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Examining the scientific consensus on climate change

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, September 13th, 2009 - 87 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags:

There was an interesting preview paper published back in January by by Peter Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman. It  sheds light on how the scientists who work in the field view the probability of climate change happening. It is pretty clear from the results that those closest to the data and who know the factors making up climate have a very strong consensus. The more you know, the more sure you are that we have a problem.

The objective of our study presented here is to assess the scientific consensus on climate change through and unbiased survey of a large and broad group of Earth scientists.

The two out of 9 questions in the preview were reported

  1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
  2. Do you think that human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures.

In the survey, 90% answered ‘risen’ to the first question, and 82% to the second. The specialists amongst this already specialist group are the 79 climatologists who had recently published in this field in peer-reviewed papers. They answered 96.2% as ‘risen’ to the first question, and 97.4% as ‘yes’ to the second.

Response to question 2 of the survey

Response to question 2 of the survey

As someone who did a BSc in Earth Sciences in the early 80’s when rapid human induced climate change was a hypothesis, these are the people that I respect talking on the subject. By nature they are far more skeptical than the CCD’s (climate change deniers), and certainly have more ability to come up with alternate rational hypothesis. Those have been looked at and discarded. This process is what science does. Because of the seriousness of this hypothesis, it has been intensively studied and now has a consensus amongst those knowledgeable in the area that is probably higher than almost any other area of science, amongst those who study the area.

This type of survey is long overdue. That is because one of the favorite tactics of the organized CCD’s  has been to say that there is no consensus. To ensure there is not, they attempt to hijack surveys or make up their own documents co-opting names almost randomly. There have been some very annoyed scientists finding their name and reputations added to documents that they did participate in and would not have agreed to.

The survey hijacking was reported at RealClimate.org last year.

They [the surveyors] have unfortunately not always been as successful as one might like problems have ranged from deciding who is qualified to respond; questions that were not specific enough or that could be interpreted in very different ways; to losing control of who answered the questionnaire (one time the password and website were broadcast on a mailing list of climate ‘sceptics’).

In this survey, the majority of those surveyed were in the US and Canada. The survey was online and one-time use invitations were sent to 10,257 people working in the field of earth sciences. It received 3146 participants (30.7%) – a typical response rate for web surveys.

While the respondent’s names are kept private, the authors noted that the survey included participants with well-documented dissenting opinions on global warming theory.

So for the moment this is probably as clear a picture as can be gained of the consensus amongst earth scientists.

These are the types of people that the politicians should be listening to. Not that rather strange set of ‘scientists’ that Act brought to the select committee on the ETS or outright scientific illiterates like Ian Wishart*  Those CCD’s don’t have peer-reviewed papers on the subject and largely not even working in the area of earth sciences. Their opinion is essentially worthless except as a purely political consideration – they show we need more scientific education. #

I’ll look forward to seeing the full results in a subsequent paper

hat-tip: Open Parachute

* After reading Ian Wishart you realize that he has no idea of what peer-reviewed scientific papers are. A lot of the papers that he quotes are ‘peer-reviewed’ by other nutters like himself. His latest ‘freezine’ “Climate Reality” seems to show as much disregard for copyright. On the front-page he has reproduced a article from the New Scientist. As well as obviously misinterpreting it (by context), I suspect that he didn’t pay for it.

# This paragraph was mofified after reading some comments which show a clear and inherent misunderstanding of scientific processes.

87 comments on “Examining the scientific consensus on climate change”

  1. Sonny Blount 1

    82% x 30.7% = 25.2% of 10,257 people working in Earth Sciences in the US and Canada.

    Not very impressive.

  2. Sonny Blount 2

    How does this validation compare to 87% of 54% ‘no’ votes?

    • Marty G 2.1

      how is that relevant? You’re just running distraction.

      The experts on climates overwhelmingly think that climate change is happening.

      Do you disagree with them Sonny?

      If so, why?

      • Sonny Blount 2.1.1

        Two issues,

        Firstly, yes I was running distraction, I wanted to point out the sillyness of some interprestations of the smacking referendum and how many on here believe that it is possible for the majority to be misguided because of their ‘misinterpretation’ of an issue.

        Secondly, I agree with those who observe that there is no historical precedent, and in fact we are yet to deviate significantly from historical patterns which suggest slightly more warming then cooling. And I need to see a model prove itself against real life data, if this had begun in the early 80’s we would be receiving some yes/no results on various models within a few decades.

        • Zorr 2.1.1.1

          Sonny, a couple of answers to your questions,

          Firstly, this was a very specific survey of a very specific group of people. The results from such a survey therefore carry a lot more weight than, say, a poorly worded and leading question in a CIR. However, I doubt you will ever accept this, I am just putting it out there as the reason.

          Secondly? I am unsure how to even interpret your words here as they seem to be at conflict with each other. “I agree with those who observe there is no historical precedent” – doesn’t this mean that you agree with the climate scientists who are saying that unless we do something, we are boned? Also, I personally think that what you are raising here with the “model proving itself against real life data” is a bit of a strawman. Give it another decade or two and we should be able to check these things, but when climate change was initially being investigated we just didn’t have access to the kind of computing power that we do today that makes modeling of incredibly complex systems even possible.

          And just as a final note, please attempt to actually prove the negative. I know this is a bit of a hard ask for people not actually researching this area, but if you are going to come along and say “I know you’ve done all this research and it points to this result but, you know what, I don’t believe you. After all, reality has a liberal bias” then I am going to have to ask you to provide your models and evidence for the climate status quo being maintained.

          • Sonny Blount 2.1.1.1.1

            And just as a final note, please attempt to actually prove the negative. I know this is a bit of a hard ask for people not actually researching this area, but if you are going to come along and say “I know you’ve done all this research and it points to this result but, you know what, I don’t believe you. After all, reality has a liberal bias’ then I am going to have to ask you to provide your models and evidence for the climate status quo being maintained.

