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Discussion > Are climate scientists scientific?

I first became aware of global warming when I kept hearing that the warming of our planet was “unprecedented”. This sounded unlikely to me on the grounds that the earth had managed to warm up from several ice ages.

I knew nothing about our climate but as I looked more closely I found other claims that do not stand up to scrutiny. The main evidence for the warming being caused by CO2 seems to be based on the correlation seen in the Eighties and Nineties. Did they assume correlation meant causation? There is no correlation today. The relationship that was true last century seems to have been set in stone or at least in climate models, yet today the models are wrong. The predicted warming has not happened. The hiatus of almost two decades was not predicted. The predicted hot spot in the troposphere that has never been found and the increase in humidity has never materialised. Normal scientists would have scrapped the models.

Around two thirds of carbon dioxide is dissolved in the oceans and the rest is in the atmosphere. At any given time the actual distribution is determined by the relationship between the solubility of CO2 in the ocean and the temperature of the ocean. This determines the level of atmospheric CO2. Man made emissions are small in comparison. Atmospheric CO2 concentration follows temperature, not the other way around.

There is a greenhouse effect as well, but let us not corrupt the big picture to give the smaller picture more prominence.

Then we had the claim that only AGW could cause the warming. Solar insolence is a constant. Clouds are constant. Ocean circulation is not a factor. The hiatus has resulted in such claims being somewhat muted today. I was always astonished that ignorance of these effects justified making them irrelevant. Where is the science in any of that?

As we add up all the scientific blunders or deliberate distortions it is no surprise that we have the mess that climate science is in today.

How would a competent scientist have interpreted the same observations, starting with the unprecedented warming of the Eighties?

Apr 4, 2015 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

No.

Apr 4, 2015 at 3:45 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent


The main evidence for the warming being caused by CO2 seems to be based on the correlation seen in the Eighties and Nineties.

No, this is wrong. That relationship between CO2 and warming has been understood for about a century.


Atmospheric CO2 concentration follows temperature, not the other way around.

There is a relationship between temperature and atmospheric CO2, but it is far too weak to explain the recent rise. If it were simply CO2 following temperature, we should have seen concentrations close to zero during the last glacial period. We did not. The current rise is anthropogenic. It is the one thing about which there is virtual certainty. That there are commenters on this site who can suggest otherwise, without being challenged, is one reason why it's hard to take this site and its host seriously.


Then we had the claim that only AGW could cause the warming.

No we did not.

You might want to consider that this is still true.


I knew nothing about our climate

If you really want to make claims about other people being unscientific, you should at least try to ensure that your claims about what has been said/done in the past are actually true.

Apr 4, 2015 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

ATTP
You probably don't realise it but your insistence on demanding that dissident voices by silenced in order for this blog (or, I suppose, any blog) to be taken seriously simply reinforces the idea that your aim is to close down discussion, in this case around the subject of CO2 levels.
I do not know whether the increase in CO2 since ~1750 is anthropogenic or not. Neither, I submit, do you. You believe that it is because you have been told so but on the other hand those who make the claim also say that this increase is what is causing the "current" (though currently stopped) global warming.
No that's not right. The global warming since 1940. But not the global warming before that.
No that can't be right because there wasn't any global warming between 1940 and 1970.
In fact the correlation between CO2 increase and temperatures is pretty lousy for most of the 20th century.
So it rather looks as if anyone who disputes that the post-1800 increase must be anthropogenic may have at least a shred of an argument.
And the fact that the blog host chooses to allow a variety of opinions without leaping in to tell everyone they're rubbish is hardly an indication that the blog is not to be taken seriously though it might go some way to explain why nobody who disagrees with you lasts very long on yours.

Apr 4, 2015 at 4:40 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike,


You probably don't realise it but your insistence on demanding that dissident voices by silenced in order for this blog (or, I suppose, any blog) to be taken seriously simply reinforces the idea that your aim is to close down discussion, in this case around the subject of CO2 levels.

I'm not insisting on that. I'm making the point that it is hard to take seriously a site that promotes ideas that are clearly wrong and doesn't challenge commenters who make claims that are clearly wrong. There are many things we could debate about climate science; whether or not the rise in CO2 since the mid-1800s is anthropogenic or not, is not one of them. We are about as certain as it is possible to be that it is anthropogenic.


And the fact that the blog host chooses to allow a variety of opinions without leaping in to tell everyone they're rubbish is hardly an indication that the blog is not to be taken seriously though it might go some way to explain why nobody who disagrees with you lasts very long on yours.

Possibly, although an alternative reason is that I have no interest in allowing people to promote views that are clearly wrong.

Apr 4, 2015 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

A telling comment.

The result is a true believer's echo chamber, where only 'correct' views are tolerated.

Apr 4, 2015 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

ATTP
You and I obviously have different ideas about what freedom of speech means.
Apparently in your case it is the right to express views of which you approve and not to be taken seriously if you allow the expression of views of which you don't approve. I can see no other possible interpretation of what you are saying.
On the other hand I see no reason not to allow people to say things that are rubbish and then challenge them on why they believe those things. You are at liberty to challenge my view (for the sake of argument) that the increase in CO2 since ~1800 is not anthropogenic.
So why not do that instead of pouring scorn on Montford because he chooses not to police his blog in that way? It's a blog, ffs, not a university lecture theatre.
There are plenty of contributors here amply qualified to comment on the subject. Obviously they choose not to. In fact you choose not to. All you do is tell us we're wrong and that Montford should tell us off for saying these things. It's typical of the climate science community. Declaim, complain, but don't explain.

Apr 4, 2015 at 7:20 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

MJ: to which I refer you to a point I made in the Unthreaded site, referring to a “Seen elsewhere” link to a Green protestor:

As an activist I believe in justice.
The source of that quote being utterly unable to see that, as an activist, he has no interest in “justice” for others by listening to and reviewing their views – no: he would rather just silence them as he is, after all, right, therefore anyone who disagrees is wrong, and must not be allowed the justice of being listened to; indeed, what they may say could well be redefined as criminal, leading to fine, imprisonment or even death. As I said, the arrogance of these people truly knows no bounds.

One could argue that trying to engage with these mentalities is a waste of your time as well as everyone else’s, it being merely a sop to their egos and will do nothing to open their minds to other possibilities.

To put it in brief: DNFTT.

Apr 4, 2015 at 7:47 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Mike,


You and I obviously have different ideas about what freedom of speech means.

No, I don't think we do - or, at least, I can't see anything regarding free speech about which we disagree. I'm not suggesting that people should be prohibited from saying something. I'm not even suggesting that people should be prohibited from saying something in the media. I'm simply pointing out that if people insist on promoting views that are wrong, they should not expect to be taken seriously. Free speech means you can say whatever you want (within the existing laws that is); it doesn't mean that what you say has to be taken seriously.

I must say that it is unfortunate (although not surprising) that you would extrapolate what is a fairly simple point into a discussion about free speech.

Apr 4, 2015 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

ATTP, go away. If you have anything to say about the topic, please do. There is no point otherwise.

Apr 4, 2015 at 7:59 PM | Registered Commentershub

Shub,
If you don't think that pointing out that if you're going to suggest that a group of scientists are unscientific, it would be best if you did so without making a number of scientific and factual mistakes yourself, isn't on topic, then I'm not sure what is. YMMV, of course.

Apr 4, 2015 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Right. The fundamental difference is that you claim Montford is "promoting" something by allowing people to express a view on it.
My claim is that he's just allowing people to express a view and we can either challenge them or not as we see fit. So challenge them, if you feel they should be challenged.
With references or evidence, perhaps?

Apr 4, 2015 at 8:14 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

If you 'point out' something, it should involve more than just saying 'I point out ...' You did not do that.

Instead, going on and on about 'the site and its commenters', it's gotten old now.

Apr 4, 2015 at 8:16 PM | Registered Commentershub

Mike,


The fundamental difference is that you claim Montford is "promoting" something by allowing people to express a view on it.

Well, this site has promoted talks by Murry Salby who is clearly arguing that the rise is non-anthropogenic, so it has both promoted this view in the posts and allowed such views to be expressed - unchallenged - in the comments.


My claim is that he's just allowing people to express a view and we can either challenge them or not as we see fit.

Yes, and I kind of sympathise with the idea that it gets tiresome pointing out errors. That doesn't, however, change my broad point. That views go unchallenged doesn't help the credibility of the site, even if the reason is because noone can be bothered.


if you feel they should be challenged.

I don't really care. This appears to be a relatively prominent site. I really would rather it at least tried to be credible than not. I also find it interesting that a group who claim to be skeptics can't really be bothered at least highlighting when someone says something that is clearly incorrect.

Getting back to the theme of this discussion, it's clear that the initial critique of climate science which motivated the idea that climate scientists might not be scientific, included a number of scientific and factual errors. If people are going to make strong claims about the credibility of others, it might be good if they didn't make a number of fairly obvious mistakes themselves while doing so.

Apr 4, 2015 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

ATTP - do you have to say about the conservation of mass comment http://www.bishop-hill.net/discussion/post/2487996 ? Presumably not, as you have not responded on that thread.

Endlessly repeating "a number of fairly obvious mistakes", "it's patently nonsense" , "it's not particularly complicated", "want to try reading my comment again?", etc rather than correcting any errors or misconceptions is not going to convince anyone. Quite the reverse - it convinces us that you are not actually able to argue the issue, for one reason or another.

Apr 4, 2015 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

ATTP
thanks for responding to S Cat's statement, which comport to my own current views
certainly understand that it gets tiresome pointing out errors in other people's thinking
it is undoubtedly a short coming in my own character that I am still unable to accept that the science is settled
and after reading this discussion still agree with S Cat
I exist now to eat some saturated fat with high doses of salt as the expansion of my universe quietly decelerates

Apr 4, 2015 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Smith

splitpin,


do you have to say about the conservation of mass comment http://www.bishop-hill.net/discussion/post/2487996 ? Presumably not, as you have not responded on that thread.

Part of the problem is that I have engaged in such discussions many times, all of which have been fairly pointless. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the mass balance argument. If all of our emissions remained in the atmosphere, the atmospheric concentration would be rising twice as fast as it is now. So, something is absorbing at least half of our emissions. It's really hard to see how the source can be something else if our emissions more than account for the rise.

Additionally, the ocean PH is going down, which means that the amount of CO2 in the oceans is going up. So, the oceans are absorbing some of our emissions. Also, it can't be a source if it's absorbing more than it's emitting. I regularly hear here about greening of the biosphere, so the biosphere is also absorbing some of our emissions: it also can't be a source.

What other evidence is there? Well the isotopic ratio (C13/C12) tells us that the source is biological. The C14 ratio tells us it has to be an old biological source: fossil fuels. We also see a declining O2 ratio which implies that the rise is associated with burning (fossil fuels).

We have an additional problem in that the relationship between temperature and CO2 is about 10 times too small to explain the rise (i.e., a 1 degree C change in temperature is associated with a 10-20ppm change in atmospheric CO2).

How's that?

Apr 4, 2015 at 10:09 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

aTTP: "the ocean PH is going down"

On which dataset are you basing this assertion?

Apr 4, 2015 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

not banned yet
It'll be the output of a model.

Apr 5, 2015 at 12:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

DNFTT

It is easy to see when someone is being scientific as it is an objective pursuit of the truth. When an acolyte or a politician joins the debate they will behave in a partisan manner and never produce any kind of logical argument or evidence. Do people debate religion? The whole point is it is a matter of faith and not really open to logical debate, they are pretty opposite positions to hold.

Apr 5, 2015 at 2:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

aTTP: "the ocean PH is going down"

On which dataset are you basing this assertion?

I really don't get the PH and heat going into the deep ocean kinds of 'scares'. According to wikipedia there is 1.4 billion cubic kilometres of ocean., do every 5 people has a cubic kilometre of ocean ti dump there personal heat/carbon 'pollution' in. My basic sums has that as 1000000000 / 5 tonnes each which is 200 million tonnes of ocean, so say 3 millions of tonned each per year to heat/acidify - how do the physicists measure our contribution to changing the propertes of that?? I reckon the sun might swamp the contribution to our own ocean surface area part to.

Ie heat going to the 'deep ocean' and the PH thing is obviously incorrect/irrelevant.

Apr 5, 2015 at 8:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Not banned yet
There is an article at WUWT which covers natural sources of CO2 in a warming world. Oceans are no1 in that list.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/04/04/an-engineers-ice-core-thought-experiment-2-the-follow-up-2/

ATTP will say that a retired engineer is not a climate scientist and WUWT is not a peer reviewed journal and that, as a result the article is nonsense without reading it. You can make up your own mind when ATTP posts his reference.

Apr 5, 2015 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandys

How's that?
Apr 4, 2015 at 10:09 PM ...and Then There's Physics


Well it's the well rehearsed litany we have heard many times.

"How's that?"

I'm sorry to say that the answer is "Not good enough".

You entirely sidestepped the question "do you have to say about the conservation of mass comment http://www.bishop-hill.net/discussion/post/2487996 ? Presumably not, as you have not responded on that thread."

Bart's point is that the relation between human emission, natural emission, natural absorption and atmospheric residual is a dynamic relationship, so invocation of static 'conservation of mass' is not the decisive and irrefutable proof you seem to imagine it to be.

The fact that you did not reply to Bart's comment and the fact that you sidestepped responding here indicates your tacit admission of his point.

Apr 5, 2015 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Sandys,
I had a quick look. I think some of his numbers are wrong. Volcanic emissions are - as I understand it - about 100 times smaller than anthropogenic emissions. Additionally, he should really also have included the sinks as well as the sources, so as to show the net fluxes. If he'd done so he would have discovered that the net anthropogenic flux is positive (we emit, but do not absorb), while the net fluxes for the other component are all negative or zero (they absorb more than - or the same as - they emit). I'll leave it up to you to decide the significance of this.

Apr 5, 2015 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

splitpin,


The fact that you did not reply to Bart's comment and the fact that you sidestepped responding here indicates your tacit admission of his point.

As a genuine skeptic, I would hope that you would at least consider that an alternative reason is that his point makes so little sense that I really couldn't be bothered responding to it directly. In fact, to be completely honest, I don't really understand his point as it appears to be suggesting that we need to know what would happen in the absence of anthropogenic emissions in order to know if we're responsible for the rise in atmospheric CO2.

Apr 5, 2015 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics