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The merely interfere with the truly important

  1. Oct 22, 2004 #1
    the merely urgent interfere with the truly important

    It was inevitable, I guess. A stress reaction on a non-problem. Here it is, the planning response to climate change, isued by the Deputy Prime Minister of the UK.

    I think I missed it but evidently....

    Well here it seems to be then:

    So there it is, the unrefutable evidence, the hockeystick of Mann et al (MBH99).

    Anyone ready to draw swords? :wink:
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2004 #2
    Hey, there are a few bom shells to follow. Perhaps read Rich Mullers balanced comments of last year about the problems of the Hockeystick.

    do not let the merely urgent interfere with the truly important

    And what is the truly important?

    But please read the whole article, fireworks ahead.
  4. Oct 22, 2004 #3


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    Good article by Mullers (who seems not to lower his standards fortunately) - thanks for the link.
  5. Oct 23, 2004 #4
    That Muller article is very good. Distilling out the problems of one of the AGW alarmists' pillars supporting their urgency. However, his balanced and, more importantly, very thoughtful comments do not argue that CO2 is not a problem. As he said,

    I realize he is just one scientist and may not have done thorough research to back that comment (though it sounds like he's a decent authority) so I'm not asking anyone to hang their hat on his comments. But I think this comment of his underlines one of the great confusions in the general debate about AGW and climate change. The fact that science shows the important roles that atmospheric CO2 plays in the survival of most living things, yet that AGW is an undeveloped theory with little solid evidence to back it.
    As he wrote,
    I agree with him that it is hard to tell some one that you do or do not agree with AGW theory without being instantly labeled liberal/conservative, scientist/oil magnate, etc, depending on whom you're talking to. And that's a big problem. How are we supposed to have the important public scientific debate about this issue when people on both sides won't consider any other theory than the one they currently hold to? And how can we fund and execute the mountains of climate research needed when it looks like your work might not be published if it ends up coming to the 'wrong' conclusion? I realize that may not be the only reason the Soon and Baliunas paper was criticized, but appears to be the driving reason.

    Until the scientific community recognizes that the current AGW theory is not very well proven BUT that climbing CO2 is almost certainly going to be a major, if future, problem (or until they prove AGW), I don't see how we'll have any progress made in public understanding or the world's governments' reactions. It's good that more scientists appear to be questioning AGW, but the message they tend to be sending is that CO2 is a non-issue. And so now we have another public misunderstanding to correct.
  6. Oct 23, 2004 #5
    Holdit, not so fast. Do not let the merely urgent interfere with the truly important. And remember,

    When a conclusion is attractive, we are tempted to lower our standards.

    Perhaps it's better to do some philosophizing before entering the battle of the hockeystick (and the war is hot).

    What is an attractive conclusion? We have to sort something like that out beforehand. After all we do start investigation with an expectation. We have an idea and we look for proof. But if we do, we bias ourselfs, tending to raise the standards of acceptance for anything that counters our bias while lowering it for anything that confirms it.

    Why would we bias in favour of global warming and why against it:

    Global warming:
    - costs money
    - destroy nature
    - gives us a chance to promote nuclear power
    - if I warn against it I get more funding for my explorations
    - if I fight hard against it, everybody accepts me as a social person and I can continue establishing my leadership
    - if I against it I'm a crook
    - if I accept it I won't stick out to have my head chopped off.

    Yes Rich Muller also believes in Global warming. I do too but there is large difference between: act-immediately-and-pay-or-fry-tomorrow and a tiny irrelevant increase of temperatures, more than compensated with increasing biomass.

    So why not drop all bias and have a neutral look into the physics of greenhouse gas like in this thread.

    I also recommend this thread.
  7. Oct 24, 2004 #6
    Now before analysing the hockeystick. Let's try and identify bias in the reasoning of pro and cons of global warming.

    Let me recap first.

    After reviewing that one it should be clear that the direct greenhouse effect of carbon gasses (CO2, CH4) is only logarithmic proportional to the concentration and large increases in concentrations due to burning of fossil fuel for instance, has only minimum effect on the direct greenhouse gas effect.

    And again this is not a biased opinion, this is common knowledge in climate science. The bias starts with the assumption that possible positive feedback factors may be outperforming the negative feedback factors.

    Positive feedback: higher temperature melts more ice, this means less reflection of sunlight and more heat is retained. More heat also causes higher sea surface temperatures which causes less CO2 to be absorbed and a higher water vapour content in the air. More CO2 and more water vapour is more greenhouse gas effect etc etc.

    Negative feedback is: more heat causes more water vapour, this is causing more cloud formation. This causes more direct sunlight to be reflected and hence the Earth cools again.

    Why would we assume that the positive feedback outweights the negative? Because we think to see it in other cases, like Planet Venus, the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum and the recent Pleistocene ice ages. The common denominator is that whenever the CO2 is high, the temperature is high.

    And when a conclusion is attractive, we are tempted to lower our standards. Consequently, we endorse those conclusions unquestioned and it may not be wise to review it more detailed.

    However the common fallacy here could be Post hoc ergo propter hoc. And of course, detailed study of these three cases reveals that the temperature - CO2 relationship is not unambigious at all.

    Furthermore, study has been done to the direct feedback factors. Here is an excellent overview of the truly important:

    Now I think that we are looking here at unbiased science. But the mere term "think" suggests that I'm biased.

    Anyway, the IPCC scientific basis does not refer to those studies. One may wonder if those are rejected because it is assumed to be wrong?

    When a conclusion is not attractive, we are tempted to raise our standards (of acceptance).

    Now I challenge anyone to show that the bias on the Pro Global Warming side is only imaginary and/or that there is standards lowering at the "skeptic" side.

    Next time hockeysticks (I think).
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2004
  8. Oct 25, 2004 #7
    I wonder why it's so silent here. Don't like monologues. Does all of this make some sense?

    Anyway, let's try and look at the idea of the hockeystick.
    We want to prove "global warming"
    If carbon dioxide has such a strong influence on climate we should investigate the last dozens of centuries or so. Before 1850 the CO2 level was pretty steady, about 280ppm, then the "anthropogenic" rise began. Consequently, we can predict that the global temperature in the same era was pretty steady too, before 1850 and after that, the global warming began, proportional to the rise in CO2.

    And sure enough, there it is, the hockeystick. A great joy for the global warmers, can you want more proof? When a conclusion is attractive, we tend to lower our standards.

    It's also a nightmare for the "skeptics". Well that's how bias works of course. And when a conclusion is not attractive, we raise our standards of acceptance.

    So for instance, what happened to the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA)? Were they real? (Skeptics) or imaginairy? (Global warmists).

    If the MWP was warmer than today and the LIA much colder than today then the MBH99 Hockeystick is false and temperature variation is mostly natural, not nearly depending on the concentration of Greenhouse gasses.

    So the efforts of the skeptics concentrated on falsifying the hockeystick. Two directions can be followed, independent evidence of both a global MWP and LIA and finding the mistakes of the Hockeystick.

    (to be continued)

    As in intermezzo, the current "global warming" trend up to September 2004 has decreased to 0.00001 degree per month or 0.012 degrees per century.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2004
  9. Oct 25, 2004 #8


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    Andre - do you have an example of what the hockeystick graph would look like with the MWP & LIA included?

    What do AGW'ers usually say about the MWP & LIA? (i.e., what is their argument in saying those events were imaginary?)
  10. Oct 25, 2004 #9
    Sure, Phobos

    This could have been the global temperature in the last two millenia according to Rich Muller. This is from a very recent publication.

    The mainstay of the arguments against the MWP & LIA are that it were local events concentrated in the North Atlantic area and that the timing was not synchronous. When it is was warm in one location it was supposed to be compensated with cooling in other areas. More about that later.
  11. Oct 26, 2004 #10
    Anyway, the approach of finding independent evidence of both a global MWP and LIA was conducted by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas

    But guess what?

    Those allegations make me outrageous. This is how science gets killed. You can refute their work by showing that they are wrong and that they falsely wrongly quoted / interpreted their references. But to the general public it is clear. Soon and Baliunas are corrupt crooks and hence they are wrong.
  12. Oct 27, 2004 #11
    Nothing wrong with monologues. As with any speech, silence could mean people aren't paying attention... or that they are listening very carefully.

    Since I am primarily gathering information, I have very few responses to your posts. Feel free to call roll any time you want to see if I'm reading :biggrin:
  13. Oct 27, 2004 #12
    Okay It would be a very interesting case to investigate and compare the acceptance standards of pro- and con- papers by the pro's and con's.

    And there are a few more fireworks papers by the Dave's also know als M&M or David McKittrick and David McVea, equally ignorant villains or shrewd scientist, depending on bias and subsequent standards-manipulation.

    We can also have a look into a dozen or more studies about temperatures in the last millenium. But I'm a little preoccupied at the moment, back soon, Promise.
  14. Oct 28, 2004 #13
    Here is a question Andre: could you list a few journals that regularly contain papers pertinent to this issue? You've mentioned some, but a short formal list would be of help.

    Also, in other journals I read there are regularly "the state of" publications where they summarize the state of a particular research area by going over what information has been published. Is there such a thing concerning atmospheric science? I'm not shure there would be in the midst of such a large debate, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

    Thanks in advance for all the time you spend posting here
  15. Oct 28, 2004 #14
    Well, the current discussion contains atmopspheric science, 3environmental science, climatology, paleo climatology, oceanography, dendrochronology, glaciology and probably a couple more each of those has its own litterature.

    Of course you could try http://www.sciencemag.org or http://www.nature.com or http://www.agu.org and especially recommendent: http://www.sciencedirect.com/ but you may find those difficult and expensive.

    the superior tool to find all that material for free is http://www.google.com You'll be surpised.

    For instance browse for "medieval warm ". and find:


    but also as nr3:

    (We'll discuss adapting standards later again)

    But then of course, the sources may not be trustworthy so check the references. In case of the Medieval Warm Period you will indeed see some justification in the variable period of that particular phenomon as I mentioned earlier, answering to Phobos.

    Generally the MWP is defined as from the mid 900's to anywhere between 1350 and 1450. However Soon & Baliunas define it between about 1000-1300. But there is also sincere evidence of a short warm period around the mid 1500's and the year 1540 for instance is a serious candidate for being the year with the warmest summer in the last millenium.

  16. Oct 28, 2004 #15
    And it can't hurt to check those sources regularely to find:


  17. Oct 28, 2004 #16
    Now again try for instance http://www.sciencedirect.com and type in the "quick search box" - "medieval warm" including parentheses and click "go" to find 51 articles concerning the MWP.

    Click on "abstract" (full text costs pecunia) of the first article and there we are:

    Despite the weakening last sentence, this certainly does not support the Hockeystick of Mann et al.

    It's so easy to do your homework this way.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2004
  18. Oct 29, 2004 #17
    Now, if you try the fifty other hits of that query you will find that many of those articles suggest some form of local or global Medieval Warming. You could also have done that with http://www.sciencemag.org/ but you'd need a (free) subscribtion first. Then hit "Search science magazin" and put in into the first author box "storch" this time. Next click on the abstract again and this is the result:

    I don't know, but objectively speaking (with numerous peer reviewed articles) it's starting to look pretty bad for the hockeystick. This makes the research case for variable acceptance standards pretty interesting let alone the justification of the Brittish government to preach global warming.

  19. Oct 29, 2004 #18
    Now let's assume that this was it.

    The broad outline was:

    A- Hey, the world may be in danger, due to global warming caused by antropogenic production of greenhouse gasses.

    B - Okay that's bad, let's investigate how bad it really is.

    A - I found a hockeystick somewhere, saying that it's really bad.

    B - Okay I found several independ pieces of evidence in multiple disciplines that suggest that the current warming can be attributed to a lot of other factors, whilst the anthropogenic contribution seems to be minor, if at all. Besides that, your hockeystick seems to be doubtfull.

    Now what would you expect to be the reaction of A?

