Return of “The Plug”

I want to discuss the recent Kaufman study which purports to reconcile flat temperatures over the last 10-12 years with high-sensitivity warming forecasts.  First, let me set the table for this post, and to save time (things are really busy this week in my real job) I will quote from a previous post on this topic

Nearly a decade ago, when I first started looking into climate science, I began to suspect the modelers were using what I call a “plug” variable.  I have decades of experience in market and economic modeling, and so I am all too familiar with the temptation to use one variable to “tune” a model, to make it match history more precisely by plugging in whatever number is necessary to make the model arrive at the expected answer.

When I looked at historic temperature and CO2 levels, it was impossible for me to see how they could be in any way consistent with the high climate sensitivities that were coming out of the IPCC models.  Even if all past warming were attributed to CO2  (a heroic acertion in and of itself) the temperature increases we have seen in the past imply a climate sensitivity closer to 1 rather than 3 or 5 or even 10  (I show this analysis in more depth in this video).

My skepticism was increased when several skeptics pointed out a problem that should have been obvious.  The ten or twelve IPCC climate models all had very different climate sensitivities — how, if they have different climate sensitivities, do they all nearly exactly model past temperatures?  If each embodies a correct model of the climate, and each has a different climate sensitivity, only one (at most) should replicate observed data.  But they all do.  It is like someone saying she has ten clocks all showing a different time but asserting that all are correct (or worse, as the IPCC does, claiming that the average must be the right time).

The answer to this paradox came in a 2007 study by climate modeler Jeffrey Kiehl.  To understand his findings, we need to understand a bit of background on aerosols.  Aerosols are man-made pollutants, mainly combustion products, that are thought to have the effect of cooling the Earth’s climate.

What Kiehl demonstrated was that these aerosols are likely the answer to my old question about how models with high sensitivities are able to accurately model historic temperatures.  When simulating history, scientists add aerosols to their high-sensitivity models in sufficient quantities to cool them to match historic temperatures.  Then, since such aerosols are much easier to eliminate as combustion products than is CO2, they assume these aerosols go away in the future, allowing their models to produce enormous amounts of future warming.

Specifically, when he looked at the climate models used by the IPCC, Kiehl found they all used very different assumptions for aerosol cooling and, most significantly, he found that each of these varying assumptions were exactly what was required to combine with that model’s unique sensitivity assumptions to reproduce historical temperatures.  In my terminology, aerosol cooling was the plug variable.

So now we can turn to Kaufman, summarized in this article and with full text here.  In the context of the Kiehl study discussed above, Kaufman is absolutely nothing new.

Kaufmann et al declare that aerosol cooling is “consistent with” warming from manmade greenhouse gases.

In other words, there is some value that can be assigned to aerosol cooling that offsets high temperature sensitives to rising CO2 concentrations enough to mathematically spit out temperatures sortof kindof similar to those over the last decade.  But so what?  All Kaufman did is, like every other climate modeler, find some value for aerosols that plugged temperatures to the right values.

Let’s consider an analogy.  A big Juan Uribe fan (plays 3B for the SF Giants baseball team) might argue that the 2010 Giants World Series run could largely be explained by Uribe’s performance.  They could build a model, and find out that the Giants 2010 win totals were entirely consistent with Uribe batting .650 for the season.

What’s the problem with this logic?  After all, if Uribe hit .650, he really would likely have been the main driver of the team’s success.  The problem is that we know what Uribe hit, and he batted under .250 last year.  When real facts exist, you can’t just plug in whatever numbers you want to make your argument work.

But in climate, we are not sure what exactly the cooling effect of aerosols are.  For related coal particulate emissions, scientists are so unsure of their effects they don’t even know the sign (ie are they net warming or cooling).  And even if they had a good handle on the effects of aerosol concentrations, no one agrees on the actual numbers for aerosol concentrations or production.

And for all the light and noise around Kaufman, the researchers did just about nothing to advance the ball on any of these topics.  All they did was find a number that worked, that made the models spit out the answer they wanted, and then argue in retrospect that the number was reasonable, though without any evidence.

Beyond this, their conclusions make almost no sense.  First, unlike CO2, aerosols are very short lived in the atmosphere – a matter of days rather than decades.  Because of this, they are poorly mixed, and so aerosol concentrations are spotty and generally can be found to the east (downwind) of large industrial complexes (see sample map here).

Which leads to a couple of questions.  First, if significant aerosol concentrations only cover, say, 10% of the globe, doesn’t that mean that to get a  0.5 degree cooling effect for the whole Earth, there must be a 5 degree cooling effect in the affected area.   Second, if this is so (and it seems unreasonably large), why have we never observed this cooling effect in the regions with high concentrations of manmade aerosols.  I understand the effect can be complicated by changes in cloud formation and such, but that is just further reasons we should be studying the natural phenomenon and not generating computer models to spit out arbitrary results with no basis in observational data.

