gert-ammnt hippeyes!!!

  18. As mentioned already, climate change is sadly, like most science, a losing battle on the PR front. Scientists are factual and logical creatures, and while they may sometimes (maybe even often?) get facts wrong, or logically arrive at the wrong destination entirely, they none the less operate under a set of rules. Violation of these rules doesn’t happen very often, although they sometime get slightly bent.

    Point being, climatologists (or the vast majority of them) are in a fight where they have a whole bunch of facts not easily correctly understood by the lay person, and a hypothesis that goes “we’re making really bad stuff happen, and to fix it, we have to stop now.” So we’ve got confusing numbers, quirky graphs, and an ultimatum that people have to make sacrifices if they are to survive in the long term.

    The naysayers, on the other hand, are free to just say “Well no, they’re wrong, carry on as normal”. No facts, just a denial and the suggestion that life need not change. The much, much more pleasant argument. It just requires you to throw facts/data and logic out the window.

  19. I believe in the technological fixes solution. Way better efficient electric devices are taking too long to get to market.

    Im trying to do my part, I invented a electric bike, which can generate a good amount of power from kinetic energy

    Im going to give it away in 2010, and continue development with ideas of a mountable module for road bikes.

    1. I’m in no position to evaluate this thing. But I hope it’s awesome, and I hope you get rich because of it.


  20. This has nothing to do with climate change or science, but I do have a question for the wonderful moderators of this site.

    Why don’t you ban trolls? It’s frequently pretty easy to tell an idiot with an opinion from someone who’s just doing it “for the lulz” as the kiddies on 4chan like to say. I can understand that you want to give a chance for all points of view to be expressed, but what about someone who not only does not actually express any point of view at all? What the troll in this thread has done, is craft a sort of intellectual antimatter, which destroys the very chance of actual discussion of the issue at hand. And he has succeeded completely in his goal: changing the subject of the conversation to himself. He needs to go. Period.

    1. The answer, o anonymous, is that commenters with posting histories on BB are not treated as trolls (unless their entire comment history is trolling). First-time commenters might be turned off based on general trollishness, astroturfiness of the subject, etc. Even the sanest people have some topic that turns them into raving lunatics.

    2. Until recently BoingBoing was among the more heavily moderated websites out there. The mods didn’t even make the pretense of objectivity – unwelcome viewpoints were simply not welcomed. If you were on the wrong side, even a hint of uncivility would earn you a paddlin’.

      Then a guest poster made a series of controversial posts – about climate change, actually, and overnight the moderation lightened up. I’m not sure what exactly went down to cause the change, but I find BB to have a much friendlier atmosphere since then. Sure there’s still some trolls now and then, but most mutants are smart enough to spot them and ignore. I’d rather see the occasional flamewar (which are often entertaining in their own right) than everyone walking on eggshells for fear of saying the wrong thing.

      Btw, sorry about the cutoff sentence earlier, dunno what happened there. It was supposed to read “but global warming alone isn’t good justification,” or something of that sort.

  21. The part about this that is dangerous and worrisome to me is how much like religion the entire thing has become.

    What would be regarded as healthy skepticism in most scientific arguments is regarded as ignorance or fearmongering…while these people exist, there is so much fanaticism in the debate that basically anyone who doesn’t wholeheartedly swallow the entire “The world is melting!” argument is painted as a whack job. I have an honest fear that the issue has been politicized to the point that the science is being obscured in favor of pushing agendas….and that is never a good thing.

    I agree with some of machineintheghost’s opinions above, namely that suggesting radical changes requires some pretty significant proof. While there has been information gathered, it’s dangerous to just gloss over any flaws in effort of pushing forward on agendas.

    In my opinion, climate science is in it’s infancy and there is an awful lot that is not fully understood. I would like us to do as much research as possible to gain a fuller understanding of what exactly is happening to the climate and what exactly is causing it. Making drastic policy decisions based on incomplete intel is never a good idea (remember the WMDs?).

    Sadly, I feel like in most forums, and probably here, I’ll be labeled a kook and right wing conservitard for daring to not fall in step immediately. Sounds more like religion than science to me.

  22. This article is an example of repeated use of the straw man argument. It takes the worst and most shoddy skeptical arguments of all time, and in flogging such dead horses it acts as a smoke screen to hide what sophisticated skeptics (on actually have to say. It’s understandable that not many serious skeptics who have enough scientific training and discipline to discard foolish arguments would be hanging out on BoingBoing, being screamed at for being “willfully stupid denialists” (see above). Why would they gift you with their presence if you act like utter brats? It’s up to *you* to go over to and read their blog postings. There you will find *no* crank theories at all. At you might but mainly in the comments and not in the posts being commented on.

    “Anthropogenic CO2 can’t be changing climate, because CO2 is only a trace gas in the atmosphere and the amount produced by humans is dwarfed by the amount from volcanoes and other natural sources.”

