Catastrophe Denied: The Science of the Skeptic’s Position

I have repaired the overscan issues in the DVD files and am re-posting the links, which are all good now.

Once upon a time, Al Gore had a PowerPoint deck.  Several years ago, I came to the conclusion that Gore’s presentation was deeply flawed, so I made my own PowerPoint deck in response, and have been updating it ever since.  Here is the most recent version

Powerpoint presentation with notes pages (.ppt)

Adobe Acrobat .pdf file

Then, Al Gore made a movie from his PowerPoint deck.  He won an Oscar and a Nobel prize for his movie.  Those are a bit out of my reach, so I will have to settle for actually being right.  My previous movie showed my PowerPoint deck presented to a live audience, and can still be found online here.  I felt the sound quality could be improved and the narration could be tighter, so I went into the “studio” to create a tighter version.  The product of this is what I believe to be my best effort yet at explaining, in a comprehensive but simple manner, the science of the skeptic’s position to laymen.

I have become a big fan of Vimeo because I don’t have to break videos up into 10-minute chunks as on YouTube.  The Vimeo version is here and is embedded below:

Other Viewing Options

When I get the time to break this into 9(!) parts, I will post a link here to YouTube.

You can download the 212MB .wmv file here (link on the lower right).  Alternatively, it can also be found here.  The .wmv is also available via BitTorrent:  You can find its page at Pirate Bay or the torrent directly here.

Download the .iso file (DVD disk image) to make you own playable DVD here (beware:  1.6GB).  A free tool to burn the DVD from the image is ImgBurn

The .iso file is also available via BitTorrent: you can find its page at Pirate Bay with the torrent here.

Finally, you can buy the DVD at cost, here, for $7.50 plus shipping.

  • Awesome work 🙂

  • Hoi Polloi

    Hmmm.. I see already one mistake on the first slide: it’s A Critique of Mann-Made instead of Man-Made…

  • Great presentation. I agree that some people will not be willing to sit down for more than an hour, and that splitting the file into the 10 minute YouTube segments will be a plus for those.

    Have you thought about getting someone like John Coleman to narrate?

  • hunter

    What is this weird compulsion you have about displaying in as many ways as possible how stupid you are? The more videos you produce, the less you seem to understand. And it’s not just that you don’t understand. You’re not even capable of understanding that you don’t understand. Dopy fucking cunt.

  • hunter (the sane one)

    Keep up the good work.
    The resident psycho hates it, so it is clearly even better than your typical presentation.

  • Great Job….

  • Alex M

    Good stuff, but you talk too fast, and, maybe because of this, your diction is not good. As mentioned above, there is a lot of sound information in this, so maybe it should be split into two parts, and then you would not have to talk so fast. Keep it up.

  • Chris S

    I appreciated this analysis and have passed it on to friends. Thanks for your hard work. You have done a fantastic job. Also I like the various formats.

    One constructive point: perhaps a 5-10 minute summary for the attention-deficit crowd and people new to the skeptic position?

    I found some of my friends don’t want to sit though the whole thing, so I end up having to summarize for them. An outline summary I think would be a big plus! and hopefully would not be too difficult to do.

  • lyle

    Slow the hell down.

    You speak way too fast. Not only too fast for listeners, but much too fast for your own mouth. That’s why you stutter, stumble and slur.

    Speak each word individually. Speak the entire word, beginning to end. Then speak the next word. Try this: listen to a good professional narrator and copy his speed and cadence.

    I tried to listen, and got through about fifteen minutes. Your presentation makes it unlistenable.

  • ps

    Great job. If I may ask, please, speak slowly next time. It will be much better for non native speakers. Just learn from Al Gore! 🙂 It is not only about a content, it is about selling as well. Anyhow, thanks!

  • h

    Rehearsal, editing, and attention to audio quality would make the difference…

  • bc browser

    An excellent lecture. Thanks. I could feel a strong urge to expand on every point but I think you’ve captured it very well within those 90 minutes. That a professional speaker did not present it actually made the message more convincing to me. I am hoping more people will see it.

  • not-a-duck

    Fantastic analysis of the relative positions of the AGM crowd and the real cherry picking they have done to prove their pet theory. I don’t believe the scientists are trying to perpetuate actual fraud, it’s just that they are human and want to believe so badly that they have blind spots in their own methods of research. Much like those who believe they have invented a perpetual motion machine, they pick the encouraging evidence and dismiss any arguments against. In fact, it’s exactly what they are claiming the skeptics do.

    Don’t worry about the nay-sayers who are criticizing your diction or pace. Apparently some people cannot separate the message from the delivery. I found your pace refreshing and easy to listen to, since I didn’t have to wait for every word. You had a LOT of information to impart, and were obviously enthusiastic about imparting it. Yes, it might be better to slow down for those of us out there who need more time to absorb the words (or those who have trouble with English in the first place.) Still, I’d rather here the enthusiasm of a well researched presentation from the person who created it, knowing that he believes in what he is doing than some Hollywood spokesperson reading from a script. You did just fine.

  • bjkrauseca

    I’m confused. The speaker spends considerable time showing that data has been biased by urban heat effects and bad station-siting and then proceeds to tell us that temperatures have risen — if the data is biased, how can wwe conclude anything?

  • Outstanding presentation. So easy to understand and clear. Everyone should shre this with their alarmist friends.

  • David Harrington

    Nice work.

  • JoeH

    In contrast to several of the comments above, I felt the rapid pace helped keep me focused on the material. Excellent summary of the issues. Keep up the good fight!

  • Pete

    Thanks for the outstanding although breathtaking presentation. At one time during your presentation you mentioned rather casually that during the latest IPCC round the process was reversed in that the summary for decision-makers was written first and the “scientific report” was put together afterwards. Being scientists myself (social sciences) I find this claim highly explosive. If this is true then we have a clear case of post-normal science which of course is no science at all but politics disguised in the language of science. In the eyes of true academics this would be the final nail in the coffin of the IPCC. So could you elaborate this a bit? Where can we find more info on this?

  • Kendra

    Absolutely phenomenal! As far as sound and pace, my husband is Swiss – therefore English as second language – but he was riveted, as was I. Because of the format, it actually being in a live presentation auditorium setting, it isn’t as “easy” as the usualnarrated video, I agree.

    The people I’d like to send to are enough resistant that it’d be great to have a video with everything as is, just easier to hear!

    This is so far outweighed by the fact that the whole history of the controversy is presented, with such clarity that we’re very impressed. While we both already knew most of the issues, but maybe a bit disjointedly, to see it presented in such a clear logical way was a fantastic experience.

    Well, I guess I’m a bit overexcited, so unable to write a soundbite about how important I think this is. I’ll be checking back for sure – your next video will necessarily have to mention the events since Nov. 10.

    To other commenters – lucky you, that you have people who will look at this or anything like this, even though you have to intervene to explain or whatever. I feel like I’m swimming uphill – usually I’m fighting the usual snark when I post (my only outlet being FB, outside of a few family/friends, who “don’t get around to it.”

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, keep it up!!!!!!

  • NEILC

    Like yourself I follow this subject closely. In my opinion your presentation is the most balanced, informative and influential of anything I have seen. Great stuff.

  • Ian

    A wonderfully clear and compelling presentation. I have been reading a lot on the subject and I think you have done the best job of pulling the evidence together. Well done.

  • MikeA

    Well I looked through the slide show, and I thought it was OK. I have recently discovered that I am a ‘warmist’ but I don’t think it’s made me stupid. Warming appears to be like a 80/20 proposition to me, and I think you have captured the 20% rather well. I’d like to see all the forcings together PDO, Solar and carbon in a stacked graph. You’ve also hit the nail on the head in that it’s all about carbon sensitivity in the climate.

  • Murano

    Where did you get all this rather massive amount of information? Your own research in your own free time? Hmmmm, maybe you got it from someone and are just reading their script? Hmmmm, I bet there is a little oil involved here. All the inconvenient truths whited out. This instead of the work of thousands of scientists. Should I be skeptical here??

  • A good overview with logic about the poor cap and trade policies.
    We need to protect forests and ecosystems.
    We need to control many other pollutions, and stop the foolish use of land for biofuels.
    Population increases are increasingly dangerous to our planet.
    A carbon tax instead of payroll tax makes sense.

  • homesower

    Sir,

    When Al Gore has all his awards stripped from him, he will lack both integrity and awards. You will still have your integrity.

    I disagree with the comments about pacing. When people have lots of moving images to distract them, a slow pace is appropriate. When looking at an unchanging slide its the voice that drives the action. Should the big oil money finally flow your way and you make a true “movie” then you can add the James Earl Jones voice-over.

    I had a pastor who spit out twice as many words as the average preacher. He told us we just had to listen fast. Somehow we managed just fine.

  • Brian

    Thank-you very much for this.

    Maybe we can take some of Gore’s prize money and give to you….

    Brian

  • Roger

    Comprehensive, balanced and logically developed argument. A pleasure to read; thank you.

    Roger
    february 9 2010, 2235

  • Charlie

    Great job.

    I’m a retired scientist who supported the global warming position until a colleague working in environmental research straightened me out several years ago.

    You have an excellent balanced presentation of both the scientific and political issues involved. I will now be able to better understand the global warming debate as it develops.

  • Hazel Macmillan

    How much I would like you to come to the Highlands of Scotland where everything it seems has been skewed to fit the dogma of hyped Global Climate Change or Warming. The saddest thing is that the additional collective worry over this process is eroding confidence in an already recession-based poorer community here. I have seen small signs of exasperation in the ever more shrill messages of Gore et al, it is starting feel like they protest too much. Very many thanks for making so much progress in presenting and distilling the arguments plus the evidence in such a lucid way.

  • Hans (Denmark)

    Perfect! – I don’t agree with the comments about the speed being too high. We live in a fast world and you can always go back.
    I encourage you to make a “part II”, where you could expand on analogies with financial modelling, Ockham’s razor, newer data, the need to return to old-fashioned environment protection ideas, etc; I sense that you have some more common sense insight to share!

  • Steve

    Minor point about needing to show that CO2 causes warming to show that man causes climate change. What about “ocean acidification”? The scare monger are trying to build that one up too.

  • JOHN DOUGLAS

    Speach delivery rate is related to IQ this Guy is very bright

  • Max Beran

    Small niggle (but doesn’t detract for me from the overall excellent presentation). On several occasions you say something along the lines that methane and water vapour are much more powerful greenhouse gases than CO2. In fact molecule for molecule they are all rather similar. The reason why water vapour is more powerful is that it is much more abundant (at least in the troposphere) and absorbs over a wider spectrum. And the reason why methane is spoken of as more powerful is that it is present in much lower concentration so is in a much steeper portion of the logarithmic curve, i.e. the absorption lines are still far from saturated. This is counteracted by its shorter lifetime (or more properly relaxation time).
    You also do not make as much as is perhaps merited by the importance of the process of the role of evaporation and condensation as energy transport mechanisms. This of itself acts like a negative feedback partly by meridional transport and partly by putting a ceiling on how warm the oceans could become.

  • RockyRoad

    I am really bothered with the language used by some Warmists–they abandon civility and launch into the meanest attacks possible. I’ve been on some of their sites and I don’t do that–it certainly doesn’t further one’s argument by leaving logical thought and becoming outright nasty. Maybe if some of the scientists identifying with the Warmists were more open to civil discussion there wouldn’t be this communication problem and accuasations of “deniers” and “flat-landers”. I think it’s a fair assumption that when expletives are used that maybe they don’t have anything else to support their position.

  • Duncan Thomson

    Right from the beginning I have felt intuitively that the Alarmists were in fact Bullshitters. I’ve often said that the story of Chicken Little and the sky falling on our heads is a story that reveals much about human nature and the need we seem to have to want to scare ourselves repeatedly.
    Your presentation was the exact opposite of the crap that continues to rain down from the alarmist camp. It was logical, clear, dispassionate and believable. It also agrees closely with Ian Plimer’s book “Heaven and Earth. Global Warming: The Missing Science”. He’s another Australian who can’t stand the smell of bullshit.
    Thank You a thousand times for your efforts

  • A well presented though garbled at times
    Representation of the actual facts.
    Al Gore presentation was for the money and award.
    This was about a genuine concern to illuminate the true “facts”.
    Global temperature increase in general is a good and healthy future for most of mankind.

