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Discussion > Warming not warming

"Clearly many non climate scientists don't accept that such scientists have reached any consensus on the existence, causes and effects of climate change. That seems odd, a bit like a collection of laymen arguing that dentists don't have a consensus about fluorides."

Consensus has no meaning in science, it's a political statement. Scientific theories aren't proved right, or wrong by the number of scientists who support them, they are proved right by (a) being falsifiable and (b) being able to predict some behaviour in the physical world. Ergo if your scientific theory is that human emissions cause warming then you should have some relationship between emissions and warming that can predict the future warming. The models fail on every count to predict the warming, CO2 has increased in the atmosphere by 8% with no statistically significant warming, so clearly the relationship between CO2 emissions and warming in the models is wrong. You cannot make them right by taking a vote among the modellers and declaring they are because most of the modellers believed it to be so.

"What people seem to be saying however is that because models of climate around the equator correspond poorly to the processed results of satellite measurements, then all of climate science is wrong."

The people who put together the satellite records are also climate scientists doing climate science by observation, so I'm not sure how you draw the conclusion that people believe all climate science is wrong because the models are wrong. It isn't, but I made the point to you before, which either passed over your head, or you've deliberately ignored, climate scientists themselves admit that they cannot predict the future state of the climate, yet that's what the models are trying to do. Moreover huge political decisions are being made on the backs of these predictions, decisions that will deliberately put up the price of energy in the UK. have already caused food riots and will inevitably lead to more fuel poverty. It's not a joke people have and will suffer because climate scientists are telling politicians they can foretell the future.

Jun 18, 2013 at 6:25 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Missy
1.You don't need a 'consensus' about fluoride. You have several years of empirical, experimental evidence to draw on, something that is singularly lacking in climate change circles. Handwaving - yes; guesswork - yes; assertion - yes; experimental evidence of the effects CO2 on climate - no.
2. And in any event there is not the 'consensus' on fluoride that you would like to think. The majority certainly believes that it has a beneficial effect on tooth enamel; there is less agreement on whether that is out-weighed by other possible health problems. More research needed.

And have you read this from Climate Audit where Briffa is casting serious doubt on the efficacy of using trees rings as proxies for temperature. There is no genuine consensus and even if there were that doesn't mean they're right.

Jun 18, 2013 at 9:02 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

5. Corrupt publication and peer review process
Gixxerboy

I'd go further and say 'pointless peer review process'. It might be fine for academia where scientists are supposed to trust and be trustworthy but no good for an issue of this magnitude and public importance. The science needs rigorous, systematic deconstruction, where other scientists try to pull the work to pieces. A tortuous and constrictive rebuttal system or the theoretical ability to have a countering paper published isn't good enough.

In theory the IPCC should have been the body to do this. They could have been tasked with demanding the data that backs up the key papers and making sure the papers do what they say they do. It should have also asked for certain areas of confusion/fault to be examined in more depth.

To me, scientific journals are little more than trade magazines with fancy reputations.

Jun 18, 2013 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Good point TinyCO2. The whole subject is so contentious, tribal and polarised that peer review–with its connotations of scholarly, gentlemanly process–is archaic.

Jun 18, 2013 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

> That seems odd, a bit like a collection of laymen arguing that dentists
> don't have a consensus about fluorides.

Exactly! Except the dentists would turn round and show you the evidence of their double blind trials.

Where are the double blind trials in climate science?

Where are the basic experiments to show the dominant effect of CO2 as a green house gas in the real world? (Don't bother searching, there aren't any).


> 'conventional' view of climate science (CO2 as a greenhouse gas, warming, etc)

The analysis "science shows C02 is a greenhouse gas so adding more to the atmosphere" is on the same level as "science shows metal is heavier than air so no metal object will ever fly".

In a glass jar in a lab with no external effects CO2 might behave as a greenhouse gas, but in the real world the effect is completely swamped by convection.

Jun 18, 2013 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

If I understand correctly, because my opinions differ from yours, I am obliged to answer every point made by every poster or face being labelled a "troll". Other posters, in contrast, are unconstrained and may evade my question freely. Did I get that right?

So what was my question?

