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Global Warming

2007-05-06 18:41:17.043492+00 by Dan Lyke 18 comments

Over in the Compact Flourescent Gender Gap thread, Ziffle took me to task for the phrase ""long-time climate change denier and pusher of assorted other junk science."

In thinking about this I've realized a couple of things. My impression of the "climate change deniers" (and part of what's led me to this post is that I know that that's far too general a term) is that most of "them" tend to dabble in Creation Science on the side, and that every time I see a press release from the "everything is fine, stay the course" crowd, I shortly thereafter see a press release from the people they quoted to make their case saying "that was out of context and not what we meant at all".

On the other side, although "scientific concensus" seems pretty clear, I also know that the majority of people believe in political, social and religious structures that I think are completely whacked out and loony. So just because everybody believes it is no reason to go repeating it.

Then when I went looking for information, what I found was either deep papers that require a lot of background (which is fine, but I want a good overview), or hours of PowerPoint presentations, which generally means "I'm afraid to offer up my ideas for real review, so let me give it to you in movie form so that you'll apply the same critical analysis skills to my data that you would to Spiderman 3" (The aptly named "JunkScience.com with its wonderful compendium of straw men and numbers out of context is a great source for such silliness).

So, I'm looking for three things:

  1. Information on the credibility of climate models. What are the major climate models out there today, what inputs they take, what outputs they give, and what historical data they've been run on.
  2. How data is acquired for each of those models, and how the different acquisition methods overlap with historical acquisition methods (ie: If you're trying to match up 65 million years of ice core samples with two thousand years of tree ring data, what makes that comparison reasonable?).
  3. [edit added after Ziffle pointed out the incongruity above] uh... ultimate truth, or something.

I'll instantly filter out any source which says that human behavior has no impact on climate change, because that's obviously hoohey, but I am interested in different models of how much impact humans have had, and in how the various data sources that support such models were obtained.

[ related topics: Ziffle Religion Politics Nature and environment ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-06 23:48:22.725073+00 by: ziffle

I suppose later when I have time I'll provide some of what you are asking for in you three err -- TWO things requested... :)

Not wishing to inflame anyone about whether people affect the climate, I am not sure. I see all of this as a result of emotional left wing types who are just jumping at the 'next big thing'.

I watched the hippies turn to Jesus and then Earth day and of course global cooling and herpes and AIDS and globalization and on and on. By that I mean its like they want something to be all upset about, and project that into the future and require people to change how they are now. Jimmy Carter had the air conditioner police and his malaise speech.

Right now they are banning incandescent light bulbs and requiring flourescent bulbs. We are marching into a mercury poisoning epidemic folks. Soon if you break one they will have a hazmat team arrive to clean it up (already happened). We will look back on the simple elegant solution of a vacuum tube with a piece of glowing wire as a better, simpler time. The answer of course is not new light bulbs but cheaper power. In ten years they will ban flourescent bulbs - mark my words! Instead, deregulate the power industry and watch the price drop. (Real deregulation not the one in California where they deregulated the price but restricted the supply.) Stop subsidizing highways and airlines and prohibiting new trains - I'd rather ride a train anyway. Just let the free market handle it.

But for arguments sake lets say the temperature is increasing. So what? The ocean goes up 5 inches in 100 years? So what? I read that Canada's crops will do better. There are always changes coming. Maybe we just don't want to change with them. Technology will allow us to adapt.

So I see it as a non-starter. We are atoms on the piston rod as I said trying to see the transmission. But we can't and what we should do is stop trying to tell everybody else how to live and calm down and follow the data. But we don't have the data yet. They can't get the weather right in Mayberry tomorrow let alone 20 years from now. So all I ask is that we get some objective scientists to look at the data over a long[Wiki] time (its called SCIENCE) and if they can't figure it out then lets say we don't know whats going on and forget it until later.

Please don't tell everyone else what to do based upon some idiot with pseudo-science like "I invented the internet" algore. Stop scaring all the children (both the ones over and under 18), with stupid scenarios that have nothing to do with truth but have everything to do with ideology. We live in a sound byte world. Teach the children to think, not be afraid.

When I was in school they taught me with a straight face that ducking under my desk would protect me from a nuclear bomb, that calm people were wild animals once they got into a car and would drive crazily, and that we should never use the word "I" in an essay - too selfish I suppose. And more - I watched preachers tell about God on TV and always ask for money later. Today they conjure up 'creationism' and ask that it be taught in schools - ghastly! They require high school and college students to 'volunteer' to the community. This is the effect of philosophy on our thinking - pave the way with a particular philsophy and the practioners (e.g. teachers, politicians, activists) don't even realize there are other ways. As the Chinese say "the fish do not know they are in water".

There is a pattern here folks. I will not break Godwins law but I will say in every era there are those that demand that we follow them voluntarily or be forced to if we do not agree (because if we really understood the issues, we would agree), and the mindset at root is the same. Christianity, environmentalism, feminism, Arian, Islam, Black Power, Communism, blah blah blah - the result in every case is they will tell you how to live and act, and all of of them are contrary to our nature as rational beings.

Mysticism of the mind and mysticism of muscle. Reject all of it. Lets rejoice at the wonder of an automobile, or a ceiling fan, or a refrigerator or drywall, and a house of your own - they are the miracles - all brought to you by the wonders of independent minds working without compulsion. 'Let us alone' (attribution to the French revolution).

We live in a wonderous age if it were just not messed up by the do-gooders. I am fairly tired of all the do gooders.

Ziffle PS flutterby is not suppose to be so serious so here is my gratuitous sex video: http://break.com/index/prehistoric-threesome.html

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-07 02:32:59.648182+00 by: ebradway

This one will take a little while for me but I'll try to get some good posts by the end of the week. If you are really interested, I can hook you up with an assistantship with some of the researchers doing this kind of work. Want to measure albedo of the ice pack on Greenland to better calibrate remotely sensed data? Want to trek over glaciers to monitor their retreat?

In general, what you are looking for is the science behind the recent IPCC Report. I have been told that the science behind the IPCC report is now about 2 years out of date. That the models have been improved upon and the outlook isn't any better.

On #2, tree ring data is used to calibrate the ice-core data. Tree rings are incredibly accurate. The study of tree rings is called "dendrochronology". One of my labmates does this stuff and will be taking chunks out of trees in the Rockies this Summer.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-07 03:17:16.973093+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

My impression is that we are seeing warming, some of it is caused by people, but that in the big scheme of things, flux happens.

When some friends of mine were trying to sell me the agitprop Gore is putting out, I told them I was a "global warming flat-earther".

And, fwiw, I'm not a creationist.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-07 11:15:09.798272+00 by: TheSHAD0W

Last I'd heard, the ice-core data ebradway mentioned does show carbon dioxide tends to follow temperature trends, but that CO2 changes lag the temperature trends by a few hundred years. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-07 13:37:48.449224+00 by: other_todd

I don't care whether global warming is accelerated by human habits or not. While I have no religion per se, I do appear to have some fairly strongly held precepts, and one of them is that we should all use less energy because it's simply The Right Thing To Do. It's a matter of not being greedy. Of course, historically, trying to teach humans not to be greedy has been one of the most difficult things to do, so I'm occasionally in favor of nasty tactics. If we can scare people into doing the things they SHOULD have been doing already because it was the right thing to do, then I'm for it. Sorry if that goes against other people's idea of complete freedom of action - there comes a point where I stop being in favor of personal liberties because the, "Okay, we've all got to stop being jerks now" motivation becomes the stronger force.

I'd use compact fluorescents all over the house but I think my wife might have a problem with that. I like cold-color skew (I prefer Fuji film to Kodak); she, like most people in this country, prefers hot-color skew and wants yellow-orange lighting in her rooms.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-07 16:17:36.580112+00 by: Dan Lyke

Not enough time yet to give thought to the serious side of the discussion, but I did appreciate the prehistoric porn.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-07 16:46:15.471661+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

Oh, and I'd agree with other_todd that, no matter if we warming trends are caused by us or not, we should try to be responsible in our use of natural resources.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-07 17:46:53.01027+00 by: ebradway

like Dan... Not enough time right now to do the research and produce the science. Ironically, I'm working on my final exam in my Quantitative Methods class - and spatial/temporal lags is a core concept!

This is one of those discussions where I really wish Flutterby threaded conversations. It would be nice to bifurcate into philosophy and science (and maybe prehistoric sex).

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-07 18:06:49.001015+00 by: ebradway

Ah... I was just closing out some windows in Firefox and decided to look over the IPCC page above. There is actually a fairly comprehensive set of information on the Physical Science basis for Climate Change. Note that these are hosted by The University Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) where you'll find even more background information.

If anyone is interested in a "Climate Change" field trip, UCAR and NCAR are based here in Boulder. I can arrange crash-space and transportation for any Flutterbians interested in seeing the facilities and meeting the folks behind the science.

A quick run-down for Dan:

A short note: the IPCC report is pretty much a compendium of physical science research from as wide a collaboration as possible involving as much data and as many models as possible. In addition to the physical science, there is a good dollop of social science dealing with issues of displaced peoples, populations effected by rising sea-levels, etc. The IPCC report was created to help policy makers make informed decisions about climate change. Because of the amount of collaboration behind the science and the effort involved in making a single document that covers all these bases, the raw information is several years out of date. Significant events, like the social science aspects of the forced relocation of New Orleans and the 2005 Tsunami are not well-reflected in the document.