  • Andy Rhodes

    Keep up the good work. It’s also good when you get under the skin of the tree-hugging leftie moronic pratts whose only pathetic childish option is to resort to abusive language because they are too stupid to understand the arguments. In the UK there is discussion about trying to prosecute the perpetrators of this apalling climate change scam.

  • Huevo

    Hi Warren,
    I’m a climate activist (“alarmist”?) and I’m glad to see such a well-thought-out, carefully composed presentation. Too much of the debate, especially among politicians, tends to be either completely ignorant of science (see, for example, Utah’s recent declaration that it’s all a conspiracy) or complete alignment with lobbyists (see Waxman-Markey). I think you arrive at the wrong conclusions for your first four “Key Climate Questions,” especially about the human scale of impacts in the case of catastrophic warming, but let’s NOT get into that now. We could argue for hours, but commenting is a pretty inefficient forum in which to do so.

    What I’m really struck by is that we end up arriving at the same conclusion for the fifth Key Question: some form of carbon-limiting legislation is needed. Because there’s _some_ possibility (I’d say it’s much larger than you do, but let’s ignore that) that substantial climate change could occur, some form of insurance policy is required. I tend to think that, since the energy system in the USA is far from a free market, there are significant free lunches available under a carbon-pricing scheme. (But again, we can ignore this debate for now.)

    I should also note that I agreed with your critique of the climate debate creating distractions: other pollutants are being de-emphasized, especially in China, where coal is booming. And no one, outside of the uninformed, the corn farmers, their industry, and their congressmen, thinks that corn ethanol was a good idea.

    Moving forward, where’s our common ground? When there’s a carbon-pricing scheme implemented, we want it to be transparent and simple. We don’t want big government and big business to hijack it, siphoning off the taxpayers’ wealth. We don’t want it to unfairly benefit lobbyists and special interests, nor to disproportionately harm the poor. So both you and I reject Waxman-Markey.

    Jeff Flake’s proposal was certainly interesting, since it’s very close to what most economists think would be the IDEAL carbon-limiting solution. (Google Greg Mankiw or Robert Stavins [http://tinyurl.com/stavins]). It didn’t seem to get any momentum, perhaps because both Democrats, tied to Wall Street money, and Republicans, tied to oil and coal money, found ways to hate it. Interesting to compare to the Cantwell-Collins CLEAR act, which would rebate all carbon-generated government revenue to citizens, equally. Either option would be far preferable to Waxman-Markey, which gives away taxpayer income to polluters and benefits derivatives traders.

    I’m eager to see how we can move forward from here. Most citizens are upset at government-created bureaucracies, and yet real solutions that would make government and economy more efficient, while reducing carbon output, are being ignored.

    I hope we can all put aside (for now, at least) our quabbles over degrees of likelihood of certain impacts, and recognize that we’re talking about common-sense insurance policies that work, regardless of the levels of climate feedback.

  • Hans (Denmark)

    I’ll encourage you to include solar forcing in your world view. Various records (ice, sediments) show that there has been a good correlation between intensity of galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and temperature over the last 12000 years (http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1181073/), so we know that GCR force temperature and also the strength of this forcing (Svensmark is developing a theory for how that comes about, modulation by the Sun, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKoUwttE0BA). We also know that CO2 forces temperature, but as you brilliantly point out in your slides, we don’t know the strength of that.
    Now, we know the CO2 concentration and we can measure GCR independently. It would seem natural to try and fit the temperature to a sum of these two forcing contributions + noise, where the noise comes from processes that we don’t understand e.g. complex ocean dynamics. We can also predict CO2 pretty well, and we can predict GCR based on understanding of the solar dynamics (the Sun is likely to be quiet for the next 30 years, i.e. there will be more GCR, and so temperature will be forced towards a cooler climate). After fitting to the past data, we can therefore predict the future. My guess is that we will see cooling from 1995 to 2040 by about 0.5 degrees, and then warming by 0.5-1.5 degrees from thereon until 2100, assuming that the Sun returns to a more normal state, and that China and India become industrialised.

