Open-mindedness is the wrong(?) approach

by Judith Curry

Naomi Oreskes:

When it comes to climate change, openmindedness is the wrong approach.

Naomi Oreskes has an op-ed in the LA TIMES today entitled “The verdict is in on climate change“, with subheading “When it comes to climate change, openmindedness is the wrong approach.”  Some excerpts:

In my travels, I have met many, many people who have told me that they are not in denial about climate change; they simply don’t know enough to decide. It strikes me that these people aren’t unlike my fellow jurors at the start of jury selection. They are trying to keep an open mind, something that we are routinely enjoined to do in many other aspects of daily life.

Yet many Americans cling to the idea that it is reasonable to maintain an open mind. It isn’t, at least not to scientists who study the matter. They have been saying for some time that the case for the reality and gravity of climate change has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. But there’s the rub. The public seems to view scientists as the equivalent of the prosecuting attorney trying to prove a case. The think tanks, institutes and fossil fuel corporations take on the mantle of the defense.

We have to get over that flawed notion. Scientists don’t play the role of prosecutor trying to prove a case. Rather, they are the jury trying to evaluate the evidence. And they have rendered their verdict. The problem is not that scientists have become advocates, as some have claimed. The problem is that there is no judge, no recognized authority giving us instructions we accept, and no recognized authority to accept the scientists’ verdict and declare it final.

Consider for a moment the case against tobacco. There too scientists were nearly unanimous in their conclusion, based on research, that tobacco use had serious health consequences. Meanwhile, the tobacco industry tried to play the role of defense attorney, offering up denials and dodges and pseudo-scientific studies denying a link between smoking and lung cancer. So how did Americans decide whom to believe?

In that case, there was a judge whose instructions had a large effect on public consciousness: the U.S. surgeon general. Without a scientist general to instruct us on climate change, we as a nation have been adrift, looking for leadership and not finding it.

JC comment:  So am I to infer from this that the only way to support the IPCC consensus is to close your mind?  And trust the ‘experts’? (like those we saw in the CRU emails)?   This is a big step worse than reversing the null hypothesis. 

653 responses to “Open-mindedness is the wrong(?) approach

  1. It is a very clarifying step.

    • I deeply regret to say that Naomi is exactly wrong.

      Even more unfortunate, Naomi is in the communications business.

      • I just read that Naomi Oreskes is a professor of history. If she has any interest in learning, I recommend that she scan George Orwell’s novel “1984″, the second part of President Eisenhower’s farewell address in Jan 1961, and experimental evidence that Earth’s heat source is the same nuclear furnace that made our elements and spit them out five billion years (5 Gyr) ago.

        We all make mistakes, but Professor NO has a special responsibility to become informed before passing misinformation along as fact.

        [ Sorry about abbreviating your name. My wife's Kindle Fire insists on changing your name now when I enter it in correctly. ]

      • Naomi and Dr. Jim Hansen cannot believe

      • all the nonsense they are promoting.

      • thank for info :)
        this info is very good for me.This site is awesome. My spouse and i constantly come across a new challenge & diverse in this article.

      • You’re so cool! I don’t think I’ve read anything like this before. So good to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. Thanks for starting this up. tava tea

    • I couldn’t finish her book No Lego about a sad childhood with no toys. No wonder she hates everything.

  2. Judith,

    To have an open mind is to consider ANY and ALL information as relevant.
    To dispose of any new science because of the LAWS state or my teacher taught me, is in with ancestry of a flat planet and falling off of it.
    Not to review past science when new parameters arise is the cause of much confusion of clash of old science to stay the course for protection of careers rather than be excited to follow new avenues never before traveled.

  3. Naomi Oreskes makes a fundamental error when she writes “The problem is that there is no judge, no recognized authority giving us instructions we accept, and no recognized authority to accept the scientists’ verdict and declare it final.”

    There always was, still is, and always will be the judge that decides differences between scientists. That judge is the hard, measured, replicated data. “To the soild ground of Nature; Trusts the mind that buids for aye” (William Wordsworth.

    When I see this sort of scientific garbage written by someone with Naomi’s reputation, I understand why the hypothesis is CAGW is being disregarded by more and more people.

    The good ship CAGW is sinking.

  4. Having spent too much time in the company of tobacco executives, Ms Oreskes has been “infected” by their damn-the-logic attitude. Not sure why anybody would listen to her.

    • She seems to have an obsession with malfeasance of the bad guys in the tobacco story. And she really believes if this foundational premise of her cartoon argument proves whatever conclusion she comes to. No evidence to the contrary can be given to the jury. When I sat on a jury I discovered how carefully contrived the procedure was in attempting to balance fairness and truth-seeking. Oreskes’ call to excessively limit what the jury considers makes any debate a show trial rather than an effort to determine truth.

      • In common law, a jury de facto has the right (and obligation) to consider the validity of the law itself. Judges are at pains to distract from and de-emphasize and deny this, but it’s true anyway. In the US, a Grand Jury explicitly has this purview, but any jury actually has the power to reject unjust applications of law, or even the explicit wording of the law itself.

        A dangerous power, but needed in the end to deflect abuses like the ones Naomi is eager to commit.

        As for scientists, they do not render “verdicts”, nor are their conclusions EVER “final”. As Huxley and Feynman were at pains to emphasize, an ugly fact can demolish the most attractive or beautiful theory. How much more so can a plethora of facts brush aside ugly theory like AGW?

    • When I quit my pack-a-day tobacco habit in 1965, I had first-hand knowledge of tobacco’s harm. I also have first-hand knowledge about climate’s natural variability over my seven decades in New England, where I see nothing extraordinary, other than its reforestation.

      • Fred;
        spontaneous reforestation, please note, in most cases. Trees compete aggressively for Lebensraum, too!

        ;)

  5. Latimer Alder

    The real problem is that the ‘case’ for AGW both existing and being a major problem now or in the future is so flimsy that one has to suspend all reasonable critical faculties to consider it proven.

    But I doubt if Oreskes had any such faculties to begin with.

    • Latimer,

      Parameters in a laboratory misses many parameters of planetary interaction of many fields.
      To study radiation or light over an object misses that light moves in real time and changes with the different seasons.
      What is gained when the work is published?
      Bad theories that in the past have been expanded upon.

  6. Roger Caiazza

    Conflating the global climate is warming with the “experts” know enough to tell society what the most cost-effective and least disruptive way to mitigate or adapt to change specific inevitable outcomes caused by increased GHG emissions is at best frustrating. Throw in a comparison to anyone who questions that conflation to the tobacco companies lung cancer connection is not in the best interests of moving forward.

    • Agreed, except that “inevitable” begs the question. Unless you append “trivial”, of course!

  7. Well Judith, how would you have handled the smoking-cancer issue?

    ‘Build bridges’ with those claiming there was no link and invite them to join in a blog where they could endlessly espouse their views in an ‘extended-peer community’?

    The smoking deniers would have been scarcely able to believe their luck.

    • “Build bridges with those claiming no link?” That merchant of doubt card is trumps. How many in a deck?

      Political tides are also deterministically chaotic. There is a white bar in the Italian flag, doncha know?

      • I don’t agree with the opinion in the op-ed.

        Then again, I think that Michael’s question is valid.

        Is the situation different here because there is more scientific agreement over climate change than over cigarette smoking and cancer?

        At what point in the debate about cigarette smoking different than the debate about climate change?

        Was the “controversy” about cigarette smoking accompanied by scientists who had different viewpoints mounting a “scientific argument” by promoting a stream of articles questioning the value of scientific consensus, or the process of publishing scientific literature, or the validity of scientific research – as we see here constantly on Judith’s blog?

        What’s the difference? Is a contextual difference, in that blogs didn’t exist before the scientific debate about cigarette smoke was considered “settled.” Is it a scientific difference, in that there wasn’t the same degree of scientific controversy? Is it different because the “consensus” viewpoint didn’t include scientists whose would could be criticized as politically influence or tribal?

      • The smoking cancer link is not specific as used. The passive smoking issue was the main focus of the people that like to have the freedom to make their own choices.

        As a drinker, smoker, womanizer and all around nice guy, I enjoy a fine cigar, with old Scotch and the presence of fine, younger women from time to time. Working in the HVAC industry and not being a totally scientific moron, I was able to design smoking sections in bars, one of my favorite hangouts, that reduced the passive smoke hazards on the patrons that enjoyed the fu fu drinks with umbrella and the fine younger women, sans the cancer sticks, to statistically insignificant levels. However, linear no threshold model devotees, have a bizarre interpretation of what statistically insignificant is. There is the rub, politicization of science by use of biased methodology and bizarre reasoning.

      • Cap’n -

        So if I got you right – you think that comparing the climate change debate to the debate about passive smoking is valid – but not to the debate about the link between smoking and cancer?

        I would suspect that many “skeptics” would object to that comparison also, but even still, wasn’t there a great deal of “controversy” about the link between smoking and cancer? Wasn’t that link made by the same sort of “consensus” community that constantly publishes crap research in a corrupted system of “pal review?” Wasn’t that the same kind of “consensus” scientific community that squashed scientific dissent about plate tectonics and ulcers?

        Why is trashing the scientific “consensus” part of the climate debate in some ways but not other ways? What is the objective criteria that you use when making your distinctions?

      • Joshua, I trash what needs trashing. Man has an impact on climate. Too much of anything is bad for you. All things in moderation.

        The debate is on the moderation. If you read my Crackpot theory, land use changes have nearly an equal impact on climate as CO2.

        http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/01/coming-ice-age-illusion.html

        Controversial? Hey, I calls ‘em likes I sees ‘em. My Crackpot theory needs some fleshing out, but it is surprisingly plausible.

        So stop calling me a skeptic, call me a whack job, crackpot, albedoist that knows the power of a manure spreader on spring snow. Hansen only considers Black Carbon from the sky, kinda narrow minded IMHO.

      • Josh,

        I’ll give your question a shot. The character of the tobacco scientists conduct was that they, credentialed, competent professionals, either supported a half-baked “scientific” attempt to refute the well-known and demonstrated perils of smoking or kept a supportive silence. To the best of my knowledge, not one tobacco scientist broke ranks.

        And why would scientists act in such a way? Well, based on a common-sense estimate of the way the world-works, in my experience, it was because these “tobacco scientists” had a vested interest in the out-come of the tobacco controversy–careers, consulting fees, pensions, and perks were at stake.

        And who are today’s “tobacco scientists” with a vested interest in the CAGW hustle? Well, I’d say it’s the legion of professional parasites, well-connected dead-beats, and full-time beggars in Gucci loafers with the scent of a greenwashed hand-out and an invite to one of those really swell, carbon-piggy, blow-out extravaganzas the IPCC holds annually in their snouts; watermelon-losers trying to bring back the good-old gulag days that once gave their lives meaning; witting-tool and useful-fool academics with a cushy gig to protect; and on-the-prowl, entrepreneurial, make-a-big-big-Big-Green-buck hustlers.

        So, Josh, any parallel between self-interested tobacco companies and their careerist hack scientists is properly with the slickos, shysters, shirkers, and wannabe philospher kings/cull-masters that advocate CAGW . Indeed, those same CAGW advocates who corrupt science and related public policy in the name of CAGW. And, most certainly, the paralllel is not with the old-fogey, principally conservative-white-men (or so greenshirts would like everyone to believe) jamming up the Lysenkoist Big-Green juggernaut with no more than hobbyists’ resources and motivated purely by a sense of citizenship duty.

      • mike -

        FWIW – as someone that enjoys reading much of what you write for its entertainment value, and often because your responses to my posts have value in furthering a serious discussion, this most recent post from you is, IMO, so far over the top that it ceases to be entertaining or worthy of substantive response.

      • Josh,

        Little late in the game to be coming back to this thread, I know, but I didn’t see your last post until just now.

        Josh, the “tobacco scientist” smear has been a zinger mainstay of the CAGW propaganda campaign since its inception. In there with the “denier” and the “flat-earther” and the “scientific consensus” and the “merchants of doubt” rhetorical spike-strips. So I decided to look a little more carefully at the “tobacco scientist” analogy. And to my pleasant surprise, I found that in mapping “tobacco scientists” onto the CAGW controversy, it was greenshirt scientists and the Big-Green matrix in which they labor that best matched up with the “tobacco scientists” and tobacco industry of yore –real-life scientists with a good gig and something to loose if they buck the company-line and something to gain if they don’t.

        With regard to your critical concern that my last comment was “over the top”–except that I performed a jiu-jitsu flip on one of the hoariest of the greenshirt propaganda props, I’m not sure what about my last comment was “over the top.” I mean, language-wise, I unload “doom-butt zits-n’-boogers” rants all the time. At the cyclic rate. I mean, my whole act is that one trick. Nothing new there.

        So I guess, “over the top” in this instance means that I effectively screwed with, maybe even “hi-jacked”, a CAGW “narrative” meme, in which the good comrades of the eco-left–the new “tobacco scientists”–have invested much and can’t afford to have turned against them.

        Otherwise, hard to figure out the reprimand, Josh.

      • mike =

        And to my pleasant surprise, I found that in mapping “tobacco scientists” onto the CAGW controversy, it was greenshirt scientists and the Big-Green matrix in which they labor that best matched up with the “tobacco scientists” and tobacco industry of yore –real-life scientists with a good gig and something to loose if they buck the company-line and something to gain if they don’t.

        You seem to be ignoring a variable – which is the ideological or other partisan orientation of said scientists, and the overlap with the ideological orientation of many “skeptics” as well as the ideological orientation of some funding from some players in the climate debate.

        Now I don’t dismiss “skepticism” as merely a product of “big oil” funding – so I think that there is some valid criticism of the “merchants of doubt” line of reasoning. But people like Fred Seitz, and organizations like the Marshall Institute exist, and play a role in the debate, and that role and the accompanying ideology spans tobacco and climate change and other issues that are influenced by the participation of partisans and tribalists. Have you not read this thread, and seen the comments of many “skeptics” w/r/t the risks from 2nd hand smoke? Have you not read the comments of “skeptics” who on the one hand, cull lists of when the “consensus” has been wrong to support a generalized attack on the very notion of “conensus” science to in turn support their position on climate change but who then disclaim any association with the concerted effort that was undertaken to undermine the “consensus” viewpoint on the link between tobacco and cancer?

        I think that your comment was OTT because it was too categorical to be of any value. Re-read your last paragraph in particular.

      • Josh,

        I can see that we’re both grapplin’ for possession of the “tobacco scientist” analogy. My estimate: that part of the CAGW “narrative” has been fumbled and is up for grabs. And in the future, as others try for a recovery on behalf of the “greens”, I’ll do my “doom-butt zits-n’-booger” best for us scrappy, rag-tag “little guys”, bravely defying the the Big-Green, “tobacco scientist” Goliaths (you know, Josh, I think I’m beginning to get the hang of this “narrative” business, myself), in the scramble for the ball.

        On the other hand, if this blog’s future discussions of CAGW dispense with “narrative” smears, then there won’t be any of the good fun, partisan sniping that is at the heart of dueling “narratives”–if not science. But not much chance of that. And that’s not such a bad thing either, I think–I mean, dueling narratives will provide us both with some good chit-chat fodder. An inexhaustible supply, even.

      • mike -

        I usually refer to the climate debate as a jr. high school cafeteria food fight – but after reading your post….

        When you were a kid – did you ever play that game where you just throw the football on the ground and a mass of kids just fight each other for possession? We had a name for that game. “Smear the ……[insert politically incorrect word for people of a certain sexual orientation]”

        If it weren’t so politically incorrect – I’d switch over. I’m not sure I ever had as much fun as when playing that game – basically just an excuse to pound the crap out of each other.

      • Mother Nature is appalled that humans have the arrogance to believe they can edit her narrative, but she’s being very, very careful not to let on that the present cooling is her response to that arrogance. That would interfere with the interactions of human hubris and nemesis, and that is beyond her warrant.
        ==============

    • Michael,

      Oreskes was the boss, carbon-hog face of the latest IPCC carbon pig-out bash in Durban–an obscene blow-out contribution to atmospheric CO2 that could easily have been avoided (along with a considerable tax-payer expense) through a video-conference of the IPCC annual affair. So please spare me, Michael, your doofus, sanctimonious, “tobacco-scientist” BS because Oreskes’ op-ed has the quality of a motor-mouth nag with a four pack-a-day habit preaching the perils of tobacco smoke while blowing smoke rings in your face.

      Michael, don’t you ever get tired of the preposterous, repellent, mind-numbing, shameless, bald-faced, carbon-piggy, oink-oink hypocrites that are attracted to CAGW? Doesn’t the humbug ever stick in your craw. Don’t you ever hanker after a greenshirt leadership that leads, just a little, from the front and sets the example? Or are you one of those chain-smokers that rail against the health hazards of tobacco while making your money from your investments in tobacco companies?

      Do you have anything to say for yourself, Michael, and your association with the two-faced, Big-Green rip-off artists you slaver over when they ring your conditioned-reflex bell?

      • “Oreskes was the boss, carbon-hog face of the latest IPCC carbon pig-out bash in Durban…”

        That’s as far as I read.

      • mike -

        Have you had your coffee yet?

        Do you think that the writer of an op-ed expressing a strong “skeptical” opinion would deserve the same level of abuse?

      • Josh

        Josh, if a world “leader” of the skeptical stripe was a hypocrite of Oreskes’ enormity and engaged in anti-intellectual agit-prop of the contemptible “tobacco scientist” sort (in there with the “conservative, old, white men” narrative and the “deniers are murdering child/rapists” meme-booger) then yes I would either apply such abuse or watch on with approval as the two-faced slicko got his/her condign thrashing.

        And it’s not like I called Oreskes something truly abusive, scurrilous, and beyond-the-pale like “denier”, a term with repellent, subliminal associations with “holocaust denial”, nor did I compare her to tobacco scientists. I just called her what she undeniable is–a carbon-hog hypocrite. Maybe she should clean up her act and deprive me of my “abuse.” You know, lead by example and from the front and all.

        Michael,

        Michael, whether you read my comment or not, hardly matters. Others have and those that have now know, if they didn’t already, just what we’re dealing with in no-nonsense terms with the estimable Ms. Oreske and with the likes of you, Michael. That’s good enough for me.

      • mike -
        I tool the liberty of referencing your doom-kopfs and doom-butts over at ‘Digging in the clay’.
        There’s a thread on neologisms that I think you’ll particularly enjoy. Much about doomian catastrophers and acopcalypsters found in armaggendonology.

        It’s a good time to get catastrophological :)

      • Anteros,

        Hey, thanks for the heads-up–that “Neologism” article is a good-fun read. And thanks for the credit for the “doom” based neologisms, but any value they may have derives entirely from your initial and yet to be topped “doomer” inspiration. My sincere, envious compliments!

        While we’re on the topic, I’m trying to work up something really immature and childish and smart-mouth with which I can tag Michael. Closest I’ve gotten, so far, is “doom-bot”. But I don’t need to tell a master like yourself, Anteros, “doom-bot” doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to Michael. Any ideas?

      • mike -
        Dick-head?

      • That’s why they call you “the master”, Anteros.

    • Michael -
      The same obfuscation as from Oreskes.

      Cancer = not-very-good-news.

      - Not disputed.

      Warmer climate = ineffable disaster

      - product of fevered imagination + very much disputed

      See the difference?

      • Anteros -

        See my comment below. Also, another question. Suppose in the early stages of reporting about the link between smoking and lung cancer, the researches had accompanied their science with editorial comments in newspapers about how cigarette smoking would cause the deaths of millions and millions and millions of people. Would it have been wrong for them to do that – morally or scientifically?

        What do you suppose the response might have been if they had?

      • No – it all depends.

        If you’re 85 and get diagnosed with ca of the prostate – carry on.

        If you’re 40 and pick up a minor skin problem and it turn out to be an SCC – great, you’ve probably just saved your own life.

        See – cancer is not just doom and gloom, you catastrophist.

        But that wasn’t the message of the smoking deniers, it was this- there is no proof that smoking causes cancer (oh yes, cancer is very bad, but it’s nothing to do with smoking), so keep on smoking!!

    • Michael,
      I wonder what magic world you believers live in where you confuse climate with tobacco and skeptics with creationists?

    • Michael,
      I guess you weren’t paying attention during the tobacco debates. The deniers of established truth were the folks claiming tobacco is harmful. The medical establishment was still rejecting that theory. Also, remember, at that time, the science on the subject was pretty shaky, primarily one study from a single military hospital. In fact it was the deniers of the established position that won the day.

    • No josh, mikey’s question is stupid. The case for CAGW is not equivalent to the case for the deadliness of smoking. And it ain’t analogous to Creationism either. You fools need to stop playing that fiddle. It ain’t working for you. By the way congrats on the “girlfriend”. I am happy that you followed my advice.

    • There were about 4 smoking deniers, you putz. It didn’t take a bunch scientist to convince most people that inhaling smoke was not a good thing to do. You people show your true colors when you try to equate the evidence for CAGW, with the evidence for the health hazards of smoking.

    • You might note some interesting differences.

      If the scientists showing the harmful effects of smoking refused to share their data, and refused to answer simple FOI. If they lied about FOI. If they twisted and turned the language of guidelines what would you say?

      Fighting FOI: the wrong approach

      http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/1/23/a-major-foi-victory.html

      • Perhaps I would ignore the fact that there was sufficient data to show tobacco was harmful and instead play on the FOI issue heavily to try and influence the public into believing tobacco wasn’t harmful

      • Did you see the “raw data” mosher??????

      • steven mosher

        lolwot.

        Really? I think you would have shouted from the rooftops that the data should be released. You would have demanded that scientists in support of your cause act with the highest standards. After all, lives are at stake.

      • steven mosher

        Micheal,

        you obviously do not read much. Ask any denizen who knows me and my philosophical stance on “raw” data. There is no such thing. There is a first recorded measurement. That is not “raw”. All data is theory laden.

        Also, you know full well that you would not approve of the kind of behavior exhibited by CRU in the tobacco case. The fact that you try to change the topic is conclusive evidence of the conflict this causes you.

      • Steven,

        Have you even seen the data showing the link?

        No?

        Get me my smelling salts!

    • Smoking powerfully delays the onset of Alzheimer’s. You should try it!

    • Michael, the difference between the 2 things in fairly obvious if you think about it.

      At NO TIME has the correlation between smoking and lung cancer gone away. Which of course leads credence to the connection (and the belief in causation)

      Sadly for supporters of poor science the correlation between CO2 levels and Global Warming (the basis of all the AGW /Climate change what ever its now called) only occurs AT TIMES on the short scale, and is not visible at various different time scales, a potent indicator that thereis NO causal link.

  8. My own opinion is that a person who conflates cancer caused by smoking and anthropogenic global warming is, possibly, cognitiviely challenged.

    • Beesaman -

      Would you mind elaborating as to why you see the situations as categorically different?

      • I won’t speculate for Beesaman, but my contention would be the same as I gave upthread – that cancer is rather universally seen as a bummer, whereas a warmer climate is not. Some of us think it may be rather splendid.

      • The categorical difference, if you can call it that, is that the smoking-cancer link is confirmed while the CO2-climate link is not, far from it in fact.

      • Anteros -

        that cancer is rather universally seen as a bummer, whereas a warmer climate is not.

        That’s true, in a sense – but I would say that a “consensus” opinion is that climate change at the high end of the range considered probable by the “consensus” would rather universally be seen as a bummer – certainly in the long-term.

        Further, for a long time what was under attack was the scientific basis for attributing cancer to smoking. How is that, in a categorical sense, different than attributing a potential climate impact from anthropogenic CO2? As near as I can tell, you are making a distinction on the basis of the degree of “controversy” in the “consensus” community – but I’m confused by that as I outlined in my comment below (above?) to you.

      • David W,

        Are you really serious??

        Need to go back and check your smoking-cancer history.

        Most of the evidence was epidemiological.

      • David W -

        So why then, is the climate debate categorically different than the early stages of the “controversy” over the link between cigarettes and smoking?

      • Joshua -

        to your point about the scientists and saying there will be x number (lots) of deaths from cancer, I think that is entirely reasonable. I think they probably did – it is just epidemiology. Boring science – numbers of deaths per 100,000 smokers etc.

        A bit like scientific estimates of the extra joules of energy in the climate system as a result of the radiative properties of x gigatons of Co2. More boring science.

        Whether this is a good thing (the extra joules) or not is surely much more contentious – and includes many many perspectives that are not scientific let alone climate-scientific.

        We’re going to get into that very area of debate if you mention the ‘higher’ end of the estimates.

        I don’t dispute that there might be negatives in a 4 degree warmer world. Plenty of positives too – it’s a qualitatively very different discussion from are a load of cancers a good or bad thing. I suppose I just want that end of the debate kept open and think it’s outrageous for the likes of Oreskes to try to shut it down completely.

        *****

        Full disclosure – Historian of Science [like what Oreskes pretends to be] was going to be my first career choice. + I am an idealist when I stray from pragmatism, so her political/partisan machinations make my blood boil somewhat.

      • Anteros -

        I suppose I just want that end of the debate kept open and think it’s outrageous for the likes of Oreskes to try to shut it down completely.

        Agreed. I don’t think that calling for the debate to be closed is effective or valid. Even extending the benefit of the doubt to Oreskes that she is only calling for an end in the debate to what is not considered controversial in the “consensus” community, I disagree with the message of her op-ed.

        I again want to point out, however, that what you might consider to be “alarmism” from medical researchers when they first began finding a link between smoking and cancer would certainly have been understandable – given that the implications of that link would clearly have established a causal link to the “deaths of millions.”

        The interesting question for me is whether or not more ‘alarmism” on their part might of resulted in far fewer deaths. Smoking rates have reduced due to the acceptance of a cancer/smoking link. If epidemiologists had taken on a forceful advocacy role, would it have undermined the attempts by tobacco companies to forestall the impact of the cancer/smoking link becoming commonly accepted? Would that have led to fewer deaths?

      • Joshua,

        I don’t think that is what she is trying to do.

        More that we need to, at some point, declare what we do know with reasonable certainty, despite the interests of some in having a never-ending public ‘controversy’.

        Because if we had employed the preferred tactics of some, I’ve no doubt that in 2012, the smoking-cancer ‘debate’ would still be alive and well.

      • Joshua -

        Your point about the possible benefits of epidemiologist advocacy on smoking is a good one. I seem to remember there was quite a bit of ‘The syrgeon general recommends’, but in retrospect more would definitely have been a good thing [had it been effective]

        Sort of case closed, then? Well nearly [I had a momentary panic of world-view shifting..] but there’s an obvious problem. Two, in fact. We know NOW that smoking is related to cancer, – and we can now SEE the the dissemblers for what they were. Hindsight is great, but the AGW dissemblers might turn out to be something different.

        The second point is the one I made up(?)thread. The link between smoking and cancer was a simple one-step. The link between GHG’s and disaster is multi-step with some of the steps very much debatable – and debatable for reasons that have nothing to do with climate science.

        Perhaps too [make that 3 reasons] there is quite a big difference between advising people not smoke, and letting them spend the saved cash on chocolate or whatever, and saying that as a result of some purported possible problems in the potential future, we’re going to have to do some things that will cause hardship.

      • Anteros. O/T, but..

        “Full disclosure – Historian of Science [like what Oreskes pretends to be] was going to be my first career choice”

        We have much in common. I studied history at Oxford but spent much of my time in the physics lectures. Special subject was The Scientific Revolution’. From then to now I’ve spent a lot of time following scientific debates from both the perspective of the science, and history.

        Both are vital. There have been many mistakes, blind alleys and sheer absurdities in the history of science which have been whitewashed by a Whiggish view of scientific progress. Obviously I think AGW is going to be another one, but either way science has always needed some commonsense protection from some of it’s more overzealous practitioners!

      • Anteros -

        The second point is the one I made up(?)thread. The link between smoking and cancer was a simple one-step. The link between GHG’s and disaster is multi-step with some of the steps very much debatable – and debatable for reasons that have nothing to do with climate science.

        OK – I think that this is a valid, categorical difference. The cause-and-effect relationship w/r/t AGW is far more complex. In that sense, “skepticism” would have more room to carve out credibility.

        This statement, however, I find more problematic:

        Perhaps too [make that 3 reasons] there is quite a big difference between advising people not smoke, and letting them spend the saved cash on chocolate or whatever, and saying that as a result of some purported possible problems in the potential future, we’re going to have to do some things that will cause hardship.

        This, to me, becomes a much more complicated point because it ventures over into the political/ideological area of the debate. I feel that way for many reasons – but because I lack time right now, I’ll simply focus on the unqualified statement of “will cause hardship.” IMO, that statement is too “alarmist” to stand up.

      • cui bono -

        I often think I should have read more history than I have [or perhaps read differently and forgotten less]
        I see it is a great pity that people who do science very rarely study it, if you know what I mean. Many of them would both think differently and behave differently if they had an overview of the history (and to a certain extent, philosophy) of their subject.

        I have a feeling too that the most relevant subject for the current climate ‘debate’ is the psychology of future-thinking or more aptly, future-imagining.
        And of course the most relevant information on that topic is to be found in the history of prediction and prophecy (specifically the doom-saying variety) – whether that is based on the expertise of the old priests or the new ones.

        It’s all very well saying ‘the evidence is that the future will be terrible unless…’, but surely a glance at the last thousand times that was said would be instructive..

        P.S A coincidence you mention Oxford. I went up for interview there , got into talking (and big-time drinking) with some third year Philosophy students in the bar the night before, and consequently missed my interview completely. I had four years in idyllic Durham instead…

      • Joshua –

        Yes. I had a nagging feeling when I wrote ‘hardship’. Couldn’t think of the appropriate way to say that there is a difference – a big one – between advising strongly (and perhaps doing other things tax and law-wise) against smoking, and making policy decisions that involve many hundreds of billions of dollars. Perhaps I should have just have mentioned the opportunity costs and the fact that 25,000 children die every day – preventably for the most part.

        There are problems with that argument which is why I usually avoid it – even though it is a powerful one – but yes, ‘hardship’ is feeble. And even a bit alarmist…

      • Anteros –

        Thanks – we definitely need a lot of different perspectives on AGW. Doom laden predictions have come from all over the shop: religion (eg: Millerites et al); physics (Kelvin – the Sun’s going to run out of coal to burn any era now!); biologists (non-eugenics will produce ‘marching morons’ ); sociology (Wells – divisions of wealth will produce Eloi & Morlocks); economics (W. Stanley Jevons tried to persuade the Victorians that civilisation was not doomed by exhaustion of coal).

        And 1000s of others, which I’m sure you know.

        And now, ladees and gentlmen, the latest in scientific doom…let’s hear it for….global warming.

        PS: Going out drinking with philosophy students – never a good idea:

        Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
        who was very rarely stable.
        Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
        who could think you under the table.
        David Hume could out consume
        Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel,
        And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
        who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.

        There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach ya
        ’bout the raisin’ of the wrist.
        Socrates himself was permanently pissed.

        John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
        after half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
        Plato, they say, could stick it away,
        ‘alf a crate of whiskey every day!
        Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
        and Hobbes was fond of his Dram.
        And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart:
        “I drink, therefore I am.”

        Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed;
        A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he’s pissed.

        Eric Idle. :-)

      • The explanation is simple. In fact, I’m surprised you have not realized it yourself, as you are highly intelligent (I am not being sarcastic).

        There can be no comparison between the smoking-cancer issue and global warming:

        1) We could do actual, empirical experiments, with cell cultures and animals to determine if there was a link; the results from such were reproducible in a variety of ways and settings. This cannot be done with global warming.

        2) We could have control groups, replication, and we could break down the different agents that were in smoke to assay each ones individual effects, thereby allowing direct examination of each variable. This cannot be done with global warming.

        3) We had great control of our biological experimental systems, allowing deductions, and elucidations of the entire mechanism by which one agent or another or combination of them from smoke could cascade and elicit cancer initiation; the entire mechanism could be outlined, defined, and even IC 50′s of the different agents determined. This cannot be done with global warming.

        Global warming research can’t even begin to touch the scientific method as the research into the link between cancer and smoking did. There are no controls, there are no multiple replications, there are no corroborating systems of different natures (cell culture verses animal models, different animal models, human pathology and hospital epidemiology, etc). There is no way to tease apart different variables, there’s no way to determine direct mechanisms and cascades of interacting parts, how they interact, and how much one variable impacts another variable–feeds back, mitigates, transforms, amplifies, dampens, and so forth.

        With the link between cancer and smoking, we could break down the issue in a reductionist, scientific way, which global warming cannot do. Our single planet has no controls, and we have no other systems by which to compare.

        No. What evidence biological researchers like I were able to determine about cancer and smoking, that evidence was backed by a plethora of direct, empirical experiments and different systems. There is no analogous situation with global warming. The evidence was FAR superior, in quality, amount, reliability, reproducibility, and clarity. There was no where near the level of uncertainties as is associated with global warming.

        So please, Joshua, and Michael, stop trying to compare the two extremely different issues. It speaks of ignorance on how biological work is done, the amount of rigor that went in, and just how much momentous work was put forth before the issue was even broached. We were darn sure of ourselves, and there was no way to argue against iron clad empirical, controlled, experiments. Aka, the actual scientific method.

      • Heck, let me push the issue even farther, to show the logical fallacy in comparing smoking-cancer with global warming, and why are they categorically different! And also why Michael’s baseless, and tactless insinuations that Dr. Curry would have hurt the debate against smoking, are so onerous.

        - We had many, many other examples of cancer back then. We understood a great deal of what cancer was and how it worked (though we know a great deal more since then). We knew about p53 and p16 anticancer proteins and generally how they worked. We knew about DNA damage and what it meant, the repair mechanisms, and what happened when they failed. We knew about Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and what that did to cell’s DNA, proteins, and lipids. We knew a great deal about the innate defense mechanisms for such.

        - We knew many of the initiation mechanisms for cancer. We knew about signal transduction cascades and what happened if certain signaling proteins like Ras/Raf/Rac got stuck on. We knew what happened when cell cycle check point genes got damaged. We understood what it meant of a cell replicated past its senescence point. We understood metastasis to a degree.

        - We knew many other types of carcinogens and mutagens (like ethinium bromide). We had plenty of examples to compare to.

        - And most of all, we knew what HEALTHY cells were like. We knew what kept cells healthy and out of a cancerous state. We knew how to directly compare cancerous to healthy cells and the many shades between. We knew what gene changes to watch, and had the tools to evaluate proteins and genes and track individual changes between healthy and cancerous cells.

        So, when the issue with smoking broke, we could drop in the smoking agents into a well defined, well known system and immediately compare the changes agents in smoking caused with healthy cells, and with other carcinogens and mutagens. We could compare and contrast with a plethora of different examples to immediately tease apart the nuances and point to other well know cancer initiation agents and say “Look at this effect smoking tar is having, it’s similar in affect to these other carcinogens, we can see specifically what is changing, and we know specifically what those changes mean and how they damage cells; and we can watch them become cancerous in a petridish or when injected into mice. So we know it causes cancer”.

        This is a level of evidence, and definition of system that the science on global warming doesn’t even begin to come close to. You could not debate the very nature of the biological systems, but you can the very nature of climatology.

        And worst yet, I see almost no one doing empirical studies for global warming, though there are some like Dr. Spencer who uses the satellites to look at TOA radiation balance over time. Why? Because it’s so hard, and the system is -barely defined- and not well understood. Completely different from the level of knowledge we had of cells and biological systems, even back then!

        So again. The debates are categorically different. And they debated completely different nuances, with completely different levels of evidence, completely different levels of definition and certainties, completely different levels of previous knowledge foundations and evidence to compare with.

        There is no comparison between the two debates.

      • You know what, I’m really not done with you two yet. Let me make this even more blatant!

        - We look at global temperatures going up SLIGHTLY (<0.3% over a century), but could it be the sun? Is it just natural variations in surface temperature brought on by fluctuations in ocean heat transport? Is it orbital dynamics? Is it still part of the ending of whatever caused the LIA? Is it changes in albedo? Is it changes in aerosols and cloud formation? is it changes in GHG, and which ones, by how much and what ratio? Is it land use changes? Is it something unknown? We don't know!

        Is it all of them, and by how much does each contribute? Do we have other examples to compare to, or a blank control planet, or can we change each of those variables independently?

        - We look at smoking-cancer and we see cells becoming abnormal in physiology and proliferation right before our eyes and we can say "Oh look, when this agent was added, Jnk signalling turned way up, ERK signalling went way up, this is now sending a proliferation signal to the cells making them think they are being told by the body to grow, making them break out of their differentiated function and begin disrupting surrounding tissue… and go cancerous!" or "Look at this other smoke inhilation agent. It's greatly increasing ROS production. Look, we can see the DNA breaking with our dyes, as we watch. Look, we can see check point proteins failing to stop replication with this damaged DNA. Look, we can see this new, mutated DNA, leading to aberrant growth, and… cancer!" or "Look, we got some DNA damage from the ROS produced by the tar in smoke. Oh, see that, it's caused the Myc gene to undergo a very easy oncogenic transformation (hence why Myc is an oncogene, very easy to break and leads directly to cancer), now it is stuck on and making cells grow out of control… identical to the mechanism of some TUMORGENIC viruses, and we can repeat this in animals reliably… the tar is causing cancer!". And we could say, "look at this, these animals/cells that aren't going tumorgenic in response to smoke inhilation agents… they have more p53 naturally! They are resistant, that's why they don't get cancer!" or "In the animals with boosted immune systems, cancer was cleared out, but when we injected smoking agents into mice strains that lacked a functional immune system, the rate of cancer innitation and death went statistically significantly up! The smoke agents cause cancer, but here is how the body resists it, and why some people are more susceptible than others."

        We didn't have to rely on CORRELATION between people who smoked and got cancer… we PROVED it with CAUSATION. Can you say that with global warming? Nope! We can't even understand most of the planetary mechanisms that control climate, let alone know what one variable is doing! This is nothing like the well defined biological systems that were used to study the smoking-cancer issue, and nor was the debate ever about how CELLS WORKED. Just about thresholds: was there enough of these agents in smoke to affect humans; was there a certain amount needed before cancer would initiate reliably (i.e. how much did you have to smoke over a given amount of time); were the agents in smoke even taken up by cells of the lung with their mucosal defenses, to be able to cause cancer? That was the debate, not on how cells work, and not about how cancer worked or what the different agents in smoke did to affect it all; just on how much was then needed to harm the huge human body with its intricate defenses–a very different issue, but easily answered by following cohorts of people with control groups!

        But in the global warming debate, we haven't even fully defined how the planet works! Let alone have controls or experiments or comparison examples.

        No comparison between the two debates. I say again, there is no comparison between the two.

        There, I think I'm done with you two now. I hoped you both learned something about science and biology, and how to evaluate debates and the natures of evidence!

      • I would add to Ged’s analysis – that medicine is a rigorous practice and climate science is not remotely as rigorous – that both the tobacco industry and the medical fraternity have had legal liability for their products/services since they started their activities. And it is the legal liability that has contributed in no small part IMHO (disclosure – I’m a lawyer) to the very medical certainty about the effects of smoking. Climate science cannot hold a candle to modern medicine and the tobbaco/skeptic argument is anor in a long line of weak arguments pushed by warmynumpties like Oreskes.

      • @Anteros
        “what is not considered controversial” – when it comes to “the science”, I find the word “settled” can be replaced, invariably, and to great advantage, by “uncontroversial”.

      • TomFP -

        Very well observed, I concur; most useful…and thanks!

      • > We didn’t have to rely on CORRELATION between people who smoked and got cancer… we PROVED it with CAUSATION.

        Citation needed.

    • Beesaman doesn’t know what conflates means…… or does he really think I was suggesting AGW causes cancer, or smoking casues AGW?

    • Bees,

      More likely they are just dishonest. Like josh, who pretends not to see the difference.

    • cui bono
      “Whiggish” is a word that has often come to mind when considering climate bollocks, but that, not having your education, I have hesitated to use. You may correct me, but surely the credulous use of computer-modeling, both in climate prediction and in proposals for mitigation, represents an apotheosis of the Whiggish turn of mind?

      Underlying warmist belief seems to be an unexamined assumption that there really is no limit to the extent to which man can (and does) dominate his environment, and that everything in the benighted past has been leading up to the enlightened perfection of the present – a perfection which extends to the weather, such that any change to it must be bad. As such they really can’t see the difference between the smoking-cancer link, and the abstruse and unparsimonious argument needed to sustain the belief that man’s current use of carbon threatens the planet. They’re both just bad things that people do, and which they must be prevented, by the Enlightened, of course, from doing.

      I believe Boswell recorded Dr Johnson refuting Bishop Berkeley’s disquisition on “immaterialism” fancy by shouting “How do I refute it? I refute it thus, sir!” and kicking a large rock with his gouty toe. I often feel much the same when reading stuff like Oresekes’ absurd tract.

      But perhaps I misunderstand “Whiggism”?

    • cui bono – small correction, in the interests of scansion.

      “Immanuel Kant was a real pissant who was very VERY rarely stable”
      (one of the real beauties of Python verse, to me, is their frequent resort to homely, demotic structures to overcome obvious problems of meter)

  9. Judith,

    How can society advance without open mindedness?
    The planet keeps changing and if we do not adapt, we become extinct.

    Not to have the ability to confront inadequate parameters to experiments or have the ability to show authors the errors in published work has generated a massive problem of bad theories running a muck in society.
    Is it a wonder society has little confidence in scientists?

    • Science implicitly has a “last man standing” kind of morality. Disputants go at it hammer and tongs till a (temporary) champion emerges. Disarming and shackling opponents in advance is considered to be bad form, however. But it’s the only way CAGW can prevail.

  10. That anyone should still be listening to a this queen of cherry picking -someone who has singlehandedly done so much to discredit herself- is beyond me. On the other hand, finding this type of barely camouflaged totalitarian thinking published in the “progessive” MSM such as the LAT or WP, was to be expected.

  11. There she goes again – always stuck on tobacco. Oreskes lost her open mind many years ago.

    • But it’s not even a good analogy is it? I remember that it was widely accepted by people at large that the doctors had it right. That they could point to large numbers of heavy smokers who’d contracted lung cancer gives them an advantage over people who’ve put forward a theory, made forecasts, none of which have come true, and continue to describe people who challenge them as big oil, big tobacco, big liars and general all round bounders. And after what looks like a complete disconnect between the rise in CO2 and temperature over the last 14 years or so are still describing people questioning their theorie as “anti-science”. If the doctors had proposed smoking causing lung cancer and heavy smokers didn’t get it then they too would have been challenged by the public at large, and not just Big Tobacco.

    • P G,
      I think you can drop the word “open” and get to a better description of Naomi’s problem.

  12. Scientists don’t play the role of prosecutor trying to prove a case. Rather, they are the jury trying to evaluate the evidence. And they have rendered their verdict.

    The verdict:

    1) During the medieval warming period (MWP) the global mean temperature (GMT) was higher than the recent warming (disregarding the deletion of the MWP by the hockey team)

    http://bit.ly/wrzDjx

    2) Since 1850, the GMT data shows only a uniform warming of 0.06 deg per decade.

    http://bit.ly/zISeEo

    As a result, the recent warming is not unprecedented and is therefore natural.

    • Girma: Up until the last sentence I agreed: “As a result, the recent warming is not unprecedented and is therefore natural.”

      Change that to “As a result, the effects of the recent warming are not unprecedented and the effect of the addition of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is within the range of previous natural variations in climate” and I will be in agreement.

  13. The power of the oil companies to interfere is boundless. If only they would butt out the tropospheric hot would be there, the stratosphere would be cooling, the oceans would be accumulating heat, and the world would see that, beyond a doubt, we must completely reorganise our energy base. They are devious criminals only surpassed by the notorious Dr. No and I have little doubt that he is probably involved in this somehow also.

    • d’er, the stratosphere is cooling

    • randomengineer

      As I said in another thread, really and truly evil profit minded screw-the-customer fossil fuel companies would be buying up patent processes for CO2 sequestering etc and then *begging* the government to crack down on them.

      Oreskes notion of “fossil fuel interests” is absurdity on stilts.

      • I can’t take her seriously but a lot of people claim they do. I’d like to see all those people swear they will never take oil money so we don’t start to think it isn’t just a huge conspiracy to get all the oil grant money for themselves.

      • Fossil fuel/Big Oil/Bigger Gas companies are in a can’t-lose situation. They know perfectly well the renewables alternatives are hopelessly inadequate and costly. So they play Green and promote their own competition, in a heart-warmingly subsidized way, of course, secure in the knowledge that when it all goes South, the inevitable fall-back is — fossil fuel! (Or, if you prefer, abiotic hydrocarbons; Big Oil doesn’t give a rap which is true, as long as they have access to it.)

  14. This is the kind of obfuscation that drives me nuts. Oreskes is one of the modern masters {believe me – this is not a compliment] of seguing from ‘is’ to ‘ought’ by way of imagination and a sleight of hand. The subtle (but viscious) leap is contained in this sentence –

    They have been saying for some time that the case for the reality and gravity of climate change has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt

    I have emboldened the operative word because unless you pause on it, you are likely to think it isn’t guilty, like a trojan swanning around the nether regions of your computer. Don’t fall for it! – the whole sorry farrago rests on this creeping through unnoticed…

    The ‘gravity’ of climate change is not in the specific purview of climate science – although Hansen and others think otherwise. Richard Betts recently has made this point and it is critical. When he says that he (and most climate scientists) don’t believe in the “2 degrees is dangerous” meme, he is not just saying 2 degrees is likely to be non-dangerous, he goes on to say that ‘dangerous’ is a value judgement – climate science is not in a position to rule on such a thing. This is why Betts is ‘agnostic’ (in the original sense) as a scientist. Talking of the danger [cf 'gravity'] of climate change he is a civilian like the rest of us. And that is true even though he may have a lot more information on the subject than most. And he only gets one vote. Betts stands out to me because he has the humility to admit that. He knows where science ends and imagination/advocacy begins.

    Oreskes is guilty of making a false representationn of what a scientific discipline can do – because she doesn’t want a discussion, a debate, or anybody else’s subjective opinion on what they think is a ‘risk’ or a ‘danger’. She wants the ‘gravity’ of climate change to be settled in the way that an ‘anthropogenic’ influence is settled – however much that is. They are absolutely not the same, especially because one of those things is open to all the range of perspectives recently understood by the likes of Mike Hulme. The recent thread about Feyerabend and the false demarcation between science and non-science was also pertinent in exactly the same way.

    I’d give up every other area of climate debate solely to challenge this pernicious idea that the ‘gravity’ of possible changes in climate has been decided upon, with certainty, by scientists. No!

    Where the hell is kim-no-bot reminding us of how beneficial warming can be? The armaggedonologists have been cunning but dishonest in putting verdicts in the mouths of scientists who have no speech to make on the subject.

    • Is that “vicious”, “viscous”, or a telling confection of both?

    • cynicism mustering itself nicely, I see:-)

      Anteros, this is the result of the Boolean subtraction I referred to in an earlier thread. Subtract all the pre-CAGW fields from climate “science” and what do you get? Naomi Oreskes’ meretricious twaddle, is what you get.

      • Well, I’m with you on that. I think if everybody stuck to their job descriptions there wouldn’t be a problem [and precious few 'climate scientists', as you say].

        What particular studies has Mr James ‘catastrophological’ Hansen pursued for him to be able to pronounce on ‘ineffable disasters? Or any flavour of disaster? None!! So he should stfu!

        You see – he’s even responsible for me becoming intemperate and uncivil.

        I fear I may have taken a big leap over justifiable cynicism onto a fully fledged paint-my-face warpath…..

    • Anteros -

      She wants the ‘gravity’ of climate change to be settled in the way that an ‘anthropogenic’ influence is settled –

      While I think you make some valid points in your post, this point confuses me.

      Why do you consider it that the “anthropogenic influence” is settled? When I go to WUWT, I see posts written by people who seem scientifically knowledgeable explaining in great deal why there is no way even theoretically that CO2 could affect the climate. And in response to such posts, I see a long list of comments from the “extended peer review community” that are in agreement.

      So what is the criterion that you use to determine that the “controversy” is settled in the one area but not the other? Is it because there is no controversy in the “consensus” community as to the “anthropogenic influence” but there is controversy as to the danger of “2 degrees?” So then, is the attribute of “settled” to be based on whether there is controversy in the “consensus community?” If so, how do you define the “consensus community,” and are you saying that we should disregard what we read in the “extended peer review community?”

      • What the ‘skeptics’ don’t seem to realise is that you can mount the very same arguments against the smoking-cancer link, as with AGW.

        Attribution – person X, has cancer, but you can’t prove it was the smoking that did it in this particular case.

        Stats – it’s all just statistical trickery. There is little or no direct evidence.

        Data – anyone seen the raw data on the studies that ‘proved’ the smoking-cancer link??

        Personal anecdote – I’ve been smoking for 40 years and I don’t have cancer!

      • Joshua –

        ‘Settled’ and ‘not-settled’ are maybe too discrete categories.

        I think that the basic physics of the radiative properties of Co2 are what I call settled. Settled in a non-pedantic, we can work-on-the-basis-that kind of settled. I haven’t heard of any employed scientist that says that more Co2 won’t increase temperatures. Exactly how much, due to feedbacks, isn’t settled at all.

        That’s what I mean by anthropogenic influences being settled. I think, although I may be wrong, that the people you describe over at WUWT are basically lunatics. Politically motivated ones most likely.

        The whole issue of ‘danger’ and ‘negative impacts’ is different because it is a different subject. For me that is half (ish) of the reason Betts says he and other climatologists don’t see 2 degrees a dangerous. It is mostly outside the purview of climate science. Or climate science has only one perspective on it. Betts isn’t just saying that science has pronounced 2 degrees as safe, he’s saying climate science isn’t responsible for the answer – the Huxley version af agnosticism.

        On a slightly different tangent, the second question is constantly ‘settled’ in all democratic countries where the issue affects elections. We could take that too far very easily, but to an extent the ‘consensus’ here gets expressed at the polls.

      • Anteros -

        Again – I’m not interested in detracting from your main thesis here, which I see as trying to clarify better what is in dispute, and how to categorize and/or quantify (perhaps better than Oreskes did) the different components of the debate. Still…

        I haven’t heard of any employed scientist that says that more Co2 won’t increase temperatures.

        The problem I have with that is how it relates to much of what I read from Judith and many of her “denizens.” I read post after post that says that the categorization of “working scientist” is a meaningless categorization, and one that is aligned with a historical legacy of squashing dissent, with a “gate-keeping” pal-review process that produces flawed “false-positives” time after time after time. Instead, we are told to embrace the contributions from the “extended peer review community.”

        Now I agree that the input of the “extended peer review community” should be embraced – but it needs to be systematically quantified and qualified, and you can’t do that by an inconsistent methodology implementing an inconsistent taxonomy. I see Judith and others using, often, an inconsistent methodology to implement an inconsistent taxonomy.

      • “”I haven’t heard of any employed scientist that says that more Co2 won’t increase temperatures””

        The above is a classic example of the predicate of appeal to authority

        “”So what is the criterion that you use to determine that the “controversy” is settled in the one area but not the other?””

        Same laws Aristotle used.

      • Joshua -

        I’ve got a little lost..
        I only mentioned ‘employed scientist’ as a sort of short hand. Maybe I would have been better to say I believe it and I don’t see it as controversial belief.
        But like you am not a scientist. I don’t think my months at science of doom have been completely wasted but I also have to appeal to some authority. It just seems really not-disputed by anybody sane that GHG’s have the effect that they do – and that pre-feedback we can quantify the effect quite precisely. We have to start somewhere, even though I take your point about a shifting view of the ‘consensus’ and it’s authority. Basic physics is ‘settled-science’. A lot of the models, projections and predictions aren’t.

        With the other bit – the whole stuff about ‘danger’ – I don’t feel I have to appeal to any authority at all. It is a question of how we feel about the future, change, human agency, our place in the Universe, our propensity to take risk and our feeling of responsibility to the unbom [etc]. Like on matters concerning religion and sex, I don’t want to concede authority to anybody and wouldn’t want to impose mine on anybody else.

        I think that because the authority we grant to the consensus is always going to vary depending on the subject and a lot of other factors, your criticism of inconsistency will always find an appropriate target. Hard for me to know how often it is justified.

      • “Michael | January 23, 2012 at 9:23 am |

        What the ‘skeptics’ don’t seem to realise is that you can mount the very same arguments against the smoking-cancer link, as with AGW.”

        Do you think you are fooling anybody with that nonsense? You people are really shameless. And desperate.

      • Cancer has existed for thousands of years before tobacco. So how can tobacco cause cancer?

      • Yes, there has always been cancer.

  15. Tomas Milanovic

    Clearly we are lucky that people like this Oreskes have no say in government.
    It is already too bad that there are journals which accept with a complete “open mind” something that probably looks like inconsistent babbling for most readers.
    Comparing AGW and lung cancer is for me a sure sign of an unhinged mind.

    And this person is also utterly wrong when writing “The problem is that there is no judge, no recognized authority giving us instructions we accept … “
    Of course that there is a judge and one whose authority can neither be contested nor ignored – did Oreskes never heard the word democracy ?
    The judge is called free elections and when the people decide something, anything, then it is completely irrelevant whether some Oreskes likes it or not.
    I have no sympathy for totalitarian apprentices and strongly suggest to Oreskes to meditate the 2 century old wisdom when Talleyrand said to Napoleon who was considering that one should not be too much open minded : “Majesty one can do many things with bayonets excepting to sit down on them”

    • The judge is called free elections and when the people decide something, anything, then it is completely irrelevant whether some Oreskes likes it or not.

      So if “the people” decide in free elections that AGW is not a threat that will make it so?

      • Tomas Milanovic

        Are you really so ignorant or only fake it?
        This is not the kind of question asked in elections.
        But if the people say in elections we don’t want any CO2 tax, any tax money in wind mills, cheaper energy and if you ask us, no we don’t think that 2 degrees more or less in a century make any difference for my country , then yes, it definitely makes the decision so for all practical purposes.

      • Are you really so ignorant or only fake it?

        You’re the one who either misunderstood or misrepresented Oreskes’s argument.

        But if the people say in elections we don’t want any CO2 tax, any tax money in wind mills, cheaper energy and if you ask us, no we don’t think that 2 degrees more or less in a century make any difference for my country , then yes, it definitely makes the decision so for all practical purposes.

        Of course people can democratically decide that they don’t want to take action on AGW, but that has no relevence to the question of the “reality and gravity of climate change”. That is the question Oreskes is concerned with and the answer to that question exists independently of what view people may express through elections.

      • Andrew

        It is simpler than so:

        There is a real judge out there, he is called ‘reality’. If reality (empirical observations, experiments, repeatability etc) does not agree the ‘scientific’ predictions or explanations, or offered hypotheses, then that is the verdict.

        Further: Predictions about the future, especially definitive ones, about a very complex reality are hardly science. Definitely not by themselves. A clearly specified hypothesis (explanation) about how something works may qualify as science, and the predictions then are tests of it, or falsifications.

        However, ‘experts’ telling you your future fortune (or misfortune) are rarely ever scientists, they are after your money (or soul) …

        Amazing that AGW-protagonists still so often mix up the science-part and the policy debate, and demand that both should be accepted as intimately connected.

        (That argument is wrong on both parts, both the ‘science’ and the ‘policy’)

      • Jonas,

        It wasn’t me mixing up the science and policy debates (although it’s wrong to suggest they are completely unconnected) and I would say that in general the “skeptics” are far more guilty of that. That was my point – as much as people might choose to decide for themselves that AGW is not a problem it will be, as you say, reality that decides. But in the meantime we have to try to make a judgement based on the information we have now, both about the immediate effect if increased GHG levels and whether we should be concerned about the consequences. And to an extent that involves trying to estimate the likely future impact of changes in climate – there is nothing “unscientific” in principle about that.

    • Tomas -

      Comparing AGW and lung cancer is for me a sure sign of an unhinged mind.

      Well – I’ve been accused many times at Climate Etc. for having an unhinged mind, so I’ll go ahead and ask: What do you see as the categorical differences between the debate about the link between smoking and cancer (and the debate about the link between 2nd hand smoke and cancer), and the climate debate? Is it because over time debate about the link between smoking and cancer ended? If so, what leads you to conclude that a same sort of trajectory won’t occur with the controversy over climate change?

      • You are a dope josh. If you can’t see the difference between the level of proof in the cases you set up as your most recent strawman, then you are a dope. But I already said that. It didn’t take a gaggle of scientists to see the link between smoking and lung cancer.

      • These clowns who keep trying to make CAGW skeptics defend lung cancer and tobacco companies should be ignored.

      • I changed my mind. They should be pilloried and ridiculed.

      • Joshua,
        You are justt an annoying troll. You are not unhinged.

    • cetris non paribus

      Tomas Milanovic wrote:

      Of course that there is a judge and one whose authority can neither be contested nor ignored – did Oreskes never heard the word democracy ?

      Pffft. I loves me some democracy too.
      But democracy is easy to contest or ignore.
      G.W. Bush for the win in 2000!

      And besides – science ain’t no democracy…

  16. Warmists/convinced have a blind spot for non-anthropogenic (and non-GHG/CO2) climate change. Yes, open-mindedness is the wrong approach for those looking for “some temporary fame and excitement” or “staying with the herd”, but it’s the only right approach for those looking for scientific progress and understanding of Nature’s phenomena.

    We all have blind spots and it’s very hard to recognize them from the inside. It’s understandable.

    • Edim,

      How can scientists see they are incorrect when they do NOT want to know.
      Staying ignorant is safe for their funding and careers. Not to mention of the bias of the publishing field nor the media to produce propaganda to buy bad technology because it is “green”.

    • That’s projection Edim. It’s you who have a blind spot. You ignore the most likely and well founded explanation for the ongoing changes in climate because you want it to cling instead to the fleeting chance that it might all be just some yet-unknown “nature’s phenomena”

  17. According to Nami, it is the oil companies that stopped global warming!

    http://bit.ly/rYp5OM

  18. If the word ‘science’ is applicable to Oreskes’s output (and I’d hesitate to describe her as a ‘scientist’) then it is advocacy science. To me her attitude resembles the intolerance of a religion such as inquisition catholicism. It is simply unscientific.

    • Coldish,

      The majority of science is unscientific. Much of it is guesses with bad parameters. Take the Collider…Smashing molecules to try and understand the Universe. Yet they did not include that planets rotate differently than molecules, so they have different energy displacements stored.

    • +1
      But we should be grateful. In the sixteenth century 50,000 people were executed, many for ‘altering the weather’ by the experts of the day.

  19. So am I to infer from this that the only way to support the IPCC consensus is to close your mind?

    No.

    • Andrew,

      Tooooo late!
      Many government policies and quotes are from the IPCC that they have paid into.
      I have many e-mails from politicians that quote IPCC are their guide and I am a nobody with an opinion.

      • JW,

        I don’t doubt that politicians take guidance from the IPCC – that’s what it’s there for.

        My point is that in order to accept the consensus position as portrayed by the IPCC it is not necessary to have a closed mind. Or, more to the point, that it is a reasonable interpretation or Oreske’s argument that this is the case.

      • Should read “a reasonable interpretation of Oreskes’s argument”.

  20. Norm Kalmanovitch

    In science openmindedness is of value as long as it is not contradicted by fact. The fact that global warming ended by 1998 and the fact that the world has been in fact cooling since 2002 trumps any consensus of open minded people claiming human caused global. This includes Naiomi Oreskes who in 2004, six years after global warming ended and two years after the world had already started cooling, wrote a paper in the journal “Science” debunking claims that scientists disagreed about global warming in the past decade.
    Openmindedness is about rejecting ludicrous claims that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are causing the CO2 concentration to rise at unprecidented rates when data shows that no such accelerated rate of increase is taking place.
    Openmindedness is about rejecting the notion of an enhanced greenhouse effect from increased CO2 when three decades of satellite measurements show no detectable enhancement of the greenhouse effect.
    Openmindedness is about rejecting the notion that increased CO2 has the effect stated in the CO2 forcing parameter of the climate models when observation shows that the 14.77micron band of the Earth’s thermal radiation is too close to saturation from the existing concentration of CO2 to allow this to be possible.
    Most importantly openmindedness is the ability to judge that starving millions of the world’s poor by using food as feedstock for biofuels is a morally unconscionable remedy for addressing a non existant alarmist fabrication.

    • Norm,

      That’s what you get when you go “green”.
      Not to mention the bad technology being pushed.

    • “The fact that global warming ended by 1998 and the fact that the world has been in fact cooling since 2002 trumps any consensus of open minded people claiming human caused global.”

      Not at all because those two “facts” are actually lies.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        NCDC GISS HADCRUT3 MSU UAH MSU RSS and even BEST disagree with you.
        Open minded people accept data but refute conjecture
        Open your mind go to http://www.climate4you.com take the HadCRUT3 plot and draw the best srtaight line fit from the current value to the value for 2002. This straight line shows decreasing temperatures since 2002 and since the IPCC uses this same HadCRUT3 dataset the IPCC must be liars as well because their own data demonstrates cooling since 2002!

  21. “Jumping the Shark” is too kind a term for what Naomi has turned into regarding global warming. Namoi, the self-declared progressive, is now rounding that final bend and becoming what she claims to loathe: a McCarthyist, or worse.

    • Indeed, the piece reeks of totalitarianism, especially the part about the Scientist General who will tell us all what the truth is.

      • Yes, and damn that Surgeon-General who commanded us to believe that smoking casues cancer.

      • Michael,
        Repeatedly demonstrating your ignorance on this topic does not make you look smarter.

      • ha I think that tapping sound was Micheal nailing your double standards

      • k scott denison

        Michael, please provide the citation demonstrating the Surgeon General was the first one (or even the second) to identify the link between smoking and cancer.

        And,while you are at it, please explain why, if “smoking causes cancer”, every smoker doesn’t have cancer? Oh, and why the incidence of lung cancer in Japanese men is low even though they smoke more?

        Could it be that there is MORE THAN ONE FACTOR that determines cancer risk and that smoking is only one of them? Hint: the VAST majority of smoker will NEVER be diagnosed with lung cancer. If “smoking causes cancer, why is this?

        Could it be there is MORE THAN ONE FACTOR that influence climate and that CO2 is only one, and the VAST majority of climate change is NOT due to CO2?

      • KSD, multiple probabilistic causation… oh that is too confusing.

  22. We have to get over that flawed notion. Scientists don’t play the role of prosecutor trying to prove a case
    That is exactly what they are doing.

  23. What I don’t understand about Oreskes’ op-ed is how she thinks it could possibly be effective. Although I don’t agree with her viewpoint – I can understand why she thinks it important to communicate her opinion to a wide audience. But I fail to see why she thinks that such communication will bear fruit in the climate debate.

    • Some people are lousy tacticians.

    • My feeling is that she’s just trying to remind people that the smoking-cancer debacle followed a very similiar public trajectory – ie that the public ‘debate’ was out of step with the scientific one.

      • Michael -

        Here I agree with you [except she's trying to do something else too]

        It is a fair point that the public perception of what the science ‘says’ is quite wrong. But the smoking cancer analogy only works up to a point – as I mentioned above, cancer is definitely bad, a warmer climate isn’t. And further, deciding whether it is or not isn’t the exclusive remit of climate scientists.

      • randomengineer

        Anteros

        Are you sure about the smoking thing? Japan seems to have a population where practically everyone smokes, and yet they seem to be touted as the models of longevity.

      • RE -

        Are you sure about the smoking thing? Japan seems to have a population where practically everyone smokes, and yet they seem to be touted as the models of longevity.

        Bingo. I think this best falls under Michael’s anecdotal category – although I’m open to being persuaded that it fits better under one of the other categories.

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/01/23/open-mindedness-is-the-wrong-approach/#comment-161307

      • randomengineer

        Bingo. I think this best falls under Michael’s anecdotal category – although I’m open to being persuaded that it fits better under one of the other categories.

        If your interpretation of “anecdote” is hard data from an entire country, it’s easy to see where your divisions lie.

      • Awesome – random isn’t sure about smoking causing cancer.

        Denialist bingo indeed!

      • k scott denison

        Michael, if smoking causes cancer, then why don’t all smokers have cancer? What percentage of smokers get cncer, do you know? If you do know, whynis it so low?

        And why is the prevalence in Japanese men, who are avid smokers, so low?

      • Apparently the anomalously low incidence of lung cancer in Japan is so well-documented as to have been given a name – “The Japan Paradox”.

        This came from a site that appears to have no financial connection with the tobacco industry:

        http://lungcancer.about.com/od/causesoflungcance1/f/lungcaparadox.htm

        I haven’t visited Japan for a couple of decades, but as I recall male smokers outnumbered and outsmoked females to a far greater degree than in other societies with which I am familiar. I’d be interested to see how Japanese lung cancer rates varied by gender, vs rest of the world.

      • “My feeling is that she’s just trying to remind people that the smoking-cancer debacle followed a very similiar public trajectory…”

        Of course we could pick out a different historical example of a lot of VSPs (Very Smart People) agreeing on the propriety of a policy option grounded in (what passed for) science. Eugenics comes to mind. But that would be the wrong example. Oreskes is indeed telling a story, or what people of her age and education like to call a “narrative” (I may vomit).

    • Oreskes is hoping to associate AGW dissent with smoking dissent in the minds of (!) people who have not yet made up their minds.

      And since we all know that smoking dissent was wrong, then, via guilt by association, so is AGW dissent.

      Aside from the logical fallacy, there is something notably wrong with her argument. In the case of the smoking/cancer link, there really was almost universal agreement that tobacco causes cancer in a statistical sense. The only disagreement came from tobacco-funded researchers, and the main point of disagreement was over whether Joe Schmoe’s cancer was caused by smoking, as a legal matter.

      In the AGW case, however, there are several climate scientists — Lindzen, e.g. — who question the consensus. There are several respected scientists — Dyson, e.g. — who question the consensus.

      I cannot point to a similar situation wrt tobacco. Can you? Can Oreskes?

      It is wrong for her to label a luminary like Dyson as a “merchant of doubt.” Her argument is a poisoning of the well — and it is the well of honest doubt that produces great science. Lady, step away from the well and put down the strychnine.

  24. I think everyone agrees that the climate is changing, but we also agree that the science of the underlying mechanics is not settled, it can never be. However, the correlation between smoking and lung cancer is much stronger than that of humans and climate change, and while we can say the science that relates smoking is also never finished, the correlation demonstrated over the last 50 years is much more firmly established than that of humans and climate change and we should not use them as valid comparators. In some ways the skeptics are in the role of those who claimed the smoking/cancer link, with those who vilify them being in the role of the tobacco companies.

    • Garethman -

      First, for many years, there was scientific “controversy” over the link between smoking and cancer.

      Second, the link between smoking and cancer was established by the same “consensus” process that is now under constant attack for corruption, pal-review, intolerance to dissent, “totalitarian” demands for subservience to the “consensus” position, etc.

      Third, there are actually some direct links between some ‘skeptics” w/r/t climate change and some “skeptics” w/r/t the link between cancer and smoking, and further w/r/t the link between 2nd hand smoke and deleterious health outcomes.

      I’m not sure that your analogy holds up.

      • randomengineer

        First, for many years, there was scientific “controversy” over the link between smoking and cancer.

        Wrong. Everyone knew in the 60′s that smoking was bad for you.

        Any controversy is and has been on the notion of second hand smoke, with no clearcut evidence, just statistical inferences, and this has been used to create some utterly ridiculous laws.

        e.g. if a business owner wants to have a smoking clientele, that ought to be up to the owner and his/her patrons, not the state. Smoking offends you? Don’t go in there. Don’t work there. And so on.

      • RE -

        Much of the effort was some indirect in that it was focused on specious refutation of evidence on the addictive qualities of nicotine, but there is a documented history of decades of attacks on epidemiologists and epidemiological research, attempts to fabricate “controversy” on the findings regarding a link between smoking and cancer, etc.

        So,

        Any controversy is and has been on the notion of second hand smoke,

        is simply not true, and this:

        with no clearcut evidence, just statistical inferences,

        Should serve very well for providing full context for the debate. It is you who is creating picture of parallelism between the “controversy” with AGW and the “controversy” around negative health impacts from 2nd hand smoke. This should serve very well for those that are “open-minded” to the full context of the debate.

    • Gareth,

      you’ve got it exactly wrong.

      The science of AGW is the emerging evidence. Just as once people had no qualms about beclhing smoke from their lungs, we also once thought nothing of belching CO2 into the atmosphere.

      The emergence of scientific evidence questioning both of these assumptions did (smoking), and is (CO2), encountering significant push-back.

  25. This is the product of an opened mind.

    For, matter without potential energy, there is none, kinetic energy cannot be potential energy, radiation is the enhancement of potential energy to the state of geomagnetism. Energy from our Sun cannot penetrate the potential energy of Earth, unless we have irreversibly entered its magnet fields. Kinetic energy from our Sun cannot obtain the properties of potential energy, why, because it has no mass.

    Energy doesn’t equal mass. It is the energy retained by mass, from creation of the universe, that cannot be penetrated by the remnants of that creation.

    Heat is a manifestation of kinetic energy which cannot penetrate the mass of earth. We cannot add extra heat to our planet by any direction of radiation.

    E=mc2.

    Markus.

  26. Anytime a climate crisis advocate employs the ‘tobacco card’, you know they have no coherent fact-based argument to present.

  27. The Surgeon General had little to do with it. That smoking caused cancer was well established in the public mind. When I was a child in the 40′s we called cigarettes “coffin nails.” (The tobacco companies merely made the government prove it, which was their right and duty.) That driving my car in Virginia causes heat waves in Russia is an entirely different matter. It begins from a position of implausibility, which it still holds in much of the public mind, and rightly so.

  28. Well now, we skeptics are getting a battering. First we were compared to people who believe the world was created in 4004BC; now we are like drug-pushers. And ‘denier’ – well, no comment. Let us hand ourselves in to the local constabulary because of sociopathic leanings. Clearly we are in need of therapy.

    Meanwhile no independent judge is required on AGW. The scientists Ms. Oreskes has talked to already believe they can act as judge, jury and executioner on all climate matters, and have vetoed Nature from the jury on the grounds it might be prejudiced against them.

    The ‘guilty’ sentence will be pronounced shortly: energy blackouts, poverty and possibly wars.

    • cui bono -

      Your objection to being analogized to malevolent people is duly noted.

      As are the arguments often read at “skeptical” websites analogizing “warmists” to socialists, Eugenicists, McCarthy (in this very thread by two of our beloved denizens), frauds, oppressors of scientific dissent, capitalism-haters, eco-Nazis indifferent to the deaths of millions, etc.

      • Pistols at dawn, Josh? :-)

      • Josh,
        When the AGW extremists stop acting lin ways that reminds reasonable people of those people on that list of yours, I am sure things will settle down.

      • randomengineer

        As are the arguments often read at “skeptical” websites analogizing “warmists” to socialists, … [snip]

        It ain’t the skeptics wanting to tax or turn out the lights or demand action on an invented problem. Other than that, your point is… hmmm. You have no point.

  29. “So am I to infer from this that the only way to support the IPCC consensus is to close your mind? And trust the ‘experts’? (like those we saw in the CRU emails)”

    Judith, no, that’s not what you can infer. That’s a cognitive error or disortion. An obvious one. :-(

    The good news is that you have a PhD and you do not need to pretend that you’re so desperately, intellectually overwhelmed and helpless. :-)

    • I have every PHD needed, I have none.

      Do not condemn them, for they are me. man.

    • Martha,
      Please never change the way you post.
      Your offensive, deliberately ignorant and insulting style of writing assures more skeptics everytime you post.

    • randomengineer

      Judith, no, that’s not what you can infer. That’s a cognitive error or disortion. An obvious one.

      No, Dr Curry nailed it. That’s what Oreskes wants the reader to conclude.

    • cetris non paribus


      The good news is that you have a PhD and you do not need to pretend that you’re so desperately, intellectually overwhelmed and helpless.

      But, Martha, climate science is sooooo hard.

      Why take a stand based on measured evidence when most of your readers expect shrugs based on Rumsfeldian unknown unknowns?

      As Rumsfeld himself said:
      “Learn to say ‘I don’t know.’ If used when appropriate, it will be often.”

      What’s appropriate for the fawning press corps during a war is surely good enough for scientists.

    • Oreskes appears to make to claims:

      1) Scientists are on the whole impartial, not prosecutors or advocates.

      2) The evidence that scientists present is strong enough for a judge reach a verdict.

      To me these points should be considered as her judgment of the present state of matter, not a requirement for close mind. As I do think that these claims represent her views honestly, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong in her saying that or in her attempts to convince others that the claims are true.

      Similarly those who honestly disagree have the right to oppose these ideas.

      Another question has been raised higher up in this thread. Accepting that she has the right to act as she has done, has she chosen an effective way of promoting her goals? As was also noted, the answer is probably that her approach is not effective.

      • 1) Scientists are on the whole impartial, not prosecutors or advocates.

        It is not the whole of science that is questioned.

        2) The evidence that scientists present is strong enough for a judge reach a verdict.

        And determine the degree of damages?

      • Pekka,

        Actually, what she is saying is that if you are not convinced by now you are intellectually inferior and you need to listen to your superiors. She is full of crap. I hope that helps.

      • Capt. Dallas,

        I agree that she’s avoiding essential issues. To me the most obvious large problem is that any verdict on the severity of the climate change is just the starting point. That may be enough for telling that something should be done but not even remotely enough for telling what and how much.

        Don,

        Every reasonably short text can be read in many different ways, and in even more ways when the reader adds to his reading the old prejudices about the author.

        Building up prejudices by biased reading of new contributions appears to be all too visible on this site as it’s always when people fight through public comments. I don’t think that this recent text alone would raise much interest without the support of old prejudices.

      • Pekka,

        Short texts can be read in many different ways? I don’t know how to read, because I am prejudiced? I should close my eyes, ears, and mind and just trust you characters, for my own good? This is the kind of crap that reveals to thinking people that you people are disingenuous. It is really not working for you.

  30. Naomi Oreskes wrote a rather bad editorial, and clearly has a ways to go before she understands scientific uncertainty and the nature of scientific evidence. As to the identity of the judges; surely it must be the policy makers – politicians and senior bureaucrats – who have to decide whether to act on the evidence at hand. Scientists are not the jurors, but some are perhaps equivalent to CSIs, who uncover and present evidence. Some, of course, have taken on the mantle of counsel – either for the prosecution or the defence etc. The jurors, to continue the analogy, are members of the public, whose opinions will eventually influence policy to a degree.

    And in the spirit of open mndedness, I look forward to Norm Kalmanovitch posting a link to the peer-reviewed research that demonstrates that “no such accelerated rate of increase [in CO2] is taking place”.

    • The scales of justice do not reside within those of parasitic entitlement.

    • Norm Kalmanovitch

      This is the link:

      http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

      This is not “peer reviewed research” but simply basic data.
      The graph of atmospheric CO2 shows a near perfect linear trend of approximately 2ppmv/year increase over the past 15 years and a linear trend does not match the non lenear trend of CO2 emissions increases (and decreases in 2008 due to the recession).
      The annual cyclic variation of about 6ppmv over the course of a year is due to seasonal plant uptake differences from the larger northern hemisphere temperate zone landmass.
      At the current level of about 390ppmv and an annual increase of 2ppmv/year by 2050 the concentration will be just 466ppmv which is well below any possible danger point stated by even the most ardent alarmists.
      At this rate there will be another 100ppmv by 2100 bringing the level to 566ppmv which is also well below the 1248ppmv catastrophic level claimed by the IPCC for 2100 based on the false assumption that rapidly increasing CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are the prime source for the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration
      Hansen’s scenario “A” is baased on emissions being about 10% lower than what they are today producing CO2 concentration that is over 50% higher. This is clearly not happening because CO2 emissions don’t contribute all that much to the concentration increase whioch is primarily the result of ocean degassing from warming since the Little Ice Age.

      • To add to the CO2 discussion, an acceleration was observed in the atmospheric concentration from 1940 to ~1980. Since then the acceleration has slowed to almost zero. It is possible, even likely, that the rate will begin to decelerate, such that the atmospheric CO2 level may be closer to 525ppmv by the year 2100. Under such a scenario, the relative CO2 increase from now until the year 2100, would mimic the increase from the start of the industrial era until today.

      • The anthropogenic component of atmospheric carbon dioxide is currently doubling every 31 years. That component is now 110 ppm, so, short of a change in human behavior, it will reach 220 ppm in 31 years – ~2043. 220 plus 280 is 500 ppm, just 60 ppm short of a doubling of the preindustrial level.

