Wow, Look at that Science

The Thin Green Line blog really wants to mix it up and debunk those scientific myths propounded by skeptics.  I had my hopes up for an interesting debate, until I clicked through and saw that the author spent the entire post fact-checking Sen. Inhofe’s counts of scientists who are skeptical.  Barf.  I wrote back in the comments:

I just cannot believe that your “best” argument is to get into this stupid scientist headcount scoreboard thing.  Never has any argument had less to do with science than counting heads and degrees.  Plenty of times the majority turns out to be correct, but on any number of issues lone wolfs have prevailed after decades of being reviled by the majority of scientists (plate tectonics theory comes to mind).

If you want to deal with the best arguments from the scientific rather than political wing of the skeptic community, address this next:  It is  very clear in the IPCC reports (if one reads them) that in fact catastrophic warming forecasts are based on not one but two independent theories.  The first is greenhouse gas theory, and I agree that it is a fairly thin branch to try to deny that greenhouse gas theory is wrong.  The IPCC says that greenhouse gas effects in isolation will cause about 1-1.2C of warming by 2100, and I am willing to agree to that.

However, this is far short of popular forecasts, which range from 3C and up (and up and up).   The rest of the warming comes from a second independent theory, that the world’s climate is dominated by positive feedbacks.  Over 2/3 of the IPCC’s warming forecasts, and a higher percentage of more aggressive forecasts, come from this second order feedback effect rather than directly from greenhouse gas warming.

There is a reason we never hear much of this second theory.  It’s because it is very, very weak.  So weak that honest climate scientists will admit they are not even sure of the sign (positive or negative) of key feedbacks (e.g. clouds) or which feedbacks dominate.  It is also weak because many of the modelers have chosen assumptions for positive feedbacks on the far end of believability.  Recent forecasts of 15F of warming imply a feedback percentage of positive 85%**, and when people talk of “tipping points” they are implying feedbacks greater than 100%.

There is just no evidence that feedbacks are this high, and even some evidence they are net negative.  In fact, just a basic reality check would make any physical scientist suspicious of a long-term stable system with a 70-85% positive net feedback fraction.  Really?

When global warming alarmists try to cut off debate, they claim the science is settled, but this is half disingenuous.  It is fairly strong and I am willing to accept it for the greenhouse effect and 1C per century.  But the science behind net positive climate feedback is weak, weak, weak, particularly when trying to support a 15F forecasts.

I would love to see this addressed.

(**note for readers new to feedback issues.  The initial warming from CO2 is multiplied by a feedback F.  F=1/(1-f), where f is the fraction of the initial input that is fed back in the first round of a recursive process.  Numbers above like 70%, 85%, and 100% refer to f.  For example, an f of 75% makes F=4, which would increase a warming forecast from 1C in 2100 from CO2 alone to a total of 4C.)

  • AnonyMoose

    If you must read IPCC reports, also notice how often they admit there was a lot that they didn’t know in the previous reports. Look for phrases such as “significant progress”. In each report they claim they pretend to know what is going on, although there are many unknowns they have to mention … if you must read them.

  • Mike

    The question is whether your comment will be allowed to remain. Once I clicked the link, I realized it wasn’t just some believer’s blog, so it’s likely your comment will remain. But if it is removed, it’s because it’s concise, and logical. It make sense. Often times, skeptics, who have no case, but are just yelling fools, often are allowed to comment, because it makes the skeptic’s argument look like only fools are skeptics.

  • commieBob

    CBC radio has a program called Ideas. Tonight’s program was called ‘The Deniers’ and presented Lawrence Solomon’s book of the same name. The book was compiled from columns he wrote for the National Post. (I haven’t downloaded it, but apparently the broadcast is available as a podcast.) He presents the work of prominent, credible scientists who don’t believe the climate change hysteria we are having jammed down our throats.

    Solomon is now writing columns about the interests who benefit from a widespread belief in catastrophic climate change.

    The thing about Lawrence Solomon is that he is an environmentalist. He is the head of Energy Probe. He would like to see us weaned from oil. He’s not a fan of coal and he’s not real keen on nuclear. It is impressive that he hasn’t drunk the climate change kool-aid.

    P.S. Why do I call myself commieBob? I’m a Canadian, raised in Saskatchewan. I support universal healthcare. The name is tongue-in-cheek; I hate communists and fascists equally.

  • As a former Senate Env. Public Works climate researcher, I will have full rebuttal to laughable “debunking” of 700 scientist report. I cannot belive they cited the new report that purports to discredit the Senate report. The authors cannot even do basic math.

  • Lloyd Burt

    What amazes me that these “scientists” propose feedbacks driven by temperature at rates greater than the input temperature change…and yet they somehow think that these feedbacks will only react to the CO2’s forcing and not their own. I’m sorry but once feedbacks provide more forcing than the initial input energy, they’re inherently “run away” and will only stop when the feedback weakens below that 1 to 1 forcing. Since the holocene optimum and and other interglacials were significantly warmer than today, there is no reason to believe CO2 forcing (a piddly 1.2C for doubling) can ever push things that far.

  • hunter

    “the world’s climate is dominated by positive feedbacks”

    Ha ha, there we go – once again you fulfil the prediction that you’ll trot out this meaningless phrase at least once every two weeks. Your habit of saying the same thing over and over again and apparently not being capable of ever responding to any criticism strongly suggests some kind of autistic spectrum disorder.

    Let’s sit back now and wait for the next time you repeat your meaningless blathering.

  • fcdman


    “Naner-naner-dooder head” is not an argument. What are you talking about with “meaningless phrase”. The argument in the post is clear and easily understood, what exactly is the counter argument you are putting forth. If its that the post author is “autistic”, then your a fucking idiot with no ability to engage in any real discussion of these issues.

  • Adam

    “What exactly is the counter argument you are putting forth”

    hunter has never put up a counter argument. The approach there seems to just be to spread vitriol. Rarely do I encounter people with actions so easily explained by a Freudian approach to psychology.

    Yes, that’s right – YOUR DICK IS LITTLE :O

  • j ferguson

    “…and I agree that it is a fairly thin branch to try to deny that greenhouse gas theory is wrong.”

    Is there an extra “denial” in here? sorry to have posted this comment to the first thread earlier.


  • hunter – the skeptical one

    Many responses to plain questions, or presentations of conflicting data, from many AGW believers is surprisingly similar to what we see from ‘hunter’.
    I was speaking with the lead scientist and Howard Hughes foundation recipient of a research lab recently. I was able to ask questions about the work his lab was doing, and ask questions about how the concepts they work with are applied. Some of my questions were no doubt naive, and some of my assumptions were wrong. He was able to explain in sensible terms his view. Some of what is researched in this lab has radical implications for biology and neuroscience.
    He was able to answer questions without resort to any of the displays our AGW hunter resorts to. He was able to answer questions in a non-circular fashion.
    That is what I have come to expect from people who actually know what they believe, and actually understand what they are talking about, no matter the topic.
    The typical AGW true believer, as we see displayed in AGW hunter, is exactly the opposite of what this scientist did. Our believer is typically: Defensive, argumentative, evasive, uninformative, angry, circular, self referential.
    What I have learned in my life is that when I am confronted with the behavior the AGW true believer displays, they are wrong. Sometimes sincere, often cynical, but wrong none the less.
    From Hansen and Gore to our own little waif, AGW is dominated by this sort of behavior.
    That is one big reason I am very confident that AGW – the idea that humans are causing a climate crisis by way of CO2 emissions- is a social movement, with little or nothing to do with climate science.