  • Arno Arrak

    Looked at your ninety minute presentation “Catastrophe Denied.” You make it pretty clear to someone who wants to learn about global warming. Unfortunately, in common with many others, you accept the existence of the current warming as real when it is actually faked. In my book “What Warming?” I show how it was done. I started out with satellite temperature measurements and the first thing I noticed was that the supposed warming in the eighties and nineties just did not exist. What satellites do see in its place is a multi-year temperature oscillation where temperature goes up and down by half a degree but does not rise until the 1998 super El Nino shows up. There were five such cycles within a twenty year period and they trace out the warm El Nino and cool La Nina periods of the Pacific ENSO system. You can find them even in land-based records going back to 1860 that have not been homogenized by a running average. They have existed since the Panamanian Isthmus rose from the sea and are expected to exist for the foreseeable future. But there are irregularities and the super El Nino is one of them. It was caused by a storm surge in the Indo-Pacific region that brought a mass of warm water to the start of the equatorial countercurrent in the Western Pacific. Flow of the countercurrent carried it to South America and as it hit the coast it created the super El Nino we saw. I have a beautiful picture of this in my book. Its temperature rose twice as high as that of a regular El Nino and this made 1998 the warmest year of the century. Its warm water lingered near the coast and made the next regular El Nino 0.2 degrees higher than the rest. The La Nina that followed was abortive, did not bring cooling, and a six year warm period I call the twenty-first century high followed. That was the aftermath of the super El Nino. All this finally ended with a real La Nina cooling in 2008, the one that Kevin Trenberth of CRU could not understand in his Climategate email. Its appearance signifies the resumption of the climate oscillations that existed in the eighties and nineties. The next El Nino is now almost here and the fantastic warming from computer models has been cancelled. But back to the eighties and nineties. NOAA, NASA (Land-Ocean) and Met Office (Hadley Centre – HadCRUT3) all show a steadily rising temperature during this period. How can this be? When you put one of them, say HadCRUT3, next to the satellite temperature curve you see what is going on. First they cherry-pick the high points of the El Nino periods and then raise up the low La Nina temperatures in between. This way a horizontal temperature curv becomes a rising temperature curve. But this only works with the first four El Ninos. The fifth one is too low so they raise it up by a tenth of a degree. They gratefully incorporate the super El Nini which is next even though it has nothing to do with carbon dioxide. But the twenty-first century high is too low for them so they raise it up too. NOAA is worse: while HadCRUT3 retains the much-reduced La Nina valleys between the El Ninos they stay with the peaks and jettison all low temps in between. NASA starts out like HadCRUT3 but they don’t have the nerve to change the peaks so they are all in place, and so is the start of the twenty-first century high. Only the super El Nino is off because they can’t measure it well. This is not what climate scientists should be doing. It is called scientific fraud and should be investigated. And since three organizations are involved it is also a criminal conspiracy and should be internationally prosecuted.

  • MrMr

    Wow! Great presentation. I really appreciate it. (and I liked how fast you spoke)

    I wish you had discussed more about the Sun’s effect on global temperatures. Intuitively it would seem like the Sun would have the greatest effect on Earth’s temperature deviations.

  • john oconnell

    Very thought out presentation.The climate debate or globle-warming or whatever you want to call it is destroying the environmental issues of true meaning!!!! land use,its so nice to here someone anyone talk about it. The ‘conservation’
    issues that are most important are being sufficated by the endless talk about “climate change”.Keeping the few open spaces left protected from development is a much more important issue to true evironmentalists!!! The encrouchment of mankind into whats left of the wild is the worst thing that could ever happen to this planet.What happened to defending habits of the great animals and trees of this world as the first and foremost mission of the movement.Not against the tempature but the very real threats of logging,strip-mines and dummping waste in the oceans!The other biggest threat is population control the taboo subject no one will talk about because it brings up real issuses about abortion and birth control.Things no pollitition wants to bring up.Not even Vice President Gore.Maybe I am just an old hippie but to all who want to help the planet be you a sceintist or ditch-digger do what you can in your lives to help the real threat,leaving untouched spaces for the creatures we share this planet with.Not the theoretical threats of globle-warming.

  • Ted L

    This is an excellent “early college level” presentation. I actually appreciated your presentation rate, since slow and ponderous speakers (like Al G) tend to put me to sleep while I am waiting for their next thought. Just a little joke (very little)… When you were talking about the “assumptions” used in the Global Warming models, I thought it might be fun to refer to algore-ithms. Har.Sorry.

  • RG

    Very informative analysis of the whole climate change topic. Judging from the reaction of the hunter: (an ugly ad hominem attack) you have discovered a gold vein or in other words a Truth that acts as a red muleta on “warmists”.
    Good work.

  • CF

    Very thorough at the popular science level. Just what most people need to help them through the maze of acronyms and statistical jargon. I am like most non-scientists, trying to get a balanced picture of this issue and so far have not been able to square the high level of alarm with my own intuitive sense of the history of the ebb and flow of climate over geological time. I was enlightened by your discussion of positive & negative feed back systems and tend to agree with you that negative feedback forces probably are more dominant with regard to climate cycles. I have always had the long range view that ‘catastrophe’ was too strong of a word, implying too short of a time frame for world-wide climate changes. I’m guessing that as sea levels have risen and fallen over the last several thousand years that our ancestors, generation-by-generation have just moved up and down the hill to keep out of the water as needed. There certainly are negative aspects of living at or below sea level but these are not really climate change issues. Thanks for a basic, understandable summary. Seems like there should be grand money available for this sort of work.

  • CF

    Very thorough at the popular science level. Just what most people need to help them through the maze of acronyms and statistical jargon. I am like most non-scientists, trying to get a balanced picture of this issue and so far have not been able to square the high level of alarm with my own intuitive sense of the history of the ebb and flow of climate over geological time. I was enlightened by your discussion of positive & negative feed back systems and tend to agree with you that negative feedback forces probably are more dominant with regard to climate cycles. I have always had the long range view that ‘catastrophe’ was too strong of a word, implying too short of a time frame for world-wide climate changes. I’m guessing that as sea levels have risen and fallen over the last several thousand years that our ancestors, generation-by-generation have just moved up and down the hill to keep out of the water as needed. There certainly are negative aspects of living at or below sea level but these are not really climate change issues. Thanks for a basic, understandable summary. Seems like there should be grant money available for this sort of work.

  • phil hayward

    I had a flat near the Mediterranean coast, which I sold 12 years ago because of the threat of rising sea levels.

    I still live nearby, and levels if anything are lower. All up in increased cloud, perhaps. Climate change isn’t a simple equation.

  • NC

    You hear an awful lot about AGW skeptics being “anti-science” but, whether you agree with the conclusions or not, this is a straightforward and logical explanation of the position. Funnily, you can’t find a flip-side to this video, one that defends specifically against skeptics in a point by point fashion and that simply describes how + feedback warming is supposed to work and jibe with past stability. I can’t find it anywhere. I’ve looked many times, and whenever I do all I find is lists of petroleum companies who’ve given money to so-and-so, or websites and books with helpful suggestions for how to decrease my carbon footprint. And I’d VERY much like to FIND the mainstream defense since I feel like I’m going crazy! What am I missing here? Why does a stable system with + feedback or sitting so near a tipping point seem so anti-physical to me? I want to understand, but the person who’s willing to describe the mechanism seems to consider it proprietary information or something, because they’re not putting it out there. I’m an EE — a rare one who works almost entirely with analog circuits and I deal with stability issues and feedback every day. What climatologists can make themselves believe with incredible ease just seems absurd to me, and that makes me feel stupid. Circuits are a lot simpler than the climate, I know that, but does that mean I’m just too dumb to understand? Shouldn’t there be analogs between the two? And anyway, shouldn’t a complex system be even less likely to stay stable with latent positive or untriggered feedback than a simple one is (which is not likely at all)? I truly and genuinely want to know what I’m missing. Where’s the video that’s the obverse to this one? Will someone please comment with the link?

  • walter E

    Excellent work in a professional and sciebtific manner.
    However, I am afraid that the attempt to proof that ‘Global warming” is a non-scientific nonsense is hopeless. It is not about a science it is about a perception created by [mostly] non scientists in the minds of non-scientists. Global warming is a business of making huge money by presenting non-scientific threat and then suck money out of Governments and UN. (Just look how much UN agencies are spending on it.)
    And a second reason for my doubts in success is that general public (to whom this brilliant presentation is appealing) does not make decisions based on science of facts. It is more than obvious that Microsoft windows is one of the worst SW products. And there have been a very powerful alternative -Linux (and Unix before that). But why almost all of us still using Windows?