Judith Currey does not find the study very convincing, and points to this study by Remer et al in 2008 that showed no change in atmospheric aerosol depths through the heart of the period of supposed increases in aerosol cooling.

So the whole basis for the study is flawed – its based on the affect of increasing aerosol concentrations that actually are not increasing.  Just because China is producing more does not apparently mean there is more in the atmosphere – it may be reductions in other areas like the US and Europe are offsetting Chinese emissions or that nature has mechanisms for absorbing and eliminating the increased emissions.

By the way, here was Curry’s response, in part:

This paper points out that global coal consumption (primarily from China) has increased significantly, although the dataset referred to shows an increase only since 2004-2007 (the period 1985-2003 was pretty stable).  The authors argue that the sulfates associated with this coal consumption have been sufficient to counter the greenhouse gas warming during the period 1998-2008, which is similar to the mechanism that has been invoked  to explain the cooling during the period 1940-1970.

I don’t find this explanation to be convincing because the increase in sulfates occurs only since 2004 (the solar signal is too small to make much difference).  Further, translating regional sulfate emission into global forcing isnt really appropriate, since atmospheric sulfate has too short of an atmospheric lifetime (owing to cloud and rain processes) to influence the global radiation balance.

Curry offers the alternative explanation of natural variability offsetting Co2 warming, which I think is partly true.  Though Occam’s Razor has to force folks at some point to finally question whether high (3+) temperature sensitivities to CO2 make any sense.  Seriously, isn’t all this work on aerosols roughly equivalent to trying to plug in yet more epicycles to make the Ptolemaic model of the universe continue to work?

Postscript: I will agree that there is one very important affect of the ramp-up of Chinese coal-burning that began around 2004 — the melting of Arctic Ice.  I strongly believe that the increased summer melts of Arctic ice are in part a result of black carbon from Asia coal burning landing on the ice and reducing its albedo (and greatly accelerating melt rates).   Look here when Arctic sea ice extent really dropped off, it was after 2003.    Northern Polar temperatures have been fairly stable in the 2000’s (the real run-up happened in the 1990’s).   The delays could be just inertia in the ocean heating system, but Arctic ice melting sure seems to correlate better with black carbon from China than it does with temperature.

I don’t think there is anything we could do with a bigger bang for the buck than to reduce particulate emissions from Asian coal.  This is FAR easier than CO2 emissions reductions — its something we have done in the US for nearly 40 years.

  • Chippas

    I would reply yes in both cases, more or less. I don’t see the conflict. Out of all the possible results of this test (so many dif. universes) there could have been results that could be used to support listening to the experts, support not listening to the experts, and maybe not support either. The ones we mostly discuss could both be used to support listening to the experts. I also gave an example of one that would not support listening to the experts in ‘July 27, 2011, 4:34 am’.

    Again, I think it boils down to different reasoning using different evidence to support similar conclusions. In the situation where the smart people agree with the experts, this is an argument from authority. But when the smart people and dumb alike don’t show any objectivity, using this is an argument by elimination, or that we have no recourse (in terms of people to listen to) but to go with the experts.

  • Malcolm

    The many universes and many possible results of the study are irrelevant since I am only talking about two possible results which are opposite to each other: ‘yes, there is a correlation’, and ‘no, there is no correlation’. If you don’t see how being ready to argue your point from either of these opposite results means ignoring them and just restating that your point is true, after everything that has been said, I can’t help you.

  • Malcolm

    Interestingly enough, Chippas, the logic you are trying above is analogous to this shtick employed by certain proponents of CAGW:

    1. Look at the current temperature and compare it to the temperature for the same day a year ago.
    2. If it has warmed, say that’s a sign of CAGW.
    3. If it has cooled, say that’s a sign of CAGW “for a different reason”.

    There are plenty of variations: higher humidity vs lower humidity, more storms vs less storms, etc. Everything invariably is claimed to be a sure sign of CAGW.

    Yes, some people actually think there is nothing wrong with this as if saying “for a different reason” from time to time somehow vindicates these complete non-starters.

  • Chippas

    Malcolm,

    I think you are alluding to the importance of falsifiability in science. And how good studies would be set up so that they could support a view or disprove a view, and hopefully nothing in between, which does nothing to advance the science (a ‘non-starter’).

    I don’t mind admitting that the two results do not give great evidence for the conclusion, but there is nothing wrong with the logic in them. In the same way, there is every chance that a warm day relative to last year is a physical result of GW and a colder day is a physical result of GW. This does not break any laws of physics. What I do agree with you on is that this does not allow for any falsifiability in the warm/cold day thing if someone is using it as evidence of GW. But I don’t think scientists would use it as evidence, rather, they are just saying that a causal chain can be theoretically linked to GW.