I got to see a presentation of Al Gore's fluff-piece on climate change followed by a panel of primary investigators from UCAR/NCAR. One person asked "how accurate is Al Gore's movie" and the answer is that there is nothing presented in the movie that doesn't match the current science - except that it's several years old now and paints a less-bleak picture than the current models predict.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-07 19:49:00.989712+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Eric--your last paragraph is pretty profound.

It's my understanding that much of Al Gore's material came from a special National Geographic edition which came out a year earlier (I saw graphs in both that looked identical).

BTW--don't higher global ambient temperatures lag higher CO2 emissions, and not the other way around as someone may have previously mentioned? Or am I simply dazed and confused by both?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-08 00:30:12.990519+00 by: ziffle

Time to debunk the IPCC and similar social engineering:

Global Warming Swindle:


The Gods Are Laughing:


The Weather Channel idiot Heidi Cullen enters the "political" fray: Basically she wants those who do not agree BANNED. Godwins Law keeps popping up...


Colorado University's Bill Gray:

"They've been brainwashing us for 20 years," Gray says. "Starting with the nuclear winter and now with the global warming. This scare will also run its course. In 15-20 years, we'll look back and see what a hoax this was." "It's a sort of mild McCarthyism."


IPCC "motivated by pre- conceived agendas" and was "scientifically unsound."



"The scientific community must distinguish analysis from advocacy."


Dr. Paul Reiter resigns from IPCC


Reminds me of the NYT's defense of Stalin:


This whole thing is politically motivated - see my prior post.


#Comment Re: Global Warming? made: 2007-05-08 13:41:50.147734+00 by: m

My area of the world, NE USA, is warmer than it was in the period 1955-1972. But that term was exceptionally cold. In that period there were warnings that we were about to enter a new ice age.

By 1980 there were warnings of global warming. 2000 temps were to be 9-16 degrees F over those of the the time, and a one meter increase is sea height. Such temperature changes would have been catastrophic, but these did not occur. The prediction models used to claim these forecasts were worse than primitive, as they did not include such important factors as cloud reflection and so on.

At the time I considered the predictive failures of the models to be the result of their imperfection. But as the years have gone by, I have become rather agnostic about global warming, and if it exists, is the genesis is anthropomorphic. This is for a number of reasons.

  1. It is impossible for lay individuals to get any kind of straight story out of the news. Having spent half of my career as a biochemist, I can only consider myself a reasonably well informed lay person in this area. I do not have the background to begin to interpret the scientific work being done, so I must rely upon science reporters. They don't really have the background either, and assuming that their popular interpretations of weather scientists is as accurate as that of areas in which I have special knowledge, I assume that the word of science journalists can not be trusted to have much meaning.
  2. Science is a human endeavor, and subject to human metafailings. Humans must love fads, because they create so many of them. Right now there is at the very least a global warming fad. That does not itself speak to the truth of global warming, but huge numbers of individuals take this on faith, and pronounce any other position as satanic, or at least corporate. Sort of like the 1910 Halleys comet appearance. By then astronomers, using spectroscopy, had detected cyanide in the tail. At least some of the tail was expected to pass over earth. Great fears of cyanide poisoning were endemic. Gas masks were a great seller. Metal umbrellas for the protection from falling debris were also popular. If you think this is quaint, recall the sellout of plastic film and duct tape following 911.

With regard to this, I speak not to scientific fraud, but rather research conducted within a biased milieu. There is great pressure upon scientists to study those phenomenon which will predict global warming. Grants are selected with this bias. Many scientists have complained about this. Like the Truman-Dewey election polls, if the sample is biased, the result will be too. This is not a scientific problem (in the sense that science can solve it), but rather a political one.

  1. There are at least some valid reasons to believe that if warming exists, then it is the result of nonhuman sources. Our sun is entering a period of greater sunspot activity. This is known to be associated with warming of the earth. Astronomers claim that Mars is warming. This is clearly not the result of CO2 emissions on earth.

The "latest" research indicates that the historical record indicates atmospheric CO2 levels lag temperature increases by centuries. Our directly observed historical record of temperatures is an incredibly tiny slice of the meteorological span. Extrapolating from such a minuscule sample is quite dangerous. Inferred data from prehistory (temperature wise) is always subject to doubt, because later information may change the way data is interpreted. Weather science is quite new, and weather suffers from extreme complexity, so that retrospective studies are highly questionable -- just as they are in so many disciplines.

Having followed this for several decades, I can say a lot more about these and other issues, but time, and your patience are both finite. My biggest issue with Global Warming, is over what to do about it. I have strong beliefs about conservation, and agree with the argument for that above. Conservation and responsible use are a necessary moral commitment for any society. So they should be practiced even if warming is not true, or not anthropogenic.