    1 - Wheeew, that's great, close call but we're off the hook
    2 - Are you very very sure that your independent evidence is superior to my hockeystick?
    3 - Can't be, my hockeystick is right of course and since you are a crook, you're wrong. We have consensus here that the world shall fry and we have made models, working according to the garbage-in-garbage-out principle, which prove that we are right.

    Guess what happened to M&M?
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2004
  20. Oct 30, 2004 #19
    If parties A and B were well-educated scientists and all the evidence had been pulished in peer-reviewed, referreed literature then I WOULD expect that A's final response would be 1. ("whew, we're off the hook. AGW isn't happening")

    PLEEEEEEAAASSSE don't be so cynical, Andre. Most of the people on either side of the debate are sincerely looking for the right answer. Of course there are ignorant people out there entirely disregarding the other side's arguments, good or bad. They don't even think about it, they just react against it. (I'm not talking about you or anyone here, but Greenpeace and the coal industry fall into that category, on opposite sides, obviously).

    But it is horribly cynical to act like the whole scientific process is going down the tubes. What has happened is that the initial reports, simulations, theories about AGW scared a lot of people, including scientists, into believing that even if we weren't certain about AGW the risks of enormous catastrophic environmental destruction that "could" happen was motivation enough to take measures against it (and I AM NOT endorsing or agreeing with the predictions of "enormous catastrophic environmental destruction" so you needn't address them. i'm just explaning how I think things have happened). Then the policymakers got (are still getting) on board and said "We need to stop this...let's impose restrictions on CO2 emmissions". And now as the scientists realize that the previous models/predictions/paleoclimate models might not have been right at all they are starting to really investigate whether or not the current AGW theory is valid or not at all. The politicians don't want to admit they might have been wrong about AGW so they are still going at anti-CO2 measure. (Mind you, we don't know yet whether AGW is valid and even if it is not, the rapid CO2 rise is probably going to upset our environment in some major ways so it is not foolish to at least start addressing it, that is, looking at ways to reduce its production. And I AM NOT endorsing Kyoto or other potentially economy-halting legaslation, I'm just saying based on our knowledge of CO2's important role in the environment (not just climate) it is wise to take caution with CO2 emissions).

    I don't think anyone in the world wants anthropogenic global warming to occur. In fact no one wants any sort of massive climatalogically destabilizing event to happen, man made or natural. But people, scientists and the non-science public alike, are worried, because if AGW is true then we may be in trouble and maybe we can save ourselves. Scientists are notorius risk avoiders. Before detonating the first atomic bomb the Manhattan project carried out serious detailed calculations to make sure the risk that an atomic bomb explosion would ignite the whole atmosphere was minimal. Very very minimal. You can't expect the scientific community to disregard the AGW theory so quickly.

    As long as all valid research is still published in our respected scientific journals, we as the public have a way to know which research is good. As Andre has pointed out, these journals publish research that disagrees with AGW theory. Some research has not been accepted by these journals. I assume this means that research was not valid. Do you, Andre, believe the journals are ignoring research they reject because the reviewers think the theory of AGW is just such a great thing they don't want to see it challenged? These journals are the bastians of science, where the research is evaluated with objective rigor by some of the greatest scientists in the field. If we can't trust the peer-reviewed journal system to be an impartial judge then we can no longer trust the scientific community. I'm not saying the reviewers are perfect, but I don't see what the motivation would be to continue a huge scientific lie. Once it was discovered, and it would be discovered, everyone involved in the lie would lose their jobs and their prestige and the public would lose faith in science, and that would be very bad.

    The argument that scientists would keep up a lie of AGW just for funding,
    is the same as the argument that scientists could be swayed by oil companies funding their research,
    Either scientists are corrupt or they aren't. I certainly don't think they generally are so I don't consider that a rule. But I would expect fossil fuel companies to hire scientists who already believe AGW is false, as Soon and Baliunas have for many years. That doesn't mean that Exxon-funded research is necessarily wrong or bad, but you know how it's going to turn out. Do you think that if Soon and Baliunas suddening discovered a smoking gun for AGW completely proving it was true while doing research funded by Exxon that Exxon would let them publish it? Nope. I trust scientists, but not huge companies that have a huge stake in the debate.

    Most of what I've read criticizing the M&M, B&S, and muller research cites errors in the authors mathematical/statistical calculations. Typically their research consisted of taking Mann's data but using a different mathematical/statistical outlook. I am not knowledgable enough about that math to assess Mann, M&M, or anyone else's statistical methods, nor do I have the time. So I rely on others, namely the journals, to do this for me and determine what research is scientifically robust.

    Other people who have problems with the recent work of M&M, soon&baliunas, and muller:
    http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2004-2_archives/000406.html (noted earlier in this thread)


    I don't feel compelled to give much consideration for the paper that Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon wrote on the MWP. They are both astrophysicists (not climatologists, paleoclimatologists, etc. ) and have a personnel scientific stake in the idea that AGW is false. If AGW was false their own theory of sunspots' would quite possibly be accepted as the best explaination of the major force in earth's climate change. It appears they might have gone out of their own area of expertise to try and dissprove a competing theory. http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Willie_Soon
    One might find it offensive that I would consider the possibility that a scientist would partake in poor science just to further their own theories and prestige, but if you believe climatologists would lie about AGW to do that, why not astrophysicists?

    So. What's my point anyway.
    I'm not saying S&B are wrong about sunspots.
    I'm not saying AGW is going to create a horrible mess in 50 years.
    I'm not saying AGW is going to do anything more than raise the temps 0.5 F over 100 years, if that.
    I'm not even saying the hockeystick is true. It may be a complete artifact of the statistical methods used by Mann (though I'll be rather upset at the journal reviewers if there is nothing else at all to it).

    But I think we have to trust the established review process to determine which AGW-disproving research is valid. And trust them not to change their standards for such research.
    But I don't want them to lower their standards either. Of course, if some AGW-disproving research is bad science that does NOT mean that AGW is true. In the same way, if some one claims Saddam Hussein has nuclear warheads and I say 'No he doesn't, he's too nice a guy to have nukes'. I would be wrong, but that doesn't mean that he has nukes.

    If journals have raised their standards for work disproving AGW it might be because there is no single theory to replace AGW being proposed, rather a number of seperate theories about different factors affecting the environment. As Andre mentioned in his hypothetical argument,
    I'm not saying that is a valid reason to keep AGW theory, but scientists do like it when a theory brings together disparite data from multiple disciplines and melds it all into one clean mechanism. Of course we all like they idea that things can be explained in a neat package that humans are smart enough to figure out.
    And I also wonder if scientists (and humans in general, for that matter) just like the idea that we've become so powerful data we actually alter the entire natural system around us. Arrogance, some would call it.

    I don't think science is going down the tubes because scientists are being unethical and unscientific about AGW. But I don't think Andre is going to exactly agree with me there, so what I'm interested in is:
    If we are keeping up a myth of AGW, why do we do it? Arrogance?
  21. Oct 30, 2004 #20
    Splendid, thanks pebrew.

    Why I act so cynical? It's not me BTW. I mostly try to stay strickly neutral but that didn't work. Since this is attempt nr X+ to explain why global warming is a hoax and nobody has moved an inch. But I do see the terrible allegations against anybody who turns against the main stream. I thought I should mirror that for a change.

    Mirroring for instance:
    What is the scientific method of reasoning here, do you need to be a climatologist to review the literature and jot down the yes and no's? why would they alter their standards?

    Which suggests that the cases in the past are all done deals. Nothing is further from the truth. We have worked on the PETM, I don't know if you have seen my alternative Venus hypothesis. I just finished a detailed geological study and believe I see a strong melting it all into one clean mechanism.

    In the adjacent mammoth thread I will show that the ice ages are more and more mysterious and that we should start all over, explaining them.

    Now there is the really scary part. What is the psychology behind the thing? This is human nature that as also been responsible for the Russian revolution, WW I and WW II and some other cataclysms. You have to believe in a good cause, no matter how wrong it is, but it is that what the leader preaches you, that's for one.
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