    The question isn’t volcanoes. That’s dodging the question by answering a truly crank one. The question is how much CO2 warming (or any warming) is amplified by the overall system. Actual measurements by Lindzen using satellite data show feedback to be either negative or neutral. Models merely assume positive feedback with no data to back this assumption up. If climate was disastrously unstable to temperature variations then in a circular way one could argue that this proves that past temperatures never rose above those of today. That’s a hard sell due to the Medieval Warm Period showing up in dozens of non-treering proxy charts (

    A new Hockey Stick was made by Briffa. It relied on one tree. If you take that one tree out his stick turns into a bowl. He withheld his data for a full decade. Here is a quote by him from the CRU e-mails:

    “I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data’ but in reality the situation is not quite so simple. We don’t have a lot of proxies that come right up to date and those that do (at least a significant number of tree proxies ) some unexpected changes in response that do not match the recent warming. I do not think it wise that this issue be ignored in the chapter. For the record, I do believe that the proxy data do show unusually warm conditions in recent decades. I am not sure that this unusual warming is so clear in the summer responsive data. I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago. I do not believe that global mean annual temperatures have simply cooled progressively over thousands of years as Mike appears to and I contend that that there is strong evidence for major changes in climate over the Holocene (not Milankovich) that require explanation and that could represent part of the current or future background variability of our climate.”

    “The alleged “hockey stick” graph of temperatures over the past 1,600 years has been disproved. It doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of a “medieval warm period” around 1000 A.D. that was hotter than today is.”

    There are now lots of hockey sticks. The first one that appeared in IPCC reports was indeed disproven. Mann took 1000 year data and “mistakenly” used only 100 years to determine how each tree ring series would be weighted in the average. If you enter random data you still get a hockey stick (or one that turns down one) since his corrupt principle component analysis routine data mines for records that show any strong variation only in the latest century. If you correct his error his hockey stick turns into a bowl:

    “Global warming stopped a decade ago; the earth has been cooling since then.”

    Of course year-to-year noise on top of a warming trend doesn’t matter. This works both ways: many of the warming spikes may be noise as well. Again this dodges the real question: is recent warming unprecedented in speed? Not according to the longest actual thermometer records in Europe. The longest of all goes back 350 years. It shows no upturn in the normal linear warming trend. Here is how one of the CRU e-mailers turned it into a Hockey Stick:

    The problem is that Hockey Sticks suggest that there was almost no noise in the past so any strong variation in the present is significant. Thus the recent downturn (as described quite clearly in these e-mails!) really is a “travesty” for those who claim CO2 is now the main driver of temperature.

    “The sun or cosmic rays are much more likely to be the real causes of global warming.”

    The question of what causes warming pales in comparison to the question of whether recent warming is historically unprecedented. If it is not then it means recent variation does not point to a strong CO2 effect at all. It might exist. It just means the signal has not yet had a chance to assert itself in temperature records since natural variations are so large. If you throw out tree rings you cannot so easily claim that history is a Hockey Stick. Actual thermometers do *not* show the recent upswing from 1900 on to be unprecedented! That’s not proof…perhaps all of Europe somehow escaped Global Warming (?!), but might you place a bit MORE confidence in thermometers than in trees which depend for growth on rain, sunlight, and surprise, surprise…CO2!

    From the latest IPCC report concerning tree rings…is a sophisticated explanation of what “hide the deline” refers to. It’s *not* the latest minor cooling spell! It’s the failure of tree rings to record the exact overall upswing in temperature that occurred from the 70s to present! If they conceal modern warming then it’s quite obvious that they may be concealing warming in the past:

    their large-scale reconstructions based on tree ring density data,
    Briffa et al. (2001) specifi cally excluded the post-1960 data in
    their calibration against instrumental records, to avoid biasing
    the estimation of the earlier reconstructions (hence they are not
    shown in Figure 6.10), implicitly assuming that the ‘divergence’
    was a uniquely recent phenomenon, as has also been argued by
    Cook et al. (2004a). Others, however, argue for a breakdown
    in the assumed linear tree growth response to continued
    warming, invoking a possible threshold exceedance beyond
    which moisture stress now limits further growth (D’Arrigo
    et al., 2004). If true, this would imply a similar limit on the
    potential to reconstruct possible warm periods in earlier times
    at such sites. At this time there is no consensus on these issues
    (for further references see NRC, 2006) and the possibility of
    investigating them further is restricted by the lack of recent tree
    ring data at most of the sites from which tree ring data discussed
    in this chapter were acquired.”

    “Technological fixes, such as inventing energy sources that don’t produce CO2 or geoengineering the climate, would be more affordable, prudent ways to address climate change than reducing our carbon footprint.”

    The elephant in the room is nuclear power. If the literal end of civilization is at stake the arguments against it seem a bit thin.

    There is, on BoingBoing and other pop culture sites a gross mischaracterization of the actual core of the skeptical community. You scoff at a popular ‘Swindle’ movie riddled with errors and claim you are scoffing at skeptics in general. Shame on you. Al Gore’s exaggerations are astonishingly worse than those in the ‘Swindle’ movie, and unlike Gore, the errors were quickly corrected.

    1. It’s up to *you* to go over to and read their blog postings.

      I’m too busy dealing with the skeptics over here who think that climate change is a plot by Nazi Jewish Communist Corporate Kenyan-born Reptilian New World Order drones to go there to check it out.

      My eye: mote.
      Their eyes: log.

      Your serve.

    2. NikfromNYC. I got as far as “Lindzen” (you know, the guy who–by his own admission–accepted over thousands from oil companies in the 90s, and likely got much more than that) before I began to wonder about how this all works. Some nasty e-mails escape from one side, and it means their whole theory is wrong, yet a shill for big oil (and underwritten by them still–again by his own admission) is not even questioned by you. Do you not see that his issues are every bit as large as the side you are decrying? He still works for the CATO Institute, who–you guessed it–gets gobs of money from big oil.

      And then you suggest we try ClimateAudit–started by Stephen McIntyre, who worked for 30 years in the mining industry. Yeah. He would be unbiased. Right?

      I am not saying that the warming people are perfect, or that they have all the answers. Obviously they have proved flawed. What I am saying is your sources have even less than zero credibility. Try again.

      1. Slicklines wrote: “Some nasty e-mails escape from one side, and it means their whole theory is wrong, yet a shill for big oil (and underwritten by them still–again by his own admission) is not even questioned by you.”

        I indeed question Lindzen’s objectivity. His paper on feedback idiotically failed to discuss why he used outdated satellite data. His paper claimed strongly negative feedback. Using the updated data is merely shows neutral feedback. I was extremely angry when I learned this. However his work still strongly suggests that positive feedback does not exist in the real world and so AGW may be a bad theory. Lindzen does not however conceal his data nor methods like the Hockey Stick team does. That’s why I place more faith in his advocacy science than that of the other side’s advocacy science. One is real science and the other isn’t.

        Andrew Watts of has the huge project that claims that urban heating skews the averages. But he has never released the comparison of best-rated temperature stations with the result of all of them. The NOAA did just that. After all it’s a fifteen minute exercise if you are sitting on the data. They found that it made no difference.

        There is a list of over 400 peer reviewed papers skeptical of AGW. Painfully, quite a few of them are very shoddy work and that ruins the effect of the entire batch. If they pared it down to 20 significant papers the effect would be quite devastating.

        My conclusion so far is that AGW theory is in fact a quite good but HIGHLY SPECULATIVE theory because actual thermometer records fails to support it, as do the vast majority of non-tree-ring proxy reconstructions of temperature.

        Climategate now outranks Global Warming on Google. The “overwhelming consensus” party is over.

        Here is the most inconvenient data for AGW theory of all…actual thermometer records that go back not to 1900 when climatologists imply it does, but to 1660:

        1. Climategate now outranks Global Warming on Google. The “overwhelming consensus” party is over.

          Oh yes, of course. Google hits surely are the best proof for this. I am perfectly convinced, thank you very much.

        2. You have successfully cherry-picked data from a single site, one that it is specifically suggested may not warm according to global trends (changes to the Gulf Stream dominate British weather, which may fluctuate in ways that the rest of the world does not). Unless I’m missing something, this is a horrible argument. British deforestation got into full swing sometime during this period, and is likely to have had a large local effect. The data from the top graph is not significant in isolation, for comparisons to global temperature.

          The data here is comparing global temperature with an extremely local temperature. That, and even in this small, local instance, you see a rise that is unusual within the last 350 years within the local temperature, and a long upslope in temperature over the full data range. I’d really like to see a spline or curve fit to this data, because it looks like it’s not representing the relatively flat middle part well. With that data, it looks like there is a general slow increase in the curve starting in 1850. This is completely consistent with standing AGW theories.

          More importantly, do you think anyone in the AGW-skeptic community will cite it if, in five to ten years, the curve has continued on its recent trajectory?

  23. “Skeptic” as a noun has been hijacked so often that it has become irrevocably tainted. It’s not just in this context, but a wide range of issues. Sometimes it is the mainstream viewpoint that claims to be skeptics, sometimes it is the minority viewpoint that gets to label themselves as being the skeptics.

    We’re all skeptical about one position or another — we just draw the boundary lines differently according to the issue.

  24. I would like the population to have more scientific culture so that they understand a little bit better how the discipline that give them most of what they have right now is working. They also need to understand a lot better how to use technology without damaging the planet or themselves.

    In science nothing is never settled for good and always suceptible for revision. However progress are constantly made and observations lead to theories who allow some preditcion of future observations.

    People need to know better not only the major current scientific facts but also the current principles of the scientific method. They need also to learn what is an observation, an interpretation and theory and an hypothesis. They also need to understand what is a fact it’s meanings and it’s limitations.

    Science is not a religion. it do not proceed with believe or feeling.

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