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Discussion > What would convice you to be alarmed at Climate Change?

Hunter: alas, wisdom is not a guaranteed result of age or experience. While many may scrabble around, desperate to gain some, there are many who quite successfully evade it, no matter how hard it is thrust at them. As my wise mother (not the daft one, who insisted in having offspring) said: “A clever man learns from his own mistakes. A wise man learns from other people’s.”

I do hope your troubles have resolved themselves to reasonable conclusions.

Dec 21, 2015 at 9:41 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

What would convince me would be the undermining of the geological evidence showing warming happens before levels of CO2 rise and that that the records of the Devonian Period were fabricated.

Dec 21, 2015 at 10:21 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung: be careful what you wish for. I mean, who would have thought that there would have been such concerted efforts to eradicate the Mediaeval Warm Period and Little Ice Age from history, or for such blatant doctoring of historical records; such actions do put such trivia as hiding the decline somewhat into the shade.

Dec 21, 2015 at 10:29 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

This one is easy.


There is currently no evidence for any of the truly bad things attributed to climate change. To become worried or alarmed would require significant increases in the rates of change for things such as SLR, average temperature, extreme weather events, etc. And those are unlikely to occur in my lifetime or those of my kids. (No grand kids yet but daughter is working on it.) So why should I worry about impacts to people who don't exist? There are many, many things to worry about that impact people around the world who exist today. Those are what we should pay attention to.

This is something that bothers me about the Pope. He should know better. Yet somehow he has convinced himself that combatting climate will improve the conditions of the world's poorest.

Dec 21, 2015 at 10:30 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

RR - now I see what you mean by 'simple'. Not necessarily 'easy to accomplish'.

But even then I think that the 'simple' may be an illusion. You'd have to define in advance what was life and what was not. Are memes a form of life? Are viruses alive? How can you be sure of recognising life in conditions totally different from what we are familier with?

Dec 21, 2015 at 10:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Radical Rodent

When you become rude I disengage. If you want to continue a discussion, stay polite.

We've been over these lists before and each time you develop convenient amnesia.Over timescales from megayears to gigayears there is a gradually strengthening sun, plate tectonics, vulcanism, impacts,Milankovich cycles and CO2.

On the timescale of human civilisation are a cooling Milankovich cycle, variation's in solar cycles, vulcanism, ice albedo, aerosols and CO2. Of these, only CO2 is generating a sufficient energy imbalance to produce the observed changes.

I have said this before, believe what you like. However if you want to change the consensus you will need to provide a non-CO2 hypothesis powerful enough to change the current paradigm.

Dec 21, 2015 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

You mean, “It’s life, Jim Martin, but not was we know it!”

Dec 21, 2015 at 11:02 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Martin A

The conventional list of criteria for life on Earthi s respiration, nutrition, excretion, growth, reproduction and sensitivity.

Some organisms do not do all of these. Viruses, for example are regarded as simplified parasites which have delegated many of these functions to their hosts.

The most universal definition is probably negative entropy. By this definition a living organism is an island of increasing complexity and order, and decreasing entropy. This is achieved by increasing the entropy of its environment.

If you want to look for signs of life, look for unusual flows of entropy. This would cover anything from yourself to AI and von Neumman machines.

Dec 21, 2015 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Radical Rodent

You complain that the Minoan Warm Period and the Roman Warm Period are being written out.

When I put up evidence that the Minoans experienced a warmer world than the Romans and both were warmer than the 19th century you reject it. .

Make your mind up.

Dec 21, 2015 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

I’m sorry EM, but a wrong theory does not have to have another theory to replace it – a wrong theory is wrong. Why should that upset you?

Yes, you have mentioned some of the variables identified, so far. How can you be so sure that we have discovered all of the variables? I do find it laughable that you are so wedded to the idea that, not only is it dependent upon a trace gas, but it also happens to be the only gas over which we can claim to have some control over (in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary). My, how convenient!

Forgive me should you find this rude, but I do find your insistence that it is all the fault of “yoomans wot dun it”, to put it as politely as I can, somewhat difficult to swallow, particularly when you also have this conviction that it is going to end in disaster, as the world burns. Sorry, but history has shown that temperatures have been higher in the past, and all the evidence to date show that the warming has been beneficial; quite why further warming will not follow the pattern already laid down does need some explaining. What will be your mantra should global temperatures start to “inexplicably” plummet?

Dec 21, 2015 at 11:44 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

EM: what makes you think I was referring to you? However, now you’ve shown me yours, let me show you mine. Oooh! Now why the difference?

Dec 21, 2015 at 11:52 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent

Your link is not working for me.

I have already defined my criteria for accepting your case. Show me a post-2015 GISS 5-year average of 0.49 or less, or an alternative hypothesis which I can use to project the behaviour of the climate more successfully than the AGW hypothesis.

Dec 22, 2015 at 12:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Dec 21, 2015 at 10:29 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Fear not my good rodent ^.^, the Medieval Warm Period was not undermined by da bad Mann. He tried for sure but his arguments were trashed even if the great and good try to ignore it. When I said undermined I meant by credible evidence.

Dec 22, 2015 at 12:28 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Works okay for me; I do try to remember to try the link on the Preview, and it still works after creating. Try:

Why do you insist that I have to provide evidence as to why I do not find the evidence particularly conclusive, before you will accept that I do not find the evidence particularly conclusive? I am not trying to “win” any argument with you; I am merely trying to put over my point of view for you to either offer a constructive argument against, or offer further evidence for – or, of course, to declare that what I have written is utter balderdash, for no reason that you can be bothered to justify, in which case, further communication is not necessary.

Dec 22, 2015 at 12:28 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Just to be awkward (me? nevah!) I do see where Entropic Man is coming from, though I think he's mistaken.

When Einstein put forward his theory of relativistic gravity, part of that presentation was to show that Newton got it wrong, or at least inaccurate. In a way, Newton's theory of gravity had become the null hypothesis, both because of its utility and its longevity, and in order to unseat it, Einstein had to show not only that his own theory fitted the data, but how Newton's theory NO LONGER fitted the data (which was becoming apparent to astronomers at the time).

This was because Newton had become so widely useful that to introduce a more complex theory to replace one which seemed to work just fine would have no traction unless you could show that it was better.

Now FFW to the theory of AGW. At the moment, it seems to fit the data somewhat. I'd balk at the idea that it fits the data as well as Newtonian mechanics fits its data, and it most certainly does not have the widespread utility and longevity. But in science, it's been the only one which seems to fit the data as we have it. Climate scientists too want to treat it as the new null hypothesis, just like Newtonian gravitation, and as such require any budding Einstein not to simply present some other theory (natural cycles, solar activity, space dust, UHI) but to also show why that theory is BETTER than the current theory, not just equivalent.

I think this is misguided. I don't consider AGW to be the null hypothesis requiring this greater burden. It's no Newtonian physics. It's just a candidate hypothesis, one which has limited success so far. The fact that it is the best one doesn't mean it can demand the same burden.

At the same time, the 'natural' hypothesis suffers from problems on its own. A lot of people here consider 'natural' as the null hypothesis which they are perfectly happy to sit on, demanding that same burden of the AGW hypothesis. Not only must it describe the data, it must do it better than 'natural' and as there is not much in it at the moment, then the null hypothesis is not falsified.

The problem with this, as I have said before to much ire from the audience, is that 'natural cycles' is not really a hypothesis. It's actually the description of not having a hypothesis. It's the admission of ignorance. It's saying that nature behaves in mysterious ways we cannot understand, and we just have to trust that this same mechanism is going on now. This is also problematic for me. I don't believe you can have this as a null hypothesis either.

Neither of them are good enough to be able to claim the same rights as Newtonian gravitation in expecting a competing theory to come up with w better replacement in order to be unseated.

Dec 22, 2015 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Morning TBYJ and I hope I find you both well and full of joy ^.^

I have problems with some of what you say hehe but I will try to sound less stupid than usual :)
How can the AGW theory 'seem to fit the data' when all the models based on the theory do not fit the data?

Many natural cycles are known to exist and some give us predictable results. The solar cycles at 11, 87, 200 and 900/1000 seem to be well accepted even though we do not fully understand them. These cycles seem to fit at least one definition of a hypothesis:

'1.a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation: '

Dec 22, 2015 at 9:40 AM | Registered CommenterDung

How can the AGW theory 'seem to fit the data' when all the models based on the theory do not fit the data?

Because all models are wrong. In any suitably complex system, you may understand the individual interactions, but to write a model which models them all working together is another level of complexity again, and in some cases impossible (non-computable). So simplifications are made to get something working. And this degrades them, they are still useful but not as much.

Dec 22, 2015 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

…I will try to sound less stupid than usual…
You do like to set yourself tough targets, don’t you, Raff? ☺

TBYJ: you have hit the nail on the head, in your 9:12 AM post – we are ignorant. To admit that should not be shaming, but admitting that the task set has been greatly underestimated – planetary systems are vastly complicated, and are proving to be far more complicated than we had originally thought. As a result, we have to have a range of hypotheses; some will help, others will prove dead-ends – however, it might take considerably study before which is which becomes evident, and we can make further progress. And each step in the progress may be as bafflingly complex as the first, as we are dealing with a chaotic system – the principle of the flap of a butterfly wing triggering a hurricane has still not been disproven.

To pretend that we have mastered it and can control it are perhaps the greatest follies, though they seem so seductive for the politicians and their followers. Perhaps being sceptical makes one deaf to the song of those particular sirens?

Dec 22, 2015 at 10:52 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

By this definition a living organism is an island of increasing complexity and order, and decreasing entropy. This is achieved by increasing the entropy of its environment.

I asked my fridge if it was alive and it replied "Yes, by EM's definition. But most organic lifeforms would either not understand your question or would deny that I am a valid lifeform".

Which raises the question Entropic man, are you claiming to be a living organism yourself? I always assumed you were a less-than-completely-successful Turing experiment executing on a PDP-11 in some forgotten laboratory somewhere.

If you want to look for signs of life, look for unusual flows of entropy. This would cover anything from yourself to AI and von Neumman machines.
Dec 21, 2015 at 11:14 PM Entropic man

So a Windows 7 computer found executing on a moon of Neptune would be a sign of life there? You are kidding, surely.


You mean, “It’s life, Jim Martin, but not was we know it!”
Dec 21, 2015 at 11:02 PM Radical Rodent

Yes. Or even as we'd recognise it.

Dec 22, 2015 at 12:47 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I’m sorry EM, but a wrong theory does not have to have another theory to replace it – a wrong theory is wrong.

That notion seems to be one of the fundamental principles of CAGW belief - a cornerstone if you wish.

Recently EM stated that he could not think of any theory that was recognised as incorrect until a better one came along. I gave him several examples but then he went quiet.

Found it..

I cannot think of a single example in which an old theory has been discarded without a replacement in place.
Dec 5, 2015 at 7:08 PM Entropic man

Ah, yet another EM Fallacy.. This time the fallacy of "I cannot think of a single example, which proves that none exists".

Well, forgetting about theories that were believed in their time but perhaps never really could qualify as science in today's sense (Vitalism, phlogiston as a substance, psychoanalysis as psychological science and so on).

Just off the top of my head here are a few theories that were known to be wrong *prior* to a correct replacement theory appearing:

* Classical dynamics for gases was known to be wrong (inconsistent measured specific heat values) in the mid 19th century decades before the current theory appeared.

* Rayleigh-Jeans black body radiation theory was known to be incorrect (ultraviolet catastrophe) prior to Planck.

* Classic theory of photoelectron emission was known to be wrong well before Einstein's quantum explanation.

* Methods for calculating the total mass of the universe today are known to be wrong (give contradictory results for unknown reasons). The correct theory has yet to appear. "dark matter" whatever that might be has been hypothesised.
Dec 5, 2015 at 11:45 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Dec 22, 2015 at 12:57 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

It has to be admitted, but EM does seem to have a problem with the unknown, and has to have some control over it, irrespective of validity of the knowledge or the control; if he can ascribe some rules or theory to the unknown, he can rest easy. Perhaps a message to offer solace to Entropic man, and those many like him who fear for the future, which seems rather apposite at this time of year, as we approach a new gate:

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied, “Go into the darkness
And put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light
And safer than a known way.”
--- (Minnie Louise Haskins, 1908)
In life, one does need to have trust, else the abyss of madness beckons.

Dec 22, 2015 at 1:20 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent

Your second link worked.

It tells me some interesting things.

Firstly, the Minoan, Roman and Mdeieval Warm periods were extremely short, perhaps 200 years each. Their peaks only lasted a decade or so.

Secondly the graphs end with CO2 at 280ppm, the end of the 19th century.

Thirdly, the Holocene Optimum averaged 0.25C, the Mediaeval warm period was also 0.25C, the Roman Warm Period about 0.65C and the Minoan Warm Period 1.05C.

Fourthly, this year is due to average 0.84C. On the basis of your data this year is warmer than the Holocene Optimum, warmer than the Medieval warm period and warmer than the Roman Warm Period. In ten years at the current 0.2C/decade warming rate we will pass the Minoan Warm Period.

Dec 22, 2015 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

0.2C per decade?

Dec 22, 2015 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Martin A

The computer on Neptune is not itself alive, but a living thing would have put it there.

Regarding your wrong theories. All the examples you mentioned were known to be imperfect. Scientists and engineers continued to use them until something better came along. That is what we do. I will continue to use AGW as the best current paradigm until something better comes along.

Dec 22, 2015 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

"I feel much better now, I really do."-HAL 9000

Dec 22, 2015 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart