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Schneider in the archives

This from the St Petersburgh Times of 31 January 1977 and contains an interesting early set of views on the global warming scare from Stephen Schneider. Interestingly he holds out the possibility that the whole of any carbon dioxide derived warming could be entirely wiped out by the effects of cloud feedbacks. I'm not sure that our understanding of clouds has erased this possibility yet. Perhaps someone can fill me in here.


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Reader Comments (12)

The discussion about feedbacks and clouds continues. Such as this continuation of Roger Pielke Sr's discussion with three scientists about "missing" heat possibly "hiding" in the deep ocean. (Seriously. Probably there is no missing heat, just flawed models and measurement.)

Apr 27, 2010 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon B

"As a result of the uncertainty, scientist usually take the data that supports their belief, Schneider said."

A core method of climatology that has stood the test of time:(

Apr 27, 2010 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

"I'm not sure that our understanding of clouds has erased this possibility yet. Perhaps someone can fill me in here."

We can't even measure cloud cover accurately, never mind model it.

Apr 27, 2010 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterharrywr2

I don't get this obsession with what scientists thought or said 30-40 years ago. It's what the scientists think - and, more importantly, what the science tells us - *now* that matters more.

Heck, referring back to another of your recent reminiscences, even a quick check would show you that Maddox modified his views in the light of emerging scientific evidence, as any good sceptic should.

(I guess, by criticising pointless critical comment, I thus become a "warmist" in the eyes of the community here. Sigh.)

Apr 27, 2010 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterBig Yin

I think I've never heard so loud
The quiet message in a cloud.

Apr 28, 2010 at 3:42 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Yes, DB, Kevin still hopes that the missing heat lurks in the deep, but Josh doubts it could've gotten there without being detected on the way down. Excellent moderation per Le Pere.

Apr 28, 2010 at 3:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Big Yin - you said:
"what the science tells us - *now* that matters more"

Unfortunately, "science" does not speak at all.
There is the "scientific method" which is a useful tool to help us understand reality.

What is the evidence?
What are the counter signs?
What is the nul hypothesis?
Has that been refuted?

History (looking back at what the experts confidnetally predicted forty years ago) helps us evaluate the probability of the accuracy of their current predictions for the next 100 years.

Apr 28, 2010 at 3:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

On iTunes and Youtube, there is a 1.5h, 2008 talk by Steven Schneider: Global Warming: Is the Science Settled Enough for Policy? About 35-41 min, he discusses the uncertainty associated with clouds - especially uncertainties associated with altitude (which are unlikely to be measured accurately enough).

There are some interesting comments at 1:13-1:18 about the Stern report focusing on low probability-high damage scenarios associated with the most extreme projections for climate change. Schneider comments imply that we need to "insure" ourselves against this possible catastrophe - a scary thought when we don't know the cost of the insurance and when the less developed world can not afford insurance.

Apr 28, 2010 at 8:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Big Yin -

The point is that climatologists like Schneider believed that clouds were an important forcing factor then, and there has been *NO* actual evidence to prove otherwise. You simply cannot adduce the findings of some computer model that says otherwise as evidence. That is *not* science, that's technological augury.

Apr 28, 2010 at 8:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterYour conscience

There is this Schneider paper:

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate
S. I. Rasool; S. H. Schneider
Science, New Series, Vol. 173, No. 3992. (Jul. 9, 1971), pp. 138-141.
Stable URL:

Apr 28, 2010 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered Commenterfreedom lover

Has anyone here so labelled you, Big Yin? The facile labelling of deniers and warmists is but one clue to the coarsening of scientific discussions (both popular for laymen, and specialist for scientists) accelerated, if not created by, the political campaigning of the IPCC. This somewhat sinister, in my opinion, body has structures and procedures which could have been designed to support their habit of corralling thousands of scientists, letting them express some views, and then ignoring their cautions and reservations to produce summary reports for policy makers which have added to the febrile atmosphere by being unashamedly alarmist in tone. This serves to fire up even further those who wish to save the planet, those who see opportunities for political power, those who see opportunities to make a fortune, and those who see opportunities for research and other types of grant or funding. They are reinforcing each other's enthusiasm, as the rest of us look on bemused. If I had to label myself, it would be something like 'dropped jawer', as I remain dismayed by the inappropriate weight given to speculations about climate. We humans are not masters of climate science, nor are we masters of central planning - and we would do well to be wary of all policy-proposals apparently predicated on our being both.

Apr 28, 2010 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

I think the Schneider comment is relevant. One of the striking aspects of the greenhouse debate is how little the "story" has altered over the years. Some may take this as a sign that the climate establishment has been going around in circles for much of that time.

I located the annual report for 1990-1991 for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The section on greenhouse gases could have been written today, except for a slightly more cautious approach to uncertainties. It's as though nothing new has been discovered.....I guess that is what politically-motivated answer-driven research does - it delivers the answer you had in mind in the first place.

Apr 29, 2010 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterBT

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