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Discussion > The new heresy

It now seems that climate skeptic blogs are joining together to remove comments by people who refuse to accept that CO2 caused any global warming. This stance now seems to be 'beyond the pale' on Bishop Hill and on WUWT.
In the last couple of days I responded to a post by Roy Spencer on Anthony's blog who gave a list of his ten most hated skeptic arguments.
I used the ice core records (including dealing with the Firn argument) to show that it can not be said that rising CO2 causes warming in the medium to long term. That post was removed and today the BIsh removed a post where I quoted the CO2/water vapour issue to dispute it again.
How can stating facts be described as venting please?

May 5, 2014 at 4:19 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I noticed the Roy Spencer arguments myself and frankly I can see what he meant but the first couple were a bit wooly. All that we can say for definite is that the TOA spectrum changes due to more CO2 (and this can be confirmed by observation). What happens to that radiation?- most theory assumes radiative effects translate into heating and this has been the stance for a long time, all without actual measurement of thermal effects or consideration of convection.
I agree that it's dangerous to start clipping sceptic comments especially if no experiments have been done. Every step in science is through data not theory paper referring to more theory paper in a never-ending hypothesis love-in. As you'll know yourself, science is not a rhetorical endeavour.

As an aside I was re-reading Tim Ferriss' The Four Hour Work Week, and in it he has a quote from Michio Kaku of all people. It's from Hyperspace (though it looks to be slightly edited):

Many of these theories have been killed off only when some decisive experiment exposed their incorrectness...Thus the yeoman work in any done by the experimentalist, who must keep the theoreticians honest.

That's how I was taught science and it's how I practise it. It's also a pretty accurate statement of how scientific method works whether people like it or not and it implies that until such experiments have been performed and results obtained, it's best not to present theory as truth without caveat. It's a tad dishonest to do so.

May 5, 2014 at 4:42 PM | Registered CommenterMicky H Corbett

There is also, as I have commented several times, the new orthodoxy that even AGW climate change sceptics seem to accept: That CO2 causes global warming and the amount of eventual warming can be calculated/estimated via 'climate sensitivity' calculations.

Some time back I went looking to find what evidence that CO2 causes global warming exists. The model of a black body planet with an atmosphere of pure CO2 is so simple that there can be little argument that it shows conclusively that such a body with such an atmosphere would be warmer than a similar body with an atmosphere that did not interact with infra red radiation. But it's such an over-simplification of a real planet's climate system that it is, at very best, no more than a plausibility argument.

However, it seems hard to track down evidence based on a more realistic analysis. Eventually I came across Judith Curry's statement that a realistic analysis capable of being understood by, say, a competent physics graduate did not exist. Other than the simple black body model, all the rest is computer models. At that point, I assumed that there was no point in continuing my search.

I won't argue it at length here, but the output from an unverified computer model is not evidence (notwithstanding the belief to the contrary by many 'climate scientists'). My conclusion: evidence that CO2 causes global warming does not exist. It's a plausible hypothesis, but that's all.

When I posted a similar comment to the above some time back, BH commenter Chandra retorted "So you are saying that CO2 has no heating effect?" (or something similar - I don't have his words in front of me*). I suggested he went back and carefully re-read my words. Pointing out that there is no evidence for a thing is different from saying that a thing does not exist.

* I wish that BH had a better search facility - or perhaps that I knew how to use the existing one more effectively.

May 5, 2014 at 5:46 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Dung, I believe it's more subtle than CO2 causes/doesn't cause warming. My view is that it does cause warming, but that warming kicks off other processes which stop actual temperature rise i.e, the warmth causes more water vapour in the atmosphere which causes cloud formation and consequential cooling. This applies for any forcing that causes warming. at least in my view.

If you say CO2 doesn't cause warming then you are challenging physics that is well and truly accepted, and indeed proved in the lab, and look like a skydragon.

May 5, 2014 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

The point is that we insist — quite rightly — in reminding the warmist community that other "well and truly accepted" theories (of which the stress/ulcer and the argument against continental drift beliefs are only two) were subsequently proved to be wrong but when sceptical scientists try to make the case that CO2 is not a cause of warming all of a sudden we put the shutters up and say "but it's been proved in the lab".
A lot of things have been proved in the lab that engineers will tell you do not obey the same rules in the real world..
In reality I (on no evidence since I am not a scientist) am inclined to your view that the warming — or cooling — process contains within it the mechanism which acts as a form of governor.
I think it's exceptionally arrogant for both sides of the argument to be so all-fired convinced that they know all the things they claim to know. I doubt that any of us understand more than about 1% of what climate is or does or is likely to do.
But as I've said time and again, it isn't and never was about science; it was socio-political from the very beginning.

May 5, 2014 at 8:02 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I found what I posted. In the discussion "Masstra2014 questions to sceptics", in reponse to an earlier Chandra comment, in which he said "that CO2's properties as a greenhouse gas are well understood", I said:

1. The properties of CO2 in absorbing and radiating IR over certain wavelengths have been precisely measured and are not open to dispute.

2. There is no doubt that a planet with an atmosphere of pure CO2 would be warmer than the same planet with an atmosphere of a gas that did not interact with IR.

3. From there on things are not "well understood" in the way that expression is normally used in science. The 'radiation imbalance' does not come from measurement or observation of any actual imbalance. It comes from calculations based on notions including "radiative forcing" which can exist only in computer models and which is inherently incapable of being validated by observation or by experiment.

Feb 8, 2014 at 7:24 PM Martin A

Other than knowledge in the category (3) above, is there any other way that we "know" CO2 causes global warming?

May 5, 2014 at 9:52 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I think the best short answer is given by Micky Corbett "It's best not to present theory as truth without caveat."

My issues with the points #7 and #9 on Spencer's list was that they were so seriously incomplete as to be misleading. They needed more caveats. I think others felt the same. I know Roy Spencer further clarified #7 on his own blog, down in the comments section.

Ross McKitrick himself turned up to make the point about #9 at WUWT, and used more technical terms than I could have done, to refine the issue*. The problem largely seems to be dealt with by ignoring it, or claiming it is trivially small without really explaining how that conclusion is arrived at.

I guess it may boil down to how we perceive others, who may be seeking understanding, may interpret the points as made. Of course the blog owners always have the right to determine what and how these matters are discussed on their own blogs.

*[Essex McKitrick and Andresen, 2007, being the paper which properly described the problem. It had disturbed me for several years. I think the first half can be followed by those with an undergraduate science background before the 2nd, more mathematical, section.]

May 5, 2014 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Martin A,
I produced the "If I added more CO2 to the atmosphere of a hypothetical Earth that was above its equilibrium (spit) temperature, would it not cool?" argument at Lucia's recently. I think I got a rather frosty reception, without being told that it was wrong per se.

May 5, 2014 at 10:22 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

What I said on the blog today in the Iain Stewart/don't talk about Iain Stewart thread was this:

If adding CO2 to the atmosphere always causes the addition of more water vapour then it can not be said that CO2 will always cause warming.
As someone else in the thread pointed out Stewart has been traveling the globe to make Climate Wars and it contained bare faced lies, since this is correct why was the whole post removed?
Michael Hart is right to remind me that the owner of the blog has the right to determine what can be said but I believe gagging has been taking place in the places I believed it would never happen :(

May 5, 2014 at 10:44 PM | Registered CommenterDung

As I come to consider this amazing thread for the second time in the day the banner advert provided at the top proclaims "Stop Whining Young People, You've Never Had It So Good!" Surely the Science Museum has never spoken so much good sense on Bishop Hill. The originator - young in heart and emotional maturity - has finally revealed it was the thread on geoscience on which he suffered such terrible censorship. I take a look. I find I totally trust the host as I notice a fair few snipped after fair warning. Only Dung and Don Keiller see fit to query or complain and only the former has to start a discussion thread all about it, with the old misdirection about CO2 and warming, joining Doug Cotton, mydog and the rest in their never-ending, cross-blog persecution complex. Martin A, as usual, displays the most balanced view of the science and a tin ear for how inappropriate this place is to discuss it. Still, thanks again Science Museum. Stop Whining Young People.

May 6, 2014 at 3:52 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard, read it again. It is not from the Science Museúm.

May 6, 2014 at 8:01 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

It hasn't rotated back into view so I can't check that. Did you mean Museúm?

May 6, 2014 at 9:35 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard (to coin a phrase) calm down.

May 6, 2014 at 9:38 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I typed museum. I don't even know how to type Museúm. (That one was pasted).

Anyhow, it is the Spectator, the venue is the British Museum.

May 6, 2014 at 9:55 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

I'm perfectly calm Martin - but don't confuse that with a lack of determination to make my point. I have never complained about a snip in all my years on climate blogs - and I've had many. It's a matter of principle for me, partly coming out of experiences of moderation myself. This complaint seemed weird for multiple reasons. I count Anthony Watts and his moderation team as heroes. I won't burden the host here with such accolades but I read the thread in question - on how geoscience might be made green, for goodness sake - and I thought the context for the snip was crystal clear. It surely made "The new heresy" laughably grandiose and tendentious as a title. You immediately fell in line making this yet another place (after one hundred others?) for a discussion of how and how much CO2 causes warming. You've just mentioned what you felt was Chris Huhne's fake sense of victimhood in the Guardian over on Unthreaded. A bad habit of mind for any of us. So this thread should never have existed. Dung had already written (without giving the link)

Some of my comments have been removed, I did not offend anyone and I am not happy about it therefore with great regret I will leave this great discussion.

on what I assume is the thread in question on WUWT on 2nd May and wrote another comment questioning the snip on BH's Geosciences' green strategy yesterday. How could the writer know that he hadn't offended anyone by the way? The guy is amazing! Building this up into massive collusion between all climate blogs never to discuss CO2 and warming - how hilarious is that! - moves us well beyond parody. Massive thanks is due to Anthony, Roy Spencer and all the others that keep these discussions going so amazingly (note the Your patience with us “phony” scientists is much appreciated to Spencer a few days ago). Most of all, as Robin Guenier would surely agree, we appreciate these great men for exposing the idiots in charge of policy. The kind of whinging here about one view of the science being censored is self-centred and immature. The Speccie said 'Stop Whining Young People' in their banner ad (thanks Rhoda) and I took my cue from there. But for that bit of serendipity you wouldn't have heard my perspective. But now you have.

May 6, 2014 at 10:01 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

We have all been snipped at some point, it's particularly painful when it was (in our not so humble opinions) a great comment. There are even sites where I can't post at all and while I've made a bit of a tit of myself a few times, I naturally don't think I deserve banning. Perhaps I'm not, it might be a glitch somewhere. Life is too short to worry about it.

Some threads are more sensitive to outside observation and it's not unreasonable that our more out of the box thinking is reigned in on those occasions. There is value in luring the wider world into scepticism by not coming on too strong with competing theories. Saying that CO2’s effect is manageable is an easier sell than CO2 isn’t having any obvious effect right now. We only have to win the war, we don’t have to win by a mile.

May 6, 2014 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

There were two meetings of minds I found informative in the Roy Spencer threads that gave rise to the WUWT one on which we gather our excremental friend was cruelly cut short. Here's Mike Haseler and the host on 1st May:

Haseler: … skeptics ask questions of the data, whereas consensus science asserts what the “consensus” of the scientists is.

That is why good skeptic science tends to end up as questions – that’s because a question cannot be wrong, whereas only a consensus scientist would have the audacity with such a paucity of data to assert its “significance”.

Spencer: Ah! Just what I concluded, too, and I posted a “NOTE” at the end of my original post stating the same thing.

Helpful humility and clarifying realism from our favourite Scottish sceptic there. And this was an interesting response to Hans Erren on 25th April:

Erren: Thank you, the dragon slayers are spoiling the real scientific debate.

Spencer: Which is why Lindzen half-suspects they are actually paid trolls who are out to waste our time. Interesting theory…I sometimes wonder

I've drawn attention to Dr Lindzen's half-suspicions on Bishop Hill on various occasions. I think the likelihood of foul play increases as the proliferation of bad arguments becomes almost dizzying, as Spencer put it in his introduction to the original thread.

May 6, 2014 at 3:40 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

A few years ago on Bishop Hill it was accepted and acceptable that posters had many reasons for objecting to the proposal that man was causing or would cause CAGW. To get back to the point of this thread; it now seems to be the case that on a number of 'skeptic' blogs and also in the view of the esteemed Drako, pointing to evidence that shows that CO2 is not warming the planet (note the present tense hehe) is now heresy.
It almost seems to be an attempt by some to be seeking acceptance by the warmista. Once we were all in this together fighting for the same cause but now some of us are indeed beyond the pale ^.^

May 6, 2014 at 4:09 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"Erren: Thank you, the dragon slayers are spoiling the real scientific debate.", those Aussie doctors are diverting attention from the true causes of ulcers.

That German chap is wasting our time with his continental drift nonsense.

It doesn't matter. Right or wrong they can't undermine our position, we don't have one. We have questions. When they are answered, we will have some different questions. If anybody is asking silly questions or promoting wrong theories, they should be easy to deal with in scientific terms. Not to tell them to shut up in case it makes us look bad. That's what the other side do.

Oh, and nobody ever answered that question of mine about any sort of experiment to demonstrate CO2-induced warming. I don't mean radiative physics in action, I mean to show warming in the atmosphere or a reasonable facsimile of it.

May 6, 2014 at 4:52 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Maybe the moderator bod was over-moderating ?
-usually there is a vast amount of leeway tolerated here compareed to the carefully 'engineered' comment areas of alarmist deceiver sites .
- I do understand Bish not wanting the discussion polluted by Loony Tunes or Slayers, but always stated that there should be a dead comments thread, so we can see the removed comments weren't censorship.

May 6, 2014 at 5:13 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen


Once we were all in this together fighting for the same cause but now some of us are indeed beyond the pale ^.^

But we are still together on the important stuff - the ruinous policies enacted in the name of highly dubious science of the enhanced greenhouse effect. And I have nowhere said that you personally - or Rhoda or anyone else - shouldn't discuss the gaps you see in the evidence for warming of the atmosphere and oceans, as a total system, due to CO2. Indeed I've said there seem to be at least a hundred threads for that kind of thing just on Bishop Hill and I celebrate that fact. I've merely suggested that you should never moan about being snipped - a certain sign that you've overstepped the mark in a particular thread, just as I did on this one just now. Never moan about it, just be thankful for the awesome freedom you and I have on well-moderated blogs like CA, WUWT and BH. And that's only my advice. If you want to fill BH discussion threads with moaning about editorial decisions and making up wild conspiracy theories about how the moderators are ganging up on you I'm in no position to stop you. But mock you I almost certainly will :)

May 6, 2014 at 5:23 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

You and I are at least in agreement, rhoda. The dragon slayers may well be right or equally they may well be wrong but all that killers of the dragon slayers appear to have is, as you say, they're "spoiling the real scientific debate".
I would have thought whether or not (and if so to what extent) CO2 is the cause of global warming is very much the "real scientific debate".
Is anyone seriously now suggesting that the edifice which has been built on the assertion that CO2 is the cause of global warming is anything other than political (regardless of how it started and I still maintain it was always political!)?
And just as no-one has ever answered your question about empirical evidence for CO2-induced warming, so no-one has yet responded to my request for empirical evidence for positive feedbacks, "back radiation" or that what we are experiencing is anything other than the earth behaving normally.
I have to agree that disrupting threads is likely to get you snipped but I always thought that the Discussion channel was open for just about anything including "heresy". Am I to take it that I'm wrong?

May 6, 2014 at 5:25 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


"Erren: Thank you, the dragon slayers are spoiling the real scientific debate.", those Aussie doctors are diverting attention from the true causes of ulcers.

That German chap is wasting our time with his continental drift nonsense.

For every Barry Marshall and Alfred Wegener there were tens of thousands of the misguided, egotistical and loony - and I agree with you than in the final analysis these outliers didn't matter, except I suppose for the real-world casualties from faulty treatment of ulcers (interesting to see the stats on that). But the unique and highly politicised field of climate science is a quite different context from stomach ulcers and the formation of the continents and I completely agree with Hans Erren and Roy Spencer in that different context. Faulty analogies can be fatal, given the unnecessary lives already lost through disastrous climate policies like biofuel subisidies and what's in the offing as a result of new ones like the World Bank no longer providing funding for coal-fired power stations, under the influence of Barack Obama. A completely different context and for me folks like Spencer and Watts have the right approach, as humanists in the best sense.

May 6, 2014 at 5:29 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard I obviously misread the situation; I believed that we sought the truth wherever it may lie but apparently not. I totally agree with your list of disastrous climate policies and lets not forget who is responsible for those policies because when people die it is because of them not seekers after truth.

May 6, 2014 at 6:21 PM | Registered CommenterDung

May 6, 2014 at 6:21 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Exactly Dung, I think the common thread among all 'types' of sceptics is they want the truth. I think the 'noise' level on Bishop Hill is perfectly manageable no matter which posters you think are the noise. I instantly tune out quite a few posters here just by skipping past them and tend to only see people like EM, Chandra, Richard... to name a random 3 when other posters reply to them.

May 6, 2014 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton