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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

What would change your mind?

In the Telegraph, Tom Chivers asks: what would it take to change your mind? It’s a good question; I’m forever using it in imagined arguments with socialists. It’s good because it helps distinguish beliefs that are rational from those that are religious. If you can answer it without being facetious or coming up with an impossible and improbable test then your beliefs are rational. If not, they’re religious. It’s a question I ask myself from time to time, as in: what would convince me that freedom is wrong?

Chivers here is specifically referring to global warming – he is a warmist. I’m not: I think it is a pack of lies. But if I’m claiming to be rational I should at least have a go at answering it.

Before I do I should point out that it doesn’t matter that much. Global warming is only part of a much larger issue: CAGWIT (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming Inspired Tyranny). Warmists have to prove all of that. They can start by proving that tyranny works or even that a watered-down version of it works. I’m not holding my breath. Next they can prove that AGW is C. Haven’t heard too much on that front either.

But that still doesn’t quite answer the question. What would change my mind? On the AGW bit, that is.

In trying to answer it right from the start I hit a huge snag: I can’t rely on the authorities. You need only ask yourself what would happen if they turned around and said: “Terribly sorry, we’ve got it wrong, there’s nothing to worry about.” You can almost hear the sound of research grants drying up. Scientists are people too. They have families and cars and mortgages and titles and positions and they don’t want to give those things up. If they tell the world there’s a crisis the money keeps coming. If they don’t it doesn’t. They’re compromised.

However, I am still going to have to refer to some sort of authority. I do not have the ability to determine whether the planet is warming up or even if CO2 concentration is increasing. Or even if one begets the other and which way round. But if I am not prepared to believe the state-sponsored scientists who am I prepared to believe? The non-state sponsored ones? Or to remove the (mythical?) ones who are funded by big oil (just as dubious) – the non-sponsored ones. If Macintyre, Bishop Hill or Watts et al changed their minds I would be all ears. But having said that I am not entirely happy with relying on such a small number of people. And I’m getting very close to coming up with an unrealistic test. Has anyone out there got any better ideas?

One last point. I have to take issue with Chivers’s idea that taking advice from climate scientists is analogous to taking advice from a doctor (assuming, that is that anyone ever does take advice from their doctor). The reason I take issue is that the medical profession has a track record of both diagnosis and treatment. Climate science has to confine itself to diagnosis – treatment (should it prove necessary) is for economists. The problem is that even when it comes to diagnosis it has no track record – its theories are as contentious now as they were 40 years ago.

58 comments to What would change your mind?

  • AHJ

    It seems as though you’ve come close to telling us that you disbelieve in AGW for no reason at all.

  • the other rob

    AHJ – Rather, I think that Patrick has demonstrated being intensely critical of his reasons for disbelieving in CAGW.

    There’s a documented phenomenon, which name I can’t recall just now, that speaks to a correlation between quality and being self-critical.

  • GaryP

    Surrendering to the voices of authority without assessing the biases and self interest of these authorities is the easy way out for people who feel compelled to have an opinion on all important issues but have neither the training or willingness to study and develop an educated opinion of their own. They simply follow the fashionable opinions of their favorite idols just as they mimic trend setters in clothing, architecture and music.
    Science is hard and as someone said (Heinlein, perhaps) said: “It is not only more complex than you imagine, it is more complex than you can imagine” (or some such).
    To have an informed opinion on as complex a subject as “what controls the climate?” is extraordinarily difficult even for someone that has studied chemistry, physics and thermodynamics (as I have).
    I don’t imagine for a moment that I understand the drivers of climate, but I am certain that I understand enough to know that CO2 is not “the” major, and probably not even “a” major, driver of the climate.
    The authorities have all been too quick to dismiss any and all alternative explanations for the trivial changes in our climate over the last 100 years (trivial when compared to the dramatic variations in climate seen over other relatively short time spans–geologically speaking). That makes me very concerned that the goal is a particular “answer,” not the real answer(s) that will only be revealed after much study and many false theories.
    When the IPCC stated that our sun has no effect on the climate, my respect for their credibility disappeared.
    When the so called “authorities” try to end the discussion and prevent the scientific method from doing its job (shooting down theories that are not supported by experimental findings) by saying “the science is settled,” I smell a rat. (The science is never settled. A single inconvenient fact can, and often does, invalidate widely held theories.)
    When government funded scientists assert that the only significant variable that affects the climate is, coincidentally, the only variable that can be taxed by these same governments (i.e. CO2), I immediately become suspicious.
    Science is, in many areas, only beginning to understand many aspects of our universe. Climate science, at this point, is so rudimentary that it hardly deserves to be called a “science.”
    Lord Kelvin, around 1900, advised smart young people to avoid studying physics since there was nothing left of importance for physicists to discover. He was certainly the voice of authority in physics at that time but was, of course, completely wrong as Einstein demonstrated a few years later.
    There are no real voices of authority in climate science yet. Only the voices of self-interest. Our society will soon look back on our reliance on the climate hucksters selling CO2 voodoo with the same pleasure that the average consumer looks back on the advice of the used car salesman selling a lemon.

  • Tedd

    …treatment (should it prove necessary) is for economists.

    I think I know what you meant by this but, as it’s stated, I disagree. Should CAGW, or even moderate AGW, turn out to be true, the treatment will involve scientists and engineers, not economists.

    I tend to follow the advice of David Deutsch, which is that the rational thing for the lay person to do is to “take seriously the prevailing scientific theory,” but also that following Kyoto would already be a disaster, and the prevailing scientific theory says it won’t do any good anyway. So it makes sense to start taking seriously the idea that we may have to take steps to cool the atmosphere, and steps to deal with the consequences of some warming. It just doesn’t make sense to follow Kyoto or other such strategies.

  • Myno

    Being over-trained in the sciences, I share GaryP’s misgivings. But for me the issues are the “Catastrophic” and “Inspired Tyranny” parts of CAGWIT. We have seen enough data about past climate shifts to know the general dynamic range of the system. Sorry, but it does not alarm me. If the glaciers come back and the sea level drops 150 feet, or if all the glaciers melt and the sea rises and areas that were fruitful become deserts and vice versa… SO WHAT? If we had a global free market, mankind would take any and all of that in stride. The problem is that it becomes “Catastrophic” only to the extent that we have “Inspired Tyranny,” no matter the source of that inspiration. I’m perfectly comfortable letting Mother Nature (i.e., physics and its subsidiary brethren sciences) deliver the truth, as long as we understand that it is not man’s apolitical actions at fault, only man’s political actions.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    IF climate modelling starts to produce models that are accurate, or close to reality, then I would think that the alarmists are right when these models predict disaster.
    HOWEVER, the climate models keep being wrong. Here in Australia, we had Tim Flannery telling us, a few years back, that regular droughts, and bigger ones each year, would be our norm- but that hasn’t happened, and Sydney has mothballed the Desalination plant at Kurnell.
    AND isn’t Britain supposed to now only have memories of snow from snapshots? How’s the disappearance of cold, miserable, weather affected the British? Are you all growing grapes and making wine in your backyards?

  • Laird

    The point made in Chivers’ article about confirmation bias is, I think, a fair one. Personally, I have an inherent bias against government and those who would expand its already too-extensive role in our lives. That includes scientists (and the pseudo-scientists at the IPCC) on government payrolls or dependent upon government grants. I am not a scientist, but I reflexively take their findings with a very large measure of salt. (And that doesn’t just apply to climate “scientists”, either.)

    All that said, if I am being fair (and I like to think that I am) I have to say that Muller’s work does give me pause, but only to a certain degree. (Caveat: I haven’t read his report, merely Chivers’ summary.) Muller claims to have removed the errors and biases in previous calculations (caused by the [what appears to have been systemic and intentional] changes in location of many of the measuring devices, which augmented the effects of urban areas and under-reported rural and other areas), and has concluded that global temperatures really have been rising, especially in the last 50 years. That may indeed be true, although it doesn’t appear that it has gotten any warmer than during the Medieval Warm Period, or that the fluctuation is anything more than normal variations on a geologic scale. I’ll wait to see what others have to say about those findings. However, I have no doubt that the earth’s temperature has changed widely over its history, and am quite prepared to accept that it is actually in a warming trend now.

    But then Muller goes on to assert that the rise in temperature over the last century correlates with the increase in CO2 levels, and moreover that nothing else does. I have more problem with that: at best he has shown correlation, not causation (again, I’ll wait to see what others have to say about his calculations), and I will need to see clear evidence and a rational explanation of causation before I will be convinced of the “A” part of AGW. As well as also seeing some evidence, and a convincing explanation, of why other factors he dismisses (solar activity, etc.) do not account for at least part, if not a significant part, of the warming effect. His suppositions do not rise to that level, not even close.

    Finally, if at some point the “A” part is established with reasonable certainty, it is then that we move into the realm of economics. Sorry Tedd, but you’re completely wrong there. While scientists and engineers do have a place in establishing what sort of remediation methodologies are technologically possible, the decision of what to actually do is a purely economic one. A serious cost-benefit analysis would be required, and that has not even been attempted at this point. To my knowledge no one has ever purported to calculate the costs of a warmer world and higher sea levels; the alarmists seem content to view such costs as self-evident truths, evils which by their very existence necessitate massive palliative efforts. This is utter nonsense. Even if there are some costs, slightly higher world temperatures would also provide significant benefits, none of which the climate alarmists ever acknowledge, let alone attempt to quantify.

    It would take quite a lot to get me to agree to the destruction of a significant portion of the world’s economy, and the sacrifice of the economic well-being of our descendents, merely to forestall a global temperature rise of a few fractions of a degree (which is what the current simplistic models predict) or the rise of the oceans by a few feet, especially when this is merely a return to temperatures which have existed within recorded history. There is simply no “C” there. Remember, we’re talking about extremely gradual changes occurring over decades, if not centuries. Whatever happens, humans and other species can adapt over time periods like that.

    So to return to Patrick’s (and Chivers’) question, the answer depends upon precisely which question is being asked. Whether the earth is actually getting warmer? All I would require is a little more confidence in the accuracy in the data, both current and historical. Whether that increase is man-made? I would require much more evidence that no other cause exists, plus a satisfactory technical explanation of the physical mechanism by which the increase occurs (sorry, the current models, whose predictive powers are nonexistent and which rely on back-filling to match the historical record, don’t cut it). What should we do about it? Here I would require a serious cost-benefit analysis clearly proving that the cost of doing nothing exceeds the cost of whatever remedy is proposed, giving proper credit for the benefits of a slightly warmer climate. I think that last test will be almost impossible to meet.

  • Stephen Willmer

    In truth I consider liberty self-evidently good and tyranny self-evidently bad on principle and I’m not sure I can distinguish those beliefs from what Patrick Crozier identifies as religious faith. Would my beliefs alter if, for example, I were presented with proof (incontrovertible evidence, a control model) that more people died at others’ hands under liberty than under tyranny?

    No, because my belief in the badness of murder is as religious as my belief in the goodness of liberty.

    What about if more people die tout court under liberty than under tyranny? So, let’s suppose pestilence, murder, famine and flood reaped more lives under liberty than under tyranny. That becomes more complicated because it’s less obviously a moral question in the sense that if people die in a natural disaster it is tragic but the natural disaster has no moral component, no ill intent. One might say, yes but if these things are to any extent preventable by human action, up to and including tyranny, then they should be prevented. That, in my view is to replace amoral death with human-actioned death (the ultimate sanction of tyranny), so deliberate killing is preferred to accidental tragedy. I cannot see that as a morally preferable choice but again that is because my belief in the badness of murder is religious; as a matter of morals, my concern is not with the number of people who die but with the question of whether they die through human ill intent (which I suppose begs the question of whether Utilitarianism is even capable of giving rise to moral answers). That is not to say that I am unconcerned by the number of people who die, it is merely to isolate moral questions from morally-neutral ones.

    This line of reasoning (and I’m really hoping it rises to the level of reasoning, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these…) brings us to climate change arguments. That in itself is an interesting aspect of climate change arguments.

    Even if the alarmists accept there are what we used to call Acts of God – plague, flood, etc. – they say in fact many or most of these things are caused by “us”. So bad things are happening through human actions and, they say, even if we do not intend those bad things, if we fail to listen to their warnings we are as morally compromised as if we had ourselves in person drowned x number of people who died in the given flood. (I don’t think, by the way, any of this touches on whether acts of omission can be immoral.)

    I think I agree with the alarmists’ chain of moral reasoning: if I am told, and shown incontrovertible proof, that my plugging in a kettle will electrocute my neighbour and kill him, and I nevertheless plug in my kettle and do kill him, even if that wasn’t my intention, then I am morally culpable of killing him. And this matters to me because of my religious belief in the badness of murder. So the alarmists’ moral claims rest on what has been identified as a religious belief in the badness of murder (or for that matter, other lesser harm).

    I believe religiously in the badness of murder and in the goodness of liberty. But climate alarm is the crucible of a potential conflict between those two beliefs only to the extent that climate alarmists have failed to persuade people from acting immorally. Thus if the alarmists did a better job on the science, were less corrupt, etc., and they proved incontrovertibly that my actions were killing others, they would need no coercive power, no tyranny. I would desist from switching on that kettle. Indeed, had they not failed in their own terms, they could be bringing endless prosecutions for murder or for other offences of lesser harm. So they have no need to change my mind on tyranny and liberty, they need to prove cause and effect, they need to show that my actions, not “ours”, have an effect which would not have occurred but for my actions. And I will take responsibility for those actions or face prosecution for the harm I have caused. My opposition to them is not faith-based, I can reconcile my faith to their moral claims. I cannot reconcile it to their factual ones since, as far as I am aware, none of them know of my existence and thus they have never tried to show the precise harm that I am doing.

  • Alsadius

    Chivers makes a good point here. With regard to your specific case, it depends in large part on how much effort you’re willing to put into crunching the data yourself. Assuming you need to take data as given for practical reasons, it seems to me that the best data set for this is the satellite data. Assuming that the folks involved do honest math with it, which seems safe(and which should in principle be easy to check by the skeptic community and red-flagged if dishonest), then you can at least look at the trends on that to determine the short-term numbers. There’s complications there, but none are particularly crippling. For reference, here’s the data: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Satellite_Temperatures.png (Interestingly, it looks a bit bimodal – 1980-1997 and 1998-present each look like basically flat segments)

    A reasonable falsifier for the null hypothesis of “The earth is not warming”, assuming you believe data to date insufficient, would be something like a temperature rise of the order we’ve seen to date, 0.1-0.2 C/decade, sustained for another decade or two. That would be long-term evidence, longer than any warming trend in quite a while, and in line with predictions. If you don’t find current evidence convincing, then it’ll take some time to get falsified, but it should in principle be possible to do it with evidence that will be normally collected in the fullness of time.

    Of course, that only gets us to GW. AGW I don’t think is much of a leap – the mechanism of warming is solid and easily tested, produces a nice clean first-order effect, and the CO2 level increase is so obvious that I’ve never heard any skeptics dispute it. You simply cannot burn that amount of carbon without raising CO2 levels, and the test on trapped air from previous years is trivial to confirm the difference. The warming trend being uncorrelated with solar activity would be a nice confirmation, however.

    CAGW, on the other hand, is quite a leap. The previous two are ones I believe, but this is where I jump off the bandwagon. In order to convince me of CAGW, I’d either need to see much larger temperature growths(0.5 C/decade sustained for even a full decade would get me pretty worried), some plausible argument for a runaway growth that isn’t falsified by the fact that we’re still here on a temperate planet despite five billion years of climate change, or proof that human society is a hell of a lot more fragile than it looks from here. Only the first of those seems plausible, and after 35 years of warming it still hasn’t happened, but it is in principle observable and not particularly ridiculous.

    CAGWIT isn’t a huge leap from CAGW – I’d discount the damage figures 80%, apply market interest rates, and then spend the resulting figure on mitigation. And not necessarily just in polite flood-mitigation schemes – carbon taxes would be a big, big element of my strategy if I bought into CAGW. Even regular AGW probably justifies a few. Of course, you need to lower other taxes to compensate(which is where the politicians will inevitably fail), but it’s worth spending a buck now to save two tomorrow, and CAGW is a definite case of externalities that need internalizing, if it’s true.

  • Alsadius

    Laird: The mechanism of causation is really simple. The earth is only being heated half at a time(and the equivalent of 1/4 direct sunlight, because it curves away), but it’s being cooled by its whole surface at all times. Assuming equilibrium, this means that the heating is 4x as intense as the cooling. Because the Earth and Sun emit as blackbodies(or rather, pretty close to one), this means that the spectra of the two are very different – specifically, the Sun is focused mostly in visible light and the Earth mostly in infrared. CO2 and water vapour are both basically clear to the former and very strong absorbers of the latter. When they absorb the IR they re-emit it, of course, but half of it will get re-emitted back at the planet, and bounce around further. This is, as I’m sure we all know, the “greenhouse effect”. It’s an observed fact – the Earth would be below freezing on average without it. And it follows very naturally that more CO2 does, all else being equal, lead to a stronger greenhouse effect.

    Now, I can’t speak to whether it’s sufficient for the warming we’ve observed, or whether second-order effects might strongly mitigate it somehow. But it’s a very good null hypothesis for the cause of a warming trend on the planet, given how much CO2 we’ve been pumping into the air. Basically, it and the sun are the only two plausible explanations I’ve ever come across. I expect both have their effect, but to glom onto the one you want it to be and ignore the other is very bad science.

  • What would change my mind?

    First, it would restore my faith in the ‘authorities’ if they properly investgated Climategate, if they published the Mann e-mails, if they immediately sacked Hansen and his acolytes for grossly abusing their positions and they disbanded the IPCC. In short, if they cleaned up their act.

    Second, I would begin to trust their figures if they stopped trying to pretend that an ad-hoc network of weather stations can be used to measure the earth’s temperature in any meaningful way and, using the money currently being wasted on computer models, established a network of climate stations which monitor hourly the temperature, humidity, cloud cover etc, etc. in all types of environment, especially deserts. Wait twenty years, and, in conjunction with satellite and Argus readings,they might have enough reliable data to begin to establish climate cause and effect. Of course if they’d done this twenty years ago we might be in a better position now.

    Third, if they cease all carbon dioxide taxes, carbon exchanges, subsidies to wind and solar production and all the other faux mitigation scams, and stopped the mad panic ‘we must act now’ nonsense like the Climate Change Act, and wait for the science.

    Oh, and all the science, politics and economics is done in the open with internet access to all the data, maths and decision making.

  • Simon Jester

    Even if we just look at the last graph on the Berkeley Earth results summary page, it constitutes fairly solid evidence that changes in the concentration of carbon dioxide are not the prime cause of global climate change (although they may provide feedback effects).

    Why? If we look at that last graph, the changes in the red line (CO2) generally lag the changes in the black line (land surface temperature).

    In other words, the increases in CO2 (and occasional drops) generally come after the increases (and occasional drops) in land surface temperature. For the former to have caused the latter would mean that causes have followed effects, which is completely the wrong way around.

    From that one graph alone, it is far more probable that it is the change in surface temperature that is causing the change in CO2 concentration.

  • Orson

    Believing in mainstream science in general: fair enough. But it only takes a little digging before one’s faith in climate science rapidly diminishes. Once one discovers that most of this research comes from or is controlled by a small but powerful clique of green scientists it’s hard to be so convinced by it. And then you discover that the rest of the scientific community only believe this stuff because they are taking what the clique say at face value. And then you discover that lots of other scientists who have actually looked into it think it’s dubious. Once you know even those few things then you have little reason to be very confident in claims of CAGW.

    Another point: current mainstream science is made up of a huge multitude of claims, some of which are very firmly established (eg., the heart pumps blood around the body, the laws of optics), and some of which are very speculative (eg. a lot of modern cosmology and theoretical physics), and a lot in-between. The history of science tells us that a lot of this is going to turn out to be wrong. So betting the farm on mainstream science makes more sense the closer you get to the solid stuff, and less sense the closer you get to the tentative stuff, for which there isn’t much evidence.

  • Jim

    The earth is 4.5 billion years old. Man has existed for a few hundred thousand years, and civilisation for a few thousands. The modern era is 50-100 years.

    The conceit of man to consider that he can destabilise a body that has existed within stable parameters for millennia after millennia is breathtaking in the extreme. It is akin to a bacterium on the skin of an elephant assuming he can influence the direction the elephant takes, because his choices of left or right have coincided with that of the elephant once or twice.

    There is nothing that ‘scientists’ could say to convince me that we are but bacteria on the back of a very large elephant, being taken along for the ride. Within a few tens of thousands of years the earth will plunge into another Ice Age and humans will have to cope with that or be extinguished. Whatever happens the earth will continue on its merry way until the Sun dies, thus ending life on earth, whatever form that life takes at the time.

    There is nothing man can do about any of this, other than to escape into deep space. All else is vanity.

  • Oh and Muller might have been a touch more persuasive if he hadn’t issued masses of press releases before the paper was finished, let alone peer reveiwed, and if he hadn’t had big arguments with some of his collaborators, (Watts and Curry), and if he hadn’t claimed to be a sceptic before his research, when he’s on record saying ‘Global Warming is by far the most serious problem facing us’ ten years ago.

    (Although he is sceptical of Mann’s hockey stick, though any one who looks at Mann’s hockey stick and isn’t instantly sceptical has probably drunk the kool-aid.)

  • M Cooper

    I’m with Jim. The climate has always been changing all by itself. I find it hard to believe that people are changing the climate. But, let’s pretend people are really changing the weather. Are we supposed to believe some trans-national authority will control the weather world-wide?

    Almost a century after the bolshevik revolution, no one should be that gullible. They claimed they would “manage” a national eceonmy in ways that would benefit all. Guess what? They managed national econmies in ways that benefitted the managers. This is a variation on the same scam.

  • alastair harris

    Scientific method is your authority and is where chivers falls flat on his nose. The warmist have a theory but they have not demonstrated it to be true. They start with that burning carbon based fuels produces carbon dioxide, which is undoubtedly true, but then its all religion = human activity begats catastrophe.

    The best they have got is indirect (and largely flawed) evidence that the globe is warming. But not only is it flawed – it is essentially meaningless on the timescales they are talking about. For example the timescale between being in an ice age and not is thousands of years – not 10s or 100s. Chivers should be told, you can only appeal to scientific method when dealing with a scientific authority.

  • The Sage

    I can say what did change my mind.

    Around the turn of the century, I (like The Economist at the time) was a lukewarmer/adaptationist — so +2C by the end of the century, like it was when the Romans were here and grapes grew in Northumberland while AEgyptus was Rome’s breadbasket : a nice set of problems to have.

    Then the alarmists overplayed their hand and started talking positive feedbacks leading to +6C for a CO2 doubling; at which point it was clear that none of this had been validated with a full palaeoclimate reconstruction. Having in years past been in astrophysics research. and being an SF fan, I’d read a lot of the astroclimatology literature, including Hart’s 1977 paper (Icarus, 33, 23-29 (1978)) on the
    Evolution of the atmosphere of the Earth, the one that puts the continuously habitable zone around the sun from about 0.95AU to 1.01AU, and only managed to thread the needle of the faint young sun/sudden atmospheric oxidation, by including strong negative feedbacks (mainly cloud albedo) — so any claims of strong positive feedbacks were as plausible to me as the boiler room scammer who tried to make you believe your worthless stock is worth 1000 times its market price. And like the scammer, the warmists were after a big advance payment (most of the world economy) for an uncertain reward.

    Then I started looking around; and now I’m back where I was in the 1970s, hoping that the next Ice Age holds off for the rest of my lifetime.

  • The oceans have a thermal capacity of approx 1,038 times that of the atmosphere. This thermal capacity of the oceans is about 5.4×10^24 Joules per degree Celsius. The thermal capacity of the atmosphere is, somewhat more approximately, 5.2×10^21 Joules per degree Celsius. [Note, the thermal capacity of the ground near the surface is also of some relevance, but I have not included that in my calculations. Nor have I included the better known latent heat of fusion of all ice-caps and glaciers – which is around 7.6×10^24 Joules, for the 1.7% of the hydrosphere that it represents.]

    Interestingly, the total solar irradiance, over a year, for the Earth is about 5.5×10^24 Joules. So, if no radiation ever left the Earth through re-radiation, and none was reflected before it got to the ecosphere, it would take around 98% of a whole year’s worth of energy to raise the temperature of the oceans by an average of 1 Celsius. And that assuming there was no net ice melt. Given that there is, even under the CAGW assumptions, close to a balance, between incoming and outgoing radiation, it is quite clear that there is not enough energy to warm the oceans by anywhere near the amount claimed by CAGW enthusiast for the atmosphere. The changes we are observing could quite easily be down to very slow climatic variations caused by energy changes between the oceans and atmosphere: and these are beyond our current knowledge.

    We have had some measure, since around 1978 by satellite, of the temperature of the atmosphere, including the whole surface of the Earth, so that should allow consideration without the urban heat island effect. Also, I assume, knowledge of the inflow (solar) and outflow (from Earth) of EM radiation. These are, IMO, quite useful. But they do not go back far enough in time to support most of the CAGW claims.

    Also, given that the thermal capacity of the oceans is so large compared with the thermal capacity of the atmosphere (by a factor of over 1,000), it strikes me as unsound to rely primarily on measurements of atmospheric temperature, even if they come from satellites. The effect of the oceans on climate is very slowly varying (decades to many centuries), but quite massive.

    Also, we should now have enough satellite temperature data to properly parameterise at least some aspects of the computer models; then validate the models and that parameterisation over subsequent periods that have totally independent measurements (thus not confusing training and evaluation data). If there is no absolutely clear separation of these datasets (ie no information whatsoever has been included in training data from the subsequent validation and evaluation periods), then we cannot rely on the models as having reliable predictive power, into the validation and evaluation periods – they would just be modelling the data used to train them (interpolation) rather than showing any predictive authority (extrapolation). I have never been convinced as to the ‘cleanliness’ of climate model parameterisation.

    I still doubt we have enough knowledge of the amount of energy stored in the oceans, and the variations in temperature and energy flow that that causes. This covers, in particular, the starting conditions used for modelling. Without that knowledge, we cannot know whether there is an energy net inflow (to the oceans) or outflow (from the oceans). Consider that an average temperature change of 1/1000 degree Celcius in the ocean average would (if not lost to space) cause an average 1C change in the temperature of the atmosphere.

    Also, given that these sorts of model cannot predict accurately the weather a month into the future, I find it difficult to belief that similar (but spatially cruder) models can predict, with any accuracy, average measures (such as global temperature ‘anomaly’) years and decades into the future.

    And then there is all the other stuff we don’t know …

    Best regards

  • RRS

    What would it take?