      • JCH

        Imo, your numbers are VERY difficult to justify as being accurate. We have rough estimates of human emissions, no reliable data that I am aware of on the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere today that was released by humans, and we don’t really understand the non human release rate (or that it is stable over time) and we do not know very much about how absorbtion varies over time.

        Other than that your estimate is spot on!

      • JCH -

        I’d just dispute your claim that it will reach 220ppm in 31 years

        short of a change in human behaviour

        This is the same fallacy Hansen made in 1988. BAU was exactly what transpired, but the projected result wasn’t.

        That sort of extrapolation into the future is chronically unreliable.

      • 110/2 = 55 ppm. 55 ppm plus 280 ppm = 335 ppm. 2012 – 31 years = 1981. Atmospheric CO2 was 335 ppm in 1978, ~34 years ago. So in 1978 the doubling rate was ~34 years. Now it’s ~31 years.

        Assuming human behavior continues, which it most likely will.

        I don’t think there will be much problem getting them enough fossil fuel over the next 25 to 30 years. After that there may be problems that will slow us down, but not not enough to prevent a doubling of preindustrial well within the 21st Century.

      • JCH,
        In order for the CO2 to increase by 100ppm in the next 31 years, the average annual increase during that timeframe would need be 3.5 ppm/yr. The increase for the last 6 years have been 1.97, 1.97, 2.02, 2.04, 2.05, and 2.03, an average increase of 2.0 ppm/yr as stated earlier by Norm. This is not the indication of an accelerating rise. In order to meet your criteria, atmospheric levels need start rising today (more likely yesterday), and continue rapidly until the annual rise reaches 5 ppm/yr in your year 2042. This acceleration would exceed that witnessed during the post WWII boom. Are you forecasting rapid industrialization of the remaining world?

      • Dan H.

        Well put.

        There are various ways of extrapolating the trend of increases – none of the sane ones get an average up to 3ppm per year over the next 31 years. I would suggest 2 1/2 is more realistic. Thus 465-470 by 2043.

  31. CO2 should be presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. That has not been done. There is still much uncertainty.
    There have been many false convictions in the Justice System.
    CO2 is another victim of a false conviction.
    Just like DNA has proved some of the false convictions were because of flawed science and new science has proved some of the old science to be wrong, open Arctic and new snow is proving CO2 conviction to be false.
    Pay very close attention, the snow has started and earth will cool again, just as it did after the Medieval Warm Period.

  32. Higher levels of CO2 make green things grow better while using less water.
    If Humans are ever successful in reducing CO2, green things will grow less and will require more water. That would kill more people than tobacco and global warming combined.

  33. I like the first part of her article, where she states that a judge asked the potential jury before the trial, what the verdict should be at that point in time.
    Not guilty of course.

    Now the prosecution has presented its case, but we are not the jury, good old mother earth or gaia if you will, is

    Those of you that enjoy a maritime climate may think a few degrees warmer may be more enjoyable, but for me and those enjoying a continental climate a few degrees will make a huge difference. Hotter and drier for my location is not more better.

    • “Those of you that enjoy a maritime climate may think a few degrees warmer may be more enjoyable, but for me and those enjoying a continental climate a few degrees will make a huge difference. Hotter and drier for my location is not more better”.

      I cannot help, or harm you, I am only a man. I cannot change the nature of weather.

      • But there are nearly 7 billion humans on the planet, and humans have been having an effect on climate for a long time.

        But then every revolution starts with one person.

      • bob droege

        In a stroke of genius you wrote:

        But then every revolution starts with one person.

        Let’s take the Industrial Revolution as an example:

        Wiki tells us:

        The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. Most notably, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. In the two centuries following 1800, the world’s average per capita income increased over tenfold, while the world’s population increased over sixfold. In the words of Nobel Prize winner Robert E. Lucas, Jr., “For the first time in history, the living standards of the masses of ordinary people have begun to undergo sustained growth … Nothing remotely like this economic behavior has happened before”

        The First Industrial Revolution, which began in the 18th century, merged into the Second Industrial Revolution around 1850, when technological and economic progress gained momentum with the development of steam-powered ships, railways, and later in the 19th century with the internal combustion engine and electrical power generation.

        This remarkable revolution, which was based on the availability of inexpensive energy largely from fossil fuels, resulted in a dramatic increase in the quality of life and life expectancy.

        But back to your statement.

        Who was this “one person” that started this revolution – or were there several at the same time?

        Was it James Watt with his steam engine in the late 18th century?

        How about Abraham Darby, who invented the blast furnace for making pig iron in the early 18th century?

        Or Benjamin Huntsman, whose crucible steel in the mid 18th century provided a key material of construction for the revolution?

        Then how about William Murdoch, who invented the coal gasification furnace to produce gas for lighting around the end of the 18th century?

        Or maybe you would vote for Michael Faraday (electrical power generator), Nikola Tesla (AC generator) or Thomas Edison (incandescent light bulb), all in the 19th century?

        Maybe you would consider Jean Lenoir, Nikolaus Otto, Gottlieb Daimler or Karl Benz, who were all involved in the invention and development of the internal combustion engine around the end of the 19th century?

        Or Rudolf Diesel?

        I would say that they all contributed to this revolution.

        But the biggest contributor (next to the human innovativeness and creativity of these and other individuals) was the availability of a reliable and low-cost supply of energy, based primarily on fossil fuels.

        And the biggest benefactors of this revolution are the inhabitants of the industrially developed world – like you and me.

        The populations of China and India (plus other developing nations) have now embarked on this revolution themselves, as will the billions who live in nations that have not yet really started it.

        I am convinced that this is as inevitable as it is that night follows day.

        Max

      • “Who was this “one person” that started this revolution – or were there several at the same time?”

        It is a misinterpretation of the observations of the french scientist Baron Fourier by Arrhenius in 1896. It is that misconception, of previous known physical laws , that has polluted our perceptions of the earths atmosphere into the modern ages..

        To shift that invalid principal one has to offer a different perception born of observations and proved in the universal application of it in, within a symbolic syntax (maths).

        This is the crux of the matter
        The current paradigm demands our atmosphere is gas in an enclosed house.
        The correct principal is that the enclosure itself is the whole of the atmosphere. Consider the greenhouse roof to start at the earths surface and end at the top of our atmosphere.

        The invalid greenhouse principal is false when subjected to the principal of conservation of energy. They cannot explain why it is so except for the introduction of a new invalid principal.

        As we have always done, when our knowledge of the universe of physics reaches the end of our ability to predicate, we fear the unknown. We naturally conserve our existence and fear is a mechanism of this conservation.

        It must be so, that earth, water, air, are different forms of the manifestation of energy in mass. The perception of a greenhouse allows a supposition that the energy equation of the equilibrium of mass can be different in its different forms of manifestation.

        Markus Fitzhenry.

    • randomengineer

      Those of you that enjoy a maritime climate may think a few degrees warmer may be more enjoyable, but for me and those enjoying a continental climate a few degrees will make a huge difference.

      Well, Bob, you better grab your bayonet and cache of nukes and go force the Chinese and Indians to your will, because unless they adopt full on green starting yesterday, nothing we can do is going to make any changes.

      Can you at least *pretend* to be realistic?

      • Well, those of us in the US are still producing CO2 faster per capita than China or India, and we are still responsible for what we have added to the atmosphere.

        If 307 million americans decided that they could do without imported chinese goods, it would makes those bayonets and nukes you refer to unnecessary.

        We can afford to lead on this issue without any damage to ours our the worlds economy.

        Solar may not be the cheapest for commercial applications, but if you are a certain former weatherman living in California running a business out of you home and getting hit by high electrical prices for use over a certain base amount, then solar panels would certainly be an economical option.

        Certainly solar is competitive at the individual level.

      • bob droege

        certainly solar is competitive at the individual level

        But only if other taxpayers are picking up two-thirds of the tab for the initial investment and the power company is forced by law to purchase unneeded power during sunshine hours back at the average power rate.

        Take away those advantages and it is not competitive at all..

        As to the “per capita” energy consumption of China versus USA, this has absolutely no bearing on future AGW. What counts is the TOTAL GHG emission over the 21st century. China is already the largest emitter of CO2 at around 50% higher emissions than the USA last year. India is fast catching up. Over this century the two will contribute far more CO2 than the USA has contributed since its inception.

        The USA currently has a “carbon efficiency” (GDP per ton of carbon emitted) of around $2,200, or three to four times higher than that of China or India ($500 and $700 respectively). The EU and Japan have an even slightly higher “carbon efficiency” (around $3,200).

        I would expect this factor to increase for all nations (as it has over the past).

        I’m personally not worried about human CO2 emissions at all, since they is not likely to represent an existential problem, but you should get your numbers straight, bob.

        Max

      • randomengineer

        Well, those of us in the US are still producing CO2 faster per capita than China or India, and we are still responsible for what we have added to the atmosphere.

        We’re also responsible for inventing airplanes, so if you want to look at past contributions and retroactively correct these, then the correct course of action here is to put an immediate halt to world air travel. We also need to make sure that people the world over don’t benefit from modern agriculture, medicines, or, for that matter, recorded music, phones, and light bulbs. This is what emissions gave us.

        “we are still responsible for what we have added to the atmosphere” is simply nonsense. The benefit of that emission has made life bearable or worthwhile for billions.

      • manacker: But only if other taxpayers are picking up two-thirds of the tab for the initial investment and the power company is forced by law to purchase unneeded power during sunshine hours back at the average power rate.

        You raise an interesting question. If I have a solar panel and produce excess electricity, it goes to my neighbor and decreases demand on the power company. Yet my power company collects the money from my neighbor for the electricity the I supplied, but the power company did not. I am in fact subsidizing the power company by reducing the demand, hence failure and aging rate, of its facilities. Clearly it is unfair for the electricity company to collect money for electricity that it did not supply my neighbor. The only question is: what is a fair feed-in tariff? maybe half of the demand-weighted electricity rate (half, not full, in honor of the power company’s management of the local grid.)

      • Matt Stat

        To understand why the excess solar power (kWh) fed back into the grid when there is low consumption has less value than the power (kWh) used during peak consumption hours, you have to understand the concept of the “demand charge”

        http://www.northwesternenergy.com/documents/E+Programs/E+demandcharges.pdf

        This represents the charge for having a certain amount of kW available on demand. It is usually around half of the power bill. The examples show how t can vary from a small part of the bill to a very large part.

        The power company has to make power available when the customers need it (not when the sun happens to be shining) so your idea that the power company profits from this excess solar power is wrong. All this is worth to the power company is really just the incremental cost of generation (primarily the fuel).

        Max

        PS I am not trying to defend the power companies (who do a lot of silly things, like sell hypothetical “green power” at a premium price to gullible customers), just give you the facts.

      • MattStat,

        Best basis for the determination of the tariff is the avoided cost of the power company.

        It’s possible to analyze the avoided cost of the power company due to the electricity produced by solar panels. That can be done exactly for short term effects but calculation of ultimate effects over long term cannot be determined uniquely, but depend on some rather arbitrary assumptions.

        One of the essential points is the cost structure of electricity distribution. That cost is mostly fixed. Fair part is due the existence of the connection, while the rest of the fixed cost depends on the size and timing of the maximum load that the power company must be ready supply. Only a small fraction of the cost of transmission and distribution is proportional to the amount of energy supplied.

        Assuming that the share of distribution in the tariff is mostly based on energy there is already a subsidy to the owner of the solar panel in a tariff that has such a structure. Only a tariff with a high fixed charge is really cost based.

        Going to the oversupply from the panel that’s fed into the grid the value of that is dependent on timing as well. If there are many similar customers there may be an oversupply over certain periods. Under such conditions the savings in the cost of generation may be small as well.

        My impression is that all tariffs for solar panel owners contain large hidden subsidies that have not been understood by most in additions to those that are openly stated as subsidies. The size of these hidden subsidies varies, however, greatly. They may be very small or close to zero in areas where peak load coincides with maximal insolation, while they are very large in some other places like Germany.

      • Randomengineer, how preposterous an argument can you make?

        Our prosperity is due to the power generated from fossil fuels, not from the pollution generated from burning those fossil fuels.

        Yes the US invented air travel, and yes air travel contributes to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, but I am not now, nor have I ever advocated zero CO2 emmissions as a target.

      • Max, how can you be more wrong?

        I said that the US still leads China and India in per capita emissions of CO2 and according to

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita

        The US is over 3 times China and 10 times India.

        As to the competitiveness of Home Solar Power, the time to recoup an investment in a solar power generator can be 13 1/2 years, considering buy a system referenced here:

        http://www.residentialsolarpanels.org/install-solar-powered-panels

        and paying the average electricity cost of 11.55 cents per KWhour in the US.

        But if you are like Anthony, and use more than California allocates to each home and they sock you with higher rates for over a certain number of KWhours, then it makes even more sense.

      • manacker: To understand why the excess solar power (kWh) fed back into the grid when there is low consumption has less value than the power (kWh) used during peak consumption hours, you have to understand the concept of the “demand charge”

        1. Solar power is fed into the grid during periods of high demand.

        2. Either way, there is not justification for the power company to collect all the revenue from the electricity that flows from my pv cells through my neighbor’s meter.

      • Pekka Pirila: My impression is that all tariffs for solar panel owners contain large hidden subsidies that have not been understood by most in additions to those that are openly stated as subsidies. The size of these hidden subsidies varies, however, greatly. They may be very small or close to zero in areas where peak load coincides with maximal insolation, while they are very large in some other places like Germany.

        FWIW, I favor a tariff about equal to 1/3 of what the power company would be charging my neighbor, on a time-weighted or demand-weighted basis. Californians will soon all have really smart meters (I already do) that permit the demand-weighting and time-weighting to be calculated. A starting attempt at time-weighting is already included in my bill. In California peak demand usually corresponds to peak insolation. Every locale needs to be considered separately.

    • If you do not want temperature to get a few degrees warmer, you are in luck because earth has warmed since the little ice age and now it will cool.

      • Still warming on all statisically significant periods.

        And go to wood for trees, for the period 2001 to present, only 6 of 11 available global metrics show cooling for that period.

        Hardly conclusive to say the least

      • bob droege

        How many metrics show statistically significant warming since 2001?

        How many show warming at a rate of 0.2 degC per decade, as projected by IPCC?

        [I know the answer to the questions, but do you?]

        Max

      • Max,

        I can’t speak for Bob, but I’ll play anyway.

        How many metrics show statistically significant warming since 2001?

        This is a meaningless question as the period is too short to give a statistically significant trend.

        How many show warming at a rate of 0.2 degC per decade, as projected by IPCC?

        None. But then the projection was 0.2C per decade, not 0.2C every decade. Also see previous answer.

      • “How many metrics show statistically significant warming since 2001?”

        How many should?

    • @Manacker
      “availability of a reliable and low-cost supply of energy, based primarily on fossil fuels” – up to a point, Lord Copper.

      But the real reason Britain led the IR was its navy, a largely wind-powered device. And for deeper reasons than merely the trade advantages to be had from commanding the seas, important though these were.

      Before the IR, the first-ran ship of the line was by far the most complex machine created by man. The pipe organ runs, perhaps, a close second. But to keep one at sea for long periods (a ship, I mean, not an organ, which sounds even more challenging) was even harder than building it, and involved creating vast and sophisticated supply chains and well-developed project management skills.

      The sharp end of this systematic, standardised supply was not in the shipyards, although these developed mass-production techniques for things like blocks, cannon and shot which were crucial to success. The real class act, and the key to extended seakeeping (itself in turn the key to command of the seas), was in the victualling of perishables, which the Royal Navy, with the assistance of people like Samuel Pepys, eventually turned into a fine art. Ships needed vast quantities of beer, for instance, which had to be ordered in time to be brewed before the intended departure of the ships it was to supply, but not so far ahead that it went off before it came to be used.

      The result was that the “software” of industry was written into British commercial life many decades ahead of its rivals, and at a time when a handful of Newcomen engines were in use. So yes, the story of the IR is the story of the organised burning of carbon, but it’s also the story of standardisation, of seeing a need for many of a class of good, and meeting it by mass-production and reliable distribution. In that sense, if it’s the guy who started it that you’re after, I suspect it’s someone like Pepys.

      But I couldn’t agree more about the folly of demonising carbon, and don’t let’s forget that the IR is only in OUR past – for billions of the world’s people it is happening now, or will, if left to itself. When Mr Honda invented his stepthrough 50cc bike, he contributed more to the wellbeing of mankind than all the ecomentalists and proxymorons laid end to end.

  34. Oreskes is desperate. The cause is failing. I don’t think that too many people care what she says, in the LA Times. I don’t think too many care what anybody says, in the LA Times. I guess they don’t read the LA Times, in Durban.

  35. When the article states:
    “It isn’t, at least not to scientists who study the matter.”
    The article is attempting to appeal to authority and claim the science is settled when that is nothing more than a lie. Is there a consensus among “scientists” on the rate of warming and the margin of error for that estimate? Is there a consensus on what will happen to the world as a result of any warming?

    The answer to both questions are NO.

  36. randomengineer

    Topical goodness.

    Navigate to WUWT and look at the top level post re the AMS buddying up to a blatantly political org. Follow the money (or at least follow the WHOIS.) Thoughts —

    1. If you don’t see this as yet another attempt to stifle dissent from “the narrative” then you’re blind. In this case what they want to do is “out” weather reporters and pressure them. Obviously the campaign is designed to suppress free speech by causing enough trouble at radio / tv stations to the effect that they fire the dastardly deniers just so they don’t have to listen to it.

    2.Those big oil interests *must* be doing this as a reverse psychology campaign because who IRL could possibly be this stupid?

    3.This proves beyond any doubt that Oreskes is no scholar. She is a partisan hack. Real scholars would be able to see a bigger picture and comment on it. Where is Oreskes indignation re political thuggery like what’s posted on the WUWT site? Wouldn’t a truly impartial scholar have disdain for ALL political manipulation? Wouldn’t a *real* scholar be aware of the big picture and not focused on mere minutae? (And moreover, minutae that amazingly happens to coincide with a political belief?)

    • ceteris non paribus

      RE:

      Never write “Navigate to WUWT” just after the word “goodness”.

      Unless you’re trying to be funny.


      This proves beyond any doubt that Oreskes is no scholar. She is a partisan hack.

      A partisan hack, working on the “side” of AGW?
      And here I though you guys had an exclusivity contract.

      • randomengineer

        A partisan hack, working on the “side” of AGW?

        A partisan hack using the truth of warming to promote a political course of action.

        You seem particularly tone deaf in this regard, not being able to differentiate between scientific skepticism and political concerns. Noting that the climate is warming and that man influences this doesn’t automatically result in a certain set of political actions.

      • ceteris non paribus


        A partisan hack using the truth of warming to promote a political course of action.

        Gosh, RE, we wouldn’t want to promote actions on the basis of the truth, now would we?

        Meanwhile, we have the likes of Inhofe, Morano, and (gasp) Newt promoting a political course of action based on falsehoods. But that’s OK – ’cause those guys are hip to the Republican zeitgeist.

      • ceteris,

        Your contempt for WUWT is noted. Indeed, breezy dismissals of WUWT are a commonplace on this blog. Less common, are actual demonstrations of contemptible error at WUWT.

        So, would you mind, ceteris, as a science teacher, for the benefit of my own education, if no one else’s, and as a means to establish your own credibility, taking the last ten posts at WUWT (or last five or twenty or whatever you want) and provide a critique of the worst and best post?

        I’ve asked for this sort of thing from others with your view of WUWT, but seem to never get much of a response–not that WUWT is incapable of error. On the contrary, I see from time to time corrections and even retractions at WUWT, most often having their origin in the comments attached to the post, itself. But never anything that would prompt me to regard WUWT with your self-assured disdain.

        Your opinions are informed, ceteris, by the science expertise you possess as a teacher, I know–please show me the way to your superior understanding of WUWT. Or, if it helps any, imagine I’m a student of yours that has stumbled onto the WUWT site and needs to shown WUWT’s laughable (as in the stuff of “jokes”) defects.

        Thank you so much.

      • ceteris non paribus

        The “truth” is that it warmed over the period 1970-2000 (and stopped since then).

        The “truth” is NOT that this was caused by humans (anymore than the statistically indistinguishable warming from 1910-1940 was).

        That is simply a hypothesis, promoted by IPCC.

        So (despite Naomi Oreske’s advice) let’s stay “open minded” to the “truth”, not simply to “hypotheses”, which are not supported by empirical evidence.

        Agreed?

        Max

      • ceteris non paribus

        mike:

        I’m not in the habit of doing science homework for others.
        Besides – What you requested is all here:

        http://wottsupwiththat.com/

        Enjoy.

      • ceteris non paribus

        manacker wrote:

        The “truth” is that it warmed over the period 1970-2000 (and stopped since then).

        Right.
        And the “truth” is that you cannot say that the warming stopped since 2000 – the trend is not statistically significant at 12 years. It is more probable that the warming has not stopped, and that you are paying more attention to the noise than the signal.


        So (despite Naomi Oreske’s advice) let’s stay “open minded” to the “truth”, not simply to “hypotheses”, which are not supported by empirical evidence.
        Agreed?

        You say that the IPCC is guilty of promoting a “hypotheses” for lack of empirical evidence.

        The thing is, manacker – neither you nor I, nor anyone else posting here, gets to determine what counts as empirical evidence. That is the purview of scientists. Not historians. Not bloggers.

      • ceteris,

        I read the very first post that provided a critique of a WUWT post, appearing at the site (wotsupwiththat) you linked for my edification–”Regulatory Czar Wants to Use Copyright Protection Mechanisms to Shut Down Rumors and Conspiracy Theories.”

        Sorry, certeris, the above critique that you assure me would serve my previous request and justify your contempt for WUWT is intellectually inept. It’s contemptible. Not one particular of the WUWT post is addressed substanially–NOT ONE! Rather, an ad-hom here and there and a few triumphant “denier” and “wild idea” assertions substitute for any ethical intellectual thought, whatsoever. Check it out for yourself, certeris.

        And I invite anyone else who would like to see the sort of “science literature” that certeris–a science teacher, no less–finds intellectually compelling to follow her link and read the relevant post. Quite an eye-opener, I think the reader will find.

        So, certeris, pleae prove my characterization of the blog post you so treasure wrong. Make me look the fool. Show me the intellectual merit of the post and its worthiness as a rejoinder to the WUWT article. I’d even encourage you to throw in some of some of your tart, smart-mouth quips, if you want. Or you might just want to decline this opportunity to show just what you’re all about. Up to you.

      • randomengineer

        Meanwhile, we have the likes of Inhofe, Morano, and (gasp) Newt promoting a political course of action based on falsehoods.

        Once again you are tone deaf.

        Activist — “we must do something!”

        (The likes of) Inhofe — “nope.”

        Ceteris — “(the likes of) Inhofe is promoting..”

        No. Inhole (and the likes of) aren’t promoting anything at all.

        Come back for more when you learn how to read.

      • certeris,

        You say “…neither you nor I, nor anyone else posting here, gets to say what counts as empircal evidence. That is the purview of scientists. Not bloggers.”

        So I guess an op-ed author and historian like Naomi Oreskes has no business telling “tobacco scientists” what counts as empirical evidence. I mean she’s really out of line, right? Rather, the right-think way of viewing the matter is for “tobacco scientists” to tell us what’s what and for us to then “get it.” Did I get that right, teacher?

      • ceteris non paribus

        You state:

        you cannot say that the warming stopped since 2000

        adding

        the trend is not statistically significant at 12 years.

        These are two different points,CNP.

        The “truth” is “that the warming stopped since the end of 2000″.

        The empirical data confirming this “truth” comes from the physical observations of all those thermometer readings all over the world (even those next to AC exhausts, asphalt parking lots, etc.).

        Now to the second part: is this lack of warming “statistically significant”?

        There is no absolute answer to that question as it is judgmental. Santer tells us we need 17 years (rather than only 12 years) before it is “statistically significant”. Others may conjure up another figure.

        But the “truth” is “that the warming stopped since the end of 2000″, whether this fits your (or anyone else’s) definition of being “statistically significant”.

        Stated otherwise one could say that there has been no statistically significant warming since 2000 – do you like this wording better?

        Max

      • ceteris non paribus

        [corrected formatting – please ignore earlier post]

        You state:

        you cannot say that the warming stopped since 2000

        adding

        the trend is not statistically significant at 12 years.

        These are two separate points,CNP
        .
        The “truth” is “that the warming stopped since the end of 2000″.

        The empirical data confirming this “truth” comes from the physical observations of all those thermometer readings all over the world (even those next to AC exhausts, asphalt parking lots, etc.).

        Now to the second part: is this lack of warming “statistically significant”?

        There is no absolute answer to that question as it is judgmental. Santer tells us we need 17 years (rather than only 12 years) before it is “statistically significant”. Others may conjure up another figure.

        But the “truth” is “that the warming stopped since the end of 2000″, whether this fits your (or anyone else’s) definition of being “statistically significant”.

        Stated otherwise one could say that “there has been no statistically significant warming since 2000″ – do you like this wording better?

        Max

      • But the “truth” is “that the warming stopped since the end of 2000″

        Then how come every single year since then has been warmer than 2000.

      • Andrew,
        When referring to warming, it is the trend that is important, not individual years, otherwise, you could say that every year since 1998 has been cooler. The upward temprature trend ended around 2000, and has been flat ever since.

      • ceteris non paribus

        randomengineer

        No. Inhofe (and the likes of) aren’t promoting anything at all.
        Come back for more when you learn how to read.

        Your defense of Inhofe is utterly predictable – and a beautiful illustration of the double standards of ‘skeptics’.

        The ad hominem is just sad.

        mike:
        Really – You don’t have a clue about my occupation. That hasn’t stopped you from making something up that satisfies your preconceptions. I find that interesting.

        I will say this about Tony Watts – He’s got big cojones. Having built his internet fame largely on the premise that the urban-heat-island effect had skewed the ground-station temperature record, when BEST showed that he was quite simply wrong, he just moved on to something else.

      • ceteris non paribus

        max asks:

        Stated otherwise one could say that “there has been no statistically significant warming since 2000″ – do you like this wording better?

        Please read this:

        http://www.aussmc.org/documents/waiting-for-global-cooling.pdf

        Or
        Huber and Knutti (Nature 2011),

        It is worthy of note that for all five adjusted data sets, 2009 and 2010 are the two hottest years on record….All five data sets show statistically significant warming even for the time span from 2000 to the present.

    • mike -

      Less common, are actual demonstrations of contemptible error at WUWT.

      Just curious if you might offer your opinion on the recent post that asserted that Ayers wrote Obama’s first book – and that Ayers made statements that “confirmed” that statement.

      If you haven’t read the post, I think you should. It is very instructive.

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/20/regulatory-czar-wants-to-use-copyright-protection-mechanisms-to-shut-down-rumors-and-conspiracy-theories/

      • Josh,

        I’ve encountered that claim before. It seems to have as its support argument an analysis of the text of President Obama’s book that shows stylistic affinities with Ayers’ writings, sufficient to assign authorship to Ayers. The other prop is, more indirect, that there are no prior ( or subsequent) examples of President Obama’s writings that are comparable and what little does exist is well below the standard of the autobiography’s text (incidentally, I’m not endorsing either of these two lines of evidence–I haven’t evaluated them or seem them evaluated sufficiently so that I can make form a judgement in the matter).

        That books bearing the names of many an illustrious celebrity as their author are often, in reality, anonymously ghost-written is hardly news. Indeed, I’ve prepared, as have most others on this blog, I’m sure, many a piece of correspondence for someone else’s signature. So the claim that some ghost-writer actually penned the words of President Obama’s auto-biography is not a preposterous notion, it seems to me. Of course, the question is whether such a proposition can be reasonably demonstrated and the authorship pinned on Ayers.

        For that, a devil’s advocate reviewer(s) with appropriate expertise would need to evaluate the analysis of the text produced by advocates of the Ayers’ authorship theory, to offer an independent second-opinion as to the quality of the claim’s textual analysis and the legitimacy of the “science” of textual analysis. And, of course, the issue could be finessed altogether, if a whole track-record of comparably written materials, undeniably composed by the President’s hand were to be produced.

        So the whole matter seems to me to be simple to resolve in a straightforward manner. Let the chips fall where they may–I don’t have a dog in the fight. So why has that not happened? I don’t know, but when a plausible sounding claim is made and the evidence offered, only to meet, in response, a denunciation of the claim’s author as a self-evident crank, lunatic and flake, then the matter piques my curiosity.

        More generally speaking, when a subject is promoted as a taboo area of inquiry, by individuals capable of rational inquirty, then I wonder why? And, as one who tries to keep an open mind, I further wonder if there’s not something being hid.

        Do you see things differently, Josh? And, in that regard, I take it you have demolished the supporting “evidence” of those that adhere to the Ayers authorship theory or know of such a demolition. Appreciate it, if you would share what you might have.

      • Josh,

        Sorry, I did consider you comment more carefully and specifically checked out the matter you mentioned. My opinion? Ayers did explicitly say that he wrote President Obama’s book, but then couched the claim in the form of a joke. So I’d say it isn’t a clear-cut confirmation from Ayers’ lips. On the other hand, I not altogether sure that it wasn’t a clever fake-out of an underlying truth. Regardless, I think that portion of the post is half-baked from trying too hard. How the rest of the piece holds up, I don’t know, and await someone like certeris, the wise-schoolteacher, to rip the article up to see if it survives.

        As for the larger issue, does it relegate WUWT to the status of a joke that can be referenced only if someone wants to be funny? I’d say no. That particular site, hosts a whole grab-bag of guest posts, some more apparently persuasive than others. So that one or another post has a defect or is even a bit of a crock is hardly an indictment of the whole blog, especially given the light moderation of its comments. At least I would say, and the site’s blog traffic stats indicate many others agree (thought Robert would protest, I sure, it’s the very lack of a leadership that sets his blog apart and proves its superiority).

        Hopefully, this last is more responsive to your comment, Josh. I didn’t really want to revisit the Ayers deal again, since I’ve heard the pitch before, so I negligently provided a response without reading your linked article–a mistake and a discourtesy for which I apologise.

      • mike -

        People might disagree, in absence of any validated form of evidence, as to whether various levels of speculation about who wrote Obama’s book might be justified.

        The problem for me, however, is when self-described “skeptics” make claims of certainty when they lack any sort of validated evidence – and further, when they steadfastly avoid any skeptical scrutiny of the non-validated evidence that might be influenced by obvious partisan biases.

        Read the post, if you haven’t already.Check out one of the clips on the web were Ayers “confirms” that he wrote Obama’s book. Keep in mind what I just wrote, and get back to me. Do you really think that the discussion in that post about Ayers writing Obama’s book deserves the label of skepticism?

      • mike -

        If you haven’t figured it out, I wrote my response before reading your second post which, well mostly, addressed my points.

        As to whether the mention of WUWT is, in itself, a joke- no, I don’t think so. I don’t think that the site is diametrically in opposition to skepticism. But I also think that it is important to quantify references to the “extended peer review community” when such a prominent element of that community comprises “skeptical” material of the sort I linked, the fequent posts at that site from scientists and other scientifically literate “skeptics” who dismiss the theoretical possibility that CO2 might alter the climate, or many of the opinions often seen in comments from the scientifically literate “denizens” of a site like WUWT that Judith often credits for valuable input. into the climate debate.

        Again – my point is not to dismiss, categorically, a site like WUWT – but to ask for more careful validation and quantification of certainty across the entire spectrum of the climate debate.

      • Josh,

        I can see your last crossed with my last comment. I think I’ve given you a partial response with my last. As to the rest:

        The link to the Annenberg business seemed to have some substance to it, at least enough that I can’t dismiss the matter out of hand, as with the video (for the most part), but the write-up is packed with so much stuff, involving alleged Byzantine lefty politics that I really lack the interest or energy to unpack it. But I think it of sufficient worth, on the surface, that I recommend it deserves a hostile scrutiny by someone with a background in the matter. Hope such a thing is forthcoming.

        The second link won’t come-up on my computer due to some security settings and so I’m in the dark on that one.

        The last link is a whole freakin’ book. Not in the mood to either buy or read it. Someone who has might offer their “cut” on the deal.

        Generally, the video and its claim are over-blown but leaves me with a sneaking thought that Ayers may be playing a little game with us folks. But nothing more than that. The Annenberg discussion is, impressionistcally much more substantial and for the interested person worth a study–but may not stand up to a the rigorous scrutiny I’m not willing to provide. The book? No idea.

        Is all that collectively “skepticism”? Well, I wouldn’t call it any worse than the New York Times handling of WMD’s in Iraq prior to the invasion. Could it be better? Yes? Can it be usefully read with a skeptical caution without an an out-of-hand dismissal. My estimate is yes.

        When I have a mind to pursue a subject, my “skeptical” approach is to take in a whole a whole bunch of stuff–the good, the bad, and the ugly, while always seeking to debunk what I think I might know or, at least, have been most lately presented with. I also usually make provisional estimates of the reliability of a given source, but am cautious in this area. And then I typically scrutinize the whole festering mess to check for internal consistency and test for convergence of multiple sources on various data points. Finally, I keep an open mind and remind myself that gold may be struck where I least expect it. That’s “skeptcism” to me, Josh. It’s a process, and WUWT is a great , albeit imperfect, addition to that process, in my estimation–to include, possibly, the article you’ve linked despite its warts–but, then, maybe not. Like I said I don’t want to take the whole deal on in the way I would need to if I were to arrive at an informed, provisional judgment.

        My best shot, Josh

  37. Today’s Syracuse newspaper had an editorial cartoon from the Washington Post of a “Climate Change Denier” plunging through the thin ice of the “Winter of 2012”. Given the scientific proof that this winter is representative of CAGW from that source I note that I only have had the snow blower out once this year and the heating bill will be markedly lower than several years. My point being that there are winners and losers in any climatic variation and that there has been markedly less research on the winners and less publicity on the winners too.

    • Roger,
      The real joke is that AGW beleivers seamlessly travel from heavy winters claiming they are caused by CO2, to light winters, claiming they are caused by CO2. More amazingly, thanks to a lazy sychophant press, they get away with betting on historical illiteracy and simply ignore past historical examples.
      Naomi is a woman who would have found her golden age of communicatin style at an editorial desk of Pravda back under the enlightened leadership of the Man of Steel.

      • All well and true Hunter but you are in serious risk of discussing the general political affiliations of Naomi which we are all suppose to ignore on this board.

        Another pound of red meat thrown to the board and it wiffs again on what is essential about the party, tactic and associations.

  38. The BBC has been far ahead of Oreskes in the closed-mindedness department. In January, 2006 they held an all day conference with AGW activists and concluded – which was the obvious goal of the conference – that skeptical views were unworthy of being reported.

    http://thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/booker-bbc.pdf

    • Don B,
      It is the self-induced corruption of the press that is possibly the saddest part of this dispute.

    • randomengineer

      What else would the enlightened conclude other than the benighted need to be cared for? The BBC execs reckon themselves enlightened, of course.

  39. Let’s look at the analogy of tobacco. If the analogy holds then why don’t people like Oreskes and Al Gore go cold turkey and stop all CO2-emitting technology and show us how it’s done instead of, for example, escaping to Cancun for margaritas and sunshine? And, how have so many people who once smoked were able to quit completely without any government interference whatsoever? The real analogy is the practice of duplicitous methods of extracting capital from the free enterprise system to fund the fantasy of liberal utopianism.

  40. It seems to me that if we are going to use a trial analogy, we have a case with nothing but circumstantial evidence much of which is contradictory and Oreskes thinks it’s good enough to impose the death penalty on fossil fuels.

    It appears we do have a judge in this case, it’s Oreskes herself.

  41. Ms. Oreskes’ blurb contains a fallacy; it has a name: “False Analogy“. She asserts that the American legal system (presumption of innocence) is similar to the scientific debate over “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming”. She ignores the uniqueness of the American legal system (one that places the burden of proof on the accusers), and tries to apply it to CAGW. So let us take a look a the definition of False Analogy (particularly example ii where objectives are different).:

    “In an analogy, two objects (or events), A and B are shown to be similar. Then it is argued that since A has property P, so also B must have property P. An analogy fails when the two objects, A and B, are different in a way which affects whether they both have property P.”

    http://onegoodmove.org/fallacy/falsean.htm

    Her argument recalls previous attempts to reverse the null hypothesis. If Ms. Oreskes insists on a legal criterion for a CAGW decision, let us take her at her word and return a “Scotch Verdict”: Not Proven.

    • Dixie, that’s a good point. Then again when you consider the source is it a surprise?

      I don’t get where the resumes of these people are absolved from inspection or discussion. Notice anything about Martha, Joshua, WHT share with Naiomi Oreskes for example? While extreme examples is Dr. Curry cut from different clothe or similar?

      The parties I listed are fringe but who is more dangerous effectively? It’s the soft-soap of the AGW wing that is killing society. They agree with the Oreskes(s) more than every admit and accept the basic narrative as something rational. We are lowered by it and when we refuse to discuss the root of the agenda even more lost. The Don Monfort approach to accepting talking points.

      • cwon,

        That slapping I gave you still stings, don’t it. I am just going to start ignoring you, like Judith does. You are a less than a little nit, to the AGW crowd. Judith is a big burr under their saddle. You couldn’t carry her thong.

      • We have RINO’s and WHINO”S Don, you qualify for both.

        Spineless moderation is fertile ground of both AGW and the current political reality. It’s you who should be ignored.

      • cwimp,

        I’ve got papers and medals to prove that I am not spineless. You are a loudmouth impotent little twit. That’s all the time I have for you. Carry on with your ineffectual childish yammering.

      • You’re like the blog version of Cornelius Fudge, the bungling, somewhat stupid and self-absorbed Bureaucrat from the Harry Potter series;

        Cornelius Fudge: “If you’re going to work against me . . .”
        Albus Dumbledore: “The only one against whom I intend to work is Lord Voldemort. If you are against him, then we remain, Cornelius, on the same side.”
        — Fudge and Albus Dumbledore[src]

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelius_Fudge#Cornelius_Fudge

    • Anytime, Montfort.

  42. Gee, I wonder what political spectrum Noam Chompky and Naiomi Oreskes belong to??

    Oh! I forgot, I’m not suppose to ask here. It’s really nmot a pattern worth noting I’ve been told;

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/06/naomi_oreskes_conspiracy_queen.html

    Maybe our bedwetting skeptics here should reconsider who controls the narrative up to the point of deciding what is important to ask or not?

    • I never realized what a personality cult, warmist or skeptic, right or left, existed here until you revealed yourself DM.

      Here we have a link to a tin foil hat, eco-leftist extremist (Oreskes) and you fault me (foam out the mouth) for pointing it out as yet another example of the false balance (ignoring the sources political colors) that exists here. It’s the topic that should be of interest not brownnosing the blog host.

  43. Michael Larkin

    I must admit, that when it comes to climate change, I have a completely closed mind. It happens all the time, always has and always will. I’ll brook no dissention on that.

    As for catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, which Oreskes is too lazy and/or crafty to fully articulate, it’s a very different matter.

    • Michael – tch, tch. You are using a disapproved definition of “climate change”. It is not what you and everyone else have experienced. The official UNFCCC definition is “… change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability….” [1] I’m sure you are chagrined at having been misled by your senses.

      [1] IPCC, R. Alley, and J. Arblaster. 2007. A report of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (SPM). Climate change 2007: the physical science basis: summary for policymakers. IPCC.

  44. Heart disease: 616,067
    Cancer: 562,875
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 135,952
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 127,924
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 123,706
    Alzheimer’s disease: 74,632
    Diabetes: 71,382
    Influenza and Pneumonia: 52,717
    Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 46,448
    Septicemia: 34,828
    Global Warming 0
    Other than arguing about it, what does smoking, and other causes of death have in common with global warming?

  45. And fifty years from now the numbers won’t have changed!

  46. Oh bummer, I intended to say “And fifty years from now now only ONE number will be same!”

  47. It’s kind of funny. As angry as I am about her line of thought regarding an open mind, my gut tells me Ms. Oreske’s recommendation to closing your mind to anything but a consensus opinion is akin to shutting the barn door after all the animals have escaped.

  48. I’m reminded of a quote I once read about the number of communists among British intellectuals during the 1930s. The gentleman said that ‘every thinking person’ was a communist. Well there you have it. The thing itself is so obviously self-evident that there was no need to consider other options.

  49. “Scientists don’t play the role of prosecutor trying to prove a case. Rather, they are the jury trying to evaluate the evidence. And they have rendered their verdict. The problem is not that scientists have become advocates, as some have claimed.”

    Read the emails.

    Maybe there really are two different universes, with Oreskes in one and me in the other. I’m struggling to think of a better explanation.

  50. The inconvenient truth of the certainty of man to err.

  51. Naomi Oreskes does it again.

    Let’s all “close our minds” to any new findings and swallow the pre-cooked IPCC message, which Naomi herself has accepted as correct.

    Is this a “dogmatic” approach?

    Or are we talking about “paradigm paralysis” at work?

    Whatever it is, there is no doubt that it is transparently absurd.

    Keep at it, Naomi, you are creating more skeptics every time you write.

    Max

  52. Michael Larkin

    Naomi, I hope you’re reading this as I smoke a French tobacco rollup at my computer, its delicate wisps wafting gracefully across the monitor. God, I love my fags, and the equivalent of six ready-mades a day smoked in peace away from the madness of nanny-nazis is what keeps me going.

    Don’t drink, smoke, be un-PC, a sceptic, or have sex without a condom (if at all). Doubtless you’ll have a long, if possibly boring, life. Meanwhile, I’m going to kill myself having such moderate fun as I can muster, self-righteous Puritanism notwithstanding.

    • If as you imply cigarette smoke only inconvenienced the smoker I too would oppose antismoking laws. As one who hates cigarette smoke I selfishly applaud that legislation. I would be most disappointed, and you presumably greatly relieved, were the high courts to strike down all such restrictions on smokers.

      As Oreskes points out, not everyone believed the medical profession’s assessment of the health hazards of second-hand smoke (and I imagine a great percentage of the population still doesn’t). The parallel she draws between the hazards of cigarette smoke and CO2 is a bad one only for those who believe that one is hazardous and the other not. For those of us who believe both are hazardous, her parallel is spot on, right down to the cast of people leading the fight against related legislation.

      • Vaughan

        What seems unreasonable to me is that business owners can not advertise their establishment as a “smoking venue” so that non smokers who wish to stay out can. Personally, I have never smoked, but the laws seem overly restrictive on the owners of the business as written.

      • VP,

        Why don’t you furnish us with the list of the cast of people who led the fight against smoking regulation and are now leading the fight against “related legislation”. It would also be interesting to see you define the “related legislation”, and how it is related to the smoking issue, which to those of us with a brain seems unrelated. Or are you just making this crap up?

      • “As Oreskes points out, not everyone believed the medical profession’s assessment of the health hazards of second-hand smoke (and I imagine a great percentage of the population still doesn’t).”

        Count me, a life-time non-smoker who has never owned a single share of tobacco company stock, among those who do not “believe the medical profession’s assessment.”

        The dangers of smoking have been established, not by finding a mechanism that explains how tobacco causes increased rates of cancer and emphysema, but by simply demonstrating a sufficiently high correlation to make the danger of a causal link too great to discount. It’s good enough for me, and has been for about 50 years.

        “Studies” attempting to show similar correlation between second hand smoke and respiratory diseases have all the ear marks of the politicized science of the CAGW movement. When I looked into the research in the not too distant past, I found flawed studies with insufficient controls, all generated by those who were already “convinced.” Not to mention “studies” based on computer models.

        The anti-smoking movement would have had a lot more credibility if it weren’t for their track record of seeking to extort billions from industry. Just as the climate consensus advocates would not be viewed as skeptically if they weren’t, ala Naomi Orewkes, so hell bent on decarbonizing the economy (aka centrally planning the energy economy).

      • Rob Starkey,

        If anti-second-hand-smoking legislation were really about public health, allowing establishments to advertise themselves as smoking or non-smoking would make sense. But as in most nanny state laws, it is about control. Progressives get a rush out of telling other people what to do, except of course for Roman Polanskyesque sex with young girls and unrestricted use of drugs. (If you doubt me, look to the US Supreme Court’s decision finding that virtual child pornography is protected by the First Amendment.)

        “Criminalize cigarettes and gasoline…but legalize crack and internet virtual child porn!!!”

        Ahhh the logic of progressivism.

      • Vaughan Pratt: The parallel she draws between the hazards of cigarette smoke and CO2 is a bad one only for those who believe that one is hazardous and the other not.

        I disagree. It is a bad analogy because of the many intervention studies (with control groups, random assignment, and blind evaluation of tissue samples) that showed that smoking causes cancer. Those were the decisive elements leading to restrictions on tobacco use.

      • Vaughan-

        Given the smoky atmosphere in this thread, I wasn’t sure where to put this response, so nothing personal intended.

        They are now up to third-hand smoking. This is where the tiny particulates of the noxious fumes you’ve exhaled out-of-doors attach themselves to your clothing, and thus make their way indoors. Having done so they instantly kill any baby or young child who happens to be present.

        No joke – I read it in New Scientist so it must be true. /sarc

        Personally, I don’t smoke, but find the laws (and moral superiority) used against smokers to be OTT, to say the least.

      • Regarding Vaughan’s cast of people.

        I would add the expert climate scientist AND medical professional (not) to the cast — Fred Singer.

        Isn’t it strange that a climate change skeptic turns into a tobacco risk skeptic? For Singer, is it about the science, or is it about something else?

      • randomengineer

        As Oreskes points out, not everyone believed the medical profession’s assessment of the health hazards of second-hand smoke (and I imagine a great percentage of the population still doesn’t).

        Due to the fact that there is no link whatsoever. As far as I can tell there is not one documented case of anyone being sick from second hand smoke inhalation, much less having died from it. There is only vague statistics, the sort that can be made to scream for mercy in the right hands. The “victory” by the anti-smoker puritans is about as scientifically grounded as the Drake Equation. Of course, this is what you get when credentialism is substituted for knowledge, or heaven forbid, wisdom.

      • Web Hub Telescope

        You wrote:

        I would add the expert climate scientist AND medical professional (not) to the cast — Fred Singer.

        Isn’t it strange that a climate change skeptic turns into a tobacco risk skeptic?

        Maybe you should get your facts straight before posting stuff, WHT.

        Fred Singer has apparently stated that – unlike direct smoking – passive (or secondhand) smoking is “an unpleasant irritant that cannot be healthy” but that “there is no evidence that it causes lung cancer” (Wiki).

        This is not what I would call a “tobacco risk skeptic” – would you?

        Max

        PS I have no personal view on this at all – I am a non-smoker and prefer not to be in a smoke-filled room (like Singer, apparently), but I have seen no direct evidence (from clinical trials, etc.) that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer – have you?

      • max -

        Let’s think this through a bit.

        Fred Singer has apparently stated that – unlike direct smoking – passive (or secondhand) smoking is “an unpleasant irritant that cannot be healthy” but that “there is no evidence that it causes lung cancer” (Wiki).

        This is not what I would call a “tobacco risk skeptic” – would you?

        Have you consider the possibility that 2nd hand smoke might be linked to other health risks other than cancer? If so, how might that possibility change your perspective on Singer’s statement?

      • I know that you love running to Wikipedia whenever someone challenges a statement. I too know that Singer is trying to pen a revisionist history with an article he wrote last year. However, Oreskes has Singer’s past transgressions documented in her Merchants of Doubt book.

        If you dig more you will find Singer taking the opposing, skeptical viewpoint on DDT, ozone hole, acid rain, and AGW that he is most known for. Jeff Masters did a piece on Singer’s ozone escapades that you can read on wunderground.com

        Singer is actually a blueprint for your approach, Manacker :)

      • Joshua

        I would agree (and so would Fred Singer in all likelihood) with your statement

        that 2nd hand smoke might be linked to other health risks other than cancer

        He apparently stated that it was an unpleasant irritant.

        To your second part:

        If so, how might that possibility change your perspective on Singer’s statement?

        I would say it would not change my perspective, as his statement specifically addressed whether or not secondhand smoke caused lung cancer.

        As an irritant, it might well be linked to other health hazards – maybe even some serious ones – but that was not the topic of discussion at the time AFAIK.

        I do not have a record of exactly what Singer did and did not say (only the Wiki rehash), but if I had been asked the specific question, “does secondhand smoke cause lung cancer?”, I would have replied, “there are no clinical studies or other empirical data that would prove that this is the case, but secondhand smoke is an unpleasant irritant and extended exposure to it might cause other health risks.”

        Max

      • max -

        So you think that calling 2nd hand smoke an “unpleasant irritant” in any way captures a valid, scientific perspective on the potential health risks from 2nd hand smoke, in addition to being a risk factor for lung cancer?

        Outstanding, max. Just outstanding.

      • Good to see that at least some of the denialists are consistent – using the same argument to doubt the health impact of passive smoking that they use on AGW.

        It’s no better, but at least consistent.

      • How the hell old are you people? I am nearly 50 and I have never been aware of any debate in the public sector about the hazards associated with smoking. Vaughan, this is not a specific response to your post but more a general question for those who continue this meme. Maybe, I just wasn’t paying attention.

      • Joshua

        We are discussing a totally silly topic here.

        Singer did say that 2nd hand smoke was an irritant and cannot be good for your health – but he also said that there was no clinical evidence that it caused lung cancer.

        I have no opinion on this (as stated above) except that I do not like being in a smoke-filled room as it irritates my eyes.

        I am not going to fall into your trap of either defending Singer’s statement or taking a stand on the health risks of secondhand smoke, a topic I (like you) know nothing about.

        OK?

        Max

      • max -

        I am not going to fall into your trap of either defending Singer’s statement or taking a stand on the health risks of secondhand smoke, a topic I (like you) know nothing about.

        First, there is no “trap.” You needn’t worry about falling into one. I am more than willing to engage in good faith discussion of the issue at hand.

        Second, in my view, you have already, effectively, defended Singer’s statement. Given the abundant evidence of the health impacts from 2nd hand smoke, to call it an “unpleasant irritant” that doesn’t cause lung cancer is extremely irresponsible. That someone who is considered a leader in the community of “skeptical” scientists would make such a deceptive statement, so completely lacking in a comprehensive treatment of the subject at hand, should be vociferously denounced by skeptics, as opposed to “skeptics.”

        Singer’s statements about the BEST study’s findings are exactly in line with his statement you highlighted w/r/t health impacts from 2nd hand smoke. Serious skeptics should, IMO, make a concerted effort to disassociate their skepticism from the work of people like Singer.

        FWIW, I consider it to be instructive when “skeptics” steadfastly refuse to do so.

      • On the narrow issue of second hand smoke causing lung cancer:

        http://www.davehitt.com/facts/epa.html

        I would be interested to know if anyone disputes the facts outlined here.

      • Doug – An Ovid MEDLINE search with search terms “passive smoking and cancer” turns up 506 articles, and the search terms “passive smoking and lung cancer” yields 318 items. The latest in each case are in 2011, and dozens report the epidemiologic evidence for the passive (second hand) smoking/cancer link after accounting for confounding factors. Others review levels of carcinogens or metabolites in the blood of smokers exposed to second hand smoke. The results are unequivocal – second hand smoke poses a significant cancer risk responsible for many thousands of deaths every year worldwide.

        An abstract from a meta analysis published in 2007 is as follows:

        R. Taylor et al – Meta-analysis of studies of passive smoking and lung cancer: effects of study type and continent. [Review] [164 refs]
        International Journal of Epidemiology. 36(5):1048-59, 2007 Oct
        Abstract: To calculate a pooled estimate of relative risk (RR) of lung cancer associated with exposure to passive smoking in never smoking women exposed to smoking spouses. This study is an updated meta-analysis that also assesses the differences between estimated risks according to continent and study type using meta-regression. METHODS: From a total of 101 primary studies, 55 studies are included in this meta-analysis, of which, 7 are cohort studies, 25 population-based case-control and 23 non-population-based case-control studies. Twenty previously published meta-analyses are also reviewed. Fixed and random effect models and meta-regression are used to obtain pooled estimates of RR and P-value functions are used to demonstrate consistency of results. RESULTS: The pooled RR for never-smoking women exposed to passive smoking from spouses is 1.27 (95% CI 1.17-1.37). The RR for North America is 1.15 (95% CI 1.03-1.28), Asia, 1.31 (95% CI 1.16-1.48) and Europe, 1.31 (1.24-1.52). Sequential cumulative meta-analysis shows no trend. There is no strong evidence of publication bias. CONCLUSIONS: The abundance of evidence, consistency of finding across continent and study type, dose-response relationship and biological plausibility, overwhelmingly support the existence of a causal relationship between passive smoking and lung cancer. [References: 164]

        The conclusion that second hand smoke is a significant causative agent in cancer can be considered settled science within any reasonable definition of settled..

      • Thanks Fred,

        I think you and I might disagree on your use of significant causative agent but I have no issue with findings of an RR in the neighborhood of 1.2-1.3 as the studies cited find. Most lung cancers have an obvious primary cause………most are caused by smoking, most of the rest are caused by asbestos exposure. These account for 90%+ of all cases, this doesn’t leave many for ETS.

      • Doug – Your 90% figure is too high for current lung cancer attribution – these days It’s closer to 85% or even less, and of the remainder, most are unexplained rather than due to asbestos (which is now a less frequent cause than in earlier decades). Radon exposure is increasingly recognized as a factor in some cases. These figures are consistent with the conclusion that many thousands of lung cancer deaths are attributable to passive smoking. Several other types of cancer have also been implicated, but the risks are smaller and less well documented. There are also, of course, hazards unrelated to cancer. As you might surmise, there’s a huge literature on this, mainly behind paywalls unless you have some type of university library access to medical and epidemiology journals.

        There is probably little cancer risk from occasional second hand smoke exposure, but constant household starting in childhood or early adulthood, or constant workplace exposure can be a serious hazard.

      • Michael Larkin

        “I would be most disappointed, and you presumably greatly relieved, were the high courts to strike down all such restrictions on smokers.”

        Nah. I’m all for not blowing my smoke in other people’s faces; I recognise they may find it unpleasant. If that had been the approach to placing limitations on smoking in public places, I’d be okay with that. However, I object to playing games with statistics to “prove” second-hand smoke causes lung cancer. That “proof” was a foregone conclusion, and the evidence bent to conform with it, just as happens in climate science in respect of CAGW. “Science” is being wielded as the new scripture by new anal-retentive Puritans who can’t abide other world views or brook dissention.

        I don’t believe at bottom it’s really to do with genuine concern for humanity. It’s to do with disapproval of “vice” in a world where the new “sin” is to dare to do anything remotely dangerous. Why? Because when materialism rules, and when you’re dead you’re dead, the only thing worth pursuing is the extension of life.

        I’m no materialist. I have a spiritual life, which is the most important thing for me by far. I’ll leave my doubtless moderately viceful body behind content that I’ve harmed others little. The most important thing is seeking truth; I think that’s what we’re here for. The new Puritans are wasting their lives instead trying to invent it.

        Okay: I can’t stop them, but I don’t want them to blow their smoke in my face, because I find it repellant. And sometimes, it really does cause great harm – I’m thinking about banning DDT, promoting corn ethanol production, and forcing up the price of food and energy for the poor. God knows how many people have died and may yet die because of things like this.

        I smoke my French tobacco with consideration for others according to the law not because I’m scared of harming them, but simply because they don’t like it. The new Puritans don’t give a toss whose faces they blow their smoke into, or give a second thought about whether it might be causing harm. In fact, they consider it the elixir of life.

    • Although many replies to this discussion (“second-hand smoke”) are tangential, they illustrate the problem in applying the Precautionary Principle. Not to pick on Joshua, but he provides some examples: “Have you consider the possibility that 2nd hand smoke might be linked to other health risks other than cancer?”, “a valid, scientific perspective on the potential health risks from 2nd hand smoke, in addition to being a risk factor for lung cancer?”.

      Cass Sunstein was an academic, and has a string of published papers and at least one book. He was appointed as regulatory czar by the current administration. His view of taking (government) climate action based upon “might” and “potential” is cited below.

      Sunstein, Cass R. 2008. Throwing precaution to the wind: Why the “safe” choice can be dangerous. Opinion. boston.com – The Boston Globe. July 13. http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/07/13/throwing_precaution_to_the_wind

      Main point: “Yet the precautionary principle, for all its rhetorical appeal, is deeply incoherent. It is of course true that we should take precautions against some speculative dangers. But there are always risks on both sides of a decision; inaction can bring danger, but so can action. Precautions, in other words, themselves create risks – and hence the principle bans what it simultaneously requires.”

      “In the context of climate change, precautions are certainly a good idea. But what kinds of precautions? A high tax on carbon emissions would impose real risks – including increased hardship for people who can least afford it and very possibly increases in unemployment and hence poverty. A sensible climate change policy balances the costs and benefits of emissions reductions. If the policy includes costly (and hence risk-creating) precautions, it is because those precautions are justified by their benefits.

      “The nations of the world should take precautions, certainly. But they should not adopt the precautionary principle.”

      Let me suggest that this also cautions against mis-use of Post Normal Science to set government policy.

      • Dixie -

        I don’t feel the slightest bit picked-on, but I don’t get your point. I fully agree that a careful cost/benefit analysis is a vitally important step of policy development. Are you suggesting that there is some inconsistency in my statements about the potential health risks associated with 2nd hand smoke? I don’t agree with any perspective that precautionary actions and cost/benefit assessments are mutually exclusive.

        I agree with this statement:

        If the policy includes costly (and hence risk-creating) precautions, it is because those precautions are justified by their benefits.

        And I’d say that a rhetorical/semantic discussion of whether or not that statement fits someone’s abstracted definition of the precautionary principle are rather beside the point.

      • Joshua. Delighted that I did not offend. A review of some of Sunstein’s writings may clarify whether his views are abstracted.

        Sunstein, Cass R. 2003. Beyond The Precautionary Principle. Working Paper #38. Public Law and Legal Theory. University of Chicago, January. http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/38.crs_.precautionary.pl-lt.pdf

        ———. 2005. Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press

        Sunstein, Cass R., and Eric A. Posner. 2008. “Global Warming and Social Justice.” Regulation. http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv31n1/v31n1-3.pdf

        Sunstein, Cass R., and David Weisbach. 2008. Climate Change and Discounting the Future: A Guide for the Perplexed. Working Paper. Reg-Markets Center, AEI Center for Regulatory and Market Studies, August. http://aei-brookings.org/admin/authorpdfs/redirect-safely.php?fname=../pdffiles/phpEK.pdf

        Sunstein, Cass, and Timur Kuran. 2007. Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation. Research. Social Science Research Network. October 7.

        http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/364.pdf

        http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/364.pdf

      • Dixie -

        Thanks for those links. Interesting reading (as was the editorial).

        From the introduction of the first of those links:

        To explain this problem very briefly, the precautionary principle provides help only if we blind ourselves to many aspects of risk-related situations and focus on a narrow subset of what is at stake.

        Again – I see nothing to disagree with there. It seems that you interpret my comments re 2nd hand smoke to suggest disagreement. Could you elaborate?

      • Joshua. “Are you suggesting that there is some inconsistency in my statements about the potential health risks associated with 2nd hand smoke?”

        Not at all; you are consistent. If I may suggest, however, the difficulty rises from basing governmental policy upon “might”, “potential” and “possibly” catastrophes in the presence of significant uncertainties. One can not do cost/benefit analyses without reasonable estimates of probabilities.

        Government policy is remarkably sticky, the long-distance telephone tax being a notorious example.

      • Dixie –

        The precautionary principle at work?:

        An Oklahoma lawmaker files a bill to ban the making and selling of food or products that use aborted human fetuses.

        State Senator Ralph Shortey says he’s done research and found reports that companies have used stem cells in the research and development of food.

        I don’t know if it is happening in Oklahoma, it may be, it may not be. What I am saying is that if it does happen then we are not going to allow it to manufacture here,” says Shortey.

        The lawmaker that represents Oklahoma County couldn’t give any specific examples.

        There is a potential that there are companies that are using aborted human babies in their research and development of basically enhancing flavor for artificial flavors,” says Shortey.

        http://www.krmg.com/news/news/local/food-containing-fetuses-targeted-under-new-oklaho/nG7P7/

    • steven

      Looks to me like a landmark court decision in favor of FOI – and your insistence on “open access to the data and code underlying climate science” (as it says in your biog writeup).

      Max

  53. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Human being put a lot of it into the atmosphere. Humans are well known to alter climates in a small-scale sense. It therefore seems logical that the differential effect of humans on the climate in a large-scale sense is non-zero and tends toward warming. To me, as a skeptic, these statements are reasonable and raise no controversy. But they are also worthless as a basis for action. The issue is one of quantification, particularly in the context of a risk-benefit analysis in which trillion-dollar economic decisions are part of the mix. To suggest that any kind of legitimate consensus exists to place the quantification at a point where extreme and immediate actions are justified is just plain wrong. AGW proponents such as Oreskes want to shut down discussion on the second point by painting those who disagree with them as deniers on the first point. It is a shell game.

    • Bob K

      Yes it is a “shell game”.

      But there are some in climate science (such as our host here) who are not going along with this “shell game”.

      Whether one agrees with her or not, she has stated under oath before a US congressional committee that

      http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/ChangePan

      - AGW is real, but its magnitude is uncertain as we do not know the impact of natural factors
      - even in its worst incarnation, AGW is unlikely to become an existential threat over the next century
      - we should clear up the many uncertainties and develop robust responses before we start implementing any mitigating actions whose unintended consequences we cannot foresee today

      To me, that seems like the “open minded” approach.

      This is definitely not the approach espoused by Naomi Oreskes.

      [But then, Oreskes is not a climate scientist, is she?]

      Max

  54. “They have been saying for some time that the case for the reality and gravity of climate change has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    The gravity of climate change (ie. CAGW, not AGW) has been “proved beyond a reasonable doubt?”

    At least she isn’t trying to dress up her progressive polemic as a scientific discussion of data. Nope. There is no doubt. The jury has ruled, and all that is left is for the government to impose the deaths sentence on the energy economy.

    No reframing. No improving communication. No building bridges. The rest of the US should just shut the hell up and follow California into the economic abyss.

    I hope the CAGW zealots keep this stuff up. Only ten months to go before the real judges speak.

  55. Herein, I have expressed the knowledge that I know.
    Dissonance rejects expression of what should be known.

    There is only knowing in the field of science. There is no right, there is no wrong.

  56. And another thing. There has been no real controversy regarding the dangers of smoking during my (altogether too long) lifetime.

    All that idiocy of the CEOs lying before congress about their beliefs that nicotine as not addictive and smoking not being a major health hazard was about one thing, and one thing only – the nationalization of a large share of tobacco company profits.

    Those CEOs got some horrifically bad legal advice. As if there was any way to avoid the collusive, multi-billion dollar treasure hunt of the federal government, numerous state attorney’s general, and a plaintiff’s tort bar bloated on multi-billion dollar settlements in other mass tort cases.

    But the only real similarity between the tobacco and the climate wars is that both are being fought primarily for the massive tax revenues progressives are desperate to extort from the respective industries.

    There was no scientific “proof” that smoking caused cancer. We still don’t know the mechanism for the causation of lung cancer and emphysema. It is just that the correlation is so great, it is accepted as true. I know I accept it, and have since I was a child in the 50s and 60s. So did every adult I knew, including the high school drop outs.

    Those congressional show trials had nothing to do with science or public health, and everything to do with politics.

  57. Consider for a moment the case against tobacco.

    When you have finished with that, consider for a moment the case against aspartame, and the case against eugenics.

    Then the case against acetonitrile, and the case against saccharine.

    • oops, acrilonitrile.

    • acrilonitrile! Yikes! I don’t know what it is, but it has to be bad!

      That’s why I limit my strawberry dosage.

      http://tribalscientist.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/how-to-make-a-strawberry/

      And of course di-hydrogen mono-oxide.

      • capt. dallas

        I’m sure even Eli will agree that di-hydrogen monoxide (DHM) is the most effective and worst of all greenhouse gases (at least 5 times more deadly than CO2).

        Let’s tax the hell out of it and save the world!

        Max

      • Max, what you’re overlooking here is that for an increase in water vapor to match an increase in CO2 in effect on surface temperature, the ratios must be the same. For example if water vapor is going to have the same effect on temperature as an increase in CO2 from the preindustrial level of 280 ppmv (give or take 10 ppmv) to the current 392 ppmv level, the water vapor would have to increase during the same period by the same factor of 392/280.

        While I would agree with you that such a huge increase in water vapor would have a big impact on surface temperature, what evidence do you have that water vapor has increased by anywhere near that much?

      • Dr. Pratt,
        According to AGW consensus, CO2 is driving a dangerous increasein H2O vapor by way of positive feedbacks.

      • Dr. Pratt,

        At the almost certain risk of making a fool of myself, I’d like to pursue your,above comment. And if (more likely when, I know) you hand me my posterior, for my troubles, at least I’ll have an answer to a question that’s been bugging me.

        I’ve read that the “greenhouse” effect of water vapor exceeds that of CO2 (but the claims vary ). But for purposes of an illustration, I’d like to assume that water vapor and CO2 produce an equal “greenhouse” effect:

        -Using that off-the-wall assumption, then it seems to me, that an increase of 112 (392-280) ppm of either CO2 or H20 would produce the same warming effect. In other words, the “greenhouse” warming effect of water vapor vs. CO2 is not a factor of the proportional increase in water vapor in relation to current water vapor levels, but rather of the absolute value of the increase in relationship to the increase in CO2. And if a little dab of extra CO2 is the kiss of doom then that same little dab of extra H20 would likewise seem to be enough to end our brief journey in this vale of tears (assuming that the “greenhouse” impact of H20 and C20 are the same, of course).

        Take, then, all the anthropogenic sources of H20 that have appeared, beginning in the last half of the last century in arid locales, not normally saturated with H20 vapor (using the US, for an example): reservoirs in deserts, water vapor emitted from the exhaust pipes of vehicles zipping across the American Southwest, a vast sea of open swimming pools in semi-arid locales like S. California, open aqueducts and irrigation systems in arid areas, and well-watered lawns that are the norm in even the most parched of landscapes. Given all that–why isn’t AH20 a part of the AGW issue along with AC02?

        I’ve searched for coverage on this matter, Dr. Pratt, but I can’t find anything that just flat out addresses the “greenhouse” impact of anthropogenic water vapor (except to dismiss it). The best I’ve found is that water vapor is of no global warming consequence since H20 molecules typically cycle out of the atmosphere in a short period of time, unlike C20. But that still leaves the question in my mind–what difference does it make if any one water molecule is loses its airborne status if another water molecule immediately leaps up to take its place? And if a steady state of water vapor remains in the air–whatever the fate of any one individual molecule–then the net, additional, “greenhouse” warming should remain constantly the same.

        Dr. Pratt, I hope I’ve posed my befuddlement and presumptuous, crude questions with a sufficient clarity. Please, I appreciate any time you (or anyone else who might have the answer) might spend on improving my grossly deficient knowledge in AGW matters. Again, thank for any time you might take to reply and my apologies for any burden my out-to-lunch musings might place on your valuable time.

      • Simple. Water vapor is a positive feedback tagging along with CO2. As the oceans warm, they outgas more CO2 and water vapor. This continues as long as the CO2 is not condensing or sequestering out of the atmosphere. The analogy is booster rockets or a turbo-charger — useless by itself but it adds to the effect in conjunction with the basic mechanism.

      • Web,

        Thanks for the response. In a vague sort of way, I’m aware of that positive feed-back mechanism you site for CO2 warming and the copious production of water vapor as a by-product.

        But I still don’t quite “get it.” Let me offer a preposterous example to illustrate my continuing wonderment. If the neolithic peoples of American, at a time when ACO2 emissions were inconsequential, were to have created a vast reservoir in the middle of the Nevada desert, wouldn’t the additional water vapor, evaporating off that reservoir into the unsaturated desert air have warmed the planet–just a little?

        And if our stone-age, resevoir builders constructed enough of these desert reservoirs, along with irrigated fields, lawns, Fred Flintstone autos, and swimming pools–all with primitive stone tools and no more ACO2 release, in the process, than you’d expect from a few small, communal campfire–wouldn’t we still have AGW as a result of H20 vapor increase emanating from the newly-created surface water exposure?–not as a tag-along to CO2, but in a stand-alone fashion? Or if not, why not?

        Likewise, if smallish incremental increases in atmospheric CO2, measured in a few hundreds of ppm, can “trigger” a massive warming through a positive feedback mechanism, can’t the same occur with a equivalent small increase in water vapor? I mean do the oceans that react to the initial small additional warming “care” if the pebble that sets off the disastrous H20 avalanche is, at origin, CO2 or H20?

        Please, you may well have answered my questions, Web, already and I’m just to dense to “get it.” But I still can’t see why small additional warming by AC02 can initiate a series of events that spell planetary doom while an equivalent warming from by AH20 does not. And, therefore, why both are not a concern, if either is.

      • Not even close, sulfur hexafluoride and any of the fluorinerts.

      • Mike, you answered that question with the short residence time of water vapor, and the way it can easily condense out. Feedback effects are worse with long lifetimes, because the effects can build up, and they can’t reverse on a dime. Nothing will allow excess CO2 to condense out apart from the passage of time, upwards of hundreds to thousands of years if it wasn’t’ part of the natural carbon cycle.

      • Web,

        Again, thanks for the response. I still to need to ponder the matter a bit, but I know where the answer now lies, thanks to you. Appreciate you pointing me in the right way, Web.

    • don’t forget alar.
      And cyclomates.

  58. Naomi Oreskes with her risible call for sticking our fingers in our ears and singing loudly every time someone dares to question the “experts” lest our collective climate resolve be weakened, does more for the skeptical side of the discussion than she realizes.

    But in the face of so much real world data that is not aligning with AGW predictions, one can understand her fear. I started with a closed mind, then decided to open it a bit post climate-gate and abracadabra presto change, a skeptic was born. How many former believers have been lost to “the cause” in just this way?

    I find the tobacco analogy utterly fraudulent. There is no absolutely no evidence that Agw skepticism is largely a creation of the fossil fuel industry. Moreover, close to half the country has doubts about global warming. That’s orders of magnitude greater than the tobacco skeptics

  59. By the knowing that I know, a proclamation can be made.

    Arrheniushansenous is extinct, by the hand of a man.

    The most powerful force in the universe, is the reasoning of a man.

  60. The Tobacco Settlement was sent to each state as a block grant. Each state used the money for purposes the legislature and governors decided upon. In almost all states less than a total of 3% went to tobacco education, health care for the affected people, smoking cessation programs, etc. What the Tobacco Settlement moneys did go for were politically sweet projects to improve re-election: middle class tax break, college tuition supplementation, research for animal husbandry in at least one instance, and pretty soon, it was all eaten up, literally and figuratively. The moneys were extracted from the Tobacco industry, and with expert and Congressional approval, the Tobacco Industry could wash their hands of any further litigation.
    As for climate education, litigation, mitigation all have the objective of funneling moneys to the Federal Government, for them to keep a portion for itself and distribute through legislation the rest to re-election favorable projects. As earmarks are going to be cut, then climate science derived moneys to the rescue. Now you see it, now you don’t. Climate scientists are deluding themselves if they think they are going to get a piece of that pie. Taxing an oderless invisible trace gas is really a brilliant idea, isn’t it?

  61. A serious flaw in Naomi Oreske’s analysis is that she is comparing the climate scientists to members of a jury. She is equating the guilty verdict to the statement: “the reality and gravity of climate change has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt”. The difficulty is in proving the gravity of climate change since unlike a homicide the question cannot be posed easily. The question that jurors “climatologists” are trying to judge is not clear. The “gravity of climate change ” is not a single event or fact but depends on which climate model you use. Naomi Oreske makes the same oversimplifying error with her tobacco industry example.

    • Raymond, there is a serious flaw in your argument. The difficulty is not in proving any question, but in whether the jury has been properly elected.

      Once the jury has been agreed to by both sides, there is no countermanding their conclusion. Your complaint has nothing to do with the question and everything to do with whether the jury has been properly elected. Climate skeptics are claiming that climate scientists are not the proper jury.

      The real difference is that in the case of a trial the lawyers for both sides have to agree on a jury. The defendant cannot be judged by a jury of his peers until then.

      The problem with Oreskes’ analogy is that the trial has not yet begun, because the jury has not yet been agreed on by both sides.

      • Once the jury has been agreed to by both sides, there is no countermanding their conclusion.

        Forgot about appeals. I should have added “other than by the highest court willing to entertain the losing side’s arguments.”

      • My point was simply that the “the reality and gravity of climate change has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt” is a relative statement which depends on the definition of gravity. The question itself cannot be dealt with by a jury since in reality it is comprises a multitude of questions depending on the different CO2 emission scenarios and climate models. Since the question cannot be asked the trial analogy is invalidate and the question of who constitutes the jury cannot be asked.

  62. David Holland

    The tobacco analogy is being used the wrong way round. It is the self-chosing IPCC expert network of scientists who are well funded and refuse to to be open and transparent like the tobacco industry used to be.

    • Eli

      I’m all for openness, disclosure, etc. – from both sides.

      We all know who is paying for most of the climate science going on today – the taxpayer.

      If and when the taxpayer feels he/she is no longer getting his/her money’s worth – or (even worse) fells he/she is being bamboozled, it is up to the taxpayer to lean on his representative (MP, congressman, etc.) to de-fund the specific science.

      The same is true for skeptical “think tanks”, etc.

      And then there are the lobbyists from both sides, who attempt to form public opinion in their favor.

      I’d say you’re pretty safe if you follow the money trail.

      There is still a lot more money going into CAGW than there is going against CAGW, as many studies have shown.

      Max

  63. Isn’t this the same Naomi Oreskes who wrote about the 50 years’ of “consensus science” that ignored evidence for plate tectonics and continental drift? I would have thought she had learned something about the fallacy of “consensus.”

  64. ceteris ex paribus

    The back-and-forth has gotten a bit long, so I’ve posted this here.

    You state that it is “up to the scientists” to determine what is “empirical evidence”.

    Wrong.

    It is “up to the scientists” to search for, find and report “empirical evidence” to back up any hypotheses they happen to be supporting or espousing.

    It is the prerogative of the rational skeptic of a hypothesis to insist on such “empirical evidence” before accepting the validity of the hypothesis..

    “Empirical evidence” is fairly well defined (according to the scientific method) as “physical observations or reproducible experimentation”.

    It is NOT the output of computer model simulations based on theoretical deliberations.

    And it is what is lacking to support the IPCC CAGW hypothesis that most of the warming of the last half century has been caused by human GHG emissions (primarily CO2) and that this represents a serious potential threat for humanity and our environment.

    This hypothesis has yet to be corroborated by empirical evidence – so it remains an uncorroborated hypothesis.

    This is why we need to remain “open minded” to any empirical evidence that is found and reported (contrary to the advice of Naomi Oreskes).

    Max

    • Actual temperature data is in an extremely stable cycle, well inside the range of the past ten thousand years. Only Climate Model Forecasts are outside this stable range. Look at the actual data!

    • ceteris non paribus

      Max:
      Your:
      “This hypothesis has yet to be corroborated by empirical evidence – so it remains an uncorroborated hypothesis.

      is simply false. There is plenty of empirical evidence. Your denying its existence does not make it go away.

      Your claim that scientists have conflated empirical evidence with computer models is also false.

      Do you honestly believe that climate scientists are complete buffoons, who despite having earned PhDs in the sciences, somehow know less that you do about the difference between measured data and model parameters?

      A “rational” skeptic might do a little more research before proclaiming that an entire scientific discipline is wrong.

  65. Rattus Norvegicus

    Judith, I read the editorial and the subhead really had nothing to do with the article.

    You do know that the author of an article does not typically write the headline?

    • Oreskes words:

      “Yet many Americans cling to the idea that it is reasonable to maintain an open mind. It isn’t, at least not to scientists who study the matter.”

      That statement is much worse than the headline.

      • Oreskes and her fringe are much worse than the article submitted, how do we rationalize ignoring that as a starting point or how the context of her AGW views relate to her total world view on almost anything?

        Her world view is more important than symptomatic deficiency that appears here. It’s the world view of her and the surrounding culture that is even more deficient, worth exploring and specifically identifying without metaphors.

        Radical AGW agenda setting is a symptom, we should mention the desease by name.

  66. I still have an open mind about what she actually means. Judith seems to have no doubt.

    I think it’s possible she was trying to critiique the – I-have-no-idea-if there-is-AGW kind of ‘open mind’ on the issue.

    • Michael

      It’s nice to have “an open mind”, but this has little to do with “what she [Oreskes] means”

      She can write very well, and she leaves little doubt “what she means”.

      She means (shhh..don’t tell anybody): “the science is settled”.

      But (as our host here informs us) it isn’t.

      Max

      • Max -

        The astonishing thing for me is that while the ‘science is settled’ notion gets the headlines, what slips through almost unnoticed is the completely indefensible idea that the gravity of the situation is also settled.

        Here’s how she does it -

        They have been saying for some time that the case for the reality and gravity of climate change has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

        It’s almost as if the false claim about the gravity is shielded from view by something that sounds convincing ie a ‘reality’

        To go to the extremes of saying that the gravity (I assume she means ‘heavy’ as in ‘heavy’ disaster) of climate change has been proved beyond reasonable doubt is extraordinary. How could such a thing be proved at all? She’s talking about the behaviour of the weather decades from now – affecting [or not affecting] people many of whom have not even been born! It is a feverish delusion!!

      • Anteros: Indeed. The trick is the way she slips “gravity” next to reality.

        It’s an old hypnotist trick to say several true things in a row, get the person nodding, then slip in the hypnotic suggestion as equally true.

      • ceteris non paribus

        Anteros:
        You asked:

        To go to the extremes of saying that the gravity (I assume she means ‘heavy’ as in ‘heavy’ disaster) of climate change has been proved beyond reasonable doubt is extraordinary. How could such a thing be proved at all? She’s talking about the behaviour of the weather decades from now – affecting [or not affecting] people many of whom have not even been born! It is a feverish delusion!!

        Not really.

        Maybe you haven’t read the pubs.

        Probable ocean sea-level rise ALONE will displace 100s of millions of people over the next century. This isn’t “alarmism” or “politics” – its scientific prediction combined with simple geography.

        And it’s not ‘weather’ decades from now, but climate. The former is like the toss of a die, the latter like a long-run average of many tosses – which can be predicted with high confidence (or else Vegas would be a ghost town).

        Your comment is an ‘argument from incredulity’.

      • ceteris,
        Please review your answer to Anteros, and consider that you exactly prove his point when you respond with projections of sea level rise decades in the future:
        The reality is that slr is not actually diong anything today to support the projections of decades inthe future you are claiming proves the gravity of AGW risks. You cannot, as Anteros properly points out, find anything today that is more dangerous than historical cliamte events.
        AGW entirely rests on dangers cliamed to exist just over an ever receding horizon.

      • ceteris non paribus

        hunter wrote:

        The reality is that slr is not actually diong anything today to support the projections of decades inthe future you are claiming proves the gravity of AGW risks.

        Keep saying that to yourself as the TOPEX/Poseidon data and the ARGO data keeps proving you wrong.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Global_Mean_Sea_Level.svg

        Data available here:

        http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_data_cmar.html

        Anyway, SLR is only one of many affects of increasing global temps.
        But then, you probably don’t accept those scientific projections either. Oh well.

    • ceteris non paribus

      I think the words of Carl Sagan are appropriate here:

      It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.

  67. The trolls are really struggling to defend this one. But they can’t help themselves.

  68. Judith -

    I’m not precisely sure what the certainty is here (my guess is around 95% likelihood that you won’t answer), but on the off chance that you might answer this question….

    What do you think about the significant cross-over you see here among your “denizens” w/r/t a belief that the case for harm from 2nd-hand smoke is: (a) not proven sufficiently as to warrant laws regulating exposure to 2nd-hand smoke and (b) not even proven sufficiently to provide a high degree of confidence that 2nd-hand smoke is harmful.

    You often put up posts that analogize the climate debate to situations where dissent against the scientific “consensus” were squashed. Is the case with the negative health impacts of 2nd-hand smoke (both a link to cancer and a link to other negative health impacts such as respiratory disease) another one of those situations in your view?

    If you do think that the case has been made that 2nd-hand smoke is harmful, do you think that analogizing the climate debate to the “controversy” over plate tectonics (to use just one example) is for some reason more valid than analogizing the situation with “skepticism” in the climate debate to “skepticism” about the harmful health impacts of 2nd hand smoke?

    • Joshua, you are missing the main point. While there is a risk of developing cancer from second hand smoke, that risk can be mitigated.

      Your risk of developing cancer from my second hand smoke in a properly ventilated restaurant/lounge is negligibly small. Your risk of developing cancer from second hand smoke from my cigar in a smoke filled poker room is larger.

      Science provides the information and if the public risk is great enough, then legislation should be enacted. There is no zero risk. That is the point.

      The second and third hand smoke statistics are ridiculously interpreted. Ridiculously low risk standards being used to enact legislation is something worth being fought. Some battles are more popular than others, but they all deserve attention, since they limit personal freedoms.

      • Cap’n -

        From a brief review of the literature that’s easily available on the web, your confidence about the lack of evidence associating 2nd hand smoke and a risk for cancer seems unsubstantiated. For example, I have seen evidence that speaks about 2nd hand smoke as being quite concentrated in its carcinogenic properties – particularly when someone is exposed in inclosed areas.

        But that said, limiting the discussion to the association of 2nd hand smoke to lung cancer seems to me to do a disservice to the discussion of whether or not the “controversy” about 2nd hand smoke has any relevance to the debate about climate change. Surely, the data for an association between 2nd hand smoke and other deleterious health impacts is far greater than the evidence available on the association between 2nd hand smoke and lung cancer. So limiting the discussion in such a manner seems to me to be focusing on a very specific point with the effect of not paying attention sufficiently to the full context. See Singer’s statement about the link between 2nd hand smoke and lung cancer as a example of what I’m speaking about.

        Discussion about the merits or scientific validity of associated public health policies is another matter entirely. It is an important matter – and it, too, IMO, is relevant to the debate about policies related to climate change. But I wouldn’t want to conflate those two topics. The merits or validity of policies implemented w/r/t exposure to 2nd hand smoke is a very complicated subject, and not one that relates directly, to policies w/r/t to climate change.

        That is, unless someone suffers from a binary mentality that leads to a conclusion that the merits of any particular public policy should serve as a general rule that applies to the merits of any public policy.

      • Joshua, what part of well ventilated do you not understand?

        Yes, in some of the studies the smoke hazard could be well concentrated. What is well concentrated? I did a survey of a smoking area for a large retail chain. We use CO as a tracer, In side the smoking area the maximum CO concentration was 5PPM, average 2.8PPM. At the door of the designated smoking area, the highest measured value was 0.3PPM. Outside of the doorway is was not measurable. The reason for the survey had nothing to do with smoking, and employee complained of “smelling” carbon monoxide. The only measurable trace of CO was in the smoking area.

        The only relevance the two have, is the levels of uncertainty. Remember the Brazil nuts?

        Radium causes cancer. Radium bad!! Brazil nuts Bad because they contain radium!! Me scared of bad!!

        Feelings got squat to do with science. Look at the real numbers and the methods to crunch the numbers.

        A male smoker, two packs a day, has about 17% greater risk of dieing of cancer. A non smoker the same age has about 1.3% chance of dieing of lung cancer. What is the risk of the non-smoker that eats out 5 days a week? 1.33% greater? 0.03% greater than not going out to eat in a smoking restaurant. What about the risk of cancer from passive smoke for an airline steward(ess)? It is higher of course, how high? Oh, wait, see if that study factored in the addition radiation associated with the job? The poor ventilation and human bodies with VOC emitting smell good compounds.

        Many of the studies I have seen stop, right where it gets interesting.

      • Cap’n.

        I suspect that you are conflating my point with a point I didn’t make.

        I was speaking about the concentration of carcinogens in cigarette smoke, not the concentration of cigarette smoke.

        Now this is the type of thing that I’ve read – although I certainly have not done a comprehensive study of the validity of this kind of statement.

        Even though we think of these as the same, they aren’t. The sidestream smoke has higher concentrations of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) than the mainstream smoke. And, it contains smaller particles than mainstream smoke, which make their way into the body’s cells more easily.

        http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/TobaccoCancer/secondhand-smoke

      • There was no data in that report, paper whatever it is you think is informative. Side Stream Smoke.So do smokers have magic shields against SSS. Rectum and breast cancers? Even your uninformative paper mention there is a negative correlation in breast cancers of non-smoking versus smoking women. Do non smoking rectums suffer more from SSS?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_no-threshold_model#Controversy

        The last time this was brought up I mentioned a discrepancies between a Boston trail and Pheonix trial. Break out a reference to a real paper, with real numbers and let’s go over it.

      • cap’n -

        If you check, what I said was that your confidence seems to me to be unfounded – not that I have proof that proves you wrong, but that I haven’t seen evidence that confirms your level of certainty and that I have seen material that suggests you are being overly-confident.

        If you have any research that disproves the claims made, I would love to see a link.

        This was from a very quick Wikipedia search. Search for this stream and you will find a series of linked, related citations.

        Research using more exact measures of second-hand smoke exposure suggests that risks to non-smokers may be even greater than this estimate. A British study reported that exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of heart disease among non-smokers by as much as 60%, similar to light smoking.[58] Evidence also shows that inhaled sidestream smoke, the main component of second-hand smoke, is about four times more toxic than mainstream smoke. This fact has been known to the tobacco industry since the 1980s, though it kept its findings secret.[59][60][61][62] Some scientists believe that the risk of passive smoking, in particular the risk of developing coronary heart diseases, may have been substantially underestimated.[63]

        Is this going to be like the other day when you wrote a series of posts, all of which studiously avoided addressing the point that I made? The referees have already run out of flags and they’re down to their last hat.

      • Joshua, the first paragraph of the Sidestream smoke wiki, “there may be exposure to higher concentrations of carcinogens than are typically inhaled directly.” Note the MAY.

        “A non-smoker who is inhaling sidestream or secondhand smoke has a 30% greater risk of getting lung cancer at some point in their lives.” 30% that is a big number, So risk MAY increase from 1.3% to 1.69% with a margin of what error? Isn’t interesting that the MAY transformed to a solid 30% with nothing to reference the 30% to?

        How does that compare to the Sidestream smoke of incense? What increased risk of cancer do you have for being 10 pounds over weight? Consuming bacon?

        That’s right! The bacon and biscuits are next Joshua.

        BTW, mild obesity, increases cancer risk by 20 to 60%. Did I just make up that number? I can’t find the link, but a Japanese government spokesman used it to illustrate relative risk after Fukushima.

      • Cap’n -

        See there! All I need to do is show you the fence and the whitewash, and you get right to work.

        So risk MAY increase from 1.3% to 1.69% with a margin of what error?

        S, this is a good point. I hardly consider our little research project (where I pointed the way and you did the work) to be a comprehensive analysis – but my presumption is that after reading what you just did, if you were in a not particularly well-ventilated space with a kid a large amount of time, you wouldn’t regularly fire up a big fat cigar and watch the smoke drift up his/her nostrils, and erhaps one of those reasons might be because you think there is a good possibility that it might slightly increase that kids chances of getting lung cancer.

        Now lets place that possible increase in risk for lung cancer along with the increased risk of other cancers from 2nd hand smoke, along with the increased risk for CVD, and respiratory diseases, and combine that with the sheer unpleasantness for some people of being exposed to cigarette smoke, and my guess is that you think it would be a worthy consideration to discuss how public health officials in a democracy should work with democratically-elected representatives and lobbyists from the tobacco and HVAC industries to consider how to deal legislatively with 2nd hand cigarette smoke.

        Would you not?

      • Joshua said, “how public health officials in a democracy should work with democratically-elected representatives and lobbyists from the tobacco and HVAC industries to consider how to deal legislatively with 2nd hand cigarette smoke. ”

        Actually, we did. We also worked on VOC containment in paint booths, including methyl iso cyanate.(?) I helped set up some of the safest containment of nasty stuff in the workplace, from hospitals, prisons to naval nuke bases. Smoking sections are a piece of cake compared to contagious isolation. But people like you read drivel then vote. :) Bacon is next Joshua.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Capt’n my Capt’n

        I once dropped into the duty free airport shop to buy a box of Cubans. The cigar stand had a health warning that cigars caused mouth cancer. A good cigar with a nice port is so good it must be bad for you even though inhalation is involved in the same way as Bill Clinton with weed – or indeed Bill, Monica and cigars. I laughed at the sign and decided to take the risk anyway.

        I regard myself as a well informed individual. A polymath with degrees in engineering and environmental science, a genius level IQ and broadly read in literature, poetry, economics and history. (I must point out to the humour disadvantaged – Webby that’s you – that of course I am being less than serious as seriously claiming such personal attributes – even if true – is something of a social faux pas). I usually say that my specialty is being a smart arse or that as a poet I am a bullshit artist – both Australian terms of endearment.

        The point is that I am not as convinced as Naomi that climate science is as cut and dried (excuse the pun) as that cigar smoking can cause foot cancer if you hold it between your toes and smoke it (as opposed to holding it between your toes and doing a Bill and Monica) or that Einstein’s time dilation can have adverse impacts on your social life as it generally involves landing on a planet where apes are the dominant species, everyone you know is dead and the poker game has relocated to Alpha Centauri.

        As I have said many times – the world view of Naomi and her fellow travellers (pissant progressives) pose a serious risk to my ability to convert surplus value to personal profit. I suggest that we need to make a serious fightback against these enemies of free markets, democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. Seriously – social democrats spend at 40% of the economy, tax at 20% and then blame global capitalism when it ends in tears. Sheesh

        Robert I Ellison
        Chief Hydrologist

      • ceteris non paribus

        Chief Hydrologist wrote:

        I suggest that we need to make a serious fightback against these enemies of free markets, democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.

        Wow.
        Who new that a book author could be such a threat to your entire way of life?
        What ever happened to the poor old terrorists?

        I’m going to go way out on a limb here and guess that you are:
        male, a US citizen, white. Read ‘Atlas Shrugged’ at some point in your younger days…?

        Good luck with the serious fightback!

      • I see the greenshirt, agit-prop wizards have put the “denier” meme pretty much mothballs. And the “anti-science” pitch is also greatly muted. Only to be replaced by something better, to be sure. I mean, of course, the improbable Dr. Oreskes’ opening-shot op-ed that has revealed the latest “big-move” by the hive: THE “NAG” OFFENSIVE!

        Yep, folks, the latest doom-butt plan is to dun us all with obnoxious-pest nags like ceteris until humanity yields in “close-minded” submission to the CAGW scam. Gotta say, this is dangerous stuff–might even work if one’s not careful.

        And, ceteris let me also opine from a perch on my favorite limb: You, ceteris are a breezy, superficial, self-assured little-miss-smarty-pants with a pampered, coddled, spoiled-brat upbringing and with a life-journey that has been greased with nothing but un-earned praise and un-earned good-deal lube-jobs. But not one solid achievement you can call your own.

        Incidentally, ceteris, I’m pretty sure you’re wrong about CH in at lest one particular, but I’ll let him prick your aren’t-I-a-clever-little-cutie-pie! bubble

      • > pissant progressives

        I thought they were pissant liberals.

    • Joshua, Fred found one of the links I was looking for up top. The nominal passive smoke risk is on the order of 1.1 to 1.3% greater, I used the 1.3%

      Wiki keeps throwing out just percentages with no reference. So the 60% would increase risk from 1.3 to nearly 2%. The 1.3% is based on non smokers with constant exposure to smoke.

      Now, back to my ventilation in the restaurant/bar. That would be insignificant risk. Apples go with apples, Joshua.

      • Opps! Sorry Joshua, the study Fred linked would INCLUDE sidestream. So sidestream may be responsible for 60% of the 1.3%.

        That’s why I smoke cigars, the additives to restrict the burn rate on cigarettes may be more harmful than the tobacco. Ain’t regulations great.

      • Cap’n

        Ain’t regulations great.

        What’s the penalty for binary mentality?

      • Dallas- This is a subject you don’t seem to know anything about or know to interpret the data. Ordinarily, that doesn’t bother me, but when it comes to people’s health and lives, it’s irresponsible. The risk from second hand smoke is significant in its own right, and the quoted figures refer to that group specifically. The evidence is conclusive, and because second smoking is largely involuntary, it’s imperative not to have the risk imposed on the exposed individuals. Very sporadic exposure is more an annoyance than a hazard, but every day exposure is dangerous and shouldn’t be forced on anybody as a condition for living in a household or earning a living as an employee. If you want to indulge in fantasies, don’t do it in regard to cancer risk.

      • Fred I am not indulging in fantasies, IMHO. There is a statistically significant risk of cancer from prolonged exposure to second hand smoke. My discussion with Joshua started with short term public exposure, restaurants and bars, which in Florida restaurants are now smoke free.

        Joshua brought up the Side stream smoke issue. The original passive smoke studies did not consider side stream smoke, at least I have not seen it referenced. You do the math. If side stream smoke increases risk by 60% and it was not considered an issue in the original passive smoke studies, what does that do to the confidence intervals of the original passive smoke studies?

        The references Joshua provided and the Wikipedia entry for Side stream smoke are not very high quality. My opinion. But since you are here, do you think the wikipedia entry for Sidestream smoke is clear or vague? I find 30% with no reference to what quantity is the basis for that 30% a bit vague. Joshua’s other link for Sidestream smoke was also not very informative in MHO.

        So where am I fantasizing? By agreeing that prolonged exposure to passive smoke may increase your risk of lung cancer by 1% to 1.3%?
        By noting that obesity increases your risk of cancer by a larger percentage, note cancers, not lung cancers? Or was it joking with him about bacon?

      • The lung cancer risk alone increases by 20 to 30 percent and the risk of death from all causes increases even more. There can be no excuse for imposing that risk on employees as a condition of employment. As to imposing that risk on your spouse or your child, I’ll let others judge the morality of that option.

        I don’t get similarly exercised here by what I consider bad judgments on climate change, because as individuals, our mistakes have little influence on outcomes. For passive smoking, however, that’s different. If you own a business or have a family, your bad judgment can kill people. Exposing them to passive smoking can’t be condoned.

      • This is an interesting topic because it exposes the inherent subjectivity of risk evaluation related to health. My brother likes to talk about absolute risk rather than relative risk. So one might say that regular mountaineering increases your risk of getting struck by lightening by 1000%. Or one could say it increases it from 0.00001% to 0.0001%. The latter statement is less alarmist. You know, virtually everything has some small risk associated with it. Sitting on the couch increases your risk of obesity and that is a big risk. When I call my brother and tell him my cholesterol is 220, he says my risk of a significant cardiac event in the next 10 years is 7%. If my cholestrol were 180, it would be a little lower. This exposes the fact that evaluation of risks is subject to extreme subjectivity. We tend to downplay the risks of things that are politically correct, like hiking, mountaineering, bike riding, driving, and even homosexual activity. We overstate the risks of things we don’t like, such as smoking, obesity, and nuclear power. Life is a constant balance of risk and reward. You know being born increases your risk of dying from old age from 0 to at least 10%. If smoking is so evil, why don’t we just ban it and get it over with? No politician or public health official seriously suggests that. Why do you think that is the case? Basically, the factor most closely correlated with longevity is longevity in your parents.

      • cap’n -

        I brought up the side stream smoke issue as one point among many w/r/t the association of 2nd hand smoke with lung cancer, which is one issue among the associations of 2nd hand smoke with cancer, which is one issue among the association of 2nd hand smoke with an assortment of deleterious health impacts.

        So when you entered the discussion with this:

        Joshua, you are missing the main point. While there is a risk of developing cancer from second hand smoke, that risk can be mitigated.

        What you really meant was that I wasn’t focusing on the point that you wanted to focus on.

        My point was that there is a large body of evidence that points to an association of 2nd hand smoke and negative health impacts – and that many “climate skeptics” argue about whether there is any such body of evidence – which raises questions about the veracity of their viewpoint towards scientific evidence, scientific “consensus,” and skepticism.

        What is your point? That there are sometimes unintended consequences to public health polices? Anyone who isn’t stuck in a binary mentality, it seems to me, would find that to be an entirely trivial point.

      • Fred said, “The lung cancer risk alone increases by 20 to 30 percent and the risk of death from all causes increases even more.” From what to what. Non smokers not exposed to prolonged passive smoke have a lung cancer risk of 1.3% A 30% increase would be to 1.69% as I stated. Is that incorrect?

        Increases all causes of cancers. Obesity is also a factor in that category, is it not?

        I also think it is unfair to force employees to be exposed to prolonged passive smoke exposure. I used to balance specialized ventilation systems to improve the air quality for employees. Not only to protect them from passive smoke, but active TB and other infectious critters, hazardous chemicals, emergency smoke ventilation, and the usual surgical suites, biohazard testing facilities that kinda stuff. Good money too BTW.

        So where was I indulging fantasies again?

      • But is the incidence of binary mentality asymmetrical?

      • Dallas – Thanks for clarifying how you define a given percent increase in risk. If a lethal risk of 1 percent rises to 1.3 percent, you estimate that to be a 0.3 percent increase in risk, whereas others might call it a 30 percent increase. As long as everyone understands what is meant, and that it translates into many excess deaths, that’s OK.

      • Joshua, I think this is the right spot to respond.

        The SSS is an interesting point that I assumed to be a part of the passive smoke issue. It does not look like a cumulative risk factor, but one include in the overall passive smoke results. It may be a new issue, if it is, it may be related to additives in cigarettes, don’t know. As I mentioned, the links are not all that great.

        You leaped at the Tom Sawyer 1.69%. Don’t you find that interesting? Of all your risks of death, lung cancer increase by 30% from 1.3 to 1.69% if you have prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke. As a smoker, if I quit now, my life expectancy is 7 years shorter than for a non smoker, since I had a 17% chance of getting lung cancer when I elected to start smoking 40 years ago. I mainly smoke cigars, so I may sneak in a few extra months.

        So why would I have a different perspective on the risks of passive smoke?

        Little story,

        Once the passive smoke studies were published, there was a big push down here to make restaurants and workplaces safer for non-smokers. There were already a lot of new electro-static and HEPA filtration systems developed, minimum outdoor air quantities were added to designs, in general a lot of effort into improving indoor air quality, which was already a problem. There is a Tight Building Syndrome which developed as energy requires for airconditioning grew, buildings got better insulated, air changes per hour reduced, new synthetic products outgased VOC’s in the well insulated, tightly sealed buildings. Those systems to correct tight building syndrome, worked great for reducing passive smoke build-up in buildings, which was already an issue being addressed by the HVAC industry.

        http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/careforyourair.html

        Guess who was one of the guys working on IAQ and tight building syndrome :)

        http://eetd.lbl.gov/ied/sfrb/voc-cancer.html

        I tend to question the confidence interval of the passive smoke studies for some odd reason.

      • Cap’n -

        It does not look like a cumulative risk factor, but one include in the overall passive smoke results.

        Well, not completely. It would be interesting to see what the element of extra risk that isn’t cumulative would translate into in terms of actual numbers of cases of lung cancer, and the costs associated, and how those costs would balance against policies that were already being adopted to reduce risk from 2nd hand smoke. Mostly, the SSS issue is relevant because what you often hear in the debate is that 2nd hand smoke couldn’t possibly be dangerous because it is, well, second hand.

        That’s not to say that I think that a comprehensive contextualization of risk benefits isn’t called for. Of course it is. It is a crucial piece of the kind of cost/benefit analysis that should accompany public health policy development. And that, of course, requires that you view that minor increase in lung cancer risk from SSS in the full context, as I have said numerous times.

        By the way, I am quite familiar with “Tight Building Syndrome” by virtue of being so familiar with it’s opposite: “Leaky Building Syndrome.” I can feel a nice cool indoor breeze during winter at various places in my house. That said, I much prefer that sometimes unpleasant feeling as compared to the stifling lack of proper air flow in many modern buildings (in particular those buildings where you can’t even open the windows). And I blame HVAC numbnuts for that. Don’t get me wrong. I have one of those high-velocity AC systems in my 150 year-old house (I went with for aesthetic reasons – I wanted fewer, and smaller, soffits and chases – especially where there is crown molding) – and my HVAC guy did a pretty nice job of engineering the system (the 3rd floor is reasonably cool on the hottest days even if not as cool as I’d like). But I have worked in too many buildings where repeat visits from HVAC guys meant a constant fiddling with different instruments and meters and sensors and in the end, resulted in rooms that were too hot in the winter, too cold in the summer, or uncomfortable due to lack of air flow, to trust my views on public health policy to their fantasies about what they could do based on their drawings and their calculators.

      • Dallas – Maybe no-one is paying attention anymore, but I do owe you an apology for my harsh word “fantasies”. Your calculation that “passive smoke risk is on the order of 1.1 to 1.3% greater” was confusing, but it’s perfectly correct when understood in the sense you intended it.

        Generally, we refer to percent increases as based on the denominator of the original value. For example, we say that atmospheric CO2 has increased by almost 40% in going from preindustrial 280 ppm (0.028%) to 390 ppm (0.039%), whereas the parallel with your terminology would tell us that the CO2 concentration is now 0.011% greater than before – again, literally true if one understands what denominator is being used.

        What’s important is that the increase, however described, represents a serious health hazard – it’s estimated that second hand smoke exposure results in about 3000 excess deaths annually in the U.S. alone, and the global figure is undoubtedly in the tens of thousands. There are worse threats in the world (no, I’m not going to get into anthropogenic climate change is one of them), but that doesn’t diminish the importance of minimizing this particular threat, particularly since exposure to second hand smoke is usually an involuntary result of someone else’s decisions – that of a family member of employer.

        I see it as particularly important in a context such as this blog, because many of us have much more personal control and responsibility over whether we expose others to second hand smoke than whether we expose the world to nuclear war, epidemic cholera, global warming, or other serious threats, real or exaggerated. My statements about risk were directed to any reader for whom second smoke exposure is relevant.

    • But people like you …

      People who get others to whitewash their fences?

      Bacon is next Joshua.

      Out of my cold, dead hands.

      • Oh, one parting shot. Without seeing the reason for the 30% and 60%, the CI for the base 1.3% is a little suspect. As I mentioned once before, the lifestyles of smokers in general make it difficult to find an adequate control group. Smokers tend to have other vices or virtues depending on your opinion, like spicier foods, a touch more alcohol and a bit more sedentary lifestyles. So do bacon eaters :)

      • My Uncle, the one who was a junior physicist on George Rankine Irwin’s team at Naval Research Laboratory during WW2, became a scientist for a a huge international fiber company. His scientific project immediately after WW2, because they knew tobacco was causing cancer, was to come up with a non-carcinogenic synthetic tobacco. He spent more than a decade on it before they gave it up.

        In just a few years he ended smoking in my family. He had them all scared to death. And to this day, there are no smokers in my family.

        However, he also railed against things like burnt toast and barbecue, which he also insisted would cause cancer. Barbecue!? Fortunately they told the moron to take a hike.

  69. “Merely having an open mind is nothing; the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” – G.K. Chesterton

    http://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/having-an-open-mind-the-pursuit-of-intellectual-honesty/

  70. Greg Goodknight

    To recycle an observation once made regarding James Carville, Naomi Oreskes isn’t as nice as she looks.

    In perhaps one of the ugliest and, by the usual standards, totally inappropriate slanders of one of the great physicists of my lifetime, Ms. Oreskes dismissed Freeman Dyson’s comments regarding AGW as being because he’s an old man, lonely and craving attention, missing the limelight of his younger days. No, that is not an unfair representation of her words.

    She starts in on Dyson at 50:55 in this CSPAN program recorded 4/30/2011

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/299192-3

    Oreskes is a propagandist, nothing more, nothing less.

    • Greg,

      “Oreskes is a propagandist”

      It’s not that I disagree but could you define the social/political/cultural movement she is a propagandist for?

      Some of our more simple minded skeptics here think AGW activism is merely an offshoot of an academic disagreement by the way they tell it. It’s a weak and pathetic narrative, a subside to warmism and the cause embedded.

      Another huge elephant ignored in the room yet again.

      • Greg Goodknight

        If you feel a need to do so, go ahead.

      • I feel like Harry Potter when the consensus (skeptical on this blog) cringe at hearing him mention LORD VOLDEMORT directly be name.

        I’m the last one to address the question. You would think some other skeptics could grow a pair around here. Nothing directed at you Greg but there are skeptic bedwetters in numbers here. We should just pretend Oreskes might have a bias (we can’t say about what) or could be an activist (we can’t mention particular political cultures) and the make-believe agenda/talking points of “it’s about science” rolls on. We should just ignore and emmulate Dr. Curry’s posture of willful blindness of what is central about Oreskes in this case today and a thousand other samples of eco-extreme alliances, cross currents to statist politics and culture. ALL DISCOUNTED or IGNORED as non-essential in BULK. The heart of the AGW culture isn’t discussable; “HE (AGW POLITICAL CULTURE) WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED”.

      • “directly by name” that is.

      • Greg Goodknight

        “cwon14″, I’m an adult posting under my own name. I don’t take instructions from folks who don’t have the courage to post under their own names. *My* choice was to leave it with Oreskes choice of an ugly ad hominem remark rather than deal with Dyson’s substantive comments.

        14… might be an age, might be the year you will be graduating from high school or college. Given you went right for the Harry Potter references, all three fit.

      • A reasonable series at any age Greg, I’ll go to the Fountainhead if it pleases you better next time.

  71. A Frank Statement
    to Cigarette Smokers

    Recent reports on experiments with mice have given wide publicity to a theory that cigarette smoking is in some way linked with lung cancer in human beings.

    Although conducted by doctors of professional standing, these experiments are not regarded as conclusive in the field of cancer research. However, we do not believe that any serious medical research, even though its results are inconclusive should be disregarded or lightly dismissed.

    At the same time, we feel it is in the public interest to call attention to the fact that eminent doctors and research scientists have publicly questioned the claimed significance of these experiments.

    Distinguished authorities point out:

    That medical research of recent years indicates many possible causes of lung cancer.

    That there is no agreement among the authorities regarding what the cause is.

    That there is no proof that cigarette smoking is one of the causes.

    That statistics purporting to link cigarette smoking with the disease could apply with equal force to any one of many other aspects of modern life. Indeed the validity of the statistics themselves is questioned by numerous scientists.

    We accept an interest in people’s health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration in our business.

    We believe the products we make are not injurious to health.

    We always have and always will cooperate closely with those whose task it is to safeguard the public health.

    For more than 300 years tobacco has given solace, relaxation, and enjoyment to mankind. At one time or another during those years critics have held it responsible for practically every disease of the human body. One by one these charges have been abandoned for lack of evidence.

    Regardless for the record of the past, the fact that cigarette smoking today should even be suspected as a cause of a serious disease is a matter of deep concern to us.

    Many people have asked us what we are doing too meet the public’s concern aroused by the recent reports. Here is the answer:

    We are pledging aid and assistance to the research effort into all phases of tobacco use and health. This joint financial aid will of course be in addition to what is already being contributed by individual companies.

    For this purpose we are establishing a joint industry group consisting initially of the undersigned. This group will be known as tobacco industry research committee.

    In charge of the research activities of the Committee will be a scientist of unimpeachable integrity and national repute. In addition there will be an Advisory Board of scientists disinterested in the cigarette industry. A group of distinguished men from medicine, science, and education will be invited to serve on this Board. These scientists will advise the Committee on its research activities.

    This statement is being issued because we believe the people are entitled to know where we stand on this matter and what we intend to do about it.

    • Hey Joshua

      Why do you keep hijacking posts here? Do you not get enough attention at home?

      I assume you like sex and travel so you know what to do?

      • Thanks for reading, Stacey.

        I must say, though, I’m confused about your question related to sex and travel.

        Given that you so dislike thread “hi-jacking” so much, I’m sure it must be an important question that’s on topic.

        But I must say that it reads to me like your question is completely irrelevant to the post, and suggests that instead it might be related to some odd obsession with my sex life (you wouldn’t be the first denizen to have such an interest) – and reflects more that you think that posting insults substitutes for actually discussing the issue at hand.

        Could you elaborate?

      • Joshua,

        There is a potty mouthed clown car for the likes of Stacey.

      • Stacey,

        He is trying to do better. He claims he has gotten a “girlfriend”, on my kindly offered advice,. This was only about a week after he scolded the denizens for assuming he is heterosexual. At least he is trying to get a life, if he has found a “girlfriend”.

    • Joshua,

      I clearly prefer your approach in that text, reproduced here:

      http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/16464242414

      We should certainly not compare any of this with smoking. This would be wrong. Even John Nielsen-Gammon commits this error when he says:

      > I saw a trailer today for a new documentary on tobacco whistleblowers and was reminded of the answer. Public opinion finally shifted permanently when it was demonstrated that tobacco companies were intentionally concealing its harmful attributes. Better communication had nothing to do with it. The determining factor was trust. When the pro-smokers suddenly had nobody trustworthy arguing that tobacco was fine, they had no choice but to change their opinions. Not everyone, but enough to establish a public consensus.

      http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2012/01/or-maybe-people-dont-reason-logically

      INTEGRITY(tm): Everybody Wants Some.

      • willard -

        I wish I could take credit. And as much as I love me some satire, I could never write something that beautifully satirical.

        That is an actual, honest-to-god publication from the tobacco industry.

        http://www.tobacco.neu.edu/litigation/cases/supportdocs/frank_ad.htm

      • Tobacco Scientists! Yeah buddy! The scrum is on!

        Modern day “tobacco scientists”: The establishment “good-comrade” academics flogging the CAGW hustle and their fellow-traveler colleagues who have much to loose if they buck the system that’s been so good to them (at taxpayer expense, of course) and with much to gain if they don’t.

        Modern day “tobacco-companies”:The whole grab-bag of professional parasites, con-men, and VIP beggars looking for a green-washed hand-out from the taxpayer; pathetic comrades who have never found real meaning in their lives since the fall of the Berlin-wall, but are doing their best to move the watermelon across the goal line, as something to do; ditzy kids and their youth-master chaperones; the make-a-buck, money-bag, carbon-hog, hypocrite eco-elite with their private islands in the Carribean and Mediterranean, their yachts that dwarf the privately owned island at which they park, their privately owned, carbon-powered, four-jet planes that flit about the globe between their multiple, beach-front mansions (no worries about rising sea-levels for the greenshirt nomenklatura–they always get a pass, even from Mother Nature); and the entrepreneurial vultures attracted to the stench.

        Modern day “tobacco-industry” whistleblowers: The brave soul who released the “climategate” e-mails and those courageous bloggers who published the e-mails. And the scrappy, colorful “little guys”, armed only with hobbyist resources and a profound sense of disinterested, citizenship duty, who have spontaneously arisen and jammed up the best the Big-Green Goliaths and their Lysenkoist, “tobacco scientist” stooges have to offer.

        Ever notice how the “tobacco scientist” analogy works so much better when mapped onto the greenshirts? Yeah, I did too.

      • mike -

        Just checking.

        Do you really believe that tobacco scientists in the employ of tobacco companies are analogous to the vast majority of climate scientist who think it very likely that somewhat more than 50% of recent warming is anomalous and ACO2 related?

        Or is this only hyperbole for rhetorical effect?

      • Well, Josh, let’s see:

        “Tobacco scientists”

        1. Vetted for the reliability in the service of the tobacco-company orthodoxy (ask Chris Colose what sort of future would await him if he ever changed his mind about “things.”) Check!

        2. Hide internal e-mails, internal-memos, and research that would do a disservice to the tobacco-company orthodoxy. Check!

        3. Treat whistle-blowers–especially those who out the closed door doubts about the tobacco-company orthodoxy with furious denunciations, contempt, and threats of legal and professional retaliation. Check!

        4. Have their income, prestige, pensions, reputations, and careers dependant on their successful defense of the tobacco-company orthodoxy. Check.

        5. Work hand in hand as enablers with corrupt, make-a-buck crony capitalists of the tobacco industry and their bought-and-sold politico allies. Check!

        6. Call those whose “open-minded” inquiries raise questions about the tobacco-science orthodoxy “deniers” and “anti-science”. Hey! No check here for tobacco scientists!

        I’ll be!? So, you know, Josh, maybe the parallel between the tobacco scientists of yore and their modern-day, greenshirt, Lysenkoist progeny is not absolute after all. But take out the “denier” and “anti-science” cat-calls out and the match is perfect. I mean, the science is hereby declared “settled”! Time for us good-comrades to get tough and “close the minds”. Isn’t that “tobacco-scientist” science–only more so.

        And one more:

        Practice what they preach. That’s a check for the tobacco scientists wreathed in their tobacco smoke. But not for the carbon-hoggie hypocrites flogging the CAGW science-scam.

      • mike -

        Read my (first) question again. Pay careful attention to the language I used – including the qualifications.

        It seems that your response was in answer to a question I didn’t ask.

      • Josh,

        Let me put it this way–it’s the answer to question I choose to answer. And, yes, I’m every bit the manipulator you are. I think that’s why we get along so well.

      • mike -

        Manipulation? Moi?

      • Joshua,

        I’ve updated the post accordingly.

        I thought it was as good as this other one by John Nielsen-Gammon:

        http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2012/01/lack-of-absolute-proof-on-federal-budget-deficits

        ***

        mike,

        Yes, carbon-hoggie hypocrites flogging the CAGW science-scam.

        Trillions.

  72. Trying to bring the scientific debate between AGW and cancer caused by tobacco as though they were the same thing (conflation) in an attempt to confuse certain elements of basic scientific research would seem not only deeply suspect but bordering on the naive. A rather poor attempt at a cheap propoganda linkage. One would expect better from some people.

    • Beesman –

      Allow me to fix that for you:

      Trying to bring the scientific debate between AGW and plate tectonics/research on ulcers, etc. as though they were the same thing (conflation) in an attempt to confuse certain elements of basic scientific research would seem not only deeply suspect but bordering on the naive. A rather poor attempt at a cheap propoganda linkage. One would expect better from some people.

      No charge for my editing services.

      This time.

    • They may well also later point to this blog as being a case of ‘supposedly serious skeptics’ being obsessed with defending the tobacco industry, having managed to drive the debate that way. Oreskes would be proud.

    • Might be because many of the same people, Fred Singer, Fred Seitz to name two, are/were leaders in both efforts? Might also be because the same organizations, AEI, etc. were/are leading the same efforts. Just sayin’

  73. Because Orekes and her friends on The Fiddlestick Team have lost the argument they wish to close down the debate with sophistry and special pleading. They assume of course that people are stupid.

  74. Holly,

    There are times when it’s just smarter to accept defeat, and live to fight another day. Otherwise, you risk looking…dare I say it….close minded. Not to mention ridiculous.

    An alarmist has written something exceedingly dumb. Why not just admit it?

  75. –snip–

    \Fifteen years have passed since the release of “Smoking and Health” — the first and perhaps the most widely publicized of a series of such reports prepared by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare . Despite millions of dollars spent since that time both by the government and the tobacco industry on smoking and health-related research, many questions about the relationship between smoking and disease remain unanswered . Now, as’in 1964, there are statistical relationships and several working hypotheses, but no definitive and final answers .

    Despite claims to the contrary, no one — in government or industry — can explain the reported associations of smoking with lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, low infant birth weight, and yes, even cancer of the pancreas . No one knows why — or how — a cancerous growth begins, whether it is in the lung, pancreas, or bladder .

    [...]

    The use of results from flawed population studies to frighten people by attributing large numbers of deaths yearly to smoking may be misleading and is most regrettable .

    Assertions that nonsmokers as a group live longer than smokers are based on studies that were poorly designed and statistically flawed . For example, they involved samples not representative of the general U .S . population . Despite these problems, data from the reports are still used to support a variety of claims about smokers’ mortality, including the charge that several hundred thousand Americans die each year because they smoke . With such use — and misuse — of data, it is probably not surprising that a caveat in the 1964 Surgeon General’s report is often overlooked : “Statistical methods cannot establish a causal relationship . . .”

    [...]

    What some have called the “epidemic” in lung cancer mortality in this century has been linked by some to the increased popularity of smoking . However, it has been speculated that this Yeported increase may in fact have been created largely by improvements in diagnostic techniques — in other words, more lung cancer cases have been reported because physicians were better equipped to find them . Even if at least a portion of the “epidemic” is real, trends in lung cancer death rates can not be satisfactorily explained by cigarette consumption patterns .

    –snip–

    It’s a long document. And it’s just chock-full of goodies. Oh, and btw, it is very well-referenced.

    http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/bsv82f00/pdf

    –snip–

    • Who is this libelous man, whose phobia I must fear?

    • Joshua

      Interesting old report by the Tobacco Institute.

      Question: what does it have to do with climate science?

      Max

      • max -

        Question: what does it have to do with climate science?

        Now that is an interesting question, and one that I’m interested in discussing with anyone who wants to take it serious. I suspect that isn’t the case with you – and your categorical dismissal of any relevance seems to confirm my suspicion.

        I asked earlier for the reasoning that has been posted here often – that the two issues are categorically different. I have gotten one valid response, IMO – from Anteros – that they are categorically different in the complexity of the causal relationship being examined. While that is a good point, I don’t think that it substantiates claims that the situations are not in any way analogous.

      • Roger Caiazza

        I agree with Anteros – that they are categorically different in the complexity of the causal relationship being examined. Moreover I think that is such an overwhelmingly obvious point that it refutes any claims that the situations are in any way analogous.

  76. Surely an AGW True Beliver must be simple-minded not open minded, right? Not that that’s a bad thing. It’s just in science that it’s a bad thing.

  77. Is not “Open-mindedness is wrong” by Oreskes regarding AGW equivalent to “Reversing the Null Hypothesis” by Trenberth?

    http://bit.ly/yvDErw

  78. steven mosher

    We can agree, for sake of argument, that the scientists are a jury
    however we have to note the following.

    1. A good number of the jury have a self interest in the outcome
    2. The verdict on the misdemeanor is 12-0 ( C02 done it) while
    the verdict on the felony ( warming will kill us ) isnt so clear.
    3. Some of the jury wants to get in on the sentencing of C02,
    which is beyond their remit

    So, I have no problem saying the jury has found C02 guilty. GHGs cause warming. Is it a felony? I dunno, the consensus is that sensitivity is between
    1.5 and 6C. Thats a huge range. The differences in damages is trillions of dollars.

  79. 20 years after fears of the next ice age we see that James Hansen is as open minded as the head on an ice carving of Alfred Nobel.

  80. Hey folks!

    Open your eyes.

    Isn’t Naomi Oreskes saying that oh-oh, bad, wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap sentence:

    “THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED”?

    (so let’s close our minds – and our eyes and ears, while we’re at it)

    Sure sounds like it to me.

    Max

    • No, she actualy has a rather nuanced message for you, though I have a feeling that many have just read the excerpts that were provided, and not the whole piece.

  81. Pretenders to science are many. And, the worst.

    Many of the global warming alarmists are simply unreasonable. You have to expect that because there is no science that backs up their CO2 hysteria and doomsday claims and how many supposedly sane and rational people actually believe that aliens live amongst us? Michael Crichton, in his novel State of Fear, has analyzed the underlying mindset of this personality-type as not differentiable from people driven by superstition and faith: e.g., “environmentalism as a religion.”

    A more troubling mindset, however, are the pretenders to open-mindedness. To even begin with any credibility, you must assume that they have not reviewed any of the posts that precede their appearance here, e.g., since January 2009. After that with the pretenders you get something like, e.g., “I don’t know ‘but…’” and then what follows should make any real scientist cringe. Their supposed reservations about accepting even the most obvious and simple facts—ostensibly out of some misplaced abundance of caution given their perceived seriousness of the issues—leads them to what they believe is the only reasonable human response: e.g., “I don’t know but we should stop what we’re doing until we do know.” They think that taking “precautions” is the rationale approach to their confusion about global warming when facts and logic show that the “precautions” they would wish for would result in a horrible human disaster on a global scale.

  82. Another hyjacked board of whining about evolution and smoking strawmen (how else to avoid the obvious appauling and undefendable views she supports?). The essence of Naomi Oreskes neither acknowledged or discussed, just the mere symptoms except in the metephorical abstract at best.

    The skeptics on the board should consider their own closed minds as to the self-imposed limits of what is observable about the article, the source and the larger context of why it exists here or anywhere at all?

    • The AGW True Believers have been like-minded not open minded–they have been insensitive to everything but the myth of global warming caused by the mystical properties of CO2 that are not observed in nature.

      • I agree Wag, it’s naive or stupid to think the driver of AGW dogma is wholly or mostly on science reason at all. It’s that sort of myth that is being reinforced by PC conventions I get beat up for rejecting all the time by people who claim to be skeptical.

        Naomi Oreskes views are Tin Foil/dog meat and partisan presented in an even handed format here. We can’t even discuss what they represent directly or the Caspar Milquetoast wing of skeptics think the host is offended. Dr. Curry is again nuanced (way too much and limited) in a her rebuttals, the greater context of presentation ignored or maybe worse (we should just ignore that possibility). Sorry, that’s lame.

  83. Carbon dioxide is a trace gas; we need more of it. It helps plants grow.
    There is no evidence at all that man made global warming poses a threat to the planet.
    Wind and solar are a threat to the economy.
    There is no consensus; the AGW advocates are those whose research grants depend on alarmism

  84. Judith,

    I have a serious question for you.

    I think you two liner at the end was an egregious insult, and meant to be, as it failed to engage rationally with Orseke’s argument.

    This is the fundamental of her piece;
    “Since the mid-1990s, there has been clear-cut evidence that the climate is changing because of human activities:…..”

    Do you disagree?

    If not, then what is your specific, rational, objection, besides riding your ‘CRU email’ hobby horse??

    • the satellite data showing that the oceans have cooled and when oceans there is no global warming. And then, of course, after 2009 the rush to the UN exits has been non-stop. Only the AGW True Believers are Left to wag their cardboard doomsday signs in the faces of the productive as they pick their pockets and dring margaritas in Cancun. Meanwhile the elderly will be burning books in the UK to keep warm this winter.

    • We’re now going on 13 years with no warming. Any evidence that the climate is changing as a consequence of Cos is anything but clearcut. Some might say it’s non-existent. Despite AGW models, winters are still cold and snowy, sea level is not rising any faster than it has been for thousands of years now. Hurricanes are no stronger or more frequent. In fact he ACE index is at an all time low.

      Bigger picture-wise, there has been a very gradual warming beginning with the depths of the Little Ice Age that has been continuing more or less apace ever since. As to the last 13 year cycle of no warming, bear in mind that Co2 levels have risen dramatically during that time..

      They can’t find the heat, and that’s a big problem. One might even say a “travesty.”

    • AndrewSanDiego

      Here’s a question that even Judith (AFAIK) hasn’t been willing to publicly answer. It’s one Willis Eschenbech asked here last July 25: “What should my scientific response be when a prominent scientist says “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.”?

      What’s your answer?

      What the Catastrophe! Catstrophe! mongers like Oakes don’t want to discuss is the fact that IPCC “climate scientists” aren’t scientists. When one refuses to follow the Scientific Method, one is not a scientist. Period.

      But all these claims you promote of “human activities” come from “climate scientists” such as Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Kieth Briffa, James Hansen, Lonnie Thompson, etc. etc.

      Those who promote draconian political policies certain to kill millions by making energy unaffordable always wrap themselves in the “scientists say” mantle. Just like Stalin and crew did when making policy based on the pronouncements of “scientist” Trofim Lysenko.

    • Part of the consideration here is that when the smoking-cancer link wa declared “settled” the evidence was farless substantial than the current evidence for AGW.

      And to hark back to a common ‘skpetic’ theme here – the state of medical research into cancer and smoking was at a far earlier stage than climate research is now. Specifically – there was no clear causal meachanism for smoking-cancer, yet the ‘greenhouse effect’ is indisputable basic physics.

    • Michael -

      This is the fundamental of her piece;
      “Since the mid-1990s, there has been clear-cut evidence that the climate is changing because of human activities:…..”

      Here is the whole delusion, and delibrate misinformation in a nutshell.

      You don’t need Dr Curry’s expertise to set you right, I can do it myself. A variety of responses to your claim are :-

      “No it isn’t”

      “You are completely wrong”

      “Rubbish”

      “Ha ha ha”

      For more clarity – should you need it, the clue can be found through the little door of perception provided by my bolding. The ‘fundamental of her piece is not that the planet’s atmosphere is warming as a result of human activities, but that this is both grave and the gravity is proven.

      By happy coincidence and symmetry, her claim is just as false as your own claim of what she is saying.

  85. Judith -

    I am excerpting a comment from Fred above:

    The conclusion that second hand smoke is a significant causative agent in cancer can be considered settled science within any reasonable definition of settled..

    Although this has been a topic of discussion amongst your “denizens” on quite a few occasions – to my knowledge you have never weighed in on this topic. I’m curious about that.

    Now obviously, this is not a subject of expertise for you – but presumably it is no more a subject of expertise for many of your denizens than is the subject of climate change – yet many of your denizens weigh in quote forcefully w/r/t the science behind the harmful effects of 2nd hand smoke.

    Does that give you any pause, whatsoever, w/r/t their contributions as members of the “extended peer review” community?

    • Josh,

      I’ve screwed-up our little confab, up-thread there, by posting two comments without leaving you a chance to reply to the first. Sorry for the confusion. I think we’ve reached a common agreement, though my last little contribution may provide the missing portion of the response you sought.

      I’m posting here so that the earlier discussion doesn’t get even more balled-up.

    • Joshua -

      I’ll side-step your question to Judith if I may..

      I’d be very tempted to disagree with Fred’s statement. Or at least that the impression it leaves fits the available evidence. I’d focus particularly on ‘significant’, because to the unwary, this might come across as ‘nearly as significant as the risk of smoking directly’.

      I’d like (in Joshua fashion!) some quantitative evidence for that, rather than a simple sweeping (possibly deceiving) statement.

      It is ‘settled science’ that more than half of the compounds in organic cabbages are carcinogenic. But significantly?

      I think there is a public misconception about second habd smoking that oddly mirrors some of the misconceptions about the ‘evidence’ for the harm of some moderate warming.

      It is so easy for human beliefs to leap from A is established, and A has some negatives to A is a an on-coming apocalypse.

      Somebody mentioned upthread that the dangers of secondhand smoke are routinely exaggerated – especially when compared with direct smoking. I personally don’t have a great issue with that, but the exaggeration (if true) is also an instructive part of the analogy with AGW.

      • Joshua -

        Re-reading one of Fred’s other comments, he says second hand smoke can be a ‘serious hazard’. Without more specific numbers, how could anyone disagree? Fred, too, will have the very best estimates of those numbers.
        He does mention ‘many thousands’…

        My concern is the impression’given by ‘serious hazard’ leads to a false belief. A question I’d ask is what is the comparison of ‘serious hazard’ posed by second hand smoke globally, and that posed by, say, diarrhoea [UK spell'..]? You know – just for ball park, overall, general sense of threat to life?

        I’m already thinking that diarrhoea may be a poor comparison, but for numbers at least?

        I’m guessing two orders of magnitude. But the word ‘cancer’, like’ radiation’ does some very strange things to our perception of harm/risk/danger and thus also to our ‘beliefs’. It is IMO damn hard to be reasonable or rational about such things.

        My suspicion is that our ‘beliefs’ about the future are very similar in their propensity to be disproportionate and are often guided almost exclusively by ‘impressions’ or imagination.

        Perhaps like in the days of ‘withcraft’ we live in a age of superstition!

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Anteros, you say:

        Somebody mentioned upthread that the dangers of secondhand smoke are routinely exaggerated – especially when compared with direct smoking.

        A few years ago, I saw a couple different groups and people involved in debates about smoking regulations claim secondhand smoke is more dangerous than firsthand smoking. One time was on one of those daytime talk shows, like Oprah.

        That secondhand smoke can be dangerous may be unquestionable, but there’s been enough nonsense said about it (including from important groups, like the EPA) that people have no real way of knowing how dangerous it is.

  86. It’s hard for me to understand why Oreskes would say such a thing out loud even if she believes it’s true. It shows such elitism it seems it is intended to alienate people.

    She may as well have said stop thinking.

    Are you sure this is not somebody impersonating her in order to undermine her reputation?

  87. I think the article is true that scientists in a field don’t sit on a fence. They have access to all the data and background ideas that can help them make a decision, and studies have shown that 97% are on the convinced side. It is rare to find a scientist in this field who simply doesn’t know by now. The ideas explain the data, and that is all that is needed.

    • Not the 97% again! It’s fake as it gets. And even if in any way “true”, so what. Nature is the only authority. The 97%, or how many there are, should check their ideas and check the scientific method.

    • Jim D: Science is not settled by jury votes. Read some history and remember that scientific consensus changes in the face of better data and better arguments.

      However, policy decisions ultimately are settled by juries of ordinary citizens listening to experts from both sides. It isn’t a perfect process but it’s the best we’ve got.

  88. Oreskes writes:
    “Since the mid-1990s, there has been clear-cut evidence that the climate is changing because of human activities: burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests.”

    What evidence? Computer models and untested claims about tree rings? Worthless.

    Oreskes writes:
    “The public seems to view scientists as the equivalent of the prosecuting attorney trying to prove a case.”

    Apparently, she means climate scientists such as Mann, Hansen, and Gore. But she is mistaken because they present themselves as the prosecuting attorneys. If they behaved as genuine scientists do, they would be providing an understanding of climate and its driving forces rather than trying to prove that catastrophic climate change is with us.

    Oreskes writes:
    “Scientists don’t play the role of prosecutor trying to prove a case. Rather, they are the jury trying to evaluate the evidence. And they have rendered their verdict.”

    Oh, how elitist can you get? And what role does that leave the rest of us, Ms. Oreskes? Sorry, but if we are to be governed by the Avant Garde of the Communist Party then I am in it and you are out of it.

    Oreskes writes:
    “The problem is not that scientists have become advocates, as some have claimed. The problem is that there is no judge, no recognized authority giving us instructions we accept, and no recognized authority to accept the scientists’ verdict and declare it final.”

    There is a judge and a recognized authority giving us instructions that we accept. That judge is scientific method. Climate scientists, so-called, have failed to meet every standard set by scientific method. Of course, for Ms. Oreskes there will be no final verdict until that glorious day when the ideology of the Communist Party triumphs over all other ideologies. After that day, there will be mandatory brown bag lunches until all of the proletariat are fully informed of all the truths.

    How is it possible that someone as clever as Ms. Oreskes cannot write without violently insulting the people that she addresses?

    • What evidence? Computer models and untested claims about tree rings? Worthless.

      Fully agree, I said so myself at my AGU presentation in December.

      Oreskes writes: “The public seems to view scientists as the equivalent of the prosecuting attorney trying to prove a case.” Apparently, she means climate scientists such as Mann, Hansen, and Gore. But she is mistaken because they present themselves as the prosecuting attorneys.

      On whether Gore is a climate scientist I would say it is you that are mistaken. However for the rest I fully agree again. But in that regard the climate scientists present themselves correctly. The decision is not theirs to make but the jury’s. The scientists’ job is to present what they see as the scientific evidence against CO2, which the scientists are not questioning (in case you hadn’t noticed). The skeptics are the ones who should be playing the role of counsel for the defendant, namely the poor schmuck objecting to being accused, by the SCOTUS no less, of polluting the environment every time he takes his car out for a spin. (Maybe the SCOTUS will reverse themselves on that point at some point, they seem to be getting more conservative.)

      If they behaved as genuine scientists do, they would be providing an understanding of climate and its driving forces rather than trying to prove that catastrophic climate change is with us.

      Fully agree again. But here I sense you feel they’re not doing so. If I succeed in proving that 1+1 = 2, what difference does it make whether I did so in the course of trying to prove it or disprove it? You seem to be trying to imply that they’re liars. (Loud cries of “Yes they are, lock ‘em all up.”) If so then you’re not terribly in touch with how science is conducted.

      Oreskes writes:
      “Scientists don’t play the role of prosecutor trying to prove a case. Rather, they are the jury trying to evaluate the evidence. And they have rendered their verdict.” Oh, how elitist can you get? And what role does that leave the rest of us, Ms. Oreskes?

      Agreed again. Oreskes wants to make the expert witnesses the jury. Oreskes’ scientific background was as a geologist, from where she moved into the history of science. Whatever her understanding of geology and history, her understanding of the judicial system would appear to be at the level of a kangaroo court in which the prosecutor wraps up his argument and steps into the jury box. Wonder if she’s ever been in a courtroom?

      (Just in case I’ve confused anyone here, while I’ve very grateful for the many responses to my earlier remarks half a day ago about her parallel between cigarette smoke and CO2, after considering the responses I still stand by those remarks with no modifications. I’m fine with that parallel, just not with her grasp of the judicial system)

      • Very well said. Thanks for your reply. I threw in Gore for fun. Let me address our one point of “sort of a difference:”

        You quote me:
        “If they behaved as genuine scientists do, they would be providing an understanding of climate and its driving forces rather than trying to prove that catastrophic climate change is with us.”

        You comment:
        “Fully agree again. But here I sense you feel they’re not doing so. If I succeed in proving that 1+1 = 2, what difference does it make whether I did so in the course of trying to prove it or disprove it? You seem to be trying to imply that they’re liars. (Loud cries of “Yes they are, lock ‘em all up.”) If so then you’re not terribly in touch with how science is conducted.”

        Some are liars. Everyone who knew about “hide the decline” was a liar and lies to this day. However, that was not something I meant to address.

        To practice science is to attempt to create physical hypotheses that will prove to be well confirmed. Such well confirmed hypotheses embody what is true in science and provide us with our understanding of the world. By contrast, climate scientists, Mann in particular, begs to be judged as if he were a physician or engineer whose “novel surgical procedures” or “novel bridge structures” must be embraced before the science has left the birth canal and way before the science can offer something that adds to our understanding of climate. If Mann and others who share his views believe that they are pursuing the goal of science, understanding nature, then they are horrendously confused, misdirected, and harmful to science. You wouldn’t want to turn over medical science to surgeons, would you?

      • There is no parallel, with either cigarette smoke, or the judicial system. You people need to learn how to talk straight. And guard your candid emails.

      • Greg Goodknight

        “Oreskes’ scientific background was as a geologist, from where she moved into the history of science.”

        Checking her CV, she has a B.Sc.in Mining Geology, which, if I understand correctly, is focused on how to extract minerals from the Earth, and not on the science of Geology or the physical sciences in general.

        In short, I suspect her B.Sc, prepares her for understanding and discussing climate science about as well as degrees in Railway Engineering and Economics would.

      • A gold mine is a hole in the ground with a liar at the top. And oh, what a gold mine this Catastrophic Global Warming has been.
        =============

  89. Cigarette smoking is clearly linked to lung cancer.
    In Doll and Hill’s original paper, pipe and cigar smoking was much safer than cigarette smoking. This smoke is chemically different from cigarette smoke. You can access the nicotine from the mouth without inhaling, whereas you have to inhale cigarette smoke to get the nicotine.
    The case against secondary smoking is much more shaky. There is a degree of risk, but it is relatively mild.
    Alarmism pays in medicine as well as in climate science. Some very bad papers linking secondary smoking with mortality have been published. Letters refuting these bad papers seldom get published.

  90. This is as good a time as any to propose a corollary to Godwin’s Law, which I suggest be labeled the “Oreskes Combustion”, to be invoked when “Tobacco Executives” are brought up.

    Immediately causes any and all discussion of climate to end and go up in smoke, and those invoking the expression “Tobacco Executives” acknowledged as having lost the argument.

    The stupidity of Oreskes argument is truly breathtaking.

  91. I think the warmists would be happy to see all our rights taken and the Constitution burned to get their way.

  92. If the public close their minds now, it doesn’t look good for the global warming alarmists. According to the Pew Research Poll on the public’s policy priorities, global warming is #22, and sinking. If the debate is over, it’s a loser for the chicken littles. Sorry Noammi O:

    http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/1-23-12%20Priorities%20Release.pdf

  93. So she’s closed her mind and bowed to the God of her faith. And the LATimes thinks this is worth publishing. Do the editors think we should all do that?

    Why, yes they do.
    ==============

  94. If the consensus climate scientists are the jury on CAGW, and the jury has reached its verdict, why are CAGW advocates still arguing?

    You won. The IPCC reflects your consensus view. Everybody in authority who matters agrees with you. Game over.

    Yet here they are, haranguing away about the evils of skepticism. It’s almost as if they are more interested in the politics (decarbonization) than the science (radiative forcing). But no, that couldn’t be. It’s all about the science.

    Isn’t it?

  95. Crimes against nature first, thought crimes next;

    http://junkscience.com/2012/01/22/hansen-skeptics-guilty-of-crimes-against-humanity-and-nature/

    Seem to be coming out of the hedges lately.

  96. Let’s close our minds, end the debate and have a national referendum on a carbon tax, or whatever the alarmists want to do to save the planet. Any guesses on how that would play out?

  97. The verdict is in. The prosecution has failed. The case is closed. The people of the world have decided to burn as much carbon as they can, only slowing down in deep recessions:

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/global.html

    But the trolls are yammering about sidestream smoke. Impotent, feckless morons.

  98. Oreskes misunderstands that, at the policy level, climate change is an ongoing case, but scientists are not the jury. Scientists are the expert witnesses appearing for both sides and ordinary citizens are members of the the jury who are doing their best to come to a verdict.

    On the other hand Orestes and her colleagues, some of whom happen to be scientists, are advocates for the orthodox side of the case.

    Orestes seems to believe that we live under a government, like Superman’s home planet Krypton, ruled by the Science Council, which conducts it closed chamber hearings then passes diktats down to the rest of us serfs, who may groan and complain, but have no choice but to pay more taxes and live with the Science Council’s further decrees.

    • hux,

      The serfs on this here planet are not moaning and groaning. They are digging up the carbon and burning it just as fast as they can:

      http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

      See if you can spot anything in those charts that can be attributed to Kyoto, or any of the succeeding junkets. It’s been full speed ahead. The burning only slows down in hard times, when the economic engine sputters. Then it’s back to le bon ton roule. It must be very frustrating to be an impotent alarmist troll.

      • It must be very frustrating to be an impotent alarmist troll.

        What’s frustrating when pointing out that the ship is sinking is to have someone plug the leak. No one will ever know if the ship really would have sunk. Personally I’m very grateful no one is doing anything about CO2 because the scientifically inclined among us will be able to tell whether it really presented the expected hazard. Sort of like letting the car run off the side of the cliff despite the passengers screaming at you, just to see whether they were right or not. But maybe I’m not your typical scientist.

      • Look at GHGs as a whole.

      • VP,

        Well, from what we have seen of the ego-maniacal morons exposed by the Climategate emails, you seem to be quite typical. You would rather be burned up, than be wrong. That should tell you something important about your ability to think objectively.

      • You would rather be burned up, than be wrong. That should tell you something important about your ability to think objectively.

        Agreed. If I’d rather be wrong than be burned up I would say that’s not being terribly objective. I can easily picture Joan of Arc taking the same position.

        You seem to be mixing up objective and subjective. Only those thinking subjectively worry about whether they’ll be burned up. How about you? Do you think objectively or subjectively?

      • Look at GHGs as a whole.

        Did that. What’s it mean? (May be obvious to you, but a hint would help.)

      • VP.

        “Personally I’m very grateful no one is doing anything about CO2 because the scientifically inclined among us will be able to tell whether it really presented the expected hazard. Sort of like letting the car run off the side of the cliff despite the passengers screaming at you, just to see whether they were right or not.”

        That’s not objective thinking. It shows how much you have invested in being correct. But it’s a lie, isn’t it. You want to be a hero, but nobody is listening to you. It must be very frustrating to be an impotent alarmist troll.

    • Oreskes misunderstands that, at the policy level, climate change is an ongoing case, but scientists are not the jury. Scientists are the expert witnesses appearing for both sides and ordinary citizens are members of the the jury who are doing their best to come to a verdict.

      12:44 am, you beat me by 9 minutes (12:53 am) making that point. :) (And yes, there are some expert witnesses for the defense, though there’s little love lost between the two sides.)

  99. Observations show that the lower troposphere emits 44% more radiation (343 W/m^2) toward the surface than the total solar flux absorbed by the entire Earth-Atmosphere System (239 W/m^2). Radiative transfer alone cannot explain this effect given the negligible heat storage capacity of air, no matter how detailed the model is. Thus, empirical evidence indicates that the lower atmosphere contains more kinetic energy than provided by the Sun. Understanding the origin of this extra energy is a key to the Greenhouse Effect.

    http://bit.ly/yZLsjQ

    You must have an open mind regarding AGW as its has more holes than Swiss cheese.

    • I read the comments at that WUWT page. Delusional physics at its best. Just as a haystack is a great place to hide a needle, so is a long argument a great place to hide a fallacy. Or ten fallacies and counting in the case of the 684 responses to Nikolov’s long post. With enough equations and accompanying technobabble you can prove the moon is made of green cheese. Watts loves posting this sort of rubbish, 98% of the voting public has no way of distinguishing it from serious physics.

      • Vaughan

        Do you argue with the following?

        … the term Greenhouse Effect is a misnomer when applied to the atmosphere, since real greenhouses retain heat through an entirely different mechanism compared to the free atmosphere, i.e. by physically trapping air mass and restricting convective heat exchange.

        Where is the restriction of convective heat exchange (greenhouse house effect) on earth when its one side is heated by the sun while the other is cold?

      • Wow, Girma. You are actually showing some intellectual curiosity instead of chart wankery.

      • Do you argue with the following?

        Only to the extent that 1909 was a terrible year for noted physcist Robert W. Wood, whose career peaked in 1904 when he shot down Prosper-René Blondlot’s N-ray theory. Every paper Wood wrote in 1909 was shot down in the same year by one or another physicist. Yet 70 years later people started quoting Wood’s February 1909 paper in Phil Mag while ignoring the follow-up papers from the same year in the same journal shooting him down.

        For those into this sort of thing, it’s a great object lesson in how to turn the failures of physics into the successes of politics by quoting scientific rubbish from a by-gone era while ignoring its refutations from the same era, in this case even the same year.

        The climate blogosphere is full of this sort of rubbish. Wading through it is like wading through the La Brea Tar Pits: historically fascinating, but not a history you want to become part of.

      • “With enough equations and accompanying technobabble you can prove the moon is made of green cheese”.

        You do realise what you wrote?

        If not, you realise it now.

      • “For those into this sort of thing, it’s a great object lesson in how to turn the failures of physics into the successes of politics by quoting scientific rubbish from a by-gone era.”

        History indeed

        Baron Fouriers brilliant work on the physics of earth in 1837, was misread by Arrhenious in 1896.

        Hanson has done exactly as you described.

  100. I repeat my earlier point that AGW can very easily be proven false by simple observation and simple arithmetic, which show easily that human activity is an infintesimal portion of CO2 activity and CO2 in turn is an infinitesimal factor in climate change.. In each instance the variables – human activity, and CO2 – are so dwarfed by even the variability of other factors, let alone the absolute values of those other factors, as to be statistically irrelevant, and any causal link between human activity and CO2, and between CO2 and climate change, is mathematically impossible to establish. Try solving a differential equation with 50 partial derivatives in it and functions that approach or equal X to the X power. [Take the derivative of that and what do you get? X * (X^(X - 1)) which = X^X again - in other words, nowhere.]
    These people fabricating the AGW data would quickly run into this kind oif inconclusion if they don’t greastly alter the data they are using.

    • which show easily that human activity is an infintesimal portion of CO2 activity

      CO2 remained below 290 ppmv for the past million years before suddenly shooting up to 392 ppmv in .03% of that time. By an astonishing coincidence that .03% of time is exactly when the human population shot up by an order of magnitude and their CO2 output shot up by two orders of magnitude as can be calculated from historical fuel records maintained at the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) and confirmed independently by observation of atmospheric CO2 at the Mauna Loa observatory.

      This gives us a new definition of “infinitesimal”: 112/290 = 0.386. Certainly tiny compared to a million years, but is 0.386 really what you had in mind by “infinitesimal” or were you expecting “infinitesimal” to be a smaller number than that?

      • During the little ice age biological productivity in the ross sea was more was around 80% more efficient.Simple models of the high nutrition low Chlorophyll regions suggest a potential (more efficient ) biological response in the Southern ocean would reduce atmospheric concentrations by around 40ppm in less then 100 yr.

        Not a trivial number.

      • Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) has a standard error of 6%
        ( Marland 2008) The “infinitesimal” error or uncertainty in the US data of the 2 estimates is 0.9% but the absolute value of this difference was greater than total emissions from 147 of the 195 countries analyzed.

        Sell that to the developing nations.

      • Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) has a standard error of 6%

        What is the standard error for your source of this factoid?

      • Marland 2008

        http://www.environmentportal.in/files/Uncertainties.pdf

        The uncertainty in the emissions term is thus 1.5 to 3.3 times larger than the uncertainty in the atmospheric accumulation term. The bottom line is that the details of the global carbon cycle and the details of compliance with emissions commitments are limited by the uncertainty of the emissions estimates. And the uncertainty in the global total of emissions is increasing as the contribution increases of emissions from
        countries with higher uncertainty.

        As 1+1 now do not equal 2 we return to the unsolvable problem,for which no solvable solution exists.

      • The bottom line is that the details of the global carbon cycle and the details of compliance with emissions commitments are limited by the uncertainty of the emissions estimates.

        I’m impressed: this seems like a very careful assessment.

        So if the global temperature is climbing in accordance with an emssions estimate that is substantially wrong, should we be blaming the discrepancy on Invisible Pink Unicorns, or on something else?

        Or should we accept the emissions estimate anyway, our doubts about its accuracy notwithstanding, on the ground that the temperature evidence bears it out?

        Tough questions.

      • Vaughn, first of all we do not know that CO2 levels are higher than they have been for a million years. In fact there is evidence that they were this high in the 1800′s. Second, temperature is not increasing with human emissions, quite the opposite in fact. Emissions are accelerating while temperature appears not to be going up at all.

        Everything depends on which proxies one accepts, because we have no actual measurements of the key parameters. It is hard to do science when you have no actual measurements to go on. Hence the debate.

      • “we do not know that CO2 levels are higher than they have been for a million years. In fact there is evidence that they were this high in the 1800…..′”

        Is this a joke?

        Are you referring to the rather inaccurate wet chemistry methods of the distant past??

      • “Are you referring to the rather inaccurate wet chemistry methods of the distant past?”

        Who knows were he got it from?
        Who knows where Mann got his tree from?

      • I am referring to at least three things. The Beck data, the stomata data, and the known problems with ice core data. The Beck data includes tens of thousands of measurements that are thought to be accurate within a few ppm, as I understand it, and we are talking about 100 ppm. It is controversial of course, but that is precisely my point. It is all controversial, because it is all proxy based.

        The same is true for temperatures by the way. We don’t actually know for sure that it has warmed over the last 100 years, much less how much and when. The different proxies contradict one another too much, especially the various surface statistical models, among themselves, and the various satellite interpretations. We have no actual measurements of key parameters.

        Every uncertainty provides a reasonable basis for disagreement. People who make blanket claims without regard to the known uncertainties should not expect to be agreed with.

      • David -

        I’m curious – you don’t reject the GHG theory, yet you also think that the earth hasn’t warmed over the last 100 years. How do those two beliefs reconcile? Is just that you think that the amount of warming is so small that it hasn’t resulted in any warming, or peraps that you think that “natural” variables in the opposite direction have swamped any warming that took place? Some other explanation?

      • David,

        you baulk at the “known problems” in ice-cores, yet you accept the Beck….er…..um……stuff.

        And the last 100 years of temps – our proxies, instrumental record, isn’t too bad……excellent if you measure them against Beck standard.

      • Joshua, I did not say that it has not warmed, rather that we do not know. Can’t you see the difference between a fact and uncertainty? Nor do I accept GHG theory, rather I note it is complex and controversial. And the same for the GHG warming being negated by other aspects of the system. It is a very plausible hypothesis.

      • David W -

        Thanks for the clarification. Sorry that I misstated you beliefs about warming and the GHG theory. I see now that there is no incongruity to be reconciled. I was under the impression that you were one of the “skeptics” that consider GHG theory to be “settled,” so to speak.

      • Re GHG theory, the debate here on zero feedback sensitivity was a turning point for me. The theory turned out to be incoherent.

  101. No subject is more emotional than the evaluation of health risk. My brother likes to talk about absolute risk instead of relative risk. So, one can say that regular mountaineering increases your risk of getting struck by lightening by 1000%. Alternatively, one can say the risk is increased from 0.00001% to 0.0001%. The former statement is much more alarming. If a 60 year male has a cholesterol level of 220, his chances of having a significant cardiac incident in the next 10 years is 7%. With cholesterol of 180, the risk is somewhat lower, but not a lot. There is no area where emotion plays a bigger role than in health risks. We tend to accept risks associated with politically correct behaviours, such as hiking, jogging, bicycling, mountaineering, driving, or even homosexual behaviour. We magnify the risks associated with things we don’t like, such as smoking and obesity and for some nuclear power. The strongest indicator of your own longevity is how long your parents lived. I do think that second hand smoke is a relatively small risk compared to all the other risks we confront. If tobacco is so evil, why not ban it? No politician suggests this. We would rather feel self-righteous about smokers who are mostly the poor and our social inferiors anyway. Rather a lot of posturing if you ask me.

    For some reason, I can’t post this in the proper place, so I’m posting it here.

    • David -

      I’m surprised you didn’t also mention the emotion involved when we look into the darkness of the future, take a variable or two and in a millisecond’s extrapolation arrive at a clear vision of doom and disaster.

      The critical thing is that it can’t be done with reasoning – although very many people convince themselves otherwise. It needs imagination – and just a little bit of the unknown, then hey presto, we can see an apocalypse as clear as a bell.

      The driving force? Fear.

      So those with a propensity to fear the dark, be worried about things ‘changing’ and who have a pathological sense of guilt about the products of human agency are believers in CAGW before they’ve even had a molecule of Co2 described to them.

      And because it wasn’t reason that led them into that position, it isn’t possible to use reason to lead them out of it.

      Once a doomer always a doomer!

      I think many people are equally as irrational about the risks of a warmer climate as we all are about the risks to our health.

      • Anteros -

        Just theoretically – is there any amount of doom-saying among “skeptics” that will convince you that your assessment of the causal relationship between fear and being a “realist” in the climate debate is facile?

        One might even say that you’re irrationally fearful of people being fearful.

  102. Girma says;
    “Thus, empirical evidence indicates that the lower atmosphere contains more kinetic energy than provided by the Sun. Understanding the origin of this extra energy is a key to the Greenhouse Effect”.

    The presiding Justice in this case is the reasoning of man. It is a fundamental practice of man, that we fail. We once conceived a Sun around a flat Earth. Each generation enters the revolving door of ignorance.

    What man on Earth has never been mistaken? Not I, not you. Yet each generation of man, believes anew. It is a bias, of the overarching preservation of dignity, that we can omit no wrong.

    Our planet, a moon of the Sun, has exists in a bath of space, its atmosphere and oceans are the gifts that gave us life.

    Why do men around me, fear the Earth, that created them? Is it the fundamental fragility of man and our inability to control the Universe that leads to thoughts, so fearful, we close our minds and hide in caves.

    The first law of science, related the energy in mass. Our ancestors told us it was so, by observational reasoning. Like a rebellious teenager we have rejected this fundamental nature of our universe. It is so, we cannot add more energy to Earth, a script, derived before the evolution of man.

    Greenhouse, used in cold Europe for the enhancement of biological life. Why wouldn’t a man, think a analogy, could correlate to the creation of life on Earth, with the atmosphere as it’s vessel? It is a belief without truth.

    The enclosure of Earth is it’s atmosphere. The whole of the atmosphere is a window of safety, it protects us from the damaging rays of the Sun.

    Radiation cannot enter the mass of Earth, radiation cannot enter the Oceans, radiation cannot enter the Atmosphere. It is the enhancement under pressure of the of the kinetic energy of the Sun that gives us warmth.

    Our Atmosphere cannot create radiation, it cannot cannot create kinetic energy, it cannot add extra heat to itself. We are bathed in the temperature of space, it attracts our destiny, Cold.

    The truth of this reasoning, cannot be judged. But they, the gods in white coats, claim deity and cannot be wrong.

    It is the inconvenient truth, of the certainty of man to err.

  103. Mr. Pratt,

    You appear to be assuming that all of that 112 pppm of CO2 increase is attributable to human activity, when other sources of CO2 are incomparably larger than fossil fuel burning, and as I said, even the variability of these other sources of CO2, let alone their absolute values, grossly exceeds any hunman contribution. And in turn, CO2 is nothing compared to the variability of solar luminosity, heat transfer from the earth’s interior, and the role of water vapor in the air, which together exceed the impact of CO2 by a factor of thousands.

    Another point to ponder: if CO2 is supposed to be responsible for global warming, then why, a billion years or so ago, before algal oxygen replaced it in the atmosphere, didn’t the then 20 percent content of CO2 in the air (and when the atmosphere was considerably denser, before the K-T asteroid blew off some of it) cause the planet to way overheat?.