    Regarding the paper, certain results could have been used as evidence against the conclusion, so I could not just ignore the results and restate my point, so I don’t consider it a non-starter.

  • Waldo to Kelly

    Well Kelly (assuming you are still around), if one Googles “Accuracy” and “Inconvenient Truth,” one can get critiques of the movie, both the good and the bad. Most scientists will say that, overall, Gore got most of it right, even if some parts were exaggerated. I found this one informative as a number of scientists weigh in on what Gore got right and got wrong:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414115107.htm

    It evens has citations.

    However, if you come to a denialist site such as this one, you will find people who only focus on and even exaggerate the errors and ignore what Gore’s movie gets correct. That is why it is a denialist site. Denialists don’t actually discuss science(though they claim they do), they look for reasons to disbelieve in CC.

    And your question and Paul’s response point out two things: why Gore should bow out for everyone’s sake (he’s kind of a joke and people are often fixated on the man and the fact that he made a movie and won the Nobel) and, most importantly considering the conversation here, don’t listen to the amateurs, listen to the scientists.

    Let me say that again: Gore is a perfect example of why we shouldn’t listen to the amateur layperson—he gets some of his stuff right, but not all of it. Listen the scientists.

    This would mean, of course, that one should not listen to Warren Meyer, because he is also an amateur and likely to get a significant portion wrong…but this has been going on for a while.

    What is also interesting in light of the recent conversation is how people here are immediately aware of the shortcoming’s of Gore’s film but seem to find nothing particularly wrong with someone like Willie Soon getting a paycheck from big oil. People here accuse Gore, excuse Soon. Hypocritical? It is outrageous if Gore is getting wealthy off CC; it is equally outrageous if a scientist, who we should be able to trust as we should our doctors or military people, are feeding us corporate science.

    Certainly, Kelly, you are not one of these people who refuses to see this double standard.

    In any event, I’m out of the country for a while but shall return. Best of luck. W

  • Ted Rado

    I continue to be astonished at the idea that only the “experts” are allowed to comment. I would think that if lay people ask questions or comment, the “experts” whould welcome the opportunity to explain their ideas.

    There are those who continuously bash those who ask questions re CAGW. We are called denialists and worse. The CAGW pushers certainly have the right to criticize the skeptics. It would be more productive to respond civilly and factually rather than to shout shut up and accept the experts’ view. What blankety blank nonsense!

  • netdr

    Sock puppet or to whom it may concern

    How does CO2 cause cooling ? What is the theory which links freezing villagers in Peru with CO2 ? Al Gore [who is not a scientist ] claims there is one and spineless scientists haven’t corrected him.

    The “dog which did not bark” is conspicuous by it’s silence.

    I would be the first to admit freezing villagers in Peru don’t disprove CO2 warming but how on earth do they prove it ? Where is the causal link ?

    CO2 should cause more uniform warming if anything ?

    What studies were done ? Were there any or is it just the knee jerk reaction of blaming EVERYTHING on CO2.

  • Pauld

    Waldo says: “However, if you come to a denialist site such as this one, you will find people who only focus on and even exaggerate the errors and ignore what Gore’s movie gets correct.”

    I think I was the only person here to comment on Al Gore’s movie and here is the relevant portion of what I said:

    “The movie mixes facts that are well-established, such as CO2 is a greenhouse gas, with thinly supported speculations. It thereby leaves the viewer with a highly misleading perception of the state of the science.”

    As you can see, I did not say that Al Gore got everything wrong. I said he mixed well-established facts with thinly supported speculations. I think this is quite consistent with the opinions of scientists expressed in the link you provided Waldo.

    If you want to discuss which facts Warren Meyers gets wrong that is why he allows comments that are, as near as I can see, completely uncensored. I think it would be more fruitful for you to spend your time here dealing with facts and arguments rather than arguing that no one but scientists can understand and criticize climate scientists.

  • Pauld

    Waldo says:

    “People here accuse Gore, excuse Soon. Hypocritical? It is outrageous if Gore is getting wealthy off CC; it is equally outrageous if a scientist, who we should be able to trust as we should our doctors or military people, are feeding us corporate science.”

    I would be outraged if you presented some evidence that the source of Willie Soon’s funding caused him to falsify or misrepresent his research. You haven’t.

    As a general rule, I think it makes more sense to discuss the merits of a scientists research than his funding sources. If you think Willie Soon’s research is incorrect, then present your arguments.

  • netdr

    RE: An inconvenient truth

    It isn’t about the % of correct science vs incorrect it is about manipulation.

    When I left the theater I was 100 % convinced that mankind [CO2] was causing warming and the problem was serious. I was a “true believer”!

    I based this upon:

    1) The supposed fact that CO2 and warming went up and down together.
    2) The supposed FACT that temperatures were stable or declining for thousands of years and just started rising recently as CO2 emissions increased. [hockey stick]

    This was about 5 years ago. I got interested and studied the science with books and articles. My favorite mainstream book is “A Rough Guide ..” by Hansen. I have a copy around here somewhere.

    Anyway I found that both arguments were lies. Not exaggerations deliberate lies.

    1)The CO2 lagged the warming by 800 years and was the result of the warming. If the additional warming amplified anything that is just speculation not born out by any measurements.

    Five years later they still haven’t measured any warming due to CO2, why not Because it is impossible.

    2) The hockey stick was created using some if it’s proxies upside down and depended upon a undocumented computer program which found hockey sticks in Red noise. The author, Mann, was determined to get the answer he wanted regardless of the facts. The author did his best to not let his studies be replicated by other unsympathetic scientists contrary to the scientific method.

    The more I studied the problem the less I believed a catastrophe was probable, and I found many peer reviewed studies which backed that opinion up.

    In short, by exaggerating and misrepresenting the science he had created a skeptic probably thousands of us.

  • kelly liddle

    thankyou for the replies

    Hey I prefer to be called a skeptic i find denier very offensive (for waldo)in fact because the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (as i am Australian) uses this term that is what made me more interested in this subject. To the comment that Pauld said that nothing wrong with capitalism doing whatever to make a profit i agree with this and don’t have any problem with it. My problem is that governments both mine and yours if you are American take too much notice of interested groups and don’t make there own decisions. From what I have observed and for example if you search climate change on nasa and look at causes it does not even list the main natural cause the Milankovich Cycles. Now considering this is the main proven component of climate change even though it may be slow seems silly to just omit it. If you believe in tipping points such as at a certain point in time for example the tundra or Arctic ice cap will start to melt and continue to melt but may not be in a linear way and dependant on the weather changes that take place also then the “warming of the arctic” for example seems probably and there is nothing to demonstrate to me that this is not anything but natural. As in at the current position in our cycle you northern hemisphere people will be getting just a little bit more sunlight each year and us southerners will get a little less. The deserts of the world are expanding because of the tilt of the earth is getting smaller same thing again this may not be linear but a bigger desert will be dryer and hotter on average so to me no surprise that deserts are getting hotter. So I have my reason to be skeptical even should i be wrong the co2 theory is not proven it is only proven that in an enclosed container it will get hotter with the same energy input.

  • netdr

    I have read that the horribly expensive Australian taxes will only avoid .02 ° C warming in 100 years if the alarmist climatologists are right.

    If this isn’t the correct value please correct me and cite your source.

    The jobs fleeing to China may eve increase worldwide CO2.

    Even if you believe in manmade global warming this seems like shooting yourself in the foot.

  • kelly liddle

    One website that i find informative is auscsc.org.au and this other one has the projected impact even if the alarmist scientists are right. http://joannenova.com.au/2011/03/carbon-tax-australia-welcome-to-futility-island/ I would note though no society has ever reduced energy use without collapse or if is relatively minor as in not a failed state such as global financial crisis reduced your energy use in 2008 or 2009 one of those years. If you believe the really alarmist alarmists we might as well just party until the earth destructs because even if we stop now will still happen lol. It is unlikely we will reduce emissions or i think politically impossible Europe tried that all they did is move some production to Asia tranferring the point of the emissions not stopping them.

  • kelly liddle
  • Chippas

    netdr,

    If you were talking to me:

    you said: ‘How does CO2 cause cooling ?’

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2009JD013568.shtml

    is one theory.

    You said: ‘ will only avoid .02 ° C warming in 100 years if the alarmist climatologists are right.’

    Something like that, considering we are only a small emitter. But, my denialist skeptic, don’t forget the tragedy of the commons. If Australia sets a good precedent, others might likely follow.

    That paper you cited for your claim:
    ‘Over 50 % of the scientifically literate population is skeptical of CAGW as they should be’

    Did not back up your claim. I am interested in what you think about my argument here: July 25, 2011, 8:01 pm

  • Malcolm

    Chippas:

    If Australia sets a good precedent, others might likely follow. — Suppose everyone does the same as Australia. What would be the effect on global temperatures and how much would that cost?

  • Chippas

    Malcolm,

    Dunno. I never took much interest into the whole area of tackling climate change. Economics, politics, business, etc not my thing. I only have very basic opinions on the whole thing. If the politicians in your neck of the woods are anything like Australia’s at the moment, I feel sorry for you. Don’t know if it is the actual people or the way our system is constructed but they just seem to waste time bickering. Re. the tax coming into place, I am undecided. Mostly because I don’t research about it. Lol.

  • Malcolm

    Chippas:

    Dunno. — I suggest you find out before saying things like “If Australia sets a good precedent, others might likely follow.” as if this solves everything.

  • Chippas

    Malcolm,

    What? Setting a good precedent could help others consider it. No one said it as if it would solve everything.

    What’s the reason for your tone?

  • netdr

    Chippas

    I guess my objection to the CO2 causes cooling theory is that it is applied where no study has been done and no logical path exists.

    The circumstances of the paper you cite are unique and unlikely to be duplicated in Peru so a knee jerk blaming of CO2 for EVERYTHING is brain damaged.

    The spineless climate scientists didn’t point that out.

    The argument:
    If Australia sets a good precedent, others might likely follow. — Suppose everyone does the same as Australia. What would be the effect on global temperatures and how much would that cost?

    That is ridiculous. The whole world isn’t going to do something so obviously against their national self interest without a world government to make them.

    Are you willing to go there ?

    I have seen figures of the whole world cost of CO2 abatement costing 70 Trillion dollars in 10 years and still not doing much good.

    For enough taxes to really do some good [defined as 1 ° ] the cost would be staggering. Does anyone have that number ?

  • netdr

    No one has responded to the probability of CO2 taxes in Australia or the USA moving jobs and CO2 emissions to China or India thus INCREASING worldwide CO2 emissions.

    Why not ? Is this point incorrect and why do you think so.

    Without world government the sovereign nations of the earth will not deindustrialize.

  • netdr

    Chippas

    RE: Literacy vs CAGW belief.

    Note: I said CAGW because I believe in slight AGW. It is the “C” which is all smoke and mirrors. [The feedback is where the error in their thinking is buried.]

    The paper said:
    “On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones.”

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1871503

    The better educated people were LESS concerned about global warming.

    That is what I stated originally and I stand by it. The proportions etc are irrelevant.

    The belief of the alarmists that if people were more scientifically literate there would be more belief in CAGW is false. The opposite would be true.

    Your arguments didn’t address this overriding issue.

    I have found that the more I know about climate the less I believe in catastrophe.

    Somehow we are supposed to believe that warming will happen 5 or 6 times as fast as has ever happened in the past based on models which haven’t been correct yet.

    All known models failed to predict the failure to warm from 1998 to present.

    We are also told that past radiation was radiated back to space so there is no “warming in the pipeline” like the alarmists are fond of babbling. So where is this surge going to come from ?

  • Malcolm

    Chippas:

    What? Setting a good precedent could help others consider it. No one said it as if it would solve everything. What’s the reason for your tone? — Here is the exchange:

    netdr: I have read that the horribly expensive Australian taxes will only avoid .02 ° C warming in 100 years if the alarmist climatologists are right. If this isn’t the correct value please correct me and cite your source.

    you: Something like that, considering we are only a small emitter. But, my denialist skeptic, don’t forget the tragedy of the commons. If Australia sets a good precedent, others might likely follow.

    Netdr was saying that the reductions planned by Australia were much too small to make a difference. It looks to me like you were trying to argue against that on the basis that other countries might follow Australia. As we discovered, though, you don’t really know what will be the effect if other countries did follow Australia. So, you don’t really know whether what you said really counters netdr’s point. Hence my suggestion that you first find out whether what you are trying to argue has any merit, and only then argue.

    Sorry if what I said came out rude, this was not the intent. I would suggest, however, that you continue calling others ‘denialists’, even when it turns out that it is actually you who is arguing from ignorance.

  • Ted Rado

    I am beginning to think that the CAGW thing is a plot by the Chinese and Indians to get industry to move from Europe and the US to their countries. Our self-destruction will be their rise to industrial prominence. We will become Somalia II. (This would be an excellent subject for conspiracy theorists).

    I am only kidding of course, but the whole business, in the absence of viable alternative energy, is an exercise in idiocy. Will somebody PLEASE show us a viable industrial scheme in the absence of fossil fuels? PLease don’t say “the Spaniards are doing it”.

  • Chippas

    Netdr.

    you say: ‘Note: I said CAGW because I believe in slight AGW. It is the “C” which is all smoke and mirrors. [The feedback is where the error in their thinking is buried’

    But it is equivalent and more meaningful to say ‘IPCC science’ or similar. Go ask a climate scientist if they believe in CAGW and they would not know how to answer. It is not a well defined term to most.

    You said: ‘Over 50 % of the scientifically literate population is skeptical of CAGW as they should be’’

    I asked you to back up this claim. The 50% proportion was part of your claim. If you now agree it is unfounded than fine. If it was irrelevant to your original claim than you shouldn’t have said it.

    You say: ‘The better educated people were LESS concerned about global warming.’

    — On average. Without knowing the data distribution you don’t know the proportions of the sample which thinks one way or the other, hence your above statement is misleading and unfounded.

    You say: ‘Your arguments didn’t address this overriding issue.’

    Proponent may have said that skeptics are the dumb ones. I would never claim that because I know lots of smart skeptics, just as I know lots of smart people who believe in wacky ideas. I agree this data does not show that proponents are the smart people, but it does not show that skeptics are the smart people either. You don’t counter a false claim with another false claim.

    Malcolm,

    I said ‘IF’. If Australia is successful at meeting its target without destroying the economy. Other countries could model their system off ours, like the US and China, which would make a difference. I know that this assumes Australia’s tax works but I left that open with the ‘if’. Again, there is nothing wrong with my logic.

    I used ‘denialist’ because netdr was also using an offensive word.

  • Malcolm

    Chippas:

    I said ‘IF’. — Again, you don’t see a very obvious problem in your logic. It is great that you said ‘if’, since, yes, that’s a big if. That said, even if there were absolutely no issues on that front, you admitted you don’t know what the result of all countries following Australia would be. Please find out about that before using ‘other countries may follow’ as an argument.

  • Chippas

    Malcolm,

    My arg. has nothing to do with that other stuff. The only thing I am arguing against is the point that Aust. is too small to make a dent on Carbon, so is not worth acting regardless of the truth in science or the tax. I merely claim that a good precedent would help the major polluters take the same/or better step, again irregardless of the truth in the sci. or tax.

  • Malcolm

    Chippas:

    The only thing I am arguing against is the point that Aust. is too small to make a dent on Carbon, so is not worth acting regardless of the truth in science or the tax. I merely claim that a good precedent would help the major polluters take the same/or better step, again irregardless of the truth in the sci. or tax. — This is not the case.

    Your words (July 29, 2011, 7:40 pm):

    “Other countries could model their system off ours, like the US and China, which would make a difference.”

    Can you show that if “other countries” “like the US and China” “model their system off” the Australia’s model, this “would make a difference”? No. You said you “dunno” what would happen in this case a couple of posts ago.

    Look, I am not here to spot errors in your posts. However, what you are saying is so illogical (like: “I don’t know what would be the effect of all countries curbing emissions similarly to Australia, but I will argue that this effect will be big enough to make a difference anyway”), it is hard to talk with you about anything material. Sometimes it is hard to see what it is you are even stating.

    I think it might be worthwhile for you to step back and reexamine what you really know about global warming.

  • Chippas

    Malcolm,

    I think our problem is working on different wavelengths. It happens, esp. in text.

    I think you took my ‘Dunno’ a bit too literal. Of course the theory is that reducing emissions will curb global warming and be more cost effective than adaptation. But this only happens if the big emitters participate. I know that. Everyone is familiar with this idea. What I don’t know are many of the specifics.

  • Malcolm

    Chippas:

    Of course the theory is that reducing emissions will curb global warming and be more cost effective than adaptation. — Fine. Any particular paper that you have in mind? The ones I saw were either propaganda pieces with no research behind them or were not exactly showing that reducing emissions would be more cost effective than adaptation.

  • Chippas

    Malcolm,

    You said: ‘Fine. Any particular paper that you have in mind?’

    My argument never req. that I have proof for these things. The point was about Australia’s supposed lack of significance, which I countered by saying that we could set a precedent, a small scale model if you like, that if successful could give bigger nations the confidence to do something too.

    There was never anything wrong with my logic.

    Sorry, but I am not interested in your tangent.

  • Malcolm

    Chippas:

    My argument never req. that I have proof for these things. — Right. You demand that netdr backs up his points, but are unwilling or can not do the same wrt your own points.

    You basically don’t know what you are talking about regarding emissions. Of course, you aren’t interested when other people call you up on that.

  • Chippas

    Malcolm,

    You are becoming increasingly bizarre in your responses. For my argument I am not req. to have proof for those things, I have made that clear and explained why. And yet, you still say:

    ‘ You demand that netdr backs up his points, but are unwilling or can not do the same wrt your own points.’

    Read more carefully. If it doesn’t make sense, tell me why.

  • Malcolm

    Chippas:

    For my argument I am not req. to have proof for those things, I have made that clear and explained why. — This gets tedious, but I will try one more time.

    Netdr’s point is that the effect achieved by curbing emissions according to Australia’s plan is tiny, too small to matter. You are saying that if Australia starts, other countries may follow suit. If by that you are implying that then the effect achieved by curbing emissions will become large, please back that up. If, however, you are not implying anything about the effect, what you are saying is understandable, but irrelevant to netdr’s point.

