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Discussion > Where is the evidence

You keep on looking down your nose at me because I can not follow the maths and you try to infer that what I give you is opinion and not fact.
I did not get into a maths faculty course at university by not understanding maths and Mensa did not tell me my IQ was higher than 99% of the population because I was an idiot.
Unfortunately an octogenarian NHS doctor gave me some tablets that destroyed my memory and now I just do not remember all the maths I did. However I still get stupidly high scores in IQ tests because they do not require you to have knowledge; they simply give you facts and ask you to use those facts.
If I am limping after shooting myself in the foot, then I am not alone :). You make the point that lots of people see apples fall from trees but only Newton took that information and saw what it meant and this required no maths. The difference between Newton and all the others was intelligence; he was the one who had the 'light bulb' moment and realised he needed his mathematical ability to explore further and to communicate what he had realised.

Feb 17, 2015 at 1:05 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung, I'm afraid you are beyond saving.

Can you really believe you are arguing that science takes place without mathematics?

Sorry to hear about your medical condition, the honourable thing would be to retreat from the field of battle before you do yourself an injury.

Feb 17, 2015 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

I am saying that Maths is NOT part of the discovery/invention process and that it is a tool which helps explain/test/explore an initial idea.
You are now knocking down straw men; I never said maths was not involved in science, I said it is not a part of any light bulb moments I ever read about, it is a facilitator.

Feb 17, 2015 at 1:54 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Comparing English Language to Maths:

Language alone is useless unless you have something you wish to communicate or to explore. I think that maths is similar.

Feb 17, 2015 at 2:14 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"However I still get stupidly high scores in IQ tests"

Surely stupid scores are low?

Feb 17, 2015 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I see Dung's point now when previously I didn't. ie in the real world for the last 20 years a great deal more molecules of anthropogenic CO2 are sitting up in the atmosphere, but measured temperatures don't on average appear to have risen, so it is as if the CO2 maximum threshold has been reached.
- Personally I don't rule out weird complex magic effects like that the temp is rising for each extra molecule of CO2 but then is "hidden" by a temperature fall elsewhere due to another effect like sun dimming, increased smog reflecting sunlight back into space or water vapour decreasing or energy moving out of air warmth into something else like increased wind etc. So it's not impossible those effects could change back and temperature go back up a step.
However such a scenario would not justify as much spending on CO2 mitigation as a scenario where temperature just clearly rises detrimentally in proportion with CO2 levels.

Feb 18, 2015 at 3:42 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

On the understanding that the effect of CO2 is logarithmic then there must come a point when its effect is (to all intents and purposes) non-existent.
I don't know what that point is and I don't know whether the climate scientists know but I am prepared to hazard a small sum on their not being all that keen on our knowing the answer!
The effect (in simple terms) is 1C per doubling but starting from what point? If we take the pre-industrial concentration as being 280ppm and the pre-industrial temperature as being 15C then by the time the concentration reaches 560ppm the temperature should be 16C. Is that frightening?
And what else was in play during the LIA because by that logic if the temperature then was 14C the CO2 concentration ought to have been 140ppm which would be a bit ludicrous because life as we know it would have been virtually extinct? And whatever else was in play then, where is the evidence that it isn't in play now?
We insist on treating CO2 as the main driver of atmospheric temperature, which at 400ppm compared with water vapour at 40,000ppm seems a little unlikely. And what happens when the 14μ IR band becomes saturated? Surely after that CO2 has no effect? And at what point does that happen? It has been claimed that it happens at 200ppm. Evidence for this? Or against?

(Please note, all figures are either hypothetical or rounded for convenience but I hope the argument is sound.)

Feb 18, 2015 at 11:55 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


The evidence is in the 750,000 year ice core records and I think they show you exactly when that point is. Fortunately the graphs are given to us in our friendly neighbourhood IPCC reports.
Starting the observation while the world is deep in the ice age, you see that it suddenly starts to warm (I think you are supposed to pick your own reason).Somewhere between 200 and 2000 years later; CO2 began to rise (pick your own reason again here folks)at this point I refer you to that nest of vipers called RealClimate (Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt et al). They do not know what the cause of that warming is but they think that whatever it was suddenly took a break and CO2 took over and continued the warming. RC are pretty confident about CO2 causing most of the warming
Extrapolating this incredibly entertaining story (science???) we get to the bit where temp starts to plateau and CO2 keeps on rising and Oh dear RC did not explain that bit, (or no sequel yet.).
CO2 keeps on rising but Temp bobbles along happily interrupted by a few minor hiccups like the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice age.
So why did the CO2 keep rising (200 - 2000 years again) with no further increase in Temp? Well RC were pretty confident that CO2 caused most of the warming so would it be impolite to enquire whether the effect of CO2 disappeared fairly suddenly?
In my opinion this oft ignored piece of empirical evidence is pointing a finger at the point at which the CO2 effect (if there is one :P) maxes out.

Feb 18, 2015 at 2:47 PM | Registered CommenterDung

not banned yet

You will write 500 lines repeating the sentence: I must not make fun of mentally impaired old men until I have some experience of the problem myself.

Hand them in next Tuesday :P

Feb 18, 2015 at 3:02 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I must confess that my post was a little but tongue-in-cheek but it seems to me that there is still the potential to blow a hole in the climate physics as expounded by the Climateers.
Obviously there is more in play than just CO2 because otherwise the logic of their position ,which appears to be that a doubling of CO2 causes a 1 degree (I think they actually say 1.2 but let's keep it simple) rise; definite fact, don't argue, must also be that a halving of CO2 would cause a similar sized fall and by extension that 1 degree reduction has to be caused by a halving of CO2.
It's the same argument that says 'natural variation' must be offsetting the rise that should have taken place in the last 16+ years while denying that it had any part to play in the warming prior to that. In common parlance it's called 'you cannot have your cake and eat it'.
There has been no warming for 16 years; CO2 has been increasing; ergo CO2 is not a driver. At least not in present circumstances. To go back to the question I was asking: at what point does the relevant IR band become saturated? Will someone who actually understands these things go away and find out because if CO2 "ceases" to be a greenhouse gas at 350ppm then we can all forget about cAGW and spend our money as we should be spending it on researching cures for cancer and Alzheimer's and making sure that flood protection systems are kept up-to-date and countries that are genuinely under threat from sea levels and/or where poverty is a major issue are given the financial support that we rich buggers can afford to give them.
And starting with a sensible energy policy that won't leave thousands across Europe in fuel poverty.
As somebody said a few weeks ago: "It's not rocket salad!"

Feb 18, 2015 at 5:04 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


How dare you be tongue in cheek?? :P

Well I would have more patience with them if they showed a little humility when they made their claims, they were damn sure that it had to be CO2 and nothing else but CO2.
At best it shows incompetence and at worst it proves them to be liars.

Feb 18, 2015 at 6:30 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung there is not a doubt that CO2 absorbs LWR in the 4 and 15 micron wavelengths and re-radiates them. You'll find the paper proving this is Harries et al 2001, where a reduction of the output of these wavelengths has been detected over a period of time.

I, and others, have tried to explain that the physics also tells us that warming will lead to other events which can both amplify and reduce temperatures. i.e. the increase of water vapour from increased warming, the increase in albedo from clouds and increased snow (because of the increased precipitation) etc.

You may be of the opinion that CO2 doesn't cause warming and there is no proof for it, and indeed you may be right, but it is a fact that you are in a very small minority, and highly, not to say extremely, unlikely to get a massive change of opinion on that topic amongst scientists. In the event that you pursue the argument you will be ignored and sidelined.

My point is that there is a bigger argument to be made, and that is that the warming, CO2 driven or not, will not cause any catastrophes and there is no proof that they will. That argument will never be listened to if you start from the point where you deny CO2 causes warming because that's what the argument will be about, and not about the effects of warming.

That bigger argument is about sensitivities and it is an argument where headway can be made because of the physics and the observations. It doesn't matter what you, or I, think about CO2, that is an argument that can't and won't be won.

Feb 18, 2015 at 10:24 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Any time the other side want to deal with an inconvenient sensitivity, they scream tipping point. Both concepts cannot cohabit. I think the concept of sensitivity is therefore of limited use, within those limits being comparison of models with each other and with observations. Where is there any justification for a sensitivity number to be used to predict climate, as if it was permissible to add it arithmetically to anything else which is going on? It is not. Never can be. Even tipping points are more likely to be valid.

Feb 19, 2015 at 1:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda


Firstly I do not care who disapproves of my arguments, I do care if someone can prove me wrong.
I have tried to point out that the ONLY empirical evidence available to us points firmly at CO2 not causing warming at the moment.
I have shown evidence that there is a cut off point at which CO2 has no further effect and that we passed that point at the beginning of this interglacial. You guys keep telling me that theories prove me wrong.but only evidence can prove me wrong.

"Dung there is not a doubt that CO2 absorbs LWR in the 4 and 15 micron wavelengths and re-radiates them."
Fine but I am not interested unless CO2 can be directly linked to rising temp.

There is a lot of evidence showing that the earth DOES respond to CO2 but only over long time scales and its response is to remove it from the atmosphere and store it. There is no proof that it causes the earth to warm up.
If the idea that some kind of unstoppable spiral of rising CO2 and rising temp was correct then why have levels of CO2 been falling for over 4 billion years and why has the earth not gone up in smoke?

Forget the science and look at the facts.

Feb 19, 2015 at 5:17 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Following on from Rhoda's post

The number of factors influencing global temp is unknown, obviously all the unknown factors are unquantifiable and so are some of the known factors. Under these conditions it is impossible to calculate the sensitivity of the climate to any factor, known or unknown.

Feb 19, 2015 at 5:36 AM | Registered CommenterDung


'I have tried to point out that the ONLY empirical evidence available to us points firmly at CO2 not causing warming at the moment.'

The lack of current warming from temp records only suggests that all the current influences over global temps are cancelling each other out, it does not prove CO2 has no effect or disprove.

I am happy to accept that CO2 due to its effect on absorbing and re radiating certain wavelengths will in certain circumstances heat a body of gas mixture. However once you apply that to a body of gas the size of the earth's atmosphere its actual effect may be nil or negative once you take into account other interdependencies from other components of the gas body and the rest of the surroundings eg Sun, oceans, land etc.

The reason we are where we currently are is because a bunch of activists masquerading as Climate Scientists have picked on a possible cause of some warming and blown it out into causing all warming when they should be doing what they are paid to do and attempting to find the real cause of why the climate changes as it does or provide the foundations for further work awaiting improvements in research technology. I suggest rather than internally fighting we should be concentrating on the problem ie these activists so we can then leave the proper scientists (if they exist) to provide real answers not model outputs. This discussion reminds me too much of RealClimate (but much more polite of course ;0 )

Feb 19, 2015 at 10:14 AM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air


I agree with a lot of what you say in your last post but some of it is way off the mark IMO because it does not agree with empirical evidence :)

Firstly you are not under any pressure to join this discussion, on the other hand I really appreciate the fact that you did hehe.
Secondly there is no risk that your posts will be removed or that you will be banned from BH and so this discussion can not be compared with Real Climate ^.^ (although I can not rule out that happening to me.).
Thirdly the pause in warming proves only one thing ; the alarmists were wrong when they predicted that it would be warming.

Would you disagree with any of the following statements?

The number of factors influencing global temp is unknown.
We are only at the very start of understanding how the climate works.
It could be 1,000 years before we finally understand fully how climate works and so be able to make accurate predictions about it.
Trying to predict climate/global temperature at the moment is utterly pointless.
We do know from geological records what different climates the earth has experienced over the last 3 billion years. It would be worthwhile over the next 100 years, making sure that our population was able to adapt to all of them (there were basically only 3; ice age, interglacial and hothouse.

If I go on too long I lose the thread so I will stick there for now :)

Feb 19, 2015 at 12:09 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I really LOVE this one from Polar Bear "If CO2 did not trap heat then the physics books would need to be rewritten. A final evidence - only crackpots claim that CO2 does not cause warming. What more evidence could you want than that?"
On a similar vein "of course stress causes ulcers, if it didn't we'd have to rewrite the medicine books - only crackpots claim stress doesn't cause ulcers" (Marshall & Warren)
Ditto for seafloor spreading (continental drift - Wegener)
Any other examples anyone can think of? There's probably a nobel prize in that sort of discovery!

Feb 19, 2015 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimonJ

New post in Oz : The Logarithmic Effect of Carbon Dioxide

Dung : You don't think the CO2 heating effect could be happening, but an equal growing smog effect countering it ?

2. I have a problem accepting the CO2 effect is now "full" as surely that would require that there would be an equal depth of CO2 in the atmosphere like a sheet. But is there actually enough CO2 for that ? And wouldn't you get days where clouds of CO2 are on average twice as high and half as big as another day ?

(Obvious, but good points @SimonJ)

Feb 19, 2015 at 3:26 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen


Honest answer: I have no idea however more importantly; the scientists have no idea either. The truth is that nobody yet understands how the climate works but the opposition keep making claims and we need to keep proving them wrong ^.^
Actually, since nobody yet understands it all then my ideas are as good as anyone else's ideas hehe.
IF the theory that CO2 has passed the point at which it has no effect and IF that point was at around 220 PPM, then there is twice as much CO2 available as is needed to absorb/block outward radiation (IF the outward radiation has an effect hehe).

Feb 19, 2015 at 4:09 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"Just to get things straight:

"Firstly I do not care who disapproves of my arguments..."

What exactly is your argument - genuine question. Is it:

1. CO2 isn't a greenhouse gas?

2. CO2 is a greenhouse gas but it has no effect because we've reached saturation?

3. CO2 is a greenhouse gas but doesn't retain enough heat to warm the atmosphere?

4. Scientist don't know if it's a greenhouse gas or not?

5. Something else I don't understand?

I genuinely can't get my head round what you think people have to prove you wrong about. Nor am I seeing the empirical evidence you talk of. Harries et al 2001 is a paper that shows by measurement he increasing CO2 has reduced the output of energy in the 4micron and 15 micron wavelengths. What do you believe has happened to this energy? Do you think it may be too trivial to have any effect? If that's your theory where is the evidence you have to show it so?Or do you refute the Harries et al paper and don't believe there has been a reduction of radiation at 4 and 15 microns?

Feb 19, 2015 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

The way I read Harries et al 2001 is that one of the bands is already showing little change. Bearing in mind the difficulties with comparing via different satellites ver different timescales admitted by Harries, this means there may be the beginnnings of saturation in the minor band. So what? So it throws out Myrre and his 2.36ln(c1/c0) equation, upon which the sensitivity numbers stand. It might not be 2.36 but 2.2 (or some other number).

Anyhow, whichever of Dung's suggestions one choses to dispute, one would need empirical observational or experimental evidence. I think that's what he's asking for. When I asked these questions myself in previous discussions I was overwhelmed by explanations but few came with any backup in that form. When somebody tells you 'it's obvious', and it isn't to you, what are you supposed to do?

Now, back radiation, or change of 50% altitude causing temp rise via lapse rate? Pick one.

And while you are at it, how many photons get right through, how many bounce around between CO2 molecules? How many bounces before they leave the atmosphere? None, mostly, some, lots? I've seen all kinds of explanations. Since they conflict, some or all of them probably contain a degree or 1.2 of handwaving.

Further, away with the notion that if you question the basic theory you are somehow betraying the sceptical cause. You are just asking a question. There is no sceptic cause. If there were a cause, I would be inclined to be sceptical of it. Like Groucho's club.

Feb 19, 2015 at 5:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

rhoda - so far as EM (remember him?) was concerned, Myrre's 2.36ln(c1/c0) is essentially an established physical law. In fact, it is the result of fitting a log formula to a few (five or six?) points obtained from a numerical model, itself inevitably incapable of being validated against reality. I think Steve McIntyre pointed out you could just as well (with equal accuracy over the range) fit a square root formula.

I had assumed that the logarithm was the result of a known physical effect, like the log relation between voltage and current in a silicon diode. I enquired on SoD and they pointed me to the Myre paper. Later I found on CA that Steve McIntyre had had difficulty tracking down other places where a log formula had originated - despite it being one of the cornerstones of "climate science" and being treated as if it were a physical law.

Feb 19, 2015 at 6:45 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


My empirical evidence is the ice core records. The ice cores contain a physical of the contents of our atmosphere over a period of 750,000 years.
That record is not the product of any theories but it is subject to the correctness of the science telling us what that record means. So for instance you can have a chunk of ice containing the actual gases that existed in the atmosphere when the ice froze. Somebody has to date that ice and so far nobody has questioned the dating of the ice. It has in fact recently become even more accurate through the use of Krypton dating
However what is questioned is whether the gas dates from the same time as the ice; the ice moved after the initial 'freeze'. The ice does not instantly become solid in the freezing process; it turns into a softer substance in between snow and ice called Firn. You then have ice which contains the temperature info and gas from a different time and at the moment there are different theories about the time difference doh! This is currently the only theory contradicting the original estimates. The warmists have jumped on this hehe.
NEED TO STOP! THE WARMISTS HAVE THROWN A SPANNER IN THE WORKS just as I was about to prove my point Grrrrrr
When I read the papers a few years (2-3) back all of the scientific papers identified a possible lag of between 25 and 100 years caused by the movement of air bubbles before the ice solidified. NOW there is ONE new paper which says that the lag ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand years which would conveniently nullify the status quo which is that CO2 rises between a few hundred and a few thousand years after temperature.
In the papers I first read there was no back up to the statements, just a stated fact that the lag was 25 to 100 years. In the new paper there is again no back up or evidence, there is just a statement that lag is 100s of years to 1000s of years. I smell a huge rat here but I can not prove either statement but I will bloody well investigate it some more. Over and out.

Feb 19, 2015 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Dung: You ask, "Would the Bishop care to declare what empirical evidence he has which proves that CO2 causes any warming?"

Fair question, so let me give it a go. The best empirical evidence for this are the satellite-based spectrometer measurements of the IR radiation leaving the top of the atmosphere, coupled with similar ground-based measurements looking up and down.

First, some background. The only mechanism earth has for exhanging energy with the rest of the universe is electromagnetic radiation. Simply put, it receives radiation (UV, visible light, shortwave IR) from the sun, and it emits radiation (longwave IR) to deep space.

If the amount of energy in these two power flows does not match, the internal energy of the earth will change (1st Law of Thermodynamics), manifesting itself as temperature change and phase change of water. Nobody, alarmist or skeptic, thinks the earth is out of balance, averaged over its surface and the time of a year, by more than 1 watt per square meter (1 W/m2).

The earth and its atmosphere, integrated over its surface and over a year, absorb radiative energy from the sun (Ein) of about:

Ein = 240 W/m2 * Aearth (m2) * Y (sec/year)

This number is known from measurements to within a couple of percent.

To be in approximate energy balance (and everyone thinks we are on average within 1 W/m2) the earth must radiate this same amount to space -- again, integrated over the surface and a year in time.

But we know from ground-based measurements looking down that the earth's surface is radiating out:

Eout(surface) = 390 W/m2 * Aearth (m2) * Y (sec/year)

In addition, there are substantial convective and evaporative transfers from the surface, meaning that if you just considered the surface, there would be a radical imbalance that we know does not exist. Something must be going on.

This is where the satellite measurements come in. The satellites measure outbound longwave IR, integrated over the earth's surface and a year, of about:

Eout(TOA) = 240 W/m2 * Aearth (m2) * Y (sec/year)

So something is different between surface and top of atmosphere (TOA). What? To answer this, we need to look at not only the magnitude of the LWIR emission, but its spectrum.

Looking downward from just above the surface, the LWIR emission spectrum is very close to that of a blackbody (the "Planck curve") at the temperature of the surface there. But the satellites looking downward from above the atmosphere see a significantly different spectrum. Compared to the Planck curve for the local surface, there are significant "bites" taken out of the spectrum.

These "bites" come at the wavelengths that are absorbed by H2O and CO2. H2O absorbs mainly the 5-8 micron wavelengths and above 20 microns. CO2 absorbs mainly in the 14-18 micron range. Neither absorbs much in the 8-14 micron range. These are well known from controlled, repeatable laboratory experiments.

The spectrum the satellite sees is, to a first approximation at least, a mishmash of the Planck curves for several different temperatures. In the 8-14 um range (the "atmospheric window") it sees radiation of a magnitude corresponding to the surface temperature, typically around 290K.

In the wavelength ranges of those absorbed by H2O, it sees radiation of a magnitude corresponding to the highest height in the atmosphere where there is significant water vapor, typically around 260K.

In the wavelength ranges of those absorbed by CO2 it sees radiation of a magnitude corresponding to the height in the atmosphere where the density is low enough that most radiation to space is not absorbed by CO2 at higher elevations.

Then from the ground based spectrometers looking up at the "downwelling" long wave IR, we see virtually nothing in the 8-14 um "atmospheric window", but significant amounts in the wavelength ranges absorbed by H2O and CO2.

If none of the longwave IR emitted by the surface were absorbed in the atmosphere, the spectrum the satellites would see would be the same as what the ground-based detectors see -- the Planck curve for the surface temperature. Over the long term, the area under this curve (multiplied by the area of the earth), which is in units of power, must match that of the solar input.

But if "bites" are taken out of this curve by gases that absorb parts of this spectrum and then emit at a lower temperature from higher up in the atmosphere, less radiative power is emitted for a given surface temperature. This means a higher surface temperature is needed to be in balance with the solar input.

From this empirical data, the only reasonable conclusion is that the absorption of surface thermal radiation by H2O and CO2, and its subsequent re-emission at lower temperatures, leads to a significantly higher surface temperature than would exist with a non-absorptive atmosphere. And because H2O and CO2 have different absorption/emission spectra, we can conclude that CO2 is a real part of this phenomenon.

Note carefully that we are talking about closing a gap in power flux that averages over 150 W/m2, with measurements that are probably accurate to within +/-5 W/m2. How this effect changes with small additions to this absorption is a very different issue.

I believe the reason that the Bishop and his ilk will not accept comments that claim there is no effect from CO2 at all, even though they are highly skeptical of the purported effects of added CO2 is that the first issue can be confirmed by direct measurements with conclusions based on replicable laboratory science.

Feb 20, 2015 at 2:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterCurt