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Discussion > Evidence for Rhoda and Dung

Entropic man
I understand your frustration, but isn't that science at? Perhaps it's this? No that doesn't fit the facts. Perhaps it's that? No that doesn't fit the facts. So far the original premise stands if none of your alternatives match the (unadjusted) data as it is known today, until someone else comes up with a better match.

Dec 3, 2015 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS


At last, now you get what science and scientific method actually is.

If you don't know what is causing something that you observe and others theories require extra speculation and extrapolation then the default case is "we don't know".

You can improve some understanding by knuckling down and characterising effects you do know, for example, really trying to get the guts of radiative forcing. Some say it's nothing some say it is something.

But when there is a gap and a limitation you don't try and force things to fit. It exposes the weakness in your argument and reduces it to the same level as "we don't know".

The implication of not having a decent and consistent argument for the Little Ice Age means that natural processes are not fully characterised. Those processes should exist today hence it throws doubt on Co2 forcing.

The bottom line is I don't have to provide an answer for why the Little Ice Age exists as I'm not making the claim for it. It appears in the CO2 record and apparently the historic one. What I am saying is that if we take Ferdinand's argument about modern day rises in CO2, the rise in Co2 in the past is best described by a change in temperature.

What causes that temperature has not been explained to a decent level of consistency hence it throws doubt on current theories.

That's just science, that's how it works. It's also common sense.

Dec 3, 2015 at 11:49 AM | Registered CommenterMicky H Corbett


Yes, talking to Micky H Corbett is frustrating. I used to think of him as fairly sensible, but recent discussion hs proven disappointing.

His attitude sums up as "I do not believe CO2 drives climate, but have no idea what does."

He reminds me of the more extreme Presbyterians here in Northern Ireland. They reject astronomy, geology, palaeontology and biology because each describes a universe more than 6013 years old.

" This does not agree with my beliefs, therefore it must be wrong "

The odd thing with Micky H Corbett in particular is his refusal to accept evidence for any climate change mechanism. So far he rejected CO2, Milankovich cycles, the sun, vulcanism and plague. Yet he has no hypotheses of his own.

He also has no concept of the climate system as set of energy stores and flows. Poor understanding of scientific method is something I would expect of an engineer.

" the rise in Co2 in the past is best described by a change in temperature."

But what changes temperature? It does not change at random but because of cause and effect. One would expext an engineer to be able to think clearly about thermodynamics.

Dec 3, 2015 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man


When your done putting words in my mouth maybe you can wise up a bit about the reality of science.

I have never denied orbital effects or volcanoes having limited effect. It's just that it is inconsistent with the argument to say that modern CO2 emissions are not caused mostly by man. Which is Ferdinand's argument.

Your ideas are speculative and hence don't need to be seriously addressed.

Plus for future reference it's Dr Michael Henry Corbett, born in Belfast, PhD in Physics and with 15 plus years in varied fields as aerospace engineering, plasma physics, spacecraft design and a few others.

So I think I know a thing or two about professional science as well as logic and application of theory. And I'm not alone on this website. Other contributors here have much more experience than me and have told you the same thing about your approach to science.

Dec 3, 2015 at 2:05 PM | Registered CommenterMicky H Corbett

"Empicall evidence? Look around you. Since 1880 CO2 has risen by 180ppm and temperature has risen by 1C."

Actually that's not empirical evidence. You see "empirical evidence" means that the relationship is unambiguous. So for it to be empirical evidence we'd need to show that temperatures fell with CO2 reduction and rose, consistently, with CO2 increases. I'm only guessing of course but I don't believe you're an engineer, and have very grave doubts about that you're actually trained in science.

Engineers are different from scientists in their discipline because the tend not to throw an idea into the scientific ether to see if it's got "legs". Science, especially at the "bleeding edge" (bleeding cliches, I know, but bear with me) is a discipline where the practitioner's are generally humble and put their papers out for their colleagues to correct, hoping they're right, but satisfied that they've asked a question.

It follows that if some soft toss pot looks at CO2 increases and finds concomitant temperature increases and announces that they've found cause and effect, the scientist will say, "that's very interesting, and the engineers will say," we'll have to see about that".

I don't know what discipline you belong to, but I doubt it's engineering or science, because you're arguments lack the rigour of an engineer and the humility of the scientist. I''m going for a graduate of the University of SkS.

Dec 3, 2015 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo


Poor understanding of scientific method is something I would expect of an engineer</ bloqckquote>

You obviously have no understanding of how much science is involved in an engineering degree.

Dec 3, 2015 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Engineering is the application of science. In order to apply it effectively you need a sound understanding. Engineers are scientists with their feet on the ground and not with their head in the clouds.

Dec 3, 2015 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea


Ross lea
"What about the Solar cycle correlation with global temperature ?"

Show me.
Dec 3, 2015 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man
Study this Video.

Dec 3, 2015 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

Dr Corbett

As a Belfast man you will have met the thran Presbyterian belief system I described. It is disturbing to encounter its equivalent in you, a man who is, in other respects, so well educated.

You should also know the etiquette of scientific debate. If you want to take the minority view that the 180ppm CO2 increase since 1850 is not due to human activity , then you need to make the case for your hypothesis.

Don't just say that Engelbeen proved it, explain it yourself in terms a mere biologist might understand. We have already established that his attempt to decoupling the amount of CO2 n the atmosphere from the C13 ratio is scientific rubbish, yet you keep quoting his nonsnse.

Particularly, you might explain where the 300Gt necessary to produce the increase came from; and where 600Gt of CO2 produced by fossil fuel combustion has disappeared to if it is not in the atmosphere.

You might also like to explan how the oceans are accumulting 3*10^22Joules/year by, according to you, a mechanism which leaves no trace of its operation.

Dec 3, 2015 at 7:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM - while your there...but on a different topic. What caused the Sahara to become a desert?

Dec 3, 2015 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A


Dec 3, 2015 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A


I don't take the view that the recent increase in CO2 is not human caused. Ferdinand's argument is that it is and for the sake of this post it appears reasonable. But that before we started pumping out a lot of CO2 nature appears to control variation. Did you actually read the original post?

The point is that before we contaminated the atmosphere if that's the word, CO2 looks like a good proxy for temperature rise and out gassing, especially since the same argument for recent human increase makes sure to discount large effects from other processes including volcanoes and vegetation. So in the same way as it says that volcanic emissions aren't large enough or sustained enough today to cause long term variation the same argument is used before 1850.

But in terms of heat accumulation, or in simple terms the ocean getting warmer, you don't know how a complicated system like the Earth deals with internal energy dynamics especially since there appears to be doubt about the Little Ice Age. Yes the Earth has warmed but why it has warmed is not so definite. Hence why the Earth has warmed now is also not so definite. We can try and say it's CO2 but when you look back at how that idea came about you find it was the slow creep of models using the assumption that CO2 caused heating.

Even when other researchers report that the effect is limited. So as in a lot of science, a movement over the years polarised down certain paths, until got involved and solidified into a movement. Doesn't change the problems with the science.

Dec 3, 2015 at 9:37 PM | Registered CommenterMicky H Corbett

Ross Lea, The Big In James, geronimo

Engineering courses teach old science. Orbital mechanics and optics go back to Newton. Electricity and materials are 19th century science. Electronics is almost a century old.

By the time it becomes what Kipling called " the tables at the end"science for engineers is long settled. The equations are written in stone, the doubts and uncertainties long resolved.

What engineers are not good at is new science. You hide from anything not yet settled. You reject anything whose equations are still provisional. You qualil before data uncertain enough to require statistical analysis.

You make perfect useful idiots for the climate dniers because your only experience of science is of the finished product, not its development. You are suckers for the "uncertainty" meme , the ",science is not settled" meme and the "there are things we do not know" meme.

Dec 3, 2015 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Micky H Corbett

"nature appears to control variation. "

Now that sounds positively mystical. What do you mean by "nature"? I hope you are thinking in terms of control theory .

Dec 3, 2015 at 10:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Micky H Corbett

I just watched the Lisa Pathfinder launch. Congratulations of you are involved.

Dec 3, 2015 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

What engineers are not good at is new science. You hide from anything not yet settled. You reject anything whose equations are still provisional. You qualil before data uncertain enough to require statistical analysis.

Gosh EM - When you say things like that, I can only conclude that your experience of life must have been entirely confined to the secondary school classroom. If you can say things like that, why should we take *anything* you say seriously?

As I have said a number of times before, it is clear that you imagine things and then what you have created in your imagination becomes your reality, despite it being miles removed from actual world. You will even tell people what you have imagined, presenting it as if it were fact. As just one example, you told me that I don't know how to do O-level specific heat calculations because that was what you had imagined.

You never spent a day in an engineering research laboratory? You never picked up an issue of an IEEE Transactions and tried to read it?

By chance I just came across this The Swiss Space Industry: The Fine Art of High Technology. Years back Umberto Somaini was an MSc student of mine. He did some work on synthesising very low sidelobe pulse trains for radar by the use of numerical optimisation - so far as I know the first time such signals had been synthesised that way.

Dec 4, 2015 at 12:23 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin, I think we all know by now that Renaissance Man would have been left trailing in EM's wake. The only people who know more about everything are called climate scientists. This thread has been fun.

Dec 4, 2015 at 2:17 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Dec 3, 2015 at 7:12 PM | Entropic man
So speaks a teacher with no experience of anything in his entire life apart from education.

Dec 4, 2015 at 8:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

EM, you do realise Engineers are not those men in blue caps who drive steam trains, don't you?

Dec 4, 2015 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames


Ah I think I understand what you are saying now. You haven't seen systems which get a constant input vary their input in cycles that appear to be produce energy out of nothing so to speak. Whereas in reality it's a temporal thing.

Discharge plasmas do this a lot especially Kaufman ones. They have an internal circuit, cathode to anode with a plasma cathode emitting electrons to the anode. There is gas going through the cathode and when you introduce more into the main discharge you get more ionisation. You can control the magnetic field and the current moving between the circuit.

Now if you use a car battery, as in a very steady power supply, with a measurable low noise constant output, and you demand more current into the discharge you start to see oscillations in the anode current which make the transient current oscillate to even greater levels than the input. Essentially you hook up an oscilloscope and measure at 1 kHz for example. The anode current may vary by 20 A even though you are only putting in 15A. The more you demand current and the more you push the device what eventually happens is the ions in the plasma start to get involved in current transfer and something that basically looks like "negative resistence" occurs. Sounds crazy but it's a real effect. Before this transition I've seen 10A variations on what is a 3 A input. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't have measured it myself.

So my point is timescales are important and the system structure is important. You can see larger transient variations than the input but only as long as the input works on much longer timescales. The Sun after all has been providing energy for billions of years. That's why when I say it could be internal dynamics it's not some mystical energy. It's a real effect in complex systems but it requires an appreciation of scale as well things like what the physical structure of the system is like.

And it's actually a really tough problem because humans don't live anywhere near that long. Well unless you're Vandal Savage.

Dec 4, 2015 at 9:49 AM | Registered CommenterMicky H Corbett

EMs prejudice about Science v Engineering is a play-out of an age old dichotomy in academia about the Platonic subjects and the vocational ones. It comes from a resentment of the old idea that those who can, do, and those who cannot, teach. Many academic subjects which have no immediately applicable benefit to humanity have gotten nippy and haughty about the 'dirty hands' subjects such as engineering, and embarked on a snobby crusade to make them second class citizens.

This is part of the underlying psychology around why modern academia dislikes industry and by extension, capitalism, exacerbated by the push from the 80s to put universities on a paying basis, and encourage industrial partnerships. The fallout from this was that the engineering departments did well out of these arrangements, since they had the expertise which was most immediately useful, leaving the less applicable ones to founder and simmer in resentment.

EMs stupid comments about what engineering is in relation to science comes from this cess-pool.

There is nothing fundamentally different in complexity, intellectual content, or aspiration between Science and Engineering. Let me assure you, I have degrees in both. (BSc Eng., and MSc) I have worked in both research labs and R&D departments in industry and academia, as well as operational departments in both.

Engineering is simply applied Science. Engineers may not invent as much new theoretical science as pure scientists, but they have to work out all the pesky real-world details which are absent from the pure models in order to get things to actually work. Sometimes this means actually working out new theoretical science. Also, pure scientists sometimes have to delve into Engineering principles in order to construct tests for their theories, because testing is all about eliminating or at least measuring all the external factors which you are truing to eradicate from an experiment in order to see a relationship.

The overlap is huge, and I would go so far as to say that any Scientist in a domain with empirical research is also an Engineer by necessity, and any Engineer who gets thrown a theoretical idea over the fence and has to come up with novel and sometimes speculative approaches to solve the design dilemmas is also a Scientist.

What engineers do actually do, that theoretical scientists sometimes do a minimum of, is they measure. A lot.

Engineering is most often trial and error, because the design constraints are sometimes unknown. They can estimate frictional forces, losses, external influences, hysteresis, efficiencies etc, but a lot of them time they just have to build the thing and then measure them. This means they get very good at looking at noisy signals, and picking out the influences of multiple factors, and going back to the science to see what contributions they should be making at which points, and matching up data and theory. They are looking at signals where they know what they are looking at may not reflect the ideas that were intended. And sometimes the pure, lovely ideas thrown at them by the theorists, simply don't work in reality.

It's no surprise at all to me, that the sceptical side seems to attract a great many engineers.

And it is no surprise to me that the old Platonic enemies of engineering are stacking up on the side of anti-Engineering, anti-industrial usage, anti-capitalism. This means you, Humanities, pure Science, and the Arts. Any excuse to be in the big boys gang against the ';auld enemy' and you're right in there.

I hope this goes somewhat to explain EM's loathing of engineering, and the attitude of academia in general.

Dec 4, 2015 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames


Thank you for that you have expressed my views perfectly. Some examples of engineering that impress me.
CERN Complex including the Big Hadron Collider; The huge Fusion Project in France; The international Space Station. etc.

Dec 4, 2015 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea


I don't loath engineering or engineers. What I do dislike is their binary logic, the tendency to see science as either mature or meaningless.

My own suspicion is that it is because engineering is mostly physics, a science whose practice involves very low uncertainties and a few basic laws.

Coming from a background as a biologist I see myself as a lump of material comprising some 6000 chemical substrates produced by as many enzymes. Each enzyme is produced by a gene and each gene has, on average, two regulator genes. That is about 20,000 genes in total. The feedbacks between substrates, enzymes and genes has been honed by 4 billion years of natural selection.

An ecostem may have thousands of interacting species, some unknown. It processes more than 20 elements in complex nutrient cycles and maintains complex energy flow systems.

Biologists and other workers with genuinely complex systems cope with uncertainty and limited data. They have learned ways to get maximal useful information from incomplete information. They also tend to be rather hard boiled, since they deal with life and death as a matter of course.You have probably had about 20,000 hot dinners. I have certainly killed more animals.

Incidentally, all engineers should avoid medicine. The science on which it is based is even fuzzier than climate. ☺

Dec 4, 2015 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

I don't loath engineering or engineers. What I do dislike is their binary logic, the tendency to see science as either mature or meaningless.

And who are these binary engineers? (you talking about Robo-Martin again?)

What you observe is that engineers have to quickly assess the quality of something. This is essential in engineering, because a component which is only a bit good at something is not good enough. It's not the cosy world of the academic tutorial, where you get marks for effort for encouragement. Engineering works to exacting tolerances, and partially functioning components, theories and ideas waste time and resources. And they can be dangerous, and career threatening.

If this makes them seem rather brusque at dismissing certain constructs which may have some merits, but that they quickly assess to be fatally flawed, then that ability is borne out of hundreds or thousands of painful failures, and it's a skill which you should not underestimate.

They also tend to be rather hard boiled, since they deal with life and death as a matter of course.

Try creating some something where many people will die or be seriously injured if your control design is wrong. When you say biologists deal routinely with life and death, you mean mainly as observers. I don't really see the fact that you've gassed a roomful of mice in the course of your work as adding gravitas to your observations about science. That is your domain, it's not a skill. It's as ludicrous and meaningless a contribution as saying I have dipped 20,000 circuit boards in acid, or cut 20,000 lines of code.

Dec 4, 2015 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Micky H Corbett

Fascinating ideas. I can see climate analogies in ENSO and other short term cycles.

I still worry about the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

I presume that the oscillatoins you describe are not "producing energy from nothing" Energy is accumulating in part of the system and then being intermittently released. To generate such oscillations on a planetary scale would need considerable energy.

Tallbloke and I once got sufficiently onto the same wavelength to calculate the amount of energy involved in long term ocean cycles. It was enough to produce global surface variations of 0.3C between the cycle maxima and minima, with a maximum stored energy of 10^24 Joules at the bottom of the temperature cycle.. That was equivalent to increasing the entire volume of the Atlantic Ocean by 3C.

To get a change of 1C in surface temperature would need 3*10^24 Joules. If you wanted to produce this by internal variation you would need to have that much energy stored in 1880 and a way of releasing it at 3*10^22Joules/ year. Where would you suggest we look?

Dec 4, 2015 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man