    You seem to oscillate between meaning that you don’t imply anything (“I merely claim that a good precedent …”, “For my argument I am not req. to have proof …”, etc) and that you do (“Other countries could model their system off ours, like the US and China, which would make a difference”, “… the theory is that reducing emissions will curb global warming and be more cost effective than adaptation”, etc). Please make up your mind. If you aren’t going to say that curbing emissions worldwide is going to make a material effect on temperatures, your point is irrelevant, you are wasting our time. If you are going to say that, back this up, or you are wasting our time again. End of story.

  • Chippas

    Malcolm,

    You are still failing to grasp the point I am making. If my posts have wavered in focus, it is because I was struggling to get at your issue, however it seems to me that the issue is actually due to your misunderstanding.

    My point in an analogy: one man in the street tidying his yard won’t stop his area from being the dirtiest in town, if no one else tidies. But that one man might influence others in the street who observe his actions. They follow suit and the street becomes cleaner.

    Netdr was implying that one man should do nothing because no matter how clean his yard is, the street in general is dirty.

    The key point is that any pioneering action by an insignificant few can have an influence on the significant majority.

  • Malcolm

    Chippas:

    I would respectfully suggest that it is you who is missing the point.

    Right here:

    The key point is that any pioneering action by an insignificant few can have an influence on the significant majority. — You said you can’t show that the ‘majority’ is ‘significant’.

    Clear?

  • Malcolm

    Or, even simpler:

    They follow suit and the street becomes cleaner. — You said you can’t show that the street will become discernibly cleaner.

  • Malcolm

    To be absolutely clear:

    I perfectly understand what you are saying. You are saying that if Australia starts, then others may follow, and you don’t know what the result of others following is going to be, but you believe it will be better than what we have now. You don’t want to go deep for whatever reason. You kind of sort of heard something that assured you that if everyone starts curbing emissions, then things will be great, and that’s it, you are satisfied.

    I understand that you have this opinion. I suggest that this opinion is based on faith, not on science. I am fine with opinions based on faith. The only thing I ask is that *you* understand that your opinion is based on faith, not on science. If you do understand this, great, I am happy, and let’s end this debate.

  • Ted Rado

    The Indians have made it clear that they will not stop their industrialization program by reducing CO2 emmisions. Unless they and the Chinese (and all other nations) are willing to join the reduced CO2 parade, the only result will be to impoverish ourselves for their enrichment, as our industry moves to other countries. To plunge ahead with the hope that we are leading by example is wishful thinking.

    The analogy in previous posts is not suitable, as no catastrophe results. Reducing fossil fuel use drastically in the absence of a viable alternative energy system would indeed have catastrophic results.

  • Chippas

    Malcolm,

    You said: ‘but you believe it will be better than what we have now’

    No. That is irrelevant to my point. The nature of the outcome is not important. netdr’s point is that there will be simply no outcome because of Australia’s size. My counter-point is that there could be an outcome because Australia could encourage action by others.

    I think even Ted Rado gets it.

    Ted Rado,

    The analogy was not meant to be a suitable analogue to justify action against CC. It was simply used as an example of how an insignificant minority’s pioneering action can influence the majority.

  • Malcolm

    Chippas:

    Sigh. I outlined the two lines of argument between which you are alternating. So, right now you are staying on the one that does not say anything about the effect from curbing emissions worldwide. Guess what, since that line says nothing about the effect, it is irrelevant to this debate, because netdr was talking exactly about the effect. Not that I haven’t said as much already. Ted Rado says that the analogy in previous posts – in your posts – is not suitable. Yet you somehow misconstrue this to say that he agrees with you. You just can’t read, man. Frankly, I don’t see the point of continuing further.

  • Chippas

    Malcolm,

    I have found our little discussions mostly curious. At first I thought I was going to learn something new about logic that I did not know, but as time goes by, it seems more apparent that we are having communication failures. When ever this happens I try not to become insulting, because sometimes it is more than one party that is at fault. If you would rather not continue, then fine.

    But just for take-home: considering your claim that I just can’t read. I wonder if your confidence in your ability to identify such is not swayed by the fact that you just previously read ‘agrees’ where one writes ‘gets’ ??

  • Waldo to Paul

    ****”I would be outraged if you presented some evidence that the source of Willie Soon’s funding caused him to falsify or misrepresent his research. You haven’t.

    *****As a general rule, I think it makes more sense to discuss the merits of a scientists research than his funding sources. If you think Willie Soon’s research is incorrect, then present your arguments.”

    You’re missing the point, Paul. The point is that absolutely no one here, yourself included, sees fit to look at Willie Soon’s research to see if it is, in-fact, tainted. The entire focus here is to try and find ways to discredit climate scientists, and that’s it (a fixation of modeling, really); the same sort of scrutiny is not given toward skeptical science as is given to mainstream science. That is why this is a denialist site and not a “skeptic” site (sorry kelly).

    You are already very well aware of Al Gore’s personal failings and the points in the movie where the science was not altogether accurate, but instead of using your high-beam to examine both ends of the CAGW debate spectrum, you are only aware and only examined one end.

  • Ted Rado

    Nobody is trying to discredit climate scientists. The question is, are we certain enough of the CAGW thing to carry out the draconian proposals the engender? Many of us think not, which is certainly a reasonable view.

  • Ted Rado

    Virtually all climate and alternative energy studies are “tainted”. Most of it is done with government grants or subsidies. If the government solicits research proposals in some kooky area, thousands of profs and other researchers will respond. Just look at the DOE website for screwball programs.

    Many other organizations are devoted to zealotry, or are a mouthpiece for special interests. That is why we must all use our own heads rather than just listen to the “experts”.

    The USG with their R&D grants has corrupted the research community. If you put out a pile of cheese, here come the rats. Various researchers have been pointed out as “tainted”. I suspect most of them are. How many would forego a multimillion dollar grant and tell the USG they are full of poopoo?

  • Malcolm

    @Waldo:

    The point is that absolutely no one here, yourself included, sees fit to look at Willie Soon’s research to see if it is, in-fact, tainted. — I think a fundamental problem here is: how do you determine whether or not a piece of research is tainted? If we say that since Soon is arguing that there is no CAGW, this is proof enough that his research is tainted, then the research of everyone who is saying something as regards CAGW is tainted. This seems too broad. But what more specific criteria do we have? It definitely looks like it is best to just look at the research in a regular way, with a critical eye, but taking it on its own merits. Out of the interest, I looked into one of the latest papers of Soon. From the first look, the paper seems normal, if a bit boring. I will look into other papers of his, too.

  • Waldo to Malcolm

    ****”I think a fundamental problem here is: how do you determine whether or not a piece of research is tainted?”

    Well, this is why we have experts in the field. This is why we have peer review. This is why we are suspicious, if not yet condemning, of someone whose patron is big oil, an industry which definitely has a stake in the CAGW debate. Perhaps Soon is absolutely correct and should be awarded the Nobel. Working for Exxon does not automatically make Soon an illegitimate scientist, but (unless we are naive about the nature of business) his professional patron is concerning.

    ****”If we say that since Soon is arguing that there is no CAGW, this is proof enough that his research is tainted, then the research of everyone who is saying something as regards CAGW is tainted. This seems too broad.”

    I utterly agree. I never said anything like that, by the way.

    ****”But what more specific criteria do we have? It definitely looks like it is best to just look at the research in a regular way, with a critical eye, but taking it on its own merits. Out of the interest, I looked into one of the latest papers of Soon. From the first look, the paper seems normal, if a bit boring. I will look into other papers of his, too.”

    Very good. But with all due respect, Malcolm, do you have enough expert knowledge to evaluate his research? What do you mean “normal,” by the way? How is a research paper normal?

    And my point was very simply that the good peeps here ignore damning evidence against skeptics and accept almost uncritically any evidence against climate scientists (such as “polarbeargate”), even lumping them in, no matter how implicitly, with Al Gore.

  • Waldo to Malcolm

    ****”Nobody is trying to discredit climate scientists.”

    I have to disagree with you, Ted.

    ****”The question is, are we certain enough of the CAGW thing to carry out the draconian proposals the engender?

    “Draconian”? Are you sure you’re not trying to discredit via demonization?

    ****”Many of us think not, which is certainly a reasonable view.”

    This is a reasonable view. It’s the way you go about the public debate that is unethical.

    By the way, I never said we should not “question” the work of climate scientists, only that we should be smart enough not to think we are smarter than they are.

  • Malcolm

    Waldo:

    But with all due respect, Malcolm, do you have enough expert knowledge to evaluate his research? — Not in detail, no.

    What do you mean “normal,” by the way? How is a research paper normal? — No tricks (like the infamous ‘Mike’s Nature trick’).

    Good that we agree on so many points.

  • Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    I guess you don’t think that an 80% reduction in CO2 by 2050 is draconian? Then what is? A 110% reduction?

    Nobody thinks they are smarter than climate scientists. There ara obvious questions that anyone with a scientific or engineering background would ask. This sort of questioning is normal discourse in the scientific and engineering communities and shows no disrespect for the expert. If there is a reasonable explanation, it will be accepted. If there is no sound explanation, the questions will persist. The repeated assertion that anyone who has the temerity to question a climate scientist is a no good shmuck is ludicrous. Frequently, questions set off a discussion which leads to progress.

    By the way, you are CLEARLY not an engineer. I have been an engineer for over sixty years but you do not hesitate to question everything I post of an engineering nature. Congrats on a wonderful exposition of hypocrisy.