            Ummm, 100 million years of history.

            Temp and CO2 (800-1000 years later) have risen before and other factors prevent runaway increases.

            The burden of proof is on the catastrophe. Proving ther negative is just silly, can you prove that a meteor will not hit your house in the next 100 years?

            • Zorr 2.1.1.1.1.1

              And a population of 6+ billion technologically advanced humans on this planet has been a feature for what percentage of those “millions of years”?

            • Sonny Blount 2.1.1.1.1.2

              The surface of the Earth has been covered with life the enitire time. The human biomass is a small part of it and the total biomass today is probably no more or less today than in previous periods of optimum climate.

            • RedLogix 2.1.1.1.1.3

              The human biomass is a small part of it and the total biomass today is probably no more or less today than in previous periods of optimum climate.

              Quit with the fake sophistication … that’s a total piece of misdirection, dressed up to look like science.

              The human biomass (fancy bullshit for human population) is not the problem. It is the fact that in order to support 9 billion humans on the planet we are digging up massive amounts of fossil carbon (ie gas, oil and coal), that has lain buired for millions of years… and relased it into the atmosphere at a rate utterly unprecendented, that is the root cause of AGW. You klnow this perfectly well, yet you have chosen to put up an argument that pretends this is not so.

              Now I can tell the difference between someone who is underinformed, or lacks understanding, or has been misled… and someone who actually knows the truth and chooses to twist, distort and misdirect it. Your behaviour here defines you, at least in my mind, as a disinformation agent. Quite a capable and devious one.

            • Sonny Blount 2.1.1.1.1.4

              Red,

              I don’t deny that humans are adding CO2 to the atmosphere, never have. I am yet to be satisfied of the proof that it is going to lead to runaway warming, or that we can’t make abrupt shifts to the global temp (downwards at least) within a few tears if it is ever needed.

              I am curious as to whether the millions of buffalo, whale , moa, elephants, etc. etc. that humans have displaced from the ecosystem actually amount to a (biologically only) lower CO2 output. Deforestation will probably be pointed out, but forests I think are the largest methane producers on the planet, and the developed surface of the Earth is still under 5% IIRC.

            • Ari 2.1.1.1.1.5

              “The catastrophe” has already met the burden of proof when it was peer-reviewed. Now the hypothesis must be disproved by its critics if it is to be considered wrong, and there has yet to be any criticism that isn’t relatively easily brushed aside by a qualified climatologist. So… not looking good for you, Sonny.

            • Sonny Blount 2.1.1.1.1.6

              “The catastrophe’ has already met the burden of proof when it was peer-reviewed

              That would be interesting. Please direct me to the empirical data that proves a coming anthropogenic climate catastrophe.

              • lprent

                Sonny Blount: Please advise when you are ready to start your night school science and maths classes. In what I can see of your current state of knowledge it would be pointless to explain. You don’t know enough to know that you don’t know enough. So the conversation would simply go around in circles because you would have to be trained in basic scientific principles

                Damn – That ninny Tolley cut the adult education….

                • burt

                  lprent

                  Damn That ninny Tolley cut the adult education .

                  nah, it’s a good thing – 10 comments all saying ‘here here lprent’ is nowhere near as much fun as all this.

            • burt 2.1.1.1.1.7

              Sonny

              This is like trying to tell a born-again Christian that although the Bible is clearly real – the rationale for ‘everything’ contained within it is based on the opinions and posturing of the authors. The fact that a few billion people will agree the Bible is accurate is not making one shred of difference to the actual validity of it’s claims.

            • Cameron 2.1.1.1.1.8

              The Bible isn’t just ‘events’ period (a timeline). There are ‘people’ involved within these ‘events’. And these people have ‘lives’- they aren’t cardboard cutouts, they do have opinions. The Bible isn’t an encyclopedia but a ‘writing’ of “factual history’ (with ‘emotion’ involved).

              It is “human” history.

            • burt 2.1.1.1.1.9

              No one is disputing the Bible is real and that it was written when we are told it was written – but is it the word of God and is Revelation (which is not history) accurate ? If it’s the word of God and if God is real it will be right ?

            • burt 2.1.1.1.1.10

              Cameron

              Furthermore – it is human history through the eyes of a just a few people with a rather large agenda.

              (that is not to say it is necessarily wrong – but is it sufficiently accurate to justify taxing billions of people to support the organisation that it justifies ?)

            • Cameron 2.1.1.1.1.11

              God doesn’t “write’ the Bible literally. “People’ write the Bible, good people, with a clear perception, guided

              Revelation is a “revelation’ (exactly that), and it will be “revealed’ eventually, you can’t understand Revelation from a completely literal viewpoint, it’s not meant to be, you have to become slightly “abstract’ in thought. But it symbolises a truth, which will “be’.

              I’m sure the Bible is the ‘Word of God’ and I’m sure it is “real’ but you can’t just read the “words’ with a blank expression (there is a story behind the words), to “know’ the Bible (beyond faith) you have to become “involved’ in it, to truly know.

              “If it’s the word of God and if God is real it will be right ?’

              Yes I’m sure.
              But remember don’t just read the words, try and understand too.

            • mickysavage 2.1.1.1.1.12

              Sonny

              “I am curious as to whether the millions of buffalo, whale , moa, elephants, etc. etc. that humans have displaced from the ecosystem actually amount to a (biologically only) lower CO2 output.”

              FFS the buffalo, whales, moa and elephants only fart and do not drive SUVs or own plasma TVs reliant on Thermal power stations.

              This must be a wind up. Free speech is wasted on some people.

            • burt 2.1.1.1.1.13

              If we have a catastrophic climate warming event that we have caused then we truly do have hell fire and brimstone and we will pay for our sins. Some will be saved, the believers. Now who said it was to be taken literally?

            • Sonny Blount 2.1.1.1.1.14

              Thats why I said ‘biologically’ mikey. And considering agriculture amounts for nearly half (?) of our countries carbon emissions this amount can be significant.

            • Cameron 2.1.1.1.1.15

              If we have a catastrophic climate warming event that we have caused then we truly do have hell fire and brimstone and we will pay for our sins. Some will be saved, the believers. Now who said it was to be taken literally?

              “You can’t UNDERSTAND Revelation from a completely literal viewpoint, it’s not meant to be, you have to become slightly “abstract’ in thought.”
              This is from perspective, from reading the scripture.

              I’m sure Revelation constitutes more than just hell fire and brimstone.

          • Cameron 2.1.1.1.2

            It probably doesn’t justify, but the ‘idea’ as such gives the common people an incentive, an anchorage.

        • lprent 2.1.1.2

          We are. What are you expecting? That the earths climate changes rapidly and the effects show in years. The normal cycles mitigate against that. Not to mention the sheer volumes of the atmosphere and water bodies. The models are done on decade time periods. So the models say that in this period we see relatively low overt effects on things like average world temperatures. What they do predict is that there will be other measurable effects. They’re being measured and are consistently showing that models are too conservative.

          For instance, we are still getting an immense amount of gas buffering as CO2 goes into the oceans to come out over the coming centuries. That is showing in the increasing acidification of the oceans. The only surprise has been that the pH has been dropping faster than expected.. But the models tend to be pretty conservative. Similarly the ocean itself has been adsorbing heat and circulating it through ocean currents. However the limits to buffering are also appearing.

          But then scientists are accustomed to looking at effects that have affects on other things that cause effects in others. You view them with looking at them with data, analysis, and hypotheses. The CCD’s prefer to use metaphors, analogies, and irrelevant diversion. Anything else would involve them in doing some serious brain work – not something that I’ve noticed them doing.

  3. illuminatedtiger 3

    ACT Party hack bringing his favorite quack “scientist” into the debate in 3 .. 2 .. 1

  4. burt 4

    Anyone here had a read of 1421 ? Some interesting stuff on circumnavigation of Greenland in the 1400’s – when it was Green.

    • George D 4.1

      That guy is a fraud, and his “history”, based on the flimsiest non-evidence you can imagine, has been demolished. Not surprisingly, the climate cranks are crawling all over him.

      • lukas 4.1.1

        As opposed to Al Gore… oh wait…

        • NickS 4.1.1.1

          And what about the IPCC Lukas, are they frauds as well? Along with the authors volumes of literature that have been published?

        • lprent 4.1.1.2

          Oh gee, on a post exclusively about scientists, you bring up a politician.

          You really are pretty damn thick. So Al Gore is financing the whole of the climate change debate?

          He has pockets as deep as the oil and coal industries who seem to be behind most of the organised CCD’s. Please grow up.

    • burt 4.2

      You have read the book ?

      • Ron 4.2.1

        Yes. And interviewed the author…who’s knowledge of current historical knowledge was abysmal. He had done NO research except to dig out the bits and pieces he needed to construct his fantasy.

        1421 is typical of an oeuvre of pseudo anthropology and history (far too much of it in this country) that strings together disparate “facts”, assumptions and leaps of imagination to come up with whacky theories. They then accuse anyone who questions their shonky assumptions as being part of a conspiracy of academics and interested parties against them.

      • burt 4.2.2

        Ron

        Interesting, some of his conclusions were far fetched and I won’t for a moment dispute they were “out there”. How about the evidence he based them on ? Did he make that up as well?

        • Ron 4.2.2.1

          I’d have to go back and look but actually – yes some of it he did make up or at least completely misinterpreted. The central “map” has been discredited for a start.

        • burt 4.2.2.2

          The hard evidence of artifacts would seem hard to dispute – and these tell a story in their own right irrespective of how they got to where they were or who left them there.

          • Ron 4.2.2.2.1

            Isn’t the whole point of artifacts “how they got there and who left them there”? Otherwise all we’re doing is making up a story about them….oh! That’s what he did!
            And I’m not accusing Gavin Menzies of being a flat earther. He and his ilk are the opposite…it’s not that they’re ignoring new evidence, they’re just making evidence up.
            Oh – AGW deniers. My experience is that the likes of Wishart and Leighton Smith spend a lot more time in denigration and ad hominem than the scientists arguing the case. Wihart is in the conspiracy camp and Smith just resorts to taunts like “pointy heads”. I’ll o with the PhD’s, thanks.

            • burt 4.2.2.2.1.1

              Ron

              Isn’t the whole point of artifacts “how they got there and who left them there’?

              Sure, from a perspective of understanding more about it. But if there are buildings and evidence of different land usage that implies a vastly different climate then who was there at the time is interesting but inconsequential to the fact somebody was.

              Tree rings are another example What nationality the people were sitting in the shade of them on sunny days makes no difference to the trees growth rate.

      • burt 4.2.3

        Ron

        They then accuse anyone who questions their shonky assumptions as being part of a conspiracy of academics and interested parties against them.

        This could also be said of AGW believers in the way they denigrate the deniers (modern flat earthers)

        • NickS 4.2.3.1

          Yeap, because stupidity should be respected and encouraged…

          Also, we actually have evidence of special interests funding the denialist movement, per desmogblog, deep climate and sourcewatch wiki.

          • burt 4.2.3.1.1

            OMG – people dare to put their money behind what they believe in. I’ve heard people fund the Protestants as well and the Catholics are outraged… where will it end.

  5. burt 5

    Oh, that comment is not challenging the assertion that humans have an impact, just the cornerstone of the argument that the earth has never been warmer than it is now.

    • Ari 5.1

      That’s not the argument. The argument is that CO2 and other greenhouse gases have never driven a temperature rise like the one we’re seeing now, and that EVENTUALLY this will lead to catastrophic temperature rises.

      So even if that book were credible, it does nothing to disprove AGW. AGW is about average temperature climb and positive feedback, and there is plenty of evidence that both of those things are happening.

      • burt 5.1.1

        Ignoring 1421 for a moment and focusing on ice core samples. Telling porky pies about the last decade being the warmest the planet has ever had is very relevant to what people will believe about AGW theories.

        The last decade is the warmest on record: Do you think the planet is warming…. – Ummm let me think about that one.

        • lprent 5.1.1.1

          I suppose that depends when you start and finish. If you’re selective about those then you can make the data read anything you like. There are a number of cycles active.

          For instance the solar cycles, el nino current cycles, not mention the effects of everything from fires to volcano’s. All of those overlay the underlying trend.

          So if you want to lie – like Wishart and his ilk routinely do about this, all you have to do is pick a start and end date that gives whatever result you want. That is what they do. If you want data that is reasonable accurate as to underlying trends, you pick longer periods or from similar positions on a a cycle.

          Now for whatever particular lie you wish me or others to debunk, provide a link. Otherwise you just sprouting gibberish.

  6. burt 6

    lprent

    As someone who did a BSc in Earth Sciences in the early 80’s …

    Hell it’s lucky you were not a few years older and did it in the early 70’s or you would have been convinced we were heading for another ice age.

    [lprent: I was driving so didn’t respond. I now have. You are wrong. ]

    • RedLogix 6.1

      Jeez burt, are you a very slow learner, or just plain pig headed? The suggestion of an imminent ice age, was just that… an hypothesis that put forward by a handful of scientists who later dropped the idea because it wasn’t supported by the evidence.

      It got a bit a media traction at the time, but it never, never had the depth of research or numbers of peer scientists supporting it. In complete contrast with AGW.

      It’s a classic, blatant old strawman argument… but don’t let that stop you burt ol’buddy.

      • burt 6.1.1

        <history_rewrite>Of course RedLogix, it never made it to documentary status like inconvenient truth and never had international summit’s of large numbers of scientists from various countries.</history_rewrite>

        You have become like felix, anything I say derails any logical thought from you and all you do is attack me….

        Impending ice age in the 70 was serious concern RedLogix, pretend all you like that it was just a flash in the pan because that means we don’t need to admit scientists don’t know enough about the climate to make accurate predictions.

        So tell me – why did the IPCC models take solar activity as constant and what feedback influence did they credit clouds with ?

        We don’t know enough to be certain – that is not the same as saying nothing is changing.

        • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.1

          It was just a flash in the pan, the whole reporting of it lasted almost a season. Then the media wised up to the fact that the scientists weren’t going anywhere further with it and stopped reporting about it.

          • Sonny Blount 6.1.1.1.1

            We had a national geographic subscription when I was growing up, you can come around and look at all the editions discussing the coming ice age from well into the 80’s if you like.

            • lprent 6.1.1.1.1.1

              The key words here are peer-reviewed.

              National Geographic, while a great magazine for children and people without a scientific background, largely specializes in scientific speculation and pretty photos. The particular speculation you’re referring to was a result of some scientists looking at a limited subset of data from Northern Europe and weaving a speculative theory out of it. It was one of several speculative theories of the time about long term climate trends, all of which were raised in my earth sciences classes. There wasn’t enough data to decide if it was a trend or not. Hell we’d only just started getting definitive good data to measure that there had been previous warm and cold periods. The global climate networks measuring tempature were incomplete and where present outside of parts of the northern hemisphere only had short data lines of less than a decade or two.

              More was researched and collected from areas outside Europe and a few years later another theory of average global warming got its first supporting data.

              The point is that if you looked at those National Geographic, New Scientist, and for that matter Time, Newsweek, or The Economist (they’re all at the same level in science) at that time, you’d find other theories including global warming. You’re simply cheery picking from a popularist magazine, that isn’t peer-reviewed, and has little to do with real science to say that is what scientists thought. Basically what you’re saying is that you know nothing about science

            • Sonny Blount 6.1.1.1.1.2

              ffs. you guys are desperate for any ad hominem angle you can take.

              Draco says reporting on global cooling lastest ‘almost a season’, I merely pointed out that it was quite visible to me for some time in the 70’s, 80’s. I made no defence of the scientific validity of those articles. It would appear that the basic idea will eventually turn out to be correct though.

            • NickS 6.1.1.1.1.3

              No, if one looks at the bloody temperature trends, there is a positive increase in temperature from the 1970’s onwards, when the buffering effect of aerosols that made global average temps colder was over-powered by the increased climate forcing by increases in C02 concentrations…

              Likewise, there is a very clear warming trend since the 1970’s, which to deny is a stupid as denying that biological evolution occurs, which means I will merrily ad hom your moronic arse. After noting why you’re wrong.

            • Sonny Blount 6.1.1.1.1.4

              NickS,

              I know temperature dropped from 1940 to 1980 and rose from 1980-2000, I’ve never said otherwise.

              When I said that the ice age theory will prove to be correct I am talking about sometime in the next few thousand years.

              • lprent

                Yep after human civilization stops out-gassing greenhouse gases from hydrocarbon deposits. Manages to sidestep a heat death scenario from excess heat emissions (eg if cheap fusion happens or cheap solar utilization).

                Then we may have something to worry about with a longer term drop into another glacial*.

                In the meantime we really have to worry more about the immediate (in earth science terms) problem. Climate change due to human generated releases of greenhouse gases.

                * The correct term is glacial, not ice age. We have been solidly in a Ice Age for the last 40 million years since Antarctica drifted into the polar region and started to accumulate ice. Periodically we have glacials which have widespread region effects – they largely affect continental areas in northern hemisphere and the tropical continental areas – plus of course Antarctica. Often not at the same time. Depends on the currents and the buffering action of the oceans in moving heat around.

        • burt 6.1.1.2

          1970-1975 actually.