I do have problems when it comes to "scaring" people. First, as has been repeatedly shown, this almost always comes back to bite you in the butt. Second, truth is an ethical requirement. I get very unhappy when the current administration argues that we need to fight over there, so we don't have to fight here on US ground. Such lies do nothing to endear me to their cause. To me these lies are criminal, and I will not stoop to similar behavior. Truth is its own value.

Of more concern, are more proactive measures. First, if active means are taken to reduce earth temperatures then what happens if global warming is not real? Will we start an ice age, or merely cause tremendous damage to our environment, crop production, and increase fuel requirements for heating? Second, what kinds of direct damage will be done by such measures. Recently one group argued for binding atmospheric CO2 to iron and sinking it into the ocean as ferric carbonate. After a year or so, someone pointed out that this would likely kill off all the worlds corals. Quick solutions to complex problems tend to create greater problems.I speak not to fraud, but rather research conducted within a biased milieu.

#Comment Re: last comment made: 2007-05-08 13:43:28.438765+00 by: m

I am not sure how the last sentence, a copy of an earlier one, was reproduced at the end of the comment. Please ignore it.

#Comment Re: Science as it happens made: 2007-05-08 16:45:27.778121+00 by: m

NASA Discovers 'Twilight Zone' of New Air Particles

An extensive and previously unknown "twilight zone" of particles in the atmosphere could complicate scientists' efforts to determine how much the Earth's climate will warm in the future, a new study finds.

In addition to greenhouse gases, which absorb infrared radiation, or heat, emitted from Earth's surface and send it back to the ground, cloud droplets and aerosols, such as dust and air pollutants, in the atmosphere also affect the planet's temperature.

The exact overall effect of these two types of particles is still uncertain: while clouds block incoming solar radiation, water vapor also acts as a greenhouse gas, trapping heat like a blanket.

Now, recent satellite observations have found a zone of "in-between particles" in the air around clouds that was previously considered clear.

"The area around clouds has given us trouble," said study team member Lorraine Remer of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The instruments detected something there, but it didn't match our understanding of what a cloud or an aerosol looked like. What we think we're seeing is a transitional zone where clouds are beginning to form or are dying away, and where humidity causes dry particles to absorb water and get bigger."

Scientists have been aware of an indistinct "halo" surrounding individual clouds, but the newly detected zone is much more extensive, taking up as much as 60 percent of the atmosphere previously labeled as cloud-free.

The previously unknown ingredient in the atmospheric mixture of particles will have to be factored into models that try to predict how the atmosphere influences the change of global temperatures.

"The effects of this zone are not included in most computer models that estimate the impact of aerosols on climate," said lead author Ilan Koren of the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Israel. "This could be one of the reasons why current measurements of this effect don't match our model estimates."

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-08 18:06:35.02372+00 by: Dan Lyke

Y'all are makin' some good cases... I know that much of the current concerns over warming came when the models that predicted cooling back in the '70s failed, so people started taking deeper looks at the underlying models, I guess I need to start by reading some of Eric's links and trying to get a better handle on the basics.

It's easy, for instance, to cast the "greenhouse gas" discussion as fairly elementary physics, some gasses block different wavelengths, visible light gets to surface, is converted to heat, if that new lower wavelenght is blocked, you get more energy trapped on this side of the atmosphere. But obviously all of the mechanisms that change that equation aren't yet explored.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-16 13:25:39.681584+00 by: ziffle [edit history]

More defections from the warming camp - sorry for the long url...


Politics Again:


#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-16 18:37:40.698513+00 by: TheSHAD0W

A major release from the global-warming-as-fact crowd:


This one's going to need a lot of analyzing to confirm or deny. :-P

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-20 14:41:30.982474+00 by: ziffle [edit history]

Shadow: I read through most of these and the 'refutations' seemed a little thin to me...

Agree or Else:

"University of Washington climate scientist Mark Albright was dismissed on March 12 from his position as associate state climatologist, just weeks after exposing false claims of shrinking glaciers in the Cascade Mountains."

The article: http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=21207

""The essence of science is reasoned skepticism and the courage to either be wrong or show that others are wrong--all in the bold pursuit of truth. The bold pursuit of truth should never be discouraged," Burnett noted."

Comment on the article: http://realfactsofglobalwarmin...ist-fired-for-telling-truth.html

"Government encouragement does not require men to believe the false is true, it merely makes them indifferent to the issue of truth or falsehood." Ayn Rand The Establishing of An Establishement - from Philosophy Who Needs It?

Objectivist commenting on the comment: http://mikeseyes.blogspot.com/...lly-pro-skeptic-pt1-of-many.html