    The increase in CO2 correlates more closely to the increases in solar radiation – and follows them – than to any human activity. It merely happens that human activity has increased over a simiilar time frame with CO2 released into the atmosphere from warming of the oceans and soil by the sun and by heat from the earth’s interior. That is a coincidence, not an example of causation. And as far as that goes, the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere began at least 150 years before industrial activity started measurably generating CO2,

    We’re dealing here with four- or five-sigma probabilities on the back end of the bell curves. Infinitesimal on both counts, Not to mention the parallels here with scientists taken in by claims that tobacco is safe, or by Hitler’s racial theories. The Naomis of this world are practicing politics, not science, and since they can’t win an argument by reason and facts they’re trying to win it by force – ranging from demanding that minds be closed to actual threats of physical violence against skeptics.

    • Agree. One correction though. Its 390 – 315 = 75 ppm.

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2

    • Mr. Wozniak,

      With numbers like yours you do climate science a profound service by making climate skeptics look like amateurs. Your numbers are off by several orders of magnitude. How do you come up with such amazing factoids as even very approximately equating geothermal energy to solar? Certainly none of it is sourceable.

      What puzzles me most is that climate skeptics who have at least a hazy idea of the right order of magnitude for these numbers don’t come down very hard on those of you who don’t. I guess they’re caught between a rock and hard place: if they don’t come down on you, climate skeptics look like incompetent amateurs, but if they do then they create the impression of being in disarray. Very awkward. Sort of how the presidential primaries are going right now.

      the role of water vapor in the air, which together exceed the impact of CO2 by a factor of thousands

      You have that backwards. The rate of increase of CO2 dwarfs that of water vapor in its impact on the Earth’s surface temperature, because the impact of GHGs is logarithmic. You seem to be assuming it’s linear.

      Another point to ponder: if CO2 is supposed to be responsible for global warming, then why, a billion years or so ago, before algal oxygen replaced it in the atmosphere, didn’t the then 20 percent content of CO2 in the air (and when the atmosphere was considerably denser, before the K-T asteroid blew off some of it) cause the planet to way overheat?.

      KT was around 65 MYA. What is your source for your claim that CO2 was 20% then? Surely you’re joking. In the Cambrian it rose to as high as 0.7%, but by the time of the KT event it was down to 0.1% and falling, a level which has not been seen for many millions of years and which will not be returned to until around 2100.

      And why attribute to the KT event what could just as well have been caused by the Deccan eruptions, 30X today’s Hawaiian eruptions? You seem to be taking a lot of controversial geology for gospel at the same time as coming up with wildly outlandish numbers that no responsible geologist would recognize regardless of their position on those controversies.

      The Naomis of this world are practicing politics, not science,

      …raising the question of what the Naomis of this world think you’re practicing. Do you have any sort of license to practice it, or are you just like most of the other skeptics on this blog who trot out their version of the Girma Monologues proving that there is no evidence for global warming each time Judith posts a new thread?

      Keep up the good work, Mr. Wozniak. You’re doing a great job of making climate skeptics look like rank amateurs. As indeed they are.

      • Dr. Pratt,
        Skeptics have enough to laugh at with what AGW believers are pushing.
        When will the AGW believer community police its own? When I see someone of your stature go after Hansen and his lunacy in a high profile manner for his ludicrous ridiculous and false claims made over decades your complaint about skeptic goofs will have some merit.
        Notice that Wozniak is not getting a national media or Congressional stage. He is only entertaining a few.
        The Hansen’s Trenberth’s, Gore’s, and etc., etc. etc. etc. get to mislead millions, including policy makers.
        Which is of more significance?

      • When I see someone of your stature go after Hansen and his lunacy

        Then you’d be seeing two lunatics going after each other, since I happen to share his lunacy. ;)

        What I don’t share (the main thing bringing me to this particular thread) is the problem Oreskes claims to have with the notion that “The public seems to view scientists as the equivalent of the prosecuting attorney trying to prove a case.” You and I, and it seems a great many others here on both sides of the larger AGW question, have less of a problem with that notion: as you point out yourself, the proper role for a scientist should be that of expert witness, not juror.

        Notice that Wozniak is not getting a national media or Congressional stage. He is only entertaining a few.

        To exactly the same extent as you and I here. I hope you’re right, if I thought this were a larger stage I’d be wording myself more diplomatically.

      • …as you point out yourself, the proper role for a scientist should be that of expert witness, not juror.

        Vaugh Pratt: hunter and I share six-letter, lowercase handles starting with hu and we are skeptics to different degrees, but that was my point about scientists as expert witness, not hunter’s.

        I get us confused too.

        As to your point about skeptics not policing other skeptics to your satisfaction — that generally doesn’t happen in online debates no matter what the sides are. No one has unlimited time to comment, so people comment on the points they care about. It’s not ideal but it is understandable.

  104. John Q. Lurker

    I am very happy – irrationally so, I suppose – to see criticism of Oreske’s op-ed receiving even such small publicity as this blog can give it. When I read the op-ed, I wanted to rip up the newspaper.

    • John -

      I beg to differ.
      I see your reaction as demonstrating good judgement, deep comprehension, accurate analysis and an eye for bullshit.

      Well done Sir!!

      [I didn't have the newspaper but I was tempted to deck my desktop..]

      • John Q. Lurker

        Anteros – That’s not what I meant with “Irrationally so.” I meant that it might be irrational to be very happy about the criticism’s receiving such small publicity as this blog can give it. I think my message was clear in this regard.

  105. “You have that backwards. The rate of increase of CO2 dwarfs that of water vapor in its impact on the Earth’s surface temperature, because the impact of GHGs is logarithmic. You seem to be assuming it’s linear”.

    If you base it on the invalid principal of greenhouse, Then yes.
    If you base it on composition of atmosphere. Then no.

    I’m staying linearly firm in reality. Co2 radiation forcing, what a joke.

  106. Hansens hero, Ahrrenius.

    Svante Ahrrenius got a nobel prize in chemistry, not because of his calculations of a hypothetical unproven greenhouse effect. He was challenged and disproven about this ideas during the first decade after year 1900.

    From Wikipedia:Greenhouse effect
    “Arrhenius developed a theory to explain the ice ages, and in 1896 he was the first scientist to speculate that changes in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect.[4] He was influenced by the work of others, including Joseph Fourier. Arrhenius used the infrared observations of the moon by Frank Washington Very and Samuel Pierpont Langley at the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh to calculate the absorption of infrared radiation by atmospheric CO2 and water vapour. Using ‘Stefan’s law’ (better known as the Stefan Boltzmann law), he formulated his greenhouse law.

    In its original form, Arrhenius’ greenhouse law reads as follows:if the quantity of carbonic acid increases in geometric progression, the augmentation of the temperature will increase nearly in arithmetic progression.
    This simplified expression is still used today:
    ΔF = α ln(C/C0)
    Arrhenius’ high absorption values for CO2, however, met criticism by Knut Ångström in 1900, who published the first modern infrared spectrum of CO2 with two absorption bands. Arrhenius replied strongly in 1901 (Annalen der Physik), dismissing the critique altogether.”

    It can be mentioned that Ångström was a famous experimentalist and a part of Stockholm University is named after him as “Ångström Laboratories”

    The Swedish professor in meteorology Bert Bolin at Stockholm University picked up Ahrrenius ideas when becoming the first chairman of IPCC and promoted them internationally and nationally. However, Bolin was never any good scientist but a very clever politician and his word about funding all types of climate research in Sweden was in fact decided by him prsonally. He was constantly attending the highest Swedish political forum “The Swedish councel for state affairs” and was considered THE expert regarding science. No politician would question his judgement for 20 years regardless of party belonging.

    Politics had beaten common sense and scientific methods in the area of climate science. It should also be mentioned that Stockholm University had (has) very strong ties with University of East Anglia. 5 years ago about 25 foreign researcher were working at Stockholm University with climate change research and most of them originated from UEA.

    • Ångström believed that CO2 was near or at saturation level, blocking all the lines it was capable of blocking. What he didn’t know was the detailed structure of the CO2 lines. Had he seen them all he would have realized his mistake. Even if our atmosphere were 100% CO2, most of those lines would still be unblocked.

      Doubling the total mass of a 100% CO2 atmosphere would block yet more lines, on the order of 200 of them. And if its mass were 100 times greater, the situation on Venus, yet more would be blocked.

  107. Why is it that no one seems to feel that the heat we are emitting with our energy use has any bearing on temperature rise. The 16TW we annually emit is enough to raise the temperature of the atmosphere by 0.17*F if all went into the atmosphere. Due to glacial melting, cooling by photosynthesis, heating of the surface, etc., the rise is only ~0.04*F. I realize that it is not this simple; equilibrium must be reached for radiation and convection to reach a stable point. Data from the paleoclimatic period is wrongly being used to establish a “climate sensitivity” to CO2. It is clear that during that period the temperature rise was due to a shift in earth orbit, axis, and wobble causing more of the sun’s rays to strike land masses. The rise in CO2 was the result of rising temperatures, not the cause. Let’s at least open the discussion to trying to determine the impacts of CO2 and heat, separately or jointly, on global warming, otherwise we will have nuclear power, which emits no CO2 but twice as much heat as the electrical output, crammed down our throats by Bill Gates and nuclear physyicists.

    • Why is it that no one seems to feel that the heat we are emitting with our energy use has any bearing on temperature rise. The 16TW we annually emit…

      For comparison the Sun delivers 174 petawatts (174000 TW), of which the Earth reflects 52 petawatts and absorbs the remaining 122 petawatts. Total geothermal energy conducted outwards through the crust comes to around 30 TW. A CO2 increase of 2 ppmv per year has around 1 petawatt of warming power.

      16 TW is equivalent to CO2 taking .5/.016 years to increase by 1 ppmv, or about 30 years. That would have been the rate CO2 was increasing in the early 1800s.

      The heat released from a wood fire heats your house. The CO2 it releases heats the planet. The temperature of your house goes up more than the temperature of the planet by these two means, but the difference is not as great as you would expect based merely on their respective sizes, you’d be off by a factor of 50 or more. The heating power of CO2 is easily underestimated.

  108. In a sense, Naomi is right: Open mindedness is an enemy of a proper understanding of AGW.
    AGW is a social mania, a huge popular cult of faith based claims that use climate science terms and words to support its credibility in the public square. Social manias do not hold up under rational and critical scrutiny. Naomi seems to get this at some level and so has to resort to the sort of trashy ignorant writing that this piece of work of hers represents to sustain her and her fellow true believer’s irrational apocalyptic beliefs.

  109. The quote below from Schneider explains the situation perfectly. When scientists leave the realm of science and enter the realm of public policy (“making the world a better place”), they still want to have the same authority as they had as scientists. However, as scientists, they promised to tell “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts”. WIth the public, they “offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”

    Naomi: If you want to be a scientist, ACT like a scientist. If you ACT like a policy advocate, don’t expect to be treated like a scientist. If you let policy advocacy contaminate your science – and the IPCC reports are supposed to be science, not policy advocacy – don’t expect to trusted or believed. If you want your respect back, confess your sins or properly investigate the worst abusers “pour l’encouragement des autres”

    “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both. (Quoted in Discover, pp. 45–48, Oct. 1989. For the original, together with Schneider’s commentary on its misrepresentation, see also American Physical Society, APS News August/September 1996.[7]).”

    • Frank,
      It is always good to see how Schneider’s call to lying was couched on such tediously elliptical statements. He knew he was doing something bad, but hoped to hide it in the weeds of his wordiness.

      • You cannot accuse Schneider of being a liar without calling all scientists who agree with him liars.

      • Vaughan, do you find yourself in a double ethical bind?

      • Dr. Pratt,
        Well, liars are as liars do.
        Schenider, besides speding his career along with Ehrlich selling bs, taught others how to sell bs.
        “Double ethical bind” is bloviation for “lying”.
        Polonius would have appreciated the long winded way Schneider couches his call to lie.
        From where you live and work, it would be a fair guess that you knew him. I would bet he was a great guy and and could be a good friend. That does nothing to negate the impact he had on science and the public square.
        The only cure for an ethical bind is to clearly choose to tell the truth. His call, echoed by a sadly large number of people, is to manipulate people and mislead them in order to get what one wants.
        That is a nice way for him to do exactly what I believe it is reasonable to point out that he was doing.

      • Better, VP; all scientists who agree with what Schneider lied about are liars.

        And they’ve lied about the uncertainty. Forty years ago Schneider wasn’t lying about uncertainty, he was open about it. So what made him think lying about uncertainty was going to end up persuasive? Worse, really, if he wasn’t lying, then why was he so certain?
        ===============

      • Vaughan, just so you know, I doubt seriously that you find yourself in any sort of ethical bind. I would suggest that anyone that does feel like they have found themselves in such a bind need to evaluate themselves before they continue to evaluate the science.

    • For the record, Naomi Oreskes is not a scientist, but a historian who specializes in science. She has been campaigning for the orthodox climate consensus for eight years now.

      • Maybe you should immediately dispatch an email to Imperial College London and specifically to its Department of Earth Sciences to advise that Geology is not a science, and see what they say. It’s where Oreskes got a BSc in Mining Geology.

        Can you say why you don’t consider geologists to be scientists, exactly?

      • Martha, Naomi and all the climate scientists she is backing ought to open a parachute, and soon.
        ==============

      • Martha,
        Since when did a BSc qualify one as a scientist? Oh, yeah: when they agree with Martha’s pov.
        My bet is huxley did not recall Naomi, who certainly acts much more like a hustler than a scientist, has a bachelors degree in geology. Too bad the training did not seem to take. huxley did not claim geology is not a science. He claimed Naomi is not trained as one. Most people agree a bachelor’s is not conferring the status of ‘scientist’.
        So did you have a point hidden in your comment?

      • One point is that her training could have led her to science; instead, it led her to political advocacy and abysmally poor scholarship. Maybe Imperial
        College would be interested in hearing about her after all.
        ====================

      • Naomi Oreskes speaks as a Professor of History, not as a working scientist.

  110. Another problem I have with Oreskes is that I don’t see climate change as a binary choice.

    Since I’m a lukewarmer, I agree that the earth has been warming and I am persuaded carbon emissions play some part. I don’t know that I would describe the situation as “grave” but I consider it serious enough that I’m glad scientists are on the case.

    However, I get the impression that if I give an inch to the orthodox, they will take a mile. They seem to play bait-and-switch. First you accept their claim of warming and GHGs, then you find yourself locked into the whole climate change agenda.

    I wonder how many of the “open-minded” people, whom Oreskes denounces, find the basics of climate change reasonable but do not wish to be stampeded into the big agenda.

      • hunter: Thanks!

        OT — Over the holidays I reread Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. That’s the novel about a future earth with a big global warming problem. Still on my recommended list.

    • “do not wish to be stampeded into the big agenda”

      What do you believe is ‘the big agenda’, exactly? And what tells you that your beliefs about this are right?

      • A few trillion here, a few trillion there, pretty soon we’re talking about a ‘Big Agenda’.
        ====================

      • Martha: Oh, come on. I believe what people like you tell me.

        Cap-and-trade legislation, carbon trading, Kyoto, Copenhagen, Cancun, wind and solar energy subsidies, and more. All the “whatever it takes” programs to push CO2 back to 350 ppm.

        None of this is mysterious conspiracy thinking on my part.

  111. Mr. Pratt,
    No, my numbers aren’t off by orders of magnitude. Start with animal respiration: at least 10 times as much CO2 as fossil fuels, Seasonal ocean warming, up to 100 times as much CO2 as fossil fuels. Etc., etc. And at any point in time, except for unusually dry local humidity, there is 30 to 140 times as much H2O in the atmosphere as CO2. Do the math!!

    You also confuse my comment about the K-T event with my stateement that A BILLION years ago the CO2 content in the atmosphere was 20 percent. The K-T event blew off some of the atmosphere and with it some of the CO2 content AT THAT TIME, not a billion years ago, but it was still a substantial reduction of the earth’s CO2 inventory.

    Also, such evidence as is available does indicate a logarithmic effect of GHG concentrations – but it is the reverse of what you claim. The effects of GHGs increase less than linearly, not more.

    I see no reason to ignore basic facts that immediately discredit AGW. Any counter by the AGW crowd will necessarily be based on the false data they have been purveying. Contrary to your assertion that I’m helping the AGW crowd, I find that these facts make it much easier for non-specialists to see the falsity of AGW – and that’s where this battle has to be won, in the minds of the general public that would otherwise be forced to fork over trillions of dollars for a profiteering and otherwise futile exercise.

    Also, as I previously noted, it is mathematically impossible to establish causation with complete and accurate temperature data. Causation can only be “established” by cherry-picking, filtering, “adjusting” and otherwise fabricating data and running it through models that are necessarily grossly unrepresentative of actual conditions.

  112. I erred – animal respiration actually contributes as much as 70 times more CO2 than fossil fuel burming, not 10 times Sorry for the typo.

    • Nice stat, do you have a link?

    • Animal respiration works just like the exhaust on your car and the smoke stack on a fossil fuel power plant: it serves to eliminate the CO2 produced by burning carbon based fuels.

      One difference is that animals burn biofuels (from the vegetation and animals they eat) whereas cars burn fossil fuels. However they’re both carbon based fuels and both create the same waste product, CO2.

      They also produce roughly the same number of heat calories per mole of carbon atoms. (A more precise analysis of the latter can be seen here. For example each gram of natural gas burnt on your gas stove produces 50 kilojoules in the process of becoming CO2. Aerobic life extracts energy not from methane and other industrial fuels but from acetate (derived from carbohydrates, fats and proteins) via the Krebs or citric acid cycle, likewise producing CO2 as the waste product. Muscles add adenosine di- and triphosphate, ADP and ATP, to that chemical brew, seen here.

      Both humans and machines seem to be able to convert about 20% of that energy to mechanical work and other forms of energy, essentially all of which in turn becomes heat through friction, I^2R loss, etc. The 80% unavailable for mechanical work becomes heat immediately.

      All this allows a reasonable correspondence to be made between the energetics of animals, vehicles and power plants based on the mass of carbon they burn and then emit into the atmosphere.

      As Philip Haddad pointed out a few posts above, humans produce some 16TW of power, over 90% of which comes from fossil fuel. If as you claim animals produce 70 times as much CO2 as do carbon based fuel power plants and vehicles etc., then to do so they must be burning 70 times as much carbon based fuel. Since industrial sources of CO2 added 10 gigatonnes of carbon to the atmosphere in 2011 in order to produce around 14 TW of power, according to you animals must have added 700 gigatonnes of carbon while generating 70 x 14 TW or about a petawatt of heating power, of which some 20% goes through an intermediate useful mechanical work stage before friction turns it into heat too.

      Philip Haddad asked “Why is it that no one seems to feel that the heat we are emitting with our energy use has any bearing on temperature rise. The 16TW we annually emit is enough to raise the temperature of the atmosphere by 0.17*F if all went into the atmosphere.” With your figures he should be asking why doesn’t the petawatt of heat that animals would have to be producing have any bearing on temperature rise?

  113. It’s sad the agenda doesn’t sink in here. Today on NPR Talk of the Nation Oreskes is on the air selling the gruel with no dissent allowed;

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/talk/2012/01/24/145704812/january-24th-whats-on-todays-show

    http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=5

    What’s the point of saying you’re against propaganda, being in a leadership position in your field but sitting on your hands on what is important about the debate??

    While Dr. Curry does little harm here (directly), she does little good either. A neutral attitude to these forces is spineless and contemptible. By not identifing the political culture involved with AGW she is defacto supporting AGW ambitions. Oreskes is a perfect example of someone living in vacuum of gutless silence of those who know better but have rationalizations why they look the other way or make only minimal observations of what is going on. The Good German Syndrome.

    Dr. Curry could make a handful of statements, help squash the eco-left in it’s tracks. Become a hated figure in that community but gain respect for being a leader. It’s also the moral thing to do, stakes couldn’t be higher when you consider the fringe and their agenda wrapped in AGW hyperbole. I can only think of a few reasons of the nuanced, indirect and passive political posture of Dr. Curry. None of them are good or constructive. She’s an enabler even while questioning obvious excess around AGW science overreach. Why pick at Oreskes on the margins when the whole context of her existence is offensive, partisan and contrived for a very specific culture that our host can’t mention directly?

    The wimp factor is pretty high here among skeptics, they sit by and accept it without a word for the most part.

  114. cwon14: Dr. Curry is a thoughtful person with her own take and her own agenda. If she doesn’t satisfy your agenda, I’d say that is your problem.

    If you disagree with her, make that argument — instead of complaining that she doesn’t live up to your expectations.

    • I would rather the original Huxley;

      “The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend” – Aldous Huxley

      You’re blind if you can’t see the manipulation, pointless skeptism of no effect or purpose. The essential need of promoting AGW the agenda. If you can’t link it to political purpose you are at best worthless or a useful tool.

      Enable away.

      • cwon14: I’ve read about half of Aldous Huxley’s considerable output. I take his name in vain. It started as a lark then I stuck with it rather than risk being accused of sock puppeting.

        Dear Aldous was never one for “You’re either with us or against us.” The quote you provide is one of humility, not certainty, and certainly not a bludgeon to be used against another human being.

        I prefer Huxley’s legacy quote:

        It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘Try to be a little kinder.’

      • Huxley,

        That is a good quote. I make a legitimate point that you mischaracterized. Address it or go in peace.

        Realizing the dubious use of “science” is only half the story at best. The political motivations and players of AGW are even more important or do you think Greenpeace might be right-wing extremists? If you follow Dr. Curry’s position you would never know or have any political identification of any debate participant. That’s how absurd the talking point is and what skeptics seem to accept all over the board here.

    • “instead of complaining that she doesn’t live up to your expectations.”

      I have no expectations of Dr. Curry at all. What I comment on is the pathetic wonkish hopes of dim skeptics who think the debate is about cherry picked data and spagetti charts “if only the IPCC and world would listen” etc etc.

      That Dr. Curry plays neutral even handed patsy roll in regards to the blood lust politics before us all is obvious. She should not get a pass from the very people here (skeptics) whining about inconclusive data of any type is less than half baked. The make-believe that the AGW advocates are “about science” and that is the core of that community is only reinforced by the charade that goes on here daily. So we can have obscure and detailed debates on data and unknowns (or hard to know science) we can’t figure out which political culture (by name and direct identification) dominates eco-agenda, AGW advocacy, IPCC/UN, The Consensus, The Climate Science community, Academia, The media, Greenpeace etc. etc. The sham that “it’s about science” is only extended by such deceptions including self-deceptions by skeptics who should have more of a clue as to what is obfuscated in Dr. Curry’s silence about her peer culture and the core of the debate.

      Really, Dr. Curry is what she is. As for brain dead skeptics who whine about their views and are only pleased that a consensus member would listen tells you how the farce of AGW got this far in the first place. The wuss factor is off the scale.

      • Well, they be many, and we be few. And they know where we live. This Extraordinary Popular Delusion and Madness of the Herd may yet sweep us all off the cliff. What will break the fever? I dunno.
        ================

      • If it fails to get warmer by 2015.

      • JCH,

        If you put value in it getting warmer or colder short-term you are subscriber of junk science as well. You have bought an essential narrative of climate panic if you even think 100 year patterns explain climate cycles.

        More silly pandering thought.

      • Kim,

        What is exposed here is how weak kneed a substantial amount of “skeptics” are here to accept Dr. Curry’s political identity obfuscation and only think to attack me for pointing out. Then they be continually labels as having Tin Foil hats as they contradict themselves making political corrections that are largely correct but unconfirmed by the host.

        Can you explain that pattern?

        The point of debate is to make progress, many skeptics have their own status quo and will be here thirty years from now debating the same science trivia while the politics of AGW ebbs and flows. Greenshirts could only be encouraged by the weakness found here.

  115. Mr. Cwon,

    Regarding my “interesting statistic” –

    Animal respiration emissions of CO2 are figured as follows: Humans respire 20 times/minute and exhale 500 cc of air with each breath. That’s 28,800 breaths a day, or 14,400 liters. Exhaled breath is 5 percent CO2, so you have 720 liters of CO2 exhaled per day, at 2 grams/liter is 1.44 kg/day, which is about 500 kg or 1/2 a ton per year. Times 7 billion people, that gives 3-1/2 billion tons/year from human breathing alone. Humans are less than 1/2 percent of the animal biomass on Earth, and have lower CO2 emission rates/lb of body mass than most other animals of all phyla. Total animal respiration production of CO2 is therefore in the range of 700 billion tons/yr, or about 70 times the average residual CO2 output from fossil fuels.

    In re water vapor – the H2O content of the air is the product of the vapor pressure of water at a given tempereature, times the relative humidity. This works out so that the average water vapor content of the atmosphere is a little over 2 percent, or about 60 times as much as CO2. On a 100-degree day at 90 percent humidity, that multiple can exceed 140 times.

    And again this doesn’t consider all the other sources of CO2, or the other factors in climate change – starting with solar luminosity which has been absolutely ignored by the AGW crowd.

    See how simple it is to prove that AGW is balderdash? No need to struggle with zillions of partial derivatives of known (and unknown, for sure!) variables and null functions. No way can climate data ever be documented entirely or correctly modeled. There will always be missing data and erroneous assumptions in attempting to do so, and the math problems are far too biug for any human to set them up for calculation..

    I repeat that the AGW crowd seeks to win an argument that they cab’t win by reason and facts, by resorting to force – starting with NO’s demand for closed minds and going all the way to threats of physical assaults on skeptics. They’re getting a little too close to saying, shut up or we’ll hurt you, for my comfort.

    • Prezakly. The point of those high multiples is that minor, even minute, variations in them totally overwhelm any putative human fossil fuel contributions. You literally can’t find that tree in the forest, and it wouldn’t matter a rap if you did.

    • Chad, your math here is a lot better than the utterly impossible numbers you were proposing earlier in connection with geothermal energy etc. However it still falls way short of supporting your claimed factor of 70.

      For starters you took the annual CO2 output from fossil fuels to be 10 gigatonnes when it’s 37 gigatonnes — 10 gigatonnes is for the carbon alone, it’s common to confuse the two. Also you claim we breath once every 3 seconds but 5 would be more typical. And your 5% CO2-in-breath figure is higher than the commonly given 4% figure. I’m fine with almost all your other numbers.

      The number I object to most strenuously is your ½% figure for human biomass as a percentage of animal biomass. The following is based on this table.

      Global wet (fresh) (yum) biomass of humans is 0.42 gigatonnes. For you to be correct, total animal biomass would have to be 200x that or 84 gigatonnes. That’s an insane number! The only group of species coming near that would be ants (not sure what a wet fresh ant tastes like but chocolate would have to help), whose biomass is estimated at anywhere from 0.9 to 9 gigatonnes (a remarkable uncertainty there!). Marine fish are between .8 and 2 (as of 2009, impressively accurate given our net ignorance of fish), Antarctic krill .38, termites .45, cattle 0.5, cyanobacteria 1, and all other animal life combined can’t add up to more than 1 gigatonne.

      A more reasonable percentage than ½% based on that table would be 5%, but let’s avoid picky arguments by allowing 3%. Multiplying out all the discrepancies I pointed out above, we get 37/10 * 5/3 * 5/4 * 3/.5 = 46.25 as the number to divide 70 by, giving 1.5 rather than 70 as a better ratio (which becomes 0.91 if you use 5% instead of 3% for how much humans weigh, obesity and malnutrition notwithstanding).

      But even with 1.5, you make a very interesting point that animal life is collectively producing as much energy and CO2 as all the power stations of the world’s 168 or so countries, if not even a little more.

      But not a new point, since anthropogenic CO2 is a mere 3% of the total carbon cycle, as can be seen here. Animal breathing is so slight as not to even rate a mention in the carbon cycle, though if you wanted to argue that at least it deserved equal billing with the factories depicted there I would have to agree with you. Maybe the carbon cycle diagram needs to be updated, a modification for which you could justifiably take credit.

      However there remains one further mistake in your analysis: the rate at which all these numbers are changing. This is the difference between global warmth, without which the oceans would be solid ice, and global warming, which at the present rate of change will be forcing polar bears to go back to being the brown and grizzly bears they used to be. (Unlike Greenpeace I have no problem with polar bears trading their beautiful white furs for browner ones. I’m perfectly happy to leave that sort of ideal of ecological beauty to those judges more artistically talented in that area than I.)

      If we can agree that animal life is producing not 70x but just 1.5x the CO2 that our power plants are producing today, then by backing up a mere few years we can similarly show that animals were producing 2x, 3x, etc. back then. And by the same reasoning they will be producing 0.5x, 0.4x, etc. in just a few more years.

      Your argument is that global warmth is not a problem. I would agree with that argument. But that’s not what climate science is concerned about, they don’t want to go back to oceans that are solid ice. Their argument is that global warming is a problem.

      Your argument does not address their argument.

  116. Mr. Brian H,
    Very well said. I just shake my head at the way the AGW crowd can claim to establish relationships among so many, undocumentable, unmeasurable and unknown variables. Their mindset would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous.

  117. Mr. Pratt,
    Again you seem to be assuming there is a difference between CO2 emitted by animal respiration and CO2 from other sources. Yes, I suppose there might be infinitesimal differences in the isotopic composition of the CO2 from animals vs. fossil fuels – but that’s the limit of it. It’s all part of the same CO2 inventory and cycling on the planet.

    The other error in your logic is that fossil fuel burining remains so small in relation to not only animal respiration but all other sources of CO2 emissions as to be dwarfed by even the variability of those other sources, let alone their absolute values. Given the enormous number of variables involved and the difficulty of measuring and attributing rate-of-change values to those variables, you simply cannot even reasonably surmise, let alone prove, a link between human activity and CO2 in the atmosphere, The slightest error in data or assumptions and the slightest fault in the models used to process the data will produce huge errors in conclkusions. This is the mathematical reality of dealing with too many known and unknown factors in an analysis.

    The AGW scaremongers try to get around this problem by restricting their “analysis” to a few, often irrelevant factors and by cherry-picking and fabricating data that makes their simplistic models produce the results they are looking for, That is how the “hockey stick” came about, Need I say that’s dishonest?

    • The AGW scaremongers try to get around this problem by restricting their “analysis” to a few, often irrelevant factors and by cherry-picking and fabricating data that makes their simplistic models produce the results they are looking for.

      Chad, seriously, what “cherry-picking” are you talking about? And how do you prove you haven’t cherry-picked the data supporting your side of the argument?

      Do you mean like Richard Feynman when he restricted his analysis of the Challenger disaster to the O-rings? If I was the NASA project manager who’d made the call on the O-rings and temperature at launch time, I’d be arguing exactly like you: “In his curious focus on O-rings Feynman is just cherry-picking data. Challenger is an immensely complex shuttle and its analysis cannot possibly be reduced just to its O-rings.”

      The “cherry-picked” data I focus on in my own research is TINY! It is nothing but the 160 temperature-anomaly numbers in the HADCRUT3VGL time series for global land-sea temperature since 1850 as shown here. You can’t reduce climate science to a much tinier dataset than that.

      Since sensors world-wide have produced many millions if not billions of readings, it’s easy to argue that singling out those mere 160 numbers is nothing but “cherry picking” an incredibly tiny subset of a vast amount of data. Is that what you’re arguing here? That these 160 numbers have been very carefully cherry picked under my personal supervision to prove a point you violently disagree with?

      If that’s what you’re arguing, then yes, I’m an AGW scaremonger cherry picker. Fine, but then how about your data proving the opposite conclusion to mine? How did you go about selecting it?

      • Dr. Pratt,
        The differnce was that the Challenger tragedy had real time video showing where the explosion likely started, and the weather readings at launch time were not cherry picked.
        frankly your example seems a bit of a strawman.

    • Chad, carbon that is breathed out or respirated by plants has been recently in the atmosphere, and is part of the carbon cycle. Where do you think the carbon we breathe comes from? It is from the food we eat. Where does that get its carbon? It is from the atmosphere. Food is growing at the same rate we eat it in a sustainable environment, so it is taking in carbon at the same rate it is exhaled by plants and animals. Why is fossil carbon different, you ask? It has been buried and out of the carbon cycle for eons, and now we are returning it to the system adding to the carbon cycle. This is also why wood fires are not considered a danger. Think about it.

      • …carbon that is breathed out or respirated by plants has been recently in the atmosphere, and is part of the carbon cycle

        True. An important point to remember. This is why corn-based ethanol doesn’t contribute, in itself, to global warming, but is problematic for the fuel consumed to grow, fertilize and transport the corn.

      • And there is the double-whammy effect of using fuels like oil sands that take a lot of fossil fuels just to extract, even before they are burned themselves.

      • Jim D,
        Please tell us about this differential filtration system taht can seperate fossil sourced CO2 from current budget CO2.

      • Sequestered carbon was also not so recently part of the atmosphere. What turned it into coal and rock? Biology. Huge runaway blooms of flora, in ocean and on land. We now are living in a pale, starveling remnant of those glory days.

  118. Messrs. Pratt and Jim D,

    In re cherry picking – no cherry picking required to calculate the relative quantities of CO2 from animals and fossil fuels. Thise are straightforward values that can be measured directly and are not subject to interpretation. On top of that, even substantial errors in measuring them would have no statistically significant effect – even if they are half what I quote here (which is unlikely, because if anything, I’ve understated them) both their absolute values and variability will still be so ovwhelmingly larger than fossil fuel burning as to render the latter utterly meaningless. Again I say, do the math! Show me your set of equations and functions and derivatives that overcomes this simple reality.

    As for CO2 from different courdes, I challenge anyone to prove that a molecule of CO2 in an aniumal’s breath is any different from a molecule of CO2 coming from a coal fire. CO2 is CO2 and there’s no such thing as “wood CO2″ and “fossil fuel CO2″ – theyre the same substance, period. Duh.

    • Here is the simple analogy that you are violating. Say you have an aquarium filled with water up to the top, and you have a huge recirculating pump attached to the aquarium that continuously filters and aerates the water. Then you add a cup of water to the top and complain when the aquarium overflows. That extra cup of water is excess CO2 that the current environment can’t handle, regardless of how fast the system can process normal levels. Clearly the environment can’t adapt to excess, and only nature can evolve and that takes time.

  119. Mr. Pratt,
    Do you really think 160 data points will prove your case? 160,000 data points won’t come close. There is no way that the tiny data set you describe won’r be grossly biased. Such a data set can only be assembled by arbitrary choices and cannot possibly be representative of actual conditions. Again, the “hockey stick” fiasco proves that in spades.

    • I think you’ve put your finger on the difference between Berkeley’s Richard Muller and me. He seems to feel as you do that climate is BEST understood through millions if not billions of temperature datapoints.

      I’m way at the opposite end. If you want to make projections about Earth’s climate 30 to 100 years into the future, I claim one can do a very good job by recording just one temperature measurement per year, and that a billion measurements a year tells us little or nothing more about our long term prospects than just that one measurement.

      Though not if you start today. Starting around 1850 suffices.

      Furthermore I claim that with that one measurement per year one can learn things about the climate that weren’t even suspected before, things that you wouldn’t have noticed had you been burdened with a million or a billion datapoints a year.

      But that’s just a personal belief of mine, and I respect that you take Professor Muller’s side on that question.

  120. The total annual extent of the carbon cycle has been estimated to be of the order 210 Gt (carbon) or roughly 30 times the emissions from fossil fuels. The animal respiration is a fraction of that, how big a fraction is not really relevant.

    How the emissions from fossil fuel burning are essential for the rise of the CO2 concentration must have been discussed in some thousand messages on this site alone. It’s not worth returning back to square one every time some newcomer raises the question again. That’s not a way for learning more and there are other sources for those, who really wish to understand more rather than prevent sensible discussion.

    • It’s not worth returning back to square one every time some newcomer raises the question again. That’s not a way for learning more

      Actually it’s a way for me to learn more, namely as a result of reading sources that I would not otherwise have been motivated to look at. It also means that the sources I consult address issues that someone other than myself and the author of the source cares about.

      As long as people keep raising questions I’m happy to keep reexamining the issue of whether those questions might have a point to them after all. Terrific if they do, but even if they don’t it may still be possible to improve on the extant answers to them in both accuracy and clarity. There’s always room for a better book on the elementary principles of climate.

      • We may have a bit different cases in mind. I was thinking arguments that have nothing new in comparison with those, which have been discussed fully in earlier threads. Repeating that may be usefule to someone, who hasn’t followed the discussion for long, but the standard questions have been answered on numerous sites and some of the other sites have a structure that allows for finding the answers easily. People, who dont’t accept those answers there are not likely ot accept them here.

        When the questions are not the most basic ones, answering them may, indeed, teach as much or more to the person, who tries to formulate a good answer than to those, who read it.

      • I would call it almost a trademark of my research in logic that I constantly reexamine what everyone else considers the standard answers, in case any alternative answers have been overlooked. I question everything, rather in the spirit of Descartes. So I don’t mind answering questions that everyone else thinks have been argued to death. There’s always a small but nonzero chance that some really important point has been overlooked. The more important the area the more valuable any such find. Sort of like continuing to pan for unobtainium in an abandoned unobtainium mine.

  121. Mr WebHub,
    Where your analogy fails is that the quantity of water in your aquarium, as it were, fluctuates continuously by thousands of gallons. How can you then say that an extra cup of water is what causes the aquarium to overflow? You can’t.

    • Where your analogy fails is that the quantity of water in your aquarium, as it were, fluctuates continuously by thousands of gallons.

      Statistically it can’t, because of the law of large numbers and the central limit theorem. The limit applies to all the biotic processes in the world, when operating together, will form a well-resolved mean with a narrow variance.

    • fluctuates continuously by thousands of gallons

      That’s a good point, Chad, or at least would have been had WHT’s cup-of-water analogy described today’s CO2. Unfortunately for your point it doesn’t. A more accurate analogy would be suddenly dumping in a third of an aquarium of water when the fluctuations you refer to had been at a rate of a fraction of an inch a day.

      What you haven’t done is quantify your “thousands of gallons” in any way meaningful enough to permit a comparison with either a cup of water or a third of an aquarium of water, either in total quantity or rate per unit of time.

      The ice cores show the CO2 to have fluctuated between 180 and 280 ppmv for hundreds of thousands of years, with none of the many thousands of ice core samples ever showing more than about 285 ppmv, and even that very rarely.

      Granted those paleoclimate fluctuations may seem large compared to the mere 2.3 ppmv the CO2 rose by last year, which fits WHT’s cup of water analogy. But they don’t look so large when you look at either today’s total level, or at the rate of change, neither of which is adequately described as “one cup of water.” Rather it is cup after cup after cup, and that’s what’s steadily raising the CO2 level.

      Today we have 394 ppmv. I’m not aware of any of the ice core samples that showed a level even over 290 ppmv. We’ve added way more CO2 than just one cup during the past century.

      The fluctuations over the past million years have taken 5-10 thousand years for each rise to 280 followed by a 90,000 year return to 180. That’s very slow compared with today’s annual rate of rise of 2.3 ppmv.

      And that rate has been growing. In 1980 it was rising at 1.2 ppmv (easily read off from the Keeling curve). In 1958 when the Mauna Loa observatory was founded by Charles Keeling it was a mere 0.8 ppmv.

      And it is easy to see that the rate of increase must have been even less than 0.8 ppmv/year before 1958, since otherwise the CO2 in 1858 would have had to have been an impossibly low 314 – 80 = 234 ppmv. That low a level is contradicted by the ice core data which show that we would just now be embarking on the 90,000-year climb back down from the most recent rise to 285 ppmv, had we not gotten addicted to carbon based fuel during the past few centuries.

      (This was just biofuels in the 16th and earlier centuries, mainly wood, but when we hit “Peak Wood” so to speak in the 17th century we switched to fossil fuels starting with coal and later adding natural gas and oil. Domestically the US hit peak oil years ago, but now it’s close to becoming a global phenomenon. This challenge will presumably be met by fracking and other creative methods, or destructive depending on your point of view. Humans are resourceful, necessary when the planet is no longer as resource-full as it was.)

      So is there any connection between this increasing rate of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere and our CO2 emissions? Yes! Even though not all countries are reporting reliably, as David Hagen likes to point out, we still have a pretty good idea of the planet’s total CO2 emissions each year attributable to fuel consumption (coal, oil, and gas), flaring at refineries and oil fields, cement production, and land use.

      If you plot the predicted year-to-year CO2 based on 40% of those emissions remaining in the atmosphere (the other 60% having been absorbed into the carbon cycle), you get a curve that beautifully tracks the Keeling curve! This remains true when the Keeling curve is extrapolated backwards from 1958 if we assume 288 ppmv in January 1819 and take credit for 1 ppmv of that, an amount that thereafter doubles every 28.6 years. (So for 2011 we should expect 287 + 2^((2011 – 1819)/28.6) = 392 ppmv, while for 1958 we get 287 + 2^((1958 – 1819)/28.6) = 316 ppmv, and in 1980 336 ppmv, all within about 1 ppmv of the values measured at Mauna Loa in January of those years! Had we used the December measurement instead we’d be off by 2-3 ppmv for the most recent years, and the June measurement would also be off due to the 5 ppmv annual variation.)

      Going back to WHT’s aquarium analogy, if you knew that a cup of water raised the water level quarter of an inch, and that you were adding a cup a day, you would naturally predict that in ten days time the level would have risen 2.5 inches. But would your prediction pan out?

      The situation with CO2 today is like coming back after ten days and finding that the level in the aquarium had indeed risen the expected 2.5″. The CO2 emissions inferred from the reported fuel consumption, land use, etc. correlate beautifully with the observed CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere.

      To within an accuracy of about 1 ppmv, there is no sign of your “thousand of gallons of fluctuations” in the data, even though 20 times as much CO2 is flowing in the carbon cycle as we’re emitting, as Pekka points out. (Pekka said 30 times but he has a long memory — that’s what it was in the 1990s when our annual carbon emissions were around 7 GtC, they’ve since risen to 10 GtC. The picture in Wikipedia’s article on the carbon cycle used to say 5.5 GtC but someone recently reduced it to 4 GtC which is complete nonsense.)

      The carbon cycle does not fluctuate to anywhere near the extent you’re imagining. It’s much more like a smoothly running engine whose pistons fluctuate greatly but not randomly enough to impact the smoothness of the vehicle’s ride.

  122. Mr. Pratt,
    Some further corrections: the 10 gt of CO2 is not the production but the residual that is not immediately absorbed by plants, soil and oceans (though certain to be absorbed over time)..

    Your figures for animal biomass are also way off. 7 billion people do not weigh 420 Mt – that would be 60 kg/individual, which is way too high, especially counting the proportion of children in the third world. And the ants you refer to are only one of 2 million species of insects, a good many of them numbering in the quadrillions – and then there are small mammals and birds with 6 to 10 times the CO2 emissions per pound of body weight of humans, and numbering in the trillions

    My source for respiration rates and CO2 content in breath is from pulmonologists I have discussed this issue with. Also, the percentages of CO2 in the breath of many endothermic animals and insects is much higher even than 5 percent. But as I said, even if my figures were incorrect by an order of magnitude, that will make no difference – the aggregate of other sources of CO2, and even their variability, will still so massively overtop fossil fuels as to render fossil fuel burning irrelevant. It’s about time the AGW crowd stopped ignoring this ineluctable fact.

    Don’t mistake my arguments against AGW for an argument against renewable and clean energy sources. Au contraire, the money that will be wasted chasing the CO2 bogeyman will only be money that is unavailable to develop alternative energy sources (which if successful would render the debate moot). AGW is at bottom not about the environment – it’s about perverse motives to cripple the world economy and about profiteering, plain and simple.

    • Chad,
      I think termites are documented by credible estimates to produce more methane than all of human bio and technical enterprises.

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/could-termites-be-the-worlds-terminators-a-humble-forest-insect-may-be-emitting-dangerous-amounts-of-methane-stella-wiseman-reports-1394135.html

      Notice the amazing assumption embedded so causally in this report.

    • Some further corrections: the 10 gt of CO2 is not the production but the residual that is not immediately absorbed by plants, soil and oceans (though certain to be absorbed over time)..

      Two points. First, the residual you speak of is not 10 Gt of CO2 but 40% of 37 Gt or 14.8 Gt. Second, by switching from total CO2 production to the residual you’re now comparing apples and oranges because you continue to talk about about total animal production of CO2. The comparison only makes sense when you stick to total production. You complain about cherry-picking and then you go and cherry-pick which data you want to reduce by a factor of 3 or 4.

      Though it occurs to me I may have misinterpreted your point about cherry-picking as a complaint when you merely meant that everyone does it. If the latter then I could understand why you consider the annual HADCRUT3VGL global land-sea data “grossly biased”, and why you see nothing improper in your own cherry-picking. If that’s not your idea of “cherry-picked” it would help to know what it is.

      7 billion people do not weigh 420 Mt – that would be 60 kg/individual, which is way too high, especially counting the proportion of children in the third world.

      You’re just guessing. This table
      shows the average US woman over 20 during 1999-2002 as weighing 74.4 kg. The average male over 20 weighed 86.6 kg. (And obesity is supposedly on the rise.) The reason 60 kg is a reasonable figure is the one you give: the population under 20 worldwide brings the average weight down to around 60 kg. If you have a source for a more precise estimate please give it.

      I quoted a source for total world animal biomass. All the numbers I gave were from that source, including the 420 Mt figure. You pooh-poohed that source, claiming it was “way too high,” and replaced it with numbers you made up off the top of your head. With that approach to debating you can prove anything you want.

      The ants you refer to are only one of 2 million species of insects

      You’ve outdone all your previous inaccuracies with your first number there: it’s wrong by a factor of 12,000. You seem pretty confident about your second number, where did that come from? 900,000 species have been described, estimates range from 6 to 10 million for the undescribed species of insects. However I would be amazed if the total mass of all the undescribed insect species in the world came to anything like the total mass of all fish in the world (0.8-2 Gt). Any undescribed species is undescribed because no biologist has a seen an instance, which means their total biomass has to be pretty small. What’s the heaviest needle that can remain hidden for long in a haystack? Biologists seek out new species very aggressively.

  123. What strikes me in Oreskes’s piece is the exclusive focus on the US. I wonder how she would react if exposed to European opinions about climate change. How would she react to people telling her that we already see the consequences of climate change, that strange weather is more frequent, that more disasters are on their way, and that we could stop all of this now if only the UN reached a binding agreement to prevent “climatic catastrophe”?

  124. Mr. Pratt,

    Yeah, and Americans are probably the heaviest people on the planet and we’re barely 4 percent of the population. The average ADULT weight in most of the world is definitely less than 60 kg/132 lb – not even figuring in the kids and babies that are 40 percent or more of the total population. And as fat a people as we are, there’s no way in Hades that the average weight of all Americans of all ages is in the 200 lb range you posit. Huh-uh! Let’s get real here! Your numbers are the ones out in left field, not mine, and they have the odor of the same sort of manipulation that has been applied to all kinds of data to make it play as the AGW folks want it to.

    • Americans are probably the heaviest people on the planet

      Instead of just typing away at your computer, why don’t you look at the source I pointed you at, where you’ll see that the average weights of a wide range of nationalities are all much greater than 60 kg.

      there’s no way in Hades that the average weight of all Americans of all ages is in the 200 lb range you posit.

      60 kg = 200 lbs, eh? As luck would have it, my New Year’s resolution this year was not to discuss quantitative aspects of mass with anyone who doesn’t know their own weight in kilograms. Breaking it this soon would be a bit too traumatic for me.

      • (Just to clarify my 2nd remark, I did not claim Americans were “the heaviest people on the planet,” that was you. Nowhere have I said anything to imply that “the average weight of all Americans of all ages” is any greater than 60 kg. Hence when you claim that I said their average weight is 200 lbs, you are equating 60 kg to 200 lbs, which is ridiculous. I did say obesity was on the rise, but not in connection with America, obesity is a world-wide phenomenon that is far from unique to Americans.)

  125. Mr Grundmann,

    You are mistaking coincidence for causation – that is, if the climate is even changing as you claim (which it isn’t – the honest data shows a slight DECLINE in world temperatures since 1998).

    Since it appears that you are in Germany, here’s something you’d better think about: the waste of resources that could be applied to developing non-polluting fuels and the resultant increase in the cost of heating homes in frigid climates will absolutely result in millions of deaths. So will the poverty resulting from the crippling of the world economy. That’s another Holocaust – do you really want German scientists to repeat the mistake they made in backing Hitler’s racial theories?

    Again it is all about leftist politics, not science, not climate, not the environment. And in thie connection let’s remember the FACT that Nazism was fundamentally a leftist, not a conservative ideology – one mustn’t be fooled by Hitler’s courting the old, true German right wing with their nationalistic designs, to placate them.

    As for us here in the US – thank heavens we haven’t been seduced by leftist claptrap to quite the extent that Europe has

    Leftists may think they are progressive, but they’re not – they cling to long-discredited economic and political theories, quite untenably in the wake of the Soviet Union’s demise and the poverty wrought in third world countries by anti-capitalist policies. Leftists in today’s context are not progressive and not liberal – they are REACTIONARY.

    • Leftists may think they are progressive, but they’re not – they cling to long-discredited economic and political theories, quite untenably in the wake of the Soviet Union’s demise and the poverty wrought in third world countries by anti-capitalist policies. Leftists in today’s context are not progressive and not liberal – they are REACTIONARY.

      You were off by a factor of 12,000 with the ants. Here you’re only off by a factor of around 15. A Bronze Star for Remarkable Performance & Improvement is in order. Keep up the good work.

  126. I don’t know which skeptics Oreskes is referring to, but few have an open mind about AGW here. They are convinced it is not right, which is actually a very closed minded view.

    • Jim, you touch on a naming problem I’ve been having. I run into the same kind of people Oreskes is talking about all the time. They don’t have a strong position either way and are open to both sides of the debate, precisely for the reason Oreskes gives: they aren’t steeped in the subject matter.

      As you point out, a number of contributors to this blog are very much steeped in the ideology of their respective sides. One can tell them apart after about the first line of their comment. They simply parrot the gospel of their side of the debate. My experience of their kind dates back to the 1950′s as can be seen from this photo taken by my dad at Alex Griffiths’ Currumbin Bird Sanctuary. That’s my mum on the right, while the birds on the left were a couple of neighborhood communists parroting the standard party objections to Frank Nicklin, then Premier of Queensland, which as the photo shows I was ill-equipped at the time to take seriously.

      We have Martha, Joshua, etc. on one side, and Max manacker, cwon14, etc. on the other, with hunter and huxley willing to be more nuanced but still basically objecting to the core AGW premise. Further afield we have the likes of Greenfyre and Tamino lobbing 13.5″ shells at Climate Etc. over the horizon. Then there are those who can actually argue the detailed science, like Andy Lacis, Pekka Pirilä, and Arthur Smith. And a great many others across the whole spectrum.

      I’d like to call those who deny global warming global warming deniers, but with the notable exception of Richard Lindzen who insists on being called a denier, almost all of the rest implicitly invoke Godwin’s Law by complaining they’re being demonized. So out of respect for their sensitivities I call them skeptics instead.

      But they’re clearly different from the people claiming to have an open mind on the subject, since they themselves claim to have made up their minds. So what to call them if not skeptics?

      If “deniers” is not available for those who assert their minds are mind up, and since “skeptic” is certainly inapplicable for such types, then I’m kind of stuck.

      • For one thing you’re stuck in is a left-wing word narrative. “Denier” is a coded word and when it comes from Joshua, Martha or Joe Romm is a Godwin Law violation. They are using the code, that value may be discounted as you move down the ideology spectrum but it’s still going on in say the NYTimes.

        As for the science part of it, I’m in the camp of human co2 is so small as to not have much impact and there is no hard measures of almost anything that can be quantified, for example the carbon sink. AGW science is interesting at times but like String theory isn’t much to consider at all as hard evidence to do anything.

        The core of the debate is political, ethical etc. “Science” the word and soft idea in a population weak on science values and judgement willfully or stupidly manipulated into politically motivated junk science policy rationaizations; beating on carbon (society) for money, power and control in this case.

        My key speciality are nuances regarding false conversation limits and distortions that go on with this blog. Most notable people who can’t (refuse) to politically identify obvious political motives of debate participants and groups. Dr. Curry is notable in this regard. There are many weak skeptics here that enable such a distortion. It’s why each thread becomes very circular, how science is misused and why phony talking points about “communication” as an example are sustained. Basically it’s group dishonesty on a large scale and cuts across advocate or skeptic here. It’s socially and intellectually destructive as is AGW policy advocacy itself.

      • Vaughan -

        We have Martha, Joshua, etc. on one side,

        Would you mind pointing to something that I’ve said that puts me on a side as you describe?

        Specifically, something that fits this description:

        As you point out, a number of contributors to this blog are very much steeped in the ideology of their respective sides. One can tell them apart after about the first line of their comment. They simply parrot the gospel of their side of the debate.

        Where I have simply parroted the gospel? If you don’t feel like taking the time, or you can’t find an example, then just go ahead and point it out at some point in the future since, no doubt, according to your statement above any post I make in the future will also match your description.

      • Vaughan Pratt -

        Perhaps you should try ‘Dissenters’

        It doesn’t imply open-mindedness – it’s a position taken. It’s clearly ‘against’ something specified and presumably coherent. It doesn’t automatically delineate a particular reason for the dissension (which suits the likely self-labellers, who are often at pains to express the idiosyncrasy of their reasons for the non-conformity of their belief) It’s not – to my mind – pejorative, but is unlikely to generate the kind of abuse of “dissenter” which is the way to demonise “skeptics” by saying they are fakes.

        What’s not to like?

        I’ll happily dissent myself, depending on the kind of intellectual edifice you’re trying to promote…

    • Jim D, there are a lot of people that do not deny AGW here. They recognize that CO2 centered AGW is a poorly constructed theory.
      That the “all things remain equal” premise in a non;linear dynamic system is laughable. That the bizarre assumptions that modeled values with confidence intervals of +/- 0.18Wm-2 are hilarious. .That defending obviously flawed misuse of statistics borders on criminal. That fixation of fat tails while faced with obvious over estimation is insane. That in general, climate science has become an expensive joke because of a rather small, egoistical and eccentric cadre.

      Other than those issues, we agree completely :)

      • That the bizarre assumptions that modeled values with confidence intervals of +/- 0.18Wm-2 are hilarious.

        Agreed. Climate scientists will not be credible until they can give precise answers to questions like “what does climate sensitivity mean?” and “with that meaning, what is the climate sensitivity exactly?” They should be able to make statements with 99% confidence along the lines of
        “We are 99% confident that it takes 14.6 years before the full impact of the current rate of increase in CO2 is felt,” and
        “We are 99% confident that each doubling of CO2 raises surface temperature by 2.83 °C.”

        As long as they continue to waffle that climate sensitivity is not a well-defined notion, and that their subject is too imprecise to admit of answers remotely that accurate, they will continue to be unconvincing to a large segment of the scientifically literate population.

      • Vaughan Pratt -

        Are you really serious?

        So, if the nature of the matter under study means that there will never be 99% confidence of the accuracy you’re demanding (why, I don’t know) then climate scientists deserve to be not taken seriously?

        My not taking them seriously is for the opposite reason – they like to claim degrees of certainty that all too obviously don’t – and cannot – exist.

        I think for a large part, that has been what this blog has been about – exploring and comprehending [and investigating the communication of] uncertainty.

        The climate is not a precise phenomenon, and that is true before you even begin to add the relative perspectives of the billions of human beings that experience climate, and possibly climate change. Which is, of course, a subject on which science has nothing to say.

      • Anteros -

        So, if the nature of the matter under study means that there will never be 99% confidence of the accuracy you’re demanding (why, I don’t know) then climate scientists deserve to be not taken seriously?

        I’m 97% certain (with a 95% CI of 94-100%) that Vaughan wasn’t being serious there.

      • Joshua -

        Obliged..

        My “Are you really serious” gives away the fact that I thought he was -
        probably hasty, literal, disputatious reading on my part.

        Apologies VP for my misapprehension.

        However, I still learned something about my thinking on the subject.

      • Joshua, Vaughan may be joking, maybe not. When I looked at Trenberth’s analysis of the direct measurement of OLR then his statement that the data was obviously not accurate enough for a meaningful confidence, therefore, the modeled value of 0.8 +/- 0.18 should be substituted, I had a long laugh. +/- 5% in the real world is difficult, +/- 1% is extremely difficult and +/-0.1% only happens in a lab under extremely controlled conditions. His statement indicates that the models are nearly as accurate as lab standards. The difficulty of obtaining precision in measurements should be a part of everyone’s BS detector. That would make people less gullible, a good thing, unless you are a salesman.

        This is a great lead in to “Merchants of Doubt”. The title is an oxymoron. Doubt is free, certainty requires a sales pitch. :)

      • cap’n -

        Well – maybe I was overconfident (although I did some room for being in error).

        The difficulty of obtaining precision in measurements should be a part of everyone’s BS detector.

        No doubt (If you’ll pardon the pun).

        That said – there is also no doubt (IMO) that there are, in fact, merchants of doubt in our midst. I see them all the time in these pages and other, related domains. The AGW debate is bi-laterally political. Is there an over-attribution of “skepticism” writ large to merchants of doubt? I’d say yes. But I am highly skeptical of anyone who tries to tell me of some “vast asymmetry” and weaves tales of conspiracies to “prove” their case. I have seen, with my very own eyes, sales pitches of doubt.

        BTW – I hope you didn’t miss my hatin’ on HVAC mechanics a few threads back.

      • Joshua, said, “BTW – I hope you didn’t miss my hatin’ on HVAC mechanics a few threads back.” Not at all, that was part of my job description, at least in their opinion :) Everyone hates the butthole that inspects the quality of their work, when quality doesn’t meet the specifications.

      • Vaughan is not joking when it comes to asking for high reliability. He was instrumental in diagnosing the infamous Intel FPU bug years ago. The confidence levels in testing were orders of magnitude higher than 99% in that case. Although a different problem domain, there are valid parallels to consider.

      • Usually Joshua would have correctly read my comment as caricaturing some absurdity. In this case I wasn’t.

        The climate is not a precise phenomenon,

        One could say that of the Earth’s rotation. We cannot forecast when to insert leap seconds because tectonic shifts keep changing the Earth’s moment of inertia in ways that are currently beyond our ability to predict. Yet we can forecast the number of seconds in the 22nd century to a precision of 9 decimal places or better. We cannot forecast how many sunspots will appear in cycle 24 (the one coming right up), yet we can predict with complete confidence that the polarity of the magnetic field of the accompanying solar wind as it hits Earth will be opposite to that of cycle 23, and moreover that it will keep reversing like that at least until the next Maunder-type minimum, though I don’t believe anyone has a clue when that will occur. And so on.

        That scientists are unable to predict some phenomena has not undermined the public’s confidence in their ability to predict others, because the record shows that they have done an outstanding job of the latter in a great many cases.

        Had you worked all the exercises in Stull, Meteorology for Scientists and Engineers, you would word “the climate is not a precise phenomenon” more carefully. For one thing it is not really a statement about climate itself, but about our understanding of it. You and I view eclipses as precise phenomena, but the inhabitants of fishing villages along the Orinoco may well not, nor the gentleman I met 20 years ago outside a little hut while walking in the outback of North Carolina who asked “what’s a computer” when I told him what I worked on.

        For the time being I would put El Nino episodes and events in the category of those climate phenomena whose timing we’ll be unlikely to be able to predict long term with any certainty. But I say that only because they seem incomprehensibly chaotic to me. Were someone to show me a pattern in them following a precise law over the past two or three centuries, my jaw would drop and I’d change my view on the matter.

        The credibility of climate scientists hinges on the quality and quantity of what they can predict with a widely accepted certainty. In my mind they are very credible for many aspects of the climate. , but for the ones that are of greatest interest to this blog, especially climate sensitivity, they are credible only when they acknowledge that they don’t have a clue what it is.

        And by “what it is,” I don’t just mean quantitatively. What is climate sensitivity? Does it even have a meaning?

        I happen to believe that none of the existing meanings of the term makes sense. But I also believe that the concept will make sense once it is properly formulated. Until then, estimating an undefined quantity is an exercise in group wishful thinking. Once there is an agreed-on definition of the concept, then and only then will it become possible to assign it a value that is both meaningful and precise.

        If you re-read my agreement with capt. dallas in light of the above remarks, you will see that the demands it is making of climate science are more reasonable than they might have seemed at first. They do not disparage the broader subject of climate science, only the portion relevant to predicting CO2 and temperature for 2100. It is that narrow corner of the science of modern climate about which this massive debate swirls.

        Trenberth was quite right to call our lack of understanding of what he meant by “missing heat” a travesty. That he did not call our lack of understanding of climate sensitivity a travesty was presumably because that goes without saying in the business. But maybe it needs to be said anyway, to remind people not to get too overconfident. He’d surely have gotten less flack for that.

        I’ll have more to say on this topic in a few weeks time (I have a deadline for a paper in an unrelated area).

    • Jim D,

      Even if I agreed to AGW, can you quantify it’s impact in a rational way? I certainly know what the IPCC/Greenpeace or the eco-left in general can’t meet “rational” or “quantify”. Therefore it isn’t science at all as presented, it can’t quantify or demonstrate for example. It’s more like humanity class where opinions can be argued but never proven in a free society either way. There are real science matters, the big leap comes from conclusions that can’t be demonstrated or proofed. Those conclusions on the part of advocates was motivated by politcal culture of a very specific kind. Rent seekers and power greed are a subgroup topics.

      Most AGW advocates here are modified Gaianist falling into the Earth Day left of society. Others have Green Shirt implications (lust for political authority). Your average Zombie consumes the AGW movements product but wouldn’t be inclined to debate or study the topic, less likely to come here and debate it. Oreskes is an academic Greenshirt for political lust.

      Making up your mind isn’t having a “closed mind”. Scale human co2 input and that of water vapor/co2 nature and tell me how less that 1% human contribution impact changes the climate as a starting point? Since the sink can’t be defined either please don’t start the phony carbon “compounding” which is essential to the AGW narrarative of today. There is simply no science to back this presumption of co2 rising because of human net input. There is no evidence of co2 net increase changing temps in the open earth reality. It might well be the other way around for example.

      It’s warmist who run from the science in an even handed debate. All the effort goes into making it an uneven forum, that’s clear. That’s what the word “consensus” really means. People grouping together who all largely agree on everything and driving all who disagree out. It just isn’t science, it’s politics.

  127. C Wozniak
    you completely misread my post. I am referring to a different climate of opinion in the US and EU (esp. Germany) and make no statement about the reality of changing climates or not. Not only is climate skepticism weaker, the public seems to take weather events as proof of AGW, no matter what the honest science says.
    Having said that, I think Oreskes stylizes the skeptical camp and exaggerates it to some extent. A majority of Americans is concerned about climate change as opinion polls continuously tell us.

  128. Oreskes is just part of the fizzle out death rattle to keep AGW relevant and the Climate Zombies placated;

    “The Rio plus 20 summit may be the first large summit that acknowledges that the global warming hysteria has peaked and there is a very tiny potential that its downtrend will get reverted and the meme will become able to significantly influence the political landscape of the world in coming years or decades once again. But it’s clear that when one fad is over, the people who have enjoyed this AGW fad – an assorted mixture of Marxists, investors dreaming about supereasy profits, journalists who can make living by repeating the same tendentious sensational fearmongering all the time, pseudoscientists who dream about a universal scientific consensus and about easy grants, Islamic terrorists, and people who belong to several of these groups at the same moment – will be looking for another fad.”

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2012/01/sustainable-conference-in-rio-finds-agw.html

    Hopefully people learned the right lessons from AGW fraud and will pick up on the bigger picture faster than they did with AGW. Some never learn, this blog is a good indicator of that as well.

  129. Here are Judith’s questions (?):

    > JC comment [?]: So am I to infer from this [Naomi’s op-ed (?)] that the only way to support the IPCC consensus is to close your mind? And trust the ‘experts’? (like those we saw in the CRU emails)?

    We notice the title: “JC comment”. We also notice the modality of the first question (?): “the only way”, which is kinda strong when one asks a question.

    Considering that this inference is based on the “Yes, but CRU emails” and the “Yes, but Trenberth” tricks, must we infer that this is not a question, but a full-blown comment?

    Auditors ought to know.

    ***

    Here is one excerpt from the excerpted op-ed that can cast doubt on the necessity of the inference:

    > We have to get over that flawed notion. Scientists don’t play the role of prosecutor trying to prove a case. Rather, they are the jury trying to evaluate the evidence. And they have rendered their verdict. The problem is not that scientists have become advocates, as some have claimed. The problem is that there is no judge, no recognized authority giving us instructions we accept, and no recognized authority to accept the scientists’ verdict and declare it final.

    I believe that Oreskes is underlying a fundamental problem with scientific trust. Oreskes is asking a question, and certainly not, considering the excerpts underlined in that post, inferring anything remote like what Judith’s questions (?) assume.

    If six months in a lab can save one hour in a library, how many hours of thought experiments are needed to save a minute reading?

    • My impression is that when Judith uses one of her (?’s), it’s to lay cover for a rhetorical comment that she knows is not well-founded in a validated analysis. IMO, it is to her discredit, and undermines her legitimate efforts to quantify uncertainty.

      • Joshua

        It is my impression that Judith has far less time than you to examine and debate each subject at great length and over several days. She throws these things out that she thinks we might find of interest but will rarely have the opportunity to do more than skim the material.

        Not meant to be snarky but that is the reality surely, rather than her deliberately putting something in the public domain that ‘she knows is not well founded.’ Why would she deliberately do that?
        tonyb

      • tony -

        Why would she deliberately do that?

        That’s a very good question, and one I’d like to see her answer more thoroughly. Her use of (?) seems far from randomly distributed to me – in a way that I would expect if the only intent were to stimulate discussion.

      • Odd, my opinion is that she is stirring the pot or shaking the tree. It can be good for getting people to reevaluate their positions. It can also be fun to watch :) I mean Joshua, isn’t it fun to ask what should be a rhetorical question and look at all the answers?

        How certain are we that CO2 is responsible for more than 50% of recent climate change?

      • cap’n -

        I mean Joshua, isn’t it fun to ask what should be a rhetorical question and look at all the answers?

        Now why would you think I’d disagree? :)

      • Nice Josh :) There was a second question.

        My merchant of doubt theory.

        http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/01/coming-ice-age-illusion.html

        Purely based on circumstantial and antedotal evidence, it makes for a crappy theory :)

        http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/01/coming-ice-age-illusion.html

      • Cap’n -

        W/r/t that last link – it shouts binary mentality at me.

        Here’s but one example:

        The book Merchants of Doubt sells the certainty that there should be no doubt. Anyone that points out that doubt exists, is an evil merchant trying to part you from common wisdom.

        Let’s leave aside, for the moment, whether that’s an accurate assessment of Oreskes perspective (i.e., don’t climate scientists like Schmidt say that doubt exists?).

        There can be Merchants of Doubt irrespective of whether or not the underlying argument is wrong in attributing that label universally to all question-askers.

        I acknowledge that folks like Oreskes (in all probability) overplay their hand, counterproductively.

        My question is why you seem to think that is an insight of great meaning? :)

      • glad you updated the link Cap I like that one a lot better.

        Whatever the case with AGW, I do think that if CO2 was visible, a lot of people would feel differently than they do now.

        Used to be we got hounded for all the crap (garbage) we produce here in the USA. What’s the CO2/crap ratio of the average Pittsburgher?

        How many bags of recycled plastic does it take to fill your gas tank one time?

    • Willard
      You are completely incorrect when you write: “Scientists don’t play the role of prosecutor trying to prove a case. Rather, they are the jury trying to evaluate the evidence. And they have rendered their verdict.”
      Scientists and engineers do try to prove their case based upon the data. Good ones admit when more or better data demonstrates that their initial conclusion was incorrect.
      To write that “scientists have rendered their verdict” is just a stupid statement. Many “scientists” have differing views on the topic and these views have changed as more information has become available.

      • Rob Starkey,

        I’d like an evaluation of your certainty that I said what you claim I said.

        Meanwhile, I thank you for your concerns: there is no real consensus, science is never really settled, real science is data epiphany, and real scientists humbly worship Popper, but not by way of a cargo cult.

        w

      • Rob,
        The real problems with the jury metaphor for scientists lies in the fact that Juries do not assemble evidence. Scientists collect evidence. Juries are selected at random and are examined to see if they know each other or anyone associated with the case. Scientists are not selected in this way. They are “selected’ not because of their ignorance about the data or other people on the jury, but because they themselves have collected the evidence and know everybody associated with the case.

        If scientists are a jury then they are a horrible example of how one selects a panel of dis interested, un connected, impartial people.

        basically, if they are a jury, they are a lousy jury by any standards.

  130. cwon
    “Climate Zombies”, “dead-beat brainiacs”
    WOW
    you seem to be strong on emotions

    • Joshua

      As Capt dallas observes question marks are good for stirring the pot. Perhaps that is the motive rather than supplying unfounded information. But that doesn’t make my comment redundant does it. She is a busy person after all.
      tonyb

      • tony -

        As Capt dallas observes question marks are good for stirring the pot.

        My observation is that she seems to stir up the pot o’ uncertainty almost always stir in one direction. Not sure whether to call it clockwise or counterclockwise.

    • You realize that climate alarmism actually kills people don’t you?

      Some supporters are fools, others are not innocent at all.

  131. Joshua

    Which direction do you think she stirs it in? If you don’t know if its one way or the other perhaps shes even handed?
    tonyb

    • tony -

      I didn’t know whether to describe it as clockwise or counterclockwise (i.e., is clockwise left to right or right to left?).

      I see that she stirs up the uncertainty w/r/t what “realists” say almost uniformly, and I see little stirring about w/r/t what “skeptics” say.

      That’s not to say that I don’t think there’s value in stirring up the uncertainty w/r/t “realists.” But I think there’s greater value in a more balanced approach.

      • Sky dragons. Postma and the German paper with the novel statistical approach where not meant to stir the skeptic pot? :)

      • cap’n -

        Sky dragons. Postma and the German paper with the novel statistical approach where not meant to stir the skeptic pot? :)

        I qualified my language in a way I think is accurate. Those exceptions seem entirely consistent, IMO, with my qualifications. But even if you don’t think my qualifications were accurate, they were clearly not categorical.

  132. Joshua

    I would not claim Judith as a full blown sceptic but certainly she has become more sceptical over the 2 or 3 years I have been aware of her work. Maybe shes trying to validate her increasing doubts over certain aspects of climate change by floating a mildly sceptical view point to the furnace of the denizens?

    tonyb

    • Or perhaps as she has learned even more about the basis of the IPCC’s stated conclusions she has come to doubt they are based upon a solid foundation

    • That could be, tony -

      My assumption is that Judith’s overriding interest is in quantifying the uncertainty. I take her at face value in that regard.

      My questions regard the reasons for the imbalance I see – despite what I see to be her main interests. For me, the rubber hits the road when when those inconsistencies appear. It’s like when self-described “skeptics” make statements that reveal a shocking lack of skepticism. Why does that happen?

      Indeed, she seems to find the input of denizens to be valuable – as do I; but from where I sit, she does a poor job of quantifying that value. I see that, for example, when she makes unquantified generalizations about the views of her denizens that seem out of step with the comments I read.

      • Anyway – that’s enough for me with the discussions with others about Judith’s balance. I would appreciate a discussion with her on that topic, but she’s ceased to engage with me on that issue. At some level, discussing it indirectly with others ( to clarify my perspective) has some value to me – but beyond a certain point it feels somewhat petty.

      • Given your assessment above you may want to make a run at the new post. How you do it is up to you, we are all watching. & thanks for the compliment on the other thread.

    • > Maybe shes trying to validate her increasing doubts [...]

      Is the increase linear, logarithmic or exponential?

    • tonyb

      As you have noted, subjecting an essay such as this one by Oreskes to the gauntlet of the denizens here is a sure-fire way of getting it deconstructed (or, as in this case, thoroughly trashed).

      I do not believe that our host is totally oblivious of this fact.

      While I would agree with you that she is not a “full blown skeptic”, she has stated her position quite clearly under oath before a US congressional committee.

      This, together with the Curry/Webster “Climate Science and the Uncertainty Monster” challenge and other statements she has made, have all confirmed that she does not support the so-called “consensus” position of the IPCC.

      And (to get this back on topic) I believe that she is truly open-minded to what the scientific evidence says, which is what one would expect from a real cientist.

      Max

  133. I’m an infrequent reader of this blog, but I’ve found it open minded about climate change.

    Not my topic. I’m more interested in addressing those who have posted regarding the certainty that smoking causes lung cancer: (To deny this is, of course, is to state that the earth is flat.)

    To those of you who are so utterly convinced:

    Have you ever read even one of the Surgeon General’s reports? (There are 30, some over 1,000 pages long.) Ask your doctor, has he/she ever read even one of these? I suspect not. (But I might be wrong.)

    Have you read any of the American Cancer Society, British Doctors, etc. underlying studies that allegedly “proved” that smoking causes lung cancer? I suspect not. (But I might be wrong.)

    Have you read critiques of these studies? Some funded (horrors!) by The Merchants of Death, but many not, and all in contrast to “pure” scientists funded by the government (public health) and “charities” like the American Cancer Society. Again, I suspect not. (But I might be wrong.)

    Smoking is said to cause over a dozen types of cancer, and emphysema and bronchitis, plus heart disease and stroke, and those are just some of the fatal diseases. Smoking is also said to cause blindness (macular degeneration), hearing loss, erectile dysfunction, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, wrinkled skin, snoring, and – my own favorite – “apple-shaped weight gain.” (There are easily 100 diseases linked to smoking – cigarette smoking. One of the embarrassments of the “smoking causes” theory is that the statistical association between tobacco and disease generally doesn’t apply to cigars and pipes.)

    The case against smoking is almost entirely statistical. Despite decades of trying, other than mouse painting experiments (“…the wrong material, in the wrong form, in the wrong concentration to the wrong tissue of the wrong animal…” R.C. Hockett, 1968), attempts to create disease in animals by exposure to smoke have been a bust. From the start (1950, the first studies on lung cancer) the theory assumed that chemicals in tobacco caused disease; sixty years (and 100 “smoking related” diseases) later, no one has identified any chemical that causes even one of the smoking related diseases. (Reliably, as in viruses cause influenza – and by the way, influenza is a smoking related disease.)

    Since this blog is primarily a debate climate change, I won’t try to morph it into a debate about tobacco. I will, however, link to some documents. (And I hope the links don’t blow this comment out of the water.)

    SG reports can be downloaded at the Center for Disease Control http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/index.html.)

    For a statistical critique of the reports, read Burch: http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/hms61f00 He’s talking about the 1982 report which uses the same “rational” as 1964. (As is typical, Brownlee’s 1965 paper (cited by Burch) is still – 17 years later – ignored by the SG.)

    For the other side, Lilienfeld on Burch: http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/lyh05c00

    Burch’s response: http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/gms61f00

    If you find Burch persuasive, try Brownlee: http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/zgb2aa00 T. Sterling (oft paid by the tobacco industry) is also worth a read http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/jgo56b00 And, what the hell, back in the beginning, R. Fisher http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/zrd91f00

    I don’t know that I’ll post here again and debate with people. (I might, but it would be a real long dispute.) I will suggest, however, that you read the SG arguments, and the critics, and decide for yourself who had the better arguments. The case against smoking might not be quite as definitive as most people believe.

    • A correction and a comment:
      It’s “rationale”, not “rational”. The latter is not a noun.

      Can’t be bothered to look up the link, but I’ve seen reference to a study which suggests that 50% of the population have a mutation of a lung surfactant which changes some smoke components into oncogenic chemicals. Even a year or two of smoking, for that 50%, is too much. For the rest, 90 yrs is not likely to cause cancer.

      For those who criticize my smoking, I tell them that a French statistical study established that the heavier one smokes, the longer Alzheimer’s is delayed. So I don’t dare stop!

    • Thank you for your comment. Let’s hope Ged will post his citation about causation. Causation is a tough tack. Worse, it could be made tougher and tougher, neverendingly.

      Granger causality, anyone?

  134. Orestes has apparently only just scraped through a Science 101 course at some hick community college, where they explain how science is supposed to work, and jumped with infantile certainty to the conclusion that that is how climate science actually does work.

    In her comical, freshman-like ivory tower, it’s as if Climategate never happened, data and code was never hidden, peer-review was never contorted, declines were never hidden, and political funding of climate science (and her own paychecks?) never had any politicizing effect.

    As with religion, if you will only just have faith, all will become clear. And it is precisely brain-damaged drivel such as hers that forms the foundation on which the alarmist ‘consensus’ rests.

  135. I don’t think that the only way to support the IPCC consensus is to close your mind. You have to analyze every aspect of it!

    Kylie

    http://www.kestrelfly.com

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