          • lprent 6.1.1.2.1

            Yeah media spinning up speculation. There was no solid evidence, just as there was none at the time for continental drift or the effects of water temperature of isotopic ratios.

            You really have a problem with things that you don’t understand. Perhaps you should take science night classes

      • RedLogix 6.1.2

        This guy has more or less made a hobby of dismantling the “Impending Ice Age in the 70’s” nonsense.

        Today, you have a widespread scientific consensus, supported by national academies and all the major scientific institutions, solidly behind the warning that the temperature is rising, anthropogenic CO2 is the primary cause, and it will worsen unless we reduce emissions.

        In the 1970s, there was a book in the popular press, a few articles in popular magazines, and a small amount of scientific speculation based on the recently discovered glacial cycles and the recent slight cooling trend from air pollution blocking the sunlight. There were no daily headlines. There was no avalanche of scientific articles. There were no United Nations treaties or commissions. No G8 summits on the dangers and possible solutions. No institutional pronouncements. You could find broader “consensus” on a coming alien invasion.

        Quite simply, there is no comparison.

  7. RedLogix 7

    So what burt, the history of science is full of ideas that didn’t pan out. That’s how it works, people have an idea, see if it has legs and if it doesn’t ..then that’s not so bad because along the way they’ve usually learnt something new. But you burt don’t seem capable of learning… you recycle the same tired old, debunked strawmen over and over. Which gets tiresome real fast.

    Impending ice age in the 70 was serious concern.

    As I said above, it got far more media attention as a shock horror story than it ever got any traction in the science community.

    • burt 7.1

      I get it, scientific history is littered with incorrect assumptions and assertions but this time, finally, we have it nailed.

      • RedLogix 7.1.1

        Yeah, and so therefore all of science is a crock?

      • burt 7.1.2

        No not at all. The crocks are the ones who get emotional and claim the previous theories were not serious in some crap attempt to discard the possibility that the computer models that can’t reproduce actual events when supplied historic data might be bollox.

        • Ari 7.1.2.1

          Actually, dismissing previous theories that have good counter-proofs is good scientific practice.

          Where exactly did you learn about science? 😛

        • burt 7.1.2.2

          Unlike most people (when it comes to AGW), not via politicians.

        • burt 7.1.2.3

          BTW: I’m not the one saying the previous theories on warming/cooling were just a flash in the pan and should be ignored.

          • lprent 7.1.2.3.1

            You mean theoretical speculation don’t you burt. There is quite a difference between that and having a theory with data backing its predictions.

            Now I’m aware that you probably don’t understand the difference. So let me give you an example to explain it. I’ll couch it an analogy because that is what CCD’s seem to understand as a legitimate form of argument.

            a. It is theoretically possible to penetrate your bank account and transfer all of the cash to a Nigerian bank. That is a speculative theory. There is an idea, maybe some predictions about possible things to check it, and no real proof.

            b. If I postulate a method to do this, and demonstrate that parts of the requirements for the method can be achieved. To demonstrate this I write a keylogger, demonstrate that it cannot be detected by old anti-virus software, and show that I can embed it in image so that it will execute on a target machine. That is a theory with data backing its predictions. It is a feasible theory with a partially confirmed method. You have no idea of what I’m explaining even if I go through it really really slowly….

            c. Someone executes such an attack and it succeeds. That is a confirmed theory.

            Now it appears to me that you position (based on your climate change discussions) is that you’ll only ever be satisfied if you get robbed. You will refuse to put in upgraded anti-virus software because you think that the risk of the theory being confirmed is less than the cost of the upgrade* of the anti-virus software. This is despite the cost of the theory being correct vastly outweighs the cost of the upgrade/purchase.

            Now that in my lexion as a programmer is regarded as just being dumb. If one attack doesn’t succeed then another will because the net and all media is full of viruses and the like. Your risk of infection approaches 100% the more time you use your obsolete protection techniques.

            Similarly, the probability that pouring effluent into the atmosphere will destabilize climate also approaches 100% the longer you leave it happening. There is a theory. The key elements of that theory have data backing its predictions. The probable end-points of that theory have costs far higher than the costs of preventing it if they are spent now.

            *Of course with an attitude like yours, you don’t have AV software, or just the free crap that is largely ineffective.

        • lprent 7.1.2.4

          Bollix. If they did reproduce actual historic events (ie single points). I’d be looking at looking at the modelers for someone screwing the system.

          Models by their very nature are approximations of actual events. To be effective they need to be within the expected range of error for the modeling over the relevant time periods (decades). To date I’ve seen a lot of CCD jerk-offs like yourself and Wishart ignore those basic principles of modeling trying to score cheap points. The nett effect is that you simply score own goals amongst anyone who understands even basic scientific techniques.

          Effectively you’re just saying you don’t understand how modeling works. Please go to night school and do some science. At present you look like a pillock.

      • burt 7.1.3

        RedLogix

        Also you might have missed this question;

        Why did the IPCC models take solar activity as constant and what feedback influence did they credit clouds with ?

        • RedLogix 7.1.3.1

          Read it for yourself.
          http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/?src=/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/271.htm

          It is true, however, that clouds are one of the largest sources of uncertainty in the GCMs. They are complicated to model because they have both positive feedbacks, preventing surface heat from escaping back into space, and negative feedbacks, reflecting incoming sunlight before it can reach the surface. The precise balance of these opposing effects depends on time of day, time of year, altitude, size of the water droplets and/or ice particles, latitude, current air temperature, and size and shape.

          On top of that, different types of clouds will interact, amplifying or mitigating one another’s effects as they coexist in different layers of the atmosphere. There are also latent heat considerations — water vapor condenses during cloud formation and precipitation events, and water droplets evaporate when clouds dissipate.

          The ultimate contribution of clouds to global temperature trends is highly uncertain, but according to the best estimates is likely to be positive over the coming century. There is no indication anywhere that any kind of cloud processes will stop greenhouse-gas-driven warming, and this includes observations of the past as well as modeling experiments.

          http://www.grist.org/article/models-dont-take-clouds-into-account

        • lprent 7.1.3.2

          From memory you’re referring to the 1st IPCC report. The last one was the 4th…. The models and predictive factors improve over time.

          They were modeling in the absence of good data, so for some strange reason (not!) they bootstrapped using constants to look at how much variation the other factors gave. This is why most scientists regard the IPCC reports as being extremely conservative. They only include data in their projections if it has been massively checked.

          When are you going to say something that I don’t already know. You really know bugger all about science do you.

    • burt 7.2

      RedLogix

      You have still failed to demonstrate that had lprent being doing earth science in the early 70 rather than the early 80’s he would have been exploring the hypothesis of an ice age rather than warming. But I guess as that was the comment you responded to I can hardly expect you to address that.

      [lprent: I was driving so didn’t respond. I now have. You are wrong. ]

      • blacksand 7.2.1

        hang on; I remember looking into this a few years ago and it didn’t sound like quite the scientific frenzy of panic you’re making it sound.

        Some boffins noted that since glacials/ interglacials were looking to be cyclic, then at some point in the future we were obviously heading for an ice age. This got picked up by journalists and a frenzy of lousy science reporting followed.

        What you seem to be getting at is that this shows how unreliable scientists are. What I think it shows is that people who rely on journalists and headlines to get their science are not really going to have a reliable clue about what is and isn’t scientifically credible.

        I don’t think it’s so much that the scientists quietly moved on from this idea, but that the idea wasn’t anything to sustain sensational headlines & the panic reporting eventually fizzled out. Meanwhile in the intervening 3X years a whole lot more data has been collected and a huge amount more work has been done looking into orbital geometry & whatever else. I have seen various estimates as to when (in the absence of AGW) it would likely kick in, I’m sure if you put a bit of effort into it you could find something about it?

      • lprent 7.2.2

        burt.

        *Sigh* We did. That theory had been postulated long ago, as had greenhouse effects. In fact both of those theories as well as a number of others had been around since at least the 1940’s. There wasn’t enough data. All of them were speculation.

        in 1979 when I started, they’d managed to confirm the theory of continental drift to almost all earth scientists satisfaction. The theory of using isotopic variances to determine past temperatures was pretty well accepted as being better than species counts.

        What you’re describing are speculative theories being promoted in the press. Not exactly peer-reviewed or accepted inside the earth sciences community as being anything other than tenuous.

    • burt 7.3

      Ooops, failed to demonstrate that lprent wouldn’t have been exploring…

      [lprent: I was driving so didn’t respond. I now have. You are wrong. ]

      • RedLogix 7.3.1

        This is just one of numerous references on the topic.

        Finally, its clear that there were concerns, perhaps quite strong, in the minds of a number of scientists of the time. And yet, the papers of the time present a clear consensus that future climate change could not be predicted with the knowledge then available. Apparently, the peer review and editing process involved in scientific publication was sufficient to provide a sober view. This episode shows the scientific press in a very good light; and a clear contrast to the lack of any such process in the popular press, then and now.

        Here is another.

        Today, you have a widespread scientific consensus, supported by national academies and all the major scientific institutions, solidly behind the warning that the temperature is rising, anthropogenic CO2 is the primary cause, and it will worsen unless we reduce emissions.

        In the 1970s, there was a book in the popular press, a few articles in popular magazines, and a small amount of scientific speculation based on the recently discovered glacial cycles and the recent slight cooling trend from air pollution blocking the sunlight. There were no daily headlines. There was no avalanche of scientific articles. There were no United Nations treaties or commissions. No G8 summits on the dangers and possible solutions. No institutional pronouncements. You could find broader “consensus” on a coming alien invasion.

        Quite simply, there is no comparison.

  8. Joshua 8

    [lprent: This comment has been left in the stream. This is despite it obviously being unlinked, having no reference to peer-reviewed papers, and obviously a spam ad for a book.It is a good example of what CCD’s consider is legitimate science. Personally I’ve seen used-car salesmen with a more credible story. ]

    This opinion piece from Professor Henrik Svensmark was published September 9th in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
    HENRIK SVENSMARK, Professor, DTU, Copenhagen

    Indeed, global warming stopped and a cooling is beginning. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth, on the contrary. This means that projections of future climate is unpredictable, writes Henrik Svensmark.

    The star which keeps us alive, has over the last few years almost no sunspots, which are the usual signs of the sun’s magnetic activity.

    Last week, reported the scientific team behind Sohosatellitten (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) that the number of sunspot-free days suggest that solar activity is heading towards its lowest level in about 100 years’. Everything indicates that the Sun is moving into a hibernation-like state, and the obvious question is whether it has any significance for us on Earth.

    If you ask the International Panel on Climate Change IPCC, representing the current consensus on climate change, so the answer is a reassuring ‘nothing’. But history and recent research suggests that it is probably completely wrong. Let us take a closer look at why.

    Solar activity has always varied. Around the year 1000, we had a period of very high solar activity, which coincided with the medieval warmth. It was a period when frosts in May was an almost unknown phenomenon and of great importance for a good harvest. Vikings settled in Greenland and explored the coast of North America. For example, China’s population doubled over this period. But after about 1300, the earth began to get colder and it was the beginning of the period we now call the Little Ice Age. In this cold period all the Viking settlements in Greenland disappeared. Swedes [were surprised to see Denmark to freeze over in ice], and the Thames in London froze repeatedly. But more serious was the long periods of crop failure, which resulted in a poorly nourished population, because of disease and hunger [population was reduced] by about 30 per cent in Europe.

    It is important to note that the Little Ice Age was a global event. It ended in the late 19th century and was followed by an increase in solar activity. Over the past 50 years solar activity has been the highest since the medieval warmth for 1,000 years ago. And now it appears that the sun returns and is heading towards what is called ‘a grand minimum’ as we saw in the Little Ice Age.

    The coincidence between solar activity and climate through the ages have tried explained away as coincidence. But it turns out that almost no matter what time studying, not just the last 1000 years, so there is a line. Solar activity has repeatedly over the past 10,000 years has fluctuated between high and low. Actually, the sun over the past 10,000 years spent in a sleep mode, approx. 17 pct of the time, with a cooling of the Earth to follow.

    One can wonder that the international climate panel IPCC does not believe that the sun changed activity has no effect on the climate, but the reason is that they only include changes in solar radiation.

    Just radiation would be the simplest way by which the sun could change the climate. A bit like turning up and down the brightness of a light bulb.

    Satellite measurements of solar radiation has been shown that the variations are too small to cause climate change, but so has closed his eyes for a second much more powerful way the sun is able to affect Earth’s climate. In 1996 we discovered a surprising influence of the sun its impact on Earth’s cloud cover. High energy accelerated particles of exploded stars, the cosmic radiation, are helping to form clouds.

    When the Sun is active its magnetic field shields better against the cosmic rays from outer space before they reach our planet, and by regulating the Earth’s cloud cover the sun can turn up and down the temperature. High solar activity obtained fewer clouds and the earth is getting warmer. Low solar activity inferior shields against cosmic radiation, and it results in increased cloud cover and hence a cooling. As the sun’s magnetism has doubled its strength during the 20th century, this natural mechanism may be responsible for a large part of global warming during this period.

    This also explains why most climate scientists are trying to ignore this possibility. It does in fact favor the idea that the 20th century temperature rise is mainly due to human emissions of CO2. If the sun as has influenced a significant part of warming in the 20 century, it means that CO2’s contribution must necessarily be smaller.

    Ever since our theory was put forward in 1996, it has been through a very sharp criticism, which is normal in science.

    First it was said that a link between clouds and solar activity could not be correct because no physical mechanism was known. But in 2006 after many years of work we managed to conduct experiments at DTU Space, where we demonstrated the existence of a physical mechanism. The cosmic radiation helps to form aerosols, which are the seeds for cloud formation.

    Then came the criticism that the mechanism we have found in the laboratory was unable to survive in the real atmosphere and therefore had no practical significance. But the criticism we have just emphatically rejected. It turns out that the sun itself is doing, what we might call natural experiments. Giant solar flares can have the cosmic radiation on earth to dive suddenly over a few days. In the days after the eruption cloud cover falls by about 4 per cent. And the content of liquid water in clouds (droplets) is reduced by almost 7 per cent. Indeed, [you could say] that the clouds on Earth originated in space.

    Therefore we have looked at the sun’s magnetic activity with increasing concern, since it began to wane in the mid-1990s.

    That the sun could fall asleep in a deep minimum was suggested by [solar scientists] at a meeting in Kiruna in Sweden two years ago. As Nigel Calder and I updated our book “The Chilling Stars’ therefore, we wrote a little provocative [passage] “we recommend our friends to enjoy global warming while it lasts.’

    Indeed, global warming stopped and a cooling is beginning. Last week, it was argued by Mojib Latif from the University of Kiel at the UN World Climate Conference in Geneva that cooling may continue through the next 10 to 20 years.

    His explanation was natural changes in North Atlantic circulation and not in solar activity. But no matter how it is interpreted, the natural variations in climate then penetrates more and more.

    One consequence may be that the sun itself will show its importance for climate and thus to test the theories of global warming. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth, on the contrary.

    This means that projections of future climate is unpredictable. A forecast [that] says it may be warmer or colder for 50 years, is not very useful, for science is not able to predict solar activity.

    So in many ways, we stand at a crossroads. The near future will be extremely interesting and I think it is important to recognize that nature is completely independent of what we humans think about it. Will Greenhouse theory survive a significant cooling of the Earth? Not in its current dominant form. Unfortunately, tomorrow’s climate challenges will be quite different than greenhouse theory’s predictions, and perhaps it becomes again popular to investigate the sun’s impact on climate.

    Professor Henrik Svensmark is director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at DTU Space. His book “The Chilling Stars’ has also been published in Danish as “Climate and the Cosmos’ (Gads Forlag, DK ISBN 9788712043508)

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      opinion piece

      No more needs be said. We even know why it’s an opinion piece – because all the theories that point to the sun cooling and therefore cooling the Earth have been disproved.

      • lprent 8.1.1

        Yeah… Notice the complete lack of peer-reviewed publishing. Anyone credible would at least cite a couple of journals that their papers have been published in.

        This guy looks like someone interested in promoting a book. Snake-oil salesman…

        I’ll leave it in here as an example. Next one that comes in unlinked is toast.

  9. RedLogix 9

    Here is just one of numerous references on this myth.

    Finally, its clear that there were concerns, perhaps quite strong, in the minds of a number of scientists of the time. And yet, the papers of the time present a clear consensus that future climate change could not be predicted with the knowledge then available. Apparently, the peer review and editing process involved in scientific publication was sufficient to provide a sober view. This episode shows the scientific press in a very good light; and a clear contrast to the lack of any such process in the popular press, then and now.

    Or another.

    Today, you have a widespread scientific consensus, supported by national academies and all the major scientific institutions, solidly behind the warning that the temperature is rising, anthropogenic CO2 is the primary cause, and it will worsen unless we reduce emissions.

    In the 1970s, there was a book in the popular press, a few articles in popular magazines, and a small amount of scientific speculation based on the recently discovered glacial cycles and the recent slight cooling trend from air pollution blocking the sunlight. There were no daily headlines. There was no avalanche of scientific articles. There were no United Nations treaties or commissions. No G8 summits on the dangers and possible solutions. No institutional pronouncements. You could find broader “consensus” on a coming alien invasion.

    Quite simply, there is no comparison.

  10. RedLogix 10

    Here is just one of many references on this myth.

    Finally, its clear that there were concerns, perhaps quite strong, in the minds of a number of scientists of the time. And yet, the papers of the time present a clear consensus that future climate change could not be predicted with the knowledge then available. Apparently, the peer review and editing process involved in scientific publication was sufficient to provide a sober view. This episode shows the scientific press in a very good light; and a clear contrast to the lack of any such process in the popular press, then and now.

    Or another.

    Today, you have a widespread scientific consensus, supported by national academies and all the major scientific institutions, solidly behind the warning that the temperature is rising, anthropogenic CO2 is the primary cause, and it will worsen unless we reduce emissions.

    In the 1970s, there was a book in the popular press, a few articles in popular magazines, and a small amount of scientific speculation based on the recently discovered glacial cycles and the recent slight cooling trend from air pollution blocking the sunlight. There were no daily headlines. There was no avalanche of scientific articles. There were no United Nations treaties or commissions. No G8 summits on the dangers and possible solutions. No institutional pronouncements. You could find broader “consensus” on a coming alien invasion.

    Quite simply, there is no comparison.

    • Sonny Blount 10.1

      “We simply cannont afford to gamble … by ignoring it. We cannot risk inaction. Those scientists who say we are merely entering a period of climactic instability are acting irresponsibly. The indications that our climate can soon change for the worse are too strong to be reasonably ignored.”

      1978, Lowell Ponte, The Cooling, p 237

      • Macro 10.1.1

        Look Sonny – the guy who first showed that Milankovich Cycles Hypothesis was correct back in the 1970’s has long since moved on to become one of the leading advocates for global warming.
        Yes in the Milankovich cycle the earth is moving towards a period when ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL the earth would experience a SLIGHT drop in temperature and move towards another ice age – caused mainly by changes in ocean currents. But the fact, is things are NOT in equilibrium at the moment.
        Humans have taken gigatonnes of stored carbon, burnt it, and almost doubled the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere since 1850. Added to that – we have decimated the forests – the natural sinks of Carbon and continue to do so. The other natural sink for carbon – the oceans – have just about had enough and may not continue to sequest CO2 for much longer at the rate they have been. There are even more factors involved – methane in the Artic, less ice reflecting sunlight etc.So despite the fact that the earth’s orbit is now moving into the part of the cycle where the average global temperature would be likely to drop by a fraction of a degree C. The data collected by climate scientists around the world is showing that the earth is actually warming up – about 0.6C in the past 100 years. Furthermore, there is now so much more CO2 in the atmosphere that this heating trend will continue for some time yet.

        • lprent 10.1.1.1

          Exactly. It has been pretty clear if not proven that we’d probably be tipping towards a glacial if we weren’t tossing so much crud into the atmosphere.

          But that is a pretty irrelevant argument because we are increasing greenhouse gases too fast.

          • Macro 10.1.1.1.1

            The fact that the Milankovich Cycles occur has to be acknowledged – and it was the realization that the these slight variations in the earths orbit over 1000’s of years did have a small effect in the earths warming and could with associated feedbacks lead to warming and cooling phases in the earths climate that lead one pair of scientists to publish that another glacial period was likely in the future. The stuff to which burt refers. But burt et al need to realise that science has moved on since 1975 and the science of AGW is well established and overrides any consideration of Milankovich Cycles!
            There is however one “little” thing that is of concern. As you are aware the ocean currents are the conveyor belts for a large part of the heating that is happening. The gulf stream is the main conveyor belt in the north atlantic and its stopping apparently led to the glacial period that was the LGM. It is thought that what stopped the gulf stream inits tracks was the emptying of the Hudson Bay or St Lawrence River Glaciers (during a warming phase) into the north Atlantic – the cold fresh water meeting the warm salt water stopped it dead. Result – a very cold north with ice caps as far south as the mid USA and a not so cold south. We have a massive warming of Greenland’s Ice caps at present. The discharge of cold water into the Gulf Stream is enormous and growing more each year. 20 gigatonnes at the current rate. I haven’t seen any modeling of what might happen to the Gulf stream; I’m sure there must be some. But if it did stop we would have an even more disrupted state of affairs. The Artic Ice might recover for a while but an even more exaggerated warming in the tropics.

  11. Macro 11

    From Bryan Walkers Post on Hot-topic “More than a metre”
    You should read the full post burt, but this will put some of your above comments into a more factual perspective.
    “Observations show that the Greenland ice sheet is losing ice mass to the ocean. In 2008 the loss was about 280 gigatonnes. The loss has been increasing over the last 20 years by about 20 gigatonnes per year. One third of this loss is due to increased surface melting or runoff, and the other two thirds to the acceleration of glaciers. It was thought that the acceleration was due to bedrock lubrication from meltwater, but this only accounts for about 20% of the acceleration. The rest is due to the pressure change that occurs near the front of the glacier as a glacier melts. The more rapid melt due to warmer ocean and land temperatures causes the glacier to retreat inland, which reduces the backpressure (or resistance to flow) on the inland ice, meaning the glacier can flow more swiftly into the sea as a wave of acceleration is transmitted upstream over vast distances. These mechanisms of destabilisation in a warmer climate were not sufficiently well understood to inform the forecasts in AR4. The ice sheets will continue to lose mass at an increasing rate in a warmer climate, though predicting those rates remains a serious scientific challenge at present. Glaciers grounded below sea level are the most vulnerable because their frontal regions remain in contact with ocean water during their retreat. If Greenland continues to lose mass at the rate it has been it alone will contribute 31 centimetres to sea level rise this century.”

    Captcha “expert” !!!!

  12. Herodotus 12

    Looks as if there is some polarisation re if Global Warming is real or should be associated with the tooth fairy.
    One question that I would ask both camps what would it take for either camp to change their oponion i.e for the denialer camp to accept, of for those who think it is proven to change their minds?
    Just throw it out there

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