    1. How about Full Discosure.

    2. How about Open Discourse.

  • mdc

    Surely as a minimum, you might change your mind if the bad practical consequences that are predicted occurred? This wouldn’t require specialist knowledge to know about, though perhaps to interpret.

    I think for most AGW-opponents it is along the lines of “when my hotch-potch of amateur science agrees with it”, which is a terrible standard because the amateur science is largely nonsense.

  • Snorri Godhi

    To ask yourself: what would it take to change my mind? is Popperian.

    To say to yourself: I cannot trust any scientific result that leads to more power to the ruling class, is Marxian.

    It is only a slight exaggeration to say that Popper taught me how to think, but Marxian skepticism has a role to play in this issue — assuming, of course, that you, unlike the OWS crowd, can identify who the ruling class are.

  • Jake Haye

    I’m guessing that ‘keeping the faith’ is a condition of Chivers’ employment at the DT, hence the kitchen sink ‘reasoning’.

    I mean, if God didn’t exist, clever people wouldn’t go to all that trouble to build churches, right Tom?

  • DBCooper

    Alsadius: “And it follows very naturally that more CO2 does, all else being equal, lead to a stronger greenhouse effect.”

    That’s not the case. The function is one of diminishing returns and the current CO2 concentration is far up the curve. More CO2 has less and less effect.

  • Laird

    That’s one of the problems I have with the current models. As I understand it they’re essentially linear, which makes no sense with a chaotic system such as climate.

    And no, mdc, that would not suffice, because even if those predicted “bad practical consequences” actually occurred, that says nothing about the “good practical consequences” which would also result. One has to balance the two, and only if the bad truly outweighs the good consider taking action. In that case we should compare the total costs of any proposed course of remediation with the net costs of non-action before determining whether it makes sense.

  • Tedd

    What RRS said. If we’re going to use science to form public policy, as much as possible the data needs to be available to be analyzed by anyone. I no longer believe that the traditional peer review process is sufficiently un-corruptible to produce reliable scientific conclusions regarding contentious issues.

    I believe there is a movement afoot to do this.

  • RAB

    I think for most AGW-opponents it is along the lines of “when my hotch-potch of amateur science agrees with it”, which is a terrible standard because the amateur science is largely nonsense.

    Nonsense eh mdc? Here’s a quote from an amateur scientist called Issac Newton…

    I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

    Now to me that is a REAL Scientist. A man who had enough ego to know he was a genius, but also enough humility to know how very little he knew, and how little he could ever know, and even much of which he felt himself to be certain about was more than likely to be proved faulty or plain wrong in the future. Pity there aren’t some like him today.

    The first rat I smelt was the ” It’s all down to Co2″ meme. Coincidentally the only greenhouse gas that can be put down to human activity and therefore taxed. As if our incredibly complex climate can be that simple.

    The second was that the Sun is a constant and nothing to do with climate change. But are we not the Goldilocks planet, the only one which can support life within a specific distance of said sun, but it has nothing to do with our climate? Bollocks!

    The third was that warming is catastrophic but cooling isn’t. Like the warming scientists have taken a snapshot of 1956 and are determined to hold the Earth’s climate to those perameters for evermore. As if the insane buggers ever could!

    What is cool about cooling? The Earth has been through numerous Ice Ages, twice where it is described as the snowball planet, where practically all life has been extinguished, yet somehow, for reasons these clever scientists can’t explain, it comes back to life again, warms up considerably and then cools down again. None of which had anything to do with humankind.

    10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age, most of Northern Europe and North America was under an icesheet 2 miles thick, and uninhabitable. Then it melted and freed up those vast spaces for habitation by all forms of life, not just human.

    The rising ocean level inundated the coastal regions as they were at the time, and humans and animals had to move or drown. I have walked on Borth Beach in Cardigan bay Wales at low tide and seen the remains of a drowned and petrified forest which went out 100 miles into what is now the Irish sea Some may well have drowned, but most of us moved sharpish. It’s what we do- Adapt or die. And we may well have to do so again.

    So like Laird, I want a cost benefit analysis. I believe that warming the planet up a few degrees C is infinately preferable to ludicrously suicidal attempts to cool it, by shutting down our entire technological civilisation in order to save it. If the Climate is changing (and of course it is and always has) then let’s manage it not get hysterical about it. Let’s have sea and river defences, not building on flood plains etc etc.

    So I will not be changing my mind anytime soon on current evidence.

  • momo

    1) They have to show their prior predictions and the actual results. The two have to reasonably agree.
    2) I want full and open disclosure of their *_RAW_* data.
    I want their computer models to be open source.

  • veryretired

    The earth has been warming very normally since we emerged from the little ice age in the early 1800’s. This has happened repeatedly in recorded history, is well documented, and is part of a very regular oscillation that appears to have a multi-centuries’ long swing from one phase to another, i.e.,from warming to cooling than back again.

    I saw a very concise graph several months ago in an article which tracked temps over the last few millennia that showed the rhythmic pattern very nicely, and in refutation of the hockey stick, which artificially flattened both warm and cool periods by data massage to make the current trend more dramatic.

    The issue is the desperate attempt to use the warming as an excuse to impose massive new state and international controls upon every part of peoples’ lives based on an hysterical claim that we are in a “lifeboat” situation that justifies all extreme and coercive policies to save the planet.

    Collectivists, regardless of the mask they are using at any particular time to disguise themselves, always expose their true agenda when they start discussing possible solutions to the crisis du jour.

    Inevitably, because it is the only idea they ever have about anything and everything, the solution will be increased power and resources to the state, and the curtailment of individual freedom.

    They literally cannot imagine or comprehend any possible scenario in which the individual’s freedom of choice and action should be enhanced, and the state’s limited. Even when they pretend to believe in this latter course, as in the case of art or sexual expression, they will quickly propose all sorts of state programs to protect and fund the participants, and, in the process, control them.

    I agree with Instapundit when he says he will believe in the dangers of global warming when the supposed believers in it start acting like its real.

    Flying all over the world to conferences on the danger of CO2 doesn’t demonstrate much of anything about its dangers, but says quite a bit about the contempt in which the tranzi elites hold the rest of us poor schlubs who have to pay for all this extravagance.

    There will be a tar-and-feathers moment at some point for all the crisis-mongers. Sooner would be better, and less costly, than later.

  • chip

    Some notes on Muller:

    1) his study was rejected for peer review

    2) his claim to be a converted skeptic are easily disproved by quotes from his past

    3) his study is based on US temperature stations, and a new study shows that the inclusion of many badly sited stations and artificial upward adjustments have doubled the reported rise in US temperatures, compared with the unadjusted data from the best sited stations

    4) Muller has been panned by luke-warmist climate scientists such as Judith Curry, and his sloppy attempt to show pin cooling periods on volcanic activity has been widely ridiculed.

    In short, Muller is not a reason to support or oppose the theory that man is primarily responsible for recent warming.

  • Sean

    Simple. Produce a model that reliably predicts the weather around the globe 5 days in advance. Do that, and I might have some faith in a model predicting the climate 50 years in the future.

  • Alsadius

    DBCooper: Diminishing marginal effect, yes, but an increasing total effect.

    Laird: Most modern models include feedback(albeit, not particularly well).

    RAB: The only major new effect on the climate in the last couple centuries is human activity. If there’s actually a long-term trend happening beyond the scale of solar cycles, then it’s us doing it. No other explanation is plausible. It may not be CO2 per se, but that’s certainly the simplest explanation(assuming you accept the premise that the earth is in a long-term warming trend beyond what solar activity can explain, of course). Agreed on the rest of it, though.

  • When they start farming again on Greenland and it’s so hot the lettuce bolts.

  • R7 Rocket

    The primary reasons for my disbelief in catastrophic AGW is that it is unfalsifiable (therefore unscientific) and obviously being used to advance self-interested bureaucratic expansion.

  • Laird

    @ Alsadius: “The only major new effect on the climate in the last couple centuries is human activity.”

    That assumes the answer. A correct statement would be “the only major new change on the earth in the last couple centuries is human activity.” Whether that has had any effect on climate is the question under discussion. And given the fact that the earth’s climate has repeatedly warmed and cooled for as far back as we can measure, obviously without any help from humans (who didn’t exist during most of those cycles) it’s the height of hubris to assume that this time around we are the sole (or even a primary) cause. As veryretired said, this is part of a very regular oscillation.

  • JohnB

    In answer to Tom Chiver’s question:

    what would it take to change your mind?

    A rigorous examination of the data in order to come as close to the reality of the situation as possible.

  • Chip

    It’s worth keeping in mind that the current concentration of CO2 is about 390ppm.

    Concentrations have been much higher in the past, up to 2000ppm in the Jurassic and 4000ppm in the Cretaceous, some of the most biologically dynamic eras in the planet’s history.

    This didnt trigger runaway warming then, so there is little indication that much lower concentrations would do so today.

    Further, the records show that the CO2 increases lagged the rise in temperature, rather than preceding and supposedly causing it.

  • Quentin

    Alasdius, the leap from GW to AGW is not trivial. Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas and has increased, but while the percentage increase of CO2 is significant, the absolute increase of CO2 is minuscule. Then we have to consider the past. There have been times when the Earth has been in an ice age with higher atmospheric CO2 content.

  • Jacob

    “treatment (should it prove necessary) is for economists”

    If I have doubts about scientists, I have no doubts at all about economists. There ain’t such a thing as “economy” (in the sense of a specialized body of knowledge about the world). The only two groups of people to be trusted less that the economists are lawyers and journalists.

    For a solution (should it prove necessary) you need engineers.

  • Proposition A: AGW is real, artificial, growing, and a menace.

    Proposition B: Statists have seized upon climate change as a vehicle to acquire control of the economy, which they haven’t been able to do through the democratic process and only partially through the executive and judiciary branches.

    Can’t both of these be correct?

  • Alsadius

    Laird: I specifically avoided assuming the conclusion – note the “(assuming you accept the premise that the earth is in a long-term warming trend beyond what solar activity can explain, of course)” at the end of my paragraph. But if the earth is warming more than, say, Mars is, then it’s us doing it.

    JohnB: Let’s just be honest with ourselves and admit that no analysis of the data is ever going to be “rigorous” or “honest” enough to convince someone who doesn’t want to believe. This is a big, complex field and there’s always holes in any study of big, complex fields that people can attack. I’m not opposed to attacking them, of course – argument leads to truth – but anyone saying that the data disproves AGW has the proverbial plank in their eye. I spent many years denying it, but basically realized in the end that I was just lying to myself because it made my political conclusions feel more comfortable. And hey, I can still call Al Gore a charlatan even if I admit the truth, so it’s all good.

    Quentin: “Trivial” may be an overstatement, but it’s one of the easier steps. GW->AGW raises far fewer objections and has far better evidence supporting it than AGW->CAGW does.

  • Laird

    Alsadius, your caveat is insufficient, because there may be (non-human) factors other than solar activity which contribute to a global long-term warming trend. I don’t pretend to know what they might be, but it is abundantly clear that warming and cooling are cyclical. Something other than humans has caused it in the past, and it might not have been only solar activity.

  • Alisa

    Lately I came to the conclusion that I really couldn’t care less whether CAGW is real or not. Even if it is, any top down G solutions are likely to be at least as C (not to mention just as A) as the purported phenomenon itself. Which, quite frankly, does not at all W my heart…

  • bennyhill

    The position of most climate sceptics seems to be that that mainstream climate science has been co-opted and subverted by the economic interests of an elite (the ‘green industry’).

    This position is a classical example of dialectical materialism; strange since climate-scepticism is usually associated with right-wing politics,

  • Nullius in Verba

    I hope you don’t mind me barging in here.

    It’s a good question, but it depends on which change of mind you’re talking about. There are three positions: 1) CAGWIT has been shown to be true; 2) CAGWIT has been shown to be false; 3) We don’t know if CAGWIT is true or false.

    It also depends on where you put the burden of evidence required for belief. For example, you might choose to believe conclusions you like if there’s no positive evidence against them, and only believe conclusions you don’t like if there’s positive evidence for them. I’ll use this ‘rational freedom of belief’ policy here for the sake of argument – you can work out the implications for other policies for yourself.

    So, if your position is 1 or 2 and you’re happy with it, then to change your mind you need to be shown firstly that your justifications for your current position are flawed, and that the justifications for the opposing position are solid. If you’re not happy about it, you only need to be shown that your current justifications are flawed.

    If your position is 3), then you can either move freely to whichever of the others you like, or you need to be shown positive evidence that the option you don’t like is true.

    The most critical elements justifying CAGWIT are scientific models, and the standard for assessing them is well established. They have to be subjected to critical scrutiny and survive all attempts to falsify them in circumstances that would be reasonably expected to detect any flaws if they existed. Their predictions have to have been tested. Their limitations and errors have to be quantified. And there have to be no alternative hypotheses (including unknown unknowns) left standing that make different predictions.

    So the first requirement is that the science supporting the thesis has to be opened up to critical scrutiny. Instances of partial disclosure, data or adverse results being withheld, methods and calculations not published, etc. sabotage the validation of the science at root. So before you can even consider the question, they must make their operations totally tranparent.

    Next, they would have to be subjected to critical scrutiny, which means bringing climate sceptics into the process.

    Third, any results shown to be flawed would need to be ruthlessly eliminated. No more “the errors don’t matter”. No more “but there’s piles of other evidence”. They have to present their case using only evidence they’ll stand behind all the way.

    They have to make predictions of stated accuracy and test them. That’s tricky, but it is possible. Harder, they have to show reason to believe their predictions are valid over the domain in question. That means showing, for example, that it’s not simply a curve-fit – that it fits more points than there are adjustable parameters.

    And they have to give reason to believe there are no alternative hypotheses that could explain the observations as well. That could be by showing their model predicted climate accurately enough that there was no room for any other unknown variable to be influencing it, for example. They also have to completely knock down the cosmic/clouds hypothesis, the ocean oscillations hypothesis, the Bond interstadial hypothesis, the unit root hypothesis, etc.

    I’m going to pick up on something Alsadius said, because it’s commonly misunderstood, but I don’t want it to be seen as getting at Alsadius, whose position I think is very reasonable. (And we need people who disagree with us to critically scrutinise our own views, anyway.)

    “CO2 and water vapour are both basically clear to the former and very strong absorbers of the latter. When they absorb the IR they re-emit it, of course, but half of it will get re-emitted back at the planet, and bounce around further. This is, as I’m sure we all know, the “greenhouse effect”.”

    Imagine a shallow pond of water, about a metre deep, with a black bottom. Sunlight shines into the pond, passes through the water, and is absorbed at the bottom. When the bottom re-emits the energy as IR, the water turns out to be opaque to IR, with complete absorption (and re-emission, etc.) within about a milimetre (most of it in about 20 microns). Liquid water is 20,000 times as dense as the water vapour in the air, and so does the same job as the well-known greenhouse gas but thousands of times more powerfully. If you draw a diagram of this, you’ll see it looks a lot like Al Gore’s picture of the Earth’s greenhouse effect. So – how much greenhouse warming would you expect to see at the bottom of a metre-deep pond?

    The answer, according to the common “back-radiation” theory, is fairly easily calculated to be over 900 C. (Do please ask if you’re interested in the physics.) Although liquid water is an incredibly powerful “greenhouse” material, it does not result in any greenhouse warming. This is because the usual explanation of the greenhouse mechanism is incorrect.

    That’s not to say the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist, because it does. But it’s remarkable given its history and supposed importance how many believers in it don’t know how it actually works.

    I’ve wittered on for too long here already, so I’ll refer you to my explanation of how it does actually work on Judith Curry’s blog under “Best of the Greenhouse”. Scroll down to the “radiative-convective perspective”. But put simply, the greenhouse effect is the product of the average altitude of emission of radiation direct to space, and a quantity called the adiabatic lapse rate. For a pond of water, both are close to zero, so no warming is expected. Prediction confirmed.


  • Jacob

    I’ll change my mind when there is a “solution” that works. For example – if someone invented solar panels that are 40% efficient (compared to 12% today), and are not extremely expensive, I’ll install them, CAGW or not. Of course, if there were such panels they would get installed by everyone, without Gov mandates or subsidies or intervention.

    Maybe such panels, or some other non-carbon energy source will actually be invented some time. We cannot predict if and when. Maybe fusion, but I won’t bet on it.

    I’m not a denier of CAGW, that is – I don’t know. I cannot deny what I don’t know. I’m opposed to those who make false claims of knowledge where there is no knowledge.

    I’m opposed to CAGW justified, current policies, to insane policies, such as wasting hundreds of billions of dollars for useless, ugly, harmful, noisy bird choppers.

  • Alsadius

    NiV: Thanks for the info. That’s certainly a more complete explanation, though I can see why the simpler one gets used so much. (http://judithcurry.com/2010/12/02/best-of-the-greenhouse/ is the link, for those interested)

  • Rich Rostrom

    What could convince me of the reality of CAGW?

    I’m not sure anything could at this point, in less than 50 years. It would take at least that long for actual evidence of CAGW to appear.

    The theories by which CAGW is predicted are very complicated and messy attempts to understand an extremely complicated and messy set of phenomena. It might be possible to establish understanding of these phenomena that is rigorous enough to support such predictions. But achieving such understanding looks immensely difficult to me, and I don’t see any collateral evidence that it has been achieved or is even reasonably achievable at this time. (Such evidence would be rigorous, routinely predictive understanding of related fields.)

    Validating such understanding seems impossible to me without such collateral evidence.

    My skepticism on this front has been deeply entrenched and powerfully amplified by the obvious bad faith and corruption of CAGW advocates.

    For many years pro-CAGW scientists have overstated their case, and worked happily with lay advocates whose propaganda has ranged from dubious exaggeration to shameless lies. Both groups have continually slandered skeptics as corrupt hirelings. Meanwhile they pretend that their own personal enrichment from CAGW advocacy is irrelevant, and ignore the enormous rents generated for state and state-crony allies by measures justified by the supposed threat of CAGW.

    They have lied so much in their own cause for their own profit that nothing they say can be trusted.

    Indeed, the worst effect of the CAGW issue may well be its damage to the credibility of science.

  • Aliq Ultor

    Almost all syntactically correct declarative statements are false. Therefore it is only prudent to disbelieve any such statement until the grounds for its validity have been established. Consequently, it is incorrect to claim that disbelief in CAGW is on the basis of “no reason at all.”

    On the contrary, since probability is overwhelmingly against any particular statement, it is tantamount to disregarding all experience not to maintain a stout disbelief in widely unsubstantiated claims, especially when they have a great degree of self-interested boosterism to them. I wouldn’t go so far as Nietzsche when he wrote that everything the state says is a lie. Experience teaches nonetheless that much of what state bureaucrats and their minions claim is false. Therefore, if almost all western governments jump on the CAGW bandwagon, the probability is high that CAGW is invalid.

    Why do we believe that the statics computations performed by civil engineers are based on solid science? Not because we’ve given up our day jobs to study structural engineering and are able to check the calculations. We believe them simply because the art performs what its practitioners claim it will perform, namely, enable the construction of bridges and skyscrapers that rarely fall down.

    Why do we disbelieve in astrology? Without delving into their esoterica, we simply observe that astrologists cannot deliver on the claims they make. In short, we don’t have the time to go chasing after every pig some charlatan happens to poke through the village.

    I’m not willing to crunch the CAGW data myself. I’m also not willing to reproduce the Michelson-Morley experiment in my basement, not to pore over Tychos’s astronomical diaries. We hold science to extremely high standards of proof because it is impossible for more than a handful of us to “crunch the data.” We expect honest professionalism and an absence of political manoeuvring from the scientist. The shrill hysteria and the malicious data tampering of the CAGW proponents have done their cause a great deal of harm. In the absence of the austere scientific virtues, the burden of proof, which must always fall upon those who make extraordinary claims, becomes proportionally more onerous once a theory’s adherents have gained a reputation for sleaziness.

    All the meta-indicators point to the conclusion that CAGW is a scam. Until its serious adherents cease their political activities, tone done their polemics and expel the journalists, activists and politicians from their ranks, they will not be able to rehabilitate their reputations, and it is vain to expect any reasonable person to revise his opinion of their character or their claims.

  • Jacob

    There is little doubt that CO2 has some warming effect, as per the radiative forcing theory. The magnitude of this effect is in dispute, it might be insignificant and undistiguishable from natural variations.

    It is also possible that it is as catastrophic as the alarmists claim, though the evidence for this is non-existent.

    So, you can go and panic about something that is not known. There are tons of end-of- the-world scenarios.

    Or, you can do what Calvin Coolodge advised: “if ten big boulders come rolling down a hill towards you, threatening to crush you, stand still and do nothing. Nine will miss you.”
    We will have to adapt to climate changes as we have always done.
    It doesn’t matter if one believes or not in CAGW, there is nothing better that we can do now, than prepare to adapt.

    All other “solutions” such as windmills and solar panels are snake oil. Nothing will change my mind on this, at it is a very simple and solid fact.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Someone mentioned ‘solutions that work’. What is happening with that attempt, a few weeks back, to get sealife to prosper by putting more iron into the water? Any results?

  • lucklucky

    “…but anyone saying that the data disproves AGW has the proverbial plank in their eye…”

    AGW doesn’t need to be disproved, it should be proved.
    It is AGW proponents that need to prove it.
    Incomplete data can’t prove or disprove anything.
    And AGW must be proved. Not the other way aound.

    “But if the earth is warming more than, say, Mars is, then it’s us doing it.”

    So the Earth is a copy of Mars…same properties, same atmosphere, same temperature, same climate, everything, same distance to the Sun. Also Mars have same day, night, year periods as Earth?
    … Plus we know about both of them at same level and have the same instruments. Well that tell us about your science level.

    If something can be said from the full of holes data is that the system is stable. Empirically only.

    Anyone can really believe that temperature can be measured to 0.x degrees definition/precision today all over world?
    And that we even have 100 years time of it? So how many stations were in Pacific Ocean in 1912?

    And how temperature is even measured? What matters, the high vs minus temperature, the medium/median temperature by the instantaneous measuring each minute? And altitude? and place? In city i am nearby, Lisbon there are typically differences of more than 1ºC in hot days inside the city.

    And if the temperature database even today is already full of holes, to not talk about 100 years ago ,
    What about the cloud cover database?
    What about the wind database?

    Where are they?

  • Andrew Duffin

    If one of the warmists’ predictions came true – even one of them – I’d sit up and listen.

    Predictions, mark you, not post-hoc adjustments or excuses as to why x or y is a special case.

    So far, it hasn’t happened.

  • Alsadius

    lucklucky: Bayesian methods make more sense to me than burden-of-proof approaches, which usually devolve into rhetorical pissing matches. Believe in something in proportion to the level of evidence that exists to support it. AGW’s evidence isn’t on the same order as gravity or QED, but it’s pretty solid, therefore I believe it to a pretty high level of confidence. Not 100%, but I’d say 95% or so.

    Re Mars, this is a blog, not a climatological journal. I didn’t intend that sentence to be a complete research model. There’s about a million controls that need to be used, but the basic principle of “Use the control groups we have in order to isolate the endogenous and exogenous effects” is basically universal to modern scientific study.

    I’ll grant that data gets fairly spotty as you go back to the pre-satellite era, but it’s not nearly as spotty as the data points for the evolutionary path of hominids, for example, and I expect that nobody here has any great trouble believing that. But then, evolution doesn’t offend our preconceptions, nor is it being used as a tool by a movement we dislike. Confirmation bias is an ugly beast. So far as I can tell, most AGW deniers do it because they are afraid of the political implications of AGW being true – I certainly was. But truth just is, whether we want it to be or not. The great preponderance of evidence says that the earth is warming up, and that we are responsible. Figure out your political arguments from that truth(because there’s no shortage of ways to mock idiot socialists even if they are right about some parts of their AGW theories), but don’t build your structure on falsehoods, and don’t worship the god of the gaps.

  • lucklucky

    “Bayesian methods make more sense to me than burden-of-proof approaches, which usually devolve into rhetorical pissing matches. Believe in something in proportion to the level of evidence that exists to support it.”

    Weasel words to just say that you have enough burden of proof in your opinion..
    You are trying to appear very circumspect, considerate and “scientific”.
    I would say you are trying it too much.
    Do you think others can’t see trough that fog?

    “AGW’s evidence isn’t on the same order as gravity or QED, but it’s pretty solid, therefore I believe it to a pretty high level of confidence. Not 100%, but I’d say 95% or so.”

    “I’ll grant that data gets fairly spotty as you go back to the pre-satellite era”

    So spotty data + satellite grants you 95%?
    Outstanding is also when we are talking about decimals of degrees.

    “but it’s not nearly as spotty as the data points for the evolutionary path of hominids, for example, and I expect that nobody here has any great trouble believing that.”

    So hominids are hominids and temperatures are temperatures. It is the only conclusion we can extract from your parallelism. What does it mean? nothing.

    I can say then that:
    Temperature can as just example go up 6 degrees, down 3 degrees and maintain. A hominid can’t have 6 arms then 3. In one day.
    What does it mean? It is different.

    As we see again your scientific terminology is just a side show for a con job. The flimsy evidence or even not requested at all – ex:Mars- are enough to reach conclusions.

  • Jacob

    “The great preponderance of evidence says that the earth is warming up”…
    Yes’ it probably is, 95% confidence. It has done the same many times in the past, without “we” causing it.

    “and that we are responsible”.. the evidence for this is rather weak, there is some human influence, sure, but maybe not much, quatitatively.

    Alsadius, you are trying to ignore, or weasel your way out of the real, basic question: what is the magnitude of “our” contribution vs. natural causes. On this – the evidence is very thin.

    “So far as I can tell, most AGW deniers do it because they are afraid of the political implications of AGW being true “

    There are no political implications.

    The “solutions” pushed by political groups (windmills) are snake oil. Even if CAGW is true, it certainly does not prove that government action is indispensable, especially as we see that government action, so far, is useless in acheiving the purported goals, and is harmful in many other ways.

    Seems you have adopted the leftie’s view that skepticism is driven by ideology, not science. Our view (the correct one) is that **alarmism** is driven by neo-Malthusian-socialist-one-worldism religion.

    You also seem to have adopted the view that if there is a problem, we must call in the government to solve it – that this goes without saying. That is not considered correct, or politically correct in this parish.

  • Jacob

    “what would it take to change your mind?”

    there are two different questions:

    On the scietific question – evidence.

    On the question of “solutions” – solutions that work (nonexistent at this time).

    You seem to have fallen for their bait-and-switch tactic of ignoring the distinction between the two questions -“if the earth is warming you must adopt my plan of government action”. False.