"...Who do we trust? We can either trust the general consensus of climate science that AGW exists and is a problem. Or we can reject that on the basis of ... what? That scientists are just feathering their nests? Or that they are all incompetent at what they spend their whole lives researching? Or that the UN wants a world government? Or that the world's highest scientific bodies are all corrupt? Or, etc. "

All I have heard is evasion along the lines of "there is no consensus" or "we are all of the consensus" (although some cannot even manage that). It is clear to me that there really _is_ a consensus on climate change that goes way beyond your every-man's consensus that human emissions have some unspecified effect on the climate and that climate is variable. I can see this being difficult for you to accept because you are then left groping for an answer to my question, "Or we can reject [the consensus] on the basis of ... what?", and trying not to sound silly.

If you think there really is no strong consensus, why not prove it? Engage your eminent supporters to poll a few thousand of their randomly selected climate scientist peers? Do you think they would get a response?

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterMissy

"If I understand correctly..." - you don't, because understanding is not your purpose.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiosonde

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:41 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Missy,
Part of the problem is that you appear unwilling to examine what is actually meant by the "consensus" or your understanding of the term, or other peoples' understanding of it. You are forcing an awful lot onto one unfortunate word.

Jun 19, 2013 at 3:24 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I think Missy is rhoda reconstituted in anti-matter - anti-protons, positrons, anti-neutrons.

If the two were ever to meet .... >>WOOMPH!!<<

Jun 19, 2013 at 8:07 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

All I have heard is evasion along the lines of "there is no consensus" or "we are all of the consensus" (...)
Jun 19, 2013 at 12:20 AM Missy

Missy, if that is all you have heard, than you have not been listening.

Jun 19, 2013 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Missy, the history of this blog is that we have had a succession of enlightened enquirers who engage us in interesting scientific and philosophical questions, to whom we devote a lot of time and energy in explaining our position. They will present us with theorems and papers, to which we demonstrate robust rebuttals. As time goes on, and they see they are not "winning" (either at convincing us, or demonstrating that we are fools) then they have a habit of turning nasty Some get so embittered that they do become troll-like, and we have to ask them to leave. (c.f BitBucket)

So apologies if some people here are trying to 'short circuit' this with you, some of us are tired going over and over this with people who have less-than-genuine motives for engaging us here. It's understandable that some of us become grumpy with yet another enlightened one coming here to share the good news of climate alarm. I believe everyone should be given the chance to come here and explore the discussion freely without being accused of trolldom, but nobody is in control here really, it's a bit of a free-for-all, so if you can live with the odd snipe from the sidelines, then please stay.

Now, your points about the "evasion" about the consensus.

The idea of a consensus comes from the world of politics, not science. So while some sceptics might say "there is no consensus" and others "the consensus is so wide we are all in it" doesn't really matter because the concept of consensus has no place in this debate. It never has - it was introduced because the science itself was not definitive. Where science is definitive, no consensus is sought.

The fact that a consensus is being discussed is actually a demonstration of how unsettled the science is. Scientists are being asked to fall on one side or another of an imaginary construct without the usual rigour of scientific evidence. Science is not an opinion poll. We don't need to poll people to find out if there is a consensus. There is one, but it's irrelevant.

At the risk of invoking Godwins, I refer you to the well-known "consensus" against relativity called "One Hundred Authors Against Einstein" (1931) That consensus was no more scientific (or correct) than this one. Ditto with plate tectonics.

Please stay and debate, don't inflate a sense of insult from one or two catcalls from the sidelines into a reason not to stay.

Jun 19, 2013 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

But at the same time, Missy, listen to what we are saying when we challenge the concept of their being a consensus.
The IPCC used to claim that several thousand "top" scientists had compiled its reports. On examination that number dwindled to a couple of hundred; the rest turned out to be post-graduate students and a large number of eco-activists with no formal qualifications in any discipline relevant to climate science.
The "97%" figure which is now quoted as being evidence for this consensus is flawed (to say the least!). Don't take my word for it; go and find Doran & Zimmerman's own paper on the subject and see the flaws for yourself.
And in any case "consensus" is an irrelevant concept in science. If you are going to bang on about consensus and aren't prepared to debate the science (or even the politics, which I think most today would agree is as important) then you are going to take a bit of stick on this site.
Instead of "it must be true because lots of people say so" why not listen to what they actually say, watch how they behave towards those that disagree (always a reasonable guide to the strength of an argument), and above all keep an open mind.
If you are here to discuss, teach, and learn, welcome!
If you are here to hector, refuse to discuss, and do no more than criticise, you'll end up being ignored.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:13 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The fairy story 'The Emperors New Clothes' is one argument against consensus, there are others but just ask yourself if you were a young scientist starting out on a career would you follow the consensus or speak out and ask pointed questions.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:44 AM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

“Who do we trust?” Missy, you can trust anyone you want but the bandwagon surrounding AGW doesn’t allow for individual opinion it demands that we all trust in the consensus and hand over large amounts of cash to fund dubious renewables. For those who believe in cutting CO2 “GET ON WITH IT!!!” Just don’t expect the rest of us to follow you.

The consensus might be a good enough of an argument for you but it’s not good enough for the majority. How do I know that sceptics are the majority? Because CO2 is not falling. It’s not falling globally but more specifically it’s not falling in the UK. We’ve had one of the biggest campaigns on AGW in the World. We’ve got cross party support to an almost unprecedented level. Business is largely resigned enough to at least sing the right tune even if it doesn’t believe it. The media, until recently, was almost completely accepting of the most lurid climate change theories. The BBC which holds an unprecedented position of influence is full stupid on the issue. Celebs, politicians, charities, museums, schools, universities, etc, etc. All this support and our footprint has gone up on 1990 levels. It would be falling except we now buy huge amounts of cheap stuff from China and it’s happy coal powered industries.

So it doesn’t matter how many scientists join the consensus, as an argument it fails to convince. I mean ‘convince’. I don’t mean tick a box on a survey saying you’re worried about rising CO2. Do you wish that status quo to continue or do you want more people to be swayed by the science? If it’s the latter then your side needs to be pursuing what would improve credibility not sitting back and grumbling that sceptics are ruining everything. If we are convincing it’s because there are holes in the consensus argument not demonically persuasive properties in ours.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

/me wipes the foam from TinyCO2's chin :)

There's no need to demonstrate that the consensus is incorrect in order to show it's fallacious. The rightness or wrongness of the actual opinion held by the consensus is irrelevant, because the idea of a consensus being true simply because it is a consensus is logically flawed.

It's called "Argumentum Ad Populam" and is one of the classic logical fallacies.

Here's the wikipedia defintion:

"In argumentation theory, an argumentum ad populum (Latin for "appeal to the people") is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or most people believe it. In other words, the basic idea of the argument is: "If many believe so, it is so."

It is logically fallacious because the mere fact that a belief is widely-held is not necessarily a guarantee that the belief is correct; if the belief of any individual can be wrong, then the belief held by multiple persons can also be wrong. The argument that because 75% of people polled think the answer is A implies that the answer is A, this argument fails, because if opinion did determine truth, then there be no way to deal with the discrepancy between the 75% of the sample population that believe the answer is A and 25% who are of the opinion that the answer is not A. However small the percentage of those polled is distributed among any remaining answers, this discrepancy by definition disproves any guarantee of the correctness of the majority. In addition, this would be true even if the answer given by those polled were unanimous, as the sample size may be insufficient, or some fact may be unknown to those polled that, if known, would result in a different distribution of answers."

Jun 19, 2013 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

@missy

So what was my question?

"...Who do we trust? We can either trust the general consensus of climate science that AGW exists and is a problem. Or we can reject that on the basis of ... what? That scientists are just feathering their nests? Or that they are all incompetent at what they spend their whole lives researching? Or that the UN wants a world government? Or that the world's highest scientific bodies are all corrupt? Or, etc. "

Your list of explanations only includes some of the more spectacular/intriguing suggestions on offer.

The mundane truth is probably more along the lines that several generations of scientists now have been educated in a system that just accepts AGW as the truth, so they've never actually gone back to first base and questioned it.

BTW: The world's scientific institutions have no business issuing "credo" statements about global warming. They don't do that for any other branch of science. What makes climatology different?

Jun 19, 2013 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

I think the discussion is over. Missy has expressed her view and made it clear that she is not going to change it nor even concede that other viewpoints could be valid.


Charlie - did your original question get answered?

Jun 19, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The mundane truth is probably more along the lines that several generations of scientists now have been educated in a system that just accepts AGW as the truth, so they've never actually gone back to first base and questioned it.

Jun 19, 2013 at 10:55 AM Turning Tide

That's about right. Plus, I think that a lot of "climate science" education lies in the tradition of Geography as a subject. Lots of rote-learning with little or no instruction in the scientific method.

Plenty of evidence of this. eg a UEA educated PhD on "My Climate and Me" talking about "CO2 trapping heat" as if that were something other than a slogan.

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:16 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Just because someone is an expert in beetle carapaces or mono-filaments or string theory does not make their opinion on a completely unrelated field they have not looked at worth more than a well-informed lay sceptic.

The fact that someone uses the word "trust" in this conversation shows how bad things are.

Nullius in verba.
With knobs on.

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames
Jun 19, 2013 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBig Oil

> It is clear to me that there really _is_ a consensus on climate change
> that goes way beyond your every-man's consensus that human emissions
> have some unspecified effect on the climate and that climate is variable.

So what?

As has been pointed out multiple times consensus isn't science and doesn't make it right.


> I can see this being difficult for you to accept because you are then
> left groping for an answer to my question, "Or we can reject [the
> consensus] on the basis of ... what?",

The lack of any real world experiments (not 'models') demonstrating the effect of greenhouse gasses.

You do know that the 'consensus' assumption that CO2 is driving warming is because client 'scientists' can't explain what is, so consclude it must be CO2?

> and trying not to sound silly.

You should read Feynman's book, "Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman".

It doesn't matter if you sound silly if you're asking the right questions.

Jun 19, 2013 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

I can sort of see where Missy is coming from, because it's human nature to judge someone holistically.

To reject the consensus is to openly decide that you believe people you admire are mistaken, or worse, dishonest. This is hard to do if those people are relations, friends, or heroes of yours. People you previously liked.

Unfortunately, the opposite effect takes place : by accepting the consensus, people appear to automatically label people they may have previously admired as foolish or corrupt.

An example was the recently reported Johnny Ball appearance where Dara O Briain* came on after him to apologise to the slow-clapping crowd who had boo-ed Johhny off to apologise and he said something like "It's not nice to see one of your heroes do something like that" (or words to that effect)

Anyone with a shred of decency would have said : OK I don't agree with Johnny Ball, he probably has his reasons, but I won't let that affect my judgement of his work and achievements elsewhere and sour my regard for him as a person. We'll just agree to disagree on this one, so let's stop this rubbish and give the man some applause.

That doesn't seem to happen with this consensus. Either you're with it, or you have elected to become one of the hated, the evil deniers who want to destroy the earth with their big oil money, kill babies etc. The moral judgement attached to what is basically a scientific position is horrible.

I can't watch Dara O Briain now. I think he's a clever, witty and hilarious comedian.

But for what he failed to do - stand up for the integrity of a decent human being that he personally admired in front of a baying cowardly mob - I cannot forgive.

That has nothing to do with his beliefs or otherwise.


*I read this story here, so I am basing this on a report, not first hand evidence. If Dara feels he has been misrepresented here, I'd be delighted to find out he didn't do the things reported, and I can start watching his TV programmes again.

Jun 19, 2013 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

LOL @ TheBigYinJames. No foam, just steam from the ears.

I hate waste, which should make me an ideal AGW drone but I can see that all the hype achieves nothing.

If supporters of AGW theory really want to make a difference they need to see the World in incredible clarity, dealing with human nature as it is, not how they want it to be.... or sod off and shut up.

Jun 19, 2013 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

BigYin
I hadn't heard that story before and I would be surprised and a bit disappointed if it were actually true as you have been told it.
On the other hand the context that underpins it disappoints but no longer surprises me. Someone on one of the BBC question programmes a few years ago was faced with the usual baying mob when he took a contrarian stance and responded with something along the lines of "I don't know about you but if someone told me that the future is actually not as bad as people are making out then I would be quite pleased ". Shut them up for a second or two, at least.
There does seem to be a sort of herd mentality on the subject that finds the consensus view comforting in a perverse sort of way. People like Ball or Bellamy get booed because if they're right the sheeple are going to have to start to think and admit they've been had for mugs, whether intentionally or not.
Psychologists could probably help out here.

Jun 19, 2013 at 2:42 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson