Captain Hybrid

Global Warming: Are the Skeptics Right?

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Re: Off on a tangent
Cassiopeia   2/6/2012 4:20:45 PM


I was only taught one type of science, the Popperian refutable variety. AGW science doesn't only depend on well-established physical principles but it can also predict approximate outcomes (and can therefore be refuted). 

I guess most people believe global warming was 'discovered' in the 70s or 80s, some people even think it is something to do with Al Gore!!   Of course nothing could be more ludicrous.

As far back as 1827 Jean-Baptiste Fourier first suggested that greenhouse gases kept the earth warmer, which was confirmed by John Tyndall and Svante Arrhenius later on that century. In 1938 an Engineer, Guy Stewart Callendar predicted that doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning would lead to a global increase of 2°C, with the poles warming more. This was a remarkable prophesy, since it is on course to what we observe today! Calendar's predictions were later confirmed by several more detailed studies in the 1970s, including an elite group of ex-military physicist's dubbed the 'Jason's'. This was well before modern climate science, supercomputers and the IPCC. (PS at this point I would recommend you don't push 'ice age prediction' myths).

Now it's true climate science doesn't predict outcomes to the umpteenth decimal point as in highly controlled experiments.  It is more analogous to predicting the temperature of the following summer 6 months earlier.  Hence we can be reasonably sure it will be warmer in summer not only because of experience, but because of well- understood physical phenomena. What else would you expect if the solar insolation is so much higher. However, because of the complex motion of the atmosphere and oceans it is still quite a challenge to predict with accuracy how much.  Hence, no-one would ever seriously contend that summer would be no warmer than winter (across the US for example) yet that is precisely what the so called 'sceptics' try and convince us!  To them a 'warmer summer' is just a theory!

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search for solar activity research
jeffbiss   2/6/2012 4:08:39 PM
William K.,

Check out Stanford's Solar Center.

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No insult
jeffbiss   2/6/2012 4:03:58 PM

Calling out Jon for not doing due diligence before posting is not insulting him. He made a series of unsupported allegations. Where're his citations? If there's a problem with climate science, it appears to be in the "skeptic" community.

If there's a "follow the money" lesson, it's that the corporate interests have far more of than the academic community, as there was with regards to the connection between smoking and cance, for example from the fossil fuel industry. If there is any agenda pushing global warming, it is from Wall Street, not the scientists. Their research is open for all to see and verify.

Heck, he can get involved directly in the science. You too can help the discussion by posting valid scientific research that supports your "skepticism".

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Re: CO2 discussion
smallpond   2/6/2012 3:58:04 PM
Gah, like I have time for all that... As crucial as this data is -- it should be wide open and readily available.

William K.
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Global warming: are the skeptics correct?
William K.   2/6/2012 3:22:35 PM
I have posed this question quite a few times in various venues, and have not even had much of a response. First, cansider that the majority of the heat experienced in our climate here on earth comes from the sun. Take that as a "given". Next, consider that this is a quite large quantity of heat energy arriving constantly. I believe that we can agree that there is indeed a lot of it arriving. Now for the question: Is anybody able to measure and determine if possibly the quantity of energy given off by the sun has increased by perhaps 0.01%? I pose this question because the most recent sunspot cycle is delayed a fair amount more than the most recent prior cycles, which says that something is a bit different this time. To make this situation even more interesting, I think that research has shown that the sun's output drops a bit during a cycle, and increases during the minimum number of sunspots intervals.

From my experience in industry I know that measuring any quantity to a resolution of 0.01% is quite an accomplishment, even more of an accomplishment if the measurement must be made indirectly. Then consider an interesting editorial comment that I think I saw in Design News a while back: "Global Warming Causes CO2". 

Is it possible that the data is right but the conclusions are incorrect? That has happened before, and confusing a result with a cause has happened quite a few times. I would really be interested in reading comments from anybody who is familiar with the measuring of our solar energy input, and determining jus how much is arriving every day. 

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Re: Off on a tangent
naperlou   2/6/2012 3:21:32 PM

Cassiopeia, what you must remember is that there are really two types of science.  On can be proven via repeatable experiments.  This would include fields like solid state physics, particle physics, and chemistry  The other cannot.  This includes fields like cosmology, anthropology, paleontology, and climatology. 


If you are interested in the history of science, there is a celebrated case where the major scientific minds of the age thought they had it all figured out.  The has a consensus.  Then, one theorist came up with a new approach that changed everything.  The case of course was Einstein's theories of the black body radiation and special relativity.  This turned even the "hard" science on its head.  Einstein's theories were accepted, though, because detailed experiments could be done (and redone).  Yet, we are always questioning even the those theories, at least on the margin.  You see, in physics you have a principle called the correspondence principle.  A new theory should agree with an existing theory in a regime where the existing theory (if it is successful) works.  Thus, quantum mechanics "corresponds" with classical physics at the scales where the later worked well.


The field of climatology is not one of those.  As a lay person, if that is what you are, you should always question what you know and are being told.  Physics professors love to tell freshmen that we could find out this is all bull**** tomorrow.  They don't expect that to happen, but it could.  So to ascribe any "doubts" about a scientific pronouncement to some sort of cabal of contrarian scientists and conservative think tanks or private corporations is to ignore history. 


Rob Spiegel
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Re: Off on a tangent
Rob Spiegel   2/6/2012 3:15:24 PM
Good points, Joe. As soon as I sasw the title of this article, I knew we were in for a great ride. So far, 72 comments when 25 comments usually mean a lively conversation. 

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Re: Off on a tangent
JABova   2/6/2012 3:04:49 PM
This has been a very intersting discussion. I have been involved in debating controversial issues over the years and it always ends up the same. If you do not agree with the "consensus" then there is something wrong with either your science, or you as a person. The subject does not matter.

For the global warming issue, both sides agree that we are currently in a warming trend, one does not need to have a degree in any particular discipline to see that. The question is why. The bigger questions is, why is it NOT okay to ask why. Conscensus is not achieved because 80+ percent of scientists and engineeers arrive at a particular conclusion by studing the data, it is arrived at because a few scientist or engineers told the rest of them this is how it is. Someone way back in the beginning of this thread made a comment about a theory being called a fact. When that happens, it simply means that we have stopped doing science and engineering, and started to believe the preacher with blind faith. There is nothing wrong with faith, as long as it is no blind.


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Re: volcano emissions
jpratch   2/6/2012 2:51:40 PM

Insulting Jon Titus is the kind of ad hominem attack I referred to in other posts that zeros-out credibility very quickly. The model evaluations conducted during Mt. Pinatubo make statements like "temperature change is consistent with the temperature anomalies observed". This is "modeling speak" for "my model gets the ups and downs mostly right". There were no claims of quantitative calibration. Heck, right out of college, I wrote a RADAR model whose detection ranges were better than "consistent with observed" but it was still crude and nowhere near calibrated to the point where the Navy could use it to choose between two competing systems under all circumstances.

Yet calibration and consistency under all circumstances are exactly what is necessary to base the kinds of decisions pushed by the AGW agenda. At the present time, the magnitude of the errors in climate predictions and inability to attain anything remotely called "calibration" makes using the words "incontrovertible" and "human-caused" in the same sentence quite pretentious. Books like the "Long Thaw" written by very smart people making catastrophic predictions based on qualitative information and educated conjecture do nothing to further the knowledge necessary to make public policy decisions on. The Professor did make a good living on the book sales and has the prestige of being "published", but I would say that a positive contribution to the dialog was not one of its attributes.

I live on the East Coast of Florida and every year I get to see the Hurricane Path Predictions based on not one model but usually on nearly a dozen of the best models that the smartest meteorologists could produce. The best we can get is human interpretation of the different results provided. Accuracy is measured in hundreds of miles and consistency is often missing. To make matters worse, at times the actual movement is "mis-reported" or "not-reported" if it does not support the evacuation decisions already made by civil authorities. So the best weather and atmospheric science is hard pressed to make predictions to the accuracy needed by climate models to determine public policies. Yet the Climate models ore not as precise and do not consider all factors known to affect the results (clouds etc.) and we are supposed to trust them more than Hurricane movement predcitions.

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Re: Off on a tangent
Cassiopeia   2/6/2012 2:41:12 PM
Alexander, as already briefly mentioned, your answer lies in this book.

Merchants of Doubt is a 2010 book by the American science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. It identifies parallels between the climate change debate and earlier controversies over tobacco smoking, acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer. Oreskes and Conway write that in each case "keeping the controversy alive" by spreading doubt and confusion after a scientific consensus had been reached, was the basic strategy of those opposing action.[1] In particular, they say that Fred Seitz, Fred Singer, and a few other contrarian scientists joined forces with conservative think tanks and private corporations to challenge the scientific consensus on many contemporary issues.....


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