Posted by & filed under Global Warming/Climate Change, Society.

by Stephan Lewandowsky, Winthrop Professor and an Australian Professorial Fellow at the University of Western Australia.

What exactly is "balance"? Our society rightly strives for balance, and many issues are deservedly considered by presenting a balanced set of opinions.

There are however clear cases in which the only balance that matters is the balance of evidence rather than of opinion: Serial killer Ivan Milat’s protestations of innocence should not – and did not – balance the evidence arrayed against him. The desire to cure AIDS with garlic and beetroot does not balance the medical consensus that the disease is caused by HIV and can only be beaten by retroviral drugs. And the current wave of sensationalism and distortion cannot balance the scientific consensus that climate change is real and is caused by human emissions.

The current descent of the climate debate into a cauldron of misrepresentations that are at odds with scientific reality must therefore be of concern.

It must be of concern that climate scientists can be publicly accused of having vested financial interests in their research, when in fact Australian research grants cannot be used to top up a researcher’s salary.

It must be of concern when segments of the national media frequently distort and misrepresent scientific articles and scientists’ statements in complete departure from accepted standards of journalistic honesty and decency.

It must be of concern when segments of the media echo the meme that "global warming stopped in 1998" when in fact all years since 2000 — that is 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 — are among the 10 hottest years ever recorded since 1880. The probability of this happening by chance is small.

It must be of concern that the current Leader of the Opposition has publicly dismissed climate science and instead cosily chats with a visiting British aristocrat who is a serial fabricator — an individual who has publicly misrepresented himself as a member of the House of Lords when he is not; who claims to have cured influenza as well as AIDS; who claims to have won the Falkland War by means of biological weapons; who accuses NASA of blowing up their own research satellites; and whose latest pseudo-mathematical pronouncements about climate change are at odds with past ice age cycles.

It must be of grave concern when the opinions of the same conspiracy theorists who believe that Prince Phillip runs the world’s drug trade are given credence by the media when it comes to climate change.

No, balance in media coverage does not arise from adding a falsehood to the truth and dividing by two. Balanced media coverage of science requires recognition of the balance of evidence.

What then is the true balance of evidence on climate change?

Fact is that the most recent survey of thousands of Earth scientists around the world revealed a 97 per cent agreement with the proposition that human activity is a contributor to climate change. This peer-reviewed study clarifies that the present "debate" about climate change is not actually a debate within the relevant scientific community.

Fact is that a recent analysis of nearly 1,000 peer reviewed publications by a prominent historian of science revealed no disagreement with the view that climate change is happening and is caused by human CO2 emissions. If each of those publications were presented on a poster, as is common at scientific conferences, the line of posters would stretch across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and back again. Yes, there are a few dissenting papers that have appeared in refereed journals — but to date none have withstood subsequent scrutiny.

Fact is that there is a strong scientific consensus on climate change and its human-made causes that is exhaustively summarised in the nearly 3,000 pages of the most recent IPCC report that draws on more than 18,000 sources. Tellingly, the lone error about Himalayan glaciers on page 493 of the contribution from Working Group 2 was brought to the public’s attention by … an IPCC lead author!

Anyone can experience this scientific consensus hands-on in a few seconds: Google "climate change" and you get nearly 60 million hits. Now go to the menu labelled "more" at the top, pull it down and choose the "scholar" option. 58 million hits disappear. The remaining scientific information will get you in touch with the reality on this planet, in the same way that applying the "scholar" filter after googling "sex" eliminates 500 million porn sites and leaves you with civilised discourse about sexuality.

Does this indubitable scientific consensus guarantee that the evidence concerning climate change is necessarily irrefutable?

No.

As with any other scientific fact, new evidence may come to light that can overturn established theories. Two core principles of science are scepticism and falsifiability — that is, scientific facts must be subject to sceptical examination and they must be refutable in principle. New evidence may overturn the current view that HIV causes AIDS, and new evidence may revise our expectation that gravity will have adverse consequences for those who jump off the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Likewise, new evidence may force a revision of our understanding of climate change.

It is however utterly inconceivable that the current scientific consensus about climate change will be overturned by conspiracy theories that are inversions of reality.

It is utterly inconceivable that the consensus on climate change will be weakened by mendacious misrepresentations in the media that fail to accurately represent the strength of scientific evidence.

It is utterly inconceivable that all the arguments against climate change that have been falsified multiple times will rise from the dead and overturn scientific knowledge.

Instead, the very fact that many of the roughly 100 falsified "sceptic" talking points are continually reiterated in public draws a clear dividing line between healthy scepticism and arrogant denialism.

Sceptics seek answers and scrutinise arguments before accepting the current state of scientific knowledge as fact. Denialists dismiss sound arguments, solid data, and experimental evidence in favour of propositions that have long been shown to be flawed.

The world’s pre-eminent scientific journal, Nature, therefore refers to those who cling to long-debunked pseudo-scientific conspiracy theories while dismissing the findings of thousands of peer-reviewed studies by their true label — denialists.

The potentially devastating consequences of denialism are brought into sharp focus by the sad history of South Africa’s AIDS policies. Despite having one of the world’s highest rates of HIV infections, the government of President Thabo Mbeki went against consensus scientific opinion 10 years ago and declined anti-retroviral drugs, preferring instead to treat AIDS with garlic and beetroot. Politicians even accused a leading South African immunologist of defending Western science and its "racist ideas" for his insistence on scientific treatment methods. According to a recent peer-reviewed Harvard study, this denialism cost the lives of more than 330,000 South Africans.

For that, President Mbeki and his associates are now held in richly deserved contempt around the world.

Precisely the same fate awaits denialists of climate change.

The laws of physics will relentlessly assert themselves, unswayed by public opinion, political shenanigans, or elections. Ultimately, the laws of physics will speak so loudly that no amount of wishful thinking can prevent them from being heard; but because any delay in taking action against climate change will increase the human and financial burden on future generations, it is our responsibility now to cease tolerating lies, misrepresentations, puerile accusations, and conspiracy theories that are unworthy of public discourse in a mature democracy.

Many spirited conversations about climate change can be had that examine the likely consequences for Australia and evaluate the best course of action — but those conversations must be firmly rooted in the core scientific principles of scepticism and falsifiability and they must not be contaminated by ignorance and denialism.

62 Responses to “Climate Debate: Opinion vs. Evidence”

  1. Ant.

    The article is interesting in its rhetoric anger and attack towards free thinking people but fails to address a few facts.

    No, I’m no conspiracy theorist nor supporter. I’m simply not convinced either way as both sides of the climate discussing are too emotionally attached to SHOW US the science.

    I don’t think anyone refutes the fact that the climate is changing! It’s obvious that it always has and it always will. So the climate change denier label simply makes no sense. What people may be unsure about is whether human C02 release is the main contributor. And this is where science has failed to convince us. Where are the studies? Show us the raw data.

    Moreover, the fact that politicians are more concerned with taxing and capping CO2 as a solution instead of promoting eating less meat or planting more trees or even supporting sustainable and less polluting farming systems like permaculture, reveals a higher interest in profiting than actually wanting to resolve the issue, if indeed it is real.

    Would you care to comment on the climate gate scandal?

    On Al Gore’s multiple lies or exaggeration of science?

    And the effect (or not) of sun cycles on the Earth’s climate?

    Regardless of the side of this debate, it appears that everyone has an invested agenda. The pro global warming side through taxes and consumerist “green” technologies. And the anti global warming through trying to keep the old unsustainable oil paradigm unchanged.

    Said this I don’t think many people would disagree that we must reduce pollution and environmental damage. But GM crops are in my view an equally dangerous environmental problem and yet few seem to be talking about it. Why I ask?

    Reply
  2. Craig Mackintosh

    Hi Ant

    See this post:

    http://permaculturenews.org/2009/12/07/greenhouse-effect-in-a-bottle/

    and comments below.

    Re evidence. Please explain why our oceans are acidifying:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/10/ocean-acidification-epoca

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/10/carbon-emissions-oceans-copenhagen

    Re political motivations. See this comment of mine on a post that’s just down the page a few posts.

    Re GM crops. Please see our GMO category (31 posts on the topic, and counting). We cover all the problems on this site, and their solutions:

    http://permaculturenews.org/2009/12/14/the-biology-of-global-warming/

    http://permaculturenews.org/2009/12/13/carbon-trading/

    Reply
  3. JBob

    Well said Ant. And is an article that actually begins by comparing “denialists” to serial killers really worth posting?

    Reply
  4. Glen Novello

    Stephan, maybe you should focus on talking to people that are more rational and stop wasting your time on people that won’t change their minds no matter how much evidence you show them. The time has come to stop arguing about climate change and what the factors causing it are, its all academic. Start focusing on what can be done and who is willing to help do it.

    Reply
  5. Ant.

    Thanks for the links Craig but you failed to comment on my 3 points.

    - Would you care to comment on the climate gate scandal?
    - On Al Gore’s multiple lies or exaggeration of science?
    - And the effect (or not) of sun cycles on the Earth’s climate?

    On this last topic there’s an interesting post on this link with links to research that proves that other planets in the solar system are also undergoing warming:
    http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread221608/pg1

    If global arming is cause by CO2 how come other planets are also warming up?

    Great coverage of GMOs by the way.

    Reply
  6. Killian

    Ant, it is exceedingly unfortunate that basic science is ignored in favor of ideology, but this is not surprising. We know that it is a common trait to filter our acceptance of facts through our beliefs and constructs. The science, however is conclusive in its essentials and most of the details.

    The article above correctly points out that false equivalence is not true balance. Balance would imply both sides hold equal stature and rigor scientifically, but this is not the case. In fact, there is not a single paper I know of that brings into question any of the foundation science for climate research. Literally.

    We also know where the “sceptic” argument originated. George C. Marshal Institute, Exxon, the Global Climate Coalition, etc. All conservative think tanks, all with the agenda to not disprove the science, but merely sow doubt. (Really. We have the memos.) This is all known fact that no “denialist” has ever even breathed a word of, let alone admitted. See Naomi Oreskes’ works on climate history for more information.

    As to the science, please visit http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html#contents and read it all.

    For now, you cannot refute the following: 1. CO2 is a heat-trapping gas. 2. Satellite measurements show cooling in the upper atmosphere due to heat radiating back to space being trapped by CO2. 3. Conversely, measurements of the lower atmosphere show warming in the lower atmosphere due to heat radiating back to space being trapped by CO2. 4. All this has been expected for a long time. 5. Co2 as a GHG known for ove 100 years. 6. Confirmed around half a decade ago.

    BTW, Gore wasn’t wrong except in a few particulars and attributions. Nothing he said in AIT was wrong about the basic science.

    Finally, if I am a teacher and my e-mails get hacked revealing I said another teacher sucked or that I used a cool statistical tool to calculate grades, would that mean everything I’d ever taught was worthless? Of course not.

    Cheers

    Reply
  7. Craig Mackintosh

    Sorry Ant – I don’t always have time to respond as I’d like on all the comments that come through.

    Re Climategate – It’s a good example of people clutching at straws when they try to discredit the science. Many of the emails that have been ‘pulled apart’ have been taken out of context. Yes, some heads should roll for certain aspects – but I have yet to see anything of substance to undermine the work of thousands of scientists in this issue.

    I think George makes the point well on this topic:

    http://permaculturenews.org/2009/11/24/the-knights-carbonic/

    and please watch this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nnVQ2fROOg

    Re Al Gore. Can you be more specific about Al Gore’s ‘multiple lies’ and ‘exaggerations of science’. I personally couldn’t care less what we think about Al Gore personally. I wrote the following article more than two years ago:

    http://www.celsias.com/article/the-dirt-behind-the-recent-uk-inconvenient-truth-r/

    Re the possibility of the sun’s output increasing and make solar-system-wide changes to temperature, this appears impossible in light of the fact it’s been repeatedly proven that the sun’s output has actually decreased since the 1980s, despite the earth’s temperature rising. And this earth/sun temperature anomaly has also occured despite global dimming, where our visible pollutants have been shading the earth from the sun’s rays and thereby reducing the full effects of the sun’s rays on our increasing greenhouse gas inventory.

    With temperatures rising despite these two aspects of solar reduction, we must consider where this increase in temperature is coming from. People have known about this for a VERY LONG TIME, but look at us – still with our heads in the sand….

    Warming has been noted on Mars, but not uniformly (regional, not global), and this appears to be well explained here.

    In order for the ‘other planets are warming’ theory to hold true, all (or at least most) of the other planets and moons in our solar system would need to be warming also. Uranus appears to be cooling, while others don’t appear to be experiencing any noticeable change in temperature.

    Now it’s my turn to restate a question: Please explain why our oceans are acidifying:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/10/carbon-emissions-oceans-copenhagen

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/10/ocean-acidification-epoca

    Reply
  8. knighter

    i’ve been watching lord christopher monckton for a while now and there is no conspiracy with him, he will give you information so you can check the science for yourself.He advises that you question all the man made scientist theories as many are being manipulated by the powers that want to make not only large financial gain but control of the people also.
    just because we believe in something,we should check to see if it is blind faith or fact and be open to change.
    can anyone tell me why the american congress would not allow mr monckton to express his constitutional right of free speech when he was invited to hold a talk on climate change? thats the first time someone has not been allowed in congress to speak in american history!!!.
    i agree totally with Ant there is going to be one hell of a big tax and there are lots of people including Al gore and many scientist that have invested alot of money into the companies that are being formed to combat man made climate change and many of them are being investigated by the fedral police for fraud!. why will Al gore not stand on live tv with christopher monckton and have a fair debate? As mr monckton has suggested! i think i know why but would love to hear your views.
    i have my own philosophies/belief system which are open to change no matter how my ego reacts to being completly wrong.
    I thought the climate was man made and that we as humans were killing mother earth but guess what (which i think is fantastic) where most definately not!. she is alive and well, if we planted more trees and stopped mining for gold oil ect… and stoped pulling down rain forest as monckton says she would be in even better shape.As a group of human beings we should be look after and connecting with her alot more. I believe its just another government scheme designed to steal our money from us and thats FINE as we should be used to that by now!.
    please please anyone who reads this give mr monckton a fair go and listen to what he says he advices you to look for your self and really is on the peoples side he dosent make million for spreading good information unlike the million Al gore makes for spreading lies.
    love to all people inc (Al gore and the governments),and of course the mother(bless her)
    knighter
    p.s long live permaculture

    Reply
  9. Pete

    1. CO2 is a heat-trapping gas. >with a logarithmic absorption curve meaning much less effect than the IPCC projects on it, the models only work because they ASSUME positive feedback, for which there is zero evidence, and may soon be proved so by Linzdens new publication.

    2. Satellite measurements show cooling in the upper atmosphere due to heat radiating back to space being trapped by CO2. >>>completely refuting the “greenhouse” theory, which predicts trapped heat in the upper atmosphere!

    3. Conversely, measurements of the lower atmosphere show warming in the lower atmosphere due to heat radiating back to space being trapped by CO2. >>> If heat were being trapped by Co2 (and not clouds which are 10,000 times more effective than Co2) it would be trapped in the upper atmosphere – upsetting greenhouse theory somewhat.

    4. All this has been expected for a long time. >>> they say it will be so, and then say it is so, doesn’t make it so!

    5. Co2 as a GHG known for ove 100 years.>>> known to have a logarithmic absorption curve for 100 yrs too!

    6. Confirmed around half a decade ago.>>>???

    I’m sorry, but this “big oil” root to scepticism is completely bogus these days, that was in the 80′s, some years after the eugenics movement held a conference in the US to encourage use of climate scare tactics after the “ice age” scare (the first time they tried this mechanism) failed during the heatwave summer of 76. “ask not what we can do for climate change, but what climate change can do for us”. I keep waiting for my cheque but I won’t hold my breath! Billions have been spent by the AGW crowd promoting “neo-science”, BILLIONS.

    A hand full of (unpaid) independent bloggers are the core investigators behind this current round of mainstream scepticism, highlighting the false science of the IPCC is only the latest to hit the mainstream, it started with an independent statistician (climateaudit.org) completely debunking Manns false hockey stick graph (again) whilst fighting tooth and nail for 8 years to get access to raw data to begin to check the science, which has STILL not been forthcoming.

    If climategate was only people “clutching at straws” why have there been so many “investigations” and FOI laws broken? Why did the head of CRU have to step down? CRU’s temp chronology has been fiddled to the point they had to claim they lost the raw data to avoid being caught out. The whole GW issues credibility rests on that data as ALL other chronologies use the data produced at CRU (although NASA etc. fiddle it some more).

    Ocean acidification? “consider that corals became common in the oceans during the Ordovician Era – nearly 500 million years ago – when atmospheric CO2 levels were about 10X greater than they are today. Perhaps corals are not so tough as they used to be? In 1954, the US detonated the world’s largest nuclear weapon at Bikini Island in the South Pacific. The bomb was equivalent to 30 billion pounds of TNT, vapourised three islands, and raised water temperatures to 55,000 degrees. Yet half a century of rising CO2 later, the corals at Bikini are thriving. Another drop in pH of 0.075 will likely have less impact on the corals than a thermonuclear blast. The corals might even survive a rise in ocean temperatures of half a degree, since they flourished at times when the earth’s temperature was 10C higher than the present.
    There seems to be no shortage of theories about how rising CO2 levels will destroy the planet, yet the geological record shows that life flourished for hundreds of millions of years with much higher CO2 levels and temperatures. This is a primary reason why there are so many skeptics in the geological community. At some point the theorists will have to start paying attention to empirical data.” http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/31/ocean-acidification-and-corals/

    I am willing to accept Man has had an effect on climate. Geoff Lawtons explanation regarding forests as the climate moderator, and therefore de-forestation causes climate changes we can not predict, seems by far the most plausible explanation of possible climate extremes, outside of natural cycles driven by the Sun IMO.

    Demonizing gaseous plant food just supports the globalist agenda of a global tax on humanity, does anyone really think goldman sachs et al are philanthropists doing it for the good of humanity? Does anyone really think carbon tax will have ANY effect on global temperatures?

    The climate changes, it always did.

    I can understand why most environmentalists jumped on this bandwagon, people need convincing to change their lifestyles to something more sustainable, but another 20 years of relative cooling is predicted by astrophysicists who study Sun cycles, the longer this current period of cooling goes on, the more average people will be turned off and continue BAU.

    Mark my words, “Climate change” will turn out to be a bad poster child, for the PC movement, it feeds the globalist agenda and will be rejected in the long run, along with anyone else on the bandwagon.

    Climate change conveniently wraps it’s arms around all environmental groups, controlling the agenda. Hence we now have plans for a new Nuclear plant every 18 months in the UK (Cameron election pledge) with zero opposition from environmental groups! Why don’t we have plans to re-forest the planet? Because all the funding will be wasted pumping plant food into the ground.

    The “greens” have been taken over by globalists, see the Co-Leader of the German Green Party, at last year’s Bilderberg meeting? See how the “green” agenda has been hijacked?

    Where are the activists like Peter Taylor? Tied up in silly debates like this one trying to wake everyone up!

    /rant

    Reply
  10. Andy

    I’d like to chip in in support of what Pete and Ant are talking about. I have been doing stuff that could be classed as ‘environmental activism’ for a good many years, and at first I was taken in by this global warming stuff. Where I began to become suspicious was when I heard alleged ‘scientists’ claiming that AGW was ‘proven’. It is not a thing that can be proven. There are too many factors and our knowledge of climate is pretty pathetic really. This was the alarm bell that got me looking at what the critics were saying.

    It’s always revealing to look into what the critics say about something you have an opinion on. They may be satan incarnate, but they often have done research and found out things. When two groups of power-hungry maniacs are opposing each other, I think Mercutio’s phrase, ‘A plague on both your houses’ is the most appropriate response.

    It isn’t necessary for one or other to be right, they can both be wrong, and in this case, since both are politicians and business ‘leaders’, it’s the most likely thing.

    One thing is for sure, the measures being proposed and in some cases introduced show the real agenda, and that is control and domination of us serfs. The system being introduced enables people to make billions of dollars out of the situation. I have looked into it in some depth, but that, along with the identities of the individuals and organizations who are pushing the agenda are enough for me to see the sense in steering clear of it all.

    We know what the problems are, and we know what the solutions are, and the likes of Al Gore with his 10 houses and heaven knows what else, are not going to be part of any solution I want to see. We don’t need their poxy grants to repair the world, all we need is awake people who are not being subjected to their poisons they put in our food and water, the dumbing down caused by their mindless media and the poisonous philosophies and values they teach in their places of so-called education.

    Everything they say is a lie, and this is another lie.

    Are we sheep? Are we so mindless that we need to follow the ‘millennium development goals’ of a bunch of psychopathic oligarchic bankers? Or are we intelligent and free-thinking people who can make our own agendas and follow them?

    Al Gore says the science is settled, and in a way that’s true, settled in a bed of corruption on both sides. True science is never settled, and rarely gets funded by government or business. that’s why it’s rare.

    Surely we don’t have to parrot the talking points of the mainstream media to promote permaculture? Permaculture has a strong basis, and needs no crutches. The only things that need that kind of supporting blather are new nuclear power stations, carbon taxes, moving industry from Europe and the Us to india and china, palm oil plantations, Green Police, and all the other stuff that would be seen for what it is and rejected by the people totally without the cover of a good propaganda story.

    A real scientist once said, Our problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.

    Reply
  11. Pete

    Andy: “Permaculture needs no crutches.” So true on so many levels, I wish I had said that!

    Richard North’s article below only scratches the surface, it is one of the best articles I’ve ever read discussing how big business interests and the powerful elite, create and exploit environmental causes for their own benefit, harming indigenous people in the process, and getting the governments to go along with them. Follow the money!

    The Amazon – a “green gold-rush”

    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2010/03/amazongate-part-ii-seeing-redd.html

    Reply
  12. Marcin Gerwin

    Pete and Andy, it seems to me that you have confused two issues: one is climate science and the other is the ideas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    While I have doubts with regards to carbon offset programmes or carbon trading, it does not mean that the understanding of basic Earth’s physics, as presented by climatologists, is wrong.

    Pete, you write that “models only work because they ASSUME positive feedback, for which there is zero evidence”. If you live in a part of the world where you have cold winters, you can go ouside during frost and feel for yourself that the air is dry. You don’t need any special equipment for it. The air is dry because it is cold. When the air is cold there is less water vapour in the air. When it’s hot then the air can hold more water vapour. If there is more CO2 in the air it makes the air a bit more warmer. For this reason air will be able to hold more water vapour which is a potent greenhouse gas. This mechanism is called a positive feedback.

    Reply
  13. Andy

    I don’t disagree with the proposition that human activity will affect climate, only with the idea that we can say how much of any observed changes are a result of human activity. Or that we can make any meaningful predictions based on our limited knowledge of the world.

    I can see how it would help the cause of anyone wanting to curb human profligacy if it were true that we are responsible for a large proportion of the change, but there is just no way, scientifically, to justify that claim. We can only voice opinions, that it is ‘obvious’ and so on. It isn’t. A scientist saying ‘this is proven’ doesn’t constitute scientific proof. Even a million scientists. Even all scientists. I never see the actual proof, just the number of scientists.

    And then when they point to their anecdotes to convince me, I find out that even they are sometimes lies, distortions or ‘errors’. We need to look at both sides of the argument with equal skepticism, indeed perhaps more for the one we favour, as we are biased.

    We don’t know, for example, how much the sun affects climate. We do know that other planets were warming up, and are now cooling, as is Earth. So the problem is not a simple one.

    Imagine you have a sink, with three taps, and one plug. There are 3 monkeys each adjusting the levels of flow in the taps, and one is randomly pulling out and putting back the plug. We have no way of know if the actions of any one monkey will result in a flood, because we don’t have enough data.

    I just think that the global warming stuff is like a monoculture, stifling all other problems we face. It has become a soundbite, and doesn’t necessarily mean the same to the sheep as it does to many here. It’s a meme created by a few with a very bad agenda, and is extremely difficult to separate from that agenda when talking about it.

    And my main point is that we don’t need it as a reason to do permaculture. It’s like the word ‘gay’ used to mean something else, but you can’t use it for that any more. Referring to Global Warming or Climate Change (such a stupid name, as if climate would stay the same – see, now inculcated fear of something as certain as changing climate will be an excuse to tax us, exterminate us or anything in between!) without at the same time speaking out against the owners of that trademark, is counter-productive because it just adds credence to the globalists and their stultifying agenda when used on its own.

    Tied in with it is the idea that ordinary people are helpless and need experts to decide things for them. All the talk is about Scientists and complicated stuff we just would not understand. As if somehow a bunch of scientists could understand the world!

    Science is a wonderful tool, but so is a hammer. The fact that you use a certain tool doesn’t make you clever, it’s what you use it for, and what you make with it. A scientist who tells you AGW is ‘settled’ doesn’t know how to use the tool called science, and is thus not really qualified to make pronouncements. An honest person will tell you “I don’t know”. Whatever you think is likely, surely honesty is more important in judging the motives of those to whom we will give respect?

    It seems that anyone who wants to point out that we do not know enough is accused of denial. In this sick society of arrogance and self-importance, the idea that we are a bunch of ignorant bipeds running around on a big ball of something-or-other in a universe we could not even begin to imagine the scope of is not popular. Thus we babble about what little we DO know, to make us feel important. But it’s all just “so much dust in the wind to fill the eyes of those who would see.”

    Andy

    Reply
  14. Pete

    Marcin: you wrote “When it’s hot then the air can hold more water vapour. If there is more CO2 in the air it makes the air a bit more warmer. For this reason air will be able to hold more water vapour which is a potent greenhouse gas. This mechanism is called a positive feedback.”

    I should have said the models ASSUME NET positive feedback ;)

    Water vapout being 10,000 times more effective as a GHG pretty much negates any effect a few parts per million “extra” Co2 would have IMO. Extra Co2 causing extra water vapour in your scenario would lead to ever increasing temps only going up, something not observed in the real world, or in the geologic record, ever.

    The reason we don’t see ever increasing temps is because extra water vapour means more cloud cover, preventing the Sun’s radiation being absorbed by the Earth as it is reflected back to space, this is called negative feedback.

    What is the net effect? Science has yet to “prove” which mechanism is dominant, but it seems likely that a dominant positive feedback would have left evidence in the geologic record in the last 500 million years, where temps just kept going up, especially at times where Co2 levels were 10 times todays levels.

    This evidence does not exist. Ergo, it seems more likely there is net negative feedback (there is evidence for ice ages, but no evidence for scorched earth). To assume a net positive feedback is not scientific, no matter how they claim the science is settled.
    We could in fact offer another scenario, one where climate mechanisms cancel each other out, always trying to reach a level of equilibrium, but not quite reaching it as the power source is not constant (The Sun). Evidence for this would be climate changing from warm to cold and back again over the geologic record, which we do see.

    Out of the 3 scenarios, there is evidence for net negative feedback, or evidence for net equilibrium with small changes driven by changes in the sun, but the is zero evidence for net positive feedback.

    If you really want to know where the science is settled, and where there are doubts, watch this very civilised debate between two top climate scientists, one sceptic, one non sceptic, I think they agree on 98% of subjects touched.

    http://www.tvo.org/TVO/WebObjects/TVO.woa?videoid?71356252001

    Reply
  15. Reasic

    Hello, everyone. I have read through the entire article and all of the comments so far, and have noticed several egregious errors that I believe MUST be corrected.

    Pete:

    2. Satellite measurements show cooling in the upper atmosphere due to heat radiating back to space being trapped by CO2. >>>completely refuting the “greenhouse” theory, which predicts trapped heat in the upper atmosphere!

    Absolutely NOT!! The greenhouse theory predicts that CO2 will cause an increase in temperature in the troposphere, and a decrease in the stratosphere. This is exactly what is happening. If an increase in solar activity were the primary cause for warming, we would expect to see uniform warming throughout the atmosphere.

    …to encourage use of climate scare tactics after the “ice age” scare (the first time they tried this mechanism) failed during the heatwave summer of 76.

    I get tired of seeing this same old often debunked argument. Climate scientists did not make conjure up an ice age scare. Yes, there were a handful of articles in newspapers or magazines, but the climate research being done at the time still pointed to warming. This is a false representation of the situation.

    it started with an independent statistician (climateaudit.org) completely debunking Manns false hockey stick graph (again) whilst fighting tooth and nail for 8 years to get access to raw data to begin to check the science, which has STILL not been forthcoming.

    Two things on this one:

    1. The “hockey stick” has not been debunked. In fact, it has been supported by other independent paleoclimate studies. Yes, M&M found a small statistical error in Mann’s original work, but that was since incorporated, and the net result was negligible.

    2. McKitrick’s issue isn’t over raw data. That is readily available. He wants methods, calculations, algorithms, code, etc., which is extremely uncommon in the scientific community. Actually, the fact that he is asking for these things is, in a way, proof that he is looking for something to nitpick and blow out of proportion, rather than for the truth. If a scientist wants to validate another scientists’ work in a field, he takes the raw data and performs his own analysis, using his own methods.

    That’s all I have time for right now, but I’ll be back.

    Reply
  16. Andy

    It’s with embarrassment that I admit that until relatively recently I was an ardent defender of all the global warming stuff. I parroted the ‘science’ in numerous arguments, that went on and on forever. I lambasted the ‘antis’ with personal attacks regarding the source of their funding. I did all the stuff.

    But then I started to actually listen to the other side, even the right wingers, and you know what? Most ordinary folks want the same things we do. Right or left wing, it’s all the same bird, a massive trick so you don’t look at who is pulling the strings. There’s only right and wrong, and anyone claiming human induced climate change is proven scientific fact is just wrong, simple as that. It’s a possibility, that’s all.

    To base your actions on a falsehood is folly. Especially when there are things like desertification which we can demonstrate can be reversed by taking relatively simple measures based on sound science and many millennia of tried and tested human knowledge. As a bonus, those measures would help the planet to cope with all the stresses, both known and unknown to us, that the cosmos as a whole brings to bear on it.

    It’s very clear to me that it is not worth me putting any effort into promoting the idea of global warming, because it is already totally entwined with carbon taxes and various other scams. and because there are plenty of other issues which are not muddied by the greed of the oligarchs. To promote it only adds to the simplistic and consumption-increasing propaganda in all our schools and mainstream media, (e.g. 5 different plastic bins instead of one) and it can’t be separated now from the tyrannical “solutions” that are starting to be implemented. I can’t even really say that I think it may be a factor, and may cause Very Bad Stuff, but I don’t know how much or when, because that will just be adding to the support for the scientific lie that it is proven.

    Most people think I believe humans are not responsible for climate change. That just shows how impossible it is to get a non-simplistic view across, and reinforces my determination not to spend much time on it.

    Can’t we just get on with it and ignore the ‘talking points’ provided for us by the corporate media?

    Why even bother to associate ourselves with such a bunch of braying, posturing idiots? We don’t need to.

    Reply
  17. Andy

    Ooh-er, I just realized how that sounds! The bunch of braying, posturing idiots I was referring to are the Politicians, specially the ones making vast sums out of climate change (what a scam, how can they lose?), and the politicians who work as heads of research and call themselves scientists. The ones caught playing dirty tricks and suppressing the work of others.

    I thought it was obvious, but reading through, it isn’t. Sorry!

    Reply
  18. Marcin Gerwin

    Andy, solar irradiance has been measured by more than one method, and I can’t see a correlation between changes in solar irradiance and currently observed warming:
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/images/deepsolarminimum/irradiance.jpg

    Pete, you write that there is no evidence for increased CO2 levels and increased temperatures in the past. How so? What about the studies of pliocene? See this article for example:
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n1/full/ngeo736.html

    The estimated atmospheric CO2 levels based upon fossil records on
    give the order of only 360–420 ppmv for the warm Early Pliocene period, and “global temperatures about 3–4° C warmer than today in the low latitudes, and up to 10° C warmer nearer the poles”.

    As I read, in the Cretaceous period (144 to 65 million years ago) the temperatures were much higher than today, the temperature of tropical Atlantic could have reached 42°C (107.6°C), and in the subpolar South Atlantic, near the Falkland Islands, sea surface temperatures could have averaged 32°C (89.6°C), and that’s looks pretty hot to me. For more on this subject see “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas. The data for the ocean temperatures comes from the article by Hugh Jenkyns et al. from Nature:
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v432/n7019/full/nature03143.html

    Reply
  19. Pete

    Reasic, or anyone else thinking “The “hockey stick” has not been debunked” really should catch up.

    see: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1906768358?ie=UTF8&tag=bishil-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=1906768358

    “Part scientific history and part detective story, The Hockey Stick Illusion tells the extraordinary tale of the iconic global warming graph (created by the US climatologist Michael Mann), the global panic about climate change that it has helped to feed, and the tireless efforts of a lone amateur researcher, Steve McIntyre, that have comprehensively discredited it. From the earliest attempts to reproduce the Hockey Stick graph, to the explosive publication of McIntyre’s work and the launch of a congressional inquiry, The Hockey Stick Illusion is a remarkable tale of scientific misconduct and amateur sleuthing. It explains the complex science of this most controversial of scientific findings in layperson’s language and lays bare the remarkable extent to which climatologists have been willing to break their own rules in order to defend climate science’s most famous finding. Already acclaimed by experts in the field, The Hockey Stick Illusion is an indispensable guide for anyone wanting to assess the credibility of global warming science.”

    Or earlier stuff from Monkton http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/monckton/what_hockey_stick.html

    Marcin: did you watch the video debate?

    Global warming caused by Co2 is just one theory. There are plenty of counter theories, which are just as scientifically valid, no theories are scientifically “proven” from either side of the debate, but counter theories only get a small portion of the scientific funding. Huge questions remain as the actual level of temp change, and to potential effects, and weather those effects are indeed bad/worse or good/better (e.g. crop yields, lower death rates in winter etc.).

    Anyone, scientist or not, claiming to fully understand climate science, and saying “the science is settled” is clearly driven by something other than facts.

    The point really, is weather Permaculture needs AGW as a crutch?

    Especially when that crutch is supporting the globalist agenda, which is causing further poverty and misery for indigenous peoples in the name of AGW, and therefore has the potential to harm any movement associated with it should the crutch collapse.

    Reply
  20. Reasic

    I have time for one more correction:

    CRU’s temp chronology has been fiddled to the point they had to claim they lost the raw data to avoid being caught out. The whole GW issues credibility rests on that data as ALL other chronologies use the data produced at CRU (although NASA etc. fiddle it some more).

    The subject of CRU data is one that is unfortunately greatly misunderstood among “skeptics”. Here are some facts regarding that situation:

    1. 95% of the data was untouched, and is readily available. Therefore, the claim that “all” or “most” of the data was manipulated or deleted is ocmpletely false.

    2. Of the remaining 5%, adjustments were only made where necessary, such as to account for changes in the location or time of day of the temperature measurements. You can agree that if, for instance, a met station changes the time of day that measurements are recorded, there should be a correction up or down to ensure that the temperature record remains consistent, right?

    3. The temperature information provided by the CRU is only one of several independent sets of data, and they have all already been shown to be in agreement prior to any of this. The implication by all of this Climategate nonsense is that there was some wrongdoing on the part of the scientists at the CRU, which resulted in an exaggerated temperature increase. However, if the CRU data matches nicely with other independent temperature records, and even with satellite measurements, one must also prove that all of the others are corrupted.

    4. The small percentage of raw temperature data that was deleted is still available via either the national meteorological services in the UK or the NCDC in the US. No raw data has vanished from the planet.

    Ocean acidification? “consider that corals became common in the oceans during the Ordovician Era – nearly 500 million years ago – when atmospheric CO2 levels were about 10X greater than they are today. Perhaps corals are not so tough as they used to be?

    Yes, acidification is considered a threat to corals, but I believe you’ve missed the point for bringing it up. Ocean acidification also serves as proof that there is excess CO2 in the atmosphere — so much so that the natural carbon sinks, such as the ocean, cannot keep up. Under normal circumstances, as the planet warms, the oceans’ ability to absorb CO2 increases. However, CO2 is being pumped into the atmosphere at such a rate that the oceans have absorbed excess CO2, which is causing acidification. This is further proof that human emissions are the cause of increases in atmospheric CO2 content.

    Reply
  21. Andy

    Hi Marcin, despite the existence of irradiance measurements that support either camp, other planets were rising in temperature as earth was. But my point isn’t in the details, (that’s where the devil is!), we can get lost there and need to see the bigger picture.

    seems to me that most people who are concerned, where years ago we were all on about loads of different things, now we’re spending an inordinate amount of time and energy on this one thing, at the expense of everything else. And this happens to be the one thing that the elite can continue to make money and more importantly, increase their power and domination over us.

    People think we could deal with the dictatorship later, if it even happens, but remember how difficult it was to get rid of Hitler, or Stalin, or any of the others. Now imagine a global Hitler, with no Britain or US to oppose him? If we keep arguing about the nitty gritty details of something that can’t even be proven, we’re just playing into their hands.

    Example, if I were to say gravity doesn’t exist, the argument would not last long, and people’s attention would be free to pursue other things. But with climate, they can safely tie us up in arguments and conferences and research for ever, as long as it takes. In the meantime, the energy and time of all those good and competent people who could be making a real difference is just dissipated into something that they control the outcome of.

    Taking either side in this staged debate is fitting in to the agenda of those in power. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be prominent in the media they own. Ordinary people are becoming suspicious of those media, and they are struggling to keep going, but if grassroots greens are seen to support the AGW theory, it adds support to the whole thing. Meantime all kinds of bad stuff is happening, and people are being led to believe that it must, because you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

    The least harmful people on the planet are being affected already by the carbon scam, and more and worse will follow if we don’t stop it. See this:
    http://tribalnetworks.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/moves-to-stop-global-warming-are-devastating-tribal-people/
    and the most recent post
    http://tribalnetworks.wordpress.com/

    Reply
  22. Marcin Gerwin

    Andy, are you trying to say that the data provided by NASA on solar irradiance is wrong? Could you please point where their mistake is? You write also that the other planets are warming up. Do you mean Mars?
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-on-mars.htm

    Pete, I didn’t watch the movie, and please forgive me, but I don’t have the intention of doing so. If there is a counter theory to explain why the climate is warming, could you please post a link to the article in a scientific magazine? (Svensmark and cosmic rays do not count – debunked a long time ago).

    With regards to Michal Mann’s hockey stick, you can check if it is still valid here:
    http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/paltman/melting_climategate_the_vindic.html

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/02/04/penn-state-michael-mann-hockey-stick-science/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/06/national-academies-synthesis-report/

    Reply
  23. Andy

    Marcin,

    Your post was a revelation to me. Believe it or not I had exactly the same argument from the other side, years ago. I was arguing that it was nonsense and not true, and producing evidence to that effect, and then others were producing evidence that made it appear true.

    This more than anything else indicates to me that be best thing to do with this argument is steer clear of it. It is never-ending and irrelevant. I don’t need big-budget big-mouth academics who have slithered their way to the top of the heap to help me decide what our problems are.

    Why, when I try to make a point, do I get side-tracked into nitty gritty details that have absolutely no bearing on my point, which in this case, and this time around is that nothing is proven and thus the people who are claiming to have proven it are liars?

    I don’t take either side, it is a stupid argument with no hope of resolution anytime soon, and if it ever is, it is looking to me like it will be the cockroaches who solve it, after a generation or two of cockroach laughter as they discover our fossilized remains and see what we were doing.

    Andy

    I am sorry now that I joined in!
    Andy

    Reply
  24. Reasic

    Andy,

    Why, when I try to make a point, do I get side-tracked into nitty gritty details that have absolutely no bearing on my point…

    That’s because you keep spouting incorrect denialist talking points.

    …which in this case, and this time around is that nothing is proven and thus the people who are claiming to have proven it are liars?

    Could you do me a favor? Could you state, very specifically, what you think is being claimed to have been “proven”, and by whom it has been claimed?

    The reason I ask is I am afraid you may be confusing two very different issues: the presentation of facts by scientists and statements referring to the case for AGW made by public figures. The statement used by the IPCC is: “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” They do not use definitive terms like “proven” or “consensus”. However, the IPCC statement does accurately describe the fact that the vast majority of evidence supports the theory that human greenhouse gas emissions are primarily responsible for most of the warming in recent decades. Do you disagree with this statement?

    Reply
  25. Andy

    “That’s because you keep spouting incorrect denialist talking points.”

    Two souls were on the way up to heaven, and they saw two eagles. “Ahhh… eagles!” they said.

    But the eagles were too polite to reply.

    Reply
  26. Marcin Gerwin

    Andy, measurements of solar irradiance are not a minor detail that can be ignored. If the data provided by different NASA satellites is correct, than you cannot say that the Earth (and other planets) are heating up because of increased solar activity.

    Reply
  27. Pete

    What do AGW proponents want to achieve as Permaculturists by wearing the AGW hat? Seriously?

    I wonder if it is exactly the same as sceptic Permaculturists.

    Reply
  28. Craig Mackintosh

    Hi Pete. It’s not about wearing hats. It’s about a search for truth. That’s all truths. Facts are facts. Just because industry may use the current situation to their advantage, wherever they can, doesn’t mean we should ignore scientific facts. Only if we truly see what’s happening, can we competently design our way out of the situation.

    Most skeptics are wary of controlling powers and draconian legislation. But this is where I think people aren’t thinking clearly – because as the climate changes, but skeptics lull the majority into apathy (Monckton says “we should have the courage to do nothing”), then things will get so bad that the majority will ultimately beg and scream for governments to implement draconian measures to deal with an unravelling situation.

    I’m not for carbon trading. Please be clear on that. I’m not for centralised government or industry. Please be clear on that. And I understand well what needs to be done to put ‘Gaia’ back on the right track, and thus reverse climate change, build soils, and create a platform upon which we can build a sustainable, peaceful, human habitat. But none of these things negate our need to know the facts about our present predicament – whether that be climate change, peak oil, the rise of fascism, water depletion, soil erosion, chemical contamination, nuclear proliferation, whatever…. We should remain lucid and continue to educate ourselves on as many issues as we have time for, because only if we understand the problem can we turn it into a solution.

    I raise awareness and keep tabs on this issue because we need to take a grass roots understanding of biology and natural systems, and drive it into the mainstream citizenry, who are by and large totally detached from any understanding of them. Waking them up on climate change, whilst providing them with solutions, is an efficient way of helping to transition a society that generally doesn’t seem to give a damn.

    Be aware, our forum is for avid permies to talk about everything in the garden, or whatever. Our main blog page is for both permies, but also for recruiting new permies – by helping them SEE THE NEED for permaculture. We not just preaching to the converted here – we’re trying to make new converts. If we just sit in a little huddle, as permies, but don’t evangelise, we’re all screwed – as the planet will continue to unravel around us if we can’t drive permaculture thinking into the mainstream.

    Thanks to Reasic, Marcin and others for piping up here. I am preparing for a trip and have not been able to follow up on this thread in the way I would like.

    Reply
  29. Pete

    As Andy says, we could all post links at each other forever without getting anywhere…

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VHB-4WXBMG5-4&_user=10&_coverDate=12%2F31%2F2009&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=8ee5863452f208bf6ed3ae2d3ed93a9a

    Empirical analysis of the solar contribution to global mean air surface temperature change: Nicola Scafetta
    “Since 1980 the solar contribution to climate change is uncertain because of the severe uncertainty of the total solar irradiance satellite composites. The sun may have caused from a slight cooling, if PMOD TSI composite is used, to a significant warming (up to 65% of the total observed warming) if ACRIM, or other TSI composites are used. “
    =============================================================
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2008GL036307.shtml

    ACRIM-gap and TSI trend issue resolved using a surface magnetic flux TSI proxy model:Nicola Scafetta :Richard C. Willson

    …demonstrate a significant TSI increase of 0.033 %/decade between the solar activity minima of 1986 and 1996, comparable to the 0.037 % found in the ACRIM composite.
    ===============================================================
    http://economics.huji.ac.il/facultye/beenstock/Nature_Paper091209.pdf (pdf warining)
    Polynomial Cointegration Tests of the Anthropogenic Theory of Global Warming:Michael Beenstock and Yaniv Reingewertz – Department of Economics, The Hebrew University, Mount Scopus, Israel.
    “We show that although greenhouse gas forcings share a common stochastic trend, this trend is empirically independent of the stochastic trend in temperature and solar irradiance. Therefore, greenhouse gas forcings, global temperature and solar irradiance are not polynomially cointegrated, and AGW is refuted. “
    ======================================================

    Can we move this debate on to what we hope to achieve?

    Reply
  30. Pete

    Craig: But the “truth” will only be forthcoming after the event.

    “Facts are facts. Just because industry may use the current situation to their advantage, wherever they can, doesn’t mean we should ignore scientific facts.”

    Facts can be chosen to present either side of this debate, we won’t know which facts become truth until after the event (or non event) and even then we won’t be 100% sure. Choosing what may turn out to be false facts and assumptions has potential consequences, and very real consequences now.

    I believe you are not for carbon trading, not for centralised government or industry, and I expect you’re not for impoverishing indigenous people, de-forestation of the Amazon, or global tax slavery. But can you not agree that by allowing permaculture to be wrapped in the cloak of AGW propaganda you are indirectly supporting the agenda you are so against?

    I presume we’re on a similar page regarding Peak Oil, this is from http://www.energybulletin.net/node/52068

    “We outline the implications for climate change. A major collapse in greenhouse gas is expected, though may be impossible to quantitatively model. This may reduce the risks of severe climate change impacts. However the relative ability to cope with the impacts of climate change will be much greater as we will be much poorer with much reduced resilience.”

    Which makes any political stance on AGW irrelevant, limits to growth will by far exceed any Co2 reduction scheme, far faster than any political oir grass roots solution.

    I think we could bring more people into permaculture by highlighting Peak Oil, soil erosion, & pollution rather than AGW, at least that way we would be doing more good than harm, because otherwise we would be supporting the globalist agenda.

    Permaculture does not need this crutch, and by supporting it we are harming ‘Gaia’ because we’re not out there lobbying for re-forestation, nicotine pesticide bans to prevent CCD (bees), or a dozen more worthy schemes which don’t also fight for the globalists at the same time. Any good we bring by being under the AGW banner will be far outweighed by supporting the globalist agenda.

    And lets not delude ourselves into thinking that we can fly the AGW banner without supporting the globalists.

    Reply
  31. Craig Mackintosh

    Hi Pete, we are so close to being on the same page it’s encouraging. :)

    I agree with almost all you say, but:

    1) I’m not ‘wrapping’ permaculture in anything. I’m maintaining a site that keeps track of important current events. My reason, as Reasic expressed, for bringing up ocean acidification, for example, is to show that the world is currently dealing with more CO2 than it can handle. It can’t handle it both because we’re pouring more of it into the atmosphere than humans ever have, and because we’ve removed all the biological systems that might have had a chance at dealing with it (soils, grasslands, forests, etc.).
    2) The peak oil aspect I agree with you – EXCEPT, if the mainstream citizenry don’t understand the roots of climate change, they will solve the wrong problems. Instead of replacing our current energy intensive system with low tech replacements that harness biological synergies, they will (they are already) replace oil with even more polluting technologies like liquid coal:

    http://www.celsias.com/article/coal-to-liquids-the-fuel-from-hell/

    This is fuel that can be used in planes, cars, trucks. All made from coal.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal#Liquefaction

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSSP13361320080604

    From a climate change perspective, this is a disaster – twice the CO2 emissions, not to mention massive water usage, and aerosol contaminants, etc.

    People who don’t understand the actual problem will supply the wrong ‘solutions’. Nuclear is another.

    The entire system we live in today is patently unsound. It requires a complete overhaul. Just getting a few people busy in their gardens on the weekend is not going to cut it. It will end in major resource grabs, war, revolution, etc. etc.

    Sorry, but you won’t budge me on this. Almost all scientists who are actually in the field of climate science (unlike Hadi Dowlatabadi, who is not, as you described, a ‘top climate scientist’ at all, but a mathematician – and that discussion was in no way representative of a debate of opposing views on climate change but more a tea party between a couple of pals as far as I can see) agree that current global warming is human induced. After following this for four years now, I only see skeptics playing into the hands of government – as government can’t figure out how to continue perpetual growth economics whilst at the same time reducing energy consumption. Skeptics are saying they don’t have to find a solution to this impossible dilemma, which is EXACTLY what governments want to hear from their constituents. But we do have to – and for more reasons than just climate change (as important as that is).

    Everything within the biosphere works as a system. On this point I totally agree with Lovelock. It’s clear we’ve cleared most of the world’s forests, which messes with the earth’s CO2 equilibrium (specifically, sequestration). It’s clear we’ve ploughed up much of the soil underneath, releasing vast quantities of CO2. It’s clear the oceans are acidifying, clear evidence they’re taking up too much excess CO2. It’s clear that temperatures are rising, and it’s clear that this is occuring despite the aerosols that shade us from the sun’s rays.

    We’ve messed with the system. It’s out of balance.

    We can’t say this excess CO2 has nothing to do with humans. It is a direct condsequence of our actions, particularly over the last millennium.

    If we ignore this, again, we will perpetuate the situation by replacing oil with coal and nuclear, and try to beat that dying horse we call perpetual-growth capitalism into taking a few more steps forward.

    AGW is not a ‘crutch’ for permaculture. Rather, it fits squarely into our ‘Why Permaculture?’ category you’ll find in the categories section of our sidebar (along with GMOs and Peak Oil, etc.). Permaculture is the solution. It doesn’t require crutches. But people, again, won’t apply the solution if they can’t see the problem. Or, if they have an incorrect grasp of the problem, they will supply the wrong solution – i.e. just ‘patch’ the system and continue. That will not be permaculture, and it will likely be a lot worse scenario than we have even today….

    So, I say, don’t play into the globalists’ hands….

    Reply
  32. Reasic

    Andy,

    I want to clarify that I’m not trying to be disrespectful or rude. You asked why you get bogged down in other arguments that you believe have nothing to do with your main point, and my honest answer is that you keep throwing out false assertions in addition to your main point.

    For instance, you claimed that other planets are warming as well, which is obviously evidence used by “skeptics” to support the argument that changes in solar irradiance are causing recent warming. However, this is wrong on several levels. First of all, most people who make this argument are referring to Mars, which has been found to have decreasing ice caps. However, it has been determined that Mars is going through a cycle that is similar to our Milankovitch Cycle, in which the planet’s orbit changes slightly. In addition to that, solar irradiance has not been at a high. Also, solar irradiance changes by less than 0.1% over extremely regular 11-year cycles. There’s no way this has had any more than a minimal effect on our climate.

    You have said yourself: “to base your actions on a falsehood is folly”. I agree wholeheartedly. If statements such as this are not important to making your case, then don’t make them, because what happens is, I will see it and think that you are ill-informed, and will therefore try to correct the record, which leads to us going down a tangent that is unimportant to you.

    I know you’re doing good things for the environment, and I applaud you for that. If you want to just leave it at that and agree to disagree on climate change, I’m fine with that. However, if you would like to specifically discuss your main argument about AGW, which it seemed was that “nothing is proven and thus the people who are claiming to have proven it are liars”, I would love to discuss that with you. Should you decide to have this discussion, I would want more info from you, to understand who you think has made this claim, who you think they represent, and what you think they’ve based it on.

    As I said before, there are two very different groups of people, in nsome cases, making very different claims about our climate. Public figures are typically more alarmist and absolute in their declarations than what is written in scientific literature. I try to stick to what can be found in scientific literature. For instance, all that the recent summary for policymakers says is: “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” They do not use definitive terms like “proven” or “consensus”. However, the IPCC statement does accurately describe the fact that the vast majority of evidence supports the theory that human greenhouse gas emissions are primarily responsible for most of the warming in recent decades. Do you disagree with this statement?

    Finally, I’d like to be sure you understand, too, that I don’t think that the planet will be a literal wasteland or ball of flames in several years if we don’t act now. That seems to be a strawman that has been set up by many who disagree, for various reasons. However, I do understand that we are changing our climate for the worse, and that slowly but surely, as the planet continues to warm, there will be greater consequences for various people, such as increased famine in areas of Africa, exctinction of some species, migration of people from low-lying areas inland, disputes over scarce resources, etc. Don’t we already have enough hunger and depravity in the world? Do we really want to plow ahead toward a future in which such things are even more commonplace?

    Thanks for your comments, and I hope I haven’t offended you. I genuinely want to better understand your point of view and discuss it with you.

    Reply
  33. Reasic

    Two more points on solar irradiance:

    Pete, I read over your Scafetta paper, and found an interesting commentary:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/05/acrim-vs-pmod/

    There are basically two recent, contradictory papers on this subject. You’ve chosen, for obvious reasons, to supply only the one which with you agree. However, there is a right answer, and I don’t know that everyone’s agreed on what that is yet. The disagreement here is on whether the TSI (total solar irradiance) data should be adjusted over the gap in data from the two ACRIM instruments. I look forward to watching this play out in the scientific literature.

    Finally, I want to reiterate that a lot of this talk about solar irradiance having potentially a major impact on recent warming ignores a very important fact: that the stratosphere has been cooling. This is a predicted response to an increased presence of CO2 in the higher atmosphere, and the opposite of what one might expect if the Sun were causing most of our warming. If solar irradiance were primarily responsible for warming, we would expect to see a more uniform distribution of heat throughout the atmosphere.

    Reply
  34. pete

    Mercin, this should give a better idea why/where Scafetta and Schmidt disagree. http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/nicola-scafetta-comments-on-solar-trends-and-global-warming-by-benestad-and-schmidt/

    The point wasn’t to “prove” or “disprove” anything, the point was to show scientists disagree on the fundamental causes, disagree on the fundamental foundation of AGW. Now you can choose to believe either, but belief is not science, or “proof” or “fact”.

    Craig: Note how the scientists were disagreeing on mathematical methods. Were you saying we should not involve specialist statisticians & mathematicians in climate science, that mathematics has no bearing in climate science, or that a mathematician who is employed as Canada Research Chair & Professor of Applied Mathematics and Global Change, has no valid opinion on climate science, or something else?

    Can anyone point me to a single piece of evidence showing higher atmospheric Co2 levels mean significantly higher temperatures?

    Reply
  35. Reasic

    Pete,

    The point wasn’t to “prove” or “disprove” anything, the point was to show scientists disagree on the fundamental causes, disagree on the fundamental foundation of AGW. Now you can choose to believe either, but belief is not science, or “proof” or “fact”.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be saying that there are basically two right answers, neither of which we should choose to “believe”, which means there is no answer. That seems very strange. My take is that there is a correct answer. Scientists may disagree, but what does their research prove? So far we have a published rebuttal to Scafetta’s work, and Scafetta’s response on a blog. I look forward to seeing Scafetta’s published response, with calcuations to back up his assertions.

    Craig: Note how the scientists were disagreeing on mathematical methods. Were you saying we should not involve specialist statisticians & mathematicians in climate science, that mathematics has no bearing in climate science, or that a mathematician who is employed as Canada Research Chair & Professor of Applied Mathematics and Global Change, has no valid opinion on climate science, or something else?

    No, Craig’s point was that you claimed the video you posted was a debate between “two top climate scientists”, when that was not the case. The point was not that mathematicians have no place in climate science, but rather that you misrepresented your evidence. The scientist in question may have valid opinions on climate science, but that doesn’t make him a “top climate scientist”. Lindzen is one of today’s most well-known climate skeptics. I’ve never heard of the other guy.

    Can anyone point me to a single piece of evidence showing higher atmospheric Co2 levels mean significantly higher temperatures?

    That’s the problem. This isn’t an extremely simple issue, which has one sinlge piece of evidence for you to look at. This is very complex. The scientific research behind the idea that human emissions are primarily responsible for recent warming is summed up in the IPCC Working Group I report. Particularly, you should examine the section on detection and attribution studies.

    Reply
  36. Marcin Gerwin

    Pete, the evidence showing higher atmospheric CO2 levels mean significantly higher temperatures is actually pretty straightforward :)

    1. CO2 is a heat-trapping gas, which can be verified even in a school laboratory. The more CO2 is in the air the more heat it traps.

    2. Since you can measure the level of CO2 in the air, you can calculate how much heat it traps. The amount of CO2 in the air has increased in the atmosphere since the beginning of industrial revolution by around 30%. You can calculate that it translates into an increase in forcing by around 1.5 watts. If you would like to play with a model that simulates the emission and absorption of infrared radiation in the atmosphere, here you go:
    http://geoflop.uchicago.edu/forecast/docs/Projects/modtran.html

    3. 1.5 watts is not much, so what’s the fuss all about? It’s about the feedbacks… Increased water vapour concentration, albedo change, polar ice melt, permafrost melt, etc. Increased of level of greenhouse gases jump starts all of them.

    4. How can one prove that a small change in forcings can have a dramatic output? By looking into the past. The ice ages were triggered by tiny changes in the shape of Earth’s orbit of less than 1 watt on global annual average. This caused feedbacks that brought in change in forcings of 6.5 watts, consisting of 3.5 watts from a change of surface reflectivity and 3 watts from a change of atmospheric gases (source: James Hansen, “Storms of My Grandchildren, p. 71). And, as you probably well understand, an ice age is not a mild change of the weather. It is a major shift in global climate with a thick ice sheet reaching down to Europe. And now, by increasing concentration of greenhouse gases (not just CO2, but also methane, N2O, SF6 and CFCs), by cutting down forests and emitting soot (black carbon), we have started the chain reaction for heating up the planet.

    Reply
  37. Pete

    Now we’re debating semantics?

    Reasic

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be saying that there are basically two right answers, neither of which we should choose to “believe”, which means there is no answer.

    There are basically 2 theories not answers (actually more but we’ll concentrate on these two for this semantic diversion) neither are proved right or wrong, one may be wrong, both may be wrong, but both cannot be corret – hence the science is NOT settled.

    Forgive me for mis-announcing Hadi Dowlatabadi, Canada Research Chair & Professor of Applied Mathematics and Global Change at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia. Where he deals with governance, decision making and risk analysis focusing on integrated analyses of for example the built environment, energy, ecosystem services and water resources…If we look at the phd students who’s work he’s responsible for checking we see PhD students:

    ON THE THEME OF CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION & ADAPTATION,Conceptions of justice in mitigation and adaptation to climate change, Criteria pollutant emissions and micro-analysis of technology and operational choices in public transit. Environmental and techno-economic analysis of ground-source heat systems”. Water management in the Okanagan. An integrated assessment of the effects of environmental regulation, land use changes and market forces on the Mexican leather and footwear industries’ restructuring.” Adapting conservation policy to the impacts of climate change: an integrated examination of ecological and social dimensions of change”Adapting to climate change in the arctic region.”

    Yeah sorry for calling him a top climate scientist, clearly he just plays one in his professional life, what was I thinking!

    Now, can we try to be a little more focused on the debate and address what he had to say? maybe not, clearly nobody wants to.
    ==================================================================

    An interesting piece appeared in the news today, which says much more eloquently some of what I was trying to say, this from a PRO AGW scientist, it at least deserves a full read and some further thought from the PC community IMO.

    John Michael Wallace is a professor and former chairman of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington and a former co-director of the university’s Program on the Environment.

    Beyond climate change: Reframing the dialogue over environmental issues:

    It’s tempting to blame the media for fixating on global warming, but we climate scientists are partly to blame for the misplaced emphasis. Over the past 20 years we have stood by and watched as governmental and nongovernmental organizations that deal with environmental issues became more and more narrowly focused on the long-term impacts of global warming.

    Meanwhile, more imminent issues relating to the sustainability of our planet’s life-support system under the pressures of growing human population and the widening gap between rich and poor are not getting the attention they deserve.

    By failing to foster creation of robust, broad-based advisory mechanisms, we have allowed the IPCC assessment reports to become the dominant vehicle for representing the views of the scientific community on a widening range of environmental issues. In the IPCC terminology, symptoms of environmental degradation, regardless of their cause, are labeled as impacts of climate change, and the societal response to them is framed in terms of mitigating and adapting to climate change.

    Scientists still write papers and speak to the media about environmental concerns outside of the purview of the IPCC, but with so much of the world’s attention riveted on climate change there is a lack of institutional infrastructure for calling attention to other issues….

    The current stalemate is likely to persist as long as scientists allow climate change to dominate the environmental policy agenda. In order to promote a more productive dialogue between scientists and policymakers, the discussion of adaptation and mitigation options in the policy arena needs to be reframed so that it addresses environmental degradation and sustainability in the broad sense, not just the impacts of climate change.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2011453141_guest28wallace.html

    The fact that Co2 emissions will crash anyway, because we’re on the downslope of hubberts peak, really makes me wonder why anyone peak aware flies the globalist AGW banner at all.

    AGW is clearly a disaster, not because temps may rise a bit, but because it has diverted almost every environmental activist away from environmental activism

    The biggest non problem mankind ever faced, it’s worse than we thought! Think of the children!

    Reply
  38. Pete

    Marcin I think we cross posted, thank you for those wonderful theories involving sealed glass jars in classrooms (I don’t need to point out the earth is not sealed in glass do I), but unfortunately I asked for evidence.

    Evidence: you know, like showing cause and effect. like maybe from the ice cores showing raising Co2 in the geological past made temperature rise. Opps the evidence on that one show temps make Co2 rise!

    http://joannenova.com.au/global-warming/ice-core-graph/

    Cause and effect – temps rise >>>> then Co2 rises, simples.

    To make the question clearer, I’ll ask for evidence showing higher atmospheric CO2 levels mean significantly higher temperatures on earth, not in some sealed glass jar in a classroom. Thanks.

    Reply
  39. Thomas Fischbacher

    Pete,

    You write:

    “Cause and effect – temps rise — then Co2 rises, simples.”

    Well, if it’s that simple then I wonder why we have fire brigades. After all, the numbers clearly show that the overwhelming majority of people first die, and then catch fire later (in a crematorium), rather than the other way round, i.e. first catch fire, and then die as a result of that. So, isn’t it very clear that fire comes after death, and hence, fire cannot be a case of death?

    Reply
  40. Pete

    Thomas: in line with your analogy, it is equally as good as saying the earth has warmed 0.7 degrees, and Co2 has increased some parts per million, therefore man is responsible for warming so lets all wave the AGW flag for carbon tax and forget ANY other environmental cause, whilst ignoring that there is zero scientific evidence that more Co2 will cause significant atmospheric warming of climate, and ignoring the geologic FACTUAL evidence where Ice cores show Co2 rise has historically followed a rise in temperature throughout geologic history.

    But thanks for the weirdest analogy I’ve ever heard in relation to climate change though.

    You intellect is clearly far superior to mine if your post makes any sense to you.

    I can not possibly debate on this level.

    Reply
  41. Thomas Fischbacher

    Pete,

    yes, you are perfectly right. The fire brigade example is bizarre logic. But – sadly – it just parallels the bizarreness of your argument.

    Reply
  42. Craig Mackintosh

    Pete: I don’t disagree with you that we can be so focussed on one problem we don’t see the others. That’s why this site endeavours to focus on them all, and to also show how they cannot be isolated – that they interact with and exacerbate each other. You’ll note, if you click through our category section, that climate change is only one of many topics we cover. We try to cover each topic holistically – trying to avoid the reductionism that got us into this mess in the first place.

    So, be aware that we are not ‘diverting environmental activists’ away from their activism, but rather seeking to provide the broadest picture so they can work more effectively. Again, it’s about the first principle of permaculture – observation. Without that, you cannot supply the right design. We need to design new political systems, new economic system, new business models, new agriculture, new building systems, etc. – and all need to be symbiotically beneficial to each other and in a way appropriate for specific climates, cultures, etc. Ignoring key problems leaves us open to creating inappropriate solutions.

    I must say I find it fascinating how you keep referring to AGW as being a ‘globalist banner/agenda’. It’s fascinating as in the four years I’ve been dealing with these issues full time, online, writing hundreds of articles and even more comments, I’ve yet to see anyone explain to me how climate change issues are of benefit to politicians and the industries that largely control them. For them, the ideal scenario that fits with their short-term-gain agenda (and their leave-all-the-problems-to-the-next-guy-in-term tendency for politicians) is a dumbed down populace who think AGW is nothing but a conspiracy. Then they can forget about the issue and get on with their business-as-usual tradition of raping the earth to profit today and ignoring tomorrow. If AGW is a creation of ‘the globalists’, then all they’ve accomplished so far with that creation is to show how inept, inadequate and reluctant they are at dealing with it. Can you explain this paradox to me?

    It’s fascinating also, as you’re accusing anyone highlighting man’s involvement in putting the earth’s CO2 balance out of whack of being on the side of manipulative government and industry, and yet I’m accusing you of the very same thing – as you seek to lull people into inaction on this, which is exactly what the globalists want.

    To say “global warming isn’t real because governments are trying to use it to control us” is like saying terrorism isn’t real, because governments are using it to control us” (i.e. to encourage us to voluntarily give up our freedoms so as to ‘protect us’).

    Just like terrorism, global warming is real. Governments will react inappropriately to both, and we’ll suffer for it. But, just like terrorism, with global warming we need to recognise it exists, but find the right solutions. Ignoring terrorism, and maintaining the business as usual scenario that created it doesn’t make it go away. It’s the same for climate change.

    From this discussion, and noting your reaction to Reasic and Marcin and my own comments, I see the same angle I have seen for years – a rigid unyielding framework of thought in your mind that you are unable to deal with objectively.

    For example, you mentioned, again, “The fact that Co2 emissions will crash anyway, because we’re on the downslope of hubberts peak”, so we shouldn’t be concerned about ever rising CO2 emissions anyway. But you choose to ignore what I already said on how, if we ignore the CO2 part of the equation, we’ll supply the wrong solutions – like liquid fuels from coal, with twice the CO2 emissions and even more water use and aerosol particulates.

    I’m acutely aware of the peak oil issues we face – more than most I would propose (check out the ‘peak oil’ sub-category to our ‘Why Permaculture’ category on the sidebar), yet I don’t look at that in isolation, but try to join the dots to create the clearest picture. I’d invite you to do the same. That’s what permaculture is all about – observation and intelligent design, so we can create a future that is win-win-win in every area.

    Please note (or be warned, depending on how you look at it): If people ignore the climate change aspect, decide it’s a conspiracy, and encourage people to, like Moncton, “have the courage to do nothing”, then all it does is provoke me to put up even more posts on climate change, as I will perceive that it is one ‘dot’ in the picture that is being overlooked. In other words, the more you tell me it’s a conspiracy, but without giving me valid reasons for this, then the more you provoke me to emphasise the issue.

    On the science side of it, you keep coming up with the same arguments I’ve seen discredited for years. And, like those before you, if someone pins you down in one area, you move around that point and try to attack from another angle, but without acknowledging the point made. People will thus tire of debating with you, as they’ll recognise there really is no point – it’s not a search for truth you’re after, but to just ‘win the battle’ at any cost.

    The implications of climate change are far from insignificant – due to the very real risk of runaway feedbacks (melting permafrost and subsequent mass release of methane, oceans becoming acidic and transforming from carbon sinks to carbon sources, remaining forests like the Amazon continuing their drying trend and transforming those massive carbon sinks into carbon sources, the movement of insects into areas they’ve never been before, enabling them to destroy forests that are not prepared for their onslaught, and many, many more…). All of these things threaten to totally overwhelm any adaptive strategies permaculturists might implement in their gardens…. and they threaten the very stability of human societies in systemic ways.

    Sorry, but no, without a valid – and logical – reason for labelling these issues a ‘conspiracy’, and without a clear discrediting of the scientific results from decades of research amongst the majority of the world’s climate scientists, I would be doing the world a disservice if I ignored these ‘dots’ just to suit a few individuals like yourself who cherry pick what they want to hear.

    Reply
  43. Reasic

    Great comment, Craig.

    If I can, I’d like a go at the temps before CO2 rise issue:

    Evidence: you know, like showing cause and effect. like maybe from the ice cores showing raising Co2 in the geological past made temperature rise. Opps the evidence on that one show temps make Co2 rise!

    Pete, that temps once rose before CO2 doesn’t disprove the scientific FACT that increases in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 cause temperature increases.

    It is understood that glacial periods are caused by Milankovitch Cycles. In these cases, changes in the earth’s orbit cause an increase in temperature, which in turn, causes an outgassing of CO2 from the frigid oceans. It is important to note that the oceans’ ability to store CO2 is inversely proportional to changes in temperature (lower temps equal more CO2 storage). Therefore, when the temperature increases, the oceans warm, and CO2 is released. The CO2 in the atmosphere then continues to warm the planet, triggering additional feedbacks.

    Here’s what amazes me about this argument: We have scientific proof that CO2 is a heat-trapping gas, and yet somehow this is negated by a study of ice cores, in which a lag was found between temperature and CO2 release? Please explain for me how this applies to our current situation.

    Reply
  44. Andy

    Grrr… I should have turned off notifications!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8299079.stm

    just for example. It’s not a scientific fact that increased CO2 causes an increase in temperature. It seems likely, yes. But it is absolutely not a scientific fact. Scientific fact is provable, a repeatable phenomenon. It may be a reasonable assumption, but fact it is not.

    There are too many other factors involved, and if I give an example, please would you take it in the spirit it is meant, not as an invitation for another foray into the minutiae of boring academic debates?

    What if (and I am not saying it is the case, just what if…) increase in CO2 caused an increase in cloud cover. And the cloud cover caused more heat to be reflected back away form earth? My point is that there are an almost infinite number of factors, all playing off against each other, some of which we are aware of in varying degrees, and most likely many more we are not aware of.

    The biggest damage done by this ‘scientific fact’ thing is that it creates the illusion that we understand climate. We do not. This illusion is dangerous because, as Craig said earlier, understanding the problem is crucial to solving it. Misunderstanding something is far worse than knowing that you don’t.

    If it is a fact, it is provable. Nobody is arguing about the fact that gravity pulls you down. What is being presented as proof is just evidence. And the proven and admitted (albeit downplayed) fraudulent practices of ‘scientists’ on both sides should make anyone sane step back a little at least.

    The idea is being pushed everywhere that our wonderful scientists understand what’s going on, and all we have to do is accept them as experts. We don’t need no stinkin experts, we know we are in the shit, and we know what to do about it, without needing to understand complex arguments that would keep us in further education for ever, until we die, still not ‘understanding’. We are doing permaculture because, not understanding how the universe works, the best thing to do is to imitate it as best we can. That’s what permaculture is. This striving for complex models, which can only be ‘understood’ by people who need your whole life to explain it all to you are just the modern incarnation of the magic man behind the curtain with his ‘initiates’ and all the elitist trimmings that go with it.

    There is an illusion that these clever people possess crucial knowledge. I knew something was radically wrong with our society by the time I was ten. It’s not rocket science,as they say… I didn’t know what, and neither do they, now. All they have is the arrogance to believe they are superior.

    ‘Scientists’ on the other side are equally arrogant, claiming that our impact on the planet is minimal at most. They equally have no idea what our impact will be. No more than I do. Less, perhaps, because I once worked out roughly how many cars and trucks etc are buzzing around at any one time on earth, and multiplied that number by 3 cm for an average exhaust pipe, then thought about it for a while. It’s a different kind of understanding.

    There are people on earth who understand more than we do, but we have killed most of them.

    Knowing that we don’t understand is really important. Saying that AGW is proven does nothing to help people attain that knowledge, and in fact steers in the opposite direction.

    But all that is far less important to me than getting permaculture to as many places as possible. And you are all on that task, it’s just a shame to be arguing about something that is just wrong, whichever side we’re on. Honestly, I’ve been on both sides, and now I may not be right, but at least now I am not wrong, because I know that I don’t know. And I know that no-one else does. At least not anyone with internet access… yet.

    Andy

    Reply
  45. Craig Mackintosh

    Hi Andy

    Just to get the academic minutiae out of the way:

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1912448,00.html

    :)

    The rest of your comment made me smile though (in a positive way that is).

    I’m wholly in agreement about having a healthy appreciation for what we don’t know. For me, I’m old enough to notice changes occurring, and have spoken to enough very old people on the planet (something I like to do whenever I can) to hear from their experience, to know that, climate-wise, changes are afoot. My beef is the same as yours, except that my frustration is watching people make light of these changes, deciding we have nothing to do with them – and tossing the precautionary principle out the window so we can get on with living the way we currently do.

    And, I guess I’d veer away from the angle your comment hints at – like your ‘maybe CO2 will increase cloud cover and thus fix everything’ scenario – as I see the larger climate system as being a mirror, and benefactor of, all the smaller systems we have within the biosphere. I’ve studied soil science, which made me focus on the incredible interactions that go on in the soil, from micro to macroscopic, and on to all the plants and animals that interact with each other in mutually beneficial ways that are both beautifully complex and yet ultimately simple. It is clear to me that as you begin to remove supporting strands from the web of life, you weaken it and make it more vulnerable. An analogy I’ve used before is that it’s like one by one taking spokes out of a wheel. You can keep riding the bike with one or two missing, but eventually you take enough out and the wheel buckles and you hit the dirt. I don’t see the climate, which itself is dependent on all the aforementioned localised systems, being any different. Over the last millennium, especially, we’ve been making dramatic changes to the system – pulling out spokes of the wheel and at an ever increasing rate. Within the framework of knowledge I have on natural systems, I cannot see how we can reach a point on this destructive highway where the system will suddenly start to heal itself despite these imbalances – unless that point is when the earth tosses us off, so the cause is removed.

    Traditional folk, and some modern scientists, in some places have great regard for the top level predators in the ecosystem – not just because of a healthy respect for their power, but also because of what they indicate about the local environment. Take Tigers in India and Asia, or the black panther of Latin America. These large cats are signs – indicator species if you will – that the lower tier levels in the system are working. If they didn’t, these cats wouldn’t exist as they require a large range with adequate food supplies. They’re signs of ecosystem health. I parallel that with the climate – being the top tier indicator of the health of lower level systems.

    http://permaculturenews.org/2009/12/14/the-biology-of-global-warming/

    Whilst I appreciate it when we can wax poetic on a topic, and agree with you in many respects, I still see what I see – that being there is no action without a reaction, no cause without effect.

    Reply
  46. Thomas Fischbacher

    Andy,

    I see a number of quite serious misconceptions in your post considering how science works. Specifically, let me address this bit:

    ===
    If it is a fact, it is provable. Nobody is arguing about the fact that gravity pulls you down. What is being presented as proof is just evidence. And the proven and admitted (albeit downplayed) fraudulent practices of ’scientists’ on both sides should make anyone sane step back a little at least.
    ===

    Now, with “what is being presented as proof is just evidence”, you are referring to the Global Warming issue, I take it.

    Let me stop here for a moment and ask the question: Do you have anything that is better than evidence – that is, a proper “proof” – that “gravity pulls you down”. If so, I would much like to see it. All I have ever seen that would support the idea that “gravity pulls you down” is just evidence. Whether you believe it or not: it’s pretty much the same with all science. To take an extreme example, Conservation of Energy is not “proven”, we only have overwhelming evidence that it holds, and as such, this idea is “just” an excellent working hypothesis. Personally, I do believe that conservation of energy is a valid principle in this world, but if someone actually managed to build a perpetuum mobile of the first kind, and people managed to reproduce that experiment, I would have to abolish this concept. How likely would that be, actually? (Note that this is a Bayesian concept of “likeliness” – i.e. that sort that matters to people running insurance companies who insure against rare events.) Difficult to say – I would certainly take a one-in-a-billion bet that this won’t happen in my lifetime.

    You may not have given this issue much thought yet, but actually, there are only two cases where “scientists” ever “prove” anything: You can provide a “proof” for mathematical theorems (which do not make any claims about the real world) – and even there, you have to live with the fundamental issue that you cannot prove that your fundamental assumptions (axioms) never ever will give rise to a contradiction. Also, you can provide mathematical proofs for properties of theories about the real world, i.e. of the sort “any model of the world that features symmetry X will also have the property that Y is a conserved quantity”. But note that this then is about how certain mathematical properties of models follow from fundamental assumptions of these models. You will never be able to “prove” anything about the real world as we observe it – well, you might, but then this is no longer science. So, what science basically does – all it can do – when it comes to our understanding of the real world is to answer the question: how likely is it that theory X is correct, given that our observations are Y? Say, your theory predicts a new particle, and you do an experiment where you build a detector for it. Theory tells you that, during the course of a day, you would expect that detector to count 400 particles. However, the detector, being an experimental device, is far from perfect and sometimes counts “false positives”. So, the way it is built, you would expect it to count about 200 particles even if they do not exist at all – other particles that got mis-classified. You might as well get a count of 150 or 250 – or 193. So, the big day arrives when you turn on your device for the first time, and it counts 320 particles. What does that mean then?

    The hot topic in physics right now is the hunt for the Higgs boson at the LHC (and the Tevatron) accelerator. This is what the situation was in 2008: Scientists are 95% sure that, if the Higgs boson exists (and it better had to), the Higgs mass is not below 114 GeV, and not above 185 GeV, and also not in a small window around 170 GeV.

    http://www.fnal.gov/pub/today/images09/higgsexclusionplotfy08.jpg

    This is an example what science looks like. If now, we instead consider hypotheses along the lines of anthropogenic CO2 emissions causing planetary mean temperature shifts, we equally can make measurements and compare these against theoretical predictions, so, science can provide answers such as “how likely is it that what we measure can be attributed to changes in solar influx alone?”

    So, if you ask for “proof, rather than evidence” concerning AGW, I fear you may have been a victim of rat-catchers who don’t have the slightest idea about how science works, and mis-represent it so they can attack it because they do not like what science says in one particularly important issue.

    Reply
  47. Andy

    Thomas, I have given much thought, time and energy to the carbon debate, more than I should have, and as I said from both sides. I’ve also given more thought than most people do to the idea of scientific proof, and the fact that you can’t really prove much, if anything.

    But I didn’t want to bring that into the argument as it doesn’t really help at all, and is most often used by people losing the argument, as a disruption. Gravity is an example I chose to try to illustrate how unproven AGW is.

    People seem to be unable to separate objections to the assertion that AGW is unproven from the opinion that AGW is untrue. It’s just like objecting to the actions of the State of Israel. I’m not allowed to do that either, because only Jew-haters do that.

    I am not asking for proof, as my posts have made very clear. I am simply pointing out that the ‘scientists’ being touted by the owners of the mainstream media and their politician puppets are liars when they go along with the assertion that AGW is proven. The governments who pay them are claiming publicly that the science is ‘settled’ and ofter even using the word ‘proven’ in the context. These ‘scientists’ have even been caught red-handed cooking the books, and have never spoken out about the misuse of their findings being presented to the public as ‘proof’, even if they have not called it that themselves.

    Contrary to what you claim, I am not expecting to see proof, and my last post was intended to give an example of the kind of thing that is generally accepted as proven, to compare with the AGW level of ‘proven’. Something repeatable is easier to accept than just a theory in the midst of many others. No-one disputes that things fall when you let go of them. AGW is being presented to the sheep as something they don’t need to think about any more, because the science is settled, and so all they need to do is be led to salvation.

    I re-read the evidence deliberately seeing it from the ‘anti’ perspective, and found myself becoming equally convinced. This is a mind-game I often use to avoid the dogmatic thinking we are all prone to to some degree. As a contrast, try a mind-game where you don’t believe that things fall when dropped. It doesn’t last long.

    I believe with complex things it is necessary to give equal mind-energy to both points of view to get a clear picture of the issue. If you disagree with me on something, that’s fine, but don’t just dismiss my opinion by suggesting I have not really thought about it, that’s just a cop-out.

    When I hear that we have not seen warming over the last 10 years, I see that the level of intelligence in the community of scientists caught up in this debate is depressingly low. The response from the other side is something along the lines that climate is complex and a short-term trend is not indicative enough. Well, that’s less depressing, but seeing as it is used to support their opposing stance, only slightly so.

    If these people would only admit that they don’t know enough aobut climate to make certain-sounding proclamations! The whole thing is very complex, not just climate, but all the issues we face. It would be better for people to be educated to the fact that we understand very little about our effect on the planet, and to learn that it is observably not good generally. It’s really important that people know this, and are not taken in by the false idea that we have experts who know how to solve the problems. We don’t. There is just us, and the universe doesn’t really care either way.

    Permaculture looks like a good solution, not because it will solve some boffin’s computer-modeled fantasy in a dull grey building somewhere; not because it has the backing of clever professors anally specializing into ever-decreasing circles of monocultural scientific disciplines, but because it mirrors the natural systems which are the only ones proven to make a habitable planet. It has come from the real world, and can be applied by people in the real world, very simply and without having to rely on higher knowledge of someone else.

    The future we make from this will be influenced by what we do now. The old idea of scientific progress and humans getting better and better is proving to be a bit of a disaster. We’re not the planetary managers. We’re just gardeners. Projecting the idea that we are knowledgeable about the systems we are part of is going to keep us in the same paradigm as we are in now. The old ideas of the spirits of a place and keeping them happy actually worked a lot better than our domination theory is doing.

    “Is it not the madness of the fool who day after day falls into the same pit, yet is wholly proud to know the trick of how to climb out of it day after day?”
    - Theo Grutter, Dancing With Mosquitoes

    All I am saying really is that permaculture is a worthy vision of starting towards a better future. In many ways, not just AGW, we are carrying our baggage with us. There is great pressure, even on those of us who want to stride out into the new world without the baggage, to continue with the old business paradigms and so on. I have that problem myself. We can’t just cast off that baggage, because the rest of the world will not let us.

    But where we can, I think we should stand permaculture up as a solution in itself, not as a solution to problems as defined by the dull grey people in the institutions that have led us to this state.

    We build new systems in line with natural ones, not after a scientific survey, but after our own observations and the wisdom of others gone. Much of it is unscientific. Science is only a part of permaculture, complementary to tradition and individual foibles. We’re quite capable of defining our problems ourselves. We’re not in the business of providing ‘global solutions’. We look after the local, and the global will look after itself. It’s really important that people get that, and don’t get led into this Global thing. Think globally? Only Gods can do that.

    “Properly speaking, global thinking is not possible… Look at one of those photographs of half the earth taken from outer space, and see if you recognize your neighborhood. The right local questions and answers will be the right global ones . The Amish question, “What will this do to our community?” tends toward the right answer for the world.” -Casey Neill

    We can get big grants by concentrating on CO2 emissions. That alone should give pause for thought.

    Reply
  48. Thomas Fischbacher

    Andy,

    there are a number of things in your post that need to be addressed. Alas, I have to start somewhere. So, I would like to begin with this paragraph – I take it that we both agree that it plays a central role:

    ===
    I am not asking for proof, as my posts have made very clear. I am simply pointing out that the ’scientists’ being touted by the owners of the mainstream media and their politician puppets are liars when they go along with the assertion that AGW is proven. The governments who pay them are claiming publicly that the science is ’settled’ and ofter even using the word ‘proven’ in the context. These ’scientists’ have even been caught red-handed cooking the books, and have never spoken out about the misuse of their findings being presented to the public as ‘proof’, even if they have not called it that themselves.
    ===

    Now, let us start at the beginning:

    ===
    I am not asking for proof, as my posts have made very clear.
    ===

    In this very same thread, you wrote earlier:

    ===
    It’s not a scientific fact that increased CO2 causes an increase in temperature. It seems likely, yes. But it is absolutely not a scientific fact. Scientific fact is provable, a repeatable phenomenon. It may be a reasonable assumption, but fact it is not.
    ===

    So, here, you clearly claim that “scientific fact is provable”. I would first like to have some further clarification of terms here. Can you give a specific example of something you would consider a “proven scientific fact”?

    Reply
  49. Andy

    Thomas, as I have said before, I have been there, and I won’t go there again. I am trying to explain why I won’t go further down that road. Have fun down there, and I hope you achieve something fruitful.

    I am not asking for proof, as I said. And I don’t need to go down that road of endless bickering over nitty gritty details, I know what needs to be done. Down there is just a waste of energy, because as I pointed out, both sides are wrong and corrupt and liars. That has been proven! Some of them even admitted it. I’ve spent (wasted) enough time over the years with these set-up and unsolvable arguments.

    Andy

    Reply
  50. Thomas Fischbacher

    Andy,

    between the lines, I read that your actual problem might be a very different one. All this sounds as if you once got drawn into “fighting to save the climate at any price – even that of integrity”. I can imagine one can get there, and yes, there are a some people around who spread harebrained ideas about science and climate because they are convinced that this would “serve a higher purpose”.

    Also, yes, I can indeed see that there is a small fraction of ideological dreamers who see climate change as either a great opportunity to push on with their own agenda, or a serious threat to their deeply held beliefs. Take, for example, Ayn Rand’s “Objectivist” cult. They essentially regard fire as holy, and the engineer as priest-like in his mission to use fire to the largest possible extent to fight nature. Of course, to them, climate change appears as “a sinister plot by the evil forces that constantly try to extinguish the holy fire”. On the other hand, there indeed are people who still dream of a world-wide communist revolution and try to bend climate change policy so that it pushed forward their agenda. (I would much like to see an example of such a group where this is similarly self-evident as with the Objectivists.)

    While such “ideological camps” exist, I’d estimate that they make up at most 10% of the population – perhaps much less. The big problem is that, as these ideologists believe that their cherished beliefs have come under attack, which they consider a far more pressing problem than climate change itself(!), they become very vocal and put a lot of effort into trying to dominate the discussion. So, if you just sampled, say, the comments to articles on climate change on the major news websites, you would get the impression that more than 80% of the population were in one or the other such ideological camp. But, as I pointed out, this is false, because what we observe is ideologists competing for attention.

    The important point is this statement from your last post:
    “both sides are wrong and corrupt and liars.” First of all, I have a serious problem with the concept of “both sides” here. Take, for example, Lovelock (who again was in the news recently). I take it you would classify him as being on the “climate change is a very real threat we have to do something about” ‘side’. (I could name people other than Lovelock here for which my point would be equally true.) Now, while I have myself come to the conclusion that climate change indeed needs to be addressed, my impression is that few “deniers” have done as much harm as people like Lovelock, who keep on poisoning the discussion. Now, this must be qualified: I am fairly sure that, if we just sat together with Lovelock and had a chat with him, what he has to say would sound way more down to earth and way less radical than what the press writes about his views. But the big problem is that evidently, he still does not seem to have learned to talk to the press, and how journalists distort things – considering what he talks about, he by now really should have! So, yes, Lovelock says we have to address climate change, and I say we have to address climate change. But under no circumstances would I want to be labeled as “on the same side as Lovelock”.

    A key problem with this issue is that the human mind is extremely adept at making up rational-sounding explanations to itself. We are all prone to fooling ourselves. Being smart does not help even the slightest bit here, for, if you are smart, you also have smart ways to fool yourself. This, then, is precisely the difference between “intelligence” and “wisdom”. Wisdom is all about one’s capacity to discover self-deception.

    If you start to observe things a bit closer, you will soon see how inappropriate the concept of these two “species” is: the “anything goes to get people to the point where they do something against climate change” people and the “climate change is nothing but a conspiracy by sinister worshippers of a world government dream” people. But, to get there, you have to be able to sift through a lot of noise and nonsense.

    Personally, I have come to the conclusion that CO2 is a red herring. If just CO2 were the problem, we would not even be in the present situation, because we would have done something about it many decades ago. Note that people (by and large) do not die from Cholera in our cities, because we found one way to design sanitation so that it no longer is a problem. The easy problems you do not notice because they have been solved. The far deeper problem is that we are at present so bad at analyzing the role of self-deception. Solve the self-deception problem, I say, and as soon as people have a clear perspective on climate change related problems, tackling them becomes straightforward. Easy – by no means; but fairly straightforward.

    My view is that anyone who spreads bullshit about climate change – one way or the other – does serious damage. So, quality control is an extremely important issue here. Considering the articles on permaculturenews.org, my impression is that Craig is doing a great job on all topics covered, including climate change, to keep all the poison out and bring a lot of insightful articles in.

    If I am allowed to make a “prophecy”, I’d say that, if there still are people around 1000 years into the future, they will call our time not the “age of cheap energy” or “fossil fuel age”, or “age of material abundance” or any such thing, but rather the “age of confusion”, the “age of self-deception” or something similar along these lines. After all, all our problems are about what activities human effort gets directed to in our society, hence, ultimately, economics. So, I have to ask: how confused do we have to be to consider an economic belief system as a good idea that transforms valuable resources to waste and pollution at mind-boggling speed? If we come to this insight that the problem is confusion about what is worthwile to direct human effort towards and what is not, there still will be people around in 1000 years’ time. If not, there most likely won’t.

    Reply
  51. Reasic

    Andy,

    I just want to point out my main problem with your argument. After reading your responses here, I’ve noticed a pattern in which you submit a denial talking point and then proclaim that nothing is proven. Inevitably, someone refutes your talking point, after which you complain about being pulled into “nitty gritty details” or “boring academic debates”.

    So, it seems that you’re content to rely on the simple fact that a contradicting opinion EXISTS as your proof that nothing is “proven”. And since nothing is proven, AGW must not be true. I hope you see the fallacy in this approach.

    First of all, it is EXTREMELY important that you focus on the veracity of the “skeptical” claims that you continously present, rather than the simple fact that they exist. In nearly EVERY case, if you objectively compare your talking points with their rebuttals, you will find that your talking points are bogus. It is not sufficient to rest on the fact that there is an opposition to AGW. No, we must take care to examine their claims. Therefore, it is imperative that we do exactly that which you have lamented: get into the “nitty gritty details”.

    The truth here is that, rather than being an unbiased bystander, you are a hardened denier, who has been fooled by the various fallacies that exist in the blogosphere about supposed corruption and incompetence in science. You have, however, proven that one can be environmentally conscious without understanding climate change, but how much greater could your total effectiveness be if you incorporated an approach to global warming?

    All I’m asking is that you consider another re-examinination of your beliefs, as you say you’ve done in the past. I know for a FACT that each and every one of your talking points can be easily debunked, if you’d only take the time to consider the details.

    Reply
  52. Andy

    Please, I am being misunderstood, and the more I get drawn into the arguments, the less clear my position becomes, so I won’t any more.

    “So, it seems that you’re content to rely on the simple fact that a contradicting opinion EXISTS as your proof that nothing is “proven”. And since nothing is proven, AGW must not be true. I hope you see the fallacy in this approach.”

    I am absolutely not saying AGW must not be true. All I am saying is that we do not know. If I say that there has not been warming for the last 10 years, that doesn’t seem to be any use, because all I get back is nitty gritty counter arguments (or the point is ignored) and the idea is lost that I was originally putting across. I could equally say that you are pointing to conflicting opinions to show that it is true, but that would only lead to an endless argument about which ‘scientist’ trumps the other. So,

    All I am saying is that
    1. AGW is not proven,
    2. Government scientists have been caught red-handed using fraudulent techniques both to advance their agenda and to squash any peers who disagree with them.

    The rest is off into side arguments about whether or not it is true, which as I said, I don’t know, and I know enough about climate to know that nobody else does either. It seems like an admission of ignorance is an invitation to evangelists of both sides. Why can’t humans just accept that we are pretty ignorant about most things in the world? Probably because there is always someone more stupid than me to compare myself favorably to!

    The point is that we’re arguing over something that was relevant years ago, but not now that our position has been hi-jacked by globalists (or communists or whatever people want to call them).

    What I experience, from all three stances–first pro, then anti (as a mindgame) and now neither–is that the only result of any of them is endless argument. That tells me that this particular battlefield is no longer advantageous, my efforts will either be squandered, or used to the advantage of my enemies. There are plenty of other things to cite in favor of permaculture, it’s no loss at all. We aren’t powerful enough to piggy-back on the globalists’ propaganda machine, we will get dumped in the mud inevitably.

    Perhaps sometimes, people could consider putting the climate aspect of our work into other terms which have not yet been hi-jacked by the Globalists. For example in our Morocco project, the replanting of forest and repair of the watershed will increase local rainfall, and keep it there longer. The valley will become more fertile, and as we expand, the desert, which is downwind and downstream, will start to retreat. Local… not global. I didn’t even have to mention climate. We got into this situation because people were thinking locally, and humans are not designed to think globally. All sorts of mad things happen when they do, from despotic dictators right through to insane Gurus who make their followers have sex with them and chant in foreign languages. Local ‘solutions’ can be understood by everyone.

    It’s a shame we can’t talk about this without the AGW baggage of the last 20 years or so. I thought of writing an article, or posting in the discussions, but I can’t find a way to put it yet that won’t spark off those old tired and frankly (to me) boring and unedifying ‘details’.

    I could say a lot more but I already said it above in the comments. when your head starts to hurt, it’s time to stop banging it.

    My own arguments are lost in the pro and anti babble, which is a shame, but I am not a paid full-time government scientist, nor a paid coal industry shill, nor a paid journalist, so I don’t have the time, resources or energy to pursue it as a job. (see, things could always be worse!). I apologize for getting involved in this argument without the ability to pursue my points to people’s satisfaction, and wish all of you the best o’ luck on your other projects. I mean no disrespect to any of you and hope no-one thought that. I find all I am doing is repeating myself, which is wasting all our time which is exactly the kind of thing I believe the AGW ‘debate’ is about. Let’s get on with the permaculture. Sorry!

    Cheers,
    Andy

    P.S. Thomas,
    “there indeed are people who still dream of a world-wide communist revolution and try to bend climate change policy so that it pushed forward their agenda. (I would much like to see an example of such a group where this is similarly self-evident as with the Objectivists.)”

    You just about described the UN, World Bank and the IMF etc! It’s harder to see than the Objectivists, because it is Global, and less cult-like in that there is no one leader/guru to focus on.

    I find it amazing that people don’t believe in conspiracies. Everywhere I have worked, every organization I’ve ever been involved with was buzzing with conspiracies! It’s what humans do in a civilized environment. And when you’re winning, it’s fun too.

    Reply
  53. Thomas Fischbacher

    Andy,

    two points.

    (a) So, you claim that the World Bank dreams of a world-wide communist revolution? Considering that the World Bank is so intimately linked to the Pentagon, and both share the “communism is evil” belief, I wonder how you arrived at *that* conclusion.

    (b) You write:

    “All I am saying is that
    1. AGW is not proven,
    2. Government scientists have been caught red-handed using fraudulent techniques both to advance their agenda and to squash any peers who disagree with them.”

    Well, if this is all you are saying, then, why talk about issues such as, say, global temperatures over the last 10 years at all? Either a point is relevant and you would like to see it discussed, or not – then please don’t mention it in the first place!

    Concerning (1): Shouldn’t it be generally understood in this discussion that science is science? Both the statement “AGW is not proven” as well as the statement “scientists are not sure whether AGW is true” are actually not at all about AGW (for AGW is freely substitutable by pretty much anything you like; in principle, you could just as well put “The AIDS hypothetis” or “biogenesis of fossil fuels” or whatever you like). Such statements are all about stoking confusion in the general public about the general nature of scientific claims. Why do you insist on “AGW is not proven” if, by the same token, you then perhaps also should tell the world that “Einstein’s theory of relativity is not proven”?

    Concerning (2): Scientific misconduct does happen. And it has to be dealt with. The process is not perfect – after all, could you name any social phenomenon or activity you would regard as “perfect”? The reason why we have concepts such as academic integrity is because we actually need them – even if we all would love to never have to apply them, because everybody would automatically always adhere to these principles. So, valid (and important!) questions here are: has that particular scientist X been engaged in academic fraud on subject Y? Believe it or not – the problem is far older than the AGW discussion. I am fairly sure that, among all the climatologists, there will be some (few) black sheep that behave in an inacceptable way. There indeed are some investigations going on right now. Yes, it will be interesting to see what these investigations produce.

    The one question that really matters here is: do you accuse all climatologists of dishonesty who ring the alarm bell concerning AGW? I would much like to hear your answer.

    Reply
  54. Andy

    Ok I’ll bite one more time, but then stop reading this. You obviously don’t want to understand, just score points. A flaw in my character obliges me to reply one more time.

    “So, you claim that the World Bank dreams of a world-wide communist revolution? ”

    No, I mentioned more than the world bank, but all you need to do is look at their own stated objectives, and then at which of those objectives they are having success at… you may get an idea. It’s all there, publicly available, but you have to dig a bit behind the gloss that keeps the sheep happy. It’s no harder than delving through countless scientific papers in search of the nuggets of truth they often contain.
    so, for the whole list which you cut short and was only an example of the many-headed hydra,
    Depending on what you mean by communist, yes. Banks funded Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, all of them. All of them have the same system (ask the victims before you start another nitty-gritty)

    Frequently Banks have funded both sides in wars. Those wars could not have happened without that funding, so you can’t just dismiss it as a minor thing. There are no countries to these people, except as pawns in their power game.

    I’m not being a conspiracy theorist here, it’s human nature. I’m not bleating about how ‘evil’ so-and-so is, either. Who knows, under their circumstances I would probably do exactly the same thing. How often have you sat on a crowded train full of farting, noisy, objectionable, sneezing, squabbling creatures of light with their stinking burgers and spoilt brats eating snacks and pop until they puke, and thought, ‘I do so love humanity’? There’s a reason for first class, and there’s the same reason for private jets, when first class gets too much. Know your enemy. Know yourself. That idea is often misinterpreted to mean you are your own enemy, which nicely neuters the believer in endless umbilicology, but all it really means is you could just as easily be the ‘evil’ one. And to your enemy, you are.

    And just on the subject of enemies (just in case) There was a tribe I heard about who had no word for enemy. The nearest thing they had was ‘friend we haven’t met yet’. They probably thought they had no enemies, but it turns out they were wrong. There are none left now.

    “Scientific misconduct does happen.”

    It’s not just to be dismissed as ‘scientific misconduct’. It’s conscious and deliberate scientific fraud at the highest level in the lobby that is owned by the government, and whose research is used to prop up the IPCC. I have no respect for people who continue to show respect for so-called scientists caught in fraud in the very subject being discussed. Even if the revealed part of their fraud is only a part of the evidence. Do you really think that the part they got caught in was the only part? Why continue to trust them? Why such an impotent response?

    Would you have the same respect for scientists who dispute AGW (that includes many who don’t ‘deny it’, in spite of the simplistic yes or no being presented to the sheep) if they were caught falsifying figures and using underhanded tactics to silence their detractors? At least the questioners are only being employed by people you don’t like. Do you really expect the pro-lobby to pay them?

    Think about it. Why are those people still in their jobs? Why is the IPCC still using their ‘science’. Why haven’t they all been thrown out? It’s not like there’s a shortage of PHDs is it? Isn’t truth important any more? If a bank teller got caught stealing from a shop, he’d be sacked. No need to rob the bank, stealing from a shop is enough to call his entire character into question, because he might well be stealing form the bank as well. They don’t wait till they catch him. Likewise, everything else these fraudulent scientists do is questionable.

    When dodgy articles are published by these frauds in ‘Respected Academic Journals’, those journals themselves should lose the respect they had. We have a serious situation here, something that lovers of science should be very concerned about, because it threatens science itself. Don’t just dismiss it like it’s just a few ‘rogue’ scientists. It’s the main source of government and NGO propaganda. It’s top people. Why hide from this? These are rhetorical questions by the way.

    Believe it or not (!) I am well aware that the problem is far older than the AGW discussion. It’s just rare that these scumbags are caught so unequivocally, and I find it thoroughly depressing that people would dismiss it so easily because the crooks happen to be on your side. Enjoy the investigation, you’ll have a long wait, but they may throw you a sacrificial goat or two soon, if you bleat loud enough. But bleating a bit won’t threaten their hegemony, so more will be required than an investigation. The authenticity of the emails is not in dispute.

    And the argument that they are out of context is ludicrous, as the entire bunch of thousands of emails and other docs was made available to the public. By that measure the U.S constitution could be called ‘out of context’.

    “Why do you insist on “AGW is not proven” if, by the same token, you then perhaps also should tell the world that “Einstein’s theory of relativity is not proven”?”

    Because it is not proven. So when someone claims that it is, I politely point out that it isn’t. When that attracts condescending and even angry replies, I feel the need to reply again, when I know really I should just leave it alone. I just re-read everything, and
    there’s no more to be said from me, I concede the argument. It just isn’t worth any more effort.

    Reply
  55. Thomas Fischbacher

    Andy,

    I have no problems with a statement such as “by its very nature, science can only tell us how certain we are about something” – but I call statements such as “AGW is not proven” misleading, *especially* if put forward in a context such as this:

    ===
    If it is a fact, it is provable. Nobody is arguing about the fact that gravity pulls you down. What is being presented as proof is just evidence.
    ===

    Here, you *are* creating the impression that “scientific proof” would be the normal situation, with AGW being quite different. So, yes, you are misleading people with your statements.

    Reply
  56. Thomas Fischbacher

    Andy,

    there also is the issue about scientific misconduct. Let me answer this separately, so that this comment gets a separate linkable identifier on this page.

    First, why do I use the term “scientific misconduct” and not “fraud”? Just because it is the broad term that covers all sorts of things that need to be investigated. How deep the problem runs with this particular case, we cannot yet say, because we do not yet know all the details.

    Ad:

    ===
    I have no respect for people who continue to show respect for so-called scientists caught in fraud in the very subject being discussed. Even if the revealed part of their fraud is only a part of the evidence. Do you really think that the part they got caught in was the only part? Why continue to trust them? Why such an impotent response?

    Would you have the same respect for scientists who dispute AGW (that includes many who don\u2019t \u2018deny it\u2019, in spite of the simplistic yes or no being presented to the sheep) if they were caught falsifying figures and using underhanded tactics to silence their detractors?
    ===

    As a general rule of conduct, I never would give premature judgment on a case while an on-going investigation is visibly making progress. Regardless of who has been accused of what. So, yes, I would of course “have the same respect for scientists who dispute AGW if they were caught falsifying figures”.

    Ad “using underhanded tactics to silence their detractors”. There is an important sociological issue here one has to be aware of. This is by no means a “justification” for what some people seem to have done concerning AGW, but should help to better understand the context.

    In science, what we have seen for ages is that people with just enough scientific training to comprehend some intriguing questions, but not enough to comprehend the deeper structure of the problem, yet a desire to become famous, swamp the experts with their manuscripts. Popular topics from the past (and present) include: squaring the circle, proving Fermat’s last Theorem, disproving Einstein’s theory of relativity, constructing a Perpetuum Mobile, and a number of others. I would like you to do the following experiment: contact your nearest University that has a faculty of physics and ask the staff there whether you can have a look at the collection of unsolicited manuscript submissions by laymen from the public. Best just ask them for the proposals for Perpetual Motion Machines they received over the last decade.

    Basically, many academics who work in subjects that in some way or another appear attractive or interesting to members of the public receive so many “crackpot” articles that they have to develop strategies to deal with these. After all, many of the “perpetual motion crackpots” have a lot of time at their hands – a noticeable fraction of submissions actually seems to come from retired engineers. So, given that it is easier to spin weird ideas than to explain in detail what is wrong about them, how many full-time crackpots would it take to keep ten full-time professors of physics completely busy with the Whac-a-Mole game of resolving the errors in their thinking? I’d estimate that two to three full time crackpots would suffice to keep ten full time professors from doing any research. Now, what would you expect to be larger: the number of physics professors or the number of crackpots?

    Seeing this context, it is pretty clear that academic disciplines with high crackpot activity, such as mathematics and physics, inevitably by now must have evolved some strategies to deal with such problems. One may argue whether the structures which have evolved are useful, effective, reasonable, desirable, problematic, or outright dangerous, and why – but this is, for now, a side issue. Take, for example, the physics preprint archive arxiv.org: It got so bombarded by submissions from all sorts of people with their very own ideas about a “theory of everything” that they implemented very stringent submission rules. Of course, some of those very “productive” people barred from submitting their work to arxiv.org were very unhappy about this and set up their own preprint archive, vixra.org. (arxiv backwards). Let us take a look at some specific article there: http://vixra.org/abs/1003.0026 – “Begin the Adventure How to Break the Light Barrier by A.d. 2079″. 147 pages of useless nonsense. How should professional physicists deal with this?

    Personally, I always had the impression that mathematicians had the far better methods to deal with submissions from laypeople, and I think they pay more attention to this issue in particular because laypeople actually sometimes have contributed very good ideas – still, this is rare, but a very small fraction of these submissions have been very very valuable. When there was a prize for proving Fermat’s Last Theorem, the institution that took submissions soon started to use a form letter that basically just said: “Many thanks for your submission, the first mistake is on page [ ]“.

    So, considering in particular the CRU Emails, I take it you are specifically referring to Phil Jones and some of his correspondents when you speak of “government scientists”. There is strong evidence that he did handle a FOIA request issue in a highly inappropriate way, and I can understand very well that a number of people would like to see him sacked for that. If I had the answers to a list of further questions I would like to ask about this case, it is quite likely that I would also demand that he – and a few other professionals – gets replaced. Considering the “using underhanded tactics to silence their detractors” issue – which I take refers to attempts to prevent the publication of scientific articles – the situation is much less clear. I certainly think that, in order to make up one’s mind about this issue, it would be very helpful to actually take a look at the article in question. I have not seen it – does anyone by chance have a copy?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)